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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!

1,350 Comments

  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. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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).

  6. 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?)

  7. 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!]

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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 !!!

  11. 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.”

  12. 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.”

  13. 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)

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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?

  17. 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)

  18. 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

  19. 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?

  20. 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

  21. 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.

  22. 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…???

  23. 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”.

  24. 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)

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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?

  28. 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

  29. 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

  30. 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)

  31. 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.

  32. 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”.

  33. 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.

  34. 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-“

  35. 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)

  36. Frenchie

    Rafale unit cost 142M€

    Typhoon unit cost 90M€

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

  37. 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

  38. 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

  39. 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?

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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?

  49. 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 :)

  50. 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.

  51. Think Defence

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

  52. 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 €

  53. 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

  54. 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.

  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. 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….

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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?

  61. 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…….

  62. 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?

  63. 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.

  64. 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 :-)

  65. 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.

  66. 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!

  67. 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……

  68. 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).

  69. 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).

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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

  79. 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.

  80. 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?

  81. 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

  82. 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

  83. 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.

  84. 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

  85. DominicJ

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

  86. 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.

  87. 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.”

  88. 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

  89. 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.

  90. 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.

  91. 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.

  92. 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?

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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…

  96. 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?

  97. 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.

  98. 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

  99. 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

  100. Phil

    ***Cheap Shot Warning***

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

  101. 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 ;)

  102. 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.

  103. 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? ;-)

  104. 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 :-)

  105. 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

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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!

  110. 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.

    ;)

  111. 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.

  112. 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.

  113. 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.

  114. 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.

  115. 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

  116. 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.

  117. 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.

  118. 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.

  119. 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?

  120. 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.

  121. 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.

  122. 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? ;-)

  123. 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.

  124. 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

  125. 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?

  126. 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.

  127. 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.

  128. 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.

  129. 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?

  130. 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.

  131. 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.

  132. 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.

  133. 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.

  134. 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.

  135. 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?

  136. 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.

  137. 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.

  138. 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.

  139. 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.

  140. 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.

  141. 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.

  142. 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.

  143. 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..

  144. 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.

  145. 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

  146. 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)

  147. 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.

  148. 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!

  149. 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.

  150. 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.

  151. 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?

  152. 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.

  153. 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.

  154. 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.

  155. 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?

  156. 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.

  157. 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!

  158. 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.

  159. 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.

  160. 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).

  161. 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.

  162. 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!

  163. 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.

  164. 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)

  165. 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!”

  166. 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?

  167. Phil

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

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

  168. 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.

  169. 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.

  170. 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

  171. 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.

  172. 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?

  173. 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?

  174. 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

  175. 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.

  176. 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.

  177. 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.

  178. 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.

  179. 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?

  180. 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.

  181. 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?

  182. 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.

  183. 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.

  184. 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.

  185. 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.

  186. 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.

  187. 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.

  188. 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.

  189. Phil

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

  190. 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.

  191. 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.

  192. 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.

  193. 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….

  194. 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!

  195. 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.

  196. 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

  197. Phil

    I think they are supposed to.

    They should be attending exercises with the battlegroups. I don’t know if they did or not. We did.

    It’s not so much the skill set of the individuals, it was the wider organisational attitude which just beggared belief when they were told what to expect and knew what to expect, it seems they just refused to learn the lessons.

    We were geared to medically supporting dismounted infantry operations, they were geared to provide medical cover. A subtle difference but it made a big difference at the sharp end. They lacked basic kit like the LLM (really important bit of kit!) because they wouldn’t need it.

    A massive organisational failure, we had exactly the same dismounted combat kit as the infantry.

    And I only mention it because it seems to tie in with what James was saying.

  198. Gabriele

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

    It totally does in some cases.
    In all other cases, the sea provides the least politically-constrained access way, requiring the smallest amount of third party support compared to any other choice of action.

    @Chris B

    I won’t bother replying to your ramblings. I’ve wasted too much time already as it is. Perhaps you could provide some hard evidence and fact yourself next time, so i can save the time of always doing it myself.

    I’ll only intervene when you say something really idiotic.
    Which is most of the time, but i’ll try to look the other way.

    As to documentation about the logistic effort of 1st UK Division in Iraq being sea-supported, it is stuff reported here:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmdfence/57/3120306.htm

    “It is perhaps worth mentioning that, of the 30 days of supply that we took for the Brigade at sea, 20-plus days of supply were landed into Kuwait for the use not only of the Brigade but also of the whole UK Division. It had had to move from the north, from Turkey, in its planning, to the south, and we were able to provide significant logistics support from the sea to help the Division until its own logistics flowed in. The fact that much of our logistics support was in amphibious ships meant that we did not have to get involved in the blocked-up Kuwaiti ports, we could put it over the beaches and land it in a quasi-tactical way and then drive inland.”

    I’m pretty sure that more about this appears in the various editions of the “First Lessons” reports that came out after the war.

    One of the most complete versions of said reports and enquiries that i’ve been able to recover is here:

    http://www.bits.de/public/documents/iraq/3-seite/lessonsofiraq-HoC-DC-Vol2+3.pdf

    Full of good info on just about everything about the campaign.

    Here instead there is some consideration about TLAM stocks and why so few missiles were acquired and why the RN tried to put them on surface ships, namely Type 45.
    An OT in here, but it was debated more than once elsewhere, and it can be of interest.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmdfence/57/3120304.htm

    Last, in terms of idiocies i can’t ignore, this pearl:

    “It doesn’t matter if there were 10 men or 10,000, special forces were given permission to operate from another countries soil.”

    Well, it actually does matter even if you say it does not.
    Believe it or not, there’s a lot of difference between a battalion and some helos against basing and support for launching a military campaign.

