SDSR Leak Engine Revving Up

There have been relatively few pre-SDSR leaks this time around but as we get into the vinegar strokes, expect a few more. As the review work has nearly completed and various options presented to ministers the decision-making process gets into gear.

Decisions inevitably mean winners and losers, losers inevitably mean leaks to the Times and Telegraph, sadly.

The latest leak is regarding the Maritime Patrol Aircraft / Multi-Mission Aircraft  gap/requirement. The smart money had been on a purchase of Being P-8 Poseidon aircraft with a longer term plan for additional capability based on the same aircraft that might eventually replace the E3 Sentry and R1 Sentinel. Then Kawasaki came in with an option on the P1, cemented with an increasingly favourable UK/Japan defence trade relationship which muddied the waters.

Then Airbus, Alenia and Lockheed Martin/Marshall said, hang on a minute, what about a lower cost option using the C-295, C-27 or C-130 ‘Sea Hercules’ which would also include greater UK content, again, muddying the waters even more.


Ultra Electronics and General Atomics even suggested a manned/unmanned combination using the, now named Protector RPAS and pod mounted sonobouys.

Ultra Sonobuoy

All of a sudden, there were loads of options that allowed a capability-centric long term view to emerge, the obvious option is still a known obvious, but at least there were alternatives to consider.

Then, a British steel controversy, indirectly, a commentary on British jobs for British workers being financed by British taxpayers.

Finally, this morning, a story from the Sunday Times;

This suggested that the obvious answer, the Boeing P-8, was not so obvious anymore and the £2 Billion project for nine P-8 Poseidon’s was back into the long grass because it was ‘fiendishly expensive’

The story speculates that the favourite position is now an interim purchase of C-295 or SC-130 until rapidly maturing unmanned technologies can fill the gap.

Now with all these stories, they must come with a health warning attached, it could be a simple fishing exercise, a well-timed story to scare Boeing into dropping their prices for example.

It could just be total nonsense.

Or, it could be true.

At the end of the day, having already spent the best part of £4 Billion pounds on MRA4, finding another £2 Billion was always going to be difficult, no matter how important or glaring a gap it left, because quite simply, it means £2 Billion not being spent on something else.

Meanwhile, somewhere near Coventry!

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123 Responses

  1. *Shakes Head*

    Hookham just started a rumour that millions of Brits and allies and adversaries will hop on to.

    He’s written nonsense before–Paras and RM likely to merge, Army likely to be cut in favour of F-35s and ships, and lots of bullshit. Don’t…don’t….listen to him all the time.

  2. Who knows whether this article is spurious or not? No doubt it will be one of many SDSR rumours over the coming weeks. However it does point out 2 things 1) That SDSR (despite the 2%) is not going to be all good news and 2) In terms of MPA there are serious alternatives to the P8. and procurement will deoend on cost and its impact on other programmees as well as which aircraft/UAV best meets the requirement within the cost parameters. For example Would 12-14 C295 be better than 4-6 P8s? Or would P1 be a chepaer but no less capable alternative to P8? Is Sea Herc really a good antisubmarine hunting asset or is conversion of old airframes a rout we want to avoid this time? Is what SAAB offer a good high tech low cost alternative. An open comeptition would not be a bad idea. OR would not purchasing p* further annoy an already annoyed USA and be the straw that breaks the Camels back of the ”Special Relationship’???????????

  3. I am going with fishing exercise combined with the usual mischief making by those unnamed sources! The article has no facts and just quotes “Sources” and “Retired” RAF officers.

    There are lots of choices now so for what will be a big spend regardless of choice and the potential for various suppliers to co to the European courts to protest any single source selection so a contest it will be.

    I will be happy when SDSR is out of the way regardless of its contents just to get past this kind of nonsense. It will be Lewis Page next no doubt…

  4. @Fed,

    Exactly. As i said, Hookham has written nonsesne before. Now he’s done it and the whole of twitter & millions of people think “UK govt has not guts, doesn’t care about defence” now.

  5. My guess is if the “Sources” are real all they have revealed is the choice is not to sole source. So then Hookham does the usual journo thing of twisting the meaning through omission. In a roundabout way a decision not to sole source is a decision not to select P8…at the moment. Considering P8 is one of the few choices that the general public are even vaguely aware of it is an easy way to stir things up a bit before SDSR.

    I would put money on there being a fairly strong faction within the RAF who want P8, considering the hard core of crew in the US on type training USN personnel plus the fact its mission system is derived from MRA4’s and the obvious attraction of adopting whatever America uses and interesting options down the line with Triton, leaking a nice scare story to concentrate minds is the order of the day.

  6. I would say don’t start the fire before the party. Hookham and Tim Ripley have done that.

    RAF have spend their efforts in the SEEDCORN programme training on P-3, P-8 and MQ Trition. They haven’t trained on the other alternatives. But never say never. It’s a competition.

  7. Not to spam but for such an important decision, why has IHS Janes, Defense News or other major Military/Defence news sites break this piece of news? They are more credible sites with journalists who have connections to more credible sources. So far, none of them across the weekend have mentioned this.

  8. I agree with Fedaykin on this one- We all know journo’s have an innate ability to make two & two be five, but tell you it’s seven…or three…

    All I think we can glean from this is that the P8 is no longer the only player in town… and that Boeing might be playing a bit of a game here…

    The RAF will operate whatever it’s given, and I suspect in twenty years, will raise a hue and cry over replacing it, saying nothing can replace the Pxxx. (Shades of Buccaneer, and now Tornado, anyone?)

  9. i do not think the RAF are saying nothing can replace i think what they are quite correctly saying is that certain platforms do not meet requirements. I am completely comfortable with decisions made on correct information.
    So the Politicians can say yes we will have CN295 or Swordfish as long as they know that we will not have the ability to do a and and c and not on the basis of someone bull shitting and saying it is good enough to kind of do those things almost honest.

  10. Nice name that, Hookham – hockum!

    To be honest, since when was anything in defence/politics a “Done deal”? :P The naff faff continues.

  11. How prominent is the story in the paper? As a subscriber I have read it online, but I cannot find it in the Scottish print edition. There are not many specifically Scottish articles in it, so choosing it as one of a handful to omit suggests that it is not seen as a big story by the paper.

  12. Here ” SEEDCORN programme training on P-3, P-8 and MQ Trition. They haven’t trained on the other alternatives” you could also take a generic view:
    – a turboprop
    – a jet (and the new “from High” concept being proved), and
    – a UAV.

