Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI developing advanced electronic warfare system for U.S. Air Force

July 25, 2023 — The U.S. Air Force awarded Southwest Research Institute a $4.8 million contract to further develop an adaptable, “continuously staring,” next-generation electronic warfare system capable of detecting advanced enemy radar signals. Using cutting-edge algorithms in a congested signal test environment, the system demonstrated more than 99% probability of intercepting signals with no false detections in a USAF verified simulated environment, a software model loaded with enemy radar.

“Eliminating false detections is crucial, as they force the pilot and plane to divert scarce resources to defeat an ‘enemy’ that’s not there,” said SwRI’s Jarrett Holcomb, who is part of the technology development team. “As we strive for the fastest detection rate possible, our algorithms provide unmatched accuracy.”

Staring, rather than scanning, allows more rapid detection of adversarial pulses, enabling faster response and greater protection for U.S. military aircraft. The cost-efficient, digital ultra-wideband receiver (UWR) technology provides near-instant detection of signals across a wider swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, expanding capabilities to jam enemy radar. The UWR system achieves greater instantaneous bandwidth coverage over the entire electromagnetic warfare frequency range, using a single processing card, not a stack of cards required by many systems.

“It is important that the U.S. stays ahead of the advanced and emerging radars of potential combatants, while maintaining the ability to operate in ever-congested radio-frequency environments that contain a wide range of signals, from military radars to cell phones, TV and radio signals,” said SwRI’s Finley Hicks, who is leading the UWR development team. “SwRI’s powerful UWR technology is a long-term defense and intelligence solution, capable of outperforming existing and future enemy radar systems, even as they increase bandwidth, agility and adaptability.”

The UWR system follows the Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA™) Technical Standard, which means it can easily integrate into legacy and newly developed Open Architecture Weapon systems. Technology aligned to SOSA allows quick and efficient system component updates to support new capabilities without having to replace or redesign the entire system.

“This open-system-based receiver will offer the military an ultra-wideband capability that can be integrated into existing defense systems to improve situational awareness and mission effectiveness,” said Hicks.

Compared to competing systems, the UWR technology improves on size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) requirements, delivering an efficient design with fewer components, lower maintenance expenses and a smaller logistical footprint for deployed units.

Southwest Research Institute develops advanced military and defense electronic warfare systems for air and ground applications. For more information, visit Advanced Electronic Warfare Solutions or contact Lisa Peña, +1 210 522 2046, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.