Six years after the airborne electronic attack system of systems (AEA SOS) concept really got started — and nearly three years after most of that grandiose strategy fell apart — electronic warfare (EW) is back on the drawing boards.
The first draft of a new investment strategy based on a capabilities-based assessment now in progress is due on 1 April. (This information came out last Friday at a media roundtable with the DOD’s EW leadership hosted by the Association of Old Crows.)
AEA is a touchy subject with the US Air Force. This is not least because the enduring need to jam or destroy enemy air defense systems seems to conflict with the huge investment in low observable technology over the past two decades.
So when the two biggest pieces of the AEA SOS — the standoff B-52 core component jammer (CCJ) and the stand-in joint unmanned combat air system — both got axed from the budget in 2006, few were surprised.
Neither technology is expected to make a comeback now even though the USAF loses its USN-supplied escort jamming force of EA-6Bs after 2012.
“They havedecided to — I don’t want to say accept risk because that’s a bad way to putit — they’ve just taken a look at all their needs,” Greg Torba, deputy chief of USAF EW and cyber requirements, told us.
“I think where theair force chose to go down the road of LO — low observable – technology, and whatwe can do with that against the cost of the CCJ,” Torba added.
Strangely, the apparent lack of support for a CCJ revival didn’t seem to bother anyone in the room. Instead, the group is “very pleased with the discussion so far” on the fiscal 2010 budget request that will be unveiled in February, said James “Raleigh” Durham, director of joint advanced concepts for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Click on the link below to read my transcript from the media roundtable.
Associationof Old Crows (AOC) Journalist Series Roundtable
CAPT BrianHinkley (USN), Head of the Electronic Warfare/Spectrum Dominance Division, NavyNetwork Warfare Command
Mr. GregTorba, Deputy Chief of USAF EW and Cyber Requirements
LCDR JDMcCreary (USN), Joint Electronic
Jay Kistler (OSDAT&L)
Brig. Gen.Andy Dichter (USAF, ret.), former Deputy Director for Joint Integration,Directorate of Operational Capability Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff forAir and Space Operations
We’ve hadsome — I think you’ve all seen several of our discussions about our ElectronicWarfare Joint Analysis Team that we’ve had going for the past close to a year.
It wasformed in response to a request from US PACOM — I might add persistent request– that we actually have a single — I hate to use the word bellybutton becausethere’s a better term — scratch the term bellybutton if you would please — a singlepoint of contact for the many electronic warfare issues that they were raising.
And so thepoint was that the issues ranged a full gamut of capabilities and no one serviceor DOD entity really was responsible for all of them. And so the point was thereneeded to be someone to coordinate activities.
The discussionabout digital RF memory is one that we have all the time. It’s a — I don’tknow if it should be a moot discussion — but it’s certainly has been a part ofthe electronic warfare toolkit, and always has been. And how you’re able tomanage all of the aspects, everywhere from the requirements side, to acquisitionto testing to joint testing and so forth, and who was pulling all of thattogether.
And afterabout three years of visiting PACOM on joint requirements oversight council hubtrips, and PACOM pointing out, “Every time [our] people [ask] something, [your]people respond. Thank you very much. But [you're] not responding in anintegrated manner.”
So that’swhy we formed the electronic warfare joint analysis team [EW JAT] primarily toaddress those capability needs identified by the combatant commander, echoed bymany other combatant commanders, and, of course, agreed to by the services thatthose were, in fact, needs. But no one was coordinating those. So we’ve been operatingbasically for a year as what Mr. Young has commissioned as joint analysisteams.
But the jointanalysis teams, however, are really formed to do some specific activities andthen go away. And so we were primarily formed to respond to the combatant commander-PACOM’srequest for assistance in the electronic warfare area. We have done that. We havetaken our issues throughout the program review cycle. I can’t tell you anythingmore than we’re very pleased with the discussions so far. The secretary willannounce his decisions in his budget.
But we’rehaving a very good dialogue, and very good success, I believe, in keeping all ofthe balls in the air and together in the same area relative to this importantarea. And so that’s primarily what we’ve been doing.
