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Nimrod R1 Grounded maybe Permanently

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posted on Feb, 3 2008 @ 06:53 AM
From Times OnlineFebruary 3, 2008

RAF forced to borrow planesMichael Smith
THE RAF is being forced to borrow American spy planes and paint roundels on them to replace its fleet of Nimrod R1 signals intelligence aircraft.

The crews of the US Rivet Joint spy planes masquerading as RAF aircraft will not even be totally British with US personnel expected to take control on some missions.

The move, forced by a Ministry of Defence (MoD) cash crisis that rules out the money for a replacement aircraft for the Nimrod R1, has provoked outrage among RAF air crew who say it will mean a major loss of capability.

Full story
Background on aircraft
Three Nimrod aircraft were originally adapted to the SIGINT role, replacing the Comet C2s and Canberras of No. 51 Squadron in May 1974. The R1 is distinguished from the MR2 by the lack of a MAD boom. Only since the end of the Cold War has the role of the aircraft been officially acknowledged. Officially these were once described as "radar calibration aircraft". The R1s have not suffered the same rate of fatigue and corrosion of the MR2s and will continue in service long after the MR2 is replaced by the MRA4. New Bombardier Sentinel R1 (ASTOR) aircraft due for delivery from mid 2004 may take on some duties performed by the R1. One R1 has been lost in a flying accident since the type's introduction; this occurred in May 1995. To replace this aircraft an MR2 was selected for conversion to R1 standard, and entered service in December 1996. A fourth aircraft was converted from an MR.2 in 2006 to bolster the fleet.

The Nimrod R1 is based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, England and flown by 51 Sqn.

The Nimrod R1 aircraft, among the most secret aircraft in the world, were due to be flown on to 2025 but the loss of one of its sister aircraft, the Nimrod MR2 over Afghanistan in 2006 has forced a rethink.

Both aircraft types suffer from the same fuel leaks and are fitted with the same hot-air pipes that caused the Afghanistan incident in which 14 servicemen died.

Restrictions on the use of hot-air pipes following the inquiry into their deaths has sent temperatures inside the already cramped Nimrod R1s soaring above 50 degrees Celsius.

You would of thought that the problem was rectified as per usual.
Wouldnt this be fixed on newer rebuilt MRA4s.
Or is this stupid politics to save money AGAIN.
Or should the UK just buy P-8s and another Boeing 737 variant for SIGNIT
duties as well

posted on Feb, 7 2008 @ 09:02 AM
Personally I think buying into the P-8 program wouldn't be a bad idea as the CF should be looking into it was well. But another option depending on the role to be filled is the already in development/production/operation ASTOR Sentinel R1 reconnaissance platform of No.5 Squadron. The use of the airframe of a biz type jet is I think a good idea in a sense depending on role of course. The CF and maybe the RAF should be looking into a Global Express recon platform from Bombardier that will fill the navel role and not the land battle role and the navel version could be "intel gathering" capable as well.

It may sound like Bombardier is moving into an established market where a rival, in the form of the P-99, has the jump on Global Express. And that is partly true. But Global Express is rather larger than Embraer’s ERJ 145 series, [3] providing Bombardier with a potential competitive edge when trying to fit mission systems into the comparatively small fuselages.

Not really new news per say but more info along the same lines

February 7, 2008: Britain is borrowing two U.S. Air Force electronic monitoring aircraft (C-135 Rivet Joint) to fill in because of shortages. The aircraft will have joint British and American crews, but will be painted in Royal Air Force colors.

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 02:02 PM
Seems that they're still operating as of today (10th Feb 08)... an RAF Nimrod was involved in coordinating the evacuation of a North Sea oil rig (see the Daily Telegraph or The Guardian).

These are important aircraft, however - the RAF shouldn't be made to penny pinch with equipment that's vital to national security.

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 02:06 PM
I don't know if the RAF will buy intot he MMA/P-8 program. certainly it would be easier and cheaper, but I suspect that considerable pressure will be placed to purchase an A320 based derivative for the same mission. Aside from the development costs the airframe would roughly offer the same benifits.

