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BAE SYSTEMS Nimrod MRA.4

Hood

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Hindsight is a powerful distorter, back in the mid-1990s the only choices were re-treaded Orions or Nimrods, unless you wanted to go down the route of Ro-Ro systems on a C-130 or something smaller like the CASA CN235 and Fokker F27 Maritime Enforcer.
The Euro-MR would probably not have worked out any better, A400M still seems mired in serviceability issues (and was itself nearly cancelled in 2009-10) and other ASW programmes like NH90 seem to have been never-ending sagas. An A320 conversion may of been a better bet, but the four-engine requirement would have scotched that unless the MoD was overruled. In the older days the MoA/MoD would have had a ding-dong battle but now it seems the MoD is left largely to its own devices when it draws up specifications and requirements.
Perhaps the one thing hindsight tells us is that 1995-98 was a bad time to be choosing MRA replacements when the market was so thin and before jet-replacements like the P-8A and P-1 came off the drawing board.
 

Hobbes

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Has a four-engined A320 (using something like the BR715 twinned on the original mounting points) ever been proposed?
 

Zoo Tycoon

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Has a four-engined A320 (using something like the BR715 twinned on the original mounting points) ever been proposed?
Not in the work I was involved with in 92, but I never saw the whole final report so can’t say for definite. I’m pretty sure at least one copy of that report survives.

Note The study was A321 to get to the required take off weight.
 
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Zoo Tycoon

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The opportunity I always considered to have been missed was to partner on the Kawasaki P1. The basic thinking behind its operational requirements was so similar but on a new platform that embraced the new airframe and systems technology.
 

red admiral

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The problem I see nowadays, from our point of view, is that the files aren't being deposited at Kew. fewer and fewer files are appearing compared with the 50s and 60s. But I digress.

Good luck trying to find anything from the hundred's of thousands if not more emails, if they ever get deposited there. Hardly any reports being produced nowadays, and no longer any nice hard copies with hand written notes to provide context. I'm not really sure how you'd best approach it as a historian besides trying to find the right people to take oral histories from - but people forget or misremember.
 

Mike Pryce

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The problem I see nowadays, from our point of view, is that the files aren't being deposited at Kew. fewer and fewer files are appearing compared with the 50s and 60s. But I digress.

Good luck trying to find anything from the hundred's of thousands if not more emails, if they ever get deposited there. Hardly any reports being produced nowadays, and no longer any nice hard copies with hand written notes to provide context. I'm not really sure how you'd best approach it as a historian besides trying to find the right people to take oral histories from - but people forget or misremember.
Tell me about it! PDF reports are still produced, but as you say, the views people have of them are not often scrawled on them. There are things in boxes in sheds sometimes from the nineties and noughties, printed off by non-digital natives, but they may give a skewed version. "Look what the youth have come up with, balderdash etc.". And the political memos and richer context are never with them. God forbid that Typhoon is the end of history!
 

CJGibson

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Has a four-engined A320 (using something like the BR715 twinned on the original mounting points) ever been proposed?
Ah, not that I'm aware of but that would lead to the contagious failures (cue dog with bone comparisons) that the VC10 was deemed prone to unlike the Nimrod MR.1, MR.2, MRA.4. Was it unique to the VC10 or just BOAC being awkward?

Anyone aware of contagious failure on Nimrods?

Chris
 

taildragger

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The opportunity I always considered to have been missed was to partner on the Kawasaki P1. The basic thinking behind its operational requirements was so similar but on a new platform that embraced the new airframe and systems technology.
Wasn't an option. Any initiative to export anything defense-related, including components or intellectual property, from Japan runs into the prohibitions written into their "peace constitution" imposed by the American occupying forces. A little wiggle room has been achieved in recent years allowing such things as underway replenishment of USN ships engaged in combat operations and the deployment of JSDF peacekeepers carrying sidearms for self-defense, but it's still a powerful constraint and was more limiting in the 1990s. There's strong sentiment to rewrite the constitution to ease these constraints, supported to some degree by the US, but an effort in this direction by Mr. Abe (Japanese PM) was just defeated.
The desire to build/maintain a defense industrial base that's limited to the domestic market has led to some of the highest unit prices for military hardware in the world (adjusting for the fact that they're not producing stealth bombers or 5G fighters).
 

taildragger

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This looks tasty.

