In an interview General Hawk Carlisle gave to Breaking Defense, the PACAF commander provided several interesting examples of how Pacific Defense is reshaping around capabilities becoming available across the different services.
One of them, sees 5th generation aircraft to provide forward target identification for strike missiles launched from a surface warship or submerged submarine.
Indeed, Carlisle “described the ability of advanced aircraft, in this case the F-22, to provide forward targeting through its sensors for submarine based T-LAMS (cruise missiles) as both a more effective use of the current force and a building block for the emergence of the F-35 fleet in the Pacific.”
Leveraging cross-domain sinergy, Air Force and joint assets can provide greater capability within a “distributed strike package” that would see the multi-role stealthy Raptors as “electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich aircraft” that will have to fulfill several different tasks. Including, targeting and information gathering.
The current focus is on exploiting advanced war tech to get a better picture of the target (and hit it surgically) as well as moving assets in place as quickly as possible: the U.S. Air Force has already developed a new Rapid Raptor deployment concept to deploy a package of four F-22s (hardly trackable because of the small footprint) within 24 hours of deploying orders with the aim to have them where needed while preventing adversaries from knowing from which airbases they will be launched.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force