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Nimrod Development Gathers Pace

13 Sep 2005

Development of the new BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 continues to gather pace with a third development aircraft (PA03) now flying as part of the test fleet.

The first development aircraft to test the whole of Nimrod MRA4s mission systems, which enable crews to gather, process and display up to 20 times more technical and strategic data than in previous generation Nimrods, PA03 joins a busy flight trials programme which continues until 2007.

“Nimrod MRA4 is a hugely capable intelligence gathering platform with a flexible mission system, excellent and secure communications capability, advanced defensive aids and the potential to carry a whole range of modern weapons, comments Joe Harland, managing director Nimrod MRA4. The addition of PA03 to the trials programme ensures we are able to demonstrate systems maturity to our customer and is yet another important step along the road to winning the MRA4 production contract.”

A comprehensive bid for the production of a 12-aircraft Nimrod MRA4 fleet was submitted to the UK MOD in mid-July, with a decision expected around year end. The bid includes conversion to a production standard of the three MRA4 development aircraft at the conclusion of their flight trials work.

With the testing of the whole of the hugely capable mission system PA03 will play a significant role in the MRA4 flight trials programme. Squadron Leader Drew Steel, who leads the RAF's participation in the MRA4's joint trials team, is very positive about how the new aircraft will perform in service, recently commenting. "Confidence is very high. We have Link 11 and Link 16 fully integrated for communications. The data fusion enables vital information to be distributed throughout the different crew-station display screens. This will revolutionise how we can operate in terms of total situational awareness and it is vastly superior to anything we have ever had before".

The MRA4’s Searchwater 2000 radar has enormous capability over land as well as water. It can 'sweep' an area the size of the UK every 10 seconds. In addition the aircraft is being fitted with new electro-optical surveillance systems, extensive Electronic Warfare (EW) and Defensive Aids Sub Systems (DASS).

In early August PA02 completed the first ever MRA4 overseas deployment when it paid a ten day visit to the Mediterranean for a series of hot weather trials, based at the Italian Air Force facility in Sigonella, Sicily. The deployment was conducted by a joint BAE Systems RAF team, and despite daytime temperatures exceeding 40 degrees centigrade (104 degrees Fahrenheit) Nimrod passed this latest series of development testing with flying colours. Valuable information was gathered from the trials showing how the aircraft systems withstood the gruelling temperatures of southern Italy.

The UK MOD awarded BAE Systems an Assessment Phase contract for the through-life support of the Nimrod MRA4 fleet in May. This has laid the foundations of a more detailed fleet support proposal, currently being prepared by a joint BAE Systems/MOD team for submission in March 2007. As part of these activities the MRA4 partnered support team will be working with their colleagues in Nimrod MR2 support to ensure that when the MRA4 goes into service at RAF Kinloss at the end of this decade there will be a seamless transition of operations.

The Nimrod MRA4, which can give the UK 30 years of adaptable capability in Maritime, Reconnaissance and Attack (land) operations is 94% new build. Able to fly a distance of 6,000 miles, the MRA4 also has a greater range than the MR2, and is capable of 14 hours loiter time without the need for refuelling.


BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery, and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea, and in space. The Company designs, manufactures, and supports military aircraft, combat vehicles, surface ships, submarines, radar, avionics, communications, electronics, and guided weapon systems. It is a pioneer in technology with a heritage stretching back hundreds of years and is at the forefront of innovation, working to develop the next generation of intelligent defence systems. BAE Systems has major operations across five continents and customers in some 130 countries. The Company employs over 90,000 people and generates annual sales of approximately 14.8 billion through its wholly owned and joint-venture operations.

For further information, please contact:

Malcolm Adams, BAE SYSTEMS
Tel: +44 (0) 161 957 4521 Fax: +44 (0) 161 955 3382

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