  13. Re : Swordfish et al. It seems to me that most of these large and slow aircraft that fall into the 200 miles out, 4-5 hours on mission and 200 miles back category, (with weapons carriage almost bolted on as an afterthought) are aimed fairly and squarely at EEZ patrol/ SAR. They seem to be aimed at civilian/ coastguard users (or countries with limited coastlines looking for a cheap solution). If the UK were to go for anything in that category, I would suggest the Scorpion, primarily because it seems to have been designed from the ground up with ease of weapons and sensor integration in mind (isn’t that a revolutionary concept %), making it potentially a very flexible aircraft that could be re-roled relatively easily (and cheaply). For the UK’s MPA requirement, as far as I can see, it’s not really worth talking about anything with less than 10 tonnes of payload, a range of 4000 – 5000 miles and around 8 hours of loiter time (after flying to Greenland) – I don’t think the list is that long when you think of it that way.

  14. I have a gut feeling that we will go for the P-8 but the number will be lower probably for 5 or 6. Remember the number of Nimrod MRA4 the RAF were going to accept. Whether the fleet will grow over time and whether they will be leased initially or purchased outright is also a good question.

    I feel he need to play Devil’s advocate regarding the up coming SDSR. there has been a lot of positive posts on Think Defence about many projects that appear to be moving forward and that would put the UK in a far better position defence wise. However the only new bit of kit certain to get funding under the SDSR is the Trident Replacement programme. Almost everything else will not reach main Gate of receive major funding until after the SDSR in 2020. Given that the 2% promise last only until 2017, and the state of the country’s finances could change, all that is certain is that nothing is. Many existing programmes will be included, spun up to look like new investment and to hide the fact that few major new programmes will be announced that will bear fruit before 2020. Especially look out for a repeat of the PMs announcement of 20 new UCAVs and extra personnel and kit for the SF and related units. An additional F-35Bs order could be announced for around 25 new airframes to go with those already on order though they also maybe included in the number stated to look better.

    Does anyone truly believe that the MOD has learnt its lesson regarding procurement. IF one looks at MIV for example. Many countries have introduce similar platforms over the pat decade. I am pretty sure all did in depth assessment against their requirements. Couldn’t the MOD look to see which countries requirements were most like ours and use that as a starting block. If funding were available I cannot see why initial deliveries could not begin within 2 to 3 years at the latest. The same could be said for the MPA requirement, especially if the P-8 is chosen (probably more like the P-8I)

    I am worried, especially regarding the Army’s programmes that again their publicity department is announcing a whole bundle of new and innovative ideas, but will not be properly funded leaving them stuck in the Assessment and Design phases. If the length of programmes is not cut, then the danger of capability creep, indecision and poor programme management increases dramatically. This should not curtail programmes for bespoke equipment, as long as the MOD is clear as to what it wants, when it wants it and has the funding for it.

    To sum up, the SDSR 2015 is not going to be the realisation of the “Jam tomorrow”, promised in the 2010 SDSR. One or two of the glaring capability gap may be filled, but I feel most will be a repackaging exercise fo existing programmes and previously announced purchase decisions.

  15. I am pretty sure we will go with the US option and not the Japanese version, to retain our US links, although I suspect it will be less frames than we need but some is better than our current none.

    What I don’t really understand is exactly what this special relationship gives us, it seems like a one way relationship to me.

  16. Gotta repeat myself:

    If the P-8 IS being dumped as Hookham and Ripley say, why haven’t other news papers, or credible military sites like IHS Janes, Defensenews, Breakingdefense, Defenseone or others reported the same news? Why only this from the Sunday Times, and on Sunday? Even if it was not published yet, the news reporters would have reported it on Twitter–and I follow many of them. Zilch. Nada.

    What Hoookham and Ripley have done is create a huge post-Halloween scare.

  17. I expect the UK is being offered the same as the Australians: USN fly away price i.e. with zero tacked on to cover US R&D. Damn sight better than if the offer were to be going the other way. You turkeys would probably charge VAT.

  18. I was forgetting that the reply button doesn’t work, my comment was addressed to the ungrateful Steve.

  19. LJ’s punch line resonates with me “One or two of the glaring capability gap may be filled, but I feel most will be a repackaging exercise fo existing programmes and previously announced purchase decisions.”

    Bringing the sorry FRES SV/ Ajax saga to a happier end (before printing the next SDSR paper with lots of capability hype) has cost the army several Warrior upgrade deferrals, in one year increments (and part of it, the ABSV, hived off to a different project). Now, what did the previous paper state about the army’s main fighting formation (AI bdes; quite a gap there in the making, when taken together with the impending obsolescence of the Ch2 ).

    MPA will be just papered over, and the real money shelled out the other side of 2020. Exactly when the real crowding out effect of the Successor will start to bite!

    Not moving ahead with Successor would have meant refuelling the existing ones… not big money (appr. 0.4 bn, whether for 3 or 4 was never mentioned), but – I would guess – deemed to send the wrong signal and also pushing the real decision to the next Parliament. Who knows what will be the make up for a majority in that one.

  20. could a re-winged P3 be the stalking horse in this race? If they are going to go for an interim measure SC130 seems like a none starter as it does not exists and would cost a fortune to get off the ground. C295 does not meet the requirement and never will its just too short ranged. RAF crews are training on P3 and it could be the budget option to wait for the future unmanned systems. A large number of countries will eventually need to replace Atlantique and P3’s so there could be scope for some future project if the UK only chooses an interim capability. Personally I would rather see us buy P8 and be done with it.

  21. @Ron5

    How is charging going rate for something equal a ‘special relationship’? This is how military contractors make their money, they sell high to the phase 1 buyers and then try and make profit anywhere they can after that, the r&d costs are mainly sunk costs paid by the primary buyers. My point is that we try to pander to this special relationship and I am not entirely clear what we get for it in return. For example where is the US support on the Falkland dispute, if we have such a close relationship why aren’t they publically backing the islanders desire to remain British?

    Anyhow I would rather that we brought the best piece of kit going, which ever that is, within the budget.

    Saying that whatever we buy, it needs to be a balance between capability and speed of delivery, as it is a glaring current gap. It was an insanely stupid decision to scrap the nimrod without a replacement lined up, even if we could only keep them mothballed because they couldn’t be flown regularly.

  22. Money, Money, Money in a rich man’s Word. Summed up by Abba 40yrs ago.

    Fact is with Succesor gobling up the budget for the next Decade and a Half their is no money. Personaly in view of the success of Crowsnest, LM and others who are involved in that programme have a track record for once to be proud of, hence I would not right of the Sea Herc option since its the same people.
    It uses equipment already in the P3 and Merlin. It uses proven technology in fitting pods and weapons to a C130. The fly away cost of brand new airframe is about £50m, you can refuel it with Voyager, you keep the US onside by keeping a competitor to Boeing in the MPA game, we have 12 C130’s that could be used saving airframe costs (all digitaly manufactorerd with known tolerances hence none of the Nimrod problems) and you back room training costs can be kept down as you can cross train with Merlin Crews, supply and maintenance chain in place etc etc etc.
    I just hope the RAF jet engine brigade don’t throw their toys out of the pram because they are not getting the newest shiniest toy to play with. Rather 12 or more Sea Hercs than 4 P8’s that look great flying over Buck House but are pretty useless in providing the 24hr’s a day wide area coverage.
    We live in straightened financial times and we need to be realistic on what we can afford, hence why it’s the Treasury killing the P8 and not the MOD because it all comes down to money. Spending £2bn in Seattle whilst UK jobs disapear is also probably not great politics either !

