CE-32 CUERVO | ELECTRONIC WARFARE FIGHTER
The CE-32 Cuervo is the electronic warfare, two-seater version of the CL-32 Buitre air superiority fighter, packing substantial changes from its original and a completely renewed view of tactical capabilities clearly pointed by the fact its fuselage and construction, although very similar in essence to that of the CL-32, does not involve application stealth technology due to its pointlessness in an electronic warfare aircraft, although still inheriting the first generation stealth features of the of the CL-32 and thus being only a reduced RCS aircraft, and this is evidenced by the fact that despite packing sophisticated modern electronics, it is cheaper than the CL-32. It offers a similar flight performance to the CL-32, and shares many common components with it as well. It is packed with the indigenously developed GE-36 Electronic Warfare System, which provides a full solution of EW while not interfering with allied communications and information lines. It can carry four missiles for self-defense in an internal bay and up to four EW pods in external mounts. An expansion potential for a more destructive SEAD role is also an aspect of it.
The airframe of the CE-32 is strikingly similar to that of the CL-32 in its shape, being built from the CL32AE variant, however, it is still different in its construction. Due to the needlessness of stealth in the role it is intended for, the CE-32 is built with an all-metal airframe instead, made of the same material used for the CL-32 airframe metallic components: the nationally ubiquitous Al alumina-silica metal matrix composite, which contributes significantly to reduce production costs and time, while at the same time also allowing certain modifications to the resistance of its wings which were essential for it to accomplish its intended role, allowing a greater quantity of supported payload per pylon than what a partially dielectric composite airframe would, while the lack of the need of applying radar absorbing anechoic chambers and ferrite plates to its interior has also contributed to an overall decrease of empty mass, thus improving slightly its maneuverability while reducing the strain on the wings as well. Equally, use of indium tin oxide coating on its optical and infrared targeting and visual acquisition cameras was not considered necessary.
Some of its father stealth features were maintained however, also related mostly to its airframe shape, particularly the serration and heat signature reducing shaping and build of the exhaust port for its single turbofan, due to the advantage of such design choice difficulting the tracking of infrared guided missiles against it, something which is already obviously not as simple as it would be with a more conventional fighter, for the role of the CE-32 in electronic warfare is not purely offensive, while the layer designed to refract and disrupt laser tracking systems was also maintained due to its tactical utility beyond stealth. Otherwise, the basic design and considerations taken regarding the CL-32 airframe also apply for this offspring.
Thanks to its design similarities, it is rarely not possible to perform maintenance on a CE-32 using the same infrastructure and processes developed for the CL-32, except when the maintenance also involves its new systems focused on electronic warfare. With a 70% ratio of shared production phases and components with the Buitre, swapping maintenance procedures between both thus become in most cases possible, saving significantly the needed logistics costs to operate both aircraft.
Relatively little structural changes happened into the cockpit. One of them, as hinted, is the removal of indium tin oxide coating on its canopy, due to the overall irrelevance of full stealth for its intended role, which also contributes to an easier manufacturing process. Another, perhaps more important, is the addition of a new seat, followed by an additional set of FSoft Intelliview displays for the new crew member of the aircraft, because it is considered that dealing with electronic warfare and piloting an aircraft simultaneously would be problematic, even with the high level of information technology development and automation of modern times. These new display systems, as further explained on avionics, are fully integrated in their software component and specialized for the electronic warfare operator role, being directly linked to the GE-36 system. Otherwise, no differences remain, other than a needed repositioning of the internal optical/IR camera due to the new seat added to an space purportedly left vacant in the cockpit of the original CL-32 for a possible two-seater version, should one become useful, which has now been proved true.
The propulsion system is virtually unchanged compared to the CL-32, however, the weight-reducing structural changes to its airframe have made the propulsion system with its EcologiX modelo 140 fludic nozzle turbofan and Ventilador Arriba 75 contra-rotating lift fan slightly more efficient than in the CL-32, meaning an increased performance, and also, logically, a more than enough capability of accompanying the former during air superiority missions, or a CB-1 Miaja during tactical bombings among many others, in the role of escort electronic warfare.
A new increment however was the additional ram air turbine installed to provide, when necessary due to lack of power from its own propulsion systems, power to the electronic warfare systems added to the CE-32, making of them, when more convenient than the inevitable aerodynamic penalty from having such turbine active, fully power independent on demand from the aircraft primary powerplant.
