Current plans are to replace Crowsnest fitted Merlins with an uncrewed air platform, do you have a better idea?

Here’s information on the current plan.

Royal Navy looking at fixed-wing carrier based drone for AEW

However, a notice issued by the Ministry of Defence is asking for viable alternatives.

“Royal Navy Carrier and Littoral Strike Groups need a capability that provides air and surface surveillance that enables over-the-horizon situational awareness. This capability ensures Commanders can detect, track and recognise surface and airborne objects, and respond to them efficiently. So, in partnership with the Royal Navy, the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is pleased to launch the Look out! Maritime Early Warning Innovations competition, which aims to develop alternative future concepts for the Early Warning systems currently deployed in Maritime Task Groups.”

Current early warning maritime capabilities are delivered by sensors mounted aboard airborne platforms, with the current assumption for a follow-on for Crowsnest (an airborne early warning system fitted to the Merlin Mk2 helicopter) being a singular large radar sensor mounted on an uncrewed air platform.

The notice goes on to say:

“DASA welcomes alternatives that are not based on this approach and match or exceed current airborne capabilities. We are seeking a potential successor to Crowsnest, which has a planned out-of-service date of 2029.”

Submit a proposal If you have an innovative idea that can enhance:

  • surveillance horizons and/or target detection capability
  • operational effectiveness through timely processing and dissemination of information
  • operational efficiency through optimisation of system functionality

What early warning maritime challenges do the MoD want you to overcome?

  • improving threat detection and situational awareness, including detecting, tracking, recognising and identifying hostile and non-hostile contacts, on the surface of the water and in the air
  • enhancing information processing and dissemination, including integrating the data from sensors and other air and surface platforms within the Maritime Task Group into a composite picture of activity to enable timely decision making
  • optimising efficiency by minimising workforce requirement through a reduced operator and support burden
  • novel or innovative methods of combining system functionality will also be considered, alongside solutions to enhance decision-making efficiency

Thinking of submitting a proposal?

The closing date for proposals is Tuesday 6 July 2021 at midday BST.

Click here for the full scope in the competition document.

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captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

Well Beam me up Scotty ! An open invitation to all you Experts on here, can’t wait to see what proposals will be forth coming. 😮

Nate m
Nate m
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

why would they want to replace the crownnest system doesn’t it work well?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

It works very well. But a UCAV AEW will be much more survivable. And cheaper to operate in the longer term.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Also being able to launch “another one” provided there is an attrition reserve is of value. Quite apart from making it too much bother for the opposition to bother downing them if they are simply replaced.

Last edited 1 month ago by Supportive Bloke
Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

It also I would think gives several other advantages. It allows the carrier strike group to in effect hide in the ocean as they can be tracked using Their high powered radar emissions long before they are detectable by radar.
Cheaper and once the radar is turned off harder to detect so harder to follow back to the carrier.
You are not putting men into harms way.
What I don’t get is if they are fitting cats and traps to launch them. Why not do the job properly and increase the queens inter operability?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Some good points Michael. I don’t see the need for the full beans cats & traps. The F18 & Rafale don’t bring anything to the party that the F35 cannot do. And everything else is pretty old tech now, or simply far to expensive. We have a fantastic relationship with the USMC, and future UCAV’S and loyal wingman will bring a huge chunk of capability and flexibility that won’t cost insane amounts of money. Could be an interesting few years. And the F35B is only at the beginning of it’s growth life. It will have some pretty amazing capabilites in… Read more »

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I agree to a certain extent however. I still have my doubts how useful the F35 will be in a air to air fight. Plus their is the not unreasonable scenario where ours is the last operable flat top standing abd to provide full interoperability with other nations maritime aircraft would be very useful!

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

The F35 will have fantastic air to air capability. With ASRAAM, AMRAAM, later Meteor. It’s unrivalled situational awareness, all aspect stealth, and Helmet mounted display, plus very good performance means it can outclass any would be aggressor. Only the F22 is superior. And even that lacks a HMS or IRST.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

In my opinion as an armchair expert. It doesn’t have the range, ceiling, speed to intercept or internal weapons capacity.
So I guess we will need to agree to disagree

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

In real world air combat, top trumps stats don’t make much difference. Situational awareness is king. It can hit 1.6M with full internal weapons and fuel. No 4th gen can do that with a meaningful weapon load. People talk about it’s range. yet it carrys more fuel internally than a Typhoon or a Tornado. And it’s stealth will give it a huge advantage. Along with a world class AESA radar and EO system. The pilots love it, the ground crews love. It’s a game changer.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

It works fine, it’s just not as good as a fixed-wing platform like Greyhound. Loiter time, range, ceiling etc are all dramatically lower

Nate m
Nate m
1 month ago

so why not buy some that’s been proven in the field like the e2 Hawkeye? instead of researching new ones.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

Because the E2 is old expensive tech with limited duration on Station.

dan
dan
1 month ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Old tech? E-2D has state of the art AESA radar, ect that is also now getting air refueling capability. Nothing else even comes close to it’s capabilities for a carrier borne AEW platform.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

… and how would this platform actually operate from our carriers dare I ask. Plus by 2030 there really ought to be better alternatives to it surely all things considered.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

If you compare loiter time and range and cost the E2D is yesterday’s tech.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

It’s hard to tell if you are being serious or this is parody.

