G-550 JSTARS Compass Call

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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Unread post04 Aug 2017, 19:14

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... es-439741/

ANALYSIS: Gulfstream has JSTARS in its eyes

04 August, 2017
BY: Leigh Giangreco

Currently, the US Air Force is grappling with two high-value aircraft recapitalization contracts, to replace its Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) and Lockheed Martin EC-130H Compass Call fleets. For Gulfstream, capturing both deals could cement its special missions business for the coming decades. But both replacement programs are fraught with acquisition delays and industry squabbles.

JSTARS

On the JSTARS side, the USAF has dragged its feet for years on a replacement aircraft. After battling other services on the need to replace its current Boeing 707-based E-8Cs with a manned jet, rather than an unmanned ISR platform, it finally appeared to have put the program on track last year. For these electronic warfare platforms, Gulfstream has some notable international experience. G550s are used by several air forces as VIP transports, but both Italy and Israel operate conformal airborne early warning variants. Israel, two operates a pair of G550s called “Shavit”, with special electronic missions payloads partly accommodated by the sort of belly canoe which characterizes the USAF’s E-8C JSTARS fleet. The JSTARS recapitalization is slated to reach initial operational capability by 2024, and the USAF is scheduled to award a contract in fiscal year 2018. In July, Gulfstream revealed that its JSTARS offering would include a refueling nozzle mounted on the G550’s nose. However, the company has also considered the more conventional refueling position on the aircraft’s crown, so the nose design is subject to change. The G550 would not be alone in its nose-mounted design; both the USAF’s Fairchild Republic A-10 and Boeing B-1 have similar receptacles. No Gulfstream aircraft has been certified for air-to-air refueling, but the air force requires the capability for the JSTARS ground surveillance mission. Current Gulfstream aircraft store fuel in the wings, rather than a separate bladder or tank.

During a July media day in Savannah, Gulfstream officials pushed the G550 as the ideal solution for the both the air force’s JSTARS and Compass Call missions, but did not reach into as much detail as during a 2015 JSTARS media blitz. During a tour two years ago, Gulfstream and its prime contractor for the JSTARS competition, Northrop, showed off a modified G550 with a large belly canoe with room for radar sensors. While Gulfstream generally looks to re-use existing canoe designs, it is likely that a new design will be chosen for the JSTARS mission.

Compass Call

Meanwhile, the Compass Call replacement program has proceeded in fits and starts as a changing USAF acquisition strategy has come under fire. The service is proposing a so-called “cross-deck” plan to transplant mission equipment from legacy EC-130H aircraft into new airframes. It initially wanted to move to a G550-based platform, but last year competitors including Boeing and Bombardier demanded an open competition for the replacement. So the air force changed strategy earlier this year, abandoning its push for a sole-source award to Gulfstream, and instead named L3 Technologies as the systems integrator for the Compass Call cross-deck effort. However, that plan failed to satisfy Boeing and Bombardier, which argued that a history of partnerships between L3 and Gulfstream would secure the aircraft award for their rival regardless. As Boeing put it in a 25 May statement: “The air force's approach is inconsistent with Congress's direction in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and seems to ignore inherent and obvious conflicts of interest. We believe that the US Air Force and taxpayer would be best served by a fair and open competition, and that the air force can still meet its stated timeline of replacing the ageing fleet of EC-130Hs within 10 years.” Notably, according to USAF documents both the Boeing 737 and Bombardier Global 6000 miss the requirement marks for Compass Call. The mission requires a total cargo capacity of 9,080kg (20,000lb), including 5,900kg of prime mission equipment. But in the Global 6000's battlefield airborne communications node configuration, its payload capacity is “marginally insufficient”, the service says. It has also noted that Bombardier’s offering does not meet aperture requirements without modification, and would require a supplemental type certification that could incur up to $180 million in additional costs and a three-year schedule delay. Boeing’s 737 would be forced to burn significant fuel to reach its maximum 41,000ft altitude, trading loiter time for height, and is unable to meet both needs, the USAF says.