    As to “I think you’re underestimating just how much cargo can be transferred at a port.”

    I’m not. I’m reading what was said in the US and UK “Lessons Learned” exercises post war. Both report the issue.

    “bases and/or permissions in any area of operations have always and will always be available.”

    Bold. Unfortunately, also not true. Or true, but only in part.
    Oversimplified, much.

  199. DominicJ

    X/Phil
    “Further I am always amazed with the forces how many things seems to happen for the first time time and time again…”

    I’ve got bored of posting examples where men have been killed or maimed in exactly the same spot in exactly the same way, multiple times over several weeks.
    Thats before you look at the daft stuff like “new” “innovations” being reported as new every 6 months, when its simply standard enemy procedure being encountered by new British forces.

    Sadly, we have an armed forces that think they know it all, and a 6 mobnth rotation cycle that blocks any chance of anyone learning anything, or adapting structures to whats learnt.

    Any sane person would have empowered a permanant military governor and a staff 5 years ago, who’d be putting Colonels on a charge if they turned up with medics who havent passed basic weapons courses.

    But Afghanistan, like FRES, Carriers, FSTA, and every other clusterfuck in the armed forces is a 6 month career posting in which you must demonstrate “an impact” and then bugger off to the next one before anyone realises you’ve “impacted” against a wall.

    rant over.

    Phil
    Do you not remember berating me a few weeks ago because I said people coming home from Afghanistan should be training the next rotation?
    That having people who’ve never been, or havent been for years, training the next batch is insanity?

  200. DominicJ

    Chris B
    ““It doesn’t matter if there were 10 men or 10,000, special forces were given permission to operate from another countries soil.” ”

    The UK operated recce overflights of Argentina from Chile. But Chile didnt let us march an Armoured Division over the Puente del Inca into Mendoza.

  201. Phil

    Phil
    “Do you not remember berating me a few weeks ago because I said people coming home from Afghanistan should be training the next rotation?
    That having people who’ve never been, or havent been for years, training the next batch is insanity?”

    Not quite Dom.

    That was an argument about how instructors are sourced.

    The RN’s medical establishment will have gone through OPTAG, they will have worked with the battlegroups they were meant to be supporting, and they will have been instructed by those that have operational experience.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

    Oh and btw, I found the article about Arabs:

    http://www.meforum.org/441/why-arabs-lose-wars

  202. Phil

    “But Afghanistan, like FRES, Carriers, FSTA, and every other clusterfuck in the armed forces is a 6 month career posting in which you must demonstrate “an impact” and then bugger off to the next one before anyone realises you’ve “impacted” against a wall.”

    Again, not quite, there are continuity tours that last at least 12 months.

    The organisational learning apparatus the army has in Afghan is very effective. It’s probably one of the few examples there is of such a good model in any British organisation. But, that apparatus must meet obstacles to its full effect – this is the unavoidable reality in any organisation run by humans.

  203. Think Defence

    Gabby,

    You often get caught out posting a load of rubbish and links, like the Tornado audit report you were telling everyone about a week or so ago but in the end turned up to be referenced in a written submission to the Defence select committee by an obviously biased and frankly loony obsessive. That’s just one example, but when pulled up you go off on another tangent, confuse the issue with other stuff, accuse other people of talking rubbish and generally be abusive but it doesn’t alter the fact that a lot of what you post is simply spectacularly well informed but highly selective nonsense, I am not alone is asking you to widen your viewpoint, stop looking at things through a letter box, realise that joint capabilities are what matters instead of some pathetic pissing competition that you seem to revel in perpetuating.

    I don’t think anyone is failing to recognise that in expeditionary operations at distance sea transport is essential but the claim that the other services are like new born seals, helpless without the mighty RN is just a wrong, not reflective of reality and even if it were true, so what, that’s their job.

    Did not our mighty amphibious fleet have to transit the Suez, is that not requiring of host nation support, did we not deploy elements to the Balkans on the train, did the reinforcement plan for BAOR not involve road moves from the UK, do we not send personnel and time critical stores to Afghanistan on things that fly, do we not need host nation support to drive from Karachi to Afghanistan, do we not transit to Afghanistan via various Islamic nations and various other factors that point to logistics being an incredibly complex subject that cannot be distilled into the crude over simplifications that you seem to revel in.

    The simple fact is that HNS has always been available at varying costs and with various strings attached, nothing unusual. Turkey did not allow ground forces to transit into Iraq for various local political and economic reasons but it still allowed SF, overflight for pretty much everything, operations from Incirlik and all manner of other support. It was complicated, it meant we had to change plans but the strategic objectives were still met and that is all that matters.

    Same with Afghanistan, surrounded by the most challenging geo political landscape one could imagine, yet ISAF maintains a force of several hundred thousand personnel and all manner of complex capabilities.

    Lets all stop seeing things in absolutes, it just makes the debate rather ridiculous to be honest.

  204. paul g

    oh i do like coming on here and finding out what i actually did in 2003, such an eye opener, just to help out we weren’t starving (some young toms didn’t like corned beef hash which was a shitter when you 10 ration boxes all the same menu) and they rang home and cried to mummy. Plates for the armour were short in fact we got one. (being good REME types we cut about the R.Irish with the plates in the back,obviously as we would be running away).
    Move from the base camp in kuwait to iraq went super smooth, in fact i’ve had more problems going from wattisham to thetford!
    So did i miss anything out

  205. Dunservin

    @ 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…”

    – Until relatively recently, the RN had Masters-at-Arms too. They were WO & CPO members of the Regulating Branch which was re-designated the RN Police in 2007 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_College_of_Policing_and_Guarding#Royal_Navy_Police). The RN Police are trained at the Defence College of Policing and Guarding (formerly HMS DRYAD) at Southwick near Portsmouth. At sea, they act as ships’ policemen responsible for running the daily routine and enforcing discipline. Usually, only one is borne per major ship, assisted by a PO and/or Leading Hand. They don’t possess any special combat skills but they do carry warrant cards and are experienced in breaking up fights ashore ;-)

    “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.”

