Future Maritime Surveillance

We have discussed this a number of times and to add further to those discussions the House of Commons Defence Select Committee has published its fifth report, Future Maritime Surveillance.

Click the image to visit

Future Maritime Patrol
Future Maritime Patrol

Lots of interesting comments and the written and oral evidence is also illuminating.

In summary

The Committee has serious concerns following the decision in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) programme.  Although the MoD’s own capability investigations have concluded that a MPA is the solution to the UK’s maritime surveillance requirements over the next 20 years, the MoD has postponed any decision on a further MPA until at least the next SDSR in 2015. The UK therefore now has no current or planned sovereign MPA capability (i.e. a capability that could be operated independently) and the MoD has acknowledged that the resultant capability gap cannot be completely covered by an existing single asset or collection of assets. The reduction in certain sovereign long range maritime surveillance capabilities also highlights the UK’s interim dependency on allies for support in protecting the increasingly important reaches of the UK as well as its wider defence and direct military capability.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, says,

“We are unconvinced that the MoD has the capacity to respond to any escalation in the risks that may appear beyond the UK’s shores. Furthermore we believe the risk is likely to worsen in the medium term as further maritime surveillance capabilities are withdrawn or not yet filled.”

The Committee is concerned that the MoD is sending mixed messages in respect of the need for a maritime patrol aircraft. On one hand it says that there is no requirement for such an aircraft and that it is not funded or in the programme but on the other hand it acknowledges that its absence is a risk and something may need to be done.

Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, says,

“The MoD must explain why it is satisfactory to wait until 2015 or beyond before deciding how to close the capability gap in maritime surveillance.”

The Committee is also concerned about the withdrawal of other maritime surveillance assets, such as the Type 22 Broadsword Frigates, and the potential for other capability gaps to occur in the future, for example when the Sea King (SKASaC) helicopter is taken out of service in 2016 to be replaced by Project CROWSNEST operating from the Merlin Mk 2 helicopter. However the report acknowledges the work the MoD has undertaken to explore the potential options for maritime surveillance in the longer term, such as unmanned systems, lighter-than-air vehicles and space technology.

The report welcomes the establishment of the Maritime Security Oversight Group and the National Maritime Information Centre as first steps towards a more strategic and co-ordinated output and as a way of mitigating some of the capability gaps. The challenge is to develop these further. The Committee is keen to see a more prominent ministerial role in maritime surveillance, particularly given the number of cross-government interests that exist.

It will be business as usual of course, the Committee issues a strongly worded report, the MoD look concerned, write a response and carry on normal jogging.

The video below encapsulates the MoD’s response

Related articles from the bowels of Think Defence

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/04/future-uk-maritime-patrol/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/09/the-airbus-a400m-atlas-part-3-a-multi-purpose-platform/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/09/the-airbus-a400m-atlas-part-1-background-progress-and-c130j-or-c17-options/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/09/the-airbus-a400m-atlas-part-5-say-hello-to-my-little-brother/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/07/an-interesting-proposal-from-mr-boeing/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/12/a319-maritime-patrol-aircraft/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/07/the-reason-nimrod-was-cancelled/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/03/a-spare-3-47-and-an-iou-for-mpas-what-shall-we-buy-then/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/02/narco-subs-a-conventional-threat/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/06/nimrod-strikes-back/

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/03/a-spare-billion-for-mpas-what-shall-we-buy-then/

 

 

 

 

 

271 Comments
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Dave
Dave
September 19, 2012 9:23 am

A possible option I’ve not heard much of is to take the mission suite from the Nimrod, in put it into a CS100.

1) The Canucks want to replace the CP140 Aurora. A domestic solution is something they’d like and you are getting into minimum airframe numbers required

2) Part of the CS100 is built in the UK so good for public relations

3) Not the swiftest selling airframe, there are slots of the production line

4) Modern with fuel efficient engines and composite airframe making it more resistant to maritime corrosion from the start.

5) The airframe is big enough that this variant or the larger CS300 could form the basis for a replacement AEW solution, an ELINT/EW solution, a VIP replacement for the BAE146 and if the Sentinel was retained, possibly a chance for similar air crew ratings.

6) Potential significant export opportunities as it provides a jet alternative to the P8 and P99. There undoubtedly will be other nations with a MPA requirement for whom the P8 is too much but who want something that offers more than the P99 or the turboprops

Here is an article that CASR did about this possibility

http://www.casr.ca/id-aerospace-daly-cseries.htm

S O
S O
September 19, 2012 9:52 am

All you need for maritime patrol is the acceptance that fixed wing aircraft can at best press subs below water (suppress their snorkeling for a few hours), but not really kill subs in situations where other forces couldn’t kill them without MPA support.

Once you accept that you can go with a few Gulfstream V and their incredible range:
Add a radar suite with side-looking capability (wave pattern analysis, SAR to identify ships, rudimentary AEW), add a normal ESM suite (detection of radar emissions), add a gimballed IRST (for search and rescue, identification close-up) with E/O (identification of painted ship names, red crosses etc), add a naval datalink suite with relay functionality and you’re almost done already.

Dave
Dave
September 19, 2012 10:36 am

@S O, that almost sounds like what Embraer did with their P99/ERJ145 variant though additionally qualified for underwing hardpoints.

x
x
September 19, 2012 10:47 am

I don’t think HMG is really concerned about defending the home islands. The Norwegians have a home guard and a coast guard. They are miles from anyone and upset nobody. We are part of one of the most densely populated continents with good transport infrastructure. And we go off to help the US invade other countries and occasionally indulge in a bit of assisted regime change ourselves. I suppose the lack of incidents supports HMG’s position that we don’t need a yeomanry or militia, or in the instance a RNXS like organisation with a patrol operating out of every major port.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 19, 2012 10:48 am

A good MPA can isolate and kill a submarine without assistance if it carries suffcient buoys and a weapon.

Bob
Bob
September 19, 2012 11:00 am

MoD/RAF f**cked Nimrod up, they should have gone with new-build airframes from the outset, as BAE offered and suggested; the failure to do so was incompetence on an epic scale. The aircraft was cancelled because it need more money to get to service and then a dollop of money every year in O&M so cancelling it was easy. MoD/RAF and innumerable external critics are now finding that the hard part is living without it. Within the confines of the SDSR keeping it would have required losing something else, probably more fast jet squadrons which is a difficult argument to make given that they were cut by a third as it was.

Of course this underscores the problem with the SDSR, in order to spare the Army it went excessively after the RAF the extent it has gutted the strike capability, halved the lift fleet, killed the MPA capability and left a huge question mark over ISTAR capability. Its all f**ked.

x
x
September 19, 2012 11:08 am

I think our only hope for a decent MPA is A400m. I am worried with P8 that experts seem not to rate its low level low speed performance.

Lean manned TAS tugs, some Merlin capable OPVs, and a squadron of cheap aeroplanes for visual idents. Separate out the capabilities? HMG don’t care. How do you say to Mars! in Hindi?

S O
S O
September 19, 2012 11:27 am

“A good MPA can isolate and kill a submarine without assistance if it carries suffcient buoys and a weapon.”

Really?
Are you aware that NATO was most concerned since its Atlantic convoys scheme could not work during the 80’s because the escorts would run out of lightweight torpedoes (the false alarm rate was excessive)?

How would he aircraft detect the sub?

Would it plaster the Atlantic with short-range sonobuoys against whose sound frequency anechoic tiles are effective (to further reduce the effective range)? There are neither enough sonobuoys onboard nor in depots for that.

Diesel sniffer? Obsolete by the 60’s because of millions of diesel trucks and because of nuclear power.

MAD? Only effective 100-400 m to the left and right, and only so if the sub is huge. Small SSKs have an entirely non-magnetic hull. Similar problem with electrostatic sensors.

SOSUS data? SOSUS can be crippled, and even if it’s not, it is entirely passive and practically useless against SSKs, likely even against good SSN/SSBN when they avoid the proximity of SOSUS.

Radar vs. snorkel? Useless against SSN/SSBN/SSGN, and still useless against SSK, for SSKs first use a tiny antenna to determine radar activity and only raise the snorkel when it’s safe. They reduce the speed to minimise wave effects and the snorkel is using radar stealth materials.

In the end, a ASW MPA can press subs below water (their preferred depth anyway), disrupt snorkeling (an annoyance, only serious in very confined waters such as the Baltic Sea) and it might assist if some low frequency sonar has made contact. ASW MPAs will hardly ever find a sub on their own, and then they can’t tell it from false contacts.

Keep in mind the wreck of a Italian WW2 battleship was found only recently in the Med and we keep finding unknown wrecks even in the Cold War hotbed Baltic Sea. THAT is the state of affairs in regard to active sonars. After decades of Cold War and sonar advances we still didn’t even detect all non-moving metal objects in even confined waters, much less the Atlantic.

x
x
September 19, 2012 11:38 am

@ SO

In TD World aircraft based ASW systems have magical capabilities, where ASW systems in ships are haphazard and near ineffectual. :)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 19, 2012 11:42 am

SO

I am not even going to bother with a lot of it as I would be pretty close to talking about stuff I really cannot post on here ref radar performance, sosus, LFAR and buoys vs tiles etc.
Notice the words isolate and kill, the beauty of an MPA is it keeps the sub away from where you do not want it to be. They are not designed to fly randomly around looking for subs, tothey are designed protect areas routes, chokepoints and prosecute detected submarines.

x
x
September 19, 2012 11:53 am

APATS said “They are not designed to fly randomly around looking for subs, tothey are designed protect areas routes, chokepoints and prosecute detected submarines.”

Trouble is some here don’t understand that…

Simon
September 19, 2012 12:03 pm

APATS, X,

Forgive my ignorance, but if you say that an MPA is not supposed to “go looking” for subs but are designed to protect routes then what’s the point?

Any route can be kept open with a frigate. Any detected submarine can be prosecuted with the thing that detected it?

Surely Britain’s maritime safety means search-and-destroy a lurking enemy sub?

