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Air Force Looking at Electronic Warfare to Maintain Air Dominance

Air Force Looking at Electronic Warfare to Maintain Air Dominance

Electronic warfare, or EW, is the use of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) to carry out offensive, defensive and supportive operations for military forces. With today’s battlefield being increasingly shaped by digital technologies, it is critical for the U.S. military to sharpen its capabilities in this key domain.

The Air Force is currently exploring EW technologies across a variety of use cases. EW is one topic that may be discussed at the Potomac Officers Club’s 2024 Air Force Summit in July. During the event, you will have the opportunity to hear from key Air Force officials and private sector executives, who will come together to discuss the service branch’s most pressing challenges and priorities.

To learn more and register to attend the event, click here.

In a questionnaire paired with his September confirmation hearing, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin said that the service branch “will need to embrace new concepts for EW” and place a stronger emphasis on the EMS as a whole to align with the National Defense Strategy.

Since then, the service branch has made several moves in pursuit of this goal. In October, the USAF activated two EW-focused detachments at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, marking a milestone in establishing the 950th Spectrum Warfare Group, a unit dedicated to evaluating the effectiveness of EW technologies in numerous aircraft and boosting jamming and spoofing capabilities in large military exercises. The Air Force hopes to fully launch the group by 2027.

According to Kristyn Jones, acting under secretary of the Air Force, the development of offensive EW capabilities is a key priority for the service branch. During the AFCEA Northern Virginia Chapter’s Air Force Information Technology Day earlier this month, she noted the addition of the detachments at Robins AFB as an example of these efforts.

Another part of the Air Force’s EW journey was the December release of a new doctrine regarding EMS operations. The document covers the service branch’s role in joint EW objectives, the characteristics of the EMS, some of which are congestion and pervasiveness, and the responsibilities of each component involved in EW activities.

Looking forward, Allvin aims to create an Air Force “with distributed software-defined systems and capabilities that are agile and increasingly leverage [artificial intelligence and machine learning] to move to more robust cognitive EW.”

To do so, Allvin said the service branch “will need to explore, develop, and produce new and innovative concepts and doctrine that expand on historic electronic warfare principles in favor of Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations,” which combines legacy EW with Spectrum Management.

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