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On July 29, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper unveiled a new plan for European Command’s force posture, which will result in the reduction of 11,900 troops currently stationed in Germany. Of those troops, a little under half will be repositioned across Europe while the remainder will redeploy to the United States and subsequently conduct rotational deployments to Europe. This decision follows an extensive DoD-wide review optimizing US military force posture within the strategic environment of great power competition.

Discussion about great power competition currently dominates national security and defense strategy forums. There are open questions about what great power competition actually is (and what it is not), how it will manifest in particular regions, what it means for particular US armed services, and even whether it really constitutes a strategy. These discussions are undeniably important, but they also tend to take place from a strategic perspective. What does great power competition mean two levels of war removed from such a lofty vantage point? What will leaders at the tactical level need to do in order to succeed in this new era?

Competing with Russia at the Tactical Level

Company-level leaders will likely spend at least the next decade of their careers preparing to fight and win ground wars in contested environments—especially in Europe, where the Army is likely to have a more central role than in the Indo-Pacific, with its comparatively more significant maritime domain. So, what should tactical-level leaders preparing to deploy for a rotation to Europe expect to encounter in that theater?

Russia, of course, remains the Army’s most direct competitor in Europe. Forward-positioned Army aviation and armor forces constitute critical capabilities for countering Russian threats to European territorial integrity and US national interests. While the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade is permanently assigned to Ansbach, Germany, no armored brigade combat team has been permanently stationed in Europe since 2014. Russia’s invasion of Crimea that same year, however, reversed America’s decision to retrograde its armored forces. In an effort to reestablish deterrence following this invasion, the United States sent small numbers of tanks to Europe for short deployments throughout 2015.

The following year brought significant changes to the US force posture in Europe. A seminal 2016 report by the RAND Corporation war-gamed a hypothetical Russian invasion of the Baltic states and found that Russian forces would reach the outskirts of the Estonian or Latvian capitals within sixty hours—and perhaps in as few as thirty-six. The report further assessed existing NATO defenses would be completely overwhelmed and that the alliance would have to launch a bloody counteroffensive to eject Russian forces from the Baltics. RAND ultimately recommended that NATO position a force of approximately seven brigades, augmented by airpower and fire support, in the Baltics to prevent them from being rapidly overrun by a Russian attack.

NATO had arrived at similar conclusions and solidified the Enhanced Forward Presence initiative at the July 2016 Warsaw summit. This involved the assignment of four multinational battalions—separately led by German, British, Canadian, and US forces—to Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; it was the largest addition to the NATO defense posture in a generation. In 2017, the Army contributed additional forces by executing its first nine-month heel-to-toe deployments of armored brigade combat teams and combat aviation brigades to Europe. The armor rotations will likely continue in the near term, even as discussions between DoD, Congress, and NATO allies continue regarding drawdown of US forces in Germany and the potential establishment of a permanent US base in Poland.

This is the operational environment tactical-level leaders will find when they get to Europe. It is also one that will see them occupy more traditional roles at the tactical level as part of conventional, combined arms teams than has been the case during the long years of America’s post-9/11 wars. Despite this, the qualities required of “strategic lieutenants” in Iraq and Afghanistan remain important. Junior leaders must still be educated in strategy, history, and current affairs to make informed decisions when they find themselves at the forefront of the US military’s place in great power competition.

Learning the Terrain and the Enemy

Preparation for a deployment to Europe should begin with every soldier understanding the tactical, operational, and strategic environment into which the unit will deploy. Leaders should leverage their unit intelligence sections to provide background briefings in addition to the doctrinal outputs from the intelligence preparation of the battlefield process. The intelligence section’s early provision of friendly and enemy equipment recognition guides will assist every soldier in distinguishing friend from foe. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of friendly force equipment will ease future planning for partnered training events in theater.

Additionally, leaders and the intelligence section should together analyze the terrain of their future area of operations and prepare maps and graphics for anticipated training areas. Germany’s Hohenfels Training Area, Bulgaria’s Novo Selo Training Area, and Poland’s Drawsko Pomorskie and Bemowo Piskie Training Areas and Miroslawiec Air Base are among the most commonly frequented by units deploying to Europe. The brigade’s geospatial-intelligence cell should distribute standardized tactical maps of central Europe and the Baltic states that clearly illustrate avenues of approach suitable for wheeled and tracked vehicles. Furthermore, units should study battles fought on the same terrain to accumulate historical context and lessons learned. World War II’s Eastern Front offensives coupled with Cold War planning to secure key terrain like the Fulda Gap are useful in informing the way we conceptualize today’s strategic environment and concerns with the Suwalki Gap. Additionally, the Soviet Army’s Vistula–Oder Offensive in January 1945 serves as a particularly useful case study to help armor leaders visualize a combined arms attack across Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine into Germany. The Army University Press even offers free virtual staff rides of the Battles of the Marne (1914) and Stalingrad (1942–1943) to facilitate historical analysis of European warfare. Table-top exercises to study these battles can be incorporated into existing company and battalion leader professional development programs to build readiness. Because terrain does not change much over time, junior leaders’ investment in terrain analysis is almost guaranteed to yield future dividends.

However, future Russian military operations in Europe will likely look much different than those executed in the past. Therefore, historical study must be accompanied by thorough examination of emerging Russian military technology and tactics. Russia’s campaigns in SyriaLibya, and Ukraine’s Donbas region provide insight into how the Russian military fights in the modern age, task-organizing electronic warfare at the lowest echelons, for instance, and incorporating private military companies as force multipliers. Within Europe, the Russian military has also leveraged well-coordinated intelligence collection and information operations against US and NATO forces to discredit them. As such, even company-level training can yield strategic consequences if thoroughly exploited by the Russians. The battalion staff and company leadership should therefore explore how to best allocate the unit’s intelligence collection and analysis capabilities across the formation and manage the unit’s digital footprint. Rotational units may conduct exercises on NATO’s eastern flanks not far from Russian training sites; such proximity inherently puts friendly units at risk of Russian intelligence collection and information operations.

The unit intelligence section owns the lion’s share of creating shared understanding of Russian military capabilities and vulnerabilities, but the unit should also liaise with other organizations in the intelligence community particularly the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Ground Intelligence Center, to obtain classified intelligence reports and briefings on the current enemy situation, Russian order of battle, and hybrid warfare. These agencies may even be willing to host site visits for unit leaders or, at a minimum, participate in classified video teleconferences to brief unit leaders on their future area of operations. Unit leaders could then maintain relationships with the agencies’ European threat analysts throughout the deployment and provide bottom-up refinement of their intelligence assessments. Such collaboration will only benefit both the Army and the intelligence community over time.