Phil
September 19, 2012 12:14 pm

Its thunderously obvious that you can’t use a plane to randomly scour the Earths Oceans. It makes complete sense to create bastion where you don’t want them to be at certain times and places. They don’t even have to sink the thing just mess with it enough that they can’t prosecute an attack.

x
x
September 19, 2012 12:22 pm

@ Simon

There is difference between not knowing and advocating that aircraft can do everything. :)

A good example of a need for route surveillance is the need to patrol the route for a deploying or returning SSBN. The boat will leave and follow a known route before slipping off the continental shelf into the abyss to who knows where. MPA patrols the SSBN route area, then MPA goes off to photograph trawlers, do SAR, or whatever.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 19, 2012 12:28 pm

Simon,

A submarine is an offensive weapon and whilst you want to sink them you only hunt them when they offer threat. So if they are trying to get close to somewhere or something you do not want them to. E.G a Port or Unit/TG. This lowers the geographical area that you have to cover.
Nothing is designed to “go looking for subs without having some idea where to start”.

It is the speed and range at which they can respond as well as the are they can cover. For instance investigation of a SOSUS contact. Long range land based MPA can provide ASW support to a TG or convoy operating hundreds of miles offshore.
It can whilst operating in support of afore mentioned TG/Convoy remain on station to prosecute a detected submarine whilst the TG/Convoy continues enroute or evades and once finished still get ahead of the convoy to drop buoys in a potential choke point before the TG/Convoy even arrives. This saves you losing one of your valuable ASW escorts.
A Frigate cannot cover anywhere near the same amount of ground as an MPA which at height can monitor strings of buoys set well apart. It can even hand over monitoring to organic helo assets or ships and move on to drop more.

Phil
September 19, 2012 12:32 pm

Let’s not forget the great fact that it is far better to clear or flush an area you will be passing through with a weapon system that is invulnerable to a sub than barrel through and try and engage them on far more equal terms with torpedos on escorts.

It makes sense to me for MPAs to act as beaters and shooters and the organic weapons and sensors of the escort group acting as resilience and a second layer of defence.

All a sub can do is hide from an MPA which means its harder to prosecute an attack on ships. But a sub can fight other ships and especially go for very valuable assets.

wf
wf
September 19, 2012 12:38 pm

Here’s a mad idea from a man with no idea about how to successfully prosecute a sub :-)

Seeing as we cannot “sweep the enemy from the seas” or keep designated lanes open as we lack the resources, sonobuoys and MAD are not effective enough, why don’t we develop a loitering, slow speed (with dash capability) UUV armed with lightweight torpedos that can be airdropped ahead of a task force or in a choke point, which can then search autonomously for subs, being recoverable via ship, helicopter or Fulton STARS? Might make a C130/A400 MPA rather useful :-)

Simon
September 19, 2012 12:39 pm

APATS,

Thanks.

So are we saying that MPA plays no part in the hunt for SSBNs? It’s only for SSN/SSK attacks on convoys, ports, etc?

Phil,

Makes sense, I just thought that something like 2087 had a 50+nm range per reflection. Engaging with MPA then certainly makes sense (as does a flight of Merlin).

Fedaykin
September 19, 2012 12:40 pm

@ S O

“Really?
Are you aware that NATO was most concerned since its Atlantic convoys scheme could not work during the 80′s because the escorts would run out of lightweight torpedoes (the false alarm rate was excessive)?”

Interesting, as far as I am aware this led to a change of NATO tactics when it came to ASW warfare in the event of WW3.

Rather then operate a convoy system NATO ASW forces in the North Atlantic would create as best as possible a sanitised corridor that the fast RoRo and container ships carrying reinforcements for the European front would race through. The ASW forces would operate in that corridor whilst the cargo ships raced through, I presume an attrition rate was built into that.

Looking at the modern situation as I have said elsewhere we really need to break down the different roles that the Nimrod performed. The fact is the RAF inherited the ASW and MPA tasking after the second world war and moved it into one type. When it comes to ASW and ASuW there is a strong argument that the role be performed by platforms operated by the navy. When it comes to maritime surveillance and SAR support then the Coast Guard is probably a better solution with a long range business jet. As for overland surveillance then the Army and RAF should knock their heads together…and keep R1 Sentinel along with various drones! An interesting thing to note is after conversation with Sentinel crew recently, now the Satcom upgrade has gone through there is room for surveillance optics and an over water surface search capability is a software update away to boot!

martin
Editor
September 19, 2012 1:30 pm

@ X
They are miles from anyone and upset nobody. We are part of one of the most densely populated continents with good transport infrastructure.
They share a boarder with Russia and they are linked by road to the densly populated continent which we are not.

@ simon
Any route can be kept open with a frigate. Any detected submarine can be prosecuted with the thing that detected it?

The sub can kill the frigate

x
x
September 19, 2012 1:57 pm

@ Martin

Only by one bridge via Sweden. And they are adept at keeping the Russians contained. If the bridge is a problem then so is the Chunnel.

Unless you are saying that if Norwegians have a coast guard and a home guard then we need them too only more so. As I have said here before if we had a home guard proportionate in size to the Norwegians it would have a full time strength of 80,000 and a reserve strength approaching 750,000. We have 3 OPVs, the Norwegian CG has 14 vessels.

Challenger
Challenger
September 19, 2012 1:58 pm

@Bob

‘Of course this underscores the problem with the SDSR, in order to spare the Army it went excessively after the RAF the extent it has gutted the strike capability, halved the lift fleet, killed the MPA capability and left a huge question mark over ISTAR capability. Its all f**ked’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the SDSR and I’ll give you MPA, but the rest of it, really?

The RAF didn’t really care about the Harrier in the end, I’m sure they are rather pleased at managing to retain the Tornado fleet at near full strength (even a cut of 2 squadrons didn’t dent it’s personnel or front-line power), at being able to pour billions in-to an excessive number of Typhoon’s (despite being very sluggish on it’s upgrade path) and at looking ahead to the bright glint of Lightning on the horizon.

The lift fleet, how has it been halved? The older Hercules were always going to be out of service by around now and they have actually purchased additional C17 and BAE 146 as opposed to cutting back. Yes the review nominally ditched the C130J, but I wouldn’t say this represents half of the potential capability, and as discussed on here before I wouldn’t be surprised if a few were retained for SF use.

ISTAR, well yes they made the lunatic decision to axe the Sentinel, but that could well be more to do with the bitter pill of Army cooperation and prioritisation of other RAF assets than anything else (plus it’s all but confirmed that now the Sentinel has proved it’s worth it will be preserved as part of the NATO surveillance commitment, a fact that will probably be very quietly leaked to save face post Afghanistan).

The Army was temporarily ring-fenced, I wouldn’t call a 20% drop in personnel by 2020 ‘being spared’.

The RAF took it’s fare share, perhaps in the short-term more than it’s fair share of the pain. However it’s just not good enough to paint the picture of an innocent, suffering bystander being cut to pieces in favour of others, it’s way too simplistic. Id say it’s future is far clearer and secure than either the RN or the Army. They sacrificed the stuff they didn’t particularly care about in the short-term to preserve the cherished assets for the long-term, they played a very clever game and others have suffered as a result.

S O
S O
September 19, 2012 2:13 pm

Fedaykin; the problem that surface ASW units are too loud & fast at normal freighter cruise speeds (close to 15 kts and more) certainly played a part in making convoys less attractive, too.

paul g
September 19, 2012 2:27 pm

@challenger, correct!

(and that’s without going into options for change which culled many in the early 90’s and then mike jackson KCB (keep cutting battalions) did a stealth cut late 90’s-early 00’s.

In the words of max boyce “i know because i was there”

PS to stay on thread have you seen the range and speed of the new gulfstream? quick excerpt from the article;
“The test program included a flight on May 2, 2010, in which the aircraft flew at its maximum operating speed of Mach 0.925 for the first time, and a high speed cruise in October 2010 when a test aircraft completed a 5,000-nautical mile (9,260 km) lap at Mach 0.90 over the Atlantic Ocean in 9 hours and 45 minutes.”

full article here, it’s gulfstreams biggest aircraft to date

http://www.gizmag.com/gulfstream-g650-faa-type-certification/24104/

and from the gulfstream site (note the range 12,950km)
http://www.gulfstream.com/products/g650/

Challenger
Challenger
September 19, 2012 2:54 pm

@Paul g

Thanks!

I think the crux of my long and rambling argument is that the RN lost a lot in the short-term, and the Army will lose a lot in the long-term.

The RAF however didn’t in my opinion do too badly. They ditched or attempted to ditch the stuff they didn’t really care about, mostly cooperative assets which were of more use to other services. In doing so they preserved what they cherished and Nimrod was not one of them.

I’m sure the RAF would do a good job with a resurrected MPA capability if they actually got it, but lets not pretend that they actually care either way.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 19, 2012 2:56 pm

Paul g,

The problem with the Gulf Stream is that it is small and has a useful load of 800kg when fuelled. It is designed to get 8 people with suitcases and lap tops between continents quickly.

Mike
Mike
September 19, 2012 2:57 pm

Also remmeber that any frigate on ASW task to protect those areas would mean -1 for the convoys and attacking/defence strength of a task force (remember re ‘inner defence ring’ for our carrier?).

Re Challenger with BAe146, its a pants aircraft at the taticle stuff, I wouldn’t call it much an ‘increase’ in capablity, more liason and light transport, just dont use it for paras…
Also re Harrier, SirH on his blog did a good series on the realities on that score.

I read somewhere (atm cant find the source :/ )that the DfT has asked for proposals on Maritime survillance with UAV providers – some years away yet and small scale, but was interesting to see MPA being looked at in that sense. Of course doesnt protect assets much… but as with SAR; DfT footing the bill sounds like a good start for the Home waters survillance part, or its maybe just to replace the HM CG’s fixed wing survillance in the future.

Fedaykin
September 19, 2012 3:05 pm

Yep that as well S O!

It would of been a huge task even if the corridor was a couple of miles wide … it represents a massive chunk of ocean to keep sanitised! I suppose the newly emerging GPS would of been vital for any such tactic as well! Any contact or loss of ship would of required ASW forces to swarm to that part of the corridor. Presumably the idea was to present so many fast moving targets that Soviet forces would of struggled to keep up with it. Also to take and adapt a line from “The Hunt for Red October”!: NATO forces to keep the Soviets bottled up behind the GIUK gap would of dropped enough sonar buoys so that a man could walk from Greenland to Iceland to Scotland without getting his feet wet.

Phil
September 19, 2012 3:12 pm

“it represents a massive chunk of ocean to keep sanitised!”

Now, one could deduce that viz Soviet naval forces, it could actually have been done and done done in many different ways – perhaps we knew a lot about them and their disposition and could track their submarines very well. Maybe that is why the plan was adopted because we knew we could deal with those subs using that concept because we knew where most of them were at any one time and were confident about being able to stop a lot of them getting anywhere near the sea lanes which I imagine would have been as far as south as was practical.

