Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Basics of direction-finding

opswarfare has come across a series of "Physics 101-type" articles on electronic warfare (EW) in the Journal of Electronic Defense (JED). This journal is available by logging in via the NLB eResources website, using the EBSCOhost database. opswarfare has just finished reading Issue 11 of the aptly named EW101 series of articles.

This particular issue, and the next one, look at how direction-finding (DF) works. DF is one of the basic "weapons" of EW, as it enables accurate targeting of enemy command and control assets, e.g. HQ units. Most HQ units use a plethora of radios to communicate, and DF detects these radio waves. The location is calculated using lots of physics and mathematics.

With this information, a commander can call for air-strikes or artillery barrages on the target. Because of that, units often site their radio antennas (which emit the radio waves) away from their actual location, and use cables to physically link the radios to the antennas.

Normally, DF requires 2 or more monitoring stations, like the diagram below.

But as the article rightly points out, DF can also be done by 1 station in certain circumstances, like the example below.

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