Leaders at the battalion or brigade level should also contact Army FAOs—foreign area officers—at the European embassies in countries where the unit will deploy. FAOs can bridge military and political considerations, providing strategic insight beyond the usual purview of a brigade combat team. FAOs can also coordinate briefings with an embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation and Defense Attaché Office and might provide recommended readings that unit leaders can incorporate into leader professional development programs.

Basic Deployment Readiness for the European Mission

Although “readiness” has been the Army’s watchword nearly a decade, it includes theater-specific considerations for rotational deployments to Europe. Company leaders in Europe-aligned units, therefore, can begin pursuing the qualifications and licensing necessary to mobilize for deployment. The standard qualifications for a unit mobility officer, hazardous material, vehicle drivers’ licenses, and government credit cards should be supplemented by international drivers’ licenses, training for contracting officers, and disbursement of funds, along with arranging for diplomatic clearances. Additionally, identifying soldiers in the unit who speak European languages can inform manning for liaison officer positions and build the capability to read local open-source material in the unit’s future area of operations.

Lastly, studying successful previous rotational deployments and partnered training events can ease the workload of training management during the deployment. As institutional knowledge of these rotational deployments is still somewhat limited, unit leaders should look to previous units’ experiences to inform the preparation for their own.

Leadership Calculus

This great power competition environment, with its reduction of traditional “combat deployments,” places rotational training events in higher regard. Tactical leaders face an incredible leadership challenge when determining how to prepare and deploy soldiers to these events. As defense budgets continue to contract, the Army must retain strategic and operational flexibility to provide its stabilizing influence on global affairs. Readiness to deploy composes a large portion of this flexibility. While it is impossible to be 100 percent ready at all times, tactical leaders must understand that while they are not actively deployed, they will likely be training or assisting their higher headquarters to train. They must understand further that while officers and senior noncommissioned officers rotate through units frequently, their lower ranking noncommissioned officers and lower enlisted soldiers do not. It is the tactical leaders’ burden to shoulder this understanding and responsibly steward soldiers’ time in the garrison environment, with the knowledge that near-constant rotational deployments and training cycles likely lay ahead. Communication of the long-range training calendar to soldiers and their families can help manage expectations and prepare the force for increased operational tempo. Any type of predictability that unit leaders can provide is critical.

Given the constraints that a typical brigade combat team’s training cycle levies upon its members with respect to field time and time away from family, considerations must be made to fully understand the impacts of training decisions made. An unfortunate truth of being assigned to an armored brigade combat team is the necessity of longer-duration training events given their cost. Thus, tactical-level leaders should maintain a pulse on their formations in multiple ways. Command climate surveys, family days and activities, and simple off-duty interactions between members of the unit can enable leaders to understand these impacts. Successful management of time at the small-unit level leads to more productive soldiers.

The role of tactical-level leaders in an era of great power competition is important—and challenging. They face a complex and uncertain operational environment and a highly demanding operational tempo during rotational deployments. It is likely that they will be left with fewer and fewer resources to complete their tasks as hard decisions are made about future budget allocations. Yet despite these challenges, it is important to realize that they are surmountable. These rotations are at the very center of great power competition, and their strategic implications are vast. Leaders at the tactical level have a contribution to make, and the US military’s effectiveness in this new era will hinge, in part, on their ability to adapt to and succeed in this dynamic operational environment—on the front lines of great power competition.

Maj. Brigid Calhoun graduated from the US Military at West Point in 2011 and served in the 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) as the brigade assistant S-2, the 1-503 Infantry Battalion (Airborne) S-2, and military intelligence company commander. She is currently pursuing a master of policy management from Georgetown University as part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Internship Program.

Capt. Alexander Boroff is a fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point. He is an armor officer currently serving in the Joint Staff Public Affairs Office as part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Internship Program. His previous publications include topics such as general organizational leadership in public and private sectors, as well as Army reconnaissance training. He tweets at @UnsolicitedArmy.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

Posted in armeija, Baltic situation, in English, Reserviläiset, Sodanajan toiminta, Suuri peli, War in Baltic Region | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Armeijan ampumataulut täytyy muuttaa!

SRA taulu sekä PaHun tuore rintarengastaulu valmiina palvelemaan ammunanharrastamista. Oma kuva.

Rupesin tässä ajattelemaan, insinöörityön lähtökohtia miettiessäni, että kotoiset ampumataulut opettavat ampumaan A2 Keltaista, mistä suunnasta hän ikinä hyökkääkään, väärään paikkaan.

Ennekuin nyt tyrmäät ajatuksen suorilta, niin kuuntelepa perustelut ensin: Kun ajatellaan normi SRA tai ns rintarengastaulua, pyritään ampumaan vihollista vitaaleille: sydämen, aortan ja keuhkojen kohdille. Siis aikalailla massan keskipisteeseen, mutta vähän yläpuolelle. Tässä ei mitään vikaa, mutta kun A2 Keltainen on raukka- sekä epäurheilijamaisesti peittänyt nämä vitaalit sekä idässä että lännessä ns “Strike plateilla” ei melko täydellisen luotisuojan antavilla inserteillä. Nämä antavat, jos .30 tai tai 7,62mm väljyykisistä puhutaan, suojan aina 30-06 panssarinläpäisyluoteja vastaan. Ainakin läntisillä suojilla. Wikipedia artikkeli erilaisita suojaustandardeista englanniksi.

Kuvassa kolme Pininterestistä napattua geneeristä brittitaistelijaa. He eivät liity asiaan mitenkään muutoin, kuin että heillä on päällään Osprey suojaliivien, tai LuSun perusosa: Se osa jonka alle NIJ IV tason suoja pujotetaan. Kuten huomaatte reunimmaisilla taistelijoilla, NIJ IV levy peittää hyvin tarkkaan tuon vitaalien ampuma-alueen. Olkapäille ja kaulalle on saatavilla kaulukset, jotka kestävät kyllä sirpaleita, mutta eivät luoteja .357 magnumia enempää.

Kuten edelläolevasta kuvasta näette, Väinö Linnan Tuntemattomassa sotilaassa antama “tähdätkää vyönsolkeen” neuvo on erittäin pätevä: Sinne ei ole saatavilla levyä, vain tuo noin NIJ III tason pehmeä suojaus. Tälläisesta NIJ III suojasta uivat läpi kaikki nyky rynnäkkökiväärien luodit.

