Consortium Offers Proposal to MOD for Q400 Based MPA Solution

Q400

 

A consortium including L3 Communications and Selex is offering the UK an MPA Solution based on the Bombardier Q400. The aircraft will include extra fuel tanks to enhance range and external blisters for weapons and sonar buoys.

The Q400 is an option I don’t think we have looked at in detail. The consortium quote the solution providing 80% of the capability of the P8 at 1/3rd the cost. I’m Guessing the 80% of the P8 capability refers to the range of the aircraft with the auxiliary fuel tanks. Other articles mention a 10 hour endurance time with the extra tanks.

Perhaps the most interesting point is the indication that after incidents such as MH370 and the recent search for a missing British yacht in the Atlantic the MOD has stepped up the hunt for an MPA solution and will put it down as it’s number one priority in SDSR 2015.

The Q400 seems like an interesting solution but is it too ugly for RAF service?

 

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Ace Rimmer
May 30, 2014 11:27 am

“The Q400 seems like an interesting solution but is it too ugly for RAF service?”

More like is it not too cheap looking for RAF service? Definitely an interesting proposition though, given the amount of current users for maritime patrol and surveillance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bombardier_Dash_8_operators

Do these operators use theirs in an armed role though? And do these roles include ASW? And can it support the deterrent? Food for thought.

Mark
Mark
May 30, 2014 11:38 am

It will probably look something like this but with uk sensors.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wmtEiGYJfA

I’m sure mr burridge now of finmeccanica knows what the requirement is considering he was a former nimrod pilot and commanding officer of RAF Kinloss.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 30, 2014 12:32 pm

You end up going round the houses again with weight vs range etc etc. They are talking about more than doubling the endurance which means doubling the fuel load and then you have the weight of the systems but weight saved by ripping out the standard interior. Then do we have wing pylons etc etc. Until they model it fully or fly it then we really do not know what it can carry for how far or for how long.

TAS
TAS
May 30, 2014 12:40 pm

This raises a bigger question. If they can blister weapons, fuel and other stores onto the external surfaces, why stick with the Q400? The underlying proposition suggests their way forwards could be applied to any airframe, so surely better to find another one with greater range, endurance and capacity? 757 for example (following on that excellent post some time back)?

The suggestion of creating an AWACS variant brings us back to the wider discussion to find a common airframe to replace Sentry as well. And arguably, we are in need of a dedicated airframe that can deliver some of the niche comms and EW capabilities that COMPASS CALL offers, and ultimately take over from the ancient bird that is the RIVET JOINT.

The Limey
The Limey
May 30, 2014 12:46 pm

@APATS,

Agreed. There’s been quite a bit of discussion on this over on the Open Thread. The consortium has acquired a second hand model to convert as a testbed, which should give some insight – and at least shows they are being serious.

One of the key things appears to be range, which is probably only 20% or less than the P3. Therefore whether it can be converted for air to air refuelling is key. If it can, it appears a serious contender.

@TAS – one of the key things about the Q400 is that the landing gear are in the engine nacelles, this makes adding the war canoes down the side/underneath a lot easier.

WiseApe
May 30, 2014 1:09 pm

Basically what APATS said above.

The fact that they’re willing to develop their own testbed is interesting and encouraging, but we’ll have to wait and see just how developed it is. If they can demonstrate decent performance/endurance/lift capability, it should be worth considering – if only as a Plan B to wave under the nose of Boeing ;-)

Kent
Kent
May 30, 2014 1:10 pm

@TD – The Q400 seems like an interesting solution but is it too ugly for RAF service?

This from the people who put the English Electric Lightning and the Nimrod in service?

Mark
Mark
May 30, 2014 1:30 pm

Apas Maybe in the public now but they’ve been working it for a while now. You’ve 20k lbs plus of available weight to play with. I would suggest this is in the capability of the cn295 in an airframe that cruises 100knts faster.

TAS you are correct you can do this to any airframe. Taking a modern in build airframe is always an advantage because you have a straight fwd Audit trail. Also means your not developing a mission system and an airframe at the same time so your risk is less. Finally if you go to a company that coverts and integrates airframes like this all the time you usually end up with a positive result. Thing is we tend to do it all backwards.

MSR
MSR
May 30, 2014 2:06 pm

The problem is not just one of range but also transit speed. A faster economical cruise means more time on station. Public domain figures give the P-8 a cruise speed of 815 km/h. The series 400 Bombardier is given a cruise of 667 km/h which is not going to be improved with additional weight of cargo (fuel, sensors, blisters and payload).

And frankly, if there is a possibility of getting P-8 (an assumption that has been floating in the air ever since Seedcorn was announced, because only in La La Land do we buy second-hand Atlantiques) then why would we look at anything less for a fully equipped* ASW/ASuW/AWACs capable platform?

*where fully equipped is basically Nimrod territory. I look at the Q400 idea and see something more analogous to the US Coast Guard’s maritime surveillance aircraft (MSA as opposed to MPA?). In other words, this airframe with the extra fuel tanks would be a good candidate for a surface search radar and an EO turret, with some kind of facility to drop flares and aid packages to seamen in distress. In that configuration it is more than adequate to meet the UK’s standing SAR requirements: it would answer the questions raised in the wake of the Cheeki Rafiki incident about how the UK could have responded if an American boat had suffered a similar fate in the UK’s area of responsibility. But I don’t see it dropping torpedoes.

TAS
TAS
May 30, 2014 2:34 pm

MSR, speed isn’t that critical. The P3 is turboprop driven and it’s the second-best sub hunter there ever was.

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
May 30, 2014 2:35 pm

Whether its the A400, the Q400 or whatever, I don’t think we can afford to wait to 2015.

In the defence debate earlier this month the Scot Nats were again making this point and I really do hate to agree with them, especially when we have this gap in our defences/capability with a one billion underspend.

Chris
Chris
May 30, 2014 2:47 pm

TAS – second best? What was on the top of the list – Shackleton? Catalina? Sunderland? Hampden? Nimrod MR2? Or the now mythical MRA4?

The Limey
The Limey
May 30, 2014 2:47 pm

@MSR-
Per the link the consortium putting together is proposing both torpedoes and Harpoon – in the canoe and/or hardpoints on the wing.

The Q400 would certainly be able to outpace any Russian cruiser hanging around off the Firth of Forth.
Time taken to get to location is certainly an issue, but what matters is the entire package. For the price of a single P8 we could have three of these. Being able to afford to have them in multiple locations more than makes up for a 15% difference in airspeed.
@Ian-
Agreed, but it’s not a UOR, and even though I think we all agree it’s something really needed it is not going to come in tomorrow whatever happens. Paying for it now makes a mockery of the SDSR system. But if you notice that there’s plenty of noises coming up – which hopefully means that the MOD is ready to hit publish as soon as the SDSR is finished, and everybody is ready to respond quickly. Yes there’ll be a delay on bringing into service, but hopefully not too much of one.

