Maritime Patrol – Choices Choices Choices

Since we last looked at maritime patrol and number of options have emerged that make the P8 Shoe In not so obvious.

Only a few months ago the obvious runners and riders were the Boeing P8 Poseidon as the natural Nimrod MRA4 replacement or the Airbus C295 as the low cost options. There were other options from Saab or Alenia or the less likely combinations of refurbished P3, new build business derivatives, those based on transport aircraft and even unmanned aircraft but at the time they looked, for any number of reasons, less likely.

What a difference a few months make.

First was the situation with UK Japan defence cooperation which although has been bubbling along for a while took an interesting turn with comments from Kawasaki officials that they see the P1 as a contender for a forthcoming UK decision on maritime patrol. The P1 has a lot going for it, first, the Japanese take ASW seriously, second, the manifestation of that seriousness is a design built from scratch for the mission.

A Japanese defence official was quoted by the Telegraph

If the UK gives it serious consideration, then the P-1 will garner attention internationally

I still think this is an outside option but Chris over at Defence with a C wrote a nice post on the benefits of defence cooperation with Japan and RUSI covered the P1 in a bit more detail, here

Although not in any way approaching an official position from Airbus a number of commenters saw the announcement of a potential A321 Neo with its extended range and being an almost perfect base platform for a European replacement for the Atalantique’s and P3’s in service with various European nations.

Again though, still an outside possibility.

Finally, what is arguably a more credible option, a Bombardier Global Express proposal from IAI.

Both Janes and Shepard reported an announcement from IAI of their proposal for a EL/I-3360 MPA based on the Bombardier Global 5000   

EL/I-3360 MPA,
EL/I-3360 MPA,

There are obvious commonality benefits with the RAF’s Sentinel and the aircraft has longer legs that either the P8 or P1, certainly much longer range that any of the turboprop alternatives. As we have discussed, carriage of torpedoes on an unprotected pylon might be an issue to resolve but what these options do is open the field up a little.

As the the Reaper is becoming the de-facto European Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) and the joint user group focuses on operability in non segregated airspace and integration on European payloads there may be a companion role for a maritime patrol variant of the Reaper. Using a combination of manned and unmanned types might offer additional capabilities.

The IAI proposal includes a sophisticated EW/ELINT/ESM which would also provide multi mission capabilities, i.e. the desired direction of travel.

One of the lesser discussed issues with the P8 is that it effectively ties all AWACS operating nations into the 737 platform, a Bombardier Global based AWACS does not seem so outlandish either, Israel and Singapore seem to be OK with business jet based AEW aircaft.

RSAF Gulfstream IAI_G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning)
RSAF Gulfstream IAI_G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning)

Interesting times.

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February 9, 2015 9:39 pm

perhaps some more details at aero India in a week or so on this option. Remember having a gd discussion with several others on this very option it’s the way the markets tending with the specialist mission aircraft.

February 9, 2015 9:41 pm

On the Airbus A321 Neo as a platform to match the Boeing 737 options unless they can roll something out quickly based on their experience with the A310/330 MRRT and the C295 they are dead in the water as far as the UK’s need . Airbus Military rightly gave the A400M their prime focus no doubt cursing the delays (and time wasted by the US shifting back to Boeing on the tanker contract to after so much work with US suppliers ). A whole family of military aircraft derived from their latest baby could have secured European as well as global orders in the here and now which may still come as alone there are over 60 P3’s and Atlantique II in Europe as well as all the other ELINT etc platforms.

Jeremy M H
February 9, 2015 9:45 pm

I think someone needs to run a payload/range curve on the Global Express 5000 and you will quickly see what the major issue is. Can it do 5,200 miles with a useful payload? Just carrying a couple of air dropped torpedoes would push you towards the maximum weight for the thing (presuming you want to fly with full fuel).

Every time this idea gets kicked around I wait for someone to do the math and spit out a range for the resulting aircraft and no manufacturer ever gets around to it. But its a major problem. Weapons, sensors, fat butted navy types and external hard points all add back in weight and drag. It has less impact the larger the platform is. Serious players always seem to look at then discard the idea of using a smaller platform for stuff like this because physics keeps kicking them in the man bits.

The Other Chris
February 9, 2015 9:59 pm

@Jeremy M H

Sentinel R1 supposedly hits 5,000 nautical miles (~5,750 miles) with its payload, blister and canoe. An MPA variant could reasonably be assumed to manage a similar distance. What’s missing from a range element on this and Sentinel R1 is probe refuelling.

Jeremy M H
February 9, 2015 10:14 pm

sentinel saves 4 to 6 bodies (700-800 pounds being nice) in crew compared to what the P-8, Nimrod and P-1 thought was necessary for the job. That is about 40% of the useful payload of the thing with full fuel. probably a fair bit saved ripping out the interior of the biz jet and going light inside but not that much.

Those people matter hardly at all on the bigger jets but can critically change the range of a business jet. Everyone wants to gloss over the issue and cite sentinel but it’s a very different platform doing a mich different mission.

I think with a biz jet based MPA one would be looking at carrying a smaller specialist crew and might have one or at most two torpedoes if you want to have strong range. There are lots of compromises.

February 9, 2015 10:16 pm

@TOC – Weighty, draggy things those ASMs and torpedoes, what? Has IAI said anything in their offer about sonobuoy load out, too?

February 9, 2015 10:27 pm

@Jeremy MH – Altitude has a tremendous impact on range as well. My father’s company had a Lear Jet that operated most economically at 41,000 feet. In fact, it was more efficient to climb to 41,000 feet and immediately start the descent to the destination than it was to climb to 30,000 feet, cruise straight and level for 20 minutes, then descend. If the IAI Global 5000 mucks about (Geez, I’ve been reading y’all’s British English too long!) at P3 altitudes for any length of time I’d place money that range will suffer.

Rocket Banana
February 9, 2015 10:32 pm

Quick fag packet calc for Global 5000…

You’ll lose about 322nm for every extra tonne of payload you carry from the 5200nm with around 1200kg quoted.

It’s obviously not truly linear and I’ve assumed they’re quoting absolute maximums in their spec sheets, but it helps to demonstrate the effect of load.

Global 5000 Factsheet

Happy to be corrected :-)

February 9, 2015 10:36 pm
February 9, 2015 10:48 pm

Obviously I love the fact the Kawasaki is a proper thorough bred ASW aircraft but…

Could you take your Kawaski and turn it into an a sentry replacement and a rivet joint replacement and a sentinel replacement.

As the Japs have a 767 based AEW aircraft I would guess no :(

Which really leaves you 3 choices for commonality; Boeing, Airbus or Bombardier.

Who knows…

Tim UK
Tim UK
February 9, 2015 11:03 pm

We all know what will happen, the MOD and RAF will demand extra modifications and the plane will cost twice as much and be 10 years late into service.

Buy off the shelf, we don’t need super hi-end spec for every damn piece of kit.

February 9, 2015 11:21 pm

Obiouvsly your aware of exactly how heavy the sentinel radar and gubbins is Jeremy (maybe tricky as its ITAR restricted) when you make such comparisons but it’s an order of magnitude heavier than advertised naval radars for example.

The p8 was supposed to be on the smallest 737 boeing offered but when they decided they would like the option to hang that massive jstars radar under the fuselague they needed a bigger version. It’s worth noting boeing are again offering the smallest 737 for the usaf jstars requiremnt against the gulfstream 650.

