The Air Force just tested the integrated electronic warfare systems of the F-35 as the quarterback, as it adds air cover to vulnerable elements of strike packages into enemy airspace.
Ideally, the F-35A variant will be in a squadron that includes the B-2 bomber and the top-secret RQ-170 surveillance drone.
At the Nellis AFB (air force base) in Nevada, the U.S. Air Force held a two-day exercise that had the F-22, F-15E, and E/A-18G Growler that simulated electronic attacks to assess the performance of the systems. Another aim is to see the actual assets in real missions that involve fourth and fifth-generation craft according to Breaking Defense.
Mark Gunzinger, director for future concepts and technology assessments, said that F-35s are not seen as craft that can fly a wild weasel mission or electronic warfare. Systems on the 5th generation craft can hack the mission type and more.
F-35s can electronically detect radars from many sources, triangulate its location and process the target data to send remote aims over the horizon on BVR. They can do radar jamming of aerial and surface targets as well. Another advantage is they have AESA radars that will attack enemy radars.
The 53rd Test and Evaluation Group said the Large Force Test Event was done to focus on tactics that would suppress enemy air defense, with a combination of 4th to 5th generation aircraft to degrade enemy response in an attack. They added that it was the first time it was done with such tactics and techniques.
Maj Theodore Ellis, chief of 53rd Wing Weapon cited the simulated missions of how stealthy packages are effective when put against advance adversaries. They are using advanced technologies and strategies to attack with maximum offensiveness, fewer vulnerabilities with interlinked capacities.
1st Lt. Savanah Bray, Air Force representative said that LFTE is all about systems linked and cooperation to get the desired results in combat. Focus is not on the F-35s EW suite that blunts air defenses, but on how it connects and shares data with all members.
Officials are interested to see how well the F-35s can be the lynchpin as the lead in directing multi-domain operations. The 5th gen multi-role plane will be crucial in directing data like sharing and fire control on the battle. At some point, other weapons can piggyback on sent data, just like the missiles on the F-18 Block III.
Brett Ashworth, spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, said that the Large Force Test Event shows the advantages of F-35 stealth fighter in working with all systems, even with other F-35s. It also gets the mission done on multiple domains that exceed conventional missions that have to be more careful in enemy airspace.
During the 2020 Orange Flag the Edwards AFB, an F-35A collected data and sent it to a U-2 plane as an aerial node to a simulated Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS). The significance is that the F-35A will link data with the IBCS system to use the data to enhance all domain operations.
Gunzinger mentions the ability of the F-35 to integrated electronic warfare systems on 4th to 5th generation systems in punching through suppression of enemy air defenses mission (SEAD) to give America's enemies a headache. The South China Sea and the Persian Gulf might see similar missions soon.