Strength in Numbers


Written by Peter Ellis and Steve Horsburgh

CESMO and the Power of EW Interoperability

Knowing the precise location of threats and friendly forces is essential to increasing warfighter survivability. Previously, detection of threats was typically a task performed by a single surveillance aircraft, flying over battlefields to capture RF signals and use basic triangulation methods to determine threat locations and types. Warfighters in the field would receive details about the threats, such as the locations of missile launchers and radar systems, in a spreadsheet, often hours or even days after the signals were collected.

These reports were manually generated, and often contained errors and duplicate or ambiguous data. On today’s modern battlefield our adversaries have developed smaller, more sophisticated, and more mobile communications equipment and weapons. Because of this, threats are constantly moving, and RF emissions often occur in very short bursts, which presents a challenge to detection and renders the legacy methods obsolete.

As a result, technology and tactical data networks have evolved considerably to offer new battlefield tactics, completely changing the game for NATO when it comes to Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT).

To be effective on today’s battlefield, the time between transmission of an RF signal and subsequent detection, position fix, and targeting must be as close to real-time as possible, and the digital sharing of that Electronic Warfare (EW) data must be interoperable between coalition forces. Cooperative Electronic Support Measure Operations (CESMO), a new NATO tactical data link (TDL) standard for exchanging high fidelity EW information, provides NATO coalition forces with the visibility for this critical task.