November 23, 2015

UK Chooses the P-8 Poseidon as its New Maritime Patrol Aircraft

P-8 Poseidon. 440+ knots, 1,200+ nm (4 hours on station). Lack of a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) for some or most, is controversial. US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) deleted the requirement for the P-8 to be equipped with magnetic anomaly detection equipment as part of an effort that reduced weight by 1,600 kg to improve endurance and range. (Diagram and specifications courtesy http://www.jeffhead.com/usn21/p8.htm)
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P-8 inside, out and attacking a Kilo class sub.
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Submarine Matters reported on Two of the Possible Choices for the UK's Next Maritime Patrol Aircraft, on July 23, 2015. That article discussed two alternatives to the P-8 Poseidon likely choice. The alternatives were the Airbus A319 MPA and Japan's Kawasaki P-1 MPA, both in development.

UK Guardian, November 23, 2016 now reports:

[UK Prime Minister] Cameron will also announce on [November 23, 2015] the purchase of nine new Boeing P8 maritime patrol aircraft [MPA] for surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare. They will replace the Nimrod aircraft scrapped in 2010 that left a glaring hole in the ability to detect enemy submarines in UK waters, such as at the entry point to the submarine base in Faslane.

They will be designed to protect Trident submarines and the two new aircraft carriers. The maritime aircraft has been a specific request of the Royal Navy after the loss of Nimrod. These roles require an aircraft that can carry torpedoes as well as being fitted with a broad range of sensors, including radar and sonobuoys that are operated from the rear of the cabin by a team of specialists. These aircraft will also provide maritime search and rescue and surveillance capabilities over land.”

See additional details concerning the P-8 decision and implications on bases in Britain at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-34898079.

COMMENT-BACKGROUND

Hence the Japanese P-1 and Airbus competitors have been eliminated. One reason would be the US's long experience of designing and operating large long range MPAs, including the early P-2 Neptune (1947 - 1984) and P-3 Orion (1962 - present). Also the P-8 is already operational, in full production - so the UK will probably receive them more quickly than the, in development, P-1 and Airbus aircraft could have become available.

On concerns of the higher altitude P-8s operate at. There is a tradeoff in that higher altitude aircraft are faster and longer range, using fuel more economically. Such aircraft can patrol wider areas than lower altitude aircraft. Hence fewer higher altitude aircraft needed. The P-8s can drop sonobuoys that are so low altitude they are on the surface or act as “dipping sonars” as they float and/or sink:

Underlining the UK's desperate need for its own maritime patrol aircraft capability is a BBC report of November 23, 2015:

 "An RAF plane is "conducting activity" off the Scottish coast, the Ministry of Defence says, amid reports of a Russian submarine being spotted in the area. A Royal Navy Frigate and submarine are also thought to be involved in the search, along with Canadian and French maritime patrol aircraft…"We can confirm that allied maritime patrol aircraft based at RAF Lossiemouth for a limited period are conducting activity with the Royal Navy," a statement said.”

A further advantage of high and fast operation - it should not be forgotten that P-8s used by the US, India , by 2017 Australia and soon the UK also have a major ground surveillance mission. In this mission low, slow flight mode would be inefficient and leave them vulnerable to surface to air missiles. 

The P-8s also have a hydrocarbon sensor which detects fuel vapors from diesel-powered submarines and ships. (Diagram courtesy Gulf News)

Pete

20 comments:

Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
Isn't the RAAF getting the Boeing P-8 Poseidon as well.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Yes Australia is also buying P-8s. The Australian "Air Force will acquire eight P-8As, with the option for a further four subject to the outcomes of the [2016] Defence White Paper review. The first aircraft will be delivered in 2017, with all eight aircraft fully operational by 2021."
http://www.airforce.gov.au/Technology/Future-Acquisitions/Boeing-P8-A-Poseidon/?RAAF-Z4PUOpGXH/eLtWmc6qxYl9xYycb+rKng

Unlike Australia purchasing the F-35s the purchase of P-8s will be a good buy.

Regards

Pete

ONeil Padilla said...

Hi Pete,

Really? I thought the Brits borked at the price and was going to throw it out to tender ASAP.
Oh well it seems they are paying the price for ditching the Nimrods without replacement.
I thought the P1 was a better plane and Cheaper but I don't think it could compete with the economies of scale and standardising equipment with allies.

Will the British version have a MAD? because I know the American crews really miss it and the Indians insisted on having one on their version. Sadly none for the Aussie version.

PS - Your right about being a good buy and let's hope they take up the four options, perhaps we'll purchase an extra four on top of the 12 and kit them out for SIGINT or ELINT. (oh one can dream I guess, sigh)

ONeil

Peter Coates said...

Hi ONeil Padilla

Further confirmation the UK is buying the P-8 comes from the BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34897076 :

"In Monday's [Strategic Defence and Security Review speech in the Commons] Mr Cameron will announce:
...Nine new Boeing P8 maritime patrol aircraft, filling a gap left by the highly-criticised decision in the last review in 2010 to scrap a new generation of Nimrod aircraft."

