Â Next Generation airborne electronic attack plans revealed?
After years of debate about the future of tactical, airborne electronic attack for the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps, it appears the F-35 will become the next-generation, digital warfare aircraft for both services.
The platform most in demand in combat today is some kind of electronic attack (EA) aircraft, say military operational experts. So the pressure for more aircraft and advanced capabilities is already an operational reality. But the basic question of who does what for whom and to whom remains unanswered.
“Who will provide electronic fires to ground troops in contact?” mused Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Davis, program executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II. “That’s a core mission area for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. Delivering electronic fires will be at the heart of what F-35 does. [But] the decision about how this [and other EA aircraft will be used in the electronic fires arena has not been made.”Â (From 30 Nov 08 Aviation Week)
So let’s see if we have this straight — we’ve gone from crew requirements of 4 in the station wagon (aka EA-6B Prowler) to 2 in the Spark ‘vark and Super Bug (EF-111 and EA-18G Growler) to now 1?Â Automated systems are wonderful and all, but comes a point where even a wÃ¼nderplane like the F/A/E/-35 (hmm, FAE — that could be an unfortunate designation…) has limits.Â And no, it’s not another (former) NFO bemoaning loss of job opportunities.
Let’s start with simple system requirements such as where the various antennae will be hung or implanted for receivers and transmitters without busting up its VLO capabilities, especially in the forward quarter.Â Space, internal space that is, is already at a premium in something that is basically a flying drop tank carrying ordnance.Â Factor transmit antenna sizes and some interesting warts could appear on the Lightning’s svelte frame.Â Onboard power generation for power hungry transmitters will be another area of concern as all three previous EA platforms had twin engines with attendant power generation capabilities.Â To be sure, the nature of EA will likely change as the requirement for wide area stand-off jamming will change and could possibly continue to be shouldered by the legacy platform EA-18G and an EB-52 if that concept is resurrected.Â Those issues combined with the expected increased workload in the cockpit for a single seater make one almost wonder why penetration EA, which sounds like the mission for an EF-35, couldn’t be handled by smart(er) UCAV’s either autonomously or in some networked environment.Â Certainly with the timeframe being considered it would make sense to run a parallel development program such that if one or the other reaches a technological or other programmatic impasse, there is another program of record that provides redundancy and avoidsÂ leavingÂ gaps in a critical warfare area.
Article Series - Future of Air War
- Of Wargames, JSFs and Baby Seals (Part I)
- Is the F-35 the Next DDG-1000? – UPDATED
- Of Wargames, JSFs and Baby Seals (II)
- Of Wargames, JSF and Baby Seals (III)
- F-35 Slated for Common Electronic Attack Platform?
- Bulava Fails Latest Test – Lessons for US?
- E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – Death By A Thousand Cuts?
- Boeing Unveils the F-15SE ‘Silent Eagle’
- More Hawkeye Pics
- Stand-up of the Navy Air and Missile Defense Command (NAMDC)
- A JSF Program Re-Structuring on the Horizon?
- E-2D Update: Progress Report and Hawkeye BMD?
- Fifth Generation Fighters – The Competition Casts Its Ballot (UPDATED)
- Some More Observations on the Sukhoi PAK-FA
- ÐšÑ€Ð°ÑÐ½Ð°Ñ Ð·Ð²ÐµÐ·Ð´Ð° Ð²Ñ‚Ð¾Ñ€Ð½Ð¸Ðº: Red Star Tuesday — Overhauling Russia’s Air Force
- De-constructing Sukhoi’s PAK-FA
- Let’s Talk Integrated Air and Missile Defense
- Progress – However You Measure It
- Thought for the Day
- Close Air Support Aircraft Find Renewed Interest
- IAMD Acquisition Updates: E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and SM-3 Blk IIB
- Fighter Deal of the Century: Europe – 2, USA – 0
- Steeljaws Airborne Again?
- â™«â™¬ Oh When the Drone is Called Up Yonder… â™¬â™«