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The U.S. Air Force's electronic warfare integrated reprogramming (EWIR) enterprise examines intelligence on adversary threats that emit in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) (in particular, radars and jammers) and configures electronic warfare software and hardware to enable aircraft or other resources to react to and/or respond to adverse changes in the EMS environment. With the growing advancements in U.S. adversaries' electronic warfare assets that enable complex and diverse EMS capabilities, identifying, tracking, and responding to these threats requires much faster updates than the existing EWIR enterprise was designed for. The research team conducted four interrelated technology case studies that together comprise the fundamental elements necessary for creating a near-real-time, autonomous, inflight software reprogramming capability and, more specifically, artificial intelligence–enabled cognitive electronic warfare capabilities—the use of machine learning algorithms that enable platforms to learn, reprogram, adapt, and effectively counter threats in flight. The research team also highlighted important continuing roles for the existing EWIR enterprise even as the U.S. Air Force moves toward a cognitive future.

This executive summary encapsulates the findings in Outsmarting Agile Adversaries in the Electromagnetic Spectrum (RR-A981-1) 2023.

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The research reported here was commissioned by the Plans, Programs and Requirements Directorate, Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC A5/8/9) and conducted within the Force Modernization and Employment Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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