WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is launching a group focused on innovations and strategies in electronic warfare across the entire Department of Defense, a top official announced Tuesday.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said the Electronic Warfare Programs Council will "look at all of our investments across the department and make strategic recommendations to the secretary and I on how we change that portfolio."

The memo to create the group will be signed today, Work added. The group will be co-chaired by Pentagon acquisition head Frank Kendall and Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Work said the group is being formed, in part, because of concerns about the withpotential adversaries EW capabilities of potential adversaries. Where the US has traditionally seen EW was a supporting technology, Work noted, other nations view it as a more of a core weapon.

"They believe it is an important part of their offensive and defensive arsenal, and it's going to be on the forefront of any initial guided munitions salvo exchange," Work said. "For relatively small investments you get an extremely high potential payoff, and our competitors are trying to win in the EW competition.

"We still have a lead — I think. That lead is diminishing rapidly. I worry about it."

Work's comments came at the annual CreditSuisse/McAleese defense conference in downtown WashingtonDC.

Work was followed by Bill LaPlante, the head of Air Force acquisition. After his speech, LaPlante told reporters the service is still figuring out how it will fit into that structure.

"If you noticed Secretary Work said that Frank Kendall is standing up an EW group based on a defense science board recommendation. We in the Air Force have to figure out our part of that," he said. "But the Air Force needs airborne electronic attack."

The Air Force is trying a new form of developmental planning with its next-generation air dominance initiative, one that LaPlante said could be repeated with EW in the future.

While saying he was sympathetic to industry requests to know about new platform requirements, LaPlante said it's more about the holistic view than the development of a new specific technology.

"We have to think of what the future of airborne electronic attack," LaPlante added. "The adversary is thinking of it as a fundamental domain of warfare, and we have to start doing that."

Twitter: @AaronMehta

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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