In responseto calls saying essentially, well, what happens after the joint analysis teamshave completed its job? We have coordinated a charter. We’re looking seriouslyabout a long-term vision for what a group like this could be. We’ve learned howto work together. I’ve got to tell you tremendous, tremendous support from allthe services, the combatant commander-STRATCOM and other components … all theway across the board. Tremendous ability to work together is what we’ve shown,and solve problems together.
So we’veused that experience in moving on to the next level and — proposing to move onto the next level — we’ll see what forms that takes as we go on. Our combatantcommander at PACOM led the charge in asking for us to stand up a group likethis, and they suggested that the task force would be an appropriate level ofinvolvement at the department level. We might try that name for a while but anorganization … [inaudible]
But basicallyI think that’s what we’re about here and we’ll talk a lot more about it at theconvention. We wouldn’t want you guys to skip the convention based on gettingtoo much stuff here now would we?
Dave Fulghum:Do you think the lack of information coming out of the air force about whatthey’re going to do with Cyber Command is waiting on some sort of decision likethis?
Fulghum: Imean there’s a lot of overlap –
Fulghum: Andit needs to be coordinated, right?
Fulghum: Ithought EA would sort of wrap all of this, bring all of this together. When youhave a sensor that is turned into a weapon that is turned into a communicationsdevice that is turned into a network penetration device. I mean that sounds tome like –
Kistler: I think the answer is cyber is still emergingand we’re doing a lot right now just to define cyber. And we’re working on therelationship between that -
Fulghum: That’swhere I was wanting to get to –
Kistler: It’snot just cyber. People call it information warfare. Counter-IED, that’s EW; aircraftsurvivability, that’s EW. We tend to bin these things into pots according tomission and that’s what we’re talking about. Because those pots represent a lotof money.
The issueis to bring all that together to see what the total investment is and what thetotal benefit for the warfighter is what we’re always talking about. My job iskind of to take the core strategy and push it down into the differentactivities. And, vice verse, to bring those technical activities back up tohave top-level visibility.
We’reworking through that right now. We work with STRATCOM, we work very closelywith the joint staff and USDI and other players who are trying to get our armswhat do we mean by cyber, who’s going to control cyber.
That’s adebate that’s still going on. There’s a recognition that EW overlaps withwhatever we do in cyber. You’re exactly right.
Fulghum: Ithink actually the point was, are you guys getting any sense of where the debateis? And what has caused the dissolution of the effort to make an organizationlike that functional and then the decision to back away from it and are yougetting any sense of — ?
Chaisson: Kindof along these lines one of the recommendations and things that they’re talkingabout when you’re talking about consolidating things, talking about a single kindof EW czar – say, at OSD level, AT&L or something like that. I think thatkind of follows in here … I think this would be an opportune time to say — isthat a feasible idea? And, if so, with the election coming up, change ofadministration, how quickly kind of timeframe are we looking at before things ofthat nature would happen?
The term “czar”I think really doesn’t fit in our terminology very well. It’s very hard tointegrate in our structure. But if you were to see how well –. And I’ll ask ColBuckout and Ryan — they’re both on the EW JAT and been part of it for sometime — to tell you about how well people are working together.
Sometimesyou need a single as you say oftentimes “bellybutton” because you can’t getpeople to work together. Right? You need the decider. Well, perhaps we havefound a way to get people to work together for a common good. To share and toshare well. And thus far we’ve done that.
I will tellyou [inaudible] has certainly led the charge in sharing [inaudible] army EW vision[inaudible] right behind that [inaudible] came through and shared theirs. We’vegot pretty good stuff from the navy as well, and the marine corps.
We areworking well at sharing. And so I don’t know why we would have to have a czar,per se, that would replace what we’ve had in the EW JAT, and probably will haveas we transition to our new structure.
So if youcan say the function that you asked for out of an EW czar, I think we have thefunction in a more enduring form.
Because whenczars leave the czarina gets killed, right? And the whole czar’s family, andeverybody goes off and creates a new organization.
