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The Case for AEW&C Aircraft

Zoomie

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Low-cost option to supplement a fleet of P-8s? CP-295W - heck the SAR variant we currently have sitting in Hgr 14 is a MPA.

Swordfish/Poseidon/etc are all nice capabilities and great dreams - in 10 years we will be flying our 295s ISO fishpat/DIX-Ex/ISR/etc - everything except actual ASW tasks.
 

CBH99

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Since we're spitballing different platforms here, I just thought of something. It's a solid 50/50 either a good idea, or a terrible one. Not quite sure.

If we intend to replace the Aurora with something along the lines of the P8 - what about that equipment/similar equipment, but on a Canadian made aircraft??


Canada still produces medium passenger jets, no? What about a pretty straightforwards installation of the same equipment (or similar) used on the P8?

Although the economies of scale will be minimal, it also shouldn't be that hard to install those systems & software on an airframe other than the P8.

It allows the government to purchase Canadian aircraft, support our aviation industry with something other than a bailout, and would give us the same capability (or similar) than if we had just went with a P8.

Could also put us in a position to possible sell some abroad, if Bombardier actually worked at it.


Just an idea :unsure:


(Some of you folks have first hand experience in the MPA world. Is that doable? Are the systems on the upgraded Auroras similar to the P8?)
 

dimsum

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Fair enough. My main point remains the same though...if we were to look at the Swordfish I'd only look at it as a possible supplement to a proper Aurora replacement (P-8?) rather than as the replacement itself. That being said I wouldn't be opposed to a lower-cost platform to augment a fleet of P-8s. I think ISR assets should be a key focus for Canada as essentially an island nation. The Bombardier Global series of jets has the added advantage of being a Canadian product.

Even a couple of GlobalEye AEW & C aircraft would be a good supplement to the Auroras/P-8s for maritime domain awareness as they have maritime surveillance radar as well (but unlike the Swordfish are unarmed).
I'm not sure what your background is, and I'm not AEW&C expert, but those aircraft (and AWACS) go far beyond Maritime Domain Awareness. Their main role is battlespace management (like airborne ATC). Also, Auroras and other ISR aircraft don't vector fighters onto targets - they are the sensors while AEW&C (or AWACS) also do the "control" portion.

The follow-on effect is that we would need more AECs and AC Ops since it wouldn't be the same crew type (maybe the Pilots but even then I'm not so sure due to quals needed) flying the AEW&C aircraft and the ISR aircraft.
 

GR66

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I'm not sure what your background is, and I'm not AEW&C expert, but those aircraft (and AWACS) go far beyond Maritime Domain Awareness. Their main role is battlespace management (like airborne ATC). Also, Auroras and other ISR aircraft don't vector fighters onto targets - they are the sensors while AEW&C (or AWACS) also do the "control" portion.

The follow-on effect is that we would need more AECs and AC Ops since it wouldn't be the same crew type (maybe the Pilots but even then I'm not so sure due to quals needed) flying the AEW&C aircraft and the ISR aircraft.
I'm aware that the GlobalEye has capabilities that go beyond an MPA/ISR aircraft. I'm just noting that among their capabilities they also have a maritime search radar which would allow them to supplement the capabilities of our MPA's if/when required. We have the World's longest coastline. The more assets that we have that can let us know what's going on there the better...even if it's not their primary purpose/capability.

As far as the additional personnel, doesn't that apply to ANY new capability we are proposing to add to the CF? More tanks = more Armoured Crewmen and techs to support. More logistical support capabilities = more Log O's and MSE Ops, etc. If we always fall back on the idea that we can't add any new capability because we currently lack the proper staffing then we are locked in to exactly what we have now. Obviously any changes will require a review of how the CF is organizes and staffs itself. It just happens to be my personal opinion that due to our geographical position in the World that naval, air and ground assets that monitor (and protect) our territory should be the highest priorities for our military. I'd count MPA's (and AEW&C aircraft) among the key components of that capability that should be invested in.
 

MilEME09

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Now I have no experience but is there not a point where we are trying to do too much with one platform? What is the number of aircraft we would need to preform an AEW&C role? Some mention the CP-140, but any aircraft we upgrade/ convert would reduce the rest of the fleet. If we are adding rolls to a future aircraft, we will need many more airframes, after all a bird doing a Maritme patrol off the north sea cant be doing AEW&C in Romania. That means we need more crews, techs, infrastructure, etc... something that might be a hard sell right now.
 

Retired AF Guy

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Not sure how accurate it is but the Quwa website has a chart comparing the P-8 and Swordfish.

