Counter-IED systems jam tactical comms in Iraq

NAVSEA communications interference mitigation RFI

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Jammers used by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq to defeat radio-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have the side effect of knocking out a wide range of tactical radio systems, according to the Naval Sea Systems Command.

Navsea, which is asking for industry input on mitigating the problem, said IED jammers, known as Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (CREW) systems, can cause the “loss of all communications” from co-located or nearby tactical radio systems. The Navy manages the joint CREW program for Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Joint IED Defeat Organization.

At the same time, active battlefield radio systems interfere with the IED jammers “to the extent that the CREW systems become ineffective,” according to Navsea's request for information.

NAVSEA has asked industry to come up with an interference mitigation system that will enable simultaneous operations of IED jammers and tactical communications systems in the same location or vehicle.

IEDs have caused more casualties in Iraq than any other weapon and the Defense Department has been battling them for years with a variety of jammers. Last month, Navsea awarded a $79.5 million contract to BAE Systems to produce 3,800 wearable CREW systems to be fielded to all four services in Afghanistan and Iraq.

John Grimes, chief information officer and assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration, speaking at the DOD spectrum conference last month, said that the department faces a real challenge of operating IED jammers while at the same time ensuring the jammers do not knock out tactical systems.

According to the RFI, Navsea is looking for an interference mitigation system that weighs no more than five pounds and that can protect a wide range of communications systems, including UHF, VHF and HF manpack and vehicle radios as well as tactical satellite systems, the Blue Force Tracking System, the Movement Tracking System and Global Positioning System receivers.

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