Nobody working at the sharp edge of today’s air combat environment can doubt it is changing. We used to hear the desire for ‘air superiority’ all the time: now, the mantra is ‘air dominance.’
“The difference is quite simple,” explains Eric Ditmars, VP of Secure Sensor Solutions for Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S) in El Segundo, CA. “Air superiority pre-supposes the ability to engage and execute the mission in accordance with the anticipated environment: if you have air dominance, it doesn’t matter what the anticipated environment is – you have the capability to overcome it, to fully execute and succeed – no matter what.” Simple, no?
Actually, it’s anything but simple – yet RI&S proves capable – time and time again – of providing the mission solutions to achieve air dominance. Solutions that are available now.
Air dominance is not a weapons issue. It’s not even a sensor issue or one of processing power. It’s all of these issues, coupled with the need to integrate capability, to fuse data, and to clearly communicate volumes of it rapidly, empowering aircrews to make more effective, reliable decisions faster. “What we really do is give aircrews an unfair advantage. And that’s what we want to continue to do,” Ditmars tells MON in a recent exclusive interview.
That ‘unfair advantage’ is what air dominance is all about: and it’s exactly why nations are beating a path to his door to discuss applying the air dominance doctrine to their mission needs.
In Germany, for example, active consideration is being given to a potential F-18 E/F Super HORNET/EA-18 GROWLER combination to provide the German Air Force with a future-proofed air combat solution. This is particularly important in the current geopolitical situation, as Germany and her allies seek to maintain competitive advantage against continuing assertive behaviour from Russia, prompting military and political commentators to talk about the return of the Great Power Competition, and planners to work on peer-to-peer conflict scenarios.
“Raytheon Intelligence & Space has the experience in all the required domains to provide this kind of capability,” states Ditmars with the confidence that only decades of streamlining capabilities from across the corporate waterfront brings. “We want our customers to capitalise on all the capabilities we can give them: to use a football analogy, it’s about getting to where the ball is going to be – not where it’s at now.”
Combining advanced, proven and effective capabilities – such as the APG-79 AESA fire control radar, the Next-Generation Jammer and the ALR-69A(V) – the world’s first all-digital radar warning receiver – means RI&S can provide its customers with an unassailable overmatch advantage to bring to the next dogfight. Tethering those solutions with the kinetic and smart weapons capabilities provided by the Raytheon Missiles & Defense business could mean an integrated mission suite of sensors and effectors to equip entire fleets of aircraft.
But technology is not the only consideration a potential customer needs to be cognisant of: there are also industrial and economic components to the equation. And here, too, Raytheon Technologies has a very high batting average. There are 3,000 employees working in Germany today, leveraging a further 7,000 in the German supply chain, working on multiple programmes. Not just German programmes, either: Raytheon Technologies’ strong and longstanding relationship with Rheinmetall has seen a joint bid develop for the U.S. Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) programme, which will leverage the German company’s LYNX IFV in an all-American variant incorporating state-of-the-art sensors and artificial intelligence.
RI&S is committed to providing customers more choice through open architectures and deep understanding of the integration challenges to achieving air dominance. Coupled with the ability to model and simulate, to work through technical challenges, this means its solutions bring “world-class capability at a very affordable price-point,” Ditmars concludes.
Any nation seeking an advanced, game-changing degree of air dominance, for example, needs a reliable, competent and trustworthy partner. One that does not disguise the complexity of the challenges but embraces them, resolves them and provides a championship-quality solution. Understanding the challenge is half the battle – as the company’s Jim Meger says, “Air dominance is not a birthright – you have to work at it every single day.” Raytheon Technologies walks that walk.