JP500 Phase 2A:

Land Domain Electronic Warfare

Geoff Slocombe  //  Victoria

The perfectly secure response to APDR’s enquiry on current progress with this project came from a Defence spokesperson who said, “Due to the classified nature of key aspects of the project, Defence is unable to comment.” However as one British industry specialist has said: “Owning the spectrum has never been more important or more difficult.” Fortunately, APDR has been able to track down some unclassified information.

Back in 2008 then Minister for Defence Dr Brendan Nelson, opened the new Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Unit (JEWOSU) at Defence Park Edinburgh.

“This $20 million redevelopment is an investment in Australia’s ability to provide truly world-class electronic warfare support to the ADF,” Nelson said. “It is further recognition of JEWOSU’s vital role in providing world class operational support services to the ADF.”

Then in September 2016 a further expansion to the ADF electronic warfare capability was announced by the Minister for Defence Industry the Hon Christopher Pyne MP and Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne. The Government had approved a major new joint project worth $500 million over its life, with approximately three quarters of this to be spent locally in a boost to Australia’s Defence Industry.

The Electronic Warfare Operations Support for Maritime and Land Forces project now provides electronic warfare equipment and infrastructure – significantly sharpening the ability of naval ships and army units to deal with threats emerging across the electronic warfare spectrum.

Once delivered, the systems better prepare the ADF for operations in complex threat environments consistent with the objectives of the Defence White Paper and Integrated Investment Program.

Minister Pyne said Australian companies would be the big winners of the decision, with the bulk of the $500 million budget helping to drive local jobs and economic growth, saying:

“Australian companies BAE Systems Australia and Ultra Electronics Avalon Systems, will deliver the major equipment to support deploying navy and army units.

“In a boost for the Australian economy a new facility will also be built within the Edinburgh Defence precinct in South Australia to house laboratories, simulation equipment and testing support systems. The facility and systems delivered will be operated and sustained by Defence scientists, military personnel, public servants and Australian industry.”

Minister Pyne said the program would build on the existing Electronic Warfare Operations Support for the ADF’s Air capability (JEWOSU). “This program will sharpen the capability of the Australian Defence Force and is needed to ensure Australia keeps its edge on the modern-day battlefield.

“This project will better prepare the Australian Defence Force to conduct operations in areas where advanced threats such as missiles could threaten lives and assets and will also provide a significant boost to ADF capabilities.

“Many of the electronic warfare support systems to be acquired by this project will be portable and capable of operation within Australian ranges and training areas.”

So, what has Defence actually been doing during the last couple of years that their Media Operations are so coy about sharing with APDR’s readership?

Defence have set about acquiring new and upgrading existing Electronic Warfare capabilities for Army. They have given preference to off-the-shelf products that are technically mature and systems that have interface commonality with existing Army Electronic Warfare capabilities to ensure compatibility and interoperability.

These upgraded capabilities are:

  • Electronic Warfare systems integrated into Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles;
  • manpack Electronic Warfare systems;
  • communication systems to support the networking and coordination of Electronic Warfare operators and assets;
  • systems to allow exploitation of emerging digital devices;
  • and dedicated training systems that will support the training of Electronic Warfare Operators.

During the last 12 months they have reached Initial Operational Capability for all 12 of the Protected Mobility Vehicles delivered in the Electronic Warfare configuration; delivered the Manpack Electronic Warfare system; commenced delivery of dedicated training systems; and delivered the associated communication systems for networking the capabilities. Full Operational Capability is currently scheduled for 2019-20.

A key point is that ADF’s Joint EW capabilities must be able to deny use of the electromagnetic spectrum to an adversary, all the while keeping it available for the ADF’s own use.


Head Land Capability, Major General Kathryn Toohey AM CSC, began her Army career in 1987 when she was chosen to be in one of the first intakes of the Australian Defence Force Academy, graduating from the Royal Military College – Duntroon in 1990. She was assigned to the Royal Australian Signals Corps and commenced her military career as a troop commander with the 2nd Signals Regiment, and later served in the 7th Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare) before moving on to a wide range of increasingly senior appointments. Therefore, she has hands-on expert knowledge of Army’s current electronic warfare capabilities. She has said “In the vital area of electronic warfare (EW) my professional interests and responsibilities are becoming increasingly engaged.”

