JED - March 2010 - (Page 34)

EW Ranges: “Shooting Down” the Good Guys By John Knowles The Journal of Electronic Defense | March 2010 W test and training ranges have long lived with the requirement to do more with less. Aircrews training at these ranges certainly want more realism. This basic desire translates into a substantial requirements list, calling for high-fidelity threat emitters capable of accurately simulating multiple threat systems; emitters that will react to jamming like a real threat, and a training environment with excellent tracking capabilities, so that aircrews can see when they are “killed” and understand why. What pilots really want to fly against is a real enemy integrated air defense system (IADS), and some of the better ranges certainly do feature real SA-6s, SA-10s, etc. But realism comes with a price tag, and as Wing Commander Wallace points out in the previous article, training ranges must strike a balance between “good enough” and “affordability.” On an EW training range, that balance comes down to the skill of the range operators and the equipment – the threat emitters, the command and control system and the debriefi ng capability – that create a realistic threat environment. In the past, the threat simulation, the scoring, the C2 and the debrief were often handled by different systems. Often, the threat emitters did not have the capability to detect or react to jamming, which limited the sense of realism for the aircrews. (As one industry source explained, no one wants to train against a “death ray” threat that continues tracking a target when the threat is being jammed.) The C2 system could be ambiguous, and scoring was usually somewhat subjective, based primarily on the threat operator’s poorly documented claim of a “kill.” (This often led to heated debates between aircrews and threat operators.) Debrief sessions were mostly verbal rather than visual, which did little to re-enforce the EW tactics. In short, without threat realism and unambiguous recordings of the engagements, it was difficult to convince skeptical aircrews which techniques and tactics worked against a particular threat and which did not. Today’s ranges have succeeded in overcoming many of these past shortfalls, with high-fidelity, reactive threat emitters (including real threats in some cases), definitive scoring, precise C2 and debriefings that are often ready as soon as the aircrews land (while the experience is still fresh in their minds). THE RANGES EW test and training ranges comes in all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of live and virtual integration. The main factors are the size of the range and the threat environment they offer. The DOD operates some of the largest and most well equipped test and training ranges in the world, such as the Nellis Range, the Fallon Range, the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (PARC) and the China Lake test range and the Eglin test range, to name a few. Outside the US, Canada has built the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR); the UK operates the Spadeadam Range. These types of ranges are well suited for large-scale exercises and coalition training. For more frequent EW training, many countries use smaller ranges equipped with a limited number of live and simulated threats. Turkey for example, has been operating the Konya range with the help of local EW company HAVELSAN for more than a decade. In 2008, the government opted to purchase SA-10, -12 and -15 air defense systems for Konya, which already operated several single-digit threats. New EW training capabilities are being planned or built in other countries, such as Australia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Two main factors are driving more countries to build their own ranges. First, many countries are buying advanced EW equipment for a larger portion of their aircraft fleets. This inherently drives EW training requirements for aircrews, who need to refine their skills, as well as for squadrons, which need to develop effective tactics. Secondly, the cost of building an advanced air training capability is becoming more affordable. Not only is commercial technology making threat emitters, command and control systems, and debrief systems more cost effective, it is also enabling all of these capabilities to be integrated into a much smaller, mobile footprint. At the same time, the concept of the “training range” is changing. The need to set aside hundreds of square miles for a dedicated training space is no longer essential for building an EW training capability. Air combat training has been moving toward “rangeless” concepts for many years, and the ground-based elements of “untethered” EW training are beginning to follow suit. THREAT EMITTERS As with the EW market in general, the biggest customer in the threat emitter market is the US. Aside from operating multiple large ranges that provide squadrons intense but infrequent training, the DOD also owns dozens of smaller training sites that offer less dynamic, but more regular EW training. Collectively, these ranges are populated with hundreds of threat emitters – some old and some relatively new. In the US, the DOD continues to maintain several legacy systems, such as the MUTES and Mini-MUTES, the Modular Threat Emitter and the Tactical Radar Threat Generator, most of which were bought in the 1980s and 1990s. These systems are not necessarily highfidelity threat emitters, and newer EW systems equipped with digital receivers will likely disregard them as “threats.” But these legacy threat emitters are quite numerous and relatively inexpensive to maintain. These qualities suggest they will not be retired quickly, as they are still valued for providing a fair degree of threat density at the ranges. Moving forward, however, the DOD wants to “neck-down” its threat emitter inventory, and it is focusing its development and production dollars on three

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - March 2010

JED - March 2010
The View From Here
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Modernizing EW Ranges
Shooting Down the Good Guys
USAF EW Sustainment
Technology Survey: TWTs and MPMs
EW 101
AOC News
Industry/Institute/University Members
JED Sales Offices
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look

JED - March 2010