    – Suggested reading: Royal Navy personnel train for Afghanistan (http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/TrainingAndAdventure/RoyalNavyPersonnelTrainForAfghanistan.htm)

    – The article states that “…every naval serviceman or woman preparing to deploy to Afghanistan receives the same rigorous package of individual pre-deployment training (also known as OpTAG) as that undertaken by the Army” but I guess it’s pretty difficult to transform a seagoing medic, logistician or technician into an infantryman (or woman) in only four weeks as this is completely alien to their normal routine on board a ship. However, they are all wizard at sea survival, CBRN, firefighting with breathing apparatus, damage control and stopping leaks in flooding compartments with nil visibility.

  206. Think Defence

    Dunservin, do you think there is room to create a more combative sailor trade that can carry out the boarding role without RM support

  207. James

    @ Paul G,

    ;) Couple of quickies:

    I hope you got all of the UORs you needed, but you probably didn’t. I was running the C4ISTAR UORs from HQ LAND at the time, and champing at the bit to get back to SCOTS DG to finish off ’91 unfinished business, but my DACOS boss refused to let me go. Anyway, the real problem with the UORs, including things like body armour, were all staffed, traded off, prioritised and queued up and fully approved, but could not be contracted until some Parliamentary vote, and as enough spineless politicos delayed the Westminster vote for long enough that about 60% of them could not be produced in time, and then the mover system managed to impose further “friction” in the system. About 20% of UORs got through to the front line in time.

    As much as I agree with you about being told what we should or shouldn’t have done, after the event, by people whose own military expertise is not always shining clear, there’ll be one day when you and I are equally and rightly similarly accused. Maybe that’s today, I don’t know, but it will happen.

  208. James

    @ TD, re “combative” matelots (the mind boggles…)

    Yes, simply. I think it would take about one week of training, probably by some hairy arsed cadre of RM NCOs at Lympstone and a bit of sea work practicing, and then continuing practice onboard. They need some attention being paid to kit, principally radios for RIB to ship comms, they need stun grenades, they need thermal cameras, and they need trained search dogs. They also need some personal balls, and not to have any women on boarding parties unless as support (e.g. search, translation, medical, certainly not part of the initial boarding team). The “personal balls” part is not going to be a problem, given what I’ve seen of fire fighting drills on board, but there is an attitude adjustment needed that boarding is a bit of a jolly, volunteers needed.

  209. Jed

    Ref Combative Matelots

    There is considerable difference between tactical expertise required to do “fighty” boarding ops, perhaps in anti-piracy or anti-terror context, and the skills required to patrol in Helmand.

    One is a “Combative Sailor” and I believe the word for the other one is, mmmm’ let me remember, oh yes S O L D I E R !

    I thought 3 Cdo Brig. orbat included Royal Army Medical Corps unit ? Back in my day (swing that lantern…) RN Medics attached to RM had to undertake (and pass, one presumes) the All Arms Commando course. As a sailor of the one of the parts of the “warfare” branch I was trained in LMG (the old one, think Bren gun), GPMG and 20mm GAMB-01. Over 10 years later as a deployed part-time Psyops soldier my unit did not have the time or training budget to have trained me in anything other than IW and Pistol. Could I remember how to put a belt in, or change the barrel on a gimpy, probably….. but just doing OpTAG does not instantly make one an “infanteer” !

    But back to the more fighty boarding scenarios. RN has always multi-skilled. USN for example does not, which is why it has massive ships with massive crews, including guys who train for nothing but Visit Board Search and Seizure operations (and guys who are just Fire Fighters, or just DC specialists). So either we improve the training for the multi-skilled average sailor, or we stand up a special unit (not a trade) for which anyone can volunteer, and they get trained by the RM and do a 2 year draft (tour) including joining deployed ships as their VBSS team ?

    Finally James – my colleagues on my last ship, all saw boarding ops as great fun, especially the the fast roping, however when we had to do it for real, we went about it with professionalism, oh and we weren’t volunteers, we were picked by our divisional officers and sent on the training, we had no say in it.

  210. Aussie Johnno

    Re TD 30/11 Combative sailors.
    The RAN has been using members of its combat diving teams to form ‘Énhanced Boarding Parties’ on Frigates deployed to security/anti-pirate patrols in Red Sea/Arabian Sea areas. Gets the divers into the AO, reduces the load on the ships RHIB teams, and allows the ANZAC Frigates to carry a 3rd and sometimes a 4th RHIB and the FFG’s to carry 2 RHIBs.
    Does the RN have similar diving teams?

  211. Chris.B.

    Dear Gabs.

    This, for me at least, is going to be quite a lot fun. A lot of fun.

    “I won’t bother replying to your ramblings. I’ve wasted too much time already as it is.”

    — And yet you did

    “Perhaps you could provide some hard evidence and fact yourself next time, so i can save the time of always doing it myself.”

    — Again I reference you to the incident of the Saudi Prince, where you didn’t provide anything to back up your assertion, an assertion that was dispelled once a the quote in question was found and presented by moi.

    “I’ll only intervene when you say something really idiotic.Which is most of the time, but i’ll try to look the other way.”

    — How gracious of you.

