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ANALYSIS

AIR FORCE UPGRADES AURORA


By Mark Romanow

Aurora/Arcturus fleet. Upon completion of a budgetary driven force structure analysis in spring 2000, to determine a sustainable and affordable Air Force structure, it was decided to reduce the Aurora fleet to 16 modernized aircraft by 2010/2011. Air Force Public Affairs head, LCol Walter Chipchase notes the three Arcturus will be (declared surplus) and retired upon Flight Deck Simulator (FDS) implementation (in approximately April 2004) as they have mainly a training responsibility, at which time they will presumably be auctioned, off as were the Unfortunately, since acquisieight CC/CE-144s sold to tion, there have been no a US airline in early 2000 major Aurora upgrades for US$30 million. LCol undertaken and its capabiliBruce Lewis, the AIMP ties are atrophying, even Project Manager, told though most Auroras have Vanguard the plan is to handsomely exceeded the upgrade 18 CP-140 air12,000 hour benchmark estabcraft throughout AIMP. 16 lished for the USN refurbishaircraft will be production ment program to ensure their standard and two will be P-3Cs remain operational used for prototyping and until their designed fatigue life. testing. A maximum of Like the P-3Cs, the five CP-140 Aurora airUS Customs P-3 AEWC Aircraft like the CP-140/140A, is Auroras are experiencing one of numerous specialized variants of the P-3 airframe. craft will be out of service fatigue and corrosion probduring AIMP. lems, especially wing and tail The $1 Billion umbrella areas, treated by exception on a caseas France, Germany, Italy and UK have AIMP is being implemented between by-case basis, including some aircraft similar upgrades in the works to ensure 1999 and 2009 and will restore the experiencing skin delamination (resulttheir MPA (Atlantique and Nimrod) Auroras operational capability until at ing in operating restrictions). The burremain similarly capable. least 2020 while retaining interoperabilgeoning supportability problems (as ity with allied forces and rectifying noted in Vanguard Issue 2, 2000), as well AIMP many supportability issues. Besides as emergent regulatory aviation regulanormal depot-level maintenance efforts, The Aurora Incremental Modernization tory standards, highlight the urgent which are expected to extend airframe Project (AIMP), approved in August requirement to modernize the Aurora. life expectancy to 2015, Canada is 1998, evolved out of the Aurora Life The US has upgraded its Vikings to participating in USNs Service Life Extension Project that originally S-3B standard and is implementing a Assessment Program to examine strucintended to modernize the combined ince 1980 the CP-140 Aurora Goddess of the Dawn (from Greek mythology, and appropriately, the scientific name for the northern lights) has been Canadas Strategic surveillance asset and was regarded as the most sophisticated advanced maritime patrol aircraft worldwide when it entered service in 1980 as it married the proven P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) with the, at that time, advanced systems from the carrier-borne S-3A Viking.
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fleet-wide Warfare Improvement Program for as many as 200 of their 238 P-3Cs to Update III improved capability standard to maintain effectiveness against modern maritime targets and enhance suitability for overland littoral operations. Allied nations such as Norway have recently undertaken an Upgrade Improvement Program for its P-3C IIIs, while the Netherlands is implementing a Capability Upgrade Program for their P-3C IIs, to ensure they remain among the most capable MPAs in the world. Other nations such

tural initiatives to extend P-3 airframe life beyond 2015. The avionics, communications equipment and sensors that require replacement were divided into 21 sub-projects under the Incremental funding policy. An even more severely delayed program than AIMP is the Australian Sea Sentinel upgrade for their P-3C II.5s (which are also Harpoon capable) with 6 aircraft now undergoing modification, since program commencement in 1997, with no deliveries as of early-2001 severely impacting operational readiness. The AIMP Project Office (PO) developed a Master Implementation Plan (MIP), combining the 21 AIMP sub-projects and four pre-AIMP projects, into four groups for concurrent implementation, with major sub-projects in Groups I to III completed by 2006. The MIP minimized the number of configurations of prototype, test and production aircraft thereby reducing AIMP impact on CP-140 operations. Ideally, the new equipment should have been installed under an omnibus program, while the Aurora undergoes a concurrent structural refurbishment program, as this would have minimized operational disruptions even further over a much shorter time-period.

