The Mil & Aero Blog
Monday, December 17, 2007
  AWACS and Hawkeye flight crews soon may disappear into the pages of history
Posted by John Keller

Way down deep, many of today's military's aircraft pilots and crew must know that their numbers will dwindle in the future as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) take over the roles of manned aircraft -- but I don't think they thought it would happen quite so soon.

Technology developments in Israel may signal the beginning of the end for pilots and crew of front-line strategic surveillance aircraft like the U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft and the U.S. Navy E-2 Hawkeye carrier-based radar early warning aircraft.

The Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) aircraft from the Elta Group of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. in Ashdod, Israel will reach initial operational capability by this winter. More importantly, the CAEW's Gulfstream G550 aircraft already is designed to operate without radar operators aboard, report our friends at According to the story Drone AEW Not Too Far Off at DefenseTech:

With a wideband datalink, it's intended to feed information to a ground station, and ultimately will be part of a tight network that also includes signals intelligence, maritime patrol and ground-surveillance G550s. The final step is to take the flight crew off the aircraft, according to Avishai Itzhakian, general manager for IAI-Elta's AEW division. Speaking at IQPC Defence's AEW conference in London last week, Itzhakian outlined the project's goal -- to provide continuous air, land, sea and electronic surveillance with a constellation of UAVs.

It's not a far leap from an unmanned Israeli surveillance and radar early warning aircraft to seeing pilotless and crewless future AWACS and Hawkeye aircraft.

When I was a cub reporter 26 years ago covering the Navy's Pacific Fleet Light Attack Wing at Lemoore Naval Air Station, Calif., I never even thought about unmanned aircraft. That was the stuff of science fiction.

The light-attack pilots I knew back then who were flying the first F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters, as well as the A-7 Corsair II jets and even A-4 Skyhawk light bombers were almost bigger than life to me then. Sitting for a beer with these guys, and listening to their stories, is something I dearly loved to do.

Now it looks like over the next decade or so that a lot of pilots and aircraft crew could be out of a job.

I can understand how UAVs represent something that particularly fighter and bomber pilots have long resisted -- even after they are long out of the cockpits and into senior command jobs. The lore and romance of the white silk scarf on combat pilots will be difficult see fade away.
Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home
The MAE editorial staff uses the Military Aerospace and Electronics Blog to share ...

November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 /

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]