U.S. Air Force Executes Large Force Test Event

 In Americas, Defense, USA, Air, Forces & Capabilities, Environment, Threats

The U.S. Air Force 53d Test and Evaluation Group planned and exe­cut­ed a $1.4 mil­lion Large Force Test Event, August 4 – 6, 2020, designed to find solu­tions to Air Force pri­or­i­tized Tactics Improvement Proposals for Suppression of Enemy Air Defense, low-observ­able ingress, and 4th-5th gen­er­a­tion elec­tron­ic attack inter­op­er­abil­i­ty.

Principally, this LFTE assessed the tac­tics and via­bil­i­ty of the F‑35 Lightning II fight­er air­craft to pro­vide enhanced SEAD sup­port to LO plat­forms, includ­ing the B‑2 Spirit stealth strate­gic bomber and RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehi­cle (UAV), within an oper­a­tional­ly real­is­tic envi­ron­ment.

“This exer­cise is pri­mar­i­ly focused on demon­strat­ing LO plat­form effec­tive­ness against advanced threats,” said Maj Theodore Ellis, Chief of 53rd Wing Weapons. “We do this by uti­liz­ing emerg­ing tech­nol­o­gy and tac­tics to min­i­mize weak­ness­es and cap­i­tal­ize on joint capa­bil­i­ties.”

Additionally, newer 4th gen­er­a­tion plat­form capa­bil­i­ties were also eval­u­at­ed in the LFTE. Some sce­nar­ios tested 4th and 5th gen­er­a­tion Joint and Coalition SEAD inte­gra­tion con­tacts, while others exam­ined how the latest unique 4th gen­er­a­tion elec­tron­ic attack capa­bil­i­ties can increase 5th gen­er­a­tion free­dom of maneu­ver in con­test­ed envi­ron­ments and vice versa.

“An event of this size and scope must be heav­i­ly sup­port­ed by Air Force oper­a­tional lead­ers, and this LFTE was no excep­tion,” said Col. Bill Creeden, com­man­der, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group. “The invest­ment and trust in our team allowed the 53 Wing to eval­u­ate the inter­op­er­abil­i­ty of lead­ing-edge capa­bil­i­ties and devel­op TTPs that will ulti­mate­ly strength­en our nation’s air dom­i­nance.”

Participants includ­ed the F‑35A, F‑22, and F‑15E from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron; the B‑2 from the 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron; the RQ-170 from the 44th Reconnaissance Squadron; the E/A‑18G from the Navy’s VX‑9 and Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center; and com­mand and con­trol from the 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron. This unique com­bi­na­tion of joint plat­forms max­i­mized the devel­op­ment and eval­u­a­tion of a combat-rel­e­vant capa­bil­i­ties.

As a result of the LFTE, the Air Force was able to explore unique inte­gra­tion of tac­tics, tech­niques, and pro­ce­dures that have never been tested togeth­er in select capa­bil­i­ties and ulti­mate­ly under­took test­ing, eval­u­a­tion and tac­tics devel­op­ment for four TIPs estab­lished at the Air Force’s annual Weapons and Tactics Conference (WEPTAC). These TIPs are #1: 5th Gen SEAD Support Effectiveness for B‑2 Operations, #12: Advanced Low Observable Ingress Tactics, #9: 4th and 5th Gen Joint and Coalition SEAD Contracts, and #13: 4th to 5th and 5th to 4th EA Effectiveness.

“Through events like these, we con­tin­ue to improve our joint 4th and 5th gen­er­a­tion tac­tics, which enhances our abil­i­ties in an advanced threat envi­ron­ment,” said Ellis.

LFTEs are Air Combat Command’s prin­ci­pal event for oper­a­tional test warfight­ers to eval­u­ate the suit­abil­i­ty and effec­tive­ness of emerg­ing capa­bil­i­ties within an inte­grat­ed and oper­a­tional­ly real­is­tic sce­nario. Unlike joint or mul­ti­ple-plat­form exer­cis­es that focus on the train­ing and readi­ness for units with field­ed capa­bil­i­ties, such as Red Flag, LFTEs focus on yet to be field­ed hard­ware, soft­ware, and tac­tics. Results from LFTEs inform a wide range of efforts to include capa­bil­i­ty devel­op­ment and the latest tac­tics, with a focus on inte­gra­tion.

“We fight as an inte­grat­ed force which means we need to test and eval­u­ate our latest capa­bil­i­ties as an inte­grat­ed force,” said Creeden. “Put simply, our job is to inform, devel­op, and deliv­er, from idea to pre­med­i­tat­ed vio­lence, an inte­grat­ed tac­ti­cal advan­tage to the Combat Air Force for both tonight, and tomorrow’s poten­tial fight. LFTEs are a pri­ma­ry enabling effort to make this happen.”

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