  23. MPA has been notable for the silence around it. A DSA notification was submitted for AH-64E, I am not aware of one for P-8s. As has been pointed out in several places the procurement cost of the platform is a big chunk of change to find.

    That said, any interim solution has the makings of a clusterf**k.

  24. @The Ginge

    “The fly away cost of brand new airframe is about £50m, you can refuel it with Voyager, you keep the US onside by keeping a competitor to Boeing in the MPA game, we have 12 C130’s that could be used saving airframe costs (all digitaly manufactorerd with known tolerances hence none of the Nimrod problems) and you back room training costs can be kept down as you can cross train with Merlin Crews, supply and maintenance chain in place etc etc etc.”

    Does your browser have a spell and grammar check? If only it was that simple, the digitally manufactured with known tolerances gave me a laugh :-)

    1) RAF C130J have been thrashed supporting the Sandpit
    2) RAF C130J were built using the C130H tooling and jigs
    3) Ironically the new tooling and jigs were part of offset to UK PLc but arrived after UK deliveries were completed. Remember the UK was the launch customer for a type the US decided to buy afterwards

    So I would be slightly sceptical about how much the airframes match the measurements sitting in Lock Marts computers. It has Nimrod written all over it IMHO if we are talking about reusing some of the old airframes. If Sea Hercules is the choice I would much prefer new off the line and cannibalising every viable spare part off the current serving fleet of C130J.

    Also I wouldn’t be all doom and gloom about Successor gobbling up budget, remember it is not all at once.

  25. Except that Marshal have a known track record of success of remanufacturing and re-lifing old Hercules, perhaps we should tell them all the work they have been doing, and are doing, to time and budget, has Nimrod written all over it.

    The mission systems are in service, sensors and pretty much everything else

    All it needs is a number of airframe mods which given the huge number of C130 mods in service of various types with various countries, am not seeing a huge amount of risk

    We all know p-8 is the best answer, WE ALL KNOW

    But, as Ginge says, cash is king

    Slagging off the SC-130 sounds like a but, but, but, but defence to me :)

  26. Funnily TD I have spoken to a few RAF Hercules types who are not quite so keen on the work of Marshalls. Nevertheless no slight was intended towards their business by my part, on the other hand we can’t ignore the age and wear to the airframes and the matter that the use of worn out tooling and jigs from the C130H program to build the RAF examples. It isn’t just the case of some airframe mods, our old C130J are slightly different. That has Nimrod written all over it to me, maybe not to the same severity but all things considered I would prefer the old Hercules were used as a spares source and taking new airframes off the line if that is the eventual route. I am not slagging off the SC-130 per say rather the suggested route which has very real dangers imho.

  27. Unfortunately perception is a huge factor and our C130J have been thrashed. Whilst Marshall have done fine work this would be a big challenge.
    Lots of the sensors are in service just not in a flying C130. I will say what I say every time this comes up. I have no issue with the SC 130 but it is power point. If Textron can build a tech demonstrator then I am damn sure a company the size of Boeing can take one of the thousands of airframes around the world and these already in service sensors and put them together.

    Until they do the Nimrod debacle will still linger and the perception will be that we are taking another old aircraft and putting new wings on them and attaching some sensors and systems inside to create an MPA costs unknown.

  28. I agree with Fedaykin, which is a strange experience but rather suggestive that he has a valid point.

    Not only were RAF C-130Js built on H tooling, and not only have they been thrashed, but they are heading towards 20 years since delivery, they really aren’t that young.

    On top of that, as pointed out by others the concept is a powerpoint, nothing more. Even in a newbuild airframe it would be a sub-optimal solution, hacking up 20 year old C-130s to make it happen sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    If cash is king spend it wisely, don’t st yourself up for the kind of embarrassing fall that had been relative absent from defence for the last five years.

  29. In terms of an MPA I keep thinking the P1 is the better option over P8 but it is more based on a healthy hatred of ITAR restrictions and that there could be more room for UK work etc.

    Still I would put my money on it being P8

  30. The Times story has started to aggregate out as other journos pick it up for a cheap easy story.

    I just want this SDSR out of the way regardless of content. This press nonsense grinds my gears.

  31. Fedaykin,

    Its actually very rare that you have a valid point- which is why you get insults.

    Re Marshall, they have in the recent past been held in high regard by MoD as an “SME” (which in some quarters makes them the embodiment of good) with a substantial civilian business (also popular in parts of MoD). Apparently known for delivering on-time too.

  32. The P-8 is the only credible game in town. It is the aircraft that gives us the most advanced capability and the longest service lifecycle. Interoperability is also a key factor. We’d be mad to choose anything else. The Kawasaki P-1 is interesting, but I can’t see it being substantially less expensive when through-life support costs are added. For these reasons, this story is probably no more than a fishing expedition.

  33. Maybe we could be a bit more ambitious

    1. Adopt half-arsed interim solution
    2. Develop our own MPA having “learnt the lessons” of Nimrod
    3. Export it to the continentals and many others who need to replace their MPAs later on. To encourage this we include the likes of Airbus to supply gear for it
    4. ???
    5. Profit

    Almost guaranteed success and future prosperity for British industry. What could possibly go wrong?

  34. “I just want this SDSR out of the way regardless of content.”

    Agreed! What do people know about how that works?

    Is an SDSR rolled out a bit like a budget, i.e. the minister presents it in a speech to parliament, complete with accompanying politics and positive spin, and a more comprehensive written document with more detail (the equivalent to the budget’s red book) is released the same day which journalists and other commentators can start picking over and digging beneath the glossy veneer of the parliamentary presentation?

    How much advanced notice is typically given before the date of the presentation to The Commons?

    I’ve heard a few comments that SDSR 2015 is likely to be “within days”(*) of the autumn statement which I believe is scheduled for 27th November. Is that likely, in which case we’re probably looking at first week of December for the SDSR 2015?

    – Julian

    (*) Being a pedant “within days” is really such a meaningless statement. The sun is going to burn out within days, just (hopefully) not for an enormously large number of them.

  35. Parliament goes into recess on the 17th of December so week starting the 30th would be a good guess albeit they might shove it into the following week to make it as close as possible to the recess date.

