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Intro to Electronic Defence

EEE5120Z – Introduction to Electronic Defence

Presented by: Craig Tong and Francois Maasdorp


Dates TBA

Time: 08h30 – 17h00

Exam TBA


Course Information


Electronic Defence (ED) is a military action whose ultimate aim is to control the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). The objective is to exploit, reduce or prevent hostile use of the EMS while still retaining friendly use thereof. ED comprises of three main disciplines, which have found numerous electromagnetic (radio frequency (RF), optical etc.) as well as acoustic civilian and military applications.

1. Electronic Support (ES), previously known as Electronic Support Measures (ESM).
2. Electronic Attack (EA), previously known as Electronic Countermeasures (ECM).
3. Electronic Protection (EP), previously known as Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCM).

The exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) brought significant change to the world over the past decades. The rapid growth of electronic technologies and the fast growing applications in communications, sensing (including radar) and intelligence led the increasingly important utilization of the EMS. Similarly, this same revolution played (and plays) a significant role is shaping military organizational structures worldwide. Nowadays, Electronic Defence represents an important scientific discipline; it has become a serious field with numerous applications and will play an increasingly greater role in future conflicts.

One can find several definitions for Electronic Defence in the literature. Although these can differ in some ways, they all share the same core aspects. A basic or simple way to look at ED is to understand that its objectives are to ensure the full use of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum for friendly forces and to deny, reduce or prevent its use by the opponents. Despite the civilian applications, it’s usually a military discipline. ED consists of measures, activities and systems to fulfil these objectives. Electronic Defence is generally divided into three main disciplines: Electronic Support (ES), Electronic Attack (EA) and Electronic Protection (EP). Among the Intelligence-Gathering disciplines, Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) is directly connected with ED. SIGINT is regarded as intelligence gathering from electronic signals and systems, such as communications systems, radars, and weapons systems. Under this optics, SIGINT consists mainly of Communications Intelligence (COMINT) – regarding communications signals – and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) – regarding non-communications signals, here mainly radar signals. The course will assess the fundamentals of Electronic Defence, focusing on radar applications. After a brief historical overview, and introduction to ED, the class will step into Electronic Support, Attack and Protection – measures, activities, techniques and systems. Then some important aspects of ELINT will be briefly studied. Once having covered all these disciplines from the radar applications standpoint, the attention is then directed to communications ED, focusing in the EM communication channel (rather than COMINT). Throughout the course, emphasis will be given to the understanding of the concepts involved, with a glimpse on operational aspects to substantiate the learning process. Auxiliary math will be provided to consolidate these concepts. Practical sessions will support the learning process.

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this course, students should achieve:

  • Understanding of Electronic Defence main concepts
  • Understanding of Electronic Support regarding its concepts and knowledge of ES measures and activities
  • Understanding of Electronic Attack regarding its concepts and knowledge of EA measures and techniques
  • Understanding of Electronic Protection regarding its concepts and knowledge of EP applications
  • Understanding of Electronic Intelligence regarding its concepts and knowledge of ELINT activities and applications
  • Understanding of the fundamentals of system architectures and basic signal processing techniques that are used in Electronic Defence

Electronic Defence comprehends an enormously broad field of knowledge. Once mastering its fundamentals, one can identify and choose one of the many topics to specialize in, with the appropriate basis to follow the chosen path. Supplementary textbooks are indicated so that the student can specialize and deepen their studies in a preferred related topic.


Craig Tong

Francois Maasdorp