The sad story of the British maritime patrol aircraft, the Nimrod, was covered for a bit with Dr. Norman Friedman in Midrats yesterday.
The path to the killing of the MR4 and then the entire Nimrod fleet - and with it the ability to do long range maritime reconnaissance - has left this island nation with less maritime patrol capabilities than the continental land power Germany.
The Brits have a problem similiar to ours - people who have no concept of how you actually execute assigned missions at the tactical and operational level are making decisions. Only a person who has never done ASW could think that it could be done only without long range aircraft as part of the tool set. Only someone with a PPT thick understanding about what it takes to have an accurate plot of what is going on in a large area of ocean could think you can do it without long range air.
Well - the team of fail in Whitehall has discovered - to its shock - that the UK is, after all, an island nation.
Cue the circus music;
Military strategists from the U.K. are weighing whether to rush a basic maritime patrol aircraft into service to compensate for recent defense cuts. The alternative would be to hope that the post-2015 budget climate will permit development of a more elaborate aircraft.
Marshall Aerospace, which specializes in modifying and overhauling planes for the U.K. military, has presented a proposal to the Ministry of Defence describing how it could modify an unspecified number of the country’s 25 C-130J Hercules troop and cargo aircraft for maritime patrol duties. At the moment, Britain is not flying any maritime patrol planes because of cuts ordered by the country’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat governing coalition to address a 30-plus billion pound ($48 billion) shortfall in defense spending.
The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review led to the retirement this year of the Royal Air Force’s Nimrod MR2 planes and cancellation of a project to convert MR2s into more advanced MRA4s. The MR2 fleet provided maritime patrol, anti-submarine and search-and-rescue capabilities around the U.K., and it was increasingly called on for duty over Afghanistan, where its electronic surveillance and communications capabilities were valued. The scrapping of the Nimrods was one of the most controversial outcomes of the strategic review, as it left the U.K., a maritime nation, without long-range maritime patrol aircraft. In November, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the country was using ordinary transport C-130s for maritime tasks as required. Current tasks include monitoring the route taken by the U.K.’s nuclear-armed submarines leaving the Clyde Estuary for the North Atlantic and conducting search-and-rescue missions.Actually - as a temporary "good enough" fix as a bridge to something else - the C-130J mod sound like a plan given the money challenges right now. Something beats nothing and don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good (use your own cliche from here). Beats the South African solution ... but if you want perfect ....
Boeing has a new sales pitch for the international version of its P-8 submarine hunter: Buy soon before the commercial side of the company retires or significantly changes the design of the 737 airliner fuselage that forms the foundation for each P-8.You see, you can approve the PPT and nod at the nice plans made by the nice people saying all the nice things .... but when you actually operationalize it and the truth of time, space, engineering, and communications needs show themselves in the 3D world - then you have to address the problems that wouldn't exist if you held people accountable and had operators having a significant say in program development.
When you look at the Brit story - and then you look at Admiral Greenert's plan for our EP-3 capability - mark my words - don't laugh too much at the mother country. We are going to have the same reality check on ES in about 10 years.
Oh, and Nimrod mods have a bad track record - remember this ugly duckling?