Luotisujalevyn, jenkkilässä SAPI-levyn, koko on medium kokoisella käyttäjällä  241 x 318 mm. Eli suurinpiirtein A4 koon paperi (210x297mm), SAPI, tai joku sen jatkokehitelmistä, peittää juurikin tuon mainitun vitaalialueen taistelijoilta sekä edestä että takaa. Tämä alue on SRA tauluun suhteutettuna suurempi kuin A-osumien ala (150x280mm). Kun SRA taulun C-aluekin on maksimissaan 250x400mm ei tuon SAPI levyn takaa löydy paljon tilaa edes C osumille.

Eli siis: Suomalaisia sotilaita ei kannata opettaa lyttäämään luoteja vastustajan rintaan, mistä ne eivät, ainakaan ensimäisillä kolmella-neljällä osumalla mene läpi, vaan kannattaa opettaa “tähtäämään vyönsolkeen”.

Niinsanottu “SPOL-taulu” antaa hieman paremman harjoituksen ammuntaan, koska A alue ulottuu suhteellisen alas taulussa. Spol taulussa ei ole myöskään tähtäämistä helpottavia/ohjaavia valkoisia merkintöjä, joten se palvelee kohtuu hyvin myös hyvinsuojattujen taistelijoiden nynnistämistä.

Ammuttu SPOL taulu Defendo Green lähitaistelukurssilta Oulusta keväältä 2018. Oma kuva

Elikkä minusta kannattaisi harkita taulujen muuttamista siten, että ne, ainakin puolustuvoimissa, ohjaisivat ampumaan SAPI levyjen alle. Valkoisia tähtäysympyröitä olisi helppo sijoittaa tauluun kaksi. Toiden vyönsolkeen ja toisen vitaaleille. Itse olisin tähtäyspaikan opettamisen mahaan kannalla, koska kauempaa on vaikea todeta vihollisesta minkälaiset suojat tällä on tai on olematta. Siksi olisi kustannustehokkainta opetella ampumaan alas.

Posted in Aseet, Aseet ja varusteet, Epäselvää ajatustenlentoa, henk.koht, Jotain aivan muuta, SRA, varusteet | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gripens on Haukkavuori

This is the last instalment of SEAD/ Air to ground scenario against Russian installations on Suursaari (Hogland) island. If you want to read about the premises of the scenario, the basis is HERE.

First three quite important things that you should take into consideration in this video and appraisal.

  • Command Modern Warfare does not have SAAB GlobalEye in the database. Thus I use older iteration of same platform, Eriye as a replacement. eriye is at least ten years older technology and not based on Gallium electronics so performance with Eriye is significantly less than with GlobalEye
  • Command modern warfare does not have AREXIS jammerpod in its database. Thus it is not available for this scenario.
  • thirdly We have no way of knowing what kind of loadouts SAAb and SwAF and FAF are thinking for their Gripen E/F fleets, and Gripen may not be that requeted for platform, in Command that it might get loadouts late and they might not be all that accurate.

That said, Eriye really gives advantages due it’s threat library in recognizing installments like radars on Suursaari, but does not really help in picking the Air defense batteries out of the foliage. That is but a secondary thing, considering the AWACS real use of Battle space management and airborne early warning. In passive realm, there is just not that much it can do from that kind of range.

Of course, the SDB-39 glide bombs have a nice range, they are stand off weapons, and are quite handy in dispatching troublesome air defense bubbles, but they do require quite big salvoes to do the trick properly. In fact the expenditure was quite high, 48 and 45, on two latter runs of the scenario. I even had to bring in the last resort flight groups with cluster bombs and Mavericks. This is because of absence of offensive jamming on Gripens part. (I hope AREXIS comes into the CMW soon) Also the simulation is quite adept so that it doesn’t try to hit targets like radar installation with cluster munitions, but reserves them for air defense sites.

As you can see, the casualties were rather light, and came after a lot of missile fire from the VVS. This might also be contributed to absence of offensive jamming on Gripens part. AREXIS will take care of this, but as mentioned it has not been modeled into the Command modern warfare.

Gripens turn on whack-a-mole in Eastern Gulf of Finland. Quite a good run, and lots of hard knocks to see.

One more thing hard to fathom is how much inferior SAAB Gripen seems to be in Command Modern Warfare as compared to Typhoon and Rafale particularly. It picks the targets rather late from the ground (even though Litening pod should not be a slouch). This might be bias, (I don’t think so), or it might be because Gripen E is lesser known and to some extend still in production. It is after all totally new platform. So it might be downplayed a bit. I do get that the nosecone is of a smaller diameter, so the radar cannot physically have as many elements as the eg Typhoons radar have (they do come, after all, from same company, Leonardo, so difference in competence should not be there)

So Gripen does a good job on cleaning the AD bubble over southern Finland. Eriyes range is indeed impressive to see on the map. Even if Gripen is the smallest munitions carrier in HX-program it does a nice job.

Posted in Baltic situation, Buildup to war, hypoteesitilanne, ilmavoimat, in English, simulaatio, Skenaariot, Sodanajan toiminta, Sotapelit, Suomi ja Ruotsi, War in Baltic Region | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Typhoons over Suurkylä

This is second to last installment over Ground/SEAD mission over Suursaari area. The general plan is laid out HERE if you like to read the general plan before googling the video.

Typhoon is the thoroughbred, well at least the most optimized, A2A platform of the the HX bunch. To be clear every platform in the bunch can do everything pretty well, but the optimization is where the devil truly lies. But as with all modern fighters the HX-winner is supposed to be able to do everything “well enough” to be a feasible platform in most eventualities.

Some info on HX-proposal. The SPEAR 3 and SPEAR EW feature heavily on video. Own Photo.

As I told in Rafale post earlier The optimization in Typhoon is quite evident: Canards are quite small and way to the front, as compared to Rafale and Gripen, and also there is way more wing area (50-51,2 m2 depending on source, Rafale has 45,7 m2 and Gripen 30 m2) to give lift and maneuverability to platform. The cross-play with wing area, maneuverability, carrying capacity, and service ceiling is complex one, but as a rule of a thumb lighter plane with bigger wings can go higher, than heavy one with stubby wings. But wings cause drag as they create lift, so it really is not a straightforward exchange. For our purpose, Typhoon can go highest of the HX-candidates, almost to 20km, and thus has corresponding advantages on missile ranges. (Again, rule of a thumb: Every 6km of height, double the range of a A2A missile.)

Some info about the SPEAR family. Own photo.

