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Infowar To Invade Air Defense Networks
Aviation Week and Space Technology | November 4, 2002 | David A. Fulghum

Posted on 11/04/2002 8:26:45 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen

The U.S. can now conduct computer network attack in support of precision bombardment, or as an alternative

By David A. Fulghum, Washington

The U.S. has demonstrated a system for infiltrating enemy air defense systems to spoof them, plant false targets and even take control of their equipment.

The expanding capability was demonstrated, unseen even to most participants, during the last two Joint Expeditionary Force Experiments (JEFX) in programs dubbed Suter 1 and Suter 2. Special mission aircraft, in particular the RC-135 Rivet Joint, have shown they can tap into enemy systems to "see" what an enemy radar system detects. For example, if a foe has spotted U.S. aircraft, they can be instructed to veer away before getting into enemy missile range. If not detected, they are instructed to press home the attack.

Pentagon officials will not discuss details of the capability. However, they did confirm that the Suter experiments are defining and exploiting the "intersection of information warfare and air defense suppression."

"We're pursuing the kind of technologies that will help us with the overall penetration problem, and this [Suter] is one that is very promising," Gen. John Jumper, Air Force chief of staff, told Aviation Week & Space Technology. "It's been developed over a fairly long period and it's maturing," he said. "I've seen it, and we're pressing for this one."

As to the usefulness of a near-term application of Suter to possible operations in the Middle East, "Rivet Joint [intelligence-gathering aircraft] have already spent a lot of time looking at electronic signatures and systems footprints in Iraq," another senior Air Force official said. Western and Central Iraq is a particular concern. The Western sector is closest to Jordan and Israel and contains the two Scud boxes used to shoot missiles into Israel during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf war. In these areas, the surviving surface-to-air missiles have been concentrated to achieve a density equal to pre-Desert Storm levels.

"I've talked often about the fact that we're rapidly approaching the time when you can tell an SA-10 [surface-to-air missile system]'s radar that it's a Maytag washer and put it in the rinse cycle instead of the firing cycle," Jumper said. "That's the ultimate application of where you want to go with information technology. That's what we're pursuing. Suter is definitely a usable technology."

IN ONE OF THE FEW official acknowledgments of its capability, Suter 2 was briefly described in literature from JEFX '02 as cross-cuing sensors to quickly find dangerous mobile targets. The associated Panther Den experiment was designed to coordinate information operations to maximize their effects.

"There were a couple of IO [information operations], nonkinetic takedowns of [air defense] targets," said a participant in the most recent JEFX. "We shut some people down. That's as far as I can talk about it" ( AW&ST Sept. 23, p. 53).

In the latest iteration of the Suter capability, an EC-130 Compass Call communications jamming and information warfare aircraft uses its newly upgraded capabilities to penetrate enemy computer systems to take control of them, plant false targets, send misleading messages and even manipulate enemy sensors.

Special radio-frequency equipment and antennas are involved, an aerospace industry official said. Compass Call pinpoints electronic weapons. "There's about a 1000-to-1 difference in the power you need if you know the enemy system and can un-sync their [air defense] picture," he said. "The U.S. is very good at doing vulnerability studies so that you don't have to overpower the enemy systems. Instead, you outsmart them."

Air Force officials verified the rough details of the project. "We've been able to interject false targets into enemy air defense systems for some time," said the Air Force official. "The twist to Suter is being able to hook Rivet Joint into that process of putting disinformation or false commands into those networks."

There are at least four elements now playing in the Suter scheme. Compass Call can emit, but cannot hear what it's doing to an enemy communications network. Rivet Joint is added so that it can hear and analyze the effects of the Compass Call emissions. Both are connected via secure satellite links to each other and the National Security Agency, which helps interpret enemy activity.

"It's a curious intermixing of concepts [that involve] how you think of information operations versus electronic warfare," he said. "They do the same thing, and I'm trying to get people to think of it that way. They're trying to penetrate warheads to targets. That's the objective."

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs

1 posted on 11/04/2002 8:26:45 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
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To: Dark Wing
2 posted on 11/04/2002 9:41:41 AM PST by Thud
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3 posted on 11/04/2002 10:17:46 AM PST by Spruce
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