I don't know if the Brits are MAD.

Generally 1 or 2 MPA might be quietly kitted with, or retrofitted with, ELINT.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

The British can either go MAD-less, or they can carry an onboard MAD like the Indian variant of the P-8.

Or they can buy the expendable MAD drone being developed by BAE:

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2015/01/bae-subhunting-drone.html


I wonder which option they'll pick?

Will the "Flying Torpedo" kit:

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2013/04/Boeing-flying-torpedo.html

be adapted to carry Stingray torpedoes?

Nicky said...

HI Pete,
So for the Boeing P-8 Poseidon, what version is the British looking at getting, the American, Australian or Indian version.

Anonymous said...

"Generally 1 or 2 MPA might be quietly kitted with, or retrofitted with, ELINT."


I wonder if the British will do that, since they're already getting the "Rivet
Joint" ELINT aircraft:

http://www.raf.mod.uk/equipment/rc135wrivetjoint.cfm


Since the Australians are also getting the Triton UAV to go with their P-8s:

http://www.airforce.gov.au/Technology/Aircraft/MQ-4C-Triton-Unmanned-Aircraft-System/?RAAF-BYjCaU6eHptQ3E2EiHw9jKOLJvauES8Y

I wonder if the British will do likewise?

MHalblaub said...

The P-8 and the P-3 have about the same range but the P-8 is much faster. The P-3 needs about 30% more time for the same distance. In other words, the new P-8 offers less time on station than the old P-3.

The P-8 is refuelable. So you need a tanker aircraft. Why not use the tanker aircraft you already have for such a mission? More range more space and not a one trick pony.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,
you've missed the most important part of the sensor suite. AKA hydrocarbon Sensor for detecting diesel submarines. it was on the basis of this that the Mad sensor package was removed. Also USN has had issue regarding the integration of the Sensor to battle management/ Sensor suite. I don't know how effective it would be vs a nuclear submarine or in areas of high commercial activity say near straights and Harbor's
-Harish

Peter Coates said...

Hi 2 Anonymouses [at November 23, 2015 8:26 PM and November 24, 2015 6:10 AM]

Your anonymity and intelligent pointed questions would be worthy of a PLA-N shopping list.

Am I right?

:)

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

Excellent research topic on the particulars of the UK P-8.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub and Harish

I don't have your knowledge and certainty about the P-8. But yes it stands to reason - if the P-8 is mid-air refuelable it will be refueled every time - even for UK short sorties :)

Cheers

Pete

Anonymous said...

"you've missed the most important part of the sensor suite. AKA hydrocarbon Sensor for detecting diesel submarines. it was on the basis of this that the Mad sensor package was removed. Also USN has had issue regarding the integration of the Sensor to battle management/ Sensor suite. I don't know how effective it would be vs a nuclear submarine or in areas of high commercial activity say near straights and Harbor's
-Harish"


Diesel sniffing devices, such as Autolycus:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autolycus_%28submarine_detector%29


Used to be widely deployed, but were withdrawn for the reasons stated in the above link.

If such sensors are making a comeback, it's probably because they have a new trick or 2 up their sleeves. For example Laser Radars (Lidars) are already used to detect chemical and biological contaminants at stand-off ranges:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidar#Military

With Lidar tech like that, it might be possible to scan for a Diesel plume, and quickly trace it back to its source.

Lidars like this might also be used to detect submarines more directly, as has been written about in this blog:

http://gentleseas.blogspot.com/2014/01/lidar-anti-submarine-warfare-sensor.html

Note that the Soviets already deployed a system like this (called Amethyst) on the Bear-F Mod 4.

In the U.S. a hyperspectral system called LASH (Littoral Airborne Sensor/Hyperspectral) has also been used:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littoral_Airborne_Sensor/Hyperspectral


So it wouldn't surprise me if the P-8 wasn't equipped with MAD because it had some type of Lidar/LASH setup installed. Though some people may be having second thoughts about this decision.


Maybe Mr. Coates knows more?

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [Nov 24, 2015, 3:10PM]

You say "Maybe Mr. Coates knows more?"

Only what I read in the tea leaves.

Re https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littoral_Airborne_Sensor/Hyperspectrally the Littoral Airborne Sensor/Hyperspectral (LASH) imaging system developed by the US Navy looks particularly interesting.

It combines optical imaging hardware, navigation and stabilization, and advanced image processing and algorithms to provide real-time submarine target detection, classification, and identification in littoral waters. LASH collects imagery using many colors to exploit subtle color features associated with targets of interest.

Developed as a pod-mounted system, LASH can be operated from ASW platforms like P-3C Orions, SH-60B Seahawks and now P-8s.

It should be on the must-buy list of any serious ASW squadron.