MAJGEN Toohey’s speech on this topic to the Sir Richard Williams Foundation EW Seminar on 23 August 2017 included these views:

“We know that there are very few, if any, situations whereby the ADF can win in either contemporary or future conflict without mastery of the electro-magnetic spectrum. The ability to ‘seize and hold’ electronic ‘ground’, for at least a period of time – the ‘right’ period of time – is almost certainly a critical requirement for the success of any military operation.

“The use of the electromagnetic spectrum as a ‘warfighting domain’ is no longer a ‘future concept’: for either the Army or the ADF Joint Force. The electromagnetic spectrum is now a domain where fully fledged ‘warfighting manoeuvre’ is required against an array of actual or potential adversaries.

“We seek to disrupt an adversary’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum and maintain and protect our own.”

In her speech MAJGEN Toohey was enthusiastic about the vital capabilities that the Air Force’s EA-18G Growler will bring to the ADF, including in land operations, but cautioned that complementary electronic warfare capabilities in each of the three Services must be coordinated and carefully managed in the ADF’s Joint Force.

“First and foremost, history and our recent experience shows that air superiority is a key enabler for land force manoeuvre and success. The ability of the Growler to deny and disrupt adversary air defence systems, enabling freedom of action for our own airpower is extremely important to Army,” she said.

“The modern battlespace is becoming increasingly congested, with a commensurate increase in the risk of collateral damage. This is especially true in urban environments, as recent operations in Iraq have demonstrated.  The availability of ‘non-kinetic’ attack options is increasingly important for commanders at all levels – from the tactical to the strategic – because the use of kinetic options requires heightened precision and confidence in an adversary’s location. Electronic attack provides a useful non-kinetic option, where the element of precision is only required in the electromagnetic spectrum.  This means electronic attack can commence before the necessary precision is available to strike by other means.

“The Growler provides a high power, medium proximity and limited persistence effect. In contrast, many land-based systems can provide low power, close proximity and a persistent effect.  A key for the ADF will be to resolve how we as a Joint Force manage these complementary capabilities to contest and target the EMS in a controlled and effective manner across the spectrum of operations.

“Whether in a precision strike, supporting a Special Forces mission, amphibious landing or conventional land battle; these systems will need to be orchestrated and synchronized. It is only through this they will achieve the necessary mutually supporting effects to provide a competitive advantage on the battlefield.

“There is a high probability, a certainty really, that anything electronic will come under cyber or EW attack. There are many historic and recent examples that demonstrate this. It is imperative for us to have resilient systems and be able to defend our networks from attack. The Army and the wider ADF network is large, and is growing larger, meaning this task will be challenging – the only thing proportionate to the challenge is the necessity.

“The Australian Army must retain a capability advantage for joint land combat. Indeed, it is on the ground, where people, societies and cultures live, where states rise and fall, and decisions about victory or defeat are made, that the Army delivers its unique contribution to Australia’s defence. An inherent and vital part of the Army’s capability advantage must be an assured, mature and resilient electronic warfare capability.”


As the primary source of electronic warfare and radar research and development in Australia, DST Group provides the electromagnetic edge for the Australian Defence Force. Whether used to maximise Australia’s own capability or to neutralise an opposing force, electromagnetic combat and radar systems are critical to Australia’s combat effectiveness.

They describe their work in these terms ‘We research how to use electronic means to deny an adversary the advantage of, as well as ensuring friendly unimpeded access to, the electromagnetic spectrum. This research considers the use of the electromagnetic spectrum for observing, jamming and manipulating an adversary. This includes electronic attack, electronic protection and electronic warfare support.

‘Electronic attack involves the use of electromagnetic spectrum to attack enemy facilities, equipment or personnel with the intent of degrading, neutralising or destroying enemy combat capability.

‘Electronic protection involves passive and active measures taken to protect own personnel, facilities and equipment from any effects of electronic warfare that may degrade, neutralise or destroy own combat capability.

‘Electronic warfare support involves actions taken to search for, intercept, identify, and locate sources of radiated electromagnetic energy for the purpose of threat recognition, targeting and operations.’


The US Department of Defense provides this succinct definition: ‘Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) can be defined as a category of intelligence comprising either individually or in combination all communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence (FISINT), however transmitted.’

