Cobham Aerospace’s NATO Contract – What are Electronic Warfare Pods?

In February 2019, Cobham Aerospace Connectivity won a NATO contract to supply Electronic Warfare (EW) pods for its warfare training program.

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The £50 million contract is a significant package for this British company, which positions itself as a world-leader in its specific synthetic operational training field.

As part of our KDC Projects analysis, we have decided to dig a bit deeper into Cobham’s NATO contract to understand it in more detail.

NATO’s JEWCS program

Cobham’s EW pods are part of NATO’s Joint Electronic Warfare Core Staff (JEWCS) package. The department is responsible for all of NATO’s electronic warfare capabilities, including field-based operations and training initiatives.

This is where Cobham comes in. They have been contracted to provide training pods for NATO’s Anti-Ship Missile Defence Evaluation Facility (NASMDEF). The new NASMDEF system is to be the first of its kind globally and will focus on training and operational initiatives in the world of electronic warfare.

Considering this has quickly become a primary concern in the field, particularly in light of the electronically advanced aircraft currently used by NATO and other forces, electronic warfare training is an essential and necessary measure.

The main contract was awarded to Leonardo, a Canada-based electronic warfare specialist that is the leading provider in Europe of technology and training in this field. Leonardo subcontracted Cobham to produce EW training pods.

The UK’s MoD offered the NATO JEWCS contract, as the UK is the host nation for the JEWCS project. It is based at the Royal Naval Air Station in Yeovilton, where the EW training equipment will be delivered between 2019 and 2023.

Cobham’s EW training pods

Cobham specialises in a range of electronic systems, including air traffic management, anti-jam GPS, and much more. The Royal Navy currently uses its EW systems as threat replication systems; this is essentially what Cobham will provide for the NATO program.

Their EW pods will simulate hostile missiles in a range of different training exercises. The pods are attached to the front of aircraft and allow forces to evaluate their missile defence systems. NATO will use the pods to test their anti-ship missile defence systems, particularly against more cyber-based threats.

Leonardo describes these as “soft-kill countermeasures”, which are any defence systems that can successfully interfere with sensor-based weapon systems. This is exactly what Cobham’s EW training pods will simulate: sensor-based intelligent missile systems that are becoming the norm in international warfare.

Cobham was recently awarded a US Navy contract to upgrade and replace their current radar suppression technologies as a testament to its industry-leading ability. This, alongside the NATO contract, lends considerable weight to the company’s technological capability.

Conclusion

It is fair to say that Cobham’s NATO contract is a significant step forward for the company. Supplying EW training systems as part of a world-first training program is undoubtedly a testament to Cobham’s expertise in their field. Moving forwards, it will be interesting to see how these EW pods adapt to the ever-changing environment of electronic warfare.

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