    “As to documentation about the logistic effort of 1st UK Division in Iraq being sea-supported, it is stuff reported here: (1st link”

    — An interesting link. It’s worthy of note that all Rear Admiral Snelson said was that his force (2/3 of the RFA) dropped off their supplies and provided logistic support. He makes no mention of the UK forces having to survive desperately on those rations that could be dropped off, nor that they were even asked for. Kind Admiral!

    He also indicates that there were three ports available, Obviously Kuwait, one in Bahrain and one in the UAE, plus two air heads; one in Bahrain and one in UAE. For whatever reason the UAE ports were barely used. The Admiral also went on to remark about host nation support; “yes, we did get the support required”.

    For those that are interested, the committee also asked about Dolphins for mine counter measures, remarking that they would be cheaper than RN divers, and also gave Brigadier Dutton the chance to respond to criticism that they’d received from others while on some fact finding mission that “the Royal Marines have no understanding of how to operate with tanks in support, never having trained to do so and not possessing any of their own,”

    “Here instead there is some consideration about TLAM stocks and why so few missiles were acquired and why the RN tried to put them on surface ships, namely Type 45. An OT in here, but it was debated more than once elsewhere, and it can be of interest. (2nd link)”

    — I’m surprised you included this one. I refer you to an answer given by Brigadier Dutton; “Because of the limitation on shipping space and spot availability for helicopters, a high proportion of the Brigade deployed to Kuwait by air, not by sea”.

    Then let me just remind you of your comment earlier about the same campaign; “Which does not include personnel being flown in, at all”

    I did ask you if you were sure about that. Caught bullsh*tting again? You? Never….

    Of note also from that link was the Marines plan to land on a beach using American landing craft. What happened to ours?

    “Well, it actually does matter even if you say it does not. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of difference between a battalion and some helos against basing and support for launching a military campaign.”

    — Really? Well I’m glad you pointed that one out because I had no idea. Of course we weren’t discussing the merits of helicopter assaults etc though were we. The point was, the US and UK were given permission to use bases in countries such as Uzbekistan. Permission was granted. End of story.

    At least I’ve had and now I’ve learnt why you’re reluctant to post links, because you nearly always end up shooting yourself in the foot.

    Twat.

  212. ArmChairCivvy

    I am a bit surprised about the reasoning for the need to have a “combatitive sailor” force raised. What’s wrong with using the Fleet Protection guys in group sizes that fit the task (ie. even in small groups)?
    -if you take the reasoning to the logical end, Fleet Protection and this new force would be merged at some stage (like what happened to the RN Police, and the Commandos would go to the Army); not a scenario I would promote

    Just picked up this quote from ChrisB’s post “while on some fact finding mission [it was reported ] that “the Royal Marines have no understanding of how to operate with tanks in support, never having trained to do so and not possessing any of their own”
    – was it this perceived weakness giving rise to the Armoured Group within the RM ?(or did it exist before; not that they have “real” tanks, but tactically the training benefits should make adding heavier AFVs into a Battle Group a much smaller step)

  213. Phil

    Remember I said the problem was with organisational attitude not individual skills as such. Takes 20mins to give someone a crash course in GPMG etc in the ‘real world’. One of them had been on HERRICK 9 and was a switched on cookie, but they still shafted him on kit.

    As for 3 Commando med support. The HERRICK ORBAT was as you know significantly larger than normal so the Bde was augmented with every RN Medical Assistant going. There’s no RAMC in that organisation, Navy does it all. There were probably RAMC IAs but no formed unit.

    Like I said, good blokes, shit bosses.

  214. Chris.B.

    @ ACC

    The report mentioned that they had CVR(T) with them for deployment, but they had been criticised for their lack of understanding regarding heavy tanks like Challenger. The Marine Brigadier responded at first that the committee must have been mistaken in which unit they spoke to! When pushed by a slightly sarcastic sounding comment from the committee he went on to explain that when heavy armour was brought in, a senior officer was attached to his staff to advise him and that things went well from there in his opinion, though he chose not to elaborate further.

    @ Gabs,

    Sorry to keep dragging this argument out, and I appreciate people get bored of reading the back and forth, but to further elaborate on your earlier comment about no personnel being brought in by air, the “Lessons of Iraq” document that you linked to states quite clearly that;

    ‘Our four C-17 aircraft and other air transport assets deployed some 50% of the personnel and stores that were required to go by air’

  215. DominicJ

    TD
    “Dunservin, do you think there is room to create a more combative sailor trade that can carry out the boarding role without RM support”

    Every Sailor a rifleman?

    Chris B
    Which sounds like we borrowed air transport from the US for the other 50%…

    *********
    At the end of the day, no tactical training would have made a difference on that day.
    All 15 Green Deaths could have done is died messily, or not cried on camera.

    What was really needed, was an acceptance that Iran is a very dangerous enemy, and resources to reflect that. Instead, we had a politicaly system that was happy to ignore warnings and offer up a sacrifice.

  216. jedibeeftrix

    @ Admin – “like the Tornado audit report you were telling everyone about a week or so ago but in the end turned up to be referenced in a written submission to the Defence select committee by an obviously biased and frankly loony obsessive”

    Who is this loony obsessive you refer to?

  217. Chris.B.

    @ DomJ

    I get the feeling there should have been a comma in the sentence (in the document), so it would have read something like ‘50% of personnel, and all stores that needed airlifting’ or whatever. The problem identified wasn’t numbers of aircraft, it was landing spots, as both the US and UK appeared to be using a single air hub in Kuwait.

    @ Jedi

    I think I know the chap TD is talking about. He was some Doctor, with previous service in the RN. He wrote a short report for the defence select committee I think, but it basically read like a not particularly subtle propoganda pamphlet.

