About Think Defence

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

1,350 thoughts on “Open Thread – Land, Sea and Air I

  1. ArmChairCivvy

    Today’s Wired mag
    “the land-based F-35A model probably won’t be ready for combat until 2018, two years later than previously scheduled.

    The effects of the delay are cascading throughout the world’s biggest and most powerful Air Force. To keep up its strength while awaiting the F-35,…

    Evolving plans see nearly 500 F-15Cs, Ds and Es remaining in the air beyond 2030, by which time the youngest C and D models — the dogfighters — will be close to 50 years old. At least 300 of the more lightly built F-16s are now expected to last through the 2020s, averaging 40 years in service. Of the Air Force’s 2,000 fighters, just 180 or so F-22s can be considered young.”
    - but the skin is peeling off!

    So, good timing with our delayed carriers

    And why are you guys complaining about 70 years old Bulldogs? They are pulling far fewer g’s daily than the pieces featured in the article

  2. Mark

    ACC

    Same briefing also contained another intersting point the USAF now intends to retain U2 in service indefinitely as the global hawk will be incapable of preforming the U2 missions.

    We had a thread about small UAVs and how to remove the threat he maybe one option fire a net at them.

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a96ed2e4d-1d55-493e-b401-8cf0d9911350&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

    US efforts to go for a new IFV maybe FANG

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a36170922-c273-4947-8640-f8bd0291bd45&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

  3. Think Defence

    ACC, I read that, interesting stuff but then is an upgraded F16 and F15 fleet all that bad, combined with of course a massive ISTAR capability and a handful of F22 superstars. How much of this is a concerted begging bowl effort by the defence industry

    Mark, I still think UAV proliferation is something we are singularly unprepared for, especially so in the urban environment

  4. Phil

    The main problem with the F16 and F15 upgrades is sheer fatigue. They are well used airframes and there are serious concerns about actually being able to keep enough airframes airworthy.

    Re manufacturing them to zero hour the airframe will cost a huge chunk on top of F35 procurement costs and bring marginal effect improvements. So that’s drama over F16/F15 fleet – they are just worn right out.

  5. Mark

    I would say f16/f15 for defence of the us airspace work or high value cap work no. The problem is the f22 fleet it simply too small. Future high end threats like proliferation of Russian tech is the issue. Future power and onboard system demands coupled anti access measure mean we need to move on. F35 has had a responsibly normal development profile. I would say the day it was made a sole supplier contract was the day it’s made it most powerful enemies.

    Does the us need an all low observal fleet don’t know.
    We have kinda neglected the fact our enemys may use these too.
    Wouldn’t disagree the idea r enemies may use them is kind of a doh as homer Simpson would say

  6. andyw

    In july last year, Russia’s forecast for Sukhoi PAK-FA (T50) potential buyers was

    …Algeria (can purchase 24-36 fifth-generation fighters in the period of 2025-2030 years), Argentina (12-24 units in the years 2035-2040), Brazil (24 – 36 units in the years 2030-2035), Venezuela (24-36 units in the years 2027-2032), Vietnam (12-24 units in the years 2030-2035), Egypt (12-24 units in the years 2040-2045).

    Also, Indonesia (6-12 units in the years 2028-2032), Iran (36-48 units in the years 2035-2040), Kazakhstan (12-24 units in the years 2025-2035), China (up to 100 units in the years 2025-2035), Libya (12-24 units in the years 2025-2030), Malaysia (12-24 units in the years 2035-2040), and Syria (12-24 units in the years 2025-2030).

  7. ArmChairCivvy

    This is from rpdefence blog, nicely all in one place:

    JASSM is the third family of GPS guided smart bombs to be developed. The first was the original JDAM bomb kit (added to 500, 1,000 and 2,000 pound bombs), which cost $26,000 each. The longer range JSOW (JDAM with wings and more powerful guidance system), cost $460,000 each. The even longer range JASSM cost $500,000 (the 400 kilometers version) to $930,000 (the 900 kilometer JASSM ER) each. Then there is the SDB (Small Diameter Bomb), a 114 kg (250 pound) JDAM that can also punch through concrete bunkers and other structures. These cost $75,000 each.”
    - looks like a stealthy cruise missile costs about $1k for every km of range (I forget already if Storm Shadow ratio falls in line with this?)

  8. ArmChairCivvy

    Aviation Week (Sept 7) offered a good overview of IDF’s UAV & Tactical Comms (single service, so no squabbles over who operates UAVs):

    …IDF operates in known arenas, it established several unified fusion centers that are capable of receiving information from all sensors and controlling any available weaponry. Their effectiveness was demonstrated during Israel’s “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, where the average exposure time of a Palestinian rocket team was 90 sec. During this short time, several ISR centers, operating from the brigade level and up, were able to detect a suspected target, confirm it as hostile and direct munitions against it.

    “It was completely irrelevant what munitions were used or whether they were fired from the air, ground or sea,” a brigade commander who participated in the operation tells Aviation Week.

    the IDF has bolstered its UAS fleet, currently operating four layers of unmanned systems, soon to be five [+ manned]. The upper tier comprises IAI’s medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Eitan (Heron TP). With its ability to carry multiple payloads and with a range of more than 1,000 km (620 mi.), the UAS is operated from the General Staff level. The Shoval MALE (Heron 1) UAS is mostly deployed for air force missions. The requirement to carry multiple payloads has spurred the Israeli air force to bolster its Elbit Hermes 450 (Zik) fleet with the larger Hermes 900, the first of which has been delivered to the air force. The Zik usually supports the ground battle at territorial command or division level.

    At lower altitudes, the IDF equips its battalions with the Sky Rider (Elbit’s Skylark 1-LE), a 6.5-kg (14.3-lb.) UAS with 3 hr. endurance, designed to provide commanders with immediate tactical intelligence. In between the Sky Rider and the Hermes, the IDF plans to deploy the 65-kg Skylark II to provide reconnaissance at the brigade level.

    Delivering all that information to the operating combat units is the final link in the ISR chain. There, Israel’s ambitious Digital Army Program (Tsayad), aimed at connecting all IDF units and platforms through a common broadband network, is beginning to mature. Several IDF divisions are already equipped with the latest version of the TORC2H C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence) system, which provides commanders down to the company level an integrated battle picture of friendly and enemy forces.

    “The vision—that the field commander can point to a target on his handheld machine and the fighter pilot will immediately receive the coordinates and strike—is starting to be realized,” says a senior IDF source.

    [now I know who sent a Trojan onto my PC, too; that must be the Pulitzer price in defence blogging!]

  9. Chris.B.

    @ Paul G

    Maybe it’s just me but that looked like a damn quick launch. That system is coming along really well lately.

    @ ACC

    You have to Love the IDF when it comes to remote vehicles. While everyone else is suddenly embracing a UAV revolution, the Israeli’s are sitting there wondering why everyone is getting so excited about this 40 year old technology.

  10. paul g

    @chris b, it’s not the emals, it’s a steam catapult, i assume they’re testing the f-35 for use with current systems on the flat tops

  11. andyw

    interesting article on how the US are reforming their acquisition process …

    “After years of high-profile failures – Future Combat Systems (FCS) was only the most spectacular – the service is trying a different approach. Rather than develop requirements, launch an acquisition program and only years later test technical performance, the Army is racing to get gear into soldiers’ hands and letting them write the report card. For now, this change is most visible in the efforts to field a battlefield network, but what’s going on in the desert could affect how the Army buys everything from smartphones to combat vehicles.”

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=8156310&c=FEA&s=CVS

    the most awesome thing about this is the name of the guy in charge of the brigade modernisation team, Brigadier General Randy Dragon !!!

  12. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Mark,

    As I have said earlier, if Rafale wins in India, the only production line (within a couple of years) might be in India. This might not be something the UAE would cherish? From your link
    “Both the Rafale and the Typhoon … are also in the final stage of a massive contest to meet India’s 126-unit medium multi-role combat aircraft requirement. Final bids were opened early this month, with a selection decision possible within the next few weeks.”

  13. Frenchie

    translated from french :

    “Dassault and the European consortium Eurofighter must submit, Friday, Nov. 4, the Indian authorities in their commercial offers a competitive tender for 126 fighter aircraft. Dassault for its Rafale and Eurofighter (EADS consortium from), end of April had been shortlisted for one of the largest defense contracts in the third economic power in Asia that seeks to modernize its army. Estimated amount of contract: $ 12 billion.

    “There will be no decision today and no date can be given” to announce the name of the manufacturer withheld, said a source from the Ministry of Defence told AFP.

    A source within Dassault, “the decision can be made in a day if the difference between the two offers is important but it can take months if the difference is minimal.”

    Better chance to the candidate the lowest bidder

    In India, the candidate the lowest bidder usually wins the contract. The contract states that the Indian government directly buy 18 aircraft by 2012 while 108 others will be built locally.

    For the record, the U.S. truck industry, Boeing and Lockheed Martin as well as the Swedish Saab Gripen and Russian MiG had been placed out of play after a fierce competition.

    This is the first call for tenders launched by India, who was far contracts over the counter and rested for 50 years of Soviet technology for its air defense.

    Dassault expects in the coming months the decision of three countries for its Rafale, never sold for export: in addition to India, UAE and Switzerland also have to decide.”

  14. ArmChairCivvy

    The last French budget only funded 7 Rafales when the capacity of the line is 11 per year
    - could be that the other four are already funded
    - could also be choking the line to the slowest possible trickle, to keep it alive until the three mentioned contracts are awarded (to somebody); can’t remember right now if Rafale is still in the running also in Brazil (which competition is nowhere near a decision)

  15. Frenchie

    No, to the latest news Brazil prefer the Gripen or Super Hornet. Super Hornet would be wise to buy for the two British aircraft carriers, it’s really cheap and we don’t need super aircraft to counter the soviet fleet.
    In 2011, France will acquire eleven additional aircraft earlier than planned, to honor a contract clause that obliges the state to guarantee a minimum rate of the production chain, given the fact that the Rafale has not yet found a buyer for export, but if we find a buyer, we will hang out the contract until 2025. It is expected that bought 180 aircraft in total, 132 for the Air Force and 48 for the navy, a little like you.

  16. Frenchie

    Hi ACC,

    Yes, they have our old Foch, which is 260 meters long, it is equivalent to Charles de Gaulle, the surface of the Gripen is smaller than the Super Hornet, but the Super Hornet is as wide as a Rafale, it should be good, this is not a question of size but price and technology transfer, as usual.

  17. Think Defence

    Interesting stuff Martin

    After all the bluff and bluster, slagging off and general bad press that the arch cold war warrior has had from all and sundry it is standing on the edge of being one of the UK’s largest export programmes that will earn a significant amount of cash.

    It might all still go tits up of course but it makes you think, if I had a pound to invest for a return, would it be in armoured vehicles, ships or aerospace?

  18. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Mark,

    Those same news also indicate that there is a new RFP for the same number of fighters as the tentative Rafale deal was about(for the UAE, so I assume no deal then)

  19. ArmChairCivvy

    This is old stuff (2009 article in the Economist), but maybe cutting down the number of formations is not such a bad idea – making the ones that exist deployable
    ” On October 1st the trained strength of the British armed forces was 173,270. This is 3.2% below the official requirement, but it understates large gaps in some areas—especially infantry units. Most battalions are 10-20% short of their required numbers; if those deemed unfit to deploy (due to, say, battle injuries) are factored out, they are as much as 42% under strength. So when battalions are preparing for war, they often regroup soldiers from their four scrawny companies into three, and then bolt on a fourth from another unit. To support current operations, the army has cut back training and lowered readiness; instead of having roughly a brigade at high readiness to deal with a crisis, sources say, there is “less than a battle-group” (a 1,500-strong formation).

    Britain gets by in part thanks to foreigners: Commonwealth citizens (who made up more than 6% of soldiers in 2007), Irish recruits and Gurkhas”

    Phil has provided a date from when there will actually be both an air- and a sea-deployable battle group available (through taking the intervention bdes out of roulement).

    But longer term, isn’t the solution in having the army bdes based in the areas where they are recruited from, Meaning that the 4th Coy in any type of Bn could be TA?
    - mind you, the deployability of TA (as it stands today) is only a fraction of its overall numbers

  20. ArmChairCivvy

    Army website “As CGS said in his letter to the Army on 18 July: “Growing to a trained strength of at least 30,000 plus an 8,000 training margin, with better training, more robust terms of service and new arrangements for employers, the future TA is to play a much bigger role in both routine and operational tasks, with strengthened mechanisms for routine mobilisation.”"

    In the same piece the objective of 1:8 sustained mobilisation is informed, so that would give half a brigade (3750).Say 4 bdes (not counting the high-readiness bdes), two at a time having TA formations… gives a ratio of 1 in 4!
    - not a bad plan, but can it be made to work
    - I am not saying that a bde strength is going to be 7.500, just compensating for the fact that in the long run reservist use should be optimised in CS and CSS (diverse specialist trades) and they would be relatively more numerous there compared to regulars than in, say, infantry?

  21. ArmChairCivvy

    4.5 gen fighters doing quite well
    “UAE Air Force asked the US government in August or September for classified briefings on the capabilities of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-15E. The Eurofighter consortium might reply: So what? The UAE asked the UK government to provide a similar briefing on the Typhoon in October, and it was the only fighter that received an RfP in the last two weeks.”
    http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2011/11/dxb11-certain-victory-for-rafa.html?cp=NLC-FGDAY2011

    UAE is buying time to get the right plane selected by splitting the order of 60 to some more Block2 F-16s as well

  22. Mark

    They will continue to as well. The us won’t currently allow marketing of f35 in the middle East outside israel and turkey. And they can’t really buy uavs as they don’t have a satellite network to operate them.

    A few big big months coming for typhoon never count your chickens and keep your fingers crossed.

  23. Gabriele

    Confirmation that Nimrod was 95% paid for. -facepalm-

    Confirmation that all the banter about “mitigating the gap” with other assets is bullshit. -facepalm-

    Confirmation that crews from the Nimrod are going into Canada, US, even Australia and New Zealand to keep expertise alive… Good.

    Confirmation that the MOD is desperate for a proper replacement to fit somewhere in the future planning rounds.

    With every detail revealed, it makes less and less sense, doesn’t it…?

    A400 cost in total for 22 airframes at the moment would 141.13 million. Not that bad at all.

    The Wildcat Lynx bit is very, very interesting:

    “Based on the current assumptions within the Rotary Wing Strategy the quantity of Wildcat aircraft to be procured comprises 34 Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopters with a further eight Light Assault Helicopter role variants of the Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter, together with 28 Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft. The Light Assault Helicopter role requirement will be subject to appropriate requirement approvals. Planning Round 2011 Options introduce funding for the Light Assault Helicopter role equipment as well as de‑scoping the Battlefield Reconnaisance Helicopter requirement by four aircraft, resulting in a total fleet of 66 aircraft. A further Planning Round 2011 Option was run to revise the profile of the resources available for the Wildcat project between financial year 2014-15 and financial year 2015-16.”

    I’m guessing that the Army is willing to trade 4 Wildcats, in order to obtain 8 “Light Assault” helicopters (armed with LMM? Perhaps even Hellfire?) for 847 NAS.

    So far, it was planned that 847 would get 6 Wildcats from the Army total.
    So, effectively, the Army would lose six helicopters, while now it would only lose 4, with 4 additional Wildcats being built, for a total of 8 weapon-capable ones, and total of Wildcats growing to 66 instead of 62.

    A very interesting development. I had heard nothing at all about this.
    Consequence of experience with attack helicopters in Libya, perhaps…?

    The PUMA HC2 are going to be 24, not 28. It is confirmed.

    It is also confirmed that the Medium Armour FRES has been “removed” from the FRES SV family (and probably, i’d dare guessing, we will never hear of it again) and Maneuver Support was also removed from FRES.
    Potentially opening the way to the Warrior Bridgelayer.

    ATACMS (Large Long Range Rocket) option for the RA GMLRS cancelled in PR11. Bad.
    Excalibur (Guided Shell) also had its funding cancelled in PR11, but requirement remains for resurrection later.

    MARS Fleet Tanker remaining bidders are three: Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (Republic of Korea), Fincantieri (Italy), Hyundai Heavy Industries (Republic of Korea). Selection expected in PR12.

    OUVS cancelled.
    In 2016 it will be reopened as Multi Role Vehicle – Protected.

    Cooperative Engagement Capability now planned for Type 26, NOT Type 23.
    Years away, in other words.
    What about Type 45…? Surely the AAW destroyer is the main user for CEC, yet it is not even mentioned…???

  24. ArmChairCivvy

    Only been through the NAO 2011 summary so far, but from it this” [bullets added]
    - total cost growth on all post-main-gate projects approved before 2002 was, at 16.8 per cent, significantly higher than the 2.8 per cent total cost increase on all projects approved since 2002.

