Royal Air Force [RAF] discussions and updates

Milne Bay

Active Member
They were on loan until the F-111 turned up, because of delays to the F-111 program.
Yes

@Milne Bay WE HAVE A RULE FOR ONE LINE POSTS WHICH ON OCCASION US MODERATORS WILL IGNORE POSTERS BREAKING. HOWEVER ONE WORD ANSWERS STRETCHES THE CONCEPTS OF THAT LENIENCY TO FAR.

NGATIMOZART
 
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south

Active Member
That's a bit of an older deal - the whole tanker routine is a bit of a mess as it's a PFI deal - a process which has now been entirely discredited as not offering best value for money for the tax payers. AirTanker have already offered to fit booms to the Voyagers as they as a business would get more value return on their fleet if they could refuel everything. Voyager was pre MRTT I believe and the requirement simply didn't exist - the only thing that tanked by boom was the E3. Obviously, if we'd known we'd be buying P8 and E7 to follow, might have been more of a priority but reasonably, why specify a capability you're not going to likely use ?

Mainly, the curse of UK Def Pro has definitely, just as you say, the constant attempts to include UK elements. I need only point to theF4 purchase, adding Spey engines to a perfectly serviceable jet, and in the process, adding enough drag with the enlarged inlets to off set the additional thrust..Wups...

We'll see - I suspect more stuff like the B where we'd be bidding for component manufacture etc will be closer to the norm.

That does leave the Tempest program however.

We'll see I guess.
Air tanker Lack of boom was solely reducing the upfront cost (it also reduces weight, which gives the Voyager a greater offload capability). The RAAF signed their A330MRTT contract in 2004. The RAF signed the air tanker contract in 2008. There was definitely a boom option available to them.

Even at the time I thought it an incredibly myopic decision, as the UK armed forces (as do Australia’s) normally operate in a coalition. And a significant amount, if not most NATO/ coalition fast air (usually vipers) are boom refuellers.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
Was it a multi stage reheat like modern fighters have?
I'm fairly sure but don't *know* that it was a straight forward "on/off" affair but I did find this link to a book outlining some of the issues around the Spey's performance on the carrier and in the air.



Interesting stuff - the USN regarded the F4K as fairly dangerous around a carrier due to the relight times etc.

Ironically, the RAF ended up ordering some more F4's which were delivered straight from USN stock I seem to recall - with modernised J79's that smoked rather less and which delivered the thrust the F4K had always intended to.

Overall, this program plus the Nimrod AEW program need to be required reading for anyone in procurement.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
Air tanker Lack of boom was solely reducing the upfront cost (it also reduces weight, which gives the Voyager a greater offload capability). The RAAF signed their A330MRTT contract in 2004. The RAF signed the air tanker contract in 2008. There was definitely a boom option available to them.

Even at the time I thought it an incredibly myopic decision, as the UK armed forces (as do Australia’s) normally operate in a coalition. And a significant amount, if not most NATO/ coalition fast air (usually vipers) are boom refuellers.

I stand corrected !


I'll go with "PFI, PFI bad" and leave it there I think.

Not the worst fluff up from the MOD however - the Chinook SFOR purchase if that rings any bells ? Got to get some Chinooks for UK SFOR, spec sounds exactly what the Nightstalkers use, look at the brochure, faint at the cost and decide that we can get the same capability for less *somehow* and end up with some choppers that can't even be civilian flght. They stay in a hangar for a decade before anyone fixes that.

We're awesome :)
 

south

Active Member
I stand corrected !


I'll go with "PFI, PFI bad" and leave it there I think.

Not the worst fluff up from the MOD however - the Chinook SFOR purchase if that rings any bells ? Got to get some Chinooks for UK SFOR, spec sounds exactly what the Nightstalkers use, look at the brochure, faint at the cost and decide that we can get the same capability for less *somehow* and end up with some choppers that can't even be civilian flght. They stay in a hangar for a decade before anyone fixes that.

We're awesome :)
Or Nimrod MRA4? Total cost £3.5-3.8 Billion with zero capability delivered, and a large capability gap that’s only beginning to be addressed? Makes Australia’s Seasprite debacle look good.
 

John Fedup

The Bunker Group
If you added up just the 5eye acquisition clusters over a decade or so you could likely fund the annual defence budget Australia or Canada and with a couple of extra cockups perhaps even the UK.
 

swerve

Super Moderator
I stand corrected !


I'll go with "PFI, PFI bad" and leave it there I think.

Not the worst fluff up from the MOD however - the Chinook SFOR purchase if that rings any bells ? Got to get some Chinooks for UK SFOR, spec sounds exactly what the Nightstalkers use, look at the brochure, faint at the cost and decide that we can get the same capability for less *somehow* and end up with some choppers that can't even be civilian flght. They stay in a hangar for a decade before anyone fixes that.

We're awesome :)
There are some people in the MoD & Parliament who are convinced that they can get something bespoke cheaper than off the shelf, & are constantly looking for ways to save money, aided & abetted by politicians. The Chinook balls-up was one of their clever ideas, like having Typhoons without the gun.

The politicians got carried away with the PFI for a while. Everyone except a handful of right-wing ideologues told 'em that it might save in upfront cost but would inevitably cost more in the long run (someone makes a profit, plus commercial organisations have to pay higher interest rates than UKG), but that was brushed away with "efficiency savings!". Of course, the real reason was to cut the headline government borrowing figure. PFI suddenly lost its shine when the auditors pointed out that under the rules, a legally-enforceable government commitment to pay someone money in the future is a government debt, & reported debt became higher than it would have been without PFIs . . .

