Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
Lots of folk in this forum seem to be predicting the demise of the Nimrod MRA4 programme.
Back when I was in, or rather just leaving, Aunty Betty's flying club, that nice man Mr John Nott said in his Defence White paper that the future was Nuclear submarines and Nimrods and that he would order just as many as he could! He even lamented the fact that the production line was closed so making new build MR2's much more expensive. This was back in the days when the MR1 was becoming the MR2 and he increased the number being converted.
I know that was back in the Cold war dayd and that the world is very different now, but, I can't help wondering if we aren't getting just a little carried away with Fast Jets and their ilk. Japan has just approved it's own indigineous 4 jet MPA, and they are talking about a need for 80, that's EIGHTY!!!!
Apart from the fact that they are stationed at Ice Station Kilo, why the current downer on the Mighty Hunter?
The question posed by our friends in big hats is "where are all the threat submarines now?" Most of the USSR's old subs are rusting alongside. They've made a bomb out of exporting Kilo's but they've mostly gone to places that aren't really going to be a threat to us (I think). Besides diesel/electric is mainly for littoral warfare (standing by for correction), how useful is MR2/ will be MR4 in those areas? I know a lot of work has been done in improving capability in that area but how much???
Check 'Janes' and you will see a whole host of nations that operate both nuc and DE subs! Whilst DE subs are more likely to have a mission objective in the littoral, operatin in that environment poses many problems. The Nimrod is as good a platform as any for operations in that area, indeed it is practiced regularly.
Besides, Ice Station Kilo seems awful busy if the threat has gone completely, perhaps the Nimrod doesn't just chase subs!!!??? Not saying any more on here but check the role of the aircraft!
As for the downer, it's all due to the project overrun and overspend, mainly through BWoS and bad management by the DPA (IMHO). The MRA 4 will be a good platform if it ever gets the proper backing, the project is only 8 years old and it's about to start flying- not bad really.
Years past it's in service date, airframe still not flyable, well over budget, contract now for only 3 aircraft (the development ones), has to fly this year or it is scrapped. Wonder why we have a downer on it?
Having seen the effort and progress of the first 2 development aircraft, I expect to see them both fly this year.
As for the Defence White Paper, the 2 main requirements were "Network Centric" and "Multi-Role", I suggest people have a further look at the specs for MRA4 before they predict its demise. Tranche 3 Typhoon on the other hand ....
Still, with 'Trust me Tone' and his band they'll scrap the lot of us to help pay for deluge of Economic Migrants we're going to receive when the EU expands.
True about our very welcome ethnic friends from the new EU countries! I for one welcome them with open wallet ;-)
8 years from contract to first flight is still almost unheard of. This is not a re-worked MR2 it's a brand spanky new jet - only the fuselage is retained. The bid was way to low to start with - that explains the majority of the 'overspend' and good old DPA have moved the goalposts on several occasions too.
Let me see if I can remember just how late and over budget the EAP (1983) - sorry Eurofighter 2000, sorry Typhoon 2005 is?? But then again - its a great little pilots toy to show off in the display season!!
One more thing Vage Rot, Boeing 707 Concived 1951, Dash 80 first flight 1954, in airline service 1958. Airbus 340/330 concived 1986, first flew 1992, certified 9 months later, in airline service 2 months after that. 8 years just to get the airframe off the ground would not be tollerated if the government wasn't picking up the bill. You can't blame it on the complexity of the kit either as the whole problem has been with the aircraft. By the way have they sorted out the autopilot yet. Don't much fancy flying an aircraft at 200ft with an autopilot that is porpoising +/- 500ft at the moment.
Currently minimum is 250' VMC and 400' IMC on the venerable MR2. However I know of very few flight decks that use the autopilot this low. 500' in a holding pattern maybe, but whilst throwing the beast around, it's all very hands on. All part of the fun.
As far as I understand, for the new(ish) beast it'll be all autopilot. Will take into account wind etc etc so all you have to do is dial in the command track as requested by the nav and voila, round she goes. Should save the poor old navs, sorry WSOs, a lot of heartache as the flight deck again call for the steer to be repunched and still are 30 degrees of heading! Will take all the fun out of flying the 'rod though.
PS Navs, we do it just to remind you who is ultimately in charge!!
The Mighty Hunter has been a superb beast. The MR4 is fundementally a flawed concept. However the Government has been blackmailed by the good old US of A once too often so it will throw as much money at European projects as it needs to to get them into service. This has mixed blessings, lots of jobs but kit which is not as good as it could be. Jet MPAs are definately the way ahead and Coastal Command know how to do it properly, there is and remains a threat from all types of subs and we must keep the capabillity. I am just glad my Cat ran out some years ago as I do not wish to fly the missions on AP at LL without a decent Eng behind me (Or go on det without those salt of the earth guys to pay the taxi to take me back the block!)
I miss 300' in the MAD circle in cloud at night, good dets, great crews ( except stroppy TAC Navs and AEOs!) but would miss nice rich people paying me to take them round europe even more
Edited foe incompppetant spelling
Last edited by Miles Magister; 31st Jan 2004 at 05:42.
I remember a time, not too long ago when the Yanks asked for help in one of their 'Ops' because Nimrod could do things that their P3's couldn't. So we sent Nimrod to the good 'ol US of A to solve one of their many problems. It was a very successful trip if I recall correctly.
From Submariner friend - Bl@@dy Nimrods are a pain in the @rse. You just don't see them coming - where as P3's and Atlantiques you can see(hear) coming from miles away!
Not bad for an aircraft conceived in the 60's [Ed check dates]
I say bring on the MRA4 - Yes, the Nimrod needs to have it's avionics etc updated but it is still the best platform for ASW/ASUW bar none.
