Electronic Warfare: EA-6B Aircraft Modernization and Related Issues for Congress

CRS Report for Congress
Electronic Warfare: EA-6B Aircraft Modernization
and Related Issues for Congress
Updated December 3, 2001
Christopher Bolkcom
Analyst in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Electronic Warfare: EA-6B Aircraft Modernization and
Related Issues for Congress
Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) face difficult and potentially
costly choices when considering updating a key facet of the U.S. electronic warfare
(EW) force structure. Presently, the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler is the only airborne radar
jamming system available to protect Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force aircraft. The
Prowler, though still capable, is aging and in short supply. Its retirement is scheduled
for 2015.
There has been debate on how much EW is required to protect an aircraft force
that increasingly incorporates stealth technology. However, recent operational
experience suggests that future U.S. military aviation superiority will be best achieved
by a combination of EW and stealth techniques. Indeed, the recent conflict in Kosovo
reportedly indicates that the United States needs to augment the EA-6B force
immediately to maintain its capability until a long-term replacement is found.
In the past, Congress has been a strong supporter of the EA-6B specifically, and
EW in general. Congress has consistently increased the administration’s request for
EA-6B-related procurement funding over the last five years. The 106th Congress has
exhibited continued support for EW by forming a Congressional Working Group and
initiating a Joint Service Electronic Attack Analysis of Alternatives Study. In
December 2001, this study is due to release its roadmap for replacing the EA-6B fleet
specifically, and rejuvenating DoD’s electronic attack capabilities in general.
Today and in the near future, Congress will face a variety of decisions about the
size and composition of DoD’s EW force structure. In the near-term, Congress faces
decisions on how to maintain and modernize DoD’s current active and passive EW
force structure. The options Congress may consider to augment the present EW force
include speeding up the planned EA-6B upgrade program, promoting the
development and deployment of smart radar decoys, resurrecting some number of
retired EF-111 radar jamming aircraft, and retroactively putting EW capabilities on
aircraft other than the EA-6B. Congress will also be faced with overseeing DoD’s
choice of a permanent replacement for the EA-6B. The options include converting the
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-15E Strike Eagle, the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-16CJ
Fighting Falcon and the F-22 Raptor, using UAVs, or designing a new EW aircraft.
There are a variety of criteria which can be used to measure the pros and cons of each
aircraft. These criteria include the platform’s unit cost, operations and maintenance
considerations, whether or not the platform is “joint”, and a variety of operational
characteristics that will effect the platform’s ability to escort aircraft strike packages
in future threat environments.
Finally, Congress is faced with identifying the potentially high pay-off R&D
pathways to future EW capabilities in the post 2020 timeframe. Considering the time
that many DoD programs require to move from the drawing board to the field, it has
been suggested that new EW technologies be investigated as soon as FY2001. Two
potential future EW platforms that Congress may wish to investigate include
networked, micro-UAVs (un-piloted air vehicles) and satellites.

Introduction ................................................... 1
Issues for Congress..........................................1
Background .................................................... 2
Brief Overview of Electronic Warfare............................2
Electronic Warfare Support................................2
Electronic Protection.....................................3
Electronic Attack........................................3
Basic Description of the EA-6B.................................4
EA-6B Upgrades........................................6
Current Status..........................................8
EW and Stealth.............................................9
Stealth as a Substitute for EW.............................11
Stealth and EW are Complementary.........................13
Kosovo: The EW Experience..................................15
EW Operations in Brief..................................16
Scarcity of EW Aircraft..................................17
Integration with Stealth Aircraft Operations...................19
Response to Serbian Tactics...............................21
Intelligent Decoys......................................21
EA-6Bs in Operation Enduring Freedom.........................22
Potential Lessons or Assessment...............................23
Congressional Action........................................25
FY1996-FY2001 ....................................... 25
FY2002 .............................................. 29
Congressional EW Working Group.........................30
Issues and Options for Congress...................................31
Issues .................................................... 31
Nearer-Term Options for Augmenting the EA-6B Fleet..............32
Expedite ICAP-III Upgrades..............................32
Inventory Management...................................32
Increase Use of Smart Decoys.............................33
Resurrecting the Raven..................................34
EB-52 ............................................... 35
Re-Starting the EA-6B Production Line......................36
Extending the EA-6B’s Service Life.........................36
Converting A-6s to EA-6Bs...............................37
Mid-Term Options for Replacing the EA-6B in 2015................37
Assessment Criteria.....................................37
Cost ............................................. 37
Jointness .......................................... 38
Crew Number......................................38
Initial Operating Capability (IOC).......................38
Operational Characteristics............................39
F/A-18G ............................................. 39
Joint Strike Fighter......................................40

F-16 Fighting Falcon....................................42
F-22 Raptor...........................................43
All-new Aircraft Design..................................45
UAVs ............................................... 45
Longer-Term Options for 2020 and Beyond.......................47
Evaluating Future EW Platform Effectiveness.................47
Micro UAVs..........................................48
Space-Based Jamming...................................49
Appendix A: Abbreviations and Acronyms............................52
Appendix B: Selected EW Systems and Manufacturers..................54
List of Figures
Figure 1: EA-6B Prowler..........................................6
Figure 2: Evolution of the EA-6B ..................................8
Figure 3: “The Value of Stealth”...................................13
Figure 4: EF-111 Stored at AMARC................................34
List of Tables
Table 1. Electronic Warfare Tasks and Systems.........................4
Table 2. Custody, Configuration and Basing of EA-6Bs ..................9
Table 3. Summary of Recent EA-6B Related Procurement Funding........29
Table 4. Breakdown of FY2002 EA-6B Budget Request................30
Table 5. Summary of Estimated Capabilities and Characteristics of
Potential Fixed-Wing Aircraft EW Jammers.......................44

Electronic Warfare: EA-6B Aircraft
Modernization and Related Issues for
Issues for Congress
Congress and the Department of Defense (DoD) face difficult and potentially
costly choices when considering updating a key facet of U.S. electronic warfare (EW)
force structure. Presently, the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler is the only airborne radar
jamming system available to protect Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force aircraft.1 The
Prowler, though still capable, is aging and in short supply. It is scheduled to leave the
active inventory in 2015.
Congress will face a variety of decisions about the size and composition of
DoD’s EW force structure. In the near-term (to about 2010), Congress faces
decisions on how to maintain and modernize DoD’s current active and passive EW
force structure. Recent experience in Kosovo has drawn attention to the EW mission
area and the negative consequences of potential EW shortfalls. The EA-6B Prowler
has been credited with effectively protecting allied aircraft during the 1999 air
campaign. Yet, DoD found that they didn’t have as many Prowlers as they required,
nor were those aircraft particularly adept at destroying Serbian radar systems that
employed deceptive tactics. Furthermore, there is a consensus in the intelligence
community that the types of threats that airborne radar jammers are designed to
counter will likely grow in the future.
Some options Congress may consider to improve EW capabilities in the near
term include: (1) modernizing the EA-6B Prowler to improve its effectiveness and
potentially extend its life; (2) improving EA-6B inventory management; (3)
accelerating the development and production of electronic protection technologies,
such as decoys; (4) bringing some number of EF-111 radar jamming aircraft out of
retirement; (5) giving existing U.S. aircraft, such as the B-52 an EW capability to
augment the Prowler fleet; (6) re-starting the EA-6B production line; (7) extending
the EA-6B service life beyond its currently planned retirement date; and (8)
converting existing A-6 aircraft into EA-6Bs.

1In 1998 the Air Force retired the EF-111 Raven, its only EW jamming aircraft and the
Prowler was designated a “joint asset.” Also, most if not all U.S. military aircraft have some
self-protection electronic countermeasures capability, which can include jamming and chaff

In the mid-term (2010-2015) Congress will be faced with the need to replace the
EA-6B aircraft. Due to the long development time lines of many DoD acquisition
programs, Congress may wish to focus today on deciding which aircraft or platform
is best suited to replace the EA-6B in the 2015 era. While many different options
could be considered, most of the options now being evaluated would replace the EA-
6B with another manned aircraft. DoD appears to be focusing on EW variants of Air
Force aircraft such as the F-15, F-16, or F-22, the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet,
the Joint Strike Fighter or some combination of these platforms. Building a new EW
aircraft from scratch or developing an EW UAV are also possibilities to be assessed.
Each of these aircraft have strengths and weaknesses in the EW realm, and Congress
may likely wish to assess these qualitative, and sometimes elusive distinctions when
deciding on acquisition programs measured in billions of dollars.
Finally, when considering how to best allocate near term research, development,
test and evaluation (RDT&E) money, Congress may wish to examine current
investment opportunities in EW that will likely pay dividends in and beyond the 2020
era. The most likely investment areas will be in networked micro-UAVs and space-
based jammers. These investment areas offer risks and opportunities that aren’t
always obvious. Congress might therefore survey these technology areas to identify
potentially high payoff pathways for today’s EW R&D.
Brief Overview of Electronic Warfare
The Department of Defense defines Electronic Warfare as “Any military action
involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the
electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy.... The three major subdivisions
within electronic warfare are: electronic attack, electronic protection, and electronic2
warfare support.” This report will focus on the electronic attack facet of electronic
warfare – specifically, electronic attack against enemy radars. However, the three EW
sub-elements are mutually supporting (as evidenced by the fact that the EA-6B
jamming aircraft employs EW self protection systems and is an important consumer
of electronic warfare support information) and are intimately linked. References will
be made to electronic warfare support and electronic protection throughout this
report as needed. Brief descriptions of electronic warfare support, electronic
protection, and electronic attack follow.
Electronic Warfare Support. Several systems contribute to DoD’s
electronic warfare support efforts – “that division of electronic warfare involving
actions tasked by, or under direct control of, an operational commander to search for,
intercept, identify, and locate sources of intentional and unintentional radiated
electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate threat recognition (JCS Pub 1-
02).” In other words, electronic warfare support is a passive activity, that intercepts
enemy signals, locates them and analyzes them so they can be exploited by other

2JCS Pub. 1-02: DoD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. U.S. Department of
Defense. [http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/]

users. Several DoD systems contribute to this mission area. The EP-3E Aries, for
instance, provides indications and warning for the Naval Battle Group commander.
The USAF RC-135V/W Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft are also equipped with an
extensive array of sophisticated intelligence gathering equipment that monitors the
electronic activity of adversaries. Using Rivet Joint data, analysts can precisely locate,
record, and analyze much of what is being done in the electromagnetic spectrum.
Electronic Protection. Electronic protection involves actions to protect
personnel, facilities, and equipment from any effects of friendly electromagnetic
emissions or enemy employment of electronic warfare that degrade, neutralize, or
destroy friendly combat capability. Radar homing and warning receivers that are
organic to every modern military aircraft are an example of an electronic protection
system. Chaff and decoys are other important and ubiquitous electronic protection
systems. Chaff is thin, narrow metallic strips of various lengths and frequency
responses dispensed from aircraft and used to reflect radar echoes and confuse the
enemy. Decoys are more advanced countermeasures. They are small devices that emit
signals that emulate a manned aircraft’s signal and thus actively draw an enemy missile
to it. Decoys can be towed behind aircraft, expended from aircraft to lure a
threatening missile, or launched early-on to fly tactical missions in an autonomous
Electronic Attack. Electronic attack is broadly defined as that aspect of
electronic warfare involving the use of electromagnetic, directed energy, or anti-
radiation weapons to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment to degrade, neutralize,
or destroy enemy combat capability. Anti-radiation weapons differ from other air-to-
surface weapons primarily in that they employ a passive radar seeker that “listens” for
enemy radar transmissions and then follows this energy to its source. To physically
attack enemy radars, the Department of Defense relies predominantly on the AGM-88
HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile). The HARM can be launched from the
EA-6B, F/A-18, and F-16 C/D aircraft. The AGM-88 is normally fired against radars
whose frequency and wavelength have been preprogrammed into the HARM’s
database. However, if fired from an EW aircraft such as the EA-6B, the HARM can
be re-programmed in flight, based on inputs from the aircraft’s radar warning receiver,
and thus attack unanticipated threats. The Navy and Marine Corps also use the AGM-

122 SideARM, a lighter, shorter-range, and less expensive system than the AGM-88,

to attack enemy radars. Based on the AIM-9C Sidewinder air-to-air missile, the
SideARM can be fired from AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters and AV-8B and F/A-18
fighter aircraft.
Presently, DoD has only two aircraft dedicated to “jamming” enemy electronic
emissions. The EC-130H Compass Call and the EA-6B Prowler. The Compass Call’s
mission is to jam enemy voice and data communications. The Prowler is optimized to
jam enemy radars, and also has the capability to attack communications emissions.

Table 1. Electronic Warfare Tasks and Systems
(Highlighted Cell Indicates Focus of this Report)
Electronic WarfareElectronic WarfareElectronic Warfare
Attack Protection Support
TasksSystemsTasksSystems TasksSystems
Anti--AGM-88 Radar-AN-ALR-Intercept,-EP-3E
radiation HARMWarning56locate and Aries
weapons-AGM-122 -AN-ALR-analyze-RC-135
SideARM69enemy Rivet
signals Joint
Jamming- EC130H ChaffAluminum,
Noise Compass glass or
Deception Callplastic
strips, ½
- EA6B wavelength
Prowlerof enemy
Decoys- ALE-50
Towed,- GEN-X
Expendable- TALD
The tactical employment of radar jammers may also be divided into two general
approaches, stand-off jamming and mission jamming. As the name implies, stand-off
jamming positions the airborne jamming platform at a distance from the target. The
stand-off jammer creates a “jamming corridor” between the target and the attack
aircraft. In mission jamming, the airborne jamming platform flies in close formation
with the attacking aircraft in order to mask the attacker throughout its flight in hostile
Basic Description of the EA-6B
The EA-6B Prowler is a twin turbojet engine, four seat, all-weather, electronic
attack aircraft designed to operate from aircraft carriers. It contains a wide assortment
of integrated, computer-controlled, active and passive electronic attack equipment.
The Prowler closely resembles, and was developed concurrently with the two
seat A-6 Intruder attack aircraft. The basic airframe was elongated and strengthened
to accommodate a four-seat cockpit. Another distinguishing characteristic of the
Prowler is its pod-shaped fairing at the top of the vertical fin that holds sensitive
surveillance receivers, used to detect hostile radar emissions.
The crew of the Prowler consists of the pilot and three electronic
countermeasures officers (ECMOs). The two ECMOs in the rear cockpit operate the

Prowler’s primary jamming equipment. The ECMO in the right front seat handles
navigation, communications, and defensive electronic countermeasures.
The EA-6B was manufactured by the Northrop Grumman Corporation.3
Development of the aircraft began in the Fall of 1966. The Prowler’s first flight was
on May 25, 1968 and delivery of the first 12 production aircraft started in January
1971. The Prowler’s initial operating capability was established in July 1971. The last
of a total of 170 aircraft were delivered on July 29, 1991.
In constant FY2001 dollars, the final EA-6Bs, when procured at a rate of six per
year in the early 1980s had unit procurement costs ranging from about $50 million to
$90 million. When procured at a rate of 12 per year in the late 1980s, unit
procurement costs ranged from $45 to $60 million. Since the A-6/EA-6B production
line has since been shut down, additional EA-6Bs procured today would likely have
a higher unit procurement cost, at least initially.4
One analyst has called the Prowler “...one of the most expensive military aircraft
in service,”due to its short production runs and its complex electronics.5 The
operating cost of the EA-6B has been estimated at $5,091.00 per flight hour.6 The
Prowler is the ninth most expensive aircraft to operate per hour of the 27 different
fixed-wing U.S. aircraft that were flown in Operation Allied Force. Long-range
bombers (e.g., B-1, B-2, B-52) cost more than the EA-6B to operate, as do advanced
reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft (e.g. AWACS, JSTARS, E-2C Hawkeye) and
some fighters (e.g., F-15, F-14). However, many fighters/attack planes (e.g. F/A-18,
F-16, F-117, A-10), and all other support aircraft (e.g. tankers, cargo, ASW,
surveillance) cost less to operate per hour than the Prowler.

3 Original sub contractors included: Aeronca: speed brakes; Fleet Industries: flaps and
honeycomb panels; Kaman Aerospace: control surfaces, flaps and slats for composite wings;
Litton: radar warning receivers, tactical jamming receivers; Lockheed Martin: honeycomb
panels; Lockheed Martin Sanders: various deception and communications jammers;
Magnavox: radar warning receivers; PPG Industries: windshields; Lavelle Aircraft: tailpipes;
Gull Airborne Instruments: fuel gauge system; Lear Siegler: servos; Parker Hannifin: fuel
valves; Plessey Airborne: trim actuators; Rockwell Collins: HF radio transceivers; TRACOR:
chaff/flare dispensers; Uniroyal Plastics: fuel cells; Western Gear: wing folding actuators, win
slat drives. Sources: Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft and World Military and Civil Aircraft
Briefing, Teal Group Inc.
4Analysis of DoD P-1 documents from the 1980s.
5Luttwak, Edward and Stuart L. Koehl. The Dictionary of Modern War (New York: Harper
Collins, 1999,:470)
6Letter on Operation Allied Force from LtGen C.W. Fulford, USMC, to Daniel P. Mulhollan,
Director, Congressional Research Service 19 October 1999.

