The Marine Corps - much like their land warfare brethren in the Army - are looking to improve their electronic warfare capabilities in the face of emerging and sophisticated threats in this space.
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“We’re looking to improve our mounted and dismounted capabilities. We want to be able to prosecute both ground threats and airborne threats as well,” Col. Brock McDaniel, portfolio manager in the command element systems at Marine Corps Systems Command, said during a panel discussion at a defense conference in Charleston, SC Dec. 7 hosted by the Charleston Defense Contractors Association.
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On the ground side, McDaniel noted that enhanced capabilities cannot lead to physically larger capabilities. “We want to lighten the load and increase our capability and quite frankly when it comes to marines hauling around a pack, 40 pounds is unacceptable,” he said.
Regarding specific programs, McDaniel told C4ISRNET after the panel that the Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare, or CREW program achieves both the mounted and dismounted capabilities. He added the service also has other capabilities currently in the field such as Thor III - a man-portable jamming system - and the CREW Vehicle Receiver/Jammer.
“Our desire is to enhance those systems and/or replace those systems with new capability to help us to beat evolving threats,” he said. He added tjat the goal for dismounted systems is to field the Modi II portable system, that’s currently being tested, within the next 12 to 18 months. They’re also exploring options to upgrade or replace existing CVRJs as a bridge capability until the requirement is codified for our next gen capability.
On the airborne front, the Marines have expressed that mounting EW payloads aboard unmanned systems will be a critical component to their strategy moving forward.
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McDaniel also discussed one of the most critical problems identified by the top level of the Marine Corps: signature management. “We have to be very cognizant of how we’re radiating and how the enemy can see us,” he said. This also means exploiting the adversary’s capability.
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McDaniel told C4ISRNET that the service is looking to industry for help on this front to both demonstrate what is in the art of the possible, but also what is the most cost effective solution that best aligns with the current requirements.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been working on an effort called RadioMap that seeks to provide real-time awareness of spectrum use across frequencies, with a goal of mapping an accurate picture of spectrum use in complex environments.
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McDaniel acknowledged that the DARPA initiative is one solution but the Marine Corps is considering a variety of solutions .
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.