Since the retirement of the last EF-111A Ravens from the US Air Force in 1998, the US Navy has been the only US air force with a fleet of tactical fighters dedicated to electronic warfare and suppression of enemy anti-aircraft defenses. , initially on EA-6B Prowler, then, from 2011, on EA-18G Growler, a version of the F/A 18 F Super Hornet specifically for this mission. However, the Pentagon's needs for this type of mission did not disappear with the withdrawal of the EF-111As, and the F-16C/Ds equipped with HARM missiles were not sufficient to ensure the escort missions of the air forces in contested areas. This is the reason why, beyond the 9 squadrons on board the US Navy's aircraft carriers, the latter set up 5 so-called "expeditionary" squadrons to make up for this lack, and operate from land bases for the benefit of the US Air Force and allied air forces, notably in Italy and Japan.
Now, however, every dollar counts for the US navy in order to finance its operational evolution in order to face the Chinese challenge and, obviously, it no longer intends to take on missions that do not strictly speaking fall within its remit. Thus, in the preparatory documents for the 2023 budget of the Pentagon, it is requested to mothballing the 5 expeditionary electronic warfare squadrons, and putting the 25 EA-18G Growlers which arm them under mothballed by 2025, this freeing up more than 1000 sailors and officers for other missions, as well as more than $800 million over the years to come, i.e. half the price of a new frigate of Constellation type. Let us recall in this regard that the American Congress had called, last July, that the US Air Force again acquires its own electronic warfare apparatus and suppression of enemy anti-aircraft defenses.
This proposal, which still has to be approved by the White House and by Congress, which is far from certain, shows, however, a profound change in the posture of the US Navy, already put forward with the presentation of the construction plan naval until 2045 a few days ago. Indeed, it seems that the US Navy no longer intends to try to “solve the problems” of the Pentagon or of the American parliamentarians, by proposing complex models that are costly to implement. Faced with an increasingly demanding operational contract, and resources which, all things considered, remain limited with regard to the ambitions displayed at the Capitol, the Pentagon and the White House, the US Navy General Staff now poses clear or even excessive trade-offs, so as to provoke, one might think, an awareness at the political level as to the means that will actually be necessary to meet the challenges to come.
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