US Army getting new tech to hack, jam, and counter enemy aerial assets

Lockheed Martin has received a new round of funding for the development of the U.S. Army's Terrestrial Layer System (TLS).
Christopher McFadden
Lockheed Martin is to develop an advanced electronic warfare system called TLS.

Lockheed Martin 

It has been announced that Lockheed Martin has received a £33.6 million contract to develop a new series of tactical vehicles for providing signals intelligence (SIGINT), cyberspace operations overmatch, and electronic warfare (EW).

According to the Department of Defense (DoD), the new system called the 'Terrestrial Layer System' (TLS) is to be developed under a firm-fixed-price award. It is anticipated to be finished by September 8, 2026.

Around September 2023, a Stryker TLS operational test is anticipated. According to Lockheed's concept image, these vehicles might have other arrays and three dome- or pod-shaped antennas mounted above the rear hull.

TLS, it has been reported, may be one of the most significant modernization projects for the U.S. Army, producing a new fleet of tracked and wheeled armored vehicles that can jam enemy communications, hack into their computers, deceive incoming missiles, smart bombs, and guided artillery projectiles, as well as bring hostile surveillance and kamikaze drones crashing to the ground without firing a shot.

TLS is a collection of ground-based electronic warfare systems, including electronic attack (jamming and satellite navigation spoofing), signals intelligence (for listening in on enemy communications and identifying and geolocating transmitters), and cyberwarfare capabilities, which were previously on separate platforms. They are incorporated into a system with an open architecture and shared standards (CMOSS), which should make updating them simple in the future.

To develop a system integrating SIGINT, EW, and cyber operations into the Joint All Domain Operations Capable Force, the Army Project Manager for Electronic Warfare and Cyber sponsored a prototype competition in 2020. After winning the contest, Lockheed received a $59 million contract to deliver TLS-BCT prototypes over three months.

The system's open architectural design followed the DOD's C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards.

It can send real-time data and situational updates while moving and is compatible with other TLS data speeds and technologies. The Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland will oversee the new contract, executed in Syracuse, New York.

The Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT) software, which enables higher headquarters to coordinate and remotely control distributed EW systems geographically, will network the various TLS assets. That is essential to preventing electronic 'friendly fire', which looks to have presented difficulties for Russian forces during their early invasion of Ukraine.

Friendly fire affects own-side sensors and communications. EWPMT is made to function even when subject to jamming by utilizing satellite communications.

Additionally, a report says that EWPMT displayed "high operational availability" and was "easy to learn and use." That software errors were rapidly fixed—although testers desired more research on cyber defense.

The MFEW-AL pod's interoperability with EWPMT won't be tested until 2025, although a decision on broader EWPMT procurement is expected in the third quarter of 2023.

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