Until the 60’s era, the experts of water power still lulled, because it focuses the idea of water superiority on the creation of the ability to maneuver and attack aircraft. No wonder at the time of the air war, so many aircraft fell due to weakness of defense devices. Even radar technology that developed since 1941, the design is already identical as an attacking tool (intercept radar), located in the muzzle of the plane and only able to detect objects that are in the front. Other areas that cannot be reached radar-back, up, down, side – eventually become a deadly hell, especially after created sophisticated missile types released beyond visual range, which are increasingly difficult to detect by radar intercept.
The changes began in the 60s, when US AU and Navy bombers had to face the North Vietnamese hanud system. Although radar remains the primary system, US aircraft must be equipped with missile-suppression systems. So was born the first generation of missile detector that is warning receiver and defensive jammer. An air-to-air missile (SAM) missile guided by Russia’s latest radar system and large US air power, made Vietnam’s war the longest “electronic war” in war history. The strength of US Aircraft AU which has been equipped with RWR and jammer at that time is EB-66, F-100F and F-105G, while from AL US is EA-6A, EA-6B, A-6B, and F-4F. The jammer used is ALQ-75, 77 and 87 (AU) and ALQ-76 and 81 (AL), while the RWR used is APR-25 and ALR-46. This is then called electronic warfare (EW), which literally means the use of electromagnetic energy to determine, exploit, reduce or prevent the use of the electromagnetic spectrum of opponents. EW is divided into two groups, namely Warning Receiver and ECM (Electronic Counter Measure).
Passive Deterrent “Warning Receiver”
The most popular warning receiver and widely used in all types of military aircraft or helicopters is the Radar Warning Receiver (RWR). The principle works against the radar. If the radar of the aircraft emits radar waves toward the front, then RWR serves as a radar catcher from any direction that leads to the plane. RWR can detect radar emissions coming from all directions because the antenna is mounted in 4 positions, i.e. 2 on the left-right of the aircraft’s muzzle and 2 in the left-right part of the tail.
How just by capturing radar jets, make RWR a reliable missile deterrent? This cannot be separated from the use of aircraft radar, ship or missile battery, as the main device to guide air missiles. The performance of air missile systems that are sliding into air targets – either surface-to-air (SAM) or air-to-air missiles (AAM) – are essentially the same, i.e. radar aircraft, boats, or SAM batteries will search for targets, , The height and angle position of the selected target (acquire / track), lock (lock on) and then the missile is fired (launch). Air-missile performance is usually differentiated based on the tracking system used. Now, when radar detection is detected by RWR antenna, RWR processor performs comparation between radar jets captured and matched radar data in RWR data bank (library). RWR must be filled with radar data of aircraft, ships, SAM batteries or missiles used around the world, so that when capturing radar emissions, monitors directly display the name of the radar source according to the data bank. The library will compile the radar type, so the pilot can conclude “friend, enemy or unknown”. If RWR does not have complete radar data then the monitor only displays unknown target (target unknown). The most serious problem for RWR service users is the high price set by RWR producers to fill and update radar data banks.
Until now RWR has not been able to localize the position of the opponent or display the position of the source of the radar beam precisely. The distance shown is only the relative distance obtained from the strength of the jet. Thus a stronger emission is assumed to be from a source that is closer to position. RWR can recognize that the aircraft is being locked on or not by a missile, based on the intensity of the radar’s radar. When the radar condition does not lock on a target (searching), the intensity of the received jets is still weak. When the radar is locked, the radar angle is locked and continuously leads to the target in high intensity to guide the missile. Well, the intensity of the continuous and larger emission is what turns on the “lock on missile” alarm on the RWR. Pentagon coding of RWR is ALR (A = piloted Aircraft, L = Countermeasure, R = Receiver), e.g. ALR-69 for F-16, ALR-91 for F-5, ALR-67 for F-18 and so on. Russia uses RWR with SPO codes, such as SPO-15 Beroza for MiG-29, SPO-29 Pastel for Su-27 and SPO-32 Pastel for Su-30/32 aircraft.
In addition to RWR, the manufacturer also produces non-radar warning receiver types, namely Missile Approach Warning (MAW) and Laser Warning System (LWS). When fired is a “fire and forget” missile equipped with an active homing tracking system or a radar-driven missile receiver that leads to a targeted radar target (semi active homing), the RWR can display the relative position of the plane and movement Missiles that have escaped from the plane / ship / battery. However, when fired is an infrared-armed missile (AIM-9) or laser, the RWR monitor is only capable of displaying the missile launcher position and not displaying missile movements, as the infrared or laser-powered missiles do not emit radar waves. As a result when the missile is racing, RWR will be blind. That is why the MAW and LWS are installed, so that infrared or laser-powered missiles can be monitored by aviators. MAW is more popular than LWS. The Pentagon uses the standard AAR codes for MAW, for example C-130 and C-17 USAF fleets using AAR-47, AC / AMC-130 and ten other aircraft using AAR-54 Northrop Grumman and Su-30MKM Malaysia using MAW-300 SAAB .
Active Antidote “ECM”
Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) is an electronic warfare device that works actively to deceive or deceive radar, sonar, and infrared and laser detection. ECM was first used on PD I, used to interfere with and tap radio frequency communications. Since World War II, ECM activities have begun to evolve in radar jamming and spoofing as well as navigation signals, which continue today. ECM can also be used to attack or defend, in various methods against a target.
The most popular ECM used on aircraft is the “Radar ECM”, ie ECM to counteract the radar performance of opponents by way of radiating radar emissions, target modifications and changing the performance of electromagnetic devices in the air. Target interfacing techniques consist of jamming and deception. Target modification is done by absorbing radar emission, as well as modifying the surface shape with stealth designs or disrupting radar reflections with decoy devices. The conversion of electromagnetic devices in the air is carried out by spreading small metals (chaff) or clumps of infrared rays (flares) to deceive missile trackers.
