Location, Location, Location

Raytheon’s AN/ALQ-213 is routinely used by the F-16CJ and Tornado-ECR to provide the precise geo-location of hostile radars. (Raytheon)

India might need a new electronic warfare system to accompany its NGARM anti-radar missile.

A senior source close to the Indian Air Force (IAF) Electronic Warfare (EW) community has told chainhomehigh that the force may need an emitter locator system to accompany its forthcoming New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM). This new weapon, which performed flight tests from an IAF Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter on 18 January, is under development. It represents a step change for the IAF’s Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) posture and could enter service in the next five years.

An emitter locator system would be an important addition to hone the weapon’s accuracy. SEAD aircraft such as the US Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Viper Weasel and the Luftwaffe/Aeronautica Militaire (German and Italian Air Force) Panavia Tornado-ECR jets use Raytheon’s AN/ASQ-213 HARM (High Speed Anti Radiation Missile) and ELS (Emitter Location System) respectively. These provides highly precise targeting coordinates for the aircraft’s Raytheon AGM-88B/C/E HARMs though the geolocation of ground-based air surveillance and fire control/ground controlled interception radars using those radars’ emissions. Both systems are thought to cover a waveband of 0.5 megahertz to 20GHz encompassing the majority of the wavebands used by these radars. The ability of the AN/ASQ-213 and ELS allow the missiles to target low-band ground-based air surveillance radars routinely used to detect aircraft with a low radar cross section. Both the AN/ASQ-213 and the ELS are though to have a residual role collecting electronic Intelligence. This can be either recorded for later analysis or shared with other platforms to enable near-real time off-board kinetic or electronic attack to be directed against such targets.

While aircraft configured to deploy the AGM-88 series can do so without a locator system, the addition of the latter significantly sharpens the aircraft’s accuracy vis-à-vis the threat. It also enables threat prioritisation, and multiple threats to be engaged in a rapid sequence. This is important as it moves a platform beyond simply using an anti-radiation missile for self-protection, by which it will fire the weapon using the threat information presented by its radar warning receiver. Instead, an emitter locator system allows the aircraft to be used as a SEAD platform engaged in the identification and roll-back of an adversary’s ground-based air defences at the tactical and/or operational levels. The IAF is no stranger to SEAD. For example, it performed such missions against ground-based air surveillance radars located at Badin in southwest Pakistan during India’s 1965 war with the latter using English Electric Canberra-B Mk.56 medium bombers.

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