Air Force May Put Angry Cat on Planes for Electronic Warfare Age

WASHINGTON — A ferocious cat could help change the way the U.S. military approaches electronic warfare.

The so-called Angry Caton, a cluster of electronic components contained in an obscure cat-shaped tube, has proven so successful as a training tool in simulating enemy EW operations that Air Combat Command personnel at least Four pods are recommended to be reused. Real combat allows fighter pilots to take advantage of the real world.

The Air Force has used the Angry Cat in tests and training for years, equipping attack squadrons with gear to harass trainees and simulate electronic attacks. Lessons learned from using the device have “dramatically shaped the direction” of the service, it said on August 3.

During this year’s evaluation, the Angry Kitten kit was reprogrammed overnight to account for conditions that had previously occurred, meaning the techniques used the next day were better informed and more effective. The immediate changes are a departure from the Air Force’s traditionally tight software-hardware coupling that takes time and money to rebuild.

“Hardware and software stovepipe solutions across the Air Force Enterprise enable the Air Force to rapidly adapt to and defeat new emerging electromagnetic system threats,” said Keith Kirk, who manages a campaign called AERRES. affect significantly.” EW Systems.

With Angry Cat, “the software was updated within a few hours based on the performance they were seeing against certain threats and then improvements were made, and those improvements were confirmed during flight tests the next day. It happened,” he said in a statement. “That’s really hard to do with software and tools that aren’t designed for open standards.”

A Georgia Tech Research Institute next-generation electronic warfare device — carried in a bright blue pod at the bottom of the photo — is being flight tested on an L-39 Albatros jet trainer aircraft. (Stan Sutphin/GTRI)

In-flight changes are made possible by an open design that the Air Force expects to increasingly use in the future.

The Angry Caton combat pod was also tested in the Northern Lightning exercise last year. The Air Force said at the time that the teams identified a way to transform the pod from trainer to combat-ready. Recent feedback will inform potential fielding decisions.

The combat pod is based on technology developed by the Georgia Tech Research Institute, which said in 2013 that the project used commercial electronics, custom hardware and novel machine learning to provide “unprecedented levels” of adaptability. Is.

The researchers call this issue cognitive EW, systems that use machine learning and other advanced techniques to select a jamming tool, analyze its effectiveness, and then adjust itself to exploit the identified vulnerability. should be corrected. This practice differs from the deployment of straw, materials used to confuse radar, or other more common measures.

According to US officials, dominating the electromagnetic spectrum will be critical in a fight with China or Russia, two of the most important national security threats. Modern warfare relies heavily on spectrum, which is used to communicate with friendly forces, identify and suppress adversaries, and guide weapons.

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According to a 2013 Newsweek report, Angry Kitten’s less scary name — a far cry from aggressive monikers the military often uses, such as Reaper or Predator drones or Hellfire missiles — is an inside joke and design. has a mix of goals, which was noted “System reacts with ‘cat brain’.”

“Despite a somewhat silly name, Angry Caton represents a very serious technology,” Roger Dickerson, senior research engineer at the Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, told C4ISRNET in 2015. “We are working hard to improve warfighter capabilities and readiness among our sponsor organizations: the Army, Navy and especially the U.S. Air Force air combat community.

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