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Peter S

The most urgent requirement is a replacement for Crowsnest, planned to go out of service in 51/2 years time. That should be the focus of development for the carriers; much of the rest is semi optional, nice to have but not essential.
It now seems clear that a Vixen type UAV, requiring cats and traps, isn’t going to happen, at least by 2030. So some kind of General Atomics product will likely be selected, probably one that doesn’t require major deck alterations. The only other possible option for an improved AEW capability is a tilt rotor, but there has been no mention of it.


The data for Crowsnest to go out of service is just a plan. If need be it can stay in service as long as the rest of the Merlin force. Currently Merlin is not planed to leave service till after 2039.


Crowsnest should be replaced asap, but I agree with you, unless there’s money coming into UK Defence and a change in attitude, it will last until 2040 and those Merlins won’t be freed up. I predict the MQ-9B STOL will have problems launching from the QE carrier with two high-power AEW pods (the STOL kit doesn’t have a strengthened undercarriage so it won’t be using the ramp and that means less than 200m runway). As Peter pointed out, we aren’t thinking tiltrotor AEW yet, but I think we should be.


The problem with a tilt rotor UAV is that they are both very expensive to develop and maintain. A conventional rotor UAV would be much cheaper. They also put much less noise into the water. In hover a tilt UAV is always a compromise between quiet light and ability to fly fast when in wing mode. I’m not sure for ASW you get much benefit for the cost of a tilt.


I think the case for AEW is far greater. Heavier payload, more power and increased duration; hover will not really be a thing. Also worth it for speed of Marine insertion (and extraction) from LRGs. It’s speed might also be more of an upside for S&R if we have drones searching. I wonder if some of the downsides are carry-over worries from the Osprey and the next generation will do better, for example by including active noise reduction.

Very expensive to develop from scratch, true, but with our numbers this would have to be an adaptation of an existing Bell design, probably adapted and maintained at Yeoville (Bell and Leonardo are working together again on tiltrotors). The obvious candidate would be a marinized Valor after the US Army has finished pouring money in to do things like reduce the noise profile. That shoudl reduce the initial costs. I also agree operational/maintenance costs wouldn’t be cheap, but what is? The RAF’s Protectors are a £1.75bn project for 16 (through-life). I doubt STOL versions for the Navy will be low cost either (RAF would rather die than share more of their assets). Either project will still come cheaper than cats and traps.


Might good idea to look at V-247 vigilante for AEW if we decide stick to same config QoE without Ark Royal project upgrade.

If we go ahead ark royal projects upgrade we should look at sea guardian aew + asw (Sars) radar for long range and long loiter time.


The V-247 is Vapourware. Nothing more than a few CGI and some back of the envelope calculations.


No, they built and tested models of it in wind tunnels to validate the aerodynamics during the USMC MUX programme. However active development stopped when MUX was cancelled.
However 2 years ago it was taken off-ice and has been submitted for the USN’s Future Vertical Lift Maritime Strike (FVL-MS) programme where it would operate teamed with a V-280. For this they have reduced the size and introduced folding-rotors.


Noise into the water? as stated above I have never flown in a V22 but have stood within 200 feet of several as they prepared to lift off, the noise is incredible. The tilt rotors massive, the vibration intense at 200 feet, i cannot imagine what its like in the cabin, and how that would impact a ASW version. A monster of a machine, impressive, flown by US Marines.


I have been flown a number of occasions in Ospreys when I was deployed in Afghan. The downwash when it is landing/taking off vertically is comparable to a Chinook (>65kts). It gets worse the more weight the aircraft carries. So if you are the last pick up after a string, you get the full force. Just make sure you have goggles (not glasses) fitted and a shemagh over you mouth/nose. When waiting on the ground to debus, the vibrations in the cabin weren’t that bad, far less than experienced when sat in a Chinook.

However, when transiting to forward flight, the aircraft accelerates really hard. The USMC didn’t like hanging around. They zoom climbed to 5000ft. Once in forward flight though, the ride was like a prop commuter, such as a Dash 8. You could have a conversation in the cabin without using the intercom.


