Crafting a new AEW Platform

06/04/2011: The most widely reported story from the Airbus Military Media event was the announcement of a new AEW platform in development.

See, for example, the following:


http://rpdefense.over-blog.com/article-airbus-military-lifts-veil-on-c-295-aew-study-74143248.html


http://www.air-cosmos.com/defense/201105190151129/le-c-295-se-transforme-en-awacs.html


http://www.ainonline.com/ain-air-transport-perspective/single-publication-story/article/aewc-version-of-c295-to-fly-29796/


http://www.aviation-office.com/news/16164.html


http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3A27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3Ab2e923e8-0f7f-4742-a3b2-810a52e706dc&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

Photo Credit: Airbus Military


Here the C-295 is being used as a test bed for the development of a new AEW platform, one that features a rotodome to gain 360 degree coverage. What is most striking about the proposed program is that it would fit into a strategy somewhat similar to SAAB’s whereby the company would offer a variety of combat air capabilities ranging from combat air, to AEW, to UAVs.

Clearly, for the 2nd and 3rd world militaries, there will be no repeat of the “re-norming” revolution whereby 5th generation combat aircraft shape a multi-mission capability inherent within single platforms and fleets of those platforms.There is a clear need to work sensors and capabilities over a variety of air platforms, ranging from combat air to unmanned systems.  And a cost effective, highly maintainable and rugged system like the C-295 might prove attractive. And is another potential offering to the 2nd and 3rd world markets which to date only Embraer and SAAB are addressing.

And the clear advantage of the C-295 as a platform is that its fuselage is wider than the Embraer and SAAB offerings and can allow more operational space, an important consideration when doing airborne C4ISR.  By focusing upon the C-295, the company could offer a fleet of aircraft, which can be maintained in common, with different and correlated deployable capabilities.  This aspect of maintainability from a fleet perspective tends to be ignored by analysts but not by practioners. And as Miguel Angel Morell, Senior Vice President and Head of Engineering underscored, the system could be migrated to other aircraft such as the A320.

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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