Not to the extent in France and some other countries where Govt & other mandates including commercial pressures have consolidated major players into one
Massive consolidation has occurred elsewhere as well but you don't even need to have consolidation in order to demonstrate end-end synergy. Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are perfect examples where there is complete end-end Avionics, Sensors and EW synergy.
would still characterize most of what they do as cooperation in the system supplier à Lead integrator chain. Coopetition would be more where say A Lockheed or Boeing do a pre-down select handshake and guarantee the loosing design team production work for airframe components or when Lockheed reaches out to Northrop to make certain airframe sections for its fighers. When a BaE joins a Lockheed team it does so on the back of a product and offering that exists in a domain that Lockheed does not compete in. Lockheed divested its Electronic Systems divison that focused on the sort of applications that BaE does now out of New Hampshire. They no longer compete there so BaE has had over the last decade + a very and highly integrated relationship with the integrator knowing full well that it (much like Thales, and others) isn’t a Prime and doesn’t do end-end systems so must fully integrated with the primes to actually win business for its unit. Same with Northrop, Lockheed goes to them for systems and mission system help in domains that it does not play in (airborne tactical radars etc) and therefore fully integrates them into the design of its future products from the start.
Similarly, end-end capability exists with Northrop – where they do everything from design and build of their GaA and GaN semiconductors from their company owned foundry and goes all the way to competing for EW applications (and winning programs of record), airframes (they are a prime), and even sensors across the entire spectrum (including IR). They also compete for missiles in the air to air domain (although they have been less succesfull there of late). Same with end-end unmanned sollutions. Raytheon does all of this but the airframes, and has a huge munitions portfolio and just as Northrop has its own design and build foundry and provides end-end RF sollutions for all applications. They still compete and still reach out to design teams that may have better capability elsewhere since there are suppliers that in their own domain or niche are ahead than Northrop and Raytheon hence they involve them into their teams. Consolidation and end-end synergy isn’t exclusive to the European but extends beyond their borders to the rest of the world (including the IDF’s supplier base), but there are niche players that have built tremendous capabiltiies that is at times deemed superior to what these end-end suppliers have and is therefore rewarded with business. These players have figured out ways to integrate themselves with other businesses across the integrator map (manned and unmanned) for cooperation and synergy is also vital to their business continuity and financial prosperity.
The competitive aspect prevents information sharing. Thales and Sagem don't compete for fighter radars
There is plenty of information sharing where it is required. A BAE EW solution does not compete with an NG or Raytheon radar or other sensors. Even outside these examples, Both NG and Raytheon are at par and regularly compete with BAE and others for EW solutions and these have complete end to end solutions available. Raytheon beat both NG and BAE for a large RF Jammer contract (NGJ) for example, and Northrop beat both Raytheon and BAE for the Falcon Edge EW contract etc. If end-end delivers a better capability through synergy it would provide a competitive advantage and you will reap the rewards and they do at times (not always). They do but not always. Case in Point, Boeing chose BAE's GaN EW suite as the best capability for the US F-15 fleet modernization - when they could have chosen much more 'integrated' suppliers. EA/EW upgrade is of course the domain of the integrator to choose since it will be doing the integrating.
I’ll give you one S&T and one R&D example. Recently the US Navy, launched two programs with different goals and different timelines, one focused at conducting R&D to develop something in the short-medium term (say by 2025) and one meant for the 2030’s. The first was the continuation of an older program that was tasked to create an RF equivalent of EODAS in the sense that the goal is to create a highly compact, energy efficient extremely wide-band always on Staring (vs scanning) ESM setup that through one system covers huge swaths of the spectrum. The 2019 demonstrations for the program will result in demonstrating a tactically deployable and scalable system (for ships, fighters, and larger SIGNIT platforms) that through one receiver covers 550MHz to 100+ GHz in a staring fashion. It’s a relatively easy short step since it builds on work done in the last decade. Then, all of the big players competed for such an R&D project. You had the most ‘integrated, and synergized’ players in the domain such as Northrop Grumman (Synergy through consolidation over the years), and Raytheon (Synergy through consolidation much like NG) and you had other players that were more stand-alone but that had decades of experience on working on similar systems and working hand in hand with lead integrators for that’s the only way they can flourish. Besides NG and Raytheon, there was ITT and BaE and a few others that are even smaller players. BaE won on the back of their decades of work on creating advanced solutions (though not as capable as these requirements of course) for the 5th generation tactical fighter EW suits in a way trumping other’s more integrated status by sheer knowledge and experience in the domain that as being sought. Similarly they are in a very competitive place to compete for another that expands this wideband EW to cover Electronic Attack (active) in the 1 to 100 GHz frequency range (through essentially one setup) something that is currently a good 15-20 years away (but the seeds are being planted now).
My point is that synergy and integrated end-end solutions exist in the US just as they exist outside but individual mission sets within the EMS warfare realm can have domains where smaller players have built up high competency on the back of decades worth of work and at times do end up outcompeting these integrated players. The burden to integrate seamlessly with the ‘lead integrators’ or mission system developers is paramount to these suppliers survival just as staying competitive in all realms is to the larger, more end-end integrated players.
Besides, some of these firms may have end to end capabilities, but what they can offer for export & will cooperate on is limited by ITAR & also artificial mandated boundaries.
Now we are getting into export and ITAR when we were talking about EA/EW capability in general..
BaE as in the US. Again, where are BaEs MNC fighter radars and BaE's missile seekers? You seem to be under the impression that winning DARPA or US contracts == best in the world.