Figure 1: EA-6B Prowler
Propulsion: two Pratt &
Whitney J52-P408 engines
Length: 59 feet 10 inches
Wingspan: 53 feet
Height: 16 feet 8 inches
Max Weight: 61,500 lbs
Speed: Over 500 knots
Range: Over 1,000 nm
Ceiling: 37,600 feet
Crew: Four
Armament: AGM-88 HARM
The core of the Prowler is the AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System, a
sophisticated collection of electronic gear that forms the major portion of the U.S.
Navy EA-6B ECM aircraft's operational payload. (The Prowler can carry external
fuel tanks, chaff and flare dispensers, and HARM anti-radiation missiles.) The
AN/ALQ-99 is comprised of five external pods, each capable of housing two very
high-powered jamming transmitters, a tracking receiver, and antennas. The pods can
be detached from the aircraft and can hold various combinations of transmitters to
cover any desired frequency bands.
Another key system is the AN/USQ-113 communications jammer. By attacking
both VHF and UHF communications, the AN/USQ-113 enables the EA-6B to “attack
the archer rather than the arrows.” While a single surface-to-air missile (SAM) system
may be troublesome, an integrated air defense system (IADS), composed of numerous
SAMs and their associated radars is a significant threat to U.S. aircraft. By jamming
communications between the individual SAMs and their command and control (C2)
nodes, the EA-6B can degrade or totally disrupt the IADS and thus force the SAMs
to operate individually. The individual SAM can then be more easily avoided or
EA-6B Upgrades. The original EA-6B operated with the initial AN/ALQ-99
EW system and was limited to the four jamming frequency bands used by early
Soviet-made early warning and fire control radars. Since then, the system has
undergone a series of upgrades. To keep pace with the expanding threat, the number
of frequency bands covered have doubled, and other improvements in operational use
and reliability have been made.
The Prowler's first upgrade was the EXCAP (EXpanded CAPability) program,
first delivered in 1973, which upgraded the AN/ALQ-99’s capability from four to six
frequency bands. The upgrade also improved the system’s computer, enabling new
operating modes.
The ICAP (Increased CAPability) upgrade followed EXCAP in mid-1976. The
ICAP upgrade replaced the EA-6B’s ALQ-100 deception jammer with the improved
ALQ-126. It also reduced the AN/ALQ-99's processing times, provided new Cathode
Ray Tube (CRT) displays and improved communication, navigation, and IFF

In 1982, the first ICAP-2 Prowlers were delivered, representing the next
improvement in the program. ICAP-2 upgraded the receivers, displays, and software
to cover a wider range of known surveillance and surface-to-air missile radars. ICAP-

2 jammers were also able to attack two different frequency bands simultaneously.

Perhaps most importantly, the main computer was upgraded to enable the AN/ALQ-
99 to act in concert with equipment on other Prowlers so that three aircraft could
together mount coordinated countermeasure missions. There were three different
ICAP 2 configurations, designated Block-82, Block-86 and Block-89 for the years in
which they were introduced. These block configurations provided the following
highlighted capabilities: Block -82 provided a software-driven rapidly re-
programmable Universal Exciter (which generates the system’s radar energy), Block
-86 provided receiver and communications upgrades, and Block -89 upgraded safety.
The Navy is currently upgrading all 124 Prowlers to a common standard, known as
ICAP 2 Block 89A, which improves navigation and communication capabilities.
The next planned upgrade for the AN/ALQ-99 was the Advanced Capability
(ADVCAP) program that began even as ICAP-2 was being delivered late in 1982.
ADVCAP upgraded the processing equipment (new central computer), jammers
(replacement of AN/ALQ-92 jammer by the AN/ALQ-149), receivers (better passive
detection) and displays (new heads-up display). Out of 130 EA-6Bs, 105 were to be
re-manufactured with the ADVCAP, to extend the service life of the aircraft to 2020.
The first engineering model ADVCAP version for the EA-6B was delivered in early
1988. Further improvements to the ALQ-99 transmitters were made just prior to
Operation Desert Storm in 1991, but the ADVCAP program was cancelled in late


The most recent EA-6B upgrade program began in March 1998 when the Navy
awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to develop the ICAP III. The intent of ICAP
III is to keep the joint Prowler force going until 2015. ICAP III will upgrade and
replace the 1960's era receivers, improve connectivity, and provide low-range
jamming. Northrop Grumman is expected to have the first batch of ICAP III Prowlers
finished in late FY01, with a full-rate production decision made in June 2003. The
first EA-6B ICAP III prototype completed its initial test flight on November 16,

2001.7 ICAP III's key feature is the introduction of ‘selective-reactive’ jamming.

Instead of jamming all the frequencies on which enemy radars might be emitting,
ICAP III is designed to automatically identify, prioritize, and jam only those
frequencies actually in use. Many modern enemy radars are capable of employing
very fast“frequency hopping” techniques to deceive radar warning receivers and radar
jammers. If threat radars use frequency-hopping techniques, the selective-reactive8
system will instantly shift its transmissions to match the adversary’s actions.

7Northrop Grumman Completes First Flight of ICAP III EA-6B. Defense Daily. November

20, 2001.

8E-mail communication with Naval Air Systems Command, EA-6B Program Integration.

Figure 2: Evolution of the EA-6B
Block 89 (ICAP II)Upgrade Avionics
Improved Capability IIGPS (MAGR)Structural UpgradeFire Safety Upgrades
(ICAP II) (Block 82)624624
AYK-14/1553 Data BussUniversal Exciter(UE)NAVY624VAQ-140
EA-6B EW Intel Database SupportMission PlanningNAVY624624624VAQ-140uJoint Mission
Improved Capability IIINAVY624624624VAQ-140u
Receiver upgradeConnectivityExpandeduNAVY624624VAQ-140
CommunicationsCountermeasuresNA 624624 624Capability(EXCAP) u
VYVAQ-140Block 86
624 (ICAPII)
NAVY624624VAQ-140Production HARMuuBlock 89A (ICAP II)
624ImprovedDual 1553 BusAYK-14 VHSIC
NAVY624624VAQ-140 CapabilityCIUEEGI
624(ICAP)ARC-182 RadiosARC-210 Radios
NAVY 624624 VAQ-140 InterimHarm Band
Standard VersionuJATOUEU9/10
1971 1973 1977 1984 1988 1996 20022000 2015+1986 1999
Source: Naval Aviation Systems Command (NAVAIR)
Current Status. As of April 2000, there were 124 EA-6B Prowler airframes
in the Navy and Marine Corps inventory.9 These 124 aircraft are organized into 19
squadrons. Eleven of these squadrons are carrier-based (including one Naval Reserve
squadron that does not usually deploy), four squadrons are expeditionary (land-based)
Navy squadrons devoted to supporting the USAF Aerospace Expeditionary Force
wings, and four squadrons belong to the Marine Corps.10 The Navy is in the process
of establishing another expeditionary squadron of four aircraft. It is using funds from
the FY1999 Supplemental Appropriations (Kosovo) and is requesting additional
money in the FY2001 Budget Request. The new Prowler squadron has a target
operational date of 2003.11
Current Navy plans call for Prowlers to remain in the active force until at least

2015. However, the EA-6B is a classic “low density/high demand” (LD/HD) asset:

there are few of them and they are used frequently.12 The EA-6B Prowler is included
in every aircraft carrier deployment and is an integral part of the fleet's first line of

9On November 22, 2001. It was reported in the Washington Post that a Marine Corps EA-6B
crashed into the ocean 26 miles off the North Carolina coast. The extent of the loss is
currently unclear.
10Thompson, Loren B. Shaping the Battlespace: The Future of Airborne Electronic Warfare.
Sea Power, March 2000: 40.
11 Hebert, Adam J. Navy Asks Congress for FY-01 Money to Stand Up New EA-6B
Squadron. Inside The Air Force,February 18, 2000: 3.
12 In his Annual Report to the President and the Congress (U.S. Department of Defense, 2000:
35) Defense Secretary William S. Cohen defined LD/HD units as “force elements consisting
of major platforms, weapons systems, units and/or personnel that possess unique mission
capabilities and are in continual high demand to support worldwide joint military operations.”

defense. As a result of restructuring DoD assets in 1995, the U.S. Air Force’s
dedicated airborne radar jamming aircraft, the EF-111 Raven was retired, and the
EA-6B was left as the only airborne radar jammer in DoD. Supporting USAF
Aerospace Expeditionary Force wings has contributed to the Prowler’s already high
operational tempo (OPTEMPO). In fact, EA-6B utilization rates are at an all time
high. Due to this high wear and tear, the Prowler may actually be retired as early as


One strong indication that the Prowler fleet is under stress is the grounding of
eight EA-6Bs on November 28, 2001 due to structural fatigue cracks in the center
wing section. A memo from the Commander of NAVAIR to the Chief of Naval
Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps describes the basis for this action.
In May 2001 NAVAIR analysis predicted as many as 51 EA-6Bs had extensive center
wing section cracks. The Prowler fleet was restricted to flying 3-G or less maneuvers
to mitigate the risk posed by this fatigue. Subsequent analysis found that the eight
grounded aircraft had “accrued the highest level of fatigue damage and the potential
for catastrophic failure of the wing.”13 Fatigue assessment of the remaining EA-6Bs
is ongoing.
Table 2. Custody, Configuration and Basing of EA-6Bs14
(as of April 13, 2000)
Custody #Aircraft BasedBlock Block Block
USMC2020--MCAS Cherry Point, NC
USN9026613NAS Whidbey Island, WA
Test5113NAS Patuxent River, MD (3)
NAS China Lake, CA (2)
Fleet9621Northrup Grumman,
SupportSt Augustine, FL
NADEP, Jacksonville, FL
EW and Stealth
Electronic warfare has been a significant part of military operations since military
forces began using radios and radar. EW techniques were used extensively in World
War II, for instance during the Battle of Britain, the invasion of Normandy, and the
allied strategic bombing campaign against Germany.

13 “Redstripe Message” PMA-234/217. Memorandum from Commander, Naval Air Systems.

28 November 2001.

14Source: Naval Aviation Systems Command (NAVAIR).

The importance of exploiting and controlling the electromagnetic spectrum has
grown as the revolution in information technology, which has so profoundly affected
global business, economics, and society in general, has been paralleled in military
affairs. One military analyst has written,
“...the most important single outcome of technological progress during the decades
since World War II has been that, on the modern battlefield, a blizzard of
electromagnetic blips is increasingly being superimposed on, and to some extent15
substituted for, the storm of steel in which war used to take place.”
Many future U.S. warfighting capabilities are premised on a revolution in military
affairs. This revolution will be one in which U.S. military forces will achieve
“dominant battlespace awareness” over the enemy. U.S. forces will make decisions
and coordinate operations by building a “common operational picture” and by
exploiting a vast and intricate array of computer and communications networks.
Among other techniques, this force of the future will generally exploit various
information technologies in ways that will allow it to mass weapons effects against
an adversary over great distances and from widely dispersed locations. Therefore,
one analyst believes that EW will increase significantly in importance for future
warfighters as the ability to monitor, suppress, manipulate, and exploit enemy
electronic transmissions will become essential to assure military superiority.16
Within DoD, EW is generally recognized as an important part of doing business.
The Joint Staff considers EW “... a military capability that must be integrated into a
given joint operation as it supports all phases and aspects of a campaign.”17 While the
importance of militarily dominating the electromagnetic spectrum is established, the
best mix of resources and most effective methods for achieving this dominance, today
and in future scenarios, is currently being debated.
Among the military services, for instance, differences of opinion on the “how”
and “how much” aspects of EW can be observed. The Air Force has procured two
dedicated manned stealth platforms and has generally been more aggressive in
applying stealth technology to existing platforms. It has also de-emphasized the use
of active EW relative to the Navy, as evidenced by the EF-111's retirement and the
Navy’s continued use of the EA-6B.
When considering EA-6B follow-on options, it is useful to recognize that there
are two over-arching schools of thought regarding the importance and application of
EW in modern warfare and how these schools of thought have influenced operations
and force structure to date. The first perspective contends that stealth technology is
a substitute for EW, and can be called “Stealth vs EW.” The counter-perspective

15 Van Creveld, Martin L. Technology and War: From 2000 BC to the Present. The Free
Press, New York, 1991: 28.
16Thompson, Loren B. Shaping the Battlespace: The Future of Airborne Electronic Warfare.
Sea Power, March 2000: 40.
17 Joint Doctrine for Electronic Warfare. Joint Publication 3-51. U.S. Department of
Defense, Washington, DC: vii.

holds that stealth technology and EW are complementary, and can be characterized
as “Stealth and EW.”
Stealth as a Substitute for EW. The first perspective on the use of EW in
modern warfare contends that in many applications, active EW works at cross
purposes with low-observable or stealth technology. The more stealthy a platform or
force structure is, the less need there is for EW. If an enemy radar can’t detect a
stealthy platform, there is little need to jam or attack the radar. Furthermore, active
radar transmissions, such as those emanating from an EW platform are easily detected
by adversaries. Thus, active EW is not only unnecessary to protect stealthy planes, but
it contradicts stealth’s basic function by loudly broadcasting the jamming aircraft’s
location in the theater of operations. Stealthy aircraft are often able to achieve tactical
surprise by avoiding detection right up until they drop their bombs or shoot their
missiles. This stealthiness not only enhances aircraft survivability, but it also increases
mission effectiveness. The enemy has no time to make defensive preparations.
Adherents to a Stealth vs EW perspective would argue that active EW platforms
make tactical surprise impossible.
One of the many arguments put forth to support the Air Force’s decision to
retire the EF-111 Raven was that stealthy aircraft would require much less dedicated
jamming than conventional aircraft. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Ron Fogleman
stated that the Air Force’s increasing use of low-observable platforms such as the F-
22 fighter and the JAST (which became the JSF) leads to “a lot less need for a
standoff jammer.”18
The increased use of standoff weapons was another, related argument for the
reduced need for the Raven. Then-BrigGen David McCloud argued that “Standoff
munitions mean that I expose myself to the high-threat environment less than I had
to before, and if I have cruise missiles that launch from 100 or 200 or 300 miles out,
then that dramatically changes the picture....That changes the need for standoff or
penetrating jamming.”19
The 1991 Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm) marked the first concerted
use of stealthy aircraft in combat.20 The Gulf War also witnessed a large and
sophisticated EW campaign. Following the conflict there was little if any criticism
regarding either the effectiveness of the Stealth Fighter or the jamming aircraft and
the suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) campaign. Senior Pentagon officials
said that “Stealth technology represented another electronic combat success.
Although they accounted for only 2.5% of the Air Force’s combat assets, the F-117s

18 USAF Plans to Keep 12 EF-111s Through FY’98. Aerospace Daily, September 22, 1995:


19 USAF Requirements Chief Defends Airborne Electronic Warfare Program. Aerospace
Daily, July 20, 1995: 91.
20The US Air Force employed the F-117 in Panama during Operation Just Cause (1989). The
Panamanian air defense system was not a serious threat, however, and the six aircraft were
used because of their precision bombing and night flight capabilities rather than because they
were stealthy.

covered 31% of the targets in the first 24 hours and were the only allied aircraft to
strike targets in Baghdad.” Also, “We have no reports that any SAM locked-up an
attacking aircraft while being escorted by an EA-6B...”21 Furthermore, a major
NATO Conference after Desert Storm assessed the contribution of SEAD to the Gulf
War: “the Joint SEAD campaign and SEAD support of the Gulf War will long be
remembered as an outstanding success.”22
What was debatable, however, was whether, and to what degree the F-117
Stealth Fighter operated with support from jamming aircraft. Those who believed that
stealthy aircraft reduced the need for dedicated radar jamming argued strenuously that
the F-117 was not supported either by the EF-111 or the EA-6B and that Operation
Desert Storm proved their perspective on the diminishing need for active EW.
Adherents to the “Stealth versus EW” perspective claimed that the F-117
operated quite autonomously during Operation Desert Storm. The stealth fighter
evaded enemy radars and required only minimal coordination with support aircraft.
Official information on how effectively the F-117 evaded detection by the Iraqi’s air
defense radars is still classified. However, trade press articles from that time period
report that “Iraqi radar apparently never tracked the F-117, which was referred to in23
intercepted Iraqi communications as ‘the ghost.’”
Because they were not tracked by the Iraqi radars, supporters argue, the stealthy
F-117 did not require either the dedicated EW support nor the fighter escort that
traditional non-stealthy attack aircraft required to survive in a hostile air defense
environment. Thus, during Operation Desert Storm, the F-117 was a true force
multiplier. Eight F-117s supported by two tankers could do the same job as 32
traditional attack aircraft supported by 43 other aircraft (12 of which were SEAD
aircraft). Figure 3 (found on page 13 of this report) was used by the Air Force to
make this point during Testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
Proponents of the Stealth vs EW perspective concede that the United States did
plan to support the F-117 with EF-111 jammers during the very first air attacks
against Baghdad, when Iraq’s air defenses were strongest. However, due to an
operational mix up, the EF-111s never arrived, and “...the F-117s that attacked the
first targets in the capital, including the AT&T Building and the Telecommunications
Center, flew into, over and through the heart of the fully operating air defenses of
Baghdad with no support from electronic countermeasures.”24

21Nordwall, Bruce D. Electronic Warfare Played Greater Role In Desert Storm Than Any
Conflict. Aviation Week & Space Technology, April 22, 1991.
22 AAFCETLP Gulf War Conference Report, 1730.13.7/AFOOAT/S-078/92, 20 Feb 1992
NATO. As reported by Williamson Murray.
23Nordwall, Bruce D. Electronic Warfare Played Greater Role In Desert Storm Than Any
Conflict. Aviation Week & Space Technology, April 22, 1991.
24Williamson Murray. Air War in the Persian Gulf. The Nautical & Aviation Publishing
Company of America. Baltimore. 1995: 106-109.