  36. TD,

    Short answer, no. Put downs are delivered where they are provoked.

    Developing our own MPA would be silly, our unit requirements are just too small. Much better to go off the shelf.

    As for this latest “leak”, it was only last week we had the Leuchars story, whatever the accuracy of this latest tale the background noise suggests that the MPA situation is proving challenging. Not heard anything about the rest of the ISTAR fleet either, with both Sentinel and Sentry active in operation bomb ISIS they would be difficult kills.

  37. RE” Also I wouldn’t be all doom and gloom about Successor gobbling up budget, remember it is not all at once.”

    Neither is boa constrictor…

    10:09 amNovember 2, 2015
    The Ginge
    was such a well written up point, but by now, 5+ years into the story, every one is so immersed that deconstructing, point by point, does not spring first to mind.

    Never mind, it would be challenging, too?

  38. re Hohum: this used to be quite a decent sort of blog. Is there nothing that can be done? It is no comfort to know that 99% of the people in the swimming pool are not urinating in it – the damage is done by the incontinent 1%.

  39. Autumn Statement is on Wednesday 25th November (Parliament doesn’t usually sit on a Friday – constituency/committee day for MPs).

    Does the SDSR actually require any legislation to be put in train or is it just a ministerial statement and debate? Parliamentary timing may depend on what else is being announced in the Autumn Statement. After all, it’s not just the MOD spending review but confirming spending limits for all of Whitehall up to 2019/20. Tax credits will be the high profile issue probably.

  40. Hopefully we can find a solution that solves both maritime patrol and awacs replacement . As for any surprise announcements? Increase in the size of the paras and marines.

  41. That ” Is there nothing that can be done? It is no comfort to know that 99% of the people in the swimming pool are not urinating in it – the damage is done by the incontinent 1%” is exactly what I was thinking for the last, is it, two years. And then I found myself on the same side of the argument!

    Manners… even if it is just internet manners! A lot of people have taken refuge to the internet, as they got punched in the pub argument (how ever civil it started)?

  42. Sadly it seems manners are in ever shorter supply, from finding the person you are speaking with to be far more interested in their smartphone, to people not bothering to respond to direct e-mails, to groups walking in line abreast on pavements barging people coming the other way into the road rather than falling back to make way, to people not acknowledging politeness shown to them – the niceties, as my parents described them, do not fit with the Me Me Me generation. I suppose what goes around comes around – when the impolite and selfish find they need a helping hand, they will find all their impolite selfish acquaintances far too busy with their own life to waste time on them…

  43. All those suffering incontinence should seek medical help, fortunately I look after myself so have no sUch issues.

    ACC, I can certainly understand you being punched in a pub.

    Chris, wonderfully put, by every generation for the last 2,500 years.


    No way of solving MPA and MAP replacement simultaneously. Though off-the-shelf solutions are available from the US for both (an upgrade in the case of AWACS).

  44. Now now children….

    Back to the MPA stuff…. Hookham suddenly goes defensive, claiming his sources are well placed. Funny since none of the other journalists esp military journalists have picked up his story?

  45. Hokum.

    You are incorrigible, aren’t you?
    In Inner Mongolia, but that was 800 years ago, they would have found many ways to treat you. By “Hook, or Crook, or much worse?” Ask your wife… but surely, you invented that story as well.

    But in this day and age, it just looks like you have already been punched… and the jaw being out of joint, the keyboard is all there is left to your “cause”,
    RE “ACC, I can certainly understand you being punched in a pub.”

    You really are doing your utmost to grind this forum to the ground?

  46. @Steve

    That’s exactly not it. Australia and the UK are being offered P-8’s at a discounted price not available to others. Just like they’re getting F-35’s at a discounted price not available to others.

    As for US help during the Falklands War, you need to spend a little bit of time with your history books.

  47. ACC,

    “You really are doing your utmost to grind this forum to the ground?”

    Based on the half dozen lines of insult you just produced, yes, you ACC are clearly trying to grind this forum [in]to the ground.

  48. Well name those sources Mark Hookham! I am fed up of British press and the establishment using unnamed Sources:

  49. It seems there are some very good second tier MPAs around there, Q400 (at least they are building a demonstrator), C295 (flying) etc etc. Notwithstanding the lack of an immediate resurgent Russian sub threat in the north atlantic if we are really serious about operating SSBNs and a carrier group, it would be negligent, in my view, to provide anything less than a top tier ASW / MPA capability in sufficient numbers to provide an appropriate level of cover. There are only two games in town P8 or P1 (Sea Herc possibly nears that; I don’t accept the argument that it is pure powerpoint given many aspects are tried and tested including airframe but I do agree we should not consider unless there is a demonstrator funded by LM). P8 is the obvious choice particularly for US commonality, upgrade path and future variants. P1 may be a better ASW aircraft; thats for the SMEs to determine. Whether any ASW advantages outweighs the broader P8 benefits again is for the powers that be to determine. If there is no slack in the budget to cover say 12 P8s then something else has to go and we would need to be radical – starter for 10; Albions, Adaptable brigades (some), one of warrior upgrade, MIV, Ajax? Its hard to find a long list of capabilities other than more salami slicing

  50. rec said: Would 12-14 C295 be better than 4-6 P8s?
    The Ginge said: Rather 12 or more Sea Hercs than 4 P8’s that look great flying over Buck House but are pretty useless in providing the 24hr’s a day wide area coverage.

    One thing that has been true since the dawn of time is that there is nothing quite like ‘being there’. No good having 6 of the most gucci AAW destroyers on the planet when you know you needed at least 12 to guarantee having one when you needed it, where you needed.

    Same goes for MPA, even more so given their fundamentally patrol-focused raison d’etre. At this stage the two suggestions quoted above start to look good to me: a larger number of less capable airframes… but with specialist MPA kit, verses a tiny number of Star Trek airframes with multi-mission capabilities that will ensure they’re always being deployed over land to boost the UK’s small ISTAR capabilities, rather than deployed over water keeping the boomers safe and carrying out SAR across what is the second largest Search and Rescue region of responsibility on the planet!

    Also, to reiterate the first point – if we go for a Sea Herc or Biz Jet based solution, neither will be really big enough to support equipment (whether podded or otherwise) other than that needed for the MPA mission, meaning we’re more likely to retain a usefully deployable number of MPA airframes for MPA rather than see them bled away as baby ISTAR assets over Eastern Europe, or some armpit desert, or the Congo.

    ArmChairCivvy said: MPA will be just papered over, and the real money shelled out the other side of 2020. Exactly when the real crowding out effect of the Successor will start to bite!

    I feel this is probably about as accurate a prediction of the future as you can get outside of astronomy.