Now planning might have been completely divorced from reality and capability in this instance, but I doubt it in this case as its a very particular and unsexy capability that doesn’t exactly grab headlines or have a massive political implication.

Mark
Mark
September 19, 2012 3:45 pm

Theres a more fundamental problem and its one I picked up from somewhatinvolved on another post whats the plan for the surveillance fleet period? Gents a big bill is coming and be sure its a bill that will need paying as these are the key assets of future warfare. When we leave afghan shortly we will have in surveillance

defenders/king air/diamond/sentinel/awacs/airseeker/seaking/merlin?/reaper potientally a future mpa and a several other things beside but what the hell are we doing!!!

Some of these will need upgraded some will go some need replaced. WE need a clear thought through plan and this needs to be goal number 1 of SDSR. For example why is the consoles in a merlin not also the consoles in a mpa aircraft only more off them. Why cant similar consoles using a different “app” analyzing data from different sensors in our awac or sigint aircraft?

We then get to aircraft for what type of jobs and what they do. Martime patrol a/c ours and other nations have been very useful over land ect there appears plenty of cross over so can we use the same base aircraft for multiple roles but each a/c has a different equipment fit. Crew size is very important in the awacs, sigint and mpa could this be reduce as the tactical aircraft merlin/f35/reaper gain a much improved situation awareness and battle picture over high capacity networks.

Why are we trying to build a MALE uav with france when we have a perfectly good one at the minute. Has afghan lulled us into some what of a false impression that these a/c are expecting to operate in a totally benign air environment is the iraq operation or libya a better gauge of future surface to air threat?.

Could reaper melin f35 (in there various field) support a larger fleet of biz jet type a/c (global express) doing single role fit wide area surveillance and all feeding in to a small number of much larger battle management a/c (a330) on land or at sea.

Dont know the answer and I dont think ive yet seen a a/c that ticks all the boxes for mpa to be honest, so it may have to be combination of assets for the land littoral or open ocean roles. What ever it is we need to see a future long term plan for both the system/network and aircraft or were going to waste a lot of money on a real bodge, this will only get better if we have a clear thought through goal to achieve I maybe doing MOD a disservice and a plan exists which we haven’t seen but I fear there isnt.

Fedaykin
September 19, 2012 3:52 pm

Maybe so Phil, SOSUS and SURTASS at full strength is a capability we will never fully know. I guess the idea was to keep the Russians bottled up as much as possible and use SOSUS/SURTASS as a kind of trip wire along the sanitised corridor.

Dave
Dave
September 19, 2012 4:00 pm

@All Politicians are the Same, which is why I am suggesting the CSeries.

Its cross section is big enough to allow the crew to spend more time in comfort. Its composite materials make it more corrosion resistant, and extra fuel tanks as well as an internal bomb bay can be added in much the same way as the P8/A319. It is part UK built (Shorts,Belfast) and there is an ally with a similar need and potentially strong interest (Canada)

Mark
Mark
September 19, 2012 4:02 pm

As an aside when you look at biz jets and weight ect its important to note the interior of some the gx/gulfsteam type jets weights about 6500lbs and youd also remove most of the windows these are heavy and could potentially save several thousand pounds more. Youll still have to be careful not to try and do to much in 1 airframe but there is potential there.

Phil
September 19, 2012 4:07 pm

“SOSUS and SURTASS at full strength is a capability we will never fully know.”

It’s my guess that it was probably far better than anyone realises, especially since we still don’t know really how good or bad it was I think it was either very good or very bad and considering the sonar technology we have at the moment I can’t see it having been very bad.

The Soviets were at a massive disadvantage when it came to launching submarine warfare in the N Atlantic. They’d have needed to surge them through the gaps before the shooting started and that would be a major combat indicator that something was up. And I doubt it would have particularly stopped us tracking them.

It seems to me too that it would have been very easy to simply lazily plan to use whatever escorts were available to protect super-convoys and just try and smash them through. That something else was developed, another solution evolved, suggests to me we had something up our sleeves or a combination of things up our sleeves.

Could be wrong. But it’s a hunch.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 4:09 pm
Peter Elliott
September 19, 2012 5:00 pm

@Mark

To accentuate the positives of what you say: by withdrawing a lot of the worn out and obsolete legacy assets you listed we can free up a lot of operating budget for the replacement.

A lot of crew, fuel and maintenance lines that can go twards the operating costs of a new fully flexible Land/Sea/Air ISTAR platform.

My hunch is that with advances in data sharing and miniturisation it can be smaller than an airliner with no more than 4 or 5 mission crew on board. That will help acheive long endurance for less expense.

By making the consoles and equipment pods detatchable you also achieve a lifelong upgrade path. Payloads not platforms etc.

RW
RW
September 19, 2012 6:04 pm

I don’t think that the MOD has any real current concern about killing subs – whose would they be? The real problem naval problem is the “knife fight in a telephone box “of the straits of Hormuz scenario………… unfolding any time soon.

While Nimrod might have seemed great if it had happened, I believe it would have never lasted long as a state of the art capability that would have justified the expense of buying and running it.

While It may not have been intentional; the MOD may have delivered a long term gain by cancelling Nimrod MPA, I think that I’d much rather wait for the UAV/ USV technology to mature a bit and then invest in a range of capabilities- massive radar search from a large hybrid airship, high speed strike from a deployed missile with Perseus type multiple targeting and a future UAV with the ability to cover continental distances at high mach and then deliver a UAS into the water that is both hunter and killer.

Which I know most will think SCI FI but I just don’t believe that the alternatives to manned ASW will take all that long to mature.

I’d much rather save my money while the threat is low and then pile into new technology when funds for many others will be limited and we can have first mover advantage.

A hybrid airship with a payload of 100 tons and endurance of weeks and speed of 100 knots is not new technology it’s just writing the contract; touch down at Ascension every once in a while and it could deploy all sorts of payloads and not run short of stock while using small UAV sensors at great range.

MPA as we are used to it is a flawed concept,……. in that the target is slow and enduring and the response is quick and tires. Much better match up is endurance in theatre and rapid and final munitions.

What in God’s name is the purpose of sona buoys and then small torpedoes, much better to deliver a killer hunter/ under water/ UAS at range (from your airborne command vessel) and kill it when you see it.

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 19, 2012 6:14 pm

Well we have the sci fi option. Perisher will be suspended immediately due to unmanned UUV being able to do the job.
The enemy will never shoot down our air ship or jam our signals.

On a serious note RW, once you let a capability go rebuilding it is not as simple as buying new kit. The training and experience involved in ASW Ops is extensive.
You are also face with the original problem of detecting the submarine in order to know where to deploy your hunter/killer vehicle.

Fedaykin
September 19, 2012 6:24 pm

Well I suppose the advantage of a sanitised corridor is the escorts don’t have to come in to meet up with super convoys. They all stay out only coming back for supply and refit. That the maximum number of ASW types are out and the harbour facilities are not overwhelmed all at once with lots of escorts sitting like eggs in a basket! The ASW types are spread out along the corridor and the choke points responding to SOSUS/SURTASS hits. Not forgetting the major NATO ASW frigate types also had towed arrays, performance of those is probably best in open water rather then in close proximity of a large convoy.

Of course the real Soviet naval punch was those huge numbers of Badger and Backfire anti ship bombers. They had them in huge numbers many with Supersonic anti ship missiles.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 19, 2012 6:50 pm

Convoy defence was a major concern of DK Brown. Which is why he wanted to maximise the number of ASW helicopters and hulls with a DDH/Corvette hi-lo mix and believed the convoys would go far south (same latitude as Canary Islands?) – this increased the distance for Soviet bombers, increasing their risk of interception and for their refueling tankers, which he believed would be very vunerable.

Simon
September 19, 2012 7:39 pm

Martin,

“The sub can kill the frigate”

I hope not, I’ve spent ages on the T26 threads here ;-)

martin
Editor
September 20, 2012 3:27 am

@ X
“As I have said here before if we had a home guard proportionate in size to the Norwegians it would have a full time strength of 80,000 and a reserve strength approaching 750,000. We have 3 OPVs, the Norwegian CG has 14 vessels.”
What would we do with this reserve and coast guard. We don’t have sufficient funds for our current military. Wasting billions on a massive reserve and coast guard would decimate our existing force structure. It would provide zero benefit to the country. We scrapped national service for a reason and it was the right thing to do even in the cold war. Going back to it now just seems silly.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
September 20, 2012 4:50 am

@ Martin,

Leave the EU and suddenly our waters would become restricted ground (or waters). That might justify a coastguard of some degree. If they operated the MPA/SAR that would free up funds in the MoD. At least in theory.

martin
Editor
September 20, 2012 5:39 am

Can’t see us leaving the EU and if HMG ain’t going to cut health, benefits or DFID then the money for the Coast Guard is going to come from defence.

martin
Editor
September 20, 2012 5:48 am

It would be nice to take a long look at all ISTAR platform’s and come up with a coherent plan covering fewer platform types. However given the widely different jobs these platform’s perform and the way they do it I suspect we would come up to a set up very like what we have.

We can pin hopes on UAV’s etc but the current systems like the Global Hawk BAMS are far more expensive (and in many ways less capable) than a cheaper manned alternative like re winged P3 or M295 etc.

We are where we are and we can ill afford another sci fi type project that will take billions of pounds and years to deliver for such a crucial capability. Lets just go out an buy something cheap and off the shelf. If we have to flog it on in 10 years for some magic new UAV then we can do that.

x
x
September 20, 2012 7:16 am

@ Martin re coastguard and militia

Never said we needed one or the other; OK we need a coastguard we always need more ships. My point was different countries put difference emphasis on different aspect of defence for different reasons. It is interesting to compare who does what and why. Um. An illustration. Another aspect of that argument is does the UK need a large army because of the Channel? Historically for two prosperous centuries GB had the world’s best navy and was defended. The Continental powers with land borders fielded large armies. Different emphasis because of geography. What I wonder is why the Norwegians have no difficulty in fielding a well motivated and trained reserve force (a field force not specialists), while the UK struggles do similar. Why are Norwegians different to the British? Clausewitz’s triangle of government, army, and the people etc. etc. and so on. Um. And there are different aspects to defence as I said. It seems, and we have to not take the lazy Left wing view of it being scare tactics (such views are prevalent amongst those who went through the tertiary system during the New Labour era and held by those too young to remember a time before mass immigration and are too stupid to question the alarm of their elders), that we have no control over our borders. One could cay the UK Border Agency is a defence organisation that is poorly funded. It could be argued that HMG doesn’t care about military force to protect the home islands nor does it care about the borders, if the first duty of a government is to defend the state then it is failing to do so, and is consequently not fit for purpose. Security is very wide and varied field.