View attachment 616830

Chris

PS Yes Mike, Walking with Dinosaurs!

Now that is really interesting Chris, I had thought about doing something similar with an A320/321 fuselage.
Too tasty, I think. There's no way that the clean 757 fuselage mould-lines and tail profile would have survived the British aircraft design process. Better go back and add the improbable number of bulges, fillets, discontinuities, fairings, scoops and antennae necessary to allow it to fit in on an RAF ramp.
 

Kadija_Man

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The opportunity I always considered to have been missed was to partner on the Kawasaki P1. The basic thinking behind its operational requirements was so similar but on a new platform that embraced the new airframe and systems technology.
Wasn't an option. Any initiative to export anything defense-related, including components or intellectual property, from Japan runs into the prohibitions written into their "peace constitution" imposed by the American occupying forces. A little wiggle room has been achieved in recent years allowing such things as underway replenishment of USN ships engaged in combat operations and the deployment of JSDF peacekeepers carrying sidearms for self-defense, but it's still a powerful constraint and was more limiting in the 1990s. There's strong sentiment to rewrite the constitution to ease these constraints, supported to some degree by the US, but an effort in this direction by Mr. Abe (Japanese PM) was just defeated.
The desire to build/maintain a defense industrial base that's limited to the domestic market has led to some of the highest unit prices for military hardware in the world (adjusting for the fact that they're not producing stealth bombers or 5G fighters).

In the 1990s? Yes, you're correct. Today? Well Australia was looking seriously at one point at buying Soryu subs two years ago and the Japanese were looking seriously at exporting them. Times have changed in Japan, unfortunately.
 

marauder2048

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The opportunity I always considered to have been missed was to partner on the Kawasaki P1. The basic thinking behind its operational requirements was so similar but on a new platform that embraced the new airframe and systems technology.
Wasn't an option. Any initiative to export anything defense-related, including components or intellectual property, from Japan runs into the prohibitions written into their "peace constitution" imposed by the American occupying forces.

Yet, FS-X, which was under joint US/Japanese development during the same time period with the same Japanese primes, somehow managed to sidestep these issues.
 

taildragger

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Yet, FS-X, which was under joint US/Japanese development during the same time period with the same Japanese primes, somehow managed to sidestep these issues.
[/QUOTE]
The FS-X program was a diffent animal - it imported US F-16 technology. Imports of weapons technology, or foreign (US) forces have never been a problem under the peace constitution although the acquisition of offensive capabilities (aircraft carriers, aerial tankers, long-range strike aircraft, cruise missiles, etc.) is controversial. It's foreign sales of Japanese weapons, components or weapons technology or the overseas deployment of Japanese forces that becomes an issue.
 
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marauder2048

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The FS-X program was a diffent animal - it imported US F-16 technology.

I hadn't realized that the US was exporting a F-16 technology base during this period that included co-cured composite wingbox and AESA.
 

kaiserd

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The FS-X program was a diffent animal - it imported US F-16 technology.

I hadn't realized that the US was exporting a F-16 technology base during this period that included co-cured composite wingbox and AESA.

The FS-X was a highly political animal and very much a product of where Japan and the US were at in their wider relationship at that time.
And bluntly Japan would have had very little interest in any joint defense project with the UK then or now as from a Japanese perspective the UK brings very little to the table (the politics, economics & technical considerations continue to much more favor partnering with the US).
On this forum Japan appears to becoming the favored fantasy partner for UK defense projects that otherwise appear border-line unrealizable (Tempest etc.)
 
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Mike Pryce

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The FS-X program was a diffent animal - it imported US F-16 technology.

I hadn't realized that the US was exporting a F-16 technology base during this period that included co-cured composite wingbox and AESA.

