The painted ponies go up and down: riding the European EW carousel.
Indeed, the turndown in defense spending may actually benefit EW contractors, a view endorsed by Marconi Defense Systems (MDS) managing director and JED Editorial Advisory Board member David Tennet. In reviewing the current state of affairs, Tennet believes that EW is a "vital part" of modern weapon systems, the more so as platform numbers decrease and individual effectiveness and survival accordingly become increasingly important. The same logic is true in the retrofit market, where high-technology "add ons" can effectively double or triple platform life.
Looking specifically at the industrial environment in Europe, the first half of 1992 has seen few changes, with the familiar players such as MDS, Thomson, Electronica, Dassault Elettronique (DE) and Racal very much alive and kicking. While Thomson continues to buy up everything in sight, probably the most significant change is the agreed merger of the Spanish electronic companies Inisel and Ceselsa, which will bring together their respective EW subsidiaries ELT and ENSA.
While the merger/take-over scene has been relatively quiet, 1992 has seen the rise of collaboration. While the reasoning behind some programs of this nature may be more political than practical, the trend is obviously here to stay and can be exemplified by such efforts as the DE/Deutsche Aerospace STAIR ground-based ELINT system, the Thomson-CSF/Standard Elektrik Lorenz (SEL) TWE radar/laser threat warning system for the Franco-German Tiger battlefield attack helicopter and the MDS/Elettronica effort to develop a defensive aids subsystem (DASS) for the multinational European Fighter Aircraft (EFA).
EW IN THE AIR
Mention of EFA leads neatly to consideration of activity in the specific airborne EW field. Without doubt, the most significant event of the first half of 1992 was the long-awaited award of a development contract for the EFA DASS to the Eurodass consortium in mid-march. Originally designed to be a system common to the aircraft of the four participating nations UK, Italy, Spain and Germany), Eurodass's successful bid (its fifth over two years) saw only Britain and Italy still in the frame. Germany's withdrawal was not really surprising bearing in mind its long-voiced concerns over cost, but Spain's last-minute withdrawal was more of a shock in light of the benefits its industry was likely to gain from participation.
Whatever the politics, the EFA DASS, along with France's Spectre suite for the Rafale combat aircraft, represent the zenith of European EW industry capability. The EFA DASS is a funy integrated system built around three major subsystems: active radar jamming, electronic support measures and a missile approach warner (MAW). Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the first of these is the inclusion of towed active decoys. Pioneered by the UK's Royal Air Force (in the form of hand-built systems fitted to Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft used in the 1990/1991 Gulf War), the EFA DASS decoys are housed in the aircraft's starboard wingtip pod and are likely to take the form of "dumb" transmitters controlled and powered via their tow cables.
Elsewhere in the system, use is made of phased array transmission antennas and digital radar frequency memories (DRFMs) designed to generate what have been termed the "new jamming techniques necessary to defeat emerging threats which [cannot be] easily defeated using current noncoherent systems."
Equally innovative is the concept of "spherical coverage" inherent in the EFA DASS ESM so that the aircraft is provided with all around threat sensing. The specific subsystem also lays heavy emphasis on the use of advanced component technology, including high-density, very large scale high-speed integrated circuitry to provide both the required performance and minimize the physical size of the boxes used.
In many ways the Thomson-CSF/DE/Matra Spectra suite mirrors the EFA DASS. Having entered full-scale development during 1990, Spectra is being designed to come in at the extraordinarily low all-up weight of less than 180 kg. At the same time, it will offer full integration of a warning subsystem covering radar frequency, millimeter-wave, infrared (IR) and laser threats with active jamming and expendables.
Again like the EFA DASS, the Spectra warning subsystem is designed to provide a 10-km-diameter protective shell around the aircraft. It also makes use of a whole basket of advanced technologies, including interferometric direction-finding in the radar frequencies, electronic antenna steering, MMICs on gallium arsenide substrates, VHSICs, artificial intelligence applications in the data processing chain and DRFMs.
In view of the complexity of both these systems, it is tempting to conclude that the only real threat to their success would be failures in the development of the necessary technologies. Sadly, this "threat" is increasingly overshadowed by a lack of political will to see the programs incorporating these subsystems through to production. In the case of EFA, Germany's declaration that it is about to invoke the escape clauses built into the program and not proceed from the development to the production stage puts the aircraft's future in grave doubt. Equally, the French decision not to proceed with the single-seat Rafale for the French Air Force must sound warning bells about possible cuts in capability to keep costs down.