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  Netking

It’s hard to tell if you care about facts. Google the info on current Unmanned systems compared to the expensive and limited loiter times for the E2D. These are old airframes, designed 50 years ago with new lipstick and upgraded internals. Think B52 with new paint and internal refurbishments.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

Please, by all means, show me a carrier based unmanned system that has longer loiter time and a more modern radar than than E2-D. I’ll wait……

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

Because the Hawkeye cannot operate from the QE class in its current configuration and the catapult/arrester gear they are looking at installing would not be able to safely operate the type. A UAV looks to be a perfect solution with good potential for export sales. The main issue is the aside from the cost of installing the launch and landing equipment is the the meagre datalink capability currently installed on the QE class.

Nate m
Nate m
1 month ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

oh right. i forgot about that. i believe it is magnetic? on the qe carrier instead of a catapult.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

The QE have neither magnetic nor catapult.

Nate m
Nate m
1 month ago
Reply to  James

oh so it can only accommodate STOL or VTOL aircraft cuz the things like f18 or rafeale needs catapults and arrestor. acutely not sure if the rafeale needs catapults.

simon alexander
simon alexander
1 month ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Fedaykin , there must be quite a potential market for airborne unmanned early warning at sea, especially navies operating without cats and traps.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

Surely within this decade even the US with its very able manned EW systems would be looking for drone alternatives to Hawkeye.

Even VAR needs to take the human element out of it (sorry couldn’t resist)

dan
dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

Too many limitations such as range, service ceiling too low, endurance, power to just name a few. Using a helo for AEW just won’t cut it in a near peer conflict when you’re going up against dedicated jet AEW aircraft.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

But the E2D isn’t jet either! E2D has major limitations on seeing downwards with the body of the aircraft and the propeller interference (as DaveyB pointed out elsewhere) it is good but it is not perfect. There is no carrier maritime jet based AEW airframe in service….. Really we are talking about two different platforms a) small system that uses civvy level parts for drugs busts; and b) hight tech high powered platform for carrier / fleet protection these are not the same usage case. As there is a decent sized market for this kind of thing if you are… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Supportive Bloke
Netking
Netking
1 month ago

“E2D has major limitations on seeing downwards with the body of the aircraft and the propeller interference” This may or may not be a major issue as I am certain there are developed tactics to mitigate these. I’ll defer to Daveyb’s radar knowledge on the subject but since the aircraft is always in motion, it’s field of view is never constant and so what was potentially out of view a minute ago comes in a view moments later. In terms of tactics, a second aircraft looking down from a different position may have a clear view of what could potentially… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Netking

Shuttering reduces sensitivity as the transmit receive window is shuttered for a significant fraction of each second.

AEW and faint signals + sea skimmers don’t allow for time or blind spots.

Yes, you can get round it with signal processing but you cannot beat physics if you are below sensitivity due to the shuttering effect.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago

Wouldn’t the same thing be the case for something like the Sampson radar which rotates?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Netking

The shuttering effect is caused by the rotation of the propeller blades blocking the radar’s view.

The shuttering is distinct from rotation effects.

There are no propeller blades (or anything else) blocking Sampson’s view.

Netking
Netking
1 month ago

Do you have a source for this claim of a major limitation that I can read up on?
I’ve searched all over and I haven’t seen this claim made anywhere else. One of the major selling point of the E2-D is it’s world beating capability to spot sea skimmers over the open ocean, the littorals and even over land so this claim of a major limitation runs directly counter to this.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Netking

You will not find that kind of information in the public domain. The fact there is an area of sensitivity reduction, I won’t say blind spot because it isn’t, is just physics. Anyone with a working knowledge would be able to deduce that. E2X was developed for AEW not so much for spotting boats and sea skimmers. The Russian threat was from big long range bombers – Bear etc. Sure the thing has been refined almost out of all recognition but the constructional fundamentals are the same. Why hasn’t it been changed? The sheer cost of developing something from scratch… Read more »

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

Merlin out of service is 2030. so its replacement is starting to be considered.

AJP1960
AJP1960
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

Crowsnest works well enough. However, being helicopter born brings 2 core disadvantages

1/ Flight duration
2/ Max altitude – and it’s altitude that impacts maximum range. The higher you fly, the further away the horizon so the earlier you get to spot low flying threats

Steve M
Steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Tethered areosat / blimp, loads of power / processing from mothership, should be able make it capable over moving at over 70knots which would be to carrier speed plus headwind, anything more would be pulled back down in to storage, Crowsnest etc won’t be flying in 40knot+ winds

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Lol….. I posted that Idea a few weeks ago !!!!

