U.S. Naval Aircraft and Weapon Developments

By Floyd D. Kennedy Jr.

The Third Fleet conducted FBE-Bravo in two phases between 28 August-22 September 1997. The Ring of Fire (naval surface fires) phase took place on 28 August in the Southern California Operating Areas and the ranges surrounding Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, and 4-7 September, in the Hawaiian Operating Areas and on Oahu. Units included the Coronado, the Peleliu (LHA-5), the Russell (DDG-59), 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at Fallon. Focus was on distributed command and control, assignment of weapons to targets through a "Battle Local Area Network," satellite communications between units afloat and ashore, a common operational picture, and logistics of naval surface fire support.

The second, Silent Fury phase of FBE-B, was conducted during transit between Oahu and Yokosuka, 4-24 September 1997. Its focus was on the use of Global Positioning System-guided munitions in a joint operating area. Participating units included the Coronado , Constellation (CV-64), Nimitz (CVN-68), Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Cruise Missile Support Activities (Atlantic and Pacific), and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency.

Fleet Battle Experiment Charlie—under way as this issue goes to press—is focusing on area air defense, theater missile defense, and joint fires. The Second Fleet is conducting the experiment as an overlay on Joint Task Force Exercise 98-2, with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Battle Group.

This article and accompanying tables provide information on programs and technologies that may appear in a future FBE for integration into an operational concept. In Tables 1 and 2, the fiscal year 1999 Defense budget contains two entries, labeled FY98/99 and FY99. Last year's budget submission to Congress was for two fiscal years: 1998 and 1999. The FY98/99 entry reflects last year's amount for fiscal year 1999. The FY99 column reflects the amount requested in the budget submitted to Congress this past February. The differences between the two often are instructive.

Aviation Systems

Once again, the story of naval aviation systems development is as much about upgrades as new system research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E), and procurement.

Principal procurements now under way include the F/A-18E/F, the E-2C, the MV-22, and the CH-60. Procurement plans for combined single-seat F/A-18E and two-seat -18F will celebrate to 48 aircraft per year by 2002.

The Navy has designated VFA-122 at NAS Lemoore, California, as the FlA-18E/F training squadron. The first Super Hornet is scheduled to arrive at Lemoore in November 1999, with five more to be delivered the following month. The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the principal fixed-wing development program presently under way, is in the 18th month of a four-year concept demonstration effort by two separate teams headed by Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. Rollouts of the two demonstrators, the Boeing X-32 and the Lockheed-Martin X-35, are scheduled for spring 1999; first flights are expected in spring 2000. The Milestone II decision for transition to Engineering and Manufacturing Development (E&MD) is scheduled for the second quarter of fiscal year 2001.

The JSF is designed to fulfill requirements for three U.S. services. The Navy requires a "multi-role, stealthy strike fighter to complement F/A-18E/F." The Air Force wants a "multi-role (primary air-to-ground) aircraft to replace the F-16 and A-10 that complements the F-22;" and the Marines want a "multirole, STOVL [short takeoff, vertical landing] strike fighter to replace the AV-8B and F/A-18C/D."

Boeing and Lockheed-Martin have similar concepts for producing a family of aircraft to fulfill these service needs. Both would manufacture all three services' aircraft on the same production line with maximum commonality, thus theoretically minimizing costs. Target unit flyaway cost for the Air Force variant is $28 million, for the Marine STOVL variant $35 million, and for the Navy's carrier-based variant $38 million (all in constant fiscal year 1994 dollars).

Design features include a combat radius of 450 to 600 nautical miles (nm) for the Air Force variant, 450-500 nm for the STOVL variant, and 600 nm for the carrier-based aircraft. All employ very low-observable technologies with internal weapons bays for two 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) or Joint Standoff Weapons (JSOWs), and two AIM-120B Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) in the Navy and Air Force versions, and two 1,000-pound JDAMs and two AIM120Bs in the Marine version. Design speed for all three variants is 750 knots, or mach 1.8. Maximum power above 30,000 feet will yield Mach 1.5 in the Air Force and Navy aircraft, 1.3 to 1.5 Mach in the Marine.

