Unravelling the mystery

More details have come to light regarding new Chinese airborne EW developments

Following the revelations on 22nd January that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is operating a Xian H-6G strategic bomber configured to perform Electronic Warfare (EW) with under-wing ECM jamming pods, more details have come to light from MONS sources regarding the pods’ possible identity.

The PLAN and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) use several aircraft self protection systems across a range of platforms, although both forces are currently thought to operate two distinct podded EW jamming systems in the guise of the BM/KG-300G Airborne Self-Defence Jammer Pod, and the BM/KJ-8602BC Airborne Jamming System. The former is a pod-mounted ensemble which is thought to be capable of geo-locating and jamming multiple radar threats simultaneously. Although no details appear to publicly exist regarding the pod’s capabilities, it is reasonable to assume that this may cover a frequency range of circa two gigahertz/GHz to 18GHz and maybe capable of both spot jamming on a specific frequency, and/or barrage jamming across a specific waveband. Sources suggest that this particular system maybe designed to operate at the Localised SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) level to protect a single aircraft, or perhaps a strike package, for the duration of their mission.

The BM/KJ-8602BC Airborne Jamming System appears to be more complex. This combines a radar warning receiver with an airborne threat warning receiver and is integrated with the BM/KG-300G pod (see above). Although this is thought to be capable of covering similar frequencies with a similar jamming performance to the ‘vanilla’ BM/KG-300G system discussed above, the addition of an airborne threat warning receiver appears to render this system more suited to the Campaign level SEAD mission, where the electronic elements (radar and radio communications) of an adversaries’ integrated air defence system are progressively degraded to create increasingly favourable conditions for air operations. Moreover, the addition of an airborne threat warning receiver indicates that this system may be intended to support of the wider Offensive Counter Air mission of which SEAD is a part. Secondly, the use of the BM/KG-300G system within the wider BM/KJ-8602BC architecture could give an aircraft thus equipped the option of performing either Localised or Campaign SEAD as operational requirements dictate.

Thomas Withington

 

Publish date

01/25/2018

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