    - Most of this latter cost growth has come on the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier. If this large project is excluded from the analysis, there would have been a net saving of £839 million from projects approved in or after 2002.

    - More generally, larger projects have disproportionately suffered from cost increases. Almost all were approved before 2002, yet they still comprise the vast majority of the £10.6 billion (11.4 per cent) cost overrun, noted above.

    -This indicates that the Department continues to live with the consequences of cost increases on projects approved before 2002, and particularly the legacy of significant cost overruns on larger projects.”

    ==============

    “What is measured becomes important” and these report shave been running since 2000 – MoD has become expert in managing what hits the headlines by either delaying (sometimes OK, like with Astutes and Typhoons) or cutting quantity – which kills the domestic supply base, and does not help capability most of the time.
    =======BACK TO THE REPORT

    “Cost growth [primarily] driven by project-level difficulties, such as design and contracting issues, up to 2008; adding £7.5 billion to project costs”
    -has been neutralised by reducing units (8-9 bn saved todate),
    -but this equipment programmes ‘time profile management’ has blown half of that for nothing(!) as noted in “Departmental planning decisions having added £4.2 billion to forecast costs since 2009″.

  25. ArmChairCivvy

    ” 4 additional Wildcats being built, for a total of 8 weapon-capable ones, and total of Wildcats growing to 66 instead of 62.

    A very interesting development. I had heard nothing at all about this.
    Consequence of experience with attack helicopters in Libya, perhaps…?

    The PUMA HC2 are going to be 24, not 28. It is confirmed.”
    = plus 4 minus 4= zero (but a good trade, anyway)

  26. ArmChairCivvy

    A new name for FRES UV
    “OUVS cancelled.
    In 2016 it will be reopened as Multi Role Vehicle – Protected.”
    - Phil’s article on this (towards the end of the v broad piece) was very good!

  27. Gabriele

    The Puma HC2 number was always expressed as “up to 28″.

    Much depended not just on money but on the state of the airframes. They are old, and no one was ever sure that as many as 28 would have been in good enough conditions to be upgraded.

    The 24 figure was around from quite some time. Cost remains over 300 millions, though. So it is not so much about savings, but, i’m guessing, probably avoiding a cost increase due to airframes needing too much work and funding.

    After all, even assuming that it is a reduction not to pay for support and usage costs out to 2025… 4 helicopters…? Can’t make that much difference.

  28. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Gabby, agreed “Much depended not just on money but on the state of the airframes. They are old”
    - good ones available from the Dutch, already upgraded, why bother with the dodgy ones?

  29. Think Defence

    Lots of interesting stuff in the report as usual. Will probably do a separate post but one that caught my eye was the number of A400 that will have DAS in the programme (more will be fitted later I am sure)

    Anyone guess what the number is

  30. ArmChairCivvy

    RE “OUVS [cancelled] and FRES SV [UV I said] are definitely not the same thing
    … just a prediction of what we will see as tender process in 2016

  31. ArmChairCivvy

    Definitely ” Will probably do a separate post ” worth it,
    - but when is this Equipment Plan due to be out?

    What a nice pair the two would make (for discussion)

  32. Frenchie

    It is written :

    “The Operational Utility Vehicle System project has been removed from the programme during 2011. A Review Note has been prepared to reflect this, which states that the requirement will be re-scoped, and the outcome of this work will form the basis for the Multi Role Vehicle – Protected Programme. It is currently planned for Multi Role Vehicle – Protected to commence concept stage during Financial Year 2015-16. Multi Role Vehicle-Protected will have its own Initial Gate and Main-Gate Approvals.”

    This means for me that the FRES UV will be replacing OUVS in 2015-2016, Mastiff and other vehicles will be replaced by “FRES UV” Multi Role Vehicle-Protected Programme.

    I would like well a FRES UV direct-fire, as Centauro.

  33. Tubby

    Hi Gabby,

    I have read the report differently to you re: “Confirmation that Nimrod was 95% paid for. -facepalm- ”

    The report says “A total of £3.4 billion24 was spent on the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft programme on the assessment, demonstration and manufacture phases up to the 31 March 2011. When the Department decided to cancel Nimrod, around 95 per cent of forecast spend for completing the nine aircraft had been used.” This simply means at the point of cancelling they spent 95% of the budget available not that the remaining 5% of that budget would have brought Nimrod into service.

    I found it rather damning that they decided against completing the Nimrod for re-sale as the report says “The Department judged continuing production as risky because it could involve further difficulties and cost increases of the type that had already been encountered on the project to date”.

  34. DominicJ

    Gabby
    As Tubby says, Nimrod wasnt 95% complete, it had spent 95% of the money.

    Tubby
    “I found it rather damning that they decided against completing the Nimrod for re-sale as the report says “The Department judged continuing production as risky because it could involve further difficulties and cost increases of the type that had already been encountered on the project to date”.”

    The problem was it need billions more spending.
    Someone, anyone, could have offered to buy them for a nominal fee and we’d have been happy to let them, but no one was going to take over the project and pay for its completion, because no one had a damned clue how much that would eventualy cost, if it was even possible at all.

  35. Frenchie

    “U.S. & U.K. Chief Players in $7+ Billion Military Multimission Communications Market
    (Source: Forecast International; issued November 15, 2011)

    NEWTOWN, Conn. — Forecast International projects that defense departments worldwide will spend approximately $7.69 billion on 25 different multimission communications development, acquisition, and maintenance programs over the next decade.

    More specifically, this dollar amount will be allocated for the development, procurement or maintenance of multimission communications systems or technology.

    The company’s “The Market for Multimission Communications Systems” analysis further projects that over the next decade, defense departments throughout the world will purchase some 480,468 individual units from among the 18 multimission communications products covered in the analysis.

    “The excessive costs of and setbacks in development of the U.S. Pentagon’s Joint Tactical Radio System and the restocking of communications equipment used in military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are the primary factors driving current expenditures for multimission communications systems,” said Greg Giaquinto, Forecast International Senior Analyst.

    According to the analysis, the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), the Bowman Tactical Radio, and the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) will significantly impact the market for multimission communications in the coming decade.

    JTRS is a U.S. Department of Defense program to develop and produce a single standard software-operated radio system for the United States armed services. This program is currently in research and development. Forecast International estimates that the DoD will spend about $2.15 billion from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2015 on JTRS R&D activities.

    The Bowman Tactical Radio program of the U.K. Ministry of Defence seeks to purchase a family of multimission communications combat radios for the British armed services. General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd is the program’s prime contractor. General Dynamics UK has chosen ITT Corp and Harris Corp to supply the bulk of the multimission communications systems to be purchased under the Bowman program. Forecast International is estimating that the British armed services will buy approximately 16,000 tactical radios under the Bowman program from 2011 to 2020.

    The software-driven Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System constitutes a family of manpack, vehicular, and airborne radios manufactured by ITT’s Communications Systems Division. The most popular member of the SINCGARS family of military radios is the PRC-119, which Forecast International expects the U.S. DoD to buy in sizable quantities over the next several years.

    According to the analysis, Harris, General Dynamics, Rockwell Collins, ITT, and Thales will receive 46.42 percent of the total dollar amount that defense departments worldwide are forecast to spend on the 25 multimission communications products and programs covered in the analysis. Harris will lead with $1.99 billion in revenue. General Dynamics, Rockwell Collins, ITT, and Thales will follow with $962 million, $620 million, $419 million, and $294 million in revenue, respectively.

    Forecast International, Inc. (www.forecastinternational.com) is a leading provider of Market Intelligence and Analysis in the areas of aerospace, defense, power systems and military electronics. Based in Newtown, Conn., USA, Forecast International specializes in long-range industry forecasts and market assessments used by strategic planners, marketing professionals, military organizations, and governments worldwide.

    -ends-”
    _________________________________________________________________

    “Navy Faces Shortage of Attack Submarines
    (Source: British Forces Broadcasting Service; posted November 16, 2011)

    The Royal Navy faces a shortage of attack submarines because of decisions taken in the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

    That is the conclusion of the National Audit Office which says delays to the new Astute class would leave the Navy without sufficient submarines for operations over part of the next decade, while adding £200 million to the cost of the programme.

    The NAO said decisions taken by the Ministry of Defence to balance its budget in the short term following the SDSR had contributed to a £466 million increase in the cost of the 15 largest equipment projects over the past year.

    The programme to build the seven planned Astute boats was slowed to avoid a “production gap” in the submarine industry following the decision in the SDSR to delay the replacement of the Trident nuclear deterrent fleet until late 2028.

    As a result, the Astute programme will take an additional eight years to complete – an average delay of two years and four months per boat, with each of the remaining submarines taking over a decade to build.

    “By extending the Astute build programme, the department will have to use older boats beyond their out-of-service dates, work the smaller fleet of Astute submarines harder, or reduce scheduled activity for submarines,” the NAO said.

    “Therefore, the department is currently reporting that the Astute class submarines will not meet the Royal Navy’s requirement for sufficient numbers of submarines to be available for operations over part of the next decade.”

    At the same time, the NAO said the latest cost increases meant the programme was £1.9 billion over the original 1997 figure when the requirement was for eight boats.

    “Had the department avoided cost increases on the Astute class … it could have built an additional submarine for less than the cost the department is currently forecasting to build seven boats,” the NAO said.

    Overall, the NAO said that “central planning decisions” by the MOD had accounted for a net increase of £237 billion to the cost of the 15 largest projects – including an additional £113 million on enhancing equipment capabilities.

    The forecast cost of all major projects approved since 2000 has risen by £10.6 billion – an 11.4% increase – while delays have risen by 30 months, an average of two months per project, bringing total delays to almost 27 years.

    However the NAO estimated that the increase would have been up to £19.4 billion if had not been for cuts to the programme.

    The head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, said it was “welcome news” that the MOD was finally taking action to balance its books in the long term but questioned the way it was going about it.

    “The MOD has been hampered by a legacy of poor planning and performance on some past projects, and the resulting cuts and delays are not value for money,” he said.

    Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee which oversees the work of the NAO, said: “Short-term measures to balance the budget account for a significant cost increase on these projects during 2010-11.

    “Delaying projects and reducing what they deliver are not sensible ways to invest in defence capability.”

    Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that while progress had been made in dealing with the problems of the equipment programme, more needed to be done.

    “We have got a grip on the equipment programme through the difficult decisions taken in the SDSR and radical reform of the department,” he said.

    “The trend of vast cost increases seen under the last government has been halted. The 0.9% overall increase this year is still too much, but it is seven times lower than the last year of the previous administration.”

    Mr Hammond said the MOD still could not have afforded an eighth Astute submarine, even if the programme had not been slowed as a consequence of the delays to Trident renewal.

    “Once build and through life costs are taken into account, an extra boat would cost £1.4 billion – more than stretching the programme has cost,” he said.

    The MOD said that it would ensure attack submarines were available for operations by extending the life of the older Trafalgar class boats.

    “There is no significant change to the availability reported in last year’s NAO report; it was manageable then and is manageable now. We are mitigating Astute delays by extending the service life of Trafalgar class submarines,” a spokesman said.

    -ends-”
    ___________________________________________________________

    “United Kingdom – Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System Long Lead Sub-Assemblies
    (Source: Defense Security Cooperation Agency; issued November 15, 2011)

    WASHINGTON — The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the United Kingdom for one long lead sub-assemblies for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System/Advanced Arresting Gear (EMALS/AAG) and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $200 million.

    The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has requested the long lead sub-assemblies for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System/Advanced Arresting Gear (EMALS/AAG).

    The EMALS long lead sub-assemblies include: Energy Storage System, Power Conditioning System, and Launch Control System. The AAG includes: Power Conditioning, Energy Absorption Subsystems, Shock Absorbers, and Drive Fairleads. Also proposed are other items for Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, software support, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and all other related elements of program support.

    The estimated cost is $200 million.

    This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to maintain and improve the security of a key NATO ally that has been, and continues to be, an important force for major political stability and economic progress throughout Europe.

    The proposed sale will improve the UK’s aircraft carrier capability to meet current and future threats of adversaries at sea. The sub-systems will introduce state-of-the-art technology in the areas of aircraft launch and recovery onboard the UK’s future aircraft carrier program. The UK will have no problem absorbing these additional sub-systems and support into its armed forces.

    The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    The prime contractor will be General Atomics in Rancho Bernardo, California. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

    Implementation of this sale will not require the assignment of additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the UK. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

    This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

    -ends-”
    _________________________________________________________________

    “Ministry of Defence: The Major Projects Report 2011
    (Source: UK National Audit Office; issued November 16, 2011)

    Action taken by the Ministry of Defence to balance its overall budget in the short term following the Strategic Defence and Security Review has contributed to a near £500 million in-year cost increase in the 15 largest defence projects, a report by the National Audit Office has revealed.

    When coupled with previous cost growth, these projects are now £6 billion above forecasts made when the main investment decisions were taken.

    For the third successive year, central planning decisions taken by the Department, including delaying the Astute submarine project, have had the biggest impact on cost growth, accounting for £237 million of the increase. Of this, £113 million relates to decisions to enhance capability. Macro-economic factors, such as adverse foreign exchange rates, accounted for £176 million of the increase. Cost overruns from project-specific technical issues accounted for £53 million.

    The Strategic Defence and Security Review delayed the Successor nuclear deterrent submarine in-service date to 2028. To avoid a production gap in the submarine construction industry, and to further save costs in the short term, the Astute programme was slowed. This has added £200 million to the forecast cost in 2011, and delayed the introduction of the Astute submarines by an average of 28 months. Submarines will now take over a decade each to complete.

    During 2010-11, there was a total increase of 30 months (with an average two months per project) in the forecast time to complete these projects and bring them into service. This brings the total delay on all 15 projects to 26.8 years. The most significant changes were a 12-month delay in the timetable for the Watchkeeper unmanned aerial vehicle project, which was largely due to the contractor’s failing to deliver against the agreed schedule, and a 13 month delay on the Astute project.

    Long-term cost analysis by the NAO has shown that the difference between the approved and forecast costs of all projects which have had their main investment decision approved since 2000 is £10.6 billion (an 11.4 per cent increase). Additional costs have been avoided by reducing the amount of equipment the Department originally planned to buy. Had the Department not reduced equipment numbers, cost growth could have been between £18.2 billion and £19.4 billion (approximately 20 per cent) above the approved costs.

    Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today:

    “The Ministry of Defence has been hampered by a legacy of poor planning and performance on some past projects, and the resulting cuts and delays are not value for money. “But it is welcome news that the Department has finally accepted that the financial position it is in is serious and is actively working towards balancing its books in the longer term.”

    BACKGROUND NOTE:
    1. The 15 major projects examined by the NAO were: the A400M transport aircraft, the Airseeker surveillance system, the Astute programme, the Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile, the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft, the Joint Combat Aircraft, the Lynx Wildcat helicopter, the Merlin Capability Containment Programme, the Puma Life-Extension Programme, the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier, the Specialist Vehicle, the Type 45 Destroyer, the Typhoon aircraft, the UK Military Flying Training System and the Watchkeeper surveillance vehicle.

    (ends)”

    _________________________________________________________

    “Statement from PAC Chair on: MOD: The Major Projects Report 2011
    (Source: House of Commons Public Accounts Committee; issued Nov. 16, 2011)

    A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:

    The report highlights continuous poor planning and performance with the result that the Ministry of Defence’s largest military equipment projects are delivering less, at a greater cost than planned, and taking longer to be completed.

    Reducing and delaying capability to save money in the short-term while long term costs increase is not good value for money.

    It is shocking that the cost of completing these 15 projects is over £6 billion more than originally planned with less equipment being secured for the money spent and with delays of almost 27 years over the whole programme. Short term measures to balance the budget account for a significant cost increase on these projects during 2010-11, almost half a billion pounds. On all major projects since 2000, the Department has avoided costs of around £8 billion by reducing the amount of equipment it planned to buy.

    Delaying projects and reducing what they deliver are not sensible ways to invest in defence capability.

    -ends-”

    ________________________________________________________________

    “Harrier Fleet Sold to US Military (excerpt)
    (Source: The Guardian; published Nov. 16, 2011)

    The US Marines are to buy all of Britain’s recently-retired Harriers to make up for the delayed delivery – and possible axing – of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. (UK MoD photo) Britain’s entire fleet of Harrier jump jets, the veteran plane scrapped in last year’s defence review, has been saved – by the American military. All 74 of the planes are to fly again for the US Marines in a deal that is expected to be closed within a week.

    The Ministry of Defence said last night that negotiations were in their final stages. Reports in the US suggested the Marines were already preparing for their arrival.

    The sale of the Harriers is bound to raise fresh questions about the wisdom of retiring the much-admired aircraft, which the Americans intend to use until 2025.

