This is yet another of the options discussed as a required piece of the SDSR. They will also have discussed the savings potential of cutting ASTOR, AWACS, C-130 etc. However, it doesn't mean it's going to happen.
Moreover, Tim Ripley (the original author of this article) has a track record for placing his own opinions where facts cannot be ascertained.
Nevertheless, it is true that many politicians ascribe the name Nimrod with doom and gloom. The RAF fought very hard to prevent the MR2 retirement being brought forward, not least because of the implications for the strategic deterrent. However, we lost. Nevertheless, the RAF Kipper fleet remains a powerful one in terms of influence.
MRA4 is now finally coming good (despite the quite appalling project management of various parties) and will be superior to the USN P-8A in nearly every respect, particularly an ASW platform. If the UK does not possess fixed wing MPA, we do not possess a credible strategic deterrent.
I do think the GR4 fleet will (and should) take a big hit however. I said several years ago that we should have bitten the bullet and binned the fleet to allow additional funds to be freed up for Typhoon (AESA/conformal fuel tanks etc) and F-35 (basic procurement!).
Someone on pprune emailed Janes and got this back:
"Thank you very much for your feedback on the JDW article RAF offers to cancel Nimrod MRA.4 programme as part of defence cuts. I have spoken to the editor and the author of this piece regarding your comments.
Tim Ripley, the author of the article, posed the question on the cancellation of the MRA.4 programme to the MoD/RAF press office in London and they were unable to issue a denial. In several follow up conversations the RAF press spokeswoman refused to deny the story and instead gave the quote that is contained in the piece.
I am sorry if you feel that our reporting has gone downhill, however, Janes is an independent organisation and Janes Defence Weeklys portrayal of the RAF is only based on the information we have received from the MoD press office. "
Our new Type 45 destroyers of course. They can apparently do everything else so why not ASW. In fact, I'm told they can actually get airborne and fly around so who needs Nimrods?
Failing that, the US Navy has a load of recently decommissioned S-3 Vikings that we could have at a knock down price.
The Nimrod airframes were built by blokes with slide rules and sledge hammers. No two of them are identical in size or shape. Upgrading the wings has been a nightmare. Perhaps RAF want to dump Nimrod and buy some of the shiny, new maritime reconnaissance planes the US Navy is developing, or some of the even shinier maritime UAVs that are under development.
That kind of proves my point. Our journo friend goes to DCC and asks them to make a specific denial that MRA4 will NOT be cut in SDSR at a time when nothing (apart from Trident apparently!) can be excluded. As they understandably refuse to state that, he assumes that this means MRA4 is history!
As someone who has been involved with ASW, and has flown on MR2 and an ES-3A (not the ASW variant I acknowledge but it had the same radar and EO), the S-3 is less capable (by a long way) than our MR2s.
The Nimrod design remains the finest ASW/ASuW platform in the world due to a combination of wing loading, endurance and payload. Meanwhile, our ASW sensors remain superb. In the last ex conducted by the MR2, the RAF jets detected 8 subs for every one detected by the USN P-3Cs.
The P-8A Programme is now making the MRA4 look like a well managed project. The airframe is unsuited to low altitude ID and a new system of dispensable mini-UAS are being developed which will be launched through the sonobuoy tubes to descend and ID radar contacts!!! Nor does it have a MAD capability and the weight issues are such that they have resorted to removing the co-pilots HUD.
Meanwhile, the BAMS unmanned adjunct is limited to high level radar ASuW and is unable to conduct ASW. We can already do that with our AWACS. Indeed, if you are able to tell me of a RPAS/UAS capable of carrying and dispensing the large numbers of sonobuoys required to achieve a targeting solution on a modern SSN or SSK, Id be delighted to hear about it.
I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of the 'we're doooooooomed' stories soon. Of course no one can gurantee anything, but this sort of option is on the table, as is various others. We're doing a root and branch review, and so its the time when every paper under the sun from 'disband the Brigade of Guards' thinkpiece to 'Replace all Regimental mascots with inflatable sheep to save on vets bills' study get dusted off and looked at.
I would be very surprised if Nimrod does go under, unless we take some fairly serious decisions about scrapping the deterrent (not going to happen). Both the RN and RAF will be fighting tooth and nail to save this, so the question is, what will go instead? I'd agree with MM that GR4 is looking risky - but this is probably a realism measure given how shagged some of the frames are.
If you believe whispers, then the AEW fleet is also looking risky, as is Harrier.
Personally I think we'll see the RAF emerge as the big 'loser' from the SDSR - likely to see time called on GR4 and a transition more quickly than expected to a 2 jet type FJ force.
Hundreds of times a year.All Nimrods carry SAR kit as standard & the was at least two with a full SAR & Flare fit on standby at all times.My first posting was on Kinloss NLS (Nimrod Line) way back in 85...
Assuming SDSR doesn't reverse the decision, the Nimrod R1 will be retired from service next March. 51 Sqn crews will then operate on joint crews with the USAF RC-135s until the first RAF RIVET JOINT is delivered some years later.
They are definitely required.... especially with the cuts in the navy, 1 aircraft can cover a much larger patrol area than a ship (surface and sub-surface searching). For long range SAR ops over seas it is vital for top cover/radio rebro!
They are also probably the most multi-role aircraft the RAF has as it can drop Paveways. In the past they have also been equipped with Sidewinders (for self defence) and ARMs (to take out radars).
Maybe a new cheaper to maintain airframe is what is required.
To be brutally honest, I don't see why Defence should necessarily accept SAR cover as a requirement it should fill anymore other than for military personnel. This has been done for the civvies effectively on a grace and favour basis for many years yet we are now beyond the point at which enormous operational risk is being incurred by cuts. Why therefore should we accept further cuts elsewhere which will put the lives of our personnel at risk to maintain SAR cover for Spanish fishermen who've been stupid enough to get drunk and crack their heads open? I do acknowledge the good PR it gains for defence. However, perhaps it's time for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to stump up a tad of cash?
The MRA4 is essential for military ASW/ASuW tasks and that is the operational concept finances should be focused on. However, even in the absence of a Nimrod, SAR rebro can be covered by the E-3D.
A final point of order is that (despite what BAeS glossies may show) MRA4 is not able to carry anything other than torpedos unless we stump up a whole load of cash.
On a holiday flight to Menorca last year I didn't see an ASTOR, AWACS, C-130, USAF RC-135s, RAF RIVET JOINT, USN P-3Cs, MRA4, R1 SIGINT Nimrod, et al: seems to me as an ex-grunt that the air should be full of flying tin. Could it be that all these numbers and initials disguise the fact that we ai'nt got any aircraft at all........just a big bin in which to throw tax payers cash??>