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Coast

Should We Scrap The New Nimrods?

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The Russians are going to love the news this morning that the Government are scrapping the next (albeit old technology) partially complete order for Nimrod surveillance aircraft.

I realise it may be too late and that they may already be ripping these aircraft apart, I can also see that there is a lot of money to be saved on completion of the project, operational costs etc. But have we got to the point that we are comfortable enough with our security that we can loose our main aircraft carrier, the entire flights of remaining Harrier jump jets and now key defence spy aircraft?

Surely this now leaves a gaping hole in our defence? Or is just economic sense in the Britain of today?

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The Russians are going to love the news this morning that the Government are scrapping the next (albeit old technology) partially complete order for Nimrod surveillance aircraft.

I realise it may be too late and that they may already be ripping these aircraft apart, I can also see that there is a lot of money to be saved on completion of the project, operational costs etc. But have we got to the point that we are comfortable enough with our security that we can loose our main aircraft carrier, the entire flights of remaining Harrier jump jets and now key defence spy aircraft?

Surely this now leaves a gaping hole in our defence? Or is just economic sense in the Britain of today?

Morning Coast

A couple of questions:

Why the Russians ? Before I could even begin to understand whether any of these are good decisions or not I would need someone knowledgeable to demonstrate exactly who's threats this would protect us from (note I say 'who' not 'what' - it is easy to describe a theoretical threat, it's a lot harder to show specifically who would be able to pose that threat).

I am only as comfortable with our national security as I can be dependent on what protection we have from a credible and identifiable threat. And I have to qualify that by saying that, for example, I do not accept that the Russians pose any threat whatsoever to our national security, and if they did it would almost certainly be economically e.g. withholding natural resources, rather than militarily.

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I do not accept that the Russians pose any threat whatsoever to our national security

Fair point. :good: So who does pose a threat to us in an international sense? anybody? Is this why the army have been told they will not face any cuts so we can keep a force in Afghanistan, but that more defensive military divisions are facing cuts? I'd be pleased to think that our homeland security is not likely to be compromised by another nation, although I'm still concerned about attacks from extremists and no amount of military hardware can negate that threat its true. Perhaps I am still hanging on to the cold war mentality and consider the traditional 'old foes' are still i) capable and ii) have a reason to challenge us militarily!

But was the threat any greater 10 years ago when the order was placed for these aircraft, or has the balance now been tipped and we simply cannot afford to have the level of defence we previously enjoyed, with all the other debts we have incurred since?

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MRA4 is (was) primarily a sub killer with extended capability for surface operations and fitted for search and rescue (SAR).

One aircraft is supposed to be at 1-hr standby in perpetuity for SAR. Since the major requirements for this type of mission is civilian in nature and mostly confined to coastal waters, it is hard to justify the expense of Nimrod for the possibility of north-Atlantic ops in which treaty obligations could also draw on the help of other nations. I am sure that this contingency is already thought through and would requisition resource from a cooperative nation in a similar fashion to the shared carrier resource with France.

SAR is about to be privatised (2012) with the bid process well underway for contracts to run a new single SAR-H service. This will be controlled by a joint MOD and Maritime Coastguard Agency body with all 12 current SAR civilian and MOD bases falling under it's control. Clearly the move is to cut costs but also operational assessment will dictate the type of equipment resource for future procurement.

PTFD is on the right lines as the capability of the MRA4 is already deemed obsolete or overkill for the anti-sub role: the only nations with sufficient capability to pose a credible long-range (nuclear) threat are all NATO members and the possibility of a war escalating to that level of conflict would implicate the security of the whole world. China will put into service the first of her JIN class SSBN's (heavily reliant on Russian technology) this year but is literally decades behind the UK in both submarine capability and operational (cold war) experience - even without Nimrod.

Anti-sub operations for conventional surface fleet protection are the domain of the Nimrod/Frigate/Merlin combination. By taking away the Nimrod, the operational envelope is limited to the range of the Merlin helicopter - for a time.

Filling the gap left by Nimrod we have at least three contenders: Poseidon (P8A), Airbus A319 Maritme Patrol Aircraft and a retrofit of the new A400 aircraft in an Anglo-french type of joint development. Even then the emerging capability of stealth UAV's and other extremely long range/endurance aircraft open up the possibilities for a significant reduction in operational costs with considerably enhanced performance.

All this to say, I can see the logic in the decision but it will hurt those with vested interests whose lifetime of work and careers will seem to have been in vain and whose communities must suffer the indignity and hardship of unemployment.

My heart goes out to you guy's.

ffO.

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Thanks for the explanations Coast and ffO, it does therefore seem that from a purely operational perspective this decision is logical, (to use your word ffO). And with regards to the knock-on effects on any local economies reliant on military spending, that's another question I've always struggled with, in so far as it's often used by MPs to justify continued military spending, or continued governmental support for the likes of BAE via various Whitehall departments e.g a taxpayer funded arms sales unit, the UKTI Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO). And yet those very same MPs have for years said there is no place for government intervention in UK industries e.g coal, steel, ship building, vehiclce manufacture, textile manufacture etc etc. So why is the UK arms industry different ?

