JED - February 2009 - 39

TECHNOLOGY SURVEY SAMPLING OF RWR/ESM SYSTEMS By Ollie Holt The Journal of Electronic Defense | February 2009 I n June 2007, JED conducted a survey on radar warning receivers (RWRs) and electronic support measures (ESM) and electronic intelligence (ELINT) systems. This month’s survey limited the scope to only RWRs and radar ESM systems. Even though the functionality of these three types of systems has merged somewhat over the last few years, each receiver type has its place. The RWR is a warning device for pilots to make them aware of an imminent threat to their aircraft, while the ESM system was designed more for collecting information about the battlespace and making this information available for all users. ELINT systems collect information on specific signals and bring back data for the SIGINT experts to analyze. Because each of these receiver systems does a different job, their modes of operation are different. The RWR needs to scan the RF spectrum and spatial environment around the aircraft in a quick manner and warn the pilot of any immediate danger, which usually means he is being tracked by a tracking radar system. Early versions of these systems paid little attention to early warning radars or other signals because they were not lethal to the aircraft. These RWRs only needed to give the pilot a warning that he was being tracked and a rough line of bearing (LOB) to where the tracking radar was located. The pilot could then choose to plan his maneuvers to stay out of harm’s way or employ his jamming system. To create a useful LOB, all that was needed was four channels of receiver system. Each channel connected to an antenna in one of each of the four platform quadrants or sectors. The four channels would make an amplitude measurement on the signal at the same time, the amplitudes would be compared and a rough LOB could be determined within about 10 degrees, depending on the accuracy of the amplitude measurements and prior knowledge of each antenna’s performance. The 10-degree accuracy was plenty for the pilot to make his maneuvering decisions. The ESM system is usually a more capable system that collects data on more than tracking radars and is useful in instances when a 10-degree LOB performance is not accurate enough to fuse with other sensors and provide a good situational awareness picture of the battlespace. The ELINT system serves a completely different function – it does not need a quick response to warn a pilot or need to search a wide frequency or spatial region. The ELINT system usually has a very high performance in terms of sensitivity and is either preprogrammed or cued by another system to collect large quantities of signal data on a specific emitter and then store this data for subsequent analysis by SIGINT experts. Typically, ESM and ELINT systems are rather large and are designed for stand-off platforms that can stay out of the actual battlespace and collect data, while the RWR needs to be small enough to fit in the cramped spaces of tactical platforms and provide the operator with enough information to make real-time decisions. Because of the performance and size differences in these three systems, JED decided to feature in this month’s survey only RWR and ESM systems, realizing that it would not be fair or useful to compare the performance of a small lightweight RWR system to a large multi-channel ELINT system. JED will publish a survey of dedicated ELINT systems in its November issue. TECHNOLOGY TRENDS If you compare the results of the 2007 survey with the current survey, you will see that the receiver technology of choice is slowly changing from analog IFMs and superhet receivers to digital IFMs and digital channelizers. This trend could easily have been predicted given the availability of high-speed analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and highdensity Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). Multiple vendors are currently producing both 6U- and 3U-form-factor boards with single- and dual-channel ADCs and the current Virtex-5 FPGA. Put an RF tuner in front of one of these modules and a single board computer (SBC) after the ADC/FPGA module and you have all the hardware you need to build a single- or dual-channel RWR. Just add some signal processing fi rmware to the FPGA to digitally simulate a channelizer or a superhet receiver and some sorting and ID software to the SBC and you have a one- or two-channel RWR. Most applications use four channels (one per sector or quadrant), so a four-channel architecture utilizing these commercially available modules would complete a low-power, lightweight RWR system. 39 RWR/ESM SAMPLING The survey was sent to suppliers that list RWR and ESM systems in their product line. Responses were received from 13 suppliers and their products are listed in the survey results on the next pages. Only information provided by the companies was used in the survey compilation. NEXT SURVEY The next survey will be in the June 2009 issue of JED and will cover IR expendables, decoys and dispensers. E-mail editor@crows.org to request a survey questionnaire.

JED - February 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - February 2009

JED - February 2009
Contents
The View From Here
Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Charting the Course of Indian EW
What's Next in Data Recorders?
Technology Survey: RWR/ESM Systems
EW 101
2009 AOC Industry and Institute/University Member Guide
JED Sales Offices
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - February 2009 - JED - February 2009
JED - February 2009 - Cover2
JED - February 2009 - 3
JED - February 2009 - Contents
JED - February 2009 - 5
JED - February 2009 - The View From Here
JED - February 2009 - 7
JED - February 2009 - Calendar
JED - February 2009 - 9
JED - February 2009 - 10
JED - February 2009 - 11
JED - February 2009 - From the President
JED - February 2009 - 13
JED - February 2009 - 14
JED - February 2009 - The Monitor
JED - February 2009 - 16
JED - February 2009 - 17
JED - February 2009 - 18
JED - February 2009 - 19
JED - February 2009 - 20
JED - February 2009 - 21
JED - February 2009 - Washington Report
JED - February 2009 - 23
JED - February 2009 - World Report
JED - February 2009 - 25
JED - February 2009 - Charting the Course of Indian EW
JED - February 2009 - 27
JED - February 2009 - 28
JED - February 2009 - 29
JED - February 2009 - 30
JED - February 2009 - 31
JED - February 2009 - 32
JED - February 2009 - What's Next in Data Recorders?
JED - February 2009 - 34
JED - February 2009 - 35
JED - February 2009 - 36
JED - February 2009 - 37
JED - February 2009 - 38
JED - February 2009 - Technology Survey: RWR/ESM Systems
JED - February 2009 - 40
JED - February 2009 - 41
JED - February 2009 - 42
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JED - February 2009 - EW 101
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JED - February 2009 - 2009 AOC Industry and Institute/University Member Guide
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JED - February 2009 - Index of Advertisers
JED - February 2009 - JED Quick Look
JED - February 2009 - Cover3
JED - February 2009 - Cover4
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