2013 IR&D Annual Report

Alternative Advanced Electronic Countermeasure Techniques, 09-R8349

Principal Investigators
Finley Hicks
Jeremy Pruitt

Inclusive Dates: 11/26/12 – Current

Background — Radar systems are designed to use transmitted and received radio frequency (RF) signals to compute a target's position and velocity to identify enemy aircraft, track them, and guide weapons to their projected location. Electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems are designed to 'jam' radar signals in a way that deceives or degrades a radar's ability to accurately determine an aircraft's position and velocity. In recent years, radar system improvements, which primarily involve the use of digital hardware, have made legacy ECM systems less and less effective. At the same time, attempts to develop new all-digital ECM systems have been delayed by long development cycles and shrinking defense budgets. As a result, there is a growing need for low-cost, digital enhancements to legacy ECM systems that will make these systems viable until next-generation, all-digital ECM systems can be fielded.

Approach — SwRI has investigated several viable, low-cost alternatives to expensive all-digital ECM systems to protect aircraft against modern radars. The objective of this project has been to develop a prototype capable of enhancing legacy ECM systems to greatly improve their effectiveness against modern digital radars. The prototype includes select digital hardware capable of generating new and enhanced types of jam signals. At the same time, the prototype will illustrate a low-cost approach by demonstrating ways to leverage existing capabilities of legacy ECM systems to the greatest extent possible.

Flow chart of SwRI-developed approach for enhancing legacy electronic countermeasure systems
 SwRI-developed approach for enhancing legacy electronic countermeasure systems.

Accomplishments — SwRI has successfully investigated alternative approaches to developing digital enhancements to legacy ECM systems. These enhancements include digital receiver and technique generator capabilities. The digital receiver has the capability to digitize an incoming radar signal with an instantaneous bandwidth (IBW) of several hundred megahertz, accurately measure frequency very quickly (< 100 ns) to correlate incoming pulses to specific radar threats, and measure advanced radar intra-pulse characteristics, such as chirp and bi-phase modulation. The digital technique generator has the capability to modulate the digitized radar signal with ECM techniques and transmit the resultant jam signal, providing a very quick response time (measured in ns) from the time the radar signal is detected to the time the jam signal is transmitted. SwRI has successfully developed a design to accomplish these advanced ECM capabilities, and SwRI is currently in the process of completing the prototype hardware to demonstrate these capabilities.

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Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.