The never ending story

The poor maritime patrol aircraft has found itself benefiting from a popularity bump in recent days as national media thrash themselves silly over what will and what won’t form part of an expected UK requirement to fill one of the gaps created by the now (in)famous 2010 SDSR.

We can expect to see MPAs putting on a bunch of new outfits and strutting their stuff, parading before a customer probably very keen to make the right call this time around after the unmentionable catalogue of misadventure that was the MRA4 programme.

Some of the MPAs are likely to opt for the classical approach, sporting well-styled turbo-props that hark back to the early days of flight. The comforting thrummm of such aircraft in flight and attached nostalgia could be a pull when it comes to the crunch.

What do we know of the crunch though? Little to nothing.

But we live in the jet age don’t we? Maybe the UK needs a jet, something with two to four engines, a big old payload capability and endurance great enough to fly through a full day-night cycle and really mess with the souls tasked with flying and operating the thing.

For this it’s likely to be down to a fly-by-wire or fly-by-light decision, each located very much at opposite end of the latitudinal poles, thanks to a bit of a shortage of aircraft-manufacturing capability/desire in the UK.

Or maybe the UK could just be done with it and head into the unmanned age, which after all is where it’s at, so say all the people that know far more than this hack. Maybe what the MPA needs is to do is go all ‘Tron’, sleek and post-modern with futuristic gleam, a suitable electro soundtrack thumping in the background as it takes it’s turn on the runway.

Whatever the case, whatever the prevailing fashion, expect it to get a whole lot more contentious before we are all finally put out of our heightened state of suspense.

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