Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Corps is losing its Electronic Attack Capability with the retirement of the EA-6B Prowler...won't get it back with the F-35...

via USNI News.
Another example of divesting, Adams said, is how the Marine Corps is replacing its fleet of EA-6B Prowlers and the F-18 Hornets with the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The Marine Corps loses some of its electronic jamming capability by divesting its Prowlers, but Adams said the Corps could lean on the Navy’s fleet of EA-18G Growlers to complement more directed electronic jamming equipment mounted on land vehicles or even carried by Marines.
Story here. 

A few things.

1.  The US Navy EA-18G Squadrons are going to be worked to death!  They're soon going to be put in the position of having to support EVERY service plus our allies.  The Navy is going to need to plus up those Squadrons at the very least and I would expect additional buys of EA-18's.  We're at the point where the US Navy is having to bear the entire load of electronic attack/defense solo.  This is stunning to me.  Both the USAF and USMC have bailed on the task.

2.  The idea that we're losing SOME of its electronic jamming capability by the divesting of the EA-6B's doesn't tell the whole story.  Compared to their Russian and Chinese competition, Marine Ground is WOEFULLY under equipped to even conduct localized jamming on the ground.  From what I've seen on the procurement side that won't improve anytime soon.

This is a bit discouraging.

I've read Neller's statement and speeches to the troops.  He knows a big fight is coming and has stressed the need to prepare.  I don't see how moves like this helps.

It's obvious that HQMC has decided that the risk is necessary and I have to assume that they're aware of the issue (they did after all discuss it with reporters), but I still don't understand the thinking.

My fear appears to be inching closer to reality.

I've talked about how the enemy will locate, isolate and then destroy in place far flung Company Landing Teams (CLT) because they won't be able to call for fires/assistance because they'll be subjected to heaving jamming.

The experience of that Ukrainian Officer having his unit subjected to heavy enemy artillery fire till it was destroyed, having to escape and evade while being pursued by Scouts, Infantry, UAVs, and Enemy Attack Dogs could be repeated by his USMC counterpart.

One last thing.

Is this risk being assumed because so many believe that we will always be involved in offensive operations?  If we're on the attack then we can properly marshal our forces and properly allocate our Growlers to areas where they are needed.

But what happens if we aren't on the attack?

What happens if the enemy is inside our OODA loop while they're attacking us and they're able to cloud the issue even further because THEY have superior electronic attack systems?

Assuming risk in procurement is just part of the job.  It happens because it has to happen.  That's how the system works.  What we must question is if we're assuming the RIGHT risk?

My plea to General Neller?  Don't accept this risk.  If we can't buy Growlers then let's marry new Electronic Attack Squadrons with our KC-130 Fleet.  We have the Harvest Hawk kit (that thing is batshit crazy...putting missiles on our only logistics airplane owned by the Corps...who thought that was smart?) and add Conformal Airborne Electronic Warfare kits on them instead and make them dedicated assets or even better buy at least 10-15 of these (see below) beautiful beasts.

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