Electronic warfare

Electronic warfare (EW) is the use of the electromagnetic spectrum to effectively deny the use of this medium by an adversary, while optimizing its use by friendly forces. Electronic warfare has three main components: electronic support, electronic attack, and electronic protection.

Electronic support

Electronic support (ES) is the passive use of the electromagnetic spectrum to gain intelligence about other parties on the battlefield in order to find, identify, locate and intercept potential threats or targets. This intelligence, known as ELINT, might be used directly by fire-control systems for artillery or air strike orders, for mobilization of friendly forces to a specific location or objective on the battlefield, or as the basis of electronic attack or electronic protection actions.

Because ES is conducted passively, it can be performed without the target observing any electronic activities. ES's strategic counterpart, SIGINT, is continuously performed by most of the world's countries in order to gain intelligence derived from other parties' electronic equipment and tactics.

An older term for ES is electronic support measures (ESM).

Electronic attack

Electronic attack (EA) is the active or passive use of the electromagnetic spectrum to deny its use by an adversary.

EA operations can be detected by an adversary due to their active transmissions. Many modern EA techniques are considered to be highly classified.

An older term for EA is electronic countermeasures (ECM).

Electronic protection

Electronic protection (EP) includes all activities related to making enemy EA activities less successful by means of protecting friendly personnel, facilities, equipment or objectives. EP can also be implemented to prevent friendly forces from being affected by their own EA.

  • Active EP includes such activities as technical modifications to radio equipment (such as frequency-hopping spread spectrum).
  • Passive EP includes such activities as the education of operators (enforcing strict discipline) and modified battlefield tactics or operations.

Older terms for EP include electronic protective measures (EPM) and electronic counter countermeasures (ECCM).

See also


Further reading

  • Jon Latimer, Deception in War, London: John Murray, 2001
  • David Adamy EW 101: A First Course in Electronic Warfare
  • David Adamy EW 102: A Second Course in Electronic Warfare

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