Cognitive EW on the F-35

Cockpit, radar, helmet-mounted display, and other avionics
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tincansailor

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Unread post20 Jan 2016, 12:59

Just read an interesting article on this subject
http://www.defenseone.com/technology/20 ... 35/125228/

According to this story this is a new technology reportedly in it's infancy, but shows great promise. The story is not very complementary to the F-35 and it's capabilities, but suggests it will be a good vehicle for this new technology. It would enable an aircraft to identify digitally programmable radar wave forms that would otherwise not be detectable. To put it briefly Cognitive EW would allow an aircraft to identify a new wave form, and near instantly to devise a way to deal with it. This tech requires a computer to literally learn and react in the way that living creatures do, thus the Cognitive part of the EW. We're literally talking about a form of AI here.

I would imagine the F-35 is the best aircraft for the job because of it's enormous computing power. No other fighter in the world can match the F-35 in brain power or it's ability to share data with other platforms. If I recall correctly the F-22 has 50 X the computing power of the F-15, and the F-35 has twice the computing power of the F-22. I'm sure advances in computer tech will make the F-35 even smarter in the next few years.

I'd be very interested in what those on the board with an understanding of EW, and radar think of this article, and the subject in general.
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Dragon029

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Unread post20 Jan 2016, 13:36

This is by no means my area of expertise, but adaptive / learning systems will definitely be a future capability required for high-end EW. What I question however is how well you could get such a system to work in real time - it's my understanding that most relatively advanced neural networks, etc can take dozens of hours working on fairly powerful (if standard consumer / non-optimized) hardware to overcome relatively simple obstacles.

Naturally computers (that meet military aerospace standards) will continue to get faster, and specialized hardware will make things faster, but if you can't resolve a waveform and find a way to counter it within seconds or a small amount of minutes, you're probably better off just collecting the signal and transmitting it back to a dedicated facility that can do it faster and more efficiently. Perhaps that 'facility' could even be in-theater as an 'airborne computation node'; something like a 787 or LRS-B loaded with comms and processors, performing sensor fusion for things like disposable drones that may be gathering more data than they can hope to process without compromising their fuel / warhead volume, and working to develop real-time cyber / EW exploits against enemies.

Still, I know that the USAF was researching and/or working on implementing neural networks a decade or two ago for targeting pods (I've forgotten the specifics, but it was either for filtering / countering of optical effects, or for target identification [pretty sure it was the former]), but it could indicate that the tech is at least partly there and may be feasible at the required speeds and form factor within the near future.
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popcorn

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Unread post20 Jan 2016, 13:44

The F-35 is designed to deal with current and projected threats. It has a robust growth path. It will already be relevant whe it achieves IOC and not only when it incorporates the cognitive EW cited in the article. The author is building a strawman.
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Unread post20 Jan 2016, 14:00

F-35 definitely is the best fighter ever designed to do Cognitive EW. It has by far most computing power, fastest internal networking system and best communications systems to share the data. It likely also has the one of best sensors fit to collect RF signals. It also seems like F-35 has by far the most advanced threat libraries around which would be needed for cognitive processes. I think the article is seriously underestimating the F-35 other features though. EW is one of the main features but so is stealth, sensors and sensor fusion.

The idea of cognitive EW is definitely not new and adaptiveness has long been one design goal of EW systems.

Rockwell Collins patent on the subject:
http://www.google.com/patents/US8494464

Some products have already emerged using cognitive EW:
http://aviationweek.com/defense/exelis-unveils-cognitive-electronic-warfare-technology

BAE Systems (Company that makes the F-35 EW system) develops cognitive RF processing:
http://www.baesystems.com/en-us/our-company/inc-businesses/electronic-systems/research-advanced-development/focus-areas/cognitive-rf-processing

F-35 likely has some aspects of cognitive EW and likely will get more features in the future. EW neds to be highly automated and highly adaptable in the future to counter latest and future radars.
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Unread post20 Jan 2016, 14:14

Generally speaking Tucker is not reliable with his knowledge of the F-35 and his bias against it is obvious. About this particular topic I have no idea. Search the F-35 forum for 'Tucker' to see some examples. Here is a classic:

viewtopic.php?f=57&t=26634&p=283883&hilit=Tucker#p283883
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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Unread post20 Jan 2016, 15:57

Dragon029 wrote:Naturally computers (that meet military aerospace standards) will continue to get faster, and specialized hardware will make things faster, but if you can't resolve a waveform and find a way to counter it within seconds or a small amount of minutes, you're probably better off just collecting the signal and transmitting it back to a dedicated facility that can do it faster and more efficiently.


