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NIAG study group explores future SEAD capability options

SEAD will be a key mission of the Eurofighter EK being developed for Germany, as evidenced by the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

A NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) has been established to explore airborne electronic attack (AEA)/suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) concepts and technologies that could meet alliance needs for 2030 and beyond.

Chartered through the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD), the NIAG Study Group 286 (SG-286) on SEAD Capabilities held a kick-off meeting during May. The study activity, lasting for approximately 18 months, will deliver a capability audit against NATO's previously drafted AEA and SEAD concepts of employment (CONEMPs).

NATO's Wales summit in 2014 agreed to a defence planning package with a priority for demanding air operations to inform defence investments and to improve the capabilities available in allied national inventories. Vision papers for AEA and SEAD, both approved by the CNAD in 2018, identified four principal focus areas: diversity of effects, survivable delivery systems, co-ordinated information capture and exchange, and synchronisation of effects. CONEMPs were subsequently developed for both AEA and SEAD, with these approved in 2020.

Speaking at the AOC Europe 2023 conference in Bonn on 17 May, Alex DeFazio, NATO's capability area facilitator for AEA and SEAD, said the capability audit process is intended to evaluate what sort of AEA/SEAD capabilities are feasible by the end of the decade, and to inform and influence the NATO defence planning process. “Based on what we say we need in 2030, [we will ask ourselves] what do we currently have now in hand,” he told delegates. “Then we will compare those results and do a gap analysis [and then] we will figure out how we get the stuff that we don't have right now.”

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