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Maritime Patrol Aircraft - Best/Worst Features

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Maritime Patrol Aircraft - Best/Worst Features

Old 7th Feb 2017, 08:46
  #41 (permalink)  
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I am sure many comments will be heavily biased to personal preference. I will pick up on just two for now.

I have flown in aircraft with a toilet behind the flight deck and one down the back. The time out of the office was minimised when using the forward position. OTOH the Mad Operator and Galley Slaves would possibly opt for one aft.

Windows? EO may be good but human eye has a far wider field of view. No matter how wide you create an EO display it will be in the operators central vision area. Looking out the window you can be alerted by peripheral vision.

Slewing an EO head may also take longer initially. Anyone remember the manual Vista Trackers on the Nimrod?
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Old 7th Feb 2017, 14:59
  #42 (permalink)  
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As no one has popped up let me address your torpedo question. First, torpedoes are often loaded on a carrier beam with perhaps 3 on the beam. Then, in an action, it is unlikely that an MPA will expend all its torpedoes and may return with some weapons on the carrier beam remaining. Three options are possible. Down load the partial expended carrier and replace with a fresh load. The unexpected torpedoes must be returned to store for servicing. Do not replenish expended weapons; this reduces handling and turnaround time. This will only work if there are sufficient torpedoes remaining, say 4 or 7. Finally replace just the expended torpedoes by offering the torpedo to the installed carrier.

Of the options, do not replenish offers the best time and servicing option. Download and replenish has the greatest time/servicing cost. Replacing individual torpedoes is the middle course ensure a full load out on each sortie.
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Old 7th Feb 2017, 15:08
  #43 (permalink)  
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Next, you talk of a mission planning area. The only mission planning area I have come across is in the E3 series where the top of the consoles offers some space to layout documents and so on.

I don't think there is a need for a planning area in the MPA.
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Old 7th Feb 2017, 15:15
  #44 (permalink)  
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How long is a mission is task driven and airframe dependent.

If the task is to operate at short range and there are lots of aircraft then 24 hour coverage could be maintained with each aircraft flying for 6 hours with 5 hours on task.

A similar task time a 1,000 mile from base requires a flight time of 10 hours and more aircraft because of the greater transit times.

If extra crew were carried and flight refuelling to extend endurance, then you could use fewer aircraft.
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Old 8th Feb 2017, 03:17
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In the Nimrod, crew members who sat facing sideways (Acoustics) were prone to motion sickness; they had no windows, and their inner ear gyros were 90 degrees from the direction of travel. So, I would vote facing forward for everyone. Crew intercom, should be as versatile as possible. In the R1, each back end operator could select individually any other operator and join in as many operators as required. That would be ideal in a MPA. Toilet should not be collocated with the galley; anywhere else is good. I could load my curry in the oven while sat down reducing gross weight (which was frowned on) in the R1. Domed windows should still be included, and should be openable when depressurized; a failure of the EO/IR sensor means a return of the good old days of looking out at 200 ft and taking pics. A crew baggage storage area should be considered as a primary user requirement and the floor loading designed to support at least 50 lbs of kit per crew member. R1 crews were limited to 20lbs (12lbs was the actual limit but exceeded on risk) and required the support of a Herc to transport their stuff when detached. Using pressurized launchers allow for high level releases without depressurizing, which required a change to the flight profile and has a very minor effect on fatigue life (frequent de/re-pressurizations hoop stress cycles; albeit to low diff pxs). The rotary launchers on the MR2s allowed sort of rapid releases, but required the aircraft to be depressurized. There were only two single buoy pressurized launchers. I assume the accuracy of sonobuoy dropping these days allows for higher alts (assuming the sea below can be confirmed clear) so dropping low may not be required anymore? Mission planning areas are not required on board; we can talk on your versatile intercom.

It is refreshing to hear that your user requirements are including the crew and not just the mission. Don't forget the ground crews need good access and a means to test/change faulty components quickly. An LRU storage for in flight maintenance is also required; think CoG, access, lighting, and floor loads.

Finally, provide an APU/GTU that can do everything, and if they ever bring flight engineers back, a beer keg dispenser and fat female pax seat in close proximity to them. Good luck.
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Old 8th Feb 2017, 07:47
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MPAStudent - re the buoys - pre-loading seems a great idea but removes versatility. Unless the buoys are configurable in the tubes (able to change depth of hydrophone, expiry life and, most importantly, radio channel), they will be of limited use. Reloads would also be needed in a standard MPA ASW mission - not unusual for a large amount of buoys to be used when tracking a quiet target. A big issue is the radio channel used to communicate with the buoys - there are a limited number and once a buoy is in the water using that channel, it is effectively blocked until the buoy dies.
Avtur covered most of the rest of it. Never forget the importance of visual lookouts - even if windows can't be opened, they should be domed to allow downwards view.
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Old 8th Feb 2017, 10:04
  #47 (permalink)  
 
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Some of the R1 memories are maybe a little lacking in relevance to the modern MPA (it wasn't even an MPA for a start). These days it doesn't take 30 people to operate, and the entire interior of the jet to fit in, steam powered sensor systems.