And here is an article from the Royal Aeronautical Society that gives a good overview of the Swordfish and its capabilities. Interestingly, besides the Bombardier air frame the aircraft would also use some other made-in-Canada components including flight deck (Bombardier) and MAD boom (CAE).
 

Underway

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1623274226829.png


Random questions and I thought that starting a new thread wasn't really the best idea.

Is it possible for AEW to be done by a UAS? Or do you require a crew to staff sensors and equipment for an AEW platform to be onboard. Would the data management of such a system be prohibative (aka to much information in the data pipe back to the ground control station to properly transmit). Would this mean a UAS could do limited AEW (say Link out tracks) instead of proper AEW?

Also rotary wing vs fixed wing AEW. UK, India and Russia in the past (and currently) have operated AEW from helicopters due to space constraints on their carriers. Generally do these rotary wing AEW have different roles then a fixed wing version? Less capacity etc... Is a control aspect for AEW not important in a naval context?
 

dimsum

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Or do you require a crew to staff sensors and equipment for an AEW platform to be onboard.
If the bandwidth is able to handle it, why not? I wouldn't be surprised if the US is thinking about this already.

My WAG is that Link tracks, etc from an AWACS (or AEW&C) might be less bandwidth-intensive than pushing full-motion video and other sensor feeds to the fidelity required for weapons engagement. And current RPAS do that already.

I have zero experience on AWACS or AEW&C platforms though, so happy to be corrected.
 

GR66

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In a Canadian context would the primary area of interest for an AEW aircraft be the arctic? Others have mentioned the issues with controlling UAV's in the far North due to limited satellite coverage.
 

SupersonicMax

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AEW aircraft do more than just sense. They are a command and control node for aircraft. That requires humans providing the control and relaying the command.
 

Underway

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AEW aircraft do more than just sense. They are a command and control node for aircraft. That requires humans providing the control and relaying the command.
Isn't that AEW&C aircraft though (not just AEW)? Am I splitting hairs for the definition of the term by leaving of the "&C"?

The reason I ask is perhaps an odd idea.

AEW UAS/RPAS rotary wing for naval assets.
The concerns regarding this are thus. First is how AEW work (hence my questions). My research suggests the negatives of rotary wing AEW are endurance both of the aircraft and crew (flying in a shaking helicopter gets tiring) so missions are shorter. Altitude is not as high so sensor coverage has limitations. Space for the sensor, leading to less powerful radars. Space for pers in the back to do the command control nodes.

Could one remove the command/control function and essentially make it a radar extension for the ship. Over the horizon, early detection of a missile/aircraft would give a ship more time to respond, and with an active missile be able to begin the engagement beyond the 20-25NM range of most ship based radar horizons. It would also mean that an AAW platform wouldn't need a carrier of somesort to provide early detection of airborne threats below the horizon. It could do it for a TG that didn't contain that sort of air support.

Depending on the size of the UAS its likely one could fit two in the space of a single ASW helicopter, and have an added capability for a TG.

The problem I can see with would be the latency of the information and the volume of information sent to the ship. There is a lot of processing that goes into command/control and people are required to deconflict between linked out tracks, their own sensor tracks, as well as different sensor input tracks. My suspicion is that AEW&C aircraft do this in situ on the aircraft and then Link out their already processed/corrected information to the rest of the battlespace in order to manage the situation. A UAS wouldn't be able to do this processing and should just send the raw data to the ship/control station to be processed by bigger computers and smart people there. Which then would have it integrated into the ships tactical picture, and then Linked out to the rest of the TG.

So maybe AEW isn't the correct term. Maybe this is an Airborne Remote Sensor.
 

blacktriangle

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Underway, are you talking about something similar to the UK Crowsnest capability they will be fitting on their Merlins? Essentially something to take advantage of better RADAR/ESM horizon?

Edit: Nevermind, I see you mentioned the UK in your initial post. My bad. Where would you base an Unmanned AEW platform out of curiosity? As you say, you will have to give up one of your Cyclones at minimum?
 

SupersonicMax

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Isn't that AEW&C aircraft though (not just AEW)? Am I splitting hairs for the definition of the term by leaving of the "&C"?

The reason I ask is perhaps an odd idea.

AEW UAS/RPAS rotary wing for naval assets.
The concerns regarding this are thus. First is how AEW work (hence my questions). My research suggests the negatives of rotary wing AEW are endurance both of the aircraft and crew (flying in a shaking helicopter gets tiring) so missions are shorter. Altitude is not as high so sensor coverage has limitations. Space for the sensor, leading to less powerful radars. Space for pers in the back to do the command control nodes.

