Signal Sensing, Design and Delivery for Electronic Warfare

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering


The reliance of military systems and armed forces on the EM spectrum creates vulnerabilities and opportunities for electronic warfare (EW) in support of military operations. EW is concerned with detecting, recognising then exploiting and countering the enemy's electronic order of battle, and calls for the development of innovative algorithmic solutions for information extraction and delivery of signals in contested electromagnetic environment. Traditionally, the subject of signal sensing/information extraction has been developed separately from the area of signal delivery.
In contrast, this visionary project conducted at Imperial College London and University College London aims at leveraging the consortium complementary expertise in various areas of signal processing (sparsity, super-resolution and subspace methods, communications, radar, and machine learning) for civilian and defence applications to design and develop novel and innovative solutions for a cohesive treatment of information extraction and delivery of signals in contested electromagnetic environment.
To put together this novel approach in a credible fashion, this project is organized in two major work packages. The first work package will analyze, separate and characterize signals across time, frequency, and space and extract useful information from those signals by developing and leveraging novel super-resolution, subspace and deep learning methods. The second work package will leverage progress made in the first work package and design signals and system responses for sensing and signaling in congested RF environments. Novel waveform design approaches will be derived for sensing using an extended ambiguity function-based framework, for precise spatiotemporal energy delivery using network-wide time-reversal and for joint sensing and signaling. Attention will also be drawn to the design of signals resilient to hardware and nonlinear channel responses.
The project will be performed in partnership with academia/research institutes (University of Kansas, Fraunhofer) and industrial leaders in civilian and military equipment design and manufacturing (IBM, US Army Research Lab, Thales). The project demands a strong track record in a wide range of signal processing techniques and it is to be conducted by a unique research consortium with a right mix of theoretical and practical skills. With the above and given the novelty and originality of the topic, the research outcomes will be of considerable value to transform the future of electronic warfare and give the industry and defence a fresh and timely insight into the development of signal processing for contested electromagnetic environment, advancing UK's research profile in the world. Its success would radically change the design of electronic support measures, electronic coutermeasures and electronic counter-coutermeasures and have a tremendous impact on the defence sector and industry.

Planned Impact

Our proposal will deliver economic, commercial and societal impact in the following ways:
- Research and Technological: It will help to shape UK capability in defence signal processing by delivering major advances in algorithm performance while providing inherent support for adaptivity and low-power platforms operating in difficult and challenging future environments.
- Training: It will deliver a pipeline of skilled researchers, familiar with the workings and challenges of the defence industry, and will also allow for the further exposure of all Investigators in defence challenges.
- Commercial: Through strategic engagement with partner organisations, it will facilitate efficient pull-through of research into advanced products, opening new opportunities for product innovation beyond traditional defence sectors. Recall that wireless networks are expected to have applications in developed and emerging markets and a large number of sectors, e.g. building automation, healthcare (health monitoring), telecommunications, smart grid, structural monitoring, consumer electronics, military, etc. All those new applications will in the long term enhance the economic competitiveness of the UK and the quality of life of its residents.

Our proposal will deliver economic, commercial and societal impact in the following sectors:
- Military, defence and technology sectors: These primarily comprise the MOD and Dstl, but also include associated institutions from allied nations, such as FKIE, DSTG and US Army Research Lab (see support letters). Recall that a key objective of this proposal is to engage closely with DSTL, relevant industry and other stake-holders in order to facilitate the transfer of knowledge generated during the course of the project. This must be done in order to maximize the impact of the research discoveries and ensure that they can be pulled through into higher TRL concept within real system now and in the future.
- Sensor, telecommunications and integrated systems providers in defence who design hardware and software components underpinning military capabilities. Our planned interactions with our industrial partners include allocated time and staff effort for technical reviews, staff visits and placements.
- Science and engineering communities in infrastructure planning, sensing, signal processing, communications, electronics and artificial intelligence, who will benefit from the scientific outputs and the training of a new generation of researchers with broad knowledge and understanding of the scientific, defence and societal implications of their work in signal processing for defence. Beyond the broad engagement efforts planned within our outreach programme, we have close collaborations with top-ranked research teams - Alan Turing Institute (UK), Yale, Princeton (US), and Technion (Israel).
- UK and international policy makers and funding bodies who need data-driven insights and tools to ensure informed decisions are taken at the appropriate timescales and to the benefit of the general public and the UK's police, surveillance and armed forces.


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