JED - August 2012 - (Page 28)

By Martin Streetly 28 The Journal of Electronic Defense | August 2012 Like many aspects of EW, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the role appears to be cyclic, with the highs usually being associated with operational need in wartime. By way of example, the US military successfully made use of Ryan’s Model 147 “remotely piloted vehicle” to acquire fusing data on the SA-2 surface-to-air missile over Vietnam and to collect COMINT and ELINT off mainland China during the 1960s and 1970s before consigning both capabilities to the store marked “forgotten.” Next up, a 147 derivative was considered (but not used) as a Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) tool during the last stages of the Vietnam War, while Israel made use of Ryan Model 124I air vehicles as decoys during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This time around, UAVs as surveillance platforms did not go away, but it was to be another 30 odd years (and another set of conflicts) before UAV EW applications reappeared. Before looking at the present stateof-play, it is perhaps useful to consider what is meant by EW in the UAV context. In broad terms, such technology can currently be divided into collection and electronic attack (EA) genres. On the collection front, manufacturers around the world are offering both COMINT, ELINT and radio frequency geolocation systems that are configured for use aboard UAVs of various sizes. Elsewhere, EA applications range from conventional radio frequency jammers through “lethal drones” to potential “Star Wars” applications such as high-powered microwave (HPM) warheads and the use of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology in the jamming role. In all cases, what is achievable is dictated by the UAV immutables of available power, payload weight limits and available real estate in which to mount the necessary EW equipment. EXPERIENCED ISRAEL Taking these various roles in order, UAV SIGINT collection has once more come to the fore with the need to monitor insurgent communications in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. Stepping back, the Israeli doctrine of making the most of every mission flown has resulted in the country’s defense electronics industry producing perhaps the widest range of UAV-orientated SIGINT payloads, with systems being able to act as primary sensors or “go along for the ride” aboard platforms whose main role might be electro-optical or radar surveillance. In terms of Israeli EW and SIGINT products, JED identifies Elta Systems, Elisra Systems EW and SIGINT and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as all producing SIGINT payloads suitable for installation aboard UAVs. Elta Systems produces the EL/K-7071 Integrated UAV COMINT and DirectionFinding (DF) System (IUCOMS) together with the EL/L-8385 Integrated UAV ES/ ELINT System (IUELIS). Primarily designed for Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE)/High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) applications, both systems are billed as being able to intercept, parametrically characterize, locate, analyze, classify and monitor received signals. Within both systems, raw data is downlinked to associated ground stations for processing (including emitter geolocation) and dissemination, with the facilities being equipped with the tools needed to undertake mission preparation, debrief, analysis and report generation. Aside from relatively widespread use (with EL/K-7071’s characteristic flatplate antennas appearing on Heron UAVs operated by Australia, Canada, France and India amongst others), both these systems exemplify a key factor in current UAV SIGINT technology, namely the need for ground-based processing to support the airborne collection element. In turn, this means that to be effective, such systems

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - August 2012

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
EW and SIGINT Payloads for UAVs
EW Careers: The Changing Market
Technology Survey: FPGA Boards
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers

JED - August 2012