Col
Col
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

A concept of an inflatable/floating sensor was released a few years ago by BAE systems of what a future ship could look like.

150901141608-06-starpoint-warship-super-169.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by Col
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

Great idea: except you might as well put the criers GPS coordinates live on Twitter.

You never want active radar centred over the carrier!

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

With a ten Mile Tether though, it could help to confuse !

Andy a
Andy a
1 month ago

Surely it could be made partially stealth. Can we pass data round platforms like the cousins can? A picket could put it up?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy a

That is fine if the radar is passive.

As soon as it goes active or into EW it’s position is fixed in lights.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

That’s an interesting solution, but would presumably have to be deployed from a support vessel rather than the carrier itself. I wonder how large the blimp would have to be in order to support the weight of the radar and all its electronics? Could it be fitted into the hangar of something like the Tide class ships, or would you need a dedicated support vessel to carry and operate the blimp(s)?

steve M
steve M
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve M

was thinking something like this could fit on back of tide type ship and fit big VLS in front with Aster/sea ceptor sail it 20mi + fm carrier
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tethered_Aerostat_Radar_System
hell enough space for big towed array as well

Airborne
Airborne
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Balloon, man in a basket, towed behind at 1000ft! Hows that, cheap, green and effective…….

Trevor
Trevor
1 month ago
Reply to  Airborne

But watch out for red Fokker triplanes….

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
1 month ago
Reply to  Trevor

My uncle Bertie laughed at we small children when we asked him he didn’t shoot back. He told us he waved like mad for the men below to winch him down. Only war story I ever heard him tell. Nice man.

Trevor
Trevor
1 month ago
Reply to  Barry Larking

They had to be brave men to go up in the WW1 observation balloons, a stationary target with no means of protection against fire from the trenches or aircraft. Most such men don’t talk much about their experiences.I remember my sons asking my father in law (ex marine) how he survived Normandy 1944:his answer was simply “I was good at ducking”

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  Trevor

They did have AA batteries surrounding them…and also had parachutes. The usual procedure when seeing enemy aircraft coming was to hit the silk, whilst the ground crew winched it in.

John N
John N
1 month ago

If it eventually enters production, I think the Bell V-247 tilt rotor UAV would be a good platform for AEW, plus other maritime roles too:

https://www.bellflight.com/products/bell-v-247

With the wing/rotors folded up it will have the approx footprint of an UH-1.

Cheers,

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  John N

But a Radar Cross section of an A380 !

Taffybadger
Taffybadger
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Its blatting out EM radiation, why would cross-section matter!?

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Taffybadger

Ermmm, dunno really, It was just a joke thing I thought I’d post…… Sorry !!!!😁

Nate m
Nate m
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

i get ur joke captain.

Nate m
Nate m
1 month ago
Reply to  Nate m

ya. but then again most of them are vets or formers vets.

Nic
Nic
1 month ago
Reply to  John N

A tilt rotor type UAV aircraft would be a good solution as it would have the hover capability as well as level flight .
I think it is a forgone conclusion that what ever decision is made it will be a UAV type aircraft.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Nic

What was the E copter that was discussed on here a few months back which though predominantly a civil project was computer generated in military guise operating off of the QE. No idea if it (or whatever comes from it by 2030) would be useful in this role. I guess a few of the winged VTOL hybrids might be worth a look but 8 or 9 years seems a bit soon for anything particularly useful enough in terms of what would be required methinks but they are advancing pretty quick.

Last edited 1 month ago by Spyinthesky
Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

It was the Faradair BEHA. Not VTOL, but STOL.

https://www.faradair.com/

There’s also the Samad Aerospace

https://www.samadaerospace.com/estarling/

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  John N

V-247 is dead…died with the refocus of the USMC’s MUX requirement.

Callum
Callum
1 month ago

In terms of options that offer the same or greater capability than a helicopter mounted radar, I feel like there aren’t many choices. You need a big enough aircraft to carry a decent radar a good distance for a long time, which precludes using numerous small drones. Tethered sensor platforms like that shown on the Dreadnought 2050 concept offer a great option against sea skimming missiles but still don’t offer the range of a regular aircraft. An ultra long range drone like Zephyr operating from Overseas Territories bases that shadows the carrier group would seem the most plausible alternative, although… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Callum

It is more the compact power generation that is the issue.

Radar needs a lot of power and cooling.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Callum

Good thinking but SBs comment below raises its own issues I guess. But still better potentially than most options based on current tech perhaps. Still worries me mind to think how Iran managed to take control of a sophisticated US drone a decade ago and what might stop a peer power achieving that now especially if it would effectively blind you.

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago

What about a production version of BAE Taranis, as an AEW aircraft? It fits within the weight category of the EMALS deone catapults the RN is looking at for the carriers, has a long range/endurance and additional variants could be used, too.

