Sunday, September 17, 2006

Nimrod Update

Just a quick update on this one. The Nimrod MR-2 lost with its entire crew over Afghanistan was XV230, the first one to be delivered to the RAF in October, 1969. She was also the first to get the colour display version of the Thomson Searchwater 2000 radar, which is a detail. What is less of a detail is that she was modified in June-July this year under something called Project Broadsword.

This involved the installation, under an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR), of a new and highly capable surveillance camera system permitting live images to be transmitted from the aircraft to ground commanders. It is surely no coincidence that this work was undertaken shortly after the deployment to Afghanistan.

In other news, although the government has been keen to say it was "at 30,000 feet" when whatever happened, happened, it's worth pointing out that the ground is pretty high there. There are places in Afghanistan where, if it was at 30,000 feet of altitude above sea level, it would have been more like 15,000 feet of height above ground level. And that is the relevant measurement if you have a surface-to-air missile problem.

In this case, as you can see in this image from Google Earth (229KB .jpg), the crash site 25 miles WNW of Kandahar is at about 3600 feet above sea level. Rumours speak of a fire on the aircraft after it completed air-to-air refuelling at high altitude somewhere further west. In this case, the aircraft would have been descending to a diversion into Kandahar.

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