Cheers

Pete

Anonymous said...

UK Chooses Boeing P-8 for MPA Without Competition:

"Boeing declined to answer questions from AIN about whether it had submitted a
firm, costed proposal for the P-8. The UK Ministry of Defence also did not want to
answer the same question. There has been speculation that Boeing or the U.S.
government has offered a leasing deal for P-8s, similar to that which enabled a
cash-strapped UK to acquire Boeing C-17 airlifters from 2001. After the scrapping
of the Royal Air Force’s new fleet of Nimrod MRA.4s in 2010, the service sent 20
aircrew to fly on U.S. Navy P-8s at the invitation of the Pentagon.

Potential competitors for the UK MPA order would have included the ASW version of
the Airbus C295; the Lockheed Martin SC-130J Sea Hercules; and a conversion of the
Bombardier Q400 airliner offered by L-3 Com Mission Integration. A London-based
official from one of those companies expressed surprise that the MoD “had not
called for an open and transparent competition.” Officials from the other two also
expressed disappointment."

See:

http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2015-11-24/uk-chooses-boeing-p-8-mpa-without-competition


In the U.S., the losers would likely sue over the whole "non-competitive
procurement" issue.

I wonder how the situation will handled in Britain?

Anonymous said...

"Developed as a pod-mounted system, LASH can be operated from ASW platforms like P-3C Orions, SH-60B Seahawks and now P-8s."


Other pods for the P-8:


Navy to buy as many as 80 L-3 Wescam MX-20HD EO/IR sensor pods for P-8A maritime patrol jets:

http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/2015/08/electro-optical-sensors.html


===========================================


P-8 Poseidon Flies With Shadowy Radar System Attached:

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/exclusive-p-8-poseidon-flies-with-shadowy-radar-system-1562912667

http://aviationweek.com/awin/boeing-assessing-effect-advanced-sensor-p-8-life

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-navys-p-8-poseidon-spotted-packing-mysterious-new-p-1718488424


===========================================


The Navy's P-8 Poseidon Spotted Packing Mysterious New Pod:

http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-navys-p-8-poseidon-spotted-packing-mysterious-new-p-1718488424


===========================================


I wonder if the British will get any of these?

Anonymous said...

"Re https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Littoral_Airborne_Sensor/Hyperspectrally the Littoral Airborne Sensor/Hyperspectral (LASH) imaging system developed by the US Navy looks particularly interesting."


LASH has been around for awhile now. Here are a couple of articles from 2003:


U.S. to test new sub-hunting technology in Sea of Japan:

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Aug/19/ln/ln23a.html


====================================


Old, New Technologies Come Together to Cast Large Shadow, Create Controversy:

http://www.navlog.org/lash.html

Quotes:

"To date, LASH has spotted whales and submarines below the surface at sea and camouflaged simulated terrorist camps on land."

LASH - It's not just for ASW! :)


"Also during the San Diego test, the Navy will try to launch and control a UAV from
the Skyship blimp. The UAV, being faster than the blimp itself, will be tested as a
platform for even more distributed sensors. This reporter inquired of Huettse about
blimp self-defense issues, and while no specifics could yet be released, “bag”
self-defense is reportedly being addressed."

The Akron and Macon have been gone for many years. But the "flying aircraft carrier" concept lives on! :)

Anonymous said...

Many more USN P-8s are being rotated to the Asia Pacific theater.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at Nov 25, 7:41AM]

On the UK's P-8s not being selected by tender. If the UK Government decides not to hold a tender what higher authority need it answer to? Should UK government decisions be overly concerned about the litigious nature US companies sueing each other?

Tenders are no guarantee of success or fairness. Australia used no tender to select the F/A-18 Super Hornet, C-17 and M1 Tank - all turned out to be a trouble free arriving on time and on budget.

Meanwhile Australia had a rigourus tender which yielded the Collins and we know how that turned out.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

On all the links you have provided on aircraft sensors:

Yes there are so many P-8 (and other MPA) sensors available and many more P-8s coming on stream to watch.

Sensors seem to come in or out of style depending on the major threat and ability to miniaturise sensors.

Regards

Pete

Ztev Konrad said...

Regarding the UK P-8 being refuelable- only by a boom refueler which the UK hasnt bought. Its A330s are trailing pod only.

" The P-8A is also air-to-air refuelable from the boom of tanker aircraft such as the KC-30A, pushing its endurance out to over 20 hours – making it possible to patrol Australia’s isolated Southern Ocean territories.
http://www.airforce.gov.au/Technology/Future-Acquisitions/Boeing-P8-A-Poseidon/?RAAF-Z4PUOpGXH/eLtWmc6qxYl9xYycb+rKng

"AirTanker will provide the K Mk 2 (Airbus A330 variant) 'Voyager' aircraft as 2-point tankers, equipped with 2 FRL Mk32B 900E pods.
http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafbrizenorton/equipment/kc30voyager.cfm