The Marine Corps is looking to modernize its signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability set with a new open architecture approach to go after capabilities that will allow users to better collect data while jamming adversaries’ improved assets, officials said Thursday.

Officials told attendees at an Association of Old Crows Event the new approach is required to maintain overmatch as adversaries have made increasing investments over the last decade to maintain control over the electromagnetic spectrum.

Col. Dave Burton, USMC program manager for intelligence systems

“One thing we’re doing right now is we’re overhauling our materiel solutions and sensors to enable us to meet and exceed projected adversary communication capabilities,” Guy Jordan, the Marine Corps’ acting director of intelligence, said. “We’ve spent the last 15 or more years fighting in a counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism environment where he presumed and possessed electromagnetic spectrum supremacy. There really wasn’t a threat to us in that environment. Unfortunately, during that time frame that enabled some of our other adversaries to rapidly move and potentially surpass us.”

Jordan said the Marine Corps is in the process of moving its SIGINT and electronic warfare (EW) portfolio toward a more flexible, networked approach.

The transition is taking place as Marine Corps officials continue working through an update of its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance plan for 2025 to 2030, and a new strategy on intelligence support to electromagnetic spectrum operations.  

Col. Dave Burton, program manager for intelligence systems, said the Marine Corps’ SIGINT portfolio will focus on building out a modular open architecture approach that focuses on providing critical upgrades to currently existing systems.

“The approach we’ve taken with the consolidation of capabilities in the information space is to look at what we’re doing with existing program of records and then to bring in the applications that will provide the ability for electronic warfare simulation technology to control these non-SIGINT users out in the battlespace,” Burton said. “That’s what we’re attempting to do with the portfolio moving forward.”

Burton added that the Marine Corps is also working toward a goal of having every vehicle outfitted with an EW system.

“It would be a networked capability where you have trained users that are actually conducting the command and control and also electronic warfare fires. And then you would have the incidental users who would have these systems either dismounted or mounted,” Burton said.

Jordan said the Marine Corps is working through understanding the range of sensors and systems required to improve SIGINT collection and build jamming capabilities, with the intention of bringing in industry next to work on the integration piece of the modernization effort.