“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Or a giant monster.

Project Kaiju is a new program by the Air Force to automate some functions of electronic warfare and defense. As aircraft and their avionics become more sophisticated, so do the defenses against them. Kaiju, a Japanese word meaning “strange beast,” and also signifying a popular genre of films and series, is the Air Force’s way of unleashing Godzilla against unsuspecting enemy air defenses.


Project Kaiju and Electronic Warfare

Most military aircraft have some form of electronic counter-measures system. These may include frequency jamming systems, chaff and flare pods, or even stealth coatings that can make an F-22 look like a marble on the radar. In basic terms, ECM systems work by taking an electromagnetic signal and manipulating it in some way. The signal may be from ground radar setups, enemy aircraft systems, or satellite guidance and targeting systems. Electronic countermeasure systems are operated by aircrew members to protect friendly forces, attack enemy electronics, or gather and analyze intelligence.

Project Kaiju is the Air Force’s attempt at automating at least some of these functions. Because of emerging technologies, the art of electronic countermeasures has grown more involved. There are so many new and novel technologies in play that a human can become overwhelmed in trying to track them and respond to them. Kaiju aims to employ artificial intelligence and machine learning “to […] maintain a competitive advantage” over peer or near-peer adversaries. Besides the program’s name, the Air Force has dubbed many aspects of the program as fictional Japanese monsters.

On September 9, the Air Force released a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) outlining the goals of Program Kaiju. A BAA is the first step in new research and development projects, similar to a request for proposal. Rather than identifying a need then determining the requirements for that need, sometimes a problem is identified instead. The government announces it has a particular problem, outlines the parameters, then requests contractors to come up with viable solutions.


Kaiju Monsters

Scene from Mothra. (Public Domain)

The BAA released by Air Force Research Laboratories reads like Japanese fan-fic, listing nine mythical monsters, many ironically associated with nuclear warfare: