A major difference in the Army’s approach to electronic warfare is the broader understanding of multifunction, according to one member of industry.
As the Army begins to roll out requirements and competition for its official program of record in the electronic warfare space — known as Multi-Function Electronic Warfare — one key difference from previous efforts is the recognition that former systems were built with only one or two targets in mind, said Doug Booth, director of cyber and airborne electronic warfare at Lockheed Martin.
“The Army’s requirements are broader, and they understand that military systems, [Defense Department] systems have been built with one target in mind, and we can’t afford to do that,” he told C4ISRNET on Tuesday during an interview at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington.
The MFEW program is a multifunctional cyber, electronic warfare, communications intelligence, electronic intelligence, signal intelligence, diverse platform that the Army has been searching for, Booth said.
MFEW is broken into two buckets: air and ground. Within those buckets, the Army will roll out requirements for solutions on platforms varying in size under the following timeline:
- MFEW Air large — Group 5 UAS, fielding fiscal 2022.
- MFEW Air Rotoary — Recon/Lite Attack helicopter, fielding FY26.
- MFEW Air small — Group 3 UAS, fielding FY31.
- MFEW Ground large, fielding FY25.
- MFEW Ground small, fielding FY27.
- MFEW Ground dismounted, fielding FY27.
The Army has solicited industry for information on potential solutions for MFEW Air large, requesting solutions to be mounted aboard MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones.
“When you have a platform that has the ability to reach far beyond like the Air large, if you can go after multiple platforms and multiple targets so you have a multi-INT-type capability, that’s probably the biggest difference that we see right now coming out,” Booth said.
Lockheed Martin, he continued , is looking to take its experience with the joint force to the Army. “We think with those capabilities on manned and unmanned, the capabilities on fixed-wing and rotary, and working in [electronic support] to [electronic attack] and [electronic protect] that we’ll be able to bring all of those lessons learned in some of the new capabilities we’ve been working on.”
Lockheed has worked with the Army, Navy and Air Force to deliver electronic warfare capabilities for a variety of platforms across the spectrum of support, protect and attack.
Booth explained that Lockheed will bring a trio of capabilities to their MFEW Air large pod proposal. The first is smaller pods. In the air domain, measurements such as size, weight and power are critical; the smaller and more powerful systems are, the better. With that in mind, Booth said Lockheed has been constantly engineering and miniaturizing capabilities.
He also noted that from an electronic support perspective, the company utilizes mature direction-finding capabilities that provide efficient and high-resolution performance in dense environments, which is important given the abundance of signals.
And from an electronic attack perspective, he added, Lockheed has converged cyber and electronic attack capabilities to provide unique techniques against enemy targets to limit their capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Although the Army is just now finalizing its requirements for MFEW Ground, Booth said he hopes the development of Lockheed’s systems with an airborne package will be easily transferable to the ground.
“If you got the same modular hardware in both platforms … it’s going to work out well if I can use the range I get from an airborne platform to detect a signature way off and then pass that off to my ground capability who’s going to have more power and then to actually do some better [electronic attack] than I could do from my airborne payload,” he said.