Electronic Warfare Systems

We support the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF’s) operational capability and readiness.

We do this by:

  • developing tools and techniques that enable warfighters to effectively and efficiently locate, identify and track – ships, aircraft, vehicles, and people
  • providing analysis and advice to inform acquisition decision making
  • delivering countermeasures solutions to protect platforms (ships, aircraft, vehicles) and people from all manner of weapons systems – from missiles though to home-made bombs.

Modern military sensor and weapon systems are complex. The development of sensing and countermeasures solutions often involves computer modelling and simulation. The amount of automaton and ease-of-use are just two of many factors we consider when advising the NZDF on new sensor systems.

Our current main research areas are:

These areas are explained below.

You may also like to view publications relating to our sensor systems research.

Current publications

Electronic support systems

Electronic support systems receive wireless signals (eg from radios or radars), and then try to determine the type and location of the transmitter. This is a very important part of any defence programme.

These systems:

  • indicate the presence of opposing forces
  • are often detected at long ranges
  • are usually covert.

Our research for electronic support has three aspects:

  1. detecting and locating electronic systems
  2. providing electronic protection so electronic systems cannot be detected
  3. electronic attacks to prevent the use of radio systems harming New Zealand forces.

Developing technology to detect and then block radio communication is one example of our electronic support research. This electronic support is critical to the Army, as they operate in areas where hostile forces use radio transmissions to trigger land mines and improvised bombs. Determining the location of transmitters is also important for many non-military missions, such as for search and rescue.

Operational analysis

Operational analysis involves taking a complete view of military systems and their contexts of operation, to deliver evidence-based support to decision-making.

Our operational analysis section helps to support decision-making, for example, with strategic planning, acquisition and operations.

We also provide an important link between the military and science – by helping to coordinate science and technology activities and supporting decision-making at Defence Headquarters.

Autonomous systems

Autonomous systems operate with minimal human interaction. The focus of our research is in understanding autonomous technologies and developing counter measures to them.

Examples of our work in this area include:

  • developing systems to counter surveillance by unmanned aircraft systems. Most countries use unmanned aircraft systems for surveillance and reconnaissance. Blocking this type of surveillance is vital in stopping hostile forces receiving real-time information
  • developing methods and algorithms to provide autonomous systems with enhanced capability – such as increased endurance, payload control and autonomous guidance.

Platform protection against modern above-water weapons systems

Aircraft and helicopters operating in hostile areas face a variety of potential threats. These include heat-seeking missiles, gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades. We research, develop and exploit a variety of technologies to detect and neutralise these threats.

Other examples of our work in this area include:

  • developing missile warning sensors to detect incoming missiles and trigger automated countermeasures responses. Countermeasures may include decoys to distract an incoming missile, or laser jammers to disrupt a missile’s guidance system
  • developing specific operational countermeasures and tactics to increase the survivability of NZDF aircraft
  • investigating design and materials issues, that may impact the survivability of an aircraft.

Optics laboratory

Many modern military systems use optical technologies for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, weapon guidance and a variety of other applications.

Having a robust understanding of the underlying science is crucial to effectively supporting NZDF operations.

Our optics laboratory is a world-class facility. Our advice supports current and future defence operations, also the development of new military capabilities and equipment acquisition.

We can design and build complex optical instrumentation and laser-based systems.

We are equipped for research and testing at wavelengths that include:

  • visible light
  • near-infrared
  • mid-infrared
  • thermal and ultraviolet radiation.