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The next generation of manned strike and their unmanned supporting aircraft are being designed as a tightly integrated force.They are being planned as a force to overcome the greatest emerging threats to the U.S. which are “anti-access tactics and … area-denial strategies,” says Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn in a Washington conference on the future of war and the defense budget.“Some nations are pursuing ballistic missiles that seek to push our forces further from the battlefield” referring to China’s development of the DF-21 anti-ship weapon. “The diffusion of precision-strike technology will have a cumulative effect [by] creating challenges for our ability to project power.”That strategic shortfall requires “making a major investment in a family of long-range strike systems that will allow us to penetrate defenses and deliver munitions world wide,” Lynn said.This mix will include “electronic attack capabilities, more advanced intelligence and surveillance platforms and a new long-range bomber capable of both manned and unmanned operations,” he says.Since all those capabilities will be impossible to fit on a single type of expensive aircraft, planning has turned to building a relatively small number of bombers and a bigger fleet of small, unmanned adjunct aircraft that will provide additional defensive support, targeting and specialized strike with electronic attack and other directed energy options.“Asymmetric tactics also are spreading beyond traditional domains,” Lynn hinted. “Potential attacks in cyberspace perhaps best illustrate growing asymmetry in warfare.”Ultimately, tightly linked but widely dispersed groups of these aircraft will also provide information warfare and cyberattack capabilities. Cyberattack and network invasion will be both a defensive challenge and an offensive tool.“Absolute effects [from cyberattacks] are moving up a ladder of escalation,” Lynn said. “We are beginning to see cyber used to cause physical effects [and] tools that can cause physical destruction are out there. So in cyber we have a window of opportunity to act before the most malicious actors acquire the most destructive technologies. The ability to strike targets worldwide is an important deterrent.”Three trends will pose problems for the U.S. – increasing access to lethality, the longer duration of warfare and the growing prevalence of asymmetric threats, Lynn says.
NGB, UAVs, EA, directed-energy, unmanned
Copyright © 2013, Aviation Week, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.