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USMC Aviation Vision 2025 and the Misdirection of Airborne Electronic Warfare

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Master's thesis

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The Marine Corps plan to eliminate a tactical aircraft dedicated to the mission of electronic warfare as well as the increased emphasis on unmanned systems to conduct the EW mission will leave the Marine Corps significantly unprepared to deal with both current and emerging RF threats to MAGTF operations. The Marine Aviation Campaign Plan is a modernization program that will eliminate all legacy aircraft and streamline all tactical aircraft to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Among the aircraft being eliminated is the EA-6B, the nations only dedicated tactical airborne electronic warfare aircraft. As a replacement to the EA-6B, the Marines propose F-35s and unmanned systems equipped with jammers to fill the need for airborne EW. This solution does not adequately address the limitations of those two systems or the support needs of future platforms like the MV-22 and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. These new vehicles will allow MAGTF commanders to project forces farther ashore and operate in an environment increasingly vulnerable to enemy radar guided threats. Unmanned systems planned to fill EW requirements do not have the lift capacity to carry high powered jammers and do not have the range to operate ashore from sea-based expeditionary vessels. Unmanned systems also have a higher loss rate than do conventional aircraft, making their payloads vulnerable to enemy capture and exploitation. The Marine Corps needs to re-evaluate their road ahead regarding EW requirements in order to ensure that the capability that they desire is, in fact, the capability that they are purchasing. The Marine Corps of 2025 will be capable of conducting electronic warfare with both the F-35 and its UASs. What it will not have is the speed, flexibility and versatility that the Marines have come to expect from their current airborne EW platform, the EA-6B, which is the type of system that will be needed to support future expeditionary operations.

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  • Military Aircraft Operations
  • Countermeasures

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