BAE Systems unveiled on Tuesday a new lightweight handheld tactical electronic warfare (EW) sensor developed through a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract.

The new sensor can be carried and used by soldiers to better understand radio frequency (RF) signals for enhanced situational awareness. The technology uses cognitive processing algorithms to quickly detect and identify multiple interfering signals like jammers or enemy communications signals across a wide spectrum, BAE said.

Artist's conception of the Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) technology. Image: BAE Systems.
Artist’s conception of the Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) technology. Image: BAE Systems.

The company highlighted this capability can be leveraged across several platforms and be integrated into a variety of EW, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and signal receiver and communication systems.

The new capability improves over current devices by reducing the time and computing power needed to process detected signals so each system only uses one low-power chip. This results in a 10-times reduction in size, weight, and power consumption compared to conventional spectrum analyzers, BAE said.

“By drastically reducing the size, weight, and power of this new cognitive EW system, we’re making it easier for our warfighters to be aware of, classify, and manage a wide range of signals in the battlespace, which is crucial for tactical situational awareness,” Joshua Niedzwiecki, director of sensor processing and exploitation at BAE Systems, said in a statement.

“Better situational awareness on the battlefield means superior protection for our troops and a greater ability to defeat hostile threats,” he added.

BAE developed this technology under DARPA’s Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) program and the Cognitive radio Low-energy signal Analysis Sensor ICs (CLASIC) program.

The company said in recent field tests the technology successfully detected and identified over 10 signal types across a wide bandwidth when also in the presence of interference. It expects to continue to mature the technology for eventual deployment in BAE’s EW, SIGINT, and tactical communications portfolios.