Although in this scenario there is not really need for Meteors or any other A2A missiles, they are as always carried. Another intresting point in simulation is that Command Modern warfare appreciates DASS as not having as good as threath library as SPECTRE or BARRACUDA. DASS does detect the threats just as far off as Rafale and Lightining do, but identifies them significantly later. (Again, commercial product, maybe 75% accurate, so not word of God.) Also what is peculiar, DASS doesn’t seem to pick up anything passively: You have to turn CAPTOR on to get contacts on VVS installations.

The video about Typhoons doing DEAD against facilities in Suursaari. Own production.

Never the less. Tyhoons did really good over Suursaari. This is because of outstanding performance of SPEAR EW and SPEAR 3 missiles. Granted you use a lot of them. but that is sort of the purpose of this kind of missiles: They are way cheaper than cruise missiles, they do a lot less damage, but you can saturate the air defense so that when SPEAR 3s come out rom behind the electronic warfare or jamming screen, you just don’t have enough time to take down all of them. After you have annihilated the air defense, you can use relatively cheap ordnance to dispose the rest of targets.

So expenditures after three rounds, it takes a lot of SPEAR 3 to get by.

Posted in HX-ohjelma, in English, Skenaariot | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some heavy Breezes from North

Dassault Rafale is, in my humble opinion, the dark horse of the HX-campaign. Dassault does not toot their own horn that vigorously, but their product is top of the line. And If one considers JUST the interdiction/Close Air Support or general ground splashing would be the contested winner of the the bunch: Great load carrying capability, and good range. Maybe a bit on the slow side, but still a great asset all around.

Also I read yesterday from Kauhava airshow pages, that Rafale is going to have a performance there in 28-30.8.2020 (28th to 30th of August for Anglican world). Kauhava is sort of my home base, as my very late Grandfather was a flight instructor there during the wars and into 1950’ies.

This scenario is . In this scenario Finnish Air force is destroyng Area surveillance and and area missile threat to southern Finland and surface vessels in middle-eastern Gulf of Finland area. Read the article linked, to get a more comprehensive view.

Rafale B in Rovaniemi May 2017. Photo my own

Rafale is meant to be Armee del Air’s primary fighter for untill 2050ies, and has enjoyed some export successes internationally. It shares the common origins with Eurofighter typhoon, but as when the French wanted to go towards strike fighter optimized platform, the British wanted to have air superiority optimized platform. This is visible on the positioning and size of Canards: Typhoon has them far in the front and relatively small for speed and manouverability, Rafale has the canards close to the main wings and quite large for carrying capability.

Sidewiev of Rafale B in ACE 2017 in Rovaniemi. Own photo.

As for the task in hand Rafale has a quite good selection of AS weaponry and , most notably the SCALP EG/ Storm Shadow stealth cruise missile. This will be used to take out the Pantsir and TOR systems protecting the S-300 and Air surveillance radar, and of course the anti ship battery. After that French AASM/HAMMER glide bombs with M82 500lb (250kg) warheads will be used. There will not be aerial threats present.

In some discussions there has been a concern about “Rafale only uses French weapons. The point is not quite as important as it would seem on two accounts: Firstly Weapons like Meteor ARE integrated to Rafale platform, and as Meteor will be the BWR missile of FAF, (barring the selection of F/A-18 E/F/G) you can’t really say that you are married to French weapons manufacture. (MBDA is pan-European company). Also as AASM/HAMMER is clearly superior in performance to PAVEWAY-series, you MIGHT want to use them anyway. Also as a side note Meteor is itself compatible with earlier AMRAAM data link, so you are sort of married to western technology than a certain manufacturer. This MIGHT affect FAF if Finns want to use airborne anti ship missiles, because then Rafales are sort of married to Exocet-missiles. Although I’m sure that with time and money you can get anything integrated.

Again the 59N6 Protivnik sees the Rafales pretty much as soon as they have left the aerodrome and risen to sufficient height to have cleared the radar horizon. This demonstrates the problem with this kind of radar amply: It makes all kinds of transporting and shift of airborne assets more costly, as the planes have to fly low and use more fuel.

Single Rafale B detected, but not identified at about 133 NM out at about 17500 feet by 59N6 Protivnik. Rafale’s SPECTRE starts to see the same targets about the same time, so it is radar horizon thing.
All the players are in field. The SSM system is analyzed, all else is still speculation.

One thing about the video: The lost Rafale C. I have no clue WHY it started doing honor laps around the island. I had ordered it away, and to drop a couple of AASM on the S-300. It did neither. So it is quite possible, that it is just a hick up in the simulation. I do know SPECTRE system is really top notch protection suite, but obviously you cannot rely on it keeping your plane safe no matter what. It seems to me that when planes are flying in formations of 3 Command lets the one fly off to some direction, and it is quite hard to command single plane (if it is a part of the flight) to change directions. Thus I think 2 losses for Rafales in rundown are due the simulation SW, rather than the plane.

The Pantsir’s are unable to engage the SCALP EGs with missile, but they can try to shoot them down with cannon fire when they come into electro-optical systems range. This capability could further deteriorate if sufficient water vapor was present in air. Say fog or rainfall. Pantrirs are capable of engaging AASM HAMMERS with missiles from further out, but this capability might be neutralized with sufficiently powerful and right directional jamming.

After the Pantsirs are down taking the S-300 and rest of the assets on Hogland is pretty straightforward practise. You can quite handily pull this off by use of AASM Hammers: When you drop a salvo, 5 pieces of ordnance, the last usually get through after the Pantsir has exhausted missiles and guns.

Video of Rafales on Hogland. it is over 36 minutes long.
As I mentioned second Rafales lost in round 2 and 3 are, IMHO, due to simulation software’s peculiarities. The defenses can be taken apart by many ways. Usually I use SCALP EGs, expensive, but tried the saturation too with loads of AASM-54s. Also as a note. 3rd round last two planes were airborne over AFB, but did not take part in the fight.

Also Millenium 7* history tech, a fellow you tuber who makes really good technical/historical evaluation of the aeroplanes present in HX-competition released a video on Dassault Rafale on 29.7.2020. I link it here, so you can have a look.

Posted in HX-ohjelma, in English, Skenaariot | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lightning Strikes on Lounatkorkea

This time it is F-35 lightning IIs time to try their hand in blind man’s bluff in Suursaari/Hogland strike.

This video was delayed in making, because I dropped my mic, and it did not survive it. Now I got a new and better one.

