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U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

April 30 2012 at 9:59 PM
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Eric  (Login Nighthawk00)
Eagle Squadron (US)

U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning



Robert Wall/LONDON

For a self-professed naval power, the U.K. has seen surprisingly large gaps develop in its maritime surveillance capability in recent years, a trend the Defense Ministry is setting out to reverse.

Both unmanned and manned aircraft options are being considered to address the shortfall, but even if most projects pass musterand funding can be secured in a period of budget austeritythe ability to monitor and control sea-lanes from the air will likely not be fully restored until the end of the decade.

One key gap challenging the U.K. was created by the budget-driven decision in the 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) not to field the Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft. This leaves the U.K. without a long-range platform to track and engage submarines from the air, and the decision is often cited as one of the SDSR's most difficult capability sacrifices.

With the ink barely dry on the SDSR and many implementation steps yet to be put in place, the U.K. is weighing what would be required to reverse the decision and avert the capability gap. Air Vice Marshal Mark Green, the Defense Ministry's director for joint and air capability transformation, tells Parliament's defense committee that the decision on reconstituting the maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) capability will likely be determined as part of the 2015 SDSR.

An internal Defense Ministry study found that new aircraft would need to be purchased to fill the MPA gap. The underlying view of the [Defense Ministry] is that an aircraft is likely, over the medium term, to be the solution that actually fills the gap that was created when we took the Nimrod out of service, Green says. However, he adds that right now, there is no requirement to buy an MPA. The SDSR process will assess where maritime patrol fits in with the overall requirements.

Meanwhile, industry is preparing for a potentially new program. Lockheed Martin and Marshall Aerospace have floated concepts for a C-130-based maritime patrol system; Boeing would look to leverage its P-8, being fielded by the U.S. Navy.

To help sustain its MPA skill set, the U.K. has established the Seedcorn program, one part of which aims to maintain know-how by placing troops with other militaries. The program should provide the U.K. with a bridge to recreating the MPA capability up to 2019.

Green says there are existing platforms that could meet the U.K.'s MPA requirements in time, even if a new system is not acquired until 2015.

In the run-up to the 2015 SDSR, Defense Ministry staff will examine the requirements more closely and look into whether an off-the-shelf option could satisfy them.

But the U.K. may move to strengthen its naval airborne intelligence-collection capability in the meantime, perhaps through fielding a ship-based tactical unmanned aircraft. Meeting that requirement is a near-term endeavor, Green says.

The maritime requirement has long been recognized as unaddressed, but that was accepted, given the focus in recent years on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Green notes that since the 2010 defense review, however, the defense environment has changed. With forces out of Iraq and being drawn down in Afghanistan, the maritime gap is taking precedence again.

In the coming year, military officials plan to determine the type of vehicle required through several capability demonstrations. Industry officials say it is not clear if the U.K. would buy a small or larger tactical unmanned aerial vehicle for its ships.

Qinetiq and Northrop Grumman, for instance, are talking to the Royal Navy about developing an unmanned version of the Gazelle helicopter, along the lines of the Fire-X conversion of Bell 407s in the U.S. Thales and Boeing are working on an unmanned Little Bird concept for France, which could also play in the U.K. Schiebel has been promoting its much smaller Camcopter UAV.

The Royal Navy's UAV options could be linked to the U.K. government's aircraft carrier design choice, which is under debate because of the cost of modifying existing designs for catapult-launch and arrester-gear operations. London is expected to abandon the SDSR decision to buy the F-35C and instead acquire the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing F-35B.

But eliminating the catapult launch and arrester gear from the carrier (a move associated with the shift to the F-35B) would limit the U.K.'s options for carrier-borne unmanned aircraft, warns Lee Willett, head of maritime studies at the Royal United Services Institute.

The Defense Ministry work is being underpinned by a recent study of information, surveillance and targeting concepts that examined which systems the U.K. could afford in the next 15-20 years.

There is also pressure on the U.K. to look at other capability options. Tony Rix, a consultant and former Royal Navy admiral, argues that hybrid air vehicles, UAVs and satellite technology must be considered to meet future needs.

Green says there are existing platforms that could meet the U.K.'s MPA requirements in time, even if a new system is not acquired until 2015.

In the run-up to the 2015 SDSR, Defense Ministry staff will examine the requirements more closely and look into whether an off-the-shelf option could satisfy them.

But the U.K. may move to strengthen its naval airborne intelligence-collection capability in the meantime, perhaps through fielding a ship-based tactical unmanned aircraft. Meeting that requirement is a near-term endeavor, Green says.

The maritime requirement has long been recognized as unaddressed, but that was accepted, given the focus in recent years on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Green notes that since the 2010 defense review, however, the defense environment has changed. With forces out of Iraq and being drawn down in Afghanistan, the maritime gap is taking precedence again.

In the coming year, military officials plan to determine the type of vehicle required through several capability demonstrations. Industry officials say it is not clear if the U.K. would buy a small or larger tactical unmanned aerial vehicle for its ships.

Qinetiq and Northrop Grumman, for instance, are talking to the Royal Navy about developing an unmanned version of the Gazelle helicopter, along the lines of the Fire-X conversion of Bell 407s in the U.S. Thales and Boeing are working on an unmanned Little Bird concept for France, which could also play in the U.K. Schiebel has been promoting its much smaller Camcopter UAV.

The Royal Navy's UAV options could be linked to the U.K. government's aircraft carrier design choice, which is under debate because of the cost of modifying existing designs for catapult-launch and arrester-gear operations. London is expected to abandon the SDSR decision to buy the F-35C and instead acquire the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing F-35B.

