New version of JCREW will use same software for vehicles and ground fighters

Radio-controlled IEDs have allowed hostile forces to extend their reach, but also render the IEDs vulnerable to electronic counter-measures, such as the Joint Counter Radio-Controlled IED Electronic Warfare (JCREW) system. Now for the first time, the JCREW system is being enhanced so that the same architecture can be implemented for dismounted, mobile, and fixed operations.

The purpose of the “JCREW system [is] to protect the warfighter on patrol, in vehicles, or in forward operating bases from advanced radio-controlled improvised explosive devices,” said Capt. Aaron Peters,  the Program Manager for Expeditionary Missions when the program was first being tested.

The new Increment One Build One JCREW system will be the first to utilize an open architecture shared across all platforms. The new design increases the common components between the dismounted, mobile, and fixed JCREW capabilities to reduce life cycle costs and extend its protective capacity.

The JCREW device emits radio frequency signals that disrupt the signal connection between an IED and its radio controller. The original system had three different versions. One that attached to a backpack for dismounted soldiers, one that attached to vehicles, such as the Humvee, and one that could be installed in buildings or controlled entry points. According to Navy statements, the effect is similar to that of an EW protective shield around the warrior, vehicle, or compound.

“If you look at the network behind IEDs as a cone, at the apex of that cone is the IED. Then if you work out in concentric rings, you see that there has to be someone that emplaces that IED,” explained Rear Adm. Brian J. Brakke in 2015. “We are all recognizing that if you go after the network…you can prevent the IED,” added Col. Dick Larry (Ret.), Senior Technical Advisor to G-38.

With open architecture that spans all three variations of the JCREW system, software upgrades will be easier to implement and users will have an easier time adjusting between each medium. The protective shield of electrical frequency brought by the JCREW will provide increased protection from remotely operated IEDs to warfighters around the globe, said the DOD announcement.

“There are three lines of effort: Attack the Network, Defeat the Device, and Train the Force,” said Col. Larry (Ret.). “As we look into the future, the whole idea of ‘attack the network’ is truly where we are all going,” he explained. This means more electronic warfare devices, such as the JCREW, to jam signal connections and protect warfighters.

The new, cross-platform JCREW system is being developed by Northrop Grumman through a $57, 727,948 million contract with the Navy. The announcement does not provide an estimated end date for the project, however it does include options that could increase the total funding amount to more than $500 million.