The FS-X was a highly political animal and very much a product of where Japan and the US were at in their wider relationship at that time.
And bluntly Japan would have had very little interest in any joint defense project with the UK then or now as from a Japanese perspective the UK brings very little to the table (the politics, economics & technical considerations continue to much more favor partnering with the US).
On this forum Japan appears to becoming the favored fantasy partner for UK defense projects that otherwise appear border-line unrealizable (Tempest etc.)
There was a lot of Japanese interest in Harriers in the 1980s. BAe and Fuji did a fair bit of joint work but the emergence of the radar equipped Harrier II saw a move away from the Sea Harrier, as with Italy, and more talks with MDC. Then the economy tanked in the early 90s saw interest wane, along with the threat of Backfires to the shipping lanes etc.

A similar need to the UK did lead to serious interest in a UK fighter for a while, at the same time as FS-X. There was even brief talk of Japan as a P.1216 customer....
 

taildragger

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The opportunity I always considered to have been missed was to partner on the Kawasaki P1. The basic thinking behind its operational requirements was so similar but on a new platform that embraced the new airframe and systems technology.
Wasn't an option. Any initiative to export anything defense-related, including components or intellectual property, from Japan runs into the prohibitions written into their "peace constitution" imposed by the American occupying forces. A little wiggle room has been achieved in recent years allowing such things as underway replenishment of USN ships engaged in combat operations and the deployment of JSDF peacekeepers carrying sidearms for self-defense, but it's still a powerful constraint and was more limiting in the 1990s. There's strong sentiment to rewrite the constitution to ease these constraints, supported to some degree by the US, but an effort in this direction by Mr. Abe (Japanese PM) was just defeated.
The desire to build/maintain a defense industrial base that's limited to the domestic market has led to some of the highest unit prices for military hardware in the world (adjusting for the fact that they're not producing stealth bombers or 5G fighters).

In the 1990s? Yes, you're correct. Today? Well Australia was looking seriously at one point at buying Soryu subs two years ago and the Japanese were looking seriously at exporting them. Times have changed in Japan, unfortunately.
As I said, there's a lot of sentiment towards easing the constitutional prohibitions on foreign arms sales, overseas deployments and offensive weapons systems but I think that they're still mostly in force. That sentiment is enough to support "seriously looking at", but moving beyond that will initiate a domestic Japanese political struggle which will need to be resolved before any significant overseas sales of Japanese weapons systems/components/IP occurs.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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The FS-X digression in this topc missed the point of taildragger's post completely.

Any initiative to export anything defense-related, including components or intellectual property, from Japan runs into the prohibitions written into their "peace constitution" imposed by the American occupying forces.

A UK-Japan partnership on P-1 would have involved Japan delivering a military aeroplane, or subsystems thereof, to another country (UK).

FS-X involved the US sending technology to Japan. FS-X was not for sale to third parties, it was for Japanese use only.
 

marauder2048

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The FS-X digression in this topc missed the point of taildragger's post completely.

Any initiative to export anything defense-related, including components or intellectual property, from Japan runs into the prohibitions written into their "peace constitution" imposed by the American occupying forces.

A UK-Japan partnership on P-1 would have involved Japan delivering a military aeroplane, or subsystems thereof, to another country (UK).

FS-X involved the US sending technology to Japan. FS-X was not for sale to third parties, it was for Japanese use only.

That's completely inaccurate; the US secured tech transfer (including reexport rights to third parties) for most of the Japanese
developed items of interest esp. co-cured wingbox tech, Japanese T/R modules and composite radomes.

In many cases, what's deemed transferable and non-transferable comes down to how the Japanese define military end-use
vs. dual-use.
 

DWG

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The FS-X digression in this topc missed the point of taildragger's post

Any initiative to export anything defense-related, including components or intellectual property, from Japan runs into the prohibitions written into their "peace constitution" imposed by the American occupying forces.

A UK-Japan partnership on P-1 would have involved Japan delivering a military aeroplane, or subsystems thereof, to another country (UK).

FS-X involved the US sending technology to Japan. FS-X was not for sale to third parties, it was for Japanese use only.

That's completely inaccurate; the US secured tech transfer (including reexport rights to third parties) for most of the Japanese
developed items of interest esp. co-cured wingbox tech, Japanese T/R modules and composite radomes.

