All posts in “AEW”

tu22e

Everything Old is New Again*

* Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace The Bad Old Days

Get out your white suit, your tap shoes and tails
Let’s go backwards when forward fails
And movie stars you thought were alone then
Now are framed beside your bed

Don’t throw the pa-ast away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

- Peter Allen, ‘Everything Old is New Again

There was a point, a decade or so ago (OK, maybe two decades back), when I thought some of my bete noirs, like medium- and intermediate range ballistic missiles and long-range cruise missile-armed supersonic bombers were going to go skulking off into that not-so-gentle night.  Alas, it appears not so:

A move by Russia to sell its production line of Tu-22M3 long-range bombers to China for US$1.5 billion to China was confirmed by the US-based US-China Economic and Security Review Commission two years ago and the bomber’s name will be changed to the Hong-10, reports the state-run China News Service  … The Hong-10, whose components will all be produced in China with the exception of the engine, is expected to fly in the second half of next year, and the country will produce 36 aircraft in the first batch to be delivered to the air force. One of world’s fastest long-range bombers which can also carry atomic weapons, the plane can cover the South China Sea, East China Sea and even the western Pacific.  Sources here and here.

So now, along with pondering MRBMs that may be the Pershing II re-incarnated, alongside bulked up Badgers, we have the prospect of the Backfire being introduced into the increasingly volatile mix that constitutes the Far East Theater.  Mah-velous.  Previously rebuffed in the late 80′s/early 90′s by the Russians who didn’t want to upset the balance of forces in theater, the Chinese evidently closed the deal in 2010 to domestically produce up to 36 Tu-22M3 Backfires (Domestic designation: H-10) with the engines to be supplied by Russia – an agreement all the more curious because of the very real anger the Russians have (had?) over the Chinese knock-off production of the Su-27SK that formed the basis of the J-11 family and the navalized J-15 without paying the attending license-fees.

While it is easy to wave the “game changer” flag, the appearance of the H-10 in the region, especially in terms of coverage in the SCS and as a possible LACM platform for strikes against Guam, will be cause for more concern and an additional complication in the “Pacific pivot.”  Already, H-6′s and H-6K’s running around the region with a variety of sub- and supersonic cruise missiles are cause for concern, and now, just as in the ‘Good/Bad Old Days’ the appearance of the Backfire on the stage once again places a premium on our ability to reach out and touch at long ranges, the archer before he has the option to shoot his arrows – rebuilding the Outer Air Battle as it were, but in an updated form to handle an updated threat and under conditions we didn’t necessarily have to face in the Cold War.   It also means stepping up our training and putting renewed emphasis on countering the reconnaissance-strike complex that would support the H-6/H-10 (and ASBMs for that matter) – time to get serious about OPDEC, EMCON and a host of other TTPs we became very practiced with during the 80′s but have let atrophy over the years.  Oh, and did I mention the need for some really, really good AEW? ;-)

And do-on’t throw the past away
You might need it some other rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again
When everything old i-is new-ew a-again

hawkeye2 E-2A

Reflections on the E-2 Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary

This Thursday, 21 October 2010, marks the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the first purpose built AEW aircraft, the E-2 Hawkeye (actually, it was the YW2F-1).  Designed around the radar, rather than adapting an existing airframe, the Hawkeye symbolized function over form – from the 24ft “rotodome” prominently perched over the fuselage, to the quadruple tail and twin turboprops.  It wasn’t pretty – but then, it wasn’t meant to win beauty contests.

It was meant for far more deadly competition.

This odd appearing aircraft has been an indelible portion of my life as well.  Our acquaintance formally spans over three decades, thousands of hours aloft and over five hundred carrier landings.  Although I haven’t strapped into a Hawkeye since my last flight in December 1995 (not coincidently, the last VAW-122 flight as well), I still feel like I could walk out and with little hesitation, perform a preflight and system startup, it has ingrained itself as such in me.

The plan wasn’t always to fly Hawkeyes.  Indeed, prior to Pensacola in 1978, my only other encounters were the occasional photo in a book or periodical devoted to something larger about flying and being confronted one morning by a picture of an E-2B, gear up, in a cornfield where it had crashed short of the runway at Offutt AFB out of fuel.  I still recall looking at that odd plane, with the big dome over the fuselage and wondering out loud who on earth would want to fly such a thing?  Of course, at the time, my heart was set on jets in general and the RA5C Vigilante in particular, but what did I know?

Social introductions came via VAW-122, then assigned to the Kitty Hawk’s airwing, one of two East Coast squadrons “on loan” to the West Coast while they were transitioning from the E-2B to the E-2C.  I was in VT-10 at the time, disappointed that the Vigi pipeline had just been closed and told I was too tall for F-4s, so F-14s were in the plan.  And if I continued to play my cards right in the simulators, classroom and most importantly in the air, then the VF pipeline in VT-86 awaited.  Into this plan, on a long, lazy Pensacola summer afternoon, the thrum of twin turboprops and a cold, dark interior lit by radarscopes beckoned.  Ever the flight hour hound, I of course leapt at the opportunity to go fly a fleet aircraft and see something a little different than what the back seat of a fighter might offer.  Two hours later, my world had been turned upside down.  I well recall walking from the aircraft, now sitting silently on the tarmac and thinking that this was truly an NFO’s airplane.  A week of arguing my case with the staff of VT-10, including a final pitch by the CO to stay fighters was met with assent to enter the ATDS pipeline at the conclusion of VT-10.

RVAW-120 provided the initial, up close-and-personal with this flying contradiction.  Before the days of glass cockpits and digital controls, pilot and NFO alike described the Hawkeye as having a “Star Wars” backend but a “Waldo Pepper” cockpit.  The backend, “tube” or CIC as it was variously known, held three aircrew – initially two NFOs and an enlisted Flight Tech, later changed to three NFOs.  All the controls and displays for the weapons system, centered on the radar, a great hulking one megawatt beast that was generated in the forward equipment compartment (FEC) and traveled to and fro through the waveguides just above our heads into the dome above.  In fact, well over half of that FEC was turned over to the generation, processing, cooling and troubleshooting of that radar.  And therein lay the first great trial and mystery, for if one could manage the setting of the radar processing, the positioning of the aircraft just so, wonderful results could be obtained.  Astonishingly small objects could be tracked, even in areas that “the community” maintained you couldn’t see.  It was the juxtaposition of the science of radar with the art of operations, and I learned from some of the best.

