[UPDATE: Click on this video for an excellent history of the USA's development of electronic warfare from World War II through the Cold War.]
Much aboutthe requirements and funding for electronic warfare programmes remainsclassified, making it difficult for the military — and, not to mention, bloggers — to describe whether true gaps exist.
But thereseems to be a consensus view in military, industry and public policy circles that US combataircraft will become vulnerable in critical ways to developments in integrated air defense systems, such as the Russian S-300.
“There aresome gaps we’re headed for,” Joe Pitts, a Pennsylvanian congressman and former B-52 electronic warfare officer, told me and other reporters yesterday in typically cryptic fashion. “We need to address that.”
Two majorprogrammes have already been launched to bridge the gap. The US Navy hasstarted to develop the next-generation jammer (NGJ) to replace the analogALQ-99 pod. The US Air Force has started developing the core component jammer(CCJ), a replacement for the standoff jammer system (SOJS) cancelled in 2006.
But Pitts and other interested lawmakers, such as Washington’s Rick Larsen, seem very concerned that neither the navy, the air force, nor the Pentagon is serious about fully developing either technology.
It doesn’t help that both programs are poster kids for what some fairly influential Pentagon officials might call “next war-itis” technologies. Neither of these systems will be of much use countering cell-phone wielding insurgents, but they could come in handy if you need to bomb, say, downtown Tehran after 2015.
In an intriguing role reversal, the two
The primegoal of this so-called “electronic warfare working group” is to persuade thePentagon to create internal structures that will lead to a long-term investmentstrategy.
That meanscreating a senior-level post to oversee joint requirements for electronicwarfare, flag officer-level champions in each service and a dedicated careertrack at all ranks.
“That in myopinion is sorely lacking,” Pitts said.
Larsenadded that is seeking to get the group’s objectives included in an “exit memo”that the current Pentagon leadership prepares for the next administration thattakes office in January.
“We willtry to get the next administration to build on this,” Larsen said.