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E-7A Wedgetail


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1 hour ago, SurelySerious said:


Copy. So if they could put an E-7 on the ramp in 6 months (because it’s already operational) to buy two years for full acquisition of something better that you’re alluding to: would that be an acceptable compromise?

Sure, I’d take a few operational E-7s right meow, but not if the procurement/sustainment sucks the dollars away from better shit that’s on a similar timeline as the actual E-7 (vs. the hypothetical 6 month timeline). 

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1 hour ago, SurelySerious said:


Copy. So if they could put an E-7 on the ramp in 6 months (because it’s already operational) to buy two years for full acquisition of something better that you’re alluding to: would that be an acceptable compromise?

No!

Why do our seniors fall for the Jedi Mind Trick?  How about we be good stewards of our nation's treasure and start with what it the requirement and what is the timeline.  Are all the current E-3's falling out of the sky tomorrow?  Wedgetail is indeed better than the E-3 but it is still 15 year old technology that will be two generations behind even if it was fielded in six months.  What if there was a solution that was an revolutionary change in capability rather than Wedgetail that is an evolutionary change.  USAF is so blinded by the fact the Wedgetail is better than E-3, they can't see beyond their Stockholm Syndrome and realize there are things MUCH better than Wedgetail that can probably be delivered on about the same timeline.

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No!
Why do our seniors fall for the Jedi Mind Trick?  How about we be good stewards of our nation's treasure and start with what it the requirement and what is the timeline.  Are all the current E-3's falling out of the sky tomorrow?  Wedgetail is indeed better than the E-3 but it is still 15 year old technology that will be two generations behind even if it was fielded in six months.  What if there was a solution that was an revolutionary change in capability rather than Wedgetail that is an evolutionary change.  USAF is so blinded by the fact the Wedgetail is better than E-3, they can't see beyond their Stockholm Syndrome and realize there are things MUCH better than Wedgetail that can probably be delivered on about the same timeline.

You’d rather be stuck with five generations ago than two generations old, though, because the AF hasn’t appropriately defined a requirement and timeline to look at other options.

Aside from the fact it’s rubbish we can’t procure one an already operating E-7 in less than five years…how is having E-7 worse than E-3? We always talk about divesting old, unrealiable, difficult and expensive to maintain platforms to invest in new capabilities; this ought to be a good opportunity.
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2 hours ago, BeerMan said:

Yes it’s 15 year old tech, but if it takes off and lands on time like a 737 it’s waaaaay better than the E-3. Like a lot better. Those maintainers are magicians.

60% of the time it works every time... 

Facts; especially after the Welsh RIF cut most of the experience. You had SMSgts and A1Cs to figure it all out. 

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8 hours ago, BeerMan said:

All…no. Most…yes. They are 707s being held together with duct tape and spit. 
 

You’re not wrong to be upset. The Air Force is hedging. It’s not C2s “turn” to get modernized and we’ve kicked the can waaaaay further down the road than necessary. As Chuck mentioned there are many other big ticket items needed. Copy shot, we can get something better, I hope we do. There is still time to NOT procure Wedgetail and go with something else, but that decision is again getting kicked down the road. This gives them “decision space” and I hate that term. The Air Force has been under funded for 20+ years. We suck at articulating our priorities. Write us a check Congress!

We can’t get E-7 any faster cause they’re already promised to England and Australia cause we didn’t commit. China does not have this problem, but we also don’t lock our citizens in their apartments for 50 days with steel bars.
 

Yes it’s 15 year old tech, but if it takes off and lands on time like a 737 it’s waaaaay better than the E-3. Like a lot better. Those maintainers are magicians.

I think his point is.....

 

Take cavalry vs tanks in WW1. Cavalry charged into tanks and died, and a lot of leaders recognized the era for cavalry was over. But the AF sat on their swivel chair and said "nah..... Out cavalry just aren't fast enough to reach the tanks before they get shot, we need faster cavalry!" And so they spend millions of dollars investing in breeding and stock selection and breed 10% faster cavalry. Send them to battle, and they still get slaughtered. So then the AF said "well clearly they still aren't fast enough! Let's make a new generation that's even faster!" And they invested more millions into equine genetic research and genome mapping and cloned some cavalry that were 5% faster. Then sent them into battle and they all got slaughtered. And rather than realize the age of cavalry was over, the AF said, "ok industry, we are serious, faster cavalry is a requirement, what do you have out there?" But at the end of the day.... It was never about the horses speed, it was about recognizing that tanks offset the playing field and we needed something new to replace the cavalry, not just better cavalry. 

