Home » Aviation » Marines Won’t Need a Carrier for High-End Fight With MUX Unmanned System


Marines Won’t Need a Carrier for High-End Fight With MUX Unmanned System

DARPA demonstrator system of a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air system (UAS). DAPRA Image

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – The Marine Corps and Navy are preparing for a high-end fight that will require ships to be distributed across the ocean rather than clustered around an aircraft carrier, and the Marines’ future Group 5 unmanned aerial system will give them the airborne early warning capability to break free from the carrier and its E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft.

With the F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter now fielded, an Upgunned Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) – a typical Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked on a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), plus a couple cruisers or destroyers – is a formidable naval unit: it carries a Marine landing force, a fifth-generation stealthy fighter capability, a high-end radar paired with the Aegis Combat System, and the networking to tie them all together. The only thing missing is an airborne early warning system like the Navy’s E-2D to identify and cue surface and air threats.

That is the capability gap the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Expeditionary – or MUX – will fill.

“Think about the ESG, the Amphibious Ready Group, the large-deck amphib: even if it’s upgunned with a set of [surface warfare] assets with Aegis radars, we are still missing an airborne early warning capability. And therefore, in the fight of the future, we are going to be tied to the carrier strike group,” Brig. Gen. James Adams, director of the capabilities development directorate at Marine Corps headquarters, said during a MUX industry day presentation today.

“That’s why airborne early warning is our number-one top-tier requirement (for MUX). We don’t have an E-2D obviously with the ARG, we could never get one, but we need that capability present inside the ARG as we distribute forces in connection with and in support of the concepts – [Distributed Maritime Operations], [Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment], [Expeditionary Advance Base Operations] – in the future and enable the naval force to be more lethal and allow us separation from and integration with the carrier strike group. And that’s why [airborne early warning] is so important and why it bumped up from being way down somewhere in the ICD (initial capabilities document) as a nice-to-have to an absolute essential must-have.”

Adams said some lawmakers have gone so far as to suggest a light-carrier concept for the Marines so they could operate their own E-2Ds and have airborne early warning capabilities in ARG/MEU operations, and he said fielding the MUX will be a better solution to bringing that capability to the amphibious force.

When the MUX ICD was approved in October 2016, the Marines had laid out seven missions for the vehicle. Based on early industry feedback and evolving operational needs, airborne early warning is now the top priority. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); electronic warfare; and communications relay are also considered Tier 1 missions, with offensive air support being a Tier 2 mission. Escort and cargo have been struck as missions, with those requirements likely being filled by the Future Vertical Lift program in the 2030s.

Adams spoke of MUX as a key integrator of Marine forces fighting at sea or moving ashore, of naval aviation assets in the air and other ships in the fleet operating at sea.

Petty Officer 1st Class Rey White, an aviation boatswain’s mate with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), directs a Marine F-35B before take-off aboard the Wasp-class Amphibious ship USS Essex (LHD-2) on May 31, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

He said dropping offensive air support to a tier 2 capability – which means the final MUX system the Marines build may not carry any offensive weapons at all, if the winning design chooses not to include them – is a fine tradeoff because “if the MUX system is able to cue a designated target in accordance with the Tier 1 capabilities, there are a plethora of weapons available in the CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability network), in the NIFC-CA (Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air) scenario, that it can fire,” Adams said.
“So in some respects, it has an unlimited magazine because it’s the cue-er of other people’s weapons, whether it’s an SM-6 (Standard Missile) coming off a ship, or a [Small Diameter Bomb] coming off an F-35 – it can provide [offensive air support] cueing in the networked fight of the future.”

Adams noted that hanging weapons on the MUX could also reduce airspeed, endurance and payload capacity – a trade the Marines aren’t interested in.

The MUX will have about eight hours on station at 350 nautical miles from the ship, Adams said. A speed requirement isn’t set yet – Adams said it would likely be around 200 knots, though the Marines might accept something closer to 175 knots if it led to greater capability elsewhere.

The Marines also haven’t set a cost cap yet. Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Combat Development and Integration Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh said at the event that MUX would be comparable in size to the Group 5 Reaper, at $16 million apiece, and Predator, at $22 million apiece. The shipboard compatibility and runway-independence will likely add some cost, he said, but the Pentagon is unlikely to approve the program if it costs much more.

“It’s got to be somewhere in that area, it’s got to be not a whole lot more. So we’re talking in the 20s, mid- to high-20s,” he said.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) leads the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD-47) and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) in formation during a simulated strait transit as part of Dawn Blitz 2017. US Navy Photo

Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder said at the event that several programs are winding down acquisition in the coming years, such as the H-1 helicopter, the MV-22 Osprey and the KC-130J cargo plane. Though others like the F-35B and the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter are moving into the multiyear procurement phase, there is room in the budget for the MUX and “we’re prepared to go fast, assuming that there’s technology there that allows us to go fast.”

He said the 2022 or 2023 timeframe is where the former set of aircraft transition from procurement to sustainment and where the latter set of aircraft move into multiyear procurement, and so he’s eyeing that same timeframe for the beginning of MUX procurement if the technology develops fast enough.

“We believe the technology exists to do it, we believe now is the right time to begin this journey of this program to be able to give the United States Marine Corps, the Navy, the Army, the Joint Force a capability that is expeditionary, doesn’t require a runway, and is a value to the naval force,” Rudder said.

Navy Capt. Jeffrey Dodge, the MQ-8 Fire Scout UAS program manager who is coordinating Naval Air Systems Command’s involvement in MUX, said at the industry day that an analysis of alternatives (AoA) would take place later this year. The Marines would ideally pick a couple vehicles that could begin prototype testing quickly, allowing the service to select one in Fiscal Year 2020 and begin the formal program of record at the Milestone C production decision, rather than taking on a major government-led development effort.

After the 2020 downselect would come air vehicle development, integration of early payloads, the completion of land-based testing, and then some sort of operational evaluation so the Marines could declare early operational capability for land-based use. The shipboard testing and certification would take longer, Dodge said, but the Marines could use the MUX in its expeditionary role while the shipboard portion of engineering and testing continued.

Ultimately, the Marines are designing this program with future sales to the Army, Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command and foreign militaries in mind, with the goal of decreasing program cost by increasing total quantity. To support that, Walsh said it would be important for the payloads to be separate from the airframe, so that SOCOM could potentially invest in a higher-end payload, or a foreign navy could buy a scaled-down payload.

