Empowering Electronic Warfare
To Save Carrier Strike Groups
The U.S. Navy needs an integrated approach
to improve antiship missile defense.
Integrated electronic warfare is the best and most efficient form of defense against the growing anti- ship missile threat that targets deployed U.S. car- rier strike groups. Some experts may even argue that an integrated electronic warfare system of
systems is the only capability that can protect the U.S. fleet from this threat.
The inability to defend against these missiles has been a longtime U.S. weakness. In
1987, a missile launched from an Iraqi warplane crippled
the USS Stark. The U.S. Navy frigate detected the sea-skimming missile known as the Exocet too late for its
defenses to destroy it. The Exocet is a subsonic antiship
missile with a 360-pound warhead. If the Navy failed
to destroy an Exocet, what happens when its vessels are
attacked by much more capable antiship missiles? Today’s
missiles have better guidance, longer ranges, greater
speeds and more destructive power than the Exocet.
U.S. adversaries know the Navy has this weakness
and are developing and deploying larger numbers of
advanced antiship missiles. There is now an increased
urgency within the service to improve antiship missile defense tactics and capabilities. For the U.S. fleet
to defend against this threat, it must start integrating
single-platform defense systems so the strike group can
fight as a unified unit.
This change is necessary to defend against threats
ranging from unrefined pirates to the most sophisticated navies. Consider Iran, which has fielded a layered
network of modern antiship missiles—sea-, air- and
land-based—that cover the entire Persian Gulf. Iran
can launch barrage after barrage of antiship missiles.
Capable of traveling at supersonic or near-supersonic
speeds, at altitudes as low as 10 feet above the water’s
surface, these missiles are highly effective against
naval platforms. They can evade radar systems and
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington
and ships from the U.S. Navy, the Indian navy
and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
participate in trilateral naval field training.
Carrier strike groups may be increasingly
vulnerable to antiship missile systems and
could be better protected with the use of an
integrated electronic warfare capability.