Navy researchers have begun an initiative to develop a next-generation joint counter radio-controlled improvised explosive device electronic warfare (JCREW) 3.3 system to detect and jam enemy explosives and roadside bombs.

The JCREW 3.3 science and technology (S&T) programme is designed to enhance the existing JCREW IED detection and electronic warfare system hardware, software, techniques and technologies currently used by US forces.

Scientists will firstly look to improve the JCREW antennas, which are used by vehicles and foot soldiers to both utilise maximum bandwidth and minimise reflected transmitted energy.

The JCREW software-defined antennas are required to be able to transmit and receive simultaneously, handle hundreds of watts of power for vehicle applications and tens of Watts for foot soldier applications. In addition, the antennas must provide communications and electronic warfare capabilities, direction finding and geolocation of radio frequency emission sources.

The ONR scientists are also interested in developing direct digital synthesisers, arbitrary waveform generators, and digital radio frequency memory technologies.

Research will also include software-defined radio approaches that support electronic warfare and communications waveforms from a common waveform generator and multisensor fusion capability to blend JCREW systems with infrared and other electro-optical sensors.

Additional research aspects include advanced packaging and cooling techniques, scalable open architectures, electronics and photonics techniques and any other technologies that would enhance existing JCREW systems.

The contract is worth a potential $12.5m and will be carried out by the the successful bidder in 2010 and 2011.

Northrop Grumman Information Systems in San Diego is the prime contractor for the current US Navy JCREW programme.