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Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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New DARPA Project Intends to Neutralize Effectiveness of Digitally Programmable Radars

EW kills

(Photo : DARPA) Illustration of an electronic warfare environment.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is speeding-up a key electronic warfare project that intends to counter new, unknown and adaptive radars automatically and in real time.

DARPA has awarded BAE Systems a $13.3 million contract modification to extend its work on the Adaptive Radar Countermeasures (ARC) project. The ARC program's goal is to enable airborne electronic warfare (EW) systems to defeat adaptive radars in real time.

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It plans to leverage advances in signal processing and machine learning to develop intelligent algorithms that detect and counter emerging radar threats.

Digitally programmable or adaptive radar are the greatest threat to U.S. warplanes. These modern radar systems can detect and characterize sources of electronic noise such as RF (radio frequency) jamming or co-location antenna interference, and adapt the radar's performance to compensate.

The idea behind adaptive radar is for modern radar digital signal processing to sense and compensate for jamming and interference quickly; adapt its transmit/receive modes and continue with the radar system's primary mission of detecting the enemy.

BAE Systems explained that current U.S. EW systems are limited in their ability to quickly adapt to new and advanced threats because they rely on a database of known threats with predefined countermeasures.

To ensure mission success in future anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environments, EW systems will need to isolate unknown hostile radar signals in dense electromagnetic environments, and then rapidly generate effective electronic countermeasures.

The cognitive EW technologies developed for the ARC program employ advanced digital signal processing, intelligent algorithms and machine learning techniques.

Under the contract modification for Phase 3 of the ARC program, BAE Systems will perform work that includes the planned completion of algorithm development; advanced readiness testing and key milestones for transitioning the ARC technologies to critical airborne warfare platforms, such as fifth-generation fighter jets.

"In Phase 2, we successfully demonstrated the ability to characterize and adaptively counter advanced threats in a closed-loop test environment," said Louis Trebaol, ARC program manager at BAE Systems.

"We will now continue to mature the technology and test it against the most advanced radars in the U.S. inventory in order to successfully transition this important technology to the warfighter."

ARC is being developed within BAE Systems, which researches, develops, and deploys cutting-edge technology across multiple warfare and intelligence domains. Work will be performed at the company's facilities in Nashua, New Hampshire and Burlington, Massachusetts.

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