Lockheed WV / EC-121 Warning Star
The first move was made by the United States during the Second World War. Then, in 1945, under the Cadillac Project, an AN / APS-20 radar and two AWACS aircraft were created: carrier-based TBM-3W and land (although it belonged to the fleet) PB-1W. So he became the founder of not only land-based AWACS, but also the concept of an air command post from which direct control of the actions of fighters is conducted. For long-decked aircraft, this did not work for a long time: they were too small to lift a heavy radar, several operators, and related communications equipment. Even the Flying Fortress, which served as the base for the PB-1W, turned out to be cramped for all this equipment and a large crew. But the Americans, who had a lot of American-style large aircraft, already had a new base, much more suitable for the needs of early warning aircraft than the outdated Boeing.
Even before the war, Lockheed began designing a four-engined L-049 trans-Atlantic airliner, the first aircraft took off in the 1943 year and a series of military transport aircraft C-69 Constellation was ordered with minimal changes. The plane was great: high speed, huge range, spacious sealed fuselage. Passenger airlines after the war tore it out of their hands, and the military decided that they could not think of a better base for an air command post. And put on the plane as many as two radar!
One of them was already familiar with AN / APS-20 in a traditional fairing under the belly of the aircraft. The second, AN / APS-45, was responsible for determining the height of targets, a function that AN / APS-20 was completely lacking. The antenna of the altimeter, scanned vertically, was placed in a high hump above the fuselage, giving the aircraft an absolutely unforgettable view of a sort of sea monster. At first it was sea, because the customers were military sailors. The aircraft, based on the elongated passenger L-1049 Super Constellation, went to the series and received the designation WV-2 Warning Star. The first cars went on alert in 1955 year.
The aircraft crew consisted of 12-31 people, there were at least five operators alone - in terms of the number of workstations. Airborne control could be carried out from the aircraft, but only above the sea: the all-round radar hardly distinguished low-flying targets even against the background of the water surface (light from the waves interfered), there was nothing to say about even more uneven land. Therefore, although they acquired Warning Star and the Air Force (like the EC-121), their main task was to provide long-range radar cover on the possible routes of Soviet bombers approaching, far above the ocean. In addition, the Warning Star were used for meteorological research and for reconnaissance. Many modifications were released with more advanced radars (AN / APS-103 and AN / APS-95), in 1962, a system of automatic data transmission to the ground command post appeared on some of the machines. Shortly thereafter, the EC-121 had to take part in the fighting in Vietnam, where they were used to direct strike groups, rescue operations - and to intercept Vietnamese fighters. In October 1967 took place historical event: from the EC-121 "Phantom", the hunter was aimed at the MiG and shot it down. This was the first air battle in which control was carried out directly from the aircraft of the AWACS - before that, the US Navy had already successfully intercepted with the help of carrier-based AWACS, but they transmitted data to the ship’s control post, and fighters were already guided from there.
In general, the "Warning Star" was a very successful aircraft and served in the United States until the 1978 year. This car was very well known in the USSR, since both the WV-2 and EC-121 regularly flew along the borders, conducting electronic reconnaissance and looking deeply at Soviet territory with their radar. It was impossible to ban it - everything was in the framework of international law. Shoot down the "Warning Olds" was taken only by China, and such illegal actions did not add to this country popularity. And in the USSR, it was slowly understood that, in addition to the ground-based radar network, it was also good to have air, especially in the Far East and the Arctic, in order to cover sea and ice expanses and meet American bombers on long-distance approaches.
Due to the lag of the domestic radio electronics, the design of the first domestic DRLO aircraft began only in 1958 year. They called it the Tu-126, and the base for it was to be the strategic Tu-95 bomber, modified by installing the Liana radar in a rotating dish plate, but even on this giant plane there was no place for all the necessary equipment. However, a suitable carrier eventually appeared: in the 1960, it was the passenger Tu-114, developed on the basis of the same Tu-95, but with a much more spacious fuselage.
The first flight of the Tu-126 took place at the beginning of 1962, the serial vehicles went to the troops in 1965. Thanks to a huge aviation standard antenna, the radar Tu-126 provided detection of an air target of a class fighter at a distance of about 150 kilometers, larger aircraft were detected at large distances, so according to this indicator the Liana was equivalent to the Hokai that appeared at the same time from the Americans. But, in contrast to the much easier AN / APS-95, the massive Liana could not accompany low-flying targets over land, so here the Tu-126 was at the level of its “predecessor” Warning Star. The level of automation of the processes on board the Soviet aircraft was almost the same as that of the land American, similar in number to the crew — the 24 man, even his living conditions were almost the same.
