Who’s on Top of the Jammer Gap?

Repeated questioning by lawmakers on an acknowledged gap in stand-off jamming has yielded only two concrete facts: 1) The gap will exist between 2012 and 2015; 2) no one at DOD has a solution yet. The Air Force is revamping its defunct B-52 SOJ program—keeping some technology development and throwing out the staggering $7 billion cost—to produce a cheaper program employing a core component jammer on 30 BUFFs. However, it won’t have that B-52 CCJ capability in hand until 2015, three years after the USAF-Navy EA-6B Prowler MOU runs out. Rear Adm. Bruce Clingan, Navy air warfare boss, told the House Armed Services Air-Land panel last week that the Navy’s new EF-18G Growler, the replacement for the Prowler, “is not the perfect solution” for the gap. He said that a Pentagon joint process will determine whether the US military can “assume the risk associated with that shortfall in capacity.” Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffman, USAF military acquisition deputy, told the panel: “Like all other capability gaps, we will use the other elements of [airborne electronic attack]. … Maybe it takes more risk to the crews that have to operate in this environment. Maybe it is a different [concept of operations] and strategy.”