Researchers target system to surgically jam specific digital signals

DARPA building precision electronic warfare technology

Electronically jamming everything from specific cell phones, satellites or any other communications device is the goal of a prototype system military scientists at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency want to build.

Applications are pretty significant in that soldiers would be able to blast enemy radar or all manner of electronic communications rendering them useless.  The system could in theory also cloak a group of soldiers and machines under a veil of electronic silence.

Known as the Precision Electronic Warfare (PREW), the goal of the technology will be able to surgically disable targets in small areas on demand without hindering or disabling friendly devices in the surrounding area. An on-demand, low-cost capability that can accurately deny hostile forces the ability to communicate and navigate while allowing the same abilities for friendly forces is highly desired, DARPA stated.

The PREW concept could consist of an array of nodes (40 or more) that have synchronized clocks, enabling the signal from each node to be aligned so that the array focuses energy at a desired location from the ground or from an aircraft. More specifically, this program defines jamming as a denial of Quality of Service  as opposed to the traditional saturation of receiver front ends, DARPA stated.

The specific target signals for the PREW effort are classified but DARPA said  target signals were chosen as representative of a range of signal classes, to include navigation, digital infrastructure-based communications, and digital non-infrastructure communications, DARPA stated.

DARPA did state that operating frequencies from 200 MHz - 2700 MHz are of interest and baseline targets include 802.11g. For the Phase 1 of the prototype demonstration, the system can operate in selected bands (e.g., 200 - 450 MHz and 2400 - 2700MHz); however, the proposal should provide a roadmap describing how full frequency coverage will be achieved by the program conclusion, DARPA stated.

DARPA said it envisions to two modes of operation for a PREW system: point-to-an-area and point-to-a-spot. The first would target very specific communications devices while the latter would disable an entire region.

The military is increasingly being tasked to engage non-conventional, localized forces using large, expensive, and high value platforms to effectively deny communications and navigation services. Unfortunately, these systems deny services to the entire region and have the negative result of disabling communication services supporting the personnel the system is trying to help, DARPA said. PREW is designed to change that.

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