There offering up to 4 external pylons. There’s quite a bit of weight in the luxuary interiors of these aircraft and you’ll have some difficulty getting stripped down weight in a public area. P8 was designed a decade ago. Has your computing and communciation experience changed in that time at all? Minaturisation has developed across a array of these systems and the isrealis know exactly what there doing and are extremely gd at it.

Will the UK go for it don’t know not even sure there’s a budget there to restore the capability but an interesting option I like.

February 10, 2015 5:02 am

there are certainly a lot of options out there but other than the P1 and the P8 they are all very light on ASW capability and our main need is ASW.

The P1 is the better aircraft on the face of it but what weapons and sensors will it come with as standard. We don’t have time and money to go through a big integration program and our fleet will be so small that we need someone to tap onto to gain some economies of scale.

The P1 just seems to be more like the MRA4, bespoke with little in the way of economies. Sounds like another RAF disaster waiting to happen.

February 10, 2015 6:11 am

The interesting thing about the news is that IAI’s ELTA subsidiary is a contender (of 2) for Crowsnest under LM’s lead. The podded solution is already flying on Merlin in trials. But to bring more ingredients into this fixed & rotary wing surveillance and ASW soup, here comes a drone fit
Though the text does not explicitly refer to the embedded photo. The other side is not visible, either, so is this a lowered solution a la the competing Thales next-gen Baggers, or is there a second radar set on the other side of the airframe (as in the LM/ ELTA Crowsnest solution)?

The Other Chris
February 10, 2015 7:17 am


An EP-1 lends even more weight if you consider a P-1 purchase an investment in a tight partnership with Japan.

E-2D has to be the benchmark with AEW, Ground Search and C4i roles.

Can an Anglo-Japanese development approach these abilities and add Standoff Strike? Is the NG system on the E-2D available to transfer? Would you transfer the kit to a EP-1 platform or an EV-22 platform for CVF, or do you consider Crowsnest useful elsewhere?

The Other Chris
February 10, 2015 7:28 am

Backing up @Marks point, Sentinel R1 has already benefitted from advances in lighter/consolidated communications and computing. Without it we would not have found SWAP space for the additional EO sensors that are being fitted.

It’s always possible that should the IAI option be selected, the MOD will ask for a Global 6000 base rather than the 5000. Sentinel was an XRS which was rebranded the 6000, so Global 5000 figures would be indicative comparisons, not direct comparisons.

On altitudes, the BR710’s have a number of variants for increased power and efficiency at more cost and maintenance (see MRA4 engines, more powerful with efficiency tuned for high-low cycles), which may be desirable.

February 10, 2015 7:43 am

ACC – ref Elta SAR – I think is a steerable array and its in a fixed radome under the Heron UAV:

Product flier is here:

February 10, 2015 10:05 am

Does anyone have any other info on the EO sensors being fitted to the Sentinal R1. What sensors and when will the be ready?

February 10, 2015 10:39 am

With regards to the image of the P1 and P3 together (thanks to @dukeofurl) I was surprised that the P1 is as large as the P3 – I think the larger cockpit glass gives the impression that it was going to be smaller somehow. Should give better visibility for the aircrew.

If money was no object, I would go P1, however integration of our sensors and lack of commonality with everything else does concern me i the current climate.

February 10, 2015 10:50 am

@ TD – if we go on P8 then we are likely to be able to standardize everything from AEW to SIGNIT, MPA and Land based surveillance on one airframe. With future radar development in May even be on the same aircraft. If we go down the business jet route then we are going it alone in many respects.

shark bait
shark bait
February 10, 2015 11:10 am

Do you think they would give us a variant of the P1 with some Rolls Royce engines ? That could help with the maintenance. There’s also an exciting bit of commonality potential with the mushroom variant.

What are the thoughts of using the sentenal for some maritime patrol? I though martins suggestion of using a few to supplement the high end ASW and retaining a valuable aircraft I was rece tly speaking with a friend who works at Wadington who seems to think the system is really starting to come into its own now, and working very well post afghan as it matures.

February 10, 2015 11:12 am

– P8 pillock – not P3! D’oh!

The Other Chris
February 10, 2015 11:27 am

EO/IR is speculated to be either DB-110 (e.g. RAPTOR) or AN/DAS-3 (e.g. Global Hawk), both supplied by Raytheon.

SIGINT upgrades also mentioned alongside the “Maritime Mode” upgrade (including ISAR, but no specific mention of AIS kit) to allow the platform to engage in the MSA role.


The Other Chris
February 10, 2015 11:42 am

Extra element to consider for when we’re further down the roadmap – the ASTRAEA test-bed is a Business-sized turboprop (BAe Jetstream 31)…

February 10, 2015 12:04 pm

‘It has all sorts of implications for industry and future capabilities like AEW, SIGINT etc’

If the manufacturer was told that the airframe chosen will be used to replace all those airframes that would surely be a good thing and open out the competition to the likes of the business jet etc but that would require a concerted effort and plan by the MOD rather than selecting an MPA and then when each of the other airframes come up for replacement having a separate tender from manufacturers.

That way we might avoid the likes of bastardising Merlin’s for the CHF when years earlier the MOD had chosen Merlin’s to replace Sea Kings in the sub hunting role but it seems did not plan for the CHF when a plan could have already been in place.

Jeremy M H
February 10, 2015 2:59 pm


No, as I have said before I have no idea what the weight of the radar is on Sentinel. But that really isn’t relevant to the point being made which is that a given piece of equipment that adds X amount of weight and Y amount of drag will have a proportionately larger impact on a smaller aircraft. That is the area where small MPA are likely to struggle. And while electronics are consistently getting smaller and lighter other things (like weapons, people and fuel) are all the same across platforms.

Can it be done? Sure, it can in some form. But the information put out is very incomplete to this point. And physics is always the enemy of the smaller aircraft to a degree because any advances that allow electronics to be lightened means something else could be added. You rarely see an aircraft of this type not loaded up with more things as space is freed up.

As TD says its about compromise. It may be a perfectly fine solution. But its going to have more compromises than a larger aircraft simply because it is going to have less payload to work with.

Donald of Tokyo
Donald of Tokyo
February 10, 2015 3:00 pm

It is of pleasure for me that P-1 is considered as an option.

But, myself personally, have no strong confidence in the next generation MPAs. My simple question is again, why not P-3?

I understand P-8 has higher speed, but shorter duration in low-level flight. This is also why they throw away the MAD boom. If P-8 is not going to low level for sub-hunting, of course MAD is not needed. Therefore, P-8 is taking a new tactics, a bit different from those of P-3s. As the report says, P-8 has many shortfalls at this moment (P-3 is better), which is not surprising since it is new in many ways. But, I am not sure if the P-8 will gain a reputation as good as P-3s 10 years later.

P-1 in Japan is in many sense “a jet propelled and 1.5 times heavier P-3” or “a super P-3”, i.e. the concept and tactics is similar to P-3s. However, P-1 has its own problem (on engine, yes you shall make it Rolls-Royce BR700, if you are to buy it) which may not be a big issue but it prevented us from deep trials of P-1s. Thus, at this moment, we don’t hear any results from its initial trials. It will be OK, but we need a few years to prove it, I suppose.

