Subscribe
Notify of
guest
28 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
RichardIC

Nice article, thank you.

As awful as it seemed at the time, I think the RAF/RN dodged a massive bullet when Nimrod was finally put out of its misery in 2010 – although waiting a decade to bridge the gap, even if only partially, has been totally unacceptable.

By the time the plug was pulled on Nimrod the plan was for only seven to become operational, and that would be the entire global fleet. If we wanted to upgrade we’d have to pick up the entire tab and it would have probably been done in a hopelessly ad hoc manner.

With P-8 that can be spread across the users of well over 200 aircraft and there’s a steady developmental pipeline.

And seven airframes to cover all training, ASW, SAR etc, etc..!! And people are going to moan about nine, but much of the training has been carried out in the US, and could be again, or with Aus or NZ or the Norwegians.

I think two lessons to be learned from this. 1) Seedcorn was a Godsend and if we’re ever going to have a gap in any other capability (E-3 > E-7) it must be duplicated and; 2) We need to stick rigidly with any US upgrade programme and resist any temptation to go-it-alone with UK only modifications.

Challenger

By 2010 i believe the first couple of production Nimrod MRA4 still had over 100 issues and defects that needed addressing. The initial operating date had been pushed back to 2012 but even if it’d been met it would have been at even more expense (£400 million an air-frame and counting!) and the fleet would have frankly been an accident waiting to happen.

As you say a tiny, unique fleet would have also been a nightmare to upgrade so it would have been continually expensive to operate throughout the service life.

Poseidon was the right choice within the context and compared to the other options on the table.

Aerial refueling should be a priority and a dual mission variant to replace Sentinel in time is a bit of a no-brainer.

GlynH

The P-8 AGS might be a suitable replacement for Sentinel. It certainly seems inline to replace E-8 J-STARS stateside. From what I have read the AGS is a bolt-on to a P-8, much like Crowsnest to a Merlin etc.

Duker

The right choice would have been to work with The Japanese on their Kawasaki P-1 with 4 engines. It could have had the airframe fitted out to RAF requirements in UK with some items used by Japan like the 4 flat plate surface search radars to give 360 deg coverage. The 737 based P-8 has poor runway performance fully loaded with 2 engines and and much lower max transit altitude because of its small wing.
UK could have sold its developed version to other countries like Canada. But the RAF is tied into an expensive maintenance contract with Boeing who even built the hangar.

Ray

The Japanese wanted more money and couldn’t outfit these aircraft to UK requirements
Due to their design limits with the P 1 and time frame to produce such aircraft for UK.
It is good aircraft however the P8 meets more the demanding duties the UK needs.

Duker

The P-1 is a better platform in most respects as its specifically designed for the role , not based on small wing short haul passenger jet., which shows in better cruise speed, range and ceiling.
Some systems are well ahead of the P-8 including its 360 deg AESA radar and MAD stinger ( added to indian P-8 order).
The P-8 isnt outfitted to UK requirements either as its a standard foreign military sale of the US navy production version.

Meirion X

Hi, do you have any more info on this matter?
I would appreciate this!

Ray

I glad they too dodge the nimrod issues. This new aircraft will give the UK outstanding service. Nine is good number to have. Some countries only have three maritime patrol aircraft. UK will have nine to do the job.

Joseph Tuckett

Small typo, in the third paragraph on The Poseidon Strategic Facility, it says 20201.

Bloke no longer down the pub

I think most will agree that the UK will never get as many P8s as we could find use for. In order to concentrate their use in situations where only they have the necessary capabilities, perhaps some other assets would be cost effective additions. This would seem to fit the bill. https://geospectrum.ca/geospectrum-technologies-launches-game-changing-lf-active-vds-deployable-by-usv/
As it can easily fit on stuft such as trawlers, it would allow for a rapid increase in capacity should the need arise.

Ethan

I’m intrigued to see what kind of weapons the UK P-8’s will equip if needs be. Are spearfish torpedoes compatible, or just US Mk48’s? And could they fly with Harpoon AshM’s, or wait until the interim missile has been selected and purchased for the Royal Navy until Perseus is developed?

GlynH

The Mk48 and Spearfish are HEAVY weight, we won’t see them flying. I think you meant the LIGHT weight StringRay and Mk54? To answer that, I understand our P-8s will fly with Mk54 for now, but longer term, who knows? There is also the Mk54 HAAWC kits that interest me shorter term.

Phillip Johnson

Integrating non US weapons into US platforms has always been expensive because the US locks its software down so tight.

