Digital electronics has revolutionized 21st century warfare and in the process it has created a cyberspace battleground that is becoming as important as any on land, sea or air. As part of the 2017 Paris Air Show, Raytheon will display the technologies it is developing to provide defenses and countermeasures in this new theater, including improved microprocessors designed to help protect US and Allied smart weapons, radars, and networks from cyber attacks.
Raytheon sees future battlefields as dependent on integrated automation technology that uses sensors to not only counter complex threats, but also for intelligence, surveillance, data sharing, and faster decision making to ensure weapons, such as advanced missiles, are more effective as part of layered defenses.
The problem is that mobile and elusive terrorist or paramilitary groups could launch cyber attacks or to send small drones against larger and more advanced ground forces. These could, for example, destroy artillery, but remain able to use the topography to evade counter attacks by missile crews.
A key element of Raytheon's approach is to tackle the issue of processing speed. To this end it is developing three-dimensional integrated circuits that use stacked silicon wafers connected vertically for a smaller footprint by orders of magnitude, faster processing speeds, lower power consumption, and greater protection against reverse engineering.
Such circuitry would allow for advanced missile defense systems that can operate in a network with smaller, smarter radars to locate, track, and destroy smaller concealed targets. Raytheon says that within two to three years, it will be possible to even track and identify targets in deep foliage.
"This is Star Trek-type technology, where you will have one box that's doing a tremendous number of things, integrating them and doing it super-fast, so it will make decisions that are not possible today," says Raytheon engineer Duane Estrada.
In addition, infrared cameras on unmanned aircraft or high-powered, active-array radars mounted on special mission surveillance aircraft integrated into a network could be hardened to protect them from hacking, so aircraft crews or battlefield commanders can operate without interference.
Cyber countermeasures under development include agile signal jammers that confuse attackers by discovering and fighting enemy jamming attempts using learning algorithms to respond faster than humans can.
One example that Raytheon will be highlighting at Paris will be the Coyote unmanned airborne system, which has the ability to launch in a swarm and move in formation using autonomous networking to enact strikes against moving targets. The company is also working on cyber defenses for businesses through the cybersecurity firm Forcepoint.
"We are developing weapons with the ability to successfully execute missions in dynamic environments," says Dr. Thomas Bussing, vice president of advanced missile systems at Raytheon. "Even if an adversary tries to take away our traditional advantages or hide within a denied environment, we could still find them and eliminate their ability to threaten us."
The Paris Air Show runs from June 19 to 25.