It can be argued that for much of the 1980s and 1990s the Stealth vs EW
perspective was the dominant mind-set among many in the defense establishment, and
has been a powerful factor shaping force structure and operations. The Air Force, for
instance, with its stealthy F-117 and B-2 bombers, and its lack of dedicated radar
jamming aircraft can be characterized as having chosen the “stealth route.” The Navy,
on the other hand, has lacked true stealth aircraft and has assumed the joint
responsibility for jamming with its EA-6B aircraft. The Navy can be characterized as
having pursued the “EW route”.
Figure 3: “The Value of Stealth”
Bomb Droppers
Air Escort
Suppressionof EnemyAir Defenses
Procurement cost &20 year O&S Cost$6.5B$5.5B$1.5B
Source: Secretary of the Air Force, SAF/OSX, 1991.
Stealth and EW are Complementary. A number of factors have given rise
to a contradictory school of thought regarding stealth and EW. This perspective
contends that low-observable aircraft and EW jammers are not contradictory but are
in fact complementary, and should be procured and used collaboratively. Those who
subscribe to this philosophy would argue that EW and stealth are both designed to
increase aircraft survivability and that it is impractical, if not dangerous, to put all of
one’s eggs in one basket.
Proponents of the Stealth and EW perspective maintain that stealth aircraft are
not totally invisible to enemy radars nor invulnerable to SAMs. There are a variety of
radar techniques and technologies that have been and will increasingly be employed
to detect stealth aircraft. If a stealthy aircraft is detected, it is vulnerable to attack
unless EW aircraft are nearby to protect it. While the United States continues to
reduce the detectability of its aircraft, it is prudent to also improve and use EW to
protect those aircraft, according to this view. Furthermore, while EW emissions do
clearly broadcast the position of the emitting aircraft, there are operational techniques
that can be employed to protect a stealth aircraft with EW without giving away the

stealthy plane’s exact position. A powerful stand-off jammer, for instance, could
protect a stealthy aircraft as it traverses a target area without giving away its exact
location as an escort jammer might.
Also, the evolution of technology will make the use of radar in general less
susceptible to enemy interception. A new generation of radars is being developed
called AESA or Active Electronically Scanned Arrays that are planned to be deployed
on JSFs and F-22s and potentially retrofitted onto other aircraft such as the F/A-18EF
and even legacy aircraft. The AESA is made up of thousands of very small
transmit/receive (T/R) modules located on the face of the radar antenna, high speed
computer processors and sophisticated computer algorithms. Each AESA T/R module
can send out its own pencil thin beam of radar energy that is very difficult to detect.
The aircraft’s stealth profile is further protected by the fact that the AESA quickly
alters the pencil beam’s “wave form” to make it look as though it came from a
different radar, and broadcasts it at a different and variable frequency. Thus, even if
the enemy intercepts the AESA radar beams, the signals appear to be from a variety
of sources, and the aircraft’s location is safely “lost in the noise.” Finally, even if an
enemy was finally able to detect and recognize the AESA radar signals, it would find
it difficult to lock onto and target the aircraft because the AESA has a limited, built
in jamming capability that could also be employed. This jamming capability has been
described as “very discriminating, jamming only long enough to break the ground-
based guidance radar’s or missile radar’s lock.”25
Those who believe that a synergy exists between stealth and EW also find
evidence in recent military operations to support their perspective. This perspective
would argue that the portrayal of the F-117 as “lone wolf” during Operation Desert
Storm is a false one. First, while support aircraft might not have flown wing-to-wing
with the Stealth Fighter, jammers and air superiority escorts did fly the same missions.
The Desert Storm Lessons Learned Report of the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, for
instance describes unambiguously how their jamming aircraft were incorporated into
F-117 operations. Furthermore, F-15 air superiority fighters always flew CAP
(Combat Air Patrol) within striking distance of the F-117, which carries limited air-to-
air weapons.26
Not only did jamming aircraft support the Stealth Fighter, it is argued, but they
employed innovative techniques to improve the F-117's survivability. For instance, “F-
117 pilots report the jammers were used to indicate false target locations to the
Iraqis.”27 The Iraqis then attacked these false targets, leaving the F-117's unmolested.
Another clever technique was “to turn the jamming on at, for example, 7 minutes
before the time on target. The AAA fire would start, but would stop in about 5
minutes as the gun barrels began to overheat. Two minutes later the F-117As would

25Fulghum, David A. “F-22, JSF Designed for Distinct Roles.” Aviation Week & Space
Technology. February 7, 2000. P. 53 and Cook, Nick. Survival of the Smartest. Jane’s
Defense Weekly. March 1, 2000: 26.
26General Accounting Office. Operation Desert Storm: Evaluation of the Air Campaign.
(GAO/NSIAD-97-134) Washington, DC June 12, 1997: 92
27Nordwall, Bruce D. Electronic Warfare Played Greater Role In Desert Storm Than Any
Conflict. Aviation Week & Space Technology, April 22, 1991.

attack while the defenses were recuperating.”28 Also, EW was used after an F-117
attacked a target, to protect the fleeing stealth fighter from any enemy air defenses
that might have survived the attack.
Perhaps even more innovative than the jamming techniques described above,
U.S. forces attacking Baghdad successfully employed un-piloted EW systems (i.e. the
Air Force BQM-74 drone and the Navy Tactical Air Launched Decoy) to draw
attention away from F-117 operations and to incite enemy radars into exposing their
positions so that HARM-firing aircraft could destroy them. In one mission, the United
States created a massive EW feint. The Air Force launched approximately 75 BQM
drones toward the Iraqi air defenses, which converged with 25 Navy decoys also
flying toward Iraq. Totally deceived by what appeared to be a huge attack, the Iraqis
lit up the sky with their radars. Meanwhile, the real air strike commenced more or less
unopposed. 29
There was much evidence from Operation Desert Storm that EW capabilities
played an important role in the victory and that EW aircraft and stealth aircraft were
not oil and water. Even so, the time period following Desert Storm has been described
as a “period of neglect of the electronic warfare mission...”30 For instance, it has been
argued that during this era, the EA-6B was not upgraded with numerous technologies
(such as night vision devices and key communications links) required to keep the
Prowler current with threats and advanced operational concepts. Furthermore, it was
during this time period that the Air Force decided to retire the EF-111 and allow the
Navy to assume the EW mission for all services.
Kosovo: The EW Experience
Operation Allied Force, the 1999 NATO operation in Kosovo, appears to be an
important watershed in the debate over current and future U.S. airborne EW needs.
The military leader of the operation, General Wesley Clark, described how critical a
role EW played in the allies’ success. He testified that “We couldn’t have fought this
war successfully without the EA-6B contribution. We really need the electronic
warfare capacity that we have there.”31 Yet, following the air campaign, concerns
have been raised over the number of jamming aircraft in the U.S. inventory, whether
these aircraft can be incorporated into stealth aircraft operations, and the ability of the
force in general to respond to and defeat an enemy who employs deceptive radar
tactics. Each of these issues is discussed below.32

28Dornheim, Michael A. F-117A Pilots Conduct Precision Bombing in High Threat
Environment. Aviation Week & Space Technology. April 22, 1991
29Williamson Murray. Air War in the Persian Gulf. The Nautical & Aviation Publishing
Company of America. Baltimore. 1995: 113-117.
30Thompson, Loren B. Shaping the Battlespace: The Future of Airborne Electronic Warfare.
Sea Power, March 2000: 41.
31General Wesley Clark, SACEUR, Testimony to Senate Armed Services Committee.
Washington, DC. July 1, 1999.
32 The EW challenges experienced in Kosovo were foreshadowed by the 1995 conflict in

EW Operations in Brief. During Operation Allied Force, the Marine Corps
deployed two EA-6B squadrons, totaling an average of eight aircraft (the peak
USMC deployment was 11 Prowlers). The Marine Corps Tactical Electronic Warfare
Squadron Two (VMAQ-2) provided the first land-based EA-6B electronic warfare
capability present at the start of the operation, entering combat within 24 hours of
their arrival at Aviano Air Base in Northern Italy, and supported the full 78-day air
campaign with five aircraft.33 The U.S. Navy deployed the preponderance of Prowlers
to Operation Allied Force, committing 18 EA-6Bs to the Kosovo theater.34 At the
peak of the Kosovo conflict 10.5 of the 19 active and reserve Navy and Marine Corps
EA-6B squadrons were forward deployed.35
The United States flew 60 percent of all NATO combat sorties during Operation
Allied Force. However, a full 86 percent of NATO SEAD strikes against Serbian
forces were flown by U.S. planes.36 This very large role played by U.S. EW aircraft
strongly attests to both the criticality of suppressing enemy radars and SAMs in
general, and to how central U.S. EW aircraft were to the whole operation.
According to various sources, the EA-6Bs were fully integrated into the air
tasking orders to support Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft during their
strike missions against Yugoslav targets. During the course of the conflict, the EA-6B
Prowlers had a 100% mission completion rate, and flew 464 sorties adding up to over

2,121 combat flight hours.37 No EA-6Bs were destroyed or seriously damaged during

32 (...continued)
Bosnia (Operation Deliberate Force). The Bosnian Serbs in this conflict operated their early
warning and SAM radars much more cleverly than the Iraqis during Desert Storm. By turning
on their radars infrequently, the Bosnian Serbs defied NATO efforts to jam or suppress them.
Also, the topography of this region was much more challenging than in Iraq for those
prosecuting the EW mission. The Bosnian hills and forests provided numerous hiding spots
for the radars, SAMs and command and control (C2 ) assets that the Serbs moved frequently.
Collateral damage had very high political visibility in this conflict, and minimizing it put real
constraints on air operations. Finally, the June 2, 1995 shoot-down of Captain Scott
O’Grady’s F-16 by a 30 year old SA-6 SAM highlighted the need for capable jamming
aircraft. EW and SEAD escort of strike packages became the norm after it was determined
that O’Grady did not have such support when shot down. Sources: Hitchens, Theresa, and
Robert Holzer. U.S. Extends Life of Radar-Jamming EF-111. Defense News. June 19-25,
1995: 3. And Grant. Rebecca. Airpower Made it Work. Air Force Magazine. November

1999: 34.

33Hebert, Adam J. Prowler Community was Well Equipped for Kosovo, Participants Say.”
Inside the Air Force. August 6, 1999.
34Telephone conversation with CDR Jeff Cathey, USN. Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S.
35Polmar, Norman. On the Prowl(er). Proceedings. October 1999: 85.
36 Percentages derived from information from Letter from LtGen C.W. Fulford, USMC,
Director, Joint Staff to Daniel P. Mulhollan, Director, Congressional Research Service.
October 19, 1999: on Operational Allied Force.
37B.Gen. Robert M. Flanagan, Deputy Commander II Marine Expeditionary Force, Testimony

the conflict, and only two allied aircraft were shot down during the entire operation.
This very low loss rate can be credited in part to successful EA-6B radar jamming.
Prowlers performed both standoff jamming missions for strikes and attacks of their
own against radar installations using HARMs, sometimes on the same sortie. Marine
Corps Prowlers alone launched 57 HARMs at Serbian radars.38 Despite the very
positive outcome of the Operation Allied Force EW campaign, serious issues have
been raised within academic, DoD, and congressional circles.
Scarcity of EW Aircraft. Perhaps the most prominent issue raised by the
Kosovo conflict was the perception that there just weren’t enough EA-6Bs to
optimally execute the air war. This caused problems both in the execution of
Operation Allied Force and in the satisfaction of military commitments elsewhere.
In Kosovo the 27 Prowlers were used to protect hundreds of NATO aircraft
flying 37,22539 combat sorties over 78 days. Since on average, a combat strike
package is composed of four aircraft, those 37,225 sorties could translate into 9,306
strike packages; each, in principle requiring protection by EW aircraft. If those 9,306
hypothetical air strikes were spaced out evenly over 78 days, and each strike package
required just one EA-6B for protection (in reality they frequently required several
Prowlers), then each Prowler would have to fly over four sorties per day, for 78
straight days. Generating this sort of sortie rate is an operational impossibility for both
crew and aircraft at the current Prowler force level. During the 78-day air campaign,
each Marine Corps EA-6B averaged 95 hours per month. One aircraft flew 123 hours
in one month. These numbers are significant if one considers that planned aircraft
utilization rates during sustained operations are 36 hours per month.40
U.S. military planners took extraordinary steps to protect all combat sorties with
EW jammers. Keeping air crews healthy and at appropriate readiness levels became
a challenge. Normally, limits are placed on the number of hours crew can fly in a given
period of time for both health and safety reasons. With the Prowlers flying missions
daily in Kosovo, airplane crews were in constant demand, were forced to rotate, and
got only every sixth day off on average. The high number of sorties required an
exemption from normal limits on flying hours.41 The Navy’s Deputy Chief of Naval

37 (...continued)
before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Readiness, on
Problems Encountered, Lessons Learned and Reconstitution following Operation Allied Force.
October 26, 1999.
38Hebert, Adam J. Prowler Community was Well Equipped for Kosovo, Participants Say.”
Inside the Air Force. August 6, 1999.
39William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense. Prepared Statement to Senate Armed Services
Committee, July 20, 1999: 4.
40BGen Robert M. Flanagan, Deputy Commander II Marine Expeditionary Force, Testimony
before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Readiness, on
Problems Encountered, Lessons Learned and Reconstitution following Operation Allied Force.
October 26, 1999.
41Hebert, Adam J. Prowler Community was Well Equipped for Kosovo, Participants Say.

Operations for Resources and Requirements recognized the negatives of such
deployments on both men and machines. “Ten of the 19 Navy and Marine Corps
squadrons were deployed to Allied Force,” he said. “That is not the normal rotation
that we like to see with a deployed cycle. It degrades PERSTEMPO and it causes
deferred maintenance.”42
To shoulder the increased maintenance burden caused by such high OPTEMPO,43
the Navy deployed hundreds of extra enlisted maintenance personnel to the theater.
Despite this extra manpower, aircraft maintenance was stressed and these crews were
forced to resort to “severe” parts swapping between Prowlers to keep them flying.44
To achieve the maintenance success that was evidenced by the high number of
sorties that the Prowlers were able to fly, DoD was forced to draw down the overall
parts supply system to critically low levels. Prowler squadrons outside of Kosovo
were brought to a virtual standstill. The lack of spare parts dramatically reduced their45
ability to train and maintain aircrew proficiency.
Concentrating such a large percentage of the overall Prowler force and its
personnel and maintenance resources in one theater had a global ripple effect on U.S.
EW assets, straining the ability of the Navy and Marine Corps to meet other global
commitments. At one point, for instance an expeditionary squadron based in Incirlik,
Turkey, was shifted to the Balkans, forcing a suspension in enforcement of the no-fly
zone in Iraq.46 According to the former commander of the Combined Task Force for
Northern Watch, Brig. Gen. David Deptula, “when your tankers are gone, or your
EA-6Bs are gone or your F-15C are gone, you just don’t operate...”47
The Marine Corps Prowler squadron at Iwakuni, Japan – supposedly a
permanent presence – was transferred to Kosovo, forcing an alert of CONUS-based

41 (...continued)
Inside the Air Force. August 6, 1999.
42VADM Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Resources, Warfare
Requirements & Assessments), Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee,
Subcommittee on Military Procurement, Hearing on the Lessons Learned in the Kosovo
Conflict, October 19, 1999.
43Hebert, Adam J. Prowler Community was Well Equipped for Kosovo, Participants Say.
Inside the Air Force. August 6, 1999.
44Hebert, Adam J. Marine Corps not a Good Place for Air Force to Find OPTEMPO Relief.
Inside the Air Force. September 10, 1999.
45BGen Robert M. Flanagan, Deputy Commander II Marine Expeditionary Force, Testimony
before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Readiness, on
Problems Encountered, Lessons Learned and Reconstitution following Operation Allied Force.
October 26, 1999.
46Thompson, Loren B. Shaping the Battlespace: The Future of Airborne Electronic Warfare.
Sea Power, March 2000: 41.
47 Wolfe, Frank. Kosovo Requirements Temporarily Halted Northern Watch. Defense Daily.
November 17, 1999: 4.