Ultimately, though, Walsh said ensuring shipboard operability – including fitting in a destroyer’s hangar and taking up about the footprint of a UH-1 helicopter – remains a top priority for the Marine Corps.

“Two years ago when I walked the ICD to the [Joint Requirements Oversight Council … [the first reaction] was, we’ve got a lot of Group 5’s, they’re all over the world doing things. Why is yours different?” Walsh said.
“It was the shipboard compatibility, the expeditionary capability that allowed that ICD to go through. That was the only thing.”

  • Rabbit

    That DARPA concept . . . It’s a new POGO!

  • Fully capable unmanned VTOL AEW for $15-20m? Seems unlikely.

    If AEW for a ESG is important (and it probably is), create an EV-22 – concepts were already floated for the UK and there are a few off the shelf radars that could probably be used.

    • Bryan

      While it’s fun to talk MUX and E-2D the worst thing the Navy/USMC could do is try to make it that. It’s not just the money but pure physics they would be fighting against.

      It needs to be big enough to get a decent ranged radar and act as a commo node. That’s it. When one understands how the Navy can and should use the Triton to give an overall picture and mix that with something like a MUX or even the Fire Scout in the interim to give a decent performance for anti-air and surface threats.

      One reality is that it’s too expensive and too hard on the humans to fly an E-2 24/7. A MUX type system could get a small surface action group to the persistent surveillance point. That would be a game changer.

      Trying to make it an E-2 would just get it cancelled.

      • Duane

        The current generation of solid state AESA synthetic appurture radars are greatly miniaturized as compared to the ancient tech that the old E-2 was developed around. The E-2 is a 1950s-1960s design. The sensors in the F-35 are far superior to what is in the E-2.

        • RunningBear

          ….E-2D has a rotating AESA tx/rcv modules…
          🙂

          • Duane

            Yes, E-2s have been updated from time to time over the 60 or so years they’ve been in service. But the miniaturization of electronics and antennas, plus onboard sensor fusion now negates the need for a large ISR aircraft. A F-35 has far superior sensors, and even light aircraft like the MQ-8B and C have superior capabilities to the old E2s. The Air Force has already decided to get rid of their old large ISR aircraft in favor of distributed sensors on unmanned aircraft.

    • Duane

      MQ-8C already exists and is operational with a delivered unit cost of less than $20M. It has the required endurance and then some (15 hours), can operate today from destroyers and LCS, and is already fitted with the required sensors and networked digital comms. MQ-8C is a bit slow at 140 knots, but as an interim solution for the next 5 to 10 years while MuX is developed, it will suffice.

      • DaSaint

        The altitude requirement for sufficient AEW would have to be well above 20,000 feet, and as you should know, the higher the altitude of the platform carrying the radar, the longer the coverage range. That most likely puts the MQ-8C out of consideration as it has a max 20,000 ft. service ceiling.

        • Duane

          20,000 ft ceiling is more than sufficient for an interim solution, which is all that I am talking about. There will be a minimum 5 to 10 year timeframe for MuX to deliver to the fleet. What do we do until then?

          From 20,000 ft an airborne radar can detect a 50 ft high target (a ship or cruising ASCM) from 182nm. Increase the altitude to 30,000 ft (which is the max ceiling for turboprop aircraft such as MuX), the radar detection range increases to only 221 nm … That is just a 16% differential in detection range. But you also have to factor in the patrol radius of the aircraft, which is 350nm per the Marine spec, which reduces the range advantage of high altitude by more than half, i.e., 350 + 182 = 532nm vs. 350 + 221 = 571 nm, a differential of less than 7%. The fleet can certainly live with that.

          The alternatives to using MQ-8C as an interim solution are either to use MH-60Rs with an endurance of only 3 and a half hours vs. 15 hours (no contest), or devote F-35s at a far higher operating cost and much shorter endurance, or keep the ARGs tethered to CSGs.

          • Jason

            One point of correction… The MuX is supposed to have 8 hours on station after it has flown 350 miles. That’s a very big difference than just having a 350 mile range. The ability to stay on station that long is probably more relevant for ISR than AEW, but it is still way out of the league of any pure helicopter. You need wings to get that kind of persistence. And remember, a fire scout is just a regular helicopter with its insides gutted to carry extra gas (which is weight that directly limits payload, speed, altitude, etc)… you will never get anything close to tilt rotor or winged turbo-prop performance from a pure helicopter. You just can’t, it’s physics. While the max altitude for an MQ-8C may be 20,000 feet… it probably can’t do anything close to that with a full load of gas or with the added weight of an AEW radar assuming it could even carry one. Just as a point of comparison the standard AEW mission for the British Navy Sea Kings is just a little over two hours… and a sea king and Merlin have a heck of a lot more lifting capability than a fire scout.

            It’s not clear that the Navy or Marines need an interim solution when Bell 24/7 for instance may be ready by the mid 20’s.

          • Duane

            Yes, I get that. A MQ-8C has a published endurance of 15 hours and a cruising speed of 140 knots. That results in a 2.5 hour one way cruise, or 5 hour round trip to get 350 nm out, leaving 8 hours endurance (as the Marines have specified) at that range on station plus a 1-hour reserve. Factors like wind speeds and direction and altitude affect the endurance and range figures. Turboprop engines really like to cruise up high where fuel consumption is least, so the altitude has a big effect.

            Also, for long endurance missions and a light weapons load, an auxiliary fuel tank can be used, just as the Marines and Navy use an aux fuel tank on their V-22 Ospreys for long distance missions.

      • Bubblehead

        You are over stating the 8C capabilities. 15 hours max is not 15 hours with a giant radar underneath it. The current radar being designed for the 8C is hardly a AEW radar. Its a tiny radar for surveillance & recon. And just because the 8C max alt is 15-20k does not mean it can hang up there for even 10 hours with a giant radar underneath it. Helicopters are extremely inefficient, lack range & persistence, and are a maintenance heavy. Everything the Marines do not want in the MUX. There i s a reason there are no AEW helos. The Brits did theirs out of desperation after Falklands disaster.

  • Bubblehead

    The $15-20M would be just the airframe. The expensive radar would be a separate external add-on. Thats just what I take out of it.

    A V22 version is much larger than what the Marines want. A V22 is not fitting inside a destroyer hanger.