But alas, the Russian giant, having much higher flight characteristics, and outwardly looking ultra-modern, was in fact noticeably inferior even to the first "Waring Star" in the field of electronics: for example, the domestic radar system was not able to determine the altitude of the target, which made it difficult to intercept. After the modernization of American aircraft, this lag became even greater.
And in terms of quantity, the gap was quite large: there were only nine Tu-126 units, including an experienced one; the Americans produced DRLO airplanes many times more. Nevertheless, the leadership of the USSR believed that this was enough, because thanks to the in-flight refueling system, planes could be in the air for a very long time — even without it, the Tu-126 could patrol up to 11 hours. The Americans did not think of putting fuel bars on their Warning Olds, believing that their operators, even working in two shifts, would not withstand the load ...
This was a reason, because they had to not only follow the goals, but also independently calculate their speed and course. But as soon as a reliable computer equipment appeared, the US Air Force decided that it was time to build a new DRLO aircraft, with a much more powerful antenna and the highest degree of automation for that time.
Boeing E-3 Centry
DRLO airplanes are often called Avaks, and the name comes from the English abbreviation AWACS, Airborne Warning And Control System - “Airborne Warning and Control System”. And, strictly speaking, it refers only to the aircraft, the development of which began in 1965, the US Air Force under the program with the same name. The task was ambitious: the new radar equipment had to have a large range, detect targets at all altitudes down to the stratosphere, confidently allocate targets against the background of the earth, and the plane itself had to become a full-fledged air post with a high degree of automation and enhanced protection from electronic warfare. The AN / APY-1 radar jointly developed the Westinghouse and Hughes, and together with the “friend-foe” recognition system it was located in a rotating “pancake” above the aircraft fuselage, as on the Hockey. But the “pancake”, as well as the antenna inside, was much larger, and the plane required an appropriate one for it.
They became the jet Boeing 707, and its combination with the radar received the designation E-3 Centry. Only three such aircraft, while at the same time in the air, could cover the whole of Central Europe with their radars, although the range of detection of low-altitude targets of the cruise missile class did not exceed 320 kilometers. And electronics, including computers, onboard the Sentry provided for tracking a huge number of targets, calculating their parameters, and automatic data transfer to ground posts and to air defense fighters.
One of the main tasks of the aircraft was to be the cover of Europe from a sudden Soviet attack, it is not surprising, therefore, that such aircraft came into service not only in the US, but also in NATO. This is exactly the case: the small European members of the North Atlantic Alliance, led by Germany, were not able to individually acquire such planes - and they did not consider this necessary, since for a particular country, their capabilities were excessive. Therefore, all countries took off on 18 aircraft, they were to be based in large Germany, and registered to offend no one, in small Luxembourg. Until now, these seventeen (one crashed in 1996 year) "Sentry" are formally the only military aircraft of the Grand Duchy ...
If NATO acquired identical American aircraft, then the United Kingdom and France, which received seven E-3D Sentry AEW.1 and four E-3F, respectively, drove cars under them, putting some of their own equipment on them. But most importantly, the TF33 engines were replaced with CFM56, which drastically reduced fuel consumption and increased the duration of the flight without refueling from 8 to 11 hours. Not surprisingly, the third individual foreign customer, the Saudi sheikhs, also chose the CFM56 aircraft. The Saudis already bought five planes - with their money, they could afford it ...
Sentry built nearly a dozen of them, they were produced in several modifications, underwent several upgrades (including the new AN / APY-2 radar installed on American vehicles), and are widely used in US and NATO operations around the world since 1977. This is facilitated by the presence of a refueling system on the Sentry - on deck vehicles it was then considered unnecessary, since it was not possible to change tired operators in flight, and the redeployment was carried out on a ship; however, the refueling system appeared on the E-2D, probably due to the increased automation and the addition of a fourth operator (part-time pilot). On board the Sentry are four pilots and 13-19 professionals serving the electronic stuffing, and they work in two shifts. So, the plane can be in the patrol zone for a very long time, the changing crews rest in specially designated cabins.
It cannot be said that the service of an aircraft equipped with “all the comforts” flowed smoothly: three aircraft were lost, and in 1994 the fratricidal black spot fell on the Sentry: in Iraq, fighters were sent from it to a couple of American UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which and were successfully shot down. All the automation and identification systems failed to cope with the human factor and confusion in ground-based flight planning ...
Nevertheless, the Sentry is today one of the most advanced DRLO aircraft, and no replacement is foreseen in the near future. Probably, the engines will be replaced with the same CFM56, the onboard equipment will be improved, but there will not be a new carrier for a long time ...