That's sort of what I see happening with the E-7. The AF is convinced it just needs a better or newer AWACS. It may not recognize that with modern fighter sensors, the entire concept of the AWACS may not be needed, and may be a liability. There is potentially something else that provides C2 functions but in a different manner than airborne crews and surveillance. 

 

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I think his point is.....
 
Take cavalry vs tanks in WW1. Cavalry charged into tanks and died, and a lot of leaders recognized the era for cavalry was over. But the AF sat on their swivel chair and said "nah..... Out cavalry just aren't fast enough to reach the tanks before they get shot, we need faster cavalry!" And so they spend millions of dollars investing in breeding and stock selection and breed 10% faster cavalry. Send them to battle, and they still get slaughtered. So then the AF said "well clearly they still aren't fast enough! Let's make a new generation that's even faster!" And they invested more millions into equine genetic research and genome mapping and cloned some cavalry that were 5% faster. Then sent them into battle and they all got slaughtered. And rather than realize the age of cavalry was over, the AF said, "ok industry, we are serious, faster cavalry is a requirement, what do you have out there?" But at the end of the day.... It was never about the horses speed, it was about recognizing that tanks offset the playing field and we needed something new to replace the cavalry, not just better cavalry. 
That's sort of what I see happening with the E-7. The AF is convinced it just needs a better or newer AWACS. It may not recognize that with modern fighter sensors, the entire concept of the AWACS may not be needed, and may be a liability. There is potentially something else that provides C2 functions but in a different manner than airborne crews and surveillance. 
 

But we don’t have that thing; not even close, and the horse we have should be out to pasture not riding into battle.
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12 hours ago, BeerMan said:

All…no. Most…yes. They are 707s being held together with duct tape and spit. 
 

You’re not wrong to be upset. The Air Force is hedging. It’s not C2s “turn” to get modernized and we’ve kicked the can waaaaay further down the road than necessary. As Chuck mentioned there are many other big ticket items needed. Copy shot, we can get something better, I hope we do. There is still time to NOT procure Wedgetail and go with something else, but that decision is again getting kicked down the road. This gives them “decision space” and I hate that term. The Air Force has been under funded for 20+ years. We suck at articulating our priorities. Write us a check Congress!

We can’t get E-7 any faster cause they’re already promised to England and Australia cause we didn’t commit. China does not have this problem, but we also don’t lock our citizens in their apartments for 50 days with steel bars.
 

Yes it’s 15 year old tech, but if it takes off and lands on time like a 737 it’s waaaaay better than the E-3. Like a lot better. Those maintainers are magicians.

We are saying the same thing.

As most know USAF bet the enterprise on 5th gen (for good reason), in the middle of a war with dudes running around Afghanistan with AK-47s and IEDs.  The real damage occurred during the fight between Gates v Moseley/Wynne.  At that point ATF had been a program of record for 20 years and they wanted to see it through because they saw the long-term threat and the absolute need for 5th gen if we were going to fight/deter China and Russia.  Gates was focused on the now (again for good reason), young men and women were being blown up everyday and Gates wanted drastic action and response to stop the damage.  Forcing USAF to field 100+ orbits of RPA manned at 9:1 gutted the Air Force in both personnel and treasure.  We never got credit (or resourcing), for using up 20+ years of a modern Air Force flying two No-Fly zones over Iraq. 

In the environment the Air Force made some tough (often Sofie's Choice), type resourcing decisions that ultimately cost CSAF and SECAF their jobs.  As such we kicked the AWACS can down the road, we kicked the JSTARS can down the road, we kicked the CSAR can down the road, we kicked the nuclear enterprise can down the road and we kicked the tanker can down the road.  Now all the cans are rusted and need to be replaced in what would have been a decreasing fiscal environment (if not for Ukraine), and at a time when were are trying to field large numbers of the most expensive procurement program in the history of DoD. 

