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Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC)


(formerly the Future Organic Airborne Early Warning Aircraft (FOAEW) programme)


(Above) The RN's AEW requirement is currently met by Sea King ASaC.7 helicopters, this is likely to continue until at least 2018 and probably 2022.


(Above) An 'artists impression' from mid-2006 of a possible rotary wing MASC solution utilising the Merlin helicopter as the new system platform.  (Source: Lockheed Martin).


(Above) As an alternative to the Merlin airframe, Boeing is actively promoting a version of the V-22 Osprey fitted with a palletized version of the Thales Cerberus mission system and the Searchwater airborne radar system under the project designation of TOSS.  This evolved Cerebus system could also be fitted to Merlin's equipped with a rear ramp.   (Source: Bill Sweetman).




Project designation:  ST(S)6849
Status: Currently in the Assessment Phase, passed Initial Gate in July 2005
In Service Date:  Originally 2012, now uncertain - possibly 2022.

The U.K. Ministry of Defence plans to build two new aircraft carriers, entitled "Future Aircraft Carrier" (CVF), to replace the existing Invincible Class, the first of these is currently expected to become operational in 2014.  The MOD is also seeking a new carrier fighter/strike aircraft entitled "Joint Combat Aircraft" (JCA) to replace the existing and Harrier GR.9, and the now discarded Sea Harrier FA/2 .

A major complement to these two systems - and the third component of the "Strike Carrier Programme" - is the Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC), formerly known as the "Future Organic Airborne Early Warning System" (FOAEW).  This will provide the CVF airgroup with an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) capability, as well as many other 'network-centric' capabilities.  

In September 2002 the Ministry of Defence decided to build STOVL-type carriers for CVF (which will accommodate only rotary, tilt-wing, and vertical takeoff aircraft), but also to make the design "adaptable" so that it suitable for conversion to a conventional (CTOL) angled flight-deck ship - with catapult and arresting systems - that would permit for MASC the use of fixed-wing platforms such as the E-2C Hawkeye, or even UAV's fitted with arrestor hooks. 

The MASC project has been considerably delayed, and funding deferred and greatly reduced compared with original plans and requests.  The cuts meant that the original intention to procure a "new build" solution to enter service in 2012 had been dropped as early as 2003.

It's now anticipated that the existing Sea King ASaC.7 will effectively act as an interim MASC solution, with its systems being incrementally upgraded.  There is however considerable interest in supplementing these with low cost unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) acting as auxiliary rigging assets, controlled by the ASaC.7 and enhancing its capabilities. 

It still appears that in due course (anywhere between 2018-2022), the worn out Sea King's will be replaced with a new airframe (Merlin, Osprey, NH90, large UAV ....), their existing radar and missions systems possibly upgraded and transferred.


Project Status
The project is in the early stages of its Assessment Phase, which it entered in August 2005 - two years later than expected. The planning assumption for MASC was to migrate the Sea King ASaC.7's Thales Searchwater 2000 airborne early warning radar and Cerberus mission suite into 12 new-build AW-101 Merlin airframes with minimum re-engineering and expected entry in to service of about 2018.

The MASC project is currently (February 2008) still being managed by the Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) Integrated Project Team, rather than by its own dedicated IPT.  This sadly reflects the low priority and funding level that has now become associated with MASC, indeed it appears that the Equipment Plan 2008 fails to include funding for MASC and the project will be delayed by up to five years, the gap being filled by a  refurbishment of the now ancient ASaC.7's airframes (all are over 25 years old)

The regular award of low value (under £1 million) study contracts is being used  to keep the project "ticking over". 


As originally envisaged, MASC will be required to provide air surveillance to detect threat aircraft and missiles, and command and control to direct intercepts of fighter aircraft.  The role also includes surveillance and command and control against sea surface targets, and also airspace management including air traffic control.  It's also anticipated that it will have substantial onboard command and control facilities, and communication and data link facilities to down load/upload real-time information. 

In this core Airborne Early Warning (AEW) role the MASC aircraft will be a replacement for the 13 Sea King ASaC.7 helicopters which currently operate from the Invincible class carriers.  The Sea King ASaC.7 is equipped with the Thales' Cerberus mission system, the Racal (now owned by Thales) Searchwater 2000 doppler radar, and has a Link 16 datalink capability.  It provides the command with extended air and surface surveillance, the capability for airborne command and control, interception and attack control, together with Over-the-Horizon-Targeting for surface launched weapon systems. 

A graphic from c.2001 of a V-22 Osprey "MASC"
in company with Boeing JSF's

A recent (2006) definition of MASC states that it is a joint ISTAR asset providing deep ISTAR support to JCA strike operations and force protection for the Joint Sea Base or land bases through Surveillance (Air & Surface), Tactical Control and Networking.

At one time it was envisaged that MASC platforms may also have important secondary support roles such as Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) and Carrier On Board Delivery (COD), but this now seems very unlikely to happen.


Platform Options
MOD officials have consistently stated that the platform(s) selected for MASC are unlikely to be announced before Main Gate, but the options being considered are well known.

Early (around 1999) official MoD statements indicated that  three options for the MASC (then still FOAEW) requirement were being seriously considered:

  • Rotary Wing.  An AEW derivative of the AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin helicopter
  • Tilt-Wing.  An AEW derivative of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey
  • Fixed-Wing.  A UK variant of the Northrop Grumman E-2C Advanced Hawkeye

Other options considered for MASC include Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Lighter Than Air Vehicle (LTAVs), light aircraft, aerostats (unpowered tethered balloons), gyrodynes and extremely long range land-based UAV's. 

An American Tethered Aerostat Radar System

The base-line aircraft used for the comparative performance and cost and risk studies was new build AgustaWestland EH101 Merlin AEW helicopters (possibly a compound lift version), with  the Thales Cerberus mission system and the Thales Searchwater 2000 radar transferred from existing Westland Sea King ASaC.7 and the minimum of changes.  This was accepted to be the lowest risk solution, but Royal Navy sources said the combination did not meet the requirements, for example it was felt that this solution lacked sufficient performance to give enough warning for deck-launched fighter interception of attacking aircraft.  Therefore alternative but higher cost options such as an AEW version of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft were also considered. 

The two non-rotary wing options are progressively more capable, both have platforms that are regarded as generic, but in practice the Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye and Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey are the only available fixed wing and tiltrotor options.

V-22 proponents note that the tiltrotor is faster and operates higher than a helicopter, although it is not pressurised, while unlike a fixed wing aircraft (such as the Hawkeye) it does not require an aircraft carrier with catapult and arrestor gear.   In 2001-2 considerable doubts surrounded the future of the V-22 programme as it tried to over-come sever technical problems and a worrying accident record, however these problems seem to have now been largely resolved and the programme is in low rate production.

In response to a MOD request for information made in 2001, Northrop Grumman proposed the then latest E-2C Hawkeye 2000 variant which entered USN service in 2003, however the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye - now under development and due to enter USN service in 2010 - became a more likely candidate.  The Hawkeye is a fully pressurised aircraft and is thus able to operate at greater altitudes than either the Merlin or Osprey.

The STOVL mode of carrier operation by the aircraft (the F-35B) selected in September 2002 for the JCA requirement significantly affected the MASC platform options.  CVF would not have the catapults and arrestor gear that the Hawkeye normally uses.  However the chosen carrier design is "adaptable" and it could, at least theoretically, be fitted with one catapult and arrestor gear in a hybrid configuration.  Also the new carriers could be easily modified to a STOBAR configuration, with a box ski-jump and no catapults, but with arrestor wires.  The E-2C Hawkeye demonstrated its ability to launch from a ski-jump during the 1980s and thus the "new" Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye remained officially a viable choice for MASC, indeed it still had many supporters if the funding can be found.  Ironically, the RN first considered purchasing the Hawkeye, in its original E-2A form, way back in the 1960's when it needed a replacement for the Gannet AEW.3 to be carried by the then planned new fleet carrier, CVA-01.

