Electronic Weapons: October 18, 2002

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The U.S. Air Force is currently using fifty year old aircraft designs for it's electronic aircraft. The four jet C-135 is a military version of the civilian B-707, while the four prop C-130 has mainly been used as a military transport. The C-130 is used for the EC-130 Commando Solo (flying TV and radio broadcasting station for psychological warfare) while the C-135 airframe is used for the JSTARS ground surveillance aircraft, AWACS command and control aircraft and Compass Call and Rivet Joint electronic warfare aircraft. The air force wants to use the larger Boeing 767 airframe for new electronic warfare aircraft, the E-767 Multi-Mission Command and Control aircraft (MC2A) to replace all of the other aircraft. Although the 767 can carry twice the load of the 707, covering all those functions require that each MC2A control a number of UAV (Unpiloted Aerial Vehicles) that will do a lot of the scouting and collection of electronic information. The 767 airframe has also been proposed as a replacement for KC-135 tankers and other aircraft like the P-3 and EP-3. The air force has been pushing for this since the 1980s, as the current older airframes get more and more expensive to maintain as the years go by. Moving to the MC2A would cost hundreds of billions of dollars and the first one would not enter service for about ten years.

 


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