Fedaykin
September 20, 2012 10:22 am

Well its not so much that we need a Coast Guard…we already have one.

They already perform MPA work using fairly small types, there is a VERY strong argument that the long range SAR support and MPA work formorly performed by the Nimrod should be performed by the Coast Guard.

A number of countries use their Coast Guard in that way and operate longer legged types in the role. Something like a long range business jet in the long range MAP and SAR support role and a high wing commuter airliner twin turboprop closer in. A good pairing would be the Dassault 900MPA and the Bombardier Dash 8 operated on a turnkey COGO (Contractor Owned, Government Operated) basis.

As for for ASW and ASuW I see an argument for the blue water side of the role to be performed by ships and helicopters already in service whilst brown water should be performed by a type like the EADS C-295 ASW/MPA. The RN should operate them with sensor operators pulled through from the Merlin training stream and pilots converted from helicopter operations along with a number rotating from the FAA fast jet community. Actually its a way for the FAA to maintain a larger pilot pool by moving them between F35B and MPA/ASW type.

Dave
Dave
September 20, 2012 11:40 pm
martin
Editor
September 21, 2012 10:40 am

@ X – I am sure as with the Norwegians if we had been a pacifist neutral nation in 1940 and subject to the humiliation of occupation by a foreign power not to mention being a resource rich nation with a contentious boarder with Russia that we to would be prepared to have a large standing army of reservists. But we were able to defend ourselves in 1940 and eventually win that war.
I take your point about UK boarder agency. If we are all being honest in the modern world this is the point were the UK is most at risk from attack and I think we should increase the forces capability. However unlike countries in the med of the USA I don’t think we have a big issue with illegal immigrants coming to the UK on a boat. Most of ours either smuggle in on trucks and trains or simply over stay there visa’s. I don’t think a bigger coast guard will help.
I see very little of the UK military required for home defence. Our emphasis has always been and should always be expeditionary warfare. Taking the fight to a potential adversary a long way from home. Politics of the 20th century took that luxury away from us. However now its back and we should exploit it primarily with a bigger Navy and a more expeditionary army which could become in effect the USMC of Europe.

Fedaykin
September 21, 2012 10:52 am

Whilst I doubt it will be ever built Dave the CSeries based MPA/ASW type is rather interesting. I like the large cargo door, if the consoles are palletised the aircraft could be re-rolled fairly easy.

x
x
September 21, 2012 11:26 am

@ Martin

I suppose the occupation theory has some merit. I am off to look at Dutch and Belgian reserve forces now. But it doesn’t explain say the Swiss…

martin
Editor
September 21, 2012 11:42 am

I have given up trying to explain the swiss. No idea how watches and coco clocks can generate such a high per capita GDP :-)

The Belgians and Dutch had large reserves in 1940 (much good it did them)I suppose they learned a different lesson i.e. join the EU to stop France and Germany fighting.

Our lesson was keep the USA on side and never trust the French. One that call me Dave me be about to forget. :-)

x
x
September 21, 2012 1:02 pm

martin says “coco clocks”

Was that deliberate or an amusing accident? :)

martin
Editor
September 21, 2012 3:16 pm

an amusing accident, Its Friday night and I have had a few beers :-)

Coco clocks think of the possibilities LOL

SomewhatInvolved
September 21, 2012 3:38 pm

What hasn’t been picked up on here yet folks is what the Nimrod actually did for us. It protected the nuclear deterrent, a central pillar of UK strategy and influence on the international stage. We may all want to ditch the bomb and live in trees, but the nuclear card still buys us a seat at the top table. We have hardly any frigates left and the numbers of Merlin are being chopped, so how the hell do you guarantee the independent deterrent capability? Russia is not a friendly nation and their navy is getting back on its feet with some still very capable nuclear powered attack submarines.

For those arguing the toss about using business jets instead of an MPA, we’ve gone over this more times than I care to remember. MPA’s work – but they need buoys, MAD, intel and support from FFTA’s. I’m in the business – trust me. By all means split the SAR requirement out and find some sort of long ranged Coastguard plane to locate lost sailors and drug runners, but we need a proper MPA. They don’t randomly criss-cross the ocean hoping to spot a careless Russkie, but I’m not going into nuclear vs. conventional ASW again.

Unfortunately the discussion is entirely moot because the detail can’t be discussed. There is still a threat. Anyone who says otherwise had better be a high level MOD civil servant or maritime expert, or else you have no idea what you’re talking about (and certainly not on this site).

What staggers me is how an RAF AVM can admit to a Defence Committee that as far as MPA is concerned, “They are not actively being considered, because we have not decided whether we have a requirement”. This idiot is either blind drunk, stupid or playing a bizarre political power play game. As I said before, the only ones pushing for MPA are the RN at the moment – but since the numbers of T26 are under threat again, we have plenty of other tigers to fend off.

Here’s a question. If there is no need for an MPA capability, then why do Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Norway, Canada and the US still maintain an active MPA capability – which, by the way, we have to request on a frequent basis to conduct tasking in the North Atlantic? Even Portugal flies P3’s – and they’re broke!! We are the only idiots on the shores of the North Atlantic (apart from the Dutch) who have failed to procure an MPA.

My kingdom for a joined up strategy!!

martin
Editor
September 21, 2012 3:49 pm

@ SI – I suppose its the issue of the RAF flying MPA. They don’t really give a s**t. Hopefully we will get an MPA at some point soon after 2015 and hopefully it will be in Fleet Air Arm hands. If we were to pon of the civilian role to the coast guard how many would we need for vital tasking? Could we get by with say three?

My main issue is that if the navy has to pay for it which looks likely then no doubt they will have to horse trade away something else (not that there is much else to trade off).

I still really like the re-winged P3. Surely a by of 3 or even 6 of these is with in uncle Phils rainy day fund.

x
x
September 21, 2012 3:50 pm

@ Somewhat

I mentioned SSBN further up……..

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
September 21, 2012 3:55 pm

@SI

“We may all want to ditch the bomb and live in trees”

No! I want my floating Project Utopia style Stromberg Palace!

Layout
Another article

H_K
H_K
September 21, 2012 4:58 pm

I don’t know about P-3 airframe availability, but as I’ve mentioned before, in a pinch there’ll always be the fallback option of a few French Atlantiques. There’s at least 9 surplus Atlantiques for sale, plus all the maintenance & training facilities aren’t very far away, in Brittany.

Challenger
Challenger
September 21, 2012 6:21 pm

My main problem when people talk about using existing assets to cover the MPA problem is the immediate question of availability.

We hear discussions about Merlin’s off of aviation ships, T23 patrols, re-role Sentinel’s Hercules conversions, A400m conversions etc…

Maybe a combination of these methods would efficiently bridge the gap, who knows! Before I even think of the potential capability I get a shudder of horror at the possibility of using existing assets in this way. Every service is already being pushed to breaking point, their just aren’t the resources the go around.

I defiantly believe that multi-role airframes are the way forwards as opposed to single role ‘bespoke’ stuff like the Poseidon. I just hope and pray that if we do go down the former route that it is an extension of an existing fleet with new airframes and not squeezing yet more utility out of pre-existing ones.

Simon
September 21, 2012 6:39 pm

Surely whilst we’re not actually at war we should use our military assets for something of use (other than training)… As long as they still retain their projected life.

Merlin, Sentinel or Shadow for MPA makes a lot of sense (to me), at least as a platform to be replaced when they grow too old. Why not get maximum use out of older airframes for something that is not 100% completely critical (I’m working on the fact that if it was critical it would actually exist already).

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 21, 2012 7:39 pm

@ TOC – Someone watched too much Bond as a child… Would chat longer but I must return to my desert island nuclear powered underground base…

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
September 21, 2012 7:48 pm

The report mentions the MOD studying lighter than air – any info on that available?

SomewhatInvolved
September 21, 2012 8:23 pm

Martin, I think you need more than that. I would be picking numbers truly at random here but lets assume you need one available 24/7, a second at some hours notice and a third in case of failure. Normally you need to triple or quadruple that number to address long term maintenance, sustainability and surge capacity plus of course the need to train train train to become effective. But I’m not on familiar territory here – maybe 6 could be just as effective. We were only due to get 9 MRA4’s.

That said I still think the SAR requirement would best be addressed by retaining 3 or 4 Hercs and extending their life. The radar in the J is advertised as being sea search capable, and I would suggest that you don’t need a SAR aircraft in the air all the time. So 3 or 4 in Coastguard service would do fine. I would concede that a long ranged business jet, suitably modified, could also do the same role but the ability to air drop liferafts and/or emergency supplies and fly low with a searchlight to spot survivors/debris would tend to favour the turboprop Herc rather better.

France will need to replace it’s Atlantiques soon. It would be fascinating to get some insight on their future requirements and future MPA.

S O
S O
September 21, 2012 8:43 pm

“We have hardly any frigates left and the numbers of Merlin are being chopped, so how the hell do you guarantee the independent deterrent capability?”

Hide them in
(1) Irish Sea
(2) English Channel
(3) Northern Mediterranean (Especially Adriatic Sea)

These regions can be 99% defended against surface and aerial threats, and relatively few low frequency active sonars suffice to seal them off against hostile subs of any kind.
You need no ASW MPA for this.

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 21, 2012 8:45 pm

SI,

I concur fully with you on some form of SAR Herc. Are you suggesting an Anglo French MPA buy?

x
x
September 21, 2012 9:16 pm

Wasn’t it 5 Nimrods to have 1 available?

The Other Chris
The Other Chris
September 22, 2012 6:23 am

@ST

That made me chuckle, excellent!

Mercator
Mercator
September 22, 2012 7:07 am

@Somewhat Involved
I can help you out with some sortie rates. I’m an ex-P3 Nav/Tacco ( from Oz). Obviously for something relatively short-term, three aircraft means that you always have a spare when one goes U/S but as you start to extend the range a little and you extend the duration of the task, more aircraft become necessary. I recall one exercise in the 90s that involved keeping track of a potentially hostile sub for a couple weeks as the exercise hostilities slowly ramped up to open conflict. In that case we needed six aircraft and still occasionally suffered a break in coverage as aircraft maintenance issues began to bite.

