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Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] News, Discussions and Updates

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by Todjaeger, Mar 12, 2007.

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  1. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Thought I'd start a general RAAF thread, since many of the existing ones end up shifting back and forth despite the initial start of the topic. That and I have a question that doesn't quite seem to pertain to any active thread at present.

    Currently the Project Wedgetail (AIR 5077) for the E-737 is ongoing but behind 18+ months. Delivery from what I've last read is now expected in early 2010, although some are already in Australia. As part of the program, 4 were ordered, with options for three more. At present two of those options have been exercised. What I'm wondering is..
    A. Will the third option be exercised?
    B. When does Australia have until to decide?
    C. What would the additional cost be if the option is exercised?
    D. Do people think it would be a good idea to exercise the option?

    Assuming there wouldn't be a significant spike in program cost exercising the third option, I think Australia should order the 7th Wedgetail. Having an additional AEW&C available could increase operational flexibility and decrease maintenance pressures by allowing more aircraft rotation. I would also assume that the purchase cost of one more, as part of a larger order would be less than a standalone order in the future. On the other hand, do people believe that six AEW&C will be sufficient for Australia's needs, in which case adding a seventh isn't necessary?

    Interested to hear people's thoughts.

    -Cheers
     
  2. I'd like to get the capability in-service before we worry about anymore of the type.

    There already IS a thread about RAAF updates etc, but it hasn't been used for a while, so I'll probably close and we can continue here.

    RAAF have ordered all the equipment, sub-systems etc for a 7th Wedgetail, we just need an airframe and of course, the modification work. Wedgetail is more like 2 years behind schedule, though I believe current estimates are for the first aircraft to be in-service by 2009, with IOC 2010/11...
     
  3. Tasman

    Tasman Ship Watcher Verified Defense Pro

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    Someone like Magoo will probably be able to respond to these questions with far more authority than me but I'll put in my 5 cents worth.

    My understanding is that the RAAF identified a need for seven aircraft. The project was for an aircraft that would work in conjunction with over the horizon radar and provide surveillance over Australia's sea approaches and also overland. An initial order for four aircraft with an option for three more, based on the Boeing 737-700, was ordered from Boeing in 1999 with a contract signed in the following year. An additional two sets of the Northrop Grumman radar was also ordered. With the radar already paid for the government then took the sensible option of ordering two extra aircraft. My understanding is that the options expired around the time the two extra Wedgetails were ordered, but I stand to be corrected on this (and anything else I have said).

    As the RAAF originally sought seven aircraft to fill the role I would certainly favour the extra Wedgetail being ordered, providing funding it wouldn't adversely affect other projects which the RAAF ranks more highly. Without a supplementary budget allocation I imagine that a seventh aircraft would affect other priorities, and having just found an extra $A6bn for the FA-18Fs I wouldn't be holding my breath for more.

    Cheers

    Edit

    Having just read AD's post that we already have the gear for a seventh aircraft I think the RAAF could wait awhile before making a decision on this matter. It should be relatively easy to obtain another aircraft.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2007
  4. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    I definately understand wanting to get Wedgetail in-service before ordering more. That's part of the reason I'm interested in the cutoff date to exercise the option for the 7th aircraft. If the RAAF is able to wait until 2010 and still exercise the option, then there that works. If the contract specifies an earlier date like 2008 to exercise the option, then that's different. I've checked to see what info is available about the final option, but haven't found anything yet. Magoo, can you shed any light on this?

    -Cheers
     
  5. Ozzy Blizzard

    Ozzy Blizzard New Member

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    Just a question i had concerning JORN and how the RAAF will use it in its marritime strike doctorine, but i'm not shure if the person who is most able to answer is talking to me or not, but i'll try anyway.

    I was wondering whether JORN gives the RAAF good enough data on surface threats, like a CBG for instance, to be used for AShM shots. I understand that JORN data is not especialy accurate as far as pin point position, but do AShM's need pin point targeting data to begin with? How exactly does JORN fit into the RAAF's marritime strike doctorine? Is it to be used as purely as an early warning platform, to cue other ISR platforms either airborn or submerged to get a more accurate data for an air strike or can it be used by itself? I know it exact resoloution would be classified for good reason but i was wondering if someone could shed some light on this question?
     
  6. I understand JORN has excellent capability against both air and surface (maritime) targets.

    As you guessed and from what I understand, it is not accurate enough to obtain targetting data for a weapon, thus relying on other assets to provide such.

    As an early warning system though, it is apparently hard to beat... :)
     
  7. Ozzy Blizzard

    Ozzy Blizzard New Member

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    But how exact does targeting data need to be for a AShM shot anyway. I know the Soviets didnt need up to the minet launchdata for their AShM's launches, data from a RORSAT and a big buldge radar on a bear a hour or two before would do it. I know that was with high altitude AShM's but does harpoon/JSM/JASSM really need up to the minet/meter target data. if the soviets could do it with hours old tracks why cant we use JORN????
     
