Keesje From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (8 years 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 3863 times:
The UK is to delay an anticipated production decision on the Royal Air Force’s Nimrod MRA4 maritime reconnaissance and attack aircraft project until next year, pushing the type’s in-service date back to late 2010.
GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12951 posts, RR: 79 Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 3771 times:
No, 12 is an initial production, it should increase hopefully.
These delays are entirely BAE mismanagement, which caused a crisis of confidence between government and BAE.
Resolved to BAE's considerable cost, but understandably government are keeping a close eye on the project.
MRA4 should provide capabilities in advance of the competition, the RAF are even keen to use it as a platform for long range carriage of multiple Storm Shadow stealthy cruise missiles, with a much diminished ASW threat (though not entirely gone away), this and other roles like elint and overland surveillance and C3, are the best reasons to carry on.
The ASW role update is not a huge priority now, that could change however.
For example, during periods of high security in London, a Nimrod MR.2 has already provided airborne 'Gold Command' facilities over the capital.
I believe that the first flying aircraft are doing really well and they are quite pleased with it so I doubt they will cancel. Certainly, plans are well advanced for the long term maintenance so I'm sure they are expecting it in service.
It may be expensive but for once the government haven't taken so much of a hit on the price. BAES have had to pay out big sums on this one (and quite right too). Having worked with BAES on this project in the early days, none of us where I work are surprised that its late and we are glad we are no longer associated with the project. That's not to say that its not eventually going to be a successful aircraft.
I agree that is an awful lot of money for just 12 airplanes. Yes, the MRA4 will be the most advanced maritime patrol airplane in the world, when it comes out. Could the MoD and RAF save a significant amount of money if they canceled the MRA4, then tagged along with the USN and the P-8A program?
When the P-8A (modified B-737-800 with raked wingtips) begins it's squadron level operations, it will be the most advanced maritime/ASW patrol airplane in the world. Plus, you get a brand new airframe, instead of a rebuilt one.
Agreed, joining the USN P8 program would probably offer more value for money. A political more feasible solution would be to the the Nimrod a short term upgrade with some quick wins from the MRA4 and talk to the French, Spanish, Italians and other flying Atlantics, PC3 etc. that need replacement.
A pragmatic approach could be combining the best of the P8, MRA4, CN-235 systems into a standard European platform. It could have (partly) British systems, engines, wings etc..
Saintsman From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2002, 2065 posts, RR: 2 Reply 5, posted (8 years 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3353 times:
Although originally designed for the maritime role, there is not the threat there was and I think that the Nimrod is being develloped for 'other' uses. It will still have the capability to do the maritime job if required. Therefore an alternative MPA is perhaps not what the UK needs right now.
GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12951 posts, RR: 79 Reply 7, posted (8 years 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3295 times:
You should remember that MRA4 is more new than old, not only BR710 engines, in fact only the fuselage pressure shell is legacy, the rest is new.
P8 won't meet RAF requirements, they want a lot more than an ASW/maritime patrol aircraft, so however good the P8 is in that role, it's not enough.
Consider, the RAF don't have the resources of the USAF/USN to run several airframes for different missions.
The only other surveillance platform entering service is the R.1 Sentinel, based on the Global Express airframe, a whole new capability for the service,(overland surveillance).
Which would require further expenditure to both purchase airframes and convert them to maritime ops. Why do that when we already have a program to bring our current maritime aircraft up to modern standards, which by all accounts will perform the job perfectly well for the forseeable future.
A couple reasons the Nimrod would be more preferential to maritime ops than a C-130 or A400 conversion:
1. A Nimrod is faster and can get on station in less time
2. A Nimrod can cruise on a single engine, saving fuel over the patrol area
3. The higher pitch of a jet engine is less detectable to a submarine than a prop
Bsergonomics From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 462 posts, RR: 0 Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 2961 times:
I'm with Saintsman on this one...
The programme has been a screw-up from the start, mainly due to BAE's management (IMHO). That said, it is now 'approaching' a very capable system. While the fuselage may date back to the 50's, everything else is new. The performance is impressive, considering the base mission, and it must be remembered that the primary mission (ASW and ASuW) has not been the main usage - SAR and fishery protection has been the primary role for some years.
I am seriously annoyed that my taxes have gone towards the proliferation of the incompetence that surrounds the programme. However, there is no equivalent COTS system that can fulfil the role to the same standard.
A couple of years ago, senior BAES management finally bit the bullet, took the (£750m) hit from the MoD and got some decent management (Mr Harland & Co.) on board. From that point, things have progressed. The mauling by the NAO forced the MoD to cut the order from 21 to 18, then to 12 aircraft. However, once the aircraft proves itself and BAES demonstrate that the programmes can be properly controlled, this is likely to be increased again.
So, call it a day? No. Get the MRA4 into service, and make sure that we learn the lessons when we upgrade the ELINT fleet.
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...