I can actually think of cases where PFI can be good, but they're rather limited, & you have to know what you're doing, e.g. you're not tied into it if you no longer need whatever it is the private provider has funded. Failing to write that into contracts has led to empty buildings, immaculately maintained at government expense by a private firm which has no interest in selling 'em or finding any alternative tenant.
 

Redlands18

Well-Known Member
There are some people in the MoD & Parliament who are convinced that they can get something bespoke cheaper than off the shelf, & are constantly looking for ways to save money, aided & abetted by politicians. The Chinook balls-up was one of their clever ideas, like having Typhoons without the gun.

The politicians got carried away with the PFI for a while. Everyone except a handful of right-wing ideologues told 'em that it might save in upfront cost but would inevitably cost more in the long run (someone makes a profit, plus commercial organisations have to pay higher interest rates than UKG), but that was brushed away with "efficiency savings!". Of course, the real reason was to cut the headline government borrowing figure. PFI suddenly lost its shine when the auditors pointed out that under the rules, a legally-enforceable government commitment to pay someone money in the future is a government debt, & reported debt became higher than it would have been without PFIs . . .

I can actually think of cases where PFI can be good, but they're rather limited, & you have to know what you're doing, e.g. you're not tied into it if you no longer need whatever it is the private provider has funded. Failing to write that into contracts has led to empty buildings, immaculately maintained at government expense by a private firm which has no interest in selling 'em or finding any alternative tenant.
Why does @ngatimozart favourite show about British politics keep leaping into my head while reading these posts.
Sir Humphrey would be ecstaticn
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Or Nimrod MRA4? Total cost £3.5-3.8 Billion with zero capability delivered, and a large capability gap that’s only beginning to be addressed? Makes Australia’s Seasprite debacle look good.
Thank you Australia, we got the deal of the decade there.

Mind you we've had our fair share of acquisition debacles as well. Apart from the usual myopic behaviour of not acquiring enough of a platform, Seasprite SH-2G(NZ), NH90, there is the acquisition of something entirely unsuitable for the task. Queue Charles Upham, a ship acquired on the cheap to do what Canterbury eventually did. Cheap was the operative word, it being the biggest balls up since Dunkirk. The Prime Minister at the time, Jim Bolger, was a tad stingy at the best of times.
 
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StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
Or Nimrod MRA4? Total cost £3.5-3.8 Billion with zero capability delivered, and a large capability gap that’s only beginning to be addressed? Makes Australia’s Seasprite debacle look good.

I'm still puzzled by the cancellation *at that stage* - this started out as Nimrod 2000 (I'll let that sink in for some of the audience..) Really, should have been cancelled much earlier or actually delivered. There were flying examples, the software was working and they were nearly kinda almost there when they sent in the bulldozers.

As a project, it should have been shot dead as soon as anyone mentioned changes to the wing box - we knew from the AEW program that the wings were a bespoke hand fit and when they were removed for that program they were all associated with the parent aircraft and returned to the parent air craft as they knew they were not manufactured to anything resembling a modern definition of mass production.

There was in fact an engine that would have fit into the original wing box apparently - a Honeywell giving the same power with reduced fuel consumption - which could have saved a lot of heart ache and expense, but they wanted more power (what pilot has ever said "hell no, I don't want another few thousand pounds of thrust" I suppose?)


In the end, I think we're getting a better result - P8 and E7 share the same airliner heritage and they're both modern and capable platforms - but canning MRA4 when it happened (as was noted not long after) did not represent good value for the tax payer.


[edit for typo]
 
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swerve

Super Moderator
I've heard that MRA4 didn't (& it's said it was feared it couldn't) meet safe operating criteria. Dunno if that's true. It's public, & not denied, that the bloke in charge of risk management refused to sign off the project, back in the '90s, & got the choice of immediate (early) retirement with a gagging clause, or sacked with prejudice, e.g. no pension. He went public after it was cancelled, reasoning that BAE was probably not going to retaliate at that point. I think everyone above him had retired by then. IIRC his reasons for not thinking the risk case credible all turned out to be correct.

The idea of a new MPA based on Nimrod wasn't a bad one in itself, IMO, but deciding to do it by scavenging half the airframe from 1960s hand-finished aircraft which you hadn't inspected before deciding to go ahead, & planning to combine those sections with uniform CAD structures . . . doh!

I think they should either have bitten the bullet & built a new Nimrod-based aircraft, or turned the A320 into an MPA. The latter would have had the advantages of a good chance of export sales (albeit some would probably have been "We'll pay for your airframe mods but we'll put our kit in it", e.g. from France) & being able to piggy-back on the world-wide Airbus support system. It should have been a damn sight cheaper, too.
 

StobieWan

Super Moderator
Staff member
I've heard story about the de-risking a few times and it's all too possible.

There was a lot going for the Nimrod as a platform when new -and I think when they got to "well, we'll be fitting new engines, new wingbox, wider body, and new wings might be an idea" then realistically, this really was death by a thousand cuts.

Trouble is, timings - P7 was cancelled in the middle of it's development leaving nothing from the US as a solid alternative, I think the Kawasaki P1 came along a bit later, 2007, when the MRA4 program was so late in it's cycle the exercise was a bit like getting your dick trapped in a pencil sharpener - maybe painful to keep turning the handle but you were *kind* of making progress...

Of course, barely a year after the MRA4 is canned, we're scrambling to get some Tornadoes to Libya to deliver Stormshadow - something MRA4 could have done in one trip, straight out of the UK. Ah well.

Cluster flop really.
 
An A330 used by the Prime Minister and members of the royal family is being repainted in the colours of the Union flag.
 
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