G550

Inside Gulfstream’s special mission modification facility in Savannah, Georgia, two green aircraft are bulking up – from sleek private business jets to action-ready military configurations. With their seasick pallor, the G550s have an almost Frankenstein quality as their iconic oval windows are closed up, noses are flung open and tails are stripped away to prepare for more robust missions. For 50 years, Gulfstream has been doing this type of conversion of its business jets into special mission aircraft, starting with the delivery of a modified Gulfstream I for the US Navy’s bombardier and navigation training mission. Since then, the company’s special mission portfolio has expanded into executive airlift, medical evacuation, transport, airborne early warning and control, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). More than 2,500 Gulfstream jets fly around the world, including 207 built for special missions in 39 countries, counting 70 supporting the US government.

Troy Miller, Gulfstream’s vice-president of special mission sales, and Leda Chong, senior vice-president of government programs and sales, hail the smaller business jet as more nimble – while characterizing airliner-based offerings as cumbersome. Miller emphasizes the G550’s higher altitude, comparing a traditional airliner certified to fly at 41,000ft with a Gulfstream’s 51,000ft capability, and argues that large engines hanging off an airliner's wing could affect the aircraft’s field of view. “One of the biggest issues is terrain blockage,” Miller says. “That additional 10,000ft can make a huge difference in identifying enemy forces that are using mountains or rugged terrain to mask their movements. The radars themselves are able to perform at higher altitudes, and because of additional line of sight they can do more collection.” Both Gulfstream and its competitors have argued that size matters for the JSTARS and Compass Call missions, but while airliner manufacturers are pitching “room for growth” as a selling point for their platforms, Gulfstream argues that those aircraft simply provide excess space. “One of the advantages of being smaller: I can be closer to the area of interest,” Miller says. “There is a significant number of airfields, for which the air force and navy evaluate annually, that business jets can operate from and airliners cannot.” .....

Back inside the modification facility, the two business jets fresh from the production line are stripped of their engines, avionics and interiors. Flight controls and wing leading edges are taken away, leaving a basic, reduced-weight aircraft ready to be optimized for the special mission role, Miller explains. On one aircraft, the tail is removed and replaced with a cone to make room for sensors in the rear of the aircraft. Gulfstream also makes a significant change to the nose, which now houses heavy sensors. Part of the modification process seems redundant; bundles of wiring on business jets are removed and replaced when preparing special mission aircraft, because jets coming off the production line are all identical. That process, says Miller, is an advantage for Gulfstream, buying it the freedom to respond to a special requirement with any available aircraft. That freedom, he claims, is not available to competitors offering airliner-based products, which typically undergo some modification on the production line if destined for a special configuration. One of the more perplexing reconfigurations is the removal of Gulfstream’s patented oval windows. On almost all special mission aircraft, the heavy windows are removed to either reduce weight or use the space for a different capability. Often, the space is outfitted with purpose-made plugs with connectors on both sides which attach to sensors outside the windows, Miller says. Gulfstream continues manufacturing the jets with the windows, rather than omit them initially, since they are required for certification. The company could obtain a waiver, but Miller says designing aircraft without windows would reduce its flexibility. “It’s not a significant cost or time consideration to be able to do that [modification],” he says. All the modifications are mounted externally to the green aircraft structure, which is engineered to include mounting points and contact points for sensors. Gulfstream not only designs the outer mold line of the aircraft, but works with its customers to understand where those sensors and equipment are to be placed. “I would imagine that doing this as a third-party is even more challenging,” Miller says. “So we think it’s really important to have the same processes, people, facilities and certification flight test going on.”

Still, the actual installation and flight test of mission equipment would remain the responsibility of the prime contractor, he adds. In some cases, Gulfstream will install and fly an inert dummy resembling the shape and weight of the mission equipment, since some of the sensor work is classified and completed at the prime’s facility. But, Gulfstream remains engaged through the delivery of the aircraft and may even provide product support for the lifespan of the aircraft, ..“It’s not as if we do the group A modifications, hand the keys over to the prime and say goodbye,” ..“It’s a relationship we have with the primes and the end users for the entire lifespan of the aircraft.”