The primary difference between the two concepts is the STOVL lift concept employed. Both contractors are using a Pratt & Whitney F119 derivative engine through Lot 5 production, but Boeing has selected a direct-lift STOVL configuration similar to that of the AV-8B, while Lockheed-Martin's design uses a separate lift-fan engine combined with the Fl 19, providing direct lift reminiscent of the Russian prototype Yak-141 Freestyle shipboard fighter. After Lot 5 production, General Electric's F120 engine will compete with the Pratt & Whitney Fl 19 derivative for production contracts.

Foreign participation in the JSF effort is taking place at four distinct levels of involvement:

  • "Collaborative Development Partners" are full partners within a memorandum of understanding (MOU) framework; the United Kingdom currently participates at this level under a December 1995 MOU, and is contributing $200 million to the concept development phase.
  • "Associate Partners" are limited partners within an MOU framework and collaborate in specific technologies or core programs; Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands are in this category, each signing MOUs in 1997 and committing $10 million.
  • "Informed Customers" are given access to information on JSF processes to allow them to evaluate the utility of the JSF family of aircraft for their use, but they are unable to influence requirements; Canada signed an MOU on 2 January 1998 as an "informed partner," also committing $10 million.
  • Foreign industry can participate under a "fee for service" category by subcontracting to U.S. prime contractors for subsequent phases of the program; Russian, French, and British firms are participating at this level.

Overall pre-engineering and manufacturing development cost is approximately $3.5 billion. Navy and Air Force are contributing roughly equal amounts ($1,592.9 million and $1,575.9 million respectively), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is contributing $132.1 million, and the British contribution brings the total to $3,500.9 million. Preliminary estimates for the follow-on E&MD phase are $875.3 million. Delivery of the first operational aircraft is anticipated in 2008.

Virtually all aircraft systems are going through modifications and upgrades. (See Tables 1 and 2.) This is especially true in the case of the F-14 Tomcat. Tomcats themselves are undergoing five discrete upgrades, and the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) they carry also is getting its own upgrade package.

  • F-14B Upgrade: Since fiscal year 1995, 31 of 67 F-14Bs have completed the upgrade package described in this feature in 1996, and 10 currently are being worked; the remaining 26 aircraft will enter the program through fiscal year 2000 and complete delivery in 2001.
  • F-14 Precision Strike: This upgrade incorporates the Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) into all "core aircraft"—78 F-14As, plus all 67 F-14Bs and 50 F-14Ds; 104 aircraft have been modified thus far; since October, 1996, all deploying F-14 squadrons have been equipped with this capability; LANTIRN pod inventory objective is 75, of which 26 have been delivered.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): Starting this past January, 67 F-14Bs began receiving the embedded GPS/inertial navigation system (INS) and 50 F-14Ds are being equipped with the Miniaturized Airborne GPS Receiver; installations are scheduled for completion in September 2000.
  • F-14 Structural Improvement: Time Compliance Requirements (TCR) provide additional airframe life; the last TCR was submitted in March for installation beginning in January 1999 in F-14B/Ds.
  • Digital Flight Control System (DFCS): DFCS kits commenced delivery in March; the first modified F-14A will roll out on 18 June; all core aircraft will have DFCS incorporated by fiscal year 2000.
  • Digital Imagery Upgrade to the Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS): Comprised of an interchangeable electro-optical kit installed in bay one in place of the standard KS-87 camera; imagery encrypted and transmitted via ultra high frequency line-of-sight link to approximately 170 nm (extendable to 325 nm via Autocat); near-real-time transmission time is 30-300 seconds, depending on resolution; achieved initial operational capability in April of last year; procurement was completed in the second quarter of this fiscal year.

In addition to these upgrades, the Navy is considering the most efficient way to integrate GPS-guided weapons into both the F-14B and F-14D. Also, the Naval Research Lab is using a completely digital TARPS as a test bed for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Advanced Reconnaissance Pod (SHARP).