    Speaking to Navy Times, Rear Admiral Mark Heinrich, chief of the US Navy’s supply corps, said buying the Harriers made sense because many of the jets had been recently upgraded, and the US already had pilots who could fly them.

    “We’re taking advantage of all the money the Brits have spent on them,” he said. “It’s like we’re buying a car with maybe 15,000 miles on it. These are very good platforms.”

    News of the sale comes as the government spending watchdog has found that the UK’s biggest military projects are more than £6bn over budget, and are suffering from further delays despite attempts to bring them under stricter control. (end of excerpt)

    -ends-”

  36. ArmChairCivvy

    Echoing DJ, would never have either worked or been safe
    “The Department judged continuing production as risky because it could involve further difficulties”
    - no one throws that number of billions down the drain for any other reason (and SDSR was once in a generation opportunity to get away with it, and save “face” on both sides of the fence)

  37. Frenchie

    Rafale unit cost 142M€

    Typhoon unit cost 90M€

    I have not believed that there would be as much difference.

  38. ArmChairCivvy

    I wonder what happened in the Indian competition?
    - 4 November was meant to be the day for opening envelopes with these prices (or different ones)
    - maybe IAF got so much price shock that they are still speechless

  39. Think Defence

    Frenchie, can you keep us up to date with the fallout in France from this news?

    How do you think it will affect Dassault?

    Come to think of it, with our various closer integration agreements and the need to maintain European defence aerospace expertise I can see a UK Rafale deal for CVF becoming less of an outsider and seriously considered by the politicians

  40. Gareth Jones

    I was leaning towards the Rafale for the FAA but at that price….? How much would a Sea-phoon cost to develop again?

  41. Gabriele

    “I wonder what happened in the Indian competition?”

    Nothing weird. It has been said clearly that after the opening of the bids a minimum of two months of analysis and negotiations would follow.
    The bid is merely a starting point.

    Then they have to work out through-life costs, industry participation and all those issues. It’s still early for MMRCA.

  42. All Politicians are the same

    @TD Isn’t it Ironic that after suffering European based projects such as Tornado and Typhoon as well as the Horizon class frigate and not using US systems such as F15 and Arleigh Burke that when we finally go with the US on F35 they cock it up.

  43. Gabriele

    “Come to think of it, with our various closer integration agreements and the need to maintain European defence aerospace expertise I can see a UK Rafale deal for CVF becoming less of an outsider and seriously considered by the politicians”

    Perhaps, but it still looks unlikely to me.

    I’m less ambitious, and i only go so far to suggest that after the Rafale lesson France will be more willing to compromise in order to collaborate on Telemos and on the future UCAV and stuff, instead of clawing for the lead at all costs, like when they absolutely want to control the Horizon, or when they would absolutely not accept anything other than SNECMA engines on the new european fighter before paths split.

    Ironically, now that SNECMA engine is one of the reasons why Rafale does not sell.

  44. Think Defence

    APATS, yes, it is ironic isn’t it. Especially when one considers that Typhoon is sittong on a significant export potential and if you look at the industrial runes I can see the A400 doing well medium term. Who knows what might come from future European UAV projects as well

  45. Frenchie

    It’s like Gabby said, it is clear that the Rafale is an aircraft which is no longer in the game at the operational and tactical levels. The reaction, completely objective, the commander of the UAE, sums up the situation: all the efforts of political lobbying can not hide the technical status of this device in terms of the competition. It was weighed down by our incapacity to fund it properly. If he had been commissioned in 1996 as planned, it would have been the best in the years 2000/2010 and would then aged slowly until the late 2020s, or a successor would be replaced. Sadly, we are just beginning to have enough to use them when we should already think about his successor.

  46. Frenchie

    For you answer TD,

    This aircraft is that the aviation industry does best in France : Dassault, Thales, Snecma, Sagem, MBDA and dozens of subcontractors. The failure of the export program could spell the end of the ability French or European, to develop combat aircraft.

    Insufficient funds (11 billion euros, equivalent to one full year of military programming) have also led to slow the pace of implementation of most non-nuclear programs, the most striking example being that Rafale, the date of last delivery, originally scheduled for 2010, is now set at 2025.

    Like I said a few days ago to ACC, in 2011 France will acquire eleven additional aircraft earlier than planned, to honor a clause in the contract signed with Dassault, which requires the state to ensure a minimum rate of the chain production, given the fact that the Rafale has not yet found a buyer for export. This does not change much for Dassault, but it changes a lot for the French state, which is forced to buy its aircraft. It’s costing us millions.

    Finally buying SuperHornet is much cheaper, we don’t need super aircraft for future wars.

  47. Gabriele

    Now, Frenchie, that’s excessive.

    The Rafale IS very good. In many aspects, it is at a more advanced state than Typhoon, with more weaponry integrated and so along.

    But it is french weaponry, quite unique, which means that either the buyer acquires french weapons as well, or funds integration of Paveways and all the lot.

    It also has engines which already are underpowered (the UAE specifically required a more powerful engine, also because they deal with hot climate all the time…!)

    And it cannot offer the same industrial advantages and the same price that Typhoon can, because it is a national project, whereas there are four countries working to sustain the Typhoon.

    All this makes it a bit hard to compete effectively on the market.

  48. Frenchie

    After playing one-upmanship by claiming a more powerful engine Snecma (9 tonnes of thrust instead of 7.5 tonnes for the M88) and an improved radar Thales, said active antenna, the negotiators of the Emirates seem to have dropped a little ballast, they could be content with the radar, the scope of which appears to them necessary because of the Iranian threat nearby.

    Propulsion side, the Libyan conflict has proved that Rafale was fully operational with its current engine. Enough to convince Abu Dhabi not to claim the engine of evolution, hope the French camp, between the engine and the radar, the bill for additional costs would inevitably be salted with the complex equation of shared funding between France and Abu Dhabi. Side arms, an offer of AASM and Meteor missiles would be on the table.

    The problem is the excessive prices for what it is, it’s a aircraft that is worth the price of an F-35.

  49. Think Defence

    So the French Government will have a few surplus Rafales available at reasonable prices with one careful owner and a common launch and recovery method for aircraft carriers

    Does anyone else see where this might go?

    Wonder if you could fit an EJ2000 in place of the M88

    Unlikely I know but did anyone predict MRA4 would be in landfill now or that Gadaffi would be having things inserted into him on a dustry road?

  50. Frenchie

    No, as you for the Typhoon, we ordered about 300 aircraft, but in the end a total of 180 aircraft were ordered (132 air + 48 marine) and 93 were delivered (62 air + 31 Marine). We are poor, sorry :)

  51. Mark

    TD is the surplus ones the airforce variant or the naval one which is more expensive again. To change from f35 leads to a more expensive plane with larger logistic footprint not supported globally with less potent sensors and a move which totally screws the defence aerospace manufacturing base in the UK sounds about right.

    The UK US defence co operation document due shortly will be interesting.

    Dont count rafale out of these races yet still much to play for.

  52. Think Defence

    MArk, am not advocating it, far from it, but can anyone see the glimmer of possibility that it will happen?

  53. Frenchie

    Mark is right, why to buy Rafale outdated and expensive ? You are building in cooperation with the U.S. F-35 all new, but you buy from 50 to 60, not enough for two aircraft carriers, complete with Super Hornet that cost 50 million €

  54. Mark

    No glimmer unless the us cancels f35. And I doubt you can fit ej2000 in rafale without a re design different interfaces.

    Frenchie I don’t think it’s outdated it has a lot to offer but radar range and engine performance may be were the issues are coming from. It certainly doesn’t help that the production rate is low and i doubt dassualt eould consider white tails. But this is also a typhoon issue with having 4 instead of 1 production line but then again typhoon has a less complicated production line than say f35

  55. Frenchie

    You can put a more powerful engine and a more modern radar, it will always cost very expensive, it would sell a hundred Rafale to lower the unit price.

  56. paul g

    as someone was asking about engine swaps, i thought i’d get the specs of wikki (i like lists!!)
    EJ200 157″ length; M88 139″ EJ200 diameter 29″ vs 35″, weight EJ200 989kg vs 897kg. So almost the same but 18″ overhang lengthwise, that’s before all the other tech stuff gets in the way!

  57. jedibeeftrix

    “MArk, am not advocating it, far from it, but can anyone see the glimmer of possibility that it will happen?”

    I can’t.

    Nothing wrong with it, but it does nothing for UK industry so i don’t see it happening.

  58. El Sid

    @Frenchie – even the US can only buy F/A-18′s for US$84.5m net P-1 cost (~€63m), and a more realistic price for the UK would be something like the Australian deal of around US$100m (~€74m) – about the same as the price Saudi paid for their Typhoons.

    Out of interest – where did you get that €142m figure for Rafale? Are you sure you are comparing like with like, you’re not comparing cost of production+development for Rafale versus production cost only for Typhoon? The 160 Typhoon for the RAF will cost £20.2bn (ie £126m/plane, or €147m/plane) – but additional ones for Saudi only cost £61.5m/plane (£4430m for 72 planes, €72m/plane now although at the time it was more like €90m/plane).

    Certainly the received wisdom is that Rafale is a bit cheaper than Typhoon, although that may have changed with exchange rate movements over the last few years.

    Even so – it’s irrelevant when it comes to competing with F-35. As I keep on saying, you can’t look at the F-35 deal just as purchase costs. You have to consider the excellent industrial deal we have on the F-35, which means that in effect as long as we stay in the F-35 programme, the UK gets 40-50 F-35′s for free. I just can’t see the French being able to give us a deal that is anywhere near as good. And at the moment 40-50 would be good enough for us, although it looks like our ultimate plan is to end up with 100 or so.

    @TD – not sure they have any surplus naval Rafales right now. As of a few months ago they had 19 operational Rafale M’s out of a total of 83 operational Rafales, plus another 9 Tranche 1 M’s that were waiting for their upgrade to Tranche 3. 26 Rafales would comfortably fit on de Gaulle, so I can’t see them wanting to get rid of any of them. However, if we wanted some single-seat non-carrier aircraft, then perhaps a deal could be done….

  59. Frenchie

    @El Sid – The cost per aircraft including development costs is 142.3 million € in 2010 according to the “Cour des comptes”, the equivalent of your NAO. Exactly how much it costs your Typhoon, I have contradictory data ? If it cost 147 million € like you say, it’s competitive.

  60. Chris.B.

    AndyJS,

    By the looks of it I can see their conclusion in future reports being simply “don’t build platoon houses in the middle of a valley, surrounded by over looking buildings”.

    Or words to that effect.

  61. Alan Garner

    Just a quick Typhoon question.

    Reading a bit of EADS info on the sensor suite it seams to suggest that the passive radar can defeat stealth. Now I’ve heard of some SAM systems rumoured to have a basic anti-stealth capability, but this is the first time I’ve heard of any aircraft boasting such wizardry. Does this suggest that all AESA equipped aircraft potentially have this ability or is this all just EADS fantasy? Maybe a timed release for the possible Indian buy?

  62. Jed

    AndyJS and ChrisB

    these recent RAND papers do not impress; appart from Chris’ characterisation of their outcomes, they seem to have played too much HALO:

    1. Cratering charges for rapid creation of fighting positions (good enough idea though)
    2. Use of automated miniguns (Aliens anyone ?)
    3. Use of more UAS…….

    The internal army study I think was a lot more scathing about the positioning of the COP and the OP, and it took on many of the other factors that meant the defensive positions were not up to scratch. There was a lot of bollocks about the performance of the M4 carbine in the close in battle, but in the end they seem to have decided it was fine, but that they would have been better of with Tommy guns with the big 50 round magazines, or with AA12 auto-shotguns ! Of course, the bad guys are not supposed to get that close un-opposed, and thus we are back to the geography and politics of where the COP was placed…….

  63. El Sid

    @Frenchie – the £20.2bn programme cost across all 160 Typhoon from Tranche 1 to Tranche 3 comes from the NAO report of March 2011. So that’s €147m per RAF plane including development costs – and the NAO reckon that ~€15m/plane of those development costs came from the multinational aspect of Typhoon, which probably matches the savings from the greater production run. The UK’s total development costs will be about £6.7bn, so the average production cost for all the RAF Typhoons is £84.4m, or about €98.5m/plane – but that does include nonsenses like the CP-193 upgrade (the emergency air-to-ground update that became irrelevant when we sold some of our production to Saudi). You can imagine Typhoon going for about €85-90m to export customers these days.

    The historical cost to the home airforce doesn’t count for much when it comes to working out the cost paid by export customers – unless your home government tries to make the export customer pay for some of the historical R&D. It sounds like someone on the French side was trying to get the UAE to contribute to some development costs, and the UAE objected?

  64. Frenchie

    Following the episode.

    The price charged by Dassault is estimated at between 6 and 8 billion euros for sixty aircraft. Alain Juppé was commissioned by Nicolas Sarkozy to lead a double negotiation, it is first to carry through the discussion of the Rafale to the UAE, and second, it must allow to resell the new Libyan army the 63 Mirage-9 which Emirati Air Force intends to discard before buying the Rafale.

    They demanded besides being able to under the Rafale carry the future MBDA Meteor missile. Which requires France to develop its own budget, the new Thales radar planned for the future version of the Rafale F4. Case won.

    Then the thrust of the engine M-88 from 7.5 tons to 9 tons. An idea supported by Snecma, who saw a way to finance improvements to its engine. But the UAE came back on this, now accept that the Rafale is powered as the French version.

    Finally, they did not want the future version of Damocles laser designation pod NG, provided by Thales, saying that it would not be greater than the Sniper pod, which equips their F-16. A condition is also accepted by the French government.

    Business continues.

  65. Jed

    TD – yes should have remembered Beehives, never seen one in use, but heard about from an Infantry Major once

    I guess the feeling I got from the paper was a more “United Space Marines Armoured Infantry” type feeling with respect to “rapid cratering charges and automated mini-guns” – I am sure you know what I am getting at :-)

  66. Phil

    From that document, basic stuff seems to have gone wrong. They just didn’t fortify the position enough, they didn’t dig communication trenches with over head protection so they could move around inside the base to get to crew served weapons and the mortar.

    On the other hand, the COP was there because you have to be close to the population. There’s nothing you can do about that, the nature of the fight is that this sort of shit happens. I lost count of how many times we did dangerous shit because you HAVE to mingle with the locals, they are the real battlefield.

    Ideally, they’d have fortified that place, it sounds like they were in the middle of doing it, but it’s war, terrible things happen. There’s kit out there now that would have turned that battle around but they just didn’t have it for probably umpteen perfectly good reasons at the time. Just dumping more firepower in the form of miniguns etc is not the right answer – that fire must be directed.

    A mast mounted or balloon mounted camera system would have eliminated the dead ground problem, and feeding into that FSTs could have directed artillery fire from anywhere in theatre, dumping metric tons of HE danger close with precision fire control.

    Boomarang or some such could have given target indications but in that scenario would probably have just lit up like a Christmas tree with income from multiple axis.

    A vehicle mounted balloon kit or a kit flown in would have saved a lot of lives Id bet. They are a game changer out there, the insurgent can’t easily hide and when someone can lob an EXACTOR on you without warning you get much more nervous and take far less care in burying IEDs and movement is grossly restricted.

    Saving countless lives the PGSS, Cortez and similar systems.

  67. Phil

    Second one TD. Only one mistake, but still, one letter out of place in a chemical formula and that could be a bad day!

  68. Jed

    Phil

    I read a lot about it on various US blog last year when the official Army “after action report” came out; a lot of whining that Brigade level higher ups were not “indicted” over some of the failures.

    Yes they were still fortifying, and they had been doing by hand, while wearing full body armour, because force protection level would not let them take it off, but earth movers and contractors where not provided as planned etc. Again a lot of commentors wanted this planted firmly at the feet of higher echelon commanders.

    Main take away for HMG not (note, not HM Armed Forces) for this RAND report is the criticism of posting penny packets of infantry in “indian country” – in other words if a ‘relatively’ massive army like that of the USA, with varying levels of assistance from allies, still has to thinly spread out Company level FOB’s, Platoon level COP’s and Section level OP’s against an insurgency; then we will NEVER, EVER have enough boots on the ground to contemplate a “people centric COIN” based “nation building” exercise in a “country” where most of the people could not give a flying frak about “nation statehood” and often even consider people of the same racial group from the next valley as “alien” !

    Therefore, if you don’t have the resources, don’t start the endeavour in the first place……

  69. El Sid

    @Alan Garner – you have to remember that there’s no such thing as “stealth” that makes a plane “invisible”. You just have varying degrees of signature reduction, at different wavelengths and at different aspects, which cost varying amounts of money and performance. So for instance most stealth aircraft have low signatures in the X-band (wavelengths of a few centimetres) but are very visible in VHF (wavelengths of metres) which is much harder to protect against. Most modern radars use X-band for greater resolution, but there’s no rule saying that the red team will only ever use X-band….

