After Nimrod

Yeah, I know, there have already been too many Nimrod threads, but now it's gone, perhaps it's time to think about "What next?". It's all very well to sit around harrumphing "End of an era", "When I was I subaltern", "Capability gap" "British world beater" "another TSR2" "cock up from the start"......but where do we go from here? Not just in Maritime reconnaissance, but in procurement of systems to secure this country and allow it to act wherever required.

I'd suggest a few principles:

1) Let's distinguish between the defence budget, and any support to British industry. I'm all in favour of trying to promote British manufacturing, but that shouldn't be done from defence money.

2)Next time someone dreams up a requirement, MOD needs to look around and see if what we need can be purchased off the shelf on the "open" market. If not, we should be asking the question about why we appear to need something that everyone else manages without. Is there a better way of doing the tasking?

3) If we can buy it abroad, don't mess about with some exotic UK-spec that means paying Thales or whoever a nice fat fee to consult with the manufacturer, so that we end up paying for some foreign company to develop the next version of their product, which they'd have done themselves with their own money if we hadn't come along. And then find we are paying three times the price everyone else pays.

4) When there are several competing products for a requirement, by all means work closely with British companies to give them a chance of winning - but development money should be private money.

So from here on, we need to decide what "overhead" assets Britain needs - for the nexr 20-30 years... MR, ISTAR, AWACS, whatever - and think what the most cost effective way to meet the needs is going to be. Do the aircraft need people on board to be effective in a real battlefield environment against people who use ECM? Is it better to buy a few complex multi-role platforms or many cheap simple ones? We already operate RQ8, so should we look at building up a "family" of UAV's, same airframe, different fit, e.g. RQ4C? This might reduce operating and training costs. Forget interservice bitching, and focus on the defence of the realm, not jobs for retiring admirals/air marshals/generals.

And please don't try to dream up exotic new technologies to do the job, Ospreys, airships....stick with what works.




War Hero
check out the airbus military site, lower cost options there, these are systems already flying with various forces around the world. The smallest, the 212 and the other prop aircraft (235,295) all share the same tech which can be switched (ie it's modular and comes out on a trolley) so they can revert to transport role.
The jet basd on the A319 hasn't flown i think but uses systems from above aircraft and has ability to underwing mount weapons as well as a bomb bay (319 is actually wider than a nimrod) one advantage bar the obvious wings built in UK is due to a shitload of these aircraft operating around the spares are in abundance and cheap.
not saying this is the definite answer merely a suggestion.
P-8I, fixed price contract with Boeing.

Not the best, but at least we'd get something that worked from a manufacturer who seems to be able to build a plane.
Spot on Snoreador
As a relative who is closely associated with the armed forces and MoD procurement said to me:

"We need to start buying the kit off the shelf which does 99% of what we need, in the volumes we need, rather than spending billions on that 1% which never comes."

How sensible!

MOD seems either unwilling, or institutionally making the sort of cost/benefits decisions the real world makes all the time.

My Honda CR-V is reasonably quick, pretty comfortable and does OK off road and cost about £25,000 new. If MOD were looking at buying a 4x4, it would immidiately start looking at a Range Rover Vogue that has a starting price of £70,000. Mere technicalities like it would never be used at the vastly higher speeds it was capable of, that the sumptious leather seats are a bit grand for a 10 mile commute into work and it would perform no better off road on grass than a much cheaper 4x4 would be immaterial as it is always essential MOD has a 'world beating capability'.
If MOD were looking at buying a 4x4, it would immidiately start looking at a Range Rover Vogue that has a starting price of £70,000.

No, no, no. They'd start with a pretty boring underspecified truck built by the Italians and then pass them their list of optional extras which they wrote out in their best crayoning. At about half the price of the Range Rover I'll admit it's a bit cheaper, but with all those extras and a coat of green paint? That'll be £500,000 each. Iveco will even name it after a character from the Jungle book as the crayoning was so neat.

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