Enhancement allows British Army to watch events unfolding in Basra in real time

An urgent operational upgrade to several of the Royal Air Force’s British Aerospace Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol aircraft is enabling the type to provide real-time video imagery to the commanders of UK troops patrolling the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

Dubbed Project Broadsword, the modification is a further expansion to the Nimrod’s overland surveillance capability first developed during the build-up to the allied invasion of Iraq in 2003 and extended during the aftermath of the conflict to monitor key infrastructure.

Five Nimrod MR2s were fitted with L-3 Communications Wescam MX-15 electro-optical systems mounted in a pod on an underwing pylon from late 2002. A day/night optical system, the MX-15 has a high magnification four-step zoom lens and an integrated laser illuminator/rangefinder. A line-of-sight datalink is believed to have been fielded on the aircraft early last year, with this providing the type with a similar capability to the US Navy’s Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion AIP aircraft. The RAF has based one Nimrod MR2 at Basra International airport for at least the last year.

The British Army says Broadsword-equipped Nimrods played a key role in an operation to rescue two British soldiers from rogue Iraqi police last September. “During the kidnap of our soldiers we were able to track them being moved around by their abductors and we knew exactly where they were being held when we launched our rescue operation,” says an army source. “We now can watch events unfolding around Basra in real time.”


Source: Flight International