    One obvious approach is to have dual-frequency radars, which mostly use X-band but which also monitor VHF for any fuzzy blobs that don’t appear on X-band. Another way is to use the vast number of civilian VHF/UHF transmitters (radio, mobile phones, TV etc) and detect when their transmissions are perturbed by something that reflects VHF/UHF – in effect a form of multistatic radar.

    I’m guessing you’re talking about the thing Eurofighter put out in May about detecting a “Generic Stealth Fighter” (GSF) which just happens to look rather like F-35. The Eurofighter models had the Eurofighter beating the GSF in attack and defence (shock horror). They did it in two ways. One was using PIRATE to detect in infra-red. That’s not revolutionary – Russian fighters have had IR sensors for years. You can reduce IR signatures but there’s only so far you can go when you’re burning tonnes of hydrocarbon in the heart of your plane, there’s a great video on the web of an F-22 at ??Farnborough?? in the infra-red. So that’s an example of looking for a plane at different frequencies of the EM spectrum. The other way they did it was by lining up a wall of Typhoons and detecting the returns from the sides of the GSF. Again – this isn’t particularly news. The F-35 was always designed to have a very low signature when seen head-on, and to be less stealthy from the side – but that was judged an acceptable compromise because it is primarily intended as an attack aircraft so it will generally be heading straight for a SAM battery or whatever.

    So the modelling by Eurofighter suggests that you can defeat stealth, so long as you buy lots of Eurofighters and fit them with expensive extras like PIRATE. :-) But yes, what they’re saying is plausible. It’s nothing to do with AESA though (and it doesn’t mean the F-35 is suddenly worthless, either).

  70. Chris.B.

    @ El Sid

    Here’s the F-22 video seen through a FLIR camera unit. It switches to IR mode at about 30 seconds in.

    This video is also interesting because it provides an example (albeit in a different part of the spectrum) of how an aircrafts signature as seen by the enemy changes as the aircraft moves around in relation to it.

    When flying away from the camera the radiation from the engines practically blot out the rest of the aircraft, but head on it’s not quite as bad.

    And for anyone that’s interested, if you look on the right hand side of that video there is a number of other aircraft view through IR sensors for comparison. Just be aware that I suspect some have had the brightness tampered with a little (either that or Rafales genuinely are almost invisible in the IR spectrum).

  71. Phil

    “in other words if a ‘relatively’ massive army like that of the USA, with varying levels of assistance from allies, still has to thinly spread out Company level FOB’s, Platoon level COP’s and Section level OP’s against an insurgency; then we will NEVER, EVER have enough boots on the ground”

    The biggest problem is eyes being bigger than the belly.

    We tried from 2006 to grab areas of land far in excess of what was manageable if we had to fight for it. It boggles the mind the size of the area 2 and a half battlegroups were expected to secure. And because of Iraq there was barely anything in the cupboard to expand this force. But, instead of concentrating the forces into a manageable area we cracked on. A gross misjudgement.

    It was only in 2009 that things began to change and ISAF got a grip of itself in Helmand, and this was largely down to the surge of US troops giving us much higher density, and the admission, finally, that the battlespace had to conform to the ability of the forces to hold it. So TFH was drawn in, Garmsir was drawn in, MSQ was drawn in and finally Sangin was drawn in. And since then the strategy in TFH has been to clear and hold an area, build capacity and ANSF and then, like the aliens in Independence Day, move on.

    This meant accepting large areas of Helmand where the INS could rest relatively unmolested. But, finally, we matched ambitions with forces and have accepted these “Brigade Battlespace” areas with the caveat that once capacity was built in one area these empty areas would be next on a hitlist.

    Now, in HERRICK 15, CF NDA(S) and NDA(N) have been merged and the battlegroup moved to Haidarabad – the old stomping ground of FOB Gibraltar north of Gereshkin in the winter, when the INS wants to hide and be left alone and we’ll fight them to a standstill in the summer.

    This is why we are seeing these deaths lately – they are all in NES(S) and NES(N) AOs.

    I imagine, that another CF will move next winter to another Bde Battlespace area, to the east of LKG perhaps who knows.

    If we had followed this strategy from the start, just concentrated on LKG or GSK or SGN and then spread out when resources allowed we’d have had a more productive time of it.

    Penny packeting as you said does not work. It just stirs up trouble that can’t be contained, the attacks etc can be defeated, but not stopped from happening.

    And it all boils down to troop density. You can have small COPs and OPs, if they are emeshed in a wider matrix of similar bases and backed up with mobile striking forces able to move in depth against the INS. Which is the model in TFH now, at last, finally.

    You can argue that we should have done it properly from the start but in reality, Iraq meant we couldn’t do it – we can just about do it now as our main effort. The commanders of TFH were stuck between a rock and a hard place from 2006 to 2009 – get results and secure key points but there is nothing left to send you to see that you can actually do it.

    I wonder if there was a deeper strategy of hoping to dig in and hold until Iraq was wound down and more resources became available.

  72. Phil

    “When flying away from the camera the radiation from the engines practically blot out the rest of the aircraft, but head on it’s not quite as bad.”

    I think the bloom is more due to power being applied to do the manoeuvres.

  73. Mark

    I will add there is a deference between detecting and tracking and being able to engage a target.

    LO a/c are the next stage in allowing us to engage targets by reducing an enemy’s engage zone to the point where he only knows were there when its to late.

    We may have to be prepared to alter plans on afghan as the US position maybe changing.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/8902443/US-elections-2012-US-troop-withdrawal-from-Afghanistan-will-not-be-increased-for-electioneering.html

  74. Chris.B.

    Well it’s a bit of both. When the pilot lights the afterburner the heat will obviously shoot up and create part of that bloom, but the head on/away from effects how much of that energy is visible to the camera.

  75. Chris.B.

    In level flight at high altitude it can “Supercruise” without the afterburner, but it would need the extra power across the full flight regime like most aircraft.

  76. Jed

    Phil – “eyes bigger than belly” – Love it !

    From UK armed forces perspective surely the main failure was the inability of the Chief of the General Staff to explain to frikkin “lefty do-gooder” politicians (“a force for good”) that we really did not have the man power to crack on with what we had already started in Afghanistan, AND to get involved in Iraq.

    Of course, if any of those politicians had studied any history, and particularly military history, and were a little more “real-politik” oriented (you know, like DomJ) perhaps Afghanistan would have been about helping war-lords destroy the Taliban – with no commitment what-so-ever to “nation building” clearly based on the lack of troops available to create the required density.

  77. Chris.B.

    Phil and Jed – you don’t really expect Politicians to live within their means do you? ;)

    I think I proposed something along these lines a while back. I can’t remember the precise term I used but I think it was something like “Ink Blot Strategy”, the idea being to establish a secure base of operations somewhere (preferably one easy to defend) and to just gradually spread out from there, much like a blot of ink on a piece of paper.

    So that would mean just reaching out to the surrounding population, using foot patrols and medical aid to bring onside the local population. Leaning on the under water knife waters to do a lot of the work “outside the fence” and providing rapid heliborne infantry support and helicopter/aircraft/artillery strike missions when needed.

    All that would tie in with training of Afghan security forces, who would be pushed at every opportunity to take the lead.

    Very much a start small, grow very gradually type approach, starting back in 2001 before the Insurgency had a chance to gain momentum.

  78. Phil

    Ink spot was the strategy that failed. You brasses up hundreds of INS on the ramparts but achieved bigger all in the medium term. You don’t need ink spots, you need ink floods and ink pools. Saturate the area. Build capacity, and then move on.

  79. Phil

    Urgh sodding iPhone typos that I can’t edit! The ANA are pushed to take the lead, sometimes reluctantly! As ever it’s a leader thing, if you have a killer they tend to shoot up the ranks in an expanding army leaving less driven at the subaltern level. Things hopefully will even out over time. The current strategy is working, but people refuse to believe it because we’ve not vanquished an army nor will we leave Disneyland behind. But as I argue, such decisive victories were simply a mid 20th century abberation

  80. Phil

    I think Jed, there was a fundamental mistake made about what we were facing in 2006. Or perhaps we knew, but like Arnhem, the pressures were there to go anyway. There was a decade of thinking we, the west, could do as much with less thanks to networking etc. I really don’t know what the dynamics behind the scenes were, we’ll have to wait for the Cabinet papers to come out. I suspect it was a mixture of hubris and the blind leading the blind.

  81. Gareth Jones

    I recently posted some links to Russian pre-manufactured fortifications on the thread of the new Pill box article and I read an article some time back about the idea of using forts in COIN operations. What do people think about using modern “Forts” in situations like Afghanistan? Could they be used in other situations, or has the development of huge penetrating bombs (as highlighted in another article) doomed such ideas?

  82. DominicJ

    GJ
    Generaly speaking, I’m not a fan of “forts”, its too easy just to pummel them out of existance with heavy artilery, and the hammer always beats the shield in the end.

    Your far better protected with dispersion, concealment and then “digging in”.

    Afghanistan is of course, somewhat different, because heavy firepower is not available, but even then, fortifications need to be built with a purpose in mind.
    The most obvious one would be to protect the Afghan ring road, but even with nothing bigger than section houses, and no closer than 100 metres apart, you would need 176,000 men in them at any one time.
    The quarter of a million strong Afghan security forces could man them, with all their manpower, working two weeks on, one week off.
    Stretching them out to 200m makes it a bit easier, but also means 40men are guarding 1km of road.
    In a bunker, with machine guns, its not impossible, but its not easy either, and of course, the Afghans have proven extremely unwilling to stand guard duty and not steal from passers by

  83. ArmChairCivvy

    Gabby had captured an interesting contestant for the FRES UV cum the cancelled tactical multi-role thing
    - A french programme, 1000 units for a thousand million (euros)
    - not sure where the topic will slot on our army thread

  84. Chris.B.

    @ Phil,

    iPhone’s will be the death of you mate. Get yourself a good, sturdy brick!

    Now you sure we’re talking about the same ink? I’m talking Hewlett Packard, black, e34?

    My thinking was to find a base somewhere and drop a brigade on it, literally smothering as you say the local area. Then from there softly, softly, catchy, monkey.

  85. Bob

    Sorry for the long link.. Daily Mailograph are reporting Westminster being sent to Libya with low ammunition stocks. Don’t know the truth of the matter, but if as reported its a sign that (a) there isn’t enough to go round (b) there isn’t the infrastructure to cope with the unforseen contingency (c) someone has pretty epic views on risk management (or not).

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8905432/Navy-frigate-sent-to-Libya-with-four-missiles.html

  86. DominicJ

    adam
    russia frequently makes these big announcements, the kit never actualy turns up.
    Announcements are free, kit aint

  87. Frenchie

    There is a rumor that said we would do the “Maritime Afloat Reach and Sustainability” boats with you. Normally, in December, our two governments will meet on this topic. I don’t know more about that.

  88. ArmChairCivvy

    Nothing new about the tanker confirmation by the French Air Force commander (5-7 initially),
    but Project Eagle seems to have moved from the old 707 AWACS planes to these new and roomy ones – and for joint use between UK & France
    - interesting stuff about UAV ISDs, too
    ” The new French A330s would be pooled with the UK, and there would be discussions with the RAF over the addition of command-and-control capabilities to the joint fleet. France would eventually acquire 14 A330MRTTs, Palomeros added, with a second batch serving to replace the service’s A340 and A310 VIP and transport fleet.

    Palomeros also confirmed that the French Air Force would not introduce the Anglo-French Telemos UAV until at least 2020. It is a proposed development of the BAE Systems Mantis medium-range long-endurance UAV, which has already flown. France recently decided to adapt the IAI Heron TP to meet near-term requirements.”

  89. ArmChairCivvy

    A snippet from the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
    “”We are not likely to have as our next fight a counterinsurgency,” he said…
    America’s enemies and competitors are “coming up with new asymmetric advantages. They’ve been studying us closely…,” he said. So, “we need to avoid the temptation to look in our rear view mirror.”

    Our future conflicts, the vice chairman said, will probably occur “in a far more technically challenging environment.” As he described it, the fight will be much closer to a conventional military conflict, characterized by “intense electronic warfighting,” swarm attacks and cyberwar.”
    - so, conventional… means what in kit?
    - electronic warfighting (on the scene, as part of ops) highlighted separately from cyberwar… no wonder the nxt-gen UCAVs will be preprogrammed for their mission, and satellite comms are being backed-up by more orders for comms-relay jets

  90. Gabriele

    “http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/new-cracks-stop-vertical-landings-on-some-f-35bs-365059/”

    Cracks in the VTOL fan after just 18 days of at sea ops?
    Now THAT sucks.

  91. Gabriele

    “The two things are not related.”

    Probably no. Still, the component is cracked after living a very fraction of the service life it was expected to last. And that sucks regardless of other considerations.
    They say it was expected and that the fifth F35B and successive ones have already a differently designed component to remedy.
    We will see.

  92. Mark

    Gabby

    Def no bf1 and 3 have similar issues. These parts were produced prior to full analysis being completed (long lead time) and were subsequently replaced on the line prior to LRIP jet production same thing happens in ever new a/c built be they miltary or civil some even after they’ve been in service for a few years. Thats why no one wants to buy the first few a/c.

  93. Chris.B.

    Phil, need to ask a dumb question.

    In your link, when you scroll down near the bottom there is a picture of an Afghan Soldier holding an RPG. Except I don’t recognise the munition that’s loaded into it? What the hell is that?

  94. Phil

    Right, now that I’m on every watch list for googling RPG7 ammunition I know the answer, apparently there are 40mm HE rockets and he looks like he has one loaded.

  95. Chris.B.

    “Right, now that I’m on every watch list for googling RPG7 ammunition”

    – They’ve got your cell lined up just next to mine! Cheers. I couldn’t find any mention of the 40mm. I guess that’s not a bad idea. I suspect that’s a much lighter round just looking at it.

  96. Gabriele

    http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=8374057&c=ASI&s=AIR

    Pakistan is really angry this time. Understandable, if over 20 soldiers have really been killed by the strikes.

    Convoys of supplies blocked, and the road from Karachi to Afghanistan is now closed.

    The US better conclude rapidly the negotiations for opening alternative supply ways into Afghanistan, because this looks like a crisis that could last a pretty long time…

  97. Chris.B.

    Looks like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan are in for a windfall! Anyone know what the state of the Northern Supply route is like?

  98. Tubby

    Is there any information on why it happened – I’m not buying that an attack by both helicopters and fighters on two border posts is a mistake, my guts say that either the border posts tried to stop a US ground unit from exfiltrating from Pakistan and got crushed or insurgents were driven back to the border posts, allowed to pass and then the border posts fired on pursuing US troops.

  99. James

    This looks like being a major logistic commitment, probably taking many months. Whether they take the train option or evacuate the kit through Karachi into a number of commercial ships, there’s still a 500 mile road move from Helmand through either Pakistan or up to Mazar-i-Sharif. Our logistic forces are going to be very stretched during the period, so lets hope nothing kicks off elsewhere in the world!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2066718/The-new-Dunkirk–British-forces-use-Tsars-railway-travel-3-500-miles-home-train-Afghanistan.html

  100. ArmChairCivvy

    Russia wants to promote the international use of their railways as China plans to link up with Kazakhstan – and believe it or not, India

  101. Phil

    ***Cheap Shot Warning***

    But I thought the Army couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without a Royal Navy battle-fleet?

  102. James

    (1) Re that 500 mile road move from Helmand to either (north) the railhead at Mazar-i-Sharif or (south) the dock at Karachi. That’s either a regiment of loggie low loaders or some seriously knackered tracks and a regiment’s worth of REMEs deployed into some fairly remote equipment repair points along the route, all needing to be guarded. Big op, indeed.

    (2) And why does my spell-check persists in trying to convert “loggie” into loggia? Is it because the software knows that most loggies have about the hard life expected of a Greek aristocrat who lives in a building with some very comfortable and decorative naturally aired cool and sun-shaded reclining areas? Maybe this Apple Mac stuff is smarter than I realised. There’s a reason that the British logistics battalion in Split during the Bosnian war was not known by its’ formal name of BRIT LOG BAT but rather BRIT SWAN TWISTING BY THE POOL BAT. (Paul G, no need to go ballistic ;)

  103. Brian Black

    A ‘new Dunkirk’.

    So in chaos and under sustained enemy attack we shall abandon all heavy equipment and stores; and assuming the same ratio as the original Dunkirk we shall also leave behind close to 1200 PoW.

  104. Dunservin

    @Phil

    “***Cheap Shot Warning***

    But I thought the Army couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without a Royal Navy battle-fleet?”