So really andtruly if you’re looking for something that’s enduring, then I think this – again,the EW JAT or the task force structure is enduring — and its enduring becausewe create a common vision, a shared need and we allow that each service hastheir own unique applications and so forth of common technology, common knowledgeand so forth. We all build on an electronic warfare reprogrammable database right?That was one of the things we were all talking about. We’ve got to make thisthing robust and really worthwhile. There’s something that everybody needs, andwe all joined together to encourage the department to really fix that.
So I thinkif you say the function of EW czar — and were to look at Mr. Young’s letterback to the congressman on that — I think it says we will perform that function.
It’s actuallybureaucratically more expensive on us but it’s also more enduring.Bureaucratically more expensive? More meetings. I mean more energy. Scratch theword expensive, [in terms of] money. But it is expensive in terms of meetings,schedules, people doing things and coordinating with each other and things likethat, that you wouldn’t do if you were a czar. If you were a czar you wouldjust lay down the law and move on. It’s a more enduring structure
Trimble: MayI ask, how does it directly influence the requirements process and thebudgeting process?
I think a lotof times we make decisions that are sub-optimized or are less than the oneswe’d like because in the press of time and of course we’re all driven by certainclocks around here and the budget cycle is one of those, other cycles aredifferent cycles. We’re all driven by those. And so if in the press of timesomebody has to make a decision based on the information in front of them, they’regoing to make it.
So, if wecan broaden the base of information and make sure that good, jointly-agreedupon information is brought forward, we get good decisions. And I think youwill see the results after the president announces his decisions in his budget.
MCCREARY: CanI comment on that?
MCCREARY: Andthese comments really go to the last two questions. As STRATCOM – General Chilton was tasked by GeneralCartwright to examine what the gaps are, look at the DOD force structure, bothmaterial and non-material, you understand that one of the demand signals that cameout of all the leadership at the COCOM level and also the services is, yes, notonly do we need an enduring organization and team leadership to engage all ofthis.
But, to thepoint, we need essentially to articulate how this relates to our nationalmilitary strategy across all of our domains, all of our warfighting functionsboth material and non-material.
And whateverenduring organization moves forward — whether its [inaudible], or a czar, or ifit’s an executive steering committee — I don’t know if we know the exactsolution yet. We will work through that.
But just thefact that I believe the nation now recognizes where we need to move forward to… We will have the enduring organization, the leadership roles, the people understandthe problem, and are committing both intellectually and resource committing tosolve those problems and maintain our qualitative technology advantages I thinkthat’s the most important thing.
So that’swhat JD is speaking of and I will take those two points there — the fact that OSDis attempting to form an organizational construct that can take all of that. That[organization] can actually act on the warfighting assessment is good news. Buteven better news is the fact that this capabilities based assessment is asbroad and as deep and as joint-participation as you can imagine.
Fulghum: Isthis any reason on why things seem to have slowed down in CCJ and ACS? They’regoing back saying we need to reassess what those products are going to be. And sowe seem to have actually lost ground rather than gained ground with those capabilities.I know navy seems to be going along with ICAP-3 and next generation jammer.
Torba: Well,that’s a loaded question. I think it’s a process question and based on twothings: fiscally-constrained ends against risk and capabilities and what do wedo and where do we get the biggest bang for the buck? And I think where the airforce chose to go down the road of LO — low observable – technology, and whatwe can do with that against the cost of the CCJ, which at the time it was givento us was a $7-plus billion bill. Industry just needs to help us out with COTS andGOTS better as opposed to —
Fulghum: Yeah,but industry said from the very beginning that those numbers were not their assessmentsof what the charge were. That those were pretty formulaic and that they wereactually looking at a system that was actually half that price. So I’m surprisedyou’re still saying it’s – well, I suppose $2.5 billion isn’t a low numbereither. But you’re saying the air force hasn’t progressed past that?
Torba: No Idon’t think so. I think this goes back to the start 2002. Then another report cameout in 05. And the JROC said this is a validated requirement but the DAWG decidedthat – hey, how are we pay for this against all the other things that we’re tryingto do – recapitalization, modernization. We still have fourth generation aircraftthat need survivability things. And against all the things that we’re trying todo, including standing up the cyber command . They have decided to — I don’twant to say accept risk because that’s a bad way to put it — they’ve justtaken a look at all their needs.
