Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Contains threads on Royal Air Force equipment of the past, present and future.
Lord Jim
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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

I agree it could have been handled better, but as it was the options on the table were a platform that was proven and in se4rvice against one that existed purely on paper. Yes both SAAB and IAI have AEW&C platforms flying, but did SAAB suggest the A330 because those platform did not meet one or more of the RAF's requirements, and given the RAF's familiarity with the A330 though it was the logical choice. However I am not 100% sure about the RAF's urgent timeframe, which seems to be their main driver for wanting a in service platform, I would put more weight on the fact that the E-7 is proven and that the RAF will join the RAAF in any future updates to its systems sharing the costs.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by RetroSicotte »

Surprised that Gav didn't just make the simple point that Saab's offer would have cut the RAF by an entire fleet of crucial aircraft.

It's sort of the ace-in-the-hole debate killer on this issue. Going with this madness would savage the RAF's fleets and result in yet another unnecessary cut of airframes. It is beyond stupid to be wasting such enormous and multipurpose aircraft flying around doing a job that only needs something a portion of its size. Beyond wasteful.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

He would of had a difficult time doing that as Saab specifically said installing the radar would not affect the aircraft primary missions of aar.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

Where you want your Tankers to be and where you need your AWACS to be are not the same to put it mildly. We would be going down the same old road as the navy has done and trying to figure out how to make a platform be in two places at once.

But the suggestion from SAAB was just one option the other was to take vanilla A330 and convert them. Either way it was a platform they had only done computer modelling for the integration of the Radar and the risk and time involved was considered great enough to make the proposal a non starter as far as the MoD was concerned. Now if SAAB and Airbus had offered to cover all the above costs out of their own pocket and guarantee delivery within the timeframe requested by the RAF on pain of substantial financial penalties then maybe the MoD would look again. Saying that Boeing are going to be locked into a contract with similar financial penalties for late delivery as it is.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by RetroSicotte »

SW1 wrote:He would of had a difficult time doing that as Saab specifically said installing the radar would not affect the aircraft primary missions of aar.
It would. It is factually impossible for it not to. How can it conduct AAR ops and AWACS control in two places at the same time? Not to mention they're also used as personnel transport.

Saab are spinning it to mean that their modifications wouldn't interfere with its capability to conduct AAR. In actual use however, it would cripple both fleets.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

I repeat this is the surge fleet we currently don’t use or will unlikely use because the fleet was sized for a fast jet fleet so much larger than today.

The problem with a lot of these discussions is the exaggeration of language. It’s certainly not cutting an entire fleet. It’s modifying a surge fleet!

Yes it can’t be in 2 places at the same time nothing can! And yes tankers and awacs operate in different orbits! The awacs fleet doesn’t fly a lot and when the aircraft wasn’t tasked to there duty they could aar aircraft. You could trail aircraft with a awacs equipped a330.

Personally I don’t think a330 or indeed 737 are the way to go. I would have had a biz jet and a more networked solution for contested environments.it will take time to develop but time we do have as e3 isn’t in dire need to replace tomorrow and the biz jet solution is very capable. We are very adverse to innovation and looking at what people other than the US do

We can always kick things down the road or take a lead will uk companies that have very capable sensors and capabilities.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by RetroSicotte »

SW1 wrote:I repeat this is the surge fleet we currently don’t use or will unlikely use because the fleet was sized for a fast jet fleet so much larger than today.
We don't use them all because we're not at war right now, if we were then they would absolutely be in use. "Planning for peacetime" is how you lose wars.
as e3 isn’t in dire need to replace tomorrow
It absolutely is. The airframes are shagged and the radars are lacking crucial functionality to NATO centric ops, not to mention the maintenance situation with them. There is a very good reason the MoD wants them replaced ASAP.
We are very adverse to innovation and looking at what people other than the US do
Using the word "innovation" as a euphemism for "reduced capability" is not something I'm ever going to see as a worthwhile trade. People tried to say losing the Albions meant "innovation" too, and it makes no less sense here to cut the AWACs fleet into being an overstretched nightmare.
We can always kick things down the road or take a lead will uk companies that have very capable sensors and capabilities.
Which UK company in recent years has made an AWACs technology platform?