EA-6Bs to cover any problems in northeast Asia. Even instructors from NAS
Whidbey Island, WA, were deployed overseas to fill the gaps in EW coverage. 48 “We
gapped the CINCPAC requirement at Iwakuni for a year,” said the Commanding
General of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “We will not recover
on EA-6Bs until September of ‘00 following that requirement.”49 Even months after
the conflict, the supply system lacked both the aviation parts and manpower to
support full time contingency operations and simultaneously support CONUS based
units at normal rates.
Despite these efforts and the negative consequences of deploying so many
Prowlers to Kosovo, the Navy and Marine Corps Prowlers could not keep up with the
pace of combat sorties in Operation Allied Force. The scarcity of EA-6Bs slowed the
allied operational tempo. The Prowlers have been described as a “crucial pacing
element” for the air campaign. Sorties were geared around the availability of EA-6Bs.
If Prowlers weren’t available, operational planners either had to wait until Prowlers
became available, or risk flying without them. However, on the basis of Assistant
Secretary of the Navy Lee Buchanan’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Air-
Land Subcommittee on March 22, 2000, in which he said that “the EA-6B
accompanied all U.S. strikes in Kosovo and also some coalition strikes,” it would
appear that operational planners generally chose to wait for the Prowlers.
In addition to the general scarcity of Prowlers, the EA-6B’s lack of night vision
devices (NVDs) has been identified as a limiting factor in target prosecution for night
missions. The lack of NVDs rendered the aircrew incapable of performing precise
aircraft positioning through visual means at night and in some cases reduced their
effectiveness. Since most of the air campaign was fought at night, this shortcoming
might have been a factor in slowing operations.50
Integration with Stealth Aircraft Operations. It is difficult to openly
discuss stealth aircraft operations due to their high degree of sensitivity. However, in
the open literature that is available, opinions on this Operation Allied Force issue vary.
DoD officials are quoted as saying that “we feel it important to provide our
crews as much protection as we could provide” and that bombers could fly without
jamming support if necessary.51 The Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and

48Thompson, Loren B. Shaping the Battlespace: The Future of Airborne Electronic Warfare.
Sea Power, March 2000: 41.
49Lt.Gen. John E. Rhodes, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development
Command. Testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on
Military Procurement, Hearing on the Lessons Learned in the Kosovo Conflict, October 19,


50B.Gen. Robert M. Flanagan, Deputy Commander II Marine Expeditionary Force, Testimony
before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Readiness, on
Problems Encountered, Lessons Learned and Reconstitution following Operation Allied Force.
October 26, 1999.
51Hebert, Adam J. B-2 Performed Better Than Expected Over Kosovo, USAF Officials Say.

Space Operations, added, however that “The question I get frequently is, was ECM
required for stealth assets? The answer is no, it is not required – depending on the
risks you want to put the aircrews at. If you have the capability, then the prudent
person would say, why not suppress the threat with Electronic Countermeasures as
well as taking advantage of our stealth capability, which all totaled up to survivability
for the platform. That is simply what we did.”52 BGen Robert Flanagan (USMC)
testified that “EA-6Bs were incorporated into operations with low-observable aircraft.
Due to the Marine Corps Prowler’s presence during the build-up phase, they were
briefed in and allowed to participate in these sensitive missions. As a result, every
low-observable aircraft mission conducted during OAF had dedicated Marine Prowler
support.” 53
The F-117 that was shot down in Kosovo was reportedly not properly supported
by jamming aircraft. For a variety of reasons, “The EA-6Bs were too far from the F-
117, they may not have been properly aligned with the (enemy) radars...”54 The
apparent use of EA-6Bs to support F-117 and B-2 aircraft during the Kosovo conflict
lends credence to the “Stealth and EW” philosophy. A new issue regarding stealth and
EW aircraft integration arises from this experience however – namely whether the
intense secrecy protecting stealth aircraft operations might be hindering joint training
and the development of operational concepts that would enable even better
integration of EW and stealth aircraft.
Stealth technology has long been considered an important comparative military
advantage for the United States. It is a silver bullet that only the United States
employs pervasively. The standard operating procedure is to withhold F-117s from
Air Force exercises and experiments such as “Red Flag.” Thus, important details
regarding how EW assets should best be integrated with stealth platforms are not
universally understood. For example, what frequencies should they work on? Where
should the jamming aircraft be positioned relative to the stealth aircraft? Where in the
formation should the HARM-shooting aircraft fly? According to Gen. Richard
Hawley, former commander of the Air Combat Command, this desire to classify and
protect as much information about stealth technology as possible was most likely a
factor in the F-117 loss and backfired on the services.55 Some analysts recommend
more consideration on how to better train, exercise, and experiment with stealthy
aircraft in the “total force package” (including EW assets) while still safeguarding
stealth technology secrets.

51 (...continued)
Inside the Air Force. July 2, 1999.
52Grant, Rebecca. Airpower Made it Work. Air Force Magazine. November 1999: 34.
53B.Gen. Robert M. Flanagan, Deputy Commander II Marine Expeditionary Force, Testimony
before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Readiness, on
Problems Encountered, Lessons Learned and Reconstitution following Operation Allied Force.
October 26, 1999.
54 Fulghum, David A. NATO Unprepared for Electronic Combat. Aviation Week & Space
Technology. May 10, 1999: 35.
55 Butler, Amy. Hawley: Poor Training for Mission Led to F-117 Loss. Inside the Air Force.
December 3, 1999.

Response to Serbian Tactics. In many areas, including EW, Operation
Allied Force was unlike Operation Desert Storm. In 1991, the United States
destroyed most if not all of Iraq’s key radars and SAMs early in the conflict, and kept
the residual threat very low until the end of the war. In Operation Allied Force
“Dedicated suppression of the Serbian air defenses was never completely
accomplished.”56 Rather than continually sweeping the skies with their radars as the
Iraqis had done, the Serbs turned on their radars sporadically. They exploited a vast
network of observers to track U.S. aircraft, then turned on their radars just as the
U.S. planes were passing overhead. While this tactic limited the effectiveness of the
Serb system, it also made it extremely difficult for U.S. EW and SEAD assets to find,
target and suppress or destroy mobile radars and SAMs.
At the campaign’s end, only a fraction of Serbian early warning radar networks
and SAMs had been destroyed. To illustrate how successful the Serb tactics were,
NATO believes they only destroyed three of the Serb’s 22 SAM batteries.57
Consequently, bombing missions on Day 78 were potentially as dangerous as missions
on Day One.58 This need for continuous EW support kept EA-6B OPTEMPO high
throughout the entire conflict.
Serbian tactics and the NATO allies’ difficulty in countering them suggest that
the United States may need to emphasize the acquisition of systems and the
development of operational concepts optimized for finding, targeting, and destroying
mobile radars and SAMs that aren’t emitting.
Intelligent Decoys. While chaff, flares, and decoys have been part of aircraft
self-protection suites for some time, their contribution to EW during the Kosovo
conflict is noteworthy, with regard to the coming debate regarding EA-6B follow on
The ALE-50 towed decoy and the GEN-X expendable decoy are examples of
a new generation of decoys that proponents argue will greatly increase aircraft
survivability against radar guided missiles. These systems defeat guided SAMs by
transmitting a decoy signal that looks just like that of the targeted aircraft, except
bigger. The SAM is tricked into attacking the decoy, sparing the aircraft. These
decoys would not protect an aircraft against unguided threats such as Anti Aircraft
Artillery (AAA) or SAMs fired without radar guidance.
While decoys are not new, current systems are noticeably more sophisticated
than their predecessors. They cover a much broader range of frequencies, can be

56B.Gen. Robert M. Flanagan, Deputy Commander II Marine Expeditionary Force, Testimony
before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Readiness, on
Problems Encountered, Lessons Learned and Reconstitution following Operation Allied Force.
October 26, 1999.
57Haffa, Robert P. and Barry D. Watts. Brittle Swords: Managing the Pentagon’s Low-
Density, High Demand Assets. Northrop Grumman Corp. Washington, DC: 9.
58 Haffa and Watts report that the Serb’s are estimated to have fired over 670 SAMs during
the 78-day war.

reprogrammed in flight by the aircraft’s radar warning receiver, and can transmit more
sophisticated decoy signals. The most intelligent decoys are towed with a fiber optic
cable which allows information from on-board electronic countermeasures systems
to pass from the aircraft to the decoy.
As of May 31, 1999, the Serbs had fired 30 SAMs at ALE-50-equipped B-1B
aircraft flying missions as part of Operation Allied Force. Of those 30 missiles, 10
actually locked their radar homing devices on the B-1Bs. All 10 SAM missiles were
diverted by the decoys. There are unconfirmed reports that two additional B-1Bs
were similarly attacked and saved by their decoys.59 The practical and monetary value
of these decoys is significant. If the ALE-50s hadn’t been deployed on the B-1Bs, or
if they hadn’t been successful, all 12 of the bombers could have been destroyed. In a
worst case scenario, this could have resulted in the death of 48 crew members and the
destruction of approximately $2.5 billion in materiel. The political ramifications of
losing such a high value asset are more difficult to calculate; but probably significant
as well. In a more likely scenario, after one or two aircraft were shot down, the B-1Bs
would have been withdrawn from the campaign until an effective defense or counter-
tactic was devised. This suggests that decoys could be an important component of an
overarching EW strategy that could reduce the number and or types of dedicated EW
jammers required.
EA-6Bs in Operation Enduring Freedom60
Thus far it appears that in many ways, Operation Enduring Freedom has placed
fewer demands on the EA-6B fleet than did Operation Allied Force. First, a much
smaller percentage of active and reserve Prowlers have been deployed to Afghanistan
than were during Operation Allied Force. A maximum of two aircraft carrier-based
EA-6B squadrons have flown missions at any one time, compared to the 10.5
squadrons deployed in Kosovo. This relatively low level of EA-6B deployment is
likely due in part to the low number of attack aircraft sorties flown in this conflict
vis-a-vis the number flown in Kosovo. Second, the EA-6B squadrons that are
deployed to Afghanistan appear to have less SEAD work to do than those deployed
in Kosovo. The Taliban’s air defenses are notably inferior to Serbia’s and that appears
to be reflected in the number of support jamming missions. Press accounts claim that
even on the first night of bombing “the strikes were aided by a relatively small number
of support aircraft, such as EA-6B stand off jammers.”61 As U.S. air strikes took their
effect on the Taliban’s defenses, it appears that the need for escort jamming
diminished further. Other press accounts say that unlike in Bosnia and Kosovo, strike
packages began attacking Taliban targets without EA-6B support. Another indication

59Hughes, David. A Pilot’s Best Friend. Aviation Week & Space Technology. May 31, 1999:

25. Cook, Nick. Survival of the Smartest. Jane’s Defense Weekly. March 1, 2000: 24.

60For additional information on air power issues in Afghanistan, see CRS Report RS21020
Operation Enduring Freedom: Potential Air Power Questions for Congress.
61Fulghum, David, and Robert Wall. U.S. Stalks Taliban with New Air Scheme. Aviation
Week & Space Technology. October 15, 2001. p.32.

of the paucity of air defense targets is that EA-6Bs stopped carrying HARM
missiles. 62
Despite the Taliban’s weak air defenses, it appears that the EA-6Bs deployed in
Afghanistan are actively engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom. It has been
reported that Prowler crews from the USS Carl Vinson and USS Theodore Roosevelt
have begun exploiting a new technique in support of the war effort: using the ALQ-99
radar jamming system to disrupt enemy ground communications. The ALQ-99 can
jam more frequencies, and deliver more jamming energy than the EA-6B’s dedicated
communication jammer, the USQ-113. Care must be taken to avoid accidently
jamming frequencies used by friendly forces, particularly GPS guided munitions.
When conducting communications jamming, the EA-6Bs are reportedly coordinating
closely with other assets involved in communications jamming and electronic
intelligence gathering, such as the EC-130H Compass Call, EC-130E Commando
Solo, RC-135 Rivet Joint and EP-3 Aries. This new technique is said to be
“particularly useful in supporting the Pentagon’s ‘hidden’ special operations forces
campaign.” 63
Another new development is the debut of night vision devices (NVDs) in the
EA-6B fleet. The USS Theodore Roosevelt’s EA-6B squadron, the VAQ-137
“Rooks”, is using NVDs to increase their situational awareness. The NVDs help
Prowler crews se other aircraft in a strike package and find refueling aircraft at night.
The exact pace and tempo of EA-6B support jamming missions is difficult to
assess due to conflicting press accounts. One account claims that “typically, only one
Prowler is flying at a time.”64 While another report indicates that six of the eight
Prowlers in theater often operate at the same time. The long distances being flown
also affect Prowler operations. Missions tend to last six to seven hours, including an
aerial refueling, which is unusually long for the crew and the 30 year old airframes
Potential Lessons or Assessment
Following Operation Allied Force a number of senior and respected military
experts expressed concern about the state of U.S. EW. Retired Royal Air Force Air
Vice Marshal Tony Mason wrote about severe jamming deficiencies in Kosovo.
Retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Dugan said “We made a serious
misstep,” when deciding to retire the EF-111 Raven.65 Current Air Force Chief of
Staff Michael Ryan said the service was “embarrassed” during the Kosovo conflict for

62Wall, Robert. EA-6B Crews Recast Their Infowar Role. Aviation Week & Space
Technology. November 19, 2001. p.39.
63Wall, Robert. EA-6B Crews Recast Their Infowar Role. Aviation Week & Space
Technology. November 19, 2001. p.39.
64Brinkley, Mark. Prowlers Assume Ground Jamming Role. Defense News. November 26,

2001 p.36.

65Experts: Retiring EF-111 to Give Jamming Mission to EA-6B was a Mistake. Inside the Air
Force. August 20, 2000.

failing to provide enough EW support to EUCOM.66 Military analyst Edward
Luttwak said “It (the lack of EW aircraft) was the constraining element of the entire
air campaign. It was like having 13 Cadillacs and one gallon of gas.”67
A number of studies have been initiated to review the status of U.S. EW
resources and develop recommendations on how to best meet future requirements.
Three studies are noteworthy. On October 1, 1999 a team led by Dr. Natalie
Crawford of RAND published the preliminary findings of a report on the USAF EW
Management Process, which focused on structural changes to the Air Staff that would
result in better sponsorship of the EW mission within the Air Force. The Crawford
study concluded that the representation of EW programs and issues at senior levels
of the Air Force is fragmented. This results in a lack of corporate focus and advocacy
that is required for EW to compete with other important mission areas in terms of
money and other resources.68 This study is ongoing.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Ryan led an electronic warfare summit in
July 2000 that brought together the Air Force’s top EW experts. This panel was
formed in response to the RAND study findings, and examined ways in which the Air
Force might improve the end strength and skill level of the service’s dwindling cadre69
of electronic warfare officers.
A broader study, the Joint Service Airborne Electronic Attack Analysis of
Alternatives (EA AOA) was established in February 2000. This Navy-led study has
been tasked to examine the 2010 to 2030 timeframe and determine the best platforms
and systems to fulfill joint EW requirements.
The EA AOA is led by an Executive Steering Group composed of general
officers and senior level civilians with requirements, acquisition and test
responsibilities. Working level integrated product teams (IPTs), composed of
approximately 60 different representatives focus on threat, cost, technical, user and
modeling and simulation issues.
The EA AOA’s analysis was reportedly completed in September 2001, and is
expected to be released in December 2001. According to one account, the EA AOA
was directed to study options that would 1) provide at least ICAP-III level jamming
capabilities, 2) be compatible with specific Service needs against all foreseen threats,

66RAND Says Air Force Headquarters Should Take EW Lessons from AFSOC. Inside the
Air Force. March 24, 2000.
67Europe, U.S. May Learn Opposing Lessons from Operation Allied Force. Aerospace Daily.
August 17, 1999.
68Butler, Amy. Weak EW Management Prompts Call for New Oversight Structure. Inside the
Air Force. March 3, 2000.
69Wall, Robert. Pentagon’s EW Efforts Seen in Shambles. Aviation Week & Space
Technology. April 24, 2000:29.

and 3) be available in sufficient numbers to avoid low density/high demand (LD/HD)
problems. The EA AOA examined 23 different airborne electronic attack options.70
While the EA AOA’s conclusions and recommendations have not yet been made
public, conflicting reports have found their way into the trade press. Two articles
based on discussions with unidentified sources claim that the EA AOA found the F/A-
18G to be the likeliest option.71 Another article cast doubt on the attractiveness of
this options, saying that “the cost of developing and fielding such a system was among
the highest of the different options...”72 While the accuracy of these advanced reports
is unclear, it appears likely that the EA AOA will present a “menu” of choices to
replace the EA-6B rather than a single solution.
Congressional Action
Over the last five years Congress has supported the development of EW aircraft
and capabilities by a variety of measures. From FY1996 to FY2000 Congress
consistently appropriated more money than requested for EA-6B-related
procurement, encouraging the Navy to upgrade the Prowler’s airframe, radar jammer,
and communications jammer and initiating the development of advanced “receptive”
jamming techniques. Congress also vigorously debated the decision to retire the EF-
111. In the 106th Congress, legislators sponsored the Joint Service Electronic Attack
Analysis of Alternatives study that is analyzing the alternatives for a EA-6B follow onth
capability. Furthermore, members of the 106 Congress have formed an EW working
group in the House to bring greater attention to EW issues. (See Congressional EW
Working Group section, p.28 of this report)
FY1996-FY2001. The Fiscal Year 1996 defense budget request called for the
termination of the EF-111 System Improvement Program and retirement of the EF-
111 fleet in fiscal year 1997.73 The Air Force testified that the EA-6B could satisfy all
jamming requirements. Debate within the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding
EF-111 retirement was vigorous. Some Senators argued that retiring the EF-111 was

