With every passing year, the signal environment for Electronic Warfare (EW) systems is becoming more and more complex. There are more signals out there, both military and civilian. Hence it becomes imperative to have a smart EW systems which can quickly differentiate a threat signal from other signals.
All around us, there is an Electromagnetic (EM) spectrum which covers all energy radiated by means of electromagnetic waves including radio communication and radar transmission. According to Inga Bergstrom, Sales Director of Gripen EW, Electronic Warfare is the combat for control of the EM spectrum.
“EW may not be the primary function of a fighter, but it is an enabler to conduct a successful mission,” Inga says.
Some of the tactics used by pilots of fighter aircraft to avoid detection include silent flight by reducing emissions, or by flying at low heights. Even then, detection by enemy devices is a possibility, and in the event that Gripen E’s location has been compromised, EW system provides countermeasure techniques, such as Dispensing – in which decoys are released into the air, creating a false target to fool the enemy.
Elaborating on the features of Gripen’s EW system, Inga says that it is all about listening, detecting, identifying, and if you are detected first, about deterring, defending and defeating.
EW has been an important part of Gripen from the beginning. Today, Saab has a small, compact system that does a number of things while also reducing drag and increasing the overall capability of the fighter. It’s also important to note that this EW system is software upgradable, which means the system can evolve with threats over time.
One of the major requirements from an EW system is to provide radar and missile approach warning. The EW system should also help share the information collected with your team. Gripen's EW system is fully integrated with other tactical mission systems and sensor fusion sensor fusion on several layers in the aircraft, combining all tactical sensors in Gripen E such as the AESA Radar, Electro optical sensors, IRST and also the datalink. These sources and sensors are integrated into one high level sensor fusion and situational awareness system for the pilot to enhance the effectiveness of the mission.
In the words of Inga, “EW helps you to achieve the unexpected.”