Today’s navies face rapidly evolving threats, powered by significant technical advances in targeting and attack systems. Advanced threats include aircraft and combat vessels with low radar cross sections – both manned and unmanned; sophisticated, long-range anti-ship cruise missiles; and targeting sensors including airborne and satellite imaging radars.
These threats boost the enemy’s ability to attack the vessel from beyond its line of sight, and threaten to saturate legacy defensive systems with multiple simultaneous attacks.
In order to provide naval forces with effective countermeasures against these developments, Israel Aerospace Industries’ subsidiary ELTA Systems Ltd., has leveraged its rich technological heritage and culture of innovation to introduce the Advanced Next Generation Naval EW Suite.
The following interview with Adi Dulberg, IAI/ELTA’s VP & GM, Intelligence, Communications and EW Division will shed light on this unknown, but a highly capable and unique solution.
Q: Can you provide us with a brief description of the ELTA Naval EW Suite?
A: IAI/ELTA’s Naval EW Suite is an Electronic Warfare System (EWS) that addresses a wide range of threats throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. The system comprises Radar ESM, Communications ESM, ECM, and anti-drone defense.
The core of the system is the revolutionary Scorpius-N, the world’s first AESA-based EW system. Scorpius-N detects threats at long ranges with exceptional sensitivity and disrupts their electromagnetic operation with highly powerful and focused attack beams. Using its unique multi-beam capability, Scorpius-N can address and disable multiple threats – at different directions – simultaneously.
Scorpius-N provides a quantum leap in electronic warfare performance and represents a real game changer in the field of modern EW systems.
Q: Please explain a little about the Scorpius-N technology – EW AESA?
A: Scorpius-N is based on IAI/ELTA’s wideband Active Electronic Staring Array (AESA) transceiver technology. AESA technology incorporates an array of wideband solid-state transceivers, with multiple receive and transmit channels and unprecedented processing power. It dramatically increases receiver sensitivity as compared to legacy ESM systems. It also provides a dramatic boost in Effective Radiated Power (ERP) as compared to legacy ECM – allowing the system to detect and jam remote threats.
AESA technology allows multi-beam operation in reception and transmission. This allows the system to detect, track, and jam multiple threats simultaneously.
An additional important advantage of AESA technology is the conformal installation of its antennas, i.e. flat installation without changing the vessel’s outer contour. AESA thereby provides its powerful performance without significantly increasing the vessel’s Radar Cross Section (RCS), a highly important factor in modern warfare.
AESA EW represents a breakthrough in performance that will come to dominate the electromagnetic arena in the future. It provides the optimal solution for high-performance ESM and ECM for combat vessels facing modern and new emerging threats.
Q: In a recent DSCA announcement your system was described as “counter-UAS”. Can you please explain the capability?
A: IAI/ELTA’s Advanced Next Generation Naval EW Suite integrates IAI/ELTA’s operationally proven DroneGuard multi-sensor, multi-layer solution. The system is designed to protect against drone attacks long before they endanger the vessel. I can’t elaborate more on this capability.
Q: What do you think are the advantages of the unified ELTA EW Suite? Can you please provide some details about the system’s capabilities?
A: IAI/ELTA’s EWS, with full-spectrum solutions for R-ESM, C-ESM, ECM, and C-UAS is a force multiplier. The central component of the EW suite, Scorpius-N, which I referred to in a previous question, is the key to the system’s class-leading performance. As a revolutionary ECM system based on breakthrough achievements in wideband EW AESA technology, Scorpius-N provides a dramatic boost in ESM sensitivity and ECM jamming power as compared to legacy systems; and enables efficient, simultaneous jamming of multiple threats, a critical advantage in modern naval combat capabilities.
Scorpius-N’s unique capabilities ensure long-range successful jamming of airborne radars and missile seekers. It is an effective countermeasure against the most dangerous threats, including hostile imaging radars deployed from maritime patrol aircraft.
Considering modern naval threats such as long-range Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCM), the quantum leap in performance offered by AESA EW can be viewed as being crucial to ensure combat ships’ safety in the naval arena of the coming decades.
Q: Let’s assume that the Hellenic Navy needs a specialized EW capability on a multi mission warship. Would you propose the same system? Our question arises from the possibility that one of the MEKO200HN frigates may be converted into a training ship. Can this ship have a dual role, training and EW with this system?
A: Definitely yes. Scorpius-N offers the “Electromagnetic Dominance” that would make this a most capable EW warship.
Q: Is ELTA supplying this EW suite to other navies?
A: IAI/ELTA has acquired over fifty years of experience in the design, development, and support of a wide range of EW solutions covering the naval, air, and land domains. Several generations of naval products, implementing diverse technologies, have been developed and delivered to customers around the world.
The Advanced Next Generation Naval EW Suite is based on proven systems already in service on vessels worldwide. The integration of IAI/ELTA’s latest EW AESA technology achieves unparalleled capabilities with virtually no risk since the technology has already been successfully incorporated in several IAI/ELTA products.
Q: Can this system be integrated with any combination of CMS and Radar?
A: IAI/ELTA’s Advanced Next Generation Naval EW Suite is adaptable to any CMS and onboard radar. In addition to providing an advanced soft-kill capability, its interface conveys important data in two ways. Firstly, it enriches the ESM threat picture by providing high-quality detection data to the CMS. Secondly, it assists the CMS by determining how to confront complex threat scenarios with optimal hard and soft kill combinations.
IAI/ETA has extensive experience with a variety of naval programs and CMS manufacturers. Regarding the current program, we have already initiated close collaboration with Lockheed Martin for the integration of our Advanced Next Generation Naval EW Suite into Lockheed’s proposal for the HF2. Beyond the joint architecture, our mutual work to date has shown that we share similar perceptions of how to support the Hellenic Navy taking into account its specific threat and operating environments. This genuinely synergetic partnership will definitely contribute to an optimal HF2 solution.
Q: Do you think that a modern warship can survive without a complete EW Suite?
A: The array of advanced threats being introduced into the naval arena is continually growing. For example, a simultaneous attack by long-range, low radar signature missiles flying at supersonic and even hypersonic speeds will leave virtually no room for error – so early detection and a powerful, long-range response are crucial for the vessel’s defense.
IAI/ELTA’s Advanced Next Generation Naval EW Suite provides key elements that are needed to ensure survivability today and in the future. The EW AESA solution for jamming, featuring the powerful multi-beam ‘soft-kill’ capability is a defensive force multiplier. Furthermore, the suite’s wideband high-quality detection and identification of threats afford the extended warning time that is crucial for initiating the necessary countermeasures. I wouldn’t recommend going into today’s naval battle arena without these capabilities, let alone contend with future threats without a capable, comprehensive EW suite.
Q: In your vision, how can the system support future threats?
We know that the environment will keep on changing and we can already see recently introduced threats evolving to become more and more lethal. Our solution is ideally suited to meet these challenges. Firstly, the system includes an automatic Electronic Parameters Library (EPL) that enables fast adaptation to future threats. Using software-driven upgrades, necessary modifications can be implemented quickly and efficiently to address new threats as they appear.
The system’s hardware offers an additional decisive advantage. AESA uses an inherently modular design, allowing the system to be upgraded with minimal hardware revisions. This allows navies to meet strict budgetary requirements while retaining the ability to address future needs, quickly and cost-effectively.
All of these features, unified in a modern wideband system, constitute a real game-changer in the field of shipborne electronic warfare. They offer the Hellenic Navy the most flexible, efficient, and effective tool currently available to counter the threats of today and tomorrow.