Broadband Recording and Analysis of ELINT Signals

Jens Keute, Elettronica GmbH

"The use of multiple new generation NI FlexRIO modules in combination with NI broadband high-performance digitizers and LabVIEW and LabVIEW FPGA as the programming tools, was an excellent choice for the efficient development of our product."

- Jens Keute, Elettronica GmbH

The Challenge:

Developing a cost-efficient, compact device to continuously record signals provided by a system for electronic reconnaissance with 80 MHz bandwidth at an intermediate frequency (IF) of 160 MHz as well as the ability to evaluate incoming pulse information in real time at pulse repetition rates as low as 300 ns.

The Solution:

Using multiple new generation NI FlexRIO modules in combination with NI broadband high-performance digitizers and a modified NI 8260 PXI Express in-chassis data streaming module to create the COMINT and ELINT Signal Analyzer and Recorder (CESAR 80), a compact device to record and evaluate ELectronic signal INTelligence (ELINT) signals.

The need for more flexibility means today’s solutions have to overcome the traditional gap between electronic support measures (ESM) and ELINT systems. ESM systems have to deliver fast results for the tactical situation report whereas the classical ELINT system includes extensive evaluation and recording options. Results of the technical evaluations of the data collected with the ELINT system go into a database for use in systems that emphasize quickly identifying the collected emitter, such as radar warning receivers (RWR) or ESM systems. However, current electronic reconnaissance systems have to be tactical ELINT systems. These systems have to be able to quickly identify an emitter and include extensive digital recording options to permit a transmission of yet unknown emissions of the subsequent, more detailed analysis.


The platform-independent CESAR 80 represents the core component for such systems because its modular, commercial off-the-shelf design offers flexible hardware configuration adjustments. The unique combination of fast and precise analysis functionality, IF streaming with 80 MHz bandwidth and a compact structure (19 in., 4 HE) make the CESAR 80 a flexible device that is optimized for use in mobile systems.


Field of Application

We integrated the device into a tactical ELINT system and plan to integrate it into additional ELINT systems in the future. We are also planning a stand-alone version. CESAR 80 offers users the option to digitally record signals with a range of 80 MHz and a resolution of 14 bits for a subsequent intrapulse analysis. The device also provides fast interpulse analysis of ELINT signals, the results of which make an immediate contribution to the electromagnetic situation picture.



We designed the CESAR 80 with a receiver channel for the IF of 160 MHz, a receiver channel for the digitization of video signals, and redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID) systems to store the data. We combined multiple NI FlexRIO modules with digitizers and a high-speed digital adapter module to quickly process the data. The programmers used NI LabVIEW system design software and the LabVIEW FPGA Module.



The CESAR 80 is easily integrated into complex systems for electronic reconnaissance via its Gigabit LAN port. This port acts as the control station for all of the component control and operation.


Pulse Analysis

The video receiver signal is digitized and the data is processed in an FPGA. For every detected pulse, the system creates a pulse descriptor word (PDW) that contains the identified pulse parameter. The interpulse analysis is based on the processing of the previously created PDWs. The analysis software supports the automated extraction of emitters from the previously saved PDWs as well as an online analysis of incoming pulses. The operator can stop the automatic analysis at any time.


Digital Recording

The device’s recording function can broadband stream the IF signal for a more detailed intrapulse analysis. The incoming IF is digitized and streamed onto the RAID system. In addition to continuous streaming, the device offers the option of “intelligent” event-driven streaming.


The PDWs as well as the streamed IF signal are recorded using a GPS timestamp. Users can view the recorded files using the offline analysis tool (OAT). Different scalable views and spectrum displays with higher resolution provide a detailed signal analysis. Users could export the saved PDWs and the digital recording in other analysis environments for further research.



We are working on expanding to a recording bandwidth of 600 MHz. This range option will then be available in one device with the already implemented narrowband recording (80 MHz). Furthermore, we plan to increase the memory depth for pulse analysis and digital recording. This solution will provide even more flexible use and is a valuable system component to fulfill the ever growing requirements for electronic reconnaissance systems.


Author Information:

Jens Keute
Elettronica GmbH
Am Hambuch 10
Meckenheim 53340
Tel: +49 2225 8806 58
Fax: +49 2225 8806 47