All of that being said, just because we have to make tough decisions doesn't give permission to make hasty faulty decisions.  Does Wedgetail takeoff and land more often that the E-3, yup but not as often as it should and more importantly not as often as other options.  I say again, the Aussies are having a TERRIBLE time with Wedgetail, as are the South Koreans...to the point South Korea is going to buy something else!  Is anyone paying attention?  Air Force seniors reference commercial fleet reliability rates when they talk about Wedgetail "90+% reliability rate" when the Aussies and Koreans are seeing 60% on their Wedgetails, some issues so severe they only fly at night.

There are options that fly faster, higher, further with a MUCH better radar that could be on the ramp in about the same time as Wedgetail but we are so myopic we can't take an honest look.  The Air Force is acting like an 18 year old who spent years struggling to catch a glimpse of side boob through the neighbors window.  Miraculously he got laid by the fat chick down the street and now he is in love, he can't see anything else and wants to get married because it never felt so good.  Forget the fact that he got into the University of Alabama with some of the dumbest yet hottest nymphomaniac blondes in the nation.  I hope something changes, I hope they use the decision space to make a choice that solves the immediate problem while providing for the future.

And yes, the maintainers are magicians, unsung heroes who have made us all look good for many many years.

 

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17 hours ago, FLEA said:

That's sort of what I see happening with the E-7. The AF is convinced it just needs a better or newer AWACS. It may not recognize that with modern fighter sensors, the entire concept of the AWACS may not be needed, and may be a liability. There is potentially something else that provides C2 functions but in a different manner than airborne crews and surveillance. 

You're partially right... Modern fighter sensors outpace C2 sensors in many respects. The issue is loiter and all the "combat support" things going on before/during/after the "push." I'm all for distributed sensors/comm and piping that information back to some sort of central node but that relies on "ownership" of the electromagnetic spectrum (and not to mention some serious bandwidth). In theory, this is what ABMS was supposed to do but we (the Air Force) spent a pile of money and got limited/no leave behind capability. 

It also turns out that Air Force does have some of those capabilities already and you've probably talked to it in some form for the last 20 years. The CRC (Control and Reporting Center) morphed into an enduring, multi-sensor, multi-communications hub with reach throughout CENTCOM from 2009 to present. Worked great (relatively speaking) in a permissive environment

Ever wonder how a different tanker got to the correct track, with the right amount of fuel, at the right time to refuel you (I can't help if they were IMC when you got there)? Ever wonder how Link 16 networks get designed/operates in an enduring fashion? Ever wonder how a DT/TST got to you and was prioritized over your ATO assigned targets? Ever think about how that would happen over the Pacific with no land (or only contested land) to base a sensor/comm infrastructure (even temporarily)? That's the stuff C2 does although there are too many in my field that think it's still about "2 groups range 15." 

If you're asking yourself "isn't there a company in Silicon Valley that can build artificial intelligence, algorithms, bots to do most of that" is a fair question. What platform hosts the software? Dash 4 over the Taiwan Strait? The AOC? An wing ops center forward deployed as part of ACE? How does it all link together? In theory I'd advocate for all sensors to all shooters (again, this is one of the answers ABMS was supposed to provide...I'm still waiting). 

I don't have a dog in the fight of airborne C2 anymore but I believe there is a business case for having something even if it is a bridge to whatever space based/ABMS stuff is coming down the pipe (and is likely 10+years away). That said I don't know if Wedgetail is the right answer and Boeing (& Air Force Acquisitions) didn't win any points with me taking 5 years for a single prototype. 

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2 hours ago, abmwaldo said:

You're partially right... Modern fighter sensors outpace C2 sensors in many respects. The issue is loiter and all the "combat support" things going on before/during/after the "push." I'm all for distributed sensors/comm and piping that information back to some sort of central node but that relies on "ownership" of the electromagnetic spectrum (and not to mention some serious bandwidth). In theory, this is what ABMS was supposed to do but we (the Air Force) spent a pile of money and got limited/no leave behind capability. 

