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Royal New Zealand Air Force

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by Lucasnz, Jul 17, 2006.

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  1. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Sorry, as this is going to be a bit OT from just the RNZAF, but I wanted to better illustrate just who is operating what.

    The ex-RNLN P-3C Orions now in service with Germany and Portugal (as P-3C CUP+) were ordered in 1978, and flying by ~1981/1982, initial examples had RNLN undergoing flight training in Florida in Sept. 1981 and ferried to the Netherlands in 1982. The 13 P-3C's were then sold by the Netherlands in 2006, with the five Portuguese Orions getting upgraded to the P-3C CUP+ standard in 2011. The eight German P-3C Orions started phase one of their upgrades in 2014, with contracts being signed for phase two towards the end of 2017. The updates to the mission systems should permit the aircraft to continue providing valuable service, but the aircraft are getting a bit long in the tooth being nearly four decades old. The upgrades and aircraft refreshes may permit continued operations until the 2030-2035 timeframe, but I have to question how well such MPA, even upgraded, would perform when compared with new designs like the P-8 or P-1. From what I have been able to gather, an estimated USD$400 mil. was allocated to upgrade the German P-3 mission systems, re-wing them, etc. While that is not an insignificant amount, I doubt such a refresh would deliver a sensors and avionics package comparable to new, integrated designs.

    Germany also operates a pair of Dornier Do 228 LM to monitor marine areas with radar, E/O and other sensors for pollution control among other tasks.

    France operates (18-22 out of 28 built, I believe) Atlantique 2 MPA which were designed in the early 1980's with deliveries starting ~1989. At the time of introduction, the smaller Atlantique 2 could carry ~one-third the stores of the larger P-3C Orion built at the same time and had a MTOW of ~18,000 kg less. Again, upgrade work was started ~2013 to keep the ATL2 in service until ~2032 but the aircraft themselves are ~30 years old at this point. It also might be telling that in the early 1990's, when Germany was considering replacing it's Atlantic MPA from the 1960's, Germany opted to upgrade the Atlantic's for another decade of service and then replace them with 2nd hand Orions, rather than spend money on new build Atlantique 2 MPA. As a side note, it looks part of the Atlantique 2 upgrade done by Thales was derived from work Thales did for Turkey on the MELTEM II programme to deliver MPS-configured versions of the CN-235MP.

    Italy has replaced it's Atlantics with the four P-72A which is a version of the ATR 72MP kitted out with radar and E/O systems, but is not equipped for ASW as it lacks sonobuoys or an acoustic processor. It is worth noting that this replacement happened very recently, from 2016-2017. The Italian Coast Guard also operates versions of the ATR 42MP.

    The Hellenic Air Force has a handful of P-3B Orions, though their condition and capability is something I question given the age and economic crisis Greece had, AFAIK work is underway to return four to service. I am attempting to confirm if the Hellenic Coast Guard still operates Reims-buit Cessna Caravan II aircraft in a maritime patrol configuration.

    The UK we already now got out of MPA ops when it retired the Nimrod, but has ordered the P-8A Poseidon so will be getting back into it.

    Norway currently flies the P-3C Orion but will be replacing them with P-8A Poseidons.

    Spain operates some P-3 Orions upgraded in 2007 by Airbus, but also operates the C-212, and CN-235 in maritime patrol/surveillance configurations.

    Belgium's MUMM operates a Britten Norman Islander for North Sea surveillance.

    While the RNLN has sold it's P-3 Orions, the Coastguard still operates a pair of Dornier Do 228-212 aircraft for maritime surveillance/SAR.


    The Swedish Coast Guard operates a trio of Q300's in a maritime surveillance configuration.

    Finland operates a pair of Dornier Do 228 via the Border Guard to provide maritime patrol and pollution spotting/control.

    Looking through the above list, there are quite a few aircraft that I would consider 2nd tier maritime patrol or surveillance aircraft. Of the Atlantique 2's and P-3 Orions on the list, most of them have either received or are in the process of being MLU/SLEP'd to get up to another 15-20 years of service out of them, at least from the time of contract signing. Where this gets squiffy though is how comprehensive some of these upgrades are in terms of the mission systems, as opposed to rebuilding or re-winging the aircraft. To further illustrate this, as part of Thales upgrade of the Atlantique 2, a compact, new AESA version of the Searchmaster radar based off the Rafale RBE2 AESA radar was fitted. This new Searchmaster AESA weighs 75 kg and can be fitted to medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV's, as well as medium helicopters and fixed-wing prop or jet aircraft, much like the slightly heavier Telephonics APS-143 radar in use aboard some US helicopters and the HC-144 Ocean Sentry.

    For those who continue to operate the P-3 or France, those MPA are likely going to come up for replacement some time in the 2030 timeframe, and if basically all the operators got together to develop a comparable replacement, the total fleet size is most likely going to be smaller than Japan's P-1 fleet size. That includes replacing of the RNZAF and RCAF Orions. That and the time it would likely take to have a consortium develop such a replacement means that it would need to start soon, if not already have commenced.
     