Fleet Commanders-in-Chief put P-3C upgrades very close to the top of the upgrade list. Aircraft with the Antisurface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) upgrades provide surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities unmatched by any other single system. Its sensors reach not only to undersea targets, but also to targets on the sea's surface and ashore. Numerous upgrade programs are under way:

  • AIP: Currently in production with 44 upgrade kits on order; the pilot production aircraft was delivered to the fleet (VP-30) in January; the first production aircraft was delivered to the fleet (VP-9) in March; four aircraft entered the upgrade line in first quarter, fiscal year 1998.
  • Sustained Readiness Program (SRP): Identifies and replaces P-3C airframe components and systems that can no longer be supported; SRP kits are in production with 38 on order; the first upgraded aircraft rolled out on 16 January and was delivered in February; 11 aircraft entered the upgrade line in fiscal year 1997.
  • Service Life Assessment/Service Life Extension Program (SLAP/SLEP): SLAP is evaluating aircraft for components that must be replaced or modified to extend the P-3C's fatigue life, while SLEP will accomplish the replacements and modifications; SLAP phase I study results have been submitted; phase II and III contract award is expected in fiscal year 1999.
  • P-3C Common Configuration (Update III): Consists of two programs—Block Modification Upgrade Program (BMUP), which brings Update II and II.S aircraft to Block III standard, and USQ-78A Acoustic Program, which addresses Operational Evaluation deficiencies in the baseline USQ-78 acoustic system; BMUP funded for 25 modification kits that will be delivered from fiscal year 2000 to 2002; the USQ-78A program will incorporate commercial-off-the-shelf /non-developmental items into the USQ-78 system in all Update III aircraft; seven kits were procured in fiscal year 1997 for 1999 installation, with the entire program extending through 2011.

No doubt, new missions will evolve as operators gain a true appreciation of their capabilities. Last fall during Exercise Foal Eagle '97 in Korea, for example, Air Force E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft down-linked data to an Amphibious Squadron staff and Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU [SOC]) command element in the supporting arms coordination center (SACC) on the Belleau Wood (LHA-3)—which in turn directed P-3C reconnaissance against the targets, resulting in a direct video display of "enemy" activity on the ground. Such capabilities obviously have tremendous potential for a joint "system of systems." The S-3B Viking also is undergoing several upgrades, including a SLAP/SLEP very similar to that being undertaken for the P-3C. The final phase of the S-3 SLAP, a full-scale fatigue test, is under way; it will identify the specific requirements for a SLEP. The SLEP will extend the S-3's service life to 22,000 flight hours and 4,300 catapult launches/arrested landings; this translates to extending the life of 85% of the S-3 fleet to 2015.

Many upgrades either are ongoing or programmed. Among the highlights are: Digital Flight Data Computer, which replaces the present flight data computer, thereby eliminating the highest cost/repair item in the aircraft—initial operational capability estimated in fiscal year 2000; a new Carrier Aircraft Inertial Navigation System (CAINS II) replacing the present obsolete system is scheduled to achieve operational capability in fiscal year 1999 ARMCOS (Armament Control System). (This replaces current, obsolete system with a digital stores management system; contract to be awarded this fiscal year, with an IOC in fiscal year 2001.)

  • Tactical Displays replace current, obsolete displays; will IOC this fiscal year.
  • The Communications Improvement Program replaces UHF radios and adds VHF, ANDVT, DAMA modem, and SATCOM antenna; testing is under way with four production kits procured in fiscal year 1998; GPS installations began in October 1997, at a rate of four per month until installations are complete.
  • The AYK-23/Co-Processor Memory Unit is a new open-architecture design that replaces the drum memory system, post display processors, and general purpose digital computer; IOC is anticipated this fiscal year

The Marine Corps has elected to remanufacture its existing UH-IN utility helicopters and AH-IW attack helicopters, rather than buy new aircraft. They will get new rotor systems, including semiautomatic blade fold, new composite four-bladed main and four-bladed tail rotors, upgraded drive system and landing gear, pylon structural modifications, and a glass cockpit with integrated avionics. The AH-1W program entered engineering and manufacturing development in November 1996, and the UH-IN upgrades were added to the contract in January 1997; an Integrated Avionics System upgrade was added to the contract in January 1998. The first 5 remanufactured UH-INs are scheduled for delivery in 2004, after production shifts to 12 per year through 2012; the first 5 AH-iWs are scheduled for delivery in 2005, followed by 12 in 2006, and then 24 per year through 2013. The Marines plan to operate these helicopters until they are replaced by whatever aircraft results from the Joint Replacement Aircraft Study, now under way.