I am not familiar with Sentinel. I just happen to know it is 40t gross weight, i.e. 2/3 and 1/2 compared to P-3 (63t) and P-8/P-1s (80t), which was larger than my first impression. Is is much larger than S-3 Viking (24t), so it may work (of course the duration is an issue). However, one thing in my mind is that, UK is NOT leading the MPA technology anymore (sorry to say). If you are to buy them, how many are you planning? It is not just development, it is maintenance, upgrades and integration of new equipments lasting for 30-40 years from now. So, pro and con. You shall SELL it, and also you TAKE YOUR OWN RISK there. It will surely take time, as well. In case of P-8 and P-1, majority of the risks are taken by US and Japan, respectively.

So coming back to my conclusion, why not P-3 for a moment. You can lease it for, say, 10 years, and eventually order the replacements. I think P-8 production line is still alive (although in low rate) even after 2021 (although I cannot guarantee). In case of P-1, we just start production in 5 per year basis, which leads to the final 5 ? to start production in 2026 for a fleet of 70. In case of Sentinel, I suppose the 1st airframe may come within 5 years in the “earliest” case, and the final airframe will come much much later.

Just personal idea …

February 10, 2015 3:41 pm

@ Donald – p8 production run is scheduled to end in just 6 years. If we don’t chose it now it won’t be an option and those P3’s can’t fly forever.

Going back to the biz jet, it may be a great platform for MPA and ISTAR but I just can’t see how we will get all the necessary kit on it for ASW without pocking holes in to and spending millions.

February 10, 2015 3:45 pm

@ The Other Chris

Thanks for the update, I really hope they get the DB 110 on Sentinal. The combination of radar and imagery could be awesome especially if the aircraft can fly close to 50,000 ft. Goes a long way to replacing Pr9.

Donald of Tokyo
Donald of Tokyo
February 10, 2015 4:08 pm

Thanks for clarification on the situation.

I agree that USN will meat its requirement by 2021. But it will leave many MPAs in Europe, NZ, Canada as well as Brazil et al. currently made of P-3 and Atlantique, in total amount for ~50 airframes. Does your information on P-8 production run includes sells to these countries? (I am simply not sure about this).

Considering these needs, biz jet MPA could also be sold to these countries. But, again, is it UK to develop it, spending millions on it? May be you can go with Canada for development share? (Completely fantasy at this moment…)

#Then, till Canada “wakes up”, you can wait them by using P-3Cs for a moment …

Actually, I am NOT strongly suggesting ex-used P-3s. But, my point is that it is not at all clear for me: how many budget the UK is thinking to commit, how late you can wait for IOC, and how hi-end you need it to be. Without answers to these points, many options will remain valid, I suppose. If UK needs time to decide good strategy on this issue while also you urgently need MPA and with only a limited budget, ex-P-3 will become the strongest solution, and P-8 will be the next, in my opinion.


The Other Chris
February 10, 2015 5:01 pm

*If* the magnification/resolution on the AN/DAS-3 is in the ballpark of DB-110 I’d rather that as the Sentinel’s EO sensor: It’s a multi-Spectral imaging and targeting system, whereas DB-110 is IR only.

The DAS-3 is the higher altitude version of the DAS-1 on the Reaper.

February 10, 2015 6:17 pm

Interestingly the Indian Airforce already fly a DB 110 equipped Global Express, so perhaps this is the starting point for the proposed Sentinal upgrade?

February 10, 2015 6:24 pm

You can blame TD for his massive standardisation mantra, but I am still with “roll on roll off” container, underwing pods, new paratroop doors and new tail ramps fitted on A400M, of which we buy every spare one that the other Euro nations want to get rid off !

February 10, 2015 7:00 pm

Do you roll on and off the trained crew as well as the equipment?

You’ll need a completely different crew setup than the transport versions so why not buy a much better aircraft instead?

February 10, 2015 7:13 pm

I agree, squeeze every last drop out of a fleet of A400 with some extra purchased and have container versions for whatever you want just like the US did with the C130. We have a vested industrial interest with the A400 whereas we have nothing with the likes of Boeing, plus the standardisation.

February 10, 2015 7:40 pm

Commonality/standardisation is fine in theory, but I’m struggling to think of good examples. I can come up with plenty of projects in which it was touted as a major advance towards cost savings/reduced logistic tail/common training, and so on, at the procurement stage. But where are the success stories?

@ Hannay makes an excellent point about trained crew. It’s a large part of the reason why LCS was a dead duck from the start: you might be able to reconfigure your over-sized speedboat from GP to ASW mode by swapping out a few modules, but do the equipment operators also come packaged in an ISO container? And do you just download ten years of training and experience operating from that platform into their brains when you unpack them? Then, of course, you just download the crew integration and unit cohesion app and you’re away!

(Of course, the biggest reason why modularity doesn’t work, whether you’re a ship, a vehicle or an aircraft, is because once you’ve got that expensive and complex kit installed, tested, working and all the bugs ironed out, you’re never going to take it out! The only real benefit of so-called plug-and-play is it makes refits a bit easier.)

And it doesn’t just apply to ships. Which two aircraft are alike? Which two anything are alike? Every complex device from a mobile phone to an AWACs aircraft has its own unique history of operation, malfunction, fixes and modifications. I’ve never been convinced of the benefit of standardisation except where it means procuring a lot of one thing to:
a. keep an industrial base alive,
b. amortize costs and/or stretch the budget to cover one or two more units than was otherwise affordable,
c. make the forecourt look nice and neat for a picture in the sales brochure.

@ Donald of Tokyo was dead right when he observed that the UK is no longer in the MPA business as a producer. The UK is now firmly a client of this technology. This is not necessarily a bad thing so long as technical ability is maintained elsewhere, but remains a fact we must accept. Anything that isn’t already built and flying should be discounted, and that includes variations on things that are already built and flying because we simply can’t afford the development risk, and the inevitable late changes in requirements, and gold-plating, and other finger-in-pie meddling that seems to be so unavoidable.

So it’s OTS all the way. You can have any of the following:
– a slightly scuffed, one careful owner refurbished P-3
– a 737 with delusions of grandeur, with wings it got by taking steroids
– a waterproofed C-130
– a fly-by-fibre-optic, Artificially Intelligent Kawasaki (just don’t let it call you Dave).

Stuff the commonality nonsense of a short-legged, low-payload, bodged up Sentinel MRA5. It won’t work out any cheaper in real life. And, because we’ll only be buying whatever we buy in low volume (< 10?) anyway, whatever we buy better be world class at what it does*.

*because there's precedent. We don't need 12 Type 45 because they are individually so good, they can be in two places at once! Or so the politicians say…

You can only afford mediocre in high volume, when quantity mitigates the absence of quality.

So lets get a proper MPA from day one.

(And a nice offset deal with the Japanese for breaking the P-1 on the world market just as the P-8 production line is about to close… ooh, half a dozen Soryu for EoS at cost? Suit you, sir!)

Peter Elliott
February 10, 2015 7:52 pm


How about the advent of the Main Battle Tank as a piece of successful standardisation?

February 10, 2015 9:13 pm

One of the Indian jet in flight 3 guesses who modified that one.

Jeremy all aircraft are compromises the maritime version will not be to different than sentinel from a drag perspective. In planform there isn’t a huge variation from gx to 737 it about 15 feet span and length wise.