Finland has been offered as a part of the HX-fighter replacement program F-35 A fighters which leave something to be desired in Command modern warfare context: They do not have any kind of SEAD/DEAD configuration in database (as I’m writing this in June 2020, this might change) One COULD use F-35I configuration maybe but as this is not offered to Finland and relies heavily on Israeli systems, so I feel it is not fair if I take this version in simulation. I have toyed around with British F-35 Bs, and their SPEAR EW expendaple jammer drones. But I declined to use them in this scenario. As a compromise I picked Norwegian F-35 A variant which at least had the JSM, joint strike missile available. I will also note that HARM-ER will be adopted for F-35 use. but is not available currently in Command Modern Warfare.

The F-35 A is by concept very different beast from all other HX-candidates. it is the only low observable, RCS is about 0,35 squre meters, fighter in the bunch. Which is not to say that others are high observable, at or about 1m squre. Even though RCSs is about one third of the other candidates, does not mean that F-35 can only be picked at one third of the distance the others can. It is about half the distance in reality. Inverse square law is after all function in distance and RCS. On rough terms every time the distance to radar doubles energy that gets reflected back to radar is divided by four. If F-35 A are only using their internal bays, they can be picked at 70 nm, and if they are in “beast mode” all the way to 100 nm. So stealth helps, but not that much in this scenario. They are flying more or less straight on the radars, so the RCS should be at its minimum.

Another point with F-35 A is the absence of jammers: IF you are employing a fighter that lives and dies by the stealth, mounting evermore powerful jammers that radiate like there is no tomorrow would defeat the purpose of stealth. They CAN however jam with their radar, so I use that option as default.

As you can see, Russian AD uses a lot of missiles when it tries to keep the S-300 and radar alive. And usually, if they are smart, the F-35 can escape harm. Sometimes thoug they fly into the sea area between Hogland and the two small islets to south, and are shot from three directions, which usually means casualities.

The video is not of any of previous, but it goes about as well as it usually goes, so I think it is really very good summary of what usually happens.

In English this time with all JSM loadout, 4 per plane.
Posted in HX-ohjelma, SEAD, simulaatio, Skenaariot, Sotapelit | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AFB Halli’s Hornets at the fray.

If you want to see the defenses in the island please refer to post Blind man’s Bluff.


As the Boeing case is made to great extend Super Hornets and Growlers SEAD capabilites I chose to have 4 Growlers for 8 Rhinos. This reflects the USN ay of doing things so I think it would be a safe bet of going about it like this.

Loadouts are these. Sarvikuono 1 to 3 are the first wave in with Growlers 1 and 2 All are in SEAD/DEAD load out with AARMG missiles and JSOWs with cluster munitions. All of these first six planes will fly in high to max out the ranges of standoff weapons. I included in the first scenario also some bombdroppers and Sarvikuono 4 with MALD jammers.

Growlers are in short range SEAD configuration with 3 NG jammer pods and 2 AARGM missiles. To support them three F/A-18 Es are also in SEAD/DEAD configuration. They dont have jammers, but they have 2 AARGMS and 2 JSOWS with cluster munitions (yes yes, Princess Diana and all that, but humor me). Sarvikuono 4 is a support fighter that will carry the MALD load. MALD is remote jammer that can be parked just outside the weaponsrange of enemy so that MALD will effectively jam AD systems. As you can see in video.

After that there is two F/A-18 Es with 4 cluster bombs and two more with close air support loadout with AGM-179 JAGM pods. (sort of like hellfire but better) These can help in taking out the air defenses if needed.

The execution

First of all. I practiced the scenario like 10 times before I was confident that I can give somewhat accurate picture of what will happen. What is really enlightening that AARGMs and JSOWs cannot penetrate to the island unless there is jamming present. If there is not adequate jamming, Pantsir and TOR systems will shoot them down from the air in quick succession. So waht is really evident that Growler is indeed a game changer! Also there were multiple hits in practise runs but 3-5 times hit Rhino survived the hit and managed to return to the base. Unfortunately I was not able to find out what missile these were, ans it might be that somewhat lighter missiles might be less lethal.

I played the scenario three times this time around, and 1st time with 12 sorties. Rounds two and three I did with 6 (5 if you exclude the MALD carrier) that succeeded in taking down the SSM missile site, the area surveillance radar and S-300 system. “Winning” the scenario revolves around destroying these three higher level assets. Pantsir and TOR systems are meant to protect higher level assets, but don’t really pose threat in same level as S-300 poses.

I did the video on round 1, in which I keep the Growlers further away, but bring the MALDs jus off shore of the island. This blinds the AD systems in the Suursaari/Hogland island quite handily. This might also be why I did’t lose a single fighter in this scenario. Rounds two and three I did with Growlers up close and personal, and the Sarvikuono 1 to 3 to shoot from behind the jamming and firt take out the defenses in the northern part of island, then whack the big radar, and then take out the S-300 with JSOW or two. The PANTSIR in northern part usually takes 3-4 AARGMs before it is silenced, after which you can take the SSM site with JSOW.

Video is here. It is approx 24 minute long. Peculiarities of my English are mine. Here I use all 12 planes, but in later scenarious could accomplish about the same with five fighters.


I lost one Rhino in each of the last two scenarios. I think it is because the Sarvikuono 1-3 like to come closer to shoot the last missiles. I cant see reason for this, as taking out the northern tip of the Hogland defenses they shoot from over Kotka town. So it might be because of “Command modern warfare” or it might have to do with defilade, but I can’t say with any reasonable certainty.

Results of three rounds of simulation.

As evident the lethality of Rhino/Growler SEAD mission was not greatly affected of leaving half of the force at Halli AFB. Also what is evident that a lot of defensive missileas are fired with wery low kill probability. One has to, in all fairness, mention that Pantsirs and Tors managed to down some inbound ordnance in every scenario.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know why some Rhinos like to come too close after they have fired their ordnance. If I read the database right, there really is no reason to do so. Also there is more than 100 missiles in the containers for the air defenses, so I just didn’t wait and bait for them to empty magazines and then go for the kill.

I think that use of MALDs in round one prevented the loss of assets for ilmavoimat. That is because in environment where there are four Growlers and two MALDS blanketing ALL you frequencies, and you are rained upon with weapons launch of which you cant see, there is a precious little you can find, let alone target.

Use of more fighters might serve helpful if you want to take everything out and saturate the defenses, but that is a bit wasteful way of accomplishing this mission.

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Blind man’s bluff in Suursaari Casino

I have been very delighted about the amount of reads I have gotten from abroad concerning the HX-program and my installments about fighter action in Archipelago sea. As a err say public service I thought it might be wiser to make same kind of posts in English so that, I humbly hope, the readers can continually come is and get their HX-simulations and analysis from epämuodikkaita ajatuksia.

