Monday, January 10, 2011

U.S. Planes Will Feature Non-Kinetic Effects

BY AW&ST  The U.S. military growth industries for the next decade will be the cyber, electronic warfare and ISR technology realms, which is expected to be a boon for the scant few new combat aircraft programs that may emerge , which are sure to focus heavily on those areas.
The most encouraging prospects are for a next-generation U.S. Air Force bomber — which may end up being more an ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) platform than a bombing aircraft — a Navy unmanned strike fighter and an unmanned, stealthy, fighter-sized-or-smaller surveillance aircraft that can fly into the heart of enemy air defenses and survive there for extended periods.
“Where we’re hurting is the lack of ability to operate in denied airspace,” says Lt. Gen. (ret.) Dave Deptula, former Air Force ISR chief. “That’s where the focus needs to be in the next set of aircraft that we build. We also have to be careful not to allow traditional approaches to cost that drive us to make sub-optimized decisions on aircraft.”
Deptula criticizes the single-minded focus on unit cost instead of looking at the intelligence-gathering and warfighting advantages provided by advanced systems. “We have to take a look at the values provided by these systems,” he says. “We should capitalize on technologies that allow us to concentrate these capabilities on a single platform. That provides increased value and survivability for a fraction of the cost of a system of systems where you segregate the capabilities on a variety of aircraft.”
There may be a temptation to combine the bomber with the unmanned, penetrating ISR platform, but Deptula questions the wisdom of such an endeavor.
“The potential melding of the two may overlook the value and virtue of having both,” he says. “You have many advantages with a remotely piloted aircraft to conduct ISR in denied and contested airspace. You don’t want to expose the crew [to high-power microwaves, for example] and there is also the issue of persistence.

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