July 23, 2015

Two of the Possible Choices for UK's Next Maritime Patrol Aircraft

First aircraft.



The status of the Airbus Military A319 MPA (also called MPA319) (above) is difficult to discern. (Image Courtesy Airbus Military via naval technology (nt)). 

The A319 MPA appears to be a European answer to the better known Boeing P-8 Poseidon. The A319A is (or will be) powered by two IAE V2527M-A5 or CFM56-5B7 engines providing a thrust of 26,500lbf or 27,000lbf. The twin-turbofan configuration provides a maximum speed of Mach 0.82. A319 MPA is based on the airframe of Airbus A319 commercial aircraft.  Future buyers might include Germany, France and perhaps the UK.

The A319 MPA is (or will be) a long range maritime patrol and ASW aircraft which can be deployed in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions. "The low-altitude loiter or search capability, exceeding range, endurance and fast transit speed make the A319 the best maritime patrol aircraft in its range." See full description.
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Second aircraft.


In July 2015 the Japanese Navy sent two Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft to the UK’s Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT). This included a slow flypast with the weapons bay doors opened. (Photo Courtesy Chris Pocock via AIN article)


Japan’s New Maritime Patroller Makes International Debut

The Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) is on display outside Japan for the first time this weekend, at the UK’s Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT). The Japanese [Navy] flew two of the four-jet machines across the Pacific, the U.S. and the Atlantic to reach the show at RAF Fairford. They will move on next week to Djibouti for flight tests in hot and desert conditions, before returning to their base at NAS Atsugi outside Tokyo.

The P-1 is an indigenous development, designed to replace the [Japanese Navy's] aging P-3 Orion fleet. Powered by four IHI F7-10 turbofans each developing some 13,000 pounds of thrust, the P-1 has a range of 4,300 nm and can carry AGM-65 Maverick and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, plus sonobuoys and torpedoes for anti-submarine warfare. A mine-laying capability will be added later." FULL ARTICLE

COMMENT

It is a very complex issue (involving tradeoffs and emerging technical trends) when considering:

1. whether jets can fly anti-submarine patrols as effectively as propeller driven aircraft and 

2. whether four engines should be chosen if one assumes four engines provide a significant margin of safety over two engines.

One reason Japan is marketing the new four engine Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to the UK is that the UK's previous MPA was the four jet engined Hawker Siddeley Nimrod.

Pete

19 comments:

Nicky said...

Hi Pete
I think for the UK, their next MPA would be the Boeing P-8A. It's in production and operational right now.

Anonymous said...

The A319 MPA concept is not a funded program AFAIK

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Yes the US would certainly try to persuade, or pressure, the UK to buy the P-8A. But maybe the A319 MPA will be a European Union alternative in a few years.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at July 23, 2015 at 7:34 PM]

I would guess the A319 MPA is under development. I wonder if France and Germany might end up buying it?

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

I can see two more options except for P-8A.

The already in service with RAF A330MRTT. The workstations could be loaded in to the forward cargo bay and the rear cargo bay could be used as a weapons bay. To deploy a weapon a torpedo tube like facility could be added, so the cabin would keep its pressure. So no need for a bomb bay.

The A400M is another possiblity. Palletized workstations, smaller items could be dispended via the paratrooper doors. Torpedoes via the rear ramp.

The nice thing about the A330MRTT is a fighter escort could be refueled by the patrol aircraft.

A new A319 is for sure cheaper than a new A330 but in case you already have an A330 the case looks different. The A330MRTT-P would also have an extrem loiter time.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Anonymous said...

I would ask if the UK has the money to buy a fleet of MPA. After all, even modern Tranche 1 Typhoons are being parked shortly.

A bomb bay in an A330MRTT is a major redesign on the airframe. Between the A330 and the A400M, I say the latter has more chances. The P-8 airframe and wing were redesigned for low level flight operations, although the turbofan will eat more fuel than a turboprop at low levels.

Modern twin aircraft can fly on 1 engine for quite a long time to within its ETOPS rating. The P1 has four engines because the Japanese engine is under powered relative to its peers. The P1 would benefit a great deal from say a P&W geared turbofan but the mandatory requirement is a Japanese engine.

Note the French is modernizing their Atlantiquse so any new MPA is very far off.

Nicky said...

