The UK Ministry of Defence is believed to be on the verge of awarding contracts for Maritime Patrol coverage of the British Isles.
April 1: The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is believed to be on the verge of awarding contracts to civilian companies for Maritime Patrol coverage of the British Isles.
Since the retirement of the Nimrod MR2 in March 2010 and cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 programme six months later, the UK has been without a dedicated maritime patrol aircraft. Long-range search and rescue has since been co-ordinated by the RAF’s E-3D fleet at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, but is very much a secondary duty.
Aircraft involved in the new contract are believed to include the Duxford-based Catalina and another undergoing restoration at North Weald in Essex. An MoD spokesman said “These are proven long-endurance maritime patrol aircraft and will prove entirely suitable for the need of the UK. It will enable us to half the response time to large-scale incidents compared to the Royal Navy frigates currently tasked.”
It is expected that the Catalinas will be updated with the latest engine and communications technology and will be ready for service in 2019, with the Private Finance Initiative contract locking the MoD into using the aircraft for the next 50 years.