As an alternative to the Hawkeye for a CTOL carrier, Thales suggested that an AEW variant of the venerable Grumman S-2 Tracker carrier based ASW aircraft would be very cost-effective. The S-2 Tracker first flew way back in 1952 and the US Navy had already replaced it with the new S-3 Viking for ASW purposes by the mid-1970's, although a few specialist conversions served until 1986.  The US Navy still has about 18 airframes (S-2E and S-2G standard) in long term storage at AMARC, Arizona.  An appropriate number of these could be bought very cheaply by the UK and then refurbished, re-engined (replacing the old R-1820 radial engines with modern turbo-props) and given new avionics and cockpit systems prior to conversion to an AEW role, for this they would be fitted with a Searchwater 2000 radar and other mission systems similar to those used in the Sea King ASaC.7. 

In late 2002 Flight International magazine also reported that the UK MOD had sought information and pricing from the US DOD in regards to buying surplus US Navy S-3B Viking airframes, with a view of converting them in to AEW aircraft for MASC - an evolution of the S-2 Tracker approach, but using a more modern airframe.

It is unlikely that either the Tracker or Viking option was ever seriously considered for MASC.

Since mid-2004, one focus of work has been on the maritime strand of the Joint UAV Experimentation Programme (JUEP), which is increasingly seen as having the potential to deliver a system which will be able to meet parts of an increasingly extended MASC requirement at an attractive cost.

The budget for MASC was drastically reduced in MOD's ten year equipment plan (EP03) and Hawkeye and Osprey were formally eliminated from the list of options at Initial Gate in mid-2005.  Instead, signs began to emerge that the MOD was increasingly interested in UAV's for MASC.

On 9 May 2006 Lockheed Martin UK announced that it had been awarded a contract by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to study the potential of using Merlin helicopters as a platform for both maritime airborne early warning and command and control.  Under the 15-month programme, Lockheed Martin will led a three-way team which included Thales UK and AgustaWestland. The overall study, with a total value of £3.4 million, included two more contracts (believed to be worth about £500,000 each) which saw AgustaWestland and Thales UK each leading similar teams looking at other airframe and mission system options.  

Interestingly, while there is a presumption that the Merlin is the most likely platform for direct replacement of the old Sea King's -  Thales is also looking at other possibilities for fitting with an enhanced Cerebus-Searchwater mission set.  The Eurocopter NH.90 helicopters is one option, while the V.22  Osprey is another, in the later case the radar would have to be fuselage mounted.

Lockheed Martin are also investigating enhanced Rotary Wing solutions - identifying the best value Rotary Wing solution to meet the User Requirement Document as an Airborne Early Warning and Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance asset, covering force protection, littoral manoeuvre and force projection.

On 22 July 2006, EADS Defence & Security Systems (DS) UK announced that it had been awarded a £250,000 study contract by the Ministry of Defence to study and define a MASC Enhanced Manned Rotary-Wing Solution for use on the two Future Aircraft Carriers (CVF).  This study will examine the helicopter platform and the sensor suite including radar technology, EADS will be required to submit a report as a conclusive assessment of the current offering and a recommendation of new alternative technologies. The report will focus on “through life capability” forecasting requirements and technologies of the future.

These low value studies (which appear to have a deliberate degree of overlap) are expected to complete in mid-2007. 

In 2007 the V-22 Osprey re-emerged as possible, if long shot, contender for MASC when the US expressed interested in possible demonstration of the Cerebus mission system.  The UK is expected to contribute some funding to any trials.  A MV-22 Osprey operated from HMS Illustrious in July 2007, with hints that this had some relationship to the MASC project.

Reports indicated that that US Navy was seeking to gain support for a demonstration of the Thales Cerberus maritime surveillance radar for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey.   The so-called totally organic sensor system (TOSS) would demonstrate that the Sea King ASaC.7's Cerberus airborne surveillance and control sensor could be modularised and installed on a wide range of navy and USMC aircraft, starting with the V-22.  If the project is approved the UK is expected to be a joint participant in the TOSS joint concept technology demonstration, as possible solution to the MASC requirement.  From other reports it appears that the systems Searchwater radar will probably have to be nose and/or tail mounted to avoid aerodynamic problems.


Initial Gate, prior to entry in to the Assessment Stage, was scheduled for March 2003 but MASC project funding was reduced and deferred under Equipment Plan 03.  The project was delayed by just over 2 years, and Initial Gate quietly occurred in August 2005. 

The future schedule is shrouded in mystery, at Initial Gate MASC Main Gate seemed set for 2009 (some sources say 2010), with a contract for the Demonstration and Manufacture Phase let in 2010.  Depending on the solution selected, MASC deliveries could thus commence as early as 2013, with a formal In Service Date (ISD) of 2015 - but 2018 appeared to be the actual target date.  Reports in early 2008 indicated that a five year slippage in the MASC schedule had occurred, with the in-service date slipping to 2022, and Main Gate probably about 2015 for the low development options..

One thing seems certain, depending on actual CVF in-service dates, the new carriers will operate Sea King ASaC.7's for several years at least.


Numbers and Budget
The MOD has never announced the number of MASC platforms that it is seeking to acquire, but hints from Northrop Grumman in 2001 indicated that it was between 6 and 12.  The programme has always been very budget constrained and the higher number of platforms was presumably  associated with less capable, but also less costly, aircraft such as the proposed AEW Merlin variant or large UAV's.

The allocated procurement budget for the MASC programme has not been published but again hints from Northrop Grumman would indicate that it was originally expected to be the range of  $1 - 1.5 billion (£700 million to £1 billion, FY2001-2).   However, critically, no significant budget line for MASC was included in EP03.  it becoming apparent that even the original baseline of 12 new Merlin AEW helicopters fitted with already extant mission systems (estimated cost of under £500 million) could no longer be afforded in a 2012-13 timescale.

The MOD has become amiable to splitting the MASC project in to several phases with the final Sea King replacement possibly not now entering service until the 2020's, but it remains to be seen whether the MOD can even procure within the available budget the type of innovative and still cutting-edge UAV carrier-based solutions that it is now seeking to supplement the Sea King ASaC.7 by the middle of the next decade.


Early Project History
The Future Organic Airborne Early Warning (FOAEW) programme was initiated after the 1998 Strategic Defence Review approved in principal the procurement of two new aircraft carriers (CVF), complete with new fighters (initially called FCBA, later FJCA and now JCA) and AEW aircraft.

In March 2000 the UK MoD invited "Expressions of Interest" in the emerging FOAEW requirement from industry.

On 4 April 2001 it was announced by the UK Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) that Thales Defence and BAE Systems had won FOAEW Concept Phase study contracts worth in total about £500,000.  Under the nine month contracts, the two teams explored mission system concepts, particularly regarding the surveillance radar, and the issues integrating three different mission and radar systems with different platform types - fixed wing (Hawkeye), rotary wing (Merlin) and tiltrotor (Osprey) platforms.  The objective of the study was to define for the UK MoD the key MASC programme drivers relative to performance, risks, cost and schedule prior to entry into follow on programme phases.

BAE Systems teamed with the Northrop Grumman Corporation for its concept study.  BAE Systems is the prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems Sector, Airborne Early Warning and Electronic Warfare Systems (AEW&EWS) business area, served as the principal sub-contractor. 

