Electronic warfare support measures
In military telecommunication
Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances to communicate. In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages via coded...
s, the terms Electronic Support (ES) or Electronic Support Measures (ESM) describe the division of electronic warfare
Electronic warfare refers to any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly...
involving actions taken under direct control of an operational commander to detect, intercept
Intercept may refer to:*X-intercept, the point where a line crosses the x-axis*Y-intercept, the point where a line crosses the y-axis*Interception *The Mona Intercept, a 1980 thriller novel by Donald Hamilton...
, identify, locate, record, and/or analyze sources of radiated electromagnetic energy for the purposes of immediate threat
Hugo Grotius, the 17th century jurist and father of public international law, stated in his 1625 magnum opus The Law of War and Peace that "Most Men assign three Just Causes of War, Defense, the Recovery of what's our own, and Punishment."...
recognition (such as warning that fire control RADAR has locked on a combat vehicle, ship, or aircraft) or longer-term operational planning. Thus, Electronic Support provides a source of information
Information in its most restricted technical sense is a message or collection of messages that consists of an ordered sequence of symbols, or it is the meaning that can be interpreted from such a message or collection of messages. Information can be recorded or transmitted. It can be recorded as...
required for decisions involving Electronic Protection (EP), Electronic Attack (EA), avoidance, targeting, and other tactical employment of forces. Electronic Support data
The term data refers to qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables. Data are typically the results of measurements and can be the basis of graphs, images, or observations of a set of variables. Data are often viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which...
can be used to produce signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT) and electronics intelligence (ELINT).
Electronic support measures gather intelligence through passive "listening" to electromagnetic radiations of military interest. Electronic support measures can provide (1) initial detection or knowledge of foreign systems, (2) a library of technical and operational data on foreign systems, and (3) tactical combat information utilizing that library. ESM collection platforms can remain electronically silent and detect and analyze RADAR transmissions beyond the RADAR detection range because of the greater power of the transmitted electromagnetic pulse with respect to a reflected echo of that pulse. United States
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airborne ESM receivers are designated in the AN/ALR series.
Desirable characteristics for electromagnetic surveillance and collection equipment include (1) wide-spectrum or bandwidth capability because foreign frequencies are initially unknown, (2) wide dynamic range because signal strength is initially unknown, (3) narrow bandpass to discriminate the signal of interest from other electromagnetic radiation on nearby frequencies, and (4) good angle-of arrival measurement for bearings to locate the transmitter. The frequency spectrum of interest ranges from 30 MHz to 50 GHz. Multiple receivers are typically required for surveillance of the entire spectrum, but tactical receivers may be functional within a specific signal strength threshold of a smaller frequency range.