70Airborne Electronic Attack Analysis of Alternatives. Study Overview. November 2001.
United States Air Force.
71Tiboni, Frank. Hornet Variant in Lead to Replace Prowler. Defense News. October 29,
2001. p.4. and Keeter, Hunter. Navy FY’03 Budget Plan Supports F/A-18G, 737 MMA as
Best Options. Defense Daily. November 1, 2001.
72Wall. Robert. Tough Decisions Loom for EA-6B Replacement. Aviation Week & Space
Technology. October 22, 2001.
73Congress recommended cancelling the EF-111 program in Defense Appropriations for
FY1993. In the Senate Report 102-352 (July 31, 1992), appropriators concluded that “...the
Navy should be assigned a mission for the entire Defense Department to provide standoff
jamming for all tactical air operations, based on the strength of its modernization program and
the flexibility of the EA-6B.” Furthermore, “The committee believes the Air Force should
inactivate its EF-111 aircraft and that the resources earmarked for the EF-111 squadrons in
the Future Years Defense Program be transferred to the Navy to fund a stronger EA-6B

“an unwise and risky course of action,” and “fraught with too many risks for our
national security.”74
In FY1996 authorization conferees expressed concern that the administration’s
budget request included no funds to either expand the Navy’s fleet of EA-6B aircraft,
improve its capabilities, or to accommodate the requirement of the EF-111by other
means. Therefore, “The conferees agree that modernization of the Department’s
tactical electronic warfare aircraft fleet is a priority item of special interest.”
The FY1996 Authorization Conference Report went on to admonish the Navy,
noting the “inconsistent nature of the Navy’s actions regarding airborne tactical EW
in recent years” and saying that the conferees were “deeply concerned with the Navy’s
vacillating commitment and for meaningful upgrades to the EA-6B aircraft.” To
indicate the seriousness of their concerns, authorization conferees agreed that the
Secretary of the Navy should not obligate more than 75 percent of funds appropriated
for procurement of the F/A-18C/D for fiscal year 1996 until he had accomplished the
modernization activities specified in the report.
Appropriations for FY1996 followed the authorization lead, providing $165
million for the modernization programs delineated in the authorization report.
Appropriations conferees saw a particular need to procure the 9/10 band transmitters
and encouraged the Navy to” buy these systems expeditiously.”75 In addition to the
EA-6B modernization, the appropriators provided the Navy with $97 million in
RDT&E funds for EW development.
In FY1997, Congressional conferees authorized $201.6 million for EA-6B
procurement, $101 million more than the budget request. Conferees strongly
expressed their concerns regarding the retirement of the EF-111 and the reliance on
the Prowler as the Department of Defense’s only dedicated radar jammer.
Attack aviation continues to require a robust electronic warfare capability. The
decision to retire the Air Force’s EF-111s and rely on the EA-6B for the
Department’s tactical jamming mission makes it imperative that the EA-6B fleet
be structurally sound and modernized to meet current requirements. The conferees
note that the current jamming transmitters on the EA-6B have not changed
substantially since originally designed in the 1960s, although there have been
several generations of improved surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles since then,
and many of these new systems operate in the high radio frequency range. Also,
the great majority of current anti-ship missiles employ seekers in the band 9/10
frequency range. Consequently, the conferees agree to authorize an increase of $40
million to the budget request to procure 60 shipsets of these transmitters. The
conferees agree to authorize an addition of $11 million to the budget request to
acquire an additional 24 units of the USQ-113 communications jammer. The EA-

6B’s aluminum wing center sections have been found to be subject to

74 U.S. Senate. 104th Congress, 1st Session. Congressional Record Vol. 141 No. 49.141 Cong
Rec S4050. Emergency Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act. March 16, 1995.
75U.S. House of Representatives. 104th Congress 1st Session. Making Appropriations for the
Department of Defense For the Fiscal Year ending September 30, 1996, and for Other
Purposes. Conference Report 104-344. November 15, 1995: 82.

embrittlement, which has led to stress cracks and resulted in the removal of a
number of aircraft from active service. Consequently, the conferees agree to
increase the budget request by $50 million to purchase ten of the twenty new wing
center section in order to avoid a production break in the manufacture of this
Also, conferees noted that although funds were authorized and appropriated for
FY1996 to initiate a reactive jammer program for the EA-6B, the Department of
Defense chose not to initiate such a program, and elected instead to program funds
for such an effort from fiscal year 1999 to fiscal year 2001. Conferees criticized the
DoD’s decision as “unacceptable,” calling the EA-6B’s jammers “obsolete.”
Conferees authorized an additional $32.0 million to initiate the reactive jamming
program. 76
Appropriations for FY1997 totaled $228.6 million for EA-6B modernization
($27 million more than was authorized), and another $127.2 million in the Navy’s
RDT&E account for EW development, to include Anti-Jam GPS ($3.5 million),
jamming techniques optimization ($5 million), ALR-67 radar warning receiver ($8
million), and EA-6B reactive jamming ($32 million).
For FY1998, Conferees authorized $15 million more for EA-6B procurement
than had been requested, directing DoD to replace the wing center sections of five
more EA-6Bs than the 10 DoD had planned to repair. Appropriators agreed with the
need for 15 wing center sections to be replaced, and provided the required $15
million. Additionally, conferees appropriated another $15 million to support jamming
upgrades. In FY1998, appropriators provided the Navy with $21.8 million for
Electronic Warfare Technology, and $99 million for EW Development in RDT&E
For FY 1999, authorization conferees provided $25 million more than the budget
request to fund the acquisition of 9/10 band transceivers for the Prowler. As they had
in FY1996 and FY 1997, legislators thus expressed their concern that the Prowler’s
jammers were not keeping current with emerging threats. Conferees appropriated
$95.7 million for EA-6B upgrades, $5 million less than authorized, but $20 million
more than requested. Appropriators also provided $37 million for common ECM
equipment in the Navy RDT&E account.
For FY 1999 Congress passed a Supplemental Appropriations Act financing the
cost of Operation Allied Force. This act provided $300 million for an operational
rapid response fund, which DoD indicated would be used to finance a number of
EA–6B near-term upgrades, including $45 million for band 9/10 jammers, $39 million
for universal exciters, and $30.4 million for miniaturized automated tactical77

terminals/integrated data modems.
76U.S. House of Representatives. 104th Congress. 2nd Session. National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 1997. Conference Report 104-724: 567.
77U.S. House of Representatives. 106th Congress. 1st Session. Report of the Committee on
Appropriations 106-244. July 20, 1999:145.

In FY2000, Authorization conferees increased the budget request by $25 million
to procure additional 9/10 band transceivers. Conferees also expressed concern that
DoD did not have a serious plan for potential follow-on capabilities. Therefore,
conferees authorized an increase to the budget request of $5.0 million to initiate a
joint service (Navy/Air Force) analysis of alternatives for a replacement for the EA-6B
aircraft. The conferees further directed the Secretary of the Navy to establish a
separate concept exploration/product definition and risk reduction program element78
for the program.
The Electronic Attack Analysis of Alternatives (EA AOA) study was supported
by appropriators, who also made available a total of $240 million for EA-6B
improvements in FY 2000. They also made available in the Navy RDT&E budget
$209 million for EW development (including the Integrated Defense Electronic
Countermeasures system or IDECM, EA-6B connectivity, ICAP III spray cooling
technology, GPS anti jam) and $36.1 million for electronic warfare technology.
The House appropriations committee report for FY 2000 (106-644, H.R. 4576)
expressed strong concern that Operation Allied Force illustrated the on-going need
for robust EW support of air operations, and the growing U.S. shortfall in this area.
“With the retirement of the Air Force EF–111 aircraft, the EA–6B has become the
Defense Department’s primary escort jammer aircraft to support combat strike
missions. The crews and aircraft of Navy and Marine EA–6B squadrons
performed admirably during Operation Allied Force. However, due to the
Department’s overall lack of jamming aircraft, the forces were stretched, air crews
were stressed, and the logistics support tail was strained.”79
House Appropriators also concluded that stealth air operations and EW are
complementary. According to House appropriators “This operation also made it clear
that even advanced stealth aircraft benefit from escort jamming from the EA–6B,80

counter to assumptions made when the EF–111s were retired.”
78U.S. House of Representatives. 106th Congress. 1st Session. National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2000. Conference Report 106-301. August 6, 1999:625.
79U.S. House of Representatives. 106th Congress. 1st Session. Report of the Committee on
Appropriations 106-244. July 20, 1999:144.
80U.S. House of Representatives. 106th Congress. 1st Session. Report of the Committee on
Appropriations 106-244. July 20, 1999:144.

Table 3. Summary of Recent EA-6B Related Procurement
( In millions of then-year dollars)
Request AuthorizationConference AppropriationConference
FY1997 100.6 201.6 228.6
FY1998 86.8 101.8 116.7
FY1999 75.7 100.7 95.7
FY2000 160.7 186 240
FY2001 203.1 186.3 189.3
Total 626.9 941.4 1035.3
The Navy’s FY2001 budget request for EA-6B procurement was $203.1 million.
The Navy’s plan was to use this money to upgrade the Prowler’s universal exciter, to
upgrade some airframes to the Block 89A configuration (ICAP II) and others to the
ICAP III configuration. This money was also earmarked to fund the procurement81
low-band transmitters. Authorization conferees approved $186.3 million in EA-6B
procurement funding. Appropriation conferees made $189.3 million available for
FY2001 procurement.
FY2002. For fiscal year 2002, the Navy requested $137.6 million in
procurement, and $84.8 million in RDT&E funds for the EA-6B.82 In their report S.
Rept. 107-62 (S. 1416, p. 56), the Senate Authorization Committee met the Navy’s
request for procurement funding, and increased it by $54.0 million. This money is to
be used to purchase ALQ-99 band 9/10 transmitters ($38.0 million), and facilitate
structural modifications and improvements to the EA-6B ($16.0 million). Senate
authorizors also matched the Navy’s request for EA-6B RDT&E funds.

81Department of the Navy. Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 Budget Estimates. Justification of
Estimates. February 2000. Aircraft Procurement, Navy Volume II: Budget Activity 5.
82There are several additional Navy RDT&E programs that, while not focused entirely on the
EA-6B, do affect that program. For instance, the Navy requested $5.4 million for work on the
Mobile Electronic Warfare Support System and the Tactical Electronic Reconnaissance
Processing and Evaluation System. $9.5 million was requested to complete GPS equipment
testing on the EA-6B and HH-60H aircraft. $180 million wad requested to develop tactics and
define the effectiveness of EA-6B jamming on anti-ship missiles. And, some increment of the
$25.7 requested under the Aircraft Engine Improvement Program would apply to the EA-6B.

Table 4. Breakdown of FY2002 EA-6B Budget Request
R&D$MillionsProcurement$ Millions
Jammer & Techniques9ALQ-99 Pods22.2
ICAP III Development56.3J-52 Engines8.4
EMD of Low Band5.5Structural49.2
Transmitter Improvements
Complete EA AOA3Block 89A56.9
improved avionics
Link-16 Development8
The House Authorization Committee (S. Rept. 107-194, H.R. 2586, p.66)
matched the Administration’s request for procurement funding. The committee also
matched the Navy’s EA-6B RDT&E request, and added $10.0 million to “accelerate
the development of an EA-6B successor.” (p.188).
Like the Senate Authorization Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee
(SAC) increased the Navy’s EA-6B’s procurement request to purchase ALQ-99 9/10
band transmitters. However, the SAC made available $8.0 million for the transmitters,
for a total procurement appropriation of $145.6 million. Senate appropriators also
matched the Navy’s EA-6B RDT&E request.
Congressional EW Working Group. Following Operation Allied Force,
Members of the House Armed Services and Appropriations Committees have formed
an EW Working Group to increase attention to and support of EW issues. The group
is led by Representative Joseph Pitts. Co-chairs include Representative Norm Dicks
also from the House Armed Services Committee and House Appropriations
Committee members Representatives John M. Spratt, Jr., and Randy "Duke"
Cunningham. The working group plans to make certain that budget initiatives are
compatible with the broader goals of national security strategy. In a letter to Secretary
of Defense William Cohen, the EW Working Group noted that despite the
acknowledgment that electromagnetic spectrum control is vital to military supremacy,
EW requirements have not received the attention they should in either the armed83
forces or in Congress. In a June 21, 2000 letter to House Armed Services Chairman

83Electronic Systems Forecast, Email Market Alert. Forecast International/DMS. March 6,


Rep. Floyd Spence, this group recommended a series of hearings to address the state
of EW within the Pentagon.84
Issues and Options for Congress
Based on the operational and force structure conditions noted earlier in this
report, there appear to be three overarching issues of potential congressional interest
regarding the EA-6B force.
First, when assessing the immediate deficiencies in DoD’s EW capabilities, the
following questions stand out: How might our existing airborne EW platforms be
upgraded or augmented before the Prowler is retired in 2015? What approaches exist
for increasing the number of airborne radar jamming platforms between 2000 and
2015? Are techniques or technologies available that would help defeat adversaries
who employ their radars sporadically, as the Serbs did in Kosovo? When considering
ways to improve DoD’s radar jamming capabilities, issues include which options are
available in the short term and which would most easily transition to, or facilitate the
transition to longer-term solutions.
The second set of issues concerns options for replacing the EA-6Bs when they
leave service sometime in the 2010-to-2015 era: What is the best long-term strategy
for satisfying the airborne radar jamming requirement in the 2015 and beyond time
frame? Which platform is best suited for future EW operations?
When considering options for replacing the EA-6B, relevant measures of
effectiveness include (1) how “joint” the platform is, (2) the platform’s cost, in terms
of both unit platform cost and potential operations and sustainment (O&S), (3) the
time frame in which the platform would be operational, and (4) characteristics such
as range, speed, payload and stealth capabilities, which would determine the
platform’s operational effectiveness.
A third set of issues concerns the future of EW in the 2020 and beyond time
frame. What are the longer-term capabilities that might supplant manned tactical
aircraft as the backbone of DoD’s radar jamming capability? What merit is there in
basing radar jammers on very small UAVs or satellites? What are the primary
strengths and weaknesses of each approach? What are the primary obstacles to
turning these concepts into reality? If Congress were to appropriate R&D funds to
nurture long-term concepts, would it get a good return on its investment? Options for
each of these three time periods are discussed below.

84Holzer, Robert. Poor Management Plagues EW Programs. Defense News. August 7,


Nearer-Term Options for Augmenting the EA-6B Fleet
Expedite ICAP-III Upgrades. One possible measure to improve the EA-6B’s
capabilities would be to speed up the Navy’s plan for ICAP III upgrades. The current
plan is to upgrade 123 aircraft over 10 years. Between the years 2000 and 2004 two
Prowler airframes will be upgraded. Starting in 2005, the plans for ICAP III upgrades
fluctuate between 18 aircraft per year (2005) to 23 aircraft per year (2009).85
Congress may wish to examine the feasibility and costs of accelerating this plan. If,
for example, the Navy were to enter into Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of the
ICAP III upgrades earlier, say in 2004, it appears that they could upgrade 32 more
EA-6Bs from 2004 to 2006 than is currently planned.
When asked to identify “the number one thing that could be done to improve
EA-6B effectiveness,” current and former EA-6B crew responded “implement the
ICAP III upgrade and incorporate Link 16”86 Among other things, the ICAP-III
upgrade will give the Prowler the ability to conduct electronic support measures
(ESM) at the same time the Prowlers are jamming enemy radar emissions. Conducting
ESM gives the Prowler crews heightened battlespace awareness, which in turn gives
them the ability to conduct their missions in a more proactive manner, rather than
letting the enemy take the initiative. The wide-band datalink Link 16 information
distribution system would allow the EA-6B to more effectively disseminate electronic
order of battle and other information to other Prowlers, SEAD aircraft, and AEW
aircraft like the E-3 AWACS or the E-2C Hawkeye. In effect, Link 16 would enable
these aircraft to work more as an EW team.
Inventory Management. There are 124 EA-6B airframes in the inventory.
However, at any one time,14 Prowlers are either used for testing, or for fleet support,
and do not fly operational missions. These 14 Prowlers are said to be “in the pipeline.”
While military aircraft will always need to be pulled from operational status and move
through the pipeline for basic maintenance and upgrades, there may be measures that
could be implemented to make the EA-6B pipeline “leaner” and thus keep more
Prowlers flying EW missions. For example, reducing the number of EA-6Bs in the
pipeline from 14 to 10 aircraft could create another operational squadron.
The Navy is developing an Integrated Maintenance Concept – which Congress
could assess – that they hope will produce maintenance cost and schedule savings.
This concept would include an examination of the amount of work performed at
government maintenance facilities (Naval Aviation Depots, or NADEP) compared to
commercial maintenance facilities as regulated by law (such as USC Title 10, Chapter

146, Section 2464).

