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ACC works to maintain air superiority

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jay Molden
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

As the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force shift focus and priorities to keep up with pacing challenges, Air Combat Command’s plans, programs and requirements directorate plays a major role in ensuring combat air forces are aligned with the National Defense Strategy.

Among a wide range of responsibilities, Maj. Gen. Scott Jobe, director of ACC’s plans, programs and requirements directorate, oversees the identification of necessary CAF requirements that keeps the warfighter relevant in a high-end fight. 

“We’re aggressively getting after modernization programs, analyzing capability gaps that turn into requirements and, in turn, into planning and programming to fulfill weapons systems and presidential budgets that we submit on behalf of the command,” Jobe said.

Jobe’s team plays a major role in the future of the F-22A Raptor enterprise, one of the command’s top priorities. While one section is focused on F-22 modernization efforts, another is developing the plan to move the formal training unit from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The directorate also provides force structure recommendations to the Air Staff, including the recent Air Force proposal to divest the Block 20 F-22s to invest in modernization and the Next Generation Air Dominance family of systems. 

When developing plans and making decisions about basing, the staff takes a holistic approach to ensure weapons systems are whole.

“When considering the F-22 enterprise and the FTU move, we have to look at more than just the fighters, the maintenance people, the pilots and the weapons,” Jobe said. “We have to consider the support activity that goes along with that. Does the child development center have enough capability and capacity? Can the local community support the increase of Airmen?”

As the primary force provider to combatant commands, ACC is responsible for more than 155,000 Airmen and their families. During the deliberation of relocating several of those Airmen to support the FTU move, Jobe, like many other senior leaders, prioritizes Airmen to ensure mission success.

While the Air Force plans to divest the older Block 20 F-22s, it will continue to modernize the F-22 to allow it to bridge to NGAD. For NGAD to meet the peer threat, ACC is focused on developing a family of systems.

“NGAD is not a single capability that is easily targeted; it is not a single platform, a single weapon or a single planning issue,” Jobe said. “It is intended to be a deliberate solution to complicate targeting for an enemy.”

The NGAD’s family of systems approach will be a critical component of the long-range kill chain.

“We’re going to field a capability that has lethal characteristics and can both penetrate and persist long-range,” Jobe said. “That is what brings air superiority. It’s a capability that will really be unmatched by anyone in the world.”

Within the long-range kill chain, ACC staff is working to pinpoint resolutions for the communication challenges between domains, ensuring safer and faster mission execution.

An air moving target indicator and command and control capability are key parts in addressing the communication challenge, and Jobe’s team has been diligently working to ensure they are modernized. 

The Air Force’s current AMTI capability, the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system, lacks sufficient capability to compete in a high-end fight with a peer competitor. Additionally, it faces significant sustainment challenges, resulting in low capacity. 

“The question has been do we continue to maintain the oldest of our fleet or do we choose to modernize and move in different directions?” Jobe said. “Our capabilities need to be modernized to the current threat.”

ACC’s budget portfolio request for fiscal year 2023 includes divesting 15 AWACS in order to redirect funding to field an E-3 replacement. In addition to NGAD, an E-3 replacement is another way ACC plans to secure the kill chain.
 
“We worked with the acquisition community and the system programming office to identify the proper replacement for the E-3,” Jobe said. “The supply chain and the difficulty to maintain those really old airplanes is just untenable and expensive.”

The work of Jobe and his team led to the Air Force identifying the E-7 Wedgetail as the most suitable replacement for the E-3. While the E-3 Sentry has wide-area surveillance radar capabilities, scanning every ten seconds, the E-7 Wedgetail has advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array radar, which provides 360-degree surveillance and the ability to lock on to points of interest. It also provides higher radar update rates with little to no latency. 

The F-22 modernization efforts, NGAD family of systems, and E-3 Sentry are just a few of the countless ways the plans, programs and requirements team works to identify capability gaps and recommend solutions to improve ACC’s warfighting abilities. 

ACC’s mission is to organize, train and equip combat ready Airmen, and to control and exploit the air on behalf of the joint force. The efforts of Jobe’s team are not only vital to prepare the command for the challenges tomorrow, but also in ensuring Airmen can safely and effectively execute the mission. Without Airmen, there is no mission. Jobe and his team value the investment of better trained and equipped Airmen in addition to more sustainable, modernized aircraft. The harmony of both of these assets is crucial to maintaining air superiority in the future fight. 

“We’re building a force that can provide air superiority to the joint force anytime, anywhere,” Jobe said.