  51. In the RAFs eyes the P-8 is what they want. As funding is an issue they are more likely to accept a smaller fleet rather than down grade the capability requirements. This seems to be a common solution favoured by the Armed Forces with capability winning over capacity but that is an old story.

  52. It seems there are some very good second tier MPAs around there, … it would be negligent, in my view, to provide anything less than a top tier ASW / MPA capability in sufficient numbers to provide an appropriate level of cover. … If there is no slack in the budget to cover say 12 P8s then something else has to go and we would need to be radical

    But do we have to provide all of that ASW/MPA capability from just one Star Trek airframe that we cannot afford in sufficient numbers to be effective? The kind of volume we’re likely to procure would result in a part time capability over a limited area. If we go for a reduction in the capability of individual platforms, we can expand the number of platforms (i.e. one of the cheap options). They won’t provide everything, but we will also have T26 in the future, we have UAVs coming out of our arse, we might hopefully have 6 OPVs.

    Just a thought.

  53. Please let’s not recycle this old argument again. It’s getting dull. We all know it’s posturing. What will be will be.

    My official reaction to this story is as follows. Whatevs.

  54. Just think if you’re visiting this blog for the first time and you read the invective writ large, I don’t imagine you’d get many second-timers. Part of the job in running it must be the effective moderation of comments and appropriate deletion of those that step too far.

    Joining the crowd in a public setting, no matter how much one might agree with them, does the arbitrator no favours. Indeed, actually lowering the tone in doing so, paints you in a poor light.

    Is this supposed to be a progressive, insightful, humorous defence site, or some club for the boys?

    Can we get back to business on this site or what?

  55. @MSR.

    As an outsider looking in, I have to say I agree with you…..having lots more ‘slightly less good big flying things trawling the ocean against 3 very good big flying things trawling the ocean seems a better idea especially UAV technology is coming on in leaps and bounds.

  56. Trying not to be a misery, but many of the pundits are predicting rough times in the global economy & the risks from huge private/corporate & government debt. The risk of a war by accident that no one wants or is prepared for, is there & probably will not get a mention in the SDSR.

  57. @Fedaykin,

    I asked him about it on twitter and he go so damn defensive over it. Big sign he did not DO HIS RESEARCH.

  58. P8 it will be – I have no doubt. The interoperability factor and getting the MPA capability in the air with as little delay as possible will swing it for the P8. I reckon Boeing is confidant that they will get the vote. They’ve either been told unofficially, or they’ve got very good insider information – that’s why I reckon they’ve geared up production.

    Numbers? I agree with the guesstimate of 6 now and 6 later. 12 now would be nice, but I can’t see that happening.

    While the P8 looks as though it’s got the SDSR selection in the bag, I personally like the brand new C130 MPA option. It ticks all the right boxes and it’s selection wouldn’t put too many US noses out of joint. But I agree with the suggestion that if LM were really serious, surely they’d have a demonstrator flying?

  59. Dear all

    Again I will suggest Ex-P-3.
    – If re-winged, it will fly for another 20 years.
    – It is cheep. Say, operating 8 P-3Cs with update looks like to cost about half compared to operating 8 P-8As.
    – It is “only a bit” short legged, but much better than any other options (bus jets and also C130?)
    – It has almost NO RISK. Modification cost, operation cost, all clear. The engines can be shared with (not only P-3s) but also C130Hs, which will also be flying even 20 years from now in the world.
    – Replacements can be aligned with other P-3s and Atlantiques right AFTER the successor purchase ends.

    But, yes, this is only one of the options. Six P-8 (or P-1) will also be reasonable choice.

  60. Howabout a mix of hi and low from the same manufacturer, with partly (?, the more than a year old interview does not say that, but surely something must give in a much smaller airframe) shared systems:


    Boeing itself has teamed up with Bombardier (BBDb.TO) to develop a low-cost version of the Poseidon, using the Canadian company’s Challenger 605 business jet in conjunction with P-8 surveillance and radar systems.

    The market for this aircraft, called the Boeing MSA, could be about $10 billion over the next 10 years, company officials say. It will cost about one-third of the Poseidon, or about $60 million, which could make it attractive for several countries in the region.

    The plane will be shown to customers later this year.

    “We have customers we are talking to who may end up with a combination of P-8 and MSA,” said Fred Smith, a director of business development at Boeing Defence.

    “They have a long-range requirement for anti-submarine warfare and for weapons but they also have a requirement where they want a smaller airplane to do other missions on a daily basis as well.”

  61. Donald – use of refurbished P3 airframes with replacement ASW equipment was one of the proposals for the Replacement MPA programme in the late 90s. MOD decided that a programme to re-wing Nimrod was better.

    Having seen just what a nightmare putting 21st century CAD-designed wings into 1950s hand-made airframes can turn into, I doubt MOD has any appetite to repeat the process.

    Add to that the loss of face for MOD in moving from a quirky high-end capability to a US hand-me-down. MOD holds a very high opinion of its place in the world even though nowdays its purchasing volume is extremely small – nothing like its profile in the 50s and 60s. I suspect its one of the reasons for always selecting the very best (most expensive) products. I don’t think they could ever bring themselves to buy another nation’s cast-offs no matter how useful or financially expedient it might be. “Second hand? Certainly not!”

  62. Re-winging P-3s is a thing, Lockheed has done dozens, it’s basically an off-the-shelf solution. I actually wouldn’t be averse to the idea and think its a better approach then either SC-130J or a smaller air-frame like CN-295.

  63. @Barb,
    haha, that’s funny! The RAF never liked the Buccaneer, as it was constantly foisted on them by the Admiralty and killed off TSR.2 Then they got Tornado as an eventual replacement, which they liked – but wasn’t what they wanted (which was still TSR.2 a-like in the early 70’s).

  64. DD,

    Buccaneer did not “kill-off” TSR-2. That aircraft was cancelled due to poor programme management, underestimation of the projects complexity and poor technology choices in the early phases causing spiraling costs at about the same time large numbers of low flight-hour V-bomber airframes came available due to the transition of the deterrent to Polaris.

  65. @Dangerous Dave

    The RAF liked Buccaneer when they got them into service, once they got over the loss of TSR.2 I have met many an RAF type from the period in the seventies when they had Buccaneer and Phantom who regard it as a golden era.

  66. The Buccaneer was never that important to the RAF anyway, it only ever operated the type in four squadrons (an attempt to raise a fifth in 1979 was abortive due to fatigue issues), one of which was a maritime strike squadron. The main replacement for TSR-2 were the six Vulcan B.2 squadrons that remained in the bomber role (a seventh was used for maritime recce).

  67. @Hohum “The Buccaneer was never that important to the RAF anyway”

    It was pretty much the only game in town for our own target designation capability in GW1

  68. Only because the UK took it’s sweet time integrating a laser designator pod, and only for LGBs. Prior to TIALD Tornado was capable of plenty of other strike methods, most importantly WE.177 delivery.

