HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COULD MAKE EA-18G GROWLER AN EVEN MORE DEADLIER WEAPON?
The next best thing in military technology will be integration with Artificial Intelligence. The idea is to leverage the increasing processing capability to have AI enabled smart hardware. AI can make the current hardware more potent as well as lead to development of entirely new breads of weapons like self-flying armed drones.
United States, China and Russia are currently the frontrunners in this field.
U.S Navy the primary user of EA-18G Growler has decided to augment EA-18G Growler’s capability with AI.
In this video, Defense Updates analyzes HOW AI COULD MAKE EA-18G GROWLER AN EVEN MORE DEADLIER WEAPON?
The Boeing EA-18G Growler is an America’s Electronic Warfare aircraft that can be operated from land and aircraft carriers. It is basically a dedicated two-seat variant of F/A-18F Super Hornet.
The EA-18G replaced the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers which is now almost at the end of its service life.
Growler EA-18G began production in 2007 and entered operational service with the US Navy in late 2009.
America has around 100 of these.
The aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 and range of 1,275 nmi or 2,346 km.
The Growler’s flight performance is similar to that of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
There are 9 hard points, 6 under-wing and 3 under-fuselage - with a capacity of 17,750 lb (8,050 kg) external fuel and ordnance.
The aircraft can be armed with both air to air and air to land weapons.
For most missions it is armed with AIM-120 AMRAAM advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and AGM-88 HARM high-speed anti-radiation missiles.
But EA-18G Growler is unique not for these traditional capabilities but because of its Electronic Warfare capabilities by which it can jam enemies radars & communication network.
The Growler's electronic warfare capability is primarily provided by Northrop Grumman.
Most of the dedicated airborne electronic attack equipment is placed in the space that used to house the internal 20 mm cannon and on the wingtips.
Add-on EW hardware can be mounted in the external hard points.
The Growler is equipped with the APG-79 multi-mode radar with passive detection mode and active radar suppression, ALQ-218 digital radar warning receiver and ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser.
NEED FOR AI
The head of U.S. Special Operations Command has recently stated that U.S. planes were being targeted and sometime disabled by enemy electronic warfare operations in Syria.
Gen. Raymond Thomas said,
“Right now in Syria we are operating in the most aggressive EW environment on the planet from our adversaries. They are testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our EC-130s”. EC-130s are the Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center aircrafts used as airborne command post.
Though the nation responsible for the same is not directly mentioned by him, but it is well known that the only force operating in Syria having this kind of capabilities is the Russian military.
Few reports have emerged recently that indicate Russian military disrupting GPS systems of small U.S. surveillance drones in Syria resulting in issue with navigation.
Laurie Moe Buckhout, an expert in EW and a retired Army colonel, has tracked Russia’s progress in this field. He said that Russia has invested heavily in EW following its attack on Georgia in 2008.
He said, “The Russians put in millions on upgrades after Georgia. They’ve ended up with killer capabilities, jamming in a multitude of frequencies for hundreds of kilometers. The Russians have redone and reengineered their entire EW fleet in the last 20 years.”
U.S. Army Europe Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges had sounded alarm bells in 2016.
He noted that in Ukraine, Russia was deploying “electronic warfare capability at a tactical level that we absolutely don’t have.”
AI IN GROWLER
America to counter the emerging threads has embarked on a program named “cognitive EW” being handled by DARPA.
The director of DARPA’s Cognitive EW program Paul Tilghman has stated that America’s Electronic Warfare capabilities need a major overhaul.
He explained, “If you see radar X, use countermeasure Y,A typical 1970s radar system was predominantly an analog system with components assembled in a specific, fixed manner limiting the radar to defined operating boundaries. Once a system was created, it was a relatively static, known quantity."
He described, "The problem now is that if we continue to rely on that [old] approach, the radar waveforms we're expecting could be rapidly changed”.
US Navy has awarded a $7.3 million contract to Northrop Grumman to work of this.
According to a Pentagon release, the contract will provide Growler with cognitive EW capabilities “against agile, adaptive, and unknown hostile radars or radar modes”
The US Navy expects to receive its upgraded Growler by 2019.