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The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory plans to flight-demonstrate a bistatic radar technique using a E-3 and a UAV.This would use a technique known as bistatic radar, where the transmitter (the AWACS) and the receiver (the UAV) are in different locations.
The future for the U.S. Air Force’s AWACS fleet might not be replacement of the E-3s, or even a new radar, but pairing of the E-3 Sentry aircraft with UAVs to extend surveillance coverage. According to a new sources-sought notice, the Air Force Research Laboratory plans to flight-demonstrate the AWACS mission performance improvements enabled by using a UAV equipped with an S-band bistatic radar receiver. This will use a conformal load-bearing antenna structure (CLAS) to enable integration of a very large receiver array on the UAV (see previous post).
Bistatic operation offers several advantages. With the smaller and more survivable UAV passively listening closer to the front line, the AWACS with its powerful active radar can be moved further back over friendly territory. This could be a major advantage in a conflict with China, as it would allow the vulnerable E-3 Sentry to stand off, making them easier to defend and to refuel.
As with everything these days, the idea is not new. U.S. and NATO E-3s have already controlled ScanEagle UAVs in exercises and a “Bistatic UAV Adjunct” was at one time proposed for the AWACS fleet.
AFRL’s test program may be a step in that direction. The Pentagon’s FY2012-2014 Aircraft Procurement Plan, meanwhile, says: “the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and RC-135 Rivet Joint ISR aircraft will reach the end of their service lives prior to FY 2041. It is possible that advances in UAS designs will allow unmanned systems to replace those aircraft.”
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Nine paintings depicting the evolution of air and space, which are displayed in the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station technical support building lobby, will be adopted into the Air Force Art Program this year. The paintings were rescued years ago after being abandoned inside a storage closet at the Chidlaw Building, the then-headquarters building for the Aerospace Defense Command of the North American Air Defense Command.
“The big significance is that we capture some heritage, so that it doesn’t get lost,” said Col. Russell Wilson, tjhe 721st Mission Support Group commander at CMAFS.
For years, the paintings have been a source of conversation and mystery, Colonel Wilson said. The only clue about the paintings’ origins is the signature, “T. Patterson.” Beyond that, the paintings are not dated and no one knows who T. Patterson was.
“We still ask the question, where did these paintings come from?” he said.
Art Marthaller, a retired chief master sergeant and retired Department of Defense civilian, found the discarded paintings in the mid 1980s in the Chidlaw Building. The paintings were covered in dust, but he liked them, he said. Chief Marthaller asked around and no one objected, so he took them up to the mountain and put them up in the conference room.
The paintings run as a series that begin with Greek mythology and the depiction of Icarus, the Greek man who made wings of feathers and wax to escape Crete. However, he flew too close to the sun and melted his wings causing his crash to earth.
Each painting has a number of faces or images that represent different eras of flight history. The paintings depict the first manned balloon flight in France by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783 and the first successful airplane flight by the Wright brothers in 1903.
T. Patterson also paid homage to World War I German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Barron, and in a separate painting to Valentina Terskova, a Soviet cosmonaut who in 1963 became the first woman in space.
The paintings also treat viewers to the Flying Tiger, the P-38 Lightning, the Supermarine Spitfire and the CH-47 Chinook, which spans 1941 to the early 1960s in three paintings. The artist also paints the Apollo 11 moon landing of 1969 and then the more modern F-15 Eagle tactical fighters and the all-weather surveillance E-3 Sentry, which would indicate the paintings were done after 1977, when those aircraft were introduced.
“As you look at them, they really show the transition of air power,” Colonel Wilson said. “There are a lot of famous people in the paintings — it’s fun, a lot of folks will stop here and try to figure out who they are.”
The paintings have been examined by the 21st Space Wing and Air Force Space Command historians, but neither had ever seen the paintings or knew anything about the artist, Colonel Wilson said.
“I heard comments and rumors that the painter was a Vietnam veteran doing some art therapy,” said Jim Burghardt, 721st MSG test control operations chief. “I would like to know who he is.”
Source: U.S. Air Force
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Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Jim Albaugh is confident that his company’s recent victory in the KC-X contest will help to sell 767s to the U.S. military as specialized aircraft to replace the E-3 and E-8.
In a celebration of the company‘s tanker contract, Albaugh said “We’re not done. We’re going to build 179 of these, and then we’ll build another 179 for the U.S. Air Force. The celebration was also attended by U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and Rick Larsen, both D-Wash.
Just as the new tankers will replace Boeing 707-based KC-135 Stratotankers, there are other 707-based military aircraft still in operation, such as the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) and E-8 Joint STARS, Albaugh added. “They all need to be re-platformed and I think this is a great airplane to do it on.”
During the celebration, Dicks congratulated Boeing for its “courageous bid.”
But Friday was mostly a celebration of Dicks’ decade of work promoting Boeing for the tanker contract.
“Every time that we had something that had to get done Norm was there,” Albaugh said, noting that Dicks pushed Boeing to protest the Air Force’s 2008 choice of the then competing offering from a Northrop Grumman-EADS team and made sure that the Government Accountability Office “did their work” in reviewing that award and finding flaws that led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to declare a new competition.
“About three weeks later, the Air Force came out with a new set of requirements, and it was a set of requirements written around a big airplane,” Albaugh said. “Norm cried foul and the Air Force withdrew that set of requirements.”
Northrop sat out the new competition because it saw the final requirements as favoring Boeing’s smaller tanker, which generally costs less, requires fewer modifications to hangars and runways and, most notably, burns less fuel.
The 767-based tanker will use $11 billion to $36 billion less fuel over those 40 years, Dicks said.
“How many times are we going to celebrate this,” Larsen asked Friday. “Forever.”