And that’s the reality of how these sorts of things will kick off. There will be lots of surface and subsurface targets to keep track of and too few assets and you will be wearing them out for months, if not years, before hostilities. (Australia has had 2 P3s in the Middle East continuously since 2001). If your threat is a relatively serious one and the bad guys can generate more than two submarines, you’re sure to need more than a dozen MPA, and that’s without considering a whole host of other duties these aircraft will have to be prioritised against.

Mercator
Mercator
September 22, 2012 7:51 am

Since I’ve stopped lurking and actually made a comment, I should just say something about P-8 that’s been bugging me as I have read through the discussion. Basically, I think you guys are giving it a bad rap and writing it off as a cost-effective option. It has reasonable low level performance now that the bank angle has been increased to 60% (as planned). It has demonstrated a parachute-retarded Mk54 drop at 500 feet, which means it’s likely that any other light weight torpedo is probably also compatible with the aircraft.
Also, the reason why a high altitude/stand off Mk54 is planned is not really aircraft performance, but the threat imposed by submarine launched SAMs. After all, if you drop the weapon and score a hit, the performance of the aircraft doesn’t matter anymore because you can go home. It’s also why trawling around at low level doing MAD runs is a bad idea. In addition, in some circumstances, particularly against nukes, there’s a lot to gained from a long-range, high level launch of the weapon beyond the range where the submarine can hear the aircraft approaching. But the big one is the threat. It’s just a different sort of ball game these days. The days of running in and investigating Riser-Sinkers at lower levels are just gone.

Wait until increment2 though to place your order. I concede the initial version is very basic and not really an advance on the current AP-3C, for example.

martin
Editor
September 22, 2012 8:07 am

@ SI – My issue with the herc’s is it seems to be a plan very much aimed at search and rescue rather than hunting subs. If the navy has to invest in a platform (looks like no one else will) then it should be purely devoted to war fighting needs. Given the present staff and money being expended on seed corn (most of who are flying P3’s anyway) and the wide availability of P3 airframes and training facilities a UOR for a couple of hundred million could get us three of four operational P3’s very quickly. They could me initially manned with RAF personal incorporating FAA pilots on training so relatively quickly the navy could once again have an MPA capability. It would not be great but it’s better than nothing. If HMG identifies a need for long range air sea rescue then the RAF or the Coast Guard can worry about that.
This may then allow us to participate with European partners at some point in the future when they replace there MPA fleet’s
The UK is the only country I can think of that can identify a need in the SDR 1998 to have the world’s best MPA aircraft bar none then in 2010 decide that it does not require any form of MPA what so ever. I really must ask the question of what changed between 1998 and 2010.
The obvious reason is lack of money. The men at the ministry should just simply come out and say that. We really need it but can’t afford it. Not all this BS about surplus to requirements etc etc.

@ SO
“Hide them in
(1) Irish Sea
(2) English Channel
(3) Northern Mediterranean (Especially Adriatic Sea)”
I once proposed an idea for a diesel electric missile sub using AIP on a monthly patrol carrying SLBM’s. The sub could simply hang around the Irish sea or west coast of Scotland inside a protected box. It’s obviously not as survivable as the present platform but probably good enough and it would save us spending tens of billions on a weapon that only really has political value.

Dave
Dave
September 22, 2012 8:52 am

@Fedyakin – well the Canadians do have 21 P3C variants which need replacing. At our lowest ebb we were going to get 9 Nimrods. So that’s 30 airframes for an MPA … Airbus said it needed an order of 20 plans to launch the A319.

And I think there are some nations out there who think the P8 is too much bird, but wanted something a bit more than a TP.

As for a Q400, the Canadians might go for a FWSAR variant and there is already a paper MPA awaiting an order

Mark
Mark
September 22, 2012 9:13 am

As scraping nimrod was a result of the very bad raf what did the navy offer up to save it?

Why are the US navy removing mad from there patrol aircraft if its a must have?

C-series commercial a/c price is similar to that of a 737. It gives all of the same problems with conversion and operation but with a much smaller world wide network not to mention its still a uncertified paper plane. As for it being composite well it’s exactly the same as the a400m in that regard. We cant afford p8 we can’t afford c-series. We may all want a nimrod esq capability but we cant afford it so we will need to compromise on some capability or continue as we are.

Maintaining 3 or 4 hercs would be very expensive. And p3 conversion while an option is not a quick fix see air seeker for time line. In the end all 3 service chiefs signed this off for it to comeback which I think it should it will be very different to what left.

IXION
September 22, 2012 9:21 am

TOC

Shh that’s TD’s lair where he sits stroking his light blue cat Mr TEU, and plotting the demise of the FAA and CVF….

x
x
September 22, 2012 9:35 am

Martin said “I once proposed an idea for a diesel electric missile sub using AIP on a monthly patrol carrying SLBM’s.”

Once a surface ship displaces more than 8000t the space required for various type of propulsion system is roughly equal for a given performance. That is to say diesels, gas turbines, steam, nuclear, or combination of those all take up the same amount of volume within hull though that volume will be distributed in different ways.

Another odd fact that as a general rule of thumb the space available in a submarine is about 2/3 that of a ship of a similar displacement (that is surfaced displacement not submerged).

The idea of a 16 tube AIP SSBK is truly sublime. Of course the anti-nuclear bods hate the propulsion systems as much as the weapon. But what an idea. I have visions of Typhoon-esque design…..

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 22, 2012 9:36 am

The answer must be the A400MM (second M for Maritime).
We are buying the thing anyway, it has good range and can carry loads. Massive amounts of space inside, we could have a T23 ops room up front of hold for the RN and an Indian Restaurant aft for the RAF.
Seriously though, let’s talk to our new best mates in Paris get a hold of those 13 air frames the krauts do not want and design an MPA variant using off the shelf modular tech.
We went from Biplanes to jets between 1939 and 1945 am I to believe now we could not manage a means of deploying weapons and buoys from the hold if required.
This will have the double benefit of filling our MPA gap and increasing the export potential.
I would also ensure that the MPA variant can be refueled extending its endurance to fully take advantage of its capacity to carry weapons and sensors.

x
x
September 22, 2012 9:52 am

@ Martin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_K_class_submarine

@ All

A400m is the way to go. But 12 x £100m
(base cost with out the wizardry) would buy you a squadron of large ASW helicopter (for SSBN route control), some long range fixed wing capability for surveillance and search (without the need for ASW gubbins), and some RFA hulls to act as lily pads for the ASW helicopters (with the range of a Merlin-like helicopter that is questionable).

(Actually a decent fast escort towing a noise maker could cover the SSBN in and out…)

EDIT: When I say escort I mean it more in it is dictionary sense and not frigate or destroyer or surface combatant. :) )

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 22, 2012 10:01 am

X,

But then we still would not have an MPA capability?

Observer
Observer
September 22, 2012 10:28 am

Maybe before we go: “We need this because everyone else has it.” or “We need this because we’ve always had it.”, we might want to think of WHY MPA is needed. If as proposed, the job was to protect your strategic assets as they exit, both MPA and ship escorts do the job well enough, so having MPA for a job duplicated by the Navy is a waste of resources unless for some reason you want capability redundency.

The important question would then be “What can MPA bring to the table that ships cannot?” I’ve nothing against redundency, but first, there must be a coherent plan as to the roles being played and how it intergrates into the Armed Forces framework.

I can see MPA as a QRF force to sprint to an area and dropping a torp/harpoon on a contact reported by Navy ships which are not quite in position, or the reverse, MPA being used as pickets who will then guide ships to intercepts. How you want to do it plays a part in equipment selection. For the former, you’d primarily want speed, for the latter, you’d want endurance. So it’s not just “Woo nice plane! Let’s buy it!”, but how you want to play the game as well.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 22, 2012 10:36 am

Observer, It offers the best combination of speed, endurance, range and flexibility within a single platform. Therefore making it an extremely useful platform for any Commander when planning ASW action.
Their ability to drop buoys and monitor them can deter a sub or herd it or locate and attack it.
As for the SSBN thing, SI has already stated that Ships and Helos do not offer the same level of service. I agree with him.

x
x
September 22, 2012 10:37 am

@ APATS

Yes. I am just devoicing the ASW part to helicopters (to protect the SSBN) and SS work to a simpler platform. A EMB145 say with just radar would cost what about £25million? For the price of 4 A400m we could have 12. Just waffling on, don’t mind me. :)

El Sid
El Sid
September 22, 2012 1:34 pm

An MRA400 was the RAF’s first choice from the start – they only went with the bodge of rewinging Nimrod because they were worried about the delays to the A400 meaning their first choice would lead to a gap in MPA capability from around 2010. So that plan worked….

@Observer
Planes give you speed, which can be vital if your sensor network (SOSUS, SSN etc) picks up fleeting contacts out in the convergence zones. A Nimrod could get somewhere in 6 minutes that it would take a frigate 2 hours to reach, and that makes a big difference to the area you have to search at the other end.

They also have a big weapons load compared to a helicopter, which is handy considering the relatively small no-escape zone of a lightweight torpedo. Escape is much harder if there’s two torpedoes coming at the sub from different directions. Multiple torpedoes are also really handy against big buggers like an Oscar or SSBN, which are unlikely to be killed by just one or two Stingray. Extra weapons are also really handy if (as is likely) you have an SSN escorting it.

The USN are looking at drones to complement MPA, to take on the boring task of keeping track of subs. They’ve funded a tech demonstrator for the ASW Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicle (ACTUV) trimaran from SAIC to trail diesel subs.

http://media.saic.com/videos/unmanned-autonomous-vehicles-and-vessels

I kinda like the idea of a couple of Global Express as a near-term maritime sensor platforms (whether a Sentinel derivative or not) with some rudimentary ability to help in SAR and then a longer term plan for a bigger torpedo dropping plane. Get some second-hand A340 and stick 1-2 rotary launchers in there which can also take Storm Shadow, your ASW plane can double as FOAS….. Obviously it would need a proper “Avro” name with a maritime twist – the Lytham or Blackpool?

Dave
Dave
September 22, 2012 1:43 pm

@Mark … the list price of a CS100 is US$58m. The list price of a B737-800 is US$84.4m. The Boeing is 30% more expensive as a basic airframe.

Additionally the wings on a CS100 are built in Belfast and of course there is export potential whereas if we buy an off the shelf P8 Poseidon we get no benefit with this plus we would have to rework all the plumbing for inflight refuelling.