As with most things, however, even if both types are ultimately cancelled, the cloud may have a silver lining. Both the EFA DASS and Spectra have secure development funding, and the companies involved are astute enough to see that the work already done is not wasted. Equally, having decided that aircraft like EFA and Rafale meet their requirements, the operational planners involved are unlikely to backtrack and accept system capabilities which are less than those already specified!
Alongside such headline grabbers, European industry is putting a great deal of work into fields such as airborne expendables. Here, work is being done right across the magnetic spectrum with the French contractors being particularly active in the field. Thus, Thomson/Matra and DE are developing active offboard expendables (Spider and Camel/Bel, respectively), and Lacroix has launched (no pun intended) the Flash electro-optic countermeasure flare. Matra has the LICA "adapted kinematic IR decoy" and SNPE has just announced a new range of adaptive signature and trajectory decoys for the visible light, IR and ultraviolet segments of the spectrum.
Elsewhere in the airborne field, helicopter defense and suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) capabilities are exercising European minds. In SEAD terms, the UK's RAF is digesting the lessons learned through the operational use of the ALARM antiradiation missile (ARM) in the gulf war, while Germany has taken delivery of its 35th and final Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) Tomado and Italy has finally got its ECR act together with a conversion program covering 16 existing Interdiction Strike (IDS) Tornado aircframe,s.
While these programs make a welcome addition to the European electronic combat armory (the more so following the decision to withdraw USAFE'S 52nd Tactical Fighter Wing F-4G Wild Weasels from Europe), all in the garden is not rosy. The ECR Tornado has the potential to be a very effective SEAD platform but still lacks one of its major sensors, the Texas Instruments (TI) Emitter Location System (ELS).
Also troublesome for European industry is the dominance of 71's AGM-88 high-speed ARM. With Spain, Germany and now Italy all signed up for the weapon, the current European lead product - British Aerospace's ALARM - is having a rather poor time of it. Only one export order (Saudi Arabia) has been announced so far, despite a successful baptism of fire in the Gulf. Further down the road, France's Matra is developing the ARF ARM (having already been heavily involved in the Martel and ARMAT systems) for use on the Rafale. Quoted as, weighing under 200 kg, ARF is ramjet-powered, long-legged (range "more than 100 km") and should be able to defeat surface-to-air missile systems which have already launched a missile.
Interest in helicopter defensive aids systems is being driven by the introduction of a new generation of battlefield attack helicopters in Europe. The latest such program is the UK's requirement for 125 aircraft, which has prompted MDS to launch its, helicopter integrated defensive aids system (IDAS). The IDAS centers around one of the few newly launched products - the Sky Guardian 2000 radar warning receiver - so far seen during 1992. The IDAS concept integrates laser/radar warning, active radar jamming, IR jamming, an expendables dispenser and low-observability airframe features. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Sky Guardian 2000 is the provision of a sectionalized threat library which allows the user to create environment-specific libraries and/or the ability to switch between scenario-specific data bases at specific points during a mission.
Another facet of the European scene is renewed interest in airborne EW training systems fostered in large part by the planned demise of the UK's 360 Squadron. The UK needs urgently to find a replacement for the present Canberra T. 17s before these beautiful but venerable aircraft start quite literally to fall from the sky! For it replacement" read "contractorization," and one of the most hard-fought contract battles observed in the UK so far.
With the official request for proposals now out, the winner of the UK contract (and its electronics supplier) will be well placed to follow a trend already established by the UK company FR Aviation, which has set up the joint-venture Aviation Defense Systems SpA to capitalize on the French need for specialized EW training services. Where France leads, others are very likely to follow - and in an area as sensitive as EW training, what better way to comer a potentially large European market than via participation in an on-shore, nationally operated organization?
As a final thought on current European airborne EW activity, the industry is responding to a perceived market for signals intelligence (SIGINT) gathering aircraft. Examples of such platforms include Dutch airframe contractor Fokker's Black Crow platform; two options from British Aerospace based on either its turboprop Jetstream 41 or jet-powered BAe 125-800 aircraft; and the US-German Egrett "poor man's U-2."
