nam wrote:I would hazard a guess that it will take 3 years for aircraft modification and install. Another 3 years for testing. So this kit not coming before 2026.
That would make it one of the fastest EMD programs for an AEW of this size and complexity. The radar is usually *ready* and ground test proven for most projects when the EMD is awarded as high technical maturity on the primary sensor is usually a pre-requisite for most end-users before they pony up the big bucks to enter into advanced development, integration, fabrication and LRIP. The integration itself is complex as is the test-->discovery-->correction loop. You are still putting a huge, high performance sensor, next to very sensitive ESM and communication gear and you have to make sure all that is integrated correctly and put through extensive testing to verify performance for both the airframe (with the modifications) and the payload. This has traditionally taken time for most who have embarked on it when it comes to projects of this magnitude, size and cost. It took the RAAF 12 years to get IOC on the E-7 (from the date of contract award to Boeing/NG). If I were to put a conservative number out there taking it would be 10ish years before this thing is inducted (from the time all contracts are signed).
nam wrote:Airbus had also offered a similar configuration to UK. So I am hoping they have done the studies required and reduce the time required.
The SAAB/Airbus proposal was to mount an existing, in airborne testing or in-service, sensor on the A-330 which is completely different from creating a new sensor that has been prototyped but not flown, and integrating that on a completely new airframe, going through testing of the sensor, ESM and platform integration and then overcoming all the technical hurdles and meeting performance specs. The UK itself didn't think the SAAB/Airbus proposal was as "low risk" as the companies claimed. Boeing/NG also promised a 6 year (contract award --> IOC) to Australia. In reality, they ran into two problems that required serious technical solutions to be prototyped, developed, tested and installed before the program could go ahead (upgraded T/R modules and cooling for the radar to get better performance and ESM and Radar interference issues)..there after the Australians had to rope in MIT's Lincoln labs to provide independent consultant and project management on behalf of it, they ended up spending nearly 5.5 more years to overcome all those challenges. As I said earlier, these things are hard and there are always going to be technical challenges along the way that stresses budgets and schedules - hence the conservative estimate of about a decade as a reasonable expectation. Ideally, 4-6 additional Netra's should be acquired over the next decade leading up to the big AWACS induction and as a hedge against any delays. Not doing so is taking a tremendous amount of risk.