It’s small but a high achiever, and BAE Systems Australia (BAES) is confident that its locally-developed Mantlet electronic warfare (EW) sensor is not just a world leader in its capabilities but one that will prove ideally suited for multiple air, land and maritime platforms, including submarines.
As described by BAES, Mantlet is “an advanced Miniature Digital Electronic Support Measures System providing Radio Frequency (RF) situational awareness to enable rapid decision-making.”
The system weighs less than 2.5 kg but detects and identifies all modern search, acquisition and tracking radars of maritime, ground-based and airborne weapons systems.
“It’s a full-grown digital receiver starting effectively around the High Frequency range and going all the way up to 18 gigahertz – we don’t hide that anymore,” David Dunmall, BAES’ Principal Technologist for Advanced Sensors and Effectors, told ADM. “It’s been developed in the past four years, it’s fully digital, and it’s probably the most modern and up-to-date EW sensor that’s available in its size, weight and power, which is around 100 watts.
“It’s really targeted at places where it’s difficult to deploy a conventional sensor; they’re big and bulky, whereas Mantlet is not only very light but also very small and it can be placed right next to the antennas, avoiding the losses in sensitivity normally associated with long RF cable runs.”
Mantlet means small UAVs now have the ability to deploy a highly-capable EW sensor that is also able to process both communications and radar signals, which is unique for the size of the system.
“The bigger UAVs like Triton and Reaper will be well aware that having a 2.5 kg box with a capability that stands with far bigger and heavier receivers equates to a longer endurance,” Dunmall said.
According to Dunmall, international interest has been aroused by the recognition that Mantlet is unique in the marketplace and can be easily integrated onto UAVs, helicopters, fast jets, transport aircraft, land vehicles, and maritime platforms.
“Introduction of Mantlet onto an Australian platform would provide a bespoke sovereign capability.”
Because Mantlet detects, identifies and categorises complex emitters and can record data for further analysis, this data could provide the foundation for a true sovereign electronic intelligence system. Users could take control of their own EW databases and threat libraries whilst providing the capability to create and tailor library files for sovereign needs.
Mantlets sold internationally would probably continue to be manufactured in SA.
“The boards are very complex and it would take time for anyone else to come up the production learning curve,” Dunmall said.
While the hardware base for the system has been frozen to prevent unnecessary requalification programs, the software is under constant review to take account of new enhancements and intelligence.