Challenger
Challenger
May 30, 2014 3:51 pm

@Kent

‘This from the people who put the English Electric Lightning and the Nimrod in service’

I always found the Nimrod neither here nor there when it came to looks so i’ll let you have that one, but the Lightning….how dare you sir!

Challenger
Challenger
May 30, 2014 3:53 pm

Fantasy fleet time….

If or hopefully when we get a new MPA fleet where should it based and what squadron number/numbers would people like to see revived?

Ace Rimmer
May 30, 2014 4:02 pm

Just a thought…looking at the Q400’s lineage, the preceding Dash 7 had four engines for a similar sized wing. This would give additional engine redundancy and more power, although it would add a lot of weight. Although this may possibly cause more problems than it alleviates.

monkey
monkey
May 30, 2014 4:12 pm

The air speed is down to the difference in service ceilings the ,the P8 @ 41,000′ with its turbo fans (can’t spot much from there with a mark 1 eyeball) to the Q400 @ 27,000′ with its turbo props. I guess the P8 mission profile is to climb to the best cruising altitude then when on station drop down at which point its speed will also drop considerably. The range often being quoted is based on being at 41k’ not at patrol height , the Boeing website is backing up wiki 1200nm out , 4 hours on station, then 1200nm back . The Q400 EHGW model has a fully loaded range of 1500nm @ 27,000′ with 6500l of fuel with 78 passengers and cargo giving a landing weight of 28,000kg , in practice the Q400 MPA will land a lot lighter as it burns fuel , returning only with the crew and munitions .The empty weight of a Q400 EHGW is 17,800kg and a MTOW of 29500kg so assuming 2200kg for crew and munitions (assuming the weight of the seating etc for 78 passengers equates to the weight of the electronics fit etc ) leaves a spare 3000l for fuel capacity. This should boost the overall endurance somewhat but is it enough?

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
May 30, 2014 4:13 pm

For political as well as military as well as economic -I believe we should have at least 2 locations , one facing north (in Scotland) and one facing west based in either Wales or the West Country , then of course it would make sense to have at least 2 in the Falklands.

At this point it becomes expensive and this is why I think that we should explore the option that gives us the widest geographic range at the lowest cost. That can only be achieved by more planes than offered by the P8 i.e we must explore an options that gives us more planes than the P8 option.

Peter Elliott
May 30, 2014 4:50 pm

From a NATO standpoint I think it also makes a lot of sense for someone to purchase a different design from P8.

The different combinations of range, altitude, speed, loiter etc will allow a borader range of detection / prosecution methods available across the whole alliance.

So while I’m sure they would love us to buy P8 for industrial and political reasons their professional experts will probably be not too displeased if we manage to create an effective mid-price turboprop alternative. A sort of scaled up C-295 if you like.

Repulse
May 30, 2014 5:13 pm

There is a lot of Beauty in cheaper but effective solutions.

On Defense News there is also the following interesting snippet:
“Selex’s sensor fit offering include its Seaspray 7500 radar and the Eagle active electronically scanned array wide-area radar.

Officials said an Eagle with a 4-meter-long array would provide nearly the air-surveillance capabilities offered by the RAF’s E-3D Sentry airborne early warning fleet.”

Didn’t someone mention recently (or I read it) that a replacement for the E-3D was being discussed.

Mark
Mark
May 30, 2014 5:13 pm
John Hartley
John Hartley
May 30, 2014 5:50 pm

Are any of the bits on the Q400 still made in Britain? The RAF may not like a cheap MPA. Might be better to give it to the Fleet Air Arm. The RAF would only want a fast, expensive jet (P-8).

MONKEY
MONKEY
May 30, 2014 5:57 pm

Hartley
Bombardier in NI
CRJ700 NextGen: complete centre fuselage, nacelles and wing components
CRJ900 NextGen: complete centre fuselage, nacelles and wing components
CRJ1000 NextGen: complete centre fuselage, nacelles and wing components
Q400 NextGen: mid fuselage and wing mounted flight components
Learjet 70 and 75: complete fuselage
Learjet 85: advanced composite wing skin panels and spar components
Challenger 300 and 350: centre fuselage
Challenger 605: centre fuselage and engine nacelles
Challenger 850: fuselage panels, wing components and engine nacelles
Global 5000 and 6000: forward fuselage, engine nacelles, horizontal stabiliser, tailcone, wing to fuselage fairings, wing slats and other composite components
Global 7000 and 8000: composite horizontal stabiliser and other components.

Clive F
Clive F
May 30, 2014 6:33 pm

Am I being thick (probally). Why not piut extra fuel tanks in a C295. Must be less risk.

The Ginge
The Ginge
May 30, 2014 7:14 pm

Interesting development and some interesting comments. My thoughts on the subject would be :
1. Are the systems and processors suggested good enough, what is the comparison with Merlin systems and P8’s ?What is the 20 percent shortfall. If it can’t detect the latest subs then its not worth the saving.
2. Can we get the range out of it ?
3. Does the airframe stand up to thh repeated low level drops.
4. Does it’s flight envelope allow stingray etc to be dropped.
5. What about mad boom ?
6. A refueling probe is a must, it is one of the major failings of the P8 and means we can get some south or to other locations in a hurry.
People on this board have criticised the range/speed etc of the C295 so can the Q400 get the range, plus does the a400 option provide greater range along with less operating costs as we will already have training/logistics trail already in place.
The final point is that Bombadier has a nice factory in Northern Ireland, could we get an mpa version built in NI not just for our mpa but be the centre for any other sales. As stated there are an awful lot of P3’s people will need replacing at a decent price who can not afford a P8 fleet. If you can get the same level of equipment as the P3 a useful tool over land as well as see as evidenced by the Canadian P3’s over Libya.
Finally my view is money is tight hence why I liked the a400 idea based on a plane we are already going to have, if we could only afford 4 P8’s then at a 1/3 of the cost getting 12 of these could be a great deal.
I hope the MOD/RAF think carefully and publish (with sensitive material redacted) the comparison work done on the various options so the public have confidence in the decision and don’t think the MOD/RAF have just bought the nice new American ballble because the yanks fly it.

dave haine
dave haine
May 30, 2014 7:29 pm

I have to say I like the Q400, as a shorthaul airliner it’s a very effective economical aircraft…as an MPA, however I have some misgivings-

The narrow fuselage really limits the design options- the classic example of this was the Nimrod, with the huge weapons and sensor bays rivetted onto the bottom of the fuselage, but the same can be said of the Sentinel, with its ‘canoe’ fairing underneath. The design choice becomes external fuel or external weapons/ sensors. Any form of external stores increases the fuel consumption, and obviously reduces the range. This is where the P8 wins- the wider fuselage gives flexibility. Mind you as TAS said upthread, if you can do it to the Q400, you can do it to any airframe. B757 anyone? lot’s of them about, good-long range, even without extra tanks (equally A319?).

The other issue is the engines- there are very few small turboprops that are designed for extended continuous running, so the engines will have to be cycled during the flight-time, not a major thing, but not doing it runs the risk of greatly shortening engine life and maintenance intervals.

