JED - April 2009 - (Page 26)

By Glenn Goodman Suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) has long been a critical mission essential to US and allied air superiority and all that springs from it. Even in an era of low-observable aircraft, SEAD is an essential means of reducing aircraft vulnerability to surface-to-air missile (SAM) defenses. Going back to the Vietnam War, SEAD has aimed primarily at countering radar-guided threats to US Air Force (USAF) and Navy attack aircraft to allow them to penetrate heavily defended areas to reach their targets, reducing aircraft losses. Non-lethal means of SEAD have included the use of support jamming aircraft, such as the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler, to protect packages of strike aircraft by temporarily blinding enemy earlywarning, SAM and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) radars. Lethal SEAD largely has entailed using dedicated strike aircraft to try to destroy these radars permanently in advance of attack aircraft by launching air-to-surface, anti-radiation homing (ARH) missiles. These missiles passively guide themselves by following a radar’s radio-frequency emissions back to their source and actually hitting the radar dish or array itself. Successful SEAD also is achieved if enemy SAM radar operators choose to stay off the air for fear of being targeted by antiradiation missiles. During the extensive air campaigns mounted by coalition forces in Operations Desert Storm, Allied Force and Iraqi Freedom, stealthy Air Force F-117 fighters and B-2 bombers and Navy shiplaunched Tomahawk cruise missiles (as well as Army Apache attack helicopters in some instances) actually conducted US Navy and US Air Force pursue different paths to counter SAM threats the initial lethal SEAD missions by attacking some key air defense commandand-control centers or early-warning acquisition radars. Lethal SEAD fighter aircraft subsequently fired large numbers of AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), particularly at SAM control radars. During Operation Allied Force in 1999, for example, Navy, Air Force and allied aircraft launched more than 1,000 HARMs against Serbian air defense radars. During Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, they fired more than 400 HARMs. US aircraft also have fired tactical air-launched decoys from stand-off ranges to stimulate enemy air defense radars to start emitting in advance of HARM-equipped aircraft. SEAD missions, including non-lethal jamming by EA-6Bs and Air Force EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, were crucial in neutralizing

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - April 2009

JED - April 2009
The View From Here
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Lethal SEAD
Airborne SIGINT Forecast
RF Power Sources for IED Jammers
Roost Profile
EW 101
AOC News
JED Sales Offices
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look

JED - April 2009