Prophet Air Restructured
If no Shadow 200s are available when concept demostrations begin, the Army will install COMINT and jamming systems aboard it Hunter TUAVs.
According to the US Army’s Program Budget Decision 745, the airborne communications-intelligence (COMINT) and jamming element of the service’s Prophet program (Prophet Air), itself a replacement for the Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Common Sensor (IEWCS) program (see "US Army to Field IEWCS, Update Requirements and Transition to Prophet," JED, September 1998), has been restructured. The systems eventually procured under the program are now to be installed aboard tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (TUAVs) — not aboard modified UH-60 helicopters, as initially planned.
The COMINT and jamming systems eventually procured for the Prophet Air portion had been slated to replace the existing Quickfix II systems. Now, however, the Army plans to install these systems aboard the Shadow 200, produced by AAI Corp. (Hunt Valley, MD), the recent winner of the service’s TUAV program (see “US Army Makes Final TUAV Selection,” JED, January 2000). The first Shadow 200, however, is not scheduled for delivery until later this year. If no Shadow 200 TUAVs are available, the COMINT and jamming systems, for which a request for proposals had been expected by this month, will be fitted aboard the Army’s Hunter TUAVs for concept demonstration (for more on the Hunter TUAV, see “UAVs: 100 Eyes in the Sky,” JED, June 1999). These concept demonstrations will form part of a risk- mitigation phase, which is already underway, and COMINT and jamming variants of the TUAV are expected to be flying by the end of the year. Under a program- definition and risk-reduction phase, scheduled to begin in FY01-02, both of these variants will be demonstrated. Prophet Air is expected to enter initial operational test and evaluation by FY05 and to reach the field by 2007. The Army, however, will be phasing out the existing Quickfix II systems, first deployed in 1987, over the next five years, meaning a four- or five-year gap in the service’s airborne COMINT and jamming capabilities until enough Prophet-equipped TUAVs have been deployed to replace the legacy systems and their UH-60 host platforms.
Prophet Air requirements call for COMINT coverage from 20 MHz to 2 GHz — as well as the ability to detect and locate the sources of low-probability-of-intercept signals — over a 120x50-km area (as compared to 40x40-km coverage area required under the now-defunct IEWCS program). Accuracy requirements will depend on the distance to the emitter. The system must be able to provide quick “coarse” resolution to within five percent of the distance to the target at all ranges. Resolutions vary from “fine” resolution with a 500-m circular error of probability (CEP) and “precision” resolution of 150-m CEP at 0-40 km range to 1,500-m CEP “fine” resolution and 450-m CEP “precision” resolution at 80-120 km from the emitter.
The Prophet program is made up of three segments: a ground-based command center (Prophet Control), a HMMWV-based COMINT/jamming system (Prophet Ground) and Prophet Air. According to Prophet program manager LTC Darrell Davis, near the end of last year, the US Army Communications-Electronics Command (Ft. Monmouth, NJ) awarded Delfin Systems (Santa Clara, CA) a $9.1-million contract for the provision of seven interim Prophet Ground systems, consisting of the AN/PRD-13 signals- intelligence manpack mounted on a HMMWV (see “IEWCS Successor Takes Shape,” JED, November 1999). The prototypes should be ready for completion in 2000, reaching the field in 2001. CECOM intends to follow the prototype development with production of 72 systems, to be fielded in 2002 in military-intelligence units within every division and each separate brigade, replacing the currently fielded Teammate, Trailblazer and Traffic Jam systems. Delfin, however, does not necessarily have a lock on the program, as a full and open competition for production versions of the Prophet Ground system is planned. — B. Rivers
EB-52 Initiative on the Table
The Air Combat Command has proposed fitting the venerable B-52 bomber with Spear pods to create a support-jamming variant of the aircraft, dubbed the EB-52.
The US Air Force (USAF) Air Combat Command (ACC) has delivered a proposal to the Air Staff aimed at converting twelve B-52 Stratofortresses into support-jamming aircraft, dubbed the EB-52.
