Electronic Warfare, ELINT, ESM, SIGINT, Signals identification and classification, Signals interception
Interception of radar and communication signals provides essential contributions to the situational awareness for military operations. Classification and identification of the intercepted signals is needed for the proper use of these signals in the ISR process. All, SIGINT, both COMINT and ELINT, and EW ESM sensors and systems, play a role in signal interception.
The pace of the development in electronics drives the increase, variety and complexity of radar and communication signals. Software defined radars and radios will be capable to change their signal waveforms by software changes, creating new waveforms which have not been emitted before. This dynamic and adaptive waveform approach challenges traditional signal detection and identification techniques which compare detected signal characteristics with known signal parameters in a pre-defined database. At the same time the number of emitting systems continues to increase worldwide, which requires even deeper analysis of the signals to discriminate between very similar systems. To maintain the capabilities of signal interception and interpretation, new identification and classification methods are needed. Traditionally these methods are closely related to the signal data bases owned by the NATO nations, within which data exchange formats are defined at NATO level. New identification and classification methods will result in additional features and parameters extracted from the signals which will not be covered by the current data formats. Additionally, future classification and identification techniques will require the ability this expanded signal parameter set to identify detected signal ‘intent’ in the absence of a priori awareness of the signal. With these capabilities, future systems will decrease dependency on databases, and subsequently system dependence on a priori awareness of signals. As a result, NATO systems’ capabilities to detect, classify and counter dynamic and unpredictable waveforms generated from advanced threat systems will be enhanced.
Coalition operations require more and more exchange of data, also on signal interception and interpretation. Therefore, co-operation in an early stage of the development of identification and classification methods, will provide a better mutual understanding between coalition partners and will enable a more rapid development of common data exchange formats accommodating additional features and parameters necessary to identify and classify new types of signals.