– Carrier-borne air to air refuelling variant.
– Long-range strike variant (RAF)

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

Personally, I cannot get my head around the whole proposal of fitting C’s and T’s to the Carriers after millions were wasted looking at this very option a few Years back and given that the weight limits preclude virtually every present and future manned aircraft, especially with a planned 50 year service life and no other Ski Ramp capable option being planned. Makes more sense to fit these to smaller newer Ships (T32 ?). Well it’s not like we view these carriers as GP offensive platforms is it ? If we did, they’d have decent weapons fit including VLS. BAE… Read more »

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

If it was paid for previously and is useful now – it is not wasted – Grasshopper.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

Huh ? I’m confused mate ? The Millions paid were wasted to be fair, It was never a go’er after that, can’t see why it would be now……. and, I ain’t “Shaolin” mate 😁

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

The proposal now is to fit cat & traps for UAVs only, whereas the investigation under SDR2010 was to convert the QE Class to full cat & traps for the F35s. Presumably EMALS reliability has progressed in the time since. It’s quite a clever idea, creating a hybrid carrier. The ski jump used for F35B which allows for operations even in bad sea states that prevent cat & trap use. But the cat & trap providing the use of a wider range of UAVs below the large size of the F35 but capable of AEW and possibly refuelling or strike… Read more »

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

I do wonder where the cat will go. Plenty of deck space for it but all placements have their own unique pros and cons.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

to the side of the ramp

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Hi GB, this is probably going to sound stupid but why is the ski ramp so narrow!
If it was made wider could it then be used with emails (yes, up a curve!) and cat and traps?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Emals…not emails! Lol.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

A thought I was considering too after seeing the Turkish proposal for fitting a winch system up their ramp to launch drones and potentially light manned aircraft though don’t see that last happening.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Launch and sortie Rate off a QE Class using a single ramp outstrips a Ford Or Nimitz class. full width ramp would create drag and slow the class,

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Agree that’s probably the best place for it, is that 100% now? I’ve not been following the mini-cat saga very closely, last I saw was the STRN article listing the different options.

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

I know Taranis was a concept, hence why I said a production version of it. Is there any reason that, if it were refined and put into production, it wouldn’t be viable as an AEW aircraft, an A2A refuelling aircraft or a strike aircraft?

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

Well it is very similar superficially to what the Americans are employing for their refuelling drone with the eventual plan for strike and I believe potentially EW too. But I think that might hide the job of making it or something like it operate similarly from carriers esp our ones without yet any means to launch and land them. I dare see something of this nature will be seen eventually mind but only insiders or those with far greater knowledge than I could predict when, even if the costs were acceptable.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

Hi Steve, yes, make greater use of the Taranis platform. Good speed , space, range and stealth. Or, if I can be a bit whacky here, what about a AEW F35 1-2 seat type, or a bit like the old Harrier Blackjack concept?

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

I’d move away from manned platforms, personally. Additional weight taken up by pilots, control systems and life support gear.

expat
expat
1 month ago

I think the USN experimented with a parasail.

adding link.
https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-10-24

Last edited 1 month ago by expat
Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Love it when you a get think out of the box forum. Here’s some whacky ideas.

A lighter than air balloon could stay on station days and carry large radar equipment. It could also be launched from the sea and towed behind a ship so you need no fuel (nuts, I know).
or
Lots of smaller drones that are digitally networked. Shoot down one and the rest compensate.
or…and most likely
A drone launched from the carrier via EMALs.

Whatever the future is going to be unmanned.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Well yes mate, it’s just great to see the option that now recognises all the hard work and effort our members put in on every article ! Personally, I like the TALONS option, it makes a lot of sense really….. Like Sampson on a really long Pole. I also think a “Dangled from an orbiting Telstar” would be good too !

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Well Capt P we shall see.
I like the balloon because when the balloon goes up you put up the balloon. Probably end up with some kind of drone that is either a tilt rotor or launched by EMALs which does both the AEW & tanker role though.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

I think that Balloons at that altitude will need a lot of Hot Air….. something found in abundance here …… 😂

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Or helium…😷

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

You said that in a really high pitched voice mate…….😂😂😂

Nate m
Nate m
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

aaaaaa!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Got to be a LTA type for long range strategic transport. I believe the US already looked at this through DARPA. Wonder what our new ARIA comes up with?!

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Interesting. You know people love to scoff at British engineering but we did invent the aircraft carrier, angled flight decks, VSTOL & RAS so who knows???

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

And don’t forget the Sinclar C5……way ahead of it’s time truth be known.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Seriously YES. All modern cars are just C5s on steroids.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Exactly mate….. but why are all these Battery powered Washing Machines on wheels, so blinking expensive ehh ?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Because someone is making a lot of MONEY!

