Cyber: the new threat in global
Electronic warfare (EW) and cyber techniques are converging. What is
British industry doing to equip our government and military with the cutting
edge technology they need to fight the battle and win the war?
It’s not just the business world that recognises the urgent need to step
up cyber security on the back of data thefts from companies such as TalkTalk,
Weatherspoons and VTech – it’s an increasingly pressing issue for military
The UK Government is investing heavily in cyber training for the
military, and it’s vital that our armed forces are equipped with
up-to-the-minute technological capabilities to support this.
That’s where innovative, best-of-British engineering comes in, and a
handful of established companies are employing fresh thinking to design,
develop and manufacture the technology needed to stay one step ahead on the
Cyber – the new battlespace
The global battlespace is changing. Where once there were four operational
domains –land, sea, air and space – there are now five. And it’s as vital for
our government and armed forces to assert and maintain control in the logical
cyber arena as it ever was on the physical battlefield.
As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said in a recent
speech to employees of GCHQ, the UK now needs to be prepared for hybrid
conflicts, played out in cyberspace as well as on the battlefield: “A 21st
century military has to operate as effectively in cyberspace as it does on land
and sea, in the air and space.”
British technology companies are leading the charge on the idea of
battlespace cyber – the convergence between electronic warfare and cyber
techniques – harnessing the innovation and skills of some of the world’s most
talented engineers to enable the integration of cutting-edge technology into
Exploit the adversary’s
communications and win the battle
Since the beginning of time, information has been key to winning battles
and wars. It has always been crucial to have better intelligence than the
adversary, as accurate situational awareness enables battlespace domination,
and provides our forces with the ability to stay one step ahead of the enemy.
Just as allied forces shortened the Second World War with the
intelligence they gained by breaking the Enigma code, today’s forces need to be
equipped with the most sophisticated capabilities in the drive towards
information dominance on the new battlefield.
So, what is electronic warfare?
EW is the concept of using the electromagnetic spectrum to our advantage,
and to deny an adversary the effective use of the spectrum for control and
communication purposes. It safeguards our own ability to communicate, store and
use information freely, as well as denying or impacting the enemy‘s ability to
EW techniques use electromagnetic energy on targeted frequencies,
effectively dominating the insurgent’s ability to understand, sense, hear or
communicate. EW technology also addresses remote-controlled improvised explosive
devices (RCIEDs) where sophisticated electronic counter-measures jam the
control signal and prevent detonation by telephones, radio controlled toys or
other radio-frequency emitters.
For a simple, visual explanation of how these devices work, watch www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpzTBvN56lk
While jamming and spoofing of communications and sensors can be an
effective and reliable way to outwit the adversary, the convergence of
electronic warfare and cyber capabilities is changing the battlespace, and the
UK military now needs increasingly sophisticated cyber technology to stay one
step ahead of an ever-more sophisticated enemy.
Military commanders know that failing to act fast to address a cyber
threat can lead to the failure of a mission, destruction of critical national
infrastructure (CNI), loss of key data and even the loss of life,
Cyber capabilities – putting the
UK armed forces ahead of the game
Ultimately, EW and cyber are complementary ways of attaining mission
success, and the UK’s top technology companies are busy creating exciting new
options for theatre commanders to achieve the outcome their troops are trained
for, using cutting-edge technology to synchronise kinetic, EW and cyber
Highly sophisticated cyber technology can be used tactically and
strategically, and also in both defensive and offensive cyber operations. Where
traditional EW exploits and protects radio frequencies and associated
communications/sensors, in cyber the digital network and associated computing
and digital devices become the focus.
Cyber enables specialists to use the enemy’s network infrastructure
against them. That might involve developing malicious code to gain access to
the adversary’s network and obtain crucial data, sending erroneous protocols to
enemy UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), or changing communication messages to
insurgents without their knowledge. Cyber technology can also be used to
encrypt, safeguard, and protect the integrity of sensitive information in
In an environment where an increasingly sophisticated battlespace
requires increasingly sophisticated technology, the UK’s best engineering
companies are stepping up to the plate. EW and cyber are complementary and
overlapping technologies that protect and exploit the use of the spectrum,
communication and information in a complex world.
About L-3 TRL
With 30 years of experience at the forefront of technological
development, L3-TRL is an official supplier to Her Majesty’s Government, and
part of the Cyber Growth Partnership (CGP). Our cutting-edge, best-of-British
technology is accredited and approved by CESG, and we have achieved two Queen’s
Awards for innovation.
For more information, visit www.l-3com.com/trl