Following Operation Allied Force, the US military came to realize that it needed additional support-jamming capabilities, as EA-6B Prowlers were determined to be well overtasked, according to ACC officials. In addition, with the retirement of the EF-111, the USAF has been without a support-jamming aircraft of its own. Furthermore, a long-term successor to the EA-6B is at least ten years away (see “SEAD: Operation Allied Force and Beyond,” JED, January 2000; and “Analysis of Potential Prowler Successors Officially Underway,” JED, March 2000). The ACC initiative calls for the integration of a jamming pod aboard the venerable bomber to augment the EA-6B fleet — operated jointly by the USAF, Navy and Marine Corps — as well as to provide the USAF with its own support-jamming capability.
Looking only at existing aircraft in order to expedite introduction to the fleet of a support jammer, the ACC selected the B-52 as the platform for this proposal due to the aircraft’s “global reach and global power,” according to Lt Col Bob Simmons, chief of the B-52 weapon-system team. Furthermore, the B-52 “certainly has room,” he said, to accommodate additional equipment.
The ACC also chose an existing jamming pod for fit to the B-52: the lowband Spear pod, produced by Sanders, A Lockheed Martin Company (Nashua, NH). The Spear pod, already fitted aboard USAF EC-130 Compass Call aircraft, possesses internal antennas and amplifiers, while the systems exciters reside within the platform. The pod itself would replace the B-52’s existing external fuel tanks. Sufficient power for these pods is available onboard the B-52, according to the two ACC officials. Moreover, the pod’s size requirements for fit aboard the Compass Call aircraft do not apply to the significantly larger B-52. In fact, the pod could even be an extra six ft. long, and weight, Lt Col Simmons told JED, would not even be a consideration.
As for integration, Lt Col Simmons explained that when the ACC briefed the B-52 manufacturer, Boeing (Seattle, WA), on the proposal, company officials “laughed,” reportedly saying that such work would “not even be a strain.” The pods would also be integrated with the systems to be fitted aboard the B-52 under the Situational Awareness Defensive Improvement (SADI) and Avionics Modernization Improvement (AMI) programs (for more on SADI, see “Contractors Selected for B-52H SADI Program,” JED, November 1999), when these become available.
Under the proposal, however, the SADI/AMI systems would not be available for the first three B-52, which would be modified within the first three years of the plan. Even these aircraft, however, would meet the threshold requirements, according to Maj Bob Schwarze, advanced programs/EW officer at the ACC. As currently outlined, the ACC plans to begin the project in FY02. Following this start date, the ACC would convert three B-52s into EB-52s within the first three years of the program, and jamming pods would be fitted aboard another nine SADI-outfitted B-52s over the course of the first five years in order to reach the total of twelve EB-52s the ACC desires.
The initiative, currently unfunded, is under review by the Air Staff, but the ACC hopes to receive the estimated $334 million needed to carry out these modifications over a five-year period, beginning in FY02. In addition, the ACC would like to get about $4.5 million in funding for an FY01-02 engineering-and- manufacturing-development study in order to reduce potential risks. Electromagnetic-interference (EMI) considerations, for instance, await further study (although the ACC officials told JED that some EMI data was available from previous testing of the pod fitted to Compass Call aircraft). Operational considerations also must be addressed, including the consequences of additional strain on EB-52 crews, who already fly long bombing missions and would then be expected to loiter in or near the threat zone for another 8-15 hrs to engage in its new support-jamming role. — B. Rivers
JSF EW Systems Evaluated
Testing at facilities in Ft. Worth, TX, has successfully demonstrated the signature, countermeasures systems and sensors for one of the competing JSF proposals. (Lockheed Martin artist's rendering)
Evaluation of the electronic-warfare (EW) systems for Lockheed Martin’s proposed Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) have gotten underway at the company’s facilities in Ft. Worth, TX. The JSF’s signature, countermeasures systems and sensors have all come under the glass in recent months.
Testing of the aircraft’s signature and countermeasures systems have been conducted at the Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator (AFEWES), which features real-time, real-frequency, hardware-in-the-loop and operator-in-the-loop simulations of a wide array of radar- and infrared-guided threat systems. More than 1,400 test runs were performed against infrared-guided, air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and over 250 were run against radar-guided threats, including approximately 1,500 SAM-launch opportunities. The results of these tests were described by one Lockheed Martin official as “very promising.”
The controlled environment of the AFEWES, which celebrated its 40th year of operation in 1998 (see “AFEWES Celebrates Ruby Anniversary,” JED, November 1998), allows extensive testing of systems and techniques at costs significantly lower than those associated with actual flight tests.