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Noooo ! Seriously ? What bugs me though is just how the Governments of the future will find the way to replace the untold Billions of £££’s of Oil Revenue Tax’s ……. Mark my words chaps, We are all being Conned and Shafted here…… and let’s not forget that China makes up 27% of the entire World’s Emissions whilst selling us all their cheap crap and building a military capability that will soon overtake the USA’s.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Simple solution Capt, we don’t have to buy their tat. We could build tat here too. Anyway I’m off to get shares in helium (heeeelliuuum). As for replacing oil taxation; at some stage we are going to have to reform online sales tax…

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Flip me…. I’m going off Line then….

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

We would need to buy predominantly Chinese/Taiwanese built silicon to do that mind.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Abso-bloody-lutely. I’ve been on about this for years-a communist state with how many billionaires, why do you think they ‘allow’ it? All these new age liberals moaning about climate change whilst buying new mobile phones,laptops & TV’s every year – makes me laugh. If they were really concerned about the environment,western ‘capitalist’ nations would introduce a carbon tax on Chinese imports but they won’t as all the luvvies would cry about ‘inflation’ . So the EU just ignores it, signs a trade deal with China & allows Chinas coal powers into Croatia.While here in the UK all the ‘greens’ moan… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Will most likely be made up for by VAT on other goods. If people aren’t having to pay through the nose for petrol they will spend it on other things.q

I’m currently spending around £150 a month at least on petrol; if I wasn’t spending that on petrol it would be going towards something else, that’s a fair amount of money to spend elsewhere.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

Exactly it’s how they got rid of the window tax

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago

Swarm of UAS with micro-AESA panels. Can provide one huge array or be split into smaller arrays. Extremely surviveable..

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago

The Bell 247 & 280 are no brainers for this role, not sure why the RN just doesn’t go all in with the US Marine core to make this happen instead of the endless dithering and RFPs.
On any performance metric, endurance, cost, running costs, maturity, versatility and potential UK content (Radar/Engine) they are superior to other options.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  OkamsRazor

V247 is dead. Ended with the change in USMC focus on MUX.

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Somebody needs to tell Bell then as it’s still on their website.
Even if it’s not being funded by the USMC they’ll still be developing it themselves as Bell is betting it’s future on tiltrotors and is including the ability to self-fly in the Bell V-280.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

They’re hoping that the USMC might come back, but without that funding there is no way they’ll develop on the company dime.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

They will keep it or the concept ticking over as they know ther3 is a fair chance it will come back in some form. Their tilt rotor research goes back to the 50s when they first flew one that clearly fed through to present vehicles. Equally the Defiant has strong links to previous defunct projects that got superseded later and indeed most of the stealth drones are projects that originated from work in the early noughties one being replaced by the next. Meanwhile Sierra Nevada still work on Dream-chaser after decades of work and no sure market capitalisation from outside.… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago

Rotating analogue radars are not going to be part of this. Flat panel AESA.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago

Whatever platform it is will need to be long duration and high(er) altitude than Merlin. So here’s my 2 pennorth… BAE Mantis with radar underslung, higher weight limit and longer duration than Reaper, 2 engines for redundancy and power generation, higher mounted engines for safer operations on deck and made in the UK. Stick a wing fold on and jobs a good un…an attack version onboard would also add to the airgroup both for recon, CAS and MPA roles. Or… Faradair BEHA with a ventral array like the Swedish Erieye. Made in the UK, STOL, no arrestor gear required, the… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

BAe Mantis was sold to Airbus, it now forms the basis of Euromale.comment image&f=1&nofb=1

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Nope. Totally unrelated. BAE still own the Mantis design. They did look at using a development for Telemos but that went nowhere.

James Fennell
James Fennell
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Telemos became Euromale without UK. MQ-9B Protector was selected for Scavenger after which Dassault joined with Airbus and Leonardo to continue Telemos project as Euromale.

Last edited 1 month ago by James Fennell
Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Yes, but its not the Mantis design. No IP from BAE was sold. Mantis is still their product.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Crikey mate……. That’s a tad far fetched if you don’t mind me saying !!!!

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Which bit? Mantis completed a flight test campaign, it has a large endurance and payload capability. It’s more credible an idea than using other non-existing designs. A radar installation like the MQ-9 Sea Guardian is perfectly doable. The BEHA is in development, will land on and takeoff a QE Class without assistance and the RN are actually speaking to them… Zephyr/Phasa are already well advanced, their E/O systems are already at NIIRS level 6, ESM, Lidar and radar (primarily ground mapping, foliage penetrating and SAR) payloads are already under development. Compared to using balloons, variants of the LANCA, airships, non-existent… Read more »

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

I was, as usual, just taking the piss…….. 😎

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Fair do’s…

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Or how about this if you want to be really practical….can take off and land on a carrier, dirt cheap and British…

https://www.aewa.org/Library/defender-info.html

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

The first trials of CASTOR were on a Defender if I recall? Before it ended up as ASTOR on Sentinel.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago

They were. And back in the day an Islander (with piston engines) and a full load of RN passengers even landed on HMS Hermes and took off with ease on numerous occasions…
Apparently all they needed to do to make it fit on the lifts was remove 4 large bolts and the wing would come off…

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Lol, That was me doing that mate….. I had a rather large Hammer 4 !

