|Andy Dunn, vice president of business development at Harris. Photo: Harris
[Avionics Today 07-28-2015] Earlier this year, Harris bought Exelis in a deal worth almost $5 billion. This should lead to improvements in terms of what Harris can offer in Electronic Warfare (EW), a key target for the company. Andy Dunn, vice president of business development at Harris, told Avionics Magazine that, under the new structure, the company will be in a better position to provide innovative EW solutions.
“There are many similarities between the two cultures (Harris and Exelis). We are both extremely technology and innovation driven, with an investment in research and development that is much greater than the industry average. Combined, the new company employs around 9,500 engineers and scientists. [Both companies] provide complementary technology payloads for space-based weather satellites. From a EW perspective, we continue to look at ourselves as dominating the electromagnetic spectrum,” says Dunn. “Both legacy Harris and legacy Exelis/ITT have been working in the electromagnetic space for over 50 years. As a result of our collaboration, our knowledge of the Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum and use for it has strengthened exponentially.”
In the last year, the company launched a major new product in this area, the Disruptor SRx, a smart response system that Harris says represents a shift from traditional EW — in which a single system performs a specific, pre-determined function — to an agile approach that enables multiple functions, as well as the ability to switch between them in real time. The Disruptor SRx is software definable and applicable to airborne, sea- and land-based platforms. It can perform a variety of EW missions, including electronic attack, electronic protect, electronic support measures, electronic intelligence, and communications jamming.
Dunn highlights some of the benefits of this new system, such as the ability to remotely reprogram an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle during a mission. “For example, a UAV platform is flying in uncontested airspace, and there are 10 Disruptor SRx channels on board programmed to collect RF Intelligence. If the mission changes, or it now becomes contested airspace, the system can be remotely reprogrammed to perform an electronic protect function. Thus, the system is reconfigured depending on the threat environment. This technology allows for a function change in-situ,” he says.
Dunn says the technology is primed to do well in in missiles, Unmanned Systems, Decoys and Expendables (MUDE). “For missiles, the small SWaP of the Disruptor SRx provides missiles with a self-defense capability against anti-missile defense radars, increasing the probability of target hit. We’ve already touched briefly on its potential application for unmanned systems, and decoys can either be maritime or aero. For some aircraft, Expendables — specifically Chaff — may be the only RF protection available. However, Chaff has limitations, and technologies such as the Disruptor SRx can augment it by providing active countermeasure in the same form factor as a Chaff bundle, and a ‘Disruptor SRx bundle’ can be dispensed to fill this capability gap,” he adds.
In terms of where the Disruptor goes next, Dunn adds, “Areas of focus will be to continue to increase the operational bandwidth as well driving the size even smaller, with finally creating the complete system on chip. We at Harris to take pride in our innovative thinking, so stay tuned!”
One of the big topics at the Global Connected Aircraft Summit this past June was cyber-security. Harris is uniquely placed to comment on this, considering the solutions it has provided in the government and defense realm in the past. Dunn says when looking at cyber-security, Harris has technologies that may be applicable to the commercial world. “Worldwide governments and militaries aren’t the only ones concerned about network attacks. Even the commercial world is susceptible to cyber threats for the purpose of industrial espionage,” he says. “For example, modern automobiles are controlled largely by a computer, which possesses algorithms developed by the manufacturer to manage all the different functions. Some include intellectual property (IP) and provide discriminating features to the manufacturer. Protecting this IP is of great importance and the techniques and methods developed for the military world could address this need.”
However, from an EW perspective, Dunn says cyber is viewed as an offensive rather than defensive, and that potential adversary’s networks must be attacked using the electromagnetic spectrum to cause disruption. “EW is the gun that shoots cyber-bullets into these networks,” he says.