40 deg south
40 deg south
February 10, 2015 10:20 pm


I’ve always taken the ‘P-8 production will end in six years’ line with a grain or two of salt. As long as there are orders coming in, I can’t see why Boeing would pull the plug? Given it is a modification of a current civilian aircraft, I can’t see the costs of maintaining production as being anything like as high as a unique type like the the C17.

NZ is planning to replace its 6 P-3C’s in the early-mid 2020’s, with the P-8 widely tipped as the successor. I suspect RNZAF would be acting with a bit more urgency if they really believed the P-8 line was closing in 2020-21.

February 10, 2015 11:23 pm


Thanks for the better image, mine was a tad small, but it was done on the fly and it was the first one I came across.

Whilst it’s reassuring to see it’s already been fitted to the same platform as Sentinel, so hence the development costs would hopefully be kept to a minimum, I do wonder how, if at all, it would integrate with the canoe fairing and it’s contents.

Perhaps in these straightened times, a new EO systems, is a new set of binoculars for the pilot!

I guess we’ll see in the fullness of time, but atleast we’re able to speculate, rather than having to bemoan the fact that Sentinel is being turned into razor blades instead!!

February 10, 2015 11:25 pm

Mark, ehmm
1.guess: those who supply UK artillery drones (though, years behind schedule as they acquired Russia , after their bad experience with Georgian drones, as a priority customer in between)?
2. Guess: those who do the inner gubbings of India’s Suhoi fleet (and put the radars on their Russian airframes for persistent AEW)?
3. Guess: those who got time priority in the F35A queue, only to release half of those slots when they could not get all the softwàre for free (for “integration”)?

… What? Have I run out of guess slots?

February 11, 2015 12:14 am

The EL/M 2022 is the same radar that flies on Australia’s AP-3C, though you could expect that the power output will be greater on the MPA (there are limits to what you can do on small UAVs).

February 11, 2015 12:47 am

@ Donal and 40 south

The 2021 figure is based on USN production. No doubt Boeing will want to keep the line open and sell to foreign customers but if the UK can barely afford an aircraft like P8 then how many others can. I doubt NZ has the cash.

Maybe a handful of orders will keep the line open for a year or two but it’s not going to be like P3 or C130 and stay open for decades. 2021 is not far off in military procurement terms and there are no orders yet so I doubt more than a handful.

February 11, 2015 1:04 am

Hannay and MSA

Frankly I don’t understand your point and I think your deliberately missing mine.

A 400M transport squadrons don’t fly the MPA mission, an MPA squadron does. The point of containerized mission kit is a standardized base aircraft, standardized spares and maintenance kit, standardized flight crew and maintainer training, simulators etc etc

You don’t roll on the mission module, attach your new side doors and under wing pods, fly a deterrent support AS sweep or three then remove it all 2 days later to use the aircraft to drop SAS in Libya !

In fact A400M flight crews might thank you for adding some variety to their career path, and yes I am sure in an emergency a transport pilot could apply themselves to flying a patrol or ASW profile.

Obviously the specialist operators sat in the roll on roll off mission pod may never go anywhere near the transport version in their entire career !!

So, where is the problem with crews and crew training ???

A Different Gareth
A Different Gareth
February 11, 2015 11:28 am

There is something about the P1 that I like. No idea what. If a trade deal was to be struck I’d aim high and go for buying (relatively) many in return for both UK and Japan aircraft being powered by Rolls Royce engines. The Japanese engine has had problems, they haven’t yet made many aircraft so it’s not like there will be loads of engines going to waste and they might see it as a more exportable product. Rolls Royce get some work, Kawasaki sell more aircraft.

It’s not aerial refueling capable is it? Development of that and other variants might be something the UK could co-fund.

If that wasn’t possible then it’s between the P8 and an A400m for me. The P8 loses a bit in being meant as part of a bigger system involving UAVs. The UK won’t necessarily be getting them. The A400m loses a bit in not being tailored for the job. It has a wide fuselage so it isn’t as efficient and dropping torpedos off the ramp is less than ideal. A well thought out ro-ro and modifications package might be attractive to other A400m operators though. And be more flexible in keeping cutting edge?

February 11, 2015 2:37 pm

, I take your point and understand it, but was not specifically responding to only your comments.

@A Different Gareth,

The P8 loses a bit in being meant as part of a bigger system involving UAVs. The UK won’t necessarily be getting them

That’s a point that bears repeating.

February 11, 2015 8:43 pm

My own preference is for the Kawasaki p1 bought off the shelf. Why mess with something if it works! It also has potential to replace the boeing sentrys in the AEW role! Also the cost per unit is $150 million compared to the P8 Poseidon’s $270 million and also it was designed from day 1 to be an ASW platform rather than a modified 51 year old airliner which was designed to fly at 30,000ft! As for the second option the global 5000 it has potential in speed, range and cost! Also it has a fair bit of uk content i.e. the engines and the forward fuselage. A better option for the uk than the airbus c295, sea herc & the P8 Poseiden on paper perhaps! But at the moment it is still a paper airplane. Lets see how much it costs after all the modifications are carried out!

February 12, 2015 12:18 am

I am sort of with Jed on his point on training. Don’t people get bored, isn’t learning new skills and pushing their knowledge to the limits one of the few things an employer can do that keep staff engaged? Engaged not only in their job, the the business?

I think we get far to hung up on the following

Commonality – its good, but also represents a compromise. ‘Lowest common-denominator’ sounds less attractive.
Long ramp up times / H&S / ROE – Don’t these go out of the window when the shit hits the fan? ‘No battle plan survives first contact’ and heroic speedy drawing board to front line engineering solutions sound like realistic ways of adapting to difficult and dangerous circumstances. ‘Trial and Error’ sounds sloppy but isn’t there are certain amount of realism about this. The main point is we learn from our errors. Personally I feel the US Senate and HoR committees are far more effective at ensuring lessons are learnt. Who suggested and signed off the recycling of a comet airframe for the MRA4?
Training – whilst I understand the need to specialise, the reality is that times change. Our jets are multi-role. Our soldiers all carry radios. etc.

So do I support a bespoke solution? Should we go for a fleet of Airbus? or attach the capabilities to whatever assets we have or can afford?

In all honesty, I personally believe that like our ability to build bombs and missiles we should have the capability to build top notch means to detect and destroy enemy incursions into designated zones. I’d go for the best solution taking into account this need.

February 12, 2015 9:40 am

@Donald of Tokyo;Perhaps you can borrow a few of these to the UK to build confidence in the P-1;

can be refuelled by subs,frigates etc,imagine the possibilities…real STOL capabilities.

Groeten uit Nederland,

The Other Chris
February 12, 2015 10:55 am


Northrop Grumman confirmed late last year that they were talking to both the UK and Norway about Triton, forming HALE requirements and discussing jointness.


In 2012 the USN and Boeing released the figures for the P-8: Green airframe: $110m, Avionics and mission systems: $32m, Engines: $20m, plus sundries for just under $170m unit cost. Add in operation and infrastructure (basing, training, etc) as overhead and ongoing costs ofc.

This month, the USN ordered 12 more P-8’s for $150m each (unit), though this time they didn’t detail where the savings had been made.

The only price out there publicly for the P-1 is the initial Japanese order of 20 at $170m each over the next five years. We don’t know if that’s unit or programme unit cost.