In December 2001, Thales Defence and the BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman teams delivered their systems integration risk identification study reports to the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence for what had meanwhile been renamed the Maritime Airborne Surveillance & Control (MASC) requirement. 

In early April 2002 both Thales Avionics Group and BAE Systems were awarded by the DPA follow-on Phase II Concept Study contracts for the Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) programme.  

The five-month long studies continued to explore mission system concepts, particularly the surveillance radar, and the issues and risks of integration into several platform types, including various EH-101 Rotary Wing and E-2C Fixed Wing concepts.  The objective of the study was to continue to refine for the Ministry of Defence and the DPA the key MASC programme drivers relative to systems performance, cost, and schedule prior to entry into the Assessment Phase, then planned for early 2003. 

A partner and principal sub-contractor for the BAE Systems team was again Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems Sector, which offered expertise in both surveillance radars and carrier aircraft, although its proposals couldn't be platform-specific.  "We're trying to keep the FOAEW studies as open as we can, so far as the platform is concerned", a senior BAE official said. "At the moment, our customer wants to know what the main options are for the radars, in which we have our own expertise, and the platforms.  Follow-on studies are expected to narrow things down, and at the moment, the [Defence Ministry] doesn't want us to converge solutions and options."

The MASC project was expected to get Initial Gate approval and thus entry in to Assessment Phase in March 2003.  However the DPA was dissatisfied with BAE's and Thales unimaginative submissions, and asked both teams to revise their work products in the light of the War against Terrorism, and in particular the USA's perceived successes using integrated, network enabled, co-operative, multi-platform systems (including advanced UAV's) and sensors during the Gulf War II against Iraq. 

By early 2004 the projects budget request had been drastically cut back and plans had to change.  At Initial Gate Gate in 2005 the MOD formally ruled out many of the previously considered options - including airships, a winged compound-helicopter version of the AgustaWestland Merlin, land-based manned platforms and fixed-wing platforms such as the E-2 Hawkeye. 


Hawkeye RFI
In June 2001, at the Paris Air Show, Northrop Grumman's Gary O’Loughlin, Director of International Business Development, revealed that the United Kingdom was considering purchasing up to 6 E-2 Hawkeye's - perhaps enough to equip one squadron containing a second-line HQ flight of 2 aircraft, a single front-line operational flight of 3 aircraft, plus 1 aircraft in reserve, deep maintenance or modernisation.

In July/August 2001 the MOD released a formal Request for Information (RFI) to Northrop Grumman seeking life cycle cost data in relation to its Hawkeye 2000 platform.

In response to this RFI, a document was delivered to the MOD by Northrop Grumman on Jan. 17, 2002.  According to O'Loughlin, "In the RFI letter, the Ministry of Defence asked for a more solution-oriented report.  ... The team, led by Northrop Grumman, provided a very detailed response that concentrated on the Hawkeye 2000, the current-generation E-2C with the most up-to-date capabilities.  .... When you factor in absence of nonrecurring costs, the E-2C becomes an affordable AEW option for the United Kingdom."

Despite the DPA's clear interest in other options, it is believed that the Concept Phase studies showed that the capabilities of the Hawkeye 2000, and even more its successor the Advanced Hawkeye, compared very favourably with other options when dealing with projected post-2015 threats and requirements.  There was a lobby within the MOD still advocating a small Hawkeye purchase as the best and lowest risk option for MASC, even with the extra costs that would be incurred fitting the carrier platform with the associated equipment for CTOL operations.  Indeed STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) was suggested as compromise. The E-2C Hawkeye had demonstrated an ability to launch from a low incline ski-jump built ashore at NAS Patuxent River during the 1980s and it was thought that adding arrestor wires to the CVF design (i.e. changing it to a STOBAR configuration) might still allow its adoption for MASC given some modifications (e.g. strengthened nose wheel) - and the necessary finance.  Also, a STOBAR carrier would have a lower cost than a full CTOL configuration while perhaps being able to operate both the F-35A and F-35C.  If the F-35C was selected for the manned element of the RAF's Future Offensive Air System, then it would almost certainly be able to successfully operate from a STOBAR configured CVF.  However the MOD showed no interest in the Hawkeye/STOBAR idea, perhaps sensibly as in 2004 and early 2005 Northrop Grumman did further research on a ski-jumping Hawkeye 2000 in the context of a proposal to the Indian Navy, and while insisting that this was perfectly feasible it had to admit that the required changes for STOBAR operations would reduce the aircraft's capabilities somewhat compared to the standard model.  The Indian Navy decided that it was unconvinced about the concept, citing concerns such as the disastrous effect of a single engine failure during the full power take-off run.  

The Hawkeye option was formally ruled out for MASC in mid-2005, but is not completely out of mind due to developments and disputes in relation to the UK's expected purchase of the STOVL F-35B.


Boeing ScanEagle being recovered. (source: Boeing)

In theory the MASC requirement could always have been met by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Lighter Than Air Vehicle (LTAVs) approach, but in practice there was early in the programme no great interest in pu
rsuing the UAV/LTAV option - although they were recognised as being of considerable interest for the long-term.  This may be because studies have indicated that the technical challenges and costs of developing a suitable new unmanned or lighter than air aircraft for naval operations will be greater than using an existing manned aircraft platform.  Also, the main advantages of UAV's (high G-force turning ability, small size, not risking a crew in high threat situations) aren't of great importance for the MASC requirement.  However, the success of UAV's and UCAV's during the Gulf War 2 of March and April 2003 lent considerable weight to suggestions that a carrier based UAV platform might be able to fulfil the MASC requirement in part or full. 

In early 2004, the UK’s Defence Procurement Agency asked Thales Avionics UK and BAE Systems to revise their previously submitted MASC work products, which emphasised traditional AEW solutions, to reflect the “War against Terrorism”, and in particular the USA's perceived successes in using integrated, network enabled, co-operative, multi-platform, systems and sensors during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in March and April 2003.

 Advocates of network-centric solutions argue that with the emergence of fast and secure data-links, the “back seat” jobs currently done by the radar operators and electronic officers inside an ASaC.7 helicopter can be better done from the more comfortable and safer working environment of an aircraft carrier, or a land base, or indeed any combination that the situation requires. The airborne platform (a large UAV such as the Boeing A160 Hummingbird Warrior) would then be simply a flying sensor suite and data-link, resulting in considerable operating cost savings and an ability to fly higher than 10,000 feet without requiring a pressurised cabin. On the other hand, the advocates of manned platforms argue that achieving the required networking capabilities is still expensive, and will be difficult to manage and maintain. Ensuring the mandatory levels of system robustness, reliability and security makes it necessary to place the best possible decision making and analysis abilities in the airborne platform in order to allow it to manage the battlespace directly – while allowing its aircraft carrier to operate a tight emission control policy. Unfortunately over the last three years funding for the MASC program (which is run by the CVF IPT) has been both reduced and deferred, and entry in to service has accordingly slipped from 2012 to no earlier than 2015, indeed it is now likely that the RN’s new aircraft carriers will operate Sea King ASaC.7’s for several years.

For its revised MASC proposals, Thales UK joined forces with Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. The team proposed using the small ship launched/recovered Boeing/Insitu ScanEagle UAVs as an adjunct to existing Sea King ASaC.7’s, the UAV operating as a reconnaissance platform, 'rigging' asset, communications relay, and ESM carrier. The MOD realised that this potentially offered improvements to the RN’s maritime airborne surveillance and associated capabilities in an earlier time frame than MASC was promising, even with very limited funding.

