Monday, January 23, 2017

The UK gets its Airborne Early Warning System for its new Carriers. Crowsnest goes onto AW101 Helicopters.

via Defense Update.
The British Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin announced a £269M (US$327 million) deal for the procurement of 10 aerial surveillance systems to operate on the Royal Navy new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Initial deliveries are expected in 2018 with initial operational capability in 2020.
Lockheed Martin UK is the prime contractor for the Crowsnest project. The company will integrate airborne early warning radars and passive electronic support measures in the Merlin Mk2 helicopters provided by Leonardo that will also modify the Navy’s 30 AW101 Merlin HM.2 platforms to be able to carry the Crowsnet mission package.

Thales will provide the sensor suite solution for the system. With the new radar Crowsnet will replace the Seaking AEW7 that operated from the decks of the Royal Navy’s Invincible class aircraft carriers that were phased out of service in recent years. The system is an updated and improved version of the Cerberus tactical sensor suite, currently in service on the Sea King Mk7 helicopter.
The Merlin Mk2 Crowsnet will act as the eyes and ears for the Royal Navy’s ships, providing long range air, maritime and land detection and tracking capability. The Merlin Mk2 helicopters already perform a number of other roles for the Royal Navy, including anti submarine warfare, search and rescue.
One day we're going to have to have a real deal discussion on these pages about what a "real" aircraft carrier is and is expected to do.

The Queen Elizabeth Class Carrier is bigger than an America Class LHD (yes I know they've taken to calling them L-Class carriers but that's unmitigated bullshit and something they've pulled out of their asses...much more of that and the big Navy/Carrier Mafia will kick the Marine Corps so hard we'll bleed for years) but will have a similar complement.

It could operate conventional aircraft but they've chosen to go with the F-35B. Which means that while the AW101 will be a big improvement over the legacy system it will in no way compete with the E-2D Hawkeye when it comes to raw performance.

The Royal Navy made a conscious choice to move forward with degraded abilities across the board to include its future AEW system.

Why does this matter?

It matters because one day in the future the Brits MIGHT have to go it alone.
They might have to face another Falklands type situation where that little country that should be a pushover instead is launching advanced anti-ship missiles from long distance....

Making the best of a bad situation.  Dealing with the reality they face now and not relitigating decisions made in the past is what the Brits are doing.

This is good news.  But hindsight makes me wonder if mistakes were made.

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