The CS100 also has more modern and fuel efficient engines

SomewhatInvolved
September 22, 2012 2:56 pm

Mercator, welcome and thanks. That’s a great insight into the P8 and sortie rates. There has been talk that the P8 is more suited to the Pacific task but I for one cannot see much different between the North Atlantic and Pacific patrol tasks. Clearly Australia sees the P8 as a viable replacement but I still have my reservations, probably doctrinal as much as anything. Fascinating that you think the sub-SAM threat is more significant – I would regard it very much as a weapon of last resort, as it gives away your position and makes a fairly convincing case for a hostile act. As for numbers, sounds about right. We need plenty of pelicans in the skies if we have a long-duration tracking exercise – I know a couple of Nimrod TACCO’s who happily got through 2-300 buoys on a couple of missions, and my Dad was a Nimrod pilot for many years and shares the same thoughts.

An Anglo-French MPA wouldn’t be a bad thing but the cost of modifying a civvy airliner to a military task is not inconsiderable. My question was simply to see if anyone had any insight into French plans to replace their Atlantiques any time in the near future – rumours are that they are all pretty much knackered and the availability rate is poor.

martin, I think you misunderstand me. I absolutely want to divorce the SAR task from the MPA task and from the military as a whole. The Hercs must be painted red and white with COASTGUARD on the side, and have civvy crews. I want a proper Coastguard that flies helicopters and fixed wing who are solely responsible for SAR in the UK Sea Areas and I want us to take our responsibilities for the safety of mariners seriously for a change. I also want a proper Coastguard that operates a number of surface ships who will not only rescue mariners but also stop drug runners, illegal immigrants and Spanish fisherman from raping our seas. I want a Coastguard that guards our bloody coast!

I want a Navy that projects power overseas and assures the independence of the nuclear deterrent. I want an MPA that can operate in support of both Navy task groups operating in hostile littoral waters with a significant SSK threat, and which can defend our home waters approaches and protect the strategic nuclear deterrent from a foreign SSN. I want an RAF that understands the aviation requirements of BOTH Army and Navy and procures aircraft and devises a grand strategy that actually fulfils that. I do NOT want an RAF that continually tries to prove that wars can be fought and won from the air alone.

Mark, what a barking comment to make. “As scraping nimrod was a result of the very bad raf what did the navy offer up to save it?” It’s not our f***ing job to tell the RAF how to deliver an integrated UK military aviation policy. However, the project wasn’t cancelled because the RAF failed to put up a case to save it. It was cancelled because the MOD and RAF as a combined entity singularly failed to procure a project to a reasonable budget or timeframe and completely, utterly and totally failed to deliver even a vague hint of project management capability. That also is not our job. We have a Navy to run – we expect the RAF and Army to know how to do their jobs.

You cannot hide a 16,000 ton SSBN in the Irish Sea or Channel. An SSBN needs to disappear. It can never so much as raise a periscope during a patrol. The Irish Sea and Channel are too shallow, too busy and too noisy for a submarine to safely navigate for months on end. They must disappear off the continental shelf and hide in great ocean currents, eddies and fronts, protected by the SOSUS network and our forces. We don’t ride shotgun on them – we respond to foreign incursions that may threaten the safety and security of the bomber. And an SSBK? Great – your nuclear deterrent is nice and secure – until it has to snorkel to charge batteries. Honestly you must all think we’re best buddies with everyone in the world, who would possibly want to do anything nasty to the Brits?

Observer
Observer
September 22, 2012 3:08 pm

@El Sid

I know about the speed factor of the MPA, that was one of the “styles” of engaging the enemy I was talking about, the QRF (quick reaction force). I’m just pointing out that it’s hardly the only way to play the game.

@APATS

I do agree MPA does have pros and cons, I was just pointing out that operational tactics should drive equipment requirements rather than the other way round.

Personally though, I have my doubts about a MPA A400M being the last word in MPA. For one, it’s expensive, not to mention actually overspecced for the job (which also feeds into the price tag). There is also the problem of wing pylons, especially when the 4 blades totally block any flightpath of a wing launched weapon, and if you want a bomb bay, you’ll need to redesign the underside all over again. Of course you can chuck sonobuoys out the back, as well as fit in rear firing torpedos, but anti-ship missiles would be a harder proposition, your radar is facing the wrong way, and it would have to overcome the initial “drag” of flying the wrong way before it can start accelerating to the target, reducing the range.

I’m betting something smaller and cheaper like the converted bizjets suggested or small cargo planes might be a better proposition. Twin engined to clear the outer edges for wing pylons or tail-mounted engines. Small, cheap, handy, flexible. And if old, easily sold as cheap surplus to other countries that can’t afford big ticket A400s.

x
x
September 22, 2012 3:20 pm

@ Somewhat re SSBK

One was joking. The idea of huge diesel powered submarine just tickled me.

Further I am the one here who always wants to up the deterrent’s defence. Unlike you navy bods with your soft kill and lets not put missiles on a ship just in case it offends.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 22, 2012 3:24 pm

Observer, The job of my MPA is ASW, frankly any ASuW capability is a bonus. Nimrod did not carry Harpoon for a long time before was taken out of service. I will leave it to the geeks to work out if it can carry an AShM, more worried about Ships potentially not carrying them.
I do not want a small business jet that can barely carry 2 tonnes or a slow short range cargo planes. I want to be able to stay airborne for a long time doing my ASW job. See SI point about buoy usage. Pitching up with 2 hours endurance and 30 buoys is just wasting tax payers money as it is operationally inconsequential.
Nimrod MRA4 was going to cost 400 million a pop, A400M will be under that. Especially if we utilise the German airframes they do not want.
If the design is modular enough to allow the airframe to be used for cargo, even with limitations it will aid export orders and export orders equal rebates!

Edit

X, When I have I said that a Ship should not have an AShm capability?

SomewhatInvolved
September 22, 2012 3:35 pm

x, I know you were joking but others might not!

McZ
McZ
September 22, 2012 3:58 pm

The A400M is no MPA-design, and we are short of transports anyway.

Maybe the software developer in me tells me, that applying the separation of concerns pattern is highly appopriate to solve maritime surveillance (and indeed any surveillance).

We have this tiny little BAE Mantis. With a little imagination…

1) Would it be possible to come up with 20 of them configured with a SeaSpray 7500 (for commonality), a MAD or sonobuoys to get a “explorer”-node?
2) Would the same be applicable to AEW through equipping them with Vixen radar or a Vigilance-pod?
3) Would it be possible to get a further 20 to be armed with Stingray, FASGW-H, SPEAR Cap 3, maybe a simple chain-gun or even laser-guided bombs to get a “killer”-node?
4) What aircraft & comms are required to get flying command-post as a backbone? Wouldn’t Sentinel be appopriate?
5) Why not use the SSBN connected to it’s own guard-UAV through satellite comms as a command post?
6) Five years down the road, can they be equipped with a lift-fan and folding wings, to make them available to the RN?

Just asking…

Mark
Mark
September 22, 2012 4:10 pm

SI

Why barking? You listed all the things that an mpa does which all have a bearing on the Navy funny enough so if when all the chiefs got round the table and someone said lets ditch nimrod why didnt the first sea lord say hold on a minute I need this capability and along with or independent of the RAF come up with a way to pay for it. Most navys have a mpa (much like the FAA fly merlin asw) or was it a case of I really want a mpa as long as it comes out of the rafs operations budget. RAF said we cant afford such an asset solely for maritime patrol(due to numbers being reduced so far) navy said nor can we so the man from the treasury said its cut then.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 22, 2012 4:23 pm

Mark,

You ignore the fact that the Detterent although maintained by the Navy is a central strategic asset.
It would be typical of the RAF to play inter service Politics by offering up the Nimrod in the hope that the RN would offer a saving elsewhere and then scrap it 4 years later to buy some shiny Typhoons.
It takes a long time to forget moving Australia!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 22, 2012 4:43 pm

McZ, Why can we not have an MPA version of an A400?

Mantis is a demonstrator at the moment and whilst I think it has incredible potential in ISR and even light surface strike it cannot carry anywhere near the payload required to be a uselful ASW asset. It would take 30 of them to try ands simply fit a useful buoy load for a single mission.
Making the nuclear detterent constantly transmit is one of the stranger ideas I have ever heard.

Observer
Observer
September 22, 2012 4:54 pm

@APATS

ROFL, you still remember the moving Austraila incident?! That was such a long time ago. Amusing though.

Think the quoted price for an A400M (off wiki, so no idea how reliable it is) was 136M Euros, this is the stock version.

Pakistan bought 8 2nd hand P-3s from the US for 970M USD IIRC. That’s ~100M Euros per. Not too bad a deal for a plane that’s designed to do MPA from the get go. As long as the frames are good, 2nd hand is nothing to sniff at.

Topman
Topman
September 22, 2012 5:05 pm

@ APATS

‘RN would offer a saving elsewhere and then scrap it 4 years later to buy some shiny Typhoons.’

If I read Mark’s comment right I think he meant, the navy making savings and paying for the lot from then on for MPA, thus no-one else would be able to cut it (Treasury apart).

‘It takes a long time to forget moving Australia!’

Fancy a peak at that map? ;)

SomewhatInvolved
September 22, 2012 5:12 pm

The short term option to regain the MPA capability would be to lease a number of ex-US P3’s to cover the gap until a permanent solution is found. The French decision is probably the most relevant to us as all other operators are using P3’s which have at least a decade of service life remaining. Seedcorn is well placed to regenerate such a capability.

Mark you are so far from the truth of SDSR that it’s unreal. There was no ’round the table’ discussion. The SDSR was implemented by MOD and the Defence Secretary, not the Services. In any event, the RN wasn’t even able to save the four Type 22’s, an LPD, LSD(A) and Ark Royal, so what makes you think they had a hope in hell of persuading them to retain Nimrod? And the term ‘maritime patrol aircraft’, funnily enough, is extremely relevant to the Navy which is why I quote Navy tasking. What else do you think maritime patrol aircraft do – deliver ration packs to the front line? Search and rescue is NOT a military task – it is a civilian task and should be done by a civilian agency. Same applies to fishery protection.

A maritime patrol capability is a critical part of our defence posture, inherently bound up in both the strategic deterrent and the ability to project power overseas by naval assets. The decision to eliminate it was done for the right reasons – financial – but there were, in my opinion, plenty of other assets that could have been, and should have been cut before the MPA capability was cut without replacement.

x
x
September 22, 2012 5:16 pm

@ APATS re AShM

SI knew I was being silly, why not you?

