Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) centers may be realized at low cost so that control along widely stretched lines of surveillance can affordably be ensured. The approach described below uses cost effective unmanned, remotely controlled surveillance stations that receive and analyze any communication or RF-signatures in an area.
Border control is one of the most important issues civil and military agencies face. Effective border control, though, is hard to achieve due to limited resources and thinly stretched manning. Sometimes several hundred miles of borderline need to be secured (watched). So, where do you concentrate assets so as to not miss any intrusion or trafficking?
Detection of intruders and denying trafficking are tasks that have been around for a long time, but so expensive they often could not be established effectively. Nevertheless, detection of intruders and traffickers is the very first step in the process of the classic decision cycle of observe, orient, decide and act (OODA-Loop1), the overall operational process of leadership.
In SIGINT, it all starts with the search for signals. After detection of a signal, there are additional measurements required in order to be able to exploit all the technical information (some say data) that you can get out of that signal while the search continues. Technical details are summed up under the expression Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). You will need some time for observation of the signal to measure some of the important information (example: the scan rate of a search radar). In case a communication signal is detected, you may want to retrieve the content of that information, or, at least, the metadata that go with it. Metadata is information about the kind of communication, like date/time, length of communication, location,
communication partners’ identities, language, etc.
The first step of the OODA-Loop, "Observation,” includes other sensors as well, like eyes, ears, nose, video and infrared, to name a view. The information content and the technical details of metadata are summed up in the expression Communications Intelligence (COMINT).
Now, in order to be able to "Observe" an incident, you first need to detect it, then you can analyze the occurrence that may lead to the "Observation" that starts the process of “Observe, Orient, Decide and Act,” followed by the element, "Orient.” A prerequisite for this step is signal analysis that needs to be performed first. Then, the gained information and data may be used to make up one’s mind about the situation you are in. "Situational Awareness" is one of the most important properties military leaders need to make the right decisions.
The "Action" that follows the "Decide" step will then be monitored, starting the loop again through performing the step "Observe" again.
Radio surveillance may be very useful to commanders to gain the most effective situational awareness possible. In contrary to other means of detection, like using video and electro optic surveillance, radio detection works long range, is independent of lighting (day/night), works through rain, fog, smoke and vegetation (foliage), and can be owned at comparatively low cost.
The concept is based on the use of readily available, low cost and high quality remotely controllable equipment (receivers) for the detection and analysis of wireless communication systems, radar and radio at frequencies ranging from as low as 9 kHz up to 6 GHz.
As there are several different solutions possible for setting up and organizing such a system, only a few variants are discussed here.
The proposed SIGINT system is comprised of a number of Interference and Direction Analyzer (IDA 2)-based SIGINT stations located along the line of protection from infiltrators and penetrators. Each station consists of an antenna fixture, mast or tower, a cabinet for environmental protection, power supply and a communication link.
The neighboring surveillance stations will allow intruders to be located at an early stage in their prowling. The measured data is sent to the manned central command and control center, where an analysis of the emissions is performed and necessary decisions are made. This will allow the appropriate action to be taken and to execute the most effective countermeasures.
Assuming that intruders have Personal Digital Assistants, cell phones and other electronic devices at their disposal, they can be detected and located by passive surveillance. In Electronic Warfare (EW) — which also includes electronic attack, i.e., jamming and deception — this would be called "ESM,” Electronic Support Measures, and it’s used to alert decision makers. In our example, we’ve got a number of equally equipped detection stations, using a tall (e.g. 30 feet) pylon to carry the antenna assembly. In each cabinet, the IDA 2 is used to receive and analyze all signals that come up in the frequency range of 9 kHz to 6 GHz.
Since IDA 2 is battery driven, it is also able to bridge a power supply failure for up to 3 hours all on itself. It is recommended, though, to use an extra battery pack to be able to expand the time of work while power is lost. The cabinet would also hold an ethernet switch that’s connected to the lines of communication and connects to the SIGINT central from where the IDA 2 can be remotely controlled and monitored. Depending on terrain and Point of Interaction (POI) requirements, one of these stations may be spread along the line of defense every 10 miles or so.
For a Probability of Intercept requirement of 99.9 percent, and in difficult terrain, a much closer spacing may be needed. Upon detection of a Signal of Interest (SOI), neighboring stations can be used to perform a cross bearing to locate the source. On alert, trained personnel will get to the station that is closest to the signalsource, disconnect the IDA 2 from the station and connect it to a portable version of the direction finding antenna to search for the exact location of the intruder or trafficker who then may be captured.
This action is perfectly supported by the IDA 2 because of its lightweight design, extreme sensitivity high performance DF-antennas. Depending on the customer’s preferences, a cable including communication capability could be used to supply power for the stations. Also, wireless communication and battery backed solar panels may be used.
With Narda IDA 2, and its broad selection of operating modes, especially for signal analysis, there is a solution for every customer’s need.
Johannes Naumann is a retired German Air Force Lt. Col. He has a Masters in Electronics and Communications from the University of the German Armed Forces. He served as a EW-Officer in the EW/SIGINT-Branch at C&E Command where he improved and designed, contracted, tested and fielded EW-Equipment for the legendary Phantom II; Tornado, Typhoon (Eurofighter), Tiger (GE/FR Attack-Helicopter) and the EW-Module for the Flight and Tactics-Simulators. In 1984, he became a SIGINT officer at the then German-Czechoslovakian border. He later assumed command of the German Electronic Warfare Operations Support Center that reprogramed EW-Threat Libraries, including HARM Target Libraries. Naumann also developed the EW Targeting Guide for use with ECR-Tornados and the High Speed Anti Radiation Missile. During his almost 6 Years as Head of the Air Force Section of the German Armed Forces Command in Reston, Virginia, he supported the installation of the German Air Force Fighter Training Squadron at Holloman AFB and acted as a co-founder and first chairman of the Multi National Forum and was a frequent briefer at AOC International and Annual EW Europe Conventions.
After returning from Washington, DC in 2000, he served as a branch leader in air technologies at the German Intelligence Agency. Transferred to the Joint Forces Office, he took responsibility for the capability analysis branch that develops the national requirements for Intelligence Operations, EW, ISR-Equipment and Euro-Hawk, and served as a chairman of numerous conferences that had to draft the "Capability Requirements" for the procurement of ISR Systems for the German Armed Forces, including the R&D processes. He also drafted the German Joint ISR Requirements and the Intelligence Dissemination Demonstrator, wrote the Requirements Paper for the German Joint Reconnaissance UAS, and served as a delegate to NATO Multi-Sensor Aerospace-Ground Joint ISR Interoperability Coalition.