WASHINGTON: After decades of US neglect of electronic warfare – while Russia and China pulled ahead – Army soldiers are just months away from getting their hands on two new and long-awaited long-range jammers.
Two contractors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing DRT, are now converting 8×8 Stryker armored vehicles into prototypes of the Terrestrial Layer System (TLS). Both company’s prototypes will be given to troops for field tests next year, starting with Operational Demonstration 1 in January. Meanwhile, Lockheed is putting together the first Engineering & Manufacturing Demonstration (EMD) prototype of an EW pod for the Grey Eagle drone, called Multi-Function Electronic Warfare – Air – Large (MFEW), which will be assessed by soldiers in April-June next year.
Both the ground-based TLS and the aerial MFEW are supposed to enter service in fall 2022. But that’s just the start. Each system will evolve into a whole family of smaller and larger variants, all built to common hardware and software standards, all sharing data wirelessly with one another, Army commanders, and artillery units. The objective is a diverse digital arsenal that can detect the enemy’s transmissions, crack their codes, locate their units for precision strikes, and disrupt their networks with jamming and hacking, ideally in ways too subtle for the enemy to even detect the deception.