An omnibus approach would also maximise technical synergies as the complex AIMP should be designed and integrated as a single system, instead of piecemeal, as the cost is probably neutral, but it does increase the project complexity and therefore risk. Purchasing direct from vendors can be cheaper than through a prime contractor, but the integration and management costs incurred by DND equalize any savings confirms LCol Lewis.

Group I: Legacy
The Legacy group (with prototype tested late 2000 and production from January to December 2001) establishes the baseline configuration for follow-on projects, for concurrent test in a common airworthy certified prototype and production installations, and consolidates several pre-AIMP approved projects addressing mainly flight-safety/ supportability issues. Prior to AIMP, DRS Technologies received a $2 million contract in, December 1998, for their Emergency Avionics Systems (EAS)3000F modular crash-survivable/deployable beacon system. The EAS- 3000F integrates a digital Flight Data Recorder/Cockpit Voice Indicator with a

Crash Position Indicator meeting legislative requirements. The Scan Converter project is supplying a digital signal data converterstorer, with enhanced capabilities supporting track-while-scan and imaging modes for the AN/APS-506 radar. The AN/ARR-502(V)3 Sonobuoy Receiver system will provide a 99channel capability (replacing the limited 31-channel capable AN/ARR-76) and compatibility with all Sonobuoys in service. The Flight Director Indicator is being modified, integrating new fault-detection circuitry and correcting erratic frozen spheres, while the AN/ARC 512 HF Radio is undergoing modernization by Rockwell Collins. Additionally, the Teletype Printer is being replaced to provide enhanced image and text-printing capability.

Group II: Navigation/ Communication


This group consists of enhanced primary avionics systems, with prototyping planned from January to May 2003, and production planned from June 2003 till May 2004. On August 25, 2000 CMC Electronics (formerly BAE Systems Canada) received a $58 million contract, as prime contractor and systems integrator, for the Navigation and Flight Instrument Modernization Project (NFIMP), scheduled for completion by December 2003. The NFIMP includes a twin laser-ring gyro (required for radar antenna stabilization to attain minimum resolution for the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) planned for group III) Global Positioning/Inertial Navigation System, electronic flight instruments, digital Auto Pilot and improved Radar Altitude Warning System, rectifying safety and reliability issues. Capt Glen Huffman, NFIMP project officer, noted we will have increased navigational accuracy on board the aircraft and we will be able to meet new and emerging international requirements. To be implemented with the NFIMP is acquisition of an Airborne Collision Avoidance System to provide improved air traffic awareness and operational safety, while satisfying emergent global airspace access regulatory requirements.

Operator screenshot of AMASCOS tactical display with FLIR visual displayed in inset window. Some 12 AMASCOS systems are in Indonesian military service with additional sale announcements expected later this year.

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Once part of NFIMP is a standalone requirement for a new FDS , incorporating Group II modifications while providing a modern visual system, and an upgraded Cockpit Proceedures Trainer (CPT) with a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) expected September/October as approval is still pending. Both CAE Military Simulation and Training, plus Thales Training and Simulation (TT&S) have indicated they will be competing. A SATellite COMmunications capability is being acquired to support Aurora operations, while the UHF & VHF Radio project will provide sufficient digital radio capability to remain interoperable in a multi-force environment. The UHF portion will be fulfilled by AN/ARC-210s, acquired through Foreign Military Sales, with advanced narrowband capability; digital voice terminal and Have Quick II, correcting interoperability, jamming and frequency agility deficiencies. A third UHF radio will support simultaneous: Data Link; command activated sonobuoy control; secure tactical communications; air coordination and digital data transfer. Meanwhile, the AN/ARC-511 will be modified to meet European legislative requirements for reduced channel spacing (8.33 KHz), while a replacement VHF-FM radio will comply with Transport Canada regulations re: the international Safety Of Life At Sea convention by February 1, 2003, and support digital selective call. Lastly, LCol Lewis expects the $60 million Communications Management System (CMS) contract to be awarded September 1, which will replace the Inter-Communications System (ICS), integrate the communications equipment mentioned above and maximise newly acquired capabilities. Bids are being evaluated from: CMC (teamed with Telephonics for the ICS), DRS and Team Thales (integrated project team with Thales Systems Canada (TSC) as prime contractor, teamed with Thales Communications France, both part of Thales communications business group, and IMP Group Limited for installation; testing and support, plus Palomar Products digitally controlled ICS qualified on P-3 aircraft).

