The U.S. Navy is developing a much-needed airborne jamming system to replace its Vietnam-era jammers. It’s called the Next Generation Jammer, and if all goes as planned then U.S. aviators will soon have an electronic warfare tool with greater power, precision and agility than any previous jammer. That’s a good thing, because hostile emitters are proliferating like bunnies in the springtime.
However, one thing aviators will not be getting is a new tool for conducting cyber warfare against enemy information networks. Contrary to what trade-press stories keep reporting about the new jammer, it will not have the capability to insert viruses into enemy networks. There is no formal requirement for such a capability — which is just as well, since it will be hard enough to meet the requirements that actually have been specified for more radiated power, greater spectral precision, and the like.
It’s not that the Next Generation Jammer couldn’t be used as a cyber weapon or shouldn’t be used, but simply that it won’t be. No requirement, hence no capability. Maybe someday the cyber warfare features will be added, but right now they would just complicate the task of developing a new jamming system. So forget all those gee-whiz stories about using the Next Generation Jammer to penetrate enemy nerve centers. It isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
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