Unless the system can see the signal as some form of mane made wave form, how will it know what to send back for analysis? If it does see something, then it most likely has the ability to do something about it. The trick will be to see it in the first place, while ignoring all the other gray noise out there.

Most people living in the US has at some stage driven around with a radar detector in the car, and know how many false alarms it tend to give. Over time the users learn to ignore certain alarms in certain areas. In my case I stopped using it, and have not had a speeding ticket since. I just learned how to blend in and be observant on the road.
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Unread post22 Jan 2016, 00:48

The F-35 is the smartest kid in the class by a large margin and will only get smarter via incorporation of new tech advances into it's open systems architecture. It currently runs a third more software code than a Zumwalt DDG, ie. 8M vs 6M lines of code.
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Unread post22 Jan 2016, 03:48

An exmple of one developmemt from DARPA with the potential to deal with EW threats.

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/new-darp ... e-1.388346

New DARPA chip could give US a leg up in electronic warfare

Enter a new chip from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that would give the U.S. military a much needed boost when it comes to operating in a combat environment where communications and radar can be jammed by the enemy. This chip an "exceptionally high-speed analog-to-digital converter," known as an ADC would benefit U.S. equipment that operates on the electromagnetic spectrum (radios, radar, etc) by increasing the ability to process portions of the electromagnetic spectrum at a drastically higher rate than current jamming and anti-jamming equipment...


More on the new chip here...

http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/13/darp ... ions-chip/

DARPA's ADC, or analog-to-digital converter, will allow US forces to avoid being jammed by enemy EW methods by processing chunks of the electromagnetic spectrum about 10 times faster than what current-generation alternatives can muster. It takes over 60 billion analog and digital samples -- equivalent to roughly 1 Terabyte of data -- every second. This allows US forces to analyze more data from a larger swath of the spectrum in the same amount of time as current ADCs...
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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tincansailor

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Unread post22 Jan 2016, 06:30

popcorn wrote:An exmple of one developmemt from DARPA with the potential to deal with EW threats.

http://www.stripes.com/news/us/new-darp ... e-1.388346

New DARPA chip could give US a leg up in electronic warfare

Enter a new chip from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that would give the U.S. military a much needed boost when it comes to operating in a combat environment where communications and radar can be jammed by the enemy. This chip an "exceptionally high-speed analog-to-digital converter," known as an ADC would benefit U.S. equipment that operates on the electromagnetic spectrum (radios, radar, etc) by increasing the ability to process portions of the electromagnetic spectrum at a drastically higher rate than current jamming and anti-jamming equipment...


More on the new chip here...

http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/13/darp ... ions-chip/

DARPA's ADC, or analog-to-digital converter, will allow US forces to avoid being jammed by enemy EW methods by processing chunks of the electromagnetic spectrum about 10 times faster than what current-generation alternatives can muster. It takes over 60 billion analog and digital samples -- equivalent to roughly 1 Terabyte of data -- every second. This allows US forces to analyze more data from a larger swath of the spectrum in the same amount of time as current ADCs...


Very interesting popcorn. The F-35 is supposed to have unjamable data links now. I'm always nerves about categorical statements. This does sound promising, as long as the Chinese don't steal it before we even get to use it. I'm reminded about how one of my favorite starlets Heidy Lamar helped win WWII. She worked with a man who was an electrical engineer, and they developed a radio frequency skip jumping device. It automatically changed frequency on a radio so the enemy couldn't monitor it long enough to ether jam or read it. The listening radio had a key of the day so it could keep up with the changes. It was way ahead of it's time, and highly effective.

If I understand this new DARPA ADC Chip right it will do the same thing that Heidy's device did, work faster then the enemy can keep up with. So much of EW comes down to processing speed, and power. The Raptor and Lightning II are quantum leaps in both. Do we have any idea how the latest Russian, or Chinese Fighters stack up in those areas? I know the Russians are boasting that the T-50/PAK/FA is a flying computer, but how does a Russian flying computer compare to an American flying computer?

I keep reading that F-35 critics say the only jamming ability the F-35 has is from it's AN/APG-81 Radar. They say it can only jam in the X Band, and then only in a narrow front FOV. I don't understand where this is coming from because I understand the Lightning II has the AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda EW Suite. It must be able to do more then what their saying or why even bother install the system? Sometimes it sounds like there's just a whole cottage industry making stuff up about the F-35. Just what did this poor fighter plane ever do to them?

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