    - Okay, I’ll bite.

    - You’re right of course. It is a cheap shot because Afghanistan is a land war, isn’t it?

    - It may therefore surprise you that as of two months ago, 16,714 Naval Service personnel (8,591 Royal Navy and 8,123 Royal Marines) have qualified for HERRICK (Afghanistan) Operational Service Medals and /or clasps with many of them (e.g. FAA, RMs, Medics, etc) racking up three or more tours. Not bad going for the smallest of the services whose core business is to man, maintain and operate a brigade of amphibious forces plus a fleet of ships, submarines and aircraft worldwide, is it? ;-)

  105. Rupert Fiennes

    Well, most of the supplies so far have come via Karachi and by ship. The USN battle group can both assure their arrival and poise as an implicit threat to the nuttier wings of the Pakistani military :-)

  106. paul g

    dunservin, you forgot the navy medic winning the MC all 5 foot nothing of her!! See and i’m an ex pongo, doing my bit to bring us all together in a group hug.
    don’t worry james 20 odd years of sitting in a box body trying my hardest to use all of the 30+ mains plugs was a chore, still thank goodness for dvd players, x boxes and laptops, not only filled the plugs but helped pass the time on exercise!
    (inbetween popping out with the black hand gang to rescue cav chaps who were bogged in again)!!!

    touché sir

  107. Phil

    - It may therefore surprise you that as of two months ago, 16,714 Naval Service personnel (8,591 Royal Navy and 8,123 Royal Marines) have qualified for HERRICK (Afghanistan) Operational Service Medals and /or clasps with many of them (e.g. FAA, RMs, Medics, etc) racking up three or more tours. Not bad going for the smallest of the services whose core business is to man, maintain and operate a brigade of amphibious forces plus a fleet of ships, submarines and aircraft worldwide, is it? ;-)

    No it doesn’t surprise me at all, I handed over to Navy medics in April this year ;-)

    I was being mischievous but tongue was firmly in cheek.

    My comment though, was born from claims by some that the Army is strategically immobile without a battle fleet to defend sea lanes – which is simply not true in most cases.

  108. IXION

    Phil

    It isn’t the RN that allows the Army to deploy but the USN.

    Maybe that’s the idea. lets loose the ability to self deploy our forces, lets rely on our allies after all the USN would have helped us retake the Nameless Isles wouldn’t they?

    Then we could have a big impressive army ready to defend Knightsbridge, which we could deploy any time worldwide when the US wants us or will allow us too.

  109. Gabriele

    “My comment though, was born from claims by some that the Army is strategically immobile without a battle fleet to defend sea lanes – which is simply not true in most cases.”

    Come on, you can’t be serious and say that bringing stuff BACK (eventually) by train across Russia is a proof of deployability of the Army…
    I REALLY did take it granted that it was a joke.

    If it was a serious remark, it qualifies as one of the stupider observations in the history of human kind.

  110. Phil

    “If it was a serious remark, it qualifies as one of the stupider observations in the history of human kind.”

    Christ, talk about hyperbole!

    Tell me why it is one of the stupidest observations made in the history of human kind? Just put the trains in reverse!

  111. James

    @ Paul G,

    (Monty Python Yorkshire voice) Plugs? Plugs? When I were a subby, we’d ‘ave killed for plugs… Slept in the wood in a ruddy great ‘ole, never ‘ad a cooked meal, getting shot at…. Ruddy plugs….

    We only ever got bogged in to force the Recy Mechs to do some exercise, and more amusingly to do some map reading to come to find us. That often proved challenging.
    ;)

  112. Phil

    “Perhaps Phil aspires to the God like post of RSM so he can walk across the seas”

    I’d simply part the sea and be driven across.

  113. Gabriele

    “Tell me why it is one of the stupidest observations made in the history of human kind? Just put the trains in reverse!”

    You’d need trains that can float over the sea and hover in the sky out of the jurisdiction of sovereign nations that might not like to let your troops pass by to go to war, just to highlight one of many good reasons why your point is absolutely absurd.

    Even assuming you have freedom of passage through the various countries, access to the right kind of railway material, appropriate staging area for loading the trains, and no threats are moved to railway lines that are horrendously vulnerable to pretty much anything, starting from a lone man putting explosive in or even just big pieces of junk to make the train derail and going up the scale all the air to air attack, you still need to arrive in a nation willing to give you assistance and basing rights.
    You need the infrastructure to unload safely and in reasonable times, and you need your target area to be no further away than the other side of the border ditch to drive from the train station to the target.

    What are the chances of all this happening?
    None, in most if not all circumstances.

    Certainly there was no chance to “put the trains in reverse” in 2001 to enter Afghanistan, nor there was a chance in 2003 for Iraq, and so along.

    Going to war is quite not the same thing as bringing vehicles and containers back home. Not operationally, not politically, not in any way. And you should know it.

  114. x

    Railways and armies……

    The Russian’s built there railways to a gauge of 5′ feet just stop invaders using them as a conduit for manoeuvre.

    It was illegal in France to rip up closed railway lines just in case they were needed to move troops.

    AJP Taylor may have been one of Britain’s greatest 20th century historians but his Railway Thesis is a bit too contrived.

    The main feature of the British Army’s old Longmoor Military Railway was a loop so trainee engine drivers never ran out of line.

  115. Chris.B.

    “What are the chances of all this happening?
    None, in most if not all circumstances”

    Like Afghanistan. Like the support given to the coalition for both Iraq campaigns. Or the truck convoys to GdC for Libya. Or… and the list goes on.

    I always find it miraculous in these arguments that when roads, trains or planes are required there’s never any permission granted. As soon as we need a deep water port with full crane facilities suddenly the world is tripping over itself to accommodate us.

  116. Think Defence

    Unless we are doing a forcible entry then as soon as our ships enter someones territorial waters, the ones that dont need host nation support to do anything need, oh hang on, host nation support.

    Wouldnt the vehicles coming off those ships need overdrive permissions!

    The point Phil was making is quite simply a counter to the oft spoken position that somehow maritime of anything, be it logistics or aircraft don’t need permissions or host nations support, which is clearly a complete fallacy

  117. James

    @ Dunservin,

    while I have tremendous respect for the old Andrew, one wonders what difference it would have made to those 16,000 dedicated RN / RM servicemen and women if they’d have been part of the Army. Marines = Light Infantry, all the rest have specialist qualifications (medic, admin, pilot, loggy, etc) that also exist in the Army. Afghanistan is a land campaign. The floaty things we own don’t make a contribution*, not since the last TLAM shot in 2001.

    * Can’t comment on security of SLOCs through Suez and the pirates – that may well be a vital role, although ever since that disgraceful episode of the boarding party being captured by the Iranians I have mentally reverted to the concept of the RN being fundamentally useless and stupid when it comes to close combat.

  118. Brian Black

    It’s not a RN battle fleet that’s needed to deploy the army, it’s a RN logistics fleet.

    We could opt out of much of the fightier stuff and just assume that we’ll follow the Americans in future – or still self deploy by sea, relying on friendly ports and a practical land route to final objectives.

    It is worth noting that whether the kit goes North or South, it’ll still all end up floating into Marchwood. We are an island nation after all.

  119. jedibeeftrix

    “We could opt out of much of the fightier stuff and just assume that we’ll follow the Americans in future – or still self deploy by sea, relying on friendly ports and a practical land route to final objectives”

    Absolutely true, but HMG seeks an Armed Forces that will provide influence at the table of IR, and that requires capability that is both sovereign and strategic.

  120. Phil

    Be interesting to know how much freight goes by RN vessels and MVs. Bet more uses merchant vessels. So we can bin those too. And no need for our tiny air force nor our army. We’ll just rent the US Armed Forces. Wonder if they have two crisis resolutions for the price of one in the New Year?

  121. DominicJ

    TD
    “The point Phil was making is quite simply a counter to the oft spoken position that somehow maritime of anything, be it logistics or aircraft don’t need permissions or host nations support, which is clearly a complete fallacy”

    Portugal gave the US permission to use several islands as bases for submarine hunting aircraft.
    The British Government politely informed Portugal that either permission was given or the islands would be taken by force and annexed by the US.

    James
    Thats a bit unfair, they were given stupid orders, as was the ship they were operating from.
    Once the Frigate realised what had gone wrong, it should have started shooting, it was ordered not to.

    Brian (and TD)
    The problem is, historicaly, permission is usualy granted when you dont need it, or at the very least, the price comes down when its a “nice to have” rather than an essential.
    At the end of the day, if someones got you by the balls, why wouldnt they rob you blind? If you’ve got a second option, suddenly they have to offer reasonable terms.

  122. Phil

    Thing is. If one method doesn’t work you can try another. Or use three at once. Being able to move by land sea and air is a capability we have demonstrated every single day since 2003. To rely on one over the other would be folly. Moving armies via railways across vast distances is no new thing. Neither is getting permission to march through a country. Its why we have diplomats.

    And I seriously cannot see how anyone can argue the army is not one of the most strategically mobile in the world. We’re moving freight and pax by land sea and air and fighting in a landlocked country. The logistical effort is greater than the sum of its parts.

  123. Dunservin

    @TD

    I’m glad you are not relying on obtaining a country’s permission to enter it forcibly!

    I won’t dwell on the much greater lift capacity of ships vs aircraft/trucks because this is self-evident. However, I agree that obtaining overdrive/overflight permission applies to any action involving a land-locked country whether launched from land, sea or air.

    For the moment, we will ignore the relative impunity of what the Americans call STOM (Ship To Objective Manoeuvre – http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/stom.htm) by air compared to vulnerable overland transit. However, there is one major difference where access to a coastal nation is concerned. Unlike overflight/overdrive which needs sovereign countries’ permission, the right of innocent passage through sovereign countries’ territorial waters or straits is guaranteed by Article 17 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This means the relatively unconstrained movement of warships anywhere in the world. It also means that a task group only has to be just outside a country’s territorial waters to poise and operate indefinitely without restriction.

    In 1986, UK-based American F-111s were forced to fly to Libya around France, Spain and through the Straits of Gibraltar because France, Spain and Italy witheld overflight permission. This added 2,600 miles to the return trip. For ELLAMY air ops against PGF in Libya, Malta refused permission for NATO to operate from her territory, Cyprus objected to the conduct of strike missions and Italy nearly kicked out our forces on two occasions. Whenever these types (r) types of situation recur, wouldn’t it be more sound to have an airfield available a hundred miles or so off the coast of the objective country, supplied directly from the UK or nearest friendly port by RFA shuttle? If the weekly ‘Delboy’ runs satisfying normal ‘peacetime’ expectations of fresh bread, milk, vegetables, fruit, frequent mail, etc., are dismissed, task groups can be self-sustaining for months on end without recourse to host nation support. That’s flexible, independent power projection for you.

    I can predict your answer but you’ll have to forgive me if I keep trying to persuade you to open your mind. ;-)

    @James

    If the Regular Army could sustain more than 6 or 7% of its strength in Afghanistan, perhaps it wouldn’t need the personnel of its sister service(s) on the ground so much. In the spirit of ‘jointery’, I’m sure the mostly RN Naval Service augmentees are welcome although they seem to receive precious little recognition for their presence or credit for their contribution.

    The unfortunate episode involving the IRGC patrol boats still haunts the RN but drastic measures were taken to prevent its recurrence. It was a single incident among thousands of similar unreported UN-mandated ‘unopposed’ boardings conducted by RN ships performing maritime constabulary duties every day of the year. The RAF is not denounced because its aircraft (not necessarily its pilots) have shot down more friendlies than enemies during the past 50 years, nor is the Army’s capability dismissed on the basis of the embarrassing West Side Boys incident. So why is the RN condemned on the basis of a single incident five years ago? ;-)

  124. jedibeeftrix

    @ Dom – “The problem is, historicaly, permission is usualy granted when you dont need it, or at the very least, the price comes down when its a “nice to have” rather than an essential.”

    Absolutely correct.

    What price did italy put on the use of its Sardinia base in Ellamy?

    Rumours are it was EU review of the principle of originating nation responsibility for immigrants entering the EU.

    That is just one example.

  125. ArmChairCivvy

    Should not be forgotten when we ponder what the UK can bring into coalitions, as per Phil:
    “how anyone can argue the army is not one of the most strategically mobile in the world…land sea and air …logistical effort is greater than the sum of its parts”
    - one aspect of a balanced force

  126. Chris.B.

    I can’t reacll the figure now, but weren’t something like 25% of all air-to-air kills in the Falklands actually recorded by RAF pilots on loan?

  127. DominicJ

    Phil
    But if you need to march from A to B, and you only have one road on which you can march, the price demanded to use that road can be, almost anything, if you really need it, you will pay.
    If there are two roads, controlled by two different groups, well, suddenly you have a bidding war, and you can play them, against each other.
    Beach Assault is the ultimate card up your sleeve, because it allows you to bypass the neighbours.
    Its not ideal, neighbours are a better place to start from, but, you dont *need* them.

    This rail option through Russia will likely be VERY expensive, politicaly if not monetarily, but at least looking at it forces Pakistan to be reasonable, and removes their monopoly power over us.

    *****
    All
    Surprise surprise, it looks like the Afghan Army decided to push back the Durand line, and called in NATO air support to do it, again.

  128. Phil

    What’s so unusual about having a price extracted for using a countries bases? As much as I think it’s a self destructive path there’s nothing one can do, again it’s why diplomacy is so important. Give and take in international relations is obviously nothing new.

    As for STOM. That is a controversial subject in the US Military. Opinion seems to be moving toward it being a white elephant. Good on paper but suicidal against a peer enemy. The US can no more conduct a forced entry operation against a peer enemy from the sea than we can. And even the ones pissing in the wind thinking they can have seen their arguments crippled by the cancellation of EFV.

  129. DominicJ

    ACC
    But ANYONE can use commerical shipping, commerical ports, commerical trucks and bribes to tribal leaders to support an army in the field.

    Thats not a unique contribution to a coalition.

  130. DominicJ

    Phil
    But what price?
    Thats the question.

    What if Russia demands an Astute to play with? Or the Shetlands? If we have no option but that Russian railway line what do we do?

  131. James

    @ Dunservin and DominicJ,

    forgive my slightly jaundiced opinion on the capabilities and grit of RN boarding parties. I have spent 3 months “embarked” when 3 Cdo Bde needed a Recce Squadron – a successful experiment that sadly never was continued – and have observed RN boarding procedures. Shoddy beyond belief, ranging from a lack of familiarity with personal weapons, a total lack of awareness of pairs fire and manoeuvre or mutual support, no clue about dominating the local area, the importance of overwhelming combined fire and mutual protection, the ratings having no idea the overall intent or capacity for independent action, the officers failure to conduct “what-if” planning, no alternative plans, no escalated response capabilities, the boarding parties often being out of radio contact with the ship, only taking one magazine of ammunition each, no capacity for prisoner handling, ineffective manoeuvre putting both RIBs into the potential cone of fire from a single MG, approaching a boat into the sun, thus unable to see effectively, etc etc etc. Utterly f**king useless.

    And in the Iranian debacle, why the hell did the Captain of the ship not question obviously stupid orders? Why were women sent into the situation, causing (per the post-incident report) some of the men to try to protect them? Why was the officer about as junior as he could be, and wholly untrained in boarding operations when in a hostile environment? Why was the officer not briefed about the disputed maritime border? Why did he not have a GPS with him? Why was the helicopter out of range to influence? Why were the ship’s 20mm and mini guns not in range to overmatch the Iranians? Total fiasco.

  132. Phil

    What if they do? That’s why we have diplomats. That’s why being able to move forces by land sea and air gives us an advantage. In 2001 what is Pakistan hadnt given overflight rights to the Kandahar attack? Beach assault is most definately too expensive a capability for us against a peer, as I have said not even the US can do it. The USMC is in the shit because it’s raisin d’être has effectively gone.

    You’re full of solutions when it comes to breaking windows with guineas but invent every possible problem for any movement by land or air.

  133. IXION

    Phill

    I actually agree with you on this I doubt the utility of the ‘over the beach assault’ in any numbers.

    It was rejected in G1 because of the potential casualties indeed after WW2 (even before Inchon), The USMC was on the back foot within the Us Military community as people like the Norwegians and the fins were pointing out that nothing that came out the back of a LPD was going to react well to swingfire type anti tank missiles fired from concealed positions overlooking a beach. Never mined Penguins Kornets etc.

    In short you could land where the enemy wasn’t, but not where he was in any force at all. Look what happened to Argies on west Falkland.

    I would use Points and Bays rather than Assault ships able to use limited constricted port facilities.

    I do not think we can land much opposed. But My Point remains the stuff gets to Pakistan by ship to port. Then overland.

