Intelligence-pushed determination-making is on the coronary heart of each day operations and strategic planning for contemporary militaries and intelligence companies, and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) is a big part of what makes it possible. Right this moment we’ll discuss how SIGINT works and why it is so necessary, particularly as it applies to Electronic Warfare applications.

SIGINT Defined

SIGINT is the interception of signals for the aim of gathering intelligence. It is divided into three sub-disciplines:

Communications Intelligence (COMINT) which is the interception of communication between people and groups

Digital Intelligence (ELINT) which is the intercepting of electronic signals which aren’t specifically used for communication

Foreign Instrumentation Signals Intelligence (FISINT), which is the collection of signals created by the testing and use of international weapons systems. (Supply)

The origins of SIGINT may be traced back to the first world war when British forces began intercepting German radio communications to achieve intelligence about their plans. This led to using cryptography to hide the content material of radio transmissions, and as such, cryptanalysis grew to become an integral part of SIGINT as well.

As technology has advanced, so has the sector of SIGINT. Right now, the US military gathers signals intelligence by means of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the Global Hawk and Reaper drones, which are geared up with powerful infrared sensors and cameras, as well as Light and Imaging Detection (LIDAR) and synthetic aperture RADAR systems to assemble and transmit back valuable raw intelligence from the operational atmosphere for analysis.

One downside of UAVs is that they fly slower and at decrease altitudes than manned plane, leaving them more vulnerable to anti-plane measures. One answer is the EA-18G Growler. This aircraft is an updated model of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, which has been repurposed from a pure combat plane to an advanced, supersonic ISR platform. It will probably fly a lot faster and higher than a drone and is supplied with sensors that may detect enemy RADAR and even cell phone signals.

Another more down-to-earth example of modern SIGINT capabilities can be interception of digital communications data by the NSA, which can provide actionable intelligence in real-time by capturing data like emails, texts, phone calls and more.

When raw SIGINT is captured, it must then be translated, interpreted or represented, as the case may be, into information which can then be analyzed and used for choice-making.

As with SIGINT, EW will be divided into three sub-disciplines. These include:

Electronic Attack (EA), which includes offensive use of directed energy towards the enemy

Electronic Protection (EP), which is defensive, like the Digital Warfare Self-Protection (EWSP) suite constructed into fighter jets

Electronic Warfare Support (ES), the observe of finding and identifying the sources of electromagnetic energy signals for the purpose of supporting choice-making

It’s in this third class of ES that we see the overlap of electronic warfare and SIGINT because the systems and equipment used for ES can concurrently accumulate intelligence. While ES is more centered on immediate threats in the operational atmosphere, much of the data obtained can be used to enhance raw signals intelligence and SIGINT choice-making.

ES can detect the source of an electromagnetic signal, the type of equipment generating that signal, and related data like frequency, modulation, etc. For example, ES personnel can detect an unknown radar signal emanating from somewhere in the battlespace. They will analyze the signal and determine the type of radar that’s being used, and examine their findings with countries known to use this type of radar, and what vehicles, ships, aircraft, etc. it is typically used with. They’ll then ascertain the nature of the radar supply, and make intelligent predictions on what the unknown actor’s intentions are.