Harris Packs Performance in Small, Lightweight Maritime Payloads for Adaptive, Cognitive EW
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Harris Corp. is testing small, lightweight, powerful electronic warfare (EW) payloads that are scalable and air-cooled, making them ideal for platforms such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and saving costs in weight and cooling. The payloads also can be adaptive to changing EW scenarios in real time, a company official said.
“We’re not just doing ‘small’,” Matt Klunder, vice president for DoD Strategy & Technology, Global Business Development for Harris, told Seapower. “We’re doing ‘small’ that has performance. We’re putting these payloads on places you’ve never dreamed of before.”
Klunder, a retired rear admiral and former chief of naval research, said Harris has built small EW payloads and communication equipment such as software-defined radios that weigh only one-third to one-half pound.
“We’ve been testing it in relevant environments,” he said, referring to “the whole wide [electromagnetic] band: high-end, low-end, every aspect those threats to work in. We’re already seeing tremendous success with these kinds of modules. Not only we are covering the threat, but [these systems] augment right into our legacy systems.
“I can’t talk about [specific] platforms, but they’ve been in real live environments and have been coming up quite good in performance,” Klunder said, though noting that the payloads have been flown on small UAVs, including quadcopters.
He said Harris is connecting its payloads with high-performance and conformal apertures and with existing legacy systems.
“If you can’t [in] real time connect the threat emitters, and then move that data back to a controlling C2 [command and control] element, aircraft or ship, you’re probably going to lose,” Klunder said, noting that Harris has connected payloads with apertures and high-data-rate communications.
“We think this is the kind of concept and technology that can support [rapid movement of data and rapid response],’” he said.
“We’re now also putting multifunctionality on [hardware], not just straight EW, but bringing INTs [intelligence collection, such as signals intelligence] into that,” he said. “We’ll even bring cyber into that. And we’re already doing that.”
Klunder said that, to meet threats in the future, hardware and software will “need to adapt techniques to go after that new threat. We have the program with DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] already called Adaptive Radar Countermeasures. It’s all about adaptive, cognitive EW.
“Not only can we string these capabilities in a connected, assured way, from tactical to operational to strategic, I can [in] real time make adjustments.”
Klunder said the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Tactical Aircraft Programs “is leaning forward in a big way and they have us doing prototypes with them and experimentation with them so that we can indeed make sure that when they [want] larger quantities it’s ready to go.”
He also said Harris is helping the Marine Corps to develop distributed EW in experimentation battalions at the Marine Corps Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and that the company is working on decoys “to confuse the threats.”