A French E-2C Hawkeye, an airborne early warning and control aircraft, completed a mission over Romania as part of NATO’s Neptune Strike 24-1 exercise.

This mission involved an operational flight from the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, located in the Mediterranean Sea near the Greek coast, to Borcea Air Base in Romania.

During this mission, the E-2C Hawkeye took off from Charles de Gaulle, marking the first time the French aircraft carrier operated under NATO command during the exercise. The mission supported NATO’s Air Shielding efforts, aimed at reinforcing the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture in Eastern Europe.

Upon reaching Romania, the Hawkeye was refueled during a brief Agile Combat Employment (ACE) stopover at Borcea Air Base. This stop allowed for an extension of its mission duration and showcased the interoperability between NATO allies, with Romanian ground crews facilitating the refuelling operation.

This deployment is part of a broader set of activities under Neptune Strike 24-1, which involves naval and amphibious forces from various NATO countries performing integrated missions across the European theatre. These operations are designed to demonstrate and enhance the Alliance’s joint maritime strike capabilities and include the participation of other French naval assets like Rafale fighter jets.

Avatar photo
George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

51 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

DRS
DRS (@guest_816333)
22 days ago

What do we thin will be our next early warning craft to replace “the baggers” / Merlins. Ideally it is something like the bell v280 manned with a station/two for longer endurance with AESA panels mounted wrap around on fuselage, or if not that then the Mojave or Protector with short take off kit.

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_816337)
22 days ago
Reply to  DRS

Yeh I see no chance of us getting the Bell tbh. But Drones like the MQ 9 do have AEW options

Last edited 22 days ago by Hugo
Jim
Jim (@guest_816351)
22 days ago
Reply to  DRS

It’s already been stated it will be Proteous drone carrying a radar replacing CROWSNEST

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_816363)
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim

will definitely need something

Paul
Paul (@guest_816353)
22 days ago
Reply to  DRS

The V280 will have to be marinized and made to fold up like a mini V-22 Osprey to be useful on ships.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_816364)
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul

£££££££££😡

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_816381)
22 days ago
Reply to  Paul

And the radar antennas in a place to not be affected by propellers.

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_816636)
21 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Bell are pitching a marinized variant to the USMC. Who will be looking to replace their UH-1Y Venoms in the very near future. Which are basically modern day Hueys. For Pacific Ops, the Venoms don’t have the range or speed to keep up with the Ospreys. Bell haven’t directly said it yet, but they have implied that the Valor could replace the Seahawk in the maritime and ASW roles. A full size marinized Valor was shown at a demo in the States a year ago. Complete with folding prop-rotors and the main-wing swung over the cabin. The V-tail was moved… Read more »

Paul
Paul (@guest_816647)
21 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

That’s super interesting, thanks very much for the reply. I had somehow completely missed the mockup of the Marine version of the V-280. There is definitely mention of the “Future Vertical Lift” in both the Navy and Marine Corps budgets, but it’s still developmental. A marinized V-280 would definitely work for the Marines, who absolutely value the speed and range advantage of the V-22. The UH-1Y is a great helicopter, but as you say it just can’t operate with the V-22. I tend to agree with you about standard helicopters for ASW work. I can see USN/USMC Future Vertical Lift… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_816671)
21 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Helicopters are much easier to use and care than these much more complex machines.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816334)
22 days ago

How does this French capability compare with our own Merlin/Crowsnest? Is the E-2C superior in every respect?

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_816336)
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Tbh yes. Greater radar range due to a higher operating altitude, and greater endurance e.g. Time in the air.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816389)
22 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Thanks. Not much difference in endurance. 6 hrs for carrier-launched E2C and 5 hrs for the Merlin.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_816502)
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

If that numbers are for non AEW Merlin note that the radar adds drag.

Jim
Jim (@guest_816354)
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

E2C is much more capable but it’s worth noting the CSG has never operated outside of the range of E7 and E7 is vastly more capable than E2. Given F35’s radar and sensor fusion capability it does not need AWACS in the way that Rafael and F18 do. This is much the same reason that the USN is happy to operate America class as lightning carriers with no organic AWACS capability. E2 is vital in the pacific where distances are large and airbases are rare. In the North Atlantic, Middle East and Mediterranean where we have an abundance of much… Read more »

bench
bench (@guest_816383)
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim

 In the North Atlantic, Middle East and Mediterranean where we have an abundance of much larger AWACS platforms and lots of bases it’s not that useful.” Nonsense, a CSG, wherever it is, will always need an AWACS platform to be independant from other air assets.E3 and E7 won’t always be available, especially at sea. Furthermore, a Crownest (which is a reliable platform) doesn’t have the endurance, the range, the power of a Hawkeye.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816406)
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Thanks Jim. Very useful to get the F-35B point across. Most have been content to slag off Merlin/Crowsnest as being inferior to any and every fixed wing AWACS (or ASaC if you prefer) without pointing out that factor.
Despite teh Tories tilt to the Indo/Pacific, it seems that Labour would operate the carriers closer to home ie the North Atlantic, Middle East and Mediterranean. 