It also turns out that Air Force does have some of those capabilities already and you've probably talked to it in some form for the last 20 years. The CRC (Control and Reporting Center) morphed into an enduring, multi-sensor, multi-communications hub with reach throughout CENTCOM from 2009 to present. Worked great (relatively speaking) in a permissive environment

Ever wonder how a different tanker got to the correct track, with the right amount of fuel, at the right time to refuel you (I can't help if they were IMC when you got there)? Ever wonder how Link 16 networks get designed/operates in an enduring fashion? Ever wonder how a DT/TST got to you and was prioritized over your ATO assigned targets? Ever think about how that would happen over the Pacific with no land (or only contested land) to base a sensor/comm infrastructure (even temporarily)? That's the stuff C2 does although there are too many in my field that think it's still about "2 groups range 15." 

If you're asking yourself "isn't there a company in Silicon Valley that can build artificial intelligence, algorithms, bots to do most of that" is a fair question. What platform hosts the software? Dash 4 over the Taiwan Strait? The AOC? An wing ops center forward deployed as part of ACE? How does it all link together? In theory I'd advocate for all sensors to all shooters (again, this is one of the answers ABMS was supposed to provide...I'm still waiting). 

I don't have a dog in the fight of airborne C2 anymore but I believe there is a business case for having something even if it is a bridge to whatever space based/ABMS stuff is coming down the pipe (and is likely 10+years away). That said I don't know if Wedgetail is the right answer and Boeing (& Air Force Acquisitions) didn't win any points with me taking 5 years for a single prototype. 

You are at exactly where I am on this; and yes, familiar with all of the above including proposed solutions to some of those issues. As you've mentioned some significant engineering hurdles that still need to be solved. The question is, is the E-7 truly a bridge while we solve those, or will it become a distraction that leads to kicking them further down the road. 

You mentioned the Pacific. I think the Pacific shows the truest need for the next generation because distributed sensors can provide a wider footprint and a singular COP. But you are correct, lots of logistics hurdles there.

 

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the pain of the 40/45, GTX and GTXT conversions are all still so fresh, i really hope people from outside the community are brought in to help this time

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the pain of the 40/45, GTX and GTXT conversions are all still so fresh, i really hope people from outside the community are brought in to help this time

You can’t bring an insider in, they’ll see the big board!
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15 hours ago, abmwaldo said:

Ever wonder how a different tanker got to the correct track, with the right amount of fuel, at the right time to refuel you (I can't help if they were IMC when you got there)?

I saw the physical whiteboard with hundreds of pucks at the CAOC complete with every color of the rainbow and then different styled lines because the poor tanker patch would run out of colors and have to make more creative solutions when they had >40 lines a day.

I remember them trying to make a computer program to schedule tankers and, at least by my last deployment in 2017, it was nowhere near working.

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5 hours ago, StoleIt said:

I saw the physical whiteboard with hundreds of pucks at the CAOC complete with every color of the rainbow and then different styled lines because the poor tanker patch would run out of colors and have to make more creative solutions when they had >40 lines a day.

Google was able to solve that problem (I'm looking for the article) in about 6 months for not alot of money. The application they created was absorbed by Kessel Run and incorporated into the future C2 engine (formerly Pathfinder, now JERIC2O). All of this was done before/outside ABMS btw. 

The problem you describe and the problem I describe are different. Yours is operational (i.e. how do I plan the next day's refueling requirements?) and mine is a tactical(how do I fix the 100K pound fuel problem that happened when Exxon46 broke their boom and salvage this mission?).

In an uncontested environment operational C2 (the AOC) can probably solve both problems (and likely communicate it to the AOR).

In a contested environment you need tactical C2 to solve that problem because the AOC doesn't get the data that Exxon46 fell out until too late to solve the fact that your 4 ship (and most of your DCA and SEAD) had to RTB due to no gas. Do you really want dash 4 hanging out in the bullpen reflowing fuel for the next 30 minutes; how do you long haul that plan back to the operational C2 to update the frag for the next day? Or even follow on missions/launch GAR?  

One of my main concerns with ACE is that everyone will be parochial with their requirements. Every WG/CC (ACE/CC?) will think their portion of the war is the most important. And they should. Who divvies out "community assets like airborne gas, datalink priorities, CSAR, etc? I think that's the E-7 (or whatever makes the most sense)... 

 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, FLEA said:

 The question is, is the E-7 truly a bridge while we solve those, or will it become a distraction that leads to kicking them further down the road. 