The latest attempt to replace the E-2C, S-3B, ES-3A, and C-2A workhorses of naval aviation is called the Common Support Aircraft (CSA) project, which is approximately five months from a Milestone 0 decision to proceed with a three-phase program. A Naval Air Systems Command feasibility study completed last year concluded that fleet requirements could be met with three multi-role variants: carrier-on-board delivery (COD)/tanker, airborne early warning (AEW)/battle management, and sea-control/precision targeting. The acquisition plan would phase the development of the three variants, for best affordability. During Phase 1, the COD/ tanker would be developed first, and then the AEW/battle management mission suite integrated to enable both variants to achieve initial operational capability simultaneously around 2013. Phase 2 would develop the sea control/targeting variant for a 2015 service entry.

A two-year multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA) study, which started last year, will identify a replacement for P-3, EP-3, E-6A, and C-130 aircraft. Phase 1, extending through this fiscal year, will focus on requirements; Phase 2, to be conducted in fiscal year 1999, will be a technical and economic feasibility assessment. A tentatively scheduled Phase 3 would constitute a request for information/request for proposals, leading to a Milestone 0/1 decision in fiscal year 2002. An actual aircraft might be operational in 2015.

Lockheed-Martin Aeronautical Systems has completed an initial look for the Office of Naval Research at the feasibility of adapting the C-130 transport to waterborne operations. The C-130 Floatplane Feasibility Study used tow tanks and wind tunnels to evaluate a unique set of asymmetric floats, derived from the Navy's surface effect ship work in the 1970s, to test the seakeeping, hydrodynamic drag, aerodynamic stability, spray patterns, and water impact loads in tow tanks and wind tunnel tests. The test results have been quite favorable. The Naval Special Warfare Command and the U.S. Coast Guard have expressed interest in completing the feasibility study, which had been zeroed for fiscal year 1998.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) continue to be integrated into routine naval operations. The Navy and the Marine Corps operate the Pioneer in deployable units, with one additional system assigned to the UAV National Training Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Navy units are assigned to Composite Squadron (VC)-6 detachments at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, while Marine units are split between VMU-1 at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, and VMU-2 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During 1997, Pioneers made one land-based and three ship-based deployments in support of U.N. operations in Bosnia, and VMU-2 deployed as a the full squadron in support of Joint Task Force Six counter-drug operations.

Pioneer was procured in 1986 as an interim system, thus block upgrades are not allowed. Several minor Engineering change proposals, however, are in progress. Efforts during 1997 focused on improved engines, new payloads, the common automated recovery system, the modular integrated avionics group, and moving map displays to replace obsolete tracker bays. One particularly interesting test involved the Arid Hunter program, which retransmits Pioneer video real-time to the cockpit of a Walleye-equipped F/A-18. The live video feed allows the pilot to view the target area prior to entering the threat envelope and to conduct target discrimination in multiple target areas.

Pioneer's nominal replacement, the Outrider UAV, continues as an advanced concept technology demonstration (ACTD). As of early February 1998, the UAV had completed 27 flights, had flown under automatic pilot routines, and had transmitted imagery from its payload to a ground station as far as 200 kilometers away. A decision—to enter a formal acquisition program, continue research and development, or kill the program—is scheduled for August.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory experimented with the Exdrone small UAV as part of the Hunter Warrior advanced warfighting experiment. Following the success of these experiments, the Lab initiated efforts to improve the Exdrone with new payloads, a digital datalink, improved avionics, improved launcher, parafoil recovery system, heavy fuel engine, and a man-portable ground control station. The resulting upgraded Exdrone is referred to as the Dragon Drone. The Lab intends to upgrade to Dragon Drone configuration approximately 40 of the 70 Exdrones that have been stored in a warehouse since purchase. Dragon Drones will deploy with the 15th MEU (SOC) during June and with the 26th MEU (SOC) in November to develop a concept of employment for small drones in support of small units and to validate the requirement for a small reconnaissance drone in support of forward deployed forces.

The Navy concluded from a study of Predator UAV technical and tactical capabilities that it could, indeed, operate from an aircraft carrier or other large deck ship ". . provided certain tradeoffs, alterations, and changes in shipboard equipment, operations, and doctrine were made." Since the results of that study were reached, no additional tests have been run to integrate Predator into naval operations. In the meantime, Predator continues to deploy on real-world operations, supporting Bosnian operations from an air base in Taszar, Hungary, making 332 flights and logging 2,779 flight hours last year.