But eliminating the catapult launch and arrester gear from the carrier (a move associated with the shift to the F-35B) would limit the U.K.'s options for carrier-borne unmanned aircraft, warns Lee Willett, head of maritime studies at the Royal United Services Institute.

The Defense Ministry work is being underpinned by a recent study of information, surveillance and targeting concepts that examined which systems the U.K. could afford in the next 15-20 years.

There is also pressure on the U.K. to look at other capability options. Tony Rix, a consultant and former Royal Navy admiral, argues that hybrid air vehicles, UAVs and satellite technology must be considered to meet future needs.




http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_04_23_2012_p40-449541.xml


crossroadsbakerexplosio.jpg

An unavoidable war is called justice.
When brutality is the only option left,
it is holy.
Machiavelli - The Prince 1513.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

I'm not American, I'm from Flanders.

 
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TaranisTyphoon
(Login TaranisTyphoon)

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 1 2012, 3:06 PM 

They didn't decide they didn't need the capability, they just decided it wasn't acceptable to keep pouring money into Nimrod. Most of the Nimrod cost increases were due to the previous governments own incompetence, rather than due to the manufacturer. BAE did screw some stuff up, but cutting the number on order was always going to massively increase unit costs.

The UK will probably end up with P8, but it's a very expensive platform and we'd be better off with something cheaper. If we let the defence procurement agency make the decision we will get some P8, but with lots of extra custom equipment, like ray guns or something, at vast public expense (just to keep some worthless bureaucrats in jobs).

 
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Eric
(Login Nighthawk00)
Eagle Squadron (US)

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 1 2012, 4:33 PM 

The Nimrod is more expensive than the P8 in both acquisition, upgrades and maintenance. If India can afford Posseidons then I'm sure the UK can too.

crossroadsbakerexplosio.jpg

An unavoidable war is called justice.
When brutality is the only option left,
it is holy.
Machiavelli - The Prince 1513.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

I'm not American, I'm from Flanders.

 
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TaranisTyphoon
(Login TaranisTyphoon)

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 1 2012, 5:12 PM 

The Nimrod is more expensive than the P8 in both acquisition, upgrades and maintenance. If India can afford Posseidons then I'm sure the UK can too.

The UK could afford anything it wants. Whether it will be budgeted is something else entirely. I don't remember the exact figures, but the Nimrod's unit cost would have shot up when the order was reduced from 21. The P8 wouldn't be too bad provided that it doesn't get vast amounts of unreasonable customisation as is the case with the Indian P8, though some of the Indian customisation would be unavoidable as the US wouldn't want to export it's submarine comms system nor the associated encryption for example. A more urgent requirement IMO is the SAR role of Nimrod than the ASW role.

 
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WAFFer
(Login colky7)

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 1 2012, 6:00 PM 

I'd go with an unmanned platform, maybe in combination with the P8. Like TT said the main concern is that whatever we end up with some useless idiot is gonna lumber us with a load of mods that we don't need and would never be practical just to justify their job.

It still saddens me the way Nimrod was f*ckd up. With better management, especially from the bloody labour govt we could have had a decent aircraft. The MR.2 was as good as anything else out there in its day and i reckon the MR4 could have been had it been better managed from the start...

=====
Speaking of the Eurofighters close-in combat prowess, Major Marc Gr�ne, CO of 742 (Zapata), the second squadron of the wing, described to assembled aviation journalists how, on a recent visit to France to demo the aircraft, he had won two out of two battles against the Dassault Rafale in mock within visual range dogfights. Both fights were a standard set-up and merge at 21,000ft and 30,000ft he recounted, adding that the higher the fight the better the Eurofighter liked it. He singled out the Eurofighters excess power as its trump card over the Rafale

 
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Eric
(Login Nighthawk00)
Eagle Squadron (US)

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 1 2012, 6:19 PM 

If the Pacific war has taught us anything it is that maritime patrol aircraft are crucial assets that need to be acquired in high numbers. A handful of Nimrods or Poseidons is insufficient.

crossroadsbakerexplosio.jpg

An unavoidable war is called justice.
When brutality is the only option left,
it is holy.
Machiavelli - The Prince 1513.

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"

I'm not American, I'm from Flanders.

 
Scoring disabled. You must be logged in to score posts.
WAFFer
(Login colky7)

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 1 2012, 6:25 PM 

I think the original order of 21 would have been sufficient for our needs. We could perhaps even have had less when you consider the limited opposition we're likely to face in the short term...

=====
Speaking of the Eurofighters close-in combat prowess, Major Marc Gr�ne, CO of 742 (Zapata), the second squadron of the wing, described to assembled aviation journalists how, on a recent visit to France to demo the aircraft, he had won two out of two battles against the Dassault Rafale in mock within visual range dogfights. Both fights were a standard set-up and merge at 21,000ft and 30,000ft he recounted, adding that the higher the fight the better the Eurofighter liked it. He singled out the Eurofighters excess power as its trump card over the Rafale

 
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(Login Darkwand)
WAFFer

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 2 2012, 12:22 AM 

Why not buy Russian if cost is a problem, it's ASW / Surveilance after all and not jet fighters it would be an ideal platform to start with. Some gear not wanted can just be swapped for off the shelf western equipment.


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TaranisTyphoon
(Login TaranisTyphoon)

Re: U.K. Slowly Ramps Up Maritime Patrol Planning

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May 2 2012, 4:17 PM 

Why not buy Russian if cost is a problem, it's ASW / Surveilance after all and not jet fighters it would be an ideal platform to start with. Some gear not wanted can just be swapped for off the shelf western equipment.

We would like a low through life cost with high reliability, which Russian gear doesn't offer. Buying Russian would also be unacceptable to many.

 
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