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Defining the electromagnetic spectrum as a defense domain?

by Asif Anwar | 7月 27, 2011

This blog is reproduced from Asif Anwar's regular 'Expert Insights' column for the Microwave Journal Military Defence Column.

Electronic Warfare uses the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) in three roles across air, sea, and land warfare domains; Electronic Attack (EA), Electronic Protection (EP), and Electronic Warfare Support (ES).

  • Electronic Attack (EA) involves the use of EM energy to attack enemy forces, facilities and equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing or destroying capabilities including communications, radar and EW.
  • Electronic Protection (EP) is defined as the protection of friendly forces from inadvertent impacts of both friendly and enemy use of EMS.
  • Electronic Warfare Support (ES) involves the active searching, interception and locating of EM energy, be it intentional or otherwise. This then supports immediate threat recognition as well as enabling the targeting, planning and conduct of operations.

Regardless of the roles and domains in which Electronic Warfare is employed, communications is a crucial foundation for the successful use of EW systems, and MilSatComs will play an increasingly important role in both traditional and asymmetric warfare scenarios.

Examples include the use MilSatComs to provide a beyond-line-of-sight linkage between ground forces requesting air EW strikes and airborne platforms circling elsewhere that need to be quickly dispatched to the combat location, backup against EW attacks on terrestrial ground communications, the incorporation of IED detection capabilities combined with MilSatComs as UAV platforms become relay nodes and the use of MilSatComs to allow joint coordination of MNF (multinational forces) units at the tactical level (air, sea, and ground), whether for EW or kinetic warfare.

Strategy Analytics sees the strategic importance of MilSatComs for EW operations increasing though there are several recommendations that will need to be successfully implemented over the next decade to ensure full efficacy. In particular, while countries such as the US are developing Electromagnetic Battlefield Management (EMBM) systems within a net-centric doctrine, Strategy Analytics believes there is a "perception deficit", with the electronic warfare domain not commanding the same cachet as cyberspace. This has the potential to hamstring successful implementation of combined MilSatCom EW strategy especially if this results in a failure to balance budgetary pressures with on-going technology development. The Strategy Analytics Advanced Defense Systems (ADS) service report, "The Strategic Impact of Milsatcoms on Electronic Warfare," provides an overview of both MilSatCom and EW technologies and platforms and discusses implementation strategies that will drive closer synergies in the future.

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