  218. Phil

    There’s no need for most sailors to particularly need to know infantry stuff. Not by a long way. But the ones that go poking around other angry people’s ships must drill, preferably with Cutlass! Hurrah!

  219. jedibeeftrix

    @ ChrisB

    I’d love to know the name of the mysterious doctor.

    Sadly, I feel we might we referring to Lindley-French, which I would have to brand a load of old cock unless someone came up with some pretty substantial evidence other than not liking the conclusions reached…………

  220. Gabriele

    “the Royal Marines have no understanding of how to operate with tanks in support, never having trained to do so and not possessing any of their own”

    I suggest you read the document i linked, and do not believe to what Chris says.

    Brigadier Dutton completely dismantles said “report”.

    @Chris B

    I don’t know from where you did get this “no personnel was airlifted in”, because i never could say that. Most of personnel is routinely airlifted, including Marines if possible, to avoid them a longer period on ships.

    Still, part of 3rd Commando made the whole trip on the amphibs too.

    If i gave the impression of saying that people was not airlifted, then it was a mistake.

    “Which sounds like we borrowed air transport from the US for the other 50%…”

    Not exactly. The report says that the 5% of stuff (including personnel) that was airlifted was moved at nearly 50% by the then 4 leased C17s.

    50% of 5%. The rest was covered by the other RAF assets, and by many chartered flights.

    “For those that are interested, the committee also asked about Dolphins for mine counter measures, remarking that they would be cheaper than RN divers”

    Like the US Navy did not have divers and only did it with dolphins…
    At most, dolphins would replace the divers in a few roles, but never entirely.

    Also, good luck with the animal protection movements. The noise they make about pigs being blown up to experiment ways to save the british soldiers lives in IED attacks arrived all the way here in Italy a few months ago.

    Good luck with using dolphins that way.
    Also, i wonder if their assumption about dolphins being cheaper is entirely correct, but i won’t get on that.

    “Who is this loony obsessive you refer to?”

    He refers to Lord West.
    You know, he comes from the Navy, he can only be a liar and his reference, of course, is fake.
    That’s what Chris B. says.

    “He makes no mention of the UK forces having to survive desperately on those rations that could be dropped off, nor that they were even asked for. Kind Admiral!”

    He says they had to unload the stores until the land logistics “could catch up”, and mentions the fact that they had been planning a North land campaign as a factor that caused the delay, and underlines that having the stores on amphibs helped the delivery, and allowed them to bring them ashore without having to enter the overcrowded ports in Kuwait.

    Don’t play with words.

    “Of note also from that link was the Marines plan to land on a beach using American landing craft. What happened to ours?”

    The CVR(T) were loaded on a LCAC(H) of the USMC 15 MEU indeed.
    The british landing craft at the time was the old MK9, since the combination Albion + LCU MK10 was still being built and worked up towards service.

    The issue with using the MK9 was the beach gradient, unsuitable in the area for a conventional LCU, which needs, ideally, a 1:60 gradient which was not there.

    The LCU MK10 improved that some.

    The PACSCAT, being partially air cushion supported, expands the envelope all the way to 1:120, opening many more beaches to landing ops, almost as many as the LCAC can tackle, but at much lower cost, and maintaining the same LCU footprint, which means 4 PACSCAT in the space of two LCAC(H).

    PACSCAT remains in the plans for the future even after the SDSR cuts. It would be a massive improvement.

    “At least I’ve had and now I’ve learnt why you’re reluctant to post links, because you nearly always end up shooting yourself in the foot.”

    Oh really?
    I’m actually the one who always provides all the evidence. The fact that you ignore it or twist the facts around to try and change or hide reality is another story.

  221. jedibeeftrix

    On the other hand, he is precisely 100% correct when he makes the following statement:

    “4.1.8 The Amphibious Force: The amphibious force has had a dramatic cut in capability, most notably in reducing the size of the required embarked military force to be supported. Previously, this was a brigade level formation with supporting arms and units. Under SDSR, this has been reduced to being able to land and support only 1,800 men—a commando battlegroup and supporting units.[105] This raises the fundamental issue as to what size of formation should a medium-sized power such as Britain be capable of producing. It is noticeable that the size of formation to be generated from Army resources is a brigade—both the so-called multi-role brigades and 16 Air Assault Brigade.[106] The question, then, is why should Britain not produce a brigade level amphibious capability, given its ability to loiter off-shore with no host nation support, act as a base for raids, or secure a lodgement for larger or long-term operations, or ensure that the forces constantly exposed to attack on land are minimised by basing much of the supporting units at sea.”

    I can accept the reduced ambitions until 2015, and possibly the recovery centric 2020 period, but not after that.

  222. All politicians are the same

    Missed a good debate yesterday. All RN personnel deploying on Operational duties mow complete OM 525 course, a 2 week rifle course culminating in the trained soldier shoot. What they do not do is progress to fire and mvre training. They then complete a 2 week OPTAG course the last 4 days of which is in the field learning patrolling skills and living in the simulated FOB whilst conducting patrols with different scenarios. A lot of time on this is spent on learning to break contact. A political decision has been made not have matelots doing section attacks. The package is provided by RM NCOs the guy who taught me to hit the target from 300M had just finished a tour as an SBS sniper. Medics conduct a further weeks training on combat medical conditions, using ex forces amputees etc they practice providing medical cover in the field with blanks flying around smoke flash bangs etc. Everyone should also complete the pistol course and be in date for RNFT or they should not be allowed to deploy.
    there is also a SERE course to be completed, we are now up to 7 weeks traing for a 6 month deployment which would have to be completed every time they deploy. The Frigate Navigators course is the same length for an 18mth to 2 year job.
    if we were to add on LMG/HMG training in a safe manner we would add an extra month! Why not chuck in grenades and a bit of CQB, indeed why not just send them to Pirbright?
    In terms of a combat sailor. P squadron has been created at Faslane to provide 3 troops of RN sailors who can deploy to RN Ships East of Suez to provide choke point and jetty security. People going to P squadron receive more extensive training. This frees up FPGRM to provide boarding parties to ships deployed. As FPGRM are the only unit that can do a NON COOPERATIVE boarding, even Bulwark in 2005 had an FPGRM boarding team as there own 4ASRM RM are not trained to do NON COOPERATIVE boardings.
    An OPPOSED BOARDING can only be carried out by all SBS units and the SAS Boat troop.
    Hope this clarifies a few facts.

