Air Force levels up EW capabilities with new squadrons

The Air Force is standing up new squadrons to improve the service’s electronic warfare capabilities—especially when it comes to spoofing.

Spoofing—or fake location or GPS data sent to navigation devices—has become a regular occurrence in Russia’s war on Ukraine. As incidents increase, the Air Force is adding two new squadrons to the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing, which is responsible for verifying information received from adversaries based on their activities, what is known about the electromagnetic spectrum, and comparing that with data from the intelligence community, said the wing’s commander, Col. Josh Koslov. One of those two squadrons, the 388th Electronic Warfare Squadron, was activated Thursday and will home in on spoofing threats. 

“Based on an adversary that’s completely agile in the spectrum, how do we know when they’re spoofing us? …That’s a real capability that we now need to develop a target for and go forward from there. And I think that will go to the 388’s weapons and tactics function,” Koslov said.

The squadron will start small, with plans to grow to more than 100 people—which will mean a “larger intel footprint,” said Lt. Col. Timothy West, commander of the 388th EW Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base. One of many intelligence teams standing up within the 388th will focus on prioritizing threats. 

“Their job is to go through all of our pacing adversaries and determine what is the most lethal,” to defenders by “looking at the apertures, the systems, and nodes” adversaries use to gain an advantage, West said. “Then we’re gonna dissect that and determine how blue can then turn around and attack red to keep blue objectives,” West said. 

The 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing is charged with making sure the Air Force is better prepared for electronic warfare by developing new waveforms that can be used to send information, rapid reprogramming, and regular assessment. 

The 563rd Electronic Warfare Squadron, which stood up last month, will focus on software specifically for electronic warfare, including developing new combat capabilities and data manipulation that will largely support the wing’s internal operations, Koslov said.

“And they’re the first folks that have focused specifically on software for EW,” rather than for a weapons system, for example, Koslov said. 

The 563rd Squadron has also developed an operational planning tool “to synchronize requests from joint force commanders…and then pair that to capability” to facilitate tasking orders needed for operations, Koslov said. “That’s no easy feat. That’s pretty awesome stuff. And it’s integrated out in the 613th Air Operation Center in Hawaii.”

For its next projects, the 563rd squadron is working to develop capabilities faster for fifth-generation platforms like the F-35, he said. 

The wing expects to add new units in future years, with the newest 563rd and 388th filling out to 200 people total. The upcoming 950th Spectrum Warfare Group at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia is expected to bring in at least 400 people, Koslov said.

“Just in the past year, we have stood up six units… And I predict that the wing will continue to grow, probably by at a minimum of another four units as we build out Robins, but there’s probably some room for more than that as well.”

But there are still quite a few spots they want to fill, he said: “We do still have a tremendous amount of vacancies. So dear readers, we are accepting applications that are all out there on the website…on USAJobs.”

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