British government officials confirm that BAE Systems is being given a second opportunity to propose a Nimrod MRA4-based design as a replacement for the Royal Air Force’s Nimrod R1 communications and electronic intelligence aircraft.
An initial BAE proposal was submitted in 2007, but this was rejected on cost and risk grounds. High ranking air force officials have recently said their preference remains the U.S. RC-135 Rivet Joint as a successor to the R1.
Quentin Davies, the minister for defense equipment and support told a recent debate in Parliament: “I want to receive the two offers, and I want the bidders to feel happy with them. However, what I will not do is delay the project to accommodate the offers.”
Davies suggested that “All things being equal, or not quite entirely equal, I would prefer this contract to go to a British company”. He cautioned, however, “I have not disguised from BAE Systems privately, and I do not disguise from the Members of Parliament who represent the people who are employed in the factory, that on technical risk, it is not necessarily an equal race.
“There are some real challenges, but I do not mean to say that it is hopeless or impossible… If I thought that, I would say so and cut off any chance of anybody bidding. We remain totally open-minded, and I look forward to making a decision on that basis.”
The RAF is to receive nine Nimrod MRA4 aircraft, rather than the original 21. BAE is proposing the three development airframes be used as the basis of the R1 replacement.
Picture Credit MoD/Crown Copyright