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A-10 as EW platform?

Grey Havoc

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You are in: Home › Aircraft › News Article

DATE: 09/05/11
SOURCE: Flight International


USAF eyes A-10 for communications jamming role
By Stephen Trimble


Four contractors will compete for a $200 million US Air Force programme to develop and produce an electronic attack (EA) pod that will be installed on unmanned aircraft systems and manned aircraft including potentially the Fairchild Republic A-10.

The pod is the first unclassified investment by the air force in EA technology since the cancellation of the Boeing B-52 standoff jamming system in 2005.

After an attempt to revive a scaled-down version of the radar jammer failed, the air force in 2009 launched a technically less ambitious EA pod focused on attacking the communication and network systems used by insurgents. Such a pod would be used to jam improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or low-band communications signals, including mobile phones.

The EA pod would be installed first on any of 24 Block 5 versions of the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper UAS, which are upgraded with more power compared to Block 1 aircraft, the air force revealed in acquisition documents released in early May.

The pod also will be considered for carriage on other platforms including the A-10 and Lockheed Martin C-130, the documents show. The C-130 is the platform for the air force's primary communication jamming system - the Compass Call fleet.

Arming the A-10 with an electronic attack capability would be a first for the close air support and ground attack fighter, and would likely be used in counter-IED roles.

The USAF has designed the EA pod programme to develop an operational system as quickly as possible. The technology maturity phase began last Novemeber. At least three companies - BAE Systems, ITT and Raytheon - received small contracts to start designing technologies required for a flyable pod.

In July, the air force plans to award follow-on technology development contracts to up to four companies leading to an engineering and manufacturing development phase in 2013.


http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2011/05/09/356425/usaf-eyes-a-10-for-communications-jamming-role.html
 

John21

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Finally something to (sort of) replace their sadly retired EF-111s and possibly get out from having to have the navy provide EW/jammer assets? Never should have retired tue EF-111, although I think we still have 30+ in the boneyard.
 

Sea Skimmer

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Staking everything one a single jammer is a bad idea; if the Navy program works the Air Force can always buy it later. Anyway New Generation Jammer is aimed at jamming the latest radar systems; the Air Force here is looking at something as a follow on to EC-130H Compass Call for dedicated communications jamming. This is a lot less demanding to carry out, meaning a dedicated jammer can be less expensive and more widely deployed. Complete radio communications jamming is a really big advantage when you can already bomb out enemy land line communications or physically control them in an insurgency situation.
 

Pioneer

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John21 said:
Finally something to (sort of) replace their sadly retired EF-111s and possibly get out from having to have the navy provide EW/jammer assets? Never should have retired tue EF-111, although I think we still have 30+ in the boneyard.

I hear you my friend!!

Regards
Pioneer
 

funkychinaman

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What's keeping the AF from taking all the paid-for technology of the EA-18 and incorporating it into existing F-15B/D/E airframes? (Or, God-forbid, new airframes.)I've been thinking about it ever since the AF announced that they were going to ask the Navy to continue their arrangement with expeditionary squadrons once Prowler squadrons transition to the EA-18. Considering that they only have four squadrons at their disposal right now, how much can it cost to field their own force?
 

TomS

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Well, for starters, cost. The systems may have een developed, but they haven't been integrated with an Air Force airframe, nor does the Air Force inventory include surplus aircraft for it to use.

The Air Force has had plenty of opportunities to field its own EW aircraft to replace the EF-111. But as long as it can get the Navy to provide the capability for free, why should the Air Force spend a dime? For that matter, would there be any real reasons to? One of the whole points of the joint approach is that every service doesn't have to field every capability. Is there any evidence that the Expeditionary squadrons aren't getting the job done?
 

F-14D

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TomS said:
Well, for starters, cost. The systems may have een developed, but they haven't been integrated with an Air Force airframe, nor does the Air Force inventory include surplus aircraft for it to use.

The Air Force has had plenty of opportunities to field its own EW aircraft to replace the EF-111. But as long as it can get the Navy to provide the capability for free, why should the Air Force spend a dime? For that matter, would there be any real reasons to? One of the whole points of the joint approach is that every service doesn't have to field every capability. Is there any evidence that the Expeditionary squadrons aren't getting the job done?

AF has also not looked at EW as a very high priority until fairly recently. Even when the EF-111 was still around, while Navy kept increasing the capability of the EA-6B, AF wasn't doing likewise for the EF, which ironically became one of the reasons they retired it. The problem with jointness here is that the EA-18G doesn't have the range AF needs. Also, while every service doesn't have to field every capability, the service tasked with the mission needs to have enough assets to cover the other services it's providing the capability for. Navy is not getting enough money to get enough EA-18s to cover it and AF as well.
 

John21

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Don't the Marine Corps have some EA-6Bs as well? I think I read that they are keeping them for a bit longer after the Navy fully transitions to the EA-18G. What is stopping the air force from scooping up some used EA-6Bs for cheap/free from them and using them intermediately until something better comes along?
 

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