In the USSR, the emergence of E-3, of course, did not go unnoticed, moreover - they were waiting for him. And they began to develop its analogue almost simultaneously with the Americans. That is, since 1965, the development of the Bumblebee radar, which, like the Hokaya radar, can control small heights and highlight targets against the background of the earth, went to NPO Vega-M. This efficiency is understandable, if the fate that the European theater of operations was central to the USSR, and there “Liana” was powerless against the NATO strike aircraft flying at low altitude - she simply did not see them.
In addition to problems with electronics, the main issue was the choice of carrier. The USSR did not build long-range passenger aircraft suitable for this, Soviet electronics could not fit on the bombers, as we know, which was not distinguished by diminutiveness. In the end, they stopped on the IL-76 transport that had just appeared, and the DRLO aircraft began to be called A-50.
Creating an analogue of the American "Sentry" was a difficult task for the Soviet aircraft industry: they presented a test plane for testing in the 1979 year, and the A-50 was adopted only in the 1989 year. Currently, there are up to two dozen Russian air forces (the exact figure is unknown, probably less) A-50M with advanced electronics (Bumblebee-2 radar).
If you compare the domestic car with the American E-3, special reasons for pride are few. It is alleged that the upgraded Bumblebee surpasses AN / APY-2 in the degree to which targets are highlighted against the ground at the same range, and has the ability to transmit data via satellite channel. But the rest ...
The target detection range of the A-50 is shorter than that of the Sentry. Domestic electronics is heavier than the American one and a half times, larger in size (by the way, the antenna is also larger: on the E-3 the diameter of the fairing is 9.1 m, on the A-50 it is 10.8 m), and on board the aircraft it was possible to find a place only for 15 people (and five - this is the flight crew). Despite the presence of an in-flight refueling system, dual-shift work (like on the Sentry or the Tu-126) is not on board - the entire crew has to be at combat posts all the time, and in protective headphones, because there is a hum from the engines inside running electronics and its cooling system. There are no rest rooms here, and there, on board a rather big plane, they did not succeed in carving out places even for a toilet, while the Americans have such luxury on the miniature compared to the Hokai A-50. But our pilots are accustomed to various difficulties, they are experiencing this one, getting along through a bucket ...
However, now the A-50M is being upgraded to A-50U, where by replacing the radar (by Bumblebee-M) and related electronics with a more modern one, it was possible not only to improve the combat characteristics of the complex, but also to free up a lot of space, including and to improve the living conditions of the crew. The first aircraft was commissioned in the middle of 2011, the program implies that all the remaining A-50Ms are brought to this level, but it goes, as one would expect, very slowly.
There was another “flying radar” in the USSR. A little later than A-50, in 1983, the development of the An-71 tactical aircraft DRLO based on the An-72 transport began, but by the time of the collapse of the USSR only two prototypes were ready. Their distinctive feature was the placement of a plate of radar - a smaller version of the "Bumblebee" - on top of the keel. Tests of the aircraft due to known events were not completed in full, and the program was closed.
And nowadays the new American aircraft has not been lucky either. An attempt to create a new control plane, which was supposed to perform both the functions of the ARLO and the ground command and control of the ground forces and the electronic reconnaissance aircraft (now the US Air Force performs these tasks based on the same Northrop-Grumman E-707 Joint STARS and Boeing RC-8 Rivet Joint) was undertaken relatively recently, in the 135 year. The program received the name MC2003A - Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft (multi-touch control and monitoring aircraft), and the aircraft itself - the E-2 index, but the development, even in the conditions of a worsening economic climate, turned out to be impossible for the US military-industrial complex. At first, we had to abandon the placement of all the sensors on the aircraft - part of their functions was to perform satellite constellation, equipped with surveillance radars and cameras, and specialized aircraft. The reason was given to difficulties with the integration of two powerful radar systems (surveillance radar and side-view radar) in one plane and difficulties with providing them with sufficient power supply.
Thus, one of the three stages of the program remains: the creation of an aircraft to replace the E-8, which, in addition to monitoring the ground, was also to detect low-flying cruise missiles. It was planned to achieve this by using a modular radar with electronic scanning, which operates both in synthetic aperture radar mode and as a motion detector, developed by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. The development of the radar, which, due to its modularity, can be installed on various carriers, starting from the Global Hawk drone, began in the 2000 year and continues to this day. At present, the experimental installation is already being tested on one of the Global Hawks, but the E-10 program was completely covered: it was decided to install new radars on the old E-8.