HI pete,
The A319 MPA is still in development while the Boeing P-8A is in production and in operations with the US Navy, Indian Navy and soon the Australian's. The P-1 is is getting off the ground and I think a few years down the road, they will be on par with the Boeing P-8A. Though I think for the UK, the Boeing P-8A is their only option and they can modify it to UK specific such as inflight refueling probe and UK engines.

Anonymous said...

Lockheed is also pushing something called "Sea Hercules":

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/lockheed-martin-searching-for-markets-for-a-c-130j-maritime-variant

http://aviationweek.com/defense/lockheed-martin-offer-converted-c-130js-maritime-patrollers


Not sure how far that proposal is going to get though. It might save the British
some money, since they already operate C-130Js.

But after operating the Nimrod for so many years, I wonder if they'd settle for a
propeller-driven aircraft for this mission.

Peter Coates said...

The US is in a good position to win the UK MPA contest with the P-8 given:

- the higher state of P-8 development than its competitors

- the US's strong ASW MPA market position having sold the P-3 Orion to many countries

- and that the UK is used to flying jet aircraft as MPAs far into the Atlantic.

Also in the P-8's favour is that MPA operators having growing concerns about the surface to air missile capabilities of submarines. These capabilities may influence MPAs to operate at higher altitudes at which jet engines are more efficient.

Pete

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous July 23, 2015 at 9:31 PM,

I would prefer to build a A330P without a bomb bay. The A330 cargo is far bigger than that of a B737. So an airlock is possible to eject even big torpedoes. There is even a right sized lock for bulk cargo:
http://www.bringeraircargo.com/about-us/aircraft-types/a330-200-pax/
(click on "Lower Deck Layouts")
There are many weapon systems which fit also inside a torpedo tube like Harpoon or Tomahawk missiles. A IRIS-T or Meteor are even smaller.

The Meteor missile could engage enemy aircraft with target acquisition from another aircraft while the IRIS-T missile could be used against enemy missiles.

A simple air lock would made an A330MRTT to an A330MRTTPF. The A330MRTT already has hard points for refueling.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at July 25, 2015 at 5:28 AM]

If a A330MRTT MPA needs to fly lower if a sub is detected, or for "sniffing", then strengthened wings would also be handy.

If a crew needs to be highly trained and specialized in ASW perhaps an A319 MPA should be reconsidered. Less fuel usage and less of other resources in an A319 means one could deploy more A319s than A330s for ASW.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

the A330MRTT is an A330-200 fuselage with an A340 wing. So the wing is already strengthened for a much higher payload (233 t vs. 275 t).

The main difference between the aircraft in question is range:
A319: 3,700 nm
E-7A: 3,500 nm (official, I doubt this. 737-700ER with 9 auxiliary tanks is close to 6,000 nm)
A319BJ*: 6,500 nm
A330-200: 7,200 nm (fully loaded, max. fuel load 78 t**)

A330MRTT has a fuel load of 111 t. The fuel load is restricted by the Maximum Take Of Weight (MTOW) of 233 t. The A340 wing can carry 124 t of fuel.

*BJ for Business Jet with 20 seats and the lower deck full of fuel tanks.
** where is no A330-200 with a fuel load of 139,090 L or 111 t. Wikipedia is wrong on that point. Operational Empty Weight (EOW) + fuel load of 111 t would reach MTOW of 233 t. No way to carry passengers!

My range estimation for the A330MRTT with 40 % more fuel is 10,000 nm.

The smaller 737/A320 ASW aircraft may need a tanker to extend their range. So why not use the tanker for ASW? The ASW-tanker can also be protected by a pair of fighter aircraft refueled by the tanker itself.

A smaller aircraft looks cheaper but an 737/A320 based aircraft is a one trick pony that will be very expensive on the long run.

The next point to think about is the time of use. On how many occasions do tanker and ASW tasks overlap? How many more ASW-tanker would be needed to have no short fall? In the end you always have to few assets but which option offers you more?

The UK already has 9 tankers and 5 more on order. What about 6 more ASW-tanker and an upgrade for 14 exiting tankers. The UK would have 20 long range ASW aircraft and 20 tankers instead of 14 tanker and maybe 10 short range ASW aircraft. A short rang ASW aircraft will also require tankers to perform its mission.