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Group III: Computer and Sensors


The projects in this group provide the bulk of the Auroras primary mission sensors and processing capability, with prototyping planned from May to December 2004, and production planned from January 2005 to May 2006. On February 9, 2001 the $58.6 million Modular VME Acoustic Signal Processor (MVASP) and Fast Time Acoustic Analysis System (FTAAS) contract was awarded to Computing Devices Canada Ltd. (CDC a General Dynamics subsidiary) to maintain interoperability with allied forces undertaking similar upgrades. CDC will supply 27 MVASP, upgraded to monitor 32 acoustic Channels simultaneously for detection and tracking of submarines and maritime vessels replacing current 16 Channel capability with a growth potential to 64, whose installation will be sequenced with the new mission computer during 20042005, plus provide and undertake concurrent integration of a new digital acoustic tape recorder. The four FTAAS, providing an acoustic data and analysis capability, will update the stand-alone ground stations located within the two Data Interpretation and Analysis Centres and two separate Acoustic Data Analysis Centres one of each on either coast, and along with the MVASP will be delivered from 2003-2004. Recently, an RFP was released for a new Data Management System (DMS), including multi-function workstations with high-resolution colour

displays; control-and- display peripherals and upgrades to related shorebased facilities, with a potential contract value exceeding $100-140 million, dependent on options. As the AIMPs highest priority candidate for replacement, and the core of the Aurora, the DMS will provide sufficient computer capability to sustain operations. A major hurdle is expected to be CMS-2Y software migration from the AYK-10, not nearly as capable as personal computers today, with no 1553 data-bus handling capability. LCol Lewis notes Were (optimistically) looking at the prototype in probably 2004, and delivery starting in 2005. Previously, Lockheed Martin Canada (LMC) won a $14 million contract in December 1997 to replace the AYK-10 with the AYK-23(V) mission computer, but this contract was cancelled in December 1999 when LMC closed its Winnipeg plant and schedule slippage occurred. The AIMP PO expects responses to the RFP by October 2001, with contract award mid-2002. Companies that have expressed an interest in bidding are: Boeing, CDC, LMC, Raytheon and Thales. CDCs partners on the DMS bid include Litton Systems Canada, IMP and CMC with a DMS solution which Bob Fischer, vice president of CDC, notes is based on home grown technologies, exempt from foreign export controls (ie. ITARs). CDCs DMS solution extends back to the mid-1980s, with over $8 million invested since 1993 under CDCs ASW503 designation, and has maintained a close dialogue with the Maritime Air

