Seeking Growler Backseat, No BUFF SOJ
USAF is pursuing stand-in not standoff jamming capability.
October 20, 2009—The Air Force definitely has cast aside all pursuit of a B-52 standoff jammer, and instead is working on an airborne electronic attack stand-in capability, Air Staff requirements director Maj. Gen. David Scott said Tuesday during an Association of Old Crows symposium in Washington. After his speech, he also told the Daily Report that USAF would like to fly on the Navy’s EA-18G Growler escort jamming aircraft.
Scott said he’d like to see a continuation of the arrangement wherein USAF crew flew on Navy EA-6B Prowlers. The arrangement was set to expire with the retirement of the Prowler.
Scott said the Air Force recognizes that the Growler has two seats vice the Prowler’s four, and that there will only be 90 of them, versus 120 of the EA-6B. However, he said the collaboration has provided invaluable benefits in electronic warfare jointness, "and we don’t want to lose that."
Scott said the Air Force has no intention of buying EA-18Gs for itself, since the number purchased would be too small to affordably support.
In exchange for blue-suiters flying on the Growlers, Scott said the Navy would be welcome to "fly on anything we have."
Scott confirmed that the Air Force has definitely abandoned the notion of creating a standoff jammer capability for the B-52. He said, “I hate to disappoint the B-52 fans,” but the concept of the B-52 SOJ, which met its doom for the second time earlier this year, is just too expensive for the capability it could provide.\
Instead, the service now favors a "stand-in" jammer because losing an F-117 in the Kosovo campaign proved “stealth … is not invincibility.”
Scott was vague about what the stand-in capability might be—“there are some things I can’t talk about,” he acknowledged, saying only that USAF will pursue pods and “lots of things.”
And, he restated USAF’s standard line that the solution will be “a system of systems.”
Scott was adamant that the stand-in capability is the right approach, emphasizing, “We need to get into a place, persist in that place, fight in that place, kill things in that place, and get out,” and a standoff jammer would only “blow a hole” in an outer ring of defenses.
The cost of F-35As in the eighth production lot is $94.8 million each, not including engine costs. Pratt & Whitney declined to release the engine cost, citing competitive reasons, but after crunching some numbers it looks like the F-35 is becoming comparable to legacy fighters.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel remains focused on implementing reforms and
recommendations he and his team have worked to put in place before he leaves
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