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If you use smaller drones with smaller antennas, you're going to need more of them. They will also have to be a lot further away to give the same distance coverage, will be more vulnerable as they will have to get closer to the enemy, take up more time transiting to and from their patrol zones, and during the launch/recovery cycle. They will also almost certainly take up more space on the ship (unless they're stackable)

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If you use smaller drones with smaller antennas, you're going to need more of them. They will also have to be a lot further away to give the same distance coverage, will be more vulnerable as they will have to get closer to the enemy, take up more time transiting to and from their patrol zones, and during the launch/recovery cycle. They will also almost certainly take up more space on the ship (unless they're stackable)

 

All of those factors are dependent on the size of the drone, if you are going for large ones, then yes, but then you have a larger antenna, and you need less, etc. if you are going for smaller ones, you can base them off the carrier and free deck space for strike assets. If you are rich, you can have both, as that seems to be the path the USN has taken with the MQ-8C and the MQ-25. Note the MQ-25 is the size of an F-18 so smaller than an E-2

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Could a helicopter or V-22 probe and drogue off a ship like a hummingbird?

Called HIFR, for Helicopter In-Flight Refuelling. I think it is a pretty routine drill.

The helo hovers close to the ship and hauls up a fuel line which the cabin crew plugs in .

Edited by shep854
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If you're basing them off the carrier they're still going to displace and interfere with something else. We are now talking VTOL drones which will have much lower transit speeds, service ceilings and endurance than CTOL fixed wing manned aircraft. This really isn't a viable proposition.

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If you're basing them off the carrier they're still going to displace and interfere with something else. We are now talking VTOL drones which will have much lower transit speeds, service ceilings and endurance than CTOL fixed wing manned aircraft. This really isn't a viable proposition.

 

What if you use a V22? Or if you are hard up for space, something like an AW609 could provide ample room for a decent radar setup, if you stripped out the cabin.

s-agustawestland-aw609-tiltrotor.jpg

 

As a drone, you dont really want them to do much. Fly a racetrack pattern, refuel from hose, takeoff land.

 

Speed, well a V22 is 75 knots slower than a Hawkeye. Although I cant really see this as an issue, if you provide a longer lead time for them to get on station. If may mean you need more airframes, but if you can make the airframe smaller than a Hawkeye, again, this might not be a problem.

 

 

 

Of course, it takes money to develop. Which is probably why legacy systems like the Hawkeye linger on.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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Distributed airborne radar is being investigated, with UAVs being the obvious platforms.

 

A quick search finds only academic papers, nevertheless, it should not be overlooked.

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I think I'm with Chris on this one. Explore drones and distributed airborne radars, sure. Work out the kinks, sure.... But in the meantime, hedge your bets -- a V-22 could carry a radar and I think it's safer to surmise they could go further and higher than a helicopter based AEW, with greater on station time and better transit times, even if not as good as an E1/E2 fixed wing. It could theoretically conduct HIFR refueling at one of the outer screen vessels of the task force then go back out on station rather than go all the way back to the carrier to refuel, therefore minimizing downtime and reducing the workload on the carrier too, but I wouldn't know where to begin quantifying the benefits / tradeoffs of operating that way.

Although the drone idea of offboarding the data processing and turning it into simply a node that lofts the antenna may have it's advantages (See ASTOR Sentinel versus E8 JSTARS), having some onboard processing also has it's advantages in a hypothetical shooting war. There's nothing that says you can't retain the ability to do both once the distributed system matures, especially if the hypothetical AEW uses an F-35 derivative radar (with presumably a much larger aperture / antenna)

The main hurdle (other than where to put the Antenna) I think would be the conditions the crew would encounter as far as useful altitude goes. The V-22 isn't pressurized -- so they can get to 25,000 feet with everyone sucking oxygen, but from what I've been able to find environmental controls will only give you +-10 degrees Fahrenheit (+-5.5 Celsius) over ambient, which may be -34.5 C at those altitudes, so I don't suppose they routinely fly there even for ferry missions. Tanker crews might chuckle at this (since they have to fight effectively from inside an oven or freezer), but coordinating the air battle dressed like you're climbing mount Everest may be one of those intangibles that affect effectiveness.... so maybe it isn't safe to assume you can routinely exceed the average altitude of helicopter based AEW, and thus run into issues with similar radar horizons. Although an AW609 IS pressurized, it doesn't fold up like optimus prime for deck space purposes... I suppose that's okay on something like a QE / Príncipe de Asturias, but I don't imagine you'd ever see them on something like an LHA. On the whole, perhaps that would be the better route to go but would have it's own issues (Marinisation, addition of military required features, etc)

Edited by Burncycle360
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I think there were some mutterings for a while about getting some kind of AEW variant for the QE class carriers, but it quickly got killed by $$$$.

