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Defense Technology Monitor - No. 13

Edited by Richard M. Harrison and William Mallard
February 17, 2017


DOD OUTLINES ELECTRONIC WARFARE STRATEGY
The Department of Defense's Electronic Warfare Executive Committee has crafted a unifying branch-wide electronic warfare (EW) strategy to guide the future of U.S. electronic combat operations. State and non-state actors have demonstrated growing capabilities in the EW space. For example, during its recent conflict with Ukraine, Russia showcased its EW capability by taking Ukrainian radio functions offline. The new U.S. strategy is designed to reverse the Pentagon's current, reactive posture through greater emphasis on information sharing and new simulation and visualization techniques. (
Breaking Defense, December 2, 2016) 

BRITISH GOVERNMENT EYES GAMERS FOR DRONE MISSIONS
It appears that playing endless amounts of video games can be beneficial for your career after all. That, at least, is the opinion of Air Marshal Greg Bagwell of the British Royal Air Force (RAF). Bagwell, who served as Reaper drone operator in Syria, believes that, although 18 or 19 year olds are not trained pilots, their minds are well prepared with proper spatial awareness because of the conditioning received through hours of gaming. This, in turn, could become a boon to the British government, because after more than half a decade of flying drone missions almost nonstop in Syria and elsewhere, drone pilots are wearing down under increased psychological pressure. (London 
Guardian, December 9, 2016) 

DEFENSELESS AGAINST HYPERSONIC MISSILES
The U.S. currently has just a few dozen interceptors protecting the homeland from long-range ballistic missile threats. However, a new study by the National Academies of Science Air Force Studies Board suggests that this may not be enough to defend against new dangers - namely, the hypersonic missile programs of Russia and China. The new Russian and Chinese systems are capable of evading U.S. missile defenses and "can combine speed and maneuverability between the air and space regimes to produce significant new offensive capability that could pose a complex defensive challenge," the study notes. China recently successfully concluded the seventh test of a new high-speed strike missile, the DF-ZF, while Russia is developing new hypersonic missile systems that are anticipated to be operational by the year 2020. The FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act has allocated funding to develop defenses against such hypersonic threats. (
Washington Free Beacon, December 16, 2016) 

THE LIMITS OF DRONE WARFARE
Drones have demonstrated their usefulness against technologically unsophisticated enemies, but when adversaries have advanced weapons systems drones can be rendered completely ineffective. The contemporary battlefield in Ukraine has eloquently underscored this fact; the U.S. provided a fleet of 72 Raven RQ-11B mini analog drones to Kyiv as part of the Obama administration's nonlethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, but according to Ukrainian military officials the initiative has largely been a failure. The drones were intended to give the Ukrainian military a lightweight, versatile method of collecting intelligence on Russian enemy positions. However, officials say they have been unable to prevent Russian military forces from hacking and intercepting drone feeds and video footage, thus severely hampering Ukraine's reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities. Natan Chazin, an adviser to the Ukrainian military, has intimated that the drones actually represent more of a liability than an asset because they tip off opposing forces to Ukrainian military positions, without providing any tangible benefit in return. (
Voice of America, December 21, 2016) 

DPRK FINDS NEW DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR DIRTY BOMB
While North Korea has completed several nuclear tests to date, a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile isn't necessarily the most likely vehicle for a potential North Korean strike. According to North Korea's Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS), a South Korean think tank, Pyongyang is believed to be developing a "dirty bomb drone" capable of delivering a nuclear payload. The drone, dubbed the Banghyun-5, is now under development, but is expected to be capable of carrying a radiological dispersal device that, if detonated, could render large swathes of land uninhabitable for years. (
Popular Mechanics, December 28, 2016)