Electronic Weapons: June 16, 2002


The US Air Force and US Navy both agree that the country needs a single stand-off manned jammer aircraft to replace the EA-6B (and the EF-111A), but both are pursuing their own programs. A single unified design would require an aircraft both services use, and the obvious answer is the Joint Strike Fighter. The problem is that a jammer version of the F-35 JSF cannot be ready before the EA-6Bs are worn out. The Navy is moving ahead with the EF-18G Growler, which uses their new standard F-18F airframe and can be ready in time. The Air Force is considering several options, one of the best being to take the 17 surplus B-52Hs that Congress won't let them retire and convert them into stand-off jamming platforms. These would have incredible power, and plenty of room to pack in command facilities, datalinks to Rivet Joint and other sensor aircraft, and relief crews. The EB-52 would have the longest endurance of any jammer aircraft, and could stay aloft for days with in-flight refueling.--Stephen V Cole


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