Providing the Indian Armed Forces with an edge through digital electronic warfare

Reckoned as one of the most technologically advanced branches of warfare today, electronic warfare (EW) exploits the electromagnetic spectrum to control it for offensive and defensive actions. This ability to collect and make sense of signals in an environment when combined with radar provides capabilities to detect threats, take evasive action and also launch countermeasures against any attack and its source.  

However, the telecommunications boom, including networks of signals for billions of mobile phones and computers, has created massive congestion if not saturation in the radiofrequency spectrum. The result is that now it’s much more difficult to find ‘signals of interest’ in military terms. This is even more propelled by the arrival of 5G telecommunications and the internet of things that are adding even more electromagnetic fog, thus obscuring threat detection.

In such times what remains critical is the reinvention of the medium to mitigate the new challenges. With 60 years of EW experience, applying transformative expertise and advanced digital technology, Thales delivers trusted, field-proven superiority for electronic surveillance, intelligence and self-protection.

In India, Thales’ system deliver information superiority and give the joint forces mastery of action whenever they face their decisive moments. Thales has an operational JV with Reliance Aerostructure where it provides a number of state-of-the-art equipment and systems aboard the Rafale, including the provision of the Spectra electronic warfare system among others. The SPECTRA “Electronic Warfare” (EW) system is the cornerstone of the Rafale’s outstanding survivability against airborne and ground threats. It carries multiple threat capability, including missile approach warning and decoy dispenser, helping to ensure success in hostile environments.[1]

Additionally, Thales also provides EW systems to the Indian Navy, thus, boosting its tactical abilities.

Separating the wheat from the chaff: the three missions of EW

Thales brings forth digital electronic warfare to traverse the path of the challenges of modern warfare, by transforming the basic step of signal processing from analogue to digital, thus allowing sampling of the signal environment digitally. In addition to this, the signals here are analysed utilizing Artificial Intelligence to ascertain their identity and the result is the separation of the wheat from the chaff.

Patrick Agnieray, Electronic Warfare Product Line Manager at Thales, describes how this EW revolution is critical to the successive stages of missions. “First, there is Electronic Intelligence where EW provides details of emitters of interest around you and creates their electronic signatures for later processing by AI algorithms to identify them. The second stage of EW’s mission is electronic support, which provides situational awareness of all emitters that are tracking your ship or having an ability to send a missile toward you. Finally, the third stage is electronic protection, where EW detects an incoming missile and sets the stage for defensive measures.”[2]

Assuring Situational Awareness and Tactical Advantage

 “Digital EW means you lose less time, you see the missile before it sees you and, so, it saves lives. With better situational awareness, you can tell friend from foe more quickly and so you have more freedom to engage after challenging the adversary to identify itself,” says Philip Ventress, Head of Electronic Warfare Marketing and Product Strategy for the company.

Thales’ transformative Ultra-Wideband Digital Electronic Warfare technology supports armed forces on land as well as on the open seas.  It provides the earliest possible warning of radar guided weapons, targeting systems or covertly operating forces. It can be used to collect intelligence to support troop movements and to monitor borders or choke points by gathering intelligence such as patterns of life or transmissions on land.

And by reinventing EW through digital, Thales has also solved the problem of upgrading equipment in case of changes or more congestion in the radiofrequency spectrum. Because it is software-based, there is no need to change hardware. So, algorithms can be changed through new software---even by the customer.

Safety First

In the present security scenario, it becomes imperative that forces spread over vast areas remain connected with one another in every possible way. The integration and conduct of EW to support military missions across all services is critical. Thanks to its expertise in Digital EW, Thales has the potential to provide support to Indian armed forces on the sea or on the ground in a complex environment and guarantees their operational superiority in addition to their force protection.