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ffO.

See what I love about this forum? You are never far away from someone who actually knows what's going on!

Thank you ffO

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Six senior former defence chiefs signed the letter to The Daily Telegraph setting out their objections to the fleet's scrapping.

They wrote: "Several millions of pounds have been saved, but a massive gap in British security has opened."

One of the signatories was Marshal of the RAF Lord Craig, who served as both the former Chief of the Defence Staff and Chief of Air Staff.

The letter said removing the Nimrods could compromise "long-range reconnaissance, including over the UK, anti-submarine surveillance, air-sea rescue coordination, and... reconnaissance support to the Navy's Trident submarines".

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed the scrapping was under way and that the decision would not be reversed.

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One of the signatories was Marshal of the RAF Lord Craig, who served as both the former Chief of the Defence Staff and Chief of Air Staff.

The letter said removing the Nimrods could compromise "long-range reconnaissance, including over the UK, anti-submarine surveillance, air-sea rescue coordination, and... reconnaissance support to the Navy's Trident submarines".

Of course it's a compromise and not a sound long term policy. This was always going to be an interim measure before the new technologies mature. The world has chamged significantly since the Staff Requirments were being put out to tender 25+years ago when we still had a Soviet Union to worry about.

Unfortunately, today it is an obsolete expensive toy.

ffO.

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Jimmy's Carr's idea on the ten oclock show last night was to fly them into buildings in Saudi Arabia to see how they liked it.

Jimmy Carr's view not mine, before I am banned.

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The Russians are going to love the news this morning that the Government are scrapping the next (albeit old technology) partially complete order for Nimrod surveillance aircraft.

Not as much as sailors will love it....... :(

IMO 100% of our overseas aid budget should go to the military - who in turn provide the best value for money and most useful aid we can ever provide to all and every country in the world :)

What's more useful? A new Nimrod or a new fleet of gold Limosines for a tinpot African dictator?

Edit: I suppose logically though, we don't need Nimrods to locate vessels in duress in a storm because we won;t have any SAR teams to rescue them anyway ...... :(

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PTFD is on the right lines as the capability of the MRA4 is already deemed obsolete or overkill for the anti-sub role: the only nations with sufficient capability to pose a credible long-range (nuclear) threat are all NATO members and the possibility of a war escalating to that level of conflict would implicate the security of the whole world. China will put into service the first of her JIN class SSBN's (heavily reliant on Russian technology) this year but is literally decades behind the UK in both submarine capability and operational (cold war) experience - even without Nimrod.

Anti-sub operations for conventional surface fleet protection are the domain of the Nimrod/Frigate/Merlin combination. By taking away the Nimrod, the operational envelope is limited to the range of the Merlin helicopter - for a time.

Filling the gap left by Nimrod we have at least three contenders: Poseidon (P8A), Airbus A319 Maritme Patrol Aircraft and a retrofit of the new A400 aircraft in an Anglo-french type of joint development. Even then the emerging capability of stealth UAV's and other extremely long range/endurance aircraft open up the possibilities for a significant reduction in operational costs with considerably enhanced performance.

ffO.

Good post - The MRA4 was more than just an ASW platform however, it would have carried much of the UK's maritime strike capability as its predecessor did once we had retired our Buccaneer fleet in the early 1990's, hence it was retrofitted to carry Harpoon and sea-eagle anti-ship missiles - whilst the original Nimrod was an anti-submarine platform, the MRA4 was designed for maritime patrol and reconnaisance primarily. Of course now we'll have a gap in capability - admittedly the Nimrod was a very expensive way to fill the gap, but nevertheless the gap exists. It wouldn't surprise me if the UK were to look at a lease arrangement for US Navy P-3 Orions in the short term - it'll be a lot cheaper than buying a new system - the A-319 as you rightly point out being the most likely option there.

As for being an obselete expensive toy - Obselete? No, it was effectively a new aircraft, based on an old design certainly, but with a new airframe, new sensors, new engines, longer range, longer loiter time, more advanced weapons. Even the MR1 was based on an airframe newer than the US P-3 Orion, which is still in service. A Toy? Depends how importantly you view maritime patrol. Merlins and Frigates won't do the same job and we won't have enough of them anyway. Maritime patrol is about more than hunting submarines. Expensive? Absolutely - monumentally expensive, and that's why it got the bullet.

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Good post - The MRA4 was more than just an ASW platform however, it would have carried much of the UK's maritime strike capability as its predecessor did once we had retired our Buccaneer fleet in the early 1990's, hence it was retrofitted to carry Harpoon and sea-eagle anti-ship missiles - whilst the original Nimrod was an anti-submarine platform, the MRA4 was designed for maritime patrol and reconnaisance primarily. Of course now we'll have a gap in capability - admittedly the Nimrod was a very expensive way to fill the gap, but nevertheless the gap exists. It wouldn't surprise me if the UK were to look at a lease arrangement for US Navy P-3 Orions in the short term - it'll be a lot cheaper than buying a new system - the A-319 as you rightly point out being the most likely option there.

