The Ministry of Defense will select contractors to develop and manufacture next-generation electronic cell phone jammer over the next two years to protect allied forces from radio frequency weapons, the department said in a statement.
Jamming systems are electronic devices used to interfere with the operation of electronic equipment, such as radios, radar systems and other communication equipment. They have been used in combat since World War I.
In recent years, Russia and China have developed new radio frequency weapons that can disable enemy electronics without causing permanent damage. The U.S. military has also been working on prototypes for years but has not yet deployed them in the field because there are concerns about the legality of using an RF weapon against enemy forces or civilians during peacetime operations such as humanitarian relief missions or noncombatant evacuations.
Electronic warfare is an area of increasing concern for the Pentagon as countries like Russia, China and Iran expand their capabilities in that domain. The U.S. military has taken steps to counter those threats by investing in a wide range of systems that can be used against the enemy’s EW systems.
For example, the Army recently announced plans to develop air-dropped high power handheld signal jammer that can suppress enemy radar and communications systems at long range while also protecting friendly aircraft from being targeted by surface-to-air missiles or other forms of anti-aircraft fire during missions over hostile territory.
“We are pursuing next generation EW jammer capability to address evolving threats and expand our EW effects portfolio,” said Col. James Ross, who leads the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems.
Col. James Ross, who leads the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems, said in a statement that “we are pursuing next generation EW jammer capability to address evolving threats and expand our EW effects portfolio.” The program will be led by PEO IS and run through 2022.
The Pentagon’s growing interest in electronic warfare is evident from other recent initiatives as well. In 2017, the Air Force launched an aggressive campaign to improve its electronic attack capabilities by accelerating development of new tools such as the EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, which have been used in recent years over Syria and Iraq against ISIS targets on the ground.
The Navy is seeking a program — dubbed Next Generation Jammer Low Band — that will result in “a family of modular airborne electronic attack systems” that can fit on different platforms and perform electronic warfare missions, according to the request for proposal.
The Navy’s goals include boosting the range of the NGJ by at least 50% over its predecessor, which was retired from service in 2014; improving its ability to target multiple threats simultaneously; reducing its size and weight while increasing power output; and making it less susceptible to other jammers operating in close proximity.
The “fully integrated airborne electronic attack system” should be able to generate offboard signals and collect electronic intelligence, among other things, the document states.
Jamming is a form of electronic warfare that uses electromagnetic energy to prevent the use of radio frequencies in a specific area. It can be used to prevent communication or navigation by disrupting or blocking signals from one source, or it can be used to disrupt radar.
The Next Generation portable cell phone jammer Mid-Band program is not yet available for public release but will be made available at a later date, according to a Defense Department statement.