The MRA4 had already shrunk the crew requirement from 13 to 10 and I think the P-8 has a crew of 8.

The MPA task may not need to be fullfiled by a single type any more. Some countries have already chosen a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft.
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Old 8th Feb 2017, 13:35
  #48 (permalink)  
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Digressing slightly to talk of sonobuoys,

Avtur said
I assume the accuracy of sonobuoy dropping these days allows for higher alts (assuming the sea below can be confirmed clear) so dropping low may not be required anymore
It is not the dropping accuracy that needs to be considered but the determination of where the buoy actually landed.

In the case of a low level release of a tight spacing of buoys the effect of wind drift can be overcome in the same way as stick bombing. From say 20,000 feet, assuming a reasonable windspeed a sonobuoy may land 2,000 yards or move from the release position, it also did not follow that each sonobuoy would be in exactly the same relationship is when it was dropped.

If a sonobuoy then drew a target things became relative.

The crux therefore was finding each sonobuoy in order to get an accurate ground plot and fill in any gaps. It was impractical to on top every buoy but GPS upload could solve that problem - I don't know it buoys can upload their positions.
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Old 8th Feb 2017, 18:19
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I can only reiterate what Rossian said back in September ‘’Training is vital’’
Your clean-sheet design may evolve into the most capable platform ever invented, incorporating the perfect blend of sensors, weapons, a five star galley and multiple lavatories. But without a well-trained, well-motivated, well lead crew it might as well stay on the ground.
You also have to remember that training is a continuous requirement as we live in a world where everything changes and evolves.
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Old 8th Feb 2017, 18:26
  #50 (permalink)  
 
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All of this talk of sonobuoys kind of assumes that:

1. ASW is the primary (or at least a major) role

2. Passive acoustic detection is still the best way to find submarines.

This century for sure, passive detection ranges reached the point where a long range, long endurance, MPA could barely carry enough buoys to track a target until it was time to RTB.


Re accuracy, GPS-fit sonobuoys tell you where they are, but if the wind on the way down skewed their delivery then you'll only know that they are in the wrong place.


A few posters on here seem overly focused on galleys, toilets, rest bunks etc.

You must remember though, that whilst crew comfort is essential to minimise fatigue, the primary task of a military MPA is killing people, so I'd prioritise sensors and weapons over convenience features.

Last edited by camelspyyder; 8th Feb 2017 at 18:38.
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Old 8th Feb 2017, 20:17
  #51 (permalink)  
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CS, wise words and I admit to focusing on just one mission, or maybe two so multi mission capability needs to be addressed.

Regarding sonobuoys in the wrong position, it was ever thus. At least you could drop one and determine drop error, shades of modern smoke floats.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 11:25
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If you can make guided bombs, why not guided sonobuoys?
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 13:42
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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The system seems to have eaten a long-winded reply I made last night so I'll jot a couple of quick bits down instead. Thank you all very much for the replies, we definitely fell close to the toilet-galley adjacency issue and the bit about motion sickness is very interesting to think about. Windows are a definite but the opening/doming bit is a reasonable point. Could the opening requirement be satisfied by being able to open the rear door in flight and stick a cargo net across it or would that be too risky even for a contingency capability?

I feel like we're drifting away from topic slightly. The missions and payload and suchlike are all dealt with by the specification, perhaps they're not the correct way to go about assembling a modern Maritime Patrol solution but they're what the customer asked for. Training is the major requirement, we're being asked about how cheaply we can run training flights on the basis that in war situations governments stop caring how much things cost. We're mostly interested in the ergonomic/internal operations points that are being made here, crew comfort should perhaps be an afterthought to system performance but it should definitely be a thought. We'd welcome comments from Recon and AEW crews who served in similar airliner-full-of-electronics type aircraft to do with stuff like console placement and the (unfortunately requisite) Planning Table.

Regarding the whole sonobuoy thing, I should think that in this day and age one would be able to programme them using one's smartphone and then GPS track their happy journey downwards. Steering parachutes would probably be possible but aren't really in the scope of our project .

Due to weight limitations it looks as though we will only be able to fit the Flight Engineer's beer or his harem. You shall have to choose .
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 14:54
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GS, a sonobuoy has a simple rotorvane or parachute. Add a guidance package and you increase cost, size and weight dramatically. The aircraft would have to tell the buoy where it is and where to go. It would need a guidance package and flight controls.

The issue is that at high level the buoy could be significantly further from its intended target due to wind drift but by dropping more then you hope to make up for that inaccuracy. Once it is drawing a target your next problem is locating the buoy's actual position. In the 70s that was more an article of faith than accuracy. (But the torpedo position was also relative )

Another feature of early usage was the monitoring of the buoys. In theory, once contact was gained, the buoys closest to the target would be monitored. Around 1977 a modification to the Nimrod software gave the tactical navigator display an indication of which buoys were being monitored. We then discovered that the wet team was sometimes saying they were monitoring one buoy when in fact they were actually monitoring the wrong one. I wonder if any submarines escaped that way.