All of this is assuming they kill off the Nimrod

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 02:07 PM
reply to post by Ste2652

Was it an R1 or an MR2?

Canada E-H, whilst it may seem a good idea to bundle into one of these things, they are no where near as capable as an R1 in terms of it's complete package. As it stands, the R1 is the most sophisticated and possibly the most secret spy plane in service today.

No one outside the immediate "need to know" circle even knows it's full capabilities or what type of equipment it carries on it. It's a very good aircraft, IMO.

EDIT: Fred, I doubt they will kill off the Nimrod, as there is a new version due out soon, called the MRA4, due in 2011.

[edit on 10/2/08 by stumason]

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 02:08 PM
reply to post by Ste2652

There are only three R1s. Those are the ones grounded. The "regular" Nimrods are still flying missions. The R1 are the Elint variants.

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 02:45 PM
reply to post by stumason

The news reports didn't say. Only that "an RAF Nimrod" coordinated the response.

I suspect it was an MR2, though, since part of it's role is to run search and rescue missions - the R1 is more intel based, I believe.

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 04:49 PM
reply to post by stumason

I hope it's the computers and equipment on board the aircraft that makes it so secret and not the airframe itself.

Otherwise I'm sure we could find some more secretive airframes out there...

Less than 20 projected years doesn't really seem like a lot anymore, the air frame has been around since what? The 1960's? Might be a good idea to look to a new replacement and simply move all the equipment.

Shattered OUT...

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 04:54 PM
reply to post by ShatteredSkies

Yes, it's the "eavesdropping" and other ECM and surveillance equipment that makes it special. The airframe itself is just a rehashed DeHavilland Comet from day's of yore.... But I guess you know that

A new airframe is costly to design. The MRA4's are completely rebuilt Nimrods, so they get a new lease on life. That's the plan, anyway. Although I know the MRA4 isn't meant as a complete replacement of the R1, more the MR2.

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 04:56 PM

Originally posted by stumason
[EDIT: Fred, I doubt they will kill off the Nimrod, as there is a new version due out soon, called the MRA4, due in 2011.

[edit on 10/2/08 by stumason]

Is it still on track for 2011? Sorry I ment for the intel aircraft. Not the ASW/Maritime patrol variant.

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 05:07 PM
The first MRA4s are due sometime next year, entering service in 2010. At present the intention is for all of them to be operating by 2011. Source

Mind you, what with the reputation of defence projects, I wouldn't be surprised if there's further delays... most likely down to budget constraints. The Treasury isn't as willing to cough up cash for defence as it once was, sadly.

posted on Feb, 10 2008 @ 06:32 PM
reply to post by stumason

Valid points Stu but you have to separate the electronics from the airframe right? The nimrod as a platform is a good one for a number of reasons but the easiest is the powerplant and the ability to shut 2 down and restart the other 2 with quick compressed air starts. The electronics and be moved to any aircraft and the Global express is a solid platform for other reasons but is has more room fro the electronics then the Embraer. Just a couple more thoughts on the subject to maul around the thinker.

Also to be clear the R1 is the intel model while the MR2 is the maritime recon model and the MRA4 is its replacement. The R1 at this time has not replacement in the pipeline or development.

[edit on 10-2-2008 by Canada_EH]

posted on Feb, 11 2008 @ 04:25 AM
Given that British Airways has just announced a transatlantic service using the Airbus A318, I wonder how practical it would be for the RAF to get three of these (even 2nd hand) and integrate the Nimrod R.1 systems into them?

Buying other peoples old airliners is virtually an RAF tradition anyway, after the Comet, VC-10, Tristar and even some old BAC One Elevens.