Land Attack Systems

With the passing of the Iowa (BB-61)class battleships, carrier-based aviation became an almost exclusive means of striking land targets from the sea without physically landing personnel—except for the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM). The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Russian Fleet caused the Navy to begin thinking in terms the Marines have always thought in: surface-based firepower from afloat to ashore . . . not just strategic or operational-level firepower like TLAM, but tactical fires as well. Naval surface fire support (NSFS) may well be the Navy's largest growth industry. The "Ring of Fire" portions of Fleet Battle Experiments Alfa and Bravo provide a conceptual framework for making the most effective use of these new system capabilities.

The new Tactical Tomahawk is the latest version. The TLAM upgrade program currently funded is the Tomahawk Baseline Improvement Program (TBIP), or Block IV, which includes software improvements for an inflight missile to be diverted to a number of alternate, preplanned targets, enhanced navigation capabilities, target arrival indication, and advanced weapon control systems that greatly reduce launch times. Tactical Tomahawk includes all of these improvements, but adds many additional upgrades: an on-board camera, the ability to divert an inflight missile to an unplanned Global Positioning System point for response to an emerging target, a loiter capability for more timely response to emerging targets, easier and more responsive mission planning, and more flexible payload potential. Its proposed concept of operations would give it up to a 1,600 nautical mile range. Better, it will cost approximately half of the currently funded Block IV missile. Savings come from substituting a GPS terminal-guidance system for the more precise digital scene, matching and correlation guidance systems used in today's Tomahawk. Congress is reviewing Navy requests to reprogram funds and proceed with Tactical Tomahawk development.

The future of the more precise but less flexible and higher cost variants of Tomahawk remains uncertain. Critical Design Review of the TBIP/Block IV was completed in July of last year. Its next milestone is low-rate initial production test review, planned for January 1999. Initial operational capability is projected in fiscal year 2000.

The Defense Special Weapons Agency (formerly the Defense Nuclear Agency) is considering development of a conventional penetrator warhead for strikes against hardened targets. In addition, the Navy is looking at the Army's Sensor Fused Weapon (SFW), Sense and Destroy Armor (SADARM), and Brilliant AntiTank (BAT) submunitions as smart submunition candidates for adaptation to Tomahawk. All would provide a significant capability against armor columns.

The Navy Tactical Missile System (NTACMS) and the Land Attack Standard Missile (LASM) are vying for Navy development. NTACMS is the Army's Advanced Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) adapted for vertical launch from surface ships and submarines to provide long range naval surface fire support. In November, 1996, the Navy successfully launched an ATACMS from a shore-based Navy Mk 41 vertical launcher.

The LASM is the Navy's SM-2 surface-to-air missile adapted for the tactical ballistic missile role. Two capability demonstrations were conducted last November that supported the feasibility of employing a GPS-configured Standard Missile to deliver a Mk 125 warhead to ranges similar to those of the ATACMS (75 nautical miles). Medium-range Terrier versions would be used in the role. This spring, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Executive Board is scheduled to select one of the systems for further development.

While few surface weapon systems can match the area devastation wreaked by multiple battleship broadsides, other gun systems can be far more efficient in taking out point targets. Under development are two such enhanced gun systems that can fire guided rounds to extended ranges: the 5"/62 Mk 45 gun modification and the Vertical Gun for Advanced Ships (VGAS). At the same time, Navy research into electro-thermal chemical guns has terminated, though it continues to monitor the exploration of that technology by the Army and Defense Special Weapons Agency.

Air and Missile Defense Systems

Navy Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) programs are on the fast track. The effort is divided into two programs: Navy Area (lower tier) and Navy Theater Wide (upper tier). Both are evolutionary developments starting from the baseline capabilities of the Aegis Weapon System, Standard Missile, and existing battle management command, control, communications, computers and intelligence.

