Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities are becoming invaluable necessities in combat situations. Advanced warning, searching, intercepting, locating, recording, detection and target acquisition are indispensable tasks in EW.
Combat scenarios are changing due to new threats being developed while defences are being tested with the aid of the electromagnetic spectrum. In EW the need to gather, validate and process data from many different sources is a must. Identifying what electronic emitters are up to – whether friendly, hostile or unidentified – is crucial for effective electronic warfare operations. Decisions need to be quickly made with such acquired intelligence. Mission success now requires a comprehensive knowledge of the electronic battlespace.
In sensing for potential threats, microwave signals are digitized and fed to one, many, or a combination of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), digital signal processors (DSPs), graphic processor units (GPUs), or general purpose processors (GPPs). The signals are then filtered, down-converted, weighted, delayed, combined, and passed through many other algorithms to obtain the desired information with the required accuracy.
The main challenges in EW include signal detection, emitter parameter measurement and correlation, emitter sorting, identification, and operator notification, which are often classified as Electronic Support Measures (ESM) or Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) systems. ESM systems are often tasked to preserve electronic data for future analysis. Traditionally, ESM systems focus on emitters locations with the support of RWRs that estimate position/distance.
A non-comprehensive lists of a typical emitter characteristics, that ESM system functions can measure for, include: radio frequency, amplitude, direction of arrival, time of arrival, pulse repetition interval, pulse width , scan type and rate and lobe duration (beam width). Other advanced ESM systems can also measure pulse repetition interval modulation characteristics, inter-and intra-pulse frequency modulation (FM), missile guidance characteristics, and continuous wave signals.
By relying in a collection of algorithm implementations mostly done in software, EW is part of a larger trend of Software Defined domains that are looking into component based architectures with enhanced portability and reuse of algorithm implementations. For large organizations that work on EW, Software Defined Radios, Software Defined Radars, etc., the benefits are multiplied as algorithm implementations can be shared as software components across those multiple domains.
The Software Communications Architecture (SCA) follows a Component Based Development (CBD) paradigm that provides a framework for software components reuse that is highly suited for the EW domain.