Monday, August 29, 2011

UK learns a hard lesson on bad acquisition habits

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 an offer for you ....
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.

What ever the British have been doing in product development in the last 15 years - they need to stop. Then again - so do we.

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?


Bubba said...

Here is what I cannot understand.  Slow for an airplane is fast for a ship or a sub.  If we dusted off the P-3 design and build them new how much would they cost?  Seeing as piston driven propeller planes get further on a gallon of gas, why are we buying jets?  Better yet, why not blimps?

How is the blimp mission served by a speedy fast jet?

JAV said...

Did they immediately scrap all of their Nimrods? How does it make sense to build an all new sensor suite that goes on a pallet in a C-130 rather than to refurb a few of the Nimrods? Or have they gone the same route as us-retire stuff that works so some contractor can sell you something new and make a boatload of cash?

SouthernAP said...


The MoD and the pundits with in the Times, Daily Mail and the House of Commons have been on the RAF about the age of the Nimrods and the maintenance schedule after that horrorific crash right around 2006. The MoD had been using the Nimrods like the US Navy and JFCOM has been using the EP-3's and P-3's that is as ISR assets to support the SpecWar and regular Army on the ground. Also just like the US Navy has been doing with our MPA assests, they have dragged out upgrades and overhauls on the Nimrods because of costs were rising faster then expected and to rob from some other pet project (like the Typhoon or the F-35) would be sacraligious.  So that when the incident in question happened, there were serious questions about whether or not the MoD knew that the root cause of the mishap for years and just failed to pay for the fix with 14 flyers lives.  That scandal was basically the death kneel for both the MPA.4 and the MR.2 fleet, which in turn to some has started to show to some in England that the Politicos of the 2000's are acting like the Politicos of the 1960's when it comes to defense.
Right after the decision to scrap the Nimrod fleet came down the RAF and MoD start to cut up some and turn some of the others into museum birds. As a nod to the safety liberals in both the House of Lords and Commons, the UK's equivalent of the FAA has ruled the Nimrod airframe of never to the nth degree will fly again even in civilian registration. So as to protect other people from the potential accidents.

ewok40k said...

Slashing the RN ASW after WW I comes to mind, after all Germans are forbidden to build u-boats anymore so why bother wiht escorts, right? And we got the wonder ASDIC, right?

sid said...

Bubba...The P-3's are not piston engined...

But they are props, and if you have to spend time down low, you can't beat them.

campbell said...

blimps have always had to many detrimental features to be entirely useful.  However, leaving "blimps" behind, and building fully rigid-shelled, amphibious airships.....would be ideal.

sid said...

Your time's comin' Campbell...Hang in there... 8-)

One thing, that I've been meaning to ask you...

Are there any viable designs that can routinely operate in the mind '20's altitudes, or higher?

John said...

Their scrapping their MPA fleet is only a bit more foolish than our dumping all our eggs in the high-flying P-8 scheme.  Same myopic non-participant decision makers who fail to grasp the benefits, nay, NECESSITY of some low and slow and loiter and MAD capability.

We will rue these days.

SouthernAP said...


What about designs that can operate in a Cat 1 Hurricane, F1 level Tornado or just gusts from a typical Nor'Easter?

CDR Salamander said...

Ummm ... John.  In a cost/weight-saving measure in 2008, NAVAIR deleted the MAD (though I hear it is still an option other customers like the Indians have retained.  So why are you stuck on low?  OBE anyway due to equip decisions and technology.

What is wrong with a little more altitude?  When you are flying overland (which they are) to support troops ashore - a few extra thousand feet makes you a harder target for AAA - those that can reach you.  

Also - modern MAD gear is good up to XXXX as well.  Best visual search altitude (SAR etc) is in excess of 1K too ...... and .... the P-8 can go just as low as the P-3 if it needs to.

Considering what LMT did with the P-7 in the early 90s ... I don't fault the Navy going with Boeing this time around instead of a warmed up P-3 idea.

Anyway - ask anyone who has had to launch a ready P-3.  It isn't their time onstation that is so important - it is their transit time that makes you sweat.  Anyway - my spies tell me that for most missions - the onstation times are very close to the same due to the quicker transit.

All in all - I think the P-8 program is going real well compared to the other programs in the Navy right now.

Anonymous said...

It's not.  But if you are angling for a career with the airlines, the P-8 is a dandy platform.

CDR Salamander said...

BS.  You want to drive your best pilots to the airlines?  Make them fly aircraft that are never FMC, and  only 2/3 of their mission systems work.  Make them go through three aircraft preflights before they have one that can actually take off.  Make them fly something that their grandfather flew - the actual BUNO.

