The last talk of 2012 was given on 14th November by Arthur Brocklehurst, well known to many of us through his time as the Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive’s - MoD(PE) - Harrier 3 at St Giles Court. Arthur started his informal talk by outlining his 52 year career in aviation thus: 1954 Vickers apprentice at Weybridge, 1959 at Vickers in planning and VC-10 design, 1961 AID (the government Aeronautical Inspection Directorate) at Fairey, 1965 AID at HSA Hatfield, 1968 AID laboratories at Harefield, 1972 AQD (new name for AID, now incorporating the trendy word Quality) headquarters at Surbiton, 1977 AQD at BAe Weybridge, 1979 AQD headquarters at Hinchley Wood, 1982 MoD(PE) Harrier 3 at St Giles Court, 1989 AD/AEW (Assistant Director Airborne Early Warning) at St Giles, 1993 AD/ADRP at St Giles, retiring into freelance aeronautical consultancy in 2005.

From 1968 Arthur was heavily involved in the growing field of quality assurance from AvP92 (the government quality management manual) via NATO AQAP, Def Stan 05/20 and BS5750 to ISO9000. It was at this point that Arthur crossed swords with HSA Kingston when that organisation was assessed by Arthur and his trained AQD team. Sample areas assessed included instrument calibration, the machine shop and electrical assembly.

A Personal View From Mod(Pe)

Toptop toptop

 On instrument calibration Arthur found calibration cards with only the one initial entry then a gap of several years. In the machine shop small, finished, machined items were just thrown into bins, and the electrical assembly shop had very few documented procedures. The results of this small sample of the way the company worked were so bad that it should have been shut down. However this was avoided by MoD-HSA managerial discussions where some sort of compromise was agreed.

Arthur arrived at the MoD(PE) Harrier project office during the Falklands war bedlam. DNAW wanted more fuel and more weapons on their Sea Harriers. The US had released the AIM-9L for export to the UK but this initially homed onto the Sea Harrier nose pitot. This was corrected by suitable modification of the software at Dunsfold. Due to the Royal Navy’s urgent need for additional CAP (Combat Air Patrol) time tests were undertaken at Yeovilton on the ski jump with the Sea Harrier carrying large external fuel tanks. Due to longitudinal trim settings the trials aircraft was lost when it rolled-in off the ski jump after launching following a fuel transfer failure when carrying 330 gal drop tanks. In the event 190 gal tanks were cleared for service. Of the 20 Sea Harriers deployed to the South Atlantic 6 were lost (but not in air combat) and the Sidewinder 9L was very successful with 17 kills out of the 18 fired. Argentine losses were 57 fixed wing and 11 rotary wing aircraft.

In July 1982 a contract was issued for the replacement of the lost Sea Harriers. The Treasury decreed that they were to be to the same standard as those lost but they were actually built to the latest modification standard and all wartime mods. were regularised. The Navy wanted more missiles so wing-tip and over-wing carriage was considered but eventually twin carriers were settled on.

Next came the Sea Harrier Mid-Life Update (MLU). Costs were initially unacceptably high but after several iterations an acceptable price was agreed. A contract was placed for the conversion of the existing FRSMk1 fleet to FRSMk2 standard and for new-build aircraft. The aircraft were redesignated F/A2 when the nuclear capability (the S for strike) was removed.

Arthur was later involved in the Indian FRSMk51 government-to-government deal based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), visiting India to meet the Navy and also being involved in the Indian pilot training at Yeovilton during which there were some exciting moments.

Finally Arthur mentioned the Sea Harrier Replacement study which was overtaken by events with the decision to buy the F-35 JSF. Some in the Navy wanted the F-18 instead. There could be problems ahead as the software in the F-35 is comprised of nine million lines of code! Also the release of software source codes has yet to be agreed with the US Government as has access to test rigs, issues that will also apply to other nations procuring the F-35.