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Dave Beans

£4Bn Nimrod Project Could Be Scrapped

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-11653729

Nine multi-million pound Nimrod aircraft could be turned into scrap metal, BAE Systems unions have claimed. David Cameron announced that the replacement Nimrod MRA4 surveillance and reconnaissance planes project would be scrapped in the Defence Review.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it was in discussions with BAE Systems about the future of the aircraft. One has already been built and eight others were being worked on at the firm's plant in Woodford, Cheshire. The prime minister said the project had cost more than £3bn.

Kevin French, Unite chairman at the site, said: "It looks like they are going to cut them up.

'Chop wings off'

"They will probably bring in a big company to crush them and cut them up, chop their wings off. It will be as crude as that.

"It will be the most expensive scrap metal they will have ever paid for.

"It is such a waste of money - why would you pay almost £4bn and not put the planes into service?"

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "We intend to discuss the way ahead with industry but we can not say how the MRA4 will be disposed of at this point."

The MoD and BAE signed a contract in 1996 to build 21 planes. This was reduced to 12 and later nine. Mr French said one of the "Spy in the Sky" planes had been completed. Five others are in the late stages of production. All were due to be handed over to the RAF by 2012.

About 1,000 people are working on the project at Woodford and another 200 at Brough, East Yorkshire. A further 500 in Warton, Lancashire, were due to support the planes in service. Staff at Woodford are being asked to work as normal, with many feeling they are "in limbo", Mr French said. A BAE spokesman said: "We are now working through the detailed programme implications of the changes... with the MoD.

"Until we've had the time to do so, we will not be in a position to confirm any more details regarding individual sites or programmes."

Mr French said staff would be "heartbroken" to see the aircraft broken up.

'Big hole'

"When you see it fly you are proud - proud of what you've helped build and how it can defend the UK," he said.

He said scrapping the planes would leave a "big hole" in the UK's defences. Local MP Mark Hunter said he had spoken to the defence secretary about the site and was told the MoD would be "looking to stop [production] as soon as possible".

Mr Hunter said he was told the planes could not be sold as there was a "limited market" for such aircraft.

"They might end up being scrapped," he said.

Unsellable aircraft. What a complete shambles..

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The Comet was an amazing aircraft in its days but they milked it to death as the Nimrod IMPO.

The expense of having to re-design, re-engineer and bring that aging airframe up to standard decade after decade was just ridiculous - especially when newer, more modern and cheaper aircraft are in existence.

Cash cow for someone I guess?

I loved the Comet/Nimrod but it had its day 20 years ago.

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"When you see it fly you are proud - proud of what you've helped build and how it can defend the UK," he said.

Hardly worth the effort any more. Ruled from abroad, the govt couldn't give a shit about saving UK resident jobs and has an open door policy utterly at the detriment of the bulk of those long term resident in it (regardless of creed/colour).

Scrap the lot.

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The Comet was an amazing aircraft in its days but they milked it to death as the Nimrod IMPO.

The expense of having to re-design, re-engineer and bring that aging airframe up to standard decade after decade was just ridiculous - especially when newer, more modern and cheaper aircraft are in existence.

Cash cow for someone I guess?

I loved the Comet/Nimrod but it had its day 20 years ago.

O/T - Wasn't the Comet doomed to failure thanks to it's major design flaw? It was ahead of its time, but all those accidents it suffered, it couldn't really recover...

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O/T - Wasn't the Comet doomed to failure thanks to it's major design flaw? It was ahead of its time, but all those accidents it suffered, it couldn't really recover...

Yes and no - metal fatigue as a result of stress concentration around the square windows that the Comet had.

The Comet was arguably the first passenger aircraft in which metal fatigue was discovered or, rather, that metal fatigue could exist in aircraft due to the various intolerances and stresses the metal is put under due to altitude, temperature rise and fall, etc, etc. Although such things were suspected and known in WW2 the issues of metal fatigure did not begin to be fully investigated until the age of the post-WW2 passenger fleets arrived.

The Comet never recovered but the UK had invested so much in the Comet project that the Comet basically became the Nimrod and it seems that no one no where had the balls to bring it to a halt.

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Wasn't the Comet doomed to failure thanks to it's major design flaw? It was ahead of its time, but all those accidents it suffered, it couldn't really recover...

Not as far as I remember. The only demonstrated flaw I can think of was poorly thought out window design, and that was fixed.... according to Wikipedia, Comets were still in airline use until 1981, which is pretty impressive for an extremely early jet design. Interestingly, the Wikipedia page also says that Comet production only ended because the British government wanted BOAC to buy 707s instead.

The other major issue I remember reading about is that every Comet was hand-made, so parts for one would not necessarily fit another due to small differences in size and shape. So if they had continued in production they'd have had to switch to more modern methods.

As for the Nimrod, I've heard differing opinions from people who should know what they're talking about, but I believe it is late and massively over-budget, so it should probably have been killed years ago.

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The Nimrods that are being cancelled are basically the replacements for the Canberra spy planes that, again, we got the last ounce of use out of.

In the meantime the RAF has hired in other aircraft, stuffed them full of the electronic kit and are using them in the previous Canberra role with the Nimrods going to replace the hired aircraft.