Last edited by Pontius Navigator; 9th Feb 2017 at 15:29.
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 14:58
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Thanks PN. A black art but fascinating. I'd love to see a crew in action but that will never happen!
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Old 9th Feb 2017, 19:45
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MPA Student,

Sounds very familiar! Definitely a good idea to get some feedback here, nothing like hearing it from the horse's mouth.

Interesting what Avtur said about the Mission Console orientation, however in our design we went for the side facing consoles for space efficiency. That was where our design probably gained the most over the others. Our cabin was very efficiently laid out (probably at the expense of crew comfort!) allowing a small fuselage and significant weight savings.

If you can find a way of laying out the consoles facing rearwards without compromising on space efficiency then you're probably onto a winner.

Another general comment is that the design drivers for our spec were heavily weighted to minimise procurement cost rather than operating cost which lead all the groups into fairly conventional designs (mostly high-wing quad-turboprop). Hopefully 'Hairmuss' will have changed this to give you impetus for more inventive designs, although they're probably hard wired to appreciate conventional 'boring' design concepts.

As a note to the other contributors to the thread, the fundamental requirements for this project are quite rigid, so while discussion about the practicality of loading and layout of the cabin are most useful, bigger questions like the need for an MPA, whether it could be replaced by a satellite etc. are probably best saved for another day!
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Old 10th Feb 2017, 07:58
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MPAStudent - do the 'training flights' have to be flights? The future of training is synthetic apparently. Separate specialist sensor training modules (cubicles) can keep the operators 'kit-fresh' while a Full Crew Trainer keeps crew co-operation honed (no need for motion - just all the kit and a good "x-box" running it!). Some training flights are still essential but less than previously. Training flights during multi-force exercises are worth their weight in gold (see 'Neptune Warrior').
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Old 10th Feb 2017, 17:53
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Originally Posted by Sandy Parts View Post
MPAStudent - do the 'training flights' have to be flights? The future of training is synthetic apparently. Separate specialist sensor training modules (cubicles) can keep the operators 'kit-fresh' while a Full Crew Trainer keeps crew co-operation honed (no need for motion - just all the kit and a good "x-box" running it!). Some training flights are still essential but less than previously. Training flights during multi-force exercises are worth their weight in gold (see 'Neptune Warrior').
Unfortunately some training flight must be flights. The specification demands 100 training flights, with a war load, per aircraft per year for the purposes of working out costs. Obviously this flight regime could be supplemented by simulator training but honestly that seems like a pretty decent operational tempo anyway, given that these are ~10 hour long missions. If we're looking at multiple crews per aircraft then some training simulation would definitely be a good plan, we'll probably mention that in the final report.
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Old 10th Feb 2017, 21:10
  #59 (permalink)  
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MPAStudent, you ask about opening a door and a cargo net - NO WAY

Yes, it could be done in a C130 but opening the window had to be quick and easy and with minimum noise etc. A door is rather larger and heavier and with greater risk.

Then you ask about AEW console placement.

The consoles in a line layout is effective where you can look to left or right to see an adjacent console. In the Nimrod the Acoustics team operated in a line like that. In the E3 consoles are set out in banks of 3 so again there is an ability to look left or right.

In the P3 and Nimrod there were also individual stations where there was no need for operators to look at other consoles - or rather there was no systems integration where that would have been a benefit. With systems integration, as in the E3, than having the radar sensor operator and ESM operators adjacent could be a benefit for data fusion.

Then the Nimrod had the two navigator positions adjacent but also at one end of the 'room' so that they were at the top with the acoustic and radar sensors on the adjacent 'walls' - in other words a mixed layout.

Additional consoles in the E3 were back to back and also facing each other with a large flat surface between facing consoles. That flat surface was useful for setting out documents etc. If you needed a planning table then that could be sited further back rather than up front.

Such a planning area might double as a dining area if space was at a premium.

Space was at a premium with the depth of equipment eating up cabin width at the expense of people space. If the equipment depth is minimal then there is more space available for operators to move around and have space for your planning area.*

*that planning area suggests more than a simple MPA mission and one more akin to Airborne Mission Command and Control with a multi-role weapons system capability.
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Old 10th Feb 2017, 21:40
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You've talked of sonobouy carriage, but what about weapons? Unless you hang an awful lot of pylons on the wing you will need a bomb bay - which will raise the height of the floor. You will also need to be able to load/rerole the bomb bay quickly, which means being able to get trolleys and tractors underneath - unless you're thinking WW2 and pushing them underneath by hand - as well as providing working room for the armourers, so possibly a longer undercarriage.

(And a couple of turret mounted 20mm cannon at the front for the pilots to play with! )
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