Still, it’s good that someone is looking at this and opening up options….wonder if we could persuade Ilushyn to start producing the ‘May’ with western electronics :-)

Jed
Jed
May 30, 2014 7:45 pm

The main piont here is:

1. Do we need a “military” aircraft capable of hunting enemy submarines – MPA
2. A “civilian” aircraft capabile of SAR – MSA

?????

Lots of people use Bombardier Dash 8 variants – see this page leading to a bunch of examples on the CASR site:

http://casr.ca/ai-dash8-special-mission-index.htm

Jed

x
x
May 30, 2014 7:49 pm

I would rather have more sensors in the air with fewer weapons than less sensors with more weapons.

If T26 is up the duff perhaps we could buy more of these? Just buy them with the drinks trolley so we can hold cocktails aboard…….

mike
mike
May 30, 2014 8:19 pm

@ Repulse

Your probably thinking of the NATO E-3 force.
Most likely will be upgraded and life extended, but since its a big multinational thing, discussions on it will go for ages.

Love the Rhubarb and custard talk re a service turning down a cheap option – all HM Forces seem to turn their nose to cheap and cheerful, initially… but a hell of a lot of systems – especially aircraft – have had long careers when they were initially a ‘stop gap’ – the aforementioned Lightning is a good example.

I think a lot of talk atm is pie in the sky, the Salmond referendum could change a shit ton of plans in defence alone. But its good to see another company offer another option. The wider the realistic options, the better.

btw, doesn’t the BAS already use the Dash 8?

Repulse
May 31, 2014 9:02 am

Any purchase of MPAs will be small so a mix of manned aircraft and UAVs will be required.

Mark
Mark
May 31, 2014 10:46 am

mike

Would agree don’t think many really wanted either the harrier or more recently the king air beachcraft but both have proved rather effective aircraft.

Martin/repulse if the mod are allowed to buy triton then the entire procurement arm should be sacked.

rec
rec
May 31, 2014 2:57 pm

I can’t see any advantage that this has over the cn275, anyway isn’t the p8 the clear front runner now for future mpa?

Ace Rimmer
May 31, 2014 3:30 pm

Reading through the pro’s and cons I’m still finding it difficult to sway my opinion away from the SC-130J proposal, the Q400 appears to be too small and lacks punch, and the P-8 can’t get low enough for the use of Mk.1 eyeball.

The Sea Herc for all its supposed foible’s seems to fit the bill nicely, or at least fit like a square peg in a round hole that’s about the same size. And its going to have a MAD…unlike the P-8 or the Q400, proven system off the P-3 fitted onto a proven airframe.

http://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk/content/dam/lockheed/data/aero/photos/c-130/Variants/M12-1166510A002%20SC-130J%20Sea%20Herc%20Bro%20Media.pdf

monkey
monkey
May 31, 2014 3:47 pm

@Ace
According to your link the SC-130J at a radius of 1,325n.mi it has 4 hours of loiter time , better than the P8!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 31, 2014 3:54 pm

@ Monkey

4 hours on station at 1325Nm is 4 hours out then 4 on station and 4 back, the P8 gives 4 hours at 1200Nm which is just under 3 hours out, 4 hours on station and 4 hours back. This proposal talks about 10 hours endurance so it could give you 4 hours on station at 1080 NM with 3 hours out 4 hours on and 3 hours back.

You then look at costs and refueling etc so have to factor in number of airframes etc. It is all pretty close. depends what you need I suppose, if it just sensors and ISTAR then the Triton part of the P8/triton package gives you 16 hours on station at 1400NM

The Other Chris
May 31, 2014 4:24 pm

@Ace Rimmer

Low level myths about the P-8A have been busted.

@Monkey

USN are planning 2,000 mile radius Orbits using 4 aircraft to maintain each one.

At 40,000 to 60,000 feet that’s 250-300 mile horizons for line of sight operations (@Simon). It’s also a significant position above the Earth for its communication relaying functions.

@APATS

The four aircraft per orbit details are interesting. With 20 aircraft specified as being active for those five orbits and a 68 aircraft purchase, do you have any insights you can share on how the Australian earmark of 7 aircraft would be operated? Would that operation be similar to a hypothetical UK purchase?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 31, 2014 4:30 pm

@TOC

I am guessing the Ozzies will use theirs differently. they will not so be concerned with permanent orbits in specific continual Areas as the ability to generate one when required and otherwise use them for long range persistent but possibly not constant surface surveillance operations.

The Other Chris
May 31, 2014 4:33 pm

Thank you, kind Sir :)

Fedaykin
May 31, 2014 4:37 pm

@Ace Rimmer

“..and the P-8 can’t get low enough for the use of Mk.1 eyeball.”

Not that nugget again, the P-8 involved in the MH370 search searched their assigned grids at low altitude with MK1 eyeball and binoculars being used.

The recent USN exercise won by an RAF crew flying a P-8 had the aircraft prosecuting targets at low altitude.

The whole P-8 can’t fly low thing has been massively blown out of all proportion to reality.

jonesy
jonesy
May 31, 2014 7:19 pm

Has the view that the P-8’s airframe life will be dramatically shortened by repeated and prolonged low altitude mission phases been debunked yet?.

If we are serious about ASW we need to look at what another serious ASW player does. The Japanese are, like us, a nation who learned a hard lesson about the impact of a successful opposition submarine campaign. They have their own wide area acoustic sensor capability in the Hibiki class boats and they are replacing their P-3’s with a like-for-like airframe…not something designed for a high altitude cruise and infrequent forays down to wavetop. Why we believe we can do the same job with less defeats common sense.

If we aren’t serious about ASW yet, as the threat hasnt ramped up yet…and the Russians seem intent on trying to wring every last ounce of service out of some very old hulls with announced refits of the early Sierra’s as opposed to full investment in the new gen units, why do we need more than very cheap MSA airframes or make do and mend adaptations of in-service types?.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 31, 2014 7:24 pm

@ Jonesy

“Has the view that the P-8′s airframe life will be dramatically shortened by repeated and prolonged low altitude mission phases been debunked yet?.”

Pretty much by the fact that it is planned to conduct most of its ASW at higher altitude and the then look at the service life of a totally vanilla easy jet 737 that fly 4 or 5 sectors a day every day with the those amount of ascents and descents not to mention the even more stressful take offs and landings.
then look at how often a P8 flies and what it would actually have to do, especially in combination with triton.

“If we are serious about ASW we need to look at what another serious ASW player does.”

Without being horrible to the Japanese they really do not have the same level of experience in actual ops we do, they have ramped up for ASW but that had far more to do with Political considerations. What defeats common sense is the explanations as to why you have to go to low level, there is no reason. It minimises buoy coverage and delays weapon release.

yet the P8 has shown it can do so. I am not sure P8 is the best option but am sure the whole low level rubbish is just that.

The Other Chris
May 31, 2014 7:30 pm

@jonesy

Yes, it has been debunked.

P-8A operation would not include more altitude changes than the civilian base model (i.e. sample take off and landing cycles). The P-8A is also strengthened beyond the base model (q.v. wing design discussions).

