Mission Enabler

Only capable EWOS allows the full spectrum of EW operations to be realised

Atul Chandra

An exclusive invitation to visit the Lincoln facility of UK-based Selex ES, for an in-depth experience at their Electronic Warfare Operational Support (EWOS) offerings, provided an excellent opportunity to get a closer look at EWOS and the crucial role it plays in today’s battlefield. Over a packed day full of briefings on EWOS, this correspondent was taken through the entire spectrum of EWOS, starting from the various products and tools used to analysis and testing of the mission data file using hardware-in-the-loop simulators.

Briefing on EWOS at the state-of-the-art Selex ES Lincoln Facility
Briefing on EWOS at the state-of-the-art Selex ES Lincoln Facility

Selex EW is a full spectrum Electronic Warfare (EW) company with a proud history over many decades. The company offers fully integrated EW systems and provides support solutions apart from information management (integration of sub-systems at the information level). Depending on the requirement of the customer, EW sensors and counter measures equipment are sold individually or as part of an integrated system. An annual GBP 15 million spend on R&D alone allows Selex ES to develop the underlying technologies for receivers and transmitters along with their sub systems. Without these core technologies, one cannot develop truly effective EW sensors and counter measures.

EWOS is designed to facilitate the safe conduct of perilous missions and acts as a mission enabler, providing operational aircrews with updated situational awareness (this helps in understanding the threat environment around them and how it will change). EWOS provides situational awareness to the warfighter, through support of EW systems with the correct and appropriate data along with training, education and briefing of EW operators and crew. Successful implementation of EWOS results in faster and more accurate identification of targets.

According to Wynn Davis, head of strategic EW systems, Middle East and Saudi Arabia, Selex ES, “You can buy a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), put it into an aircraft and it will work, but it will only be useful when you put mission data into it that contains information you need.” What is mission data? Put simply, it is the look-up library stored in the Signal Processing Unit and is the reference book against which the environment seen by the system is compared with. “The UK has spent 40 years developing EWOS capability and it is time consuming. We can help with provisioning of EW databases and determining the optimum response,” said Wynn, an experienced EW operator himself, who served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) for 30 years as a fast jet navigator on Phantom and Tornado fighters.

The information could consist of the type of threat being faced (such as radar), whether it is a fixed or mobile system, it has the capability to do harm (ability to launch surface to air missiles or use guns) and the appropriate response from the EW system (how much chaff or flares to be dispensed for a particular threat). The management of mission data is the primary aim of EWOS. Only if the mission data is complete and accurate, will it result in the quick (a matter of seconds) and correct identification of the threat. This provides accurate situational awareness to the aircrew and enables them to deploy the correct tactics and countermeasures to defeat the threat. Gathering of intelligence through various sources for information on radars and other emitters is vital as these are then programmed into the EW system. EWOS allows the customer to programme and support his EW setup. The short-term work of programming the sensors, countermeasure dispensers, briefing the aircrew are straightforward and with the result of crews going out and bringing back data that goes back into the system.

The ability to ‘Avoid’ getting into a conflict is always the first and best option, however if the threat cannot be avoided then the effort must be made to try and ‘Evade’ it. If these options fail, then there is no choice but to ‘Counter’ the threat. To ‘Avoid’ a threat (fixed or mobile), adequate surveillance and planning is essential along with Electronic Intelligence (EI), Imaging Intelligence (IT), Human Intelligence (HT) among others. For a mobile pop up threat that one needs to ‘Evade’, the sensors on-board the aircraft that can detect the emitter are important and the presence of defence aids controllers would help in the quick identification of sophisticated threats. However, in an uncertain battlefield environment where there are a wide range of threats, for an effective ‘Counter’, reliance is placed on active countermeasures, radar and infra-red (IR) jammers, expendable decoys (such as chaff and flare) along with tactical evasive manoeuvres. Of course, deploying anti-radiation missiles for example would also defeat the threat once it has been identified. EWOS plays an important and indispensable role across successful outcomes in all such situations.

Building on experience gained from similar projects, Selex ES has invested significant resources in the EWOS Centre in Lincoln, UK. The Centre offers all aspects of EWOS for their International and UK-based customers and became operational five years ago.

The Lincoln Centre provides support for the UK MoD’s Defence EW Centre and the Typhoon Mission Support Centre, apart from other customers in the UK and abroad. The Selex ES Lincoln EWOS facility and training academy has the apt motto of ‘Transforming Mission Data’. It also facilitates the sovereign control of EW for its other customers (those who purchase SEER or SAGE EW products are offered training at this facility). The Lincoln facility allows for the design, production, test and verification of EW Mission Data for multiple customers using proprietary mission data file generation and modelling software tools along with expensive hardware-in-the-loop test rigs.

The Lincoln EWOS Centre offers security-accredited accommodation, multiple, stand-alone, secure, IT networks, MDS validation facilities in an RF screened laboratory. These enable the Lincoln EWOS centre to provide an in-house facility for the design, production, validation and through-life support of MDS for multiple customers at any one time along with EWOS Training Facilities (which are expensive to setup and maintain). Many of the highly experienced EW staff also come with Defence EW Centre background. The facility provides support for in country based EWOS Field Service Engineers (FSEs) (hardware and software specialists).

At present FSEs are present in Kuwait (for Apache) and Saudi Arabia (for Typhoon). Due to the classified nature of EW, Selex ES was unable to disclose their full list of EW clients. EW comes under the Airborne and Space Systems division of Selex ES and the company has the UK and Italy as its main markets while maintaining a strong footprint in the US, Germany, Romania, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and Turkey.


Helping build credible EWOS capability

The situational awareness obtained from an Electronic Warfare (EW) system can only be as accurate as the data and skill with which it has been programmed through its Mission Data Set (MDS) or Pre-Flight Message (PFM). Electronic Warfare Operational Support (EWOS) provides that programming. EWOS provides EW data and information to the EW hardware system, information and intelligence, doctrine, training, trials support and analysis, and advice on EW tactics and countermeasures to the system operators and their commanders.

Selex ES offers its customers a number of options in building a EWOS capability, including:

• Training, covering the fundamentals of EW, through to the use of EWOS tools, techniques, procedures and the requirements of running a EWOS capability

• The establishment or extension of a National EWOS centre

• A ‘reachback’ service using our Company’s secure EWOS centre and staff, including the provision of data engineers available to deploy for consultation or additional training.


Selex ES strengthens its relationship with Russia at MAKS 2013

Selex ES displayed its C4ISTAR integrated products and solutions for airborne, land and naval applications at this year’s MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon. Designed to deliver situational awareness, self-protection and surveillance, the products included the ATOS mission management system, Gabbiano surveillance radar and EOST 46 passive Electro-Optical Surveillance and Tracking system.

New opportunities are arising in the airborne domain for the Gabbiano radar and, as part of the modernisation and upgrade programmes for the Tupolev aircraft and the Indian Navy’s Kamov helicopters, for the ATOS system and other Selex ES avionic equipment. Selex ES has also recently begun cooperation with Russian partners with a view to growing in the maritime security and surveillance sector. This will be achieved through the promotion and delivery of integrated surveillance systems based on Selex ES and NIIDAR (the Russian Scientific Research Institute for Long-Distance Radio Communications) radars to third party countries. The company is currently pursuing several initiatives involving teaming with Rosoboronexport (the Russian defence export agency).


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