Fulghum: Myunderstaning is the navy isn’t going to be able to give EW support to the expeditionaryair forces so that’s a big-time risk isn’t?
Torba: We’redoing risk mitigation. MALD, MALD-J. Those are definitely standing things up tohelp reduce, mitigate some risk.
Buckout: Iknow that STRATCOM has some efforts that we really can’t talk about in thisroom for starters. There are some considerable efforts.
Fulghum: Younever got around to ACS.
Kistler: Well,it is difficult. I guess the best thing to say is directed energy, jamming,physical devices, the department is clearly aware of the risks that we face inthat –there is activity not largely that we deal with. But it’s clearly beingpursued by STRATCOM as well the joint staff ..
Kistler: It’sa difficult question because of the strategic nature. It’s very hard.
Kistler: I couldn’t give you a really authoritative answer…
Fulghum: Noone ever takes advantage of Amy Butler.
Kistler: There’sprobably other forums where we could review these things.
Fulghum: Anythingwe say will probably end up in a joint byline anyway.
Buckout:I’m not the ACS SME. The last discussion I had are about three or four monthsold. You know one thing we want to talk about as we talk about roadmaps. Ithink all the services are retooling roadmaps right now. The army is in themiddle of that because we’ve been fighting this war for about seven years now, andas we go along we are seeing these enduring programatics are not necessarilysupporting where we need to go, where we need to be today. JCIDS isn’t fastenough. The requirements determination process is not moving fast enough.Programs need to be spiraled out sooner.
That’s thevice chief of staff of the army’s primary push for FCS is to pull out spiralsfor ISR, for self-protection, for mobility for self-awareness sooner so we havea more netcentric capability. But along with that netcentric capability, bothon the ground in the air and in any variety of platforms — be it manned or unmannedvehicle or manned or unmanned aircraft — that we have in our own battlespace.
You’regoing to have programs that need to be developed, or are going to be pulled outof existing ones, the ones we have today — like ACS — may not be entirely supportiveof the ISR needs that we see developing right now.
So a lot ofthe roadmaps are changing. A lot of the programatics are shifting. And I can’tsay that you’re going to see good solid stability in a whole lot of army programs. Does that make sense?
Fulghum: Howabout the new systems that are coming on? My understanding was you guys havesort of pitched everything out the window and gone back to industry and said let’stry this again. Let’s look at it again. Are you going to try where it’s a dualdownselect followed by a set of demonstrations?
Buckout: Idon’t think so. I think — as I’ve said, there’s a lot of programs out there thatbeing are retooled to meet the mobility, asymmetric, unconventional aspects ofthe current war so we’re better poised for different scenarios that support the tings coming at us rather than just the coldwar scenario from which many of these programs sprang.
But I don’tthink we’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think for instancewith prophet. Prophet is sprialling into newer, more mobile capabilities. It’sgot an electornic attack capability going into it, a SIGINT system. That’sgoing into something that’s more streamlined and more capable. We’re not just throwingthe program away, and saying, “Well, okay, let’s scrap it and start over.” Ithink ACS is the same thing.
We do havenew programs starting up. We do have some spiraling our early. We’re looking atour CREW capability, and spiraling those into our first family of integratedelectronic warfare systems, IEWS. That’s where the army needs to go. Havesomething better than SIGINT and something better than CREW. CREW does onething: it goes after radio-controlled IEDs. You need to have an electronic attackcapability added to that, so we’re calling on some of the current technologies turnout to be old already … current technologie s??? You say what’s old is newagain but I think it’s capitalizing on current resources, current investment, currenttechnologies, driving towards a better system rather than scrapping the wholething. I don’t think in this age of fiscal reality you can afford to scrapstuff. You improve on what you have as much as you can …
Fulghum: Themarine corps is doing an interesting job by linking their radios to ICAP-IIIs, gettingyou real time delivery of electronic fires
Fulghum: Ah,so that’s where that expeditionary E-6s are going to go? They’re going to go tothe army then?
