Electronic countermeasures: Wikis


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Inspecting an AN/ALQ-184 Electronic Attack Pod.

Electronic countermeasures (ECM) are a subsection of electronic warfare which includes any sort of electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar, or other detection systems like IR (infrared) and Laser. It may be used both offensively or defensively in any method to deny targeting information to an enemy. The system may make many separate targets appear to the enemy, or make the real target appear to disappear or move about randomly. It is used effectively to protect aircraft from guided missiles. Most air forces use ECM to protect their aircraft from attack. That is also true for military ships and recently on some advanced tanks to fool laser/IR guided missiles. It is frequently coupled with stealth advances so that the ECM system has an easier job. Offensive ECM often takes the form of jamming. Defensive ECM includes using blip enhancement and jamming of missile terminal homers.



One of the first examples of electronic countermeasures being applied in a combat situation took place during the Russo-Japanese war. On April 15, 1904, Russian wireless telegraphy stations installed in the Port Arthur fortress and on board Russian light cruisers successfully interrupted wireless communication between a group of Japanese battleships. The spark-gap transmitters in the Russian stations radioed a senseless noise while the Japanese were making attempts to coordinate their efforts in the bombing of a Russian naval base. Germany and Great Britain interfered with enemy communications along the western front during World War I while the Royal Navy tried to intercept German naval radio transmissions.[1] There were also efforts at sending false radio signals, having shore stations send transmissions using ships' call signs, and jamming enemy radio signals.[1] World War II ECM expanded to include jamming and spoofing RADAR and navigation signals.[1] Cold War developments included missiles designed to home in on enemy RADAR transmitters.[1]


Basic RADAR ECM strategies are (1) RADAR interference, (2) target modifications, and (3) changing the electrical properties of air.[1] Interference techniques include jamming and deception. Jamming is accomplished by a friendly platform transmitting signals on the RADAR frequency to produce a noise level sufficient to hide echos.[1] The jammer's continuous transmissions will provide a clear direction to the enemy RADAR, but no range information.[1] Deception may use a transponder to mimic the RADAR echo with a delay to indicate incorrect range.[1] Transponders may alternatively increase return echo strength to make a small decoy appear to be a larger target.[1] Target modifications include RADAR absorbing coatings and modifications of the surface shape to either "stealth" a high-value target or enhance reflections from a decoy.[1] Dispersal of small aluminum strips called chaff is a common method of changing the electromagnetic properties of air to provide confusing RADAR echos.[1]

Aircraft ECM

ECM is practiced by nearly all military units—land, sea or air. Aircraft, however, are the primary weapons in the ECM battle because they can "see" a larger patch of earth than a sea or land-based unit. When employed effectively, ECM can keep aircraft from being tracked by search radars, surface-to-air missiles or air-to-air missiles. On aircraft ECM can take the form of an attachable underwing pod or could be embedded in the airframe. Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars like those mounted on the F-22, MiG-35 (Fulcrum-F) or the F-35 can also act as an ECM device to track, locate and eventually jam enemy radar. Previous radar types were not capable of performing these activities due to:

  • the inability of the antenna to use suboptimal frequencies
  • the processing power needed
  • the impossibility to practically intermix or segment antenna usages

Future Airborne Jammers

The Next Generation Jammer will be carried on the F-18G and F-35 fighters and use AESA technologies in side mounted pods to provide all around coverage with highly selective directional jamming.

DARPA's Precision Electronic Warfare (PREW) project aims to combine AESA with Synthetic aperture radar spread over multiple platforms for very tightly focused jamming.[2]

Examples of dedicated electronic countermeasures aircraft

Heat and Sound Analogies

Infrared homing systems can be decoyed with flares.[1] Sound detection and homing systems used for ships are also susceptible to countermeasures. United States warships use Masker and PRAIRIE (PRopellor AIR Ingestion and Emission) systems to create small air bubbles around a ship's hull and wake to reduce sound transmission.[1] Surface ships tow noisemakers like the AN/SLQ-25 Nixie to decoy homing torpedoes.[1] Submarines can deploy similar acoustic device countermeasures (or ADCs) from a 3-inch (75-mm) signal launching tube.[1] United States ballistic missile submarines could deploy the Mark 70 MOSS (MObile Submarine Simulator) decoy from torpedo tubes to simulate a full size submarine.[1]

Shipboard ECM

The ULQ-6 deception transmitter was one of the earlier shipboard ECM installations.[3] The Raytheon SLQ-32 shipboard ECM package came in three versions providing warning, identification and bearing information about RADAR-guided cruise missiles.[3] The SLQ-32 V3 included quick reaction electronic countermeasures for cruisers and large amphibious ships and auxiliaries in addition to the RBOC (Rapid Blooming Off-board Chaff) launchers found on most surface ships.[3] The BLR-14 Submarine Acoustic Warfare System (or SAWS) provides an integrated receiver, processor, display, and countermeasures launch system for submarines.[3]

See also




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