Sailors and Marines drive U.S. EW investment
The U.S. Navy and are expected to outspend each of their sister services roughly two-to-one on electronic warfare (EW) programs during the next decade.
In a 10-year period from fiscal 2008-17, the Navy and Marines have spent or are set to spend a cumulative total of about $21.9 billion, based on analysis and data provided by Avascent 050, an online market analysis toolkit for global defense programs.
Combined, all of the services will have spent or are slated to spend a cumulative total of about $44.2 billion during that time, the analysis shows.
The U.S. Air Force will have spent or is budgeted to spend a total of $12.3 billion in that time frame, while the Army's total is expected to be about $9.1 billion, the analysis shows.
Joint-wide programs are expected to total about $829.3 million, according to the analysis.
“For the last 30 years, the Air Force has emphasized stealth in its aircraft modernization plans while the Navy has stressed electronic attack,” says Loren Thompson, defense analyst for the Lexington Institute. “The Air Force hasn't paid much attention to jamming and the Navy hasn't paid much attention to low-observables.”
While that likely will change as the Navy acquires a carrier-based version of the stealthyfighter aircraft, Thompson says, “The Navy is the main repository of electronic warfare expertise in the joint force, and that inclines it to assign less importance to low-observables.” For aircraft launched from carriers or other vessels, jamming and EW are often more valuable and effective than stealthiness.
But the rest of the military is starting to focus more on EW.
“The Department of Defense is increasingly dependent on access to the electromagnetic spectrum—the full range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, including frequency ranges such as radio, microwave, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays—for a variety of military uses, such as communicating, navigating, information-gathering and sensing, and targeting,” notes the U.S.in a report released this month.
Overall, the Pentagon will be steadily increasing its investment in EW programs in the coming five years, growing to about $5.6 billion in fiscal 2017 from about $3.6 billion in fiscal 2013, based on the analysis of Avascent data.
That is a reversal of a trend in the latter half of the previous decade, which showed Defense Department spending for electronic warfare reaching about $3.9 billion in fiscal 2008 and spiking to about $4.5 billion in fiscal 2010 before dropping off to about $3.3 billion in fiscal 2012, the Avascent data and analysis show.
The single-largest type of expense—about $28.1 billion—in the coming years will be the actual production of the electronic warfare equipment and platforms, the Avascent analysis indicates, with EW development running a distant second with $11.2 billion. Program management support is ranked third with $1.5 billion.
The projected expenses for production really ramp-up in fiscal 2016-17, the analysis indicates, with the Pentagon scheduled to spend at least $3.8 billion during each of those years.
The biggest single electronic warfare platform and program highlighted by the Avascent analysis is the Navy'swith about $2.3 billion in spent funds or expected spending during the 10-year period, the Avascent analysis shows.
The aircraft, based on aplatform, will replace the Lockheed P-3 Orion, with initial operational capability expected in 2013.
The second-largest EW program for the 10-year period is the Navy's proposed Next-Generation Jammer with about $2.1 billion in spent funds or expected funding. The Jammer is slated to replace the ALQ-99 jamming pods onGrowler aircraft.
's Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (Laircm) is the third-largest EW program for the 10-year period, according to Avascent data.
Laircm, which has received or is set to receive about $1.7 billion in funding during that period, is used to detect missile launches, determine the threat level and, if warranted, activate a high-intensity laser-based countermeasure to track and defeat the projectile.
The next two leading EW platforms are aircraft—the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is listed under the Air Force's account and the Navy's Growlers—both totaling about $1.5 billion each in the 10-year period, the analysis shows.