    It almost seems the Marines are asking too much from current technology. I can easily see this thing costing much much more than expected and with major delays. But if they are able to get this thing flying by 2023 time frame, they will have a winner.

    • Duane

      The joint FVL program has already resulted in two prototype designs for a medium lift aircraft that is approximately the size of a MH-60 … Bell’s tiltrotor and Boeing’s compound helicopter. Either could operate from a destroyer or LCS hanger and flight deck. A navalized version with folding rotors will be included.

      The problem with FVL is that the program is moving very slowly with a targeted delivery in the early 2030s. Bell has been pushing to streamline delivery to the mid to late 2020s, but our lethargic procurement system is a problem. The new senior DOD procurement leaders are saying they want to accelerate the system, but that remains to be seen.

      • Bubblehead

        Too bad you are at least a decade late. Marine drone is supposed to be flying in the next few years. It’s using technology (or so they say). The FVL is no where close and it isn’t being designed as a drone.

        • Duane

          No – The Marine MuX exists only on paper today. The Bell V-280 tiltrotor has already been designed, built, and has been flying since last December. The V-280 will be navalized, will be capable of unmanned flight, and can perform multiple roles including ISR, attack, ASW, and transport.

          Bell say they can deliver to the fleet in just a few years, but that DOD procurement is moving at a glacial pace. The V-280 is at least 5 to 10 years ahead of MuX.

  • Duane

    It seems that we already have a pretty good interim UAS to serve the enhanced amphibious groups: the MQ-8C. It has the necessary endurance (15 hours) and sensors (AESA synthetic appurture radar, FLIR) and networked comms. It is slower than desired at 140 knots, but still highly functional and it exists today and is deployable from both destroyers and LCS. MQ-8C should work well throughout the next 5 to 10 years it will take to deliver what the Marines want.

    • Jason

      MQ-8C isn’t a class 5 drone. I don’t think it has anywhere near the payload and range for the described missions. Mux will need a payload of at least several thousand pounds and a 500 mile range. MQ-8C has a 700 pound payload and a range of only 150 miles.

      • Duane

        Nope, you are confusing the older, much smaller MQ-8B with the far larger and more capable MQ-8C. The C model has a 15 hour endurance vs 8 hr for the B. The C carries a 2,950 pound payload vs 600 lb (not 150 as you.wrote). The C is a completely different, much larger, and newer airframe, being based on the Bell 407 and using the avionics and semi-autonomous flight and mission controls of the B model, plus upgraded state of the art digital networked comms and upgraded sensors.

        With the large payload, the C model can deploy with a wide variety of special purpose sensors, ECM pods, and missiles including air to air and air to suface. For instance, with an ECM pod and a rack or two of AAMs such as AIM-9X, the Fire Scout can detect an enemy vessel or flotilla and send targeting info back to the AEGIS-equipped enhanced ARG, while jamming enemy sensors, and also sense and target a launch of enemy ASCMs from ships or aircraft from very long range. A MQ-8C can even be fitted with a rack and a couple of Naval Strike Missiles at 900 pounds each and provide long range attack against enemy warships.

        • Jason

          I stand corrected. You are right about the 8C vs. 8B performance parameters (I googled it, my bad). However, I still highly doubt it would work as an AEW. The British model is generally ill regarded to begin with, but it is worth noting that they use heavy lift helicopters for AEW capabilities including Merlins and Sea Kings. You would have to assume (and I am assuming) that if Crownsnest could be fitted to the MQ-8C they would do so. However, since MUX was approved, it stands to reason that it wouldn’t work… or that the MQ-C’s range, speed, persistence, or max altitude would be so compromised as to make it not worth the effort. The procurement office always requires Analysis of alternatives be conducted before committing to a new project, to make sure you don’t create redundancies. For the Marines the process is particularly stringent. So just pure logic dictates that the MQ-8C is insufficient for one or more reasons. The Marines and Navy aren’t daft. I couldn’t find any information on weight of crownsnest, so I can’t prove that it is beyond the specs of the new fire-scout, but I am assuming that is at least is part of the problem or something in the flight envelope makes it highly impractical.

          • Duane

            Again … I am not suggesting MQ-8C INSTEAD OF MuX … but as an interim solution that will readily meet the Marines stated performance while DOD consumes, very predictably, at least 5 to 10 years (possibly longer) to develop MuX.

            MQ-8C took 5 years, and all it did was put semi-autonomous controls from the proven MQ-8B on an old proven airframe (the Bell 407). MuX, being a clean sheet design, does not even exist yet but on paper .. it will easily take twice to three times as long to develop as did MQ-8C.

            What I suspect is at work here is the typical stovepiping between services that causes each of them to be unaware, if not uncaring, that another service already has what they want today. In bureaucratic-speak, it is referred to as “not invented here syndrome”.

            MuX might well be a fine developmental next gen system … but it could also be that the Marines are afraid that DOD may not let them develop their own new birds in-the-bush if the one in-the-hand looks too attractive.

  • PolicyWonk

    In the meantime, the British have an effective AEW kit that is small enough for choppers, and could likely be retrofit on a V-22.

    Hence: we’ve got the wherewithal to do this today with, working components and minimal development costs.

    Granted, they are manned, but its a vastly easier and much lower risk option that the Marines could be using literally within months, as opposed to waiting for years for a higher-risk option.

    On an added note, while an ARG carries a considerable punch, and does (or will) have F-35B’s: first of all – there are only six of them assigned to an LHD/LHA; their legs are short; and they don’t carry a lot of ordnance if/while remaining stealthy; even if fully loaded, its not likely to be sufficient unless you’re dealing with a fairly small (or non-peer) adversary; A V-22 equipped for refueling would be an effective way to extend the range of the F-35B’s, which could be combined with a ski-jump that would permit additional increases in both fuel and ordnance.

    • Jason

      While it’s certainly true that the V-22 could be equipped with an AEW kit, the Marines have already over tasked their V-22’s (they are literally the most in demand aircraft in any service) and they are very expensive. MUX makes a lot of sense because there is a substantial difference in the endurance possibilities between the two air-frames. You could send MUX into places that you wouldn’t risk a maned V-22. Mux will also be able to deploy out of destroyers which saves flight deck space for aircraft that only can operate off of large deck amphibs. For instance, you would probably need 3 or 4 dedicated V-22’s to guaranteed 24 hour AEW coverage. Assuming you would also need at least 2 or 3 V-22’s for aerial refueling, you’ve just dropped your potential F-35 carriage from around 20 to 15 or 16.

