The Army is asking for industry’s help with a new extended range electronic warfare capability and plans to issue a request for information in the coming weeks.
While the Army knows this is a capability it needs, service leaders do not yet know the exact form a solution will take. Kenneth Strayer, deputy program manager for electronic warfare and cyber at Program Executive Office-Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, said during a panel at an AFCEA event May 1, it could be a dedicated airborne asset or a ground asset that provides some type of additional electronic warfare capability.
“You’ve got to get elevation, that’s the only way,” he said.
But he, clarified to C4ISRNET following the panel, that “from a materiel solution, we obviously don’t know" what it will look like.
The request to industry will ask "some follow up questions on how industry would attack that problem and what are some things we need to think about as we define the requirements and the materiel approaches to provide that solution,” Strayer said.
The Army is using a variety of prototyping efforts and soldier feedback to inform how it will equip electronic warfare units for the field.
The move is part of the Army’s overall approach to rebuild its electronic warfare prowess, both in the form of materiel solutions and personnel expertise. While starting at the tactical edge, largely in response to Russian capabilities in Europe, the Army is realizing it needs capabilities across all echelons. George Lewis, vice president of CEMA initiatives at CACI and a former electronic warfare officer in the Army, said the previous thinking was that the service would build similar systems and scale them depending on what echelon they were needed. This wouldn’t cut it, he said.
“There’s nobody I know in the artillery community or the combined arms community that says when I request higher echelon firepower I really want you to give me more 105s [mm],” he said. “No. they want 155s [mm], they want [multiple rocket launcher], they want [Army Tactical Missile System is a surface-to-surface missile], they want joint fires, they want things that can see deeper, attack deeper, deliver different effects than what they can with organic [capabilities] because they need deeper reconnaissance, deeper attack.”
The Army is beginning to develop these types of capabilities.
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The Terrestrial Layer System, is the first such organic brigade level EW system and Strayer said it will kick off in fiscal year 2020.
Army officials are also writing requirements for electronic warfare and signals intelligence payloads on smaller unmanned systems, though, this is dependent on what direction the Army wants to go with its next generation small UAS, Strayer said.
The Army recently awarded Lockheed Martin for Multi-Functional Electronic Warfare Air Large, an airborne brigade level payload asset mounted to a large UAS.