NATO Sets Out Future Electronic Warfare Capability

On 25th to 27th November, the NATO Electronic Warfare Advisory Committee (NEWAC) convened its 107th Plenary meeting at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The meeting was presided over by Colonel Ziya Kabasakal, chairperson for the Committee.

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Although present since World War I and in every conflict since, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and more recently in the crisis in Ukraine, EW has evolved constantly and remains a challenge for the Alliance. The technologies developed are rapidly evolving and the Alliance’s capabilities must follow.

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For its 107th Plenary, the NEWAC met to discuss the NATO EMS Strategy, the recognition of EW as a training discipline and the improvement of the NATO EW Policy and concept for future EW.

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Speaking about the EMS Strategy, Colonel Kabasakal emphasised how important this strategy is for NATO, “the need for military forces to have unimpeded access to and use of the electromagnetic environment is essential to the success of most military operations. It will also determine the efficiency of our counter-measures in the Electronic Warfare domain and our ability to protect our capabilities and troops”. He added that implementing this strategy will require able, trained and experienced personnel and it is therefore crucial to recognize EW as a training discipline.

Meanwhile, the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) is waiting on a government decision to launch a programme to field a dedicated airborne electronic attack (EA) capability for NATO by the mid-2020s, a senior officer said.

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Speaking in Berlin, Luftwaffe Brigadier-General Christian Leitges, Deputy Chief of Staff Plans and Policy, said the service faces a rapid timeline to deliver the anti-access area denial (A2AD) capability that Germany has committed to NATO under the country’s Luftgestützte Wirkung im Elektromagnetischen Spektrum (luWES) programme, and that it expects the go-ahead from the government shortly.

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According to Gen Leitges, Project luWES is based upon a three-strand system-of-systems (SoS). This comprises a stand-off jammer aircraft, an escort jammer, and a stand-in jammer. The stand-off jammer would consist of about 10 larger aircraft yet to be acquired by the Luftwaffe that would operate at a distance from the target area using an integrated/podded/or palleted EA system; the escort jammer that would be about 12 Eurofighter ECR or Boeing EA-18G Growler platforms; while the stand-in jammer would be an unknown number of small expendable assets such as Remote Carrier unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or MBDA SPEAR-EW decoys operating in the ground-based air defence system’s no-escape zone. “There will be attrition in this mission, and so air-launched decoys will be important [to remove humans from danger],” the general said. “We are just about to start this project.”

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