Gunbuster

So now we get a 2020 aircraft and systems armed with a bastardised torpedo which is basically a 1960s tech Mk46 back end.
The Mk 54 will struggle against most subs. Yes Its got a modern sonar front end but the warhead and Otto fuel propulsion system and uncowled prop are really old and long in the tooth.

Getting Sting Ray integrated soonest is a must.

Duker

Cant see how an aircraft hangar no matter how large can use ‘100,000 tons of steel’ a massive amount for a light frame type industrial level building.
More interesting is that Boeing seems to be the ‘builder’
“Together with the UK Government, we’re building a new strategic facility at RAF Lossiemouth …”
https://www.boeing.co.uk/boeing-in-the-uk/our-sites/raf-lossiemouth.page

AirAlbaNE

Boeing are paying part of and bringing jobs. My son was successful in gaining an Aeronautics Engineering Apprenticeship with them at the new facility.

Dutchy

Precisely the feature you need when a nation is suffering from a pandemic

SilentMajority

Yes, that is absolutely correct, well done STRN for keeping us informed of these vital developments and good news.

Well done!

Bloke no longer down the pub

Most here will agree that the UK will never have as many P8s as we have a need for. It seems sensible , therefore, to use them where their abilities are uniquely suitable and to find other, cheaper , alternatives where possible. Here is one such alternative.
https://geospectrum.ca/geospectrum-technologies-launches-game-changing-lf-active-vds-deployable-by-usv/
Whether used from usvs , opvs or STUFT trawlers etc, it has the potential to quickly and relatively cheaply fill the gap that Russian Subs are looking to exploit.

Branaboy

I think the UK should stop it P8 purchases and switch to the acquiring a “UKized” P1 from Japan for the following reasons. First, this switch can be used as a life to get Japan to join the Tempest fighter program, Secondly the P1 is a superior maritime patrol platform than the aged B737NG commercial airliner based P8 platform.Finally a “Ukized” P1 with RR Pearl engines some UK avionics and computer systems will be easier to modify to accept UK kit and also can be procured and used as airborne platforms for AWACs, command and control, surveillance etc. The P1 is a very 21st century aircraft with fly by light optic fiber controls, modern AESA radar and more while the P8 is a mid 20th century aircraft of cables, pulleys and troubled build issues (pickle fork). I know it cost more but it is better future proofed and UK also get Japan to Join Tempest and maybe other arms development programs

Duker

That might have been the direction to go immediately when the Nimrod was halted, to work with Japan and even have a P-1UK version for other countries. I can see the politicians thinking we are done with development issues and a total off the shelf buy got them back to square one quickest and cheapest. Its even cheaper than some figures might suggest as the UK buries its ‘real purchase price’ amoung many related and longer term contracts and includes from simulators to Treasury capital charges.
This 19 ship Boeing P-8 contract from Jan 2019 with USN and foreign military sales for US $2.458 bill gives $130 mill per plane. Thats a floor and actual RAF price would be higher again
https://www.thedefensepost.com/2019/01/26/boeing-contract-19-p-8a-poseidon-us-navy-norway-uk/

Fedaykin

Absurd suggestion considering the P-8a has already started deliveries! The P1 is an unknown risk whilst the P-8a is showing itself to be superb in capability and performance. The P-8a is already “UKized”, more so than we could ever hope with the P1, UK companies supply parts and systems to Boeing for the P-8a and the mission system integrated on the Poseidon is based upon the one the UK paid Boeing to develop for the Nimrod MRA4.

Duker

The BAe mission computer work for the P-8 is done at its Greenlawn NY facility., not in UK
The P-1 has begun deliveries 15 or so delivered and while impractical to change over is still the better platform, including meeting the 4 engine requirement of the RAF.
Even the USAF would find the P-1 airframe useful for many future roles if final assembly was done in USA

KiwiRob

It must be about time the MOD fits some of the Voyagers with boom air to air refueling, with Poseidon and Wedgetails they will need to do something.

Edd

Its a pity britain can’t manufacture its own MPA aircraft and has to rely on purchasing a airframe from half the world away.
A modified Airbus airframe would have been better as it at least it has british components (wings).

Edd

One other thing about this that concerns me is the inflight refueling system of the P8. It is made for boom tanker while the raf and most euro allies use hose and basket. There is a agreement ,I think, to allow a borrowing of another nations boom tanker to keep the rafs P8s in the air. Lets hope they dont lose the old fag packet its written on.
Failing that is it possible to install a long range fuel tank in the weapons bay? It would decrease store carriage but the increase of time on task would prevent subs or boatloads of immigrants sneaking in if you had to head back for a refuel on the ground.