Fifth Generation (5G) COMMS and MIMO Challenges in Electronics Warfare

From 5-6 October, twelve representatives from Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom participated in an Exploratory Team investigating national interest in researching Fifth Generation (5G) COMMS and MIMO Challenges in Electronic Warfare. 

5G wireless communications systems will be fully operational and start deployment by 2020. The technical objective of METIS (Mobile and Wireless Communications Enablers for the Twenty-Twenty Information Society) Supports significant advances over current 4G technology. 

This revolutionary approach will be achieved through a flexible combination of evolved existing technologies (e.g. 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, etc.) and many new radio concepts. NATO experience demonstrated that a capable civilian telecommunications infrastructure has a high probability of being leveraged by adversaries for Command, Control, Communications, and Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) operations. Therefore, extensive investigation is essential to assess the impact of 5G to current and future military operations, and analyze the challenges and opportunities of 5G technology to both the military communications and electronic warfare (EW) in various scenarios. Since the 5G technology will be a worldwide EW issue to all NATO nations in a few years, it should be a follow-on Research Task Group (RTG) with urgency and great concern.

It has been acknowledged in the NATO recommendations that current and future EME are significantly different than that which existed when our current EW systems and CONOPS were initially developed and fielded. The emergence of 5G makes our endeavor even more challenging. Many other techniques in 5G will also affect current and future EW capabilities such as the use of directional antennas for mobile communications, cloud services, and human-centric networks, to name just a few. The RTG will investigate the impact of proposed key 5G technologies on NATO EW and Cyber systems depending on the distributed (across nations) scope of work and allotted timeframe (proposed 3 year effort). This will be evaluated, scoped (roadmap) and established at the next SCI-290 participants meeting in October 2016. Since 5G encompasses a rather large technical domain incorporating both legacy and modern electronic devices, and due to limited resources, it is important to leverage efforts across multiple nations and establish a teaming framework via the NATO ET/RTG process. Additionally, it will include an on-going technology watch, progressive learning, and continuing assessment to be conducted through the NATO RTG. The proposed effort will culminate in a comprehensive technical report (TR), however, it is anticipated that joint trials will be conducted whereby each participating nation may contribute a developed product that will be integrated into an EW/Cyber prototype test-bed for demonstration purposes to NATO community members.

Published by SCI