To the Fleet then I went and there the real education began.  If one word could describe the Hawkeye, it had to be “integrator.”  It was the Hawkeye that brought together the individual strengths of the rest of the airwing.  It wasn’t easy, as frankly the track record of our predecessors, the E-2A and E-2B could charitably be described as unfulfilled potential, and there was much wariness about what could be done.  But you worked and pushed and learned and worked some more.  It wasn’t uncommon to find someone from the VAW squadron stopping in the VF, VS, VA, VAQ and even occasionally HS ready rooms in preparation for a flight.  The reverse was substantially less likely.  The same held true for spending time with the carrier and when able, the AAW cruiser CIC personnel – brown shoes invading SWOdom’s deep dark inner sanctum, but there was method at work here and it centered on integration.  When aircraft from a sister service or ally joined the battle group for an exercise, it was the E-2 that brought them in, integrating them into the current flow of operations.  Much later, when jointness was being formalized under Goldwater-Nichols, we said we were joint before it was cool to be joint; such was the effect of the E-2.

The E-2 taught us to grow up fast and early – our peers and mentors in the squadron saw to that.  Moving to the center seat and attaining the Mission Commander qual as CICO was the goal.  But to get there one had to not only be an expert on the aircraft and airwing, but when required, assume the duties of composite warfare commander for the battlegroup.  This meant that on any given mission, in addition to all the regularly assigned tasks, you could end up running the air battle for the CVBG, a significant vesting of responsibility in potentially a very junior officer.  Just as the aircraft offered a platform that could integrate the disparate elements of the battle group and external forces, inside the aircraft you followed suite.  A good mission commander would be listening and talking on anywhere from 4 to seven radios and the intercom, while integrating a visual picture that included hundreds of surface and air tracks along with countless ESM tracks, all the while building a tactical picture in your mind of everything that was going on in a volume of over 3 million cubic nautical miles.  No other aircraft anywhere in the world, land- or sea-based could offer the facilities to enable that kind of situational awareness, and it took a special knack to do it right.

But the bond the Hawkeye and I forged wasn’t just in the air.  On the ground, ours was a close and at times, testy relationship.  As much evolutionary as revolutionary, the E-2 Hawkeye presented a bewildering array of cables, hydraulic lines, enormous canon plug connectors and a variety of black and gray boxes whose nondescript nomenclature belied the magic taking place in their innards.  With the overwhelming balance of my ground jobs in aviation maintenance, I had the opportunity, sometimes happily, oft times not, of really learning the ins and outs of what made the plane tick (or didn’t).  Joining and leading this expedition of discovery were a long procession of some of the smartest and most savvy maintenance men and women in all of aviation.  Just as it required both brain smarts and the touch of an artist to fly the aircraft or operate the weapons system, it took every skill from that of a EE major to the craftiest plumber to keep the aircraft up and flying.

Approaching repairs on the Hawkeye was often like questioning the Sphinx – many questions, fewer, if any answers.  Miles of wire and canon plugs with tens or hundreds of tiny, easily bent connecting pins ensured that there were few “easy” solutions.  Equipment, not thought of in the late 1950s was tightly packed into an airframe little changed from that time, ensuring flesh would be pinched, knuckles scraped and sacrificial blood shed in dark corners.  Temperamental hydraulics in remote areas would pick the most inopportune times to begin to weep – in quantities directly proportional to the distance from ready help.  Each aircraft, though nominally from a “production line” was in truth hand built and many assumed their own personalities.  Some were easy going and could always be counted on – others developed personas that only a Stephen King could love (and were christened accordingly).  As a post maintenance check NFO (aka “stunt mole”) you rapidly learned which ones to trust and which wouldn’t hesitate to bite your hand.

But it was through the “eyes” of the Hawkeye that my own view of the world grew and changed.  Through the thousands of hours there were times of extraordinary challenge and unrelenting boredom – of lives saved and fruitless search.  Through four squadron tours with the Hawkeye I’ve been at the center of world events and in the remotest, most God-forsaken reaches on this planet.  We’ve flown from the Arctic to equatorial jungles and Mid-eastern deserts.  We’ve chased Soviets, Libyans, Iranians, terrorists and smugglers.  Flight followed VIPs and directed S-3s on sinkers.  Tracked shuttle launches and joined desperate, fuel-starved fighters over a cold North Atlantic with a tanker in the nick of time.  Engaged F-16s in ACM and, hanging out of the aft ditching hatch, dropped little blue bombs on target barges.  Launched off pitching decks in a Mediterranean mistral and penetrated Olympian-sized thunderstorms off Central America.  In many respects, the person I am today is a reflection of time spent in the Hawkeye.

And so now we turn to the 50th Anniversary, noting as we do that in all likelihood the Hawkeye will continue flying well into the current century.  As I look at the latest iteration, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, I marvel at the new capabilities it brings to the Fleet and am secretly envious of those who will fly it.  And still, even years after my last flight, the sound of an E-2 entering the break quickens the pulse and mists the eye. . .

Congrats Grumman and Hawkeye on your 50th and here’s to many more years of hunting.

Article Series - Centenary of Naval Aviation (1911-2011)

  1. Flightdeck Friday: Smoke and the Battle of Midway
  2. Flightdeck Friday: RF-8 Crusaders and BLUE MOON
  3. Flightdeck Friday: Midway POV – Wade McClusky
  4. Flightdeck Friday: 23 October 1972 and The End of Linebacker I
  5. Former VFP-62 CO and DFC Recipient, CAPT William Ecker, USN-Ret Passes Away
  6. CAPT John E. “Jack” Taylor, USN-Ret.
  7. Flightdeck Friday: USS MACON Added to National Register of Historical Places
  8. Tailhook Association and Association of Naval Aviation
  9. Flightdeck Friday: Speed and Seaplanes – The Curtiss CR-3 and R3C-2
  10. Flightdeck Friday: A Family Remembers a Father, Naval Officer and Former Vigilante B/N
  11. Out of the Box Thinking and Execution 68 Years Ago: The Doolittle Raid
  12. The ENTERPRISE Petition – A Gentle Reminder
  13. USS Enterprise (CVAN/CVN-65) At Fifty
  14. A Golden Anniversary: The Hawkeye At 50
  15. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy
  16. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part II)
  17. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part III)
  18. Reflections on the E-2 Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary
  19. An Open Letter to “The 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation”
  20. U.S. Naval Aviation – 100 Years
  21. Doolittle’s Raiders: Last Surviving Bomber Pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, Dies at 93
  22. More Naval Aviation Heritage Aircraft (But Still No Hawkeye)
  23. Naval Aviation Centennial: Neptune’s Atomic Trident (1950)
  24. Naval Aviation Centennial: One Astronaut, A Future Astronaut and Reaching for New Heights
  25. Flightdeck Friday Special Edition: The Space Shuttle – Thirty Years of Dreams, Sweat and Tears
  26. Flightdeck Friday – Postings from the Naval Aviation Museum
  27. Saturday Matinee: US Naval Aviation – the First 100 Years
  28. National Museum of Naval Aviation – Some Thoughts and A Call to Action
  29. Flightdeck Friday – 100 Years of Naval Aviation and the USCG
  30. Guest Post: THE U.S. NAVY’S FLEET PROBLEMS OF THE THIRTIES — A Dive Bomber Pilot’s Perspective
  31. This Date in Naval Aviaiton History: Sept 18, 1962 – Changing Designators
  32. Centennial Of Naval Aviation – The Shadow Warriors

