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Electronic warfare support (ES)

Definition Electronic warfare support (ES) is a subdivision of electronic warfare that involves actions taken to identify, locate, and track sources of intentional electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate decision-making. This is typically used for threat recognition, targeting, and planning defensive or offensive actions. Its main function is to gather information that contributes to […]


Electronic warfare support (ES) is a subdivision of electronic warfare that involves actions taken to identify, locate, and track sources of intentional electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate decision-making. This is typically used for threat recognition, targeting, and planning defensive or offensive actions. Its main function is to gather information that contributes to the operation of systems involved in attack or defense strategies.

Key Takeaways

  1. Electronic Warfare Support (ES) refers to the division of Electronic Warfare which involves using electronic intelligence gathering equipment to detect, identify, and track enemy signals. It aids in making informed decisions during military operations.
  2. ES is used as a strategic tool in military operations to detect enemy activities, locations and capabilities, giving military forces the advanced warning and ability to counterattack or prepare defensive measures. This enables a proactive approach for defensive operations.
  3. ES uses advanced technology, like radar systems, signal miscellanies and decryption tools, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance between offense and defense during warfare. Its ability to disrupt and control the electromagnetic spectrum gives the advantage of information superiority.


Electronic Warfare Support (ES) is crucial in military operations as it plays a vital role in understanding, detecting, identifying, and tracking potential threats from enemy forces.

It involves the swift interception and precision analysis of radiated electromagnetic energy to predict adversaries’ intentions and strategies.

This knowledge enables military leaders to make informed decisions, effectively manage resources, and implement strategic countermeasures, thereby giving their own forces a significant advantage in combat situations.

ES also plays a key part in safeguarding friendly forces and critical infrastructure from enemy electronic attacks, making it a vital component in the broader scope of electronic warfare.


Electronic Warfare Support (ES) is a subdivision of electronic warfare primarily concerned with the use of electronic signals for gathering tactical and strategic intelligence about an enemy’s capabilities and intentions. The purpose of ES is twofold: to spot, identify, and locate signals of interest on the electronic battlefield while protecting friendly forces. It is primarily used to gain a detailed understanding of the electronic signals used by enemy units in the field.

This includes radars, radios, or any other devices they may be using to communicate or coordinate their activities. ES uses specialized equipment and strategies to monitor and interpret an enemy’s electronic signals. By intercepting and analyzing these signals, ES personnel can provide valuable information to commanders about the enemy’s location, structure, capabilities, and intent.

For example, if a radio signal being used by enemy forces is identified and tracked, it can provide an idea of their movements or planned activities. Moreover, it may allow friendly forces to disrupt that communication, thereby impairing the enemy’s operational efficiency. ES can thus prove a pivotal component in the successful operation and outcome of military exercises.

Examples of Electronic warfare support (ES)

Battle of the Beams: This was a major scenario during World War II where both the Germans and the Allies used electronic warfare support. The Germans developed and used the ‘Lorenz Beam’ and ‘X-Gerat’ for navigational purposes for their aircraft during bombings. In response, the British developed strategies and electronic systems to jam, deceive or mislead these systems, showing electronic warfare support in action.

Operation Orchid in the Vietnam War: During this military operation, the United States set up a series of electronic monitoring devices and used electronic warfare to collect information about the North Vietnamese Army. They detected enemy movements, communications and operation bases, which allowed them to anticipate attacks and initiate preventive measures.

Operation Desert Storm: In the Persian Gulf War of 1991, electronic warfare support was extensively used by the coalition forces. The U.S. deployed EA-6B Prowler and EF-111A Raven to jam Iraq’s communication, navigation, and radar systems. This disruption on the enemy’s electronic systems impeded their battle functionality, leading to the coalition’s victory.

Frequently Asked Questions about Electronic Warfare Support (ES)

1. What is Electronic Warfare Support (ES)?

Electronic Warfare Support is a segment of electronic warfare involving actions taken to seek, intercept, locate, and identify sources of radiated electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate threat recognition. It is mainly used to aid tactics in areas such as threat recognition, avoidance, protection and targeting.

2. Why is Electronic Warfare Support (ES) crucial in military operations?

ES is crucial in military operations as it allows for improved situational awareness, helping identify potential threats and provide immediate threat recognition. It plays a significant role in both offensive and defensive operations, ensuring safety and strategic advantages.

3. How does Electronic Warfare Support (ES) work?

ES works by seeking out, intercepting, locating, and identifying sources of intentional and unintentional radiated electromagnetic energy. The gathered information is then used for threat recognition, targeting, planning and conducting future operations.

4. What are the major components of Electronic Warfare Support (ES)?

The major components of ES are electronic support measures (ESM), electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT), each playing a specific role in the functioning and success of an ES system.

5. Can Electronic Warfare Support (ES) be used for civil applications?

While ES is largely associated with military operations, the principles and techniques could potentially be used in civil applications where electromagnetic energy plays a crucial role. However, the specific application would largely depend on the context and domain.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Signals Intelligence (SIGINT)
  • Electronic Support Measure (ESM)
  • Radio Frequency Spectrum (RFS)
  • Threat Recognition
  • Electromagnetic Environment (EME)

Sources for More Information

  • Joint Chiefs of Staff: Official website of the U.S. Department of Defense’s top military body. Offers a range of publications related to electronic warfare support, including the official DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms.
  • Global Security: Non-profit think tank that provides a mixture of background and current events related to global security issues, including electronic warfare.
  • National Security Agency (NSA): Official website of the U.S. National Security Agency. It hosts an archive of documents and information related to electronic warfare support.
  • RAND Corporation: A research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure. They have a wide range of research available related to electronic warfare support.

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