Hypothetical Nimrod MRA4 and MH370

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Had the MRA4's not been turned into bean cans would they have been able to provide anything to this search that isn't already there? I use the case of MH370 purely as a real life situation. There was the old saying that the MR2s could detect a sub periscope on the surface and with the improvements in equipment would the MRA4 have been more useful than the P3s that seem to mainly be doing the searching at the moment? In terms of loiter time and speed to target etc as well. I guess the other question i wondered about was if we had them would we have actually offered/sent them to a situation happening so far away? MH
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Profile picture for user Freehand

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How good would the MRA4 been at detecting underwater wreckage?
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I guess the other question i wondered about was if we had them would we have actually offered/sent them to a situation happening so far away? MH
Since HMS Echo is being sent to survey the area, then I would imagine the answer to this question is yes we would of sent them if they were in service.
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Hmmm not sure we would of sent MRA4 unless one happened to be in the area for an exercise, HMS Echo is in the area so it make sense to send her over. If they can find debris in the sea the wide beam echo sounder on Echo would be highly useful tracking down any sunk wreckage especially at that depth. The Australian P-3 crew on the radio earlier today were highly confident they could detect wreckage in the water with radar, they did pick up a pod of Dolphins during the search. I would say the P-8 certainly showed its worth considering it was the first to transit onto station and can cover more ground, a strong argument for those who argue that any restoration of the capability in the UK should be with the P-8.
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I would say the P-8 certainly showed its worth considering it was the first to transit onto station and can cover more ground, a strong argument for those who argue that any restoration of the capability in the UK should be with the P-8.
Having given up any hope of a home grown version it would make sense to go for the P-8. Is it being seriously looked at?

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Had the MRA4's not been turned into bean cans would they have been able to provide anything to this search that isn't already there? I use the case of MH370 purely as a real life situation. There was the old saying that the MR2s could detect a sub periscope on the surface and with the improvements in equipment would the MRA4 have been more useful than the P3s that seem to mainly be doing the searching at the moment? In terms of loiter time and speed to target etc as well. I guess the other question i wondered about was if we had them would we have actually offered/sent them to a situation happening so far away? MH
My opionion is the MRA4 would have been usefull for this mission, but would not have been anything revolutionary over what is out there now. Any MPA with a good surface search radar, Mk1 eyballs and endurance is what is needed for the cuurent surface search for debris. P-8, P-3, HH-130, US-1 all well suited for current search. One area of possible improvment would be subsurface acoustic work for the flight recorder pingers. Not sure they are expending sonobouys for that. Yes I think Nimrod would have been deployed. Good politically.
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Having given up any hope of a home grown version it would make sense to go for the P-8. Is it being seriously looked at?
According to the rumors, yes it is. Though looking at it the other day, buying the Japanese P-1 could be considerably cheaper, so that might also be worthy of consideration.
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I wouldn't be so sure the P-1 would be cheaper, it is significantly behind the P-8 in its development. The P-8 will be built in larger numbers and operated by more countries, it has a mission system based upon that fitted to the MRA4 and we have RAF crew deployed with the USN helping its induction. Also the P-1's mission system is very much a unique Japanese solution designed to work with Japanese weapons. As I understand it whilst Japan would happily sell us the airframes we would then have to integrate a mission and weapons fit. Even if Japan did allow the aircraft to be exported with a mission and weapons fit Japanese weapons are significantly more expensive. The cheaper solution would be to adopt P-8 "as is" with a very limited UK systems fit (communications and other secret black boxes) and adopting the standard USN weapons fit. I do find the P-1 attractive with its four engine design and optimised airframes/wings but the P-8 is based upon the 737 and will be purchased in large numbers by the USN and other allies giving economies of scale we could only dream of with Nimrod. If we purchased the P-8 we can leaver civilian sources for spares something we couldn't do with Nimrod or P-1. What is interesting after all the talk about the P-8 not being suited to low level operations the ABC journalist interviewed last night who was on the P-8 deployed by the USN stated the search was done at 300ft above sea level.