In addition, P-8A can perform surveillance/operations at high altitude that other platforms perform at low altitude, allowing it to maintain a wider area of coverage with even fewer altitude changes, preserving airframe even further.

It’s not immune to airframe fatigue. Nothing is.

EDIT: APATS puts the case forward better than I :)

Mark
Mark
May 31, 2014 7:30 pm

TOC.

And that’s the rub if the USN is planning sustained 2000nm orbits using there proposal we are completely bonkers to follow them. That’s the equivalent of maintaining an orbit over the gulf of Saint Lawrence from Lossiemouth.

“Has the view that the P-8′s airframe life will be dramatically shortened by repeated and prolonged low altitude mission phases been debunked yet?.”

Got it in one. It’s not if the p8 can fly low level it can, it’s what’s the cost in ownership to allow it to do it.

The Other Chris
May 31, 2014 7:39 pm

Hence questions about Australian operation. They’re not talking enough volumes to match the USN orbit approach either.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 31, 2014 7:44 pm

@ mark

““Has the view that the P-8′s airframe life will be dramatically shortened by repeated and prolonged low altitude mission phases been debunked yet?.”

Got it in one. It’s not if the p8 can fly low level it can, it’s what’s the cost in ownership to allow it to do it.

Yes and it will not have to that often and even if it does it will still be less stressful than a 44 sector easy jet plane that flies every day.

We do not want to have a constant orbit over the saint Lawrence but we may well want to have a constant orbit in a fixed position in regards to a threat or choke point in support of the fleet well over a thousand miles from the nearest useable air base. The Australians may want to monitor traffic transiting choke points to its North.

With satellite AIS, visual and radar sensors, good band width, superb endurance and a switched on ground ops room looking at lloyds registers, intel alerts etc the triton deliver a completely unparalleled ability to monitor surface vessel patterns and traffic.Do not look at how the US want to use it, look at how it can be used. be used

The US are really backwards in terms of building an RMP, in previous NATO roles I used to get some very embarrassed US “Fleet” Officers call me from up the road wanting an update on various vessels they should have known about.

Observer
Observer
May 31, 2014 7:55 pm

RMP? Something.. Maritime Profile?

ToC, the Aussies don’t have to stay on station 24/7, all they need to do is patrol the area at intervals short enough that illegal immigrants in fishing boats can’t slip through.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 31, 2014 7:56 pm

@ Observer

RMP Recognised Maritime Picture

Mark
Mark
May 31, 2014 8:16 pm

“Yes and it will not have to that often and even if it does it will still be less stressful than a 44 sector easy jet plane that flies every day.”

Yes because I’ve been in a lot of easy jet planes that do 40 odd degree bank turns at high all up weights. Theres probably also something in why these type of airlines bin there aircraft after 15 years flying because they no longer fit there economic model. Flying low level is singular the biggest area for fatigue and flutter issues on an aircraft and it costs to service that so I remain very much less than convinced it a non issue.

Great for Australia but we don’t have any choke points or a fleet to monitor a 1000 plus nautical miles from a base unless were rerunning the Falklands war. I can see were falling over ourselves to yet again do what the Americans do. However I also quite sure I’ve never seen a modern large us military aircraft that doesn’t cost a fortune to operate properly or require lots of people to do it and given the cost NATO were quoting for operating a handful of block 40 global hawks I’m certain well run out of budget half way along and end up with something half assd. We’ve just changed the mantra nothing but nimrod can do the task to nothing but p8 and triton can do the task.

I am as convinced as ever that, that’s what well be doing buying p8 and triton I’m also absolutely certain that there be people filling plenty of column inches at what’s been given up to do it.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 31, 2014 8:27 pm

@ Mark

You can remain as convinced as you want but more and more people are becoming convinced as the stats come out and debunk the myths every week. Not like we have ever had airliner based MPAs before have we?

“Great for Australia but we don’t have any choke points or a fleet to monitor” No fleets no, choke points, no areas of interest? really, damm I have been being paid on false pretenses for tears and years.
However I also quite sure I’ve never seen a modern large us military aircraft that doesn’t cost a fortune to operate properly or require lots of people to do it and given the cost NATO were quoting for operating a handful of block 40 global hawks I’m certain well run out of budget half way along and end up with something half assd.”

Well that huge military power house the Australians have managed yo buy 7 and we seem to manage ok with the C17 which unless I am mistake is large, US and an aircraft.

I am not sure if we will but P8 and Triton but the I do know that the way to argue against it is not increasing debunked performance claims or simply pretending we do not have a use for the capability.

Mark
Mark
May 31, 2014 9:12 pm

Apas

I like that in quoting me you removed the 1000nm plus range from a base to complete change the context of the statement I made maybe all those politicians are rubbing off on you

As for c17 probably not a great example to use the most expensive aircraft to operate we own and if some are to be believe with a insufficient support contract to allow use of all 8 aircraft to there maximum potential.

As you so rightly say it matters very little what I think it is the internet after but I’m sure boeing has made the worlds first fatigue free aircraft with the p8 just as they’ve made the worlds first plastic wonder jet thats cheap and easy to repair. Your right we have used airliners for maritime patrol aircraft though it’s not like the p3 has ever had any fatigue issues now has it!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
May 31, 2014 9:23 pm

@ Mark
Apas

I like that in quoting me you removed the 1000nm plus range from a base to complete change the context of the statement I made maybe all those politicians are rubbing off on you”

I did not mean to do so but a quick use of the free map tools webiste demonstrates numerous locations in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans we could utilise the ranges I talked about. remeber we are talking about seeing what is x miles form a base not that teh fleet is, the ability to a Th Commander to have something like a 24/7 Triton feed 400 or 600 miles up threat whilst he remains in a passive EMCON policy cannot be over estimated.

Yet the C17 offers us a capability that once we got it we could not get enough of it.

Every aircraft suffers from fatigue issues but those leveled against the P8 are totally out of proportion to reality.

As I have continually said I am not saying the P8/triton is the way ahead but nobody else has come up with a solution that meets the requirement, maybe this Q400 will.

monkey
monkey
May 31, 2014 11:25 pm

In 1988 a 737 flying for Aloha Airlines Island hopping on a very short haul LOHILO flight pattern explosively decompressed due to various factors including fatigue , design flaws and poor maintenance. A 10 m section ‘blew’ out killing crew member but the plane safely landed. I am sure Boeing 26 years later have learnt from this. The Indian MAD equipped P8I will fly low level (200m) executing low level 2g+ turns to prosecute their targets (their neighbours to the NW). The P8 is designed to be ‘fit for purpose’ but I guess only time will tell like the Comet before the Nimrod

Jonesy
Jonesy
June 1, 2014 2:04 am

APATS,

Did you see the way that the MH370 hunt cockpit clips showed the P-8 tasked being hauled around at low altitude?. That far exceeded any number of takeoffs and landing I’ve ever experienced…save for one BA ERJ145 who’s driver felt the need for speed coming out of Belfast once.