The Finnish bid of HX figter replacement scenario is centered around seven scenarios Finnish airforce asked the sellers to address. I do not have the foggiest what these might be, so I have decided to make a guess what these might be. This time around we will be seeing how the HX fighters fare against modern/modernish Air defense complex situated in Suursaari.

The scenario

Suursaari used to be a part of Finland, and nowadays it is sort of a enclave of Soviet union pushed between Estonia and Finland. There actually IS an radar station on the island, but as a buildup for war I think there would most definitely be a long range Air defense complex as well.

Suursaari is, as you can see, rather close to finnish coast and only maybe a 130km from Helsinki. So it gives Russia a good lace for monitoring the Finnish southern aerospace.

I dropped some assets for ir defense as well. I ventured for S-300 Systemin its most modern form protected by exessive amount of Buk M1 and Pantsir systems. I have come to underrestand that Russians have not been too impressed with Patsir in Syria and have mostly been protecting the system with TORs since Israeli Air Force gave them good walloping earlier.

The place of radar in real life. I t is obviously at the highest point of the Suursaari. I placed other defensive assets to other high points for defense.

Russian defenses in place. BUK M1 plattoons have ample range to get into play from smaller islands without creating too target rich enviroment into the island.

So here you have the target. Lets get started with attacking force. The goal is to destroy the surveillance radar, S-300 system and SSM system. All else is extra. I try to take into account different Air forces different approaches to SEAD/DEAD warfare and most of all to give it a honest run. If there are anomalies i point them out.

First up are the Super Hornets.

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Boeing julkaisi Loyal Wingman prototyypin Australiassa.

Jos haluat lukea aiheesta lisää kolmannella kotimaisella, niin Defense Newsillä on juttua.

Olen itsekin hieman aihetta käsitellyt tekstissä “Sitten Boeing vetäisi ässän hihasta” juurikin koskien tätä Boeing Australian Loyal Wingman dronea. Kyseinen Drone on nyt siis prototyyppinä olemassa, ja Boeing on osoittanut, että konetta voidaan lentää muodostelmassa etänä. (GeekWiren juttu) .

Tämä tarkoittaa, että Loyal Wingmania voidaan käyttää tiedustelu- tai ElSosovelluksiin, sekä sensorialustana. Sensorialustana toimiessaan tämä huomattavan vaikeasti havaittava drooni. Tällöin drooni edessä havaitsee kohteita, jolloin vielä näkymättömissä takana oleva ampuja pääsee ampumaan pitkän kantaman ohjuksia

HX-ohjelmajohtaja Lauri Puranen kertoi, että loyal Wingman ei ole mukana tässä ensimäisessä tarjouksessa, mutta ymmärrettävästi jos valinta kohdistuu F/A-18 E/F/G pakettiin, saattaa tulla ajankohatiseksi tulevaisuudessa. Loyal Wingman ei siis ole mukana HX-tarjouksessa. Edelleen Puranen kertoi että droonit, yhtään kenenkään droonit tällä hetkellä, eivät ole vielä lähellekään samaa tasoa miehitetyn hävittäjän kanssa.

USAn laivasto esimerkiksi suunnitelee droonien käyttöä tukitehtävissä, kuten ilmatankkauksessa, mutta tekoäly on vielä kaukana skynetistä ja terminaattroiroboteista. Eli paljon virtaa vielä vettä Kymijoessa ennekuin toimivia isoja drooneja Suomen ilmavoimilla on.

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Hyvä juttu miksi Growler oli Suomelle niin suunnaattoman tärkeä!

Oli juttu kopioitu osoitteesta . Vahva lukusuositus. Koitan jos saisi aikaan jonkinmoisen retostelun aiheesta. Jutun alkuperäinen kirjoitta Mark Ayton.

A Deeper Growl

By Mark Ayton -April 15, 2020

An EA-18G Growler assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 loaded with a ALQ-249 Next Gen Jammer pod on station 3 (middle).

One of the most powerful weapon systems in America’s arsenal, the EA-18G Growler,  is about to get even better with the introduction of the Next Gen Jammer.

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Today, all Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft are assigned to bases located around the Pacific. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state is the EA-18G Growler master jet base. Whidbey is also home to Commander, Electronic Attack Wing, US Pacific Fleet, the parent wing for all Growler-equipped Electronic Attack Squadrons; a fleet replacement squadron, nine carrier-assigned squadrons and five land-based joint expeditionary squadrons. The latter are manned by both US Navy (USN) and US Air Force (USAF) personnel. One of the carrier-assigned squadrons is based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.

Both the carrier-assigned and land-based Growler squadrons regularly deployed around the Pacific theatre. Joint expeditionary squadrons deploy to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Anderson Air Base, Guam and Australia. Squadrons assigned to Pacific Fleet carriers transit across the theatre on regular deployments to the Persian Gulf, and on short cruises to participate in major exercises such as RIMPACValiant Shield and Northern Edge. These collective deployments make a much greater footprint around the Pacific theatre compared to those staged in the European and Central Command theatres.

However, the Growler’s Pacific theatre footprint is not just down to the USN, as Australia also operates the EA-18G with a single Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron based at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. Despite its one-squadron force, the presence of Australian Growlers on the Pacific theatre’s southern flank, based within deployable range of many areas of South East Asia represents a formidable capability in a politically tense part of the world.

Royal Australian Air Force Growlers from No.6 Squadron prepare for a mission during Exercise Pitch Black 2018.


Back in 2001, the US Department of Defense (DoD) tasked the Department of the Navy to undertake an analysis of alternatives for a new-generation electronic attack aircraft.

The result of the study was the EA-18G Growler, a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, built and configured as a stand-off and escort jammer for the USN. Now in its second decade of service, the EA-18G continues to be the only dedicated tactical electronic attack aircraft in the DoD’s inventory.

Captain Jason Denney, the F/A-18 Hornet and EA-18G Growler programme manager with Naval Air Systems Command’s PMA-265 said the aircraft has a fantastic ability to disrupt signals, deny communications, jam radars and provide crucial support and intelligence, not just to a Navy strike group, but deployed combatant commanders. “The Growler’s ability to work with all other aircraft, not just those in the carrier air wing but within the DoD, makes it a critical node operating with deployed Air Force, Army and Marine Corps expeditionary units; interoperability is a large key performance parameter for the Growler.”

The EA-18G’s primary antennas and sensors are housed in two Northrop Grumman ALQ-218 wing-tip pods with additional antennas located on the forward and aft of the aircraft appropriately separated so the system correctly processes signals.