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_816415)
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Merlin CrowsNest is based on a radar optimised for detecting periscopes and skimmers.

It is a lot better at some things than many give it credit for.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816459)
22 days ago

Thanks SB. I worked at Thales, Crawley for a time, my desk being near the CrowsNest team. I gleaned that the software is constantly being upgraded and improved. It seems though that it is destined for a short service life.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_816581)
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

To be honest I agree with Labour in this instance.

Even if our defence budget went up to 3-4% of GDP we’re only going to have our current two carriers for the next 40 years. It makes sense for us to cover the Atlantic, Med and Middle East, and leave the Pacific to the US.

This would enable the US Navy to focus more on China.

Of course, we need more F-35s to make sure that we can fully fit out a carrier, to make them more effective.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816654)
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

I have come around to this way of thinking. Pretty sure I read once that with just 2 carriers procured, we have a 70% chance of deploying one at any time, particularly as they age. Best to limit their potential Area of Operations (AO). We really needed three carriers and an LPH, to fully do ‘Global Britain’ – but not enough money or crews.

simon alexander
simon alexander (@guest_816703)
20 days ago
Reply to  Steve R

SR it’s wordplay. the royal navy a global navy is a silly bit of over promotion probably by fag end govt, this is a turn off for Labour. BUT these new labour carriers can go anywhere at little extra expense and should be used as the need arises. exercise trips to japan or australia why not. agree the main purpose is to defend europe.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_816413)
22 days ago
Reply to  Jim

“ CSG has never operated outside of the range of E7”

What E7’s – we don’t have any in service yet?

Jim
Jim (@guest_816462)
22 days ago

We will by next year

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_816644)
21 days ago
Reply to  Jim

That’s not strictly correct. The USN operated the Lightning Carriers with the support from USAF E2 Sentries, flying out of the Philippines. However, due to local weather and only having two aircraft. The Sentries could not provide 24/7 coverage. In the report following the trials they did highlight that the carriers to be more effective, really required an organic AEW platform. But the size of the carriers would limit the type of aircraft and therefore the radar that could be used, i.e. VSTOL aircraft. Yes you can use a F35 in the AEW, ISTAR and ELINT capacity. But it does… Read more »

Paul
Paul (@guest_816356)
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The E-2C is relatively old and is being replaced by the newer E-2D, which has a more powerful AESA radar and newer systems across the board. The French are buying 3 of the new E-2Ds to keep up interoperability with the USN.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816526)
21 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Thanks Paul.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_816382)
22 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

E2C much more capable, there is no comparison. French have the 2000 Standard with APS-145 capable of tracking 2000 aircraft and 250nm range.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816402)
22 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Thanks Alex. What are the numbers for Crowsnest?

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_816503)
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I would say hundreds of tracks with probably 100nm range, it is also affected more by the enemy altitude. Cruise altitude probably 9000m for E2 vs 2500m for Merlin limits the sea level range more. Should note that the E2C have also a very advanced and integrated ESM/Elint system, Radar crew is also bigger. 3 vs 2 i think. E2C is also much faster going to search position or covering a search track. Also not sure that Merlin can fly with that radar drag at most optimal cruise speed. But i think the must damning fact is that RN wants… Read more »

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_816632)
21 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Don’t forget that crows nest will be working with the ships radar. One looks up the other looks down to try and cover all of the sky

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816653)
21 days ago
Reply to  AlexS

Thanks – 100nm range does not sound a lot, given the speed that enemy fast jets can fly.

I understand Crowsnest is a development of Searchwater – maybe its development limit has been reached, hence early pension date.

Math
Math (@guest_816504)
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Even id E get the E2D, the development of R37 for Russia and J20 plus long Range missiles for China is a big concern for all ZX plateforme. I am not sur that AWACS kind of plateforme is the future of EWx.