The Japanese picked up the ball on ASW more than 4 decades ago and they have innovated and invested significantly. They know all about flying Orions…they did after all license build 100 more twice the number of Nimrods we ever built…they know all about monitoring sonobuoys…they know all about ESM and radar horizons and the advantages that come from altitude. These are all technical issues and if nothing else the Japanese are superb technicians. They built their replacement for their 100+ P-3’s as a dual track design not with an airliner…but with a transport…and a 4 engined one at that.

Time will tell what the limitations will be that are imposed on small-fleet P-8 operators by repeated high-G manoeuvring in the low-alt overwater flight regime. My view is simple…why are they pushing the high altitude mission profile if low altitude airframe loading isnt an issue?. Why have the Japanese, facing the combined submarine threat of the PLAN and Russian Far East fleet, not leapt on P-8 and instead gone and developed an aircraft much more akin to Orion based off a transport?. If Poseidon was the very herald of the new paradigm of ASW with hang-gliding sonobuoys and LWTs etc how have the JMSDF missed this?. Why isnt the P-1 more like Poseidon???.

Then we come to expense…Japanese spec units cost them about £85mn a go. Lets say re-engining with RR Tays and the MRA4 mission suite jacks that up by an extra 50% your still looking at 21 P-1UK’s tipping in at about £2.5bn. This being an interesting comparison with what the Aussies are getting for, allegedly, the £3bn allocated for their AIR7000 requirement.

I make no point that we need to rush out and buy Japanese aircraft. My view is that the ASW threat level is still quite modest and by the time it ramps up we’ll need to have looked at the UW domain in a much more holistic sense than just chucking in a squadron or two’s worth of MPAs to make the problem go away. When we get there I think, if at the time we are trying to nursemaid a handful of P-8’s to keep operational lifespans as long as possible, someone is bound to ask the question what in hells name we were thinking of when we bought them!.

Observer
Observer
June 1, 2014 5:35 am

One thing I was taught for the General Paper in A-levels was that to get a good score, you have to argue both sides of the equation. In this case, while people complain about the cost of flying the P-8 at low level, is there any evidence that any other replacement would fair as well? For all we know, the planes that are forced to operate at low levels might suffer from even more fatigue as they do not have an option to climb to a milder environment.

We get the (alleged) point, that the P-8 is bad at low levels, but can we prove that the others are any better? Or are they even worse?

Observer
Observer
June 1, 2014 5:48 am

Woops forgot something else.

APATs… Recognised Maritime Picture? Is that where you identify ship type based on their silhouette and equipment on board from a picture?

Hannay
Hannay
June 1, 2014 7:26 am

Why do you need to operate at low altitude for MPA any more?

For ASW this isn’t needed given the move to multistatic arrays of gps enabled sonobuoys to track modern subs. New novel technologies also can be used from high altitude. New MAD systems are more sensitive and can be used from higher altitude.

For ASuW radar is by far the best sensor and flying high gives the best coverage. Radar can see through clouds and current ISAR technology can identify individual ships in good resolution to reduce the need for visual inspection. Its only if you need to look at very high resolution that eo systems are necessary but again these can be operated from high altitude.
So really you only need to operate at low altitude if you need high resolution imagery in bad weather. How likely us this to happen and is it worth sacrificing much better performance inthe other flight regimes that are going to be used most of the time?

The Other Chris
June 1, 2014 7:28 am

Nimrod.

Converted airliner with modified wings.

Jet powered, accused of having poor low level performance which caused fatigue issues.

Several accidents in its commercial form due to catastrophic metal fatigue.

Held up on a pedestal as the most effective MPA and submarine hunter compared to the competition.

All sounds very, very familiar, eh?

P-8A Poseidon can almost be described as Son of MRA4 given the (in a large number of cases) identical equipment and suppliers. Payload is the same. It’s range/endurance is lacking compared to MR2 and MRA4. Can be refuelled (just needs a boom equipped tanker). Partnered with MQ-4C Triton which has a range and endurance that makes a U2 Dragon Lady blush.

The Other Chris
June 1, 2014 7:54 am

On the non-Poseidon/Triton front, I’m looking forward to Reaper being brought into the Core budget.

In particular I’m hoping that the MOD accepts GA-ASI’s offer of forming a separate Design Authority for the UK.

It would provide a large number of development options for the UK (we’re just buying the platform from the USA and then developing the Payload to suit). Makes a large amount of sense for what remains of SCAVENGER. Mariner and Guardian testbed variants provide some idea of what could be achieved.

More reading to get you started on your Google searches:
http://www.ihs.com/events/exhibitions/farnborough-2012/news/july-12/GA-ASI-pitches-UK-Reaper-sovereignty.aspx

MQ-9 as a platform has a number of areas that would need to be developed further:

1) Range/Payload of the Reaper isn’t stellar. Mariner/Guardian models are improved.

2) No provision yet for operation in non-segregated airspace. Imagine that a “Watchkeeper Approach” would be pursued rather than a “Triton Approach” with its level of equipment.

3) No anti-ice, de-ice, bird or lightning strike modifications in place yet. This restricts Mariner/Guardian operations in the US.

Nothing that hasn’t been solved elsewhere, and I’m sure you can see the advantages of a common UK (US designed/built) platform that we can add UK specific payload to. The “Brimstone Reaper” is one example of what’s possible, the “Seaspray Reaper” is another.

I do believe an RPAS will significantly enhance whatever manned platform we select as an MPA. I do believe the UK is in need of an armed MPA.

Personally I’d like to see Reaper in this separate Design Authority format as the UK MALE, Triton as the UK HALE (it has significant use over land for the British Army to tap into as well, battlefield surveillance, communications relay) and then the UK focus energies on the more exciting Combat RPAS (Remotely Pilot Air System) and RWUAS/TMUAS.

Daniel Hodges
Daniel Hodges
June 1, 2014 8:41 am

@ all

Nimrod was perfect for us because it had one thing that the rest didn’t and that was range/endurance P8 biggest failing and the reason i think we should pass on is range/endurance nimrod had 4 engines and could shut 2 down P8 can not do this remeber sensors are fine but sometimes the north atlantic weather is such you need to get down low and that impacts on your range/endurance but it will come down to money and political decision currently P8 is the only turely full fat mpa in service

Back in yer box Eng.
Back in yer box Eng.
June 1, 2014 10:09 am

‘When you’re up to your a**e in alligators, its easy to forget that the mission was to drain the swamp’. So, while we argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin re range, payload, jet, turbo prop, UAV etc., can I remind everyone that we have NO (0%), or very little, fixed wing MPA/MSA asset of our own. So, detailing what is 80 or 20% of anything is a bit of a nonsense. What we do have is a hugely top heavy airforce that seems more interested in think tanks, defence reviews, strategic studies, mission projects, post service careers etc. than it does about actually flying aeroplanes.

