Author Topic: RAAF Project Wairi  (Read 8249 times)

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
RAAF Project Wairi
« on: April 28, 2014, 10:50:04 AM »
Tophe suggested this ... so all blame rests with him  ;)

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Eyes in the Skies - The RAAF's Counter-IED  Project Wairi

During an early 2004 review of Australian operations in Iraq, ADF planners concluded that any future 'asymmetric warfare' would require much improved counter-IED capabilities. To that end, the RAAF began experimenting with aerial C-IED platforms.

The popular ISR King Air was assessed as lacking growth potential (for both future sensor additions and extra sensor operator's workstations). The larger Bombardier Dash 8, it was decided, was a better fit.

Phase 1 of Project Wairi ('Sky God') comprised sensor tests by a loaned Dash 8 200 from  Coastwatch -- using its Wescam 16DS EO/IR turret and Raytheon APS-134A search radar over land for the first time. Phase 1 confirmed the choice of Western Australia's Great Sandy Desert as a stand-in for overseas operations in arid regions. But the Coastwatch sensor suite was judged inadequate for counter-IED ops.

[More to come ...]
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2014, 10:52:33 AM »
Phase 2 of Project Wairi was run with greater urgency as ADF troops were scheduled to return to Iraq in 2005. For Phase 2, the Tenix LADS (Laser Airborne Depth Souding) Dash 8 was loaned to the RAAF by the RAN's Australian Hydrographic Service.

Surveillance Australia Pty of Adelaide adapted the LADS aircraft to its interim counter-IED role role. Removable stub-wing pylons were added to the fuselage sides to carry C-IED sensor pods (Boeing Australia based these pods on the Hornet's recce pack). Twin Wescam MX-10 EO/IR turrets were mounted on either side of the cockpit.

This sensor combination was 'draggier' than expected. More importantly, the CCD cameras proved more difficult for sensor operators to integrate. A revised sensor installation was begun. This involved an extended nose cone holding the infrared line scanner which would be matched with twin EO/IR turrets moved aft to the stub wings. This solved part of the drag problem but integration remained an issue.

Perhaps in an attempt to cloak its C-IED trials, test aircraft were given intentionally misleading RAAF serials. Although never marked, reports on the Coastwatch Q200 referred to 'A24-001' while the LADS loaner was 'A24-002'. The latter (also code-named 'Baiame' or 'Creator Sky God') showed promise but was to be eclipsed by an offer from the US.

[More to come ...]
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline Tophe

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2014, 11:05:00 AM »
Thanks! :-*

Offline Buzzbomb

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2014, 11:19:03 AM »
Pretty much.. why not.

Offline Kerick

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2014, 11:21:17 AM »
By counter-IED capabilities did you mean finding IEDs or flying down a route broadcasting a signal to set them off? I suspect the former but the later would be something to see!

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2014, 07:32:23 AM »
Finding 'em ... so, the aerial counter-IED mission envisioned is one of detection. The object is to repeatedly examine geospatial imagery of the battlefield to detect minor disruptions to surface textures, etc., revealing possible IED placements.

In my scenario, the RAAF's No 15 Squadron has been stood up again. Flight crews are drawn from the Orion squadrons. Operational conversion training is provided by a detachment of No. 292 Squadron based at RAAF Curtin in Western Australia (nominally, No 15 Sqn is also based at Curtin but the aircraft are generally based in-theatre).

My modern day No 15 Sqn crest (inset, below) features a winged Mimi spirit over the slogan Et viderunt Deum caeli ('The Sky Gods are Watching'). BTW, does anyone known what 15 Squadron's WWII crest looked like?

[More to come ...]
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2014, 07:34:49 AM »
RAAF Project Wairi - Phase 3

Surveillance Australia's work on the LADS loaner caught the attention of the US firm, SAIC, which was working on a similar, Dash 8-based counter-IED platform. SAIC's work on sensor integration was further along in maturity than the 'Baiame' demonstrator and a US-Australian collaboration was suggested.

Once agreements were in place, SurvAus began modifying DHC-8-103 VH-JSJ (c/n 170) to  SAIC C-IED standards. This ex-National Jet Systems Q100 was testflown from Adelaide Airport in late 2006. As initially flown, the EO/IR sensors fitted were a trio of Wescam MX-15s. These were later replaced with larger, more capable MX-20 turrets.

The newly modified SAIC-style Dash 8 -- still stripped of paintwork -- was rushed to RAAF Learmonth for trials in January 2007. With the aerial C-IED concept proven, the Dash 8 returned to Adelaide for a trip to the paint shed. By this time, ADF planning emphasis had shifted to Operation Slipper. The repainted Dash 8, as A24-170, left for Afghanistan in late April 2007.

(Top) Dash 8 A24-170 as originally flown (3 x Wescam MX-15 EO/IRs).

(Bottom) A24-170 in modified form (3 x Wescam MX-20SW EO/IRs).

