WASHINGTON: What homemade roadside bombs could do to Army and Marine ground vehicles was the ugly surprise of the last decade. What sophisticated long-range missiles could do to Navy aircraft carriers could be the ugly surprise of the next. “I think it would almost follow like the night to the day,” Rep. Randy Forbes told me in a recent interview. “The last decade… we asked a disproportionate sacrifice from the Army and Marine Corps,” he went on. “The next decade’s going to be the decade of seapower and projection forces, [and] some of those ugly surprises we see bits and pieces of already.”
As chairman of the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee, Forbes wants to refocus fellow legislators, the Pentagon, and, for that matter, the media from a narrow debate over the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to a wider look at all the capabilities that a carrier can support. That includes not just traditional manned fighters like the F-35, but also unmanned drones like the X-47B and the future UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System), electronic warfare aircraft like the EA-18G Growler, and even cyber attacks. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: The Navy would get the largest budget share among the three military services in the 2014 budget submitted Wednesday, but would still see a drop in total funding from what Congress provided for this year in the final version of the continuing resolution.
The $155.8 billion requested for the Navy Department in the president’s proposed defense budget of $526.6 billion is level with the president’s 2013 request but is $11.4 billion above the request for the Air Force and $26.1 billion larger than that for the Army. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: While the Air Force and the Marines stake their future on a great leap forward to the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Navy is taking what one officer called “baby steps” into the future: a careful, incremental upgrade of electronic warfare systems to jam enemy radar instead of just hiding from it. The fleet is moving, slowly but surely, from 1960s-vintage EA-6B Prowlers carrying 1970s-vintage jamming pods — complete with vacuum tubes — to supersonic EA-18G Growlers armed, as of 2020, with a digital Next-Generation Jammer.
Despite persistent rumors the Navy will cut back its F-35 purchase, the service remains officially committed to a carrier-launched version of the F-35, the F-35C. They’re just not counting on the F-35 to penetrate increasingly sophisticated air defenses on its own. Keep reading →
[Corrected 9:35 pm with a note about the EC-130 Compass Call] Is stealth still America’s silver bullet? Or are potential adversaries’ radars getting too smart for US aircraft to keep hiding from them?
That’s literally the trillion-dollar question, because the US military is investing massively in new stealth aircraft. At stake in this debate are not just budgets but America’s continued ability to project power around the world. Keep reading →
WHIDBEY ISLAND, WASHINGTON: “Every two weeks, we get another Growler,” Cmdr. Christopher Middleton said at the Navy’s electronic warfare hub here. The Navy target is to buy 114 EA-18G Growler aircraft. And it’s those Growler aircraft that will be the cutting edge of future Naval strikes against future “anti-access area denial” defenses like those being built by China.
To break through such defenses, the Navy is very publicly working on a joint “AirSea Battle” concept with the Air Force, but the two services have taken starkly different approaches to defeating enemy radar. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The defense spending bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee today keeps Block 30 Global Hawk drones flying, instead of letting them be warehoused as the Air Force had planned, a congressional source confirmed to Breaking Defense. That is arguably the final flourish on Congress’s utter rejection of the Air Force’s proposed cuts in the 2013 budget. The bill passed by a vote of 30-0.
Breaking Defense plowed through 300 pages of report language released to the press this afternoon and picked out new details about winners and losers. But all of this detail might be overtaken by events. Keep reading →