This Q400 project has MRa4 written all over it, a catch all panacea of all ills proposed by an industry that still regards military budgets as its own personal ATM. Just because something is lauded as a 1/3 of the cost of anything (particularly American) doeasn’t make it affordable to us. And taking any existing aircraft and messing around with its systems and airframe to the extent this will, only points to inevitable budget overspend and in-service delays a la MRa4.

Add to that we have to wait a minimum of five years seems to re-inforce my belief that these industries are living in the past a bit. Can we really afford to wait that long? We have the gap (chasm) now, and it needs filling now. The seedcorn guys will have gone native long by then anyway and I always like to think, a little selfishly, that the success of the Nimrod was more down to the crews than it ever was to the aircraft.

Refering to a project of this scope as ‘Stopgap’ is just laughable. A real stopgap would be to go out tomorrow, buy/lease some airframes with a decent radar, decent range and the capability to retrofit a sonobouy drop capability and leave the attack bit (did a Nimrod ever release a weapon in anger?) to fast pointy things. The argument for unmanned vehicles could also tick a lot of the boxes and is available now! However, all of that would require someone making a decision and taking responsibility for it, never going to happen these days. Best wait for a ‘review’ and so spread culpability.

On that, I did notice that the intent for SDSR 2015 re MPA was still only to do more talking and sucking of teeth about it. It may be that they decide to keep their money for fast jets or helicopters or the transport fleet, all of whom have similarly strong arguments for extra cash. So all this rhetoric might be a bit pointless after all.

Heading boxward.

x
x
June 1, 2014 10:34 am

We need range so we can use it in conjunction with CVF here,

http://www.myseek.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/io-map.jpg

I wonder if we are looking at this from the wrong end. Seeing as the sonobuoy is such an awesome tool perhaps we need a better one and a better way of accessing the data and the channelling it to where we want to process it? Preferably somewhere without the constraints of an aeroplane cabin. How much bandwidth are we talking? Can’t be much they are hardly Winter Hill are they?

@ APATS re JMSDF

I know you can’t say much but tell us more please.

Dunservin
Dunservin
June 1, 2014 3:00 pm

@Observer

Recognized Maritime Picture (RMP) – “The fullest achievable agreed level of identification and tracking of all air, surface and sub-surface contacts in the area of interest. The RMP is normally associated with the Recognized Air Picture (RAP) of the same area.”

The RMP and RAP are normally shared and updated among own forces although their comprehensiveness, granularity (resolution, accuracy and detail), currency, etc., can vary owing to limitations imposed by each unit’s EMCON (Emission Control) policy, secure data links, other available comms and bandwidth, on board Command Information Systems (CIS), sensors, specialist personnel for processing, filtering and analysing data, plus other factors including security clearance. For such reasons, the RMP and RAP are sometimes ‘read-only’ and only certain ‘layers’ may be available to some units.

Observer
Observer
June 1, 2014 3:07 pm

Thanks Dunservin, so it’s a strategic picture of the sea to be combined with the strategic picture of the air.

TAS
TAS
June 1, 2014 3:55 pm

(way back up the page)

Chris – no need for sarcasm. Nimrod MR2 was the best MPA in the world. Range, payload and enough weapons for a decent fight. P3 came a close second. MRA4 wasn’t mythical – on paper it still outranged the P8 with a bigger buoy and weapon load, better radar and the same advanced buoy processing system. It was just old, and the MOD, RAF and BAE made such an utter hash of the project to the extent that is was cancelled.

The Q400 is no better than the C295. We need an aircraft capable of doing a long patrol and have enough weapons to finish the job at the end of it, hunting a nuclear submarine in deep ocean. We have no business doing SAR with military assets – that is a civil task. Build a proper Coastguard by all means, but defence planning assumptions should not prioritise civil tasks over military ones.

Mark
Mark
June 1, 2014 4:09 pm

Apas

I’m not saying I think the p8 is somehow worse that any of the rest in fatigue respects but I also don’t see it as a none issue either especially if we have a tiny fleet that will be tasked to things other than maritime patrol. But it appears this topic much like jsf is beyond a rational debate on the internet ( and I don’t mean yourself).

Yes c17 when you taste the finer things in life its hard to go back to beans on toast.

Sometimes requirements just have to change to meet the budget your given. I can see p8/triton being a mix if it is decided that those two aircraft or variants there off replace sentinel, e3, rivet joint and tornados raptor pod capability within the next 10 years if not they are simply too expensive with everything else were trying to do at the same time.

The Other Chris
June 1, 2014 4:17 pm

@Mark

What are your thoughts on the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) on the P-8A?

I get the impression there’s going to be politicking in the States but assuming it’s feasible Is it the kind of variation you’re thinking of for the UK?

If so, would you be looking at specialist/dedicated aircraft within the fleet or a set of combined multirole manned sensor aircraft?

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/01/future-maritime-patrol-part-2-dedicated-long-range-aircraft-p-8a-poseidon/

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2009/07/p-8a-secretly-acquires-mission/

http://aviationweek.com/awin/boeing-assessing-effect-advanced-sensor-p-8-life

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/exclusive-p-8-poseidon-flies-with-shadowy-radar-system-1562912667

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 1, 2014 4:19 pm

@ Mark

Pure requirements never change. What can change and should be publically acknowledged is the level of risk and the acceptance of systems that do not meet requirements because of cost.
The difference is crucial.

Observer
Observer
June 1, 2014 4:25 pm

Maybe we can get a better idea of how MPA works if we can figure out the ..what was the term these days? Kill chain? What triggers an MPA’s decision to drop a sonobuoy? Thermal scar? MAD detection (I suspect not, MAD is very short ranged)? Timed dispersal?

A destroyer asking for a sonobuoy drop in an area is one criteria to drop a buoy, but what is the most common trigger that makes an MPA suspect a sub in the area and drop a buoy by itself?

TAS
TAS
June 1, 2014 7:42 pm

Observer,

What would you like to know?

An MPA will need cueing to find a target. Mostly that will be intel based and work on an understanding of the threat mission and aims. Nuclear ASW and conventional ASW (the terms for finding boats with those powerplants) are markedly different; the nuclear boat runs deep and fast and goes a long distance, but is noisier than a boat on electric propulsion. Finding it requires dropping large patterns (20+ at a time, maybe up to half a mile apart) of passive buoys to listen out for it. Passive buoys are the equivalent of a towed array for aircraft, so you can see how a TA on a sub or surface ship can also help. But MPA are much more capable. Bathy buoys tell you where the thermal layers are, so you know how deep to reel out each sonobuoy (it’s variable). Forget radars – a nuclear boat will stay well away from the surface, because he’s vulnerable there.

By contrast conventional boats rarely go long distances because of their limited endurance. They travel slower, but are near as makes no difference silent. However they are smaller, have fewer trained officers and as such are much more dependent on the CO and his periscope. Find them with radars – SeaSpray, Searchwater and Blue Kestrel are all optimised for periscope detection. Or even Mk1 eyeball. Once you have him, drop a handful of active buoys to locate him. MAD is a bit outdated these days.

