Outsmarting threats by electronic attack

A fighter aircraft on a mission operates in an environment full of threats, such as air and ground based radars and infrared- (IR) or radar-guided missiles. The aircraft is equipped with systems that enable the crew to complete their mission successfully and ensure they can return safely to the base. We are talking about the Electronic Warfare (EW) system.

Saab has developed one of the most capable EW systems for fighters on the market; Arexis. For example, Arexis features Radar Warning Receivers (RWR) that detect radar emissions, as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities that enable tactical support. In combination with Electronic Counter Measures (ECM), which are used to deceive the opponent’s radars and other detection systems, this enhances the survivability of the platform.

Arexis is based on wideband digital technology specifically developed for robustness in the today’s very complex signal environment. The core technologies in Arexis are:

  • Ultra-wideband digital receivers
  • Digital radio frequency memory devices for jamming
  • Gallium Nitride (GaN) solid state Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) jammer transmitters
  • Interferometric direction finding systems
Avoiding detection is key to most air operations. Anti-Access / Area Denial (A2/AD) zones, protected by long-range integrated air defence systems are a major threat to flight operations. These air defence systems include radars operating at low frequencies, which makes them very difficult to detect even by modern fighter platforms, and means they constitute a major threat to flight operations.

Another element of the modern threat scenario is the battle between stealth and counter-stealth technologies. This has resulted in the re-emergence of surveillance radars at very low frequency bands. This is where Saab’s new Electronic Attack Jammer Pod (EAJP) comes in.

The Electronic Attack jammer Pod (EAJP) can act as a strong complement to the built-in electronic warfare capabilities on a fighter. Like all the Arexis products, the pod is adapted to support multi-function integration with other fighter aircraft sensors and countermeasures.

“The pod involves the offensive use of electromagnetic energy to attack hostile radar systems, with the intent of degrading and neutralising the enemy’s combat capability by hiding or diffusing the image of the fighters to the radars", says Jonas Grönberg, head of fighter EW marketing and sales at Saab.

Creating safe sectors

The EAJP intercepts radio frequency signals from radars within a wide frequency band, generating and transmitting jamming signals back toward the radars. The EAJP’s main role is to operate as an escort jammer, jamming all search and acquisition radar systems from inside or close to an attacking fighter formation.

Jonas Grönberg, head of fighter EW marketing and sales at Saab

“The jammer pod injects masking and saturation jamming into the main beam and the near side lobes of a radar, thereby enabling a safe sector for the striking formation, severely reducing the situational awareness of fighters for the air defense radar systems”, says Jonas Grönberg.

AESA technology, which is used in the EAJP, means the beam of the radio waves can be electronically steered in different directions without physically moving the antenna and this makes the radar beams stealthier, more agile and powerful.

Saab performed the first flight test with a demonstrator of the EAJP on a Gripen D in late 2019, just 26 months after the project start. The aim of the project is to develop a demonstrator version of a serial pod integrated on a Gripen fighter for flight trials.

"Saab made a decision in 2017 to invest in the development of a jammer pod for demonstration purposes. The project, which has been incredibly successful since the start, reuses technology and building blocks from the ongoing development of the Gripen E/F electronic warfare system”, Grönberg concludes.

Read more about Arexis