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Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by neil, Oct 14, 2007.
Ewan and Colin McGregor's documentary on the RAF for the RAF Centennial.
A quick question for a guy who asked me on another forum about what was the french stuff..
There was an issue with procurement, where the french blackmailed us to buy a product or they wouldn't supply spare parts to another. I think helo?
During the Vietnam war, someone denied us taking their products there. It was euro, was it the mirage or something else?
The yanks weren't happy with Thales.au and a navy contract 5-10 years ago?. They had possible access to their stuff issues.
PM me if you don't want to mess the flow of this thread, thanks
I think those questions are in the wrong thread. This thread is about the RAF.
Sorry, yes, it is on the wrong thread, It was a post before my coffee.
The RAF have stood up its first F-35B squadron. No 617 Sqn (Dambusters) has reformed and is now in the US undergoing conversion training. the sqn comprises of RAF and RN FAA personnel.
looks like the Project Seedcorn initiative has paid dividends, well done
First British P-8A Poseidon will be 'ready to fly with a UK crew' on day one of arriving in the UK
yup - and we're getting the same kit that the big dog in the yard uses so no more orphan platforms, ageing air frames etc. Just need to qualify it for Stormshadow and all's good..
Remains to be seen whether the UK spend the money to sustain it properly. Always been their Achilles heel. A perfect case in point is the current mess with the E3D. Those airframes wouldnt be in the current poor state they are currently if they had th £££ spent through life.
Either way, P8 will be easier to sustain than Nimrod would have been.
The first four RAF F-35Bs, to be permanently located in the UK, are due at RAF Marnham in June this year followed by a further five by the end of the northern summer. These are the 617 Sqn aircraft and the intention is to achieve RAF IOC by the end of this year.
A Parliamentary Committee is recommending against a sole source purchase of the Wedgetail surveillance aircraft as there is an alternative. As the alternative is still under development it seems to me the reason is, like so many other defence decisions, its all about money, not capability. After Australia went for the T26, selecting a proven platform from Australia makes sense.
UK committee urges against Wedgetail selection
The Wedgetails were built in the U.S. If you were thinking that the U.K. acquiring Wedgetails as a quid pro que for Australia buying the T26 I doubt there would be any Australian content in the Boeing built aircraft for the RAF.
The money would be better spent maintaining the E-7s properly.
It seems to me that they are looking at post Brexit and how new expenditures can enhance trade influences, nothing against the G6000 but they did say it was in development as opposed to in MOTS aircraft, after choosing P8 over the P1 why really would they not go for in service Wedgetail?
One of the other, potentially important considerations is the capabilities and limitations of the various AEW radar systems.
The Saab Erieye, or at least the version fitted to Saab 340, Saab 2000 and Embraer 145, is an S-band AESA, but the t/r modules do not provide 360 degree coverage since they are not positioned to monitor ahead and behind the aircraft, with coverage restricted to the sides. This in turn has forced operators to adopt a sort of racetrack-like flight pattern once on station to enable radar sweeps of all areas. The Erieye version to be fitted to the G6000 as the Globaleye is supposed to be an extended range version, though whether or not 360 radar coverage was added to the new version, or will be available to the aircraft by integrating other radar arrays, does not seem to be known publicly.
The Northrup Grumman L-band MESA which is fitted to the Wedgetail OTOH was designed to provide 360 degree coverage, including ahead of and behind the aircraft. It was also developed at the instigation/request of Australia, following an RFP issued the same year Erieye was introduced into Swedish service. This suggests to me that either Australia was unaware that Saab had been working on an AEW radar for 11 years, or that Australia was aware but was not convinced or satisfied of the system's capabilities, at least with respect to Australian needs. As a side note, the difference in capability vs. need could easily be something that is simultaneously as simple and complex as S-band vs. L-band.
From my POV there could be merit in the RAF doing a competition for a replacement fixed-wing AEW capability, OTOH there could also be merit in going for a sole source contract. IMO the decision would be entirely dependent on what the RAF requirements are and whether or not the service already knows if one of the designs does not meet the criteria.
If the RAF requires continuous 360 degree radar coverage (and the Globaleye lacks that capability), a MOTS solution, or has specific radar bands required, then any of those criteria would eliminate options.
In terms of cost, I strongly suspect a Boeing 737 AEW&C and Globaleye to be comparable. There is precious little to get an idea of what the flyaway cost for B737 AEW&C would be, but based off the order for a third Globaleye by the UAE in early 2017, the cost for just the aircraft and not all the training and other support, seems to be about USD$238 mil.
From the tone of the article, I personally tended to get the impression that the desire for a competitive tender was more about politics than the RAF getting either the more appropriate or cost-effective kit.