Benjamin Rule
Benjamin Rule
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Or fit a radar in a Hercules? I understand there are some going spare soon and the Queen Elizabeth carriers should be easily big enough. Shame about the ski jump being in the way, or maybe that would add to the fun?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EERe7XEPeuM

expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Not sure its so far fetched didn’t we co-operate for with French on future capabilities for 10 years! I think it was the Lancaster House treaty.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

Aren’t Zephyr/Phasa challenged by operating north and south of circa 40 degree latitudes in their respective hemispheres, due to a lack of adequate solar insolation to gather enough energy to keep them up overnight? Thought I’d seen that specified somewhere. Operating over the Sahel however seems a mission made for them.

Edit: It was Phasa-35, which has a 35 latitude limit plus Polar Summer operations.
https://www.prismaticltd.co.uk/products/phasa-35/

Last edited 1 month ago by Glass Half Full
Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago

That will improve over time, but operations in the northern climes will likely continue to be a distant goal. But Zephyr did set its record flight in Mojave, which is bang on the 35th. The dream would be anywhere from 45 to 60.
Probably the best place to trial them for a practical role would be Diego Garcia, providing overwatch over the marine protected area around the BIOT.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

A Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander can surely land and take off if she points her bow into a head wind doing 25-30knots. I saw cesna type plane land on a flat top during the fall of siagon with 7 people on board in the vietnam. Why do we constantly have to reinvent the wheel these planes are cheap mega reliable and have good range or is the 11000ft ceiling too low?


Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

The BNDefender has a ceiling of 25000 ft, way better than Merlin. It already exists in an AEW version. Take off and landing distances look tight, even for the QE flight deck. A tilt rotor might be the best and most flexible option. I still can’t believe there is a serious intention to install cats and traps nearly but not quite powerful enough to cope with a manned fighter.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

A BN Islander (with piston engines, not the Defenders more powerful turboprops) landed and took off loaded on numerous occasions from HMS Hermes in 1968. QE Class would not be a problem…

See page 20 in below link for detail and photos..

http://www.ivanberrymandirect.com/BNAPS_Images/BNAPS_News-November_2017.pdf

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

BN Defender brochure has landing and takeoff distances of 1167 and 1108 ft respectively. These are usually calculated to clear 50ft, so could be shorter on a carrier. Given that there is an AEW version in service, I presume the RN looked at it but rejected it.
Any option that doesn’t involve the disruption and cost of fitting EMALS must be preferable.
Cheers

Gary
Gary
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Or even an updated Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer – these only needed 15m to take off and 15m to land! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Aviation_Twin_Pioneer

DMcC
DMcC
1 month ago

I have always been sceptical when experts say drones are the way forward and manned aircraft are obsolete. Drones have one major flaw, namely it’s satellite relay link. The Russians, the Chinese and the Americans all have anti satellite weapons. If the RAF & FAA were all or nearly all drones, 6 missiles taking out our satellites would render the whole force useless.
Remember in the 1950’s & 60’s experts said that aircraft are obsolete due to antiaircraft missiles!

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  DMcC

Two options.

Military LEO satellite networks in the 100’s or 1000’s, similar to SpaceX Starlink (which is already offering military comms services). They’ll be there for ISTAR anyway.

Airborne mesh networks to provide redundancy to satellites.

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago

UK Gov has a big stake (c50%) in OneWeb.

https://www.oneweb.world/

But it wouldn’t be necessary. There’s no point operating an AEW aircraft more than 100-200 miles from a ship and at that range and altitude you’ve got direct Line of Sight for comms/data links.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Rudeboy1

A lot of soft power value in OneWeb if UK govt want to use it, but I suspect it was more the future military value they had their eye on combined with domestic small satellite launch capability.

Agreed wrt to AEW link to carrier. I was answering the broader statement that drones are rendered useless with the loss of 6 satellites.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago

Not sure how feasible, and I see mention of balloons in the comments but what about dirigibles ??? I’ll confess a wee fascination with them but would they be capable enough to support the AEW gear, I know that stuff is ‘thirsty’ but if the carriers/RFA’s were supporting them they wouldn’t need the long ranges of a Zeppelin. 48 hours on station would be impressive, no reason you couldn’t have a couple of them and stagger the refuelling/crew change etc or am I just a dafty with a wee obsession for Airships…. 🤔 Answers on a postcard please, oh and… Read more »

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

I too like the 1971 film Zeppelin. However there are problems, if you watched the film it crashed and burned.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Oh the Humanity……………. 😥

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

😂

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Aye, so that’ll be hydrogen out then eh ?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Yes. We need lots of he, he, he heeeliummm. Methane works too and could be piped from the heads directly to the dirigible.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

The (theoretical) advantage of the dirigible over the balloon is the lack of ‘piping’.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

ahhhh Zeppelin in 1971 , that would be Led Zep IV I believe – quite simply the best rock album of all time…ever…oh sorry wrong forum 😉

Last edited 1 month ago by grizzler
Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

That too grizzler, let’s hope the levee doesn’t break.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Some might say your idea is full of hot air but we know that won’t fly!

Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P
Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete

Cheers Pete, that’s the sort of thing I had in mind I guess, its struck me in the past that there was potential for very long range/duration MPA roles as well as a role as an AEW type vehicle with airships.

I doubt it will happen and there’s probably good reasons for that but its something I’ve had a soft spot for for years. Think I maybe enjoyed ‘Island at the top of the world’ at little too much as a kid.😛

JJ Smallpiece
JJ Smallpiece
1 month ago

A couple of matelows in a basket under a hot air balloon with a pair of binoculars. Cheap option.

Max
Max
1 month ago

How about a multi role single prop plane such as the super tucano? It would have the range it’s cheap to buy and fly and in lower threat environments would allow strikes/close air support without having to use the f35

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Max

Way to loud though mate…… They do my head in buzzing around all bloody day !!!!

Max
Max
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

If noise is the only downside I would be happy with that

Benjamin Rule
Benjamin Rule
1 month ago

Always good to be thinking about the next good idea. But… Apparently Crowsnest is to go out of service in 2029. That means in service for only 8 years. Seems a ridiculous amount of time given it has taken 4 years to develop it. Even the most recent version of the Sea King AEW was in service for 16 years and the whole concept was in service for 36. If the alternative needs a (mini) catapult that’s going to mean a carrier out of service for a year at least to fit it and presumably we would want to test… Read more »

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  Benjamin Rule

2029 is the Merlin OSD (whih Crowsnest is mounted on).
Thats the agreed programme end at present. Thats how the Gov. presents the data. However, it will get extended as will Crowsnest.

dan
dan
1 month ago

The Brits need to get a real AEW CV borne capability before the shooting war starts with China. Their helo borne AEW will be severely overmatched by China’s big jet AEW aircraft flying from the mainland or their man made islands.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

When will it start mate…. ? Just asking for a friend….😱

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

Would the land based big jets not be better than pretty much anything that ANYONE can put on a carrier ??? Its kind of one of the advantages of being land based.

Andy a
Andy a
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

Other things we need cash for more. Just like usa with new defence budget under Joe need to prioritise. Long range fires, f35 other things come first till public accept 4% of gdp on defence

Rudeboy1
Rudeboy1
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

By the time we get there it will all be over…

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

Anyone who ends up in a shooting war with China vs what they have as land assets its game over, they are already too big and powerful regardless who wants to take them on.

The only area to be ahead of them is being stronger than what China can currently field outside of the south china sea.

DJ
DJ
1 month ago
Reply to  James

India may disagree. Currently the only nations who have shown a propensity to take China on on land is India & Vietnam (not that they have a choice). Both have to some extent been successful. The problem for China is they have only one true friend – NK. With a friend like that – who needs enemies. Finally, Germany is joining in on a naval basis. Add in France, UK, USA, Japan, India, Australia, Singapore, SK etc & things naval start to look questionable. Anyone looking for a timetable, it appears Australia has decided to slightly slow down its Attack… Read more »

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  DJ

I was referring mainly to the original post about someone taking them on from a naval point of view going against the mainland, even a large coalition of forces from the sea would struggle to take on China vs what they can throw into the sea from the land based forces. India has a large standing army for numerous reasons but they are very split east to west, if China made a large push against India they wouldnt last long, well before things went Nuclear anyways. Vietnam has done very well in the air defence arena and as we all… Read more »

DJ
DJ
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

The only nations with very high end AEW in Asia/Pacific is Australia’s & SK’s E7 Wedgetails. Even US don’t come close.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

sorry Miss……😂

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago

Yup, It’s a really difficult question to answer mate…… I’ll give you that 😎

Col
Col
1 month ago

Is this flying from an airbase? Or will this be able to take off and land on the current carrier decks? I did hear a few weeks ago that the navy launched an information-gathering exercise into launching drones and looking into CATS and TRAPS.

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago

This is a rather odd request. It rules out a single large radar on an unmanned air vehicle which is the current assumed successor. But it doesn’t exclude a helicopter successor to Crowsnest. And it wants something that can operate for/ from the littoral strike group not just from the carriers. Is there already concern that an EMAL system might not be deliverable at an acceptable price or timescale? The only alternative I can imagine is to have a number of smaller drones networked to create an overall picture. But these would be unlikely to overcome the major limitations of… Read more »

Phil
Phil
1 month ago

How about an airship?

CAM
CAM
1 month ago

As people have already said, these might be more survivable, but I think it’s sad to see things like this being replaced by unmanned systems. Although the pilot manning the system from the carrier will be safer I suppose!

