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Future Franco-German MPA

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    point taken, relaxed stability remains a somewhat stable design, and does not fundamentally requires FBW (SAS, certainly) unlike neutral stability.
    You have yet to explain how complete stability is a sine qua none condition for combat MPA aircraft however...


      The P-8 is forward centered and a naturally stable airframe. The point is there.
      Wich is entirely irrelevant for the MPA job...


        What is irrelevant? Having resiliencies built-on or being survivable?

        The 320 was built to lessen fuel consumption like many airliner. But in order to achieve that, banking on the gentle expectation of civilian flight, it has minimalized horizontal and vertical tail and remain flyable only throught software (the 320 is not positively stable in yaw too and rely heavily on its damper). CG is slightly aft (but aft anyway - there are none existing "somewhat" aftness ; you are not going to trick physics with consensual wording!) resulting in instability. That you can't fly an A320 without its computer is one thing but bear in mind that this reflects a lessened tolerance in any flight domain egress and reduced damage tolerance (damage = aerodynamics disturbance - If you have a more restricted flight domain, you have less tolerance)... Something quite suitable for an MPA plane.

        It's one thing to sell planes... Another one to make them (reasonably?) survivable for those who serve.
        Last edited by TomcatViP; 11th April 2018, 19:32.


          er, the CG in an A320 moves within its envelope with fuel movement between tanks, passengers disposition and so on, but in any case it remains forward (stable). You can always get back to basic (direct) flight mode if onboard computer is really messed up, something that would be impossible with an instable aircraft (instable that would not be accepted for certification for civilian transport)


            I invite you to re-open the flight manual of this aircraft. To me it seems as we have been locked in this narrow aspect of the discussion too long when We have plenty of other airframe to discuss.

            Today, Boeing announced it had so far produced 100 P-8!


              It doesn't really matter which airframe France and Germany choose. They'll not sell many of them outside their own requirements due to Uncle Sam's mighty FMS program.

              Why pay hard Euros for an MPA when you can get a P-8 within 6% of the US Navy's cost on a nice 60-day-after-delivery zero-interest repayment schedule?

              It's just a national-pride exercise, when Japan has a perfectly good option available.


                Well, the Dassault-Breguet Atlantic was quite a success at the scale of the Eu industry.

                But more importantly, I think that a disaggregated system should be the point of focus here. MPA in Eu is the facto a mission to sustain in contested airspace. On the opposite side, France have it's oversea territory (often isolated) mission to assume that would require some long range/high endurance, multi point (orbit?) component. So partnering and finding synergies goes well beyond who's gonna have a piece of the cake. At least, it requires more imagination.

                Example (from

                “One of the main reasons that the Navy decided to fund Triton was to have that teaming arrangement, to be able to communicate back and forth between P-8s and the Triton aircraft,” Capt. Dan Mackin, the Navy’s Triton program manager, told reporters at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
                The deployment will also allow the P-8s to focus more on the submarine hunting aspect of tis mission, leaving other ISR missions to the drones.
                “You want to give the P-8 the ability to perform the anti-submarine warfare mission while tying to high-altitude ISR mission,” Mackin said. “One of the things we’ll do is pass information back and forth between the two aircraft and the situational awareness of the fleet will be enhanced. Both aircraft have the ability to do chat, so both crews will be able to communicate back and forth.”
                Given the smallest nature of Eu water, I will include a third faster, smaller component to act as a surrogate for larger MPA during circonstances that requires increased reactivity or less exposure and simultaneous multiple zone of action without requesting all the systems that you can typically find in a larger MPA: a Scorpion/Falcon 20 type of aircraft.
                Last edited by TomcatViP; 13th April 2018, 19:15.


                  The problem with converted modern airliners is that they are optimised to operate at high altitude, flying in straight lines, and not to 'yank and bank' at low level, where the ASW game has traditionally been played out.

                  To compensate for this, the P-8 is designed to conduct wide area search using a Multistatic Active Coherent (MAC) sonics system, and to engage its targets from cruise altitude using weapons with high altitude wing kits (HAWK).

                  Neither the US version of MAC nor HAWK are operational, however, and development of both is lagging way behind the originally planned timescale. The scope of US investment in P-8 leads me to believe that they will be made to work, regardless of the cost. But it may not be easy. And doing the job from low level may be better, anyway.

                  And there are plenty of options that do operate at low level, and that use proven multistatic systems.