The RAF Nimrod are based on the Comet - the first passenger jet ever! The reason for this long life was rare use. Rare use is very expensive on the long run. That is the main reason why the USAF wanted an multi role tanker to not run into the KC-135 problem again: old aircraft with rather "young" airframe according to usage.

P-3 Orion was based on the Lockheed L-188 Electra: the last big turboprop airliners.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at July 27, 2015 at 7:51 PM]

Thanks for all the info. I also looked at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A330_MRTT#United_Kingdom . The flexible modular approach (as with frigates) certainly seems to make sense with Tanker/Cargo/Passenger/ASW capable A330MRTTs.

ASW crews on predictable-regular operations would be an ideal situation for temporarily converted MRTT MPAs/ASWs. An additional function is over land intelligence gathering with some direction of fighter-bombers.

For the UK ASW crews could be transported to Glasgow to provide detection services each 3 months to 6 months that a UK Trident SSBN sets out on its mission from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMNB_Clyde .

Regards

Pete

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

latest news about the "Aussie" P-8A: http://australianaviation.com.au/2015/07/first-raaf-p-8a-on-track-for-mid-2016-first-flight/

Even a dumb MRTT without the options to detect submarines or ships would make sense to Australia. The MRTT could carry additional torpedoes so RAAF's P-8 could carry less and therefor more fuel.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at July 29, 2015 at 6:43 PM]

Re http://australianaviation.com.au/2015/07/first-raaf-p-8a-on-track-for-mid-2016-first-flight/

Instead of Australia's KC-30A MRTT carrying extra torpedos to assist our P-8As the KC-30A MRTTs will provide inflight refueling to extend the range or increase the carrying capcity of our P-8As. see http://www.airforce.gov.au/Technology/Future-Acquisitions/Boeing-P8-A-Poseidon/?RAAF-Z4PUOpGXH/eLtWmc6qxYl9xYycb+rKng and
http://www.airforce.gov.au/Technology/Aircraft/KC-30A/?RAAF-mqVOdY4RK4Yc3QG06xtPhhp7asTRVUyC

A further ASW asset Australia will probably buy to work with the P-8As is the Triton large UAV http://www.airforce.gov.au/Technology/Aircraft/MQ-4C-Triton-Unmanned-Aircraft-System/?RAAF-BYjCaU6eHptQ3E2EiHw9jKOLJvauES8Y . Also Seahawk ASW helicopters.

Interesting whether there are more foreign subs of interest in Australia waters since the end of the Cold War.

Regards

Pete

Dave Wolfy said...

I suppose the consideration might be - do the British require these aircraft for the traditional deepwater/Atlantic role , or just to protect the deployment of deterrent submarines ?

If the latter is more relevent , a smaller and lesser ranged aircraft is required.

Cheerio

Dave W.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Dave Wolfy

On "do the British require these aircraft for the traditional deepwater/Atlantic role , or just to protect the deployment of deterrent submarines ?"

One consideration is even if UK wanted a smaller (French style) shorter range aircraft for sub deployment only - circumstances might require a larger longer range aircraft.

Such circumstances may be more aggressive Russian sub or surface fleet activity - quite possible with Putin

- or the UK's US ally expecting sharing of long range patrols over the Atlantic ie. avoiding the mid Atlantic gap that was experienced in WWII.

Perhaps the mid air refuelling option may add some flexibility to this issue.

Regards

Pete

Dave Wolfy said...

Hi Peter,
I agree that a full deep water capability is required , however , this is the UK.
The RAF unfortunately fly these aircraft and although they can be almost strategic in nature , they do not primarily bomb things ( and are not fast jets ).They should be flown by the Navy.

Also, the reality is that the requirement might shrink to fit the budget.

Dave Wolfy.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Dave Wolfy on ASW MPAs [at Nov 16, 8:09 AM]

If UK needs a scaled down, cheaper, ASW/MPA aircraft then it would probably be most economic and pro-NATO to buy the successor to the Breguet-Atlantic which is the Dassault Falcon 900 (small jet)

Last sentence https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breguet_Atlantic#Development see "By 2005, Dassault had abandoned marketing efforts on the Atlantique 3, choosing to promote a variant of the Dassault Falcon 900 corporate jet as a maritime patrol aircraft instead"

Maybe even more suited is Spain CASA's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CASA/IPTN_CN-235

I'd sell them to the UK myself - with a 20% (Saudi-like) commission!

Regards

Pete