The continuing advance of RCIED (Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device) threats against our Forces has seen the continuing need to provide a protective electronic ‘bubble’ around us.
This is known as ECM (Electronic Countermeasures) in UK parlance or Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare (CREW) to US Forces.
If you look at our logo, it is a nod to our products doing exactly this – with our jammers shielding, while providing communications through inhibition. Our job within the realms of the fast-paced industry is key.
Ultimately we preserve and save lives.
As insurgents in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan (to name but three countries) tried new ways to keep the link between the triggerman and their IED, security forces have tried to counter this. We work with organisations, Governments and others, offering our expertise to those who strive to give themselves an electronic bubble of safety as they patrol in ‘bandit country’.
These ECM equipments started as broadband or barrage jammers, which were analogue devices. They were only really effective against weak transceivers on a limited number of wavelengths. This developed into a second generation of swept jammers; focusing power in a narrow band and changing their ‘focus’ at high speed across specific frequencies / channels in turn.
The sweep rate is such that any receiver in an IED circuit perceives the jamming signal as continuous. These are effective at jamming sets of specific wavelengths, but conversely they can be slow and unresponsive with the power output control being poor.
The latest generation are Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) jammers and these use pure digital techniques to generate complex jamming outputs. Such outputs may be programmed to cover spot frequencies with maximum power and tight precision.
This combination of speed and accuracy is particularly efficient but DDS jammers also have the ability to be reprogrammed quickly. Not being limited by their hardware means new and evolving threats can be countered easily and quickly with an updated ‘fill’ of software. Threats anywhere from 20MHz up to 6GHz will appear as commercial communications infrastructure evolves and dynamic software generation is vital to counter this.
We suggest that the complexity of these systems means that any user must select his system provider carefully too. Just delivering a ‘box of tricks’ isn’t good enough any more; only a supplier who installs the equipment properly, teaches the user how to use and maintain it and also develops a full understanding of the threat faced by the customer for counter RCIED, to keep the fill updated will provide a genuinely useful product.