Why you had to do a massive re-design and re-engineering of the Nimrod is beyond me as basically you just needed a good air-frame in which to stick all the surveilance gear. In other words, there were much cheaper options out there and have been so for years.

I mean, if you want a new modern hi fi in your car you don't go out and design your own car do you?

Too many vested interests I guess?

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The Comet was arguably the first passenger aircraft in which metal fatigue was discovered or, rather, that metal fatigue could exist in aircraft due to the various intolerances and stresses the metal is put under due to altitude, temperature rise and fall, etc, etc.

Indeed: the Comet suffered primarily from being the first of its kind, so it ran into these issues before anyone else could.

I read an interesting document about the search for the cause of the Comet crashes a year or two back, even when they did crash they had to put a lot of effort into determining the cause because again no-one had really had to deal with those kind of accidents before. The cause of a crash as you take off or land at an airport is likely to be fairly easy to figure out, but when all you have is the remains of an aircraft that was flying at 30,000 feet it's much harder.

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Indeed: the Comet suffered primarily from being the first of its kind, so it ran into these issues before anyone else could.

I read an interesting document about the search for the cause of the Comet crashes a year or two back, even when they did crash they had to put a lot of effort into determining the cause because again no-one had really had to deal with those kind of accidents before. The cause of a crash as you take off or land at an airport is likely to be fairly easy to figure out, but when all you have is the remains of an aircraft that was flying at 30,000 feet it's much harder.

Interesting documentary..

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7477342567456265819#

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The Nimrod may have been well over budget but it did fulfil a crucial role in monitoring UK waters and provided an ASW capability.

This has basically been ditched without an adequate replacement.

In two World Wars the submarine threat was thing that came closest to defeating Britain so this is a very high risk strategy which the politicians wont be able to bull shit away if the crapt really did hit the fan in this area.

To me it looks like just another example of badly thought out, incoherent ad hoc cost cutting which is rapidly becoming the MO of Osborne and Camerons government.

By all means get rid of Nimrod but you need a realistic substitute first.

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Yes and no - metal fatigue as a result of stress concentration around the square windows that the Comet had.

The Comet was arguably the first passenger aircraft in which metal fatigue was discovered or, rather, that metal fatigue could exist in aircraft due to the various intolerances and stresses the metal is put under due to altitude, temperature rise and fall, etc, etc. Although such things were suspected and known in WW2 the issues of metal fatigure did not begin to be fully investigated until the age of the post-WW2 passenger fleets arrived.

Fatigue was broadly understood at the time, and I beleive the fatigue test model was way ahead of the fleet when they started falling out of the sky.

What had nor been accounted for was that the fatigue model had been used previously for pressure testing at well above service pressures. Consequently, the airframe had been work hardened and improved from a fatigue standpoint. It was actually better

than the in-service aircraft, with disasterous consequences.

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The Comet was an amazing aircraft in its days but they milked it to death as the Nimrod IMPO.

The expense of having to re-design, re-engineer and bring that aging airframe up to standard decade after decade was just ridiculous - especially when newer, more modern and cheaper aircraft are in existence.

Cash cow for someone I guess?

I loved the Comet/Nimrod but it had its day 20 years ago.

well we could bring a couple of those mothballed concorde's out and re-fit them I suppose.That'd be cool.

As for ark royal,I'm sure the yanks would purchase from us

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Fatigue was broadly understood at the time, and I beleive the fatigue test model was way ahead of the fleet when they started falling out of the sky.

What had nor been accounted for was that the fatigue model had been used previously for pressure testing at well above service pressures. Consequently, the airframe had been work hardened and improved from a fatigue standpoint. It was actually better

than the in-service aircraft, with disasterous consequences.

Long cycle fatigue, which is basically statistical in nature, was indeed understood at the time (1940s). August Wohler first identified it in the 1850s on railway axles. One of the problems with the Comet was that it failed under low cycle fatigue (<1000 cycles) which was less well understood then (google Fracture Mechanics). The source of the cyclical stresses was the pressurisation cycles of each flight. But mainly it was the square windows in which the corners were serious stress raisers. Once that lesson was learned the airframes were good for decades.

I heard an RAF guy on TV say that the comet airframes were basically hand made which made them a lot more expensive to maintain.

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Our military fulfils two purposes.

1) For show - so we can pretend we're still a world power and put on impressive displays for the Queen.

2) To help out the Americans.

I don't see where Nimrod fits into either of those roles.

[Edited - what I said was repeating what was said in post above.)

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The UK has plenty of Maritime Surveillance aircraft.

http://www.ukemergencyaviation.co.uk/Coastguard.htm

The FAA also have 3 squadrons of Merlin HM.1 for ASW.

At an annual running cost of 22m quid each per year I'd say cancelling MRA.4 was one of DC's better decisions.

Oh dear.... The Nimrod is an ASW patrol aircraft. I looked with amusement at the alternatives you suggest for ASW warfare. I must say I did not realise that Coast Guard helicopters carry Stingray torpedos, MAD booms and sonobuoys. The Merlin can carry one or two; but they do not have what you might call long legs; not really a patrol aircraft are they? This cancellation leaves us with no fixed wing ASW aircraft at all, and a handful of rotary wing jobs with very limited loiter time. Bone-headed the procurement may have been; cancelling was even dimmer.

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  • 152 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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