The new approach now being developed by the Thales-Boeing MASC Team uses small ship launched/recovered ScanEagle UAVs as force extenders - adjuncts to the Sea King ASaC.7's -operating as a 'rigging' asset, comms relay, ESM carrier, and so on - Boeing claims that it can have all the necessary capabilities. They will later replace the Sea King with the A-160 Hummingbird Warrior currently being flight tested in the USA (Boeing has just acquired Frontier Systems, the A160 contractor).  Both UAVs are capable of operating from any air capable ship - and in an emergency some that are not, as recent tests on a Tuna boat in the Puget Sound proved. The UAVs will operate for greater than 24-hrs at a time. If you believe the off the record sales talk, the A-160 is considerably more capable than publish info indicates, and can carry a large radar and advanced aperture to >25K feet.  New network enabled low probability of intercept techniques push the control back to the ship(s) fairly easily.

BAE and Northrop Grumman are believed to working on rival solution to Team JUEP which includes the Fire Scout UAV.

If this approach looks promising and suitable for a naval environment, it is unclear whether the currently unfunded MASC programme will continue as a separate "Sea" project.

Ahead of MASC in the funding queue has been the Army led Watchkeeper UAV programme, this is intended to provide a continuous, all weather, day and night, ISTAR capability using unmanned air vehicles.

On 4 August 2005, Thales UK was awarded a £700 million contract for the development, manufacture and initial support phases of the Watchkeeper programme. At one point it was mooted that Watchkeeper UAV’s should be able to operate from the RN’s new aircraft carriers, but this requirement was ultimately not included in order to avoid “scope creep”, instead it and several other desirable capabilities were bundled in to the Joint UAV Experimentation Programme (JUEP) with the intention of better understanding the potential benefits, risks and costs before preceding to an operation system.



In a development that directly relates to MASC, in 2004 the MOD decided to fund a series of ScanEagle trials as part of the “UAV Support to Maritime Ops" strand of the JUEP. The purpose was to explore the operational utility of current UAV systems, with an emphasis on ISTAR, and the potential contribution that ship-based UAVs can make to a future maritime Network Enabled Capability (NEC)

On 4 November 2004 Thales UK, Boeing and QinetiQ signed a contract with the MoD for the Maritime Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) strand of the £21 million Joint UAV Experimentation Programme (JUEP).   The team, led by Thales UK and known as Team JUEP, was to fly the ScanEagle UAV in a maritime role to identify the joint service operational requirements for future maritime UAVs., exploring the contribution that UAV systems can make to a future networked maritime ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capability. This includes improvements in the detection, recognition and identification of both conventional and asymmetric threats in littoral environments, and their contribution to command decision-making, and target prosecution.  
The Team JUEP bid included the ScanEagle UAV, modified to comply with UK safety and airworthiness regulations.   Using its extended endurance it will conduct a wide range of operationally focussed maritime trials, with imagery delivered to the shipboard commanders and other networked maritime and airborne assets.  Boeing will provide the modified ScanEagle air vehicle and UAV expertise from US operations.  QinetiQ brings its expertise in UK UAV trials execution, safety and airworthiness accreditation.  Thales UK will lead the team and also undertake shipboard integration, operational analysis (OA) and synthetic environments for pre-trials testing and confidence building, planning and post trials analysis.  
Alex Cresswell, ISTAR Systems Director, Thales UK said, “The JUEP activity is an important step in investigating the contribution UAVs can make to UK defence capability and will inform the requirements for programmes such as FRES FIST, MASC, Dabinett and FCAC. Thales UK is focussed on achieving successes in these programmes and is committed to the development of a sustainable UK UAV industry.”  
Steve Krause, Boeing’s director for international unmanned systems programs, said, “The award of this contract will enable maritime ISTAR concepts to be demonstrated to the Minist,y of Defence as efficiently as possible. Boeing has teamed with the best in the industry, Thales UK and QjnetiQ, to offer the JUEP an innovative and highly persistent UAV platform, the ScanEagle, and a demonstration approach that promises to deliver meaningful military capability in a matter of months.”  
Peter Jenkins, Director of Aerospace at QinetiQ added: “QinetiQ is committed to supporting UK UAV systems. As a primary research and technology provider for ISTAR and UAVs to the MOD, QinetiQ is delighted to be working with Thales UK and Boeing on the JUEP Programme. JUEP will be a significant step towards realising UK UAV capability.”  

Northop Grumman Fire Scout
(source: Northrop Grumman)

The trials culminated in March 2005 when a team led by Thales UK and including Boeing and QinetiQ conducted a two week long exercise with a SeaEagle UAV which also involved the Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland and a Sea King ASaC.7 helicopter from 849 Squadron. During the exercise, the ScanEagle showed its ability to support maritime operations and land reconnaissance with flights of up to 8 hours, demonstrating capabilities which would for example, enhance the commander's recognised surface picture and enable early warning and evasive action against fast attack craft. Unfortunately bad weather and technical problems limited the trials - the UAV had to be launched and recovered from a land-based catapult rather than the frigate; and the ASaC.7 was not able to directly control and task the SeaEagle, although it was able to vector the UAV in to investigate radar contacts. Richard Deakin, Managing Director of Thales UK's aerospace business, said “The often hostile weather found off the North coast of Scotland in March added an element of realism that would not have been present had we taken the easier route of conducting the trials in warmer and calmer climates." Lt Col Dick Park, the Officer Commanding the Joint UAV Experimentation Team (JUET), emphasised: "The trial was a success. We operated the ScanEagle UAV system within UK segregated airspace and demonstrated the Command & Control capabilities of a UAV from a RN Type 23 Frigate.  First impressions from the ship's operations room staff were that control of the UAV did not impinge on the ship's ability to conduct other operations. The Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland stated after the demonstration: "The concept has great merit and utility". The final year of the three year JUEV programme has now begun. It had been hoped that it would be possible to further investigate the utility of an organic maritime UAV system operating with current RN equipment, including the launch and recovery from a RN warship and control from a Sea King ASaC.7 helicopter, perhaps during an exercise to co-ordinate naval gunfire support.  However due to JUEP funding being cut by about a third from the originally planned £35 million, these activities are now unlikely to be undertaken.

Radar and Capabilities
It has not been decided if the MASC system will use a development of an existing radar such as the Thales Defence Searchwater 2000 AEW (selected for the Sea King ASaC Mk7), or a new generation radar either developed specifically for MASC or already under development for other users such as the Lockheed Martin ADS-18 (already being developed for the Advanced Hawkeye, and RMP'ed E-2C Hawkeye 2000's).  The high cost of developing an all new radar system specifically for MASC is likely to eliminate that option unless industry is prepared to share the burden with the MOD in the hope of achieving significant other sales.  Certainly Thales have been studying the use of the Searchwater 2000 AEW radar, probably combined with the Cerberus mission system or a development, on light fixed-wing aircraft, the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor built by Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing, and the EH101 Merlin helicopter made by the AgustaWestland, and even aerostats.

Any radar system developed or adapted to meet the demanding MASC mission requirement will have to be arguably the most capable system flying in the world. The platform will be expected to be able to perform a wide range of vital functions such as air surveillance, airspace co-ordination, tactical air control, surface surveillance, surface attack co-ordination, land surveillance and land attack co-ordination.  To cue defensive action, the AEW aircraft must provide low and high level advanced warning of offensive aircraft and missiles, from over sea or land. Future developments in attack aircraft leading to stealthier platforms and greater stand off weapon ranges will erode the relative effectiveness of the current generation AEW aircraft.

