News 1998 Army Science and Technology Master Plan

10. Electronic Warfare/Directed Energy Weapons

Electronic warfare (EW) includes any military action involving the use of EM and directed–energy (DE) to control the EM spectrum or attack an enemy. There are three major categories of EW: electronic attack, electronic support, and electronic protection. Directed–energy weapons (DEWs) can be considered a special type of electronic attack that are handled as a separate category to distinguish them from more traditional EW techniques. Laser weapons, RF weapons, and particle beam weapons are the three main categories of DEW. As a practical matter, only lasers and RF weapons have advanced sufficiently to be of military value.

The major technology areas of Army interest are shown in Table E–13. As indicated in the table, design of EW and DEW systems often demands detailed support intelligence regarding the characteristics of the system being attacked. To the extent that this requires disclosure of threat intelligence, international cooperation is impeded. This is especially important in the traditional EW areas of jamming, electronic support, and electronic protection. There are, however, several areas of technology of

Table E–13.  International Research Capabilities—Electronic Warfare and Directed Energy Weapons


United Kingdom




Asia/Pacific Rim


Other Countries

Electronic Attack

Research in these areas may require sharing of sensitive threat information & is handled on a case–by–case basis.

Electronic Support
Electronic Protection
Radio Frequency Directed–Energy Weapons 5s.gif (958 bytes) HPM 5s.gif (958 bytes) HPM       Russia, Ukraine

2s.gif (968 bytes) HPM

Lasers Directed–Energy Weapons 2s.gif (968 bytes) LELs 2s.gif (968 bytes) Laser materials 2s.gif (968 bytes) Laser materials 2s.gif (968 bytes) HELs; LELs   Russia

· HELs

5s.gif (958 bytes) LELs

Note: See Annex E, Section A.6 for explanation of key numerals.

a more general dual–use nature, including high–power microwave (HPM) tubes and lasers in which there are significant foreign capabilities and opportunities. The following paragraphs provide additional information for each technology subarea.

a. Electronic Attack

Electronic attack involves the use of EM or DE to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying enemy combat capability. Areas of interest include suppression of enemy air defense, fusion and data integration algorithms, communications countermeasures for UAVs, jamming of mobile and digital radio systems, and deception against advanced surveillance, acquisition, and fire control radars. Technical challenges include development of wide area distributed databases, advanced antennas, precision targeting in the low GHz range, and signal recognition, demodulation, and electronic countermeasures (ECM) waveforms against commercial grade high capacity cellular and satellite transceivers.

Research in this area may require sharing of sensitive threat information. Exchange of data on system characteristics, vulnerabilities, and weapon effectiveness are generally needed to develop effective requirements and system specifications for this type of EW. For this reason, all cooperative efforts involving electronic attack must be carefully handled on a case–by–case basis, and no technological areas of special interest are identified in this summary.

b. Electronic Support

Electronic support includes actions taken to search, intercept, identify, and locate sources of radiated EM energy for threat recognition in support of EW operations and other tactical actions, such as threat avoidance, homing, and targeting. Technologies to intercept, direction–find, and locate current and emerging hostile emitters are critical for targeting and tactical situation awareness. Next–generation electronic support measures (ESM) processors must offer improved emitter identification, deinterleaving techniques, direction–finding/geolocation algorithms, multipath suppression techniques, and increased capabilities in the super high frequency region. Continued development of correlation and templating, automated tracking, cross–queuing, and situation display tools are also important. Technical challenges include the integration of ceramic phase shifters into phased–array antennas, application specific integrated circuits for fast Fourier transform processing, and tools and techniques for tasking and reporting from multi–intelligence sensor platforms.

This too is an area that may require sharing of sensitive threat information, system characteristics, and vulnerabilities. All cooperative efforts involving electronic support must be handled on a case–by–case basis, and no technological areas of special interest are identified in this summary.

c. Electronic Protection

Electronic protection includes actions taken to protect personnel, facilities, or equipment against EW that might degrade, neutralize, or destroy combat capability. Sensor and countermeasure technologies are essential elements in the complex battle that pits defensive EW systems against the enemy’s offensive systems. On the modern battlefield, this is an encounter in which a timespan of 1 or 2 seconds can mean the difference between winning or losing. Advanced technology is critical in providing the winning edge in performance. Technical goals include development of multifunction and multispectral IR countermeasures (IRCM), radar and laser warning, and real–time situational awareness. Technology challenges include development of uncooled, low false alarm rate detectors, multicolor IR FPAs, missile detection algorithms, and more efficient, low–cost, and temperature–stable IR/ultraviolet (UV) filters. Development of high–speed wideband digital receivers based on GaAs technologies will also play a key role in electronic protection, as will development of high–power ultra–wideband (UWB) jamming modulators and transmitters.