In many cases, what's deemed transferable and non-transferable comes down to how the Japanese define military end-use
vs. dual-use.

On top of which there is the possibility of just plain cheating, and giving the UK design leadership with much of the work 'sub-contracted' to Japanese companies. Which is effectively how we did Typhoon FCS, Germany was FCS design lead, which was politically important to them, but the majority of the work was done at BAE Rochester.
 

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So, let me get this straight (or bent), these Comet fuselages were not built/mass produced to the same/identical standard (De Havilland DH.106 Comet 4 production on 26th October 1956; © De Havilland Ltd - negative N°. DH.9895) and each fuselage differed from the next (unlike other manufacturers)?

A saved image from my computer of Comet 4 production on 26th October 1956; © De Havilland Ltd ...jpg

Terry (Caravellarella)
 

Zoo Tycoon

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So, let me get this straight (or bent), these Comet fuselages were not built/mass produced to the same/identical standard (De Havilland DH.106 Comet 4 production on 26th October 1956; © De Havilland Ltd - negative N°. DH.9895) and each fuselage differed from the next (unlike other manufacturers)?

View attachment 616917

Terry (Caravellarella)
As I’ve said many times on this thread, from the measurement I saw, the parallel tube portion (including the wing pickups) were built to a very tight tolerance, the compound curved portion at the nose and tail to a much lower tolerance. You can see one of these hand formed compound curved skin panels in the lower left hand corner of the picture.

I don’t know what others airframes of a similar time did but in real manufacturing there’s no such thing as identical.... it’s all about tolerances. Even in 2019 no two Boeing 737 or A320 fuselages from the 10000+ of each produced are indentical.
 
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zebedee

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The edition does seem somewhat elusive online however this thread on Twitter by HushKit has user The AviationHistorian quoting AM Sir Richard Johns as saying: "I said at the time instinctively — intuitively — 'it won't work...'"

Zeb
 

Springtime

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Forgive me if this has already been answered but is it true that the Original Plan was to replace the Nimrod with the P-7 before it became a complete disaster before even getting a prototype of the ground
 

Zoo Tycoon

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No, there was no plan to replace Nimrod with the P7 beyond that of a normal tendering procurement process.

In summary;- BAESYSTEMS Nimrod MR2 replacement studies started in 1989, joint BAESYSTEMS/RAF studies commenced shortly after, GEC started a P3 study in 1992-3 jointly with the RAF, competitive tendering was confirmed, during the joint GEC/RAF study the P3 was judged to be inadequate so evolved into the Orion 2000 (Pretty much a P7), at which time both parties were invited to tender for contract award, and so entered (not so) Smart Procurement....A race to the bottom which was a very important aspect of the subsequent demise..... a contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, that was not commercially viable.
 
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Springtime

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From what I've read the USN wasn't interested in the Orion 2000 and Later Orion 21 proposal for the P-8 Program after the P-7 can't blame them
 

DWG

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LowObservable

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Even in 2019 no two Boeing 737 or A320 fuselages from the 10000+ of each produced are indentical.

cf the current 787 groundings over mis-sized shims between the robot-built fuselage barrel and the rear pressure bulkhead. Those shims are individually sized to fit each particular barrel, bulkhead and position on the join, https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-finds-manufacturing-flaw-in-some-787-dreamliners/

Maybe the Z-man can enlighten us, but I distinctly recall Boeing bragging in the 78-81 timeframe that, because of early CAD/CAM, the wingspans of all 767s would differ by no more than [some measurement]. I recall thinking at the time that the improved variance was surprisingly large, and wondering what the variance on the 707 would have been.
 

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By shimming you can make anything fit or obtain high assembled dimensional accuracy. Modern airliners have major component join ups individually shimmed as per the older generation. The “MRA4 wings didn’t fit” myth ignores this fact and ignorantly claims these major components must fit together at the dimensions they left the CAD/CAM machining bed.... And as can be seen not even the Boeing 787 does that. Don’t get me wrong, modern production line shimming is very clever, not based on trial and error assembly;- it’s normally made up 6-8 individual shim thickness, combinations of which will cover all occasions and key measurements taken prior to delivery means the assembly workers know the shim pack combination to use prior to offering the bits together.