Using the successful Fokker F50 turboprop airliner as a basis, the seven-man Black Crow SIGINT vehicle is built around Argo's AR-7000 SIGINT suite. The AR-7000 offers an electronic intelligence (ELINT) capability covering the 0.5- to 18-GHz frequency band and communications intelligence (COMINT) coverage of the 20- to 1,000-MHz range. In terms of aircraft performance, the Black Crow platform is expected to have an endurance and service ceiling of 13 hours and 25,000 ft, respectively.
The two British Aerospace proposals share a common (but as yet unspecified) SIGINT suite covering the 20-MHz to 18-GHz frequency range operated by a mission crew made up of a mission supervisor, ELINT operator and two COMINT personnel. The Jetstream 41 proposal is quoted as having a signals detection range Of 200 mi from an altitude of 20,000 ft. The BAe 125-800-based platform (known as the P134) would offer a detection range of 230 mi from an altitude of 40,000 ft.
All three of these aircraft are aimed primarily at the Middle and Far Eastern markets.
The E-Systems/Grob Egrett has a somewhat different orientation in that it was originally conceived as a high-altitude SIGINT platform for use by Germany's Luftwaffe to monitor activity across its eastern border in the old Warsaw Pact countries. The disintegration of the Soviet Union and its hegemony over Eastern Europe has removed this requirement, and the program has transmuted into a two-pronged effort. In the first instance, the Egrett would provide a means by which Germany could participate in LTN peace-keeping operations without compromising its constitution. Via the Prisma consortium (E-Systems, Grob, Hughes, Deutsche Aerospace and Elekluft), the sec. ond prong would entail the plane's use as an attractive multirole surveillance platform for export.
The Egrett is an extremely attractive (if relatively expensive) package. But as with many current German defense programs, the Luftwaffe order for 10 aircraft is now in doubt as Germany struggles with the cost of reunification and a body politic which increasingly appears to question the need for large-scale defense spending. While no one can question Germany's sovereign right to pursue its own policies, in the opinion of this and many other commentators, Germany's current propensity to withdraw from collaborative ventures does not auger well for the future of its high-tech industries. Increasingly it is being seen as an unreliable partner, a situation which can only be exacerbated by these latest doubts over Egrett and the described moves to withdraw completely from the EFA program.
Turning to first-half naval business in 1992, the watchword is probably consolidation rather than innovation, with the majority of sales being of existing product lines. Some flavor of the market can be gained from ongoing programs such as: * Oman's Project Muheet Missile corvettes which will feature UK contractor ML Wallop's Super Barricade chaff/IR decoy launcher and Thomson-CSF's DR 3000 electronic support measures (ESM) system. * The sale of CSEE-Defense Dagaie Mk 2 decoy launchers to Tai wan for use on its La Fayette class frigates. * The installation of Selenia's INS-3 integrated ESM/Jammin suite on the four Iraqi Assad class missile frigates which were built in Italy, never delivered an are now being put back onto the export market. INS-3 comprise the 1- to 18-GHz RQN-3 ESM combined with the TQN-26- to 20-GHz radar jammer. * The selection of a variant o MDS's Mentor ESM and an as yet unidentified UK decoy launcher system for installation on two Malaysian frigates ordered from the UK's Yarrow shipbuilders.
As will be obvious from the foregoing, European naval EW business lays heavy emphasis on a firm customer base in the Middle and Far East to supplement home markets.
In terms of new programs, the ground is fairly thin. Britain and France are continuing the attempt to harmonize their requirements for a surface ship active off-board decoy while UK companies continue their participation in the Anglo-American Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) program. Again in the UK, Thom-EMI is undertaking a project definition study of a fully integrated EW suite for use in the RN's future air defense frigate. Like the described Anglo-French harmonization effort on active decoys, this program may well become a joint venture, with both navies having a requirement for such a vessel in the early years of the next century.
In terms of sensing, there continues to be interest in naval applications for IR search and track systems, a trend exemplified by the UK's experimental ARISE program. ARISE ams to establish the validity of the technology as an identification and weapons laying sensor for use against aircraft and antishipping missiles. Developed by Thom-EMI, the ARISE system has been most recently fitted with a new dual band detector (overing the 3- to 5- and 8- to 14-[mu]m bands) which has been developed by Philips IR Defence Components.