@ SI

An SSBK would be a monster of a thing. But I am determined to get a working concept. Even if it displaces 100,000t…..

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 22, 2012 6:08 pm

X,

Not sure I yet have your blessing to address you in posts let alone point out you are being silly? :)

Mark
Mark
September 22, 2012 6:27 pm

SI

Well if the heads of the 3 services were not involved in sdsr then there’s something seriously wrong with how defense is run. Exactly the point im making as mpa is extremely relevant to the royal navy why didnt it take it over, I guess it could afford it either.

I can see why nimrod went the numbers became so small im not sure we actually had a deployed capability and should one have crash ect we could not have replaced it. The name nimrod and the connection with the crash in afghan probably had some political consideration. It was linked to all that was bad with defense procurement and would have been quite expensive to run. When the overland role was taken over by other assets and afghan being top priority I can start to join dots especially as it was reported the nimrod wasn’t doing much mpa prior to cancellation due to reduced numbers.

x
x
September 22, 2012 6:35 pm

@ APATS

Never take me throwing a wendy too seriously. I never ever mean it.

Topman
Topman
September 22, 2012 6:47 pm

@ Mark

‘The name nimrod and the connection with the crash in afghan probably had some political consideration. ‘

No ‘some’ about it, one of the impacts of HC. How much is up for debate, very few will know exactly how much but to my mind there’s little doubt it was an issue. The name itself carried political baggage.

Topman
Topman
September 22, 2012 7:09 pm

I think over 2 years now. What are you hinting at?

x
x
September 22, 2012 7:48 pm

I think he is hinting about whether we need it or not.

Of course we don’t know how many times the Russian SSNs have been close to a V-boat on patrol.

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 22, 2012 7:55 pm

X, unless you are suggesting an Akula 2 has a passive range advantage over a V boat and can deploy undetected I am going to say none.

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 22, 2012 8:03 pm

@TD how often have we provide intel for or given missions to other friendly MPA assets that we would normally have undertaken ourselves?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
September 22, 2012 8:04 pm

Wasn’t one of the major issues with MR4A simply how much it had cost and how delayed it was?

McZ
McZ
September 22, 2012 8:04 pm

@APATS
“McZ, Why can we not have an MPA version of an A400?”

We will not get a dedicated design. The cargo-aircraft-program is still far above £5b over budget, and Airbus will have no appetite for a risky development path just to sell maybe 30 aircraft. That would be mad.

So, all our hopes are a possibility to add modular stuff, which is hard to imagine in case of the sensors. Which means, we maybe get more A400Ms through, but as we will become short of cargo aircraft around 2020, they will not act as MPAs. If this possibility existed, we would have already converted a couple of Hercs.

And – last but not least – I think we simply cannot afford them. If we could, the P-8 would look like a bargain compared.

“Making the nuclear detterent constantly transmit is one of the stranger ideas I have ever heard.”

The main part of communication would be passive. For the few occasions of sending, as long as the enemy is called ‘russian SSN’, what are the odds against using relatively low-energy directed sat-com?

My point was thinking out of the current ‘one platform must fulfil all needs’-pattern. I think, we are doing us harm if we tie too much expectations into one airframe not even in service in its intended role.

On Mantis, I actually guess, you don’t understand my concept. It could also be done by using MQ-9 Reapers. It would be a UAV-version of the old hunter-killer-concept. Basically like the P-8/BAMS-combo, but both UAVs, with one manned command node or a ground station as a backbone. (Btw, having a command-post A400M including an abiltity to refuel UAVs is absolutely feasible, as no changes to the airframe are needed.) On payload, Mantis should eventually match at least a Wildcats load, which is sufficient for two torpedoes or four FASGW-Hs.

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 22, 2012 8:11 pm

@ Chris B

I understand that the platform had all sorts of issues. Someone will undoubtedly know the details.

Topman
Topman
September 22, 2012 8:12 pm

@ Chris B

That would have been a consideration, it was certainly the language from the gov at the time from what I can remember. How much that actually matter is up for debate but the issues, along with the fallout from HC, you raise wouldn’t have helped it.

x
x
September 22, 2012 8:17 pm

@ APATS

I very much doubt they have had a sniff of a V-boat; even if they sailed right passed one by chance. What I was getting we the public, and probably most of the RN outside the submarine service, don’t know for sure what happens out there. As you say it all is very secret squirrel for good reason; we don’t know if there is a threat or not. It isn’t like QRA chasing Bears over the North Sea. The pictures of a V-boat dodging an Akula aren’t going to appear in the Mail or Express with some jingoistic headline.

If they are going to track a V-boat the time to do it is when it deploys. But that would be so tricky even in these days of mass communications that unless your surname is Clancy you wouldn’t believe it possible.

@ TD

Yep.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
September 22, 2012 8:18 pm

I mean nine years late and getting on towards a billion quid over budget can’t have helped. And if I remember, there was much doom and gloom talk that the fuselages were so different that the project wasn’t even close to completion.

If the paper specs had worked out though… would have been a beauty.

Topman
Topman
September 22, 2012 8:24 pm

@ x

‘The pictures of a V-boat dodging an Akula aren’t going to appear in the Mail or Express with some jingoistic headline. ‘

Unless it didn’t dodge it and it was French…

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 22, 2012 8:27 pm

Topman,

Now I am not going to comment on that other than to say if 2 SSBNs can get so close as to be unable to avoid each other, how difficult would it be to track one from range?

Mark
Mark
September 22, 2012 8:33 pm

Nimrod fuse brackets ect was designed on cad with .010″ tolerance then before it was sent to manufacture 1 or 2 inches of extra material was added all round for trimming on assembly as a condition of supply to ensure it was “common to all a/c”

Topman
Topman
September 22, 2012 8:44 pm

@ APATS

Just a bit of piss taking :) aren’t you lot supposed to have a sense of humour? ;)

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
September 22, 2012 8:51 pm

@topman

We do and the ribbing the people onboard at the time got was pretty intensive, I should have edited my post to indicate that but I merely highlighted the technical point it made.
They also had to suffer the indignity of a 0300 move back to the ship lift and scaffold put on a sister boat on an outside berth so the press got no pics. They were buying beers in the back bar for a couple of days.

Mercator
Mercator
September 23, 2012 1:18 am


I know Sub-SAM sounds fanciful. I thought so myself the first time I heard it. The problem is I first heard 15 years ago and every trade show since has featured some sort of concept for it. Putting aside what you occasionally hear the Russians have been up to, someone is bound to have created something by now and been quietly flogging it off. If you’re in the business of chasing after subs, you have to seriously consider the possible threat.

Sub-SAM would be a weapon of last resort, but if a MPA is overhead dropping bouys, it’s time to use it because a weapon might not be far behind. And it’s not like leaving a flaming datum is something new to the submariner. It’s core business. Assuming that there is anybody about to even see it. Most of the time MPA should be well over the horizon, otherwise a helicopter could handle it. And yes, that probably also puts a question mark over the viability of helicopter based ASW as well. If you start to see ASROC making a comeback, you’ll know that’s about.

martin
Editor
September 23, 2012 5:22 am

@ Mark
“Why are the US navy removing mad from there patrol aircraft if it’s a must have?”
The P8 can’t operate with a MAD boom due to the high speed of the aircraft. They are developing a UAV system for the P8 to deploy MAD. However after the P 8 drops it the UAV will have to fly back to land (sounds expensive to me over the mid atlantic)
The Indians have chosen to fit MAD booms to there P8’s

@ Observer – The Portuguese paid the Dutch EUR 271 million for 8 P3’s with simulators and spare parts. This is the type of capability we can afford on our shoe string and it will give us much of what we had before.
We simply can’t afford to embark on any type of development program like an MPA A400M. we lack the time or the money.

Mercator
Mercator
September 23, 2012 8:16 am

Self evidently, given that you just noted they are putting one on the P-8I, there are no speed limitations on putting one on a P-8. And that probably won’t even be a big boom — modern sensors are much more noise tolerant and don’t need to be as isolated from the airframe. There is a space premium at the tail end of the aircraft though (for ESM, etc), so for that and weight reasons I guess the US decided to go without. But if you really want one, you could have it and a rear facing radar just like the Indians. Did you read what I mentioned about it earlier in the thread (yesterday) in the context of low level flight? There are other considerations.

Also, some sonobouys are very expensive — often thousands of dollars and anecdotally one type I’m familiar with was said to be almost $10,000. In a garden variety training sortie you could easily clock up $100,000 worth of expended ordnance. It’s an expensive hobby. Given that, even a moderately expensive expendable MAD UAV could be viable in the grand scheme of things (say, more than $100,000 but less than $1 million?). After all, you don’t need to use one every day in training and if it was the real thing, you wouldn’t care how much it costs if it helps you bag a sub. And don’t forget that MAD is not a search sensor. If you are using it, you already know with some degree of accuracy where the submarine is likely to be (probably good enough for a weapon). You are just using it to confirm your other sensors or refine your tracking. It’s a nice to have sort of gadget but I would not write off an entire aircraft over it.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 23, 2012 8:31 am

McZ
On Mantis, I actually guess, you don’t understand my concept. It could also be done by using MQ-9 Reapers. It would be a UAV-version of the old hunter-killer-concept. Basically like the P-8/BAMS-combo, but both UAVs, with one manned command node or a ground station as a backbone. (Btw, having a command-post A400M including an abiltity to refuel UAVs is absolutely feasible, as no changes to the airframe are needed.) On payload, Mantis should eventually match at least a Wildcats load, which is sufficient for two torpedoes or four FASGW-Hs.

I understand perfectly the kill concept but pray tell me how you are going to find the submarine in the first place from a UAV?

The main part of communication would be passive. For the few occasions of sending, as long as the enemy is called ‘russian SSN’, what are the odds against using relatively low-energy directed sat-com?

Any odds at all are too high.

So, all our hopes are a possibility to add modular stuff, which is hard to imagine in case of the sensors. Which means, we maybe get more A400Ms through, but as we will become short of cargo aircraft around 2020, they will not act as MPAs. If this possibility existed, we would have already converted a couple of Hercs.

Let us wait and see shall we, a decision has to n be made. the reason we have not converted a herc is that we have not decided to reinstate the capability.

Martin, Unfortunately we missed out on the crazy dutch fire sale. Did they not sell all their MBTs as well?

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
September 23, 2012 10:46 am

RE: A400M carrying weapons useful for MPA.

