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Developing Electronic Warfare Capabilities

Investment into electronic warfare capabilities and training programmes is rapidly accelerating as NATO forces acclimatise to threats in Eastern Europe and beyond.

Coalition partners, who have spent the last decade or so working in uncontested environments, are now acclimatising to face more sophisticated threats.

Cyber-attacks, such as the Petya and WannaCry ransomware attacks have been well documented, but the additional attacks which take place daily against government and military infrastructure present serious challenges for control of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Electronic Warfare meeting returns to Warsaw, Poland in January 2018 ready to provide a forum for nations and industry to discuss capability requirements within the electronic warfare and cyber space domain.

With the Eastern Europe area in mind, militaries need to be mobile and ready to move critical infrastructure. Radar, vehicles, satellites, command systems and radio infrastructure need to be able to be relocated so the army can dominate the spectrum as early as possible.

As a result, NATO plans to spend €3billion to advance its satellite and computer technology over the next three years. Lieutenant Colonel Gunter Chladek, Land Section Chief, NATO JEWCS will open the Electronic Warfare meeting to discuss the ongoing NATO JEWCS procurement programme as well as revealing some of the results from working in contested environments.

The technology programme to develop electronic warfare capabilities requires a significant training programme to ensure personnel can operate the technology in contested environments. NATO for example are spending $176m on next generation training equipment specifically for electronic warfare.

Colonel Sean Wilson, CEMA OIC, US Army Europe will outline at Electronic Warfare 2018 what impact the Ukrainian conflict has had on their training and approach to EW. NATO partner nations, as well as industry representatives, will be interested to hear how the US Army have identified inadequacies and their future operational requirements.

The main areas of interest at EW 2018 will be how cyber and EW can be utilised in sync to provide comprehensive control of the spectrum. There is a greater emphasis on land operations and the importance of a mobile and effective force.

Australia’s decision announced in June 2017 to purchase up to five Gulfstream G550 modified intelligence and surveillance aircraft for $1.3bn demonstrates this requirement. The project involves converting the luxury Gulfstream jets into state-of- the-art spy planes jammed with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare systems.

The deal, which was mooted in last year’s Defence white paper, will sharply boost the RAAF’s intelligence capabilities. The highly secretive G550 is expected to be able to fly more than 12 hours non-stop with a range of more than 12,000km.

Delegates to Electronic Warfare 2018 will hear from Major Tapio Saarelainen from the Finnish Defence Forces who is leading research into the deployment and utilisation of UAVs and the role EW plays in both protecting friendly platforms and disabling hostile drones.

Electronic Warfare, taking place 16th - 18th January 2018 in Warsaw, Poland, will host a dedicated Cyber Focus Day before a 2-day programme covering a spectrum of topics within Electronic Warfare.