That’s not completely correct. It all depends on the disc loading when in helicopter mode. The V22 Osprey for instance has a high disc loading, as the prop-rotors are undersized for the weight of the aircraft. Meaning the shorter proprotors have to spin faster to generate the lift. When you compare the V22 to the V280 Valor, the Valor has proprotors that are more proportional to the aircraft’s weight, so they can spin slower, whilst generating the lift and therefore not only has a lower disc loading but importantly generates far less downwash.

The V22 design was compromised by the USN’s requirement, that the aircraft had to be capable of taxing past the island of a Wasp class LPD. The flight decks of the Wasp class aren’t very wide. Bell were told the port undercarriage had to be x-feet from the edge of the deck. Whilst the proprotor tips had to have x-feet clearance from the island. This compromised the length of the main wing and proprotors, by making them shorter than the ideal. To mitigate this problem, the proprotors spin faster to generate the lift thereby generating a higher disc loading and being much less efficient in the hover.

The V280 Valor is about 5 to 7% less efficient in the hover than a comparable helicopter, due to the main wing. As the wing interrupts the airflow being pushed downwards. The proprotors are compared to the Osprey’s, sized correctly with a much lower disc loading. Which does mean that the Valor can autorotate, whereas the Osprey cannot.

The other Bell tiltrotor, the V247 Vigilant prototype design for the USMC MUX program. Is even more efficient in the hover than the Valor. Due to the outer main wing tilting in-line with the gearbox nacelles, thereby increasing the amount of air being pushed down and not being blocked by the wing. Which is why one of the options Bell was promoting was in ASW role to compliment/replace the Seahawk of the USN. As it has the payload capacity to carry both sonar buoys and a torpedo, a long with an 8 hour on station time (Not sure if it can also carry a dipping sonar though?).

In essence you can design a tiltrotor to be nearly as efficient in the hover as a helicopter. The interconnecting wing portion will always be the compromise.

Whale Island Zookeeper

I note Osprey at the moment is limited to flights of only 30 minutes and there must be a diversionary airfield in range with all the facilities. Never mind the continuing problems with the software stack.

I think there are other options if there is no crew to consider.

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That’s interesting, I’ve been thinking about UAV flying boats as well, but for ISR rather than AEW.
If one were developed with folding wings and tail, it wouldn’t be very difficult to have it fit in the well dock of an LPD or even the mission bay of T26. Even with the inefficiencies of a flying boat a 15m UAV would give a very long endurance and range for ISTAR (armament unlikely due to sea spray) by having an E/O turret Wildcat style above the nose. Extra fuel could be carried without landing gear because there is no reason for it to land ashore (even the Marines could find a nice beach to store it).
The concept has been done before but not with the extra endurance of modern engines and aerodynamics:

Whale Island Zookeeper


If we don’t have to recover the crew they could be ‘landed’ (!) on the sea and recovered later.


Or even kept towed behind the ship by the fuel line, except for maintenance

Whale Island Zookeeper

For a comparison the SAAB 380’s fuselage is just about the same size as Merlin.

And it’s wingspan at 21.5m is less than the C2’s 25m.

It has roughly the same range as Merlin but has nearly twice the ceiling.

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I wasn’t thinking quite that big, more like an unmanned Dornier Seastar. That would fit in a T26 mission bay if a folding tail were included.


I have never flown in a V22 but have stood within 200 feet of several as they prepared to lift off, the noise is incredible. The tilt rotors massive, the vibration intense at 200 feet, i cannot imagine what its like in the cabin, and how that would impact a AEW version. A monster of a machine, impressive, flown by US Marines.


I don’t think anyone in the UK is thinking about MV22s for AEW anymore. Valor will be quieter and would be flown uncrewed for AEW.

Peter S

True but earlier this year a defence minister confirmed the end date with no suggestion of a possible service extension. Why keep stating this if it might well not happen? The impression I get is that the RN is flailing around, wanting something better but with little clear idea of what that is. Given how long an apparently low risk option like Crowsnest took to reach IOC, a wholly new replacement would probably take even longer. So a service extension looks probable.

