Brazilian Armed Forces Summit Aligns Electronic Warfare Knowledge

Brazilian Armed Forces Summit Aligns Electronic Warfare Knowledge

By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo
November 21, 2017

Nearly 100 service members and civilians participated in the eighth Electronic Warfare Defense Summit (EGED, per its Portuguese acronym) September 13th–14th, 2017. The event was held at the Department of Science and Technology of the Brazilian Army (EB, per its Portuguese acronym) in Brasilia. One of Brazil’s three armed forces organizes each edition of the annual event.

In 2017, EB led the activities through its Electronic Warfare Instruction Center (CIGE, per its Portuguese acronym). The unit belongs to the Army Electronic Warfare Communications Command and trains service members in this field. “Service members from the three branches always participate in EGED. They meet to discuss and present the main electronic warfare projects that are being developed in the defense field,” EB Colonel Luis Carlos Sousa, commandant of CIGE, explained.

“Electronic warfare is modern, dynamic, and constant. New things emerge every day in this area. At EGED, we have the opportunity to keep up with what the industry and academia do, which often provides solutions our military assets can use,” said Brazilian Navy Captain Marcelo Alcides Albuquerque da Costa, commandant of the Navy Electronic Warfare Center (CGEM, per its Portuguese acronym), which will coordinate the 2018 EGED.

Electronic versus cyber warfare

Electronic warfare involves the use of the electromagnetic spectrum through communication and non-communication. “The communication side concerns electromagnetic signals that carry information, such as radios,” Col. Luis Carlos explained. “The non-communication side deals with signals that do not transmit content since the signal itself constitutes the message, as in the case of radar.”

In turn, cyber warfare focuses on other aspects, such as integrated computer networks. “But the two intersect because when a cyber attack goes through wireless networks, it enters the electromagnetic spectrum. These areas are very close to each other. Integration between electronic warfare and cyber warfare operations was even one of the points discussed at the summit,” Capt. Albuquerque said. Within the Brazilian Armed Forces, different organizations handle each of the two defense fields, but the approach to both has become increasingly intertwined as they develop, said Capt. Albuquerque.

Exchange of experiences

During the EGED’s two-day event, representatives of the Brazilian Army, Navy, and Air Force presented the main projects and activities underway in the field of electronic warfare—as well as the challenges and demands relating to that area of responsibility. Among the issues discussed: Brazil’s Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON, per its Portuguese acronym) stood out. As one of EB’s more robust programs, SISFRON relies on ground surveillance radar, communication equipment, and satellite transmission, among others, to expand monitoring along Brazil’s continental border. The objective is to gather the maximum amount of information via such equipment for strategic decision-making by the nation’s defense authorities.

“The development of SISFRON depends on knowledge about the electromagnetic environment. And the model EB used to set up the program was one of the points disseminated and discussed at the summit,” Col. Luis Carlos said. “EGED’s objective is just that: share knowledge about projects that work well with any of our service branches, so that it can be of use to the other branches, minimize redundancies, and optimize results,” he said.

Interoperability in the electronic warfare activities the Brazilian Armed Forces develop is the first objective enumerated in Brazil’s Defense Electronic Warfare Policy, established by Regulatory Decree No. 333, issued in 2004. For the joint effort to be possible, alignment of military doctrine with electronic warfare is an essential step. The Brazilian Armed Forces learned that lesson through practice exercises and participation in events such as EGED.

Capt. Albuquerque stressed the importance of having the service branches work jointly and cited an example: “The Navy was developing a project in communication and detected a signal in the Amazon. On that occasion, we got in touch with the Brazilian Army, which immediately supported us and provided the data we needed,” Capt. Albuquerque said. “So we managed to detect together that the transmission was of a conversation spoken in an indigenous dialect, and we understood what was happening.”

The partnership with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) is frequent. With its aircraft, FAB undertakes surveillance operations of Brazil’s maritime territory. As the aircraft flies over an area, the onboard equipment collects data that is sent to the Navy and added to what teams on its ships gathered. This joint information sharing serves as the basis to guide naval patrols in the region.

