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  • Air Force ISR and EW Stay Separate, B-52 Jammer Dies
    Posted by David A. Fulghum 7:29 PM on Oct 22, 2009

    Electronic warfare and information operations – including cyber attack – are destined to remain un-integrated for a while longer because of the schisms between operations, intelligence and technology communities.

    “As we look across the information operations (IO) and electronic warfare spectrum (EW), how do we tie it all together” as both the technology and battlefield become more complicated? asks Maj. Gen. David Scott, Air Force director of operational capability requirements. “There are a lot of things out there that we are standing up. We’re in the infancy of understanding IO and cyber warfare. [Yet many things are not understood, like] what is the effect, what is the capability – we’re not there yet.

    "Cyber threats are increasingly pervasive, and several key adversaries have drastically expanded their computer network operations for intelligence collection and military use," the report said. "Moreover, the techniques used and the growing computer globalization made it increasingly difficult to detect and prevent intrusions."

    Scott predicts that the changes will be instituted by Pentagon and service leadership rather than creating new organizations.

    In late Sept., a summit of U.S. Air Force four-star generals rejected establishment of a major Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) command that could coordinate operational planning for the emerging arsenal of non-kinetic and asymmetrical weaponry. That decision stopped any talk of a cross-discipline command that could speed development, rationalization and use of ISR, UAVs, information operations, electronic attack, cyber-warfare and other non-kinetic weapons.

    “I don’t think we’re going to do an ISR command,” Scott says. “I don’t think the chief sees that. The way I’ll [explain] that is manpower. When you start standing up another command, it takes people and manpower costs a lot of money. What we’re trying to do in the ISR realm  is to pull that – GMTI, EO, full-motion video, manned and unmanned – all together to give the warfighter the right tools. You’ve got to normalize it.”

    Would it be better for integration and interoperability if the world of electronic warfare (EW) were brought under a single command instead? That answer also appears to be no.

    “We’re working hard with Air Combat Command on where we’re going,” Scott says. “We understand that in the [world of the electromagnetic] spectrum there are a lot of gaps and seams and we’re figuring that out. I’m not sure that a command will fix that. I don’t see us going to an EW command or an ISR major command. Will we ever make it a Numbered Air Force – we could, but we’ll have to work on that.”

    Even the basic requirement for an airborne electronic attack and jamming capability does not appear to be any closer to a solution. The Air Force has twice offered programs for a standoff jamming system to be carried by the B-52 and twice been rejected. The effort how appears to be taking a new direction.

    “The USAF believes we need to have stand-in capability,” Scott says. We need to get into a place, persist, fight, kill things and get out. We need to go places in a conventional campaign and stay around with conventional capabilities and stealth doesn’t do that completely. You need a capability in the EW realm that allows you to stand in. We believe we need that and that it is one of our missions.”

    The Air Force, without Scott offering any detail, will not duplicate the Navy, Marine Corps and Army electronic attack capability.

    “We’re looking across the spectrum [with the Navy] to determine how we do electronic attack so that we’re not redundant,” Scott says. “We’re going to do electronic attack jointly. We are looking at pods for the USAF. Are we bringing back the B-52? No, I don’t think so.”

    Tags: ar99, ISR, EW, integration, B-52

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