Stloweb1

Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part III)

1050L 24 Oct 1944. USS St. Lo (CVE-63) is under heavy air attack. After successfully fending off the superior surface force of VADM Takeo Kurita’s Center Force, “Taffy 3” is now defending against a surprise air attack that has lasted some 40 minutes already. One of the features of this attack is the use of suicide attacks.
The “Divine Wind” — Kamikazes.
In the midst of battle, St Lo is struck by a plane flown by Lt Yukio Seki. Penetrating the escort carrier’s unarmored flight deck, the plane and its bomb explode in the port hangar bay, igniting a massive fire with secondary explosions. When the bomb and torpedo magazine detonates, St. Lo is engulfed in flames and sinks 30 minutes later. Barely 6 days later, the carriers Franklin and Belleau Wood were struck by suicide aircraft. Both were forced to retire for repair before rejoining the fleet. This emerging threat, kamikaze attacks, were a hint of what was to come as the Fleet closed on the Japanese homeland. The urgency for getting Cadillac’s capabilities operationally deployed was being underscored by increasing losses in the Pacific…

Development & Production

AN/APS-20 Installation in AD3W (similar to earlier TBM-3W installation)

Recognizing the importance of the Cadillac system, an early decision was made by the Navy to establish production coincident with its development. To be sure, this imparted significant risk to the program, but in light of its benefits this was deemed acceptable. To facilitate this plan, the project was divided into five parts: shipboard system; airborne system; airborne radar; radar transmitter; and beacons and IFF. So far, what had been brought together was still not much more than a conceptual model – it was time for building actual sets.  Development was undertaken in earnest shortly after approval in May 1944. Using ground-based radar located atop Mt. Cadillac and operating at low power to simulate the APS-20, work on the airborne elements, particularly the relay equipment was well underway. This arrangement allowed prolonged simulation of the air- and ship-board environment, contributing significantly to the shortened development timeline.

Progress was measured in the completion of each of the first 5 developmental sets envisioned. The first set flew in August 1944 – barely 3 months after the approval to begin work was received. Each subsequent system saw incremental improvements over its predecessor with the improvements folded back into the earlier models. By October 1944 a full-fledged demonstration was flown for the benefit of USAAF and USN leaders. These demonstrations consisted of 2 aircraft and 1 shipboard set and were flown out of Bedford Airport (later known as Hanscom AFB), Massachusetts. By all accounts, the demonstration was extremely successful, which boded well for the production units, forty of which had been ordered by the Navy in July 1944.

AN/APS-20 Antenna installation on TBM-3W

As additional developmental sets were completed, permanent sites were established in Bedford and MIT (originally scheduled for Brigantine, NJ). The latter was established at MIT for the purpose of evaluating the system in the heavy interference conditions expected in the operational environment. It was in this environment that the first major problem was uncovered as the system was found to jam itself – interference was so bad that rotational data as transmitted by the double-pulsed coding and passed over the relay link was virtually completely jammed. An extraordinary effort though on the part of the development team led to a triple pulse encoding scheme. With little time to fully test this new set-up (there was considerable rework in the synchronizers, relay receivers and decoders to be accomplished), the third set was packed off to formal Navy trials at the CIC Group Training Center, Brigantine, NJ that started in January 1945 – only two weeks behind schedule

In December, at the height of the crisis over finding a means to address the interference problem, DCNO(Air) disclosed to Cadillac team leaders the urgency by which their equipment was required to combat the rapidly growing kamikaze threat. Even though Cadillac was already at the top of the Navy’s electronics development requirements, with the increased need, the Navy made available substantial numbers of officers, technicians, draftsmen and even a special air transport system to facilitate delivery of parts and personnel.

On the production side, a flexible system of generalized target dates were crystallized as designs firmed up, permitting incorporation of changes as experience was gained with the development units. Though this was undoubtedly the least economic process in terms of cost, the brute force development/production method was necessary to ensure delivery of the critical sets in time for the invasion of Japan — anything less than the very high priority Cadillac carried would have hampered successful completion. Nevertheless, a production schedule was agreed to in June with BuAer that would start deliveries of operational systems with two in February 1945. This was subsequently modified in November for initial delivery of 1 set in March 1945 followed by 4 in April and then 8 per month afterwards.

Operational Testing

Not long after starting operational evaluations at Brigantine, more problems were discovered, centered primarily on interference issues in the shipboard environment. Again, most of us today are well aware of the hazards the witches’ brew of RF in the CV environment. Mixtures of high-powered radars operating at different frequencies overlaid with HF, VHF and UHF voice comms provide an extremely challenging environment to develop and deploy a new system, even with the benefit of fifty plus years of experience. Without the benefit of that experience, the roadblocks encountered are not surprising. More modifications were made to the shipboard system with filters to screen out the extraneous radiation. Additionally, as more experience was gained with the APS-20 radar, it was determined that anti-clutter filters were needed to reduce the effect of large clutter discretes from the sea’s surface in and around the immediate vicinity AEW platform (typically out to 20 nm from ownship).  Mounting the antenna above the airframe would have resolved this problem, using the aircraft itself to screen out large clutter discretes  encountered from returns within 10-15 nm from the platform, but that was not an option for the Avenger platform.

On the West coast, training in the TBM-3W for pilots and crewmen was undertaken by the Fleet Airborne Electronics Training Unit (FAETU) in preparation for deployment. While the crews were in training, the USS Ranger (CV-4), recently returned from delivering aircraft to allied forces in Casablanca, entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard 17 May 1945 for a six-week overhaul, during which a CIC and the Cadillac shipboard equipment were installed. Underway again in July, she arrived at North Island on July 25th where she loaded aboard her airwing. This airwing was different from the conventional wing in that it included several developmental concepts; among these were the Cadillac configured TBM-3Ws and the Night Air Combat Training Unit from Barber’s Point. By August 1945 she was in Hawaiian waters conducting final CQ prior to leaving for Japanese waters when the war ended.

With the end of the war, Cadillac was almost, but not quite completed. While the carrier-based component did not have a chance to prove itself in combat, the utility of carrier-based AEW was so clear and its applications so far ranging in impact that further development and deployment would continue post-war, with deployments on Enterprise and Bunker Hill. In addition to the carrier-based component, a second development was begun under Cadillac II for a more robust airborne capability. That will be the subject for the next installment.

