Electronic warfare (EW) involves the electromagnetic spectrum, with the aim of gaining clear control of that spectrum. Friendly forces need clear access for their own purposes, as well as the ability to attack an adversary’s communications and weapons control. EW can also have actions where directed energy is involved.
EW can take place in the “grey zone” in the days, weeks or months before actual armed skirmishes break out. It can also be an invaluable source of signals intelligence. This is a complex field, ranging from simple direct weapons through to multi-stage weapon processes which are aimed at disguising the identity of the perpetrator.
Analysis of EW is made slightly easier by adopting an approach taken by Defence categorising the domain into three distinct major areas comprising Electronic Protection, Electronic Attack and Electronic Support.
An Australian Defence spokesperson gave APDR their authorised description of each of these terms: “Electronic Protection (EP). That division of electronic warfare involving actions taken to protect personnel, facilities, and equipment from any effects of friendly or adversary use of the electromagnetic spectrum that degrade, neutralise, or destroy friendly combat capability.
“Electronic Attack (EA). That division of electronic warfare involving the use of electromagnetic energy, directed energy, or anti-radiation weapons to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralising, or destroying adversary combat capability and is considered a form of fires.
“Electronic Support (ES). That division of electronic warfare involving actions taken to search for, intercept, locate, record, and analyse radiated electromagnetic energy for the purpose of exploiting such radiations in support of military operations.
Note: Provides a source of electronic warfare information required to conduct electronic attack, electronic protection, threat detection, warning, avoidance, target acquisition, and homing.”