Active array technology is likely to be the core of the MASC's radar as it offers the optimum flexibility, greatest future proofing and the minimum risk.  With the advent of active phased array antenna technology in the AEW environment the additional role of land surveillance and land attack co-ordination can be achievable through information derived from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Moving Target Indicator (MTI) capabilities.  In the MASC system environment improved on-board sensors will increase the volume of surveillance data, making the task of maintaining situation awareness more complex.  It will be necessary to carefully optimise the AEW operator’s working environment (displays, man-machine interfaces, etc) and provide computer based systems to aid decision making.

The radar system will be integrated with JTIDS/Link 16, and MASC will have advanced communications facilities able to provide wide range secure data and speech capabilities.

In 1999-2000 the MOD requested information from Bell Boeing in relation to what was then still the FOAEW requirement, and the company conducted wind-tunnel tests on a number of V-22 AEW configurations including a fixed tridome housing an electronically canned array mounted above the wing (see graphics below).  This however raised issues of drag in forward flight and interaction with the twin proprotors when in helicopter mode.  Other options considered included fore and aft mechanically scanned arrays similar to the ill-fated AEW Nimrod programme of the 1980's, an under fuselage housing, retractable radome similar to the Sea King AEW.7 but lowered from the V-22's rear ramp, and a trapeze configuration using the Ericsson Erieye phased radar array - some of these options impacted wing folding arrangements.  The most efficient configuration was considered to be a conformal antenna mounted along the Osprey's fuselage - if a suitable radar was available.  Bell Boeing submitted the requested information to the MOD and no further development work has since been undertaken.



AugustaWestland EH101 Merlin, ASaC Variant

An computer graphic image from about 2000 of a proposed EH101 Merlin ASC,
note the short wings above the cabin - now dropped.


A 2005 image of the Italian Navy AEW version of the EH101 helicopter.


The EH101 is a large, three-engined helicopter capable of long-range autonomous operations. 

In the early 1970s the Royal Navy recognised that there would be a requirement to replace the Sea King towards the end of the century. This led to the signing in 1979 of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian and British Governments to co-operate in the joint development of a medium lift helicopter to fulfil the roles of shipborne Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface Warfare, military utility and civilian transport. Agusta and Westland formed a 50/50 joint company called EH Industries to manage the program in 1980.  In July 2000 GKN Westland and Agusta agreed to merge their helicopter business, with the resulting company being called "AgustaWestland".

The Royal Navy's Merlin purchase was to meet Staff Requirement (Sea) 6646, which called for 66 aircraft. However the Strategic Defence Review, published in July 1998, stated that the Royal Navy would not receive more than the 44 Merlin HM.1s already on order.

Overall folded size of the EH101 is only marginally larger than that of the SH-3 Sea King, but because of the arrangement of the undercarriage the 101 will be able to use less deck space than its predecessor.

merlin-dimen.gif (17842 bytes)

Dimensions Weights
Length, rotors turning 22.8 m Basic empty weight, ASW version 9080 kg
Height, overall 6.63 m Basic empty weight, utility version 8910 kg
Length, fuselage 19.63 m Empty weight, RAF version 10250 kg
Length, folded 15.85 m Cargo/fuel weight, RAF version 4350 kg
Main rotor diameter 18.6 m Max T/O weight 14600 kg
Tail rotor diameter 4.0 m Performance
Cabin length 6.5 m Speed, cruise 280 kph
Cabin width 2.39 m Speed, max 309 kph
Cabin height 1.82 m Service ceiling 4572 m
    Rate of climb 10.2 m/sec
    Range, loaded + reserves 925 km

In 2000 AugustaWestland proposed a compound lift version of the Merlin to meet the MASC requirement.  The short stubby wings would provide additional range and endurance, as well as increase operating height, although helicopter based AEW aircraft normally only operate in the 5,000-10,000ft altitude range due to their unpressurised cabin.  The MOD appears to have shown little interest in the concept and it does not appear to be being pursued.


Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, AEW&C Variant

US Air Force designation: CV-22
US Navy designation: HV-22
US Marine Corps designation: MV-22
Manufacturer's model: 901

osprey2.jpg (32357 bytes)

(Above) An artists concept above shows Boeing V-22 Osprey's configured in AEW&C and Air-to-Air Refuelling versions operating with JSF fighters and flying over a STOVL CVF carrier.


(Above) How Boeing envisages its V-22 Osprey MASC aircraft operating

(Above) Technical Specification of the V-22 Osprey AEW&C Variant

Type: Multimission tiltrotor.

Based on Bell/NASA XV-15 tiltrotor; initiated as US Department of Defense Joint Services Advanced Vertical Lift Aircraft (JVX), run by US Army, FY82; programme transferred to US Navy January 1983; 24 month US Navy preliminary design contract 26 April 1983; aircraft named V-22 Osprey January 1985; seven year full-scale development (FSD) began 2 May 1986 with order for six prototypes plus static test airframes.

Prototype (163911) first flew 19 March 1989; joined by four further aircraft by June 1991.  Osprey passed critical design review 13 December 1994; simultaneous defence review authorised V-22 production for both Marines and special forces, but latter version subsequently delayed, with decision to proceed with EMD phase not reached until January 1997. In meantime, contract for five low-rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft awarded June 1996.

All four EMD Ospreys flown in 1997-98.  First flight of first LRIP MV-22B on 30 April 1999, followed by official roll-out and handover to US Marine Corps on 14 May, with delivery to New River later in May; subsequently to Patuxent River for flight testing. Next major milestone was operational evaluation; seven-month opeval began 2 November 1999 with first two LRIP MV-22Bs, which joined by two more by January 2000.  These four aircraft accumulated 820 flight hours in 350 sorties by end of opeval in July 2000; launch of full-rate production in FY01 dependent upon successful conclusion of opeval, but approval is still awaited at beginning of April 2001

Opeval included trials in USS Essex with four MV-22Bs in first quarter 2000 and one aircraft temporarily sent to Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, in March 2000 for trials with USAF 58th Special Operations Wing, before programme abruptly halted on 8 April 2000 when type grounded following fatal crash of fourth LRIP MV-22B (165436) at Avra Valley Airport, Arizona. Subsequent investigation established most likely cause as `power settling', a condition in which it becomes difficult to stop descent because of recirculating air from rotor downwash. Clearance to return to flight given on 25 May 2000, with Opeval resuming on 5 June. Final phase included trials at China Lake, California, and New River, North Carolina, before being concluded in late July 2000.

By mid-September 2000, V-22 total flight time was 2,900 hours, during which aircraft had demonstrated speed of 342 kt (633 km/h; 394 mph), 7,620 m (25,000 ft) height, 27,442 kg (60,5000 lb) MTOW and 3.9 g load factor.

Current Versions (general)
MV-22B: Basic US Marine Corps transport; original requirement for 552 (now 360), to replace CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion.

HV-22B: US Navy combat search and rescue (CSAR), special warfare and fleet logistics model. Requirement for 48 (originally 50); deliveries from FY10.

CV-22B: US Air Force long-range special missions aircraft to replace MH-53J helicopter and augment MC-130 (Hercules) with Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Original requirement for 80 reduced to 55, then 50.


FY Lot MV-22 CV-22
97   1 (LRIP)   5
98   2 (LRIP)   7
99   3 (LRIP)   7
00   4 (LRIP) 11
01   5 16 4
Total 46 4

Note: Overall procurement programme comprises 360 MV-22, 50 CV-22 and 48 HV-22

V-22 Osprey AEW variant 

See above. Initial increment of production funding in FY96 budget, when US$48 million requested. First five production aircraft funded in FY97; further seven in FY98, seven in FY99 and 11 in FY00, to complete LRIP phase. Marketing in Europe has begun, with first objective being to determine interest of foreign governments with similar requirement.