TBM-3W Data
Wing span: 54.2 ft
Length: 41.0 ft
Weight (empty): 11,893 lbs
Weight (max): 14,798 lbs
Max Speed: 260 mph @ 16,450 ft
Cruise: 144 mph
Svc ceiling: 28,500 ft
Range (scout): 845 miles

To Be Continued…

Article Series - Centenary of Naval Aviation (1911-2011)

  1. Flightdeck Friday: Smoke and the Battle of Midway
  2. Flightdeck Friday: RF-8 Crusaders and BLUE MOON
  3. Flightdeck Friday: Midway POV – Wade McClusky
  4. Flightdeck Friday: 23 October 1972 and The End of Linebacker I
  5. Former VFP-62 CO and DFC Recipient, CAPT William Ecker, USN-Ret Passes Away
  6. CAPT John E. “Jack” Taylor, USN-Ret.
  7. Flightdeck Friday: USS MACON Added to National Register of Historical Places
  8. Tailhook Association and Association of Naval Aviation
  9. Flightdeck Friday: Speed and Seaplanes – The Curtiss CR-3 and R3C-2
  10. Flightdeck Friday: A Family Remembers a Father, Naval Officer and Former Vigilante B/N
  11. Out of the Box Thinking and Execution 68 Years Ago: The Doolittle Raid
  12. The ENTERPRISE Petition – A Gentle Reminder
  13. USS Enterprise (CVAN/CVN-65) At Fifty
  14. A Golden Anniversary: The Hawkeye At 50
  15. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy
  16. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part II)
  17. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part III)
  18. Reflections on the E-2 Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary
  19. An Open Letter to “The 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation”
  20. U.S. Naval Aviation – 100 Years
  21. Doolittle’s Raiders: Last Surviving Bomber Pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, Dies at 93
  22. More Naval Aviation Heritage Aircraft (But Still No Hawkeye)
  23. Naval Aviation Centennial: Neptune’s Atomic Trident (1950)
  24. Naval Aviation Centennial: One Astronaut, A Future Astronaut and Reaching for New Heights
  25. Flightdeck Friday Special Edition: The Space Shuttle – Thirty Years of Dreams, Sweat and Tears
  26. Flightdeck Friday – Postings from the Naval Aviation Museum
  27. Saturday Matinee: US Naval Aviation – the First 100 Years
  28. National Museum of Naval Aviation – Some Thoughts and A Call to Action
  29. Flightdeck Friday – 100 Years of Naval Aviation and the USCG
  30. Guest Post: THE U.S. NAVY’S FLEET PROBLEMS OF THE THIRTIES — A Dive Bomber Pilot’s Perspective
  31. This Date in Naval Aviaiton History: Sept 18, 1962 – Changing Designators
  32. Centennial Of Naval Aviation – The Shadow Warriors

TBM-3W_NAN4-46

Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part II)

Project CADILLAC (Part II)

 

 

 

 

Project Cadillac was more than just a program to develop radar – it would develop an entire AEW system — Radar, IFF, relay equipment, shipboard receivers, and airborne platform. Such an undertaking would be ambitious enough in peacetime, at the height of a critical stage in the war it bordered on a divine miracle. – SJS

February 1944.  In Europe the invasion of Italy is well underway and the Battle of Monte Casino is engaged. Eisenhower establishes SHAFE headquarters in Britain. The RAF drops 2300 tons on Berlin, the 8th AF begins the “Big Week” bombing campaign and Soviet troops continue the offensive begin at Novgorod and Leningrad. In the Pacific US forces have landed and captured the Marshall Islands and have moved on to Eniwetok Atoll. In the south, MacArthur’s forces have begun Operation Brewer in the Admiralty Islands. The tide, ever so imperceptibly, is turning in favor of the Allies.  In Japan, Commander Asaiki Tamai asked a group of 23 talented student pilots, whom he had personally trained, to volunteer for a special attack force. All of the pilots raised both of their hands, thereby volunteering to join the operation.

MIT Radiation Lab (1944)

In the US, the fruits of scientific research and technological prowess were starting to manifest – high altitude bombers, Essex-class carriers, jet engines, the beginnings of nuclear weapons.   At the MIT-RL, proposals were forwarded for an ambitious program to develop an AEW system that would be deployed with the fast carrier forces in the Pacific.  It was envisioned that the system would be in place for Operation DOWNFALL, the projected invasion of the Japanese homeland, slated for sometime in early 1946. Following a series of meetings with reps from the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) the Navy formally requested the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) to establish the project. Ultimately, the project would include 9 of MIT-RL’s 11 laboratories, BuAer, BuShips, Naval Air Modification Center, Philadelphia, Naval Research Lab, several Navy contractors and Radiation Lab subcontractors and over 160 officers and men.   The project was eventually given the code name of Cadillac, the name of the highest mountain on the eastern seaboard and in the fall and winter, the location of the first sunrise in the lower 48 states.   It would serve as the site of some of the developmental relay work because of its height and proximity to the sea.

CONOPS
As originally envisioned, Cadillac would consist of two sections (see CONOPS Illustration): one airborne (“AEW Aircraft”) and the other shipboard (“CV CIC”).  The airborne unit would carry the APS-20 radar, IFF and VHF comms and relay equipment, acting as an airborne radar and relay platform for the ship. Back on the ship, the radar picture from the airborne unit would be relayed via a VHF video data link and displayed on a dedicated PPI (Plan Position Indicator) scope. Communications with far-flung fighter CAP would also be relayed through the airborne unit. Sorting out friend from foe would be via the newly developed IFF or Identification Friend Foe system which relied on an aircraft responding to electronic “challenge” signals with a coded pulse train.  The airborne unit would also have the ability to display ownship’s radar picture and have a limited capability to control fighters, but this was planned to be a fall-back capability.

Aircraft. The aircraft chosen was the only carrier-based aircraft large enough to accommodate the 8-foot radome and 2,300 lbs of associated equipment. Stripped of turret, armor, and armament, a TBM-3 Avenger served as the initial platform for Cadillac. Besides the Cadillac equipment, the XTBM-3W was modified to include an engine driven high power generator, additional tail stabilizers, addition of a crewman position in the aft fuselage and over 9 separate antennas on the fuselage, tail, and wings.

Airborne System. The AN/APS-20, developed as part of the Cadillac program, was a 10cm set that had a peak power output of 1 megawatt and a 2-second pulse. The design of the APS-20 radar was so sound that variations of this same radar would see use well into the 1960s on a variety of USN, USAF and allied AEW platforms, until it was ultimately replaced by the E-2’s APS-96/120 series among others. The IFF system was built around the AN/APX-13 with a very high power (2 kW) transmitter and one of the most sensitive receivers in this type application. It was designed to enable ID of targets on both the (then) Navy standard A and G bands at ranges comparable to the radar. To “pipe” this information back to the ship, the AN/ART-22 relay-radar transmitter, broadcast the picture back to the ship on a 300 mc frequency.The radar synchronizer also synchronized the IFF and relay signals, encoding their outputs to ensure reception even in an environment characterized by heavy enemy jamming and intrusion. Remote operation of the airborne system from the ship was made possible by the AN/ARW-35 receiver, AN/ARC-18 shipboard relay and the use of a modified flux gate valve to stabilize and orient the radar display to true North (ed. note – not altogether different from the system that was used in the E-2 almost 2 decades later). All this, of course, was in addition to the usual compliment of voice comm., IFF, and flight/navigation gear. Space, as one can see from the cutaway, was at a premium, even in the large-bodied Avenger.