Navy Area entered Engineering and Manufacturing Development on 22 February 1997 after a successful January 1997 intercept of a Lance ballistic missile target at the White Sands Missile Range. The program consists of modifications to the Aegis AN/SPY-I radar to enable detection, tracking, and engagement of tactical ballistic missiles within the atmosphere using a modified SM-2 missile and minor changes to existing Navy command-and-control systems to support the joint ballistic missile defense mission. The SM-2 Block IV missile receives an infrared seeker, an improved fuze, and a modified warhead section to become the Block IVA. The Block IVA completed its risk reduction flight demonstration last year and is now in E&MD. The first test flights are scheduled for next February at White Sands Missile Range.

Later this year, two Aegis cruisers, Lake Erie (CG-70) and Port Royal (CG-73), will receive the first operational Aegis Combat System modifications, and in the fall will begin at-sea tracking events using their new capabilities. These two ships will constitute the Navy Area TBMD User Operational Evaluation System (UOES), termed Linebacker, and will begin receiving 35 SM-2 Block IVA missiles next year for both at-sea testing and contingency employment of this new capability. This testing will lead to a Defense Acquisition Board decision in the summer of 2000 on low rate initial production, with the Milestone III decision on full production projected for the following summer.

Navy Theater Wide (NTW) tactical ballistic missile defense evolves from the Navy Area program and is designed to intercept targets outside the atmosphere, thereby protecting a greater geographical area. The Block I capability under development is focused on the preponderance of existing threats worldwide. Subsequent blocks will focus on developing threats. The intercept vehicle is a RIM161A SM-3, derived from a Standard Missile Block IV Mk 72 booster and Mk 104 rocket motor, the missile's existing steering control section, topped with a new third stage rocket motor and kinetic (hit-to-kill) warhead derived from the Light Exo-Atmospheric Projectile (LEAP).

NTW is now in the preliminary design and risk reduction (PD&RR) phase, which includes:

  • SPY-1 radar signal processor upgrades to allow the radar to generate and process wideband waveforms
  • Incorporation of multi-spectral discrimination to differentiate threat payload from associated debris
  • Development and demonstration of the sensor technology for kinetic warhead target acquisition, track, and discrimination
  • Development of a solid divert-and-attitude-control system (SDACS) for the prototype and Block I kinetic warhead
  • A comprehensive series of sub-scale, near-full scale, and full-scale tests and analyses of the kinetic warhead's capability to kill a ballistic-missile payload, including weapons of mass destruction
  • Joint interoperability and the integration of national assets into Navy TBMD systems

The program includes nine Aegis-LEAP intercept test flights between fiscal years 1998 and 2001. Two control test vehicles will be fired later this year to demonstrate the integration of the LEAP kinetic warhead and third-stage rocket motor into a modified SM-2 Block IV Standard missile. A target fly-by, followed by the initial LEAP intercept attempt, is planned for next year. The Aegis-LEAP Intercept program objective is to demonstrate the ability of the LEAP-derived kinetic warhead technology to guide to intercept, using target fire-control systems generated by the Aegis weapon system and the kinetic weapon-guidance processor. Milestone II decision for entry into E&MD is projected for the fiscal year 2002/2003. Block I initial operational capability is scheduled for 2006, but could easily be moved forward to 2003 should sufficient funding be provided.

The Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is nearing completion of its EMD phase. It completed initial operational test and evaluation last year and will undergo operational test and evaluation (OpEval) this year in preparation for a Milestone III full-rate production decision in January 1999.

Two battle groups are equipped with CEC: the Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Battle Group with the Anzio (CG-68) and Cape St. George (CG-71), and the John F. Kennedy (CV- 67) Battle Group with the Hue City (CG-66) and Vicksburg (CG-69). All core battle groups (i.e., the carrier and two cruisers) are scheduled to have the capability by 2004; in all, 215 ships, aircraft, and land sites should be equipped by 2015.

Included in that total will be Marine Corps AN/TPS-59(V)1 radars, which will provide critical links to landward in the littorals. The planned upgrade—the AN/TPS-59(V)3—will include CEC as well as a capability against tactical ballistic missiles. The (V)3 variant is in production; the first one will be fielded in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, followed by three each in the first and second quarters of fiscal year 1999, two in the third quarter and one each in the last quarter of 1999, and the first of 2000. Pre-production radars already have participated in the Navy's CEC operational test and ASCIET 97; these tests culminated in a proof of concept demonstration at Eglin Air Force Base last September when the Cape St. George and a pre-production (V)3 provided CEC cueing to Marines operating the Avenger air defense vehicle and ground-based advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs), who successfully engaged surrogate cruise missile targets.

