Winning the Air/Sea Battle


12/06/2011 by Ed Timperlake

Currently the Navy and Air Force are teaming up to address how to deter war especially in the Pacific. The planning document is built on fighting and winning a battle and a war. In a shooting war the US and our Pacific allies can fight and win, and a key enabler for victory will be sufficient numbers of F-35 aircraft in Navy, Marine, US Air Force and Allied forces.

So far deterrence in the Pacific has worked but on December 6 2011 all pretense of mutual partnership and military to military cooperation with PLA forces fell by the way side.

Learning how not to become a wasting asset.

China’s Hu urges navy to prepare for combat:

“Chinese President Hu Jintao Tuesday urged the navy to prepare for military combat amid growing regional tensions over maritime disputes and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power. The navy should “accelerate its transformation and modernization in a sturdy way, and make extended preparations for military combat in order to make greater contributions to safeguard national security,” he said.”

So the President of China just sent a major signal for Pacific allies and US to focus on a modernization plan that will stop the PLA from engaging in war at sea.

The PLA military threat in numbers and quality is growing, PLA is generic for all Army, Navy, AF and missile forces.

So it is now time to accept that a war-changing weapon is in late stages of R&D and it must be accounted for in any battle plan.  Unlike distant “hyper-sonic” R&D efforts such a Global Strategic Strike -a hypersonic cruise missile is a rapid evolving technology, which sooner than later will be demonstrating the art of the possible up close and personal.  Such a revolutionary CM in the US arsenal is a very good thing. In the hands of PLA forces it is a very real “wolf at the door”—

Consequently when, not if, a hypersonic-Cruise Missile is battle ready the Air/Sea Battle staff will have to figure out both offensive and defensive con-ops. In sufficient numbers a hypersonic Cruise Missile can be a war-tipping asset. Employed by US and Allied forces the capability will greatly enable a deadly combat punch. If it is in the hands of an enemy a hypersonic Cruise Missile is a ship killer.

Since defeating a hyper-sonic cruise missile is the hardest problem focusing on that will have the added benefit of addressing less capable weapons-such as the new PLAAF 5th Gen J-20

US and allied forces will have the perfect aircraft in the F-35 to play both offensive and defense when hypersonic Cruise Missiles become a combat reality. The C4ISR-D “Z-axis” in the cockpit can lead the way in developing a Pacific  “honeycomb” ISR Grid to handle the hyper-sonic Cruise Missile threat and also go on the offensive since Chinese President Hu Jintao has just put the PLAN on combat alert.

Everything will take time to develop and if PRC goes to war at Sea today they will lose. However, time is precious for US and Allies to get the technology for a 21st Century Air/Sea Battle right.

If the F-35 did not exist with it’s revolutionary  “Z-axis” 360 umbrella —it would have to be invented. Northern Edge validated that the US has developed a flying combat system that is world class and unique—a Fighter/Attack aircraft with EW/”tron” warfare capability with both AA and AG kinetic weapons in the bay.

American visionary commanders and operators given enough F-35s will have the beginning of a real honeycomb defense.   F-35 cockpit enabled sensors linked with other combat systems networked because no platform will fight alone and employing the Wynne Doctrine-“If you are in a fair fight someone failed in planning,” – it s formula for combat success.

Such new concepts enabled by F-35 A (USAF), B (USMC) and C (USN) as Aegis can be a “wingman” and an SSGN Submarine can be a “fire support ship” is the touchstone for winning an Air/Sea Battle.

The C4ISR-D (for decision) F-35 cockpit should be the R&D focal point for developing the next generation of weapons. Designing electromatic magnetic hardened (EMP) systems, platforms and weapons to take full advantage of the unique emerging F-35 C4ISR combat capability is the way ahead.

If the F-35 did not exist with it’s world class “Z-axis” 360 umbrella —it would have to be invented to take on future PLA hypersonic ship killing cruise missiles and other threats.

Northern Edge validated that the US has something world class and unique—a long range 360 search, and sort information system in a Fighter/Attack aircraft that will has both EW/”tron” warfare capability and kinetic AA and AG weapons in the bay.

A successful Pacific Rim fleet wide “honeycomb” ISR grid can be created with enough USAF/USN/USMC and Allied F-35s flying along the Pacific Rim.  F-35’s in the Japanese self-defense Force are extremely important along with Australia, Singapore and South Korea. US and Allied con-ops can begin to offensively link the DAS capability to hypersonic CMs in the hands of the good guys-. –Imagine an F-35 lights up a threat and then out pops a hypersonic CM from an SSGN or even a 50+ knot Littoral Combat Ship or a Zumwalt (DDG-1000) class (all two of them) or an Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) surface combatant, or is launched from many different USAF air platforms both piloted and UCAS.

Equally important the F-35 “Z-axis” mitigates the “wasting asset” argument being made against our Fleet. The Fleet Commander will have tremendous situational awareness  (SA) to defend against enemy hypersonic CMs, and also IRBMs end game maneuvering warheads.

In that game instantaneous speed of light information originating from cockpits in a fleet of F-35s is a real game changer. From point of launch to possible impact the Navy Fleet employing a 1600+ diameter DAS capability can begin to figure out how to kill, jam, fry or spoof incoming hypersonic CMs and endgame maneuvering IRBMs

R&D efforts in directed energy research would add to the mix of weapons to employ. Essentially, the Commander and all operators will have the best SA knowledge possible to successfully track the flight path from launch to endgame maneuvering. Early detection just like fighting an aggressive cancer is a life savor.

If the F-35 did not exist the Air/Sea Battle Commanders would have to continue to invent or improve a lot of expensive disparate systems to do what one aircraft can accomplish-no platform fights alone is a winning strategy.

The F/A-18 -in fact no system in the world, can do what I just described. The critical point is taking advantage of the “Z-axis” is to build new weapons. The Navy and AF armaments commands now have a combat survivable aircraft that can “tron” track the threat.  Weapons and systems can be developed that enhance EW offensive capabilities against incoming missiles and also target them with kinetic weapons internally carried and from other platforms. Hopefully some day lasers will also come to the fight all to kill the hypersonic threat before it gets close to its end game maneuvering.

The F-35 initially will be network to other systems but realistically the “other systems” should begin to evolve toward taking advantage of F-35 SA potential-not the other way around and over time this will happen.

For a discussion of the Z axis see Secretary Wynne

and some of the other pieces which address the Z axis concept

And for an historical look at where the F-35 fights in aviation development see