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The Case for AEW&C Aircraft

Calvillo

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Major air powers in the world - including the naval aviation of certain navies - operate Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft. Notably absent from those air powers is the Royal Canadian Air Force. All G7 countries except Canada; China, Russia, Brazil, India, Australia, even Singapore whose territory is smaller than Calgary, operate AEW&C. Would operating those kind of aircraft not increase the capability of the RCAF? During peace time, I think those can be used to patrol our territories in the North, to ensure the integrity of Canadian sovereignty. Canada is such a vast and scarcely populated country. Surely we can use early warning that the aircraft provides.

From what I see, there are five platforms currently available that are not produced by Russia or China. Boeing E-767, Boeing E-7, Grumman E-2, Embraer R-99 and Gulfstream G550 AEW. E-3 AWACS is no longer in production and while CP-140 does surveillance, it is not an AEW&C platform.

To discuss, does the RCAF have the need for AEW&C platform, or is it content with AWACS that NATO provides? If yes, which one among the five platforms above that most fit into RCAF missions and requirements?
 

Mountie

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Don't forget the SAAB/Bombardier Globaleye built on the Global 6000 which is manufactured in Canada.



Combine this with the SAAB/Bombardier Swordfish also built on the Global 6000 as a replacement for the Aurora and the RCAF could have a decent fleet on a common aircraft. This would surely reduce logistics, maintenance and training costs. The Swordfish participated in the South Korean MPA competition. It was said that 10 Swordfish could be procured for the same cost as 5-6 P-8 Poseidons.

The RCAF could field a fleet of 6-8 Globaleye and 18-24 Swordfish for a reasonable cost. Perhaps it's time for more but slightly less capable systems? 18-24 Swordfish vs 10-12 Poseidon for example.

“Given that resources are not unlimited, the dynamic of exchanging numbers for capability is perhaps reaching a point of diminishing returns. A given ship or aircraft, no matter how capable or well-equipped, can be in only one place at one time.” – Secretary of Defence Robert M. Gates
 

dimsum

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What's the endurance on a fully-loaded Swordfish? Will there be issues with external weapons like torpedoes at high altitude (for fuel consumption, sensor range for surveillance, etc.)

If the Swordfish doesn't have the same endurance (requiring more aircraft/crews to do the same job as a P-8, for example) or it has limitations on altitude, then is it a worthy platform to replace the Aurora?

Another issue is personnel. Do we have the personnel (especially experienced senior folks) to crew that many aircraft?
 

Zoomie

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AIRBUS makes a C-295 for every mission set. ISR, SAR,MPA, AEW, there is even a gunship variant.

If we are already establishing a national parts bin and MRO facility for the Kingfisher, let’s expand and include more.

 

CBH99

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Interesting crossroads.

On the one hand, procure a few more C-295 aircraft to introduce an AEW capability to the air force. Expand on the MRO facility.

Or...procure a few Swordfish, which are built on a Canadian platform.

:unsure:
 

YZT580

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The C295 doesn't have the legs to operate as an effective AEW platform and it is too slow. Better to purchase the swordfish and then add a few transport versions to the order form; especially since we are in need of new ones anyways
 

dimsum

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This article from Nov 2018 says that Saab has ended marketing efforts for the Swordfish because of lack of interest.

Over the past two years, Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab has put its advertising muscle into promoting a maritime patrol aircraft it called Swordfish.

But in the absence of a launch customer and no immediate sales prospects, the company is ending its marketing campaign — at least for now, the head of its Asia-Pacific business said Thursday.

“From a product perspective, we are no longer marketing it. So it was a concept. It was an opportunity that we looked at on the back of GlobalEy

 

GR66

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Why Swordfish INSTEAD of P-8's/Aurora replacement? The Swordfish has great legs but people in the know here have expressed concern about the exterior-mounted weapon performance and the payload (weapons and sonobuoys) compared to a full-size MPA.

In my perfect world you'd still replace the Aurora's with a full-sized MPA, but I'd gladly see that fleet supplemented by a half-dozen Global-Eyes (which also to my understanding also have maritime search radars) and a half-dozen Swordfish.

This would almost certainly require changes to our pilot/aircrew training system and retention measures, as well as some tough trade-offs elsewhere in our defence budget. However, I think these are capabilities that our allies would greatly value. NATO and the US are putting much more emphasis on ASW warfare and being able to bring strong capabilities to the table would be appreciated. Same with the Global-Eye. Much of the current military threats from China and Russia (and Iran/North Korea for that matter) are based on concerns that they could make quick territorial grabs before the West can mount a response. Any ISR assets that can help to identify military build-ups/movements before such actions take place would allow the West to react in advance and hopefully deter the action in the first place. ISR assets like these are also an easier sell to the Canadian Government/population than things like tanks/missiles.

While we're at it, wouldn't it be nice if we could add a couple of EW/stand-off jamming aircraft similar to the EC-37B Compass Call being procured by the US (https://www.baesystems.com/en-us/product/compass-call)? Turkey has purchased a pair of Global 6000's to convert into their own Jammer/Electronic Attack aircraft (https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-...urkey-receives-global-6000s-jammer-conversion). One can only dream...
 

dimsum

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In my perfect world you'd still replace the Aurora's with a full-sized MPA, but I'd gladly see that fleet supplemented by a half-dozen Global-Eyes (which also to my understanding also have maritime search radars) and a half-dozen Swordfish.
If we're going to replace the Auroras with a full-sized MPA, why Swordfish at all then?
 

GR66

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If we're going to replace the Auroras with a full-sized MPA, why Swordfish at all then?