                  For the Franco-German requirement I would rule out solutions based on aircraft like the C295, Dash 8 and ATR, since these lack range/endurance and take too long to get to distant patrol areas. I'd also reluctantly rule out the excellent P-1 - Japan is simply too untried a provider of military aircraft to export customers. The Franco-German requirement is also too small to allow a clean sheet of paper design.

                  So what's left?

                  Saab's latest G6000-based Swordfish strikes me as being a possible solution, or as being a useful model. Carrying the same crew as a P-8, and with much the same range and endurance capability, the Swordfish can engage targets at low level. It lacks some of the payload capability of the P-8, but carries more sonobuoys, and is a surprisingly good alternative to a P-8 class MPA/ASW aircraft.

                  I'm surprised that no-one's mentioned it on this thread!


                    Why get stuck with an ancient MPA CONOP which dates back to the 1930s? Wavetop flight isn't required due to technological improvements.

                    The key requirement of an MPA is coverage of its assigned area for extended periods of time. That is difficult to achieve with a winged tube full of warm bodies who have limited endurance due to fatigue. Putting people in an MPA means weight and volume which is best used for fuel and better sensors. A large UAV can perform the MPA function for 30+ hours while the sensor specialists take turns manning the workstations in the comfort of a ground station. A UAV operating at altitude can lay a swath of winged sonobouys 200km wide in a single pass and can carry EOIR, radar, ESM and AIS like manned MPAs. In rare occasions where visual ID is required, the UAV can descend below the cloud deck and use its EOIR. Stormy weather? Not a problem with the UAV which could fly above it. Whereas the men in a winged tube would spend their time barfing into bags.

                    Let UAVs and computers do what they do best. And let men do what they do best.
                    Last edited by djcross; 16th April 2018, 11:42.


                      So, we are much in line guys. Great stuff. Hold down on the discussion


                        While UAVs have a part to play in the ASW and MPA game, their reliance on datalinks, the requirement for bandwidth, and the vulnerability of those datalinks leads me to conclude that unmanned platforms don't represent the main answer. The US Navy seems to have come to the same conclusion.


                          A lot of the MPA job is ISR and persistance. I don't see how today an unmanned/manned system can't be the valid way to go. Just like cooking with salt only discarding pepper.

                          UAV are less invasive in contested territory (think fishing zone/ species preservation, time of tensions etc..). This is why you had Predator sent everywhere and not bomber or fighter jets
                          Last edited by TomcatViP; 16th April 2018, 15:26.


                            TomcatViP I hate to say this but what you are saying about the Airbus A320 is utter nonsense more in keeping with the Boeing vs Airbus fanboy arguments back in the day. What you are describing in most cases shows an utter lack of understand of how the flight envelope protection works in the Airbus family. Before you ask I have been eyes on with the A320 flight manual and engineering manuals.

                            To pick a few things out you are asserting that the FBW system exposes the aircraft to more risk if it is damaged than aircraft that lack that kind of system. The kind of damage you then describe would be flight ending for pretty much anything! Pretty much every new military aircraft have fly by wire systems so argument is rather mute anyway. The FBW in A320 uses dissimilar redundancy via 5 computers and multiple parallel control streams.

                            Your assertion that you have to fight the computers on an A320 in an accident situation like in the Hudson crash is VERY wrong, to anybody who understands the control laws and fight envelope protection on an Airbus it would be nonsensical! You don't fight the computer, the computers provide a safe flight envelope depending on the aircraft configuration. That safe flight envelope is well beyond most pilots anyway. The control laws give you as much control that is safely possible without stalling the aircraft and the A320 can glide perfectly benignly without the engines. Captain Sully himself describes the glide and landing in the Hudson as like 'landing the aircraft on a runway', for that matter those who work in Safety Science (yes it is a field, I have a close friend who has a PHD in it) they don't even class the events on the Hudson as a crash preferring to say it was a safe landing as the systems both human and machine worked to enable the aircraft to land in the River. From the bird strike through to landing on the river the aircraft remained in 'Normal-law' giving full control and keeping the flight envelope protection in place, that was primarily due to Sully switching on the APU ensuring electrical power was maintained. If they had lost electrical power then the system start a controlled withdrawal of functions like various cockpit displays to maintain battery power and drop to 'alternate-law' that would ironically have dropped the flight envelope protection.

