Army expects to mature electromagnetic spectrum decoy and obfuscation systems in FY ’25

The Army hopes to begin accelerating the maturation of key tools for deceiving the enemy in the electromagnetic spectrum to protect its forces.
U.S. Army soldiers assigned to "Wild Bill" Platoon, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment conduct electronic warfare training during Combined Resolve XV, Feb. 23, 2021 at the Hohenfels Training Area. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Julian Padua)

The Army will begin advancing decoy and obfuscation technologies masking forces’ electromagnetic spectrum footprint in the coming fiscal year, according to a top officer.

“We need decoy systems such that if … the enemy is looking at us through the electromagnetic spectrum, they can’t pinpoint us. They might be able to see us, but they can’t understand us … We need to be able to raise the noise floor of the signal to noise ratio, such that again, they might be able to see that we are in a generalized location, but the enemy won’t be able to pinpoint or target our capabilities,” Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence, said Friday during a virtual event hosted by Defense One. “In FY ’25, we believe that we’re seeing the very rapid maturation of these obfuscation and decoy capabilities. We will look at rapidly advancing that technology.”

One of the biggest lessons from Russia’s incursions into Ukraine — stemming from 2014 to its current invasion — is how units can be located and targeted with kinetic munitions solely based on their emissions within the electromagnetic spectrum.

In addition to efforts for units to reduce their overall signature, the Army is pursing technologies that will allow them to deceive the enemy and even hide in plain sight.


Top Army leadership has been harping on the notion that in the future, forces will be under constant observation with nowhere to hide — unlike past conflicts. This is due to the technologies possessed by sophisticated actors to track forces through airborne or satellite systems or digital means of detecting forces based on emissions.

In order for troops to be able to employ decoys, obfuscation techniques or even jamming, they must first understand what they look like within the spectrum.

One program the Army is making investments toward is called the Spectrum Situational Awareness System, or S2AS. It is envisioned to be a commercial off-the-shelf solution that will provide sensing and visualization of what units look like in the spectrum and allow commanders to be able to sense and report in real-time their command post signature, sources of electromagnetic interference — either from coalition partners or the enemy — and what threat emissions look like.

Officials noted it will be critical to allowing units to understand their own electronic footprint.  

A new start in fiscal 2025, the Army requested $9.3 million in research-and-development funds for integration, testing, and technical and program management support of the program. The documents project an anticipated contract award in the third quarter of 2025, with first unit integrated and fielding to the Army beginning in the second quarter of 2026.


Stanton noted there are promising technologies the Army is experimenting with at Project Convergence, which took place from early February to mid-March, in the way of decoys and obfuscation.

He did not mention any specific systems by name.

One system that was tested at Project Convergence was called MAGPIE, which can replicate Army assets — such as company to division level radio frequency signatures — to confuse and deceive enemy signal collection.

At Camp Pendelton, California, during the first phase of Project Convergence, the system was explained to DefenseScoop as being able to collect the signals and signature profile of a command post — or anything that emits — and copy it to rebroadcast as a decoy. A couple of the systems can be deployed to mimic a command post so the enemy doesn’t know exactly where the command post is or which one is the real command post.

The Army has also articulated its intention for a prototyping initiative dubbed the Modular Electromagnetic Spectrum System (MEMSS). This capability stemmed out of a prior science-and-technology effort called Modular Electromagnetic Spectrum Deception Suite (MEDS) and will be a new start in fiscal 2026, Army officials have said.


The effort is related to command post survivability and could employ techniques to confuse and deceive adversaries.

“It goes back to understanding how you look and are there ways to lower or raise noise levels to better hide in plain sight,” Brig. Gen. Wayne “Ed” Barker, program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors, told DefenseScoop in a December interview.

Officials explained that R&D for the effort is ongoing and there could be a range of options for what such a system could look like — from low-dollar disposable to an emulator to make it look like certain radio signals are emitting from a location to digitally replicate a command post. It could also be as small as a handheld device.

The program office is still making small investments to “hit the ground running in ’26,” Barker said. The funding lines are still a bit amorphous and officials believe these concepts could be achievable in the near term.

“It goes back to getting that kind of seed corn and being able to incubate ahead of that ’26 time frame for MEMSS,” Barker said.

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