Again, this is an area that may require sharing of sensitive threat information, system characteristics, and vulnerabilities. All cooperative efforts involving electronic support must be handled on a case–by–case basis, and no technological areas of special interest are identified in this summary.

d. Radio Frequency Directed–Energy Weapons

High–power radio frequency (HPRF) DE systems can be categorized by frequency bandwidth or power level. Narrowband systems are commonly referred to as HPM, while the wideband are referred to as wideband or UWB. As DEWs, RF systems are intended to defeat, degrade, or destroy electronic equipment. The effects can range from temporary upsets in performance to permanent circuit deterioration to burnout or destruction. As modern weapons systems become more dependent on sophisticated electronics, they also become more vulnerable to DE RF radiation. One of the highest Army priorities is to assess potential vulnerabilities of U.S. systems to unintentional fratricide by our own emissions, as well as intentional irradiation by enemy systems. Hardening technology is being developed to protect against both of these threats. Particular areas of improvement include developing and testing HPM sources and interference modulation, hardening MMIC circuits against RF, and developing broadband, high–gain antennas. One promising technology is the use of silicon carbide for hardening devices. Technical challenges primarily relate to making the RF generators smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient. In addition, modulators and antennas must also be improved.

Some of the required developments in RF weapons involve very sensitive areas as mentioned in the above sections. Certain areas, however, involve technology of a more general dual–use nature, which offer potential for cooperative development. France is a leading producer of HPM tubes. Significant RF source development efforts also exist in the United Kingdom. Several other countries have limited research efforts in this area: Germany, Switzerland, China, Japan, and to a lesser extent, Sweden, Israel, and Australia.

In addition, Russia and Ukraine both have significant capabilities in RF weapons. The FSU was considered the world leader in HPM at the time of its disintegration. The Russians have concentrated on development of HPRF generators such as various types of gyrotrons and klystron amplifiers.

e. Laser Directed–Energy Weapons

Compact, high–efficiency lasers are critical for EO countermeasures, IRCM, and DEW applications. As diode–pumped lasers, nonlinear frequency conversion, and laser designs have matured, it has become feasible to incorporate these devices into tactical vehicles and aircraft for self–protection and missile defense. The main challenge is to demonstrate the required power levels in a compact package and to develop the ability to scale the power level up to higher levels to meet future needs. Lightweight, wavelength–diverse diode pumped lasers for the mid–IR are currently being developed, as are sophisticated active tracker systems to provide precision pointing and atmospheric compensation. Remaining technical challenges relate to packaging of higher power devices and cost reduction of laser diode arrays. Compact solid–state lasers with sufficient power for standoff DEW applications represent a longer term challenge.

Semiconductor laser diodes are expected to have a major impact on future battlefield laser systems because of their compact size, ruggedness, and efficiency. Japan is the leading producer of laser diodes, especially low–to–medium power devices and diode arrays, which are beginning to appear in a number of industrial and medical lasers. The U.K., France, and Russia also have significant capabilities in most areas of laser technology. Russia has special capabilities in free electron laser (FEL) and other high–energy lasers (HELs).

Diode–pumped solid–state lasers operating directly at visible wavelengths offer significant potential in optical countermeasure systems for the visible spectral region. They offer much higher efficiency than can be achieved by frequency shifting from existing lasers. The technical challenge is to develop improved materials (gain media). Two foreign groups are among the world leaders in the development of such materials: a research group at the Université de Lyon in France and a group at Universitat Hamburg in Germany. Both groups have the expertise and infrastructure to make valuable progress in the identification and development of the needed materials. Existing agreements with both countries offer potential vehicles to pursue cooperative efforts.

AMC POC: Dr. Rodney Smith
Army Materiel Command
5001 Eisenhower Blvd.
Alexandria, VA 22333–0001

IPOC: Bob Both
Fort Monmouth, NJ 07703

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