Control and dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum has become as much a part of modern warfare as air superiority and maritime security. Electronic Warfare (EW) is the mission area responsible for establishing and maintaining a favourable position in the electromagnetic domain – protecting access and use of the spectrum while simultaneously denying and degrading an adversary’s use and access.
As militaries and defence manufacturers around the world are having to keep up with extensive technological advancements in equipment that can operate in complex and dynamic environments, the pace of change is so fast-moving that traditional training and testing methods are no longer able to reflect the new operational reality. For that reason, the future of EW requires further development and adoption of modelling and simulation tools that can conceptualise the non-physical effects in the electromagnetic spectrum and replicate real-life EW operations to meet the challenges of the modern combat environment.
A primary objective of modelling and simulation in EW is to provide an operationally realistic environment to help prepare today’s modern warfighters for the challenges they may encounter. Sophisticated simulation technology is being utilised by military forces to adapt the delivery of training and mission rehearsal so that it is relevant to modern, complex operations. Simulation training systems deliver real-life 3D experiences using virtual prototypes of weapons and systems to respond to the latest threats, allowing users to become proficient in a wider range of emergency scenarios that would be impractical or dangerous to train under real conditions.
Effective training for fighter pilots and other operators of EW systems has been a recognised challenge for many years. Commanders and teams who leverage simulation training will have an edge in neutralising and degrading enemy combat capabilities with a greater understanding of how to operate their weapons and systems in real-life scenarios. As both the simulation technology and EW sector move forward and evolve, equipment manufacturers and software developers must continue to collaborate and develop software tools that are representative of in-field products and systems. This will enhance the immersive nature of the simulation and make it as realistic as possible for EW operators to prepare for the challenges that they may confront.
Developing and fielding modern EW systems is complex, expensive, and requires a disciplined test approach to ensure that the end solution meets the users’ operational requirements. Not only are modelling and simulation used for training, but they also enable new technologies and solutions to be digitally generated and tested in true-to-life conditions that emulate today’s battle environment. Robust simulations offer the safest, practical, and most affordable means of testing and validating the effectiveness of sophisticated EW equipment.
Verification of requirements and specifications in the initial design process also ensures that broad mission needs are encompassed in the systems’ features and functionalities. Digital modelling enables developers to examine new and existing systems, analyse capability improvements and identify any deficiencies to ensure that the end solution satisfies mission objectives. Creating virtual prototypes ahead of building systems allows suppliers to quickly and cost-effectively test multiple configurations in order to determine customer preferences, thereby reducing risk, cost and time it takes to bring the finished product to market.
Future EW solutions must be able to perform, operate, and adapt in complex electromagnetic environments. They must maintain interoperability with other systems and be capable of rapid software and hardware upgrades to remain relevant against the evolving near-peer threat. As EW capabilities become more complex, the training and testing infrastructure must simultaneously evolve and expand to outpace adversaries. With the ability to simulate modern and congested environments, defence suppliers can ensure the delivery of best-in-class EW solutions, and military forces can gain a thorough understanding of how to maximise their operational advantage.
(Javier Avellaned is a Senior Program Manager with SIGN4L)