Bell Boeing proposed the V-22 as suitable for the UK's joint RAF/Navy Support Amphibious Battlefield Rotorcraft requirement, it hoped for an order for at least 40 aircraft with an entry in to service of 2008, but the project was cancelled in 2004 and replaced by the Future Rotorcraft Capability study.  Bell Boeing also suggested that the V-22 could also satisfy the UK's MASC requirement..

Estimated cost (1991) to complete full-scale development, US$2,750 million. Unit cost US$32.3 million (November 1997); FY97 budget included US$1.385 billion for five MV-22s; FY98 budget included US$661 million for seven MV-22s; FY99 request included US$664.1 million for seven MV-22s. Separate US$490 million contract modification awarded by USN in December 1996 for EMD of CV-22 special operations version; acquisition costs of 50 CV-22s estimated at US$3.72 billion based on FY01-08 procurement plan. Unit cost of MV-22B reported as US$57 million (2000).

Design Features
Unconventional design, with proprotors and engines mounted at tips of wings. Fuselage optimised for transport, featuring upswept rear, with loading ramp and twin fins of moderate sweepback. High-mounted, constant-chord wings with slight forward sweep; unswept tailplane; prominent landing gear sponsons.

During vertical take-off, wing begins to produce lift and ailerons, elevators and rudders become effective at between 40 and 80 kt (74 and 148 km/h; 46 and 92 mph). At this point, rotary-wing controls are gradually phased out by the flight control system. At approximately 100 to 120 kt (185 to 222 km/h; 115 to 138 mph), wing is fully effective and cyclic pitch control of proprotors is locked out.

osprey-env.jpg (9953 bytes)
Bell Boeing Osprey flight envelope (1999)

In conversion from aeroplane flight to hover, fuselage and wing are free to remain in level attitude, eliminating tendency for wing to stall as speed decreases. Rotor lift fully compensates for decrease in wing lift. Because of great variability between aircraft and nacelle attitude, conversion corridor (range of permissible airspeeds for each angle of nacelle tilt) is very wide (about 100 kt; 185 km/h; 115 mph).

Engines are connected by shaft through wing. Under dual engine operations, shaft transmits very little power, but if one engine is lost, half remaining power is transferred to opposite proprotor. In event of double engine failure, can maintain proprotor rpm while descending without power. Pilot has options of making wingborne or rotorborne descent.

Wing-fold sequence from helicopter mode involves power-folding of blades parallel to wing leading-edge, tilting engine nacelles down to horizontal and rotating entire wing/engine/proprotor group clockwise on stainless steel carousel to lie over fuselage; entire procedure for stowage takes about 90 seconds and MV-22 occupies same amount of deck space as Sikorsky CH-53E.

Normal crew complement of pilot (in starboard seat), co-pilot and crew chief in USMC variant. USAF CV-22 will have third seat for flight engineer.   Main cabin can accommodate up to 24 combat-equipped troops, on inward-facing crashworthy foldaway seats, plus two gunners; up to 12 litters plus medical attendants; or a 9,070 kg (20,000 lb) cargo load with energy absorbing tiedowns. Cargo handling provisions include a 907 kg (2,000 lb) capacity cargo winch and pulley system and removable roller rails.

In June 2007 FightGlobal reported that US Navy was seeking to gain support for a demonstration of the Thales Cerberus maritime surveillance radar for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, potentially expanding the role of the US Marine Corps and US Air Force tiltrotor programme beyond the transport mission.

The so-called Totally Organic Sensor System (TOSS) would demonstrate that the Westland Sea King ASaC.7's Cerberus airborne surveillance and control sensor could be modularised and installed on a wide range of navy and USMC aircraft, starting with the V-22.  The UK Royal Navy would be a joint participant in the TOSS joint concept technology demonstration, if the project is approved.

The US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command is still searching for a second service to sponsor the project to make the project eligible for a "joint" funding programme, says Ken Moritz, a business development director for Bell Boeing.  

The USN is interested in using Cerberus-equipped V-22s for the expeditionary strike group mission.  The project is a potential opportunity to drive additional sales of the V-22 for the maritime surveillance role, Moritz says.

The TOSS project also seeks to develop a modular kit for several additional types of US military aircraft.

So far, the Cerberus radar is not a part of the upgrade roadmap for the V-22. The Block B model, which adds a ramp gun, hoist, refuelling probe and reliability improvements, has been finalised. The Block C configuration remains in the definition stage, with proposals to add an internal gun embedded in the fuselage, a new radar and an improved environmental control system.  The US Navy also has identified a requirement for a Block D upgrade programme, focusing initially on integrating the assault directed infrared countermeasures suite.

In March 2008 Aviation Week said that Boeing was proposing a three year joint capability technology demonstration (JCTD) with extensive support from the RN. The kit requires very minor modifications to the V-22 - the addition of CV-22-type sponson tanks, power connectors, intercom and a Link 16 antenna - and the radar needs a rigid radome (the Sea King ASaC.7 radome is inflatable.)



Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye


(Above) The current  Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye variant


E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

(Above) The first  Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye was rolled out on 30 April 2007.  The aircraft is the first of two test aircraft to be built under the nearly $2 billion system demonstration and development contract awarded in 2001 to Northrop Grumman. The US Navy plans to procure a total of 75 Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, deliveries starting in 2011.   (Source: Northrop Grumman)


The E-2C programme began in 1968, with the prototype making its first flight in 1971 and the first 11 operational aircraft delivered to the US Navy two years later. Since then, deliveries have totalled more than 140 for the US Navy, and more than 30 for allied forces.

From the outside, the E-2C Hawkeye appears to have changed little since entering service with the US Navy in November 1973. Inside, however, the aircraft has been evolved through a series of major radar and avionics updates, progressively broadening the aircraft's mission profile in order to meet changing operational requirements over a period stretching almost three decades.

The Hawkeye's original primary mission was to provide organic long-range airborne early warning (AEW) and intercept control for the carrier battle group and its assigned air wing, operating in the open ocean environment and facing a massed air threat. Latterly, the E-2C has been updated to reflect the reorientation of the carrier battle group towards operations in support of joint expeditionary operations in the littoral, a change which has seen the aircraft take on additional strike control, tanker co-ordination, and combat search and rescue support tasks. The Hawkeye has also proved its mettle in border patrol and drug interdiction missions.

Today, that process of multi-mission evolution is continuing as the US Navy shifts from platform-centric to network-centric warfare. An emerging theatre air-defence mission now beckons, and there are also aspirations to add a precision strike and targeting capability. And so, the original AEW role has now been overlaid by a wider airborne battlefield command and communications function, something demonstrated during missions in support of Operation 'Allied Force' over Kosovo.

The latest variant of Hawkeye under development is Hawkeye 2000. Now in production transition, this new marque is the umbrella term for a package of parallel improvements to the Group II baseline encompassing a Mission Computer Upgrade (MCU), introduction of the Advanced Control Indicator Set (ACIS) display suite, fully integrated UHF satellite communications (satcom), a vapour cycle upgrade and addition of the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC).  CEC will net Hawkeye into the threatre air-defence mission, enabling fusion of onboard and offboard sensor data to enhance the fleet's composite tactical picture. Taken together, these various enhancements will enable significant improvements in data management, system throughput, operator interface, connectivity and situational awareness. Initial operating capability (with CEC) is scheduled for 2003.

While the E-2C has been exported to the air forces of Egypt, Israel, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, the US Navy had until recently been the only customer to operate the aircraft from aircraft carriers. This changed in 1999 when the French Navy, having taken delivery of two E-2C Group II aircraft the previous year, commenced flying operations from its new 40,600-tonne nuclear-powered carrier Charles de Gaulle and so became the second carrier-borne Hawkeye operator.

