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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
December 14, 2011
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Publication Date: 
March 29, 1987
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PDF icon CIA-RDP90-00965R000706980001-4.pdf352.83 KB
Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/14 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706980001-4 LOS ANGELES TIMES 29 March 1987 U.S., Soviets Wage Air-Waves War. Pentagon Spends $5 Billion a Year oa Radar Technology By RALPH YARTABIDUtAI, ?Ymea Stajy Writer WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash.-In the stormy seas off the Puget Sound, Soviet trawlers make an occasional cruise, fishing not for Pacific king salmon but a catch of stray electronic signals from a nearby U.S. naval air station. The trawls are actua v soehis- ticated listenintr s iva trvina to Qbtein elect*ocL~ irate tia~c- a htrat will help Soviet a Qineera devise e~ment to ism Naw radar or th will revent the Nav The activities are art of a monumen aft e o tec polo wa e a moat th n t d States. sown - eta e o aa' a ect io war are. t is an arcane name of e i e and industrial innova on intended to win suoerio ty e au' waves. Awewm~ liCbetroaie Pev~er Overhead at Whidbey ~ Island, specially equipped Navy radar- jamming jets. called Prowlers, op- erate with such awesome electron- ic broadcasting power that a single airplane could auddeNy knock out pictures on television screens across much of Southern Califor- nia. "I like to say what we do is goof up the other guy," said Lt. Cmdr. John Cryer, one of the Navy's electronic wizards whose job is W punch buttons and twirl dials in the back seat of a Prowlrr jet. "We want to cause confusion." Cryer and a small band of ra- dar-jamming aviators like him are the ultimate hackers, doggedly studying the design and operation of Soviet radar systems to exploit their weaknesses. In a real battle, they would fool enemy radars with bogus signals and blind them with powerful electronic bloats from high-energy pods slung below their aircraft's wings. Or they would deploy electronic decoys the siu of a small bird that look lilts a 10-ton airplane to a radar. The Pentagon spends an esu- mated =b blllion annually on the abWty to deny the Soviet Union use of the air waves through jamming, deception and decoys. While not new, electronic warfare capability has grown in recent years into an absolutely essential military re- quirement that can result in over- whelming victory or humiliating defeat. But electronic warfare has also grown into a painful headache for the Pentagon. Many of the pro- grams to build the high-technology equipment of electronic warfare have encountered technical prob- lems, giant coat overruns and missed schedules. The Air Force's B-1 bomber recently became embroiled in a national controversy becattae of notable technical deficienMd with its defensive electronics equip- ment, the ALQ-161 system -pro- duced by Eaton Corp. of New York. It consists of 118 black boxes of electronic gear and other compo- nents. The. B-1 could be shot down by the Soviet Union's newest surface-to-air tnisailes because the jamming system is unable to pro- tect the H-1 as it should, Air Force officials recently disclosed. Aa a result, the Air Force eapecta to spend at least 1600. million to improve the system. The problem with the B-1, how- ever, is hardly unique. Many ob- scure electronic warfare programs experience such trouble. Only a few weeks ago, the Air Force had to cancel a program to equip its F-111 aircraft with a new electron- ic self-protection system because bide from industry were 3046. to 7096 higher than the program's i1.Z-billion budget. No fewer than a dozen electronic. warfare programs have experi- enced similar budgetary and tech- nical problems, crea~ng an atma- phere of urgency in the industry and the military. Aa coats and technical difSculty tnotmt, many experts indicated in interviews that they worry about the ability of the United States to keep abreast of Soviet progress in the field. "The Soviet defenses have ad- _ vanced faster than our abiity to counter them," said Thomas H. McMullen, a recently retired Air Force general who commanded 3evelopment of aircraft and their electronic wazfaze equipment. "It is a tough challenge." Delays, Coat Overruns So far, nobody is suggesting that the militazy should settle for less- sophisticated electronic warfare geaz, because equipment that can- not do the job is considered worse than none at all. But overly ambi- tious goals often lead to technical problems, schedule delays and cost overruns. "What you do about the situa- tion, that's the hard part," Brig. Gen. John A. Corder, the Air Force's director of electronic com- bat, acknowledged. "The develop- ment of electronic combat equip- ment is as difficult a thing as there is to do. We are pushing everything with the latest technology." Corder, a fighter pilot who was shot down by a Soviet missile in the Vietnam War, worries that, if it does not make a major commitment to have the best electronic warfare equipment, the United States could "get caught cold-footed." That clearly is what happened to Syria and its Soviet advisers in 1982, when a coordinated Israeli force attacked Syrian missile sites in Lebanon's Bekka Valley and destroyed them. In an ensuing air battle, Israeli fighter pilots report- edly shot down 93 of Syria's, Sovi- et-built jets and lost only' ot~e of their own U.S.-built jets. In the military world, the event cleared the air of lingering doubt about the importance of electronic countermeasures in the ability of a fighter jet to survive and carry out its mission. ' It is a life-and-death situa- lion-that's why we go so far out on the limb technologically," Nata- j lie W. Crawford, an electronic ~ warfare expert at Rand Corp., said. "We are talking about something STAT Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/14 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706980001-4 Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/12/14 :CIA-RDP90-009658000706980001-4 that is trying kill you and kill democratic way of life." One key cause of the problems in electronic warfare h8s been the Pentagon's insatiable demand for geaz. Spending on electronic waz- fare by all the military services has grown from 31 billion in 19$0 to the current level, which Robert Hani- see, ananalyst at Seidler Amdec Securities, estimates at 35 billion. In recent years, the small commu- nity of contractors that produce the equipment could hardly keep up with the demand. The mazket shows few signs of slowing down. The Air Force, for example, now spends about 32.1 billion annually on electronic war- fare equipment but it projects chat within five years its budget will increase to 32.6 billion, according to Corder. Such growth in a small and specialized military mazket almost always leads to problems, because there aze oNy so many engineers in the nation who can design elec- tronic warfare equipment and only so many trained workers who can produce it. "The government has been strongly encouraging entry of new players into the business to address some of these chronic problems," said David W. Gingery, a manager at TRW, a recent entrant into the business. "The industry had grown to be a tightknit community where everybody knows everybody else." In practice,. electronic warfare programs are started with exces- sive optimism by industry and they attempt to push technology too faz, according to the findings of a recent study by the Assn. of -Old Crows, a technical fraternity of military and civilian individuals in electronic warfare. Some critics fault the industry for being incestuous and unneces- sarily secretive, a chazge that Old Crows are sensitive about. "We are starting to go talk to Rotary Clubs, Lions, Kiwanis," said Gus Slayton, the Old Crows' execu- tive director. "The general public needs to understand these kinds of esoteric things." Congressional critics place part of the blame on the military itself for failing to promote leaders who understand electronics. In the Air Force, for example, all of the 13 four-staz generals Are pilots, even though two-thirds of Air Force officers have non-flying jobs, according to former Air Force Secretary Verne Orr. "It gets very discouraging to the best ... engi- veers and who drift out as colo- nels,"Orr said. Others complain that electronics generally is regarded as a "third cousin" when it comes to the competition for funding. "It is not the will of the people that is lacking, it is the amount of money that can be applied," said the Old Crows' president, Albert A. Gallot- ta, aretired rear admiral. Such concerns are not a recent development. Electronic warf#~ has been fading in and out - o!