      • PolicyWonk

        While what you say is true, we already have choppers on our destroyers that already fit the footprint, and this would be a far simpler, low risk option at least for the near term. the Brits are using this option for their QE class carriers, for example.

        The V-22’s are expensive, which is why we should get as much use out of them as we can, for as many applications as we can.

        I agree, something like MUX might be better for the longer term, for endurance. But if the idea is to get capabilities into the field quickly, and with lower risk, equipping our Sea Hawks and/or V-22’s makes a lot of sense.

        • Jason

          Maybe. I just tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the Marines. If there were an obvious simple solution (like slapping on a Crownsnest to existing helicopters or drones without compromising force structure or flight envelopes), they would probably do so.

          • PolicyWonk

            I also tend to give the benefit of the doubt to the USMC (and USCG). The Marines usually have to figure out how to do things on the cheap, given their relative subservience to the USN. They had their share in the F-35 acquisition mess, and then there was EFV.

            But they seem to have learned from that, and as one article either here or on Breaking Defense informed us, the Marines started testing ideas and requirements out with the engineers in the room, to help them determine up front, what is feasible/reasonable, or just plan nuts/unworkable.

            That should be SOP for all service branches.

        • Bubblehead

          Using helo’s as AEW is not practical. Extremely maintenance heavy, extremely low range, extremely low altitude (which matters greatly for AEW). As mentioned for the V22’s but even worse for helos. You would have to task who knows how many helos to provide 24/7 coverage. And even when up, you would get very poor AEW coverage. You need something with low maintenance, high altitude, & high range and endurance. Which is the exact opposite of a helo.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        i have to take issue with your pronouncement here. “While it’s certainly true that the V-22 could be equipped with an AEW kit….”. Ummm, how so? What is your proof of that? The MV-22 appears to be an available option, and is always mentioned as such when this discussion comes up. Yet, it hasn’t happened, and there doesn’t appear to be any impetus behind making that happen. I think that it’s possible that the plane has already been looked at in detail and depth for this mission, and has been deemed to not be up for the task.

        • Jason

          Just google Crownsnest. That’s the British AEW solution for their carriers. The radar pod attaches (and can be detached as needed) from Merlin helicopters which have no where near the performance of an osprey in terms of lift, range, or available space. Meaning that yes, that solution or a modified version there of could almost certainly work on a v-22.

          However, just because something is likely possible doesn’t necessarily mean it is worth doing. I think aspects of the point you were making still stand and is actually the same point I was making. Which is, if fitting an AEW radar to an osprey was simultaneously inexpensive, easy and absolutely necessary, the Marines probably would have done so already. However, my guess is the Marines/Navy are holding out for something better (namely MUX) because at least one (and possibly all three) of those preconditions don’t hold. Remember, the Marines never purchased the super hornet to have the funds available to purchase larger quantities of F-35B’s. Gator carrier AEW capability is probably following a similar decision making pattern. While an AEW kit on an osprey is almost certainly doable, every penny you spend on it is probably a penny you can’t spend on something better. A higher altitude, dedicated drone with greater endurance is almost certainly better than the more ad hoc osprey or helicopter solution.

          The fact is the U.S. Navy isn’t the British Navy and it isn’t immediately necessary to have a compromise option. The British clearly needed a semi-affordable immediately deployable solution for their carrier fleet. It’s not clear that the Marine/Navy’s needs are so pressing. After all, it is rather difficult to imagine a major Marine landing without the presence of a super carrier which means that airborne early warning will be present if it is really needed.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Good points. The only thing I don’t agree with is that attaching a ‘kit’ to an Osprey is ‘doable’. We just don’t know that. It MIGHT be, but it also might not. Unless an attempt is made to prove it, we will never know. BUT, what is also obvious is that the Navy/Marines want something that can fly off platforms as small as destroyers. They want them to fly off as many ships as possible, and tat alone dooms the Osprey as far as being a candidate for this mission.

          • Jason

            Everything is doable. It is just a question of whether or not this particular thing is worth doing. That is obviously still an open question that I don’t pretend to know the answer to. To your point there is of course a chance that there is some hidden obscure factor that would somehow make crownsnest or some derivative incompatible with a larger more efficient tilt rotor though I have no clue what that limiting factor would be…. I do however, know that It isn’t space, power, lift, or range.

            I also don’t know that being too large dooms the Ospreys for this mission. After all, the main purpose of an AEW aircraft is to cue fighter aircraft to incoming enemy threats and give large capital ships more time to respond to barrages. Since all amphibious ships can operate ospreys and the only fighters to cue are on L-Class ships, most of the value proposition for an AEW V/STOL aircraft is there. Remember if the primary concern were just getting any AEW to fit on any old ship the Marine corp/navy could obviously just have opted to buy Merlin helicopters complete with crownsnest… which they aren’t doing either.

            The most likely reason they aren’t likely going to use the Osprey is that it is extremely expensive and it is already tasked with doing too many things… and because it is manned it is ill suited to the emerging electronic warfare role. Helicopter have very limited endurance and therefore aren’t ideal.

            Furthermore, since AEW is really best suited to work with fighters and the Marines have only recently acquired a V/STOL aircraft worthy of the name… they have some time to figure out what the best solution would be.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            All that is well considered. But, I read the article. I am relaying what the article itself says. And it is quite clear that the Navy/Marines are looking for a platform that is small enough to fly off of smaller ships than a large deck amphib. They are the ones who stated that they are looking at unmanned systems to do this mission. All that adds up to the Osprey not being their best option as THEY see it. So any technical or engineering aspects concerning the Osprey might be irrelevant to all this. They want small and unmanned.

          • Secundius

            Flight Deck width of an LHA/LHD is ~108-feet, minus the “island superstructure” ~40-feet, minus Two Parking Lanes of ~15-feet each. Which leaves ~38-feet of Usable Deck Space for MV-22’s and F-35B’s to Take-Off and Land…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Relevance? MV-22s take off straight up. They don’t make take off runs. As the ARTICLE says, the Navy/Marines want an unmanned system that can fly from DESTROYERS among other platforms. It’s not just about flight decks, it will also be about hangar space.