Buckout: …Now it’s all about expeditionary brigade combat teams that can go and fight,JTFs, etc. Being able to have that full control of the battlespace with a UAS-basedasset were you can maneuver, mobility electronic fires, etc, at the platoon bringsa whole lot of capability to fires.
Fulghum: Howquickly will you have airborne delivered electronic fires?
Buckout: Ican’t give you a date because we’re still working the JCTD, still working with JCIDSand the requirements processes.
Fulghum: I’llsettle for next two years, next five years?
Buckout : Iwould say that by the next three or four years, and some of that will be in thetechnology demonstration process. Let’s say — I’ll tell you what, let’s tossout a date. I’ll do it. I’ll commit. I’ll say 2015.
Trimble: Letme ask, you had brought up the CBA. What can you say about where that — howthings look for airborne electronic attack, and where the gaps are and what theneeds are?
MCCREARY: Youwant to know specifically what the gaps are?
Trimble: Well,I guess, however you can describe what the CBA determined about state ofairborne electronic attack and what the needs are going forward.
Hinkley: Iseverybody just concerned about airplanes electronic attack?
Navy: Isthere any concern about surface or ground electronic attack. I’m just curious becausea lot of — … A year ago, if you asked in the navy who was in EW centre, everybodywould turn to the EA-6B platform, and you run navy EW. But EW is far more than– I’m an EA-6B guy but I’ll take my wings off and put them on the table here becauseelectronic warfare isn’t just aviation eletronic attack. So, it’s moreencompassing than any of that, but I’ll let JD answer the question.
MCCREARY: FromSTRATCOM’s perspective, the CBA, as pointed out, looked at all of the domains. Wedid in particular look at airborne electronic attack as one of those things butprobably not in the context that you were thinking.
We’re tryingto get rid of the term airborne electronic attack because it creates such anarrow focus. I mean it actually is one of the indicators of how we have fallenin the trap of describing electronic warfare the way we have: very platform-centric,very technology-, mission-centric. Typically, when people say airborneelectronic attack, they think Compass Call, counter-IADS mission. We’veexpanded that a little bit to something of e asymmetric mission ..
What we’re reallytrying to describe is there are EA, ES, EP functions across the military. Some ofthem are offensive EA. Some of them are defensive EA. That could be in a land-basedenvironment, and it could be in air-based environment.
To getspecifically to your question, though. In the airborne arena we certainly find –no surprise, lots and lots of studies have been done about what we’re at withEA — the department has not come up with their final answer yet.
But, one ofthe great things about where we are, is now I think we have a much morecomplete understanding of the things that we need to do with our electronic attackcapabilities both offensive and defensive. And so as we look at, is it CCJ, isit unmanned, is it a stand-in component/stand-off component, how does it playwith space-based, how does it support not only counter-IADS, but defense of a carrierstrike group, the defense of forward-based infills … [inaudible] in urbanenvironments, in a high-end warfare context.
We can nowlook at it and work with industry to really come up with a more efficient approachthat will answer the true gaps not just one particular set of beliefs that we’veheld onto for some time.
Trimble: Andwhat’s the timeline for the department to come up with the answer to thoseissues?
MCCREARY: Well,we’re actually on a very definitive timeline. The chairman has tasked STRATCOM towork with PACOM, all the services and interagency in the next six months. So by1 April we will have done a comprehensive analysis of where we stand from materialand non-material investments across all of the capability gaps, which areclassified and I can’t go into any of the details of those. But it’s pretty — itwouldn’t be hard to figure out what they are. It’s pretty logical. Noincredible surprises.
What isgoing to be terrific about this is working very closely with the services, COCOMsand all elements of OSD, we can look across all of our portfolios and figureout, how does the spectrum read through all things we do in DOD from cradle tograve across DOTMLPF? What’s our top-down strategy, national military strategy,and national investment strategy — with our industry partners — and moveforward with a comprehensive view of how do these things in a singlebattlespace. What are the technology enablers that will allow us to scale up asCOTS advances? …
Trimble: Iguess this is also where the JAT comes into play to be that clearing house ofinformation