BRITISH AEROSPACE is considering a plan to re-engine the Royal Air Force's fleet of BAe Nimrod MR2 maritime-patrol aircraft (MPA) with a variant of the BMW Rolls-Royce Series 700 turbofan engine in its bid to win the RAF's replacement-MPA contest.

The company is due to submit its final proposal on the Nimrod upgrade package to the Ministry of Defence in early July.

BAe will not discuss its upgrade package beyond saying that it is "...investigating a large number of options to improve the aircraft's performance and operational effectiveness, while reducing operating costs".

Other sources close to the MPA programme, however, confirm that BAe is looking at the Series 700 turbofan as a replacement for the Nimrod's R-R Spey RB.168-20 engines.

It is believed that re-engineing with the Series 700 would not require completely re-winging the Nimrod fleet. Instead, only the inner wing section would need to be replaced, to allow for the modification of the engine housing and intake area. BAe has also looked at the R-R Tay as a possible Spey replacement.

The Nimrod's Speys were thrust into the limelight on 17 May, when a Nimrod R1 electronic-intelligence aircraft crashed into the sea after the number three and four engines caught fire. All seven crew survived the ditching off the north coast of Scotland.

The fire occurred after the aircraft, normally based at Waddington, was on a check out flight following major maintenance at RAF Kinloss.

Source: Flight International