          • Secundius

            Wing Span of MV-22 w/Turning Proprotor is ~83-feet 10-inches and for both the CH-53E/K is ~79-feet. If Ordnance Parking Lane is 15-feet across and Island Superstructure is ~40-feet across. Where are either the MV-22 and CH-53E/K going to be in relationship to the Island Superstructure and the Edge of the Flight Deck (if usable Freeboard Space available is only ~38-feet. Which means NO Allowable Room for Parked Aircraft’s, Support Equipment (Aircraft Tractors) or Odnance/Fuel Support Equipment.

            For F-35B to Take-Off and/or SRVL (Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing), Wing Span is ~35-feet, which is safe and doable and still retaining Parking Lane of ~15-feet…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I ask again, given what the ARTICLE has stated, what is the relevance of this?

          • Secundius

            You and your compadre “Jason” keep talking about AEW equipped MV-22’s. With a wingspan of ~83’10” and only 38 to 53-feet of Free Space Span to work with, something other than the AEW equipped MV-22 won’t be on the Flight Deck of the LHA/LHD’s…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Jason and I are able to comprehend the actual discussion. YOU, on the other hand, and as you often do, take the actual discussion to places that have NO bearing on what’s being talked about. I’m not the one making more out of the discussion than what it is actually about. The ARTICLE makes it perfectly clear that the Navy/Marines want an UNMANNED platform that can fly from ships at least as small as destroyers. PERIOD. Seeing how MV-22s are operated en mass from LHA/LHDs, I don’t grasp your claims that those possibly equipped for other missions can’t fly from those ships. But, I also don’t care. There is NO AEW version of the MV-22. The Navy/Marines DON’T want one. End of story…

          • Secundius

            The USN/USMC, already have Several Unmanned Platforms to choose from, it only the matter of which one or two. And I wasn’ Advocating for a Mission Specific V-22 platform…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Read the article! Period. Everything that is RELEVANT to this particular discussion is in it. What you want or i want is not important.

          • Centaurus

            How can so much be written, by so many, which can change so little ?
            Seriously.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Please elaborate. I am not able to follow…

          • Centaurus

            I thought the question was quite clear. But you seem intelligent.

            Multiple paragraphs are being written in these commentary areas discussing remedies, complaints, et. al. , for weapon systems that have no problem left unexamined. Is this some sort of sport between commenters ?

          • Chesapeakeguy

            No, the question is anything but. You want to complain or question why things are being said in the manner they are, then say so. Spewing out generalities and platitudes that are not specific about anything are a waste of time. OK?

            Perhaps your animus would be better directed at those who provide these forums? If you have a problem with people expressing themselves on these subjects, maybe lecturing THEM is the logical starting point? Just sayin’…

          • Centaurus

            I think I’ll just be a spectator to the Circus.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Have at it. Especially if you have nothing to offer…

          • Jason

            I 100% agree. If the osprey were the best option they would almost certainly use it. The only place where we may or may not differ is why it is not the best option. I tend to think it has more to do with some combination of cost, the existing osprey workload, and the fact that a purpose built platform would of course be better given the fact that there really isn’t an urgent need in the next few years, rather than any inherent disqualifying factor associated with the Osprey.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            You know, if developing an MVE-22 was indeed something that did not present too formidable of a challenge engineering-wise and cost-wise, I would think Boeing would pursue that on their own for foreign markets. The Hawkeye has been procured by several nations that do not operate them from carriers. A vertical takeoff platform for AEW seems attractive, especially if air bases and their runways are vulnerable. Yet, to date, nothing has been pursued with such a variant. But, who knows, maybe one day it will be. It just seems like a good idea…

          • Jason

            I think the only problem with that theory is again cost. It is one thing for a foreign government to piggy back on a U.S. program of record, and I’m sure if the U.S. Navy were to select the osprey AEW solution and therefore pay the development and integration cost of creating it, other nations (especially Japan, south Korea) both with emerging V/STOL carrier capability would buy it… and the UK should certainly buy it though it is doubtful that they would given their slim budget and current commitment to the Merlin/crownsnest solution. India, which is interested in the Osprey for other purposes, has extant carrier capability, and may not be eligible to receive the highly sophisticated MUX technology transfer is probably the only country that would opt for an AEW Osprey solution independent of a U.S. purchase. Both Japan and South Korea, which are very close allies would likely get a better deal and are probably eligible to operate the more custom solution that MUX would provide. With no pressing and immediate need, they can afford to wait.

            With India being the only likely client independent of the U.S., the unit costs would likely be staggering. After all, the base price of an Osprey which is already 70 million dollars, (only Japan, Israel and the U.S. currently operate them), and with a maximum purchase of somewhere between 4 and 12… they could literally come in at over 1/4 billion a piece, that’s a lot of money.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Money will always be a major consideration, perhaps THE major consideration. It is possible that the technical and engineering problems can be overcome but only at a cost that makes pursuing that unattractive. But, I think we can all safely conclude that we are not going to see a capability provided to the Osprey, either as a ‘bolt on’ or bu building a variant of it, that involves them talking part in any aspect of warfare in the electronic spectrum.

    • Secundius

      The Leonardo-Finmeccanica “Osprey” AESA 3D Radar has been fitted to a Northrop-Grumman MQ-8C “FireScout” Drone Helicopter since at least 17 September 2016. And can Track Targets as far as 200nmi away…

      • PolicyWonk

        My point exactly.

        Thank you.

        • Secundius

          Most likely candidate for the MV-22 Osprey would probably be either a Nose Mounted or Belly Mounted “SeaSpray” 7500E AESA, which has a Search Range of ~300nmi…

  • b2

    As a former Navy officer I am tired of Marine/Gator navy fantasies driving budgets to support nefarious and questionable overall US Navy needs and requiremnents to fight blue water peer adversaries, like this scheme to suck more $$ away from real CSG/battle Group core needs for carriers, surface ships, subs and airwings…. One or two ESGs is all we need as a nation. We really need 12-15 carrier battle groups and enough airwing to populate them… That is primary. Schemes like this diminish the reality of having a great Navy again. The Battle of Midway was under way many years ago this week and should serve as an example of the US Navys real role …and the Navy’s tradition since Adams ‘wall of wood” was constructed.

