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Ihadanapostrophe t1_j5orids wrote

This is factually untrue. I was a radar tech on the AWACS.

They are quite literally using computers from the 1950s. Either 2 or 3 large cabinets for radar, depending on whether it's the -B or -C model.

There isn't any data that AWACS lacks processing power for. Certainly, there is no particular need for satellites (especially StarLink) for AWACS mission capability.

Any data shared from AWACS with other Blue Forces would go through something like JTIDS, which existed decades before StarLink.

Any other use would be standard data transfer/communication over military satellites.


slowslownotbad t1_j5qruft wrote

Yeah. The crew processes the data. With their brains.

Ideally you’d get that data off board with zero crew and process it at home. But as you know, a modern radar produces a huge amount of data.

USAF is looking as Wedgetail, but keep getting cold feet because of cost. They’d rather use drones, but data rate is a problem. Which Starlink will solve.


Ihadanapostrophe t1_j5quube wrote

Data rate is not the limiting factor. Power is. There are 2x200 KW klystron amplifiers pushing out those pings. Drones don't have that kind of power if you want them to loiter.


slowslownotbad t1_j5r4w88 wrote

Yeah, but if you replace that with a distributed drone system, each TR module on something modern like a Wedgetail is waaaaay lower power. Just need data uplink.

You could essentially do the job with a collection of fighter jet radars on small drones. The power draw on an APG-81 from an F-35 would be well within the capacity of a small turbine engine.

Also, satellite AWACS from a low orbit constellation can do a lot. Expect to see these kinds of payloads launching in the near future.


NLtbal t1_j5owv1q wrote

You are assuming air superiority which is simply not a guarantee in all AO situations, especially in proxy wars where an arms length doctrine is in place, or early days of any conflict when equipment is not yet in field.


Ihadanapostrophe t1_j5oz1lt wrote

What makes you assume that? How is whether or not AWACS is operating with air superiority going to change the capabilities? How does any of that change whether or not StarLink becomes useful to AWACS?

Have you flown on the plane? I have. AWACS is an air-to-air battle management/C2 platform. It provides a gigantic radar/IFF capability to allied pilots.

The biggest upgrade to AWACS computers was in the 90s when they went from 1 color to a full 6 colors! You have zero relevant information about this topic.