Finding the ‘why’ in Electronic Warfare Training

I have a theory – most people are afraid of what they cannot see; the ‘invisible’…

My name is Luke. I am a former RAF loadmaster and an Inzpire aerospace training specialist; primarily within the Electronic Warfare (EW) domain. I love cars, heavy metal, comic conventions and setting fire to things in my garage – true story. Unconventional elements in an unconventional blog; we like to do things a bit differently here at Inzpire. Is this a recipe for disaster? Is this defiance? Or is this the beginning of something original? Let us start at the beginning.

Welding in my garage! Welding is part of our UV radiation lectures; the blueish UV you can see in the photo is very important in an EW context.

The Electro-Magnetic environment is light. It is both what we see and what we cannot see with the naked eye. It describes one of the fundamental forces of the universe and plays a part in every aspect of our daily lives; yet in a defence context it is rarely understood. Traditionally, this is because one is either told ‘it just does’ or the mathematics used to explain the theory is beyond normal comprehension. However, if one wishes to exploit this environment through EW, one needs to understand the ‘how’ and more importantly the ‘why’. Throughout my career in the service I have sat in countless EW lectures, some of which were very good, but almost all lacked down-to-earth context; there was no ‘why’, there was a little ‘how’, and there was a lot of ‘it just does’.

Enter the Inzpire EW training team…

As part of the Inzpire training academy, myself and my ex-military colleagues within Inzpire’s integrated sensors and systems team were asked if we could design EW courses for UK and international customers. The important point here is we were ‘asked if we could’ rather than ‘told to’. I therefore participated voluntarily in the academy because I wanted to do it; I believe this has had serious positive implications to the quality of the output. As a training team we could have just done the usual PowerPoint-fest that would have done the job, but we wanted deliver more. We wanted to show the ‘why’ that had been lacking from courses I had previous experience of. We wanted to educate rather than just train and, above all, we wanted to make our courses exciting!

The resulting output is a blend of music; lights; practical demonstrations, maths for all levels and engaging yet easy-to-understand examples to help our students remember the basic principles. The use of media other than PowerPoint also aides the education of students whose first language is not English; an unexpected but very welcome side effect. This has come in particularly handy when delivering to students from all across Europe as part of our support to the European Defence Agency.

In order to help our students master their understanding of all of the crucial EW topics we use the unconventional; this is in stark defiance to the academic norms, and it results in something truly original.

All of our training courses are tailor-made for the customer by ex-military specialists who have a fundamental passion for their subject matter. We understand that the EW domain for an ab-initio student may be daunting because we have been there as students too. We understand that the road to mastery of EW knowledge is long, but through the academy we can steadily progress an EW student via real-world examples to a higher level of understanding than through traditional teaching methods, and we can even educate advanced students in postgraduate-level EW concepts.

Our enthusiasm for training has resulted in our genuine ability to answer the EW question of ‘why?’ which EW experts will tell you is a tough nut to crack. For example, to learn how a missile is guided most instructors will explain the system in question through a schematic, and try to make an ordinary diagram do something extraordinary, leaving the audience with a sense of how the system works, but crucially not why it is done this way. As a result students taught that will be able to repeat numbers and figures, but they won’t understand ‘why’. Our instructors take a different approach and start with why, and are well-known for taking simple electronics and models, building a system from first principle in front of the students, and literally flying it around in some cases to demonstrate the ‘why’. To quote ‘The Prestige’, a truly marvellous film:

What’s in there?
Angier’s machine.
You built this, Mr. Cutter?
Oh, no, sir. This wasn’t built by a magician. This was built by a wizard.
A man who can actually do what magicians pretend to do.

I’m sure beneath its bells and whistles it’s got a simple and disappointing trick.
The most disappointing of all, sir.
It has no trick.
It’s real.

It is the visible and practical elements to our instructing that bring the subject to life and answer the ‘why’. Sometimes I am asked if I seriously enjoy teaching EW. Enjoy it, I question? No – I love it! Where else can I play rock music, eat battenburg cake, fry Lego, talk about physics and build rapport with students whilst getting paid? Don’t just take my word for it, ask our customers!

Do not be afraid of what you cannot see, because everything is visible with the right eyes, and can be exploited. 

If you want to find out more about how frying Lego and eating battenberg cake are perfect ways to demonstrate EW concepts, contact us on trainingacademy@inzpire.com