Shipboard System. The shipboard system primarily consisted of relay (which included omnidirectional or a horizontal diversity receiver), decoding, and shipboard signal distribution equipment. The signal was passed to 2-3 PPI scopes, located in CIC. In CIC, the picture was merged with that of the ship in a manner that eliminated motion induced by the AEW platform – in other words, a ground-stabilized picture oriented to true north. That picture could be expanded to a 20nm view for detailed examination of sectors of interest. When tied together with voice communications, the implications of this capability were astounding.


Let us step back for a moment and review what the CONOP and “to be” Cadillac system would provide.  Expanded radar coverage, in theory out to 200 nm.   Positive identification of friendly aircraft in that volume of surveyed airspace. The ability to effect positive control of interceptors well closer to expected enemy marshaling points.  Detect and track friendly and hostile surface units (including snorkeling submarines). Finally, the ability to bring all this information together and display it in CIC enabling informed decision-making from unit up to Fleet level. We who have been fortunate enough to have operated in the age of modern AEW aircraft, digital data links and automated detection and display systems take these for granted.   It is not until one or more elements are removed that their intrinsic value is appreciated. This was something the Royal Navy painfully re-discovered during the war to reclaim the Falklands/Malvinas. That the concept, much less the hardware and integration of these many disparate elements was conceived and executed in a wartime situation says much about the technical verve and capabilities of this band of naval and civilian scientists, engineers and operators. The process of how this was brought to reality and IOC will be the subject of the next installment.

To Be Continued

Article Series - Centenary of Naval Aviation (1911-2011)

  1. Flightdeck Friday: Smoke and the Battle of Midway
  2. Flightdeck Friday: RF-8 Crusaders and BLUE MOON
  3. Flightdeck Friday: Midway POV – Wade McClusky
  4. Flightdeck Friday: 23 October 1972 and The End of Linebacker I
  5. Former VFP-62 CO and DFC Recipient, CAPT William Ecker, USN-Ret Passes Away
  6. CAPT John E. “Jack” Taylor, USN-Ret.
  7. Flightdeck Friday: USS MACON Added to National Register of Historical Places
  8. Tailhook Association and Association of Naval Aviation
  9. Flightdeck Friday: Speed and Seaplanes – The Curtiss CR-3 and R3C-2
  10. Flightdeck Friday: A Family Remembers a Father, Naval Officer and Former Vigilante B/N
  11. Out of the Box Thinking and Execution 68 Years Ago: The Doolittle Raid
  12. The ENTERPRISE Petition – A Gentle Reminder
  13. USS Enterprise (CVAN/CVN-65) At Fifty
  14. A Golden Anniversary: The Hawkeye At 50
  15. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy
  16. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part II)
  17. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part III)
  18. Reflections on the E-2 Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary
  19. An Open Letter to “The 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation”
  20. U.S. Naval Aviation – 100 Years
  21. Doolittle’s Raiders: Last Surviving Bomber Pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, Dies at 93
  22. More Naval Aviation Heritage Aircraft (But Still No Hawkeye)
  23. Naval Aviation Centennial: Neptune’s Atomic Trident (1950)
  24. Naval Aviation Centennial: One Astronaut, A Future Astronaut and Reaching for New Heights
  25. Flightdeck Friday Special Edition: The Space Shuttle – Thirty Years of Dreams, Sweat and Tears
  26. Flightdeck Friday – Postings from the Naval Aviation Museum
  27. Saturday Matinee: US Naval Aviation – the First 100 Years
  28. National Museum of Naval Aviation – Some Thoughts and A Call to Action
  29. Flightdeck Friday – 100 Years of Naval Aviation and the USCG
  30. Guest Post: THE U.S. NAVY’S FLEET PROBLEMS OF THE THIRTIES — A Dive Bomber Pilot’s Perspective
  31. This Date in Naval Aviaiton History: Sept 18, 1962 – Changing Designators
  32. Centennial Of Naval Aviation – The Shadow Warriors

Magnetron2

Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy

Project CADILLAC (Part I)

Ed note: Everything has a beginning and that beginning is usually quite humble compared to present conditions.  Consider, a small spring at the headwaters of the Madison River in Montana is the source of the mighty Missouri River which itself empties into ol’ man river — the Mississippi, all of which drain the better part of the country described in the Louisiana Purchase.  Likewise, current day Airborne Early Warning and battle management, as we know it, sprang from humble beginnings and the collaborative efforts of the private and public sectors and borne in the urgency of war.  Herewith then, the story of that effort is told as we begin the observance of the Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary. – SJS

There is an arrogance permeating our culture such that it is widely believed that the (fill in the blank with the latest technological wonder) is (1) fairly recent in invention and (2) anything that preceded was hopelessly crude and unsophisticated, if it even existed or could have been possibly conceived in an earlier age. Serious students of history, particularly technological history,  will assert though, the degree of inventiveness and technical complexity evidenced by our predecessors is indeed extraordinary, especially when put in context of the extent of knowledge in a particular field at the time. The story of airborne radar, and airborne early warning radar in particular, is one of the signatory lessons in this vein.

Radar was not unknown in the early days of WWII – indeed the story of how the CHAIN HOME radar stations, linked to coordination centers who in turn guided and directed Leigh-Mallory’s “big wing” fighter tactics is well known.  The US Navy was already working to incorporate radar into its surface ships to permit gunnery under all weather/day-night conditions and meet navigational needs.  Radar “expanded the battle space” (in the current parlance) but soon encountered problems – not the least of which was the curvature of the earth and the haven it provided to low flying aircraft.  The solution, raise the radar antenna by mounting the radar to an aircraft, was fraught with a number of challenges.

Chief among those hurdles was the radar wave itself.  The early search radars were low frequency (HF-band) with a long PRF (pulse repetition frequency) which provided the necessary range and were generally easy to generate. The down side was the requirement for large, very large antennas.  Even later radars with parabolic antennas and operating at higher frequencies still tended to be very large.  Airborne radar would need to be a microwave radar that provided high power with a smaller antenna.  Simple in thought, difficult in execution.  Yet efforts were underway on both sides of the Atlantic to meet this problem.  The solution would be a device called a magnetron – specifically, a cavity magnetron.