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by Qwerty »

GEC-Marconi!

Oh, hang on..?

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

RetroSicotte wrote:
SW1 wrote:I repeat this is the surge fleet we currently don’t use or will unlikely use because the fleet was sized for a fast jet fleet so much larger than today.
We don't use them all because we're not at war right now, if we were then they would absolutely be in use. "Planning for peacetime" is how you lose wars.
as e3 isn’t in dire need to replace tomorrow
It absolutely is. The airframes are shagged and the radars are lacking crucial functionality to NATO centric ops, not to mention the maintenance situation with them. There is a very good reason the MoD wants them replaced ASAP.
We are very adverse to innovation and looking at what people other than the US do
Using the word "innovation" as a euphemism for "reduced capability" is not something I'm ever going to see as a worthwhile trade. People tried to say losing the Albions meant "innovation" too, and it makes no less sense here to cut the AWACs fleet into being an overstretched nightmare.
We can always kick things down the road or take a lead will uk companies that have very capable sensors and capabilities.
Which UK company in recent years has made an AWACs technology platform?
We sent 3 tankers to Libya to support 26 fastjets and 11 to telic to support 60 odd fast jets. Number of deployable jets is closer to Libya than telic and the tankers more reliable with more offload capacity we can talk about hoses in the sky but reality is the likelihood of fully utilising the surge fleet is very small.

I can assure you the airframe is not shagged there very low hours for what the airframe was designed for and the e3d number 7 was stripped in part to give a good understanding of life not to mention it has reasonably modern engines compared to other e3 fleets. What is an issue is the mission systems onboard and the fact it really needs stripped out, cost of that is what’s expensive compared to how long it will last. It’s interesting what the reason for the rush is, suspect it more to do with Boeing production lines than anything.

Innovation does not mean reduced capability necessarily it means doing things differently adapting to changing technology and environment especially when viewed against your budget and the scale of your operations. We would not plan to conduct an amphibious operation today the way we did in 1944 or 1982 would we nor will the future be the same as today.

Both Thales and Selex have systems that are on platforms with awac capabilities, both Raytheon in Chester and Marshall’s have integrated and are integrating mission systems and updating systems on current raf aircraft and overseas customers with aircraft at least part made in the uk, boscombe down is helping with testing and paint shops in Norwich to apply finishes. IAI and indeed Saab have the main radar system that could potientially be used and with a least significant dialogue with Saab over tempest long term strategic partnership to consider too.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by RetroSicotte »

SW1 wrote:We sent 3 tankers to Libya to support 26 fastjets and 11 to telic to support 60 odd fast jets. Number of deployable jets is closer to Libya than telic and the tankers more reliable with more offload capacity we can talk about hoses in the sky but reality is the likelihood of fully utilising the surge fleet is very small.