US Navy carrier air wings deploy with a squadron of four E-2Cs. The five-person E-2C flight crew consists of pilot, co-pilot and three mission system operators (a combat information centre officer, an air control officer and a radar operator). Each operator can work independently in all operational roles: sensor utilisation, monitoring/control of the tactical situation, and transfer of onboard tactical information to battlegroup participants or land-based command centres.

In the late 1990's the Common Support Aircraft (CSA) was touted as the eventual successor to the Hawkeye, the CSA was envisaged as a common design role-adapted to replace the ES-3A Shadow signals intelligence aircraft, the S-3B Viking, the C-2A Greyhound carrier onboard delivery aircraft and the E-2C Hawkeye.  But in 2000 CSA was felled by the budget axe and so, with no replacement in sight, the E-2C is now expected to fly on well beyond 2020. Accordingly, efforts are being directed towards the continued evolution of the aircraft's mission capabilities, initially through the Hawkeye 2000 programme (which introduces mission computer, display and connectivity improvements), and in the longer term through a series of further enhancements bound together under the banner of Advanced Hawkeye (widely, although still unofficially, designated E-2D).   In parallel, the US Navy's E-2C programme office PMA-231 and Northrop Grumman are formulating plans to keep the E-2 production line open beyond 2006 when A199, the last aircraft of the current multiyear buy, is due for delivery. 

It is widely thought that the adoption of a STOBL configure 'adaptable' CVF design has effectively  eliminated the Hawkeye from the MASC requirement, but that is actually not the case.  During the Carter Administration, the US Navy investigated whether it would be possible to deck launch an E-2, in expectation that it might be forced to move from its Nimitz Class super carriers to much smaller carriers such as the CVV and SCS.  It found that not only was it possible to deck launch, but it could even be done safely - at reduced weights.  Trials in the early 1980's from a ski-jump (of just 2-3 degrees) built at built ashore at NAS Patuxent River offered the promise of raising launch weights.  However the ski jump presented some maintenance problems, and also indicated the possibility of fully compressing the nose gear at the higher angles that are optimum for a STOVL fighter such as the Harrier.  A redesign of the nose gear would thus be required in order to operate the E-2 from a ski-jump on a regular basis, and max TOW issues remain as well.  However these problems can almost certainly be resolved, if arrestor wires are added to the current STOVL but adaptable CVF (i.e. changing it to a STOBAR carrier) then the Hawkeye remains an option for MASC, indeed Flight International magazine reported in November 2002 that this approach was being seriously considered.  The UK is thus still regarded by Northrop Grumman as a potential future customer for the Hawkeye (or Advanced Hawkeye) that may require deliveries in a 2010-2012 timescale.

E-2C Hawkeye specification
(Hawkeye 2000 Configuration Aircraft)
Wingspan 80ft 7in (24.56m)
Width, wings folded 29ft 4in (8.94m)
Length overall 57ft 8.75in (17.60m)
Height overall 18ft 3.75in (5.58m)
Diameter of rotodome 24ft (7.32m)
Crew Members 5
Power Plant  
Number 2
Manufacturer Allison
Type T56-A-427 turboprop
Rating 5100 eshp (each)
Max level speed 338kt (626km/hr)
Max cruise speed 325kt (602km/hr)
Cruise speed 259kt (480km/hr)
Approach speed 103kt (191km/hr)
Service ceiling 37,000ft (11,278m)
Min TO distance (ground roll) 1,850ft (564m)
Min landing distance (ground roll) 1,440ft (439m)
Ferry range 1,541nm (2,854km)
Weight empty 40,484 lb (18,364kg)
Internal fuel 12,400 lb (5,624kg)
TO gross weight 54,426 lb (24,689kg)

Advanced Hawkeye

In August 2003 the US Navy announced the NAVAIR E-2 program - the official commencement of the Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) program - with a contract award to the Northrop Grumman Corporation.  The contract is valued at approximately $1.9 billion and includes SDD efforts to begin in fiscal year 2003 and conclude in fiscal year 2013.  The Defense Acquisition Board granted approval for the program to enter this phase on June 6, 2003. 

Compared to the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 the main change in the (E-2D?) Advanced Hawkeye will be a new ADS-18 ESA array housed in the existing 7.3m (24ft) diameter rotodome, replacing  the current mechanically-scanned rotating radar.  This will offer much improved capabilities in mission areas such as theatre-missile defence, overland cruise-missile defence and littoral surveillance.  All very relevant to the UK and the MASC system requirements.  

The AHE is an all-weather, twin engine, carrier-based, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft designed to extend task force defense perimeters and expand current capabilities. It uses the Northrop Grumman-built E-2C Hawkeye 2000 configuration as a baseline.  According to Northrop, Advanced Hawkeye will be equivalent or better than the "Wedgetail" Boeing 737-700 based AEW&C system recently bought by Australia, but at about a third of the cost.  Key AHE objectives include improved battle space target detection and situational awareness, especially in the littorals support of Theater Air and Missile Defense (TAMD) operations and improved operational availability.  Another critical goal is to be able to offer four platforms, enough for one orbit, for under $500 million.  The Bush administration requested $96 million to start development of the ADS-18 in the FY2002 budget.  The first prototype ADS-18 was installed in a C-130 aircraft for airborne testing in 2003.

The AHE’s radar modernization is a key element in the development of the U.S. Navy’s newest iteration of the E-2 aircraft.  The linchpin of a transformational capability, the Advanced Hawkeye will enable the Navy to continue to play a sizeable and important role in U.S. military strategy. With its new radar, the E-2, long billed as the “eyes of the fleet,” will provide the most technologically advanced command and control capability in the world, with the ability to collect data and supply information to naval and joint forces well ahead of engagement. The first developmental AHE aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2007, followed by Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in fiscal year 2011.  
“The Advanced Hawkeye will provide the enhanced airborne command and control, and expanded surveillance umbrella that will be a foundation of SeaPower 21,” said NAVAIR E-2/C-2 Program Manager Captain Robert LaBelle. “This new platform will be key in the Navy’s role to future military strategy.”  
The existing Hawkeye 2000 AN/APS-145 radar system will be replaced along with other aircraft systems components that enable the radar upgrade.  Obsolete or unsupportable components and systems will be upgraded or replaced as required.  It is the next upgrade in the long series of upgrades that the Department of the Navy has successfully acquired for the E-2C Hawkeye platform since its first flight in 1971.  

On 5 August 2003 Lockheed Martin received a $413.5 million contract to begin the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) program for the U.S. Navy’s E-2C Hawkeye aircraft.  Lockheed Martin leads the AHE industry team responsible for design and development of the Hawkeye’s next-generation radar, which will replace the current AN/APS-145 airborne radar by 2010.  
As the radar prime contractor, Lockheed Martin received advanced funding from Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems in March 2002 to begin the pre-SDD phase.  The E-2C Airborne Early Warning (AEW) radar program team at Lockheed Martin’s Syracuse, NY, facilities then began to develop system requirements for the Advanced Hawkeye Radar, which is planned to meet the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Surveillance and Theatre Air and Missile Defense (TAMD) missions.  Lockheed Martin’s team for the radar SDD phase includes Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems and Raytheon Electronic Systems.  
“The Advanced Hawkeye will provide the enhanced airborne command and control and expanded surveillance umbrella that will be a foundation of SeaPower 21,” said NAVAIR E-2/C-2 Program Manager Captain Bob LaBelle. “This new platform will be key to the Navy’s role in future military strategy.”  The Advanced Hawkeye will act as an airborne node for CEC supporting complex air defense missions, leveraging RMP’s electronically-steered UHF radar system that will be able to detect and track small targets with enough accuracy to enable remote engagement by surface ships, such as those with Lockheed Martin’s Aegis Weapon System, such as aboard the USS Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) and the USS Ticonderoga-class (CG-47).
Lockheed Martin currently makes an average of five AN/APS-145 radar systems a year in Syracuse and has the capability to build up to 10 systems a year.  The new AHE radar will be built to fit into a space approximately the same as that for the AN/APS-145, despite the new system’s added capability and complexity.  
Dick Evans, Lockheed Martin’s director of airborne radar programs, said that during the SDD phase the company would produce five radar systems that will be used by the Navy for qualification, reliability and flight-testing.  This will be followed by a full-scale production program to equip the 75 aircraft in the US Navy's E-2C Hawkeye 2000 fleet by 2020.