Although the USAF has emphasized that there is no connection between the JSTARS and Compass Call competitions, Gulfstream is developing a 10-year plan that could include capturing both those contracts. The company is examining where it could expand facilities and realize synergies across programs, such as by sharing tools. “We have strategic planning sessions all the time about how do we best utilize all of these assets,” Chong says. “Whether it takes the form of human resources, facilities, materials, all of that. So it’s not one or the other thing. I call it an orchestration.”
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Unread post13 Sep 2017, 01:49

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... on-441065/

USAF mulls canceling JSTARS recapitalisation

12 September, 2017
BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

The US Air Force could scrap its business jet strategy in favor of an alternative platform for its Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) recapitalization, according to a recent letter sent from Congressional members to the US defense secretary. Rather than continue its JSTARS recapitalization program, the USAF’s protracted effort to replace its legacy Northrop Grumman E-8C fleet, the service is exploring alternative intelligence and surveillance platforms, according to an 8 September letter sent to Defense Secretary James Mattis. The program has progressed in fits and starts, hemorrhaging $2 billion when it was halted in 2008. “We are tremendously concerned about the possibility of any capability gap,” lawmakers wrote Mattis. “While the rationale for this decision has not been made known to us, cancelling or delaying would be ill-advised and directly impact our combatant commanders who employ this asset in theater.”

Lawmakers also learned that the USAF would undertake a new analysis of alternatives for replacing JSTARS, despite at least five previous studies which have examined the recapitalization. That decision may have been motivated by language in last year's USAF Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan, which signaled a shift away from business jets to disaggregated systems to satisfy future advanced battle management needs. “As the Air Force moves forward with the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) AOA in 2018, it should include options for non-traditional concepts including networking planned and purpose-built sensors into architectures that enable [battle management command and control] functions in the highly contested environment,” the flight plan states. The USAF intends to continue source selection for a follow-on JSTARS aircraft while evaluating alternative approaches, the service says in a 12 September statement. Meanwhile, the service will continue flying the legacy fleet through 2023. Last March, a fuselage fatigue study indicated some aircraft could fly through 2034. “Although we are exploring options, there are many steps still to be taken before any force structure proposals are included in the FY 2019 budget,” the USAF states.

The recent letter comes as Congress prepares to vote on the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill, which outlines the Defense Department’s policy and budget. The JSTARS recapitalization is scheduled to reach initial operational capability by 2024, and the USAF was expected to award a contract in fiscal year 2018. This week, Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue of Georgia, which includes the USAF’s only active duty JSTARS operational squadrons at Robins Air Force Base, introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill which would prohibit the use of FY18 funds for JSTARS retirement. The amendment would also guarantee the recapitalization continues unless the defense secretary ensures that the new approach would not result in a BMC2 and ISR capability gap.
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Unread post13 Sep 2017, 02:54

I wonder if the G550s that the RAAF is acquiring will be equally fitted when they're upgraded in the 2020s:

http://australianaviation.com.au/2017/0 ... -for-raaf/

The Integrated Investment Program stated that Defence would acquire long-range electronic warfare support aircraft based on the G550 airframe with additional and modified systems from the early 2020s. The aircraft will be acquired in two tranches and incrementally upgraded to maintain commonality with US-developed systems.
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Unread post14 Sep 2017, 01:23

http://aviationweek.com/awin/navy-moves ... orne-radar

Navy Moves Forward On Advanced Airborne Radar/ Closely held Navy/Raytheon program evades competition

Jun 18, 2012 (a bit old)
BS

A full-scale development program is underway to develop a version of the U. S. Navy's Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), fitted with a long-range, high-resolution surveillance radar. It could provide a ready-made, Navy-funded replacement for the aging Joint Stars while potentially performing maritime targeting missions. The Raytheon Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) project, which has been under contract since July 2009, has received Milestone B approval for development and production planning and is proceeding toward critical design review. Boeing received a $277 million contract in February to modify the first P-8A, aircraft T-1, for aerodynamic and structural tests of the AAS radar pod, which is carried under the fuselage. Those tests are to be completed by August 2016. The radar itself, a much-modernized evolutionary development of the Raytheon APS-149 Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS) is to be tested on a P-3C Orion, the current carrier for the APS-149. The value of the radar development contract has not been disclosed.