As I said in the ships area, "its better so we need less" is the biggest falsity in this regard as it assumes no-one has moved on in the last 10 years either (they have). And planning for only small ops like Libya is just asking for trouble. You have to account for possible peer warfare when its all hands on deck, always. Lead times are too long these days not to. Having only 9 Voyagers to account for a major deployment and covering personnel transport and still covering non-deployed taskings while then using the other 5 for a role they really shouldn't need to be doing, when the solution to simply have a dedicated fleet already exists, is lunacy.
I can assure you the airframe is not shagged there very low hours for what the airframe was designed for and the e3d number 7 was stripped in part to give a good understanding of life not to mention it has reasonably modern engines compared to other e3 fleets. What is an issue is the mission systems onboard and the fact it really needs stripped out, cost of that is what’s expensive compared to how long it will last. It’s interesting what the reason for the rush is, suspect it more to do with Boeing production lines than anything.
Best call the MoD then, because their eagerness to get rid of it and the purported availability of the aircraft speaks otherwise.
Innovation does not mean reduced capability necessarily it means doing things differently adapting to changing technology and environment especially when viewed against your budget and the scale of your operations. We would not plan to conduct an amphibious operation today the way we did in 1944 or 1982 would we nor will the future be the same as today.
Inaccurate example by using something 70 years out of the timeframe of context to make the point. And again, not solving the issue that this is a flat out cut. Dropping an entire fleet, then burdening an already multi-tasking fleet with yet another task (and crippling the allowance for training rotation in the process) is not "innovation". It's a mask name.
Both Thales and Selex have systems that are on platforms with awac capabilities, both Raytheon in Chester and Marshall’s have integrated and are integrating mission systems and updating systems on current raf aircraft and overseas customers with aircraft at least part made in the uk, boscombe down is helping with testing and paint shops in Norwich to apply finishes. IAI and indeed Saab have the main radar system that could potientially be used and with a least significant dialogue with Saab over tempest long term strategic partnership to consider too.
I'll ask again, which UK company has created an AWACs platform recently then?

The answer is none. Going from some "systems contractors" to a full product is a whole other world given the rapid changeover by the early 2020's that the MoD has identified a need for. There won't be a "take the lead" on this one.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

RetroSicotte wrote:"Planning for peacetime" is how you lose wars.
+
RetroSicotte wrote:planning for only small ops like Libya is just asking for trouble.
Agree with both of the above
RetroSicotte wrote:The airframes are shagged and the radars are lacking crucial functionality to NATO centric ops, not to mention the maintenance situation with them. There is a very good reason the MoD wants them replaced ASAP.
If this is NOT true... why then is the availability so low??
SW1 wrote:mission systems onboard and the fact it really needs stripped out, cost of that is what’s expensive compared to how long it will last.
A very good reason to get something else. I.e the biz case was fully costed, and turned out not to be VFM.
SW1 wrote:Innovation does not mean reduced capability necessarily it means doing things differently adapting to changing technology and environment especially when viewed against your budget and the scale of your operations.
Before budget and playing bit parts in operations where the lead is by others, I would look into doctrine and tactics: what is needed. And only then to what can be afforded
- and if we can't afford what "works", then: seek coalitions to share the burden?
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by topman »

RetroSicotte wrote:You have to account for possible peer warfare when its all hands on deck, always.

That's fine, how do we pay for all this?

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

topman wrote:
RetroSicotte wrote:You have to account for possible peer warfare when its all hands on deck, always.

That's fine, how do we pay for all this?
Macron and Merkel epiphany, over the last week or so, might spread to this side :o of the Channel
- don't think so, though
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by RetroSicotte »

topman wrote:
RetroSicotte wrote:You have to account for possible peer warfare when its all hands on deck, always.
That's fine, how do we pay for all this?
Given they're already set up to pay for it already on the E-7, just go ask them. MoD is clearly trying to take the better option.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by topman »

Of course it'll be the usual, handwavitis will pay for all.

We'll be in the same situation with E7 as we are with sentry sooner rather than later. Ah well situation normal.

The TLB have got the infra budget now, I wonder how long that piggy bank will last?

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

Spoke to an E3 operator today. Their choice and preference is clear. For good reason.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

Retro/Acc

I wouldn’t class a uk deployment of 26 fastjets today as in anyway small scale. Im pointing out the scale the uk can operate at is very different to what you envisage. The tankers themselves offload more and are more reliable than vc-10 that’s just a fact. Even with a radar on top the a/c can still refuel other a/c so there not useless in this regard and in very large scale operation could refuel the cap’s around the supporting cast..

I don’t need to call the mod there well aware. They extended sentry maintence and support contracts in 2016 to take it up to 2035 why do that with a shagged airframe?. There is a difference between airframe and air system. The availability of the aircraft for its operational tasks has much more to it that, than the state the airframe is like. How many crews have been cut as a cost saving, how much maintenance has been held back how many maintainers have been reduced, how much has spares holdings been reduced.