There is also the issue of how the services manage their EA-6B fleets. Currently,
the Marine Corps operates four EA-6B squadrons composed of five aircraft each. The
Navy operates 15 squadrons of four Prowlers each. Can greater combat effectiveness

85Source: Naval Aviation Systems Command (NAVAIR).
86Telephone conversation with EA-6B pilot, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, May 18,

2000. Telephone conversation with retired EA-6B Electronic Countermeasures Officer,

Washington, DC, May 26, 2000.

be realized by re-aligning Marine Corps and Navy EA-6B squadrons to serve national
security interests better? That question appears to be on the minds of senior DoD
officials. Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig, was quoted as saying “We’ve got
Marine EA-6Bs, we’ve got Navy EA-6Bs. How can we operate them together more
efficiently?” 87
Some have observed that land-based deployments overseas, such as Operations
Northern and Southern Watch have disproportionately burdened some of the EA-6B
squadrons. The Marine Corps squadrons and five Navy squadrons formed to fill the
gap created by the EF-111's retirement have borne this burden, while Navy EA-6Bs
assigned to aircraft carriers have seen relatively light service over the past several
years. Some argue that it would make more sense to rotate all EA-6Bs through
operational hot spots, and thus spread the flying hours and wear-and-tear
proportionally through the fleet. Referring to the EA-6B squadrons, now-retired
Commandant of the Marine Corps Charles Krulak said “Whether those requirements
be for land-based or sea-based commitment, they should be filled on a longest
home/next to deploy schedule. All of these aircraft in my view are a national asset and
should be apportioned as such.”88 Others argue that deploying carrier-based EA-6B
squadrons away from their aircraft carrier threatens the integrity of carrier airwings.
Increase Use of Smart Decoys. Another option would be to accelerate the
introduction of radar decoys into the active Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps
inventories. As described earlier in this report, towed radar decoys such as the ALE-
50 proved very successful in Kosovo, protecting B-1B and other aircraft from Serbian
SAMs. However, these systems, though relatively cheap as well as effective are not
deployed on every U.S. aircraft. Also, more sophisticated variants are experiencing
developmental difficulties. For example, the joint Navy/Air Force IDECM with its
fiber optic towed decoy (FOTD), has experienced a 14 month delay in engineering
and manufacturing development (EMD) and 50 percent increases in the average
procurement unit costs. The IDECM is slated to begin production in FY2004.89
Unlike towed decoys, tactical decoys can be launched from outside a theater and
fly long distances to invade enemy airspace. The tactical air-launched decoy and the
BQM-74 for example, were used effectively in Operation Desert Storm. More
advanced decoys might be developed which could simulate U.S. aircraft more
convincingly than today’s decoys, but might also appear as multiple aircraft on enemy
radars. The Air Force has begun converting some surplus AGM-86B air-launched
cruise missiles into so-called “brilliant decoys.” This decoy can resemble a single
fighter or several can imitate an entire flight of aircraft (2-4 airframes). To add further
realism to its ruse, the decoy can employ defensive countermeasures like a real

87Castelli, Christopher J. Navy Secretary Optimistic Air Campaign Talks can Shape Budget.
Inside the Navy. February 28, 2000.
88Holzer, Robert. EA-6Bs Stripped from Carriers. Defense News.July 12, 1999: 20.
89B-1 Bomber Upgrade Program Falters Again with New Delays, Expenses. Inside the Air
Force. May 5, 2000. and Air Force Programs Included in DoD’s Latest Selected Acquisition
Reports. Inside the Air Force. April 14, 2000.

aircraft. It drops chaff when illuminated by a hostile radar. When targeted by an
infrared (IR) guided missile, it can drop flares.90
Figure 4: EF-111 Stored at AMARC
In most military operations, planners avoid reliance on any one technique or
system. Instead, they apply numerous, mutually reinforcing techniques and
technologies to avoid single-point failure and increase the likelihood of achieving
mission success. To ensure aircraft survivability against radar directed SAMs, U.S.
aircraft will require not just stealth features and dedicated electronic jamming, but also
smart defensive countermeasures such as towed and expendable decoys. All three of
these assets together will enhance aircraft survivability against a wide and evolving
set of threats much better than any one alone. Martin van Creveld writes, “In the case
of electronic warfare as in any other kind of warfare, no weapon and no method is
sufficient on its own. Not one is suitable for use under all conditions, and each
separately is capable of being countered in ways which, if far from simple, are often91
obvious enough.”
Considering the inevitable waning of the EA-6B over the next 15 years another
option would be to emphasize the defensive countermeasures leg of the “EW Triad.”
This would include producing and deploying decoys on many aircraft types. Many
allied and friendly countries such as France, Germany, Sweden and the UK are also
developing sophisticated decoys. If development problems with U.S. decoys preclude
their timely and ubiquitous deployment, import of decoys from allied nations may be
an option to consider when augmenting DoD’s active jamming capability.
Resurrecting the Raven. Returning some EF-111 Ravens to active service
might prove another useful short term measure to augment today’s overworked EA-
6B fleet. There are currently 33 EF-111s stored at the Aerospace Maintenance and
Regeneration Center (AMARC), Davis-Monthan AFB, in Tucson, Arizona. (This

90Zaloga, Steve. World Missiles Briefing. Teal Group Inc. March 2000.
91 Van Creveld, Martin L. Technology and War: From 2000 BC to the Present. The Free
Press, New York, 1991: 273.

facility is often referred to colloquially as the U.S. military aircraft “bone yard.”)
These aircraft began their internment at AMARC in September 1997. The process
culminated in 1998 when the Raven was retired and withdrawn for service.92
The EF-111 Ravens at AMARC are currently being stored under a number of
conditions. Some are in “Type 1000 Long Term Storage”, where the integrity of the
aircraft systems is maintained, aircraft are preserved every four years, and no parts can
be scavenged from them without Air Staff approval. Other Ravens are in “Type 2000
Storage for Reclamation,” where parts can be removed and either returned to active
service, or exported to FMS (Foreign Military Sales) countries that still fly the F-
111.93 Returning EF-111s to service would entail more than just reconditioning the
aircraft. The personnel (including both pilots and ground crew), maintenance and
logistics support structures would also need to be revived.
EB-52. Another measure that might be considered to augment the EA-6B fleet
in the near term is the potential use of the B-52 to perform stand-off jamming. The
U.S. Air Force has initiated a study to assess the feasibility of converting nine B-52s
into stand-off jamming platforms as a near term augment to the EA-6B.
Initial Air Force thinking on a concept of operations suggests that B-52s could
fly a long range bombing mission and still have enough fuel to loiter outside the range
of enemy SAMs and anti-aircraft guns and protect other fighters and bombers with
radar jamming and deception as they enter, operate within, and exit hostile air space.
It is estimated that the conversion program would cost approximately $334 million
and would take about three years of testing and renovations to convert three B-52s
to the new mission configuration. The remaining six bombers would be completed
in another two years.94
One obstacle which must be overcome is that fact that the B-52 currently is fitted
with older electronic warfare gear designed for self protection. More modern
receivers and processing equipment would need to be integrated into the platform to
allow it to effectively conduct electronic attack missions.
The B-52's large airframe presents engineers with a number of possibilities for
integrating EW equipment. The Air Force study is examining “off-the-shelf” jamming
equipment already in service rather than developing new systems. The jammer's
antenna, for instance, could be located in a pod, mounted under a wing. The
electronics required to generate the jamming signal could be installed inside the B-52's
pressurized crew quarters.
The B-52 crew currently includes an electronic warfare officer, whose primary
concern is protecting the B-52 by identifying threatening radars and missile launches
and operating the bomber's missile and radar defenses. The proposed new mission

92Lt.Col. Robert Feliz, USAF Office of Legislative Affairs, Weapons Division.
93Telephone conversation with Mr. Harry Brannam, AMARC.
94Telephone conversation with Maj. Robert Schwarz, USAF. EB-52 Program Manager. Air
Combat Command.

would require the electronic-warfare officer to watch over a wider area and help
protect planes other than his own B-52 by using signals from the jamming equipment
to deceive enemy weapons.95
Re-Starting the EA-6B Production Line. EA-6Bs produced in the early

2000s could incorporate modern manufacturing techniques that might reduce cost,

and the aircraft could surely be upgraded with modern electronics and engines. The
primary obstacle to this approach is that the last Prowler was delivered in 1991. In
effect, the EA-6B production line has lain fallow for 10 years.
The atrophy of an aircraft production line’s people, processes, and technologies,
including subcontractors and specialized human expertise, gathers momentum over
time. Proponents of re-opening the EA-6B production line would argue that
production lines have been resurrected in the past and that the EA-6B line could be
functioning in approximately five years.96 Opponents would counter that the only
aircraft production lines that have successfully been restarted did so after only a short
pause, such as the E-2C Hawkeye which was re-opened after a two year hiatus.97
Re-starting the EA-6B production line at this stage would not be cost effective, they
would argue, because the resulting aircraft would be very expensive. The cost of
restarting the line would be amortized over a short production run.
Extending the EA-6B’s Service Life. Another option would be to extend
the EA-6B’s service life beyond 2010 or 2015. This may be feasible, but it might also
be expensive. By the 2015 time frame, many EA-6Bs will be more than 40 years old.
To achieve this long life span, the EA-6B has been given almost continuous upgrades
since the early 1970s including modifications to the central wing sections.98 Many
would argue that the EA-6B has already experienced its SLEP (service life extension
program), and that keeping the Prowler flying past 2015 will realize diminishing
Those in favor of SLEPing the EA-6B past 2015 might point out that the B-52,
which entered the operational force in 1955 is older than the EA-6B and is projected
to fly even longer than 2015. Why not the Prowler? First, unlike the B-52, the EA-6B
is a very high demand aircraft. As discussed in the Current Status section of this
report, the EA-6B accompanies every U.S. air strike. As described in the section of
this report on Kosovo, the Navy and Marine Corps literally flew the aircraft around
the clock. Second, the EA-6B lands on aircraft carriers. The violence of carrier take
off and landings puts stresses on the EA-6B airframe that the land-based B-52 never
experiences. Also, the maritime environment itself is harsh on sea-based aircraft.
Finally, the B-52 flies a relatively benign flight profile compared to the Prowler. It

95 Rolfsen, Bruce. B-52's Next Mission: Radar Jammer. Air Force Times, March 20, 2000:24.
96Haffa, Robert P. and Barry D. Watts. Brittle Swords: Managing the Pentagon’s Low-
Density, High-Demand Assets. Northrop Grumman Analysis Center. Washington, DC. July

2000: 12.

97Telephone conversation with Mr. John Vosilla, Northrop Grumman Public Affairs, June 6,


98See EA-6B Upgrades section at the front of this report.

does not fly tactical missions that often put heavy stress on the airframe from high
rates of acceleration or maneuvering. The EA-6B has more occasion to fly stressful
flight profiles.
Converting A-6s to EA-6Bs. A final possibility would be to transform the
A-6 Intruder aircraft into EA-6Bs. Most defense analysts concur, however, that this
conversion would not be economically feasible because the Prowler was developed
concurrently with the A-6, not derived from it.99 The Prowler is a four seat plane
versus the two seat A-6. It has a longer, sturdier fuselage to accommodate a much
heavier “bring back” weight to the aircraft carrier. In addition to the additional crew,
the EA-6B possesses distinguishing characteristics such as its pod-shaped fairing at
the top of the vertical fin which holds sensitive surveillance receivers. An EA-6B
derived from a pre-existing A-6 would cost as much as a brand new EA-6B, but the
airframe would already have the “milage” of the original A-6 aircraft.100
Mid-Term Options for Replacing the EA-6B in 2015
While some of the options detailed above might usefully shore-up current EW
capabilities, they would not provide DoD with a long-term, joint airborne EW
capability to replace the EA-6B.The Marine Corps and the Navy have stated their
desire to continue conducting this mission in the post-Prowler era, and the Air Force
is re-examining its stance on this issue. This section will focus on several platform
options for replacing the Prowler in the 2015 time frame. When considering fixed
wing aircraft to replace the EA-6B Prowler, five aircraft designs are most frequently
discussed: the F/A-18G Super Hornet, the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-15E Eagle, F-16
Fighting Falcon and the F-22 Raptor. Building a new aircraft, one designed
specifically to conduct the EW mission or employing UAVs for EW are also options
to be assessed. Each of these are discussed later in this section.
Assessment Criteria. A number of attributes might be usefully assessed in
considering the merits of various EA-6B replacement options. These attributes are:
(1) aircraft unit cost; (2) operations and maintenance considerations; (3) degree of
“jointness”, (4) number of crew (for manned aircraft options); (5) initial operating
capability and service life; and (6) a variety of operational characteristics that would
affect the plane’s ability to penetrate enemy airspace and escort attack aircraft into
and out of the target area. These attributes are described below, and will be used as
a framework to assess the pros and cons of various EA-6B replacement options.
Cost. All things being equal, an EW aircraft that costs less than another is
obviously advantageous. However, data on potential procurement cost is generally
available, but information on annual operating and maintenance (O&M) costs is
generally not available, making it difficult to make comparative calculations.

99Abolufia, Richard. Teal Group Inc. World Civil and Military Aircraft Briefing. Fairfax,
VA. April 2000.
100Hebert, Adam. Experts See No Immediate Solutions to Jamming Capability Shortfalls.
Inside the Air Force. April 23, 1999.

Every aircraft in the services’ inventory (in fact, every military platform) requires
an operations, maintenance, and logistical support structure. Much of the cost and
equipment in the military is associated with what is often called the “tail” (e.g. those
systems that don’t go into combat) as opposed to the “tooth” (e.g. those systems that
do go into combat). The “tail” is usually larger than the “tooth.” Therefore, by
reducing the number of different kinds of aircraft, DoD can sometimes reduce
operations and maintenance costs. The EF-111 for instance, was able to use the same
maintenance facilities as the F-111. The maintenance crews responsible for taking care
of the F-16 didn’t require additional or unique training to maintain the F-16CJ. If four
S-3 Viking aircraft took up a given amount of space in an aircraft carrier hangar, four
ES-3As consumed the same amount of space. All existing U.S. EW aircraft, whether
attack jammers such as the EF-111, EA-6B, and EC-130H; ELINT or ECM aircraft
such as the RC-135 and EP-3E; or SEAD aircraft such as the F-4G and F-16CJ are
variants of “parent” aircraft.
Jointness. If DoD uses one aircraft to replace the EA-6B it almost certainly
will be a joint aircraft. A joint aircraft would be one that could land on aircraft
carriers, and satisfy the expeditionary needs of the Air Force and the amphibious
needs of the Marine Corps. This assessment will therefore consider a particular
aircraft’s degree of “jointness” as a measure of merit. However, it may prove
impossible to procure a single, joint aircraft that satisfies all future DoD EW needs.
Instead, it may prove most practicable for each service, or at least the Air Force and
Navy, to base their EW capabilities on aircraft specific to their service. In this case,
however, it also appears likely that the EW gear itself could be joint – the pods,
antennas, transmitters, exciters and computers -- or at least should maintain a very
high degree of commonality.
Crew Number. Aircraft that originally have only a pilot would need to be
converted to a two crew configuration, increasing cost and potentially degrading
aircraft performance. While increased automation and the use of computer decision
aids will reduce the need for a four crew aircraft such as the EA-6B, it is probably
infeasible for a single pilot to effectively operate an EW aircraft. Flying the aircraft,
monitoring the electronic spectrum for “pop-up” threats, directing jamming signals,
and modulating the wavelength and frequency of the signals would be too much work
for one person to perform effectively. (UAVs face an even greater challenge in this
Initial Operating Capability (IOC). A gap in U.S. EW capabilities would put
U.S. forces at unnecessary risk. As discussed earlier, the Prowler is planned for
retirement in the 2010-to-2015 time frame, and its high operational tempo will make
extending this date unlikely. The exact number of aircraft required to replace the EA-

6B has yet to be determined. This number will depend on a variety of factors,

including assumptions on future military threats and the types of conflict the U.S. is
likely to face. As a rough planning factor, however, one can assume that DoD will
require more EW aircraft than the 124 Prowlers that exist today. It is there fore
important to assure that replacements are fielded at a rate that would insure a smooth
transition. Some analysts recommend the 2006 - 2007 time frame. Converting existing
operational aircraft to the EW mission could be advantageous in terms of IOC and
availability compared to developing new aircraft. However, new aircraft would have
the advantage of a longer service life.

