JED - May 2011 - (Page 30)

By Luca Peruzzi 30 The Journal of Electronic Defense | May 2011 Today, Europe faces a number of electronic warfare (EW) challenges. NATO forces have been deployed in Afghanistan for almost a decade, and now they are also maintaining a “no-fly” zone in Libya and striking ground targets. At the same time, many of the region’s governments, in an attempt to balance their budgets, are making significant cuts to their defense spending. Few would have foreseen these types of pressures a decade ago. Meanwhile a variety of threats, from long-range air defense systems and infrared (IR)-guided man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to anti-ship cruise missiles and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), continue to evolve and proliferate, driving a long-term need for EW research and development, as well as procurement, to protect the aircraft, ships, submarines and ground vehicles of European defense forces. There is not much that Europe can do in the near-term to relieve these pressures. The best option is to develop a plan that focuses on long-term investment in EW and cultivating strategic relationships with potential partners in the international market. COMBAT AIRCAFT EW The Libyan conflict, especially NATO’s role in maintaining the UN-sanctioned no-fly zone, is focusing new attention on Europe’s air power requirements and the role of EW. European EW manufacturers face a unique challenge in the fighter aircraft market because no new European fighter programs are expected for at least a decade. This means companies will need to make do with upgrades to existing fighters, such as the Gripen, Eurofighter, Rafale and perhaps the Tornado. Despite this shortage of opportunities, European EW companies are continuing to offer new solutions for European militaries, as well as for the export market. Elettronica S.p.A. (Rome, Italy) is completing the development and testing of Virgilius, a new airborne EW system designed to provide self- and mutual protection. The result of company-funded research and development efforts, the system is fully digital, network-capable, and modular and provides integrated electronic support measures (ESM) and electronic attack. Elettronica told JED that Virgilius, which can be carried internally or in external pods, will provide threat awareness, surveillance and jamming. All functions are performed in a single, software-defined unit, providing for a lighter-weight and less power-hungry system, according to the company. It expects Virgilius to be ready for series production for combat aircraft applications from the first quarter of 2012. Selex Galileo (Luton, Bedfordshire, UK) has developed the SEER family of E- to J-band digital radar warning receivers, which are extendable to C to K bands. SEER offers significant improvements over the company’s Sky Guardian 200 series RWR in terms of detection range and signal sorting, as well as threat identification in dense electromagnetic environments. Moreover the potential operator can pass situational awareness data among multiple platforms as part of a larger network-centric concept. The SEER family, which includes both compact and distributed versions, is formfactor compatible with the company’s legacy Sky Guardian 200 systems, and it offers a straightforward upgrade path for users of those systems. Selex Galileo is offering SEER primarily to defense forces that fly Hawk, L-159 and F-5 aircraft. Last year Malaysia evaluated the SEER on its Hawk light combat aircraft. More recently, the Czech Air Force has flown the system on its L-159. Thales Aerospace (Paris, France) is proposing its family of Compact Airborne Threat Surveyors (CATS) for combat aircraft. Covering from E to J bands, CATS features a digital receiver architecture and performs EW suite-management functions. Like SEER, it can share data with other platforms in a network-centric environment. Its open architecture can accommodate modular frequency extensions from C to K band. CATS is already installed on the Royal Moroccan Air Force’s Dassault Mirage F-1. Thales is offering CATS for multiple fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. With new products such as Virgilius, Seer and CATS, Europe has a number of lightweight, advanced EW systems to offer to the global combat aircraft market. In Europe, however, the opportunities are more limited. Eurofighter partner nations Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are postponing talks about the Tranche 3B production phase of the program. To support export campaigns, the Eurofighter consortium – comprising Alenia Aeronautica (Italy), BAE Systems (UK) and EADS (Germany and Spain) – is holding discussions with customers in order to avoid a break in the production line, which is set to close in 2015, after it delivers the 112 Typhoons planned for Tranche 3A lot production. The Eurofighter consortium is focusing on potential customers worldwide, including India, Malaysia, Japan and Gulf States, in addition to upgrading 24 of the 72 Ty-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - May 2011

JED - May 2011
The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Europe’s Leading EW and SIGINT Programs
TWTs and Beyond: Putting More Power into EW
EW 101
AOC News
AOC Membership Page
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look

JED - May 2011