Threats can be detected throughout the RF spectrum measured in small elements. The signal is handed over to a secondary receiver which measures very fine and parametric measurements of the frequency and amplitude. Geo-location of the threat is calculated by interferometry; measuring differences in phase, the waveform angle relative to the aircraft’s position in time.

Growler system software is embedded into the standard Super Hornet release but features a third level displaying all electronic attack options. Recognition of the aircraft’s electronic attack systems and the ALQ-218 activates the third level. Aircrew use HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) controls to view, operate from and switch between all three levels of display.

One control capability of the advanced crew station is interlinking of the forward (pilot) and aft cockpits (electronic warfare officer or EWO) that allow the two crew to operate the aircraft and its system with full co-ordination; the EWO uses four primary displays in the aft cockpit which are inter-linked to the front seat.

Bring back (the stores load an aircraft is permitted to land back on the carrier’s flight deck with) is a design feature of all carrier-capable aircraft. Growlers only releasable stores (weapons) are AGM-88 HARM, AGM-88E AARGM and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles; otherwise its full stores load has to return to the ship. During carrier suitability trials, VX-23 undertook gross-weight expansion testing to increase the Growler’s bring-back capability to 48,000lb (21,773kg) including fuels, up from the Super Hornet’s 44,000lb  (19,958kg) load. This involved launch and recovery operations using a test aircraft loaded to its heaviest configuration.

Catapult shots had to ensure tow-bar, nose-bar, gear and hook point loads were within the required limits for launching the aircraft. Arrested landings with a gross weight of 48,000lb were conducted under various simulated conditions to test de-acceleration, high-sink rate landings, roll/yaw offset landings and different attitudes.

Tactical jamming systems

However, the EA-18G aircraft is only part of the Growler weapons system. The electronic attack mission is conducted by the EDO ALQ-99 tactical jamming system in US Navy operation since 1971. Continual upgrades have enabled the ALQ-99 to remain relevant against potential threats from around the world. Different types of ALQ-99 pod are dedicated to notional wave bands and therefore target sets and what the attack solution should be.

Over the past 35 years, the ALQ-99 has been upgraded in different ways; by either wave band, by radio frequency exciter or by universal exciter. Back in 2005 the ALQ-99 system hit its technology ceiling. Certain new target sets can be accommodated with small tweaks to the system, those of a communication or asymmetric warfare type, but for the latest surface-to-air missile systems, the ceiling was inhibitive. New architecture was required.

An alternative of alternatives for a Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) was undertaken, and completed in April 2010. That November, a resources, requirements and review (R3) board sat at the Pentagon, which provided validation to build the system for use by the EA-18G. During 2010, technology and maturity contracts were awarded to Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, ITT with Boeing, and BAE Systems focussed on maturing the technology required for the context of the NGJ system.

Providing sufficient power and cooling for an electronic attack capability on a tactical size aircraft is a big challenge. There’s a trade-off between power and range which is constrained by physics; the more power the more generation required, but the EA-18G does not generate a lot of excess power so power generation needs to be built into the pod.

The ALQ-99 uses externally-mounted RAM air turbines, a pitched propeller that generates a lot of power. That’s not an option for the NGJ because the power required by its solid state and active array technologies is too great for an externally-mounted RAM air turbine as used by the ALQ-99; instead the pod uses an internal RAM air turbine generator dubbed the RAT G.

An EA-18G Growler from Electronic Attack Squadron 141 (VAQ-141) ‘Shad-owhawks’ lands on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Note the different side profiles of the under wing ALQ-99 pods compared to the centreline example.

Arrays also present unique challenges. An active electronically scanned array radar works best using a large flat plate, an arrangement that allows a good beam to be formed by focussing a lot of energy. Electronic attack is no different but for the requirement to have almost a 100 percent duty cycle active array for full-on jamming, which requires efficient beam formers and amplifiers. Use of gallium nitride circuits to enable close to 100 percent duty cycle jamming required this technology to be matured, such that development contracts were awarded to four companies in 2010. A follow-on contract for gallium nitride circuits was awarded to Raytheon in July 2013.

Next Generation Jammer

Under the Joint Electronics Type Designation System, the NGJ Mid-band is dubbed the ALQ-249; a high-powered, agile, electronic attack system capable of operating at stand-off ranges, attacking multiple targets simultaneously with advanced jamming techniques designed for rapid upgrades with a modular, open systems architecture.

Equipped with agile, active electronically scanned arrays and an all-digital back end, the ALQ-249 conducts precise jamming assignments against advanced and emerging threats operating throughout a wide range of radio frequency bands.

Confronted with integrated air defence system radars, communications, and data links, the ALQ-249’s ability to engage threat systems and conduct robust jamming at standoff distances is vital. Consequently, the ALQ-249 must provide sufficient effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP); the measured radiated (output) power of an antenna in a specific direction.

Once integrated on the EA-18G, the ALQ-249 will be capable of contributing to the full range of warfare from air strikes in anti-access/area denial environments to the type of irregular warfare encountered in Afghanistan.

The ALQ-249 pod is approximately 14ft (4.27m) long with a fuselage diameter close to 30 inches (760mm).

This image of a ALQ-249 NGJ Mid-band pod shows the aft and forward arrays.

NGJ Increments

One outcome of the November 2010 R3 board was to return the NGJ programme into incremental capabilities.

  • Increment 1 is the mid-band, which covers the most critical threat waveforms across a full spectrum of agile and adaptive communications, datalinks, and non-traditional radio frequency targets.

Increment 1 will be used to deny, degrade, or deceive use of the electromagnetic spectrum employing both reactive and pre-emptive jamming techniques and is currently in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase.

  • Increment 2 is the low-band, which includes important threat waveforms and has an initial operating capability (IOC) targeted for after 2022.
  • Increment 3 is the high-band with an IOC after 2024. This will be housed in a smaller pod carried on the outer wing stations 2 and 10.

Naval Air Systems Command currently describes Increment 2 and Increment 3 as planned future efforts.

April 2016 was an important month for the NGJ Mid-Band programme; it received Milestone B approval to enter EMD, and Raytheon was awarded a 56-month contract valued at $1 billion for execution of the EMD phase. In accordance with the contract, Raytheon will deliver 15 engineering development model pods to be used for mission systems testing and qualification, and 14 aeromechanical pods for airworthiness certification.

On 27 April, 2017, the NGJ programme completed its critical design review which identified deficiencies that deemed a redesign of the pod structure, which caused schedule and cost breaches to the programme. Despite the structure redesign development, manufacturing, integration and testing of the antenna arrays, power generation system, software, common electronics unit continued, in accordance with the EA-18G H16 software integration schedule.