Dust off some Fairey Gannets?

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Well Merlin can reach 15000 feet, which seems to be adequate for most circumstances. Ive always thought the Hawkeye was far too much aircraft for a carrier deck. The Skyraider and Gannet AEW's always struck me as far neater solutions, regardless of the undoubted capabilities of the Hawkeye.

 

 

 

 

E-2C

 

  • Length: 57 ft 8.75 in (17.5959 m)
  • Wingspan: 80 ft 7 in (24.56 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 3.75 in (5.5817 m)
  • Wing area: 700 sq ft (65 m2) [87]
  • Aspect ratio: 9.15
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 63A216 ; tip: NACA 63A414[88]
  • Empty weight: 40,200 lb (18,234 kg)

    Gross weight: 43,068 lb (19,535 kg)

 

A3D

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Could a helicopter or V-22 probe and drogue off a ship like a hummingbird?

 

Like the Canadian Bear Trap system but with a fuel pipe? Hmmm.....seems kinda dangerous. Pump JP8 into the cargo compartment of the aircraft? :o

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I think there were some mutterings for a while about getting some kind of AEW variant for the QE class carriers, but it quickly got killed by $$$$.

Dust off some Fairey Gannets?

 

 

That was already tried in 1982. They were literally visiting museums according to one credible account I read :)

 

We "gapped" AEW after the Sea King ASAC 7 retirement in September last year. We are purchasing 10 Crowsnest radar kits to be moved around between the 20 Merlin HM2s in service, with an IOC expected for late 2020. It's a pale shadow of the E-2D, but better than nothing.

 

Helicopters DO refuel whilst airborne from surface ships.

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Could a helicopter or V-22 probe and drogue off a ship like a hummingbird?

Like the Canadian Bear Trap system but with a fuel pipe? Hmmm.....seems kinda dangerous. Pump JP8 into the cargo compartment of the aircraft? :o

See my above post about HIFR... ;)
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Also, you'll want some sort of Greyhound analogue as well. If you need engines flown out to the carrier. Can an F-35 engine fit in the back of a V-22?

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Well Merlin can reach 15000 feet, which seems to be adequate for most circumstances. Ive always thought the Hawkeye was far too much aircraft for a carrier deck. The Skyraider and Gannet AEW's always struck me as far neater solutions, regardless of the undoubted capabilities of the Hawkeye.

 

 

 

E-2C

 

  • Length: 57 ft 8.75 in (17.5959 m)
  • Wingspan: 80 ft 7 in (24.56 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 3.75 in (5.5817 m)
  • Wing area: 700 sq ft (65 m2) [87]
  • Aspect ratio: 9.15
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 63A216 ; tip: NACA 63A414[88]
  • Empty weight: 40,200 lb (18,234 kg)

    Gross weight: 43,068 lb (19,535 kg)

A3D

 

 

Oh I know Ryan. Now tell me you are entirely ok with something the size of a A3D landing on a carrier today?

 

The reason why it was built is that atomic weapons were so damn big, it was about the only thing it could carry one any range. Technology moves on. So in time it will for the Hawkeye, and I warrant the only reason it has not is that the USN are not exactly flush with funds to develop a replacement. They want a on deck tanker, ASW aircraft and a LR strike aircraft. There is no money for those either.

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Ryan: Regarding a V-22 COD, I believe the limited cargo capacity, both weight and volume, is the sticking point.

 

 

 

some snippets from online.

 

Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron Three Zero (VRM-30) will stand up at Naval Air Station North Island in California, on Oct. 1, 2018, according to an official directive, Seapower Magazine reported on Aug. 15, 2018. On that same date, the Naval Aviation Training Support Group (NATSG) will take up residence at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina, to coordinate CMV-22B pilot training, which Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron Two Zero Four (VMMT-204) will oversee initially.

 

 

But, in particular, the August 2018 experiments showed that the CMV-22 can meet one of the Navy’s key requirements for the aircraft in the COD role, which is transporting F135 engines for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter. The Navy hopes to reach initial operational capability with these stealth fighter jets by the end of 2018, though there are fears that schedule may slip.

If all goes according to plan, the F-35Cs could see their first operational deployment aboard the USS Carl Vinson, another Nimitz-class carrier, in 2021. This could be the first cruise for the CMV-22Bs, too, since, at least according to the Navy, the C-2s can’t transport the F135s and therefore would be unable to adequately support a Carrier Air Wing that included Joint Strike Fighters.