  8. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    I would expect that actual details to be unavailable to most and classified for those actually in the know. From what I understand, what JORN does is indicate that there is a target (radar return from) a given grid area. That grid area could well be a total of 400 sq km (numbers could be wildly off :unknown) and I'm uncertain if JORN can also indicate the size of the target or how will it can track heading & speed. Basically as AD mentioned, it provides great early warning but identifying when things are in an area, but other systems are needed to determine what is there, and exactly where it is.

    Now, if an AShM (or many) could be sent with seekers sufficient to search whatever area of innaccuracy JORN has, that could be a workable tactic. It depends on how large an innaccuracy JORN has. I believe the Soviet system was expected to work because the information was very accurate, while being two hours or so old. Then targeting data could take into account heading, etc and extrapolate where the intended target is in two hours, etc. Such assumptions might not work with JORN.

    -Cheers
     
  9. Grand Danois

    Grand Danois Entertainer

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    The real trick about JORN is that I suspect it can detect BM missile launches on the SEA continent (i.e. China). This through the alterations in the ionosphere from the depletion of ions from the exhaust plumes. As few direct methods of these kinds of measurements exist for that region, it could very well explain the U.S. interest in JORN as part of the BMD.

    ;)
     
  10. robsta83

    robsta83 The Wanderer

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    Bet you wouldn't get anyone to admit that though, but I think you could be right.
     
  11. Grand Danois

    Grand Danois Entertainer

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    Yup. It's better kept unconfirmed for both operational reasons and, as we have seen with the U.S. BMD in Europe, for the political implications.

    China is a partner to the U.S. and Australia after all.
     
  12. gf0012-aust

    gf0012-aust Grumpy Old Man Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    In the late 80's (even with the early software) we were able to track a landrover sized test vehicle driving across the Kimberleys.
     
  13. Ozzy Blizzard

    Ozzy Blizzard New Member

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    So this would have some large implications for maritime strike doctorine no? GF your the guy who is most likely to know around here.... can you use JORN data to cue a AShM shot???????
     
  14. StingrayOZ

    StingrayOZ Well-Known Member

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    While awaiting GF's answer...

    I've heard JORN depends on conditions around us. So in favourable conditions it would be reasonably accurate. As GF said, it was highly capable before the huge and expensive upgrades.

    As JORN is being tied into the missile shield, it will be further enhanced with satellites and other assets to greatly enhance its capabilities.

    There was a claim in an article about JORN being being good enough to accurately direct airtraffic around dili, showing position, heading and airspeed with all the information being sent to Canberra and shown on a large screen. Can it do the same with B-2's in Texas? I don't know, possibly? JORN seems to have superhuman reach, and the US interest in it shows its got to be god like in some repects for them to show such an interest. You don't want an unreliable sensor in that network, causing you to launch missiles against nuclear powers in the region.

    Judging from my experience with radio telescopes, processing all the data is one of the biggest issues. If you want real time capability not hours,days or weeks later capability, there is a lot you can do with the data to enhance accuracy. It looks like they have that real time capability with the latest hardware and software upgrades.
     
  15. gf0012-aust

    gf0012-aust Grumpy Old Man Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    at this point in time - as a discrete organic function - no. note my phrasing
     
  16. gf0012-aust

    gf0012-aust Grumpy Old Man Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    JORNs strength is as a complimentary system.

    The issue of data processing is the sophistication of the algorithms used to sort useful data from fluff and noise.

    One of the anomalies of JORN is that its possible to see "targets" outside of advertised range (depending on weather conditions) eg, ballistic rocket launches in the middle east etc.... (unsubstantiated)

    welcome to the vagaries of the ionosphere....
     
  17. Rich

    Rich New Member

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    The reason we are "interested in it" is because its the most remarkable radar network in the world.

    And the Aussies consistently under-talk the system, "oh the JORN? Yeah its pretty good".;) Good for them. Let it be a surprise.

    To understand just how incredible the system is you have to really look at the Geography of the area it is directed against. Its a huge and remote area and JORN covers all the approaches an enemy would have to take to attack Australia. It covers an almost unbelievable amount of coastline as well.

    Imagine the $$ the Aussies would have to spend just in coastline protection assets if JORN didn't exist?

    I have repeatedly said such potential enemies like the PLAN, PLAF, Indonesia, ect would have a real bad time against the Aussies despite the relatively modest size of their armed forces. Instead of looking at single systems, instead, look at how the individual systems function together as one. JORN is a big part of that equation and I continue to be impressed with the intelligence shown in the system purchases, development, and integration of the Australian armed forces. As a cut of meat they are pretty lean and mean.

    In the '70s and '80s the Yank armed forced developed the doctrine of superior technology winning wars. The Aussies were attentive students.

    Some reading for all http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/lsp/index.cfm
     
  18. StingrayOZ

    StingrayOZ Well-Known Member

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    I suppose thats the secret of JORN is essentially a development island unto itself. No one really has a comparible network, as few countries suffer a simular problem as Australia. Under optimal conditions it clearly is extremely useful. Of course which conditions it really suffers would be essentially unknown to everyone who the network is designed to detect, hence you could never rely on it not working.