It essentially is the collection of information by studying received electromagnetic signals which can be analysed by frequency, bandwidth, modulation and polarization. The frequencies of interest in a military context now include all the commercial HF, VHF, UHF frequencies of radio, TV, mobiles, and Wi-Fi. Furthermore, the military use higher frequencies normally associated with radars and lasers.

The information collected provides information to commanders and intelligence analysts. Depending how that information is used it can also be categorised as electronic warfare support to provide tactical information including threat prioritisation, recognition, location, targeting and if necessary avoidance. This information can also be used for electronic attack through jamming, spoofing and other methods.

The following job role description for RA Sigs Electronic Warfare Operators is taken directly from the Defence Jobs website:

‘Electronic Warfare Operators are members of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals (RA Sigs). The role of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals is to provide communications, information systems and electronic warfare support to the Army and the Australian Defence Force to allow command and control of deployed forces in peace, crisis and conflict on any operation anywhere in the world.

‘The control of the electromagnetic spectrum offers a decisive advantage in modern warfare and electronic warfare (listening to or interfering with enemy electronic transmissions) is a critical contribution to the Army’s combat capability.

‘The position of an Electronic Warfare Operator is the base trade of the Electronic Warfare field and operates a large range of complex, state-of-the-art electronic intercept, monitoring and attack equipment, in a broad range of field and office environments. As a member of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals, the successful applicant will be operating the latest in electronic equipment alongside their dedicated team.

‘The Electronic Warfare Operator job expects that you will have a high level of written and oral communication skills, be able to think logically and objectively, perform well under pressure, have strength of conviction and be a dedicated member of the team. You must also have a well-developed analytical approach to problem solving. You will have a positive and responsible attitude to the handling of classified material and a commitment to protecting information sensitive to national interests. At the tactical level, you will be required to take immediate action on information about potentially life-threatening situations, so you will be expected to make decisions with a sense of urgency.

‘Following your initial military and employment training, the first position for Electronic Warfare Operators is typically a tactical unit, where you will support traditional infantry and armoured personnel as they train on exercises around Australia. This will provide you with the opportunity to work in a small mobile team, receiving mentoring and support from more experienced Electronic Warfare Operators.

‘From there you may have the opportunity to work in one of the following areas:

  • Signals Analysis – analyse data collected from the tactical EW teams and pass critical information to the commander
  • Electronic Attack – deny, disrupt and deceive enemy communications
  • Tactical Cyber Warfare – understand how networks, ICT systems and different operating systems talk to each other when enemy elements are maneuvering around the battle space’

Most Electronic Warfare Operators become members of the specialist 7th Signal Regiment which provides Land Electronic Warfare and signals intelligence support to the ADF in times of peace, crisis, and conflict on any operation anywhere in the world. They do this by intercepting, analysing and affecting foreign systems that communicate over the electromagnetic spectrum.

Members of the Regiment maintain their education in languages and emerging technologies to operate an ever-evolving range of complex electronic equipment in the tactical environment.


The field of electronic warfare involves many different technologies and products which must be joined together in a seamless system to be effective. Nearly all international defence prime contractors and a number of specialist companies have something to offer, making the task of determining the way forward very complex.

British company Ultra Electronic’s local subsidiary Avalon Systems was acquired by Ultra Electronics in 2009. Based at Mawson Lakes, SA, it specialises in the field of electronic warfare, undertaking the design and manufacture of subsystems and providing engineering consultancy services and through-life support.

As noted in the ministerial media release, Avalon Systems is teamed with BAE Systems who have developed the world leading Mantlet digital electronic support measure. This sensor provides the ability to detect and identify nearly all radio frequency emitters, including radio, TV, mobiles, Wi-Fi, radars and missiles.

With the recent addition of ‘Cuttlefish’ to the BAE Systems portfolio, they are maturing an electronic attack capability that has been in development since 2006. The Australian Government has allocated almost $40 million for research and development of this technology for the Australian Defence Force.

Chemring Australia, supports the development of an Australian designed, manufactured and supported Electronic Attack Solution for sale in the domestic and international markets. Furthermore, they support the establishment of an Australian capability to design, develop, integrate systems, manufacture and maintain complex electronic systems. They produce the Resolve system which is a modular and scalable electronic warfare system for the interception and geolocation of tactical communications.

Disclaimer: The author is a former RNZSigs TF officer but no classified information was accessed in preparing this article.



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