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Project Seedcorn - MPA Skill Retention

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Project Seedcorn - MPA Skill Retention

Old 29th Feb 2012, 17:03
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Project Seedcorn - MPA Skill Retention

As reported on Flight International

Not sure if this has already been discussed on the forum. If it has then Mods please delete or merge as appropriate.

Efforts by the Royal Air Force to retain core skills in maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) operations will include 33 personnel and a total investment of 3.2 million ($5.1 million) for the current financial year, the UK government has revealed.

Dubbed Project "Seedcorn", the measure is intended to allow RAF crew to fly with allied air forces to maintain experience in MPA operations following the cancellation of the UK's BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 programme. This covers anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare duties, plus intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance tasks.

The agreements now in place have enabled the RAF to allocate personnel to support operations involving MPA assets flown by Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, including during last year's NATO-led operation to protect Libyan civilians.

Detailing a planned allocation of 2.1 million, plus additional travel and subsistence costs of 1.2 million for 2011-2012, Lord de Mauley said: "Much of this cost would be present in the budget in another form if the personnel were undertaking other roles."
A small price to pay in the overall context but for just how many years will the project need to run?
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 18:32
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And how many will leave/PVR before the replacement?
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 18:34
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I seem to remember hearing it comes with a fairly hefty return of service to avoid that sort of thing. Something like 3 or 4 years for the tour followed by 3 or 4 years afterwards.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 20:21
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Only 3-4 years after tour length?...obviously not enough time for a reasonable return of substantial investment.

Should be more like a minimum of 5 and onwards after return to UK. MOD should learn to get real and treat all its people in a more cost-effective way.

There is no gentle way of paying debts or getting your money's worth back from employees.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 20:44
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Nice idea Rigga, but make the terms too onerous and you won't get the volunteers you need.

While I'm sure many signed up to this totally willingly, it only came about because the head sheds (past and/or present) screwed up big-time.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 21:12
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MOD should learn to get real and treat all its people in a more cost-effective way.
There is not a problem. Most LRMP aircrew are dedicated professionals who view their job as the best in the Air Force, or Navy, depending on which country you reside. Besides which, the 'Desk Officers' would surely be most circumspect when deciding who to send, weighing up experience versus current time to serve.

What is more, if any did 'Jump Ship,' they would be going to the old Commonwealth countries, who all helped dear old Blighty out in the past.

Quid pro quo?
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 21:29
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Well, there's nothing new about the exchange system. It does a great job. But when I was selected for mine there was no hint of strings attached. Nor with many of my colleagues that are doing it now. Desk officers are far more concerned with selecting the people with the right quals, etc, and how long they appear to have to serve. Anyone can change their mind afterwards if they feel so inclined.

Last edited by Courtney Mil; 29th Feb 2012 at 22:06.
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Old 29th Feb 2012, 23:11
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All good points - and I understand the niceties - but I don't think you're getting the beancounters view...
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 01:01
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I don't really understand who would sign up for an exchange tour with a tour plus five year return of service.

I am guessing that these guys are experts and are/were probably qualified Nimrod guys. Would a three year tour really be enough to get you to agree to a 8 year (total) return of service at that stage in your career?

I doubt it. But a promotion or specialist pay scale or (dare I say it) FRI might.

Less stick, more carrot!
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 01:56
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There was a queue.

Dedicated professionals all, a good investment/gamble.
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 07:39
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 08:57
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A good investment? Let's say these guys do (reasonably) 3-4 years with a 3-4 year RTS at the end of it.

First of all, who are we going to send in 3-4 years to replace the first tranche? All the MPA dudes will either be gone or well out of currency.

What are we going to do with the guys who come back? How long do we realistically think it's going to be before we get a new MPA? If Hammond announces a balanced budget in a couple of weeks' time, then that guarantees there is no money until at least 2022. Far better to save the dosh for a decent build up programme when we do have a planned MPA on its way.

A nice sop to those Kinloss guys who've been treated like poo, but let's not kid ourselves that this is a rational investment.
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 09:56
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RLE, I was thinking the same thing. It's just too early to give people experience with the expected delivery date do far in the future. Rather like starting to get people carrier experienced so far ahead of all the deliveries required to have our own capability.

Scuttled, I'm pleased to hear it. I didn't mean to suggest they wouldn't be, more that peoples' circumstances change and so do conditions in the Service - as we're seeing.
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 10:03
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Could some elements of seedcorn be covered by using the FAA They are still in the ASW Business?
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 10:05
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Ever the optimist; is there a chance that the books balance in PR12 that runs for 10 years that has provisioned for an off-the-shelf purchase?
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 10:19
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It is a good investment. 3 million a year is peanuts to keep the skills of those personnel current whilst we work out what our plans are mpa wise.

There are 4 pilots in the pool in the USA alone. What does a pilot cost to train today? If we were doing so......

The maritime skills are perishable. Quickly perishable. If we buy off the shelf, these guys are the - wait for it - 'seed corn' that the new fleet will be built around in the near future. If it is to be the P8, they are involved in development of the aircraft - that's their role.

And if it all goes wrong and we get nothing, so what? We'll have gambled pennies for a few years and the personnel with a broadened skill set can move on elsewhere.

All the other boys and girls from isk have run away, mostly out, and are doing very well by all accounts. There aren't many maritime experts left, and we may need them in a few years.
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 10:27
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With potential pension changes very soon , can these guys still apply to pvr if the terms change enough for them too loose out financially. I just ask as its a big unanswered question that I dare say many are considering.
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 16:04
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This is a thoroughly good scheme at a low cost to UKMOD and repairs Commonwealth links that have been allowed to wither, of late. A couple of points:

- ROS is practically impossible to enforce, even if imposed.
- those out there will undergo the same cuts to allowances (especially LOA). COL in Oz is particulalry high!
- spouse employment opportunities are likely to be limited, especially in OZ.
- a not insignificant number of RAF pers will elect to stay...
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Old 1st Mar 2012, 17:03
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Many RAF Officers who exchange to Canada decide to stay, I'm sure that the MPA guys would be no different. Anyhow, I'm told the RCAF is looking for MPA experience right now to populate the CP-140 fleet, any takers?

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Old 1st Mar 2012, 20:01
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A few references here to an "exchange" posting when they are clearly not! They are secondments to other air forces in fact as those air forces are not sending an equivalent number on a return posting. Not a lot of point in doing so I would have thought!
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