Last edited 1 month ago by CAM
Max
Max
1 month ago
Reply to  CAM

Are we not trading pilot survivability for vulnerabilities in potential hacking of drones though?

CAM
CAM
1 month ago
Reply to  Max

yeah, It’s debatable

Lisa West (Comment Moderator)
Lisa West (Comment Moderator)
1 month ago

Keep it civil, please.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

There was a previous article on this site about “stratospheric airships” that fly high and can linger over a specific area for an extended period. Maybe something like this would fit the bill?
https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/france-looking-at-stratospheric-airship-for-intel-surveillance-and-recon/

Last edited 1 month ago by Dan
KPB
KPB
1 month ago

I appreciate there are limitations with altitude and perhaps load carrying, but why not autonomous heli? They’d be much faster / easier to launch and recover, could stay on station without having to do circuits, and – most importantly – could potentially be used to dip some sort of lightweight sonar too.

Emerging solid-state battery tech might be any option worth exploring for them. Lighter, greater storage capacity and faster recharge time than traditional Li-On. Plus, less burden on stores.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

Does it have to be carrier launched? What about some form of high altitude UAV with long loitering times, akin to the Zephyr? Granted they will have to sort out the payload restrictions so it can actually have the sensor equipment and have enough of them to launch every few days, but could be a more outside the box option?

John Hampson
John Hampson
1 month ago

How about a tethered drone quadcopter?   The copter could carry a AESA radar and receive power and comms via a fiber optic microcable. Getting power from a surface ship reduces the weight, size and cost of the quad. Microcables would allow higher altitudes to be reached by reducing the weight of the cable. So for example at 3000ft, a radar horizon would be 73 miles (excludes height of target). An anti-ship missile at mach 5 travels roughly 1 mile / second. So at 3000ft this would provide a warning of 73 seconds. The quadcopter could have a hydrogen fuel cell to supply emergency power.… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hampson

OK

Assuming the wire supplying the power is say 4mm2 copper with a high tensile element in it: how much per meter do you think it weights?

Then multiply by the altitude desired.

Calculate how many 1,000kg this weighs.

Then calculate how many kW it requires to hover 1,000kg.

When you have done that please check if the cable can supply enough power to lift its own weight (hint: it can’t).

John Hampson
John Hampson
1 month ago

We have moved on since this obsolete objection.
I did say microcables but did not go into technical possibilities. Only a fool would try and use copper. Graphene nanoribbons / tubes are one possible option. Graphene’s current density is roughly 1,000,000 times higher than copper. A 1m2 sheet of graphene weighs 0.001% of a 1m2 sheet of paper. Tsinghua University in Beijing appears to be currently the world leaders in developing the commercial and presumably military applications of graphene.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Hampson
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hampson

What a lovely way of expressing yourself.

How many commercial graphene cables are there?

How reliable are they in rough handled conditions?

John Hampson
John Hampson
1 month ago

May I remind you the MoD are looking to introduce a replacement in the future. The technology is currently in developement. It is not fanatasy as the electrically current densities and weights have been confirmed. May I also remind you that “commercial” availablity has absolutely noting to do with acutal availablity. At one stage microchips, or GPS, were not “commercially” available but were in use by the military, where commerciality was not a consideration. As far a “reliable” I quote “Due to the strength of its 0.142 Nm-long carbon bonds, graphene is the strongest material ever discovered, with an ultimate… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by John Hampson
DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago

Ok, this is going to be a long one!   There are really two avenues that can be used to provide airborne radar coverage, which are organic and non-organic. By this I mean the ship provides the asset or it is provided by other means. Non-Organic. Starting from the top (literally) would be a form of satellite surveillance. There are already radar satellites that monitor the weather and can search for shipping. Tracking aircraft or missiles is a whole different ball game. The issue is available power, i.e. how much power can the satellite deliver to a radar. A solar… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

And finally some sense.

Might I suggest that you write an article for George on this with some proper references to non-classified sources?

Might raise the level of debate on this area?

OkamsRazor
OkamsRazor
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Fantastic summary, this demands to be a full article. You do however sit on the fence in your conclusions. The clearly logical option is the Bell 280/247. Before the regular mime that this has been “cancelled” I would say that if the RN jumped in as sponsor this would instantly change. They are logical compliments to the F35 can operate in all sea state, do not need expensive carrier reconfiguration, have long duration, are flexible and relatively cheap.

Alabama boy
Alabama boy
1 month ago

And what is the budget for the project!! This will surely be a major influence on the way forward. If Crowsnest goes out of service in 2030 the RN must have a budget provisioned for its replacement in the MOD long term financial plan otherwise its yet another cost overrun!.. The cost and risks of developing, integrating , building, testing and certifying all of the required new capabilities (platform, radar, datalinks, training simulator, maintenance and control nets and upgrades to the ships) will be significant and may very well make other, more assured, solutions attractive to Defence . One compelling… Read more »