[More to come ...]
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline kitnut617

  • Measures the actual aircraft before modelling it...we have the photographic evidence.
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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2014, 08:54:41 AM »
If you could find one of Leading Edge Decals 'Gonzo' conversions, you could build a model of that ---


Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2014, 04:07:40 AM »
Nice 'Gonzo' shot, kit'.

The SAIC nose job seems to be more-or-less a slightly skewed, truncated cone with the Dash 8's original radome plonked onto the end. The 'Gonzo' nose has a smoother transition at its extreme end.
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline taiidantomcat

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2014, 08:12:14 AM »
Interesting!!
"They know you can do anything, So the question is, what don't you do?"

-David Fincher

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2014, 09:10:07 AM »
Although really a detachment, No.15 Squadron RAAF had been re-formed at RAAF Curtin  as a dedicated counter-IED surveillance unit. Initial equipment was the Project Wairi Phase 3 aircraft, the long-nosed A24-170 ('Baiame'), and a basic Dash 8 used as a crew trainer. Even this limited arrangement was a bit of a fiction.

The DHC-8-102 operational conversion trainer (ex-VH-QQG c/n 036 from Skytrans) was operated by a detachment of No. 292 Squadron. No.15 pilots were drawn from No.10 and 11 Squadrons while 92 Tactical Intelligence Flight provided Geospatial Imagery Analysts (GIAs) and Signals Operators.

As previously noted, A24-170 deployed to Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. 'Baiame' was an operational success but greater coverage was needed which dictated additional C-IED aircraft. Finding surplus Dash 8 airframes in Australia wasn't really a challenge. But improved sensor arrangements were coming down the pike from SAIC.

[More to come ...]
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2014, 09:12:43 AM »
Project Wairi Phase 4 - Sensor Sidecars

The new counter-IED concept from SAIC involved flexible fuselage 'sidecar' fairings able to accommodate a range of sensor types. This improved layout was adopted for Phase 4 of Project Wairi as the 'Pilirin' (Myth Kestrel) C-IED aircraft.

Four surplus Dash 8s were sourced from Australian airlines. These were all Q100 airframes but all were upgraded to PW123 engines (technically, making them Q200s). The SAIC sensor pack modifications were made and workstations installed. The first 'Pilirin' aircraft (ex-VH-QQH c/n 380, another ex-Skytrans Dash 8) flew in early 2010.

After working up at RAAF Curtin with trials over Western Australia's Great Sandy Desert, No.15 Sqn aircraft began deploying in pairs to Bastion Airfield in Afghanistan. Here the C-IED Dash 8s would in concert with mine-clearing Bushmaster vehicles of the Australian Army code-named  'Echidnas',.

The first 'Pilirin' aircraft, A24-380, is shown during its second Helmand tour. Markings are two-toned grey (meant to function equally well as diurnal or nocturnal camouflage) with RAAF roundels in all six positions. A 'lo-viz' version of the No.15 Squadron crest sits above the ADF serial on the vertical fin.

Note: On their second tour, the crew of A24-380 began recording successful C-EID missions with 'Echidna' symbols on the fuselage side. However, these unauthorized mission markings were quickly removed by order of RAAF Air Command.

[Fin]
The doorbell's ringing, could be the elves
But it's probably the werewolf ...

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2014, 01:49:57 PM »
Very nice!

Looks quite buildable.

It reminds me that I need to check the LHS to see if they have any Hobbycraft Dash's that haven't moved. Fair chance, they don't do a lot of plastic and have weird stock.

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2014, 04:57:22 PM »
Note: On their second tour, the crew of A24-380 began recording successful C-EID missions with 'Echidna' symbols on the fuselage side. However, these unauthorized mission markings were quickly removed by order of RAAF Air Command.

[Fin]

As ever, humourless shiny-bums...

Offline taiidantomcat

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2014, 02:39:36 AM »
Sharp looking grays  :-*
"They know you can do anything, So the question is, what don't you do?"

-David Fincher

Offline Volkodav

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2014, 06:41:22 PM »
I know the RAAF were using Orions in some secret squirrel stuff over there but I a surprised the ADF never acquired a suitable small of medium platform for the role in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army (then RAAF) Kingairs were crying out for it.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2014, 02:54:56 AM »
To a degree, the RAAF did acquire a surveillance capability for use in Afghanistan:



Re the Orions…you know nothing and heard nothing…

A RAAF RC-12 could be an interesting build:

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Offline Gingie

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Re: RAAF Project Wairi
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2016, 11:11:39 PM »

Re the Orions…you know nothing and heard nothing…


 :D There used to be a couple of them on the ramp in Google Sat View, but its been updated and they are no longer there. A few hercs, a trainer, and maybe a military 737?

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Dubai+-+United+Arab+Emirates/@25.0239324,55.3693959,19z/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x3e5f43496ad9c645:0x74ced0bf2b0029e9