Bloke down the pub
Order of the Ditch

I thought this was a bit depressing to read. RN personnel clearly have ambitions for the carriers but there isn’t the funding or vision from Whitehall to make full use of the carriers.
As for Crowsnest I am concerned, 2025 is creeping up on us, giving just four years to acquire, test and integrate a UAV to take over the role. Is there even a radar set light and compact enough for the job?
Part of the UAV push seems to be down to a lack of cash for manned platforms like F35 or Merlin and not because the Admiralty are convinced UAVs are the way to go.
Maybe in 2025 after the Labour govt have done a defence review the situation for the carriers and navy will become clearer.

Random Commentator

I would suspect Labour will be looking towards Uk platforms as the unions will want jobs.


I doubt Labour are capable of doing a proper review.


My dear chap, there are vast numbers of civil servants and under employed staff officers in Whitehall working from home as I write this who do all the reviewing and paper analysis


I wouldn’t read too much into the 2029 Crowsnest retirement…it will be extended.
There is not the time or money to fund a replacement, get it built, delivered and operational in the time mentioned…

Whale Island Zookeeper

Crowsnest is p*ss poor now. And it will be even poorer ten years from now.

Nigel Collins

I like the idea of think big, start small, scale at pace. However, consider Peregrine. Scheduled to go on HMS Lancaster at some point this year off the back of an Urgent Capability Requirement over three years ago [urgent?], it hasn’t yet flown. Maybe there will be another opportunity in a month or so to finally get this moving. However, Lancaster will be decommissioned next year. Much of the two year contract period seems to have already been wasted and we’ll only get about a year before Peregrine has to move to another ship, Iron Duke probably. This is starting too small and isn’t scaling at all, nevermind at pace. Small has to be relative.

As it has taken so long to get it working on Lancaster, the time is now to schedule its integration on Iron Duke as well. Another contract with BAE probably (delays cost money as John Parker warned us). I would also add it to HMS Medway, a high availability OPV that has just completed refit, to develop container-based operational methods. I hope we think a little bigger and scale a little faster next year when the Proteus tech demonstrator flies.

There’s “start small” and “start at the speed of a ruptured sloth”. We shouldn’t confuse the two.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon

Until after the Labour defence review nothing new is going to move forward quickly. No significant money is going to be committed on anything until the revised defence priorities and funding time line is clear.


They will mess it up, just like the current government.


All they have to do is double the security at the home port since they are more than likely going to spend a awful lot of time there, pay +£11 a hour to some illegal immigrant or +£2 a hour for some carers, better still make it part of the new 18 year olds community work to guard them.

Anthony roberts

If ever, anything proved these two leviathan are complete and utter lemons, (Im very sad to say) look at the desparate efforts to get different additional aerial platforms aboard them. The wrong size and build was selected and the wrong number built . 3 off 35,000 tonners would have been far more effective, more suitable to our Navies operations, and would have offered one always ready for sea, 365 days of the year, and with catobar,proper aerial AEW would have been less vulnerable. But hey, what do I know. Gordon browns constituency had nothing to do with this, did it. ????

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony roberts

You assume cutting the size in half would suddenly afford us 3 ships and catapualts? Dream on.


Proper CATOBAR off a 35,000 tonner….???


Charles De Gaulle is 43,000 tonnes….and it cannot launch its own aircraft at anywhere close to max weight…..operates 2 E-2C, which means no 24-7 coverage is possible….and usually goes to sea with 2 helos…1 ASW and 1 small planeguard helo….both the RN and USN believe you need a minimum of 8 ASW helos to provide cover for a CSG….

So errrr….thanks for the contribution I guess….


Yes. The standard Rafale numbers on CDG is low to mid 20s, which is also the max

Whale Island Zookeeper

60% of the cost of a surface warship is systems. The rest is the hull (engines to hotel)…

Interesting to compare the cost of the Italian Cavour against the cost of a QE with their respective size and systems.

Last edited 1 month ago by Whale Island Zookeeper

Still banging that drum other Gordon brown and the carrier contract.
Remind us again how long it was before the election the tender was let ?
And those 3 x 35,000 tonners in your fantasy fleet , where would they be final assembled from float in modules ?