Give them an aircraft that works, then they are more likely to be able to invest their time and efforts in examining why they should stay in - not burn their enthusiasm in frustration and hit the door feeling they just spent a few years in a strange Potempkin command based on fudge and shadow.

That story is as old as Naval aviation.  Just talk to the Panther guys in Korea who had to trade in their F9F-5 for -2/3. 

Give your pilots shoddy aircraft - you'll keep shoddy pilots.  Give them great aircraft - you'll keep great pilots.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is education. It's easy for Congress or Parliament to support sexy projects, like the JSF, Tomahawk Missile, or M-16. But the reality of warfare anymore is that there is an equal (and with COIN/CT targets, a greater) time spent FINDING the target, and very little needed to kill the target once it is found. So all the finding equipment gets sidelined for warfighting equipment, with no thought to balance.

Maybe if our lawmakers watched a targeting cycle at a JTF they would see how hard it often is to build target packages unless you have enough maritime patrol aircraft (among other assets) to help build that picture. How about watching a Pacific ASW exercise to grasp the magnitude of the mission? Then it becomes evident real quick.

Having been on both sides now (TLAM and EP-3), it saddens me that we don't have balance.

James said...

Evolved F-14 (no more swingwing) naval fighter or F-35?

I think i Know which i would want.

James said...

"All in all - I think the P-8 program is going real well compared to the other programs in the Navy right now."

Which is kinda sad isnt it...

Casey Tompkins said...

sid, I think he was trying to underline the difference between propellor-driven and jet-driven. :) Yes, there is a difference between IC engines and turboprops, as the venerable Herky-bird demonstrates.

Casey Tompkins said...

'Phib, that makes me feel better. I was under the impression that a turboprob aircraft was superior because it has better loiter time than a jet. From what you say, it is my understanding that there's a small tradeoff between quicker arrival & (somewhat) shorter loiter. Did I get that right?

ewok40k said...

Hear, hear! If you cant see it you cant hit it!

ewok40k said...

Nothing is perfect, to be sure, but anything is better than nothing. P-8 has the range and payload, plus the 737 chassis makes maintenance a little bit easier. Loiter is important, but god knows how many times in Harpoon my SOSUS contact broke off before P-3 got there...

Bubba said...

In today's paper there was an article about the direction of the hurricane center who takes flights into the center of hurricanes.  What kind of plane do they use?

ewok40k said...
converted U-2!

ewok40k said...

BTW, with Harriers and Nimrods out of picture it would be perfect time for ARG to try and claim Falklands again... this time successfully! On a semi related note, ARG is building its first SSN...

SouthernAP said...

The USAF's Hurricane Hunters (aka professionally as the 53rd Weather Recon Squadron) use modified C-130's. Oh and those are reservists as well who do this.  While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin uses modified P-3B's called WP-3D's to go into not only Hurricanes but other weather phenom to understand them such as Nor'Easters and T-Cells in the mid-west.

prschoef said...

An earlier commenter asked if any current rigid airship designs could reach 20K feet. I recommend a book called (as I Recall), "Up Ship", author I forget, printed about 1970. The Germans exceeded 20 K in WW I in heroic but unproductive efforts to bomb England from North Sea basis. Good reading!

Grandpa Bluewater said...

And if you can't find it, you'll never see it.

Kind of like some parts of your anatomy.

Bubba said...

So, the P-3 design can fly through the strongest weather in the world, but we can build them anymore?  WTF?

Bubba said...

"Can't" you &*^% internet, "can't"

pk said...

isn't that aircraft basic design the one that taught us all about (or at least the early stages of knowledge) metal fatigue.

you know the one that BOAC was flying back in the day that engines dumped turbine blades through the cabin and cracks developed in the wing roots.


LT B said...

My buddy is one of the lead meteorologists for the P3 flights.  He showed me some cool video of going into the eye wall, etc.  He had a great pic, as I recall before/after eye transit from within the cabin.  Secure for sea, aye!  They didn't.  :)

Anonymous said...

Scouting.  It's all about scouting.  Sun Tsu talked about "foreknowledge", Nelson screamed for more frigates, and the USN dedicated a quarter of its early air wings to scouting.

You can't win without it.

ewok40k said...

Fail at scouting and you get yourself IJN-side Midway!

Anonymous said...

As the medium is not limited to any particular geographical or demographic region, advertising on internet radio would give
the business an international audience base. The table top radio connects to the internet using
Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable, and searches for stations by country, genre or
call letters. Back in the day, people had little choice but to take what was given
to them as their "lot in life.