  69. “That aircraft was cancelled due to poor programme management, underestimation of the projects complexity and poor technology choices in the early phases causing spiraling costs”

    Hmm, where have we heard that before…

  70. I will tell you the thing that puzzles me about the SC130, if you look at the Powerpoint it involves significant pull through of systems from the current P-3. Considering the P-3 is on the way out this is a puzzling decision considering what was on the table in the 90’s.

    If people will indulge me a moment to talk about the contest that led to Nimrod MRA4 (yes I know I haven’t written that part two article about it) we need to think about the Loral P-3 Valkyrie.

    The aircraft bid:
    British Aerospace Nimrod 2000
    Lockheed Martin Orion 2000
    Dassault Atlantique 3
    Loral P3 Valkyrie

    Now the Loral offering reused refurbished P3B airframes combined with new engines and most interestingly a variant of the systems fitted to the new HM1 Merlin. Near the end of the contest Loral got absorbed into Lockheed Martin Tactical Systems UK, in effect Lockheed was bidding the contest with two different parts of their business.

    Now roll onto now, Lockheed Martin are offering the C130 fitted with P3 systems whilst they are the prime contractor on the Merlin HM2 update. Which begs the question why are they not offering a C130 variant that like the Valkyrie in the 90’s uses the state of the art systems fitted to Merlin HM2 that they have helped develop and integrate? This would also offer the advantage of connecting together SC130 and HM2 upgrades with the obvious cost savings that could entail.

  71. Because SC-130J is a Lockheed Aeronautics project with the entire international market in mind, its being driven out of the US and not the UK and is intended to do two things:

    a) Keep LM in the MPA business- everyone knows P-8 is expensive and lots of current P-3 customers are unlikely to want to shell out for it

    b) Sell more C-130s- this one is probably more important than ‘a’

  72. That fact has not escaped Boeing’s attention:
    “Boeing itself has teamed up with Bombardier (BBDb.TO) to develop a low-cost version of the Poseidon, using the Canadian company’s Challenger 605 business jet in conjunction with P-8 surveillance and radar systems.
    The market for this aircraft, called the Boeing MSA, could be about $10 billion over the next 10 years, company officials say. It will cost about one-third of the Poseidon, or about $60 million, which could make it attractive for several countries “

  73. And then Boeing immediately hobbled it by making it unarmed.

    Now I come to think of it, IIRC the UK specific SC-130 pitch would/does use the Merlin HM2 mission system.

  74. Except that the Boeing MSA is in no way, shape or form a low cost version of Poseidon, especially not at $60M. It’s an ISTAR asset with no weapons and no sonobuoys. It is of zero value to any nation looking to conduct high-end ASW against a peer threat, or even (frankly) ASW against a third-rate SSK. It’s probably very useful for Coastguards and Malta but is even less capable than a C295 (which costs a mere $28M Wikidollars and can be armed). Who exactly are Boeing pitching this expensive irrelevance to, apart from (maybe) the USCG?

  75. Poor has-beens? That can only afford a half dozen of the real thing… and will have to separate the “find” and “persecute”; I would say with predictable results.

  76. This bit of the article was interesting:

    “A commitment to allocate funding for the upgrade of the service’s Boeing E-3D Sentry fleet of airborne warning and control system aircraft to extend operations to 2035 could also be forthcoming.”

    Lets hope that the MOD stops messing around if the Sentry is going to be retained for another twenty years and put our fleet through Block 40/45 the same as every other E-3 operator and Japan with its 767 AWACS.

  77. I personally am in favour of just buying some existing in-service P8A airframes from the US which our seed corn crews can take over as is . Maybe and a BIG maybe add on to the wing pylons some UK derivative sensor pods but generally accept them as is, re-write/amend the RAF standards if required. If the Sentry E-3 can be life extended until the P8xxx or whatever is fully tested and in service all the better. Buy in stocks of the US sonarbouys and torpedoes too and add them to the inventory. Yes commonality is ‘king’ but integrating our sonarbouys and Stingray will cost what £100’s millions no doubt and years , that’s years of delays into service and lack of comparability with our cousins to boot on a globally deployable asset, there’s every chance UK P8A’s will operate from US bases globally .

  78. SD – abandon re-qualification to Def Stans?? Surely you can’t be serious!

    Remember the new Chinooks that sat on the Odiham turf for best part of a decade because a Def Stan that was newer than the procurement contract was applied in retrospect? It didn’t matter they were desperately needed in the sandpit, until compliance to the Def Stan was proven they weren’t going anywhere.

    I asked the desk officer on a UK procurement once where the MOD’s MIL-STD to Def Stan equivalence table was, thinking (naively) that there must be a list on which you could see which Def Stans were more than covered for compliance because the MIL-STD compliance was tougher. I was told in no uncertain terms that no such equivalence existed; that it was up to every project to prove anew that compliance to a MIL-STD was better than meeting the Def Stan – either that or retest to the Def Stan. What a keck-handed system! Can you imagine how much project cash was needlessly spent over the hundreds of procurement projects because MOD couldn’t be fussed to draw up such a simple table?

  79. @ Hohum
    A few interesting points on that flight global article especially about keeping the tranche 1 Typhoons and raising three new RAF squadrons.

    I hope it does not end up as a choice between more FJ or an MPA replacement as I think we desperately need both.

  80. ASW always gets top billing when MPA are discussed on forums, but sub hunting and attack prosecution are just two of several tasks performed by MPA.

    Whenever I read of naval commanders’ views on MPA, it seems that the air and surface picture and their situational awareness is the focus of task group commanders’ attention, not attacking submarines.

    If you take the sub killing role out of the MPA requirement, and concentrate on maritime surveillance, then things are a lot simpler and more options are available.

    Isn’t the hierarchy of anti-submarine tools firstly another submarine, then ASW frigate, and then MPA? If we’re worried about Russian subs around the UK, or potentially latching onto our Trident boats, should we be considering building more subs of our own before throwing billions at MPA and the American defense industry?

    We used to have a fleet of diesel submarines to counter Soviet activity around the UK, particularly to stop their submarines mining us into isolation. They were scrapped or sold off to save money and realise part of the peace dividend after the Cold War.

    Getting shot of the SSKs was probably right, considering the Russians left their navy underfunded and rusting for many years, but maybe it’s time to reconsider a diesel sub fleet for our corner of the north Atlantic. I don’t know what our SSNs do around the UK, but presumably a few diesel boats would give the handful of longer-ranged and strike enabled nuclear subs more time at sea for their more global tasks.

    The maritime surveillance side of MPA could be realised fairly quickly and cheaply by developing what we already have. A maritime capability for Sentinel is said to be an offered upgrade away; mashing together redundant Hercules and Crowsnest modules has been posited for a basic but useful SeaHerc surveillance aircraft.