Simple two-pole magnetrons were developed in the 1920s by Albert Hull at General Electric’s Research Laboratories (Schenectady, New York), as an outgrowth of his work on the magnetic control of vacuum tubes in an attempt to work around the patents held by Lee DeForest on electrostatic control. The two-pole magnetron, also known as a split-anode magnetron, had relatively low efficiency. The cavity version (properly referred to as a resonant-cavity magnetron), the path British scientists and engineers were working, proved to be far more useful.

In 1940, at the University of Birmingham in the UK, John Randall and Dr. Harry Boot produced a working prototype similar to Hollman’s cavity magnetron, but added liquid cooling and a stronger cavity. Randall and Boot soon managed to increase its power output 100-fold. Instead of giving up on the magnetron due to its frequency inaccuracy (in essence, what the Luftwaffe did), they instead sampled the output signal and synced their receiver to whatever frequency was actually being generated. An early 6kW version, built by GECRL (Wembley, UK) and given to the U.S. government in September 1940, was called “the most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores” (see Tizard Mission). At the time the most powerful equivalent microwave-producer available in the US (a klystron- basically a linear beam tube) had a power of only ten watts.

In the meantime, back in the US, work was underway on electronic relays as a means of extending the range of radar. The idea was to take multiple radars, deploy them at the limit of line-of-sight ranges and link those images into one centralized picture on the flagship. That line-of-sight range, of course, could be extended if the extended range platforms, or pickets, were airborne. As early as 14 Aug 1942, the MIT Radiation Lab (MIT-RL) demonstrated this capability using television equipment borrowed from RCA (actually with assistance from National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) via a contract negotiated with RCA) and an experimental radar on the roof of another building. Further development and refinement led to the successful relay of radar signals to a receiver at East Boston Airport in May 1943 from an aircraft operating over Nantucket Island at 10,000 ft at a range of about 50 nm. In July 1943, the relay radar, the AN/APS-14 was demonstrated to naval officers at the East Boston Airport and a short film developed for COMINCH which was subsequently followed with a request to extend the range to 100 nm.

By the end of December 1943 even with the successful extension of range to 100 nm, however, there was no decision to proceed with production of the AN/APS-14 and there was movement to cancel the project. The following month though, the Navy proposed to develop an AEW system that had as part of the set-up, a high-power relay teamed with a high-power, microwave radar (enabled by the British magnetron). MIT-RL was awarded the task and Project CADILLAC was underway.

To Be Continued

Article Series - Centenary of Naval Aviation (1911-2011)

  1. Flightdeck Friday: Smoke and the Battle of Midway
  2. Flightdeck Friday: RF-8 Crusaders and BLUE MOON
  3. Flightdeck Friday: Midway POV – Wade McClusky
  4. Flightdeck Friday: 23 October 1972 and The End of Linebacker I
  5. Former VFP-62 CO and DFC Recipient, CAPT William Ecker, USN-Ret Passes Away
  6. CAPT John E. “Jack” Taylor, USN-Ret.
  7. Flightdeck Friday: USS MACON Added to National Register of Historical Places
  8. Tailhook Association and Association of Naval Aviation
  9. Flightdeck Friday: Speed and Seaplanes – The Curtiss CR-3 and R3C-2
  10. Flightdeck Friday: A Family Remembers a Father, Naval Officer and Former Vigilante B/N
  11. Out of the Box Thinking and Execution 68 Years Ago: The Doolittle Raid
  12. The ENTERPRISE Petition – A Gentle Reminder
  13. USS Enterprise (CVAN/CVN-65) At Fifty
  14. A Golden Anniversary: The Hawkeye At 50
  15. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy
  16. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part II)
  17. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part III)
  18. Reflections on the E-2 Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary
  19. An Open Letter to “The 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation”
  20. U.S. Naval Aviation – 100 Years
  21. Doolittle’s Raiders: Last Surviving Bomber Pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, Dies at 93
  22. More Naval Aviation Heritage Aircraft (But Still No Hawkeye)
  23. Naval Aviation Centennial: Neptune’s Atomic Trident (1950)
  24. Naval Aviation Centennial: One Astronaut, A Future Astronaut and Reaching for New Heights
  25. Flightdeck Friday Special Edition: The Space Shuttle – Thirty Years of Dreams, Sweat and Tears
  26. Flightdeck Friday – Postings from the Naval Aviation Museum
  27. Saturday Matinee: US Naval Aviation – the First 100 Years
  28. National Museum of Naval Aviation – Some Thoughts and A Call to Action
  29. Flightdeck Friday – 100 Years of Naval Aviation and the USCG
  30. Guest Post: THE U.S. NAVY’S FLEET PROBLEMS OF THE THIRTIES — A Dive Bomber Pilot’s Perspective
  31. This Date in Naval Aviaiton History: Sept 18, 1962 – Changing Designators
  32. Centennial Of Naval Aviation – The Shadow Warriors

W2F-1_NAN2-61

A Golden Anniversary: The Hawkeye At 50

By any measure, fifty years is remarkable.  Birthdays, reunions, wedding anniversaries – in all of these the marker set at fifty years is justifiably prominent and noteworthy.

For aircraft — especially those in carrier aviation, it is signatory.

This month the E-2 Hawkeye will celebrate 50 years, starting with the first flight of the prototype, the YW2F-1 (BuNo 148147) on 21 October 1960.  That was the start of a run of aircraft that looks to continue well into the first quarter of the 21st Century in the form of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.  From that first flight through today, the Hawkeye has shared the flight deck with the A-4, A-6, A-7,C-1,  EA-3B, EKA-3B, EA-6A, F-4, F-8, F-14, KA-6, S-2, S-3, and WF/E-1B – all of which are now sitting in boneyards.  It currently shares real estate with a variety of Hornets, the soon to be replaced EA-6B Prowler and the venerable COD and first cousin, C-2A(R) Greyhound.  Still to come are the F-35 and UCAV-N.  Such longevity is testimony as much to the inherent flexibility of the original design as it is to budgetary realities and bureaucratic bias.  Nevertheless, such milestones should not pass with little or no recognition – and of course, around these parts that is not an option.  So, between now and the 21st, we will be posting a variety of articles, beginning with updates of an earlier series on Project CADILLAC, that started it all.  Along the way I hope that a new appreciation for the aircraft and those who have and currently are flying and fixing the Hawkeye will emerge.

