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Electronic warfare (EW)

Definition Electronic warfare (EW) is a military tactic predominantly used to control the electromagnetic spectrum, disrupting enemy’s equipment and communication networks. This can encompass anything from jamming a radar signal to preventing the detonation of roadside bombs. Essentially, it is the use of directed energy to control or attack enemy equipment, or to prevent hostile […]

Definition

Electronic warfare (EW) is a military tactic predominantly used to control the electromagnetic spectrum, disrupting enemy’s equipment and communication networks. This can encompass anything from jamming a radar signal to preventing the detonation of roadside bombs. Essentially, it is the use of directed energy to control or attack enemy equipment, or to prevent hostile use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Key Takeaways

  1. Electronic warfare (EW) is a strategic method that uses the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or protect oneself. It can alter, intercept, or manipulate, and even entirely prevent the use of these signals to hinder enemy operations.
  2. In EW, there are primarily three types of activities: electronic attack (EA), electronic protection (EP), and electronic warfare support. EA involves the use of electromagnetic energy or anti-radiation weapons to destroy enemy combat capability. EP involves actions taken to protect friendly forces from any potential effects of friendly or enemy employment of electronic warfare. Electronic warfare support involves actions tasked by or under the direct control of an operational commander to identify, locate, and evaluate sources of radiated electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate threat recognition.
  3. EW is considered a crucial element in modern warfare. It is typically used alongside traditional weaponry to enhance their effectiveness, or to dissuade and deter enemy actions. Modern military operations heavily rely on EW due to the vast proliferation of electronic systems and devices in the battlefield.

Importance

Electronic warfare (EW) is a critical component of military operations due to its strategic importance and potential impact on battlefield outcomes.

It involves the use of electromagnetically emitted energy to disrupt, deceive, or impair enemy communication systems and radars, thus gaining a competitive edge in combat scenarios.

Equally, EW also encompasses protective actions that avert enemy attempts to disrupt our own communication, surveillance or threat detection systems.

Therefore, an effective EW strategy can mean the difference between success and failure in operational missions, making it an indispensable tool in the arsenal of modern warfare tactics.

Explanation

Electronic Warfare (EW) is primarily used by armed forces as a strategic tool during conflict situations to control the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). The manipulation or control of this spectrum can prove crucial to deter or mislead the enemy and protect their own operations.

It serves the primary purpose of hampering enemy telecommunications, impacting their radar systems, and taking control of their data transmission, thereby causing significant disruption in enemy ranks, vital operations and intelligence systems.

In addition, EW also plays a crucial role in defense by protecting friendly forces and key infrastructures from the enemy’s electronic warfare systems.

This aspect of EW includes measures such as guarding own telecommunications networks, radar systems, and other significant electronic systems from enemy detection and attack.

Overall, the usage of electronic warfare embodies an understanding that modern warfare extends beyond the physical spaces into electronic and cyber realms with a necessity to be prepared for a confrontation within these spheres.

Examples of Electronic warfare (EW)

Operation Orchid: This was an electronic warfare operation executed by Israel in

Operation Orchard was targeted towards a Syrian nuclear facility. The Israeli Air Force used electronic warfare measures to blind the Syrian air defense systems and make their aircraft invisible to radar. They were then able to approach and destroy the facility undetected.

Operation Rolling Thunder: During the Vietnam War, the U.S. conducted a program of electronic warfare against the North Vietnamese forces known as Operation Rolling Thunder. This involved jamming radar and communication systems to impede the enemy’s ability to coordinate defense mechanisms, as well as using electronic countermeasures to deceive and misdirect enemy defenses.

Gulf War: During the Gulf war in 1990-1991, the U.S. and coalition forces made extensive use of electronic warfare measures. They successfully disrupted Iraqi communication lines, radar systems, and air defense systems using radar jamming and deception methods. This was a key component of their successful campaign to liberate Kuwait.

FAQ on Electronic Warfare (EW)

What is Electronic Warfare (EW)?

Electronic Warfare (EW) is a military operation that capitalizes on the electromagnetic spectrum – including radio and infrared and radar signals – to locate, confuse, mislead or destroy an enemy’s assets.

What are the different types of Electronic Warfare?

There are three main categories of Electronic Warfare: Electronic Attack (EA), Electronic Protection (EP) and Electronic Warfare Support (ES). EA involves jamming, spoofing or deceiving enemy radar or communications to impair their operational effectiveness. EP involves protecting your own use of the electromagnetic spectrum through technologies such as frequency hopping and encryption. ES involves the use of sensors to passively detect and locate sources of electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate threat recognition.

Why is Electronic Warfare important?

Electronic Warfare plays a crucial role in modern combat situations because of the sheer reliance of militaries on the electromagnetic spectrum for communication, detection and navigation purposes. This makes EW a highly effective means of disrupting enemy operations without having to engage them physically.

How does Electronic Warfare work?

EW works by either actively sending electronic signals to interfere with enemy signals (EA), passively shielding your own signals from the enemy (EP), or detecting, identifying and tracing enemy signals (ES).

What are the applications of Electronic Warfare?

EW can be used in a wide range of military operations, from disabling enemy communications and radar to protecting friendly forces from enemy electronic attacks. It can also be used to fool the enemy into thinking they are being attacked from a different direction or way.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Electronic Countermeasures (ECM)
  • Radar Jamming and Deception
  • Radio Frequency (RF) Weapons
  • Directed-Energy Weapons (DEW)
  • Signal Intelligence (SIGINT)

Sources for More Information

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