                            Sorry TomcatViP but you are not in this case presenting a fair or accurate interpretation of the A320 or its FBW systems.
                            Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun



                              Ok. So, let's put that into context:
                              - You are a FR or German MPA pilot flying a brand newish A320MPA
                              - Flying above the North sea in poor weather conditions and low ceiling. Your altitude is 20k
                              - you have been tasked to visually identify a bulky payload seating under tarps on the bridge of a suspected fishing trawler apparently fleeting surface forces. Your radar have pinpointed and followed the vessel since hours when your system officer seated in the roomy Airbus cabine has asserted that multi-spectral imagery would give you a good hint on what it could be hidden there. He has requested a low flyby.
                              - Request sent to the area commander was granted
                              - With the comforting perspective of being soon RTB with a mission accomplished, you and your copilot quickly agreed on the vector and speed that will position you 1NM away from the trawler at 1000ft msl
                              - given the never exceed speed of the airframe, max sustainable G's, your altitude and the tactical situation, the fact that your first officer has requested a high speed descent and flyby, you will have to initiate a long straight shallow descent limited by your limited VNE. In order to achieve that, you had to fly away from the target for some minutes before turning back toward it and beginning your shallow descent. Civilians controllers had to clear the buzzy airspace hundred of kilometers around and after a bit of chatting on open airwaves and a loss of 15 minutes, you initiate your descent.
                              - While emerging from a hole in the cloud layer at 5000ft/330knt, you are alerted that MANPAD are fired. Your officer in charge of the powerful defensive suite built by an European consortium orders you on comms to break starboard and dive at sea level. Her voice sounds confident. The system as she used to say have been numerously tested already on C-130s flying in Afghanistan and in other place that she can't name.
                              - " break 90 right ! Nose down to sea level!" she orders
                              - Yanking the mini-stick on your left side, you initiate a right banking turn and a nose down input... Soon enough, the plane hits his never exceed speed and max banking angle of 30degree. You keep pushing on the stick but the systems hold the plane in its safety flight envelope.
                              - "Right ! Right ! Nose down !" her now screeching voice tears you ears now
                              - Out of the haze you can see the missiles plumes heading toward you. Two of them slowly moving off your nose in the turn at around 30degree offset from the airplane center of axis.
                              - the ministick is pushed full forward hitting the right corner. Your copilot hold the throttles with both hands trying frantically to eat some more knots out of the system.
                              - "Right! Down!" she howled again.
                              - That painful sound nearly killed you in advance out of frustration... *

                              Probably that I should link the 320 flight manual for the reader, no?

                              *Alternate scenario: Right before your eyes you can see the FBW pitching up firmly your nose to avoid exceeding the VNE.
                              Last edited by TomcatViP; 17th April 2018, 13:33.


                                Sorry TomcatViP, that is frankly a whole load of word spaghetti to defend your nonsensical position. The scenario you present is contrived and silly and rather below you, the hard stops within the safe flight envelope for an A320 are pretty racy. The scenario you have put together would be a struggle for a P-3 or a P-8, if you are low and slow within the lethal engagement envelope of a MANPAD than your main hope for defence is the countermeasures and defensive aids installed on the aircraft not some fantasy aerobatics.

                                Come on you are embarrassing yourself.
                                Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun





                                    If you'd be familiar with 320s you'd know the max bank angle is 67 in normal law.


                                      Oh and by the by max bank on an A320 is 67 degrees not 30 in normal-law.
                                      Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun



                                        Beat me to it, EC 5/25.

                                        TomcatViP rather than act churlishly with silly emoticons why don't you take it on the chin. You have got things wrong, you were ill informed which is not an entirely unusual state of affairs for a forum.

                                        No reason to waste time making up scenarios to fit a flawed premise.
                                        Because sometimes in life we need a bit of fun




                                          Bank Angle Protection
                                          [Airbus FTCM, pg. 2.60.10] On commercial aircraft, 30 bank angle is normally not to be exceeded. A bank angle of 67 in level flight corresponds to the aircraft limit of 2.5 g. Therefore, 67 has been established as the bank angle limit. Approaching this limit, the roll rate is progressively reduced to avoid over-banking.
                                          This 67 bank angle limit is reduced to 45 in case of high speed protection.
                                          Click image for larger version

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                                          Sources (among other):
                                          Last edited by TomcatViP; 17th April 2018, 13:13.