Rosyth , which was the area of GBs constituency ! ROFL


Alright, but a case can still be made that the RN would have been better off with three smaller carriers than it is with two very large ones, particularly if these were going to operate the STORVL capable F-35B. Essentially I am talking about three “super Invincibles”. If the goal is to have some naval air capability available at all times rather than a lot of naval air capability that is only intermittently available, it seems to me that three smaller ships would have been the way to go. I was thinking more along the lines of 40,000 tons and broadly similar to the USN Wasp class though of course without the amphibious warfare fit.

Last edited 1 month ago by Will

Looks like no meaningful progress will be made in terms of long range, endurance, payload until a way is found to launch and recover safely. This is purely down to the decision not to fit C’s and T’s.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


A one-liner in this excellent article by Navy Lookout sums up what is going completely and utterly wrong with the RN’s entire aviation policy…..and UK defence procurement generally..

“The grander long-term aspirations, in line with ‘NAVY 2040’ vision, remain…”

All in all, this “aviation policy” is yet another prize example of the RN confusing “Effective Procurement” with “Research and Development”. They are two very-different processes..
When is the RN “leadership” going to learn that these two terms mean completely different things ??….and that they simply do not have enough professional engineers throughout the MOD to control and manage all of these very-expensive high-tech projects….

There is no lack of money. It is just that all the cash is all being spent in the wrong places…. it is currently being spent in the laboratores = and thus it is not being spent in the manufacturing factories…

Frankly, I get the impression that the Boffins (Buffoons) are now running amok!


For starters, lets pick on what has been “accidentially on purpose” been omitted from the Navy’s latest update on naval aviation – the F35.

Over the past 20 years, the RN (and RAF) have been fully commited to buy and operate these planes: for all defensive and offensive fixed-wing operations off the two carriers.

So what is the RN’s “solution” to the ongoing (and I hasten to add “very severe”) problems with the F35’s software upgrades:

  • Firstly the RN leadership is now doing an excellent impression of Paula Vennells GPO RM CBE. It is simply ignoring the technical issues and thus hoping they will go away….or (more likley) be forgetting about them until after the next round of promotions ….moving the wardroom chairs about on the deck …. (This is a process known in the trade as an IAO (Impersonating an Ostrich) or SUCKS (Sweeping Under Carpet Kwickly and Speedily).
  • Secondly, to carry out some of the very important roles that were once planned for the F35, the buffons are now recommending that the UK will now buy some even more complex flying machines.
  • However, being unmanned (uncrewed if you are a girlie flyer) these flying machines will thus require developing even more complex software…. so those all-new uncrewed development programmes will (inevitably) take even longer and thus be even more expensive to develop than the manned ones they are replacing !!!!


If we want an effective naval air wing, there are only a few ways of doing this effectively and quickly……

and the way the world is going (i.e rapidly downhill) at the present time, boy are we going to need those important naval aviation capabilities SOONER RATHER THAN LATER…,


  1. Get more F35 into service quickly: and thus get more pilots being trained up quickly. Those new aircraft can immediately be armed with the weapon(s) kit(s) that are already fully tested and thus certified.
  2. The software updates(s) for the wide array of new F35 weapons can follow on = later……
  3. Build more Merlin airframes – to the proven “off-the-shelf” design – and use these cabs for more, much-needed, ASW and Crowsnest AEW.
  4. Buy some more RAF Protectors – and then, on the 5th July 2024 – have the newly-elected minister for defence telling the six-years-olds who are currently running the RAF and RN that they must “learnt to share their new toys” (note 2)
  5. Ensure that the RAF’s new fleet of helicoptors, the Puma replacements, are all designed and built to a properly-marinised specification: so they can be used anywhere

Then the UK might (just about) have enough flying machines to effectively operate our two very-expensive QE carriers with….


  • Frankly, whosoever is now writing these aviation policy documents for the RN is nothing short of delusional (note 1).
  • I believe that the only possible solution is for them all to be put into white coats and immediately extradited, not to Rwanda, but instead to the small Indian town of Deolali (much better known over here by its oldie English name of Doolally).
  • There the boffins should all be allowed to retire early, on their index linked state pensions ….
  • …. whilst sitting out in their deckchairs in the midday sun.. ….whilst telling their tall tales of how Biggles should have been replaced by C3PO decades ago…..
  • ……..and the debate between them about whether C3PO or A2D2 (or both) would have made for a better uncrewed aviator should keep all of them very busy, and thus off our streets, for many many years…

Regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Note 1

OR, at the very least, should be drugs tested for what the Beatle’s (note 3) once described in their No 1 hit single as being under the influence of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds……

Note 2
A process which is often called “banging a few heads together behind closed doors...”