This parity of cost is a Good Thing™: There are advantages to the UK in either platform and competition will help keep cost down, even if the UK goes off on their usual Gold Plated trail.

@Thread Re: UK not being a manufacturer of MPA’s

Have we ever been? Even MR2/MRA4 was a bringing together of the best the Commonwealth and USA could construct in a package operated by subject matter experts, which the UK can still be considered to be as although we’ve cut it very close to the bone it looks like we’ve managed (just) to preserve skills across the spectrum (consider T23, Deep Blue, Seedcorn, etc).

The likes of ULTRA, Thorn (now Thales), various L-3 subsidiaries (who are largely Canada based), etc, still manufacture ASW systems (have a look at the P-8 components list to see what’s used there, very familiar!) and have similar relationships to the UK as they’ve always had.


The ShinMaywa US-2 is very clever.

Unlike the Indian and Japanese SAR situation, the UK maintains a network of helicopter stations across the country and a fleet of long range helicopters that can reach, and are arguably more suited for the variable weather in, most of our Archipelago and Falklands EEZ.

Our Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific EEZ’s are different and maybe could benefit from a long range amphibian.

February 12, 2015 11:46 am


‘I take your point and understand it, but was not specifically responding to only your comments’

The armed forces are like any other industry in that to achieve their goals they must produce outputs, be that x amount of patrols to dominate an area or x amount of sorties. These outputs must also be performed as economically as possible (there is a reason we drew down form Iraq so quickly to begin with) modularity can provide the capacity to do these and has been proven by heavy industry for at least a decade, the military are way behind the curve in terms of both containersisation, modularity of systems, portable power and living necessities.

To argue against modularity in terms of swapping out modules every few days or weeks and crew changes shows zero understanding of the concept. Foxhound is a modular vehicle but we do not swap the back end every week if ever, it does however allow one standard base vehicle (in terms of production) to be used in a variety of roles without structural changes needing to be made to fullfill other roles. Modernisation can also be carried out with a lot less changes and down time, it therefore allows a user to have a pool of vehicles that can be used as a base vehicle for any role without having to purchase the exact model for that specific task. A containerised system for an A400 would allow a smaller purchase of airframes and systems for the required minimum availability as the system could be rolled out of an airframe that would need an overhaul and rolled into the next available airframe, there would not be a P8 (for example) with all it’s systems unavailable for use, it would just be the airframe in the case of the A400. I do not see the difference in putting the same workstation of the P3 for instance into a box that rolls into the back of a cargo plane any less of a capability, what is the difference between bolting it to the floor of the airframe or a module? the same goes with sensors.

The US has produced various modules for the C130 without any significant degrading of performance, why would the A400 be any different?

February 12, 2015 12:34 pm

One of the big unknowns is the true capabilities of the electronics suite carried by the P-8. It may use new technology to perform an SAW role – and which allows it to fly higher. In an ideal world you want your slower large military aircraft well above AAA and Short-range AA missiles. So, I for one favour a high-altitude approach to ASW, if it can be achieved.

Secondly, we are likely to be patrolling the Atlantic with our strategic ally, the United States, therefore from a tactical perspective, it may make sense to use the same equipment, particularly missions critical hardware and software.

By the way, this is an excellent thread. Full of detailed knowledge. Thanks to all concerned. I hope Politicians and key MoD personnel are reading this and taking notes.

February 12, 2015 1:36 pm

@David, I’m not arguing against modularity. I’m arguing against the myth of the benefits of commonality across platforms with diverse mission profiles. We already operate a Renault Clio, and it’s nice and nippy on paved roads, and we keep an eye on the weather and steer around the thunderclouds when we can. But we can’t then expect it to perform similarly on unmetalled roads in bad weather.

Okay, my analogy is struggling. Perhaps your misunderstanding is my fault: I was using modularity as an example of reasons why commonality can fail both at the platform and component level. Bad approach. I actually like modularity and think that modular bits on A400M would be a good idea. But a modularised upgrade of an A400M falls foul of my central point: we must buy the right platform for the mission because we won’t have enough platforms for anything, anyway, so get the job done right if it’s a job worth doing.

I will now repeat myself:

You can only afford mediocre in high volume, when quantity mitigates the absence of quality.

So lets get a proper MPA from day one. (One that doesn’t rely on various bits of hypothetical technology, or another nation to fork up the budget for their development, in order to realise its full potential at some indeterminate point in the future – I’m referring, of course, to this UAV stuff Boeing has promised it’ll do for the P-8, but which doesn’t actually exist yet.)

February 12, 2015 2:07 pm


‘You can only afford mediocre in high volume, when quantity mitigates the absence of quality.’

Why would a modular system be mediocre? as long as the airframe you choose has the height, range and speed all within workable parameters.

Why would bolting the P8 workstations to a module be any less effective than to an airframe? why would hanging a search radar from the airframe be less effective?

The present budget figure kicking about on this forum is £1b for an MPA, which equates to about 5 airframes (again numbers getting thrown around) at what point will the effectiveness be lost due to low numbers? If we had 5 MPA how soon would we start running out of available platforms once the carriers are in service and need an MPA to clear a choke point?

Good enough is exactly that, good enough.

February 13, 2015 7:21 am

How many MPAs does the UK currently operate? 6 fewer than the RNZAF. I’d see 4 or 5 frames replacing the P3K2s, if they go down that route. Depending on what happens with the C-17 option, Sea Herc may be a player.

February 13, 2015 8:24 am

There is something fishy about this MPA business?

According to a Jane’s article the R1 maritime upgrade will get a signature in a couple of word about how the trials went? According to the MoD the planes will go out of service in 2018.

That is just enough time to get the next fleet started (with Seedcorn lapsing) and leaves no room for this evidently sensible scenario (from the same Jane’s article) that would close the numbers gap and make the combined capability meaningful:

“The ‘low-end’ Sentinel R.1s could be used for everyday maritime surveillance, saving the ‘high-end’ P-8A Poseidons for the less common ASW/ASuW and long-range search and rescue missions.”

February 13, 2015 9:07 am

…and for those who are still churning out the mantra, ‘we are all in it together’ and convinced there is no money in the economy ..

‘The Premier League has sold television rights to its games for a record £5.136bn, 71% above last time’
and that is for just three, yes just three, years.

That would pay for an awful lot hardware for Maritime Patrol. Now if we could only agree on what platform …

The Other Chris
February 13, 2015 4:32 pm


Been digging on the P-1 AEW windtunnel testing on of the AESA rotodome.

Have to say the image that kick started it looks decidedly photo-shopped:

Based on the following:

comment image

What does seem feasible is Japan’s development into IRST and a Conformal AEW radar.

Concept (starting with F-15J testbed):

Once tested, fit to the P-1:

More involved integration with the Conformal AEW version:

Nothing official that I can find out there on these plans, btw.

While searching also came across an eight wing-pylon layout:

As well as a P-1 bomb bay graphic:

February 13, 2015 5:07 pm

A bit like this one from Saab?

On a close-to a bizjet airframe
-maritime patrol
Versions from Brazil

February 13, 2015 5:46 pm
February 13, 2015 8:56 pm


With the Japanese already looking at other versions of the P1 and with the likes of SAAB who have systems that can be placed into airframes to cover MPA, AEW&C and some ISTAR roles should we be opening up a competition for an airframe that will eventually replace all of AWAC’s, ISTAR and MPA?