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_816661)
21 days ago
Reply to  Math

Salut Math. The problem is, what do you replace it with? A lot of people are talking about replacing them with drones such as the Protector. But that comes with a major problem. In that the size of the airframe limits the type of radar it can use. For example, the MQ-9 Protector drone won’t be able to carry a S-band radar, such as Saab’s Erieye. As the Erieye’s antenna is too large. This means a Protector sized drone can carry an X-band radar, possibly stretching to a C-band operating closer to its 8GHz upper limit. Therefore, its detection range… Read more »

Math
Math (@guest_816673)
21 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Bonjour Davey, I played for fun to see what could be the range of an AWACS radar. When it flies at 10km, earth curve give his beam a max range to earth of 350km. You can double it if the enemy flies himself at 10km. Then, I played with numbers like area covered static and area covered within an hour. A jet fighter with his nose radar cannot compete or provide any meaningful area coverage, given a 120 degree frontal arc. The fighter can go in, come out, but cannot survey. So the detection system will have to be the… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_816641)
21 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Yes and no. The Hawkeye can fly at least twice as high as a Merlin. So its radar horizon will be significantly further. The E2C uses a PESA radar that is mechanically rotated. Whilst Crowsnest uses the old Searchwater 2000 pulse-Doppler radar, that uses mechanical scanning. With the Crowsnest upgrade it does get new signal processing. Which does help. The main difference is that the E2C’s radar operates in the UHF band, whilst Crowsnest operates in the X-band. Which means an E2C can detect large targets over 600km away. Whereas Crowsnest is closer to 250km. However, when using UHF radars… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816655)
21 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Thanks mate. This all looks to be top info.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_816931)
19 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Service ceiling of E2 is about 9000m, Merlin AEW i guess will not be above 2500m.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_816362)
22 days ago

a very good option to Be able to operate from your carrier it though, needs a catapult to launch it.(sound familiar?).

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_816393)
22 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

Issue there is how many more billions do you wanna pay just to operate a handful of also expensive aircraft

Simon
Simon (@guest_816435)
22 days ago
Reply to  Andy reeves

AR wishing them well but the French still have build a gen 5 carrier deck fighter plane.

Math
Math (@guest_816505)
21 days ago
Reply to  Simon

Plans are unknown yet. It is possible that F5 rafale will be purchaser to fill the gap. The latest Rafale bus will be advanced enough on sensor fusion to compete with F36 block IV and the radar should render stealth of existing planes far less efficient. Rafale F5 is announced as early as 2027 and Soto me as late as 2036. The development of loyal wingmen and accompanying drones is not disclosed. And for naval operations it is even harder. Predator could be interesting, Aaron also. But the big thing is the FMAN/FMC missile, developed with Italy and UK. This… Read more »

Darryl2164
Darryl2164 (@guest_816380)
22 days ago

We could do with a couple of these on our carriers , but then we could do with more f35s and escorts so not much hope really

Mark
Mark (@guest_816397)
22 days ago
Reply to  Darryl2164

Given you would have to completely refit the carriers to operate them, no hope is the more accurate answer…

Darryl2164
Darryl2164 (@guest_816407)
22 days ago
Reply to  Mark

Maybe we would be better off retro fitting catapults to the carriers , the f35c,s are I understand much cheaper and can carry more fuel so it wouldn’t be a bad call . The amount of time they are in port nowadays means we would hardly miss them

Leh
Leh (@guest_816421)
22 days ago
Reply to  Darryl2164

The money though, I would much rather them purchase more T26s and T31s. Or to fund the new T83.

Last edited 22 days ago by Leh
Hugo
Hugo (@guest_816798)
20 days ago
Reply to  Darryl2164

What? We are way past the point of getting F35Cs like can we just drop that. We already have 30+ F35Bs, we cannot sell or exchange them and hope to get C models any time soon or in a similar number.

Darryl2164
Darryl2164 (@guest_816877)
19 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

I,m not advocating selling the b,s they would make a welcome addition to the RAF stock , but as I understand it orders haven’t been placed past the 48 we know of so why not order c,s and give the carriers some real clout and more of them ( they are cheaper ) . At the moment we don’t have enough for a full compliment for 1 carrier let alone both .

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_816886)
19 days ago
Reply to  Darryl2164

You say C is cheaper, which it is. But you forget the 1+ Billion in cost per carrier, plus years of refit to even get catapualts on them. On top of that you need to massively increase deck crew. None of that is feasible. We should focus on what we have, not wishing for unrealistic possibilities.
The 2nd batch of F35 being ordered is 27ish, nowhere near enough to staff one carrier or fill squadrons.
And the 48 F35B we have now are not enough to sustain 4 squadrons either. They need the extra 20+ to allow for maintenance cycles.

Nuh uh
Nuh uh (@guest_816496)
21 days ago

Didn’t we all see the spelling error on headline??

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_816583)
21 days ago

Poland’s meant to be purchasing a balloon-based radar system. It would be pointless getting any of these for our carriers as we’d have to retrofit the carriers with catapults to launch them, and we’re looking at drone-based solutions, but would a balloon be any good?

Tether it to the carrier and let it just float up in the air. All it needs to do is float up in the air and detect incoming threats. I could see this being a relatively cheap and decent solution.

Poland to purchase balloon based radar system (ukdefencejournal.org.uk)