Could one remove the command/control function and essentially make it a radar extension for the ship. Over the horizon, early detection of a missile/aircraft would give a ship more time to respond, and with an active missile be able to begin the engagement beyond the 20-25NM range of most ship based radar horizons. It would also mean that an AAW platform wouldn't need a carrier of somesort to provide early detection of airborne threats below the horizon. It could do it for a TG that didn't contain that sort of air support.

Depending on the size of the UAS its likely one could fit two in the space of a single ASW helicopter, and have an added capability for a TG.

The problem I can see with would be the latency of the information and the volume of information sent to the ship. There is a lot of processing that goes into command/control and people are required to deconflict between linked out tracks, their own sensor tracks, as well as different sensor input tracks. My suspicion is that AEW&C aircraft do this in situ on the aircraft and then Link out their already processed/corrected information to the rest of the battlespace in order to manage the situation. A UAS wouldn't be able to do this processing and should just send the raw data to the ship/control station to be processed by bigger computers and smart people there. Which then would have it integrated into the ships tactical picture, and then Linked out to the rest of the TG.

So maybe AEW isn't the correct term. Maybe this is an Airborne Remote Sensor.
If you remove the C2 element, it essentially becomes an ISR platform. Might as well get Global Hawks/Tritons. While we need sensors up North, we are also in desperate need of a suitable C2 infrastructure...

There were a couple of rotary wing AEW platforms developed (6 according to Wikipedia), for a total of 58 airframes built. Given the size and power requirements of modern radars, it is very difficult to integrate on a helicopter. Having said this, Leonardo are integrating such a solution on their EH101 (Crowsnest). Just looking at pictures of the thing, it doesn't look right. And generally speaking, when something doesn't look right in aircraft design, it flies like crap.
 

Underway

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Where would you base an Unmanned AEW platform out of curiosity? As you say, you will have to give up one of your Cyclones at minimum?

In a TG you have X number of ASW helicopters to properly provide coverage (both in time, space and for proper maintenance). Given the TG size listed in both SSE and LEADMARK this is 4 frigates (CSC, Halifax) and one AOR. That's a max of 6 helicopters.

You might not need (or have) all six, so ISR assets might be added in instead. And CSC will have a flex deck where you could place another aircraft.

If you remove the C2 element, it essentially becomes an ISR platform. Might as well get Global Hawks/Tritons. While we need sensors up North, we are also in desperate need of a suitable C2 infrastructure...

There were a couple of rotary wing AEW platforms developed (6 according to Wikipedia), for a total of 58 airframes built. Given the size and power requirements of modern radars, it is very difficult to integrate on a helicopter. Having said this, Leonardo are integrating such a solution on their EH101 (Crowsnest). Just looking at pictures of the thing, it doesn't look right. And generally speaking, when something doesn't look right in aircraft design, it flies like crap.
ISR thanks, that's what I was going for but was unable to articulate it.

I have looked up some of those rotary AEW. UK has CROWSNEST on their Merlins as well. There was an attempt by Lockheed to develop an AESA version for the UK program that attached onto the Torp hardpoints but it never made it to production.
 

dimsum

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And generally speaking, when something doesn't look right in aircraft design, it flies like crap.
Now I really want to know how the WWII Blohm and Voss aircraft handled :ROFLMAO:

Those things look like Frankenstein designed aircraft. They pop up in the Weird Wings subreddit all the time.
 

Good2Golf

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Now I really want to know how the WWII Blohm and Voss aircraft handled :ROFLMAO:

Those things look like Frankenstein designed aircraft. They pop up in the Weird Wings subreddit all the time.
Actually, BV trainers and flying boats were quite good...just that BV141 freakshow thing. Fortunately they stabilized after the war, later becoming MBB.
 

Journeyman

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Ah yes, the BV141 -- first aircraft designed by a HQ committee. ;)
 

GR66

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Personally I think any expanded ISR capabilities would be a good thing for the CF and our allies. While I don't think that our current iteration of great power competition is likely to see Russian tanks driving towards the Fulda Gap, it's quite possible that we will see more Crimea type quick snatches of territory or increased conflicts involving proxy forces in small wars.

Detecting military build ups in advance by our adversaries or providing better info on insurgent forces could go a long way toward deterring aggression in the first place or stamping out brush fires before they get out of control. Good bang for the buck to my mind.
 
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