    Navy officers and leaders- step up to the plate, don’t let the USMC-PAO self generating grand idea factory take a cent of your budget to field a real Navy again… They don’t understand and never will…

    • vincentlawrence

      To Have a great Navy First you need Great Officers, good officers are hard to come by today.
      Far too many hot dogs driving ships relying on computers radar and and other electronics, we need eyes, ears and hands on leadership.
      Please don’t make a competition out of who gets what, look at what each Military branch faces when they are face to face with the world of adversaries, and look at what is expected of each branch of the Military and how hard it is to do with what each is budgeted with, and please do not match the value in dollars what one Marine life is worth to one of the Navy.
      As a Marine I spent time on Ships and Subs to make beach landings from both on boats and paddled rubber rafts.

      • b2

        Big Navy, the historic Wall of Wood and the battle of Midway explain it all..the USMC is part of the Navy Department for a reason. There are DoD/military core needs like the Navy, a large standing Army, nuclear strategic weapon Triad and the USAF TACAIR/bomber/lift &tanker fleet.. All the rest including our fantastic Marines and SOC are supporting specialists when it comes to the big fight against a peer adversary, especially at sea, blue-water in defense of this nation. Those objectives on getting up to speed again for our Navy must be prioritized and funded first…
        Like I said, I dont expect many Marines to understand and that is why I challenge the leaders of our Navy today to step forward or get out of the way. Either that, or mandate the UCMC become the only service and start having its own lawyers/doctors, worldwide intrastructure, ship drivers and ballistic missile officers, etc. etc…

  • Kypros

    $15-$20 million? Sounds like the $90 million LCS.

  • RTColorado

    The question and answer is relatively simple…if I drag you into the candy store and ask “What do you want ?” I’m sure to get one answer. If I drag you into the same candy store and tell you “You have one dollar, buy whatever you want, but you only have a dollar” I’m sure to get an entirely different answer. There’s no more….”Well, I went in to the store with my dollar and picked out a candy, but the man behind the counter said I can have the candy three years from now and for twenty dollars”. That absolutely has to stop. Find what you need, make sure it works, get a firm price on it…and your mother and I will talk about it and see if we can afford it.

  • Jon

    USMC is pricing themselves out of existence. Perhaps they need to concentrate on getting onto the beach, rather than recreating capabilities the other services already have.

    • Bubblehead

      Tend to agree with you here. The Marines don’t have the $$$ for it. And are definitely underestimating the $$$ required to get the MUX going. They need to spend their limited funds elsewhere. That being said, AEW is going to be a requirement for any ship in the future to survive with sea skimming mach 4 missiles. Fly a small aerostat off the the tail of a ship with a radar.

      • Jon

        “Fly a small aerostat”…exactly what I was thinking.

        • Secundius

          As I recall, US Customs and Borders are the only one’s still using “Aerostat’s”…

  • What I don’t understand is why we are not looking to build an EV-22 variant that provides the capabilities of the E-2D on the existing MV-22 VTOL platform.
    we are already building Osprey’s. No new major aeronautical engineering is required. And its not as if technology changes will not have reduced the size and weight of the equipment needed to be carried by the platform in order to perform essentially the same mission as the E-2D.
    We’ve already realized the 22’s can perform the COD mission the old greyhounds were performing.
    Why design an entirely new system when we could do this by simply modifying an existing, proven, reasonably high tech system, that would use the same logistics and pilot/ crew training pipelines we have in place.

    • Note, I am talking about adding airframes, not re-purposing the existing limited supply of MV-22’s.
      and as PolicyWonk already pointed out, they are also capable of the mid-air refueling mission as well.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        My bet is that it not so easy to produce such a variant. I believe such a proposal would have been made by now. The Ospreys are complicated enough planes as it is. A radome like that used by the Hawkeyes is out of the question. A conformal array is going to create its own set of problems. I think the logical short term approach is that which the Brits instituted some years ago, and that’s use helicopters for some early warning functions. It ain’t perfect, but it should be quick to implement.

        • That’s a very reasonable proposition.

          My thoughts in response would be twofold:

          1: The equipment has probably gotten much smaller and lighter. If the Brits can build a helo that can perform a variation of the mission, then having the entire cabin space of a V-22 to mount electronics would probably afford more than enough space and weight to accommodate a system that was superior to anything able to be carried by a helo.

          2: I simply don’t think helo’s would have the legs and speed to get the mission done properly. The Osprey can provide that coverage in a way that supports anything flying off the ARG’s decks. And since we don’t currently have helos configured for this mission, and strap-on’s are always problematic, the time and resources it would take to create a strap on kit for the SH-60’s or the Venom’s, would be better spent developing a purpose designed system for an EV-22 variant.
          If done properly, the EV-22 could probably also host a mid-air refueling capacity, allowing the same airframe to fulfill both the E and the K missions.

          I also think we’ve sorted out most of the kinks on the 22’s, so while they definitely had issues earlier (one of my fellow 2nd Lt’s from TBS died in a crash along with half his platoon out west), they are a reliable airframe at this point.

          But good conversation nonetheless.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I personally would like to see this situation resolved. But unless I see anything that refutes it, I will stick to my belief that the Osprey at present CANNOT be adapted to those roles. Remember that they HAVE to take off and land vertically. If it was a matter of ‘just’ putting in the right equipment, that would have already been done. Certainly Boeing is looking for other uses for this airframe beyond simply transporting personnel and equipment. There is certainly money to be made by producing such variants. Because of the vertical takeoff restrictions, I’ll wager that it is not a simple matter of just loading the equipment into and onto them, the manufacturers would have to be very careful about how they distribute that load. I would not be surprised at all that they have already looked into this, and so far, they cannot arrive at a solution to the various technical and engineering problems this UNIQUE kind of aircraft presents. I don’t know that that is the case, but absent anything else on this subject, to me it makes as much sense as anything else..