The kill chain is dependant on the target. Nuclear boats will run fast and dive deep, conventional boats will stop and drop. Most Russian boats (and hence exports) have double hulls and they all have countermeasures. You need a number of weapons to assure yourself of a mission kill, and a lightweight torpedo is, well, rather lightweight – look at how many Nimrod and P3 packed in.

So, bottom line is, you need lots of time, lots of buoys, good radar and endurance. When you find him, you need a decent weapon load, not just one or two. MR2 carried 200 buoys; that’s a bit excessive these days but at least a hundred are required for a full mission, and at least 6 weapons. Ergo, in my opinion, the Q400 is not good enough to undertake our primary requirement to hunt threat submarines in the North Atlantic and Arabian Sea.

Observer
Observer
June 1, 2014 8:31 pm

Thanks TAS, so the initial cueing is actually intel and estimated position from last contact is that correct? Once you have an estimated location, you go out there and plaster the area with sonobuoys and wait for a nibble. Or if you are chasing a DE, wait for him to snort and slap him with a radar track and everything else (will be interesting to see how AIP will change the equation). Interesting.

If you were to use a heavyweight torpedo instead, would that affect the weapons payload? Or more likely you’ll just end up with 6 heavyweight torpedoes instead of 6 lightweight ones?

I’m currently having the urge to do something really crazy and recommending that the B-52 be converted to an MPA. :P Or maybe the B-1B.

I know, not going to happen, if you’re going to hang around for 12 hours+, you need crew rotation. Those bombers don’t have the facilities for a large crew.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 1, 2014 8:42 pm

@Observer

TAS has given a fantastic oversight but remember that every situation is subtlety different. Is your primary mission to kill the submarine or simply stopping the submarine killing your MEW (Mission Essential Unit)?
At what range are you doing this? Ahead of a TG by x miles ta a choke point or as part of an advanced screen? What is your ROE? How much ordanace do you have available and for how long can they maintain the threat.

ASW is sometimes characterised as Awfully Slow Warfare but it is definitely a thinking mans game.

Ref heavy weight torpedoes. Stingray weighs almost 8 times what Stingray does and is almost 3 times the length and twice the diameter. Light weight torps were developed for a reason.

x
x
June 1, 2014 8:56 pm

TAS said “But MPA are much more capable.”

I appreciate you can’t say much but ships use bathythermographs and there is VDS, are you saying an MPA is better than an ASW ship?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 1, 2014 9:02 pm

@X

“TAS said “But MPA are much more capable.”

What are you trying to achieve? An MPA has mobility, speed and the ability to monitor buoys dropped in different strings as well as utilising that to drop its own weapons.
Ships come in various categories and have differing capabilities, do they have a VDS is it active and passive? Do they have a helo, can it carry weapons? does it have a sonar? Does it have 2 crews?
It is so difficult to make absolute statements on a complex subject. i would say that if you want ti kill a submarine then an MPA is very very good, a well woeked up ASW FF with LFAS and a good helo may be able to keep the submarine on the outside and protect the MEU bit are not as good at “offensive ASW”.

Mark
Mark
June 1, 2014 9:30 pm

Toc

I don’t personnelly think trying to do multiple mission of any of these specialism on a single aircraft is a sensible way to go. I think technically you will run into a host of problems and it will cost you a lot of cash. It also means you will have several very high value nodes that become very difficult to replace should an accident or enemy action remove one. So I quite like the idea of several smaller aircraft potentially using the same basic airframe specialised to specific missions using data links ect to connect together. I think in the 10 odd years since the p8 program started we’ve seen some signifcant developments in optic, radar and even ultras new sonobuoy technology which means looking to develop the capability from fresh in the next 5 years gives us some scope to look elsewhere.

Now for uavs I think the metric changes in that it is easier to swap certain mission modules to allow a smaller fleet to support different taskings given a certain amount of time between switching roles as they will offload sensor data for analysis to somewhere else.

Just a quick question why does a mpa need to carry 6 plus torpeados when a merlin carries only 4 is it to do with reloading times?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 1, 2014 9:36 pm

@ Mark

“Just a quick question why does a mpa need to carry 6 plus torpeados when a merlin carries only 4 is it to do with reloading times?”

Pretty much, a Merlin will generally be prosecuting a target from a Ship and more than likely as part of a defensive ASW effort involving multiple assets. An MPA is far more likely to be the sole asset left to prosecute a contact or flush a choke point.
At the end of the day it is down to payloads, weapon run times, reload times and maintaining a constant weapons train.

TAS
TAS
June 1, 2014 10:04 pm

X, APATS,

It’s much simpler than that. The speed of an aircraft means it can search a larger area more quickly, and the submarine is unlikely to know it is being hunted. A ship is much slower, and has to be quiet to both enable detection and prevent counter-detection. Sure, endurance is greater, but the surface ship is better suited to defensive ASW whilst the MPA is better for prosecuting.

Hence why we always needed both … and still do.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
June 1, 2014 10:14 pm

@TAS

I kind of think I just said that. However greater definition between active and passive policies as well as offensive and defensive tend to fall between the cracks here.
As for not knowing it is hunted well we are the onto the passive range advantage of a ship which is not for here and the ability of a submarine to detect a splash.
The overriding question is why where and when would we be passive only?

Mark
Mark
June 2, 2014 7:16 am

Thanks apas

Observer
Observer
June 2, 2014 7:44 am

On the bright side, we can sort of formulate several basic guidelines for any new MPA. High altitude, 8,000+ range minimum, 100-200 sonobuoys, surface search radar, 6+ lightweight torpedoes. Once we tied down all these requirements, then can we go looking for platforms, otherwise it is the tail wagging the dog.

“I want to fit search radar, 100 sonobuoys and torpedoes into a Cessna!” :)

As for the MPA/UAV combination, I’m a bit ambivalent on it. Sounds too much like duplication of effort and cost.

PS: APATs, think you mean Spearfish is 8x the weight of Stingray, not Stingray is 8x the weight of Stingray….I hope.. :) So it’s not likely that you get capabilities creep then.

The Other Chris
June 2, 2014 8:41 am

@Observer

Currently the only MPA related platform that gives you the 8k+ range (unrefuelled) is an MQ-4C class RPAS.

@TAS and @APATS

The Triton team are reporting an Effective Time on Station (ETOS) of 87% at the moment. Is there a comparable metric for a manned MPA?

Ian Hall
Ian Hall
June 2, 2014 8:54 am
Reply to  Observer

Spot on Observer, the question we should be asking is what do we want and then find the platform to match. I also think we should show self-interest and make as much of it as possible. The Americans would do nothing less, why shouldn’t we?

x
x
June 2, 2014 9:17 am

@APATS & TAS

I have always had trouble assessing just how effective an MPA’s sensor suite is, on a scale, to those of vessels. Obviously the latter’s are within the same element as the target, larger, more robust, directly connected to the processors, higher powered, etc. Sonobuoys are extremely clever bits of tech’; but they are still small and low powered, even when dropped in strings, the some total can’t surely equal (or exceed) the performance of a hull mounted sonar. If an MPA can (and do successfully) prosecute a submarine, then frigate like a T23 should be able to read the boat’s galley menu. Simply, and you can’t tell me for obvious reasons, I want to know how, as a percentage say, effective are an MPA’s sensors compared to those of say T23, T-boat. (And this feeds back into that other discussion concerning T45, and its lower acoustic signature than that of T42, blah, blah, and so on.)

