Electronic Warfare Specialist at the Tactical Edge 

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joshua Dungan, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron Electronic Warfare Systems craftsman prepares to work on an electronic warfare system April 4, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Part of his job is to ensure the maintenance of electronic warfare defensive systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith)

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As the US Army is gearing up to field a raft of electronic warfare equipment — including combined cyber and signals intelligence — it needs to be able to rapidly reprogram the systems to exploit new signals it may find over the course of a conflict.

This is why the Army will explore a new idea in which coders and computer programmers will be posted at the tactical edge, reprogramming electronic warfare and radiofrequency systems. 

The pilot, dubbed Starblazor, will try to identify gaps in Army capabilities and provide information for its doctrine and policies.

Mainly, Starblazor that will take place this summer will help the Army learn what is needed to train the cyber and electronic warfare operators with existing equipment and what these personnel will need for a future fight.

The US Army has recently created a new military occupational specialty within its cyber branch dedicated to software development. Those specialists sit alongside operators and build tools on the spot to keep up with the dynamic environment of cyberspace.

If the Army finds itself in a conflict with a top nation-state, it will likely come across signals it hasn’t seen before. This presents problems for the force because it won’t know how to exploit or defeat those signals until it categorizes them. In the Cold War, this could take years, but now with software-defined systems, new signals can be deployed, detected and tweaked in weeks.

Starblazor will help determine what new code developers need and provide information for capability development for large acquisition programs while they’re still in the research and development phase, according to c4isrnet.com.