The Defence of the Realm. NOT

It is a sad day when we cannot even defend our own country.
No Nimrods

Is this not what we have Rivet Joint for?

Is this not what we have Rivet Joint for?[/quote]

Er, definitely no. Rivet Joint is ELINT not MPA/ASW.

Dear , please can you come & play in our garden & find a submarine for us.

Nope - as above, RIVET JOINT/AIRSEEKER is an electronic reconnaissance platform, brought in to replace the NIMROD R1. The aircraft that we would have needed for the submarine is the NIMROD MR2/MRA4.

Nope - as above, RIVET JOINT/AIRSEEKER is an electronic reconnaissance platform, brought in to replace the NIMROD R1. The aircraft that we would have needed for the submarine is the NIMROD MR2/MRA4.[/quote]

But sadly it (MRA4) was apparently a pig to fly, late, built by rip-off merchants, even later, and horrendously expensive.

Saucepans may be the best thing for them. Hopefully this episode will lead to a lease (ie we should get them Asap, as we did with C-17) and eventual purchase of the off the shelf P-8.

But sadly it (MRA4) was apparently a pig to fly, late, built by rip-off merchants, even later, and horrendously expensive.[/quote]

Part of the myth and folklore surrounding the MRA4. The Nimrod MR/R did suffer from marginal longitudinal stability and the MRA4 was no better in this respect. As an aside the AEW was better and had no requirement for the elevator gear change function. The prototype and pre-production MRA4s did exhibit a number of “sub-optimal” characteristics. The longitudinal stability was certainly no better, stalling characteristics were not acceptable, harmonisation was poor and damping in roll inadequate. However improvements to the Stability Augmentation Systems, fitting of a stick pusher and a number of other system and aerodynamic fixes rectified the issues and would have made the production aircraft a more pleasant prospect than the original MR/R airframes.

Now, I have little time for the constructors, but many of the problems can be laid at the MoD front door with a good deal of political assistance. I well remember the Nimrod AEW saga, the RAF wanted the E3, but political input pushed the decision the way of a UK solution. In the end the RAF got what it originally wanted after a lot of wasted money. It was a botch from beginning to end, the system rigs never worked properly, the enormous wave guide running the length of the fuselage was almost unbelievable and the avionics cooling system would not have looked out of place on a submarine. It was on a hiding to nothing, even before the electronics failed to deliver.

The Nimrod 2000\MRA4 suffered many similar issues. Originally it was intended as primarily a mission refit with the airframe elements being secondary. The problem came when it was realised that for the new aircraft to be viable a lot more would have to be spent to acquire a real improvement in capability. To justify this, a greatly extended airframe life was required; Topsy was now growing. Those who can recall the original Mission Support System will understand the parallels, it had its origins in the Ground Replay Acoustic Sub-System (GRASS) but as the cost of GRASS grew so additional functions had to be bolted on to justify the expenditure. Eventually MSS subsumed GRASS and whilst they all worked in the end it took many years with the first few being painful. The problem for MRA4 was that when it was realised that a “new” airframe was required, there were not any ready contenders on the market. The P3 was about the only proven option available and this had longevity issues with the USN firmly wedded to the P8 which was not going to be available in the required timescale. So decisions were take to do expensive things to Nimrod airframes which could be realistically described as “The least worst option”.

Whilst the blame for cancellation attributed to the present government, it is not as clear cut as that. Gordon Brown’s administration had already reduced the “fleet” to 8 aircraft, which anyone with any experience of the maritime world will tell you is totally inadequate to conduct any kind of effective operation. Also, given that we would once again be supporting a unique aircraft the costs would have been enormous. What the Labour government did was sidestep a difficult and unpopular decision in the years prior to an election. In that same period they also saddled the nation with the cost of acquiring 2 CVAs that are now woefully short of the support they will need to operate. The CVA contract will probably go down as the most expensive job creation scheme this country has ever been saddled with and will result in us getting a couple of vessels we don’t really want and will be unable to use.

In this I would share your sentiments, however I really cannot see it happening any time soon, if at all. We need to get shot of the carriers to afford a new MPA and by that time we may well have decided that we can no longer afford or justify Trident. (I will not enter a debate on the rights or wrongs of that matter). With no SSBNs to support then the case for a MPA/MMA capability is weakened, perhaps fatally. We would still require some maritime air capability, but it could be met with a much cheaper and simpler platform.

In summary, the MRA4 would have worked but its gestation was unacceptably delayed by political interference and lack of suitable alternatives. It death occurred considerably earlier than its cancellation. the drain on the defence budget caused by the CVAs will curtail any realistic possibility of us acquiring the P8 in the short to medium term. Conversely, the lack of proper support; air and surface; for the CVAs will mean that ultimately they will not be utilised as we just will not be able to afford them. Trident or its successor may or may not be retained. pressure not to replace it will be considerable. In the light of those factors the justification for a highly capable; and expensive; MMA force is difficult.

(my username should give you a clue)

Thanks. One of the best articles (I hesitate to call it a ‘post’) I’ve ever read on the subject.