Once again Gripen, now the Electronic Attack variant
It's the IAF's wish to acquire a fleet of electronic attack jet similar to the American Growler. Since ages the IAF keep trying to insists the ministry to acquire a fleet of such electronic attack variants. So far US and the Australians are the one who operates such dedicated jamming fleet, and now Chinese modifying the JH 7 for such duties and Russians also started working on the Su 34 by converting into Jamming aircraft. The Brazil is another country who makes contract with Swedish company for possible electronic attack variant based on the Gripen NG platform.
The Gripen also proposed the IAF officials to jointly produce the EA variant of Gripen NG along with Brazil and Sweden. The IAF yet to respond the offer, Since the Gripen has not capable to combat in much longer missions, since it comes with single engine and smaller in size, compared to other fighter jets in it's variant.
SAAB's aeronautics executive vice president Sindahl said in a interview " If you look into future combat scenarios, if you have a high-end air force with a broad threat situation, something like a ‘Growler Gripen’ would make a real difference,That‘s what we’re looking into, and that’s why it’s so good to have Brazil on board with the F-model ".
The future combat air battle involves much complex condition include denial of modern combat system in the fighter jets by using dedicated jammers to disrupt the frequencies. US is the master in such technologies using such jamming planes since decades. By checking their combat loses in air warfare is very minimal compared to other air forces. And they almost capable to shoot down any hostile aircraft with the powerful support jets before the enemy found the presence of foreign aircraft's. Even in the F 117 shoot down in Serbia, the US post mission brief reported that the lack of support system like EA 6B prowler's absence makes the SA 125 successfully intercept the F 117. Interestingly later days almost all US offensive combat fleet comes with dedicated electronic jamming jets.
In the Iraqi invasions US flown as much as 100,000 sorties over the Iraqi air space. That time Iraq has much better air force and surface to air missile batteries. In that combat US lost only 44 fighter jets in combat missions, and another 40 in Accidents. The EF 111 Raven is used to provide electronic support to the collation aircraft and there is no Coalition aircraft were lost to a radar-guided missile during Desert Storm while an EF-111 Raven was on station. EF 111 Raven later replaced by the EA 6B prowler, then the same was replaced by the EA 18G growler.
The US uses the long range twin engine fighter jets for such missions. The same goes for China and Russia too. The JH 7 is a twin engine long range heavy fighter and the same goes to Su 34, which is also a long range low flying heavy fighter. The IAF must choose either the Su 34 based EA or the Growler. unlike the Gripen which comes in shorter range and not capable for long range stand off Jamming support.
|Su 34 with center line and wingtip jammers|
Self protection jamming pods like SAP 315 in Sukhoi's can provide jamming support to own fighter jets and will not support other or friendly forces nearby. The Russian KRET who producing SAP jammer's are to be fitted in the center line or wingtips of the Su 34 and other Flanker variants for self protection to fight and operate inside the communication denied air spaces. They comes with the idea of converting a Su 34 by adding multiple SAP pods for dedicated stand off jamming capability for safe operations and provide jamming support to the friendly jets for operating under a safe umbrella . It may be available for exports too and it's a good choice of choosing the Su 34 for IAF's dedicated jammer fleet.
Another one is the ground based Jammer systems. The same KRET who manufactured SAP jamming pods also manufactures ground based jammers for communication and signal denial. They almost completed a bigger sized jamming antenna's in occupied Crimea to stop NATO aircraft's misadventures in future conflict. Another mobile jammer is the Krasukha EW system comes in a 4x4 wheel for battlefield jamming. The Russians already deployed the systems in Syrian Latakia base to stop any foreign fighters air space activities. Comparison between the airborne jamming and ground based jamming is, one is offensive and another is defensive.
However Indian Air force uses the self protection jammers only for self defense. It comprises Israeli and french EW pods for Su 30 and Mirage fleet's respectively. And there is no ground based or air borne based dedicated stand off jamming systems, except those AEWCS systems. which can also works like a Jammer. It's high time that Ministry should clear the IAF proposal of buying such dedicated Jamming fleet.