Operational Characteristics. The most effective strike package of the
future envisioned by many analysts would be one where all the aircraft, not just the
attack aircraft, were stealthy. This strike package, including the EW plane would use
their low observability to evade enemy early warning and tracking radars and achieve
tactical surprise over the target. Optimally, the EW aircraft would only turn on its
jammer at the last moment to increase the strike package’s survivability and to protect
the aircraft after they released their payloads and egressed the target area. Of course,
the EW aircraft would also use its jammer earlier in the mission if the strike package
were detected and threatened. To operate along these lines, the EW platform would
not just need to be stealthy, but also would require the range, speed, and
maneuverability to keep up with the attack aircraft. Inherent in this assessment is an
assumption that the aircraft has sufficient payload capacity to carry the required EW
equipment. The ability to carry the equipment internally, as opposed to in external
pods is also advantageous, as this would help maintain a stealthy profile.
F/A-18G.101 The F/A-18 aircraft is manufactured by the Boeing Company at its
McDonnell Douglass plant in St. Louis, Missouri. An EW variant of the F/A-18E/F
(dubbed the “Growler) is favored by many parties to replace the EA-6B Prowler.
Chief of Navy Aviation, RADM John Nathman has said that he thinks the F/A-18G102
is “the most pragmatic solution for Navy.” He has been quoted in the press as
having said “A very good answer for us is a Growler...an F-18E/F-based aircraft. It
uses the ICAP III capability of the EA-6B...It’s a tailhook aircraft, its also a striker,
its an aircraft that provides for, I think, much more compatibility with the strike force103
because of the equal speeds.”
Proponents of the F/A-18G as a follow-on to the EA-6B would emphasize the
following attributes. First, the F/A-18F is a large, two seat aircraft. The aircraft can
carry almost 18,000lbs of external payload, more than enough to accommodate the
ALQ-99 and other jamming equipment. Second, the Super Hornet is a “tailhook”
aircraft that can land on aircraft carriers. Although the F/A-18F hasn’t been designed
with specific Air Force specifications in mind, it can be just as “joint” as the Prowler,
which is flown by Air Force crews. Third, the F/A-18E/F is already going to be part
of carrier fighter wings, so making an EW variant will realize O&M savings
throughout the force. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Super Hornet is a
real aircraft, its supporters would argue. It has been in production since 1997, and is
expected to enter service in 2001. It will be available in sufficient numbers in the
Prowler’s planned retirement window.
Opponents of an F/A-18G variant to replace the EA-6B would argue that the
Super Hornet is not a joint aircraft. Only the Navy is buying it. Opponents would also
say that although the Navy’s purchase of hundreds of Super Hornets will result in
some O&M economies of scale, the JSF will, by way of comparison, be bought in

101See CRS Issue Brief IB92035: F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Aircraft Program for more details.
102Conversation with Rear Admiral John Nathman,, Director, Air Warfare Division (N-88)
Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. April 4, 2000.
103Skibitski, Peter J. Nathman Favors ‘F/A-18G’ Alternative as EA-6B Prowler Complement.
Inside the Navy. March 27, 2000.

thousands of units across three services. Making an EW variant of this aircraft would
result in much greater O&M savings than the Growler variant. Furthermore, at
approximately $73 million per aircraft, the F/A-18G is more expensive than other EW
Also, opponents of the F/A-18 option would argue that the Growler may have
operational shortcomings compared to other aircraft candidates that would result in
difficulty executing the optimal strike package operational concept described earlier.
For instance, the F/A-18 is not a stealthy aircraft. It also has a short range compared
to other attack aircraft. Finally, the GAO104 and others have criticized the Super
Hornet’s lack of maneuverability, and chronic wing vibrations that damage externally
carried armaments. What effect might this vibration have on delicate EW gear? All
of these deficiencies, the F/A-18s opponents would argue, would make it difficult for
the Growler to escort attack aircraft into, around, and out of enemy territory.
Joint Strike Fighter.105 Two teams are competing to produce the Joint Strike
Fighter. The Boeing Company and its subcontractors are pitted against a team led by
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. It has been reported that “The Marine
Corps wants to retain the electronic attack mission; and the service has proposed
using the Joint Strike Fighter.”106 While the JSF Program Office has yet to sponsor
any official studies of a JSF EW variant, the contractor teams (led by Lockheed
Martin and Boeing) have initiated internal studies of how the aircraft could be
modified to fill the gap created by the EA-6B’s retirement.
Those in favor of creating an EW JSF variant would point out first that the JSF
is a truly joint aircraft, designed with all the services’ requirements in mind. It can land
on an aircraft carrier or, if need be, unfinished runways and similar rough surfaces.
Also, since the current plan is to buy a very large number of the aircraft (almost 3,000
units) the JSF option will generate more O&M savings than any other theater aircraft.
Buying even more of them to perform the EW mission will only add to the
infrastructure savings. Furthermore, with a projected cost of $30-$41million a copy,
(in FY2001 dollars) the JSF could be a less expensive fighter or attack EW aircraft
than anything else that hasn’t already been built, and perhaps even competitively
priced with legacy aircraft.
Second, proponents of the JSF would highlight the aircraft’s favorable
operational capabilities. The JSF’s stealthy profile will be second only to first tier
stealth aircraft such as the B-2 and F-22. It will have good range and
maneuverability, which, in addition to its low observability, will enable the JSF EW
variant to escort an attack package throughout the mission flight profile. Also,
depending on which version of the JSF is chosen for production, the JSF could have
a large internal weapons bay (140 cubic feet, enough for two 2,000 lb bombs) which

104See for instance GAO Report NSIAD-96-98.
105More information on the JSF can be found in CRS Report RL30563: Joint Strike Fighter
(JSF) Program: Background, Status, and Issues.
106Skibitski, Peter J. Nathman Favors ‘F/A-18G’ Alternative as EA-6B Prowler Complement.
Inside the Navy. March 27, 2000.

could accommodate the EW gear and thus not degrade the aircraft’s stealthy profile
with externally mounted hardware.
Finally, the JSF’s proponents would note that the aircraft is an advanced system
in the early stages of development. This is advantageous on two levels. First, EW
components could be more easily incorporated directly into the aircraft design rather
than added on to an existing airframe in retrospect. Second, as a next generation, joint
airframe, the JSF is based on versatile and modular designs. This makes future
retroactive modifications to the aircraft relatively easy.
Those against building JSF EW aircraft would point out that the JSF is currently
envisioned as a single-seat aircraft. Regardless of the aircraft’s modular foundation,
adding another seat would require aeronautical tradeoffs in the airframe and would
likely increase the JSF’s unit cost.
Finally, JSF opponents would also make the basic point that the JSF simply does
not exist. The program is in the early stages of development and in fact there are no
guarantees that it ever will be built. Defense Appropriations for FY2001 reduced JSF
funding by $150 million and has delayed the program by three months. Even in a best
case scenario, the JSF’s 2010 IOC would likely leave a real gap between the EA-6B’s
retirement and a fully functioning EW JSF force. The United States needs to take
tangible steps today to replace the EA-6B and the JSF development and production
timelines do not make this aircraft a viable option, its opponents would argue.
F-15E Strike Eagle. The F-15 is manufactured by the Boeing Company at its
McDonnell Douglass facility in St. Louis, Missouri. The F-15C is currently the
premier air superiority fighter in the Air Force inventory. The current plan is to
replace the F-15C with the F-22 Raptor for air superiority missions. The F-15E Strike
Eagle is a heavily modified, two-seat dual role variant with both air-to-air and air-to-
ground capability. Forty eight Strike Eagles were used against Iraq in the 1991
Persian Gulf War, primarily hunting Scud missile launchers using its LANTIRN (Low-
Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) system.107 It is expected that
the Joint Strike Fighter, and to some degree the F-22, will assume the F-15E’s air-to-
ground duties in the future. There were no funds in the administration’s FY2001
budget request for F-15C or F-15E aircraft.
Those in favor of replacing the EA-6B with an F-15E variant would make the
following points. First, the Strike Eagle is an operational aircraft currently in the U.S.
inventory and could be given an active EW capability well prior to the Prowler’s
retirement. Also, the Strike Eagle is a battle proven and effective airframe, with good
range and payload capability.
Second, the F-15E has other qualities that make it a promising candidate for the
EW role. It is, for instance, a two seat aircraft. Also, Strike Eagle crews are already
operating sophisticated EW gear. The F-15E uses an integrated countermeasures
system called the TEWS (tactical electronic warfare system). A Strike Eagle’s TEWS
can jam radar systems operating in high frequencies, such as radar used by short-range

107There were no confirmed kills of mobile Scud missile launchers during this conflict.

surface-to-air missiles, AAA, and airborne threats. TEWS is being upgraded to give
it the ability to jam threats in mid-to-low frequencies, such as long-range radar
Third, F-15E proponents would argue that the Strike Eagle offers cost savings
compared to other EW platform options. At approximately $55 million each, the
Strike Eagle would be less expensive to produce than either the F-22 or the F/A-18G.
Furthermore, it was reported in June 2000 that a Boeing study concluded that new
manufacturing technologies should enable Boeing to reduce the cost of building F-15
aircraft by about half.108 If this were true, a $27.5 million Strike Eagle would make an
even stronger argument.
Finally, proponents would argue that, although not a new aircraft, the F-15E is
robust and can be expected to be operationally useful for decades. It has a
strengthened airframe for increased gross weight at takeoff and can maneuver at high
gravities (Gs). The F-15E structure is rated at 16,000 flight hours, double the lifetime
of earlier F-15s.
Opponents of an EW variant of the F-15E would point out that the Strike Eagle
is neither designed to land on aircraft carriers nor is it a joint aircraft. Second, the F-
15E is an old design. Although upgraded significantly in the 1980s, its basic design
and technology derive from work in the 1960s. The F-15E is not a stealthy aircraft,
its opponents would observe.
While the F-15E might appear to have a lower cost than some other potential
EA-6B replacement options, the Strike Eagle will require significant upgrades and
modifications to make it a useful jammer. This could drive up the unit price,
opponents would argue.
F-16 Fighting Falcon. The F-16 is manufactured by Lockheed Martin of Fort
Worth, Texas. The F-16 is described as “a compact, versatile, and low-cost multirole
fighter aircraft that is highly maneuverable and has repeatedly proved itself in air-to-
air combat and air-to-surface attack....The F-16 is the workhorse of the USAF fighter
fleet.”109 Although a very successful aircraft, both in terms of performance and
numbers manufactured and exported, the F-16 is slated to be replaced by the Joint
Strike Fighter in the 2010 time frame.
Those in favor of building an EW variant of the F-16 would probably point out
first that this aircraft already has been optimized to conduct the suppression of enemy
air defenses (SEAD) mission. Approximately 100 F-16CJ (1 seat) and F-16DJ (2 seat)
models employ the AGM-88 HARM missile, HARM Targeting System (HTS) and
the ALQ-119 electronic self protection jamming pod. While the SEAD mission is not
synonymous with the active EW mission, the technologies and operational concepts
employed are similar to active radar jamming. For instance, crew operating the F-16J
can autonomously locate enemy threat radars and launch the HARM missile. This

108Mulholland, David. “F-15 Costs can be slashed, says Boeing report.” Jane’s Defense
Weekly. June 14, 2000.
109Air Force Magazine, 2000 USAF Almanac, May 2000: 140.

aircraft and the crews already have capabilities in the EW realm that make them good
candidates to replace the EA-6B, proponents would argue.
Another argument in favor of the F-16 is its unit cost. By far, proponents
contend, the F-16 is the most reasonably priced fighter in the U.S. inventory. Unit
costs are affected by a variety of factors, such as the number of units procured, but
even at its highest estimates ($25 million) the F-16 is tens of millions of dollars less
expensive than the lowest estimate for the JSF, and one seventh the cost of the F-22.
Also, operations and maintenance costs would likely be kept to a minimum since the
F-16 is already copiously represented in the U.S. Air Force inventory.
Opponents of an EW variant of the F-16 would make the following points. First,
this is a USAF aircraft. It is not joint, and not found in the inventories of the Marine
Corps nor the Navy. Furthermore, the F-16 can not land on aircraft carriers and is
thus unsuitable for the Navy.
More important, opponents would say, the F-16 is an old design. Although it has
performed admirably, it is based on 1960s technology and won’t last much past the
JSF’s IOC in 2010. As an older aircraft, it doesn’t incorporate stealthy designs and
future efforts to reduce its aircraft signature will be difficult, especially because the
aircraft has no internal weapons volume, and all EW gear will need to be hung from
F-22 Raptor.110 The F-22 is built by Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia
and Fort Worth, Texas. The Boeing Military Airplanes Division in Wichita, Kansas
is a major sub-contractor. The F-22 Raptor is a next-generation fighter/attack aircraft
using the latest stealth technology to reduce detection by radar. Equipped with more
advanced engines and avionics than the current F-15 Eagle, the F-22 is expected to
maintain U.S. Air Force capabilities against more sophisticated aircraft and missiles
in the 21st century. The current plan is to buy 341 Raptors.
Those in favor of creating an EW variant of the F-22 would point out that the
Raptor’s expected IOC of 2005 would make it available well in advance of the EA-
6B’s retirement. Also, the aircraft’s good range and excellent stealth capabilities
would enable it to escort a strike package through the most hostile airspace.
Furthermore, the F-22's payload capability (enough internal storage to carry two

1,000 lb bombs, and four underwing hardpoints capable of carrying 5,000 lbs each)

should be sufficient to carry the required EW equipment, proponents would argue.
Proponent’s main argument would probably be that the F-22 will be the world’s
most advanced aircraft and will already be outfitted with the most powerful and
capable computers and radars. These systems will combine with the requisite EW
apparatus to create a very effective EW capability.
Those against creating an F-22 EW platform to replace the EA-6B would point
out first that the Raptor will be a relatively expensive aircraft. At an estimated $183

110For more information on the F-22 Raptor see CRS Issue Brief IB87111: F-22 Raptor
Aircraft Program

million each, the F-22 is a “silver bullet” asset and is simply too expensive to be used
for EW missions. Furthermore, the F-22 is a single seat aircraft and making it a two
seat aircraft would likely increase costs even further.
Also, opponents would argue, the F-22 is not a joint aircraft and is not designed
to land on aircraft carriers. While the F-22 does have a small amount of internal
storage space, it is probably not enough to house all the required EW gear and
hanging EW equipment from the Raptor’s wings would compromise its stealthy
Table 5. Summary of Estimated Capabilities and Characteristics
Potential Fixed-Wing Aircraft EW Jammers111
F/A-18E/F JSF F-15E F-16 F-22
Estimated Unit112$73 $30-$41 $55 $17-$25$183
Inventory113 548 2,912 204 1431 341
IOC 2002 2010 1989 1979 2005
Joint AircraftNoYesNoNoNo
CV CapableYesYesNoNoNo
StealthModest GoodNoneNoneExcellent
Combat radius 410 nm772 nm 687 nm 740 nm869 nm
EW Payloadnonelargenonenonelimited
internal/largemoderate large moderatemoderate

111Information in this table derived from CRS Report RL30563, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)
Program: Background, Status, and Issues. CRS Issue Briefs IB87111: F-22 Raptor Aircraft
Program, IB92035: F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Aircraft Program. Air Force Magazine, 2000
USAF Almanac, May 2000, and Aboulafia, Richard, World Military & Civil Aircraft
Briefing, Teal Group Inc.
112DoD portrays JSF unit costs in terms of a Fly Away cost of $25-$30 in 1994 dollars.
Adjusting for inflation generates a cost of $30.5-$41.4 in FY2001 dollars. Costs for other
fighters in FY2000 dollars. F-15E estimate does not account for reported ability to reduce cost
by 50%. F-16 cost derived from DoD’s 1994 Selected Acquisition Report (last SAR for F-


113Inventories for F-15, F-16 are actual. Inventories for F/A-18, JSF and F-22 are planned.