I seem to recall the video that TD posted with all the service chiefs at the defence select committee with both the Army and Airforce chief saying the MPA replacement would need to be a multi mission aircraft (if an aircraft was chosen).

With this in mind would the P8 begin to look like the less desirable option?

The Other Chris
February 13, 2015 10:26 pm

P-8 still has to be bookies favourite for a UK purchase. Several dozen already up in the air, three operators, capable, solid roadmap and considered the “safer” bet.

It’s already testing the Advanced Airborne Sensor (ISTAR, C4I):

In addition it’s already equipped with the Mobile Tactical Operations Center with long range strike (LRASM, SLAM-ER) in the roadmap:

Already flying is it’s close cousin, the Wedgetail (AEW&C, ELINT, Air and Ground Search). It’s also controlled three ScanEagles:

The RAAF’s version features an early iteration of what evolved into the multi-mission workstations and architecture, the Qatar bid press release mentioned an upgrade but didn’t go into specifics.

Boeing also have another cousin on the table to in their bid for the JSTARS replacement:

The P-1 has a lot prove: Can it do more than the P-3C role and match the P-8A moving forward by adding Broad Area MPA/Strike/ISTAR/etc as well? Can it perform in the Atlantic? South Atlantic?

I have a feeling if the UK is serious and invests serious cash, assets and resource (as well as access to our existing systems) we can come up with something exceptional over the coming years in partnership with Japan. Will we be able to deliver it in budget, on time, without being cancelled?

It’s great to be in the position where three serious contenders (P-8, P-1 and Global 5000 MPA) are on the table with several “budget” options also available (C-295, Q400MPA) together with a number of MSA options (Boeing MSA, Sentinel R1) and a few RPAS (Triton, Reaper) for us to mix and match.

It really didn’t look this rosy in 2010!

February 13, 2015 11:29 pm

It needs to be remembered the wedgetail is a different airframe entirely to what the p8 is based on. Also your not doing maritime patrol if you’ve got an aas sensor on board, “modularity” in what would be a tiny fleet can have drawbacks in that you don’t have enough airframes to conduct two tasks at the same time. Would we be allowed access to the aas sensor?

The p8 is unlikely to have many takers beyond the limited numbers for aus and India, it’s too expensive for Canada and there’s no chance france will buy it. You would have a large user group with the U.S. however that has a double edged sword. You will need to keep up with tech refreshes and upgrades to enjoy the benefits or economies of scale and as we’ve seen with Apache, awacs and most likely will with jsf that can become expensive quickly.

This decision of what if anything fills the gap will imo be the biggest test of mods budget planning and management which we are lead to believe has been transformed to prudence.

February 14, 2015 7:11 am

‘It’s great to be in the position where three serious contenders (P-8, P-1 and Global 5000 MPA) are on the table with several “budget” options also available (C-295, Q400MPA) together with a number of MSA options (Boeing MSA, Sentinel R1) and a few RPAS (Triton, Reaper) for us to mix and match.’

I agree there’s a lot of solutions out there that require serious investigation. The problem I think is that are we as a customer letting it be known that the MPA will be the first airframe of a family of ISTAR platforms. Have we or are we making the producers come up with plans to fulfill all our ISTAR/MPA needs based on a single platform?

I think when looking at the issue in that sense then the market is pretty much open with some of the smaller players such as SAAB slightly ahead.

Personally if we are going that route then I think we should throw our lot in with the Japanese, it’s a better suited airframe to MPA and if we are involved with development of the other systems we can get some cash back for our economy, in fact the same could be said for SAAB in a round about way.

I think Mark is right in that this decision will be a test for the newly transformed MOD, personally though I believe we will by an airframe for the MPA role and when we need to replace Sentinal and then E3 we will launch another competition for each and be left with a mixed bag of airframes.

The Other Chris
February 14, 2015 8:05 am

Crikey, I do believe the three of us are in agreement :)

February 14, 2015 8:50 am

I would love to see 3 Scaneagles, each launched 100nm away, in any direction from A Crowsnest Merlin being controlled and vectored by the said Merlin… another one coming up to take its place and realise the 24 hr endurance benefit.

Unfortunately, not Boeing but Thales and LM now in trials.

February 14, 2015 11:46 am

This is a very interesting thread, it all boils down to 4 key points:
1) How much money is available?
2) How important is having one common airframe for Istar
3)Who will have operational Control.
4) Long term politics

If 1) is favourable and 2) are non essential and 3) RN control even if RAF operated then the P1 is the clear winner.

If 1) is tight and 2) deemed essential and 3) RAF control and operated then the P8 is the clear winner.

If 1) Really very tight and 2) deemed essential then something similar to Sentinel is likely

Finally 4) IF we are really keen on developing a good link with Japan, and want to encourage them, then the P1 may well pip the P8, although I think all the planning assumptions seem to be around 7-8 P8s with the 5 or so UAVs.

My personal preference is P1 RN controlled and RAF operated,

February 14, 2015 12:21 pm

‘with the 5 or so UAVs.’

Wasn’t the price for up to 7 Triton’s for the RAAF $2.5 billion? This would be in addition to our MPA buy. Have we the funds?

I know Triton has huge surveillance capability (although it still does not have a collision avoidance system) could we not just use the UAV’s and ASW Frigates for the role?

Rocket Banana
February 14, 2015 12:36 pm

I think someone else said this on another thread recently, but I can’t see us buying anything like P1, or P8. The reason? Because we cancelled Nimrod.

What we can buy (without too much public outcry and egg on face) is a multipurpose asset… and even this can be “spun” in many ways.

So in no particular order we could:

Buy a multipurpose surveillance-only asset and prosecute with something else (e.g. Triton)
Buy a single airframe that can do AEW, MPA, SIGINT, etc (e.g. Global 5000 or B737)
Buy something that can slot in a modular MPA capability (e.g. A400M)
Buy a cheap MPA that just about “makes do” (e.g. C295)

The Other Chris
February 14, 2015 12:44 pm

The Aussie buy is 8 x P-8, 7 x Triton and all new facilities/infrastructure for the £3.5b figure.

Peter Elliott
February 14, 2015 12:50 pm

Politicians have short memories. Nimrod is ancient history now.

Although MRA4 was only cancelled in 2010 in the popular imagination the name belongs to the 1980s. More people remember the failure of Nimrod AEW than the cancellation of Nimrod MRA4.

The only national politics attached to the decision is the Deficit and Jobs. Put RR engines on the P1 and that’s good enough to spin the UK benefits. Other than that its a military calculation with just a small dose of inter-service rivalry.

February 14, 2015 1:03 pm

Australia moves to buy $3b spy drone fleet,
4 Sep 2012

‘The favoured option is a new, maritime surveillance version of the Global Hawk – the MQ4C Triton.
The estimated cost of the project is between $2 billion and $3 billion.’

‘The Royal Australian Air Force now wants Triton to support a new generation of manned maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A’

Is this another case of no one really knowing the price until a formal request by the government is made?

The Other Chris
February 14, 2015 3:00 pm

Probably a little, though the majority is dependent on the aircraft options exercised.

Australia’s public accounting is refreshingly different (not perfect), their MPA program is called Air 7000 and comprises three parts:

1b) 7 x MQ-4C Triton

2b) 8-12 x P-8A’s at Increment 2 standard

2c) Upgrade the P-8’s to Increment 3 standard

Budget range is AU$5.3b to AU$8.5b.