Ilyushin-Beriev A-100 Premier
In Russia, in parallel with the modernization of the previously released A-50 to the level A-50, new aircraft will be launched. Since in Soviet times the IL-76 and other vehicles at its base were produced in Tashkent, it was necessary to re-organize a new production in Ulyanovsk, at Aviastar-SP. The IL-76MD-90А is now being produced there, and it is on the basis of this aircraft (for lack of anything more suitable) that a new domestic DRLO aircraft is created.
And the radar is already being developed for it, but there is almost no information on it, although it is stated that it will have characteristics that are better than those of A-50U. It is not even clear whether this system will be based on a pulse-Doppler radar or a phased-array radar. The dimensions of the new radar, more precisely, of its electronic filling, are indirectly indicated by the fact that even in 2010, the carrier was seriously considered as a carrier option ... An-124!
Tests of the new system will be carried out on the converted IL-76 MD or A-50, since all the IL-76MD-90А already ordered will be carried out as transport. The first flight of the A-100 is planned before 2017 of the year, but to the troops it will arrive no earlier than 2020 of the year ...
Lockheed C-130V Hercules
As is known, weapon - profitable export, and DRLO airplanes are no exception. Potential customers are not deterred by the huge price of aircraft stuffed with electronics - it’s known that such machines dramatically increase the effectiveness of aviation operations and their presence has a considerable propaganda effect. And in the States, this has long been used, selling not only Hokai and Sentry, but also purely export aircraft.
Smaller and cheaper aircraft also have more potential buyers. But alas, in the late 1980s, the Americans realized that all the countries who could buy Hawkeye for ground use had already done this, the rest are frightened away by the need to purchase an AWACS aircraft based on a specific deck vehicle, the flight characteristics of which, due to some excesses like reinforced fuselage and folding wing, not too high, and the TO is difficult. Then it was proposed to put the AN / APS-125 "Hawkeye" radar and related equipment on the widely used Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. This would allow potential buyers to save on maintenance, in many ways in common with their transport "Hercules", and at the same time improve the flight characteristics of the AWACS complex. In 1991, the EC-130V aircraft was made, which was operated for some time in the interests of the Coast Guard, and then relegated to the status of a flying laboratory for testing the new AN / APS-145 radar for the E-2C H2K. Foreign contracts neither for him, nor for an advanced version of the C-130J-30 AEW & C based on the latest modification of the Hercules have not yet followed. And not everyone is allowed by the State Department to buy such equipment ...
Lockheed P-3AEW & C Dome
But whom the State Department does not interfere with, so does the US Customs Service. These, faced with the influx of cocaine across the southern borders of the country in 1980, they decided that it was not very convenient to engage in smuggling to the permanent Navy's P-3 Orion, and rewrote several aircraft.
In addition to the slightly modified patrol vehicles known as the P-3A Slick, customs officers have received a total of eight P-1988AEW & C Domes since 3 with Hokai radars. These machines work in conjunction with "Slick", "transferring" to them boats and planes of drug dealers found on distant approaches, which are then dealt with by operatives from Black Hawk helicopters. The cooperation is bearing fruit: in the first four years of joint work, the Orions contributed to the seizure of 36 tons of cocaine and 80 tons of marijuana. Thus, these aircraft perform combat interceptions, perhaps more often than any other AWACS aircraft, and the vehicles themselves are not military - they have civil registration.
The United States did not oppose the desire of Japan to acquire large DRLO airplanes, and it received a contract for cars in addition to the existing Hokaya in the country. As a result, the Japanese have at their disposal "almost E-10".
Of course, we are not talking about e-stuffing - it is the same for this aircraft as for the last Sentry, but for the basic design. The E-10 should have been built on the basis of a civilian Boeing 767-400E, which is both longer and more voluminous than the 707, has a higher speed, flight altitude and range.
The Japanese unit is made on the basis of the Boeing 767-200ER, called the E-767, and in a sense, is used as a demonstration base for the promising US AWACS complex. Four planes are on watch since 2000, causing some envy of the US military: E-767, due to more efficient engines, is much cheaper to operate than their E-3, with the same combat effectiveness ...
Boeing 737 Wedgetail, Peace Eagle
And this is not the only example from American life, when technology is better for export than that available in our own Air Force. The radar, in many respects similar to what was supposed to be installed on the canceled E-10, is equipped with DRLO export aircraft based on the Boeing 737.