What is there in front of the wheels in the undercarriage pods? Could they be made longer so they reach almost to the front side door giving space for missiles, fuel?

I’ve done a very rough bodge of what it might look like using an image from Wikipedia.

Obesrver
Obesrver
September 23, 2012 11:05 am

@APATS

Yes, the MBTs were sold to the Indonesians pending final approval.

What do you think of the idea of getting 2nd hand P-3s?

A sub controlled UAV limits the sub to near the surface depths, radio/radar simply don’t penetrate water worth a damn, which is why sat comms for subs use the ultra-low frequencies. With really bad transmission rates in the realms of 1 word every few minutes. Try realtiming a UAV, with video no less, on that. Not likely, unless you want to surface entirely, which kills the purpose of a sub in the 1st place.

“And don’t forget that MAD is not a search sensor. If you are using it, you already know with some degree of accuracy where the submarine is likely to be.”

Which also implies that a MAD UAV is going to be near useless for hunting subs since to use a MAD, you already know the sub’s in the general area, and if you don’t, the MAD’s useless anyhow.

I’m still thinking the cheapest and lowest risk option if MPA really is reinstated is the 2nd hand P-3 buy. Old, reliable, works. Saves spending a bomb on something only to find it impractical or simply duplicated existing off the shelf tech.

The pen is mightier than the sword, but budget cuts are the WMDs of the modern world.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 23, 2012 11:18 am

Observer,

Yes a 2nd hand P3 buy give us back a certain capability. It would have to be at a good price though as would have to replace them a decade or so later but if we could get them in service from 2015 or so at the right price then definitely.

x
x
September 23, 2012 11:24 am

The Dutch are crazy. A small nation that trades globally and with colonial obligations as well so what do they do? Sell their armour and concentrate on the navy. Ha! Thankfully our MoD knows the future is rapid reaction armour. Don’t worry Japan will be coming to your rescue with our Chally2’s…… :)

Jonesy
Jonesy
September 23, 2012 11:40 am

APATS

“I understand perfectly the kill concept but pray tell me how you are going to find the submarine in the first place from a UAV?”

As I see it people are talking about 2 clear requirement streams…..high persistence surface ISTAR and short reaction ASW endgame. The first I get the second I’d have questions about to be honest….arent we looking at the wrong part of the kill chain here?. All very well and good lamenting the lack of the localisation/shooter asset, but, are we not also lacking in the theatre detect assets?.

Delousing bombers doesnt absolutely require MPA’s and the presence of the Nimrod force never stopped the Zapadnaya Litsa Sailing Club trying to stake out the Firth of Clyde!. To get the V boats out into deep water clear and free then doesnt seem great justification, by itself, for an ASW heavy MPA.

Routinely reacting to SSN detects, by scrambling MPA’s any time we get a sniff on one near a bomber, doesnt strike me as a great plan either. I always understood the idea was not to tip the hand on what our real detection capability was?. Letting the opposition KNOW that we could track them was something that got the Walkers rightly jailed. Why would we be in such a hurry to give the game away ourselves?.

So, if the deterrent doesnt absolutely need MPA’s and we arent chasing the 33rd Submarine Division all round the western approaches I’ve got to say I’m not seeing the dire need for the prosecute/shoot MPA asset. Surveillance is a different story in my view. I’ve long been of the belief that we should be deploying a sovereign SURTASS capability. After all if we can track the opposition nice and early we can determine whether its a threat and take the necessary steps to minimise that threat. If we know the oppositions SSN is 200km away from our bomber and heading the wrong way why do we need to set a Nimrod on it?!

The surveillance thing brings us back to that persistent surface recon element. A radar-equipped unmanned patroller that can stay up for upwards of a day has to be all sorts of use for the actual work we do today. EEZ surveillance, GWoT intel gathering, even SAR (air drop lifesaving kit is hardly new) plus the more warry taskings like watching errant foreign carrier battlegroups from a nice safe range, SIG/COMINT etc all things that a properly configured Mantis could handle. The usefulness of a couple stationed at Gib and a 5 plane det at Mount Pleasant is hard to understate in my view…not least if we end up responsible for the security of some valuable oilfields down south.

Its true Mantis is currently no more than a demonstrator, but, BAE have already shown a mockup with a ventral radar dome of the right size to fit a Seaspray 7500 class set. The thinking for an MPA tasking has already been done then it seems…which seeings that its being done with Heron, Mariner, BAMS/RQ-4 UAVs for years is no surprise I guess!.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 23, 2012 11:57 am

Jonesy the SSBN do not even dive until they are out of the Clyde! No further comment on that.

Routinely reacting to SSN detects, by scrambling MPA’s any time we get a sniff on one near a bomber, doesn’t strike me as a great plan either

We do not scramble if they only go near an SSBN it is Western policy to track SSN incursions into the Atlantic. The benefits of practice against a live foreign asset massively outweigh any risk of giving away capability.

UAV for surface surveillance is a good idea but if we can only have UAV or MPA we are back in the position where the MPA can do ISTAR and ASW and possibly ASuW but the UAV cannot do ASW.

WiseApe
September 23, 2012 12:47 pm

Back from hols – note to self: next time you go to sunnier climes, stay in the shade!

A lot of catching up to do:

European army – no. Infantry Weapons Update – guns. Vigor OPC looks like a VW Beetle. That about covers it.

Welcome Mercator, someone who really knows his stuff is always welcome here. I said that with a straight face.

” Search and rescue is NOT a military task – it is a civilian task and should be done by a civilian agency. Same applies to fishery protection.” – wasting your breathe here SI, I’ve said the same about chasing drug runners; any excuse to build more frigates!

Re MPA – we want something to sit over the egress routes of our SSBNs as they head out on patrol, something that can sit there for hours/days while carrying a good payload. How come no one has mentioned airships? Or have I got sunstroke?

x
x
September 23, 2012 1:01 pm

Lighter than air has been mentioned in passing.

Mark
Mark
September 23, 2012 1:03 pm

Martin 737 also can fly slow there just draggy doing it so ill go with mercators reasons.

I know most dont like it but considering costs and we need a capability back take a gloabl express with 2 pilots, 3 crew stations and provision for 2 additional observers. Fit the seaspray 7500E, an ESM suite, a satcom and link 16, a DASS, a westcam mx-20 and a sonar bouy launcher use the astor fairing configuration so new a/c qualification required. I would consider a single hard point under each wing for pods or a torpedo but may comprise range too much. They would need to operate in pairs for high end tasking but maybe a cheaper way back.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 23, 2012 1:13 pm

Mark,

It is not that I dont like it it is that it will not work. A Global Express XRS has a useful load of 800kg. So 1 Stingray and 4 buoys maybe? They also cost 30 million pounds each.

Obesrver
Obesrver
September 23, 2012 1:24 pm

@Jonesy

How does a UAV do sonar? MAD can’t detect deep dived subs, so you need sonobuoys, which are almost the size of the UAV itself. And if it can only carry one, you might as well forget about it, you need more than 1 to search. Dipping sonar? Even bigger than the UAV and locks you into the rotary wing class, with corresponding pros and cons.

And isn’t the term boomer? Bomber is the one that flies.

@x

The Netherlands don’t have a big history of first strike intervention, mostly international peacekeeping after the battles, so it really does make more sense for them to go wheeled AFVs than MBTs. Different strokes for different folks.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 23, 2012 1:28 pm

Observer,

The US call them Boomers, the RN call them Bombers.

I think the French call them dodgems.

Mark
Mark
September 23, 2012 1:39 pm

APAS

No its doesnt you have significantly more weight margin than that once its striped down to basic a/c configure unless you want the vip interior and all the windows

Jonesy
Jonesy
September 23, 2012 1:44 pm

APATS

“Jonesy the SSBN do not even dive until they are out of the Clyde! No further comment on that.”

Irrelevent whether they do or not. The point is that ‘other peoples’ SSN’s have been found in positions where we would rather not have them. I used the term ‘stake out the Firth of Clyde’ to be deliberately vague. I didnt mean to suggest Russian SSN’s were driving up Gare loch!. The fact remains that getting the nuclear deterrent out does not look to be sufficient justification, by itself, for an ASW heavy MPA.

“We do not scramble if they only go near an SSBN it is Western policy to track SSN incursions into the Atlantic.”

We do not scramble at all any more. Provided we have the ability to pick up the SSN incursions in the first place that is the key to the game. My view is that this is where we need to focus our effort – in the wide area detect…not the prosecution. SSN’s can be localised and prosecuted by other assets than MPA’s especially when you can hold contact on them at extended ranges.

“The benefits of practice against a live foreign asset massively outweigh any risk of giving away capability.”

Matter of opinion I guess. I think anything that fosters the other sides confidence they can operate unmolested, while they are actually being tracked, is to be promoted as strongly as possible. Sic’ing a hunting MPA on an unwitting SSN in the middle of nowhere might be great jollies for the warfare team, but, it makes for a far more alert opposition. Double-edged sword that one…especially when you can get training for the MPA warfare team on ‘friendly’ SSN’s that can be equally taxing…albeit not employing opfor systems/tactics.

I see your point on the UAV vs MPA, but, I dont think its necessarily a valid one. UAV is cheap to run apart, perhaps, from a bit of satellite bandwidth and has a mission right now. I know SI is adamant that ASW MPA also has a mission now, but, hard as I try I see ‘nice to have but not essential’.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
September 23, 2012 1:52 pm

Mark, Do you think pulling out the interior will not be offset by fitting, radars, link 16, military comms, ESM, WESCAM etc? Then we have the core ASW terminals and command sytems to monitor the buoys etc.
Ignoring size and space a useful load for an MPA in terms of Sonobuoys and 3 Stingray would weigh in excess of 6000kg.

Obesrver
Obesrver
September 23, 2012 1:56 pm

@Jonesy

Think the UAV part came from a totally unworkable idea of having a sub deploy it’s own UAV. Other than having to surface to launch it, being underwater actually cuts bandwidth down to near non-existent levels, so you can’t hope to control a UAV.

On a surface ship, yes, it can work, but I see it only as valid for small corvettes and for tracking surface targets only, any larger ship would use a helo which is more capable and flexible. The only time I can see a destroyer or frigate use UAVs in lieu of helos as standard would be something like a strike frigate or assault destroyer where the anticipated operating environment is so hostile that you expect to lose any scouting helo, and would rather lose a bunch of UAVs instead. That is a very rare niche though, so it’s not likely.

All Politicians are the Same