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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!

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November 8, 2011 4:56 pm

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

November 8, 2011 6:55 pm
November 8, 2011 9:22 pm

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.

November 8, 2011 9:29 pm

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

November 8, 2011 10:00 pm

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).

November 9, 2011 3:03 pm

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?)

November 10, 2011 10:53 am

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!]

paul g
November 10, 2011 7:20 pm

F-35c launched using steam catapult for the first time.

November 10, 2011 7:36 pm

@ Paul G

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


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.

paul g
November 11, 2011 10:44 am

@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

November 11, 2011 10:49 am

That explains it. Although I think EMALS has done ok so far.

November 12, 2011 1:39 pm

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.”


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

November 12, 2011 6:34 pm

Sources have confirmed that the UK provided a formal briefing about the Typhoon to UAE officials on 17 October, after being asked to explore how it might meet future fast jet requirements.


November 12, 2011 7:23 pm

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.”

November 12, 2011 7:59 pm

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.”

November 13, 2011 4:08 pm

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)

November 13, 2011 5:43 pm

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.

November 13, 2011 6:02 pm

Hi Frenchie, thanks v much for the info.

TD may want to move the whole discussion to the rumble-jungle thread (?) but considering the size of the old carrier (that Brazil has) may still make the physical dimensions of the two remaining contenders the deciding issue (SeaGripen is smaller than SuperHornet). More here http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=

November 13, 2011 6:46 pm


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.

November 13, 2011 7:13 pm

Britain has agreed to sell all of its 74 decommissioned Harrier jump jets, along with engines and spare parts, to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps – a move expected to help the Marines operate Harriers into the mid-2020s and provide extra planes to replace aging two-seat F-18D Hornet strike fighters.


November 13, 2011 7:28 pm

They were not good enough for the UK but very good for the USMC, they are very intelligent at MoD.

November 14, 2011 1:20 pm
November 14, 2011 1:23 pm

Just go back to the start. 1st of Foot, 2nd of Foot, 1 Lancers, 1 Dragoons etc etc

November 14, 2011 1:37 pm

Shame to lose your Gurkhas, very good soldiers, it is as if we lost “La Légion étrangère”.

November 14, 2011 2:02 pm

Gurkhas are strange. We should have raised 8 battalions for Afghan for the duration.

November 14, 2011 6:56 pm

dubai air show news apparently oman will take 12 new build typhoons in the new year. Also it appears the saudi f15 deal maybe in trouble and a follow on order for 48 typhoon maybe in the pipeline


interesting else where news that the puma helicopter fleet new builds will be reduced by at least 4.

November 14, 2011 7:15 pm

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)

November 14, 2011 9:40 pm

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

November 14, 2011 9:56 pm

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?

November 15, 2011 7:53 am

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.”

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

November 15, 2011 8:40 am

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.

November 15, 2011 9:35 am

While we await the outcome, their view of the world will keep us entertained

November 16, 2011 9:49 am
November 16, 2011 10:42 am

£6bn cost increases and 26 years of delay for major MoD projects


November 16, 2011 10:51 am

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…???

November 16, 2011 11:06 am

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.

“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”.

November 16, 2011 11:19 am

” 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)

November 16, 2011 11:22 am

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!

November 16, 2011 11:26 am

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.

November 16, 2011 11:27 am


OUVS and FRES SV are definitely not the same thing, and i don’t think PR11 changed that.

November 16, 2011 11:40 am

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?

November 16, 2011 11:42 am

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

November 16, 2011 11:44 am

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)

November 16, 2011 12:59 pm

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.

November 16, 2011 1:13 pm

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”.

November 16, 2011 1:21 pm

TD, many interesting things to discuss anyway :)

November 16, 2011 1:34 pm

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

“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.

November 16, 2011 2:37 pm

“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.


“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.


“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.


“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.”

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.



“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.



“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)


November 16, 2011 3:49 pm

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)

November 16, 2011 4:42 pm

UAE rejects the Rafale.


The cost was judged “ridiculous”.

Big chance for the Typhoon now.

November 16, 2011 4:58 pm

Rafale unit cost 142M€

Typhoon unit cost 90M€

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

November 16, 2011 5:19 pm

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

Gareth Jones
November 16, 2011 5:49 pm

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

November 16, 2011 6:19 pm

“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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 16, 2011 6:46 pm

@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.

November 16, 2011 7:27 pm

“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.

November 16, 2011 8:40 pm

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.

November 16, 2011 9:39 pm

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.

November 16, 2011 9:42 pm

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.

November 16, 2011 10:05 pm

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.

November 16, 2011 10:20 pm

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 :)

November 16, 2011 10:22 pm

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.