Stay tuned — there’s much more to come…

Crossposted @ USNI

Article Series - Centenary of Naval Aviation (1911-2011)

  1. Flightdeck Friday: Smoke and the Battle of Midway
  2. Flightdeck Friday: RF-8 Crusaders and BLUE MOON
  3. Flightdeck Friday: Midway POV – Wade McClusky
  4. Flightdeck Friday: 23 October 1972 and The End of Linebacker I
  5. Former VFP-62 CO and DFC Recipient, CAPT William Ecker, USN-Ret Passes Away
  6. CAPT John E. “Jack” Taylor, USN-Ret.
  7. Flightdeck Friday: USS MACON Added to National Register of Historical Places
  8. Tailhook Association and Association of Naval Aviation
  9. Flightdeck Friday: Speed and Seaplanes – The Curtiss CR-3 and R3C-2
  10. Flightdeck Friday: A Family Remembers a Father, Naval Officer and Former Vigilante B/N
  11. Out of the Box Thinking and Execution 68 Years Ago: The Doolittle Raid
  12. The ENTERPRISE Petition – A Gentle Reminder
  13. USS Enterprise (CVAN/CVN-65) At Fifty
  14. A Golden Anniversary: The Hawkeye At 50
  15. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy
  16. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part II)
  17. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part III)
  18. Reflections on the E-2 Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary
  19. An Open Letter to “The 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation”
  20. U.S. Naval Aviation – 100 Years
  21. Doolittle’s Raiders: Last Surviving Bomber Pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, Dies at 93
  22. More Naval Aviation Heritage Aircraft (But Still No Hawkeye)
  23. Naval Aviation Centennial: Neptune’s Atomic Trident (1950)
  24. Naval Aviation Centennial: One Astronaut, A Future Astronaut and Reaching for New Heights
  25. Flightdeck Friday Special Edition: The Space Shuttle – Thirty Years of Dreams, Sweat and Tears
  26. Flightdeck Friday – Postings from the Naval Aviation Museum
  27. Saturday Matinee: US Naval Aviation – the First 100 Years
  28. National Museum of Naval Aviation – Some Thoughts and A Call to Action
  29. Flightdeck Friday – 100 Years of Naval Aviation and the USCG
  30. Guest Post: THE U.S. NAVY’S FLEET PROBLEMS OF THE THIRTIES — A Dive Bomber Pilot’s Perspective
  31. This Date in Naval Aviaiton History: Sept 18, 1962 – Changing Designators
  32. Centennial Of Naval Aviation – The Shadow Warriors

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – Death By A Thousand Cuts?

Disclaimer: I am not nor have I ever been an employee of N-G.  Yes, I have over 3,000 hours in their E-2C and it is with that time, and the experiences it has brought across a wide playing field that the following is submitted. – SJS

189-5606

The final deliveries of supplies and materials for the venerable E-2C Hawkeye will take place this year,  thirty-six years after the baseline model reached IOC and seventeen years after the Group II’s IOC.  The replacement, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a major advance in capabilities available to maritime forces that is unmatched anywhere by any other platform.  But it’s rationale isn’t found in posting bragging rights – there is a real and growing threat to maritime forces whether the water is blue, green or brown:

“Advanced cruise missiles don’t get much press today. They should, because several very capable types have been around quite a while. Land-attack cruise missiles like a French-built missile called the Scalp have been sold in Europe and the Persian Gulf under the name Black Shaheen. It’s big, stealthy, and flies about 500 mph. Then there
are the anti-ship cruise missiles. Just about every nation with a coastline has them. It takes constant vigilance with a big and high-powered radar search volume to pick out cruise missiles flying over land or water.”

(ed. …and don’t think the Russians have entered into a joint partnership with the Indians on development of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile out of any altruistic leanings either – SJS)
“The US Navy has prepared to meet the threat with a little-known program with the far too bland name of Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA). What that means is the Navy is pushing the technology to link fire control for the missiles mil_cec_concept_lgcarried by its ships and airplanes into a network that can pick out and shoot enemy cruise missiles when they are farther away. Cooperative engagement capability is part of the NIFC-CA, and that’s where E-2D comes in.

What the Navy says publicly is that the E-2D crew can keep track of many more targets at once in an area 300% greater than the older plane. Work stations inside have all the links needed to make NIFC-CA effective in its expanded mission: flat-screen glass displays, satellite communications and the latest secure networking.

Although the whole NIFC-CA piece is still maturing, the anti-cruise missile capabilities in E-2D work with systems ready today. None question the Navy’s need for E-2D – the threat is too compelling. Links to the Army’s ground-based Patriot air and missile defense batteries are designed in…More links to surface ships come later.”

The E-2D was approved for LRIP of 3/yr in 2008 and 2009, completed its 125th flight milestone this last July and is on track for Milestone C this spring.  Compared with the original E-2A and the E-2C developments, both of which encountered major developmental problems and ultimately failed their OPEVALS, the E-2D has successfully completed its Operational Assessment with over half the flight time involved with radar operations – and it was successfully tracking towards an IOC of 2011.  So what’s the problem?

‘$200m+ Congressional Cut to E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Puts 350 U.S. Jobs At Risk’

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Feb. 6, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Calling a $200-plus million cut to production procurement for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye a “high risk” move that will put U.S. jobs and global security at risk, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and its 280-member supplier team is calling on Congressional leaders to restore the funding. The reduction in funding jeopardizes the building of production aircraft initially planned in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

“We’ve just completed a very successful Operational Assessment with our two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye System Development & Demonstration (SD&D) aircraft and we are on schedule with our three pilot production aircraft. There is a great sense of urgency today to restore production procurement dollars into the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye budget-otherwise hundreds of U.S. jobs will be lost and taxpayers will not derive the benefit of economies of scale,” said Tom Vice, sector vice president for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. “We have the manufacturing capacity now to accommodate up to ten E-2D’s a year, which certainly supports the Navy’s plan to contract for 70 more aircraft. More importantly, these budget cuts may delay Initial Operating Capability beyond the Navy’s current program of record.”

This is how it starts – the death by a thousand cuts.  The ‘it’s only one airplane a year for two years’ mentality will only increase overall costs, delay IOC and virtually guarantee a period of spares shortages and cannibalization early in the aircraft’s life – just like it did with the E-2C in the late 70′s and early 90′s.  As a good friend and fellow VAW CO wrote me earlier today:

“Sigh, this is very similar to what happened when Group II’s first got fielded. We did not buy enough aircraft up front, and as an extra added bonus it meant the Navy did not have a lot of spares. The result was the Group II squadrons gave up engines and other things and sat with hulk when they got home-so the other squadron could make enough aircraft to go on cruise.
Of course in those days the buy was six per year.”

I remember those days.  I remember coming back from 7-9 month deployments and spending the post-cruise period frantically stripping boxes, engines, even outer wing panels to help a sister squadron get ready for deployment.  I remember going through workups with critical pieces of equipment tagged out because their replacements were unavailable.  When you finally got the replacements – a week before deployment if you were lucky, you just practiced as best you could on the trans-Lant and hoped to be ready when on the line in the Med or IO.