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  2. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    While the subject is somewhat OT for the RNZAF thread, since it was brought up here I will do a brief rebuttal along with links to old DT threads where discussions were held on the topic.

    Firstly, the terms passive radar and stealth are buzzwords which tend to get used by sales/PR people for defence systems, or those who do not really understand the concepts they are being used to describe. As such, when I see someone using them, or making the sort of assertion which was made, it tends to raise a warning flag with me.

    To describe something as a 'passive radar' is false, since a radar cannot be passive, a transceiver has to actively send an RF signal which then comes in contact with an object, and the transceiver then detects the reflecting radar 'return'. What is usually meant when someone uses the term 'passive radar' is either a (passive) ESM which detects RF emissions from other sources, or (an active) bi-static radar array, where the transmitter(s) and receiver(s) are not integrated into a single unit, or co-located.

    Low Observable or LO is the correct term to use, not stealth.

    Now there is the potential for large area integrated ESM and/or bi-static radar arrays to be used to detect LO targets when coupled with advanced datalinks and computing power. In fact there has been some anecdotal evidence that one such radar array (JORN) has managed to due just that. However, such systems cannot do much more than provide a sort of tripwire detection capability at present, and given how such detection is managed, this does not appear likely to change any time soon. Such systems cannot realistically provide track data for a target, never mind targeting data, so such systems could not guide a datalinked SAM to the target. Until a sensor system exists which can reliably detect, track and lock onto a LO target for the entire duration of a missile launch and flight, while providing datalinked in-flight information to the missile so that missile never needs to rely upon it's onboard seeker(s), then design elements (including shaping) to achieve LO are still going to be very much relevant.

    In terms of the expected sensor improvements over the next dozen years... such a claim is illogical. For one thing, it ignores the fact that papers, studies, and some testing have been done since at least as early as 2000 which showed the potential capabilities of such systems, as well as their very real limitations and exploitable weaknesses. For another, if 2030 was the expected time frame for a significant portion of current work to achieve LO to become obsolete, then why would the US expect to be fielding some of the current LO designs out until 2050? Similarly, why would a number of other nations with active LO programmes for either manned or unmanned aircraft still be working on systems to bring them into service, if they are going to have a less than a dozen years service before becoming obsolete. Keep in mind, most (all?) of these systems have not entered full-rate production, never mind reached FOC or had production complete.

    Now, for some further reading on some of these topics:

    How effective are modern radar systems at detecting low-RCS targets?

    Propagation of stealth technology and what this means for the US

    Super radar detecting US stealth plane

    F-35 Fantasy or Fake F-35 Discussions Debunked

    Please note that these are some old threads which have been inactive for years, and some were started over a decade ago. I mention this because I do not wish people to attempt to do a Lazarus on necro-threads. If someone has a question, I would suggest starting a new thread and linking to the old one. Another reason to note the age of these linked threads, is that in most of the threads, speculative or hypothetical systems were trotted out which would 'defeat stealth" and their entry into service was right around the corner... In those cases, the limitations of the hypothetical systems were pointed out and as time would suggest, such systems either have not entered service, or not provided the capabilities claimed.

    For those seeking additional information, I would suggest looking for information on Over the Horizon Radar (OHR), with JORN probably being the best known system, or the Sweden's proposed bi-static AASR which IIRC was cancelled in 2000 before a hardware test could be done.

    For the RNZAF, and in fact the broader NZDF as a whole, decisions need to be made about NZ policies regarding international cooperation and coordination of efforts. The US is working hard on developing CEC, which as I understand it would involve data exchange between assets on a level beyond what Link 16 is capable of, so that sea, air, and eventually land forces can have a common operating picture. Australia is also interested in this system, so that Australian assets can seamlessly slot into and operate alongside US task forces. NZ needs to consider whether the NZDF wants or needs to be able to cooperate and coordinate to this degree. IMO though, if NZ does not opt to pursue opportunities to slot in, then NZ forces will likely lose opportunities to operate alongside US and Oz forces in the future. OTOH if NZ does decide that such a capability would be good to have, then that would almost certainly impact procurement decisions, since the US is developing CEC for and on their systems, and would likely limit outside access to develop a CEC plug-in, plus the cost to develop the plug-in.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  3. swerve

    swerve Super Moderator

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    "the fact that papers, studies, and some testing have been done since at least as early as 2000 which showed the potential capabilities of such systems, as well as their very real limitations and exploitable weaknesses"
    Damn right. I remember work by Roke Manor Research being talked about at work back then. I worked for a mobile phone network, & Roke had done experiments on using networks such as ours to (very roughly) track flying objects. Worked well IIRC, but even where the network was very dense couldn't do more than cue searches from something capable of more precise location. It was something like "We know something's out there, roughly where it is which way it's going & how fast, but we don't know what it is or exactly where it is". And AFAIK, that was the best one could ever get from the method they were looking into.

    Potentially useful, but definitely limited.
     
  4. John Fedup

    John Fedup Well-Known Member

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    IIRC, didn’t the Serbs do something similar to approximate where the F-117 was in order to get in their shot. Also having spies inform them when the F-117 was taking off and without an accompanying strike support package was probably very helpful.
     