    Much of our supplies can come from wherever food is food fuel is fuels ammo can be bought and supplied locally. But specialist kit and soldiers can come only from UK. And unless you planning Market Garden the only way to get there is by sea. And if you enemy has ships subs or aircraft you are going to need a navy to get it there.

  134. DominicJ

    James
    As I said, it was an utter disaster, but its hardly one the RN should carry the can for.
    Stop and Search off the coast like that should be upgunned CB90′s in contact with the fleet.

    But it was a Political Decision that stop and searches off the Iranian Coast should be “low key”, it was a political decision that they must not open fire, it was a political decision that saw them operating out of communication with the Frigate and it was a political decision that saw the Frigate do nothing.

    Personaly, I’d have ordered the ship to begin shelling the port the raid was launched from.

    I could equaly argue the Army is shit because soldiers went to war with 5 rounds of ammunition and gave away their body armour.

  135. IXION

    For some reason I cannot edit my above post. Before anyone else launches is I know Inchon happened before swingfire! I meant to say that even with 1945+ it was becoming unfashionable, when heavy 1st generation anti tank missiles arrived people rapidly realised the problems.

  136. DominicJ

    Ixion
    Landing against a defended beach is insanity.
    But beaches are not defended.

    Ports are defended.
    Natural harbours *might* be lightly occupied.
    Likely landing spots *might* be monitored periodicaly.

    But very few armies in the world can defend their coastlines, fully. Sword and Utah beach were virtualy undefended, and it was only when German reinforcements arrived that any resistance made itself known.

    Thats the whole point of being able to land “anywhere”.
    The enemy cant be everywhere in strength.
    Send in under water knife fighters to make sure the area is clear, deploy your force from amphibs via helicopters and LCU’s.
    Throw in harrasment fires to slow the counter attacks, and your ready to batter the enemy reserve when it arrives.

    Not sure what you mean about what happened to the Argies.
    1 dead and 3 wounded?

  137. James

    @ DomincJ,

    I’ve not heard of the 5 rounds of ammo instance. I carried 120 rounds wherever I’ve been. Not to say that it didn’t happen, just that I’ve not heard of it. But that’s a logistic failure, as with the body armour, not a tactical failure.

    Leaving aside the ROE / politics of the Iranian incident, there were several dozen massive tactical failures at all levels between the RN doctrine and training, the Captain and the boarding party, any one of which if corrected could have saved the incident from ever occurring. The post-incident report pulled no punches.

    The Sierra Leone incident was equally poor for different reasons (poor intelligence and HQ assessment of intentions), but ending up with the same result.

  138. Phil

    But Dom your force is so tiny it cannot achieve anything unless it is near to something important. And not all beaches are suitable for landing. You fundamentally limit our options and thus shackle our entire strategy. I’d rather see our armed forces disbanded, at least we’d have a windfall to enjoy before our way of life goes down the pan.

  139. James

    @ DominicJ,

    sorry, forgot to add (and the edit function is not working it seems), the RN are the only service who carry out boarding operations. The service should therefore be as professional in those operations as it undoubtedly is in other operations e.g. anti-sub, launching TLAM etc. Sailors not knowing how to operate their SA80, no knowledge of how to clear rooms and compartments effectively, not having rehearsed lost comms drills, bunching up and moving in a tactical blob without all round arcs of fire etc (all of which I have watched) is very poor. It’s as though they don’t care, and it has consequences.

  140. Mark

    I think all services have been less than professional on some occasions over the past few years so lets not descend into that one.

  141. DominicJ

    Phil
    I fully accept my force could be larger, I’m working on something between it and the none upsized 1st Armoured.

    James
    “I’ve not heard of the 5 rounds of ammo instance”

    Troops issued 5 rounds and sent into Iraq was a fairly common headline back in the invasion, small arms ammunition was certainly a problem, I know for a fact lots of small metal workers in the UK were contacted to see if they could make bullets, early implications were that they would be paid any price.

    I dont disagree there were many failures that could have been prevented, but they were not the crews fault.

    The crew were given ships to search, but they lacked the resources to search them all with frigate on the horizon and helicopter over head.

    Thats not a “tactical” failing though, unless your arguement is the Captain should have said “I lack the resources to carry out this operation, therefore I am not doing, issue the order again and I will resign”.

    Should stop and searches be treated as a “jolly” day trip?
    Probably not, but unless every RN/RFA ship is going to get a troop of marines, Stop and Searches are going to be treated as fun adventure days by the Cooks.

    They were also told not to “escalate” situations with the Iranians.

    The incident was a disaster, but its one that goes much much higher than a frigate captain.

  142. Phil

    Dom 33 million rounds of small arms ammunition was sitting in Kuwait when it kicked off. There were local distribution problems, there was not a general shortage. Also ive not heard of a production problem. I read an article somewhere which showed we’re churning out huge amounts of SAA and filling export orders. Wish I could remember what publication it was.

  143. Phil

    I’d argue Dom that a senior officer is very much paid to think. If his order were pump, or he found they were not applicable to the situation then he should have ignored them. I hate to finger point but Captains get paid rock star wages precisely because fingers will be pointed. His orders were either pump in which case he should have disobeyed them, or he did a poor job looking after crew. I am sure the problem is systemic but that does not mean individuals do not contribute to the, ah, accident.

  144. IXION

    DJ

    Wading up Undefended beaches is OK, but what afterwards if you land on a Norfolk beach for example you cannot go much anywhere without some way of landing not just heavy equipment but lots of supplies and for that you need a dock. We are not going to have a Normandy style floating harbour handy..

  145. DominicJ

    Ixion
    Hence why I believe we need to restructure the Navy around rapidly moving cargo from the ship, to the LCU, to the Beach, to the Truck, to the Troops.

  146. Rupert Fiennes

    @IXION: gosh, the Falklands campaign was a mirage after all? Seriously, the point is reasonable in that long term serious tonnage requires a port of some sort, but given the density of both landing points and airfields it’s not unreasonable to assume that parachute and amphibious units can expedite opposed entry into weak spots from where they can sieze the required airfields and ports. Their sheer existence makes the defensive problem far harder to solve

  147. paul g

    I think the main problem with the iranian episode was the 2 or 3 individuals who sold their story to the press strsight away when everyone else was maintaining a dignified silence.
    The doris had a right tick and whinge and bleated the money would help her kids, and we all know about the chopper who cried when they took his ipod. Conclusion those 2 fucktards as individuals not as RN sailors screwed the RN for 30 pieces of silver, duly sent to coventry for their actions (which i believe the doris tried to cash in on)

  148. James

    @ DominicJ

    “Stop and Searches are going to be treated as fun adventure days by the Cooks.”

    Let me emphasise that I have tremendous respect for the RN, and of course ratings and junior officers will do exactly as they are told to do. My worry is with an “attitude” I observed among the Lt Cdr / Cdr / Capt level – and for all I know it goes higher, but I cannot say that I know that it does. Boarding operations can only be done by the RN or any embarked RM. I’ve worked enough with the RM to know that they are consummate professional infantrymen. However, from personal observation, when sailors perform boarding operations, it is sub-optimal, which increases the danger level or at the least the chance of screw ups.

    It’s fair to note that sailors are not trained infantrymen, but equally it is fair to note that if a ship does not have an embarked RM Troop, then the ship’s command element must rigorously train the boarding party to perform at a very high standard. I don’t know how the boarding parties are selected, but however they are, they should be put through their paces on a challenging training regime so that basic drills become second nature. They should be a constant team, used to working alongside each other. Their personal fighting skills should be at a peak. All of that is surely the Captain’s responsibility, which he may delegate or not. Treating a boarding operation as a jolly day out, if that is the prevailing attitude, is a failure of leadership on board the ship.

    I don’t think the Captain would ask the cooks to run an ASW hunt, or man the Ops Room, or something similar that is easily identified as a core component of naval war fighting. I saw the real rigour and professionalism accorded to fire fighting for example. Equally, I don’t think the Captain should allow an attitude to develop where he is putting young men (and being a dinosaur, I’m not going to advocate women) into a potentially highly dangerous situation, remote from the ship, without giving them every opportunity to do their job with efficiency, and backing them up to the hilt with other resources such as training, helicopter overwatch, decent communications etc. Boarding operations are just as much Navy business as ASW, and should be treated with the same dedication and focus, not a bit of a party. Unfortunately, those sailors captured by the Iranians seem to have fallen into that category.

  149. Phil

    Ah yes. The iPod! Who also cried when they said he looked like Mr Bean. Which he did! He should have been thrown overboard for taking an iPod on a bloody task!

  150. DominicJ

    James
    “Treating a boarding operation as a jolly day out, if that is the prevailing attitude, is a failure of leadership on board the ship.”

    Perhaps, but it goes much higher, from everything I have seen, stop and search IS treated as a bit of an away day for the cooks.

    I dont know if the Captain realised the kidnap risk, but SOMEONE should have.
    Its easy to say he should only have deployed the Green Death, with helicopter support, but if he has 12 ships a day to stop and search, and only has 4 hours of helicopter flight time in his budget, and 20 Royal Marines on board, what should he do?

    Resign?
    Refuse to stop and search 5 out of 6 ships?
    Or do his best?

    Considering he was denied permission to engage, I cant imagine his demands for a full company of Royal Marines and air support would have been greeted warmly the month before.

    Should half trained cooks be taking part in boarding actions? No.
    But its RN policy, not that of the unfortunate Frigate Captain.

    Should boardings ever be done without overwhelming force available? No.
    But again, it was hardly the fault of the poor bugger your hurling abuse at.

    “I don’t know how the boarding parties are selected”
    I could be wildly wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’d be reasonably close If I said 5 are trained, 10 are volunteers who put their hands up when asked “who wants a nice day out”.

    The disaster was a disaster, but if we hang a Captain for an Admirals mistakes, we’ll get more disasters.

  151. Phil

    A balance must be struck. Blame has a role to play, but be punitive and nobody will admit mistakes and distort the lessons learned. Be too lenient and behaviour begins to drift away from the acceptable. Whilst the Captain is bound by the system, he is bound by it to a lesser degree. A Captain can influence the culture and attitudes on his ship. He can ensure his crew is properly drilled in boardings. There was nothing stopping him ordering his ship to open fire if she could. I’d rather be hanged for disobeying orders and saving crew than do nothing and watch them taken from under my nose. There’s plenty of blame to go around but as Captain he is culpable. His attitudes to safety, risk and operations will rapidly become his crews attitudes.

  152. DominicJ

    Phil
    I dunno, I’d like to think I’d've said “Fuck it, Captain to all main batteries, Open Fire!”
    (Or something more RN, less Battlefleet Gothic)

    I have threatened to resign in my real life.
    But I have lots of readily transferable skills and can expect to be in a job on Monday if I walk out Tuesday. Can a warship Captain?

  153. James

    @ DomincJ,

    I’m thought I was careful enough not to hurl abuse at anyone: looking over my entries I don’t believe I have done so, but pointed more to a systemic issue affecting middle and senior leadership and highlighted what may be an institutional attitude. Maybe the Captain (whose name I don’t know, but would be easily identified) would smart at some of my remarks, but he will be tough enough to shrug his shoulders I expect. Anyway, it was certainly not the intention to be abusive to people, but forthright about an institution.

  154. Gabriele

    “Like Afghanistan. Like the support given to the coalition for both Iraq campaigns. Or the truck convoys to GdC for Libya. Or… and the list goes on.”

    Go back and read the story of the 2001 operations in Afghanistan, see where the bases for the troops where and how many were available, and see how the invasion actually happened, will you?

    Go and see how good support for Iraq 2003 was, how people “raced” to give bases to use, the many problems with basing, and how the supplies carried by the RFA for 30 days of 3rd Commando brigade ops ended up being unloading in Kuwait and supported the whole of 1st UK Division until the logistic system could catch up.
    Go and read how 95% of the stuff for Iraq traveled on Point RoRo and on 60 civilian ships chartered up.

    And yeah, the wonderful convoys of trucks bound to Gioia that gained the Uk the sole victim of the Libya operation.
    With my utmost respect for said driver, by the way.

    Said trucks moved on a relatively “tiny” distance, and across countries that actively supported and participated to the operation.

    Pardon me, it is not very impressive, nor special, and it does kind of prove nothing other than how many tons of supplies it constantly takes to keep even a mild air war effort going on.

    You can carry Army vehicles on trains, yeah.
    Good. You can also drive them on roads. Awesome.

    Does it make your army deployable?

    Sorry, no, it does not.

    Here who says the sea is instrumental gets accused of oversimplifying things, or overlooking the contribute of air, or trains, or the fact that ancient Rome invented roads, or any other kind of idiotic accusation.
    It is not quite how it works.

    I find that the people here that oversimplifies and ignore aspects, purposefully or not, is other.

    Regarding boarding teams.

    The RN mans “Blue” bording teams, that yes, are not that warlike.

    Indeed, for more dangerous tasks there’s now the Green teams, made up of embarked RM teams from Fleet Protection.

  155. Chris.B.

    Gabs,

    Do yourself a favour and stop now. Earlier you were crying your pants away, as you often do, about bases, basing rights, permissions etc. Every time you bring this argument up.

    And yet we can roll off lists and lists of basing rights that have been granted. GW1, GW2, Kosovo, Bosnia, Libya, Afghanistan, even Sierra Leone. All had bases provided.

    You’re also overlooking the fact with your rose tinted glasses that in order to unload heavy goods from a port facility, you need a friendly port facility…

    I mean your arguments don’t make sense. You tell people to go and read about various campaigns while presumably not having read about them yourself.

  156. Phil

    “Go back and read the story of the 2001 operations in Afghanistan, see where the bases for the troops where and how many were available, and see how the invasion actually happened, will you?”

    Those Marines didn’t assault Kandahar from space in 2001 now did they Gabs?

  157. Phil

    “You can carry Army vehicles on trains, yeah.
    Good. You can also drive them on roads. Awesome.

    Does it make your army deployable?

    Sorry, no, it does no”

    Of course it does you loon! The entire German Imperial Army was moving around by rail on its internal lines in 1914! It swing huge numbers of men thousands of miles in 1917-18 to the Western Front too.

    Like everything Gabs, the more you’ve got the more you can do. Having options to truck, rail, fly or ship kit and men makes us perfectly deployable. I can’t see how it can be denied?! Without having some uber Royal Navy amphibious capability we have sent 45,000 men to the Gulf in 1990, we sent tens and tens of thousands of Bosnia and Kosovo, we sent men to Sierra Leone, 30,000 to Kuwait, hundreds of thousands more have since cycled through two medium enduring operations for nearly a decade.

    How can you possibly say the Army is not strategically mobile?! It goes wherever it wants one way or the other! Afghanistan is the perfect model, shit moves by ship and then land and directly in by air and we are considering moving stuff out by rail. Without either one of those elements Afghanistan would be impossible. Oh oh oh but we’re never going to fight another Afghanistan say ye.

    We were never going to fight one ever until September 2001.

  158. Phil

    @ Mark

    I posted this on another forum re SAR:

    I don’t see why the RAF and RN were doing UK SAR anyway? Seems a legacy mission to me, very legacy indeed. None of those airframes do military SAR. As long as the money for that capability gets re-invested I think its a perfectly reasonable thing.

    Re-role the pilots to fly Chinooks and Puma’s and Merlins – they can all do combat SAR, there are winches for the Chinooks at least. It’s no different from another air assault operation covering a MERT extraction really. In 2008 one Coy of 3 PARA were scrambled in 30 mins to be loaded onto Chinooks and fly out and secure a crash landed Chinook in Helmand.

    Really, it seems like a good idea. Old tired Sea Kings eating up RAF and RN budget and resources. Good riddance!

  159. Mark

    I totally disagree and some of the sea kings arent that old.
    It has nothing to do with CSAR. This shows the armed forces to the public and allows them to interact with the public and allows them to see how there money is spent in a way none have a problem with. When afghan and all fades to a memory and smaller and smaller forces it will be harder and harder for that interaction to occur. It also allows a number of aircrew to be retained and allows home posting in a organisation that is extremely busy allowing more experienced pilots to stay in the system and could be used in emergencies. This is losing more it seem and will only be missed when its gone.

  160. James

    @ Phil,

    “…. hundreds of thousands more have since cycled through two medium enduring operations for nearly a decade…..”

    I didn’t realise things had got that bad on the track mileage front in the last decade since I left, but I suppose there are both stealth and lower training burden advantages. Bit of a b*stard for strategic deployment, though, and you’d need to strengthen the crossbar if you want to mount a weapon system with any appreciable recoil.

  161. Phil

    “This is losing more it seem and will only be missed when its gone.”

    I don’t think we’re going to agree. There are other postings for pilots that are tired of their mammoth 3 month stints in Afghanistan like instructors and of course the usual ground and station postings.