The computer systems need overhauled to bring them up,to the same standard as France Saudi and the US that’s normal but has nothing to do with airframe. Someone’s decided they’d rather buy new than upgrade the mission computers and get a AESA radar into the air rather than a mechanical one that’s all fine but it’s not because the airframe is shagged.

I agree completely with topman there is nothing stopping a repeat with E-7 is we acquiring a system we don’t want to fund the support off. We keep getting told we’re buying American across a number of our aircraft programs because we’re buying into American development, will I hate to break it to people but in sentrys case America , France and Saudi and nato have all paid for developing the system the uk didn’t and look what happened will any of the others be different?

Well it’s not none as I said Thales have the Cerberus system which is an awacs system we already know,we have Selex with ew elements and AESA radar systems both have been integrated into awacs aircraft as have raytheon and Marshall’s integrated radar systems onto aircraft. A number of these have been done now it’s not new and aircraft are in production. There remains the question around contested airspace and how best to operate such systems near or around it, when Cerberus was being worked in crowsnest one of the thing the vigilance pod was its ability to download data to a mother ship for controlling air assets, so many things could of been networked and developed thru this I see it as a missed opportunity that won’t happen now but so be it.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by topman »

I'm sure it is. My point was more about affordability both now and in the future.

Just to clarify my post is a reply to downsizer.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by topman »

SW1 wrote: The computer systems need overhauled to bring them up,to the same standard as France Saudi and the US that’s normal but has nothing to do with airframe. Someone’s decided they’d rather buy new than upgrade the mission computers and get a AESA radar into the air rather than a mechanical one that’s all fine but it’s not because the airframe is shagged.
Iirc all the other sentrys got upgraded a few years ago, we elected not to join in. Hence having an odd fleet, I think that and a few other reasons are why we are buying new.
But at the base of it is we can't afford to run all this kit, how anyone thinks we can run and buy E7 plus all the rest of it, I've no idea.

I'd rather do a few things well than *just about* a load of things.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

Topman

I think most have had about 2 upgrades since we last participated in one. Why this one is becoming so expensive. Must be also about one of the last fleets requiring a flight engineer.

I would agree with that we don’t see to cut anything just add more and more on with a budget that isn’t getting bigger.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

topman wrote:I'm sure it is. My point was more about affordability both now and in the future.

Just to clarify my post is a reply to downsizer.
I'm not arguing your point dude.

My point was more addressing the fantasists who think bunging a radar onto voyager or any other frame is going to be simple. Or easy. Or cheap.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by downsizer »

topman wrote:I'm sure it is. My point was more about affordability both now and in the future.

Just to clarify my post is a reply to downsizer.
I'm not arguing your point dude.

My point was more addressing the fantasists who think bunging a radar onto voyager or any other frame is going to be simple. Or easy. Or cheap.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by SW1 »

Downsizer

If the fantasist comment is referring to me having been involved bunging a radar onto an airframe I can assure you, I know what is involved and aware of the challenges and risks.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by R686 »

If Airbus is so keen why not build a demonstrator and compare the performance of both systems, put their money where there mouth is. I’m sure if they can make it work then they can afford to put up or shut up.

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Re: Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 (AWACS) (RAF)

Post by Lord Jim »

All this arguing aside, I am just glad that for once the MoD actually made a firm decision and is moving ahead with a programme. They get repeatedly criticized for not making decision and constantly changing their mind, but when then do actually make one they still get it in the neck! I am so glad I left the MoD given all this. The E-7 is going to give us a top of the line AEW&C platform once again and we are going to be linked in to a planned upgrade path together with the RAAF. WE will have a cheaper to run platform with less things to go wrong. I just wish we would also take the plunge, find some partners and pay Boeing to develop a AAR probe for both the E-7 and E-8, using the one fitted to the E-3 as the base line as the fuselage is basically the same just longer in the latter and the plumbing is also related..

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