[edit on 11-2-2008 by waynos]

posted on Feb, 11 2008 @ 07:51 AM
reply to post by waynos

why didnt the raf update the r1s anyway.
even just structure engines and wings.
or were they going to along with the mr4s.
an airbus or similar would be cheaper to run in the long term anyway.

heres a nice read link

[edit on 11-2-2008 by Jezza]

posted on Feb, 11 2008 @ 12:32 PM
I agree with Waynos, why not buy BA's old frames and adapt them to new technology. Supporting a current Boeing Airbus aircraft has to be a lot cheaper than old frames that nobody uses.

I mean BA is retiring its 767 in a few years, could they be adapted?

How about buying A330's second hand, they can share support with their tankers...

posted on Feb, 11 2008 @ 01:27 PM
reply to post by carcharodon

All valid points and since the RAF is currently used to flying mission based around a turbofan/jet operations and isn't structures like the USN and USAF as well as CF with the P-3 and so on.

posted on Feb, 12 2008 @ 07:25 AM
To pick an aircraft you need to know what going in it, which is a bit difficult with R1. Although since the story mentions

Restrictions on the use of hot-air pipes following the inquiry into their deaths has sent temperatures inside the already cramped Nimrod R1s soaring above 50 degrees Celsius

We can guess that it is packed with equipment to have such a heat problem, since MR2 doesn't appear to have the same problem. Also the US aircraft is bigger than the nimrod as well. So I think this rules out a smaller aircraft, as I think trying to make the equipment smaller will just mean a project which goes over budget behind schedule and than gets cancelled when they can't do it.

A318 is out as well since that's a bit smaller and smaller payload and I think BA is flying it light (32 passengers) to do the trans-atlantic run and a fuel-stop westbound. So I reckon your not going to get the needed loiter time. So A330 does sound like a reasonably option, it's more expensive airframe and air hours but at least you have spares in common with the tanker fleet. (more expensive generally I've not idea in comparsion to nimrod)

Unless they reduce the "needed" numbers of MRA4s again and you end up with spare rebuilt airframes.

Actually It wouldn't surprise me if more rebuilt nimrods would be the cheaper option the airframe,engines,avionics design work is done, they know how to fit the R gear into a nimrod. It has loiter features can shut down 2 engines with quick restart. And it's about the right size and is effectively a modern aircraft, new wings, engines, landing gear, cabin floor, avionics (glass cockpit) and spares in common with the MRA4 fleet.

posted on Feb, 13 2008 @ 03:28 AM

A318 is out as well since that's a bit smaller and smaller payload and I think BA is flying it light (32 passengers) to do the trans-atlantic run and a fuel-stop westbound. So I reckon your not going to get the needed loiter time

Not so, the Comet 4, from which the Nimrod is converted, was an 80 seater, the A318 seats 120 passengers so actually offers an increase in capacity, the airframe is close to being the same size. The wing is smaller, but much more efficient, the elint crew is likely to be less in number than BA's transatlantic capacity, (generally 16 to 24 depending on mission) hence my selection.

So A330 does sound like a reasonably option

No, its waaay too big for the role, the A330 can seat 250-350 passengers, its a huge plane. any savings through compatibility with the tankers are blown away. Until the Nimrod came along 51 Sqn flew Comets and Canberra's, a widebody is not required.

Also the tanker fleet will be privately owned and operated commercially when not required on active service, this is not an option here.

Increasing the MRA4 order is an option I have wondered about too, but a straight purchase of 2nd hand airframes without any expensive structural reworking required is something I would expect to be cheaper.

posted on Feb, 13 2008 @ 03:55 AM
Well what I think is that either second hand 737 and or A320 variations can do the job, maybe a 767? the USAF uses KC 135 for this kinds of missions.

My point for this planes and they are highly reliable and proven beyond doubt. The frame itself can be serviced quickly (external engines + more personnel trained) all over the world the missions takes them.

posted on Feb, 13 2008 @ 06:53 AM
reply to post by carcharodon

Yes, any of the shorter bodied 737 or A320 class aircraft would be perfectly sized for the RAF's mission, if they wanted a widebody I suspect they might convert a Tristar, after the new tankers came on stream, but I really think these would be too big.

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