Jamming is implemented by means of jamming and jamming jamming. Noise jamming is carried out by emitting an electronic noise that causes a chaotic radar (echo) to fail to detect the target. When the pilot knows his radar is in jamming he will usually change the radar frequency to counter the performance of the jammer, next called Electronic Counter Countermeasure (ECCM). Deception jamming is not carried out by hiding the existence of aircraft from radar opponents such as noise jamming, but by emitting radar signals similar to the actual radar reflection. Kind of deception jamming is very diverse and every jammer pod or radar has different capabilities, but generally divided into two major parts namely the creation of false target generator and the antidote missile lock on (track breaker).
Deception jamming by means of a “false target generator” is done to counter radar opponents who are scanning or searching positions, by emitting a fake radar reflection or delaying the actual reflection, subsequently creating some false targets that can confuse the opponent. The difficulty of engineering to create fake targets causes the pilots to often combine this technique with noise jamming techniques. The track breaker is the most widely used and developed deception jamming technique, since it works to free itself from missile lock on SAM, AAM, AAA opponents. When the target aircraft launches a “track breaker” then the attacker’s radar reflection will be wrapped, shifted from the target plane and finally release the missile lock (break lock). If the aircraft fails to perform a “track breaker” it can be concluded that the attacker’s radar is stronger than the target radar, since it cannot be wrapped or deflected. Pentagon coding for ECM devices is ALQ, for example ALQ-126B as standard US Navy jammer, ALQ-94 for F-111, ALQ-155 ALT-2B for B-52 aircraft, and ALQ-161 for B-1B aircraft and so on. Russia who did not want to lose, installing tail radar to jamming a missile attack. All types of jammer can be integrated with RWR.
If ECM techniques by creating stealth technology aircraft are still constrained by super costly, then the last practical ECM technique and less costly operation is to change the performance of radar electromagnetic waves by releasing chaff and flares. Chaff is a burst of metal foil or metal sheathed plastic that is cut into small pieces, while the flares are bursts of infrared light. Chaff and flare bursts to the rear of the plane will outwit missiles or radar, can work automatically, alternately or together, based on RWR system control. Pentagon coding for this device is ALE (ALE = piloted Aircraft, Countermeasures, Ejection / release), eg ALE-39 for A-4, A-6, A-7, F-14 and F-18 aircraft.
Who is the Champion?
Amid the widespread anti-war and economic recession that has affected the reluctance of many countries to buy new fighter aircraft, operational capability upgrades (OCUs) are increasingly in demand. Installing the latest ECM device becomes the most appropriate choice. The US Air Force has upgraded the RWR standard of the F-16, from the old type ALR-69 (designed 30 years ago) to ALR-69A (V), where the price per fruit is 920,000 US dollars. AU Australia replaces the ALR-67 standard F-18 aircraft with the ALR-2002 type. Su-27UB adds tail radar warning device for missile jamming. It does not stop here, because some manufacturers are also designing electronic device systems capable of controlling the performance of RWR, MAW, jammer, chaff and flare missiles, in an integrated and automatic manner.
To deal with the robustness of missile-supplying devices, the radar manufacturer has to innovate. So they created a small modulation radar called Low Probability Intercept Radar (LPIR) or Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). In addition to functioning to ambush the enemy, LPIR has the ability to jamming, difficult to detect RWR and difficult to jam. Some of the operational LPIRs are AN / APG-77 (F-22 Raptor), AN / APG-80 (F-16E / F block 60), AN / APG-81 (F-35), AN / APG-63 ( VG-3 (F-15E / F Super Hornet), Erieye AEW & C and Nora AESA (JAS 39 Gripen), Phazotron NIIR Zhuk- AE (MiG-35) and so on.
Russian manufacturers have another option, because Russian radar technology has become the most serious problem and far behind compared to the US. The planned Su-27 radar despatch plan is capable of defeating the APG-63 radar range (F-15 aircraft) which reaches 180 km. But the protracted design and testing process, finally, could only give birth to the Numi series of Tikhomirov (NIIR) radar, with processor quality that is not as high as US technology, often featuring false alarms and blind spots. So manufacturers continue to try to modify it so that the birth variant N001V, N001VE, N001VEP and plan N001 LPIR series.
The low Russian radar capabilities, as well as the increasingly sophisticated RWR and ECM devices for jamming, intensify the stagnant old idea of a non-radar air tracking device, the Infra-Red Search / Track (IRST). In the past, F-14 Tomcat never used IRST but after it was not operationalized, the US AU aircraft installed with IRST is export version of F-16, F-15K South Korea and F-15SG Strike Eagle. Now IRST began to be the mainstay of MiG-29, Su-27/30 and Typhoon aircraft. The plan F / A-18 E / F Super Hornet block II will soon follow installed. The use of IRST will increase the confidentiality of aircraft positions performing ambush tasks, as IRST (as it is placed on the muzzle of Su-27UB and F-35 aircraft) searches and locks on targets based on heat detection (jets and helicopters). Unlike the AIM-9 missiles that only move from a short distance, the IRST can trace equally well with the radar intercept. Its greatness, the use of IRST allows the aircraft to fire infrared-fired missiles and acive radar homing, in radar conditions of dead planes.
Then what’s next? Technology continues to race with various innovations. Techniques of launching and warding missiles become diverse. Until now no one knows who the true champion. Maybe God knows, but He always waits patiently, to give that title to those who are always diligent, patient and hard working.