    I think this will be the rumour that I’m gonna start. The new MPA is to be a diesel submarine; my sources are secret, but definitely top people. But seriously, would that approach be better, more practical and cost-effective, or a non-starter?

  81. “Isn’t the hierarchy of anti-submarine tools firstly another submarine, then ASW frigate, and then MPA? ”

    No. There is no such hierarchy.

  82. I personally think we always think too short term with uav operations these days who says that the stations aboard a awacs or mpa actually have to be onboard the aircraft why not have them data linked. Then you are capable of making a more capable aircraft from a smaller airframe. The P-8 will be the only option with probably leasing them now and buying them later. The P-1 is a good aircraft but the problem is that the MOD should have pulled their finger out and done a deal when the Japanese where looking at the Eurofighter.

  83. Brian,

    “If you take the sub killing role out of the MPA requirement, and concentrate on maritime surveillance, then things are a lot simpler and more options are available.”

    You’re right, but the fundamental requirement remains – we need an MPA fleet, not to go dhow chasing in the Gulf but to protect the nuclear deterrent in the North Atlantic. That’s the requirement. Of course we can do other things with it, principally providing force protection to deployed maritime task groups, but without a capable sub hunter we are exposed on home territory, are (arguably) failing to fulfil Military Task 3 – Provide Nuclear Deterrence, and have been since we scrapped Nimrod.

    It’s the same old argument. Take Sentinel. It was conceived to conduct battlefield surveillance in a Cold War scenario, not go looking for terrorists in the bush or the desert or even to find tanks in Iraq. Yet that’s what we do with it, and it’s on that basis that the future of Sentinel is in such doubt – it’s being used for a purpose for which it was not designed. Whilst the RAF have been relatively clever in justifying it’s continued existence, it is not fulfilling it’s original requirement and thuse, we should ditch it. It’s a really ‘nice-to-have’ but is not essential.

  84. @adam baynes
    Why do you (or not you?, sorry if I mis-understand your comment…) think UAV with plenty of sensors the P-8 currently has, and (at least) 12-14 hours of endurance, as well as powerful reliable network, will be cheaper than P-8? I do not think so. It is the operation cost, which could be “a little” cheaper for UAV.

    @Brian Black, TD,
    IF, ONLY IF, the MPA will be SSKs, very interesting way to go. If MOD is spending the same amount as the MPA, 2BGBP, you will have only 4 type-212/214, if you include the overheads (infrastructure, training and so on). If it is Japanese Soru-class, you can only have 2. No, I do not think this is a good way.

    # from here downwards, I agree it is a bit “fantasy” talk, or brain storming, I will say …

    However, IF RN IS TO GO FOR SSK solution even with this obvious limitation, I do speculate the reason is that SSN and SSK are the only real anti-sub hunter-killer these days, and the MPAs are not.

    If you can make your T26 frigate quite silent, very difficult to be detected by submarine’s sonar, it also means any SSK (even snorting in transit) will be as silent as T26, and very difficult to be detected as well. If it is difficult for passive TASS (frigate or submarine mounted), it will be IMPOSSIBLE for tiny (passive) sono-bouy. Thus, the MPAs for ASW will be dispensing (LF) active sono-bouys, many of them. I do not think it is a cheap solution in operational point of view.

    SSK, with integrated active-passive-TASS will be a “big CAPTASS”, the best solution for submarine detection. SSKs weakness WAS the lack of hi (or mid)-speed transit capability. But IF SSKs can snort as silent as T26s, the problem is greatly relaxed.

    Of course SSK cannot transit with 30t speed to the other-side of the earth, as SSN can do. But, it will be enough to walk around “G-I-UK gap”, and surely enough for SSBN support, sine SSBN will NEVER transit with high speed. Silence is their nature.

    Anyway, we will see it very soon. It will turn out to be P-8. Or SSK, (or P-1 or P-3 or ….).

  85. Going back to the “economy model” by Boeing “using the Canadian company’s Challenger 605 business jet in conjunction with P-8 surveillance and radar systems” and the “nice to have statement” by TAS about the Sentinels.

    Every time the MPA is mentioned, they cost a 100m, or 200… and £2bn is just for starters. what if the systems got the priority and there would be several platforms to deliver them to the spot (=endurance, to actually do something). In the relative costs this is kinda interesting, especially as the real deprecation seems to be just a fraction of what the “books” tell us, and thereby knocking the per hour in the air (which is what these types of patrolling assets inherently do, staying up in the air where they are needed) down in price by a third:

    ” Cost Type With Book Depreciation With Market Depreciation
    Variable Cost per Year $1,515,813 $1,515,813
    Fixed Cost per Year $724,861 $724,861
    Depreciation $3,102,300 $1,240,920
    Total Annual Costs $5,342,974 $3,481,594
    Costs per hour $12,631 $8,231

  86. Of course you would have to factor in the increased cost in training and personnel to operate several sub systems as well as the far higher chance of one part simply falling over and being unavailable which rises hugely when each part flies. then the extra logistics chain costs and pretty quickly it is more expensive and less reliable.

  87. @TAS re Sentinel, and that’s the sort of tough decisions that need to be made. We can’t go on salami slicing, we need some robustly resourced core (war fighting) capabilities to match the threat analysis. I struggle to be brave enough to produce a list of ‘nice to haves’ that can go though

  88. RE ” factor in the increased cost in training and personnel to operate several sub systems”
    – if you know the “whole”, are you not required to know the parts?

    I thought that the biz jets have been honed to “always” being available, so this
    ” the far higher chance of one part simply falling over and being unavailable which rises hugely when each part flies” argument turns on its head? A key component in the highly complex integrated system has a malfunction, and the whole integrated flagship can only (usefully) fly when it has been fixed? Analogy: 6 super-duper AAW Destroyers give you 1 or 2

    RE ” then the extra logistics chain costs and pretty quickly it is more expensive and less reliable.”
    – the extra logistics chain (what Bombardier is it that we are already flying?) may be true, but quickly cancelled by the 180m vs 60m to have one in the air, doing anything at all?
    – biz jets less reliable? I am sure there would be statistics for the Sentinel, to turn this argument upsidedown. And the size of the logistics tail is entirely different, too.

    I am not saying one or the other; All I am saying a mix (when systems are not disparate, not integrated and require different teams & training) should be considered (=evaluated as an alternative).

  89. Harking back to the article on SDSR and air assets, there was a comment regarding the potential for any UK P8 solution to have bespoke UK systems. Stingray is the obvious no-brainer but, cognisant of the additional comments (rightly) arguing the need for a low-risk solution, what else could conceivably be integrated without stepping away from the US development spiral? Surely this isn’t going down the route of swapping out the AN/APY-10 for Searchwater? That could get very expensive very quickly…

  90. @TAS
    I think there might be a reasonable strategic case to be made for installing some sort of UK specific ESM system, especially if you intend for it to be a family systems in the follow-on AWACS and RJ-replacement programs.

