Devilfish
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Why Not A B-736 For The Army's Sigint?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:57 am

The DoD must, by now, be concluding their study for the future SIGINT platform, after the failure of the Army/Navy E-145 Aerial Common Sensor project. It is believed that during budget hearing sessions later this year, the USAF and USN would be forced to decide whether their airborne SIGINT should be merged in one program. The Army, which needs to have a replacement fielded the soonest, is being marginalized, as its operational concept of using smaller aircraft in conjuction with UAVs is at loggerheads with the other services' requirements for bigger and longer platforms. So far, the Navy is leading the way with the proposed medium P-8A MMA SIGINT variant, while the Air Force is budget (unsure) limited to one demonstration aircraft for the RC-135 Rivet Joint replacement.

While a notional special ops E-27J could be a rugged in-theater operator, and the Global Express or G550 might be a good fit for the Army having already proven their capability as ASTOR and Nachshon base respectively, the B-736 may have an edge in commonality, given that the Navy is acquiring 108 P-8A MMAs and might also order its SIGINT variant. It might also help that its structure is already overspecified for its size and therefore wouldn't need much strenghtening. The cabin volume advantage over the Global Express and G550 would address the deficiency of the E-145 and allow for future growth. The lower cargo hold could carry additional fuel to increase range and time on station while a projected ability to deploy MAVs and operate at higher FL and farther distances in concert with UAVs might mitigate susceptibility/survivability issues. And the proposed reduced depth radar may solve the ground clearance problem.

Commercial based platforms are abhorred by some sectors but in this era of budget cuts, those are the likeliest to see the light of day.
"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield
 
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kc135topboom
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RE: Why Not A B-736 For The Army's Sigint?

Tue Aug 29, 2006 4:01 pm

A B-737-600 could work as an ELINT platform, but chances are, the airplane would really end up being based on the B-737-800, like the P-8 is. Stuffing additional fuel cells in the cargo holds is not really needed, even the P-8 is going to be boom air refuelable. So the cargo holds could become additional equipment bays or bays for additional sensors.

Most likely, the USAF, USN, and US Army will end up with one common platform with mission speicalists from all of the service branches, much like the E-18B/C J-STARS operates today with USAF/Army crews.
 
57AZ
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RE: Why Not A B-736 For The Army's Sigint?

Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:25 pm

Don't forget that the Army is weight restricted under their interservice agreement with the USAF-the Navy isn't. The Army can get exemptions from the weight limit but that's generally on a case by case basis.
"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."
 
bennett123
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RE: Why Not A B-736 For The Army's Sigint?

Thu Aug 31, 2006 8:53 pm

Makes sense to me to base it on the P8A.

Congress may need to knock some heads together.
 
Devilfish
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RE: Why Not A B-736 For The Army's Sigint?

Wed Sep 06, 2006 3:06 am

Quoting 57AZ (Reply 2):
Don't forget that the Army is weight restricted under their interservice agreement with the USAF-the Navy isn't. The Army can get exemptions from the weight limit but that's generally on a case by case basis.

What's the weight limit on fixed-wings the Army can fly? The Aircraft Data on this site for the B737-600 airliner are as follows:

OEW: - 37,104 kg (81,800 lb)
MTOW: - 56,245 kg (124,000 lb)
HGW-MTOW: -65,090 kg (143,000 lb)

Range:@MTOW 2480 km (1340 nm) Engines: 2 - 86.7 kN CFM56-7B18
@HGW-MTOW 5648 km (3050 nm) 2 - 101 kN CFM56-7B22

If the 736 is very much over the limit, given the P-8A based proposal, it's unlikely that a separate exemption would be granted. This could mean that the Guardrails will have to soldier on some more and the Army restricted to just new UAVs - unless they would be allowed something like LockMart's previous TP proposal, or like the compact AWAC a/c.
"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield
 
Devilfish
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RE: Why Not A B-736 For The Army's Sigint?

Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:33 pm

Quoting DEVILFISH (Reply 4):
If the 736 is very much over the limit,..... it's unlikely that a separate exemption would be granted..... - unless they would be allowed something like LockMart's previous TP proposal,

In hindsight, instead of the E-145, LockMart could have just acquired the FD728 program and prototype (most likely at a much less expensive price than other similar-sized platforms then available) and not have had the problems with the former, considering the 728 was already being studied in the AWACS role. Or would that have introduced new complications and headaches and still be over the restriction?
"Everyone is entitled to my opinion." - Garfield

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