    I just don’t feel it brings any value to the service now. Resources are much tighter and civilians can do civilian SAR. They do the oil rig runs etc no problems – also means a nice job for ex service pilots.

    Its also a big effort to keep the Sea Kings flying as the fleet shrinks dramatically when the Junglies go.

    We’d be looking at more and more effort to keep a capability that is perfectly able to be done by a civilian agency.

    As for making the armed forces visible, there are other ways. I hope to see some Royal Marines cutting around Heathrow day after tomorrow in their Service Dress (they better wear Service Dress or whatever they call it).

  162. Phil

    “I didn’t realise things had got that bad on the track mileage front in the last decade since I left, but I suppose there are both stealth and lower training burden advantages. Bit of a b*stard for strategic deployment, though, and you’d need to strengthen the crossbar if you want to mount a weapon system with any appreciable recoil.”

    Haven’t you seen the photos of soldiers wading through irrigation canals holding their Raleigh (of course, to satisfy the indigenous defence industry) bikes over their heads?

    And as a medic, you should have seen the epidemic of sore squaddie asses I had to apply unguent to.

  163. paul g

    gabby go and google earth the main armoured bases in germany, i think you’ll they all have railway sidings, i know mainly because i spent 5 years looking out the optronics building when they were loading and unloading tracks.
    mark i can see phils point and i can see yours, however, i wouldn’t worry about home postings come 2015!! I suppose a happy medium would be using military aircrew but not using military budget. Or just educate pillocks who trot up mountains in flip flops and t-shirts!

  164. Phil

    “Or just educate pillocks who trot up mountains in flip flops and t-shirts!”

    If ever there was a futile mission it would be trying to eradicate the propensity of the general public to attain heights of truly astounding and biblical stupidity.

    If we lose the money that was spent on SAR then I’ll be annoyed, but if it gets re-invested then bang on gunner.

    The Maritime and Coastguard Agency already has a few choppers for SAR I think.

  165. ArmChairCivvy

    Read from today’s newspaper piece that the MCA/ military mix has been going for 30 years
    - I am all for getting the helos covered from a different budget
    - but having partly military crewing also sounds good to me, how often do they get to fly in those conditions on the normal budget (v relevant training)

  166. Gabriele

    “Those Marines didn’t assault Kandahar from space in 2001 now did they Gabs?”

    They took Kandahar moving out of Camp Rhino.

    I suggest you ask them how they arrived to Camp Rhino.

    Helicopters and this big ass boat named Peleliu were involved.

    “It goes wherever it wants one way or the other!”

    So long as someone provides said way.

    Good luck shipping the British Army by train to future deployment areas from the UK, or Germany for that matters.

    The train is likely to take the vehicles to the nearer port, and that’s the end of it.

    Every army in the world can put vehicles on trains. But this does not make them capable of operating abroad, and definitely it does not make the British Army capable of it either.

    Here now people suggests that because we can put a vehicle on a train, everything is possible.
    What are you smoking?

    RLC, 101 and 102 and 104 Logistic Brigades make deployments possible, and i’m the first one who admits it.

    But to say that the Army can do things because “vehicles can go on trains” is a joke.

    “Do yourself a favour and stop now.”

    Chris, my friend, said by the guy who told us all on here that “Saudi Arabia will give us bases and support for acting against Iran” days before Saudi Arabia’s prince said they never will, really.

    You are aware that Saudi Arabia did not give bases for Iraq either, yes…?

    You are aware of the issues with bases unfit for purposes in the Gulf, and too small number of access points, which got saturated with men and kit incoming?

    Do you know that the UK was planning to go in from the North, via Turkey, and that the whole campaign, as it happened in the end save for RM contribution at Al Faw that was planned all along, was children of the “no” said by Turkey which forced the planning to change entirely?

    The story is a bit wider than just “we got the bases, there were bases available!”

  167. Gareth Jones

    RE: SAR helo’s and boarding teams. Could not both problems be solved with a more paramilitary Coastguard? The helos could have a war support role, and could offer training in boarding operations to border agency and RN, as the USCG currently do?

  168. Phil

    “I suggest you ask them how they arrived to Camp Rhino.”

    Indeed Gabs, tell me how they got to Camp Rhino.

  169. Phil

    “But this does not make them capable of operating abroad, and definitely it does not make the British Army capable of it either.”

    Gab are you in the Twilight Zone? Or was I in the Twilight Zone when I flew to Afghan, as part of the British Army? Since Afghan has traditionally been a country that is considered to be “abroad”.

    I don’t know what you’re arguing for.

    I’m not advocating that the Army is mobile without a Navy, I am saying IT IS mobile and HAS BEEN mobile and without a huge Navy amphibious fleet. That the Navy moves and guards the movement of kit via sea is not in dispute.

  170. Phil

    “Do you know that the UK was planning to go in from the North, via Turkey”

    What’s your source for this? Turkish denial of basing rights happened I am sure well after our forces were working up in Kuwait.

  171. Mark

    I would have put the SAR force as reserve miltary aircrew in a new medium helicopter aw149 or similar helicopter had sufficient extra personnel to allow a csar or for disaster relief to be deployed along the lines of similar us units. The experience were losing is vast.

    Perhaps it time to hand ato and guard duties in London over to the police also and end military evolvement in the uk

  172. Phil

    Other helicopter pilots can hover, and winch and land supplies and do CSAR. And Chinook and Merlin can do all those jobs, because they have been doing all those jobs.

    It’s purely legacy reasons that the RN and RAF do this job anyway.

  173. James

    @ Gabriele / Phil,

    Gabriele is correct re the initial plans from Turkey. It was my last six months in green, and I was running the UORs for C4ISTAR capabilities at HQ LAND, so was more than a little aware of the real deal plans. Turkey as the main UK effort was turned off at about the last safe moment, then all focus switched to the Gulf area. Kuwait was the only staging area we had but even so Kuwait is considerably more spacious that being restricted to the decks of some amphibs. Of course, amphibs were in use. Do you recall that the very first casualties were from two Sea Kings that collided while cross-decking?

  174. Phil

    Every day is a school day. I never knew we even considered Turkey. So what was the laydown going to be if we got to step off from Turkey? What were the objectives?

  175. Think Defence

    http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RL31715.pdf
    http://www.meforum.org/701/a-comedy-of-errors-american-turkish-diplomacy

    Some interesting background reading on the Turkey base issues

    I think I read somewhere ages ago that we switched way before the Turks voted against the US forces staging through the Northern route. Have a good read of those links above, as eve, things are never quite as simple as they seem, some interesting stuff about Bahrain and Saudi in the PDF as well

  176. jed

    James

    Late to the conversation ref RN boarding parties. In the early 90`s we received exactly one week of instruction from RM before deployment. That did not include basic small arms refresher, or the fast roping course. However the aim was to board and inspect tankers suspected of breaking the UN resolutions on “oil for food” so we did our best to be tactical even though there was never expected to be any need for anything other than a few “stiff words” if a skipper was caught out.

    I had no idea until i joined the TA ten years later how poor the “military” training was. Having said that, as a tactical comms specialist I was more highly trained than any R.C.Sigs I ever met, could use radar, ESM and other ops room kit, was probably better trained than some civvy fire brigades at fire fighting, and had “additional qualifications” including helo landing officer, flight deck fire fighting, and 20mm gunner…… should it then be expected that I should be trained as an infantry soldier too? Perhaps if the strategic situation warrants it!

    I have no idea how such training is conducted post Iranian embarrassment in today’s RN.

  177. Chris.B.

    @ Gabs,

    “Chris, my friend, said by the guy who told us all on here that “Saudi Arabia will give us bases and support for acting against Iran” days before Saudi Arabia’s prince said they never will, really.”

    – Dear Gabs,

    Please read your source articles properly, that way you’ll avoid misquoting people and making it look like your twisting their words for your own effect.

    For example, no Saudi Prince said they “never will, really”. One Saudi Prince, Turki al-Faisal (the retired former head of the countries intelligence services) expressed concern about an attack and said that “Such an act I think would be foolish and to undertake it I think would be tragic,” because he’s worried that it will just provoke Iran.

    You need to understand that there’s a huge difference between what he said (his opinion on the consequences) and what Saudi Arabia will actually do.

    Take for example the fact that when diplomatic cables were leaked last year, one of the cables from the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia reported that King Abdullah was applying significant pressure to the US to urge them into striking Irans nuclear facailities. He was described as “eager”.

    See again we’ve come to this situation Gabs. One of us has done the research and tried to stay on top of it as best he can. The other has just stumbled across a quote on google that he thinks might look, under a certain light, providing nobody else sees it and he doesn’t quote it, like it supports his position, hoping that people will just take him at his word.

    You can’t even be arsed to look into it properly, you just chuck random assertions about based on something from memory that you thought you saw a few weeks ago.

    Now me personally? I said there are plenty of states in that area, one of which is Saudi Arabia. It could end up being Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar (the launching point for the strike I’m talking about). The US may very well do a deal whereby they set up the strike from a neighbouring country or even launch it from somewhere like Diego Garcia (I imagine they’re going the B-2 route on this one) while allowing the Saudi’s to publically say “not from our soil!” etc.

    But everyone knows what’s going on behind closed doors and only the general public or the left wing softies would be silly enough to eat up a line like that.

    “You are aware that Saudi Arabia did not give bases for Iraq either, yes…?”

    – Jesus, where do we start? How about Kuwait? I thought it was fairly public knowledge why the Saudi’s didn’t offer tacit, open basing support. Even you should be able to google the answers up in about 5 minutes.

    “You are aware of the issues with bases unfit for purposes in the Gulf, and too small number of access points, which got saturated with men and kit incoming?”

    – Seemed like everyone got over the start line ok to me.

    “Do you know that the UK was planning to go in from the North, via Turkey, and that the whole campaign, as it happened in the end save for RM contribution at Al Faw that was planned all along, was children of the “no” said by Turkey which forced the planning to change entirely?”

    – Turkey did reject the plans, late in the day, but there was always a two pronged approach planned. Kuwait was not some desperate last minute adjustment for the entire force, just a part of it.

    You’re still not getting the fact that bases were available, as they always have been. You’re still not understanding the idea of diplomacy and regional actors looking for favourable outcomes.

    You talk about Afghanistan, so where did the very first troops come from, and I don’t mean Marines. I mean the special forces and special activites guys. Where did their helicopter support come from? There were people on the ground in places like Uzbekistan long before anyone was landed at Camp Rhino.

    I mean I get it, you love the Navy, alright. But you have to drop this obsession with believing that the Navy is the be all and end all of the military.

    You always go on about how all that equipment was shipped to Kuwait like we’re supposed to go “wow, ships shipping stuff? What will they think of next!”

    You don’t hear people patting the RAF on the back and going “wow, you guys fly people into Afghanistan, all the way from Cyprus. You’re the heroes of the campaign!”

    It’s just their job, it’s just what they’re supposed to do. Is it impressive? I guess so, but ultimately it’s also what is expected.

    And you still haven’t provided an answer as to why basing rights and over flight permission are such a big deal elsewhere but not for the US Navy flying over Pakistan? Or why you consider aerial refuelling to be the sin of all sins when it’s the RAF over the med, but when it was the US Navy flying from the Red Sea over Saudi Arabia it was a sign of the Navy’s flexibility and reach?

    When the RAF flew missions from Marham against Libya you denounced it as such a waste etc and it’s a terrible thing, and it’s the RAF just trying to justify the Tornado. But when we have a £1 billion nuclear attack submarine shooting four TLAM’s it’s “Real Power Projection”. The Tornado situation was far from ideal, what with the length of the operation and the fuel use, but it’s still power projection, as defined by the ability to reach out and conduct strike operations against an enemy far from home.

  178. DominicJ

    If we attack Iran, it will be because Saudi pays us to.

    “You talk about Afghanistan, so where did the very first troops come from, and I don’t mean Marines. I mean the special forces and special activites guys. Where did their helicopter support come from?”
    And *my* amphib force is too small?

    “And you still haven’t provided an answer as to why basing rights and over flight permission are such a big deal elsewhere but not for the US Navy flying over Pakistan?”
    That is a problem, all access can be limited, but sea access is the least deniable.
    Pakistan and Iraq could deny us basing rights to invade Iran. Iran cant deny us access to the Gulf

    “When the RAF flew missions from Marham against Libya you denounced it as such a waste etc and it’s a terrible thing, and it’s the RAF just trying to justify the Tornado. But when we have a £1 billion nuclear attack submarine shooting four TLAM’s it’s “Real Power Projection”. The Tornado situation was far from ideal, what with the length of the operation and the fuel use, but it’s still power projection, as defined by the ability to reach out and conduct strike operations against an enemy far from home.”

    An astute can carry 40 land attack missiles and provide continuous availability.
    A Tornado can carry 2 land attack missiles, and provides about 30 minutes availability, at the end of a hefty refueling trip.

    I believe an Astute costs £500,000 per day to own and operate, how expensive were those Tornado flights?
    I’m just as unimpressed with strike aircraft flying off carriers before anyone shouts.

  179. Phil

    The initial six troop carrying CH53s came direct from amphibs. They had Pakistani over flight rights. The remainder of the force that landed in Camp Rhino was staged in Pakistan and flown in by fixed wing aircraft. Certainly a daring and exciting mission but utterly dependant on overflight and basing rights and impossible against a peer enemy. As I have said, having an amphibious task force is a very valuable asset, having an amphibious army is a white elephant.

  180. DominicJ

    Phil
    You keep saying that “its impossible against a peer eneny”

    Could you please define “peer”, because they’ve been carried out frequently and successfully against enemies that could easily be termed “peers”.

    Argentina resisted Sutton with nothing more than a lightly armed platoon.
    Were they “peers”? certainly near peer, theres an arguement they were better quiped than us.

    Inchon was resisted, but masses of firepower from the navy escorts rendered the defences virtualy useless.
    Were they peers?
    Given that it was an operation launched in desperation as Pusan was under serious threat and they had, you know, kicked us out of the rest of the country….

    Suez is perhaps the best example.
    The best arab army, with the best Soviet equipment, but they were repeatedly driven back by lightly armed paratroops, who could call in air support.
    Egypt couldnt mass its forces to annihilate the paratroops, simply because anything moving on the roads was quickly spotted and destroyed by airpower.

    “As I have said, having an amphibious task force is a very valuable asset, having an amphibious army is a white elephant.”
    How?
    You argue my much larger force is too small, yet that the current small one is big enough?

  181. Phil

    Dom your small force IS the British Army’s sum total of deployable combat power, primarily delivered by one means to go break windows with Guineas. An amphibious task force is useful because it brings options to the table whilst enabling resources to be used on other options.

    A peer enemy. It would be someone like Taiwan. What if our enemy was a country equivalent to Taiwan? Your force is too weak. The entire US amphibious force is too weak, even to raid. Pakistan would be a peer enemy in the Kandahar 2001 operation since nobody in their right mind would attempt an air assault over a country with relatively modern air defences.

    As for Arabs. I don’t consider them peer enemies, they’re culture cripples their ability to fight an effective battle. They get smashed every single time they are hit by even weak western forces. I have an article somewhere that sums up their problems. So peer can change depending on the theatre and context.

  182. paul g

    when i heard this on the news being sceptical i listened again and it’s fully operational, fully being the key word, i did chuckle when the report says on out at sea for 150-200 days a year. And?

  183. Gabriele

    @ Chris B.

    “Seemed like everyone got over the start line ok to me.”

    Not really. Reading the hearings about Iraq ops would show you the problems reported.

    “Turkey did reject the plans, late in the day, but there was always a two pronged approach planned. Kuwait was not some desperate last minute adjustment for the entire force, just a part of it.”

    Again, not quite. An american brigade, 4th i believe, was removed from the North sector and couldn’t be landed in the south for quite some time due to overload of the entry points.

    For the Uk, initial plan was a three brigades contribution in the north, all armoured/mechanized, with 45 Commando operating at Al Faw with the uS.

    The change was dramatic, with a division deployed in the south, swapping a mechanized brigade for 16AA, and with 40 and 42 Commando with all other 3rd Commando brigade assets involved, with 45 Commando instead not being part of the op.

    Moreover, for the first period the whole 1St Division UK lived on the supplies that the RN ships carried for 30 days of Commando ops, until logistics from the UK and on land managed to catch up.

    It was not quite as easy and expected and perfect as you say.

    I also have to say that the impossibility to apply strenght properly in north iraq had long lasting nasty consequences in how the years long campaign evolved later.

    As to entry points being overloaded, there were a great total of 3 or so said main points, and they dictated, even more than lack of strategic lift assets, the build up time.
    Again, it wasn’t an issue of so little importance as you try to present it.

    “there were troops in Uzbekistan etc”

    Yeah, there were, SF and a battalion from 10th US Mountain Division, based in an ex-soviet airfield in Uzbekistan.
    A small force, that achieved a lot collaborating with the locals in North Afghanistan.