November 16, 2011 10:40 pm

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 €

November 16, 2011 10:40 pm

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

November 16, 2011 11:01 pm

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.

paul g
November 16, 2011 11:12 pm

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!

November 16, 2011 11:50 pm

“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.

El Sid
El Sid
November 17, 2011 1:10 am

@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….

November 17, 2011 10:24 am

Re: Land, an interesting read from Rand. Battle of Wanat


November 17, 2011 12:17 pm

@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.

November 17, 2011 12:31 pm


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.

Alan Garner
Alan Garner
November 17, 2011 3:45 pm

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?

November 17, 2011 4:33 pm

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…….

El Sid
El Sid
November 17, 2011 4:42 pm

@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?

November 17, 2011 5:59 pm

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.

November 17, 2011 6:02 pm

There’s no way I’d buy explosives from a company that can’t spell.

November 17, 2011 6:04 pm

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 :-)

November 17, 2011 6:15 pm

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.

November 17, 2011 6:17 pm

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

November 18, 2011 12:03 am


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……

El Sid
El Sid
November 20, 2011 7:14 pm

@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).

November 20, 2011 8:23 pm

@ 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).

November 20, 2011 9:00 pm

“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.

November 20, 2011 9:08 pm

“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.

November 20, 2011 9:40 pm

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.


November 20, 2011 9:59 pm

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.

November 20, 2011 10:20 pm

I didn’t think the F22 bothered with afterburner very much.

November 20, 2011 11:28 pm

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.

November 21, 2011 1:07 am

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.

November 21, 2011 5:48 am

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.

November 21, 2011 8:31 am

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.

November 21, 2011 8:37 am

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

November 21, 2011 8:41 am

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.

Gareth Jones
November 21, 2011 12:47 pm

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?

Gareth Jones
November 21, 2011 1:20 pm

I can’t find the article I mention above at the moment but did come across this interesting paper; its a bit old but still…


Gareth Jones
November 21, 2011 1:36 pm

This may be it but if so I read it in a different format…


November 21, 2011 3:00 pm

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

November 21, 2011 6:29 pm

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

November 21, 2011 9:31 pm

@ 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.

paul g
November 21, 2011 10:57 pm
November 21, 2011 11:12 pm

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).


November 22, 2011 6:31 pm

RFA workers vote for strike action


Does this go for all sponsored reserves like airtanker too perhaps?

paul g
November 22, 2011 7:21 pm

sack ’em then, plenty of RN leaving to take their place

Adam Sugden
Adam Sugden
November 22, 2011 8:02 pm
Dominic Johnson
November 22, 2011 8:44 pm

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

November 23, 2011 2:44 pm

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.

November 23, 2011 5:38 pm

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.”

November 24, 2011 3:24 pm

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

November 24, 2011 3:58 pm


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

November 24, 2011 6:35 pm

time to say goodbye the deal on the harriers is done for $180m



The two things are not related.

November 24, 2011 6:49 pm

“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.

November 24, 2011 7:10 pm
November 24, 2011 7:22 pm


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.

November 24, 2011 9:24 pm

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?

November 24, 2011 9:33 pm

Not a clue. I am guessing a sub calibre training round.

November 24, 2011 9:41 pm

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.

November 24, 2011 9:49 pm

“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.

November 25, 2011 1:59 am


As suspected from reading between the lines from various sources.

November 25, 2011 9:57 pm

Good news.

November 26, 2011 9:15 pm


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…

November 26, 2011 10:18 pm

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

November 26, 2011 10:31 pm

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.

Dominic Johnson
November 27, 2011 8:28 am

chris b
not good enough!
Fine for ammo, no use for mre’s and water bottles.

November 27, 2011 8:29 am

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!


Dominic Johnson
November 27, 2011 8:36 am

afghan units frequently call fire ON pakistan border posts.

November 27, 2011 10:01 am

6 missing 2 rescued in cargo ship sinking in Irish sea 4 SAR helicopters 2 lifeboats tasked. Very rough weather last night for all concerned. Weres a nimrod when you need one.

paul g
November 27, 2011 2:14 pm

@james, nice to give the nasties a 3 year planning window though!!

November 27, 2011 2:23 pm

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

November 27, 2011 2:28 pm

***Cheap Shot Warning***

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

November 27, 2011 3:31 pm

(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 ;)

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 27, 2011 3:56 pm

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.

steve taylor
November 27, 2011 5:50 pm

@ TD and Phil

(Jokin’ of course…….. )

November 27, 2011 6:29 pm


“***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? ;-)

November 27, 2011 7:07 pm

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 :-)

paul g
November 27, 2011 7:48 pm

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

November 27, 2011 8:05 pm

– 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.