The Navy's goal is to acquire an undisclosed number of AAS systems and A-kits (parts that are attached to the aircraft to support the radar) and to configure some P-8As to carry the radar. Initial operational capability dates are also secret, but Boeing/Navy P-8A briefings suggest it is likely to follow the 2016 fielding of the P-8A's Increment 2 upgrade. The P-8A radar plan has been in the works for almost a decade, but has been shrouded in secrecy because its predecessor, LSRS, was a black program—a classified and unacknowledged effort. To this day, although some AAS-related contracts have been announced, the program has no publicly visible budget. None of its elements has been competed or subjected to a formal analysis of alternatives process. AAS is managed by a one-program office, Advanced Sensor Technology, under the direction of Rear Adm. Don Gaddis, program executive officer for tactical aviation at Naval Air Systems Command. LSRS itself was developed by the former Texas Instruments unit of Raytheon, which has historically provided Navy patrol aircraft with their search radars. The program started in the late 1990s or early 2000s and attained early operational capability in 2005, carried on P-3Cs flown by patrol squadron VP-46 out of NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. After the program was mentioned (apparently accidentally) in an unclassified document, and the modified aircraft had been photographed in transit to and from the Middle East, a small amount of information was released. It is known that the LSRS P-3s have been extensively used both to support combat operations—not only for the Navy—and for tests and demonstrations, including tracking both land and maritime moving targets for engagements by stand-off missiles.

Based on active, electronically scanned array technology, LSRS has been assessed as far superior to the older APY-7 carried by Joint Stars. The antenna is double-sided, so the aircraft can scan simultaneously to left or right, and the radar can interleave ground moving target indication (GMTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes rather than being restricted to one mode at a time. AAS is expected to be more capable than LSRS, and will include new features such as NetTrack, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to track high-value targets—for example, key insurgent personnel and their vehicles—in high-clutter environments, by using high-range resolution radar measurements. AAS has what Boeing describes as “weapon-capability” accuracy, and Boeing illustrations and videos show aircraft directly striking ground targets with Small Diameter Bombs. However, the system could also have potential for maritime operations. In 2004, the USAF used Joint Stars to guide datalinked weapons onto ship targets in the Resultant Fury exercise, using technology from the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement project. The latest Naval Aviation Vision report, published in March, discussed development of a follow-on strike weapon to replace Harpoon and SLAM-ER, which will be “net-enabled” and a maritime interdiction version of Tomahawk—both of which would be designed to exploit long-range, high-resolution targeting from other platforms.

Plans to develop this version of the P-8A started in 2003, before Boeing was selected as the winner of the Navy's Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) program. At that time, Boeing changed the basis of its MMA design from the 737-700 to the longer-bodied 737-800 and introduced an aft weapon bay and two forward-fuselage centerline hardpoints. At the time, Boeing would only say the design was to accommodate a classified Navy capability, but in fact, it was to accommodate the antenna of the LSRS. The inter-service politics of the program are intricate. The Navy is apparently willing to dedicate some of its P-8s to a largely overland, joint-service mission, possibly to maintain support for its large MPA force, while Boeing sees potential for selling up to 15 air-ground surveillance versions of the P-8A to the Air Force to replace Joint Stars. The USAF “is really fighting to not put any more money into large-platform GMTI,” says one observer. “I can't honestly see how they win that fight in the long run. It's too easy for the Army to claim they absolutely need GMTI and the Air force must provide it.”
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The project was planned to be for at least 108 airframes for the Navy.
51 P-8A, and 8 P-8I aircraft as of Jan. 2017.

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