Long gone are the days when battles were fought solely by air, land, and sea. The technological advancements made within the last century have resulted in modern conflicts waged in all possible dimensions, including the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS).
Today, most military operations depend on utilizing the EMS for communication, situational awareness, and offensive/defensive missions. But as military forces across the globe integrate more sophisticated EM capabilities into their systems, the need for effective electronic warfare (EW) countermeasures becomes increasingly critical.
Electronic jamming and deception are the most common countermeasures used in electronic warfare (EW). In this blog, we’ll explore how electronic warfare jamming and deception is used to protect warfighters from adversaries and look at how RADA USA’s radar solutions can help.
What Is Electronic Warfare Jamming and Deception?
Radio frequency jamming and deception are electronic countermeasures that send out false signals or high power signals to interfere with opposing radar and communication systems. Although similar, there are some key differences between these two techniques.
- Electronic jamming works by either using a large number of false signals to make radar displays unreadable or emitting high-power signals that conceal intended radar and communication signals.
- Deception uses signals that emulate the radar or communication system so that those operating them are unsure which readings to trust. This often causes them to follow the wrong leads, attack the wrong locations, or send false communication information.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at a few different types of jamming and deception techniques that warfighters use to maintain superiority.
Types of Jamming and Deception
There is a variety of countermeasure devices and tactics that can be used for EW. Below, we’re highlighting three main types of jamming and deception techniques in more detail.
Electronic Jamming Techniques
- Electronic attack (EA) jamming is when an operator emits interfering signals toward an opposing radar instead of reflecting its signal back. This blocks the radar’s receiver with high-concentrated signals, resulting in cluttered and confusing radar displays. While there is a range of EA jamming devices and tactics, most techniques can be classified as either noise jamming or repeater jamming:
- Noise jamming techniques include spot, sweep, and barrage jamming. These techniques create excess noise on radar displays to camouflage other credible threats.
- Repeater techniques retransmit the received radar signals inaccurately to confuse radar displays. These jamming techniques may delay the transmission of a signal or cause the Doppler shift to inaccurately report the range and velocity, among other effects.
- Electronic protection (EP) jamming involves using high power signals created by the radar itself. The radar is able to electronically detect that it’s being jammed and send a high-power jamming signal to the threat radar, rendering it inoperational. This is referred to as a counter countermeasure.
Deception Countermeasure Techniques
Electronic protection countermeasures involve deception signals that are created by the radar itself. The threat radar’s energy is captured, recorded, and re-transmitted back to it to create contradictory readings and false target returns on the radar display.
Other radar deception countermeasure methods include devices like chaff, corner reflectors, and decoys.
- Chaff is one of the simplest and oldest forms of electronic warfare jamming and deception. Made of thousands of aluminum-coated strips, chaff can be dropped from an aircraft where it will hover and create a cloud because it is so lightweight. This distracts enemy radars from their true targets. While chaff is relatively easy for aircraft to detect nowadays because it lacks a Doppler shift, it can still be effective in naval warfare (due to ships’ slower speeds).
- Corner reflectors are metal prisms with many sides that have a similar effect to jamming with chaff. They reflect radar signals back to their sources to confuse the enemy and remain undetected.
- Decoys are flying objects that can masquerade as aircraft and deceive radar operators. Oftentimes, the forces behind the radar source will falsely fire guided missiles on the decoys, wasting time and ammo and allowing enemy forces to move in and neutralize the radar.
While the most effective of these three options, decoys are sacrificial in nature (i.e., made to be destroyed), so they can be fairly expensive to maintain. That said, the cost is significantly less than an actual target being destroyed (especially with warfighters in proximity).
Electronic warfare jamming and deception can sometimes be caused accidentally by friendly forces. Inadvertent deception is especially common because it’s nonselective and affects any nearby radars, both hostile and non-hostile. This is commonly referred to as co-site interference. Powerful EW and radar systems operating within close range of the intended radar can cause unintentional jamming.
What Is Radar Burn-Through?
Simply put, radar burn-through is the range where electronic warfare jamming and deception techniques are not effective. The jammer-to-signal noise ratio becomes too low at close ranges, and there is not enough power to electronically jam the intended radar.
For effective jamming, the radar must be positioned at a distance greater than or equal to the radar burn-through distance.
The Role of Electronic Jamming in C-UAS Systems
As unmanned aerial vehicles become more accessible, advanced, and easily weaponized, their threat becomes increasingly significant for both soldiers and civilians. To protect against these aerial threats, militaries must be diligent in their pursuit of developing effective C-UAS systems.
Electronic jamming is an integral part of many C-UAS systems. Jammers use electromagnetic energy to disrupt the communication signal from the drone to the operator, making the drone unable to operate. They provide a non-kinetic approach to neutralizing UAV threats by minimizing collateral damage.
RADA USA’s combat-proven radars are open architecture and can be easily integrated with jamming technology for counter-UAS missions. In fact, our radars are currently employed on operational C-UAS systems that use electronic jamming as an effector.