WASHINGTON — The Army, primarily a land force, is looking to optimize its forthcoming electronic warfare equipment to operate in the Indo-Pacific theater against maritime targets, according to an Army official.
China is considered the “pacing” threat by the Department of Defense, and thus the Indo-Pacific region is a high priority. Other recent Army efforts to prioritize the heavily maritime region include the creation of a multidomain task force working on exercises in the region and plans to base long-range precision fires there.
Now, as the Army is building new electronic warfare gear to regrow its prowess after years of divestment following the Cold War, it wants to ensure it will be able to support operations across the vast distances of the Pacific maritime region.
Much of the Army’s work in the last few years within the electromagnetic spectrum has been to address perceived capability gaps for forces in Europe against Russia. However, prototypes have also begun to make their way to the Pacific theater.
“Obviously the Army is a terrestrial, land-centric force. However, we recognize that with the focus on INDOPACOM, our target set is greater than just the traditional armor and infantry formations,” Col. Daniel Holland, Army capability manager for electronic warfare, said during a panel discussion Wednesday at the C4ISRNET Conference.
Systems such as the Terrestrial Layer System-Echelons Above Brigade (TLS-EAB) are being optimized to compete in a maritime environment against nontraditional targets for the Army, such as Chinese maritime targets, he said.
TLS-EAB will provide commanders at echelons above brigade the ability to sense, provide improved precision geolocation, conduct nonkinetic fires and support kinetic targeting for a broad targets unreachable by the TLS-Brigade Combat Team capability. Holland said the Army is awaiting a decision by its requirements oversight council in a few weeks for TLS-EAB. The service is focused on surrogate experimentation and technologies for the system in fiscal 2022 and prototyping the following year.
Given certain physics constraints within the electromagnetic spectrum with long-range electromagnetic fires and sensing from the ground, Holland explained a mix of other capabilities the Army is developing that can operate in the Pacific, particularly in the air.
First, he mentioned the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare-Air Large system , which is the Army’s first organic brigade electronic attack asset mounted on an MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone. The system, which the Army will field in 2022, “gives us additional capabilities against targets in greater ranges like those we expect to encounter in the INDOPACOM theater,” Holland said.
Additionally, Holland explained how the electronic warfare community is partnering across the service on the Multi-Domain Sensing System — a forthcoming high-altitude intelligence system in the range of 40,000 feet — which will provide electronic warfare capabilities complementary to mid-altitude systems, such as large unmanned systems and ground systems including TLS-EAB.
“We see it as a number of different capabilities working together to meet the requirements of operational commanders in that theater,” he said.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.