  223. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Gabby,

    I am very glad to hear (I’ve heard through sources, too)
    “The issue with using the MK9 was the beach gradient, unsuitable in the area for a conventional LCU, which needs, ideally, a 1:60 gradient which was not there.

    The LCU MK10 improved that some.

    The PACSCAT, being partially air cushion supported, expands the envelope all the way to 1:120, opening many more beaches to landing ops, almost as many as the LCAC can tackle, but at much lower cost, and maintaining the same LCU footprint, which means 4 PACSCAT in the space of two LCAC(H).

    PACSCAT remains in the plans for the future even after the SDSR cuts. It would be a massive improvement.”

    – BUT I have not seen any order confirmed??

  224. Phil

    RN medics were an integral part of patrols. I carried grenades, LASM, bayonet, pistol. Some had UGLs. Medics who pretend they can just medic and not graft like the blokes are in for, and do have, some VERY rude shocks. It should not matter how long it takes to get blokes up to speed, they must be prepared for the task. Clearly the powers that be have made this political decision and it does. It reflect the reality on the ground. That leaves their medics short changed. Although now 3 Commando is off the roulement I doubt they’ll have to rely on MAs again.

  225. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Jedi,

    Thanks for raising that quotation, as this part of it
    “This raises the fundamental issue as to what size of formation should a medium-sized power such as Britain be capable of producing. It is noticeable that the size of formation to be generated from Army resources is a brigade—both the so-called multi-role brigades and 16 Air Assault Brigade.[106] The question, then, is why should Britain not produce a brigade level amphibious capability, given its ability to loiter off-shore with no host nation support”
    links back to (at least in my interpretation)the fact that amphibs (and hence the bde vs BG)were used as spare change in presenting (and choosing/ funding!) the four carrier decision options
    -these were the two withheld NSC meeting briefings (and corresponding minutes) which were attached to the Commons Committee report as evidence
    – in my view the tie-up is/was completely spurious as an amphib centered force could have (on average) three T45s protecting it… maybe this is why there is such an emphasis on us getting strike carriers as opposed to fleet carriers (to blur the trade-off that was decided?)

  226. All Politicians are the Same

    @Phil

    Why did you have RN medics on patrol with the Army? Is it a numbers problem. The other problem the Rn has with medics is that the demographics of recruitment. A high % that come into the branch are female, most males get sent submarines and the ones that are left did not join up to be Infantry Soldiers any more than Infantry Soldiers joined up to be sailors. A medic sent to theatre capable of using a rifle standing Stag and basic patrolling skils from a service that was never designed to do such things is actually quite a good deal. there is also the ethical issue of medics carrying SAW etc. they should have had pistols.

  227. jedibeeftrix

    @ AAC – “in my view the tie-up is/was completely spurious as an amphib centered force could have (on average) three T45s protecting it… maybe this is why there is such an emphasis on us getting strike carriers as opposed to fleet carriers (to blur the trade-off that was decided?)”

    My pleasure, but could you please expand on the above as I’m not quite sure what you are explaining to this cloth-eared listener? :)

  228. Chris.B.

    Dear Gabs,

    “I suggest you read the document i linked, and do not believe to what Chris says. Brigadier Dutton completely dismantles said “report”.”

    — Dismantles is a strong word. He gave his opinion, which understandably freed the RM of any failings. I wouldn’t call his answer ‘dismantling’.

    And I find it amusing Gabs that you say people shouldn’t believe what I said. When they read it they’re going to read precisely what I brought up here. I don’t understand how you can think that’s going to go down any other way.

    “I don’t know from where you did get this “no personnel was airlifted in”, because i never could say that.”

    — November 29th, 10:47, you said, and I quote; “The logistic effort for Iraq 2003 is a massively SEA thing. Which does not include personnel being flown in, at all.”

    “Like the US Navy did not have divers and only did it with dolphins…
    At most, dolphins would replace the divers in a few roles, but never entirely.
    Also, good luck with the animal protection movements. The noise they make about pigs being blown up to experiment ways to save the british soldiers lives in IED attacks arrived all the way here in Italy a few months ago.
    Good luck with using dolphins that way.
    Also, i wonder if their assumption about dolphins being cheaper is entirely correct, but i won’t get on that.”

    — Haha, I’ll give you a pass on this one. I got the impression that the person on the committee was just joking Gabs. I don’t think the Government is actually planning to replace divers with Dolphins. Though I wouldn’t put anything past the MoD.

    “He says they had to unload the stores until the land logistics “could catch up”, and mentions the fact that they had been planning a North land campaign as a factor that caused the delay, and underlines that having the stores on amphibs helped the delivery, and allowed them to bring them ashore without having to enter the overcrowded ports in Kuwait.”

    — No, you’re making a very subtle twist to what he said. He didn’t say they HAD to, he merely said they did in order to help. That’s a huge difference that changes the context completely, from helping out an inconvenienced land force to having to save them certain operational failure.

    “Don’t play with words.”