That is the million dollar question; I'll be honest, even being part of this community, I don't have answer or even a good guess. There has been such a monumental amount of energy (emotional and otherwise) put into getting the E-7 to this point that there is a very real, IMO, possibility of sitting back and resting on their/our laurels.

Edited by abmwaldo
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One of my main concerns with ACE is that everyone will be parochial with their requirements. Every WG/CC (ACE/CC?) will think their portion of the war is the most important. And they should. Who divvies out "community assets like airborne gas, datalink priorities, CSAR, etc? I think that's the E-7 (or whatever makes the most sense)... 
 

The Army displayed this problem consistently during OEF when they wouldn’t let their aviation assist a bordering ground commander’s unit temporarily, nor would they willingly temporarily allow their ISR to do likewise. Anecdotal, no I don’t have one solid example, but that’s the summary of ten years of watching lower level commanders squabble. So I definitely see the potential for the ACE/CCs to get territorial in absence of changing higher guidance in dynamic conditions.
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The Wedgetail may be a piece of junk, but I wouldn't mind getting a sweet 737 type rating out of it. Too bad you are still a front-ender beholden to some goober in the back.

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18 hours ago, Demonrat said:

The Wedgetail may be a piece of junk, but I wouldn't mind getting a sweet 737 type rating out of it. Too bad you are still a front-ender beholden to some goober in the back.

are you? or are you an Aircraft Commander who works with the SLIC to do the mission?

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38 minutes ago, 12xu2a3x3 said:

are you? or are you an Aircraft Commander who works with the SLIC to do the mission?

You are an “AC” that basically has to answer to an ABM SLIC “Msn/CC” who probably went to Weapons School and thinks he/she is equivalent to a fighter pilot. Not my cup of tea. 

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I sincerely hope the rest of the awacs community doesn’t view the ABM’s that way. They’re the reason you exist on that platform and eventually get the all important 737 type rating. 

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17 minutes ago, Danger41 said:

I sincerely hope the rest of the awacs community doesn’t view the ABM’s that way. They’re the reason you exist on that platform and eventually get the all important 737 type rating. 

Unfortunately 11Rs are their own worse enemy in the AF. Been in the community for a while and the "bus driver" culture runs very strong. Was ridiculed by an evaluator as a young copilot for reading our 3-1 once. I'm not saying this is Demonrats case, but by and large the pilot community in many 11R aircraft attempts to remain as little engaged to the mission as possible, but then laments when positions like squadron and predominantly go to ABMs or EWOs. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, FLEA said:

Unfortunately 11Rs are their own worse enemy in the AF. Been in the community for a while and the "bus driver" culture runs very strong. Was ridiculed by an evaluator as a young copilot for reading our 3-1 once. I'm not saying this is Demonrats case, but by and large the pilot community in many 11R aircraft attempts to remain as little engaged to the mission as possible, but then laments when positions like squadron and predominantly go to ABMs or EWOs. 

yes, i never seen a place that kicks itself in it's own ass so aggressively and consistently and i was a fighter crew chief

Edited by 12xu2a3x3
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1 hour ago, 12xu2a3x3 said:

yes, i never seen a place that kicks itself in it's own ass so aggressively and consistently and i was a fighter crew chief

As a E-3 Crew Chief I saw that among many AFSCs in the community. I also worked Rivet Joint and it seemed more cooperative. 

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Posted (edited)

some key issues:

everybody is stuck at tinker, for better, for worse, for neither, we're all packed in here together, no coastal bases

the jets are very broken

11Rs don't have a ton to do with the mission once the jet is up, the way jet is configured, BUT they have the chance to get smart on the mission stuff, HOWEVER no one is sure when to do with them when that happens, i.e. no WIC etc

13B leadership can't reckon with how dis-empowered 11Rs feel to say nothing of 12Rs; the FGOs leave, the CGOs feel generally, pretty hopeless. your only move is to ride it out and get out or plead into a better deal.

it doesn't need to be this way. we probably need people from outside the community, for sure new iron and ideally new, additional bases. whether the E-7 is the solution or not is irrelevant if you give it to a 552d as it is today, where every day is funny hat day

 

 

Edited by 12xu2a3x3
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