Further to these posts,
Stealth: What is It Good For?
[note US Chief of Naval Operations]
and these pieces,
F-35 Mission Software Needs Some Debugging, Cost-Cutting Process Working Around the Edges
F-35 programme chief [JPO] cites slow, steady progress
U.S. Navy opens door to more orders of Boeing jets
we now learn that the Pentagon, and not just the US Navy, may be doing a serious think about stealth compared to electronic suppression/attack:
“We are doing right now in the Department of Defense a study that looks at all electronic attack[:] what is the situation in electromagnetic warfare across the spectrum in our maneuver,” Adm. Jonathan Greenert [professional head of the US Navy and it would seem a serious thinker] told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee yesterday [Feb. 26].
That study that goes far beyond any individual weapons system to examine America’s entire capability to control the electromagnetic spectrum, on which our networks, sensors, and precision weapons all depend.
Before making any decisions on specific platforms like the Growler, “I want to hear from the whole Department of Defense, because we are thejammer provider,” Greenert said. The Air Force has a small number of electronically sophisticated but physically ungainly EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, of which they plan to retire many. The Army and Marines have a host of short-range tactical jammers to defeat roadside bombs. But only the Navy provides a survivable aircraft capable of conducting electronic warfare in contested airspace.
The Navy’s unfunded requirements list for 2015 included 22 more EA-18G Growlers, a variant of the Navy’s standard strike fighter, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Congress funded 15. There are no Growlers in the 2016 budget request, so both Boeing — which builds the aircraft — and Congress are eager to hear whether the Navy would like another plus-up. So are reporters, whose questions Adm. Greenert and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus deftly parried after yesterday’s hearing.
“We’re evaluating… how many JSFs vs. Super Hornets do we want to have” for the long-term in the 2020s, Greenert said when asked if a reduction in F-35 Joint Strike Fighter buys would require an increase in F-18s. “I haven’t had a discussion yet with the secretary” — brand-new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter — “about the unfunded requirement list,” he said. Many reports indicate there may not even be one this year…
As electronic warfare threats and countermeasures increase, the Navy is experimenting with new Growler tactics that take advantage of the aircrafts’ passive sensors, rather than having them transmit all the time. Those new tactics, though, require three jamming aircraft in the air instead of the traditional two. Keeping three planes in the air at any given time for any length of time requires a larger squadron on the aircraft carrier: seven or eight Growlers instead of the current five. Adding two or three Growlers for each of 10 carrier air wings is 20 to 30 aircraft, not counting spares needed to account for maintenance, accidents, and training more pilots.
That’s a big investment. But electronic warfare is increasingly a big priority, not just for the Navy but for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The Pentagon’s chief of research, Alan Shaffer, has warned the US has lost “dominance in the electromagnetic spectrum,” on which all our networks and sensors rely, and control of the spectrum underlies Undersecretary Bob Work’s new “offset strategy” to counter China and Japan. The Defense Science Board has identified $2 billion a year of shortfalls in electronic warfare. With Growlers the cutting edge of American electronic warfare, it’s quite likely the Pentagon study will say we need more — and even in tight budgetary times, it’s possible they’ll actually get them.
It seems to me that there is a lot rising from under the US defence bureaucratic radar–and some very serious questions are being asked about the value/efficacy of certain technologies. Anyone in the RCAF/DND paying attention?