    Irrelevant however to the point at hand since said limited facility was nowhere near enough to allow any real entry op into Afghanistan at a greater scale.

    Last of your rambling to which i’ll even bother answering:

    “And you still haven’t provided an answer as to why basing rights and over flight permission are such a big deal elsewhere but not for the US Navy flying over Pakistan?”

    They are a big deal. BUT. Naval based forces require the minimum amount of third party host nation support.
    At times, they require none.
    They can go almost everywhere and operate for long periods with the smallest of support from locals, immensely simplifying negotiations and diplomacy.
    Naval approach is by far the less constrained by politics, simply due to the need for minimal support and involvement of other nations in the area.

    The less people you need to say “yes” to you, the more likely you are to be able to do what you need to.

    But of course, you rape my concepts every time and accuse me of wanting to scrap cargo aircrafts or chartered planes or whatever else, which is simply an IMMENSE IDIOCY.

    “You always go on about how all that equipment was shipped to Kuwait like we’re supposed to go “wow, ships shipping stuff? What will they think of next!

    You don’t hear people patting the RAF on the back and going “wow, you guys fly people into Afghanistan, all the way from Cyprus. You’re the heroes of the campaign!””

    The logistic effort for Iraq 2003 is a massively SEA thing. Which does not include personnel being flown in, at all.
    Somewhere else i’ve provided very detailed figures about the huge achievements of the RAF in said deployment, included the C17 heavy usage.

    But the reality remains simple:

    Air, 5%
    Sea, 95% with almost totality of the heavy stuff

    You can’t. Do. Iraq. Nor. Afghanistan. Without. Sea.
    Is it clear what the point is, now? Need a drawing…?

    @Jed

    “I have no idea how such training is conducted post Iranian embarrassment in today’s RN.”

    It sounds like you were part of a “Blue” boarding team, even if probably at the time it wasn’t called such.

    Now probably training for the Blue teams has improved, but basically now the ships headed for “hot” areas such as the Gulf carry far more warlike “Green” boarding teams of Royal Marines from Fleet Protection group.

    @Phil

    “The initial six troop carrying CH53s came direct from amphibs. They had Pakistani over flight rights. The remainder of the force that landed in Camp Rhino was staged in Pakistan and flown in by fixed wing aircraft. Certainly a daring and exciting mission but utterly dependant on overflight and basing rights and impossible against a peer enemy. As I have said, having an amphibious task force is a very valuable asset, having an amphibious army is a white elephant.”

    Better than being impossible against any kind of enemy, as it was for other forces.

    A FARP in Pakistan and overflight permission is a thing, obtaining basing rights in multiple countries to stage large military ops from their soil is another.

    And it is questionable how much of a white elephant the British Army would be if it was more US Marines-like.

    @TD

    Air Marshal Burridge said during the “First Lessons” postwar effort:

    “The decision came initially out of discussion between the PJHQ and CENTCOM. Throughout that period at the end of December people were assessing the likelihood of Turkey agreeing
    to UK land forces going through Turkey. Given the circumstances, people involved in planning recognised that making that assumption was getting higher and higher risk and I think we all understand the Turkish position and
    have no difficulty with it. To say we should start planning now to go south emerged late December and early January. The chiefs of staff took it at a meeting as a proposition and endorsed it and the Secretary of State probably
    announced it some time around 20 January, but it was that timescale.”

    The decision to start south planning actually came pretty late, even if the planning for a southern option indeed started before the formal vote in Turkey, which was on 1st March 2003, some 18 days before the start of ops.

  184. Gabriele

    Small correction/addition:

    16AA was added because Basra and expected town-taking required an “infantry-heavy” force, differently from the North option which was to have more tanks and vehicles.

    It has been suggested that the late change to a larger deployment of infantry was part of the causes for lack of body armour in theatre.

    As to 45 Commando, it was replaced into 3rd Commando Brigade by the USMC 15 MEU under RM command, since 45 Cdo was busy with a company deployed on Operation FRESCO and the other two busy supporting SF ops.

    Wouldn’t want anyone to feel offended by me overlooking their contributions. I’d never want to.

  185. DominicJ

    Phil
    Oh come on, Taiwan is a virtual fortress!
    They have the UK’s island advantage and a psycopathic neighbour on their doorstep.

    Could still bomb the crap out of them, but anyone trying to invade Taiwan is going drown the island in blood.

    Pakistan is a different kettle of fish altogether, who easily be raided in force.
    They have a sizeable airforce, but of very low quality planes, a couple of squadrons of Rafales would have little trouble gaining control of the air.
    If we cut the roads around Karachi, how long would it take the army to redploy from its positions around India? If India makes some noise, can those units even be moved?
    What losses do they take on the 500 mile march to accident, breakdown, and interdiction?
    And what do they do when we simply embark and sail off the Mombassa for shore leave.
    At best, Pakistan has “driven off” the interloper, who is free to return at any time and shut down their port. At worst, India has occupied Lahore.

    But lets India did nothing, Pakistan has still suffered noticeable military loss from our actions, severe economic loss from our blockade and potentialy catastrophic loss to its “prestige” since it failed to inflict any losses on us.

    What does it do then? Does it Occupy Karachi, our fleet is only a weeks sailing away. Or does it return to its “normal” positions, inviting a repeat.

    Strategic Raids are supposed to be politicaly embarrasing, as well as militarily significant.
    A demonstration that we can pick a target and hit it, and there is nothing the enemy military can do to prevent that.
    When governments are made to look stupid, they tend to fall.

    What exactly are we demanding of Pakistan that makes them risk such an outcome?

    “I have an article somewhere that sums up their problems.”
    If you could dig it out I’d be grateful, I fully agree, I’m just curious as to the reasoning.

  186. James

    @ DominicJ,

    perhaps I miss your point, but what’s this with the Rafales? Until 2020, we haven’t got a carrier-based Fast Jets, we don’t own any Rafales, our Typhoons cannot reach Pakistan from Lincolnshire and recover to a friendly base, and AH-64 off Illustrious or Ocean probably wouldn’t live for more than a few minutes even against PAF.

    Added to which the international consensus of the UK floating about and bombing Pakistan at will is going to be non-existent. The US, China, Russia and France of the other P5 countries don’t want a nuclear power being humiliated and angry, India probably not either.

  187. Phil

    But Dom. Strategic raiding impresses no one. Capturing Gaddafi’s privy in Libya and then pissing off after a brew achieves nothing but risks essentially the entire armed forces.

    Yes Taiwan is a fortress. So is Malaya, Singapore. All examples of peer forces and how that level almost entirely negates the amphibious power of even the US. And methinks you underestimate the Pakistanis. They don’t have the cultural limitations of the Arabs. But anyway, it’s besides the point which is forced entry against anything like a peer is probably even beyond the means of the US. Which is why even the USMC chain of command is shitting itself come the US cuts.

  188. Phil

    James.

    Dom often merges his ideas with reality in a post. He wants us to have Rafales. Therefore we’d attack Pakistan with Rafales.

  189. DominicJ

    James
    Not argueing what we are currently capable of, but what we could one day be capable of if we chose to spend the current budget differently.

    “The US, China, Russia and France of the other P5 countries don’t want a nuclear power being humiliated and angry, India probably not either.”

    Quite possibly true, but that would be the case no matter what we spend our military budget on.
    If Pakistan has annoyed us to the point where we intend war against them, who’s to say they would still any friends? Or that we would care either way?

    The advantage is the capability is ever present, capability negates requirement. We wont need to raid Pakistan, because they wont annoy us, because they (the leadership) cant survive the raid.

    Phil
    Not sure I’d agree with you on Malaya. Langkawi to Sandakan is a lot of space to defend.
    As for Singapore and Taiwan, both are easily swayed with a blockade. Difficult to invade, but easy to starve.

    “And methinks you underestimate the Pakistanis.”
    The Martial Race Myth didnt serve them against India.
    A Mirage against a Seaphoon / Rafale / F35C / Superbug is not a contest, its a slaughter.
    Moving an armoured Brigade several hundred miles under fire is just a question of time and numbers, eventualy, they will push us out (I’d pull out before the first shot was fired), but the cost of even that would be immense.

    I have little doubt forced entry will be cut, but little doubt it will be a catastrophic mistake either.

  190. Phil

    And that is precisely why Malay and Singapore strategy is to concentrate on defeating the amphibious landing whilst it is at sea.

  191. James

    I’ve just done a Wiki. UK population who self-identify as Pakistani is around 750,000 at the last census. I imagine there’s more than a few of them who’d be pretty livid if we conduct a strategic raid on Karachi to embarrass and humiliate Pakistan, so we’d better increase our internal threat level, for many years. Plus no more cricket tours.

  192. Chris.B.

    Dear Gabs,

    – I noticed you completely dodged being called out for bulls**tting about the Saudi’s. Well played sir.

    “Not really. Reading the hearings about Iraq ops would show you the problems reported,”

    – Everyone got over the start line. That’s the point.

    “Again, not quite. An american brigade, 4th i believe, was removed from the North sector and couldn’t be landed in the south for quite some time due to overload of the entry points. For the Uk, initial plan was a three brigades contribution in the north, all armoured/mechanized, with 45 Commando operating at Al Faw with the uS. The change was dramatic, with a division deployed in the south, swapping a mechanized brigade for 16AA, and with 40 and 42 Commando with all other 3rd Commando brigade assets involved, with 45 Commando instead not being part of the op.”

    – So that’s a total of about four brigades that had to redeploy South? In the wider context of the numbers involved that’s hardly the game changing call you made it out to be. It also doesn’t change the fact that the attack from the North was the supplementary attack to the main effort from the South. Turkey’s decision had a relatively minor impact on the overall plan.

    “Moreover, for the first period the whole 1St Division UK lived on the supplies that the RN ships carried for 30 days of Commando ops, until logistics from the UK and on land managed to catch up.”

    – Interesting. I’ve never actually seen any document to support this, if you could provide one that would be great.

    “It was not quite as easy and expected and perfect as you say.2

    – No one said it was perfect. It was you who was trying to portray it as a massive disaster because that would fit your narrative better.

    “I also have to say that the impossibility to apply strenght properly in north iraq had long lasting nasty consequences in how the years long campaign evolved later.”

    – The US deployed special forces that raised a Kurdish army in the north, supported by a brigade of US paratroopers, who were later relieved by a signficant force. The US did apply force in the North. And if force was all that was needed, how do you explain the rest of Iraq, that was flooded with troops in some areas but still had issues?

    “As to entry points being overloaded, there were a great total of 3 or so said main points, and they dictated, even more than lack of strategic lift assets, the build up time. Again, it wasn’t an issue of so little importance as you try to present it.”

    – I think you’re underestimating just how much cargo can be transferred at a port.

    “Yeah, there were, SF and a battalion from 10th US Mountain Division, based in an ex-soviet airfield in Uzbekistan. A small force, that achieved a lot collaborating with the locals in North Afghanistan. Irrelevant however to the point at hand since said limited facility was nowhere near enough to allow any real entry op into Afghanistan at a greater scale.”

    – It was a foreign base from which troops operated, which is precisely the point that was being argued (the availability of basing rights). It doesn’t matter if there were 10 men or 10,000, special forces were given permission to operate from another countries soil.

    “Last of your rambling to which i’ll even bother answering:”

    – Rambling? Like your rambling about the Saudi Prince that was exposed as bulls**t, including with the use of a quote. Just unbelievable.

    “They are a big deal. BUT.”

    – No, no, no. No buts. You’ve always told me that ships don’t require basing or over flight rights and you’ve always maintained that these things are almost impossible to get hold of (despite, uhm, us getting them in every campaign in the last twenty years etc).

    “Naval based forces require the minimum amount of third party host nation support. At times, they require none.”

    – Oh I see! We’ve gone from never, to a minimum amount. I get it.

    “But of course, you rape my concepts every time and accuse me of wanting to scrap cargo aircrafts or chartered planes or whatever else, which is simply an IMMENSE IDIOCY. ”

    – Funny, I don’t remember accusing you of that. I believe that’s what’s known around these parts as knocking down a strawman.

    “The logistic effort for Iraq 2003 is a massively SEA thing.”

    – Nobody said it wasn’t. Smells like straw again to me,

    “Which does not include personnel being flown in, at all.”

    – That’s a bold assertion to make. So if it turns out even so much as one person, like a General or a special forces guy was flown in, your argument would be toppled. How do you even know nobody was flown in? Have you checked every single personnels transport arrangement records for the campaign?

    “But the reality remains simple:
    Air, 5%
    Sea, 95% with almost totality of the heavy stuff

    You can’t. Do. Iraq. Nor. Afghanistan. Without. Sea.”

    – Hello Mr. Strawman!! Again, nobody said you could. This whole argument has just been a running tangent that you created from nowhere. That’s before we get onto the possibilty that you possibly could Afghan without the sea, albeit more of an arse ache.

    “Is it clear what the point is, now? Need a drawing…?”

    – No it’s not clear. You just went off on a side point that nobody had raised. I merely said to you that you always cream your pants over ships transporting stuff, when that’s what ships do.

    Then you went on a ‘can’t you see the value of ships?’ strawman rant.

  193. Think Defence

    On the HMS Cornwall incident
    It was an embarrassment no doubt but one would imagine that those famous lessons have been learned. I do wonder if the gap between a tooled up matelot and an RM is too wide to be sensible. RM’s are expensive but do we really need a commando force for boarding parties in some environments, is it a bit overkill and in times of constraint a poor use of scarce resources?

    Would it be possible to create a new trade within the RN to handle this rather than relying on RM boarding parties, incidentally, this is the same as 539 Assault Squadron, I wonder if we are using RM personnel wisely.

    Host Nation Support
    Round 76!!
    I can’t see what is so simple to grasp, all three services contribute to the achievement of strategic and operational roles, all three do things that the others cannot and bases and/or permissions in any area of operations have always and will always be available. It doesn’t matter whether you fly, sail or drive, the fact is HNS is a necessity in all but the most unlikely of operational circumstances. Will it be ‘complicated’, will it have a price, will it mess things up from time to time?

    Yes, of course.

    But sailing does not infer some magical ability to avoid those issues and claiming they do just shows a complete lack of understanding.

  194. x

    RE: Cornwall

    Before I have said that it is all very well talking about Forward Presence Ships but the breed of combative sailor needed to crew such ships doesn’t exist (in numbers.)

    The USN have Masters-At-Arms branch which is I suppose what is needed.

    The Cornwall incident was bound to happen because Their Lordships could only work with the resources they had to hand. What was needed was a squadron of small boats (operating in pairs, better in 3) and depot ship (RFA Galahad?) anchored just inside Iraqi waters.

    Royal expensive? Really? Gosh….

  195. Phil

    From my limited experience of the Royal Navy rating type person.

    We handed over to RN Medical Assistants in April 2011 as part of the 3 Commando roulement. Originally, the RN medical organisation were going to send two Primary Healthcare Nurses to the FOB who had failed their fitness tests and were not allowed outside the FOB. What was worse is that they saw nothing wrong with this since casualties are bought back to the FOB and medics don’t patrol. The OC had to point out that medics were indeed patrolling, patrolling all the time and lives were only saved because medics could be on the scene of an IED in about 15 seconds.

    They had absolutely no idea what was going on despite handover notes and a recce. The whole organisation seemed to be stuck in a 1940s view of what medics were doing, which is even worse considering that this was 3 Commando’s third tour I think.

    The Navy medics rocked up without any training on the GPMG, GMG or HMG. Why? Because medics don’t use them and medics don’t do guard. That illusion literally lasted about 3 hours before the first one was in a sangar. They didn’t bring bayonets, they didn’t have LLMs and they didn’t have pistols because the powers that be decided they wouldn’t need any of them. Not just our medics, but the whole medical organisation of the RN. The Navy doctor got off the chopper looking like a chopper! He had every bit of his Osprey on including the neck armour and the shoulder armour!

    Their whole attitude to what they wanted their medical assistants to do just flew in the face of a reality they were perfectly aware of because our medical regiment had TOLD them, and they had been out in Helmand before.

    They just did not have the mentality the Army medics and their (our) organisation had. It never occurred to us or the regiment that we wouldn’t be out patrolling. Don’t get me wrong, the Army has its cultural and systemic problems too, but not wanting to fight is not one of them!

  196. x

    You’d think all RN going to Afghanistan would be pushed through some basic infantry course. But I suppose that would cost. Further I am always amazed with the forces how many things seems to happen for the first time time and time again…

    It should be remembered the first RN MC was awarded to a medic on a patrol under fire.

  197. Think Defence

    There were Navy clearance divers there a while ago so I would imagine their role in the CIED Task Force was somewhat hairy as well, it seems inconsistency is the enemy

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