    Australia took a similar path with the P-3 and E-7A but seems to have got off the bandwagon with the P8 and gone with the US ESM system (seems to – not 100% sure; not much yet said in this space).

    Maybe it’s not such a big deal any more, and maybe the US system is pretty darn good. It’s hard to say unless you are on the inside.

  91. Correct if I’m wrong, but I thought there were some anecdotal reports from our P8 ‘seedcorn’ crews that they thought the P8 option was the only game in town if we were still serious about being a global player.

    Regarding the adoption of the P8 package – US systems, weaponry and all – I think this would be the best and safest option for the first 6 aircraft anyway. At least we would have operational MPA assets from the get go. Perhaps the next 6 P8s (hopefully) could have greater UK input… I don’t know how practical this would be though.

  92. @ER

    Or — When the RAF boys were asked ( while in training on an American aircraft, while at an American base, by Americans in America ), if they would prefer to be flying around in a shiny new aircraft in America, wearing cool aviator sunglasses and driving around in big American pickup trucks and having a right ol’ whale of a time would prefer the P8 or would they prefer to be back in Waddington for the winter with a few day trips out to Cambridge to see what Marshalls can offer — they said we love it here, sorry, we love the P8 — it’s the only game in town — apart from poker most nights when we drive over to Vegas.

  93. Which ever aircraft we choose I do think opening up a whole new base for less than a dozen aircraft is foolish and costly we need to use the bases we already got

  94. what I mean’t is the work stations on board aircraft like mpa’s and awacs could they not be data linked like uav stations so the personnel don’t literaly have to be on the aircraft

  95. TAS says Sentinel is nice to have, but not essential.

    The Alliance Ground Surveillance plan requires all NATO members to contribute to this capability. Ground surveillance in NATO now has the same status as NATO AEWAC.

    Part of the reason for keeping Sentinel going despite budget pressure is that the system is considered a contribution in kind to AGS by NATO. If we didn’t have a sovereign ground surveillance capability to declare to NATO, we would be required to stump up cash to pay for Global Hawks in NATO livery being flown by Italian airmen.

    Sentinel, and Sentry, present capabilities required by NATO. If we didn’t have these or similar assets to declare, we would have to pay greater cash contributions to NATO to fund the alliance capability.

    So Sentinel is more than a nice-to-have. On the other hand, there is no such alliance requirement for MPA; MPA is purely a matter for individual member states.

  96. Sorry Brian, you’re quite right. I was lured into senility by the fact that NATO members have paid complete lip service to AGS, from declaring a requirement in 1995 to achieving OC by 2017 with just five of what are quite possibly the most expensive solution available (GlobalHawk).

  97. AGS had a rocky road, not just money wise, but the requirement was also a bit hazy. With Sentinel pledged (the French did the same but can’t remember with what assets), the manned component was dropped from the programme itself (and only then did the money go as far as the 5 expensive airframes; I seem to remember that there are even some non-Nato countries chipping in, just like for the Strategic (hire-a-) Lift, on the pretext that either or both could be needed in stabilization ops.

  98. Air Force Magazine published quite a bit of detail about the programme, i.a.
    – that out of the 600 people running AGS, 90 would be on rotation , in order to take those skills back to the national level (for effective use of the output)
    – that the G.Hawks will be co-located with a similar US asset in Sigonella
    … so its not by all means just Italians running AGS, despite the location.

    Further “The AGS procurement contract covers what NATO calls the AGS “core”: the five Global Hawks; the Sigonella-based ground segment to operate them, capture their data, and analyze that information; the deployable processing stations; a logistical element; and the training.
    The contract does not cover the AGS infrastructure—the buildings, hangars, and warehouses at Sigonella—the satellite bandwidth that AGS will require, or the costs of AGS operations and support over the system’s life cycle—spare parts, fuel, and civilian manpower, for example.
    All 28 Alliance members will collectively fund the infrastructure, all but France will contribute to the satellite bandwidth costs, and all but Britain and France will provide money for operations and sustainment.
    In place of funding AGS operations and sustainment, Britain and France intend to provide overhead SAR/GMTI contributions-in-kind to support NATO operations. The British have said they would make their Sentinel R.1 airborne standoff radar aircraft available, while the French have yet to commit to a platform.
    France does not plan to contribute to the satellite communications costs because it wants to use its own bandwidth when it contributes in kind, said the official.”
    – I think the last sentence is a reference to the French contribution in kind being (possibly?) images from their satellites

  99. With asw assets being in such short supply in the North Atlantic and so vital to restore we seem quite happy to send the asw assets we do have to fight Ebola, rescue migrants in the med, sail around the Falklands in case an argie boat manages to leave port.

  100. Regarding rumours it’ll be interesting to compare; the rumours in publics, the rumours not made public and what actually makes into the review.

  101. Maybe we could see us tapping into what was developed for the P8-I; equipment the USN declined but other customers wanted, such as a MAD boom, which would not be *as* expensive as crossing over kit and tech developed from MRA4 et al.

  102. Not sure whether this is the right thread to put this on. I thought I might have had a scoop this morning but knowing you lot of very aware and up-to-date pundits, no doubt by the time I get around to posting this, someone will have preceded me.

    Right, the big revelation, which is probably not one at all by this time, is that the SDSR will be announced on November the 23rd. I discovered this towards the end of the front-page article in “The Telegraph” today, entitled “Battle over military pay rises”. As you know, Mr. Osborne is attempting to force the MOD to make £1.5 billion in “efficiency” savings and wants to alter the system of automatic pay rises for service personnel. Apparently , military chiefs are angry at the plan and say that spending on some costly equipment programmes (e.g. the F35) should be cut instead. Don’t say we’re in for one of those kit versus personnel arguments!

  103. I’ve heard that a bit before the story broke in the telegraph. Many of the issues around personnel, especially those in pinch point trades will only worsen. When people are wondering why we can’t get enough out of the kit we buy, and it’s not kit related always comes back to issues like this.

  104. Is the intention purely to save money by reducing the wage budget?
    Asking because I don’t believe automatic payrises for service are a good idea and I would support a cost neutral reform. They reduce the incentives to train and improve yourself, and reduce the wastage of loafers (who get a payrise by just not getting sacked, so are harder to manage out).
    If they were getting rid of the automatic payrises and instead putting the money to qualification/rating related raises and increasing the pay for the trades with shortages it would be a positive for the forces.
    Is there any overall shortage of standard infantry/sailors (rather than specialists and geographical shortages)?

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