Note 3.
For younger viewers of Navy Lookout, a popular “beat combo” from the last millenium..

Nigel Collins

It will be interesting to see how the engine upgrades will pan out.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
Whale Island Zookeeper

Build more Merlin airframes – to the proven “off-the-shelf” design – and use these cabs for more, much-needed, ASW and Crowsnest AEW.

The front line machines once the technology has settled will have to be that big. Removing the wetware from the cab isn’t going to reduce their size.


I see no Viable replacement for Merlin’s other than High Altitude, long endurance, Lighter than Air Autonomous Vehicles and a heck of a lot of String. A Tethered Airlander possibly ?


There is an elephant in the room regarding Proteus….

The USN has retired the MQ-8B in 2022….22 were retired.

Yesterday they announced that they would also retire the Bell 407 based MQ-8C…38 are being retired.

So the USN’s enormously well funded experiment/operations with large RWUAS is pretty much over…the USN believes VTOL Group 3 UAS’s can better undertake the ISTAR mission (UAS like the V-Bat and Jump 20). The armed reconaissance role pretty much went with the APKWS equipped MQ-8B retirement…

If Proteus is going to work the RN is going to have to make sure the VERTREP and ASW missions are covered…otherwise Group 3 UAS are the way forward…in fact already Puma AE landing on the water is very much not desirable so it needs to be looked at anyway, the V-BAT and Jump 20 solutions make far more sense (but we need a UK made one…).

Personally I’d rather we looked at the BAE Australia Strix concept…leave VERTREP to Heavy UAS like the Malloy line (especially T600 and T650) and SA200. I’m not sure if heavy RWUAS have a future….


I think Vertrep is a red herring when it comes to Proteus. If we target it for that, we will have been as short sighted as the USN have been over the Fire Scout.

Malloys have a target payload in pounds equal to the model number, so the T-150s can lift 150 lbs. Except it’s getting harder to achieve that with the larger quadcopter design, and considerable effort is being put in moving the T-600 through the 500 lb plus payloads. With Syos SA200 the number is in kilos so 200kg payload = 440 lbs, not quite up to the Malloy, but a similar class. Strix’s payload is less, maybe 150kg = 330 lbs.

Proteus payload will start at 1 tonne = 2200 lb. A different class altogether.

The Fire Scout’s payload is about 700lbs, less than a third of that expected of Proteus. They were initially earmarked for the Littoral Combat Ships, which are failures, then the Constellation class frigates, which have been delayed to 2030. The USN have nowhere to fly the MQ-8Cs from. Furthemore the MQ-8Cs were reroled as ISR, a job that the RN is giving to Peregrines (although the MQ-8C’s radar is streets ahead of the Peregrine’s).

When the USN have ASW ships again they will find a role for the MQ-8C, and the best thing we can do is borrow two or three of them before they realize their mistake (preferably with a third radar antenna for 360 degree maritime coverage out to 200 Nm) to compare and contrast with Proteus and work up some operational scenarios. [The USCG would bite the USN’s hand off if offered MQ-8C.]

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
Whale Island Zookeeper

When the USN have ASW ships again

That is interesting. Do you think the USN has no surface ASW capability?

AB’s have AN/SQQ-89 combat system, AN/SQS-53, AN/SQR-19 tactical towed array sonar, and from DDG-113 on TB-37U multi-function towed array sonar. Never mind LAMPS III AN/SQQ-28 aka Sea Hawk. Plus VLS ASROC and Mk-32 triple torpedo on each beam.

The Tico’s have a similar fit out.

Why? Because the Russians and the Chinese have submarines.


You know what I mean. ABs are multi-purpose ships that can do ASW, not ASW ships.


Doesnt work like now. ABs do have ASW as one of their primary missions.