 

 

The Navy is right to say that the C-2 can’t carry the F-35’s engine inside its standard shipping container, a bulky configuration that weighs 9,350 pounds. But the CMV-22B, despite its now proven ability to land and take off with a higher gross weight, can’t, either.

To get the F135 into the cramped confines of the Osprey’s main cabin, the Navy will need to use a special pallet that leaves the engine exposed to the elements, including corrosive salt-filled sea air and water. Ground crews will also need to remove certain external aircraft components to prevent them from being damaged during loading and unloading and then reinstall them before the tilt-rotor can get going again, which makes the entire process take longer. The Marine Corps uses this procedure to support its F-35B Joint Strike Fighters deployed on amphibious assault ships using its MV-22Bs.

 

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Well Merlin can reach 15000 feet, which seems to be adequate for most circumstances. Ive always thought the Hawkeye was far too much aircraft for a carrier deck. The Skyraider and Gannet AEW's always struck me as far neater solutions, regardless of the undoubted capabilities of the Hawkeye.

 

 

 

E-2C

 

  • Length: 57 ft 8.75 in (17.5959 m)
  • Wingspan: 80 ft 7 in (24.56 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 3.75 in (5.5817 m)
  • Wing area: 700 sq ft (65 m2) [87]
  • Aspect ratio: 9.15
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 63A216 ; tip: NACA 63A414[88]
  • Empty weight: 40,200 lb (18,234 kg)

    Gross weight: 43,068 lb (19,535 kg)

A3D

 

 

Oh I know Ryan. Now tell me you are entirely ok with something the size of a A3D landing on a carrier today?

 

The reason why it was built is that atomic weapons were so damn big, it was about the only thing it could carry one any range. Technology moves on. So in time it will for the Hawkeye, and I warrant the only reason it has not is that the USN are not exactly flush with funds to develop a replacement. They want a on deck tanker, ASW aircraft and a LR strike aircraft. There is no money for those either.

 

 

while that may be true, the Navy has put some significant funding into upgrades with the D model. Something like 3+ billion.

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Oh I know Ryan. Now tell me you are entirely ok with something the size of a A3D landing on a carrier today?

The USN managed to operate a bunch of large aircraft from carriers on a routine basis. The biggest issues with the Whale was the lack of ejection seats for the crew. All Three Dead. Mind you, I know someone who was in an A3D that did ditch and he survived.

 

As to if I'm ok with it. Sure, but the Navy doesn't ask me (or you). It's not like an E2 or C2 is the same class and size as an A3D or the F-111B which was even larger and heavier. Logically speaking the NAVY could operate something in the weight class of the F14 just fine and there'd be no problems with that size/weight.

 

The reason why it was built is that atomic weapons were so damn big, it was about the only thing it could carry one any range. Technology moves on. So in time it will for the Hawkeye, and I warrant the only reason it has not is that the USN are not exactly flush with funds to develop a replacement. They want a on deck tanker, ASW aircraft and a LR strike aircraft. There is no money for those either.

I don't think the V-22 will work as long range strike. The RCS for one will be VERY bad.

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Just catching up on threads after some time traveling.

Clearly the MV-22 has greater range, speed, and endurance than most any similar sized helicopter. It likely has some altitude advantages as well, or perhaps at a minimum, and possibly more importantly, so time to altitude advantage. I suspect making a pressurized version of the aircraft wouldn't be overly challenging but would add weight that would take away from the sensor package.

Drones of any size are going to have similar trade offs and issues with size and quantity compared to manned aircraft. They also will not have a stand alone capability to direct aircraft and will have to have some kind of datalink to some other control center. This might be workable with a directional, low powered frequency agile data link like MADL but it will always open up another path of ECM/cyber attack regardless of how sophisticated it is.

Realistically neither the USN or RN can afford a new aircraft design for AEW or ASW roles and will continue to use helicopters for those rolls (E-2D for the USN).

The E-2D is externally similar to the Charlie but is for all intents and purposes a new aircraft design (and all are new builds) - it uses a PESA UHF band radar and other mission equipment nothing like previous models. I suspect we aren't even being told its full capabilities in terms of ESM, ECM, and operating as a central communications node.

MV-22 has already been decided as the COD replacement over C-2. It makes sense as an off the shelf buy, even though I think it lacks range and payload of the aircraft it replaces. It does however allow for a new VERTREP capability that would be unique compared to any other COD aircraft. The F-35's engine was always going to be a beast to move by any on board aircraft due the unique thrust requirements that engine had to fulfill.

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I would have thought that any upgrades to the E2 would have included C2 upgrades for compatibility and like for like commonality vis a vis airframe, avionics, power plant, etc.

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