warfare (EW) – the exploitation and domination of the electromagnetic spectrum – is an underappreciated discipline. The ability to disable or destroy enemy electronic systems, protect friendly forces and snoop on the enemy is no longer considered to be a luxury. As digital technology and the fourth industrial revolution continue to advance, recognition of the importance of electronic warfare is growing by the day, and this has been spurred on by effective Russian EW efforts in the Ukraine. Russian and Chinese developments in particular are growing the airborne electronic warfare market in the Asia-Pacific. Many aircraft have some form of EW capability; the following lists specialised EW platforms only.


Australia has one of the most potent EW aircraft fleets in the region, flying 11 Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, which are equipped with the AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming system. The Royal Australian Air Force is also getting four MC-55A Peregrine electronic warfare support aircraft, based on Gulfstream G550 business jets. These will work in conjunction with Lockheed Martin F-35s and Boeing E-7 Wedgetails, which have respectable EW capabilities in their own rights.


China has developed a multitude of EW aircraft, and regularly deploys them around its territory. Chinese intelligence-gathering aircraft include at least two variants of the Tupolev Tu-154, equipped with antennas for signals intelligence (SIGINT) – one version carries what is believed to be a synthetic aperture radar (SAR). These aircraft have regularly been intercepted off Japan’s home islands, and have accompanied Xian H-6K bombers. At least four were initially converted and served in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) from the mid-1990s, but recent imagery shows that at least five more have been converted.

This is an excerpt from APDR. To read the full story, click here.


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