COMBATSIM.COM: The Ultimate Combat Simulation and Strategy Gamers' Resource.

Modernizing U.S. Tactical Aviation for Air Dominance

  from: Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 86


  DoD's goal is to modernize U.S. tactical aviation forces to achieve air dominance -- air superiority and the ability to strike any target within hours after the start of any future armed conflict.

Prepared joint statement of Paul G. Kaminski, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and technology, and Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, USAF, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Research and Development and Military Procurement subcommittees, House National Security Committee, June 27, 1996.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss our plans for one of the department's most important priorities -- modernization of U.S. tactical aviation forces.

With your strong support and direction, we have worked diligently to field forces capable of deterring conflict by demonstrating to any potential enemy that U.S. forces will have air dominance. If that deterrence fails, we will have the capability to protect our forces from air attack at the start of hostilities. And within hours we will be on a path that will end the conflict decisively.

Some will say in today's world, air power is not important -- that the threat does not warrant our investment. But aircraft exist today that can challenge U.S. aircraft. For example, the Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum have superior aerodynamic qualities and propulsion systems. Aircraft in development, such as the Rafale, EF-2000 and Su-35, project increased potential to challenge U.S. aircraft.

As you recall, we used to talk about the requirement for air superiority and spoke in terms of kill ratios -- accepting U.S. losses to kill enemy forces. Now, what we want is not air superiority, but air dominance. The Dayton peace accords would not have occurred without the persuasive influence of U.S. air power -- Air Force, Navy and Marines.

We had air dominance in Desert Storm. The first USAF [U.S. Air Force] combat aircraft from the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley AFB [Air Force Base, Va.] -- 24 F-15Cs -- arrived in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Aug. 8 [1991], 34 hours after receiving the deployment order and were on combat air patrol alert four hours later. Within days, the USAF force structure in Southwest Asia included three squadrons of air-to-air superiority fighters and eight squadrons of air-to-ground fighters. Before the end of August, the USMC [U.S. Marine Corps] had deployed 48 F/A-18s, 40 AV-8Bs, 10 A-6Es, 12 EA-6Bs and six KC-130s, as well as 90 helicopters.

These numbers increased during the next several weeks as additional attack aircraft, OV-10s and helicopters arrived in theater, to include 20 AV-8Bs embarked aboard amphibious ships. Two carrier battle groups with more than 100 fighter and attack aircraft and more than 10 surface combatant ships were directed to sail to the gulf region on Aug. 2. Ultimately, the total naval forces deployed consisted of six aircraft carrier battle groups. During Phase I deployments, the United States deployed about 1,000 aircraft.

Up until the first day of the war, the Iraqi air force was generating up to 40 sorties a day. Within a few days, we shut down the Iraqi air force and achieved total air dominance. We had it, we liked it, and we want to keep it. And so our program is designed to maintain this air dominance that was achieved five years ago. More importantly, the consequence of having air dominance means that all the other things we are trying to do -- at sea and on the land -- are made possible because these operations are not going to be halted by opposing enemy air forces.

We are not looking for an equal or fair fight. If our deterrence fails and we must go to war with a future adversary, we want it to be unfair. We want the advantage to be wholly and completely on our side. Air dominance will leverage all the other operations we will be conducting. No U.S. soldier has been killed by an enemy aircraft in over 40 years -- and we don't intend to relinquish that advantage.

Our TACAIR [tactical air force] modernization plan flows from years of analysis, thought and intensive debate. The analytical framework that supports this plan is both complex and rigorous. Each of the services evaluate current and projected capabilities in the context of changing threats, policy guidance and military strategy to identify deficiencies.

Cost and performance trades are addressed to preserve an acceptable balance between risk and affordability. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council has a role in shaping military requirements within the Department of Defense. These remarks will provide some background on the JROC itself, address its corresponding focus and processes and attempt to answer your specific questions on TACAIR.

In 1994, Gen. [John M.] Shalikashvili [chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff] directed the vice chairman to expand the charter of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council to more fully support him in addressing his statutory responsibilities. The JROC correspondingly established its attendant Joint Warfighting Capability Assessment process, including greatly increased involvement by the combatant commanders and the services. We believe that this process, now concluding its second year, has been successful in supporting the CJCS's [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] military advice to the SECDEF [secretary of defense].

The JWCA process examines key relationships and interactions among warfighting capabilities to identify opportunities for improving joint effectiveness. Each JWCA team is composed of warfighting and functional area experts from the Joint Staff, unified commands, services, OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense], defense agencies and others as required to conduct continuous assessments within their respective domains, as directed by the JROC.

The JWCA teams assess areas with capability deficiencies, unnecessary duplication or exploitable technologies; as well as areas where we may prudently accept some risk. TACAIR recapitalization is one of the areas in which the JWCA process is heavily involved.