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I do find the P-1 attractive with its four engine design... What is interesting after all the talk about the P-8 not being suited to low level operations the ABC journalist interviewed last night who was on the P-8 deployed by the USN stated the search was done at 300ft above sea level.
I wonder with the P-8 if we have come to point where 2 engines are just fine? With the very low failure rates of commercial 737 type engines, perhaps 2 is better than 4? Better fuel consumption, less to maintain, etc. I can not help but think that most small 4 engine jets (ba-146, p-1, Lockheed biz jet) seem to loose on economic sense. Yes some 4 engine turboprops would feather engines to stay on station longer, but that is a pretty rare today. Early props and turboprops were much more prone to failure, and returning on three engines was common. The one real advantage of more engines is better safety for a bird strike etc, but surely unless in a conflict a bird strike causing an engine loss in a 4 engine plane would be the same as in a engine loss with a bird strike in a 2 engine plane: mission abort and RTB= same result. I too think the "737 was designed to operate high and thus the P-8 can't operate low" comments are way overblown. Yes the wing was designed for airline cruise, but it CAN operate low. Afterall both the Nimrod (Comet wing) and Orion (Electra wing) and some Russian airline derived designs did just fine down low.
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Certainly the UK public are getting a very interesting lesson in the worth of long range MPA at the moment with this particular event. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26705073

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The UK with allegedly the 4th biggest defence budget would be ubable to conduct the type of mission currently been undertaken in the Indian Ocean. In addition with the Russians annexing Crimea shows the Russian are still a country that can not be trusted. The world is unpredictable and not having a Nimrod replacement is shortsighted madness.
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Would a European solution based on the A320 be cost effective? With costs spread between UK, France, and Germany?

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The problem is the small numbers required which without guaranteed exports would make the aircraft extremely expensive. In an ideal world if the Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegians etc were garanteed customers it would make financial sense. The other issue is the RAF need the aircraft in the very near future and I doubt the aircraft would be available earlier enough.
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+1 A4Scooter beat me on that one. In theory an A320 based MPA could be kept relatively low risk, Airbus military already has a basic concept design. Use a mission system derived from FITS, a new radar already in production for other customers like the Selex Seaspray 7500E AESA and keep structural changes to a minimum. Also making sure that the customers don't demand too many changes from the baseline design. Problem is Germany has Orion with plenty of years left on them plus the choice of extending their life with new structural parts like the wings and even upgrading with FITS like the Brazilian examples. France is upgrading their Atlantique and plan to operate for many years to come. The Spanish and Portuguese also operate Orion with the same upgrade options. That leaves Italy really but I doubt their budget is up to supporting a development program so I see them buying off the shelf, they are already using the ATR72 as a partial replacement. For the UK an off the shelf solution is where it will be if we decide to restore the capability.
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The Spanish have already put their P-3s through an upgrade. FITS, new sensors, new cockpit, structural life extension. Brazil ordered the same upgrade after Spain. It's being offered to other P-3 users. A pity, but I don't see there being an opportunity for an A320-based MPA now. Too many potential customers have already bought P-8, or upgraded older aircraft & don't need anything for many years.

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Aboard P8 SAR http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-25/inside-the-us-poseidon-aircraft-searching-for-mh370/5343988?section=wa
The Poseidon flies four lengths of the grid, taking about 45 minutes to complete each one. It is called a "ladder search" because the plane banks at each end and returns in the direction it came from, one step higher than before. Each track is five miles apart. The plane descends once it reaches the search area, heading below 1,000 feet. ... Visibility is poor and the pilot takes the aircraft to just 200 feet in an effort to clear the cloud. No-one can see the objects.
Interestingly, Australia has chartered (has been done in past) G5s, Global Express and an Airbus 319. Present SAR aircraft don't have the endurance in that part of the world.

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Australia's Customs Service Coastwatch program currently contracts with Surveillance Australia Pty Ltd for non-military air coverage of the coastal waters. Headquartered in Adelaide, the company has three operational bases in Cairns, Darwin and Broome. It operates a fleet of six DHC-8-202 and four larger DHC-8-315 'Dash 8s' modified for maritime patrol and surveillance. The surveillance aircraft are equipped with Raytheon SeaVue surface search radars with additional Inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR), Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and Moving target indication (MTI) capability, advanced electro-optical sensors and sophisticated communications suites. One further Dash 8 is configured for the LADS contract.