Electronic Weapons: Babble Bites Back


August 11, 2006: The rapid development of electronic jammers, to shut down wireless detonators for roadside bombs, also brought about more unanticipated disruption of friendly electronics. Iraqi civilians are well aware of this problem, as they quickly learned that their cell phone service tends to disappear when an American military convoy approaches. Other wireless gadgets tend to go haywire as well. The list of items affected grew as the American jammer (mainly the Warlock series) added more frequencies to its reparatory.
This problem was first noted back during the 1990 campaign to liberate Kuwait. It was discovered that certain combinations of airborne jammer frequencies could trigger an involuntary launch of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, as well as some less catastrophic, but equally unexpected events. Investigation of these incidents revealed something electronic warfare experts have been warning of for a long time. With so much exotic new gear, capable of putting out so many different signals, and in a huge number of combinations (which creates even more new electronic signals), there was no way to knowing what kind of impact this would have on existing military, and civilian, electronics. Throughout the 1990s, the problem only got worse. This became obvious as there were increased incidents of military electronics tests trashing, or playing with, nearby civilian electronic devices.
The military is eagerly seeking some solutions, because it's important for military equipment, especially communications and control systems, not to suffer electronic interference. Warlock jammed some military equipment, including some radios. This was not good. Work is underway on some solutions, but none looks particularly promising. As a result, the most likely source of "hostile" jamming is the force with the greatest number of transmitters. For American troops, that comes down to, "we have met the enemy, and it is us."


Article Archive

Electronic Weapons: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close