    — Yes, quite.

    “The CVR(T) were loaded on a LCAC(H) of the USMC 15 MEU indeed.”

    — Having now read right through the Lessons Of Iraq document it’s clearly stated that the problems with the British craft is that their engines were unreliable.

    “Oh really? I’m actually the one who always provides all the evidence. The fact that you ignore it or twist the facts around to try and change or hide reality is another story.”

    — I remind you again of the bullsh*tting regarding the Saudi quote, plus the various points made above.

    “Chris B. refers to either Lord West or Dr Duncan Redford, who submitted this analysis to the parliamentary defence committee. Both reference figures for the Harrier and Tornado options costs coming from a MOD Audit document (Note 112).
    Said document is not accessible,”

    — It’s the Doctor. And the “document” that he and later West refer to doesn’t appear to exist anywhere, except as an article in I think it was the Telegrapgh.

    The figures they both quote have since been proved to be false, using parliamentary answers.

  229. Phil

    Because they were part of 3 Commando’s tour. The RN supplied the UK MED GP for that tour. By pulling in everyone they could. One of the lads hadn’t even been on a ship before he was on the ground. I accept it might not be the expected career path but 3 Commando did its first your in 2006 and there should have been no surprises for them.

    As for ethical concerns, I don’t want to sound Apocalypse Now, but they really don’t matter out there. There is no Geneva Convention. We were especially juicy targets. I had no qualms with throwing everything at them. Including claymores ;-)

  230. All Politicians are the Same

    Medics deploying with 3 Cdo brigade should have complted the 9 weeks all arms course. i think we are comparing apples with oranges as I guess what you are used to in the army is deploying with Combat Team Medics, people who have cross trained from other specilisations and done a 23 week medical course. RN medics join as medics with a career path as far as WO1. They do 53 weeks pure medical training before they are allwed out on there own. We have a few combat team medics in the RN, teh Chief seman Spec i was in Iraq with last year was one. It is a traing failure on the Rn part as to deploy with 3 Cdo brigade you should be all arms qualified. as an individual medical augmentee or posted to bastion etc you only need to have completed the package I outlined above. So effectively it was poor distribution of manpower to have a non all arms course trained Rn medic on foot patrol.

  231. paul g

    @ james, i was more than happy the plate issue, well not that much of an issue, my job wasn’t to go do fighty stuff, top brass panic about headlines in the newspapers about poor old soldier x been injured through lack of kit which is why the gave all the plates to the first arriving troops. Obviously us fixy types (excluding reccy mechs who might have to go into hot areas) weren’t a priority. I think you might of got the wrong end of the stick of my post, i get a little pissed off when i read about how i got nothing or was in dire straits, and the person writing that read it in report or heard from a bloke in the pub, and unlike you or i was actually directly involved. i think the actual deployment out there was alright and any teething problems have now led to the kit list provided by phil earlier was looks the dogs danglies.

    by the way used to work with a guy from SDG he left them as he was 6ft and kept banging his head, great guy even if he did call me tech for 2 years,(never my real name) as in open his door and shout teeeeeeech! he went on to be a SSM for HAC.

  232. Mark

    Maybe the army should look at being able to sustain more than 7000 people deployed on operations from a regular/ta force of 130000 then it wouldn’t have to rely on the inadequate and inferior capabilty of the rn that is characterised here by so many army veterans. Hopefully next time the submarine force is stretched the army can fill in and conduct fire fighting and flooding drill to the highest standards possible. Or maybe it’s a case of horses for courses who knows. Apas gd post

  233. James

    @ APATS,

    “…As FPGRM are the only unit that can do a NON COOPERATIVE boarding…”

    Firstly, thank you for the update on boarding capabilities across the board. Good to know.

    Secondly, your statement neatly encapsulates both the current situation and the current problem. In my view, every RN ship deploying away from the UK should have the capability to conduct a non-cooperative boarding. Either they all have embarked a FPGRM boarding party, with all relevant kit, or they need to generate their own from the matelots. Either way, they need the same capabilities, same level of training etc.

    It should be up to the RN to decide how to furnish this capability, whether by increasing FPGRM numbers or setting up a training course for sailors and annotating ships’ complements as needing “x” trained boarders. The boarding party should be examined as part of the FOST process as are other drills (maybe it is already) before any deployment.

  234. All Politicians are the Same

    @ James

    Ships do have a Compliant boarding capability when deployed and normally in home waters. I tried to illustrate that extra level of traing for a non compliant (not opposed) is so great that even regular Rm do not do it. hence P squadron freeinf up FPGRM from more routine duties to allow greater deployment of boarding parties.

  235. paul g

    @ mark, i was reading it as the blokes are ok it’s the system above them that was failing, and it was an army veteran (me) that pointed out the MC won by a female RN medic.
    In defence of phil, when people turn up and you then have to schedule in extra training when you’re already going at 100mph it’s frustrating.
    If any RN teams had been killed manning a sanger because they didn’t know how to fire the GPMG i’m sure questions would be asked.
    BTW if i was tasked to go on board a sub for any period of time i’d expect to be taught the neccessary drills to keep me and fellow crewmates alive.

  236. Phil

    I never said they weren’t all arms trained. Im sure they must have been. But the all arms course can’t have prepared them properly because they lacked training in crew served weapons. There was an attitude of crying Geneva Convention and medics don’t fight. Well they do and the RN putting its fingers in its ears and saying otherwise didn’t make it so. And it was the blokes they left short changed while the hierarchy drank latte’s in BSN.

