In July 2020, the US Army awarded Lockheed Martin USD 75 million to develop, produce, and test operational electronic warfare pods, taking a huge step toward strengthening its electronic warfare capabilities. The Silent Crow pod, which was mostly developed at Lockheed’s expense, is now the leading contender for the Army’s rebuilt electronic warfare force’s flying flagship. After the Cold War, Army electronic warfare was mostly disbanded, with the exception of short-range jammers used to disable remote-controlled roadside bombs. It is now being rebuilt quickly to confront Russia and China, whose high-tech forces rely largely on radio and radar systems, which U.S. forces must be able to detect, analyse, and disrupt.
Such endeavours are becoming more widespread as electromagnetic spectrum management has become a crucial aspect of modern warfare, and failure to do so can jeopardise any mission’s success. Electronic warfare serves a critical purpose by safeguarding access to and use of the electromagnetic spectrum while simultaneously weakening or denying an adversary the ability to do so. Electronic warfare systems can be designed for a wide range of missions, which are often divided into three categories: electronic attack (EA), electronic protection (EP), and electronic support measures (ESM).
The electronic warfare market has been growing in leaps and bounds as electronic warfare has gained more attention. Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to have a significant and perhaps transformational impact on military strength, as recent advancements have made apparent. AI-driven algorithms can be particularly useful in a variety of electronic warfare applications, such as processing radar signals for efficient emitter recognition and categorization, detecting jammers and their features, and building effective anti-jamming algorithms. Artificial intelligence approaches can potentially allow an electronic warfare system to operate independently. As a result, investment in the electronic warfare industry is increasing, with predictions indicating that the market would reach USD 38.25 billion in 2027, with a CAGR of 4.58 percent over 2020 – 2027.
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As a result, leading firms in the electronic warfare market have been competing to bring innovative technology to market. For example, airborne electronic warfare experts at Raytheon Technologies Corp. revealed in July 2021 that under the conditions of a USD 171.6 million deal, they will manufacture three new electronic jammers for US Navy EA-18G Growler electronic warfare jets. Three Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) midband (NGJ-MB) one ship sets will be built by Raytheon. The advanced electronic attack system NGJ midband denies, disrupts, and degrades enemy communications and air-defense radar systems. It is constructed using a hybrid of agile active electronically scanned arrays (AESA) and an all-digital back end. The NGJ-MB will enable the Growler aircraft to operate over long distances, strike many targets at once, employ advanced electronic jamming tactics, and include rapid updates via a modular, open systems architecture.
While advanced electronic warfare systems were once only available to wealthy nations, today’s technological advancements and the cost of commercial off-the-shelf electronics with improved computer capacity are levelling the playing field. Some current electronic warfare systems, for example, run on computers using Intel i7 Quad Core processors, which are similar to those used in consumer computers. As a result, the United States is not the only country obtaining powerful electronic warfare weaponry. For example, in July 2021, the Turkish Armed Forces Command (TSK) received delivery of the Sancak, a modern electronic warfare vehicle constructed with local resources. High mobility, high output power in broadband, jamming in many types and modes, electronic support with broadband receiver, automatic link creation and demodulation are among the system’s capabilities. It was created by Aselsan, a Turkish defence company that also creates a variety of Electronic Support (ES) and Electronic Attack (EA) system solutions using a variety of advanced technologies.
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China has been beefing up its military forces in recent years, which has alarmed the West. The People’s Liberation Army of China created the Strategic Support Force in 2016, against the backdrop of greater structural reforms, to bring together previously disaggregated space, network, and electronic warfare elements. To take and keep the strategic initiative in a battle, Chinese military authorities aspire to achieve information dominance and deny opponents access to the electromagnetic spectrum. China also looks to be planning to use advanced technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve its electronic warfare capabilities.
Military leaders across the world are coming to realise that the future of warfare is no longer limited to bullets and bombs, or to the dominance of land, sea and air. In the future of war, dominating the ether will be far more decisive for the winner. Electronic warfare is therefore gaining mainstream attention, which will continue to increase in the coming years.