The entry-level ships for electronic warfare are the Griffin, Maulus and Crucifier frigates. These are cheap electronic warfare platforms and are a good way for new players to practice the role to see if they like it. Unfortunately, the low number of mid slots in a frigate means they don't make very effective electronic warfare ships in the field. Their tech 2 versions, the Electronic Attack Ships, offer more mid slots and significantly improved electronic warfare abilities but their high skill requirements mean new pilots won't be flying them any time soon.
The next tier of electronic warfare ship is the cruiser and new pilots should aim to get into one of these as soon as possible. Electronic warfare specialist cruisers are effective on the field even with relatively low skills and their power to cost ratio when fitted cheaply is extremely high. The Caldari Blackbird has a massive 6 mid slots and gets a large bonus to both the strength and range of ECM jammers. The Gallente Celestis has 5 mid slots and only gets 5% per level to the strength of sensor dampeners but retains some defensive and combat ability. The Amarr Arbitrator is an effective drone ship which makes good use of energy neutralisers and nosferatu. With four mid slots and a 5% bonus to tracking disruptor effectiveness, this ship is a close-range monster specialised in taking out turret-based ships.
The Caldari are the undisputed kings of electronic warfare and this privilege grants them the only electronic warfare battleships in the game. The Scorpion class battleship receives the same bonuses as the Blackbird but with an impressive 8 mid slots and a significant boost in combat ability. Unfortunately, due to its extremely effective electronic warfare ability and lack of significant defences, the Scorpion is a prime target in fleet engagements and tends not to last very long.
The absolute last word in electronic warfare is the Recon Ship. Separated into Combat Recon and Force Recon classes, these are tech 2 versions of each race's electronic warfare cruisers. The combat versions boast increased offensive capabilities while the Force Recon versions have the ability to fit a covert ops cloaking device that allows them to warp while cloaked. Both versions offer impressive electronic warfare bonuses and more mid slots than tech 1 cruisers. Caldari Recon Ships can be made to target-jam effectively at over 200km and with the Falcon's ability to lock a target immediately after uncloaking, it can turn the tide of a battle in your favour. The Gallente versions get a large bonus to warp disruptor range and sensor dampener strength on top of additional combat bonuses. The Amarr recons retain their drone and tracking disruptor abilities and also get massive bonuses to energy neutralisers and nosferatu.
Electronic warfare skills:
Skills are an important part of being an electronic warfare specialist and thankfully there aren't too many of them to consider. Training to be an effective specialist needn't involve months of skill training. Pilots wanting to specialise in ECM should train the "Signal Dispersion" skill up to at least level 3 at the earliest opportunity. This skill increases the strength of all your ECM jammers by 5% per level. When combined with additional jammer strength bonuses from specialist ships and signal distortion amplifiers, your chance of jamming the enemy can be over three to four times what it originally was.
Pilots specialising in remote sensor dampeners have two important skills to train. The "Sensor linking" skill will reduce the capacitor usage of your sensor dampeners by 5% per level and the "Signal Suppression" skill will increase their strength by 5% per level. Similarly, tracking disruptors also have two important skills to train. The "Turret Destabilization" skill provides a basic 5% per level to tracking disruptor strength and the "Weapon Disruption" skill reduces their capacitor usage by 5% per level. Because these modules don't use much capacitor anyway, training the "Weapon Disruption" skill beyond level 2 provides little benefit. A mere level 2 in the skill will give access to tech 2 tracking disruptors.
There are of course some skills that will benefit all electronic warfare enthusiasts. The most important one is the "Electronic Warfare" skill. Level 1 in this skill is the bare minimum required to use tech 1 or named electronic warfare equipment and will barely take a few minutes to train. Each additional level in the skill reduces the capacitor usage of electronic warfare modules by 5%, which is a big help to newer players using frigates or cruisers.
Since electronic warfare specialist ships are usually very weak, their primary defence will involve keeping out of the enemy's range. Skills which increase the range of your electronic warfare modules are absolutely essential to outranging your enemies. The skill "Long Distance Jamming" increases the optimal range of all electronic warfare modules by 10% per level. Combined with the range bonuses on some specialist ships, electronic warfare can be projected effectively at targets over 150km away.
When you go beyond your optimal range, the effectiveness of your electronic warfare modules starts decreasing. At a distance of your module's optimal range plus its falloff, the module's strength is 50% of normal and at a distance of its optimal plus two times its falloff, the module stops working entirely. Because of this, the skill "Frequency Modulation" which increases the falloff of your electronic warfare modules by 10% per level is very important for long range jamming. It is recommended to get both frequency modulation and long distance jamming to level 3 as soon as you can. This should take less than a day and will provide a significant boost in your effective range.
Standard Tech 1 ECM jammers, sensor dampeners and tracking disruptors are cheap to build and still effective but better versions can be found on the market. Named versions like the "Induced Multispectral ECM I" feature higher strength, lower CPU requirements and lower capacitor use. For pilots using frigates or cruisers, named modules are highly recommended for their lower CPU and capacitor usage. For those with high enough skills, Tech 2 versions are also an option. These have the same strength as the expensive best named versions and tend to be cheaper but also have significantly higher capacitor and CPU usage.
Another useful module for electronic warfare specialists is the sensor booster. Although this module takes up a valuable mid slot that could be used for another ECM jammer, tracking disruptor or sensor dampener, sensor boosters are often essential. Cruisers trying to stay over 100km from their target will need at least one sensor booster fitted with a long range targeting script installed or they won't be able to lock their target at that distance. Using a scan resolution script instead will help you acquire targets as quickly as possible when the battle begins.
Demonstrating Caldari electronic superiority, ECM specialists are granted one final module that only works with ECM jammers. The essential "Signal Distortion Amplifier" module fits in your ship's low power slots and increases ECM jammer's strength by as much as 20%. You can use multiple amplifiers on the same ship but due to a stacking penalty, fitting more than three of them is a waste of low slots.
Knowing which skills to train and which ship to choose are only part of what makes a great electronic warfare specialist. In the final part of this guide, I'll take an in-depth look at what to do on the battlefield. Covering topics from survival techniques to picking good targets, part 3 completes this exhaustive guide on electronic warfare.