The Army’s rapid procurers are turning their focus to aerial electronic warfare solutions in response to ongoing needs in the European theater.
The Army’s Rapid Capabilities Office has been working to deliver EW capabilities to Europe in phases that build upon each other, providing deployed forces with needed capabilities against a real threat now while also informing longer-term programs of potential requirements.
A new effort “includes an aerial capability that extends the range of signal detection and will be used to inform the program of record, [Multifunction Electronic Warfare] Air Large,” Pete Manternach, EW lead for the RCO, said in written responses to C4ISRNET.
“We are starting to get at the aerial EW capabilities, that is probably one of the biggest focuses we have,” Manternach told C4SIRNET sister site Defense News in an interview during the annual Association of the United States Army conference in early October, adding they are working with the entire community of interest to architect them into the current systems and prototypes.
To date, the RCO, working with the program office, has been developing prototype solutions for Phase 2 capabilities that build on original EW capabilities delivered to Europe earlier this year, the RCO said in written responses. The original capabilities included ground-based systems that can sense the signals in the environment and also provide a limited electronic attack capability.
The RCO and program office plan on fielding the Phase 2 capabilities to Europe — including ground-based systems that will bring improved sensors, upgraded software and new antennas — beginning in the second quarter of fiscal year 2019, the RCO said.
While the aerial systems described by Manternach will be part of the Phase 2 efforts, he said they won’t be fielded to Europe with the Phase 2 capabilities.
The aerial prototypes will also be able to work on both manned and unmanned aircraft.
Manternach said while these capabilities are aimed at the ongoing needs in Europe, they will be extended to other theaters if needed.
In another effort, Manternach pointed to a request for information posted to the FedBizOpps website in August 2018 for a tactical signals intelligence payload to be mounted on an unmanned MQ-1C Gray Eagle, which would include EW capabilities in support of an ongoing program within Program Executive Office Intelligence Electronic Warfare and Sensors' Sensors-Aerial Intelligence office.
Responses to the request are currently being reviewed with a request for proposals expected to be released in the December 2018 to January 2019 time frame.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.