Last week the House Armed Services Committee issued its Roles and Missions Panel’s report, which may seem a tad short on substance with its short essays meant to provoke critical thought. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), panel chair, writes, “The panel’s report does not attempt to give full answers. … The job of the panel was to break some ground and plant a few seeds.” Jointly, the panel members call the report “a small first step in serious consideration of the roles and missions of not just our military services but our entire national security organization.” (Congress has directed DOD to conduct a new roles and missions review every four years, beginning this year.) However, in one essay, the panel chastises the Air Force for almost single-handedly creating the electronic warfare gap beginning in 2012. It berates the Air Force for its lack of foresight on the now-cancelled B-52 Stand-off Jammer program and its failure to move more quickly on the Core Component Jammer, which, combined, “creates a capability gap beginning in 2012, when the Air Force had committed to begin performing part of the airborne EW missions.” And, it chastises the service for not providing the necessary funding to upgrade both the airframe and mission systems for the EC-130H Compass Call communications jamming aircraft, which the panel notes has become a critical asset in the war on terror. The panel urges the Air Force to “step up with its role and commit to an [airborne electronic attack] solution.”
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.