Meanwhile, nine military pilots have participated in over 40 hours of tactical-combat tests at Lockheed Martin’s new Virtual Battlefield Management Center, also located in Ft. Worth. These tests were designed to evaluate the JSF’s sensor systems against a variety of surface-launched and airborne threats expected to make up the battlefield of 2010. In addition to data from onboard sensors, the pilots also received simulated, integrated information from offboard sources as well to mimic the enhanced situational awareness the JSF should provide.
The Virtual Battlefield Management Center includes two fully equipped JSF cockpit stations with all-aspect, high-resolution visual systems, along with four manned control stations for simulated “adversaries” or additional “friendly aircraft.” A theater-style room provides real-time viewing for observers and can also be used for pre- and post-mission briefings.
Lockheed Martin received one of two JSF concept-demonstration contracts from the Department of Defense in November 1996. A spokesman for the other contractor, the Boeing Co. (Seattle, WA), when contacted by JED, stated that the company had no plans to test the EW systems of its JSF variant at the AFEWES — which, despite being operated by Lockheed Martin, is a Air Force-owned test facility — or at the Virtual Battlefield Management Center. “We have other means to do EW testing for this phase of the program,” the spokesman said.
Flight evaluation of both companies’ JSF demonstrator aircraft are scheduled to take place this year, with government selection of a single contractor for the subsequent engineering-and-manufacturing-development phase of the JSF program, slated to begin next year. — B. Rivers
IR Sensor Demonstrated Aboard Small Air Vehicle
The ROVIR, with its 42-in. wingspan, may be the smallest IR-sensor platform ever flown.
Sanders, A Lockheed Martin Company (Nashua, NH), has successfully demonstrated a night-vision, infrared (IR) imaging system aboard a small unmanned air vehicle with a wingspan of only 42 in., a feat which Jack Miller, the company’s program manager for IR sensors, believes marks the “smallest IR airborne platform” ever flown.
The Remote Observation Vehicle Infrared (ROVIR), developed by Sanders and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works (Palmdale, CA), was fitted with a 280-g uncooled microbolometer sensor, manufactured by Sanders’ Infrared Imaging Systems unit (Lexington, MA), according to Margaret Cohen, chief engineer for the program. The ROVIR flew over a scene which a variety of objects, from buildings and cars to people and power lines to demonstrate the feasibility of employing such a vehicle for covert, night-time, close-in reconnaissance and intelligence gathering at altitudes up to about 200 m, as well as to collect performance data for further development of an IR uncooled focal-plane array (FPA). The imagery produced by the ROVIR’s IR sensor and transmitted via UHF was described by Miller as “quite good,” demonstrating the sensor’s ability to recognize objects like those mentioned above.
These tests were conducted as part of the $10-million MicroSTAR program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (see “US Navy, DARPA Develop IMINT/EW Payloads for Mini-UAVs,” JED, September 1998). This particular portion of the program received approximately $700,000, according to Miller. The goal is to develop an IR sensor that could be fitted aboard a micro air vehicle, such as MicroSTAR, with a wingspan ranging from 6-12 in. MicroSTAR, for instance, Miller said, “could very much benefit from having both an optical and an IR sensor. By beginning with a vehicle with a 42-in. wingspan, Sanders took a “conservative approach to minimize risk” he added. Eventually, however, Sanders hopes to cuts the mass of the IR sensor to about 25 g through integration and reducing the size of electrical and mechanical components, as well as to improve performance of the FPA, Cohen explained. More trials are planned, employing both a smaller air vehicle and a lighter-weight IR sensor. — B. Rivers
Special Ops Equipment Aids Flood-Relief Effort
Equipment usually used by US Special Operations forces to search for downed pilots is being employed as part of Task Force Atlas Response, a relief and aid mission to Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. These countries, located on the southeastern portion of the African continent, have been ravaged in recent months by massive flooding.
Normally stationed in Mildenhall, UK, 3rd Air Force Commander MGEN Wehrle, the joint-task-force commander, has set up headquarters for US search-and-rescue and relief operations in the capital city of Maputo, Mozambique.
