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Former AF Sec Michael Wynne, "Get rid of AWACS, JSTARS, etc"

bobbymike

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From the Second Line of Defense:

01/26 /2010 – The Air Force as well as the rest of the Armed Forces and the rest of the United States government faces an unusual crisis in budgeting. All are scrambling about trying to determine the least-bad parts of the budget to trim, or, in worst case, cut. Clearly this needs radical thought, but should be driven by mission in each case. When survivability is added as a requirement, and the threat is assessed as it is seen today, this becomes easier. Let’s consider the end of the large aircraft ISR fleet.

The large aircraft command and control as well as the large aircraft intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance fleet are artifacts of a different era, the era of satellites with insufficient range and scope, the era where remotely piloted vehicles were small and not worthy of the name C4ISR. Now, however, times have changed. The MC-12 is highly touted as the solution where one dominates the air domain. The Global Hawk and Predator B reigns supreme in many aspects of the fight. The need for the large C4ISR platforms has drifted away.

In a future era, where the air domain is disputed, can we really risk the large, populated C4ISR airplanes when we actually have penetrating stealthy aircraft with better radars and M-Int devices, and the 3-digit surface-to-air missiles are valid to 200 or 300 miles? This is well beyond the range for the systems known today. No wonder the Air Force is looking to partner with the Navy on the P-8 follow-on; there is no survivable mission when you get far off shore. Indeed, our ships are protected by an array of surface-to-air missiles with standoff range enough to truly discourage errant approach by these very expensive aircraft.

In a future era, where the air domain is disputed, can we really risk the large, populated C4ISR airplanes when we actually have penetrating stealthy aircraft with better radars and M-Int devices, and the 3-digit surface-to-air missiles are valid to 200 or 300 miles? This is well beyond the range for the systems known today.

Recently, in a paper titled Renorming the Assymetric Advantage, I cited the need to leverage available stealthy technologies and their sensors to stay alive on the battlefield of the future. There seem to continue to be a belief system that indicates that the enemy will allow these airplanes to operate with impunity, but will otherwise attack the tanker aircraft that support TAC air assets. Where does this logic prevail? Well, for the most part, within the ISR force structure and the contractor community that supports this force structure. Strangely, it also dwells in the hears and wallets of the air combat community that pretends that they will have a very hard time surviving a future air battle yet defers to the ISR community for leveraging the sensor assets they and they alone carry.

Rest of the story:

http://www.sldinfo.com/?p=14303
 

Nik

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"Get rid of *crewed* AWACS, JSTARS, etc"

Uh, regardless of future UAVs' capabilities for dry-foot coverage, I'd keep crewed, ship-borne aircraft to supplement the CAP-- If necessary, using laser down-link to side-step jamming and 'mob' attacks...
 

BAROBA

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He has a point, but unmanned systems can be tapped into, blocked, jammed, and maybe even hacked and manipulated or worse taken over and used against 'us'. Future systems are always better and less flawed then what we have working right now..... I wouldn't get rid of anything before any future system has proven itself on the battlefield...
 

cthippo

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The flip side of this argument is that these assets work really well for the wars we have now. It almost sounds like they're still locked into the conventional war in Europe instead of the modern Asymmetric battles we find ourselves in. While I'm all for looking ahead, who exactly are we going to war with that has the capability to take out our C4ISR elements? In every combat operation the US has been involved in since Korea we have had a safe airspace behind the battle area in which to operate. The enemy may have had very effective air defense systems over their own airspace, but few have the ability to project that forse outside their borders.

In addition, the capabilities he's talking about don't yet exist. How do we save money by putting millions upon mullions of dollars into building UAVs for these roles so we can save a few bucks by retiring our existing systems?

This sounds like yet another case of the Air Force still trying to convince people they need the best toys because they might have to fight some imaginary foe with a wholly modern Air Force. Instead of spending their money on systems for the needs we have now, they want to spend money on systems for a war that's never going to happen.
 

bobbymike

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cthippo said:
This sounds like yet another case of the Air Force still trying to convince people they need the best toys because they might have to fight some imaginary foe with a wholly modern Air Force. Instead of spending their money on systems for the needs we have now, they want to spend money on systems for a war that's never going to happen.

Yes because we have not just seen the Chinese J-20 fly (they cannot build stealth) and did Russia just roll out a 5th generation aircraft that will be sold to other countries. Oh and the Aircraft carrier targeting medium range ballistic missile? That's no threat to anyone. Oh and those 200+km range "double digit" SAMs deployed along the Chinese coasts they aren't a threat to anything. There is no reason to think ahead about what enemies or weapons systems we might face in the future. ;)
 

Colonial-Marine

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Personally I don't think the "traditional" AWACS is dead, I just think our current systems need an upgrade. Get an ultra-modern AESA radar on a new AWACS and some better countermeasures if possible. Could including a dedicated ECM aircraft (EA-18G) in the escort group would help too?

Theoretically, couldn't such a big AESA radar be used to electronically scramble the systems of an incoming long range missile like those "AWACS killers" that get a lot of press? Weren't some USAF members talking about "electronic attack" capabilities with their F-22As and upgraded F-15Cs not too long ago?
 

sferrin

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cthippo said:
This sounds like yet another case of the Air Force still trying to convince people they need the best toys because they might have to fight some imaginary foe with a wholly modern Air Force. Instead of spending their money on systems for the needs we have now, they want to spend money on systems for a war that's never going to happen.

Geez, I didn't know we had Nostradamus on this forum. ::)
 
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