The U.K. has dispatched 33 RAF aircrew overseas to help preserve their maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) skills in the wake of the cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 fleet.
As with its effort to maintain its aircraft carrier operations skills, the U.K. in the MPA domain is leaning on allies to help personnel retain their know-how. The Defense Ministry says the so-called Seedcorn initiative costs about £3.25 million per year, including travel.
What is unclear is how long the program will need to run. The ministry is still sorting out what its long-term Nimrod MRA4 replacement program will be.
Other MPA bills also have to be defined. For instance, systems such as the Sentinel R1 are to take on sea-surveillance roles. The Franco-British Telemos unmanned aircraft also is supposed to absorb some of the tasking in the next decade. What the cost will be to adapt these systems for maritime surveillance missions must still be calculated.