Thus the helicopters, x2 , the VL Asroc, the deck torpedo tubes

Then theres the sonars . Bow hull and the towed  AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array Sonar (TACTAS) or the newer TB-37U Multi-Function Towed Array (MFTA)

Walk like ducks and all that


in use


Yet the USN are buying Captas 4 for the Constellations. The AB’s are an old AAW design and fundamentally noisy. They didn’t even have a hangar until Flight IIA. You can put lipstick on a pig….

Sure, with all the accretions they can do ASW, but which would you rather go hunting subs in, an Arleigh Burke or a Type 23?

Whale Island Zookeeper

No they are an old ‘general purpose’ warship not solely an AAW ship.

They formed the defensive screen of a CBG to combat subsurface, surface, and air threats.

They were to replace not only previous AAW designs with AEGIS, but also previous ASW classes like Spurance.

Type 22 were much much noisier than Leander and were noiser than AB.

They didn’t have hangars because they USN were moving to VL ASROC with helicopters based on the carrier They made a mistake and then they added a hangar to the design.

You do understand that ‘air warfare’ occurs above the water and so that is where missiles and sensors are above the water. And that ‘anti-submarine warfare’ occurs beneath the water and that is where those sensors are found?

Look at this picture of a Flight I. That big red lump at the bow is the hull mounted sonar, a AN-SQS 53C(V) active/passice search and track set with a range of 75 km.

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Never ever were they a specialist AAW ship.

Last edited 1 month ago by Whale Island Zookeeper

Did I not just say “ABs are multi-purpose ships”? It seems you are trolling again. You fix on phrases, deliberately misconstruing them.

I originally said “When the USN have ASW ships again they will find a role for the MQ-8C”. What I meant was specialist ASW ships. This digression is completely off topic, so I’ll say no more on it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jon
Whale Island Zookeeper

I am not trolling. I am using the terms correctly. What you mean is I failing to use your own personnel definitions.


I recommend last month’s article,

It’s from a former T23 captain and refers to some comparisons that are no longer true with the latest ABs, but it shows where the ABs are coming from in sub hunting and why the USN ordered FREMMs.

Whale Island Zookeeper

No. The USN ordered FREMMs because the LCS program to replace the OHP class failed. Not because a near 40 year old design is noisy.

Frigates in the USN perform secondary duties such as escorting ARG’s and merchantmen.

Whale Island Zookeeper

It was late. Or early. Sorry.

AB’s are general purpose ships.

In the US a destroyer is a surface escort larger than a frigate.

In the UK a frigate is a ship whose primary role is ASW; even though all RN escorts since Leander are GP ships.

I read so much rhubarb here about ships it is now a reflex.

My favourite was when some numpty here went off on a rant because he didn’t expect destroyers to sink submarines because their are no submarines in the sky.


Good take-aways…
• the purchase of the Malloy TRV 150 which the USMC have also purchased
• that they are working on using standard Link16 connectivity with drones used for teaming
• that they are working on increased edge processing, essential for environments where there may be jamming or simply high communications latency

Frustrating at the slow progress so-far… but the Ukraine War has shown that you don’t need high-end expensive drones to have an impact. A quarter of the Abrams have been taken out by small UAVs, and reportedly the majority of front-line casualties are now due to FPV drones.
The war has also shown development in terms of both drones and anti-drone jamming and EW. Hopefully NATO is receiving a steady stream of data as to what works and what doesn’t.


Get the RAF more typhoons (which use British weapons) so that we can focus the F35 on the carriers and order some more Merlin’s… the ships are amazing, but it’s like buying a wonderful house in a nice part of town and not being arsed to buy any furniture…


RAF keep the Typhoons it has already , the Tranche 1 versions for UK air defence.


Apparently Tranche 1s are already being scrounged for parts so it’s a bit late for that.


That’s right. The scam has covered this up as all planes are coded FGR4 even when some are intial standard FGR1 and the days of planes being assigned to a squadron are long gone as now it’s a pool. Squadrons are just a paper concept only for RAF personnel, or more likely the command staff only


Far as I can tell we won’t be ordering any more jets after the F35 purchase, at least till tempest.


It does look that way… which means there won’t be enough aircraft for the RAF and Navy for a very long time.