          • Good points,
            I really don’t know if this mission concept has been effectively researched, but like I said, they are developing them for the refueling mission already, as well as for the Carrier On-Board Delivery role (COD), so I know they have explored flexibility in the platform.
            For that matter, non conformal internal tanks have got to be heavy and would never allow for weight distribution like the personnel carrier role, so I have to think that suggests some flexibility.
            I’d just like to see them research it. We already have a manufacturing base equipped to produce them, and a pilot training program to crew it.
            That program is still expanding to meet the Air Force CV-22 supply needs as well as the Navy’s COD version (not sure what designator they used for that one, as the Marines stole the Air Force’s “M”, so the Air Force beat the Navy to the punch for the “C”.)
            And the only helicopters in current inventory which can come close on payload are the M/CH-53’s and the M/CH-48’s, neither of which would be well suited to an EW role at sea.
            SH-60’s would be very payload limited and hence I suspect not capable of anything more than just a Band-Aid type capability.
            I just hope they study and find out if it will work. tilt-rotor seems to be the way forward for non fixed-wing STOVL and VTOL. The Army seems likely to pick it for the next-gen black-hawk replacement (future lift)

          • Secundius

            Tiltrotor and Rotor aircraft’s have the same range with external loads! No Air Refueling PERIOD. Range is limited to ~110nmi. maximum…

          • I’m not sure we are talking about external loads here.
            The non-refueled range of the MV-22 with a combat load is over 850nmi, with a combat radius of about 400nmi.
            The range/C-radius for the SH-60 is about 450nmi / 200nmi
            Osprey is TWICE the range.
            SH-60 cruise speed is about 120kn. Osprey is 240kn
            Osprey is TWICE as fast.
            SH-60 has a useful internal load capacity of roughly 6,700lbs. Osprey has an internal load capacity of 20,000lbs
            Osprey can carry THREE times as much stuff.
            The mid-air refueling kit is slated for 2019 deployment and includes a 12,000lb roll-on, roll off kit with drogue that deploys from the main cargo bay, and the Osprey can fly fast enough to refuel hornets and lightning’s.

          • Secundius

            “IF” Osprey is carrying an External Load of ~27,000-pounds, maximum range is limited to ~110-nmi. at a speed just above Stall Speed of ~113kts. To slow for Aerial Refueling and unwise considering Sling Load would act like a Pendulum as Both Aircraft’s would be trying to Match each others speed. Also air refueling speed for an Osprey is under 185kts. because Air Refueling Drogue has a Maximum Air Safely Speed of ~185kts. KC-130 Drogue won’t work on Osprey Airframe because of Pallet Size being to large…

          • I’m not sure why you are still referencing sling loads – they are not applicable to the question of the mid-air refueling mission nor the EW mission. Both missions are internal cargo bay loads.
            Also, the sling load on the Osprey is far less than the max load – it’s only about 15,000lbs.
            The mid-air refueling load is a palletized fuel tank that slides into the cargo bay, and then the crew chief opens the rear cargo doors allowing the drogue to be deployed out from the cargo bay.
            It was designed by Boeing specifically for the MV-22 airframe. Holds about 12,000 gallons and the point is the Osprey can use it to refuel fixed wing aircraft, whereas none of our pure rotor wing aircraft can refuel fixed wing aircraft in flight.

          • Secundius

            The Osprey CAN’T use 463L/E Pallet which measures 88″ x 108″ x 2.25″ because the inside fuselage is only 68″ wide. So the 1/2-Pallet is used which measures 40″ x 48″ x 2.25″ and a load bearing of each 1/2 pallet capacity of ~3,500-pounds each. Usable Space Inside Osprey is ~288″ x 68″ x 72″. Also keep in mind that each full pallet weighs ~290 to ~355-pounds depending on Wood or Metal plus another ~100 to ~200-pounds just for the Hold Down Straps. A Full Pallet will accommodate an ~1,192-liter Fuel Bladder…

          • See the press release from Boeing which states that it is a 12,000lb fuel palletized system designed for the Osprey. I’m just replaying what has been reported in open press. Not debating any other numbers.

          • Secundius

            As you said, the TOTAL weight of the Fuel Pallet load out “IS” 12,000-pounds! NOT that 12,000-pounds of “FUEL” is being carried…

          • correct, it’s only 10,000lbs of actual fuel. which is quite a bit more than you suggested, and not to be sneezed at.

            Google Bell-Boeing VARS (V-22 Aerial Refueling System)

          • Secundius

            Avgas weighs ~1.7-pounds/liter and you have Two 1/2 Pallets of Avgas plus the Aerial Refuel Drogue System…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            To me, and obviously others on here, the MV-22 seems like THE logical platform for these missions. Which begs the questions: why have there been no proposals for an AEW variant? To my knowledge (and if I’m wrong I stand corrected) there have been NO offerings from Boeing about that. There have been no proposals from the Pentagon to Boeing or the industry for such a variant. Per this article it appears that the Navy views unmanned systems as the possible answer. And maybe somewhere down the line a technological or engineering fix will emerge that facilitates the use of these planes for missions within the electronic warfare spectrum.

          • Secundius

            I suspect it has to do with Airframe Limitations! Unlike the C-2C/D Hawkeye, where the Wings Fold. On the MV-22 the Wings Pivot on the Centerlines Wing Root. How do you go about getting the Radar Mast to Pivot with the Wing. Until the problem is solved, another system like British “Crowsnest”, Israels “Phalcon” or Leonardo’s “Osprey/SeaSpray” are going to be the only options for the foreseeable future…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            That’s how I see it. This type of plane offers too many possibilities, ON PAPER, to not explore them. And perhaps they have been explored. Options like helicopters, like the Brits use, might not be perfect, but they are an option, certainly for the short term.

          • Secundius

            The Two best systems on the Military Market are by Saab, “Erieye” and “GlobalEye” which are 3-D Doppler Phased Radar Arrays! But as far as I know, neither of them Pivot Out Off the Way for storage.

            IAI’s “Phalcon” from Israel is Conformal and is Blended to become part of the MV-22’s “Ospreys” Fuselage. But that pretty much take’s out the MV-22’s role as being a Multi-Mission Aircraft and makes it a Purpose Built EV-22.

            The British “Crowsnest” would have to be mounted to the Rear Cargo Ramp and Lowered into position to be used.

            Leonardo’s entries “Osprey” consists of Three Bolt On Panels that weigh ~64-pounds, but only have a 270(deg) Search Arc. And the latter also by Leonardo, called “SeaSpray” can either be Nose Mounted, replacing the MV-22’s Radar and STILL fill that roles at the same time. Or Lowered from a Centerpoint Mount on the Belly of the Fuselage, replacing the M134 Minigun position and still give 360(deg) coverage out to a Maximum Instrumental Range of ~300nmi. for Threat Aircraft’s or 200nmi. for Threat Missiles.

            Of the Five, the latter Two by Leonardo are the only realistic options…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            The Osprey system has been selected for the MQ-8 Firescout. I think a purpose built aircraft is what is desired. Same as happened with the Hawkeye/Greyhounds.

