Western airborne electronic warfare from Vietnam to the Gulf War : a revolution or rediscovery of fundamental principles and practices? : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for a degree of Master of Arts in Defence and Strategic Studies at Massey University
The purpose of this thesis is to study electronic warfare to determine whether experiences and practices from the Vietnam War to the Gulf War represent a revolution in electronic warfare or a rediscovery of fundamental doctrine. This is a contemporary question because the idea of a revolution in military affairs and an associated information revolution is pervasive in contemporary military literature. Military revolutions 'are generally understood to be changes in military technology, concepts of operation, and military organisations which, over the course of perhaps two or three decades, transform the conduct of war and make possible order-of-magnitude gains in military effectiveness. 1 Keith Thomas, The Revolution in Military Affairs Warfare in the Information Age Canberra: Australian Defence Studies Center 1997,p.3. Another definition is that a military revolution 'occurs when technological change ... combined with organisational and operational change, result in a transformation in the conduct of warfare. 2 Thomas, p.28. This thesis questions whether a revolution in military affairs extends to a revolution in electronic warfare (EW). Have new ideas and new technology been applied in the last 40 years to produce a new form of electronic warfare operations? This thesis will study the development of airborne electronic warfare after the introduction and development of integrated air defence systems that include surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). It will ascertain and evaluate changes in officially sanctioned beliefs and the collective body of thought on the best way to employ airborne electronic warfare practices, equipment and theory. Practical experience will be considered to highlight a number of consistent themes that arise and indicate continuities. These include problems with doctrine, problems with planning, and a reluctance to fully utilize EW. Inconsistent application of EW practices and equipment, a consistent lack of electronic protection below 10,000 feet, incremental development of EW equipment and practices, and recurrent system failures also arise as themes. These themes do not represent quantum improvements or order of magnitude changes that would be consistent with an EW revolution.