Royal Air Force, Nimrod MR2P
The Nimrod MR1 entered service in 1969. Based on the Comet 4 the Nimrod was and remains the only jet powered Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) in military service. Offering the advantages of speed and height in transit, while still capable of long on-task periods and, in particular, stealth in the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Role. Most propeller-engines MPA make a discrete resonance that is easily detectable by submerged submarines whereas the jet noise of the Nimrod is virtually undetectable.
In the early 1980s, the aircraft was upgraded to MR2 standard; while the flight deck and general systems remained the same (apart from the later addition of Air-to-Air Refuelling probe as a result of Operation CORPORATE, the 1982 Falklands War) the Mission System was given a significant upgrade.
The Nimrod carries out 3 main roles;
- Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
- Anti-Surface Unit Warfare (ASUW)
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
It has an unrefuelled endurance of around 10 hours and, although capable of carrying 25 people, the operating crew comprises the following:
- 2 Pilots and a flight engineer operate the flight deck.
- 2 Navigators, who swap between routine and tactical responsibilities every other sortie.
- An Air Electronics Officer (AEO), who is sensor and communications coordinator.
- The sensor team includes 3 Air Electronic Operators (known as wet men) who are responsible for monitoring both active and passive sonobuoys.
- The remaining 4 Air Electronic Operators (known as dry men) manage a wide range of avionics and weapon systems essential in delivering Nimrod`s capability.
The Nimrod bomb bay carries the ASW Stingray torpedo and the Harpoon missile for the ASUW role. For SAR the aircraft has a selection of air deliverable multi-seat dinghies and survival packs. Other stores include mail containers, Smoke-and-Flame Floats and Signal-Underwater-Sound for marking simulated ASW attacks or making initial communications with a friendly submarine. The aircraft was armed with 4 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles during Operation CORPORATE, more to allow for opportunity attacks on opposing surveillance aircraft than for self-defense. Internally the aircraft can carry around 150 sonobuoys of several different types, both active and passive; these are deliverable via 2 unpressurized 6-buoy rotary launchers and 2 pressurized single shot launchers.
Although the Nimrod airframe is old the MR2 remains a potent and respected MPA; mission system updates will maintain that capability. It has served with distinction in the Falklands Conflict, the Gulf War and in support of the maritime blockade of the Balkans during the Bosnia crisis, while also regularly monitoring Russian naval movements, both sub-surface and surface, in the North Atlantic during and since the Cold War. The Nimrod MR2 will continue in service until all squadrons will have been re-equipped with the Nimrod MRA4.
Specifications, Nimrod MR2:
Engines: Four Rolls-Royce RB168-20 Spey 250 turbofans of 12,140lb st
Weight, takeoff (lbs): 177,500
Wing Span (feet): 114`10
Length (feet): 126`9
Speed (mph): 575
Ceiling (feet): 42,000
Range (miles): 9,260
Armament: Internal bay for up to nine torpedoes, bombs and depth charges; Sidewinder AAMs can be carried on underwing pylons for self-defense.
Accommodation: Crew of 13
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||Nimrod MR2P, anti-submarine aircraft
||Nimrod AEW Mk3 over a submarine