Sunday, 14 November 2010

Raptor for Reaper?

In another post we recently determined that the only major reason for keeping Tornado in Afghanistan was it's ability to use the Reconnaissance Airborne Pod for TORnado  (R.A.P.Tor).

We pointed out that there are other platforms such as Nimrod and Typhoon which could also carry R.A.P.Tor eventually.

We also mentioned that the Royal Air Force had already trialled R.A.P.Tor on Reaper Unmanned Air Vehicles (U.A.V.s) back in 2005.

These trials were successful.

The Royal Air Force has operated Reaper Unmanned Air Vehicles (U.A.V.s) for 3 years now.

Royal Air Force Reapers are currently operating in Afghanistan.

There are 5 Reapers in Royal Air Force service at present.

Reapers equipped with the R.A.P.Tor system (known as DB 110 by it's manufacturer Goodridge) could provide more sensor coverage in Afghanistan than the Tornado fleet at far lower cost.

"In terms of cost, if we remove the Tornado force, we would be looking at about £7.5 billion by 2018.

With the Harriers, we are looking at less than £1 billion."

Keeping the Tornado instead of the Harrier will cost £6,500 Million.

A flight of 4 Reapers costs about £33 Million.

It appears that the Americans understand that there are better ways to get R.A.P.Tor sensor coverage than by using expensive,short endurance,fast jets.

"Potential Recipient: Goodrich ISR Systems

Location: Chelmsford, MA

Purpose: DB-110 on MQ-9

Request: $6,000,000

Project Description:

This program will provide a DB-110 airborne sensory system and its corresponding ground equipment for the US Navy.

The DB-110 sensor will be integrated onto an MQ-9 Reaper to augment the platform’s existing sensors with a long range wide area search/cueing capability."

Senator Kerry "get's it".

Perhaps he could explain it to his counterparts on this side of the Atlantic.

More sensor coverage at lower cost translates into more young men coming home in one piece.

Maybe one day the Ministry of Defence will start to use taxpayers money in a responsible manner.


Sven Ortmann said...

What's the MTBF (mean time before failure) of that pod?

It ws apparently designed for a fast jet, developers had good reason to expect that wartime use would be well under 100 hours and maintenance check intervals could be like two hours because of the Tornado's relatively low endurance.

It might be entirely unsuited for the combination of many years of conflict with several 24+ hrs missions every week.

Always read the fine print!

GrandLogistics said...

Hello Sven Ortmann,

the DB 110 was originally used in long endurance,high altitude aircraft like the U2 which has an endurance of about 12 hours.

The Royal Air Force put in on Tornado after their Canberra reconnaissance aircraft were retired.

Tornado lacks the altitude and endurance to make the most of the sensor.


TheRagingTory said...

I was thinking much the same as Sven, is this kit actualy set up for this task?
But apparently it is.
Which is good to know

Glen the Rotorhead said...

The DB-110 was not flown on the U-2. It is a smaller, lighter, exportable version that also incorporates a Super Wide Field of View camera for low altitude "under the weather" Tac Recce. It is designed primarily for 1,000' to 40,000'. It also collects in stereo, which the RAF uses extensively. Additionally a lightweight pod had been designed specifically to operate DB-110 on the MQ-9. It was jointly designed and built by General Atomics and Goodrich ISR Systems.