IIRC back in 2012 Australia were still deciding about the mix of Manned and Unmanned aircraft. They’ve since settled on 7 x Tritons and 8 x P-8A’s with an option for four more for a total of 19 aircraft for £4.3b at Increment 3 by 2021. Deliveries to the USN, India and work on the Australian P-8’s has gone roughly to schedule. It’s… surprising. MQ-4C is a little more variable but none of the 2b/c or the USN programs are dependent.

P-8 Increment 1 is what P-3C does now.

P-8 Increment 2 starts this year and in three phases (called EPC-1 to -3) adds Multi-Static Coherent Acoustic (MAC) sonobuoys (the clever ones that MRA4 was also slated for), nifty AIS interrogation, high altitude sonobuoy release/control and finally the snazzy torpedo glide kits (HAAWC).

P-8 Increment 3 is interesting. It’s listed as a Cooperative Program with 50/50 Australian involvement and is where the Multirole and net-centric toys get added.

This NAVAIR briefing slide fills in the details, page 6 in particular for the overview. **Note the opening of the whole plug in architecture/platform up to 3rd party competition upon completion**:

The AAS sensor roll-out is a parallel program to the Increments. Expect it between Increments 2 and 3.

My feelings are if P-1 is to compete, it needs to at the very least be capable of Increment 2 style high altitude capability. e.g. MAC with GPS/High Altitude/Glide Torpedos/Comms/etc. The UK probably needs that wider area coverage per aircraft to make up for numbers (all the Services likely want the aircraft involved in their operations), so it can’t be just a straight P-3C capability equivalent.

Rocket Banana
February 14, 2015 3:17 pm

Politicians have short memories. Nimrod is ancient history now.

The media doesn’t let go that easily. Nimrod is far from ancient history… especially if you happen to be vying for power in any forthcoming election and decided it was a good idea to flush £4b down the toilet.

Now if he had publicly hauled BAE through the coals, for the mess… and won… he could easily go off and buy American or Japanese.

As it stands it is political suicide.

Obviously I’m working on the same premise as most media sources suggesting that there will be a hung, Conservative-majority parliament.

The Other Chris
February 14, 2015 4:31 pm

Plenty of opportunity for spin (pretend this is a £4b P-8/Triton announcement scenario):

– Highlight problems with the ancient airframe (also a reason not to select refurbished P-3’s)
– Highlight that the problems meant only 9 Nimrods would ever be available for service
– Highlight the 19 aircraft (and scope for the future) in the “new program” being {insert BS Bingo here}
– Partnering and Jointness with USN, Norway, Australia (even if we don’t)
– Highlight the aircraft will cater for all three Services (whether suited or not…)
– Multi-billion investment in Lossiemouth, British Industrial involvement, Jobs (oust Angus Robertson)
– Instant media reports of the new fleet keeping periscope-spotting to the Norwegian Sea, Russian channel movements under the ever watchful gaze of our new “ship killers” and Bears being chased out of our airspace with TV shots of binocular wielding spotters (with the odd mention of Typhoons on QRA…)

If I wasn’t so cynical I’d consider a career in Spin Doctoring.

The Other Alistair Campbell

February 15, 2015 2:27 am

The RAAF P-8 facilities work includes quite a few runway extensions and parking aprons, a completely new 92WG working space/hangers, a permanent det hanger/offices at Darwin and two sets of front&back-end sims. The transcript says $707m for public works.

You guys could get away with half that, at least.

February 16, 2015 1:23 am

I believe Japan will be more then happy to sign a license deal with Britain for the P-1 through the defense technical exchange program that is already in place.

Kawasaki can provide the the body ship them to BAE and BAE can do the fitting of all the components. The engine can be built at Rolls-Royce although I am not sure if they still carry such a small engine in their line.

February 16, 2015 2:27 am

‘My feelings are if P-1 is to compete, it needs to at the very least be capable of Increment 2 style high altitude capability. e.g. MAC with GPS/High Altitude/Glide Torpedos/Comms/etc.’

I’m sure the P1 would be a step up n capability from the P3, as we know the Japanese are no slouches when it comes to ASW. So why does the P! need to be able to do the high altitude stuff of the P8? Glide torpedoes etc are a requirement for the P8 to offset the not great range of the airframe and so allow the aircraft to keep high to save fuel rather than dropping altitude and burning extra fuel the same reason that UAV’s are part of the package. The P1 has the range of a true MPA and at present there is no real danger to MPA’s from subs (although that is slowly changing) could we not just integrate a glide capability to the P1, after all it’s just a case of integration like any other free fall weapon and would this not increase the on station time of the P1 even further?

The range of the P8 is it’s Achilles heel and requires a number of hidden extra costs (more expensive weapon’s, UAV’s) to allow to use the airframe.

February 16, 2015 3:55 am

@ David Niven – I don’t think we should dismiss integration costs so lightly. Even Brimestone 2 integration is costing 150 million and the existing weapon is already integrated. Seem to remember a 500 million price tag for FASGW on wildcat.

With a small fleet of MPA, stingray integration alone might cost as much as a couple of aircraft and that’s without making it fly.

Does anyone know what weapons the P1 will come with as standard? I like the aircraft but I just could not see us going to the cost of integrating our weapons on it. Plus there is the hassle of crew training. Zero chance we can do this with the Japanese and we already have three crews trained on the P8.

The Other Chris
February 16, 2015 7:18 am

Confused about concerns over range.

P-8 and P-1 are similar, both under 5,000 nautical miles and twice as far as a P-3C.

Publicly P-8 normally advertises a radius and several hours operating at that distance rather than a raw “ferry” range if that’s what is being missed?

Critically, P-8 has a UARRSI for refueling, albeit with a book, whereas the P-1 doesn’t have one listed in any material.

It’s easier to switch a UARRSI with existing plumbing to a probe than fit a completely new refueling system.

The high altitude of the P-8 is to support a doctrine change, rather than cover refueling. The higher you are the greater a distance your line of sight can be, allowing you to “seed” several areas or a wider area with sonobuoys and monitor them all at once, for example.

The Other Chris
February 16, 2015 7:22 am

Harpoon, Maverick, ASM-1C (Japanese), Mk 46, Type 97 and G-RX5 (both Japanese). Depth charges etc.

February 16, 2015 10:37 am

I don’t think the P3C had the refueling port fitted as standard but they did experiment with it . This ex pilot was part of that trial. He mentions that they would have 3 pilots on board swopping seats every 4 hours as missions , unrefuelled , could be up to 19hrs !

February 16, 2015 11:16 am

‘twice as far as a P-3C’

Are you sure about that one? Lockheed Marting give it a max endurance of 16 hrs with a long range cruise speed of 350 Knots (402mph).

The P1 gets touted at having a range of about 4320nm with a higher ceiling with both max and cruise speeds being greater by a pretty good margin.

From the Boeing site it states Range: 1,200 nmi with 4 hr on station and various sources stating a cruise speed of 815 Kmh (506mph) a back of fag packet calc would give the P8 a range of 4424m (3844nm).

On the question of weapons integration, why would we use the money spent on seed corn as a reason to buy the P8 but totally disregard the 100millions spent on the Stingray development? and would we not want to integrate the same ASuM that the F35 would be using (such as the JSM) for commonality especially as only one of the weapon systems integrated on the P8 is in use by ourselves but not in the air launched mode.