I don't think discussion of the E7 is related to anything about a cross over deal - any sale would be US FMS - I don't know about the capabilities of the platform but the upgrades to E3 look to be around 2bn and the purchase of a brand new fleet of E7 may be similar money - that's a whole brand new fleet with that "new plane" smell and using a modern passenger jet as an airframe.
Plus, same spares chain as P8 in the main so..yeah, could be persuaded.
Against that, we'd be off the upgrade and improvement track that the rest of NATO are on for E3.
Honestly I would not be surprised if at some point in the near future the USAF were to start looking at augmenting/replacing their E-3 Sentries. The base airframe for the E-3 has been out of production since 1991 and it is now about 27 years later. At some point, the cost to support and sustain the aircraft in a flightworthy condition, plus keeping the avionics and mission systems upgraded to an operationally useful state, is going to be more than replacing the E-3 Sentry with new units with modern capabilities. Given that the NATO E-3 Sentry force has started to retire some of their AEW aircraft due to the cost to maintain them in light of their accrued flight hours, it would seem likely IMO that even with some of the block upgrades being done to USAF E-3's that threshold will be met.
From there, it would seem logical that the US would look to domestic airliner designs which can fit the avionics and mission systems required as well as provide the power generation, range, loiter and mission endurance times required. IMO it would probably not be one of the current B737 NG designs like are seen in the Wedgetail or Poseidon, but one of the follow-on B737 designs.
From what I have read the RAAF Wedgetail has performed magnificently during OP OKRA (RAAF participation in coalition ops in Syria and Iraq). Apparently it is highly regarded by coalition partners. Comparing the E-3 with the Wedgetail is like comparing a F-16A to a F-35A. The latter is one, if not two generations ahead of the former. If the RAF go with the Wedgetail then they should study how the RAAF operate the Wedgetail and how they do upgrades and improvements upon it. The Wedgetail is a fifth generation capability and that's how the RAAF operate it. Personally I don't think that the SAAB system can hold a candle to the RAAF Wedgetail, because it's not just the equipment, but the people, how they operate it and how they upgrade it. Any upgrades are driven by the Wedgetail crews, not some bureaucrat in Canberra and whilst I believe that it may have been declared FOC, I think that is just to keep the penny pinchers & bureaucrats happy. The reason I say that is because at one part they reckoned that it would never achieve FOC because it was continually being modified and upgraded. Boeing were not impressed at first and took some convincing. I have a couple of papers somewhere on it so will try and find them.
Or alternatively it may come from the milspec B-767-2C airframe that is the basis for the KC-46, which will be in production for at least the next 10 years and was designed specifically in the knowledge for future sensor installation if required.
It is possible, but I suspect the potential advantages of using a newer, more efficient aircraft coupled with the economies of scale likely available in an airframe based off the B737 MAX would outweigh the B767 airframe. Particularly since there is already the MESA radar which has been developed and integrated onto a B737 body. I suspect that it would be much easier to install and integrate that radar array aboard a B737 MAX than the much larger airframe of a B767.
IMO it would be questionable that an aircraft as large as one based off the B767 would really be needed for AEW&C operations. The KC-46 has a MTOW of ~2.4 x that of the Wedgetail, and is ~1.5 x (or 16.9 m) longer. Such capacity for weight and volume is important if the aircraft has roles for in-flight refueling, or as a cargo/personnel airlifter. However, with an AEW system I doubt there would be a need for that much weight capacity due to sensors and associated control stations. Had that been a consideration, then I suspect Boeing would have looked at using the B767 airframe as the base for the P-8 Poseidon, as opposed to modifying a B737-800 airframe.
As a side note, there had been a programme to develop a B767-based ISR platform, the E-10, as a replacement for the USAF E-3 Sentry, E-8 JSTARS, and RC-135 Rivet Joint but the plug was pulled on that back in FY 2007. At the time, it was expected that those aircraft could be maintained effectively via avionics and systems upgrades for another 20 years, barring age-related problems with the aircraft. What this strongly suggests to me is that in the 2025-2030 timeframe, the USAF will have a replacement programme underway for those three types of ISR assets. I suspect that something based off the B737 could most quickly be developed into a suitable replacement, and be an effective and efficient replacement, possibly with expanded capabilities if developments and lessons learned from the P-8 Poseidon are also applied.
Frankly there are strong points for both aircraft. I wouldn't declare the 737 the winner yet. MESA integration on a B767-2C I suspect is not beyond the capabilities of Boeing and that the range of the selected aircraft would be something of significance and greater self sufficiency with respect to fuel and A2A demands. The 767-2C was deliberately future proofed in the design so as to enable it to adopt other roles. Part of the reason why the E-10 was culled was that the KC-46 programme was directed into a more multi-role application regarding future mission potential.