Crowsnest is being removed because it was a stop gap which never worked. The whole inital development of Searchwater was based around submarines mast detection and its Last Low Altitude Surveillance Task. That failed its wasnt good enough and then Operation Corporate came along and they make the MOD for the seaking with the intention of giving an over the horizon capability but it still lacked the capability to detect small close to the water threats like missile ( ASW/ASuW) . Roll forward a number of years later, roll out the same Seachwater ASaC and dress it up as Crows Nest and tell people it’s something new.

The reason why Crowsnest has been struggling is because of the same ASW/ASuW gap there has been since the 70s Straight up this means that since the 1970s we have not had the capability to effectively detect sea skimming missiles and still don’t

Dress it up how ever you want we don’t but like typical British mentality we will continue to pile money into it and tell every one that the capability is covered. Dream on as always.

That aspect of CROWSNEST doesnt work and hence why it is being retired


In simple terms any radar backed by a mission system extends the radar horizon when taken up many 1000s ft . Which is what Crowsnest does.
There , fixed it for you

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


Frankly you are confusing “Platform” (ie the airframe) with the “Sensor” (in this case, a sea search / air search radar).

We all know that Crowsnest with its current radar sysem is “not ideal”….. however it is a hell of a lot better than just relying on ship-mast mounted radars!

However, also not to be forgotten, is that all/all types of radar have trouble looking down – against a background of either land or sea – and detecting very small objects; especially if the sneaky missile designer has made it a “low observable missile” (“stealthy”)

Just changing the platform (airframe) whch any radar system is carried up into the air on will not solve the key issue, which is: “can the radar itself detect the objects you want it to detect?”

Thus, going foward the key question with RN Crowsnest comes down to just one set of three options:

  • Keep it?
  • Improve it?
  • Replace it?

And what I am not hearing from the RN is that they have done any proper assessment as to how capable a replacement flying machine with an all-new type of radar would really be….

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


Mate, hate to say it but that simply is not true. Back in the Nimrod days, Searchwater was renowned for its ability to detect a sub’s periscope or snorkel when flying above 5,000ft. Even though the filtering techniques used were a mix of analogue and digital. It performed very well. Roll this forward to 1982. The Navy were desperate for over the horizon radar coverage and in particular earlier detection of a sea skimming missile posed by the Argentine Exocet threat.

The birth of the Seaking AEW, wasn’t just a complete Heath Robinson idea. It was based on the knowledge that the Searchwater radar when fitted to Nimrod had demonstrated the ability to detect and track Exocet during live firing trials.

Roll forward to 2010 and the Seaking ASaC demonstrated that Searchwater when used in the ISAR mode. Could detect freshly turned soil on roads, highlighting where possible mines or IEDs had been placed. Which wasn’t bad for a 40 year old radar with a few tweeks to the back end and its signal processing.

Crowsnest was supposed to be a quick upgrade to the legacy performance. However, by replacing the backend with new software driven digital signal processing. They immediately faced challenges. This was largely overcome when deployed with QE during CSG-21. Yes it still had a few niggles, but it does work as advertised.


Don’t tell him that Seaking ASaC’s outperformed E-2C in the Gulf whatever you do….


Those on this site regularly talking down our navy and holding the USN in awe should catchup on the GAO USN reports documenting one cockup after another, like this one;
GAO: USS Constellation frigate construction “at a standstill”

The build of the first-in-class of the Constellation-class guided missile frigates could take more than seven years, from manufacturing start to delivery to the US Navy.

Richard Thomas
May 30, 2024

David Broome

Radical thought but a navalised GA MQ9B SeaGuardian for Crowsnest makes a lot of sense due to persistence. Instead of going down the Mojave route for a UCAV what about the Bayraktar TB-3? For sure, they cannot fight against peer air defence but are expendable enough to be put into harm’s way against low-risk targets, or to light up higher-value ones, for the F35B’s to strike. Automated take-off and landing from a LHD and ski jump trials are apparently are looming

Last edited 1 month ago by David Broome

If we are going to go with a Turkish drone, perhaps the Kizilelma (MIUS) programme would give us a better balance for the higher spec “Vixen”, although that might require arrestors.