Maturing Key Jamming Technology

The Air Force is pushing ahead with efforts to field a standoff airborne electronic attack capability, according to the head of Air Combat Command’s electronic attack requirements shop, and is sticking to an initial operational capability date of 2015 for the core component jammer. The goal is to mature key technologies that will enable USAF to offset the airborne electronic attack gap expected with the retirement of the EA-6B Prowler in 2012. Maj. Jeff Salem said the command is working with Aeronautical Systems Center and Air Force Research Lab on technologies to make current aircraft “operationally relevant” in the near term. To that end, ACC got $4 million in the Fiscal 2008 budget. Salem added that ACC has identified the B-52 as a “transitional platform” to test the new capabilities but will not necessarily end up with the mission. While not discussing the EA capabilities under study, Salem said that a large aircraft—equipped with the “large pods” being developed by ASC and AFRL—is ideal because it features a longer range capability and can project more power more persistently when needed. The CCJ will fill the standoff jamming element of the “system of systems” AEA mission, alongside the EA-18G Growler as modified escort, an advanced electronically scanned array radar-equipped aircraft for penetrating escort, and the in-development miniature air-launched decoy, or MALD-J, for stand-in jamming.