Airborne signals intelligence

Striving for information superiority

Knowledge of the enemy's deployment and movements is a key prerequisite for the success of military missions. Signals intelligence plays a special role in this because the development of technology has greatly expanded the possibilities for gathering information. These have the potential to provide the user with something that commanders at all levels strive for: Information superiority through actionable intelligence. We take a closer look what these possibilities are and how they can be utilised.

What exactly is "signals intelligence"?

Signals intelligence (SIGINT) is the collection and analysis of electromagnetic signals, mainly from military communication systems and radar systems.

SIGINT combines the findings from communications intelligence (COMINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT) to form a situation picture.

Why is SIGINT important?

SIGINT provides information about enemy units and their command structure. The reconnaissance data allows precise conclusions to be drawn about their number, position and characteristics. This allows threats to be recognised at an early stage and options for action to be derived or other reconnaissance data to be verified.

“High-performance airborne SIGINT systems enable armed forces to recognise threats faster and more reliably – regardless of the weather or time of day.”

Jürgen Halder
Vice President SIGINT at HENSOLDT

This allows them to strategically plan their own missions and carry them out in a targeted manner. Successful national defence is only possible with the appropriate modern SIGINT capabilities.

HENSOLDT´s solution – Kalaetron Integral

HENSOLDT has developed a comprehensive platform-independent SIGINT solution based on Kalaetron Integral. But what is so special about it?

Kalaetron Integral is unique in terms of accuracy, range and bandwidth. These characteristics result from a fully digitalised system that receives, evaluates and fuses communication and radar signals with equal precision, thus creating the so-called Electronic Order of Battle across the entire range of the electronic spectrum in near real time.

Its high precision and automated evaluation processes enable early classification and identification as well as geolocalisation of a wide variety of enemy units and weapon systems, even in a dense "jungle" of electromagnetic signals. Another enormous advantage is the range of several hundred kilometres, which allows Kalaetron Integral to comprehensively cover a very large area and always be deployed at a great distance from potential threats.

Ready for the market

We have tested all elements of Kalaetron Integral on various platforms close to deployment. The entire system is currently being integrated into three business jets in the PEGASUS project for the German Air Force and will be ready for use from 2027. This also includes stationary and deployable ground stations.

The system is scalable, which means that we also offer other versions that can be integrated into a pod, for example, which can be used on different platforms. We offer the latest and most powerful SIGINT technology available on the market.

Role of Artificial Intelligence 

HENSOLDT uses a wide range of AI techniques to utilise the possibilities offered by the high-performance hardware in a profitable way. This concerns both the automated evaluation of the enormous amount of data generated by the sensors, which cannot be analysed manually in a timely manner with the limited resources available, as well as dedicated algorithms to improve evaluation results.

“The aim is to provide real-time, well-founded information to determine options for action for military and political leadership.”

Jürgen Halder
Vide President SIGINT

In addition, AI is also an important component for correlating the collected data with findings from other sources – such as OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) or OPTINT (Optical Intelligence) – to enrich the situation picture. It is important that this information is distributed in a timely and level-appropriate manner to the respective user so that their missions can be carried out in a targeted manner with the best possible protection of their own forces. Information protects lives. This is what we mean by "actionable intelligence".

Basically, any armed force can use HENSOLDT´s system. We supply a turnkey system, but also provide support with training, integration into existing structures or data analysis and, of course, with a customer support portfolio customised to the needs of the respective customer.

As already mentioned above, the SIGINT system unfolds its full effect when the information obtained arrives where it is needed, in the way it is needed, in the required time. Here, too, we support our customers.

Trends for the further SIGINT development

Three major drivers are expected to drive the rapid development of SIGINT capabilities:

1. Rapid technological advances in the fields of microelectronics, materials science and software development/AI.

2. Experience from recent conflicts is reflected in the realisation that mastery of the electromagnetic spectrum - and thus of course its intelligence - is indispensable in the event of conflict. This is combined with the increasing digitalisation and networking of armed forces.

3. The increasing tensions in international politics. All three factors have led to a growing need for modern, electronic reconnaissance.

From a purely technical perspective, customer requirements for future SIGINT systems are centred on five points: Network capability, agility, multifunctionality, miniaturisation combined with cost reduction, and the development of adaptive or cognitive systems.

The fully digital design and scalability of Kalaetron Integral enables us to offer customers a high-performance solution in all five areas, tailored to their individual needs and operating conditions.