  5. swerve

    swerve Super Moderator

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    Yes, I think that's pretty much it.

    If the accounts I've read are correct, the USAF was over-confident, & didn't vary its ingress & egress routes, so the Serbs could & did match up the take off times their observers in Italy reported to the fleeting glimpses of F-117s (visual, on old long wave radars, etc.) they got, & worked out the routes & timings. Then they put SAMs directly under a route, so that even a VLO aircraft would register on their radars, & waited. Next time an F-117 used that route, they switched on their radars at the right time, & bingo! There it was.
     
  6. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    There were a number of factors involved in the F-117 shoot down, which should be covered in the old threads I linked to. One of them was that, for whatever reason (arrogance, incompetence, hubris maybe?) the F-117 followed the same route three days in a row. I do sort of wonder what happened to the mission planners responsible for planning that route, then re-using for that period of time. Or the higher ups who would have either signed off on doing so, or had oversight responsibility and should have considered how much following the same path would increase the risk, but I digress.

    Another factor was the Serb's knowledge of their air defence systems (both strengths and weaknesses) and thinking up a way to make effective use of both a strength of their systems, and exploit intel being made available to them. In a nutshell though, the Serb air defence response was a systemic response with disparate assets working together to cue and then respond.
     
  7. 40 deg south

    40 deg south Member

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    Interesting survey, Todjaeger.
    I always enjoy getting new info, even if it is slightly off topic.

    I'm a big fan of NZ getting a pair of small twin-turboprops for low-cost EEZ surveillance. KIng Air 350 is the obvious choice, although I've always had a soft spot for the Dornier 228 based on the high-wing layout giving better crew visibility.
     
  8. 40 deg south

    40 deg south Member

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    Defence Minister Ron Marks drops into to Warbirds Over Wanaka

    A few comments on aircraft replacement from the Defence Minister.

    Taken literally, it suggests he hasn't yet read the White Paper and the Capability Plan. Hopefully, he was merely trying to impress on the reporter that there is a formal process to work through.
     
  9. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    The concern for me would be whether or not a smaller 2nd or 3rd tier maritime patrol aircraft would be augmenting the primary P-3K2 capability, or end up getting sourced as the replacement for the P-3K2.

    Given how past gov'ts have been skinflints about funding the NZDF, and then for many of the acquisitions/upgrades which were permitted, they did not add to the overall combat capability of the NZDF, I could easily see decision makers conflating an MPS-configured King Air 350 for a P-8A Poseidon, with predictable results.
     
  10. t68

    t68 Active Member

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    geez the US must have given a good extension on the FMS deal;);)

     
  11. Rob c

    Rob c Member

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    A good aircraft formation for our ANZAC day at Marton, with the Deere Spitfire leading 2 T6 C's in a tight Vic. looked great and the merlin completely drowned out any turbine noise, so great sound effects.
     
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  12. Novascotiaboy

    Novascotiaboy Member

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    Given the discussion on other threads concerning possible Chinese naval expansion in the south pacific and the abilities of NZ and OZ to influence the region in the future would it make sense to consider a return to the islands with second tier maritime patrol aircraft to deal with EEZ and SAR issues? The aircraft paid for by another government department such as foreign affairs and crewed on a rotational basis by air force crews. Similar to the Australian patrol boat program this could be NZ's contribution to support the island nations with a Kiwi roundel attached to the side.
     
  13. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    Have you read the Pacific Islands - Polynesia/Melanesia thread? If not, look at this post by me.
     
  14. MrConservative

    MrConservative Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Confirmation today by the DefMin of 4 leased KA-350's plus sims and training system for the RNZAF of which two will be fitted out for additional MPS roles.

    The first aircraft has been delivered with the remaining three arriving over the next 12 months.
     
  15. Sentry

    Sentry New Member

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    An E7 Wedgetail landed at Whenuapai yesterday at about 15.30-16.00. Followed by an 'escort' about 1 minute later of two Seasprites.
     
  16. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    G'day cobber, welcome aboard. Apparently Wedgetail A30-002 was at Whenuapai Monday of last week. Must be NAVEX time.
     
  17. ngatimozart

    ngatimozart Super Moderator Staff Member Verified Defense Pro

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    Yep, it's been here about 3 weeks. It got photographed during a refuelling stop on Lord Howe Island on 24/4/2018. The RNZAF markings were covered and it was using a civvy registration. However part of a black roundel could be seen.
     
  18. Gibbo

    Gibbo Member

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    The 'official' word: New lease on life for RNZAF aircrew training
     
  19. Sentry

    Sentry New Member

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    A lot of activity out of Whenuapai today. About 8-10 landings/approaches of Orions, I don't know if it was the same one each time. The majority of time, the flight path is directly over my work place.
     
  20. Sentry

    Sentry New Member

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    An Aussie C17 arrived at Whenuapai this afternoon, it took off again (don't know when) and then landed again a few hours later. Maybe they were practicing landings/approaches at Whenuapai because it seems odd to my uninformed mind that they would fly for hours to get to New Zealand and then land and take off again for a few hours.