Here’s an interesting project that caught ComNavOps’ eye. DARPA is developing an adaptive electronic warfare (EW) software package (1). The problem with EW in the past has always been that it was only effective against known, pre-programmed threats. Today, however, many threats use frequency agile emitters with variable characteristics that we have no way of pre-programming for. To counter this, DARPA is working with industry to create a software EW package that can analyze threats, determine their characteristics in real time, and produce a counter based on histories of what has worked in the past against similar threat profiles. This is, potentially, a wonderful approach that offers a broad spectrum of counters without the need for perfect knowledge ahead of time.
Of course, at the early developmental stage, like this, every project sounds great. The reality is that few such projects actually make it to production. Still, this is a technology that is well worth pursuing.
The next step is for DARPA to step away and one of the services to adopt and fund the program. Unfortunately, this is where many potentially worthwhile projects die – not necessarily for lack of technical worthiness but because of politics. The services each look at the potential project and play poker against each other. Who will fund it? If one service wants to use their money for another project, they may pass on it, hoping that another service picks it up, pays to develop it, and then they can hop on board when it’s mature. Of course, politics means that they may all pass in favor of funding less deserving pet projects that they think have a better chance of getting funded by Congress regardless worthiness.
For example, the Navy has made it clear that they are going to fund the LCS no matter what. If they come up short on budget because of that, they will not fund this EW project. Sad but true.
Something like an EW package would be useful across all the services and should be funded at a DoD level, not at the individual service level.
Anyway, this is a potentially useful project. It’ll be interesting to see if it gets fully developed by anyone.
(1)Defense News website, “Pentagon Looks To Adaptive EW Systems To Thwart Future Adversaries”, Valerie Insinna,