The defence innovation agencies of all three AUKUS nations – Australia, the UK and US – have launched a competition among global suppliers to source electronic warfare (EW) technologies that will provide an edge in the congested electromagnetic spectrum EMS).

Fundamentally, such tech would be used for both offensive and defensive purposes, from targeting and protection against adversarial capabilities.

It comes under AUKUS Pillar II: the second phase of the trilateral alliance that focuses on developing a range of advanced capabilities and increase interoperability.

EW technologies and solution sets have the potential to provide asymmetric advantages for AUKUS and other partners. Key capabilities sought include the ability to:

  • Identification
  • Locating targets
  • Monitoring target movement
  • Selecting and applying EW assets and enabled weapon systems
  • Evaluation of attack effects.

In its thematic intelligence report on Electronic Warfare (2021), GlobalData defines EW to include locating, exploiting, degrading, targeting, disrupting, denying, deceiving or destroying an enemy’s electronic systems that support military operations or aim to deny friendly forces the ability to use the EMS.

GlobalData projects the global EW market to register a compound annual growth rate of 1.99% over the 2020-2030 period, growing from $12.8bn in 2020 to $15.6bn by 2030.  

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Conflicts against terrorists and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the necessity for robust Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities for successful operations in hostile terrains and asymmetric scenarios.

Continuous research and development in radio frequency, lasers, and other electromagnetic fields is enabling various countries across the world to develop or procure new devices for systems.

“The pivot to peer or near-peer conflict is driving advanced technology in EW, and will continue to do so for decades to come,” GlobalData anticipated.

Given the global power competition between the US and China centred in the Indo-Pacific theatre, AUKUS’ requirements for signals intelligence and effectors will prove a valuable in operating in such a vast expanse so far away.

A team of subject matter experts will evaluate the applicants in the AUKUS competition and select winning companies from the three countries in July 2024.