          • Secundius

            Yes I know, but for the “C” model NOT the “B’s”. But the US Navy is looking for a “Multi-Propose” (i.e. an “LCS” that Flies) Aerial Platform, NOT a “Mono-Specific”
            Aircraft…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            The article actually makes it quite clear that the Marines and Navy are looking at an unmanned platform,. i.e., a drone, to do this mission. That leaves out the MV-22 and manned helicopters. They also say they don’t want this unmanned platform to be multi-mission. They don’t want them to be weapons capable, simply early warning…

          • Secundius

            Then WHY talk about it…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Because YOU and some others on here have been. Did you actually read the article? Hmmm?

          • Secundius

            As I recall, you stated to “Ben Cates” about using the MV-22 Osprey as a AEW Aircraft. Because of it being the Logical Choice and why no studies made to use the Osprey for that purpose. That’s the question I answered. As to the Latter part of you’re question, how often have the Articles on “USNI News” drifted Off Course and Off Topic…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            I don’t have to ‘recall’, I can read the actual thread and the posts within it. The MV-22 was mentioned, and ot was discussed by you, me, and some others. Now you have a question as to why it is being discussed? C’mon man..

          • Secundius

            “Vectary Vision”?/!

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Nope, just common sense…

          • There is a proposal for an EW variant. The Brits explored it, the EV-22. Not sure where it went or what was the defining reason they didn’t choose it. Probably cost, since they are dead broke on defense.
            I’m just suggesting it’s worth looking closer at, since it makes sense on so many other levels.
            The argument that the Osprey can’t carry a radar disc doesn’t really hold water with me, since the SH-60 can’t either.
            The E/A-18’s can perform some mighty fine EW without discs. The E/A-6’s could as well.
            There are differences in the EW mission and technology has also changed what will be required of the platforms. We are mostly talking about airborne early warning and combat direction, as well as expanding the Anti-Air range of the surface groups A2D2 capabilities.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Well, as you pointed out, in the case of ‘EW’, we are talking Early WARNING, not the warfare areas platforms like the Growlers and Prowlers are and were concerned with. Different missions, different equipment and performance criteria. That said, If there was a proposal for a variant (as I said earlier I am not personally aware of such), it is possible the Brits rejected it because it is NOT doable, or as you mention, perhaps the costs are too prohibitive. And for them to throw in the towel on it because of that is significant, because the US Navy DOES have the Hawkeyes to provide that coverage, as well as Air Force AWACS planes if and when some are available. The Brits would probably desire more capability than helos can provide. I have attempted searches online where I have typed in questions like “Why have no other variants of the Osprey been proposed, and there’s not much that comes up.

          • We’ll I think we are arguing very small points at this point.
            For those environments when the ARG is out of range for coverage from the CAG’s Hawkeye’s, it would be very useful to have an airborne early warning platform capable of deploying from the LHA’s to support the MEF’s Air Wing, especially the 35’s.
            Since that means a new platform has to be developed or modified, it makes more sense to explore doing that with an aircraft that can at least have the legs to cover most of the mission, as opposed to one that can’t.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Well, the article is quite clear that the Marines and Navy are looking at unmanned platforms to do this mission, They also want to be able to deploy those platforms from ships as small as destroyers. So all that makes the Osprey unsuitable.

  • Murray

    Here’s a suggestion for a manned fixed wing AEW aircraft capable of operating off “Harrier Carriers”. New Zealand’s Pacific Aerospace Corporation (PAC) manufactures the P-750 XSTOL aircraft which can take off and land on a 200 metre runway – no cats and traps required. Characteristics – empty weight 3100 lb, gross weight 7500 lb, powerplant – 1 x Pratt & Whitney PT6A-34 turboprop, cruise speed 195 mph, range 1179 miles, endurance 8 hours. It has full US FAA certification. Does this tick any boxes?

    • Secundius

      Not likely to happen! PAC has never sold anything to the US Military before. And to get a US Military Contract, they’d have to be Sponsored by and existing Military Contractor…

      • Murray

        Agreed. It would need to built under licence by an existing military contractor such as Boeing or Lockmart. This has been done before, eg AV-8B and B-57. It. just seems a quick, low cost option to an unmanned AEW aircraft that is going to cost megabucks.

        • Secundius

          But than again both the Air Tractor AT-802U and IOMAX “Archangel” could also do the same job…

  • RunningBear

    “…preparing for a high-end fight..will require ships to be distributed across the ocean … the Marines’ future Group 5 unmanned aerial system will give them the airborne early warning capability ……That is the capability gap the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Expeditionary – or MUX…”

    …..and…..a MUX, EV-22, MQ-8C, F-35B, etc. are all existing are “parts of” existing systems to merge data to provide “the airborne early warning” example;
    – While flying over the skies in the Gulf of Alaska, the F-35’s radar demonstrated robust electronic protection, electronic attack, passive maritime and experimental modes…. It also searched the more than 50,000 square mile exercise area for surface vessels, and accurately detected and tracked them..

    …..as related in the article, the ESG with CEC and MADL links from ships and aircraft can maintain AEW with the existing avionics and are not limited to the E-2D/ CVN, legacy systems. Each F-35B launching and recovering to the LHA/D can MADL feed the CEC with AESA/ EOTS merged data. AEW is not limited to a single aircraft or dataset.

  • RunningBear

    – “…ensuring shipboard operability –
    including fitting in a destroyer’s hangar and taking up about the
    footprint of a UH-1 helicopter – remains a top priority for the Marine
    Corps.”
    – “..will have about eight hours on station at 350 nautical miles
    from the ship,……..Marines might
    accept something closer to 175 knots….”
    – “… be important for the payloads to be
    separate from the airframe, so that SOCOM could potentially invest in a
    higher-end payload, or a foreign navy could buy a scaled-down payload.”

    Bell UH-1Y vs NG MQ-8C

    Length: 58 ft 4 in/ 34.7 ft
    Rotor diameter: 48 ft 10 in/ 36.6 ft
    Height: 14 ft 7 in/ 10.9 ft
    Cruise speed: 158 kn/ 140 kn
    Endurance: 3.3 hr/ 15 hr max

    Service ceiling: 20k+ ft/ 20k ft
    Useful load: 6,660 lb/ 2,950 lb

    ….it appears the MQ-8C could be used for infrastructure/ operations development until the decision for the “MUX” requirements are completed and RFI. It should be equipped with the F-35B MADL for both ship and a/c data node/ communications.
    IMHO
    🙂