Skip to comments.New surveillance system for Royal Navy aircraft carriers
Posted on 02/04/2014 12:09:00 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers will get helicopter-borne early warning systems 18 months earlier than planned, saving £22 million.
Following renegotiation of the aircraft carrier contract to deliver savings to the taxpayer, the Defence Secretary has accelerated the Crowsnest airborne surveillance and control programme to ensure it is operational by 2019.
Using high-power radar to provide long-range air, maritime and land tracking capabilities, Crowsnest will be an integral part of future carrier operations. It will be fitted to the Royal Navys fleet of upgraded Merlin Mk2 helicopters, including those to be embarked on the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.
The decision to bring forward the Crowsnest programme has been made as part of the annual review of MODs 10-year equipment plan. The plan, worth £160 billion, includes unallocated funding to support equipment requirements that may arise as threats emerge or priorities change.
Computer-generated image of Merlin helicopters operating from a Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier [Picture: Copyright Aircraft Carrier Alliance]
The shorter delivery time for Crowsnest will lead to a significant reduction in costs, as specialist industry personnel will be required for a shorter period of time.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
Crowsnest will provide vital surveillance and intelligence to protect the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
The introduction of Crowsnest 18 months early will ensure HMS Queen Elizabeth has the full range of capabilities when it enters service.
Lockheed Martin UK, which designs the Merlin helicopters, has been awarded a £24 million contract to run a competition to design, develop and demonstrate Crowsnest.
Merlin AEW Concept
I think the Royal Navy should buy E2D Hawkeyes from Grumman NOW instead of waiting so many years for the Merlin versions. After all, since the French Navy is already using E2s the Brits obviously could.
One advantage of helicopters one might guess is in vertically operating when the North Atlantic is really acting up.
Another area is do they plan to have a COD aircraft?
Unfortunately, helicopter or V-22-based AEW systems are the only options, thanks to the MoD’s genius decision not to install cats and traps on the new aircraft carriers, instead relying on the ski jump and the F-35B.
Why not use BOTH?...
I think they could use both types of a/c.
I thought these ships were getting the same type of catapults as the new Ford class carriers. Have seen illustrations with one on the angle deck and one on the foredeck in the pictures.
Following the 2010 Strategic Defence Review, the Government decided to convert them to a ‘cats and traps’ configuration and buy F35Cs instead. However, BAe Systems (who are rather more heavily invested in the F35B) suggested that it would cost a lot more to convert them to Cats and Traps and would lead to years of delays.
So the Government made a U-turn and cancelled the plans to fit them with Cats and Traps, despite the USN apparently begging the British Government to have them fitted so that the Carriers were interoperable with their aircraft. BAe Systems were of course delighted by the U-turn, and I’m sure the USMC were as well, the USN and RN were less so...
It is absolutely stupefying that these extremely expensive, second largest set of carriers in the world would be deployed intentionally with less operational capability than they should have had.
We live in one screwball world.
No kidding, but BAe Systems has more workshare in the F35B variant of the JSF, and as Britain’s biggest defence (and only super-sized) contractor, they have a lot of clout over HM Government defence procurement policy. This is why they steered the ship towards operating the F35B instead of the F35C, or even worse, a foreign aircraft like the Dassault Rafale or SAAB Gripen in which they had no workshare at all.
If I had my way we’d have got two amphibious assault ships capable of operating the F35Bs to complement carriers built to proper specs, but especially in an age of austerity and declining budgets, that was never going to happen...
They just cannot carry as much fuel and payload as when flung from yhe cats. Sigh of exasperation.
As a Texan residing hundreds of miles from the ocean it bugs the hell out of me that Britain maintains a shadow of a Navy compared to what there should be. They don’t need a massive 1945 force but we still do not live in a world of butterflys and daffodils.