Five C-130 tanker aircraft operating out of Hoedspruit, Mozambique, and three MH-53 and three HH-60 helicopters stationed at the forward-staging base at Beira, Mozambique, are directly participating in Task Force Atlas Response. Part of the airlift-coordination element at Hoedspruit, two specialized Keen Sage USAF OC-130 aircraft equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors are aiding in the search for survivors.
During a recent briefing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense RADM Craig Quinley described the Keen Sage equipment: “[Keen Sage] does not stream live video to the ground, but it can capture video stills and bring that imagery to the ground, and has been very helpful, both to the U.S., to the Mozambique government, to the US military forces and to [relief organizations]...in getting a good, accurate, near-real-time picture of conditions on the ground. We can take a real good aerial look at flooding conditions, what are rivers doing, what is the impact of additional rain upstream having on the rivers’ levels, and what have you.”
Approximately 700 US service members are involved in the relief effort. Over $38 million has been spent to support this military operation, with another $50 million in aid provided. To date, over 183 tons of relief cargo, supplies and equipment — including food, clean drinking water, medicine and emergency shelters — have been delivered during 145 sorties.
— S. Mallegol
IW Battlelab Celebrates Leather Anniversary
Their job description could read like a Help Wanted advertisement:
Wanted: Ideas on using available technology to solve information-warfare (IW) needs. Submit ideas to USAF IW Battlelab, Kelly AFB, San Antonio, TX.
Founded in 1997, the IW Battlelab works to rapidly introduce IW innovations into the operational Air Force and military arena. The Battlelab, part of the Air Force Information Warfare Center, solicits ideas from industry and military groups alike on how to solve IW problems by implementing solutions derived from existing and emerging technology. The Battlelab evaluates these submissions, puts them into a military context and runs operational demonstrations of the best of those ideas. “We take a fairly mature idea and see if we can do something really innovative with it,” said Mitre Corp.’s Cliff Moody, AOC vice president.
After the operational demonstration is concluded, the Battlelab makes its recommendations to senior USAF leaders and the acquisition community on whether to pursue the acquisition of the tested idea for broader use across the USAF and other forces.
“We try to do that in a very short time frame, and with a modest amount of money,” said Moody.
Modest is putting it lightly. In an era of billion-dollar programs, the Battlelab and its total staff of 25 military personnel, one US Air Force Research Lab (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH) consultant assigned to the group and two Mitre Corp. (Bedford, MA) support contractors operate the lab on an annual budget of $5 million.
To date, over 240 ideas have been submitted to the Battlelab since its creation. These ideas have come from industry organizations, USAF and Air National Guard units, Defense Department organizations and academia.
The Battlelab has selected 24 of these ideas to go on to an operational demonstration. Twelve demonstrations have been conducted, with the remaining twelve in stages of preparation for eventual demonstration. Approximately 40 more ideas are being investigated for future demonstrations.
Demonstrations have ranged in cost from $38,000 to just under $1 million. EW, electronic-attack, electronic-protect and psychological operations are listed among the main focus of the Battlelab’s efforts. Past demonstrations described by Moody include CyberWarrior, which explored using a three- dimensional “visualization of information” tool that recently transitioned into an advanced-concept-technology demonstration and evaluation. Another demonstration, a network attack visualization program, has made its way over to the Air Force Computer Emergency Response teams. The program alerts the team to a computer hack and allows the team to visualize and make sense of what’s going on, including what type of information is under attack.
Reprogrammable EW parts have also made their way through the Battlelab. With consolidation across the EW field, vendor sources for many in-service systems are drying up as the systems’ maintenance needs increase. Mike Nichols of Litton TASC (Reading, MA) proposed the creation of reprogrammable circuit cards to replace some of the old cards. The user can take a circuit card, tell it what its function is and use it to replace a broken card. An identical reprogrammable card can be set to replace another original card with a different function. Essentially, this brings one-card, “plug and play” technology into many different slots across multiple aircraft systems. Another recently completed demonstration tested a series of algorithms intended to help identify different types of pulse-Doppler radars. The demonstration was so successful — and generated enough interest — that the Danish government has bought the algorithms from the contractor for further testing of their own.
Just because an idea is tested by the Battlelab, though, doesn’t mean it will be recommended for acquisition. “If the idea doesn’t pan out, we’ll brief that too,” said Moody.