From Wikipedia:

Boeing P-8 Poseidon Range: 2,222km
Bombardier Global 6000 Range: 13,390km

One to do the heavy lifting along our major Sea Lines of Communication, the other to keep an eye on the distant North (or South China Sea?) when we want eyes in those places too.
 

dimsum

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From Wikipedia:

Boeing P-8 Poseidon Range: 2,222km
Bombardier Global 6000 Range: 13,390km

One to do the heavy lifting along our major Sea Lines of Communication, the other to keep an eye on the distant North (or South China Sea?) when we want eyes in those places too.
Those numbers didn't make sense because a 737 flies much farther than 2000km. That's the distance between Toronto and Winnipeg.

The P-8 range is combat radius (from Wiki, it's out and back with 1/3 fuel for combat operations) while the Global 6000 range is ferry range (one-way, without fuel for operations). Also, a better comparison would be if there was a combat radius for the Swordfish with the added components and weight.
 

Good2Golf

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Major air powers in the world - including the naval aviation of certain navies - operate Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft. Notably absent from those air powers is the Royal Canadian Air Force. All G7 countries except Canada; China, Russia, Brazil, India, Australia, even Singapore whose territory is smaller than Calgary, operate AEW&C. Would operating those kind of aircraft not increase the capability of the RCAF? During peace time, I think those can be used to patrol our territories in the North, to ensure the integrity of Canadian sovereignty. Canada is such a vast and scarcely populated country. Surely we can use early warning that the aircraft provides.

From what I see, there are five platforms currently available that are not produced by Russia or China. Boeing E-767, Boeing E-7, Grumman E-2, Embraer R-99 and Gulfstream G550 AEW. E-3 AWACS is no longer in production and while CP-140 does surveillance, it is not an AEW&C platform.

To discuss, does the RCAF have the need for AEW&C platform, or is it content with AWACS that NATO provides? If yes, which one among the five platforms above that most fit into RCAF missions and requirements?

Perhaps "platform-centric" is not the best way to view the issue? Why not "capability-centric" and let the platform(s)/systems flow from that?

To begin, the RCAF already participates in a (joint) sovereign AEW&C program that provides continental AWE&C capability. The platform is an E-3A AWACS. In the future, NORAD renewal will substantively depend on ABMS to provide the updated/upgraded AEW&C capability. So.....'Tick.'

So then Canada must decide if it wants to be in the business of providing AEW&C capability, in support of its own national values and interests and/or those of allied nations, beyond its own sovereign borders? That's the question. Frame the characteristics of an affirmative answer to this question, and that will shape what platform and/or platforms, should form the solution. I'll posit that a future AEW&C solution will AT LEAST have the following components: a) Manned aircraft; b) optionally-piloted aircraft; c) unmanned aircraft; d) space assets; and e) ground surveillance assets.

Is your intent to discuss a) only?

Regards
G2G
 

SupersonicMax

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It would be great if we had a national military strategy to help frame the capabilities we need. SSE has some goods but it doesn’t go into enough details on what operating environments we need to be ready to operate into. As it stands, the tactical/operational levels seem to largely decide what we need to prepare for, which is inappropriate.
 

GR66

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Those numbers didn't make sense because a 737 flies much farther than 2000km. That's the distance between Toronto and Winnipeg.

The P-8 range is combat radius (from Wiki, it's out and back with 1/3 fuel for combat operations) while the Global 6000 range is ferry range (one-way, without fuel for operations). Also, a better comparison would be if there was a combat radius for the Swordfish with the added components and weight.

For a more apples to apples comparison, the ferry range of the P-8 is listed at 7,500km (http://www.military-today.com/aircraft/boeing_p8_poseidon.htm).

I think that the maximum (ferry) range makes a difference based on the missions for which you'd use each of the aircraft.

At almost 14,000km range, a Swordfish could leave Shearwater, transit all the major sections of the NWP and return without refueling

1609090966287.png

Similarly, flying from Guam (which could be reached without refueling from Comox), a Swordfish could fly through the South China Sea, the East China Sea, around Japan and back to Guam without refueling.

1609091920010.png
 

suffolkowner

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I think those numbers for the global express need to be down rated a bit. Wikipedia has the Sentinel at 9249km and 9 hrs endurance


I've often thought it would be a good idea to procure a few Global Express 6500/7500 for a lower cost ISR/AEW platform but I have a hard time believing it is a credible replacement for the Aurora. I wouldn't think the need would extend to a great many aircraft either. Then we bump up against the near constant; where do we get the people
 

Weinie

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With that kind of mission set,(9-12K km) would you need a second crew on board? Don't know a lot about this world.
 

SupersonicMax

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My longest Hornet mission was ~10hrs (alone), B-2 crew fly 24hrs missions. I think it could be manageable.
 

dimsum

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With that kind of mission set,(9-12K km) would you need a second crew on board? Don't know a lot about this world.
Auroras only have 1 crew onboard and do 10+ hour missions. The Argus had 2 crews, but their missions were about 18 hours on average.
 

dimsum

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For a more apples to apples comparison, the ferry range of the P-8 is listed at 7,500km (http://www.military-today.com/aircraft/boeing_p8_poseidon.htm).

I think that the maximum (ferry) range makes a difference based on the missions for which you'd use each of the aircraft.

At almost 14,000km range
As I said, that range is for the aircraft it's based on, not including the weight of the mission equipment, armament, crew, etc. It's not a valid comparison.
 

GR66

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As I said, that range is for the aircraft it's based on, not including the weight of the mission equipment, armament, crew, etc. It's not a valid comparison.
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).
 
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