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community during development to reduce program risks and closely reflect evolving user requirements. LMC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with xwave (an Aliant company) to compete jointly for the DMS, while LMCs other key partner is parent LM Tactical Systems, specializing in P-3 and S-3 aircraft mission system integration. Dan Spoor, president and CEO of LMC, noted LM mission systems fly in 98% of operational P-3s worldwide, including those presently in the CP-140. This depth of airborne systems integration experiencewill be the single most important factor in ensuring (DMS) programme success. Raytheons commercial off-the-shelf (OTS) DMS could, like LMC, provide commonality synergies if they win both the Aurora DMS and MHP mission system contracts. Thales core team for the DMS is comprised of TSC and Thales Airborne Systems, the European leader for airborne mission systems offering AMASCOS (see VANGUARD Issue 3, 2001). LCol Lewis noted the Electro-Optics (EO) program has been approved, with RFP and procurement awaiting DMS contract award. A new stabilized EO suite with growth potential, including an improved ForwardLooking Infrared Radar (FLIR); low light level television and laser illuminator, housed in a retractable ball turret similar to the current FLIR, will meet operational requirements for enhanced stand-off identification capability allowing the name of suspect ships beyond-visual-range to be read at night. Companies that have expressed an interest in supplying the EO system are Westcam; Flir Industries and Raytheon. DND approval is still pending within the next 12 months for both the Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) and Imaging Radar projects. The new ESM system will allow for the detection and localization of contemporary signal emitters, such as air defence and missile guidance radars providing a self-protection and targeting capability as the ALR-502 being replaced is only capable of detecting submarine radars, while also being

An Aurora on an antisubmarine partrol. The CP-140 Aurora is equipped to carry out a variety of roles including anti-submarine warfare, environmental and fisheries patrols. With its four GE T-56 turboprop engines, the Aurora will do 405 knots and has a range of up to 5,000 miles. A single flight can last up to 14 hours.

capable of ELectronic INTelligence (ELINT) in littoral areas. LCol Lewis explained that going from a standard ESM to more of an ELINT capability (involves significant cost) thats still being wrestled within DND. The companies that have expressed interest are: Condor, Elisra and Elta. Meanwhile, numerous companies, including Thales and MacDonald Dettwiler, have expressed interest in providing an advanced Imaging Radar based on SPOTlight SAR technology capable of providing a stand-off surveillance and identification capability. LCol Lewis said it has not been decided to buy a complete new radar, to buy a new radar and add extra components and upgrades, or to take components out of existing radars and put them together in a package that best meets our needs. AIMPs Scan Converter and NIFMP would seem to indicate preparatory work for a made in Canada solution as modifications have been developed for the existing radar including SPOTSar, ISAR, believed to be more effective than the P-3Cs APS-137 ISAR mode able to identify surface ship targets past 100nm, and Strip Map modes.

Defensive Electronic Warfare System will provide an urgently required capability for missile warning and countermeasures to enhance survivability in hostile environments. Additionally, the Magnetic Anomaly Detector will be modernized to accommodate shallow water operations. Independent of AIMP is a requirement to modify or replace the Operational Mission Simulator (OMS), incorporating any mission systems upgrades and additions, for which both CAE and TT&S have indicated they will be bidding.

Hurdles
The projected reduction in Yearly Flying Rate (YFR) to 8,000 hours by 2003 (reduced from 19,000 in 1999), and impending Arcturus retirement concurrent with AIMP impact on operations will necessitate heavy dependence on: FDS, CPT and OMS to achieve flight crew and sensor operator proficiency training. As noted on DNDs website the Arcturus aircraft were procured to augment the CP-140 Aurora fleet (and) will be assigned all the roles of the Aurora (including support to Other Government Departments which averages 13% of YFR and Arctic and maritime surveillance with a limited suite of surveillance equipment fitted to enable this), except that of ASW. The repercussions of the premature Arcturus withdrawal, plus planned reductions in YFR and aircraft fleets, will be the focus of an upcoming article. b

Group IV: Upgrades


This group will provide for technology insertions and upgrades for OTS systems selected for the previous groups, possibly including addition of precision air-to-surface weapons, maintaining supportability and meeting integration requirements not fully addressed during separate acquisitions. It also covers Data Link Modernization to meet new standards, such as NATO improved link-11/22, while adding a capability to maintain national/international data/imagery transfer interoperability. The

Mark Romanow is a defence/geopolitical analyst based in Edmonton. He can be reached at defencegeopol@sprint.ca

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