The MRA4 wing to fuselage attachment was shimmed (and pin bores inline reamed) just as 787, or 707 or Comet or ......, and it caused not a day’s delay to the project.

For what actually went wrong on the MRA4 project see post 126.
 
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Zoo Tycoon

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Post 126 - MRA4 -What went wrong - upon re-reading it, I’ve corrected a bit of my poor English and added some extra narrative for clarification.

1- In late 94, BAESYSTEMS preferred RMPA solution was lost with the do not proceed decision on A400m , but only after MOD had agreed to launch a Nimrod replacement program. The Nimrod re-engine proposal was hastily conceived and grew rapidly without an appropriate pre study.
2 -The RAF/BAESYSTEMS couldn’t see beyond wanting a Nimrod to replace a Nimrod, they concluded that the air vehicle fundamentally had to be 100tons max take off weight and four engines.... there was nothing else adaptable and HMG wouldn’t approve an entirely new design.
3 - (not so) Smart Procurement (introduced by political decree;- a ruthless race to the bottom)- delivered a commercially non feasible contract. It contained excessively optimistic assumptions, which were known to both parties.
4 - The first optimistic assumptions to go bad was the required engineering ramp up, it would never have worked, so via the Force Majeure contract clause, a one year slip was agreed in the exchange for reducing the number of airframes delivered from 21 to 18, to cover 1year of extra incurred costs. The actual engineering ramp up, particularly at Farnborough took two years. (So CDR closure scheduled for September 98 slips to Dec 2000, but in real terms was even a bit later than that)
5 - A poor engineering decision during wing structure optimisation adds a further 6 months. i. The original wing proposal, under estimated its weight because it was not based on the wing structure optimisation process assumed in the planned timescale, so the wing weight increased but ii. An over estimated drag drove unnecessary additional design time to reduce its weight, perceived to be essential to achieve the performance spec. A result of (not so) Smart Procurement and lack of pre studies.
6.- As a consequence of the above ie late issuing of drawings, the production lull prior to Typhoon ramp up, vital to securing early parts delivery to Woodford, was completely missed. At the same time it was realised many parts expected to be retained would require new fabrication thus further overload the production organisation.
7 - The build of the first 3 prototypes experiences paralysing part shortages. This turns a planned 18 month build time into a 48 month actual.
8 - By 2002, it became evident to both parties the original fixed price contract was maxed out, having delivered nothing but becoming politically too big to fall. The original contract was replaced by a more traditional version but only for nine production aircraft, (The Russian submarine fleet has seen massive reductions since project conception in the early 90’s) but this aircraft fleet was well below the threshold of commercial viablity to support.
9 - when PA1 flys (Aug 2004) it’s ailerons control forces are unacceptable, as is its yaw stability. These issues take 3 years to resolve and remember a large part of the flight testing can only be completed with the control system at its final design standard. A flight test program originally scheduled at 24 months, takes nearly 60 months. The aileron issue was due to the insistence on using old technology “tug by wire” because fly by wire was known to expensive. This poor decision making (Both BAE and MOD agreed, see <not so> Smart Procurement ) forced a lengthy re-learning of old design methods. The last clean sheet “tug by wire” ailerons system for a large wing was the A310 in the mid 70’s and the guys that had all the deep learning from A300, 146, VC10, Trident werel long retired. FBW ailerons might have had a degree of greater upfront cost but could have saved 36months together with the massive cost incurred by the delay.
10 - Due to delays on MR4, the MR2 was been pushed too hard with insufficient support, ref Hadden Cave.
11 - it’s was then discovered that part of MRA4 safety case for Air to Air refuelling was based on the flawed case of MR2 which fixing would lead to yet more delays. Furthermore part of the “tug by wire” aileron control cables was exposed to bird strike when the bomb doors are open..... Again more fixes required.
12 - a cash strapped government trying to sort thing out after the great market crash of 2008 finally pulls the plug
 
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