New And Evolving Platforms Enhance Sea Patrol

By Francis Tusa , Christina Mackenzie , David Eshel
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
November 25, 2013
Credit: Piaggio Aero Concept

Maritime surveillance is evolving despite the need for militaries to balance high-tech requirements with budget austerity. Developments underway in the U.K., France and Israel highlight efforts to realize the most return on investment, by adding versatile surveillance capabilities to airborne and sea-based platforms without the expense and potential delays of full-fledged program development.

Concerns about maritime surveillance were expressed in the U.K. as far back as 2010. The Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR) issued that year had one expected but serious program cancellation: the Nimrod MRA4 (maritime reconnaissance and attack) aircraft. Eliminating the 12 planned aircraft, which were to replace the Nimrod fleet of two-dozen aircraft, left the U.K. with a large gap in maritime surveillance capabilities.

The official line was that maritime surveillance and associated duties such as search and rescue would be conducted by a mix of escorts, embarked helicopters (Westland Sea King airborne surveillance and control, Merlin HM2 and Lynx HAS8), Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS and Lockheed Martin C-130K/J Hercules aircraft—which have had a search-and-rescue mission in the Falkland Islands for some time. Few are convinced that this is a credible mix in the absence of a fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft capability.

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