Saturday, August 08, 2020

Startling implications about the F-35 and the US fighter fleet into the future in Breaking Defense article..

This Breaking Defense article has some startling implications about the F-35 and the future US fighter fleet.  Here are just a few of the passages that caught my attention but the whole thing is a must read....
“Most people don’t think of F-35s as electronic warfare aircraft—but they are, and they are incredibly capable,” Mark Gunzinger, director for future concepts and technology assessments at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, told Breaking D in an email today. (Breaking D readers have known that for a much longer time than most.)

“F-35s have EW suites that can detect emissions from radars and other threats, classify and geolocate them, and then distribute threat data to other aircraft. They can also perform active EW tasks such as standoff jamming of airborne and surface threats. Their active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars can also conduct electronic attacks,” he explained.
This chestnut has been tossed around forever.  That the F-35 is a capable electronic attack platform.  My refrain has always been that it's nothing special...they're just using the AESA array to do the deed.  This article pushes my thinking to the forefront.

The implication is that 4th gen fighters with AESA also have this capability.  The worry is that means that threat aircraft that aren't dedicated Electronic Warfare platforms can still play havoc with us, just as we can with them.

Comms will be important in the future and operating with them being negated or degraded is gonna be important.
 That capability was also on display during the 2020 version of the annual Orange Flag exercise at Edwards AFB in California. The Air Force F-35A collected targeting data and bounced it to a U-2 spy plane service as an airborne communications node, as well as to a simulated Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS). IBCS, as Breaking D readers know, is the Army’s high-priority command and control system for its missile defense weapons — a system that Strategic Command chief Adm. Charles Richards says is critical to enabling all domain operations. 
The US Army.  All climes and places rears its head again.  Just plain wow.  So in addition to providing armored/mechanized forces for the entire US military they're also taking the lead in an integrated air and missile defense network?

Interesting.  I once thought you couldn't go to war without the US Navy...from logistics to firepower the Navy was essential.  Looks like going into the future the US Army will wear that crown.
 “Perhaps most importantly, many believe that stealth is perishable anyway — implying the need, at least in the future, for EA/SEAD cooperation,” Teal Group’s Richard Aboulafia told Breaking D in an email today.

But also, the new emphasis on EA and SEAD has been borne of choices made by the Air Force itself, largely due to budgetary pressures.

“Originally, USAF wanted to be an all fifth-gen force, with no need of Electronic Attack/SEAD. Then, it was a division of labor—fifth-gen for kicking down the door; legacy assets for day two and beyond,” Aboulafia explained. “But it’s increasingly clear that the Navy will have very little fifth-gen, and that they’ll need to cooperate. And given the F-15 procurement re-start, it’s clear that the Air Force will need to work with fourth-gen platforms in many roles for many decades to come.”
This dude is spinning.  4th gen planes were gonna be in the inventory for a long time after the F-35 entered service from the start. 

Seems like the implication is that not only are the F-35's vulnerable (like how he said that SOME say stealth is perishable) but also that they will (like the F-117 and B-2) need electronic warfare aircraft to tag along to protect them.

Additionally is it a worry about the types of munitions the F-35 is cleared (or not cleared) to carry or is it a worry about the number that will be available?  Either way it's not good.

Anyway its a must read article (here). 

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