SEAD Doctrine

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In modern air warfare without effective Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses U.S. air power is far less lethal. The Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) is a mission that came to be in the war in Vietnam. With the creation of modern Integrated Air Defense Systems (IAD), U.S. Air power could be loses its effectiveness while still maintaining Air Superiority. While enemy fighters may have not been a threat during most missions the possibility of being shot down by a Surface to Air Missile (SAM) was high. The Vietnamese IAD proved to be effective and lessening the effects of U.S. strike missions. With losses mounting the U.S. Air Force created the Wild Weasels to fly the SEAD mission. With the U.S. Air Force developing the SEAD doctrine …show more content…
With the current doctrine before a SEAD mission is flown an E-8 JSTAR will fly near the area that the mission will be flown and detect all radar sources that are active (AFFTTP 3-1). This tells the pilots flying the SEAD mission in F-16CJs what type of SAMs are in the area and exactly where the SAMs are. This only works though if the radar is active if the radar is turned off the JSTAR is not able to locate the SAMs. Secondly as the mission is being prosecuted an EC-130H Compass Call flies outside the range of known SAMs and jams SAM radar frequencies and enemy C2 (command and control). While this is usually highly effective, when long range modern SAMs are involved such as the SA-20 the Compass Call is pushed so far back it’s jamming will not reach far into the SAM rings making it a lot less effective (AFTTP 3-1). Finally actually suppression is done by F-16CJs using HARM missiles (AFTTP 3-2). When the CJs electronic equipment detects an active radar system the pilot will fire a AGM-88 HARM missile which uses the transmission of the radar system to hone in on it and destroy it (AFTTP 3-2). The down fall of this weapon is if the radar is turned off the missile is no longer able to target the radar system. So a SAM radar operator can turn the radar on and off making it very hard for the CJs to destroy the SAM site. A second draw back of the HARM is that relative to modern SAM …show more content…
Dr. Benjamin Lambeth points out in his case study “Kosovo and the Continuing SEAD Challenge” that the current conflicts in the Middle East do not pose any real threat when it comes to ground to surface attacks and the last time that the U.S. Air Force faced any type of missile defense was in Kosovo. Even then the rebels in Kosovo did not have a modern IAD but were still able to shoot down an F-16 and F-117 (Lambeth). The rebels were able to have success because they took advantage of the HARM’s slow flight time and used intermittent use radar making their SAMs hard to target (Lambeth). Additionally the last time that the Air Force faced an IAD which was in the Gulf War, the IAD was not as integrated as the Air Force first believe it was, and many of the SAMs used were older less effective models (Lambeth). So while SEAD was effective in the Gulf War it was not facing the kind of IAD that China and Russia posse (Lambeth). This shows that their changes that need to be made the current SEAD

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