As decision-making personnel within the Air Force became more and more convinced that the new (stealth) bomber would always get through, less attention was paid to the support jamming
and lethal SEAD corners of the triad.
The ELT/555 is a supersonic jammer pod, powered by a ram air turbine in the nose, and the Aries is an ELINT and support jamming
suite intended for business jet installations.
This left the primary responsibility of support jamming
to the Navy and its principle EW asset: the EA-6B Prowler.
On March 28, 1999, an F-117 was shot down in Kosovo, and subsequently, the role of support jamming
for stealth operations received a significant amount of press.
A dedicated support jamming
aircraft, with its specialized equipment and dedicated EW operators, provides much greater jamming power than the self-protection equipment on a strike aircraft.
The ICAP III program will give the Prowler a new receiver group to improve its performance for support jamming
and lethal suppression of enemy air defenses missions.
Yet even with the DOD's growing emphasis on precision targeting and hard-kill solutions, the investment in the EA-6B ICAP III demonstrates that the subtle art of support jamming
is still a major part of information operations.
EA-6B Prowler Emerging as Sole US Support Jamming
Platform Until at Least 2015
In support jamming
, said Tony Grieco, the deputy director for EW in the OSD, the basic question is "What is support jamming
going to bring to the warfighter?
Under a section covering specialized forces, the report discussed the retirement of the EF-111 and the DOD's transition to a joint force concept for support jamming
. The report stated, "To ease the transition to the new Joint Force concept, the retirement date of the EF-111 has been slipped one year to FY 1998." In terms of EA-6B upgrades, Perry said, "The Navy will upgrade a total of 120 EA-6Bs (104 primary aircraft inventory) for this purpose, extending the aircraft's service life and updating their mission avionics system.
The upgrade will enable the Prowler to be the primary support jamming
aircraft for all Air Force, Army and Navy nonlethal suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) missions.
The New York delegation addressed its concerns over the future of support jamming
by stating, "[I]t is clear that neither the Air Force nor the Navy have an adequate plan in place to provide the necessary defense suppression capability for all the services in both combat and peacetime operations....