A multi-purpose electronic scanning radar (MESA), also known as an active phased-array radar, was developed by Northrop Grumman (or, more precisely, Westinghouse, which became part of it) for “advanced use”. The beauty of this radar (like other of this type) is that its antenna complex, firstly, does not need to be rotated to obtain a circular view, and secondly, the frontal surface (and aerodynamic resistance) of the antennas is much smaller than that of the same “Sentry” and even “Hokaya”. At the same time, the target detection range is on the order of 400 kilometers, and the radar can work to track both airborne and ground targets. Thirdly, the system, albeit not as powerful as on the Sentry, can be installed (including due to lower power consumption) on a smaller plane - and, therefore, cheaper.
The proposal to use the passenger Boeing 737-700 as a carrier of a phased-array radar was perceived by potential customers with great enthusiasm. The first in line was Australia, who had long dreamed of an ARLO plane, and the Wedgetail project was launched for her 2000 year. Externally, the cars differed from the passenger by a bench-like radome radome over the fuselage and two additional tail fin in order to compensate for deteriorated road stability. In the dorsal pylon mounted side view panels, and in the horizontal blotch on it ("bench seat") - antenna front and rear view.
It was a project with a creak: the first planes were supposed to be completed in 2006, but in reality they were ready only at the end of 2009, and they came to Australia in the spring of 2010. This delay has cost Boing a fine amount of the fine, but the total price of the contract was also rather big - more than a billion dollars for four aircraft and the corresponding training facilities. In the end, with the integration of radar and aircraft coped, and the Australians additionally ordered two more cars. By the end of 2011, the Air Force of the country received six aircraft (two were ordered in addition to the first contract), THAT they are carried out not by the military, but by the civil Qantas - this is it, the advantage of the civil "base"! There the plane itself and its CFM56-7 will be repaired, only the military electronics for the air force remains. Cheap and convenient.
It should be noted that not all the standard equipment was mounted on the “Vegetheylah” transferred to Australians, so that they are not yet working at full capacity and mainly for training. But the completion of the aircraft for the full performance of their functions by the ARLO has already begun, it is carried out in Australia, where they converted everything from the passenger, except for the first one, to Vegeteyly.
It is curious that the electronic filling of the aircraft is based on the principle of open architecture, which provides the broadest possibilities for integrating the most diverse equipment and operational modernization into its structure (as well as purchasing equipment in installments). Incidentally, the elements of the Sentry equipment and E-767AEW are widely used on Vedzhetaylykh, and he is easily able to work in conjunction or in the substitution of these machines. At present, the 8 operator consoles are mounted on board each “Wedgetail”, their number is planned to be increased to ten. The aircraft can be used not only for early warning, but also for electronic reconnaissance; an Israeli circular review system is installed on board for detecting radio emission. In the future, the aircraft will also be equipped with an American laser missile defense system.
Although a phased-array radar is considered economical in terms of power consumption, the antenna eats such an amount of energy that it is not allowed to operate at full capacity all the time. But “just in case” it is possible to temporarily amplify the impulses in a certain direction and “see” there further.
Like the new Hokai, Australian airplanes are equipped with in-flight refueling systems, and they are on almost the same Turkish aircraft. The Turks ordered four cars called the Peace Eagle, the first flight of the Peace Eagle took place in 2007, but due to changes in the on-board equipment (like Vegetheil, Peace Eagle was built on an open architecture, so Turkish aircraft cost a lot European electronic equipment for better compatibility with the technology of NATO neighbors) work on their fine-tuning is still going on and they will only be available to the Air Force in 2013 year. By the way, the second and subsequent aircraft are converted from newly built passenger Boeings already in Turkey, and the Americans entrusted the Turks not only with the assembly, but also with the production of a significant part of the components, and also handed over secret software to them.
I bought the “Peace Eagle” and South Korea, the first aircraft arrived in the country in the summer of 2011, and in the fall it was already operational. Traditionally, three of the four aircraft were reworked by the recipient country, and entered the army in 2012 year.
The fourth buyer of the DRLO aircraft based on 737 can be Italy, which is going to buy up to 14 machines, and the United Arab Emirates ,. Other customers are possible, but first the Americans will have to win competitors in the competition who are ready to offer similar systems for less money.
Not for export
Is Russia among them? Yes and no. At once, we say that neither the Soviet nor the Russian ARLO planes have been and are not being exported. Even field demonstrations at exercises in China and India do not help. The Hindus, even for a while, were given the opportunity to exploit the A-50M - and still they refused it, but A-100 explicitly states that no export modification is planned.
How is it - another informed reader will say - but after all, India has bought as many as three A-50! Yes, I bought it, but only as a carrier aircraft for installation on them by no means Russian radars. They do the same in other countries, combining airplanes and radar manufacturers from different countries. On the fruits of globalization - in the next article.