Unfortunately, the need to have this constant visibility is expensive, and it is large. The deployability of visibility tools, such as radar, is consistently reliant on big platforms that can physically deploy and protect themselves. Whether in a commercial civilian setting or in a military one, this is a challenge.

ESROE has taken the pre-existing premise of these platforms, and asked the question: why don’t we do it this way instead?

The background

Electronic Warfare (EW) is a critical part of every battlefield – no matter where you are on the globe. The advantage that a proper C4ISR capability gives a force isn’t one that can be underestimated.

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However, current EW solutions are often limited. They are limited by not only cost, but also by something altogether simpler – sheer scale and size. Look on the top of any modern ship and you’ll see a spinning ball only deployable by crane. Look on top of a C4ISR module on wheels and you’ll have a similar problem. Getting these capabilities to the battlefield is often dangerous, and currently the only viable method of command and control due to availability and procurement. But the risk of material damage is huge.

The same can be said for the civilian world – with detection and communications being the keystones to a safe and regulation-compliant workplace such as a port or a logistics centre, there is a reliance on ships, lorries, and trains to all have their correct transponders available and functioning. This places inordinate trust in the humans operating them – and as we all know, to err is human.


The approach

ESROE looked at the existing challenges within the EW world. They were size and expense. There was a unique opportunity that hadn’t been explored fully: creating something radically different, and the complete opposite to what was currently on offer. ESROE decided to flip large and expensive on its head, and create something small and less expensive.

The approach itself was twofold. Firstly, if an organisation already had a platform that they had invested in, but required something that was perhaps a little less vendor locked in, or they had created the tool themselves, but not the system to go along with it just yet – ESROE has software solutions that not only allow the use of the hardware, but also create a library of signatures that is completely sharable between users. This means adaptability to all types of hardware, but with continuous upgrading, not unlike patching an app or getting a software update for your phone. It’s a continuous virtuous cycle that THORONDIR and GLAMDRING can give to anyone in the military or civilian world where situational awareness and visibility are key.

Secondly, hardware. Existing EW hardware is large. It fits in the nose of planes, it fits on top of planes (Sentinels,AWACS), it sits on top of ships, it sits on trucks. People cannot, it goes without saying, carry these deep into the field of battle or mount them upon small or unmanned platforms. The modern soldier already carries around 50kg of kit with them on Patrol Order. Adding an extra capability that doesn’t slow a group of highly mobile infantry down too much is a huge advantage – better yet if it can be networkable, and be deployed without specialist training. The need for a passive tool that doesn’t emit its own radar signature for detection is also critical – no one wants their own squad to be seen asa little blip on an unfriendly map. MicroESM is light, capable, and aids in directing a force far more pointedly through triangulation and quick deployment.

The benefits

The relevance to the civilian and military world is huge. For those on the ground, give three or more MicroESM units to a platoon and you have three bearings you can use to triangulate targets of interest with a tiny expense of physical effort. MicroESM has no radar signal to emit itself, so it is undetectable – not only protecting the positions it is deployed to, but those who use it. MicroESM is giving EW an opportunity to be entirely pervasive across the battlefield, with cost no longer being a factor.

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Equally, MicroESM can be used by areas such as maritime port authorities to detect ships that have turned off their navigation radar either by human error or to avoid potential fees. Couple this with safety being of utmost importance, and detection and knowledge of where ships are within ports being crucial – and you have a safety tool to preserve life and materials, as much as a tool for detection and control.

Thorondir enables those with already significant investments in materials to be able to chop and change their software.Adaptability is a key marker in any type of success in business, and more so within a kinetic environment such as a conflict zone that changes every hour, if not every minute. The availability of a library of signatures can let users keep known-friendly signatures filtered out, so any blip will automatically need investigation – or preparation.

The future

The market is worldwide, the targets are immense in number. ESROE wants to be a household name in the EW community, across the spectrum – from innovative sensor solutions to capability adding software.

The challenges, not unlike any new area where a market must be created, is that of mindset. There simply isn’t a ready market, so the process of creating one can be slow, but hugely exciting, and a significant door to be opened.

The process

Not unlike many inventors and business creators, the question of funding and building the business was a difficult one for ESROE in the initial stages.

However, working with Ploughshare and the Inventor’s Playbook, ESROE was able to capitalise on the business, commercial, and technical expertise within Ploughshare to maximise the chances of success in the early stages. This has since built ESROE to a company where the aims of growth are lofty – 100% year on year – but have been achieved, and in some years, exceeded.

All this, while creating a market that didn’t previously exist.

The people

Founder and CEO, Joe Roe, worked for Dstl for 25 years in the EW space “inventing stuff”, and has seen multiple successes in his technologies being pulled to use on the frontline. The freedom of the commercial sector called out to him, and so setting up a company through Ploughshare was the next logical step for him to achieve what he wanted todo: create a tool and capability that addressed problems of both size and expense.

Jon created ESROE in partnership with Tom Beese on the commercial side, and has since grown the company to be a family affair with his wife, Ann Roe, as Technical Manager, and more recently his son, Toby Roe, coming on board after spending time in the Defence industry.

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