Click to continue



The resulting JWCA findings and recommendations are presented to the JROC for its consideration. Against this context, a goal of the JWCA process is to bring knowledge to the "four-star" military forum. The JROC is therefore instrumental in helping the chairman explore alternatives through more extensive, open and candid assessments of joint military capabilities and requirements by the unified commands, services and Joint Staff.

The initial steps in approving and initiating aircraft development programs are the service-developed mission area analysis and mission need statement. MAA is an ongoing activity for identifying deficiencies in existing warfighting capabilities or determining more effective means of performing assigned tasks within assigned mission areas. The analysis considers alternatives to new systems development.

When no other alternative is available and a deficiency may lead to a major defense acquisition program, a[n] MNS is developed. The MNS will identify and describe the mission deficiency; discuss the results of mission area analysis; describe why nonmateriel changes (i.e., doctrine, tactics, training) are not adequate to correct the deficiency; identify possible materiel alternatives; and describe any key boundary conditions and operational environments that may impact satisfying the mission need.

For major acquisition programs, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, in consultation with the services and combatant commanders, review and validate the MNS. Additionally, the JROC validates a proposed system's key performance parameters, focusing on only the most essential to meet the mission need. These are forwarded to the defense acquisition executive for inclusion in the acquisition program baseline, which contains other important cost, schedule and performance parameters.

The VCJCS [vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] is the chairman of the JROC and vice chairman of the DAB [Defense Acquisition Board], which creates the critical linkage between the requirements process and the acquisition process and ensures continuous monitoring and highlighting of service and combatant commanders inputs.

Collectively and individually, the JROC assesses the services' needs for tactical aircraft requirements. The following provides an overview of recent JROC assessment of individual aircraft acquisition programs.

The JROC initially reviewed the F-22 program in 1991. At that time, the JROC validated the mission need and confirmed that the KPPs provided the capability to satisfy the mission need. The F-22 will replace the F-15 aircraft in the air superiority role to counter emerging threats worldwide. It will dominate the future air combat arena, flying over 50 percent more sorties, with 40 percent fewer personnel and using 50 percent less airlift than the F-15.

The F-22 is designed to penetrate enemy airspace and achieve first look-shoot-kill capability through stealth, supercruise and integrated avionics. The F-22 is the first weapon system designed from the outset with its principal focus on exploiting the ongoing information revolution while simultaneously denying an enemy the ability to do the same. While integrated avionics allow for dominant battlespace awareness, stealth denies crucial information to the enemy. Supercruise increases weapon performance while reducing the enemy's ability to make effective use of the small amount of information they can gather.

The JROC initially reviewed the F/A-18E/F program in January 1992. At that time, the JROC validated the mission need and confirmed that the KPPs provided the capability to satisfy the mission need. The F/A-18E/F, operating with other Navy battle group assets, will provide a survivable, first day of the war strike fighter capability that will meet the threat well into the first part of the 21st century.

The F/A-18E/F is less expensive to develop than a new start program because it is an upgrade to the existing F/A-18 aircraft program. The F/A-18E/F is a multimission tactical aircraft designed to replace the F/A-18C/D, A-6 and F-14 aircraft as they reach the end of service life and retire. The F/A-18E/F is designed primarily to meet Navy fighter escort, interdiction, fleet air defense and close air support requirements. Enhancements will include the increased range, increased carrier recovery payload, improved survivability and system growth (volume, electrical, cooling) required for the F/A-18E/F to meet its strike fighter role.

When the JROC initially reviewed the F/A-18E/F program, it included Marine Corps requirements. Recently, the Marine Corps indicated they do not intend to continue in the F/A-18E/F program. The Marine Corps has a standing requirement for a short take-off vertical landing strike fighter. In the early 1990s, the Marines were faced with the need to plan for replacing their F/A-18C/Ds and AV-8Bs in the outyears.

The options were an SSF which could result from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ASTOVL [advanced short take-off vertical landing] demonstration effort or a combination of F/A-18E/Fs and either new or remanufactured AV-8Bs. At that same time, given the expectation that the DARPA ASTOVL effort would not lead to a viable SSF until the 2015 time frame, the USMC anticipated that the F/A-18E/F might constitute the only viable bridge to the SSF and made the decision to join the F/A-18E/F program and remanufacture AV-8Bs to keep them operational.

By 1994, the JAST [Joint Advanced Strike Technology] program became a reality and the possibility of acquiring a[n] SSF significantly earlier than 2015 began to look promising.

In 1995, the ASTOVL effort, under congressional direction, was merged into the JAST program. It became apparent that an operational ASTOVL aircraft could become a reality in the 2008 time frame. Procurement of the F/A-18E/F as a bridge to SSF would not be necessary because existing F/A-18C/Ds and remanufactured AV-8Bs would allow the Marine Corps to bridge the gap until the STOVL variant of joint strike fighter becomes operational.

Go to Part II

Main Page


1997 - 2000 COMBATSIM.COM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Last Updated February 20th, 1997

© 2014 COMBATSIM.COM - All Rights Reserved