As we see billions thrown at saving banks from their own egregious behavior, as we throw millions down ratholes labeled for honey bee factories, parking garages in Utah, and “pig odor research” we see DoD hit with budget cuts across the board, for forces that require re-equipping and rearmament to face a growing multitude of threats on a variety of fronts.

Integrated air and missile defense is a must for operations in the littorals, especially for assets with limited self defense capabilities and which depend on an extended umbrella from surface- and air-assets operating in associated or direct support.  In a future marked by proliferation of cruise missiles of all sorts – land-attack, anti-ship, supersonic, stealth, sea-skimming and high-diving, the requirement for a platform that is able to pick these difficult targets out of the clutter presented by the land-sea interface and overland environments is a firm “must-have.”  Yet it is not enough to just pick the targets out of the clutter – a system for the future must be able to transmit fire-control quality data over secure networks and ensure that everyone – sensor, shooter, evaluator is working from a common picture.

The E-2D not only matches up well in that arena, it is a pre-requisite if we expect to successfully execute the maritime strategy.

ng_e2d_4965

E-2D Update

Full story here:  Flight-Test Program Accelerates For U.S. Navy’s E-2D

Couple of items worth noting:

Within three years, the U.S. Navy’s fleet will have fielded the technology for precisely locating small, flying targets. The target set embraces some of the Navy’s latest nightmares, including the next-generation of stealthy – sometimes supersonic – cruise missiles.Moreover, with the introduction of space-time adaptive processing (STAP) software, the hybrid APY-9 electronically scanned array (ESA) radar on board the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will be able to pick those elusive flying targets out of a background of rough terrain and urban sprawl, a far different mission than the overwater detection capability of earlier Navy airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

Nice…

The goal is "one piece of metal, one track," Mahr says. "That means everyone is looking at a single picture. I’m going to have server capability on the E-2D that can maintain some historical piece of the picture. Other parts are going to be resident in ships and with ground forces. I am the central airborne piece."

Pretty much the goal since Cadillac I, but…

When cued by other intelligence sources, the ESA begins looking ahead and behind the mechanical scan so it can focus on a given piece of airspace to pick out small objects.  "I can track a fast target," Mahr says. "Whether I can acquire any other object is just a matter of how much [radar energy] I put on that particular target" and for how long.   "I may need to see more things [outside the range of the new radar]," Mahr says. "As we move into the world of unmanned and remote vehicles, we’re going to have a large amount of sensor data available. How we’re going to operate with those unmanned vehicles is not fully understood. In some way, every airborne platform will be integrated. That challenge is coming at us."

N-G also just won the BAMS-UA contract . . . things that make you go hmmmm…..

A few details have drifted out of the aerospace industry about the capability. So far, the Advanced Hawkeye’s radar has operated at only half power. Yet the radar’s range already equals that of the E-2C’s conventional radar and the volume of airspace it can monitor has tripled. Even a layman’s extrapolation would put the new E-2D’s range at least at 250 mi. More likely it’s limited only by the aircraft’s radar horizon.

Got our attention, that one did…

Electronic and network attack, for example, are not part of the Advanced Hawkeye’s portfolio.   "Electronic attack is like [the E-2D] carrying bombs; there’s no reason for it," Mahr says. "Other elements in the network do that."  A primary attraction of AESA radars is 2-3 times longer range than single aperture radars. They are also able to focus an array’s energy on enemy sensors and antennas for jamming, placing false targets and even serving as a conduit for the digital attack of integrated communications networks.   So far, at least, the E-2D won’t be operated with those missions in mind, but there are still some interesting electronic warfare applications.

Think "burn through"…

Well, a long time ago when YHS was but a mere pup and the E-2C was still new we wondered what those who flew the TBM-3W and AD-3/5W’s would think of our mighty war steed.  Looking at the Delta, we kinda get the feeling we know — a wee bit of envy but a whole lotta pride looking at our offspring…

Plus ça change…

(1988)

plus c’est la même chose

(2008) (photo of VAW-126 by way of Southern Air Pirate)

…for the uninitiated – those would be the back-ends of the E-2C, then and now.

Oh, and Lex – per your query:

subfamily: Talpinae;
tribe: talpini;
genus: talpa; Talpa caeca;
sub-genus: hummerus

Foras una, multa: VAW Forty-One Years Later

Pausing for a moment to acknowledge this signatory event in VAW history before returning to the discussion on the MS later today… -SJS


1967: VAW-11 (West coast) and VAW-12 (East coast) constitute the two largest squadrons in the Navy with some 200 officers and 800 enlisted each.  Each squadrom supports 4 plane E-1B Tracer (better known as "Willief Fudd" or just plain "Fudd") or E-2A Hawkeye detachments on CVA’s and CVS’s around the world.  Additionally, they provide training and qualification in type and a host of administration support tasks.  The problem this was creating, among others, was a very narrow pinnacle for command and other leadership opportunities.  In an effort to rectify this, a team led by CAPT Bob Yount and made up of CDR Bryan Rudy, LCDR Myer and LT Bob Allwine met with their counterparts from VAW-12 to work out a plan to convince CNO and the key bureaus in Washington (BuAer and BuPers) of the efficacy of splitting the two huge squadrons into individual squadrons under administrative wings.  They met with CNO in February and were successful such that on 1 April 1967, a CNO message was released dividing the two squadrons as follows:

 
VAW-11 into Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Pacific, RVAW-110 as the West Coast training squadron, VAW-111 to service the remaining E-1B dets on the West Coast (this would be assumed by RVAW-110 and VAW-111 disestablished), and VAW-112, VAW-113, VAW–14, VAW-115 and VAW-116 as E-2A squadrons.  VAW-88 would be the West Coast Reserve squadron.  VAW-117 would be added later and VAW-111 would attempt a brief come back in the early 80′s, but was disestablished after barely two years.  The budget axe fell sharply post Cold War, with VAW-110 consolidating on the East coast with VAW-120 in a single E-2 training squadron, and VAW-114 being dis-established.

 

 

VAW-12 into Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing  Atlantic, RVAW-120 as the East Coast  training squadron, VAW-121 to service the remaining  East  Coast  E-1B  requirements  (and continue doing so until 1976 when they upgraded to the E-2C),  and VAW-122, VAW-123 and VAW-124 as E-2A squadrons.  Unlike the West Coast which stood their squadrons up on 20 April 1967, the East Coast took the message literally and stood their squadrons up on the 1st of April, making VAW-122, deployed on the America, the first of the new VAW squadrons to be deployed.  VAW-78 would be the East coast Reserve squadron.  Eventually VAW-125, VAW-126 and VAW-127 would be added while the same post-Cold War budget axe would claim VAW-127 in 1991 and VAW-122 in 1996 and lead to consolidation of AEWWingLANT out west as Commander, Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing when it was combined with AEWWingPAC.  VAW-77 would be added as a special mission Reserve squadron.

 

 

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