Future demonstrations include the MicroGlider from Raytheon (Lexington, MA). An unpowered glider, the device is about 22 in. long, inexpensive and expendable. The Battlelab is also looking at it as a platform for battle-damage assessment. The MicroGlider would be launched out of an aircraft or Howitzer after a strike. It would fly itself to a predetermined point via its onboard GPS guidance system, and spiral in from altitude, right into the crater. Feeding live video while in flight back to base, it would allow immediate reconnaissance of battle damage during a conflict. Biochemical sensors and jammers could also be put aboard the glider.
The Air Force has created a total of six battlelabs. The other five include the Space Battlelab (Schriever AFB, CO); the Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab (Mountain Home AFB, ID); the Command and Control Battlelab (Hurlburt Field, FL); the Force Protection Battlelab (Lackland AFB, TX); and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battlelab (Eglin AFB, FL). — S. Mallegol
System to Combat Pulse-Doppler Radar Threats Demonstrated
Pulse-Doppler radar systems are extremely effective in long-range search, detection and tracking operations. While physically no larger than many pulsed-radar systems, the pulsed-Doppler (PD) radar provides vast improvements in performance. In addition to greatly increased reliability and improved jamming resistance, PD radar can detect smaller targets at longer ranges in the presence of intense clutter and track either single or multiple targets while searching for more targets. It is no wonder then, that radar-system designers have incorporated PD techniques in ground, shipboard and airborne systems since the 1980s. Three key features making pulsed Doppler system so effective are coherence, which enables detection of Doppler frequencies; digital processing with adjunct advances in accuracy and repeatability; and digital control, enabling extreme flexibility.
Operations undertaken in Desert Storm in the early 1990s and more recent action in Kosovo have demonstrated to NATO air forces the urgent need for techniques to counter PD radar. Fortunately, this need had been anticipated. In a series of developments, ManTech Real-Time Systems Laboratory (Sarasota, FL) laid the groundwork for an advanced PD-radar countermeasure. A series of emitter-identification techniques based upon application of time-frequency algorithms and heuristic decision-making approaches was initiated by ManTech in 1992. By 1996, an embodiment, code-named Vision Pointer, was implemented in a 3/4 ATR enclosure on an RC-135 aircraft at the All Services Combat Identification Exercise and Training ‘96 at Eglin AFB, FL. Vision Pointer scored an impressive success rate of over 95-percent correct signal identification at ranges of up to 174 nmi (See “New ESM Technique Shows Promise Against Doppler Radar Threats,” JED, April 1997). In 1998 Vision Pointer evolved into the Vivid PointerTM VP2010(U) system. Vivid Pointer was implemented in two-card COTS hardware. By 1999 system capability had been expanded to handle multiple Doppler emitters.
In 1998 Condor Systems, Inc. (San Jose, CA), teamed with ManTech to incorporate the advanced PD-identification technology into existing receiver/signal processors and to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology. A new configuration, now called the Pulse Doppler Identification (PDID) module, was used to augment a standard US radar warning receiver (RWR). Demonstrations and testing under a $690,000 contract awarded to Condor by the USAF Information Warfare Battlelab (Kelly AFB, San Antonio, TX) were conducted initially in August 1999 at the Dynamic Electromagnetic Environment Simulator (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH). Here, the PDID module was exposed to signals typical of present and future combat scenarios. Following the simulator tests, the module was operated against actual pulse Doppler radars of US fabrication in ground-based operations. The prototype unit met or exceeded all goals established by the Battlelab, which has the mission of identifying and rapidly introducing information-warfare innovations into the Air Force.
Ground-based testing has been followed by flight tests of the PDID module interfaced with an AN/ALR-69 RWR, produced by Litton Advanced Systems (College Park, MD). The unit was flown, onboard a C-130 Hercules, against a variety of Doppler radars. As a result of these successful tests, company officials are hopeful for USAF and NATO endorsement of PDID add-ons for use in a variety of currently fielded RWRs. — D. Herskovitz
In the article “Canada Orders Combat Training System” (February 2000), the location of Canada’s Cold Lake Air Weapons Range should have been given as Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. JED regrets the error.
Also, the RF-synthesizer products of the Signal Technology Corp.’s Arizona operations were not included in last month’s product survey (“A Sampling of RF Synthesizers,” March 2000). Details on the company’s comprehensive product line may be found at Crane Aerospace & Electronics