Much of what applies to the CL-32 and its A upgrade regarding avionics also apply to the CE-32. There are no changes on its used radar systems, and most of the upgrades have been increments to the systems that already existed in the CL-32 rather than modifications. The main exception to this is the new redundant operating system Airlinux 3.0ew, which is nothing more than an incremental modification over the 3.0cm source code and concept, for the reason that the used in the Buitre was optimized for air-to-air combat-centric avionics and processes rather than for the electronic warfare role, offering a new array of integrated decentralized modules for optimization of jamming, radar warning and allied wavelengths protection systems integrated with it, as part of the unique modus operandi of the Confederacy regarding avionics, based on the concept of integrated systems without common mode failure(ISWCF), where the OS is little more than a redundant processing optimization layer to which the avionics systems themselves, although being optimal with its presence, still can operate fully independent from it. The Airlinux 3.0ew also contains several modules for the potential expansion into the operation of some aircraft launched cruise missiles for the role of hard-kill suppression of enemy air defenses, combined of course with its electronic warfare capabilities.
As the CL-32 wingtips were already built with modular support for a pair of either smoke dischargers for recreational purposes or of electronic countermeasures, it was relatively simple to design a proper set of DA-92(Detector de Amenazas) multiple band receiver modules, which besides helping it to filter hostile jamming attacks, also give to it a much greater capability of detecting incoming threats to be jammed than that of the rear warning modules of the ASA-3A5 dual-mode phased array radar, and also boosting its own self-defense capabilities and those of nearby aircrafts. making of it a sort of operational early warning aircraft in addition to its jamming role, also providing support for high band jamming.
Another addition is the PNTC-24(¿Por qué No Te Callas? 24 horas) communications receiver and jammer, which support interference cancellation to allow the pilot and EW operator to communicate even while jamming enemy communications through electronic assaults, as the PNTC-24 was designed to cover the entirety of communications bands from military frequencies and bands to UHF, VHF, digital, satellite, FM and AM among many others, being very important in the action of disrupting hostile bombing runs or even, with properly done clever tactics, misleading enemy forces among a myriad of different utilities for an electronic warfare system. However, one of the most interesting features of the PNTC-24 is that besides the usual SIGINT capabilities it provides, it also supports communication intelligence data regarding captured IFF transceivers of the enemy or even their communication protocols regarding orders, allowing an excelling intelligence operation to branch into many other utilities besides those of immediate visibility through electronic deception, and also thus allowing, an allied CE-32, provided enough received data on enemy systems, to issue false-flag orders to enemy forces which are indistinguishable from legitimate ones, which, if coupled with a proper set-up of giving the enemy the illusion they managed to win the battle through the waves, could give many very interesting possibilities for a creative and ingenious tactician.
The Cuervo was built based on the Buitre E model for a single reason. The standard CL-32 drop cold-launch system based on internal trapezoidal bays for individual missiles, developed to minimize the probability of detection during their opening process, were logically useless in an aircraft not designed for being fully stealth due to its intended role being incompatible with such capability. Thus a conventional internal bay not only is less costly and easier to construct, but also more adequate and less heavy compared to the complex servomechanics involved in the CL-32. As a given choice of setting up of armament, due to the fact that an internal bay would be counterproductive to jamming pods, besides also lacking enough space for their storage, all its armament sought for self defense is stored in it, being composed usually of four MBDA Meteor beyond visual range missiles.
On the new, four reinforced external pylons which occupy a significant part of the usable wing area, up to four electronic warfare pods of the natively developed GE-36 (Guerra Electrónica) can be mounted. The GE-36, developed in partnership with the University of Tucker Engineering College, is close in concept to the AN/ALQ-99 used by the EA-18 Growler, with the difference, that due to the fact it was tailored for the more compact wingspan of the CL-32, a major effort went into going as far as possible into developing a compact jamming pod as possible without sacrificing performance. The end result was an significantly power-efficient system which will rarely need of its own power source to function properly.
The GE-36 pods, although directly linked to the avionics of the CE-32 where redundant backups of their control systems softwares can operate at any moment through Airlinux 3.0ew in case of failure of the other ones, have inbound all the necessary electronics and coded systems to filter, analyze and automatically jam signals, from radio-guided missile tracking to enemy communications. Being a primarily low band system, its capabilities are thus complemented by the already mentioned high band DA-92 on its wingtips. Finally, instead of the twin-barreled revolver autocannon of the CL-32, the CE-32 is equipped with an electronic pod which integrates both DA-92 and GE-36 systems for an all-around electronic attack capability, while serving as additional control units, in accordance to a well-established belief on the importance of redundancy to prevent errors.
Instead of four jamming pods, a combination of two jamming pods and of two anti-radiation missiles can be mounted on external underwing hardpoints, although conventional air-to-surface missiles can also be added to complement the CE-32 and allow it to operate in the SEAD role in an adequate manner, expanding its mission profile from jamming to more physically destructive capabilities. The research and development over non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse systems is still occurring, although as of now no efficient system has been developed yet, although it can be expected that once one is devised, any missile using it will likely enter to the roster of the multitude of additional weaponry used by the CE-32 besides its standard load.