The Advanced Hawkeye system represents a two-generational leap in radar technology. The system will give the Navy far greater threat detection capabilities over land and water, with greater range and precision than any similar system, current or planned, and will be the foundation for the Navy's theater air missile defense function. Advanced Hawkeye's new communications systems will make it a major node in the Navy's FORCEnet information/decisions grid, enabling it to provide and integrate key information and surveillance data, fuse decision data and provide forward control and communications capabilities.

"The Navy-Northrop Grumman-Lockheed Martin team has been working closely for several years to define key system requirements and reduce development risks prior to SDD go-ahead, and we are very pleased with what the team has achieved," said Philip A. Teel, sector vice president, Airborne Early Warning and Electronic Warfare (AEW&EW) Systems. "Because Advanced Hawkeye will serve as the primary airborne node in the Navy's FORCEnet architecture, a successful SDD program is critical to the Navy and our joint forces in the future. We have brought together the best in industry to ensure the success of the Advanced Hawkeye program."

Two SDD aircraft will be built in Northrop Grumman's St. Augustine, Fla., facility, with delivery and the start of operational testing scheduled for fiscal year 2007. Initial Operational Capability is planned for 2011.

Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems, Syracuse, N.Y., serves as the principal radar system supplier and is teamed with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Baltimore, Md., and Raytheon Company's Space and Airborne Systems, El Segundo, Calif. BAE SYSTEMS, Greenlawn, N.Y., is responsible for the IFF system. L-3 Communications Randtron Antenna Systems, Menlo Park, Calif., is developing the UHF electronically scanned array antenna.

The Advanced Hawkeye will have a new cockpit.  Going beyond the single-purpose "glass" cockpits of modern aircraft, Northrop Grumman engineers are designing displays that will allow either the pilot or co-pilot to participate as a fourth mission system operator. Navy operator input has been obtained to guide these designs using the substantial simulation laboratory and demonstration capabilities available to the E-2 program.

Other features of the Advanced Hawkeye include terrain avoidance systems and global air traffic management system enhancements.

The SDD program is also focused on reducing production and total operational support costs. For example, some of the structures on current Hawkeyes are built-up from individual sheet metal parts. These structures will be replaced by single-piece machined parts to reduce both cost and time needed to construct the subassemblies and mate fuselages. Two-level maintenance concepts, coupled with automated system test capabilities, are being explored to reduce total ownership costs.

As well as it's Hawkeye 2000 aircraft, the USN could have the option of converting some of its older "Group 2" aircraft to Advanced Hawkeye's.  These would incorporate the electronically scanned antenna (ESA), infrared search and track and a tactical glass cockpit, as well as the Hawkeye 2000's new mission computer, workstations, satellite communications and co-operative engagement capability.  Northrop Grumman AEW business development manager Ken Tripp cautions, however, that upgrading existing E-2C Group 2 to Advanced Hawkeye will "almost approach the cost of a new-build aircraft".

Boeing A-160 Hummingbird Warrior

A160 Hummingbird Warrior


The A-160 Hummingbird Warrior is a vertical take-off-and-landing UAV designed to fly up to 2,500 plus nautical miles with 30 to 40 hour endurance. Its modular payload design can carry up to 1,000 pounds.  Its original developers, Frontier Systems Inc, were acquired by Boeing in May 2004.  The Boeing Phantom Works will complete development of the Hummingbird and then transfer the program to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (IDS).

According to the USA's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the A-160 Hummingbird Warrior program will exploit a hingeless, rigid rotor concept operating at the optimum rotational speed to produce a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) with low disk loading and rotor tip speeds resulting in an efficient low power loiter and high endurance system.  This unique concept offers the potential for significant increases in VTOL UAV range (more than 2,000 nm) and/or endurance (24-48 hours).  Detailed design, fabrication and testing of this vehicle is being conducted to establish its performance, reliability, and maintainability.  The A-160 concept is being evaluated for surveillance and targeting, communications and data relay, lethal and non-lethal weapons delivery, assured crew recovery, resupply of forces in the field, and special operations missions in support of Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and other Agency needs.  It is being developed as a component of the DARPA/Army Future Combat Systems (FCS) Program.  In addition, this program will evaluate application of the optimum speed rotor concept to other systems including heavy lift and tilt rotor capabilities.  The program will also conduct development tests of heavy fuel engine technology and coordinate with other DARPA programs developing highly efficient heavy fuel engine technologies to further advance current range and endurance projections as well as improve operational reliability and logistics compatibility. 

Boeing ScanEagleBoeing ScanEagle

ScanEagle is a long-endurance fully autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  The 40-pound UAV, developed and built by Boeing and Insitu, can be launched from ships via a pneumatic wedge catapult launcher and recovered via a "Skyhook" system, in which the UAV catches a rope hanging from a 50-foot-high pole.  Boeing foresees customers using ScanEagle vehicles individually or in groups to loiter over trouble spots and provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data or communications relay.  

As standard payload, ScanEagle carries either an inertially stabilized electro-optical or an infrared camera. The gimbaled camera allows the operator to easily track both stationary and moving targets, providing real-time intelligence to users.  Capable of flying above 16,000 feet, ScanEagle has also demonstrated the ability to provide persistent, low-altitude reconnaissance. 

The four-foot long vehicle, which has a 10-foot wingspan and can fly up to 68 knots can remain on station for more than 15 hours. ScanEagle recently completed a 16+ hour flight, believed to be the longest flight ever by a UAV launched and retrieved at sea.  Boeing and Insitu are working to develop a future version of the ScanEagle that can fly more than 30 hours at a time. 

The small, fixed-wing ScanEagle also includes a unique approach for launch and recovery to a ship at sea.

Another key design feature of the UAV is its internal avionics bay that allows easy integration of new payloads and sensors to meet customer requirements, such as for MASC.

The ScanEagle is described by Boeing as a ``low-cost, long endurance'' unmanned aerial vehicle, with a sticker price of about $100,000 each.  ScanEagles, because of their lower price tags, can be used for higher-risk missions because they are cheaper to replace if lost.

Boeing has said in the past that it foresees a potential market for the ScanEagle of as much as $1 billion over the next 20 years.  Uses for the plane could include military surveillance, homeland security, fisheries patrols, wildfire watches and weather observation.  The ScanEagle does not have attack capabilities.

In mid-2004 Boeing announced that it has received an order from the U.S. Marine Corps for two ``mobile deployment units'' of the ScanEagle UAV.  The ScanEagle planes that the Marine Corps will begin using soon are designed to remain airborne for more than 15 hours at a time and can fly at low altitudes to avoid radar detection. 

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 © 2004-13 Richard Beedall unless otherwise indicated.