From a European perspective, perhaps one of the most disappointing aspecto of current naval EW business is an inability to penetrate the US market - however good the product on offer might be. To illustrate the dilemma, there is no need to look further than the recently cancelled USN Shipboard Lightweight Electronic Warfare System (SLEWS) program which would almost certainly have been won by a European system. While some might applaud the covert protectionism inherent in the "not made here, not bought here" philosophy, the logic of using such a precept to prevent the procurement of equipment which meets US technical and price specifications (and which, if acquired, would be built under license in the US anyway) is looking increasingly perverse from this side of the Atlantic, the more so in view of America's insistence on open markets for its own goods and services.
To conclude this half year review, the reader's attention is directed toward Europe's efforts in the direction of land-based systems. Interest remains high in both battlefield ESM systems and strategic SIGINT networks, with a particular emphasis on the Middle and Far Eastern markets.
Examples of recent work in the field include the French Army ordering samples of the DE/Deutsche Aerospace STAIR battlefield radar detection, location and identification system; Deutsche Aerospace's development of the shelter-mounted air-defense related Passat ESM; Racal's sale of its 2-MHz to 1-GHz Seeker III vehicle-mounted direction-finding/signals intercept system to what are described as "two land force customers in the Asia-Pacific region"; and Thomson-CSF's launch of a new mobile COMINT system.
Perhaps the most significant moves are in the areas of integrating vehicle electronics (vetronics) and developing effective DAS's to protect high-value assets such as the latest generation of main battle tanks such as the British Challenger and the French Leclere. Looking at these areas in reverse, the main surprise in the tank DAS field is that it should have taken so long for such systems to enter development! Today's main battle tank is an expensive item to lose and it is probably only because land forces have traditionally seen EW as an intelligence-gathering tool rather than an offensive/defensive weapon that work in the field has started so late.
Some idea of how European manufacturers view the tank DAS can be gained from a paper given by Vickers Defence Systems (the manufacturer of the Challenger) at the June 1992 Battlefield Vetronics and Communications exhibition and conference. Under the title "Vehicle Borne Threat Sensors for Defensive Aids Systems," company representatives laid out a scenario in which direct threats to a particular vehicle could be tracked using three distinct missile signatures (exhaust plumes, friction heating of the weapon's body as it passes through the air and the emissions associated with guidance systems) and acoustic sensors for locating hostile platforms such as attack helicopters and antitank vehicles.
Using these various signatures, Vickers proposes an active/passive system which would have an overall field of view of 360 [degrees] in azimuth and -10 [degrees] to +70 [degrees] in elevation. Mounted at the highest point on the vehicle would be the company's Tackill sensor head which incorporates day (charge couple device camera) and night (thermal imager) imaging, a laser retro-reflector system and a Doppler radar, all mounted on a mechanically steerable stabilized platform. Passive sensors would be applied in "patches" located at the four corners of the turret and hull. Turret sensors would include passive laser, radio/radar frequency, IR and ultraviolet (UV) detectors, while those on the hull would incorporate the acoustic warning subsystem. Such an overall system would require a six-box signal processing installation (DAS control, laser warning, radar/command link warning, IR/UV warning, acoustic warning, Doppler radar and laser retro-reflection processing) and would be able to provide both threat warning and automatic initiation of countermeasures. Options for actually defending such vehicles currently being considered include platform maneuvers, smoke, chaff and "hard kill" gun mountings. French contractor Lacroix is particularly active in the smoke field, while UK company Chemring has proposed a millimeter-wave chaff which would also act as an IR absorber.
The vetronics concept dovetails into the tank DAS concept in that it provides the vehicle with an integrated electronics system with multipurpose crew stations rather than discrete subsystems. In the UK, the Defense Research Agency (DRA) sponsored Verdi program has demonstrated the concept and is moving on to a second phase which is intended to validate a two-man workstation concept for the British Army's Tracer next-generation reconnaissance vehicle.
As a final observation concerning land-based system development, another UK DRA program is a proof-of-concept laser decoy system designed to protect high-value targets from attack by laser-designated weapons. Using a modified Ferranti Type 306 neodymium-YAG laser designator as a decoy source, the system incorporates a control unit and a receiver. Functionally, the system analyzes - incoming laser radiation and generates a matched output which is aimed off-target to create a credible alternative "basket" for the incoming weapon's seeker to home in on. Although only just revealed, successful trials took place in the mid-1980s and the technology is currently seen as ready should a service requirement appear at some time in the future.
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|Title Annotation:||electronic warfare|
|Publication:||Journal of Electronic Defense|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1992|
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