Observer
Observer
June 2, 2014 9:30 am

ToC, Triton is a maritime surveillance drone, not ASW. You see anything about sonobuoys in their payload? Or torpedoes? You can sit there for a few years, but without sonar and/or torpedoes to persecute, you might as well not bother.

The 8,000 km range may have been a bit too ambitious though, you are right on that.

Ian, just as long as you don’t fall into the US’s trap of trying to reinvent the wheel when there is something OTS.

The Other Chris
June 2, 2014 9:43 am

@Observer

Well aware of what it does. Just highlighting the only current MPA System aircraft that can cover that distance unrefuelled.

P-3 and P-8 can refuel (with Boom). Not sure about the P-1. C295MPA refuelling optional (Hose and Drogue images available). Nothing on the Q400 list at the moment.

monkey
monkey
June 2, 2014 10:55 am

@Observer
Airbus A310 MRTT High altitude 12,500 m, 8,889 km range, or
Airbus A330 MRTT High altitude 13,000 m, 14,800 km range.
100-200 sonobuoys – derringer door deployed
surface search radar – electronics fit out – TBA
(p.s. RIVET JOINT/AWACS/SENTINEL need replacing)
6+ Heavy weight torpedoes – lower cargo bay door deployed (inc SAR lifeboats etc)

TAS
TAS
June 2, 2014 11:51 am

X,

The MPA will almost always be more effective but in a hugely different manner. A towed array is effectively a long line of passive buoys. You get accurate bearings from it, but not range – that has to come from subsequent analysis and is guesswork at best. Buoys, on the other hand, have poorer range (due to the smaller size of the receiver) but by deploying a field of them, you get much better bearing and range resolution. The drawback of course is that the buoy field doesn’t last very long. The processing systems now in the Merlin (and originally destined for the MRA4) are extremely clever at using a number of different (classified) processing techniques – genuinely impressive stuff. But even MR2 was bloody good – and they carried so many buoys they could realistically hunt for far longer than any other platform.

Sorry APATS, didn’t mean to duplicate effort.

x
x
June 2, 2014 11:54 am

@ TAS

Thanks. TBH you are just confirming what I have read. But it helps to get it from the (sea)horse’s mouth. :)

Hannay
Hannay
June 2, 2014 5:56 pm

@TAS

What you’ve described is 80s and 90s style of ASW and not what MRA4 or a future system would use. The use of multi-static arrays of gps-enabled sonobuoys, combined with newer sonobuoys with vastly increased battery life drastically improves performance and allows you to operate in a different manner e.g. accurate sonobuoy placement is no longer needed.

And then there are new novel sensors and techniques which will also change how you operate.

TAS
TAS
June 2, 2014 8:52 pm

Hannay,

Actually what I describe are current ASW practices. GPS enabled buoys are useful when deploying from high altitude (as P8 will do), but to low level platforms they offer relatively little enhancement. Precise locations are not so vital, so long as you have good relative positioning. Extended battery life and GPS are all good as technological gimmicks, but if they double the cost of a buoy they are worthless, as a submarine can move and leave a buoy behind. Active buoys are already £35,000 a pop, more cost is less desirable.

I’ve seen the range of novel ideas being considered and few have come good so far. Low frequency active is a good one, and the RN is well up the field there, but in shallow waters is completely swamped by reverbs and poor sonar conditions. Technology is no substitute for understanding and exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses as well as his methods.

Hannay
Hannay
June 3, 2014 9:00 pm

@TAS

Generally, I have a different perspective on where the technology is today and what the different options are for the future. I very much agree with your final point, but fundamentally there comes a point when just passive buoys offer too short range against likely threats.

The Ginge
The Ginge
June 4, 2014 11:12 am

As somebody back in the comments chain we need to define what we require of this system before we even look at planes. To that end a little playing about on Google with open source information turns up a little information.
So looking at the requirements we want to do :
1. Blue water ASW detection and prosecution of peer to peer Submarine forces. Both Diesel and Nuclear.
2. High end ASuw detection and prosecution, from commercial shipping identification to locating, tracking and attacking peer to peer military assets.
3. Command and Control function for operations such as Libya as per the Canadian P3’s performed.
4. None threat environment delivery of other ordinance such as Brimstone etc.
5. Range: If we want to fly to the Falklands and we can’t refuel the plane you are looking at a range of 8,000 miles. If you want to do Mid Atlantic or UK Iceland Gap then you are looking at 1,500 miles to Iceland and 1,500 back to sow your sonar buoy lines, plus time on patrol. So that is 3,000 there and back and say another 4 hours on station flying probably another 2,000 miles in circles. So you get a range of 5,000.
6. Weight. How much do you want to carry. If we say 6 Torpedoes at 267kg each that’s 1602kg, allowing a margin for growth you probably want 2,000kg for weapons minimum, probably 3,000kg to be ultra-safe. You are then looking at 200 sonar Buoys etc are going to weigh 50kg each so that’s another 10,000kg. That weight requirement soon adds up, even going for light buoys at 20kg gets you to 4,000kg. Which means allowing for the systems and people on board roughly weighing the same as the stuff you strip out of the plain to be neutral you want to be able to lift somewhere between 13 ton and 6 ton.
7. Availability. To cover most standing tasks and using the rule of 3, you probably want a fleet of 9 to have 3 airframes operational. To provide SSBN cover continuously, deploy with task groups and other contingency.
8. Risk. You need to de-risk this project. The MOD cannot afford and politicians cannot be seen to agree a project where the costs and risk escalate like Nimrod. That debacle will hang around this projects neck like an albatross. So you really have to go with known technology and if possible an aircraft with the holes already cut in it that is going to last 30yrs minimum.
9. Cost. Must be kept to a minimum and must be delivered in budget, It is likely to be a purchase price of £2.5bn that seems to be the budget over 5yrs to purchase. What is the running cost budget ?
So there’s your requirements now fit a plane to them.

TAS
TAS
June 4, 2014 7:36 pm

Ginge,

Only one contender then – TU-95F. Sweet!

Sam
Sam
July 11, 2015 8:41 pm
Reply to  MSR

Bombardier Q400 now has external tanks available adding 10000 pounds and 12 hours endurance.
That plane has amazing power with dual P&W PW150A and while flying low and slow can fly high and at almost the speed of a jet… this is not an ATR-72, nothing like it.
http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2014-07-17/marshall-external-tank-extend-q400-range
The C295 when fully loaded only has a range of 700 nm. Anyone knows the payload the MPA mission equipment is on the C295 so we could figure the “real” range? Seems too small and underpower, underrange so far for Casa, the Q400 sounds more “heavy-duty” for military long range and harsh conditions.