Advances in Electronic Warfare Fly Under the Public’s Radar

Vital to U.S. strategic success in cybersecurity is the high-dollar investment in radar-jamming technology and other electronic warfare.

As the Pentagon moves beyond the relatively low-tech wars in the Middle East and turns its attention to future national security challenges, it has doubled down on sophisticated new radar-jamming devices that aim to render adversaries’ air defenses useless.

Much of this shadowy world is top secret, but the military’s goal is to have complete control over the range of wireless frequencies at the heart of all aspects of war: satellites, radio and radar.

Jammers, for instance, are designed to identify enemy radar installations, then spew radio waves and beams of electromagnetic noise to electronically disable and destroy them. Though the technology does not result in the sort of fiery blasts produced by heat-seeking missiles or laser-guided bombs, the effect is the same.

“We are so used to dominating at sea and in the air, we don’t spend anywhere near the money we should on enablers like electronic warfare and deception and other things like that,” acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine H. Fox said this month. “That can make a huge difference. And in this budget environment, we can actually afford things like that.”

The hardware used to wage this brand of battle is rarely publicly discussed, but it’s being built at locations throughout the Los Angeles area.

Electronic warfare may not be new, but its growing importance cannot be underestimated, said Peter W. Singer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar.”

“Going back to the first use of little strips of aluminum tossed out of bomber planes in World War II, electronic warfare has traditionally been about disrupting the enemy’s systems through some kind of jamming or other forms of blocking signals,” he said. “The new era is more sophisticated about getting inside their networks and not just disrupting or tricking them, but even co-opting them.”

Full article: Advances in Electronic Warfare Fly Under the Public’s Radar (Government Technology)

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