Nearly 100 service members and civilians participated in the eighth Electronic Warfare Defense Summit (EGED, per its Portuguese acronym) September 13th–14th, 2017. The event was held at the Department of Science and Technology of the Brazilian Army (EB, per its Portuguese acronym) in Brasilia. One of Brazil’s three armed forces organizes each edition of the annual event.

In 2017, EB led the activities through its Electronic Warfare Instruction Center (CIGE, per its Portuguese acronym). The unit belongs to the Army Electronic Warfare Communications Command and trains service members in this field. “Service members from the three branches always participate in EGED. They meet to discuss and present the main electronic warfare projects that are being developed in the defense field,” EB Colonel Luis Carlos Sousa, commandant of CIGE, explained.

“Electronic warfare is modern, dynamic, and constant. New things emerge every day in this area. At EGED, we have the opportunity to keep up with what the industry and academia do, which often provides solutions our military assets can use,” said Brazilian Navy Captain Marcelo Alcides Albuquerque da Costa, commandant of the Navy Electronic Warfare Center (CGEM, per its Portuguese acronym), which will coordinate the 2018 EGED.

Electronic versus cyber warfare

Electronic warfare involves the use of the electromagnetic spectrum through communication and non-communication. “The communication side concerns electromagnetic signals that carry information, such as radios,” Col. Luis Carlos explained. “The non-communication side deals with signals that do not transmit content since the signal itself constitutes the message, as in the case of radar.”

In turn, cyber warfare focuses on other aspects, such as integrated computer networks. “But the two intersect because when a cyber attack goes through wireless networks, it enters the electromagnetic spectrum. These areas are very close to each other. Integration between electronic warfare and cyber warfare operations was even one of the points discussed at the summit,” Capt. Albuquerque said. Within the Brazilian Armed Forces, different organizations handle each of the two defense fields, but the approach to both has become increasingly intertwined as they develop, said Capt. Albuquerque.

Exchange of experiences

During the EGED’s two-day event, representatives of the Brazilian Army, Navy, and Air Force presented the main projects and activities underway in the field of electronic warfare—as well as the challenges and demands relating to that area of responsibility. Among the issues discussed: Brazil’s Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON, per its Portuguese acronym) stood out. As one of EB’s more robust programs, SISFRON relies on ground surveillance radar, communication equipment, and satellite transmission, among others, to expand monitoring along Brazil’s continental border. The objective is to gather the maximum amount of information via such equipment for strategic decision-making by the nation’s defense authorities.

“The development of SISFRON depends on knowledge about the electromagnetic environment. And the model EB used to set up the program was one of the points disseminated and discussed at the summit,” Col. Luis Carlos said. “EGED’s objective is just that: share knowledge about projects that work well with any of our service branches, so that it can be of use to the other branches, minimize redundancies, and optimize results,” he said.

Interoperability in the electronic warfare activities the Brazilian Armed Forces develop is the first objective enumerated in Brazil’s Defense Electronic Warfare Policy, established by Regulatory Decree No. 333, issued in 2004. For the joint effort to be possible, alignment of military doctrine with electronic warfare is an essential step. The Brazilian Armed Forces learned that lesson through practice exercises and participation in events such as EGED.

Capt. Albuquerque stressed the importance of having the service branches work jointly and cited an example: “The Navy was developing a project in communication and detected a signal in the Amazon. On that occasion, we got in touch with the Brazilian Army, which immediately supported us and provided the data we needed,” Capt. Albuquerque said. “So we managed to detect together that the transmission was of a conversation spoken in an indigenous dialect, and we understood what was happening.”

The partnership with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) is frequent. With its aircraft, FAB undertakes surveillance operations of Brazil’s maritime territory. As the aircraft flies over an area, the onboard equipment collects data that is sent to the Navy and added to what teams on its ships gathered. This joint information sharing serves as the basis to guide naval patrols in the region.
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