L-3 boss confirms Nimrod R1 is dead

Overheard this morning on the L-3 Corp earnings call with analysts. CEO Michael Strianese was asked about a report (by Inside the Air Force’s Marcus Weisgerber) that the UK would cancel Nimrod to buy US Air Force Rivet Joints. Strianese replied:


“As you know, last yearL-3 won the role of prime contractor on Helix … upgrading the electronic surveillance suiteon Nimrod … the UK has been reconsidering that decision and we understand it isconsidering purchasing Rivet Joints instead. Couple of reasons … One, there wasa crash of a Nimrod in Afghanistanlast year. Condition of that airframe was not quite as good as they thought … [So, the MOD could not justify cost of electronics upgrade] … Two, participating in USRivet Joint program would really help in terms of interoperability with USforces … Provides some leveraging in UK investments for future threats … [MOD also could] co-man US Rivet Joint platform with US troops and in effect get hands-ontraining in advance of delivery… I believe that the decision will get finalized in what iscalled Main Gate approval right now within the MOD … we will probably get agreen light in the spring.”




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5 Responses to L-3 boss confirms Nimrod R1 is dead

  1. Jon Lake 24 July, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    I wonder what sort of condition the three KC-135Rs that are earmarked to become RJ18-20 are in?

    I wonder why three refuellable KC-135Rs are available for conversion, and not in the USAFs core tanker fleet?

    Could it be that these will be bigger ‘clunkers’ than the Nimrod R1s, albeit without the baggage (post XV230) of being called Nimrods?

    Above all, I wonder why no-one is discussing the very real loss of autonomous national capabilities (especially in terms of tactical Elint collection) that will result in the replacement of R1 by RJ?

  2. Stephen Trimble 24 July, 2008 at 9:21 pm #

    And I am surprised why no one is discussing the very serious decision by the USAF to export such extremely sensitive technology, even to a very close ally! I’m not suggesting the UK can’t be trusted, but I don’t recall an ELINT system of this magnitude being exported in the past. Maybe it’s a little unhealthy for both sides?

  3. Jon Lake 24 July, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    Elint-wise we’re only talking AEELS – (which is my issue, to be honest).

    The really sensitive stuff is the Comint side of RJ – and I’m not convinced that the RAF needs a Comint capability above that offered by R1.

    I suspect that this is seen as a means of supporting (and above all manning) more RJs than the USAF alone can manage. Great for the USAF, great for the coalition of the willing, but less so for the UK….?

  4. willS 25 July, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    “I wonder what sort of condition the three KC-135Rs that are earmarked to become RJ18-20 are in?”

    I suspect we’ll end up with airframes from the boneyard (AMARG). I understand there are some low-mileage examples there, certainly according to the database there are a lot to choose from!

    I’m sure the issue of the electronics fit has been addressed (and we’ll never know the answer) however is it possible that some of the existing R1 kit will be moved over? After all it’s the airframes that are falling apart, not the electronics.

  5. Stephen Trimble 25 July, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    Great questions. I’ll be sure to ask USAF and L-3 at my next opportunity and report back.

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