I am afraid you are twisting my words here. All I said was that synergy need not always translate to a competitive advantage and result in the best systems. While it most certainly does in many cases there are umpteen programs where those that competed with higher degree of end-end synergy were deemed to have an inferior offering. No where did I say that DARPA is the gold standard or to win a DARPA contract would automatically make you the best in the world.
FUnding one proper program and getting it done effectively can be worth much more than running around 100 places with confused ones.
OK. So could you point me to a few really effective proper Next Generation programs that these firms have executed in the EA/EW domain vs a 100 confused ones elsewhere?
You don't see evidence because you don't have access to that classified information.
Classified programs aren't exclusive to France and no one here has access to theirs or anyone else's classified programs.
Judging everything via the view that only the US does everything because it releases funding roadmaps is a mistake.
Quite the opposite. I am saying that every one plays in the 'classified' realm and not exclusively France, or MBDA, Safran and Thales. The US has a huge Black budget, and by all accounts would treat EA/EW as a high priority in it. The US does not release a complete roadmap for EW/EA..the last document released was practically useless because of the level of classification and redactions. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a ton of OPEN research, fielding of systems and capabilities that one can look at to develop an understanding on how they are gearing up for the Next Generation EW/EA missions. To simply say that others are too we just don't know about it is not very persuasive especially if one wants to be considered a major player in the domain. Every nation has classified and non-classified elements to their EW program and we obviously can only have access to the latter and compare. You can't really say France is at par or ahead of any other equally well funded nation in the classified domain so you must see what they have openly claimed to be developing or fielding in this domain and from that its essentially a few SIGNIT platforms and defensive EW suits on their tactical fighters. Future EW R&D is promising for Europe but again much higher investments are being made elsewhere based on OPEN data.
Also, even a cursory look at Thales, Safran & MBDA indicates a robust order book, revenue stream, and other key metrics indicating their current product portfolio will be kept upto date. Hardly see this earth shattering superiority being ascribed to the US in terms of EW.
Are we still looking at their order book with EA/EW systems in mind, or everything combined?
Judging EW/EA Prowess or capability for any nation is pretty straight forward . Look at these (among others) –
- Current Operational Capability – Quantity and Quality of available EW assets, across the spectrum
- Training resources and readiness – Look at what the level of resource commitment is to training, developing operational concepts, and how well is the dedicated EW community funded (if one exists) – This is one area where even in the US, the VAQ community of the Navy Is the envy of even AOC retirees . All they do is focus their resources when it comes to ranges, threat simulations, training and concept development on ONE MISSION – EMS Warfare.
- R&D – Look at the R&D funding, types of projects currently funded etc – R&D gives a snapshot into whats coming 10-15 years down the road
- S&T – Look at the Basic S&T investment, types of projects and concepts being worked upon for an indication of what’s coming 15-30 years down the road
. Hardly see this earth shattering superiority being ascribed to the US in terms of EW.
Let's break EMS Warfare down to the various mission sets and look at current capability across the mission set, known short term capability in the pipeline across the mission set and known S&T efforts across the mission set to provide an order of magnitude more advanced capability over the medium term. Without such a review you can't really claim the presence or absence of parity or superiority. JED is a great source to start from but there is plenty more out there that one could look into.
The main mission sets could include –
Offensive Ops – Leveraging EW/EA to support destruction or suppression of Air Defenses, suppression or destruction of bi-static or multi-static setups, passive systems on the ground. To disrupt (to any degree), degrade or destroy enemy Communications, Data Links and C2 setup . To defeat agile waveforms, in the RF spectrum and to destroy the opponents ability to maneuver using these systems (solid state systems have and are proliferating rapidly)
Defensive Ops – Leveraging EW/EA to defeat or deny the enemies control of the EM spectrum, thwart enemy offensive EW efforts aimed at destroying or degrading your own RF emitters and data-links and closing the feedback loop to stay on top of the active and cyber threat and go after Jill chains
Mission Support and Combat Ops Enabling missions – Leverage EW/EA to support other mission needs and to make sure that the offensive capability is unaffected amidst constant manipulation and adaptation of the enemy as it maneuvers within the spectrum – Here what you need is the EA/EW community to support the joint air, sea and land forces in executing the CONOPS amidst challenges that the opponent throws at you. Here the EA/EW community is tasked with determining the scope and extent of the enemy’s EW/EA and now days increasingly cyber capabilities and helping the operator develop wideband waveforms that are resilient, diverse and that can be managed through a short cycle (feedback loop again) so that the EA/EW community can keep other assets informed in near-real time as to the changing nature of the threat so that they can modify their own waveforms to perform in areas that may be less threatning or those that the EA/EW community can deal with the easiest. (This is the single most important, time consuming, and resource constraining mission of all and why the USN and USAF no longer relies solely on the NATO standard L-16 as its mainstay waveform with the USN adopting the TTNT software based structure, and the USAF pivoting to NSA approved IFDL and MADL on the way to even longer ranged ADL – The Growler’s as tasked with informing the joint forces as to how to set up their agile waveforms with the ultimate long term goal being to be able to do this on the fly through a webbed system – using the capability highlighted above in the two Navy programs).
Cyber and EW Missions – How the EA/EW communit blends the Cyber and EW domain and prefroms network penetrations, cyber battle damage assessment (you don’t want to give away an exploit or capability if its not working) and supports defensive missions or what is these days being refferd to as – Cyber/EW escort. – This is an area you are unlikely to get a whole lot of open source info for any nation but still plenty out there to develop a basic understanding.
Anyways this is getting OT. I had been meaning to share some of my favorite EW articles and chapters and had been requested by a few here earlier. I'll try putting something together in a couple of days.