If the glide kits are purely a doctrinal evolution (which I have my doubts as being the sole reason) why cannot we add glide kits to our Stingrays?

As for AAR to place a probe on the P8 would still be an extra cost borne solely by ourselves so would probably not get done.

February 16, 2015 12:11 pm

@ David Niven – We can still use Stingray on Helicopters. My concern is purely cost. If we do get MPA then we will get a small budget. That budget will go further with P8 than with P1.

Is the Mk 46 a modern enough torpedo compared to the mk54 we could get with the P8?

The Other Chris
February 16, 2015 12:15 pm

Biggest issue with calculations are the P-3C’s operating altitude once it reaches its radius which is below 2,000′. At this point the one engine is shut down, speed drops below cruise to loiter. Visual horizon for higher bandwidth line of sight to the sonobuoys, is around 40nm. You can then begin calculating what area coverage is available at loiter at an average three hour duration at radius (e.g. 5,000nm2).

The longer endurance numbers for P-3C only occur at full loiter, when two engines are shut down. It’s rare and requires good conditions. It also takes P-3 twice as long to reach the target area at full radius, and twice as long to return.

Let’s assume P-1 would be equipped for similar “Increment 2” capabilities as the P-8 for a UK co-development with Japan for the next bit, so we’re admittedly taking some artistic license but which isn’t unreasonable or infeasible for the sake of argument:

The High Altitude approach provides a four hour loiter at radius. Both aircraft claim a 40,000′ ceiling (200nm visual horizon) however varying between that and 20,000′ (170nm visual horizon) is more likely due to the high-altitude MAC/GPS and Torpedo* requirements.

This is a huge amount of area coverage for the standard mission compared to a P-3C: That’s an 18 to 25** times improvement (125,000nm2) in surface area covered***. It’s why High Altitude ASW is worth developing the chutes, glide kits for delivery and the multi-spectral/ISAR sensitivity to help poor weather identification.

P-1/P-8 could (in this example) seed that whole area with long endurance, GPS enabled multi-static acoustic coherent sonobuoys with one aircraft required vs double-digits of aircraft needed for the P-3C.

I’m not worried about refuelling by boom. We all pool tankers.

* The HAAWC torpedo glide kit is publicly targeting a 20,000′ release altitude for a delivery range of 50nm, and has successfully achieved 8,000′ release altitude on it’s testing roadmap to deliver a Mk54 torpedo on target back in 2007.

** Assumes loitering at a single point for simplification, could be extended by loitering in a “cruise orbit” in which case area coverage increases by 150x plus (755,000nm2) that of the P-3C are feasible.

*** “Twice as far” was a crude method for describing the area covered in the same mission time, apologies, I hope this is a superior explanation?

Caveat: Back of a fag packet maths, sorry!

February 16, 2015 1:04 pm

If we solely used Stringray on heicopters then we would need to add a logistics tail to support the Mk 46 (which I think we used at one point, I may be wrong) And if we are going to get an MPA and only a small budget to play with should we be looking at the P8, P1 at all? there are plenty of other offerings to choose from to suite any budget.


‘Caveat: Back of a fag packet maths, sorry!’

No problem it’s all interesting stuff! As I said in an earlier post the problem I have with the purchase of the P8 is the small hidden extra’s. If we do go down the P8 route would we take them as they are now and then need to find a few million for weapon integration or will we be tied to the US from the moment we sign on the dotted line? I can see nothing coming back to us from Boeing but if we are going to invest in an airframe it needs to be the best deal overall and not just for now (after all if I wanted a cheap MPA for now a refurbed P3 would do). If we throw in with the Japanese we could probably get some money back into our economy (Rolls Royce? international orders?) and jointly develop other roles for the airframe, I don’t see this with the P8.From what I see of the MPA purchase is that there is no long term plan that ties in the airframe to our other ISTAR needs, there are the odd comment about commonality with Wedgetail etc but nothing set in stone.

If we let it be known that the airframe would be the first of a future ISTAR fleet then I think if this is taken into consideration , the P8 would no longer be the front runner at all. I think if we buy an MPA then it has to be on the basis of an entire fleet of ISTAR aircraft and no more situations where we butcher airframes we already own for a substantial sum to fulfill a role purely due to an absolute lack of planning and then funding as in the case of the Merlin’s.

Donald of Tokyo
Donald of Tokyo
February 16, 2015 5:01 pm


>The High Altitude approach provides a four hour loiter at radius. Both aircraft claim a 40,000′ ceiling (200nm visual horizon) however varying between that and 20,000′ (170nm visual horizon) is more likely due to the high-altitude MAC/GPS and Torpedo* requirements.

I agree this will work for Anti-Surface Radar tracking.

But, in case of sonobuoy operation, I am not sure. Do you have any idea?

I think even in the longest case, the separation between the buoys are 1 km or so. To cover “pi * (170 * 1.8)**2 = 294e3 km2, you need 300 thousand sonobuoys in the extreme case. Even if you are putting them in a single linear line, you need 170*1.8*2 = 600 sonobuoys.

Submarines are very quiet these days. For example, in Japan, there is a rumor that “if you want to detect a Soryu moving in slow speed, with passive sonobuoy, you almost need to directly hit its hull”. Thus, I thought we are going for active + passive buoy operation with multi-static analysis, and therefore, much shorter buoy distances…

But, again, a passive sonobuoys will be able to detect an SSN in 20kt transit, as well as ~14kt SS in snort. Stopping its strategical transit will be of great importance in ASW operation. In this case, what will be the typical distance of the buoys?

So, high speed of P-1/P-8 compared to P-3 is pretty good. Also high altitude will “help”, but not killing, I suppose.

March 3, 2015 11:19 pm


P-8s at $A250M a pop? How many drones could you buy for that (and not super expensive MQ-4C Tritons BAMS either)? Why is it necessary for one platform to be able to perform all missions?

Day to day maritime patrol/surveillance in a ‘permissive’ environment could easily be done from the comfort of a GCS with a mug of tea and a hobnob. There would be different drone configurations for surface search (radar and EO/IRST), surface attack (AShM), ASW search (72 sonobuoys should fit into the space occupied by 2 x 2000lb JDAM) and ASW attack (torpedoes).

For less ‘permissive’ circumstances you would have crewed control/processing aircraft (say Global Express XRS) orbiting at high altitude (a la the P8) directing the swarm via stealthy LPI links, crunching acoustic data and tasking attack drones to prosecute contacts. No need for big holes cut in the airframe or draggy things dangling off, except for maybe a couple of ASRAAMs to slap nosey Bears.


El Sid
El Sid
May 23, 2016 11:33 am

For want of anywhere else to post this, the second-hand market for large biz jets has collapsed, even in-demand models like the G650 have seen prices drop 14% – and Bombardier is flooding the market in order to fund the C Series.

Peter Elliott
May 23, 2016 11:37 am

Could be worth a look for the mooted (non US) NATO electronic warfare and SEAD platform.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
May 23, 2016 12:22 pm

For info. on March 11th a G650ER flew Sydney to Los Angeles, 6,620 nm in 12 hours and 40 minutes and averaged a speed of Mach 0.86 during the trip. The 650ER is designed to fly 7,500 nm at Mach 0.85.