Warplanes: April 30, 2000


The Air Force wants a new airframe in about 10-20 years that could replace the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint, RC-135S Cobra Ball, and EC-130 Compass Call electronic recon aircraft. The Navy wants a new airframe about the same time to replace the P-3 Orion anti-submarine patrol planes, EP-3 signal intelligence aircraft, and special mission P-3s. The Navy wants to fit this aircraft with Harpoon and SLAMER missiles. Contractors smell a chance to field both aircraft, and are suggesting a single airframe with alternative antennas (perhaps in pods) and computer consoles that can be reconfigured for each mission. Boeing is offering a 737 variant, but the underwing engines block the sensor arcs for pods. General Dynamics is pushing its Gulfstream V (EC37). --Stephen V Cole


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