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23 Dec. 2022 Andrew

Covert Electronic Warfare: The Confrontation Between Listening and Signal Jamming

War is fought on land, at sea and in the air, but increasingly also in an invisible dimension, namely electromagnetic and radio radiation. Surveillance, localization and signal jamming tools are now part of the modern military. France is very well equipped in this regard.

French Navy frigate with signal jamming tools

Somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean, a French Navy frigate was cruising at low speed. On the tower overlooking the main deck, the machine spins, vibrates, emits and captures any movement: these are the tools of electronic warfare.

Commander Roland, the building's second-in-command, explained the rationale: "We will be able to use our electronic warfare to get a picture of everything happening around us in three dimensions. These are radar emission detectors and radio broadcasts, so we It is possible to see who is broadcasting around us, and on the radio we are able to find their source and possibly hear what they are saying".

Secret material

These tools are the most secret equipment on board. It is impossible to know how far these sensors can detect radiation. But the manufacturer Thalès has opened the doors of its laboratories and factories especially to us. Patrick Haigneré, who is responsible for the design of airborne electronic warfare tools, describes the working mode of the antennas that receive the radar transmissions: "There, you have six planar antennas distributed in a hexagon. Either a surveillance radar, or a fire control radar, Or a more dangerous missile control radar. This type of antenna can determine the direction of arrival of the radar. I will have to take countermeasures like this to protect myself."

Countermeasures can be jamming, for example, explains Nicolas Fovet, who is responsible for the design of electronic warfare radio tools such as this Eclipse signal jamming system, a box that holds suitcase-sized electronics that mounts on armored vehicles and protects them against remote-controlled explosive devices . "It's a jammer, so the remote control is detected," he described, giving the example of an attacker who would trigger the remote control as a convoy passed by.

"Our system will detect this emission and emit a jamming frequency before the receiver has had time to integrate this remote, so it will prevent the explosive device from detonating."

Electronic warfare weapons are installed on ships, military vehicles and in space. For the past year, France has had electronic warfare satellites that can permanently detect any radar and locate any radio emissions.