About 150 of a scheduled 1,000 Marine Corps Hawk surface-to-air missiles have been converted to the Enhanced Lethality Fuze/Increased Lethality Missile (ELF/ILM) configuration for TBMD. Currently, the service's theater missile defense detachments use the AN/TPS59(V)l radar with Marine Air Radar Tracking System (MARTS) 3.0 software at the radar that passes tactical ballistic missile information to the Hawk battery command post over ground-based data link—an interim solution until the (V)3 radar and AN/MSQ-124 Air Defense Communication Platform (ADCP) are fielded starting in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year.

A Marine Corps general officers' symposium recommended giving up the Hawk batteries, but the Commandant of the Marine Corps had not approved any plans as this article went to press. Even if Hawk were to be retired, the (V)3 radar and ADCP still would be fielded as the Marine element of a networked Joint Theater Missile Defense architecture.

At the same time the Navy/Marine Corps team is working the Ballistic Missile Defense effort, the Navy also is participating in the joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense effort. Known as Overland Cruise Missile Defense (OCMD) in the Navy to avoid confusion with the (Tomahawk) Land Attack Cruise Missile efforts, this program uses components already discussed to apply a systematic defense against enemy cruise missiles: CEC, which is being integrated into other joint sensors and will emerge as the baseline for the Joint Composite Tracking Network; E-2C, and F/A-18E/F sensors; and SM-2 and AMRAAM lethality/hard kill improvement projects. OCMD and Ballistic Missile Defense are tied directly together in terms of commonality in sensors, data fusion, command and control, and weapons.

Miscellaneous Milestones

The last of five Navy EA-6B squadrons to stand up in response to the Navy assuming the "joint SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses)" role did so on 1 October 1997. The final four deployed Air Force EF-111 As were scheduled to leave Saudi Arabia last month.

The new Navy expeditionary squadrons will join other Navy and Marine EA-6B squadrons that have already been performing expeditionary operations outside the sea-based environment. They do differ from the other Navy and Marine squadrons in that the deploying squadrons (VAQ-128, -133, -134, -141) have a full Air Force crew (one pilot, three electronic warfare officers) assigned. Other Air Force pilots and EWOs are assigned to the Fleet Readiness Squadron (VAQ-129) as both students and instructors.

The U.S. Coast Guard has initiated "The Deepwater Project" to replace aging surface and air assets with an Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) of platforms, sensors, and command-and-control capabilities for the 21st century. The Phase I request for proposals was released in March 1998. It requires the winning contractor to develop an IDS based upon the Coast Guard's statutory mandated missions and current and planned asset capabilities. Included as a deliverable will be a phased plan for the acquisition and deployment of IDS elements. Assets included in the deepwater category include Hamilton (378 ft)-class high endurance cutters, Bear (270 ft), Reliance (210 ft), Storis (230 ft), and Acushnet (213 ft)-class medium endurance cutters, Island class (I10-ft) patrol boats, HH-60 Jayhawk, HH-65A Dolphin, HU-25 Falcon, and HC-130 aircraft, and associated C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance). Phase I completion is projected in November 1999. As The Deepwater Project progresses, this feature will cover its associated aircraft and weapons developments.

The Marine Corps is the Defense Department's executive agent for development of Non-Lethal Weapons. Thirteen research, development, test, and evaluation programs currently comprise the effort, along with associated technical investment, modeling and simulation, and experimentation efforts. The UAV nonlethal payload, for example, consists of unspecified non-lethal payloads packaged in ALE-47 dispensable munitions for delivery from the ALE-47 fitted to Pioneer, Outrider, and/or Dragon UAVs. A combined Milestone I/II decision was to have been made in March. Most of the remaining programs involve delivery by ground systems.

Floyd D. Kennedy Jr. is a member of the Center for Naval Analyses research staff, and is currently CNA representative to U.S. Atlantic Command’s Theater Missile Defense Initiative. He is a captain in the Naval Reserve, serving as Officer-in-Charge of the Naval Reserve Pistol Team.

 

 
 

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