WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s independent weapons tester verified that the U.S. Army’s premier electronic-warfare visualization software is operationally effective and capable of assisting soldiers in the field.
The service’s Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, or EWPMT, contributed to the successful engagement of “high-payoff targets,” provided effective tools for understanding the electromagnetic spectrum and, overall, improved situational awareness during trials, the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation said in its latest public report, released late last month.
Testing of the planning tool, years in the making and still being refined, was handled by the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in conjunction with a command-post exercise at Fort Carson, Colorado.
EWPMT is meant to give troops a clear picture of live electronic-warfare conditions, such as jamming or spoofing, and means to counteract or navigate around them. The suite of applications, often seen on a laptop, scours sensors for relevant information and generates an easy-to-read, interactive map. Ultimately, the Army intends for EWPMT to tether to other electronic warfare platforms, enabling faraway attacks or support.
Electronic warfare, invisible to the naked eye, represents a struggle for control of the electromagnetic spectrum, relied upon for communications, weapons guidance and more. The Army’s related armory atrophied in the decades following the Cold War — and leaders are now attempting to rebuild it, declaring domination of the spectrum a paramount priority in a potential fight with China or Russia.
A spokesperson for the Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, or PEO IEW&S, on Jan. 31 told C4ISRNET the Army is satisfied with the results and is proceeding with a full deployment of what’s known as “Increment 1″ in fiscal 2024, which begins Oct. 1.
Additional tests and tweaks are expected in the coming months and years. Previously identified EWPMT concerns have been addressed, according to the PEO IEW&S spokesperson.
“We will continue to improve EWPMT, enhancing soldier training and system survivability, adding new operational capability and improving the open architecture and standards necessary to maintain alignment with the Army’s plan for future data management,” the spokesperson said.
Little information about EWPMT was included in the weapon tester’s previous public report; details were at the time, in a rare and controversial move, restricted to an edition privy only to a select group. The reports provide taxpayers and lawmakers alike a peek at the performance of some of the Pentagon’s most expensive pursuits.
Ultimately, EWPMT is expected to tie into the Army’s Multi-Function Electronic Warfare-Air Large, MFEW-AL, and the Terrestrial Layer System, TLS, which will provide soldiers a bevy of electronic warfare, signals intelligence and cyber capabilities on future battlefields.
“All this electronic-warfare sensing and non-kinetic delivery of effect is underpinned by an ability to see yourself, right? You’ve got to understand: If I turn this jammer on, what does it mean to the enemy? What does it mean to me? If I turn on this sensing capability, what am I going to be able to see? What frequencies, what terrain?” Mark Kitz, the PEO IEW&S boss, told reporters in August. “Underpinning all that is our Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool.”
The Army awarded multimillion-dollar contracts for the Terrestrial Layer System-Brigade Combat Team and its beefier counterpart, the Terrestrial Layer System-Echelons Above Brigade, in 2022. Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics Mission Systems are involved.
Lockheed is also spearheading the MFEW-AL, a self-contained jamming pod meant for mounting on a MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.