As for being an obselete expensive toy - Obselete? No, it was effectively a new aircraft, based on an old design certainly, but with a new airframe, new sensors, new engines, longer range, longer loiter time, more advanced weapons. Even the MR1 was based on an airframe newer than the US P-3 Orion, which is still in service. A Toy? Depends how importantly you view maritime patrol. Merlins and Frigates won't do the same job and we won't have enough of them anyway. Maritime patrol is about more than hunting submarines. Expensive? Absolutely - monumentally expensive, and that's why it got the bullet.

Agreed with everything you have said JBD. My obsolete comment is not so much about the capability of the MRA4 platform, but more about the components that go in to making up the system:

Time was when the military pushed the art in items such as electronics and software with civilian applications lagging. The tables turned perhaps in the early 90's when the lifecycle of commercial microprocessors, memory, controllers, data buses etc. became shorter than the deveolpment timescale for military application. Driven primarily by the need to (rightly) rigorously test and prove performance before service entry, components were literally obsolete and no longer manufactured long before the new equipment enetered service let alone half way through it's service life.

Such is life and is the bane of military equipment manufacturers and in my view is responsible for many of the programme cost overruns and delays. The fact is compounded by the contracts process where requirements are changed almost at whim by the ipod generation MOD staff, because people constantly compare their PC's/laptops/iPods/game consoles etc. to the hardware used in their (still at the development stage) military equipment. Commercial applications do not need to be Nuclear/Biological/Chemical attack hardened, survive handling and transport by squaddies on a front-line battlefield, be capable of working flawlessly in the middle of a Russian winter and then next week in the heat of a Saudi desert in the middle of summer, bullet/explosion/fuel fire safe etc. Nor are they left on a shelf for 20 years and then have to work flawlessly first time. In commercial terms, it wouldn't be covered by the guarantee.

More importantly, the change of requirments at a late stage in the development life-cycle in response to lessons learned through an ever changing 'threat', places impossible pressure on holding costs down and delivery on-time to the original time-scales. The later that happens the harder it gets to comply and the more disgruntled the MOD becomes because contractors are forced to stick to what's in a contract and not the new perceptions of MOD staff.

Little wonder then that the new equipment entering service, whilst better than anything seen before from a military perspective to meeting the old threat, cannot keep pace with the international political pace and new threat developments.

This is what I meant by obsolete. That the NIMROD is a superb piece of kit for fighting a northern-hemisphere, Atlantic, nuclear-submarine and conventional surface war and a bolted on an attack capability. Those threats however, whilst real albeit with a very small chance, are not a clear and present danger. But as you say, Maritime Patrol is more than that.

With the highest current global threats such as terrorists, piracy interdiction, human trafficking, drug smuggling etc. the capabilities of the MRA4 do not match those critical patrol requirements. So like the Americans learned with the Space Shuttle, the MOD with it's new aircraft carriers etc. putting all one's eggs in the basket is a very risky proposition. Better to accept the gap (sunk costs and all) now whilst in a fairly low risk period, than commit all and face a very real, much more agile and advanced threat in the future.

I'm sure the experience and knowledge of developing the systems and sensors for the MRA4 will not be lost even if it was a very expensive lesson.

Doing nothing though, is not an option.

ffO.

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The reality is, this country is not Great anymore. The Empire is long gone.

Russia has not seen the UK as a threat since the 50's and we are as reliant on the US to come to our rescue as we were during WW2. The ongoing cuts in defence spending are to do with the Government realising this, they cannot admit this in public for obvious reasons.

The scrapping of Nimrod does not affect our ability to defend ourselves as we have insufficient cability to defend ourselves even if Nimrod told us the enemy were coming.

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Guest mycroft

The reality is, this country is not Great anymore. The Empire is long gone.

Russia has not seen the UK as a threat since the 50's and we are as reliant on the US to come to our rescue as we were during WW2. The ongoing cuts in defence spending are to do with the Government realising this, they cannot admit this in public for obvious reasons.

The scrapping of Nimrod does not affect our ability to defend ourselves as we have insufficient cability to defend ourselves even if Nimrod told us the enemy were coming.

Have you not heard of trident they go in submarine's we currently deploy a class of submarine called the Vanguard class, any one daft enough to launch any sort of attack on this country,will end up with more than a bloody nose.

read here and learn :hi:

Vanguard Class SSBN Ballistic Submarine

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Replying to:- Should We Scrap The New Nimrods? My answer is yes as the defense threat has changed.

Nimrods are not going to stop human bombs.

My question is what happens if Egypt turns all OTT and gets a Mad Mullah in charge. Who can afford to play in the next round? IE operation "Egyptian Freedom" LOL not.

Russell :smiliz19:

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