    Certainly it was never designed to operate alone. But combined with US and Japanese sensor networks, it becomes an extremely useful tool.
     
  19. Well despite all the nonsense from APA and the wider media about it's capability, RAAF meanwhile continues to improve it's capability as outlined here:

    Smart bombs on trial


    The acquisition of advanced smart ordnance for Australia’s Hornets took a significant step forward with a further series of successful trials of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) system.

    Phase one of the operational test and evaluation (OT&E) of the system was conducted at the Delamere Range Facility from April 23 to May 4 using three variants of JDAM: the GBU-31 2000lb JDAM, GBU-32 1000lb JDAM and GBU-38 500lb JDAM, as well as the Mk 83 1000lb General Purpose Low Drag bomb.

    The Tactical Fighter System Program Office (TFSPO) coordinated the trial on behalf of the Advanced Aircraft Bomb Project Office (Project Air 5409), while 77SQN Hornets flew the trial missions.

    Project Air 5409 Integration team leader FLTLT Simon Chan from TFSPO said the trials were conducted as the first low rate of effort operational test of the JDAM weapon system.

    “This trial was the first of two JDAM OT&E programs,” FLTLT Chan said. “The purpose of the program was to test the current procedures and systems for the build-up, loading, mission planning and employment of JDAM off the F/A-18.”

    Nine JDAM of all variants and seven Mk 83 low drag bombs were employed during the trials. The target for the firings was the high explosive impact area at Delamere. Four discrete targets were nominated and plotted to provide GPS target coordinates for the JDAM.

    The trials followed on from the successful Developmental Test and Evaluation (DT&E) trials, which were conducted at Woomera in August last year.

    “The DT&E ensured that JDAM could be safely carried and employed from the F/A-18 and validated the flight carriage and employment parameters for JDAM,” FLTLT Chan said.

    “These recent OT&E trials were designed to test both the aircrew and ground crew procedures in the preparation of and loading to the F/A-18 of JDAM (ground crew) and the mission planning and actual employment of JDAM off the F/A-18 (aircrew).

    “From this testing, the suitability of the procedures and systems used by the operational squadrons is evaluated and [the testing] ensures that procedures and systems being introduced with JDAM are suitable for use by the Hornet squadrons when JDAM becomes an authorised weapon in the ADF inventory.”

    “It was a very successful exercise.Events such as these OT&E trials are pivotal in delivering effective capability to the ADF,” he said.

    A second series of trials is planned for July-August, again using Delamere and 77SQN.

    After which, FLTLT Chan says, Defence is well on track to achieve initial operational capability of the system in January next year.

    and here:

    77SQN fires into history


    A world-first was accomplished by the Air Force after the first ‘in-service’ firings of ASRAAM cued by a Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) took place.

    The milestone was achieved by 77SQN in February and was the culmination of a massive team effort that began with the inception of Project Air 5400 (ASRAAM) and HUG Phase 2.2 (JHMCS), which gives the Air Force a proven high off-boresight air-to-air capability.

    The JHMCS enables the F/A-18 to cue missiles at high off-boresight angles and the ASRAAM gives them the ability to use that cueing in close-in combat. The JHMCS/ASRAAM combination greatly increases the effectiveness and the lethalness of the F/A-18 in the visual combat arena.

    CDRACG AIRCDRE Geoff Brown acknowledged the significance of the event.

    “It’s an impressive development for the Air Force, and adds a considerable capability to our Hornet aircraft,” he said.

    “A lot of effort has been put into making this capability a reality and I pass on my congratulations to all those involved. It’s a tremendous reflection of all the hard work.”

    The ASRAAM shots were representative ‘in-service’ firings that were prepared by the squadron’s armament section and flown by 77SQN pilots.

    One of the pilots, FLGOFF Beau Pitcher, said the experience was “fantastic”.

    “It was great to be given the opportunity to fire a live ASRAAM against a manoeuvring target in a realistic fighting profile. The JHMCS/ASRAAM combination is an impressive capability to have,” he said.

    The ASRAAMs were fired using combat-representative profiles at Kalkara drones from the Navy’s Target Unit at Jervis Bay in NSW.

    Project Air 5400 procured the ASRAAM, with the missile being released for service in 2004.

    The missile manufacturer, MBDA, in conjunction with the Commonwealth, has set-up a deep maintenance and software development facility at Edinburgh in South Australia to allow continued improvements to be made to missile software.

    These successful firings were a result of the effective partnership that has evolved between the RAAF, DMO, MBDA and DSTO.
     
  20. ELP

    ELP New Member

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    Hi AD. Also of interest as mentioned elsewhere, RAAF will be currently the only user of JDAM-ER. Which is the wing kit tested with the weapon a long long time ago in early JDAM history but never funded for field use in the U.S. A very nice extra stand-off option for the RAAF frag planners to use when needed.