On 18 October, 2017, a memorandum of understanding was signed with Australia forming a joint program office and a cooperative development programme. The Royal Australian Air Force is the only other air arm currently operating the EA-18G Growler.


Naval Air System Command’s anechoic chamber at Patuxent River is currently occupied by an EA-18G Growler aircraft fitted with the first set of two engineering development model mission system pods.

The aircraft and pods were first placed in the chamber last November. To date they have undertaken over 400 hours of testing with both pods radiating to check basic pod functionality and to capture electromagnetic interference data. The latter being the measurement of radiation data which is used to ensure the pod does not overheat or adversely affect the aircraft and the aircrew. Data captured in the chamber is also being used to gain an interim flight clearance authorisation to operate a Growler aircraft fitted with a set of NGJ pods in non-standard configurations, flight envelopes, or conditions.

The chamber testing is now providing real data, as opposed to analysed data, for use in the mission system modelling process to begin validation of the system. Prior to that, extensive mission system modelling of the pod’s application to electronic attack and jamming was based entirely on analysed data captured from ALQ-99 pods in operational scenarios.

An interesting perspective of electronic attack activity radiated from two ALQ-249 NGJ mid-band pods.

Stores integration

Last summer, Raytheon delivered the first NGJ Mid-Band EMD pod to Patuxent River to begin initial stores integration. This includes verification of ground procedures, mass properties, aircraft installation, and built in test checks, all in preparation for chamber and flight testing.

Different types of tests require different configurations of pods such as fatigue, static, jettison and aeromechanical versions; the latter used for flying qualities and aircraft integration. Pods used for mission system testing are in full-up configuration with all of the sub-systems installed. Unsurprisingly mission system pods are expensive and are actually unnecessary for some elements of the flight test programme.

Prior to first flight, the NGJ pod is undergoing all of the standard tests required for stores integration. Static strength testing was completed in the early autumn of 2019. Once flights begin, a set of NGJ pods will undergo captive carriage tests; loads, environmental, flying qualities, performance, drag and structural integrity. Performance and jettison tests will follow as part of the employment phase.

Captain Orr described the forthcoming NGJ flight test programme as thorough and extensive, involving hundreds of missions. It will involve aero mechanical testing of the pod’s physical integration on the aircraft; mission systems testing of the pod’s performance, and ultimately carrier suitability testing.

Chamber testing will continue for quite some time as its focus changes to increased performance. Milestone C, the low-rate initial production decision, is anticipated at the end of FY2020. Flight testing is expected to start this spring and continue through most of 2021.

An operational test readiness review should take place by early 2022. If the review is successful, the NGJ pod will enter operational test that year, followed by an initial operating capability declaration in FY2022.

Growler’s continuous improvement

As part of the Growler’s road map, the aircraft is continually improved primarily by the roughly biennial introduction of new operational flight program software drops. As a backdrop to the latest H14 software, the previous H12 release included another phase of multi-sensor integration improvements, enhanced ALQ-218 geolocation, communication countermeasures set improvements, display improvements (symbology and crew-vehicle interface) to enhance air-to-surface, air-to-air and counter electronic attack sensor integration to manage aircrew workload, and additional capabilities to operate in ATC-controlled airspace.

The latest, H14, commenced operational test in October 2018, concluded earlier this year, and has just been released to the fleet to meet the latest operational requirements. Last March, Naval Air Systems Command staged numerous fire control missions in an electronic attack environment at the sea test range off the coast of California.

In July, live fire missile testing was undertaken to demonstrate the integration of the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile with the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft operating with the H14 software.

PMA-265 is now underway with the developmental test of the subsequent H16 software which will provide:

  • software and hardware upgrades to the ALQ-218 digital receiver
  • an open architecture, multi-level secure processor known as the Distributed Tactical Processor-Network (DTP-N) reckoned to be 17-times more powerful than the original Growler system
  • the Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT), a high throughput, low latency datalink called with satellite communications for advanced network connectivity.

Equipped with DTP-N and TTNT, a pair of Growlers will be able to fuse data acquired by on board and off board sensors to generate a common tactical picture of the battlespace and rapidly exchange that information with other assets. What does that achieve? It enhances targeting capabilities and improves air-to-air timelines and performance. This capability is scheduled to be implemented with several H-series software builds.

Back in August 2017, the Navy staged a series of fleet experiments called Netted Sensors 2017 conducted by the Navy Warfare Development Command involving, amongst others, F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Focus of the experiments was sensor networking over the TTNT data link to enable distribution of information from around the maritime battlespace to all participating assets; aircraft, ships and shore stations.

EA-18Gs were focused on working a common tactical picture, multi-ship electronic surveillance, Growler manned-unmanned teaming, and network-centric collaborative targeting (NCCT) technologies. What does this all mean? It means using joint data standards and interfaces to speed up sensor cueing and targeting through to launching strikes in multi-sensor geolocation events.

Captain Denney outlined other initiatives to deliver new capability to the fleet faster to outpace potential threats, to improve and sustain aircraft mission capability rates by using predictive maintenance in order to spend time performing effective and proactive maintenance rather than reactive maintenance.

One change already in effect and in support of the above is migration from multi-sensor integration to multi-system integration. This allows for insertion of new technologies and requirements to keep pace with the fleet’s demands; this will continue with H16.

Block II Growler and the number one mission

Ongoing work is defining the Block II capability development programme, which will include conformal fuel tanks, in pretty much the same configuration as those under development for the Block III Super Hornet. Similarly, the advanced crew station featuring a large area display and low-profile head-up display will initially deploy on the Block III Super Hornet and then the Block II Growler.

Growlers are not equipped with a cannon, but the internal space is not left empty, it’s fitted out with an airborne electronic attack palette; this will be replaced with Block II to overcome obsolescence.

Given the relatively small fleet of aircraft, their ongoing utilisation rates, and an out-of-service date currently pitched for the mid-2040s, PMA-265 is already conducting a service life assessment programme to assess utilisation and when a service life extension programme will need to start. Captain Denney explained that because of the Growler’s utilisation, a service life extension programme will not start until after conversion to the Block II is complete. He said: “We are forecasting 2025 as the Block II IOC.”

When asked whether the PMA-265 team will be able to stay ahead of fast developing emerging threats, Captain Denney said it was the team’s number one mission: ”Our motto is to support, to sustain and advance the fleet. That is what we do, whether that’s getting the mission capability rate above 80 percent, or making sure the aircraft is able to fight and win against potential adversaries, that is why we make incremental improvements. We are developing the Block II Growler to exceed the capabilities of our potential adversaries.”

by Mark Ayton

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