Efforts by the Royal Air Force to retain core skills in maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) operations will include 33 personnel and a total investment of £3.2 million ($5.1 million) for the current financial year, the UK government has revealed.
Dubbed Project "Seedcorn", the measure is intended to allow RAF crew to fly with allied air forces to maintain experience in MPA operations following the cancellation of the UK's BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 programme. This covers anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare duties, plus intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance tasks.
© Canadian Forces
RAF air crew fly with Canada's CP-140 Aurora fleet
The agreements now in place have enabled the RAF to allocate personnel to support operations involving MPA assets flown by Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, including during last year's NATO-led operation to protect Libyan civilians.
Detailing a planned allocation of £2.1 million, plus additional travel and subsistence costs of £1.2 million for 2011-2012, Lord de Mauley said: "Much of this cost would be present in the budget in another form if the personnel were undertaking other roles."