Feel free to surf to my blog post; Www.Lyingbastards.Com.Au

Anonymous said...

If it is lower the Studio365 will tell you and let you know that it will not sound well.
We definitely like it's simple, clean black styling, push-button central dial and nicely labeled front controls, and the way that stations have sounded as we. Most stations will give you names of their more popular hosts and ask you to talk with them.

Feel free to surf to my webpage; internetradio aufnehmen

Anonymous said...

When I originally left a comment I appear to have
clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment.
Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service?

Feel free to visit my webpage Sizegenetics Review

Anonymous said...

For any kind of luxury item of consumption, MAD (Money,
Authority and Desire) is required. Next, build
a list of prospects and develop a relationship with those prospects on your list.
Another radio commercial production tip to chew on is to make sure
the audio quality is excellent on any spot your produce.

Here is my weblog; ipod radio car adapter

Anonymous said...

(Game scheduled for December 15th with Utah State playing
Toledo). It is an adventurous game filled with fun and excitement.
The tables used for this unique drinking game
can in fact be purchased commercially.

my website Homepage des Autors besuchen ()

Anonymous said...

Try simple games and check how your internet connection is and then move on
play more games. Aside from the obvious difficulties of pitching so brilliantly in such
a high pressure situation, Larsen's feat is even more impressive when one considers that the Dodgers had four future Hall of Famers in their lineup: Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese. Preparing to apply to the dozens of other game development companies for video game jobs will enable you to expand and diversify your list of possible employers, and your chances of getting hired will increase tremendously.

Here is my web site:

Anonymous said...

For any kind of luxury item of consumption, MAD (Money, Authority and Desire)
is required. Hardware mechanisms used in the manufacturing
of a Wi - Fi internet radio system is less complicated and the point of ergonomics is kept in mind by the manufactures.
What s more is that 2G phones can come in a tinier
and slimmer package, even its batteries.

my web site - radio france international ()

Anonymous said...

That's like Houston Texas being without a Country station. It was an entertaining radio program that played the music people wanted to hear combined with his groovy upbeat personality. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Duke Red Matter (Part One; CBS, 1956)'Abbott Stables's Duke Red is a thoroughbred destroyed over a serious injury in an accident, and Dollar (Bob Bailey)'asked to review
a $65,000 insurance claim on the horse'smells trouble when the stable's business manager
is dismissed after filing the claim, and its veterinarian may have destroyed the
horse a little too swiftly.

my web blog ... primitive radio gods standing outside a broken phone booth

Anonymous said...

I have interviewed a few parents to attempt to understand what their true objection is with their child playing video games.
If you are unable to sign in to Game Center or are having problems staying connected:.
Most video game testers reported that their salary falls between $15,000 and $55, 000 in a year.

Visit my website - linked website []

Anonymous said...

Though the levels look really simple, they are actually quite challenging.
Understanding video gaming is a must tip on how to run a game store.

In addition, you can save the effort of coding the store functionality, virtual goods dependencies,
billing interfaces and rewards.

Also visit my site: visit the next internet site

Anonymous said...

clients, Rachel, who got back together with her ex. The only downside of it in a lot of people's eyes is the fact that there is no multiplayer content. The main reason why you would want to do this is simple, you can unlock the true potential of your purchase.

my weblog: View Web Page

Anonymous said...

We can compare these three powerful mediums; newspaper, radio and TV, to the transitional phases of the Internet, which went quickly from obscurity to a household “must have". The ads featured on the Internet radio website can inspire listeners to make a purchase through the website itself. There are sophisticated Wi-fi Internet radios available now, which are available complete with speakers, are portable and do not require a computer.

Feel free to surf to my page: Internetradio Aufnehmen

Anonymous said...

This is more important than ever in a world where
there are dozens of different audio formats. It was an entertaining radio program that played the music people wanted to hear combined with
his groovy upbeat personality. What s more is that 2G phones can come
in a tinier and slimmer package, even its batteries.

Review my web blog ... radio televizija net uzivo rtv kanali

Anonymous said...

In other trick taking games, players can take tricks
on a number of kind of contract. By obtaining increasingly more favour using their
company people in your social settings, the more handle
you will need to acquire what you would like, and thru The particular Coalition Game
you have just about the most effective tips for hypnotherapy that gives you the talent to ensure that you influence other folks.
You can only acquire a small amount of in-game money or gold,
and cannot participate in the auction house, send mail,
join guilds, or even whisper to someone unless someone whispers to you first.

my website