A-10, F-15C/D, F-16 Modernization

F-16 in flight
F-16 in flight
Priority
Air National Guard

The Issue

The Air National Guard operates significant numbers of A-10 Thunderbolt, F-15C/D Eagle and F-16 Viper aircraft. Robust funding is required to ensure aircraft safety and reliability, as well as effectiveness in overseas deployments and in protecting U.S. airspace.

Recommendation

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, appropriate funding to modernize key systems, including:

  • Continuing to provide A-10 wing replacements.
  • Providing digital AESA radars for the F-15C/D and F-16.
  • Providing upgraded F-15C/D electronic warfare survivability systems (EPAWSS) and electronic warning sets (EWWS).
  • Providing F-16 high-resolution center display units (CDU) and updated datalink systems.

A-10 Aircraft

Background

The A-10 was developed in the 1970s and is a twin-engine, straight wing jet aircraft designed for close air support of ground forces. It was built to attack tanks, armored vehicles and other ground targets with little air defenses. The A-10 also has the ability to land at and operate from austere airfields to provide flexibility beyond that of any other fixed wing Air Force asset, making it extremely viable for future conflicts. 

The Air National Guard provides 40% of the total A-10 fleet. With a near continuous presence since 2002 in operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM and INHERENT RESOLVE, the A-10 has proven its ability to minimize collateral damage with precision munitions and its 30MM cannon, which is immune to electronic warfare. Coupled this with a wide array of weapons and extensive coverage and capabilities within the digital battlespace and for ground forces, the A-10 is the workhorse of the combat air forces community.

Units Impacted

ID: 124th FW, Boise
IN: 122nd FW, Fort Wayne
MD: 175th WG, Baltimore
MI: 127th WG, Selfridge

F-15 Aircraft

Background

The F-15 has been the backbone of the United States’ air superiority fleet for more than 40 years. Air National Guard F-15s provide nearly half of the assets for the nation’s aerospace control alert (ACA), a 24/7 mission to ensure the protection of American airspace. Air National Guard F-15s have also deployed numerous times in recent years in support of multiple European Theater Security Package taskings, as well as through partnerships with our NATO allies. With the lack of a current recapitalization plan, we expect the Air National Guard to continue to operate the F-15 C/D aircraft until at least 2045.

We ask for Congressional support for critical modernization and sustainment efforts in order to ensure the safety, reliability and effectiveness of the F-15, both at home and abroad. Currently, the three most pressing needs for the Air National Guard F-15 fleet are AESA digital radar systems, an Electronic Warfare Warning Set, and a Full-Spectrum Electronic Warfare System. 

Some Air National Guard F-15 C/D aircraft are currently equipped with legacy radar that has significant performance shortfalls, reliability, and maintenance issues. The current radar system is also incapable of ensuring adequate defensive situational awareness against the majority of current and next-generation systems. 

The F-15 requires fire control and defensive system enhancements in order to function effectively in signal-dense, contested airspace with adversaries employing a variety of advanced electronic countermeasures.  The Electronic Warfare Warning Set (EWWS) system supplements on-board threat detection, identification, and tracking as part of a time-synchronized, integrated function of the existing sensor systems for detection and weapons cueing.

Finally, advanced adversary aircraft, sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems, and other integrated air defense systems pose a significant threat to F-15 survivability. The Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) will significantly enhance survivability against enemy threats by enabling the F-15 to autonomously and automatically identify and defeat advanced radio frequency threat systems in contested environments through 2045.

Units Impacted

CA: 144 FW, Fresno
FL: 125 FW, Jacksonville
LA: 159 FW, New Orleans
MA: 104 FW, Westfield
OR: 142 FW, Portland and 173 FW, Klamath Falls

F-16 Aircraft

Background

Air National Guard F-16s provide 37% of the Air Force’s Total Force and are engaged around the globe in numerous U.S. contingency operations, including operations NOBLE EAGLE, IRAQI FREEDOM, INHERENT RESOLVE, ENDURING FREEDOM, and NEW DAWN.  Since 2003, Air National Guard F-16s have fulfilled many of Allied Air Command’s precision-guided munitions and close air support missions, including convoy escort, dedicated infrastructure defense, border patrol, and raid support.

We ask for Congressional support for critical modernization and sustainment efforts in order to ensure the safety, reliability and effectiveness of the F-16, both at home and abroad. Currently, the three most pressing needs for the Air National Guard F-16 fleet include AESA digital radar systems, modernized center display units (CDUs), and enhanced datalink systems (Link-16, MIDS-J) to better communicate with 4th and 5th generation aircraft.

Most Air National Guard F-16s are currently equipped with legacy radar that has significant performance shortfalls, reliability, and maintenance issues. The current radar system is also incapable of ensuring adequate defensive situational awareness against the majority of current and next-generation radar systems.

Similarly, all Air National Guard F-16s require a Center Display Unit (CDU) to transfer imagery with ground controllers, fully utilize advanced targeting pod image quality, improve available processing power, and replace aging flight instruments. The ability to transfer data and exploit digital targeting pod video is critical throughout the broad spectrum of F-16 missions including homeland defense. Coupling CDU with the ability to broadband uplink information will allow aircrew to broadcast high-definition real-time data to better enable decision makers and expedite decision timing.

Finally, all Air National Guard F-16s require Link 16 Datalink capability to better function in current operational environments. Legacy datalink equipment is inadequate due to lack of currently-fielded support infrastructure. Transitioning F-16 aircraft to Link 16 will allow seamless deployment, connectivity and interoperability with the entire F-16 fleet and will better foster 4th to 5th generation aircraft datalink communications.

Units Impacted

AL: 187th FW, Montgomery
AZ: 162nd FW, Tucson
CO: 140th WG, Aurora
DC: 113th WG, JB Andrews, MD
MN: 148th FW, Duluth
NJ: 177th FW, Atlantic City
OH: 180th FW, Toledo
OK: 138th FW, Tulsa
SC: 169th FW, Eastover
SD: 114th FW, Sioux Falls
TX: 149th FW, San Antonio
VT: 158th FW, Burlington
WI: 115th FW, Madison

Point of Contact

Priya Ghosh Ahola
Deputy Legislative Director & General Counsel
Legislative Programs Manager, Air

Air National Guard
Equipment
Modernization