As for Ice Station Kilo, I met my wife up their and have since been touring the UK. I loved the base, the countryside and (some) of the people. Given the chance, I would go back tomorrow.
Yes, I'm biased. After working with them for nine and half years who wouldn't be? But I'm scummy ground crew and ground crew are not well known for their admiration of an aircraft or the crews that fly them.
BAe are the only hinderance to Nimrod, as they can not escape the Dinosaur way of operating. A FS Fairey friend was working with the MRA4 and complained bitterly about the incompetence of BAe. He is now working on the A400M project and says that Airbus are a much more efficient outfit. I can't help but think if we boycotted BAe for all future projects everything would run on time and within budjet.
Just another thought whilst I was bimbling down the shops.
I am currently working on a training establishment and am at logger heads with my peers over one particular lesson. The lesson is about SAR, where the Nimrod is listed alongside VC10's, Tristars and E3D's as an aircraft that can assist in SAR activities. This view combined with the fact that much of what Nimrod does can not be talked about, explains why certain people think that if we need it, we only need a few.
The Nimrod's role is very, very diverse and is not limited to hunting submarines and ships or indeed SAR. It has arguably, always been (and will be, when BAe get their act together) the ONLY true multi-role aircraft the RAF has!
Do we need a new airframe? - YES! Should it be a Nimrod? - YES! Is three enough? - NO! Do we need as many as possible? - Absolutely YES!
Ombit I would agree that the role of the MR2 is far more diverse than many people acknowledge and/or realise. However, several of it's current roles could conceivably be taken by other platforms. In particular, most, if not all of it's non maritime tasks could be assumed by a combination of UAVs, E-3D or Sentinel (assuming of course that they reduce it's current mission kit weight!).
Of these, medium UAVs are probably the most attractive option due to their long endurance and small logistics footprint (although they are clearly not yet mature enough to take the ASW/ASuW tasks). The only snaggette with UAVs is the need to purchase bandwidth to get the data offboard.
I hope that we do get 18 MRA4s. However, personally, I rekon that the MRA4 will turn out to be an MR2 with the MRA4s mission kit and sensors. And I really cannot see more than 12 being purchased, of whatever type. Regards, M2
UAVs maybe for some roles, but E-3D and Sentinel? Maybe in theory, but how many E-3D and Sentinel airframes have we got or are getting. I know you think the E-3D can do everything, and maybe it can. It might well be 'magic', but even it can't be three places at once!! If you look around the globe (all of it!!) at current MR2 Ops (not exercises!) the current E-3D fleet couldn't cover the commitment. Sentinel is very specialised, and no doubt the army will keep its tasking close to their chest. If a Nimrod is overkill for some of its current roles why use a bigger, more expensive to run, rarer airframe such as the E-3D. I would also think commanders would be reluctant to expose an E-3D to the level of risk that MR2s ae currently exposed to.
There are many people very pro UAVs, and they have an important role to play, but in combination with manned aircraft. Most of the criticism of MRA4 is based on BAes failure to get it working, rather than the concept for the aircraft. In my opinion the worse thing we did was call it Nimrod MRA4, rather than give it a new name. Most people just see it as a continuation of the old Nimrod (the same thing happened with the Hercules, ask the J model boys), whereas it is a quantum leap ahead with the prospect of successfully carrying out many new roles provided the RAF and senior officers have the imagination and vision to do so. It will offer true mutirole capability in times when we are looking for our limited number of airframes to fulfill successfully a wide variety of tasks. If BAe can deliver it to spec of course!!
The debate over UAV v Manned platforms has been discussed here before. There are still major issues with them which need to be resolved:
Where will we train with these things. Is there training airspace within the UK.
Is there enough of the RF spectrum available for use to be able to use them. Especially in a hostile EW environment. (The US were unable o use Hunter in GWII due to frequency clearance issues).
There are solutions to these issues but the technology is not yet mature (Laser comms etc).
Also shooting down a UAV is a measure the opposition would find an easier option during TTW, thus escalating the situation, and, as far as we are concerned means we do not achieve the mission.
There is obviously a balance to be struck, however, a manned platform capable of world wide, all weather, 24/7 operations with a range of ISR capabilities and effectors (Hard and soft kill) is a must.
Having flown many thousands of ISR hours over sea and land I am aware of the effects our platforms have by just being there. In addition we do as we do in war as we do on a daily basis day by day in peace.
The US MMA is the way forward and a large manned aircraft is the short to medium term solution (2030ish) is what we should be aiming for.
Whilst UAV's can perform certain tasks such as stand off reconnaisance. I still fail to see that a UAV can perform all the missions that a Nimrod can.
There have been certain missions where a Nimrod was asked to do unconventional things, and these break's from the norm resulted in successful conclusions. A large noisy jet aircraft is much more imposing than a UAV, as a UAV is no more threatening than a remote control aeroplane.
To answer the argument over the E3D, When I first arrived at Ice Station Kilo, as a wide eyed LAC many moons ago, a Nimrod was practicing a flying display. Those of you who know how manouverable a Nimrod is will understand when I say that I have never seen an E3D move around like that! Those in the know, please correct me if I'm wrong but is not manouverability an important factor? Just an after thought, but I can't see an E3D flying at 200ft over the ocean either.
I still stand by my original statement. The Nimrod's role is so misunderstood, that people just don't understand what it does, hence, they don't see the point of it. A comment like the russians ageing fleet is holed up in port, and ageing diesels are being sold off to insignificant countries only proves this.
Alas, I also can see a future where we have MR2's with an upgraded mission suite. However, this must still be better than when the MR1's came in - nice new shiny airframe with an old Shackleton suite.