All-new Aircraft Design. Another option to consider would be to develop
an entirely new airplane design. Given the 15- to 20-year period that might be needed
to develop a new aircraft design, such a program, if begun now, might permit the first
new-design aircraft to begin procurement around 2015 or 2020, when the EA-6Bs are
scheduled to leave service. Developing an all-new design might also permit DoD to
develop a joint EW aircraft that reflects input from all the services on desired
operational characteristics. Such a plane could offer life-cycle cost advantages to
DoD by permitting the use of common training and maintenance facilities and spare
parts supplies for the EW planes operated by all the services.
An entirely new aircraft design, however, would likely require several billion
dollars, and possibly more than 10 billion dollars, to develop. This substantial
development cost would be amortized over a somewhat limited production run of
perhaps less than 200 aircraft, adding tens of millions of dollars to the average
acquisition (i.e., development plus procurement) cost of each aircraft. The acquisition
cost of these aircraft would be further increased by virtue of them being the first
aircraft built to this basic design. Industry may need to acquire new tools, jigs, and
other equipment to build the aircraft, and the entire aircraft production run would be
at or near the top of the manufacturer’s learning curve for producing the design.114
Lastly, these aircraft, being of a different basic design from existing DoD aircraft,
would not be able to take advantage of the training and maintenance facilities and
spare parts supplies already established for existing DoD aircraft types. In this sense,
an all-new design, even if it employs a common set of training and maintenance
facilities and spare parts supplies for EW aircraft operated by all the services, might
still incur higher operating and support costs than an EW aircraft derived from an
existing aircraft design, making this option potentially disadvantageous to DoD in
terms of life-cycle costs.
The potentially high costs associated with developing, procuring, and supporting
a limited number of all-new aircraft appear to be the major reason why periodic DoD
examinations in recent years of this option have resulted in decisions not to pursue it,
and why there is little if any discussion of this option today. Given the costs of this
option, the most likely scenario for pursuing it would be a determination (not
currently anticipated by most observers) that EW aircraft derived from existing
aircraft designs would be operationally inadequate in some way.
UAVs. A final option would be to deploy EW UAVs as replacements for the
manned EA-6B. Current UAVs and those now under development appear to lack the
size and power needed to carry today’s EW jammers and antennas. The EW UAV
option would thus appear to involve developing a new UAV design with adequate

114The production learning curve plots the progressive reduction in labor-related costs
associated with manufacturing many copies of a particular item in succession. As more units
are produced, workers learn how to perform their steps in the production process more
quickly, and labor-related costs are reduced. For a discussion of the learning curve in defense
acquisition programs, see CRS Report 96-785 F, Navy Major Shipbuilding Programs and
Shipbuilders: Issues and Options for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke. Washington, 1996.
(September 24, 1996) p. 95-110. This discussion focuses on learning curve effects in
shipbuilding but can be applied to learning-curve affects in aircraft manufacturing, where
learning-curve theory was first developed.

size and power, possibly in conjunction with a parallel effort to develop new EW
jammers and antennas that are smaller and require less power to operate.
The EW UAV option might be broadly consistent with the policy goal set forth
during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on February 8, 2000 by Sen. John
Warner, for the armed serves to have unmanned vehicles account for one-third of all
their strike platforms by the year 2010. Consistent with this goal, the services are
now pursuing programs to develop strike-capable UAVs known as unmanned combat
air vehicles (UCAVs). If the services in the future deploy UCAVs, it might be
operationally appropriate for these unmanned vehicles to be escorted and supported
by unmanned EW UAVs rather than manned EW aircraft. It might also be viewed as
broadly consistent with the earlier history of developing U.S. manned EW aircraft (the
EF-111 and EA-6B) from existing manned attack aircraft (the F-111 and A-6).
The technical feasibility of the EW UAV option in this time frame is not clear.
DoD UAV development programs are generally regarded as having proceeded slowly
and haltingly since the early 1980s. On the basis of DoD’s rather limited rate of
progress in developing and fielding UAVs over the last 20 years, it might be
reasonable to question whether DoD could develop and begin procuring a new EW
UAV by 2015 or 2020. Some observers, however, argue that DoD’s relatively slow
progress on UAVs in the past has been due to lack of enthusiasm (or outright
opposition to) UAVs on the part of DoD, rather than any technical difficulties
associated with UAVs. Indeed, DoD’s efforts to manage its UAV development
programs have been criticized by Congress and others on several occasions. On these
grounds, it might be argued that an EW UAV (just like a new EW manned aircraft)
could be developed in 15 or 20 years – provided that the effort received adequate
emphasis and support from DoD and Congress.
Even with adequate support, however, developing an EW UAV might pose
significant technical difficulties. The EW functions performed by the crew members
of EA-6Bs are complex. Automating these functions might require the development
of very sophisticated UAV hardware and software, and extensive system integration.
Given DoD’s recent experiences with other sophisticated weapons acquisition
programs, the software development and system integration work might pose
particular challenges, even in a program with a 15- or 20-year time schedule. A
parallel effort to reduce the size of today’s jammers and antennas might also pose
technical challenges, even with continued advances in electronics.
The potential cost implications of the UAV option are difficult to assess.
Developing a fully capable EW UAV might require several billion dollars. A parallel
effort to develop smaller and lower-power jammers and antennas would add further
to development costs. Once developed, however, an EW UAV could have a unit
procurement cost lower (perhaps substantially lower) than that of a manned aircraft
due to the avoidance of costs associated with crew-related design elements such as
the cockpit, display systems, and life-support systems. Once fielded, EW UAVs
would not incur the operation and support costs associated with maintaining a pilot
and other airborne crew members, but there would be offsetting costs associated with
maintaining the ground-based personnel that would likely be needed to remotely
operate the aircraft. EW UAVs would also require their own training and

maintenance facilities and spare parts, unless these could be made common with those
of other UAV and UCAV programs.
An EW UAV, like a UCAV, might offer potential operational advantages in
terms of greater stealth (due to reduced size, the avoidance of the need for having a
cockpit, which is a potential source of radar reflections, and the ability to locate other
features, such as the landing gear doors, in places where they are better hidden from
radar) and the ability to perform more stressful maneuvers than can be performed by
manned aircraft. And as with UCAVs and other UAVs, an EW UAV, if shot down,
would not risk the loss or capture of any crew members.
As with other UAVs, however, an EW UAV, even if equipped with sophisticated
on-board systems, might not be as operationally flexible – might not be able to react
quickly to changing battlefield conditions – as a manned aircraft whose on-scene crew
can observe conditions at first hand and make rapid decisions on how to react to
them. Given the potential for enemy forces to employ mobile air-defense systems,
decoys, and other deceptive techniques, the more limited operational flexibility of an
EW UAV could be a significant operational disadvantage.
Longer-Term Options for 2020 and Beyond
It is probably not too early for Congress to consider how DoD will conduct EW
in the post 2020 time frame. Considering the length of time it currently takes to field
a major weapon system, today’s R&D investments will probably have a tangible
impact on the programs that emerge in the second decade of the 21st century. There
are two areas that are frequently discussed as post-2020 EW options. These areas are
(1) space-based jamming, and (2) micro UAVs.
Evaluating Future EW Platform Effectiveness. There is a fundamental
physical principle that dominates EW platform design, operations, and effectiveness.
This principle is often referred to as R2 (pronounced “r-squared”) and it refers to the
dissipation of radar energy. Understanding this concept helps illustrate the pros and
cons of basing EW jammers on small UAVs or in space, and why these are long-term
Jamming energy density decreases rapidly with distance from the jammer. The
amount of radar energy that must be transmitted to jam a given radar increases at the
square of the distance from the radar. Therefore, a jamming platform that is twice as
far away from the target as another jamming platform requires four times as much
power to have the same effectiveness, while a jammer four times farther away as
another requires 16 times the power to have the same effectiveness.
There are two ways to increase jamming power. The first method is to transmit
more radar energy. This energy is measured in the number of watts, kilo watts, or
mega watts. The second method of increasing jamming energy is to increase the115
physical size of the antenna (also known as the radar aperture).

115A more detailed explanation of R2, including the exact mathematical equation can be found

Given this principle that the energy required to jam an enemy target increases at
the square of the target range, platforms that can penetrate enemy territory and jam
enemy transmissions from very close range have a big advantage over those platforms
that cannot. Because they would require one quarter the power (either in terms of
watts of energy transmitted or in terms of the antenna size) of those platforms that
operate twice as far away, penetrating jamming platforms might also be much smaller,
and potentially less costly. Currently, power supply is one of the heaviest and most
costly components of military platforms, and large antennas present aeronautical
design complications.
A stand-off jammer, one that operates from a distance has the advantage of
increased survivability. It has a lower likelihood of being successfully attacked and
destroyed by an adversary. However, because of R 2 the stand-off jammer pays a
heavy penalty in terms of power. The greater the distance, the greater the penalty.
Micro UAVs. As noted earlier, DoD does not yet have an operational UAV
radar jammer and size and weight limitations challenge the feasibility of making
today’s UAV’s effective jammers. However, because the R2 principle affords great
advantage to EW platforms that can get very close to their targets – as micro-UAVs
potentially could – small UAV jammers may merit attention.
There have been recent advances in developing very small, low power UAVs to
jam radars. One example is a four year old program run out of the Navy Research
Laboratory (NRL). Using commercially available technology, NRL scientists have
developed a simple jamming module that weighs approximately 12 grams. Mounted
on a UAV with an eight inch wingspan, this jammer has proven the ability to totally
obscure the radar screens of search radars from as far away as 50 yards. It is
estimated that the jamming modules on these small UAVs could cost as little as $100
each. 116
The United States isn’t the only country conducting research in UAV radar
jammers. The German Parliament, for example, has allocated DM153.9 million to
complete development of the German Army’s Taifun attack unmanned air vehicle
(UAV). An electronic countermeasures variant, the Mucke is expected to provide the
German Army with the capability to jam enemy transmissions from a range of 100km117
and should be in service by 2005.
In addition to the advantage of not exposing a pilot to SAMs, micro UAV
jammers might also have some operational advantages vis-a-vis manned EW aircraft.
For instance, a manned EW aircraft escorting a strike package might effectively
obscure enemy radars, but the adversary has little doubt of the general direction of

115 (...continued)
in Toomay, J.C. Radar Principles for the Non-Specialist, Lifetime Learning Publications.
Bellmont, CA. 1982: 5.
116Email communication with NRL Tactical Electronic Warfare Division personnel.
117Moniac, Rudiger. Germany funds final phase of Taifun UAV. Jane’s Defense Weekly.
April 26, 2000: 3.

attack (certain sectors of the enemy radars will be more powerfully obscured than
others, indicating attack angle) and the timing of the attack (because you can't loiter
indefinitely). Thus, even if the enemy can’t see the U.S. aircraft with radar, they have
a good idea of the direction and timing of the attack, and might be able to shoot at
U.S. aircraft using different sensors.
Micro UAV jammers on the other hand, could be covertly emplaced days or
weeks prior to an attack by flying them (or launching them) into the area where the
IADS system is located. They could then be activated remotely just prior to the real
attack and used to confuse the radar operator. For instance, the micro-UAV could
emit radio signals that would mimic those of attacking U.S. aircraft, but from the
opposite direction of the real attack. This would confuse the adversary, seduce them
into directing their attention in the wrong direction, and increase the U.S. forces’
tactical surprise. If employed in large numbers and effectively networked, micro-
UAVs might be able to spoof or jam entire enemy radar networks, paving the way
toward uncontested U.S. aerial attacks.
Space-Based Jamming.118 The Department of Defense is increasingly
expanding the use of outer space as a base from which to conduct military operations.
Space-based or “overhead” assets already contribute greatly to military (as well as
civil and commercial) communication, navigation, and observation activities. Basing
an asset in space often gives it advantages of scope and perspective that are difficult
to realize on the Earth’s surface or even in the atmosphere. Space-based systems can
also enjoy access to solar energy unimpeded by the earth’s atmosphere and cloud
cover. However, placing objects in Earth’s orbit is expensive and typically only those
commercial and military systems that can realize an advantage over surface- and air-
based systems are launched into space. According to studies at NASA and elsewhere,
however, the cost of placing and maintaining objects in Earth’s orbit is expected to
drop significantly in the next 15-20 years due to advances in materials, energy, and
miniaturization technology.
If these advances take place, by the year 2020 it could be possible to consider
effective space-based jamming satellites. These space-based jammers might be able
to overcome the R2 problem in two ways. First, the jammer would collect huge
amounts of solar energy and convert it into up to four megawatts of power. (For
comparison purposes radio communications transmissions, a frequent target of
jamming operations, are typically in the 10,000 to 100,000 watts of power. A four
megawatt jammer would be 40 to 400 times more powerful than these radio
transmissions.) Second, the jammer could possibly employ antennas much larger than
those currently employed on aircraft, perhaps up to 40 meters in diameter. As
discussed earlier, increasing antenna size is a basic way of increasing the power of
jamming signals. So, even though the jamming signal would dissipate at the square of
a very long distance from the target (i.e. low Earth orbit or LEO), the power with
which it was transmitted could more than make up for this challenge and effectively
shut down enemy transmissions.

118The information in this section was primarily derived from conversations with Mr. Ivan
Bekey, President Bekey Designs and former Director of Advanced Programs, NASA.

Such space-based jammers could be built today, but they are not economically
feasible. The cost of building solar arrays or alternative power sources would need to
be reduced by a factor of 100. The cost of building jamming transmitters and the
miscellaneous spacecraft components would need to be reduced by a factor of 10.
There are also operational challenges associated with all LEO-based satellites in terms
of keeping the satellite in orbit, and ensuring the systems are positioned over the
appropriate theater of operations at the right time.
Although it is not an EW jamming satellite, DoD’s Discoverer II satellite
program is grappling with many of the technical challenges that would be faced by a
space-based jammer. Thus, its success or progress may be indicative of the future
attractiveness of space-based jammers. The Discover II program is attempting to
design, fabricate, and launch two prototype satellites which would perform the same
ground surveillance function as today’s E-8 JSTARS aircraft. As with an EW jammer,
the Discoverer II satellite will have to overcome cost and operational challenges
associated with launching and employing a large antenna (eight meters in diameter),
powered by large solar panels.

Appendix A: Abbreviations and Acronyms
A-6Intruder, Attack Aircraft
AAAAnti-Aircraft Artillery
ADVCAPAdvanced Capability
AESAActive Electronically Steered Array Radar
AEWAirborne Early Warning
AGM-86BConventional Air Launched Cruise Missile
AGM-88High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM)
ALE-50Towed Decoy
AMARCAerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center
AN/ALQ-99Electronic Warfare Radar Jammer
AN-ALR-56Radar Warning Receiver
AN-ALR-69Radar Warning Receiver
AN/USQ-113Electronic Warfare Communications Jammer
AOAAnalysis of Alternatives (Electronic Attack Study)
B-1Lancer, Tactical/Strategic Bomber Aircraft
B-2Spirit, Stealthy Tactical/Strategic Bomber Aircraft
B-52Stratofortress, Tactical/Strategic Bomber Aircraft
BQM-74Chukar, Unmanned Decoy
C2Command and Control
CAPCombat Air Patrol
CONUSContinental United States
DoDDepartment of Defense
E-2Hawkeye, Airborne Early Warning Aircraft
E-3AWACS, Airborne Early Warning Aircraft
E-8JSTARS, Ground Surveillance Aircraft
EA-6BProwler, Electronic Attack Aircraft
EC-130HCompass Call, Electronic Attack Aircraft
ECMElectronic Countermeasures
ECMOElectronic Countermeasures Officer
EF-111Raven, Electronic Attack Aircraft
EMDEngineering, Manufacturing and Development
EP-3EAries, Electronic Warfare Support Aircraft
ES-3AShadow, Electronic Warfare Support Aircraft
EUCOMU.S. European Command
EWElectronic Warfare
EWOElectronic Warfare Officer
EXCAPExpanded Capability
F-15Eagle, Multi-role Fighter Aircraft
F-16Fighting Falcon, Multi-role Fighter Aircraft
F/A-18Hornet, Multi-role Fighter Aircraft
F-22Raptor, Air Superiority Fighter Aircraft
F-117Night Hawk, Stealthy Tactical Bomber Aircraft
FMSForeign Military Sales
FOTDFiber Optic Towed Decoy
FYFiscal Year
GAOGeneral Accounting Office

GEN-XExpandable Decoy
ICAPImproved Capability
IOC Initial Operational Capability
JSFJoint Strike Fighter
LD/HDLow Density/High Demand
LRIPLow Rate Initial Production
MCASMarine Corps Air Station
NADEPNaval Aviation Depot
NASNaval Air Station
NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
NRLNavy Research Laboratory
NVDNight Vision Device
OAFOperation Allied Force (Kosovo)
O&MOperations and Maintenance
OPTEMPOOperational Tempo
PERSTEMPOPersonnel Tempo
RC-135Rivet Joint, Electronic Warfare Support Aircraft
R&DResearch and Development
RDT&EResearch, Development, Test and Evaluation
SAMSurface to Air Missile
SEADSuppression of Enemy Air Defenses
SLEPService Life Extension Program
TALDTactical Air-Launched Decoy
TEWSTactical Electronic Warfare System
UAVUn-Piloted Air Vehicle
USAFU.S. Air Force
USMCU.S. Marine Corps
USNU.S. Navy

Appendix B: Selected EW Systems and
System Manufacturer Location
AGM-88 HARMRaytheon, TexasLewisville, TX
AGM-86B ALCMBoeingSeattle, WA
ALE-50 DecoyRaytheonGoleta, CA
ALQ-99 JammerAIL SystemsDeer Park, NY
ALQ-119 JammerNorthrop GrummanBaltimore, MD
ALQ-126 JammerSanders BAeNashua, NH
AN/USQ-113Sanders BAeNashua, NH
communications jammer
BQM-74 DroneNorthrop GrummanHawthorne, CA
EA-6B ProwlerNorthrop GrummanEl Segundo, CA
F-15 EagleBoeingSt. Louis, MO
F-16 Fighting FalconLockheed MartinFort Worth, TX
F/A-18E/FBoeingSt. Louis, MO
F-22 RaptorLockheed MartinMarietta, GA, Fort
Worth, TX
Gen-X DecoyRaytheon, TexasMcKinney, TX
Harm Targeting SystemRaytheon, TexasTucson, AZ
IDECMSanders BaeNashua, NH
Joint Strike FighterLockheed MartinFort Worth, TX