What Is Electronic Warfare?

For the armed forces, defeating threats long before they can be seen is their number one goal. To support their mission, BAE Systems is the premier mission systems provider in effective and affordable electronic warfare (EW) technologies. Electronic warfare systems are present on over 120 platforms and operate on 80% of US military fixed-wing aircraft, more than 95% of US Army rotary-wing aircraft, and their US allies. BAE Systems serves as the sole EW provider for modern aircraft and will likely extend its services well into the future.

BAE Systems’ research and development provides solutions to some of the most critical defense and intelligence problems across the globe in the areas of advanced electronics, autonomy, cyber, electronic warfare, sensors, and signal processing. Furthermore, the technologies utilized to combat such issues are remedied with state-of-the-art anti-jam/electronic protection, multispectral EW, cognitive EW, EW demonstration systems, and more.

Threats are evolving at an immeasurable pace, with adversaries attacking in unprecedented ways. However, with broad bandwidth, near-instantaneous detection and industry-leading signal processing, BAE Systems’ advanced technologies counter current and emerging threats using four primary EW capabilities. These capabilities are categorized as Electronic Support (ES), Electronic Protection (EP), Electronic Attack (EA), and Mission Support. As BAE Systems is recognized for having the longest sensor range in the industry, they are customers’ first alert to threats. Below, we will break down how each of the four primary EW capabilities work.

Electronic Support (ES)

Electronic Support (ES) abides by a strict set of operational directives to detect, intercept, identify, and track electromagnetic energy sources to recognize threats, compile targeting and signals intelligence data, and provide insight for future planning. As such, ES threat detection is generally considered EW’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) mission, which also includes geolocation tracking and navigational capabilities.

Electronic Protection (EP)

Electronic Protection (EP) consists of safeguarding a particular country’s personnel, facilities, and equipment from the effects of electronic attacks (EAs) by hostile forces. In this case, threat suppression is achieved by utilizing a myriad of onboard and offboard systems that take advantage of cyber and multispectral radio frequency/infrared (RF/IR) tools that detect, analyze, and initiate responses to present and potential threats.

Electronic Attack (EA)

Electronic Attack (EA) is defined as the strategic use of electromagnetic or directed energy weapons to assault enemy forces’ electronic infrastructure with the goal of degrading or destroying their combat capabilities. This category of EW includes threat analysis and response, signal jamming, electromagnetic deception, lasers, RF weapons, and other tools for the means of threat neutralization.

Mission Support

Mission Support is the last branch and it consists of ensuring that ES, EP, and EA are equipped with the necessary resources to deliver operational analyses, execute mission planning, and employ management tools, equipment test systems, maintenance aids, and more.  

History of Electronic Warfare

For many years, military strategists have used a wide range of tools and techniques to intercept and gather information regarding enemy plans, trick opponents into making tactical errors, hamper enemy communications, and more. During the Russo-Japanese War (1904), EW rose as an effective tool for achieving such ends. It proved successful in the interception of Russian naval wireless signals by HMS Diana. From that point forward, EW became an incredible asset to armed forces, transforming how countries are defended, battles are fought, and wars are won.


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