Even if China completes aircraft carriers that utilize the full potential of their embarked aircraft, that’s not the only factor to consider. While the Super Hornet might not be the fastest or most maneuverable jet in the sky, it does have excellent sensors and avionics. More importantly, the U.S. Navy’s Super Hornets are not fighting alone. A modern carrier air wing works as an integrated team—especially as Naval Integrated Fire Control—Counter Air (NIFC-CA) becomes operational.
With NIFC-CA, Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, Aegis destroyers, cruisers and the other assets at the strike group commander’s disposal work as a seamless team that sees the same picture.
The heart of the new US Navy plan is a concept known as Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air—or NIFC-CA.
The central tenets behind NIFC-CA are situational awareness and extended-range cooperative targeting.
Every unit within the carrier strike group—in the air, on the surface, or under water—would be networked through a series of existing and planned datalinks so the carrier strike group commander has as clear a picture as possible of the battle-space.
China is about 20-30 years from getting close to matching on US naval hardware. It will take a further decades to integrate seamless naval operations.
The Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) will link aircraft and ships with high-bandwidth data connections — like the emerging TTNT capability. Those big data pipes will work with smaller bandwidth connections — like the standard Link 16 data-link. The information from the NIFC-CA network will be routed to the strike group commander aboard the strike group’s carrier. US Naval Institute Graphic
SOURCES – USNI, National Interest