WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has concluded a two-day, $1.4 million exercise that evaluated the F-35 fighter jet’s ability to provide its electronic warfare capabilities to other stealthy reconnaissance and bombing platforms.
The event, which took place Aug. 4-6 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, tested the ability for the F-35 to provide Suppression of Enemy Air Defense, or SEAD, support for other stealthy platforms such as the B-2 and the RQ-170 reconnaissance drone, according to an Aug. 6 news release from the Air Force.
Maj. Theodore Ellis, chief of 53rd Wing Weapons, said the exercise focused on demonstrating stealth platform effectiveness against advanced threats using emerging technology and capitalizing on joint capabilities.
Other platforms that participated included the F-22, the F-15 and the Navy’s E/A-18G aircraft. Some aspects of the scenario tested these fourth- and fifth-generation platforms’ joint and coalition SEAD integration. Other scenarios focused on how the latest fourth-gen electronic capabilities could increase fifth-gen freedom of maneuver, and vice versa, in contested environments, the Air Force said.
U.S. adversaries over the past several years have developed advanced radars to detect incoming aircraft, pairing them with long-range missiles that in many cases outgun U.S. military weapons.
The event allowed the Air Force to explore the integration of tactics, techniques and procedures that have never been tested together.
“Through events like these, we continue to improve our joint 4th and 5th generation tactics, which enhances our abilities in an advanced threat environment,” Ellis said.
Events like this are the prime movers to test and evaluate emerging capabilities and technologies — as opposed to training and readiness — with an operationally realistic scenario.
“The investment and trust in our team allowed the 53 Wing to evaluate the interoperability of leading-edge capabilities and develop [tactics, techniques and procedures] that will ultimately strengthen our nation’s air dominance,” said Col. Bill Creeden, commander of the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group.
“We fight as an integrated force which means we need to test and evaluate our latest capabilities as an integrated force. Put simply, our job is to inform, develop, and deliver, from idea to premeditated violence, an integrated tactical advantage to the Combat Air Force for both tonight, and tomorrow’s potential fight. [Large Force Test Events] are a primary enabling effort to make this happen.”
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.