    I have a good idea how MA careers and training go, they do the Common Core med training at Keogh with Army and RAF. Army medics do the same course apart from the seven week Single Service module which specialises the purple medics into their respective services. You’re talking about RCMTs of which the Commandos have. But as 3 Commando needed a UK MED GP for its tour they had to pull in every swinging dick, even the lame and lazy. I think the medical aspect was a very political decision, the Navy wanted MAs deployed.

    I know it’s a different service, but the Navy will have known back in 2009 that they were to generate a MED GP of three squadrons and a field hospital for 2011. There was time, there were lessons learned, but they clearly ignored them in the case of medics. I can’t comment in any other groups.

    So it’s more the denial of reality by the chain of command that I speak out against. Like anyone I am sure the blokes adapted very well once us Pingo’s pissed off and stopped laughing when they said they’re not supposed to stag on because the Navy has told them so.

  237. Dunservin

    Much of this has been covered already but it still contains a few salient points.

    @TD

    “Dunservin, do you think there is room to create a more combative sailor trade that can carry out the boarding role without RM support.”

    – Fair question but obviously my response is as an ‘outsider’ these days and has to be somewhat circumspect. In my opinion, the short answer is no. Not only is the Naval Service’s total manpower capped but it is being reduced by 5,000 (i.e.14.3% vice 13.2% for the larger RAF and 6.8% for the much larger Army) during the current redundancy rounds. The ever increasing operational tempo and such factors as improved ship availability, reliability and maintainability (ARM) is seeing sailors spending more time at sea (and deployed to places like Afghanistan) than at any other time in living memory including WW II. Consequently, manpower is short enough already without having to absorb the formation of yet another branch. Then there is the ‘lean-manning’ of ships to consider. Even if the necessary accommodation is available, how would these extra bodies be employed usefully when not required in a boarding role?

    – In anything less than a benign environment (apart from when at Action Stations), the entire ship’s company is in Defence Watches, usually 6 on/6 off. The ‘combative’ specialisation of the Royal Navy is the Warfare branch. In Defence Watches, on-watch personnel belonging to the Warfare branch sub-branches tend to be closed up on the ship’s weapons, sensors, CIS, combat management systems, etc. This explains why boarding parties have largely been manned by members of less ‘combative’ branches although some of them have been extremely good at it. Contrary to popular belief, they didn’t simply volunteer for ‘a jolly’ but were selected from the only personnel who could be spared from other duties. They received basic training comprising UNOPPOSED board & search techniques, ROE, a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) acquaint, internal security, prisoner handling, small arms, etc., but this was typically one of many courses undertaken during individuals’ lengthy pre-joining training packages. They were also allowed an enhanced annual practice allowance for continuation small arms training.

    – Although board & search are among the many evolutions assessed by Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) staff during a ship’s operational sea training (OST) period, the skills involved are extremely perishable. Busy ships’ programmes seldom allow adequate time and resources to conduct supervised continuation training for people’s ‘part-time’ disciplines with the required frequency, let alone exercising their ‘full-time’ capabilities like ASuW, AAW, ASW, navigation, pilotage, flying, air direction, seamanship, fire-fighting, damage control, first aid, casualty evacuation, etc.

    – While serious measures have been taken to remedy shortcomings since the CORNWALL incident, they haven’t included the formation of yet another ‘trade’ requiring an uplift in the overall trained strength. As you imply, the Naval Service’s proper ‘sea soldiers’ are the Royal Marines who can be embarked when required but are also able to fulfill other valuable roles in between. I can’t be more specific than that but I hope I have clarified a few issues.

    @ Aussie Johnno

    “The RAN has been using members of its combat diving teams to form ‘Enhanced Boarding Parties’ …Does the RN have similar diving teams?”

    The RN does not have ‘combat diving teams’ as such although several of its clearance divers (CDs) are All Arms Commando Course (AACC) qualified to perform certain of their roles. The RN CD teams are fully employed on land and in minehunters at sea performing clearance diving, mine-countermeasures (MCM), underwater engineering and EOD/IEDD in the UK and elsewhere including the Gulf, Afghanistan and until recently, Iraq.

    Incidentally, an RAN Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer (MCDO) who was awarded an RAN Fleet Commander’s Commendation for Anti-Piracy Operations while on board HMAS Toowoomba during a six-month deployment off Somalia in 2009 (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/travel/hi-tech-somali-pirates-outgunned-by-aussie-navy/story-e6frezhr-1225792839996) has since been awarded an RN Commander-in-Chief Fleet Commendation in September this year for his service off Libya while on exchange as the XO of HMS Brocklesby.

  238. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Jedi,

    From: pocket carriers (with some strike capability, plus some outer edge AA defence capability, directed by AWCAS/ ships’ radars) and amphibs with a bde to land

    To: No strike (other than AH), no outer edge AA capability, and only enough amphibs to land a BG (and repeating the Atlantic Conveyor concentration risk with helos that will have to rely on Lusty a lot, even though when doing the OTH or otherwise landing can for a limited period operate from the (other) amphibs

    From 2016: same concentration risk, more helo capacity (incl. more of AHs, not just for vertical insertation and task force protection)

    From 2020: add strike, AA, and withdraw some, not all, of the the 2016 additions

    My point was that taking a carrier holiday in no way dictated the severe amphibs/ landed force cut, but was used as part of the same decision briefing package, to massage the savings potential between the “apparent alternatives”

  239. Mark

    Paulg if that’s the way it was to read thats fair enough. As to the structures we’ve had 10+ years of this now you would have expected the army to have modified it recruitment, training and structures to have sufficient staff avaiable to support a brigade in afghan without requiring it to strip people from ships or airforce base to compensate would you not

  240. jedibeeftrix

    AAC – “My point was that taking a carrier holiday in no way dictated the severe amphibs/ landed force cut, but was used as part of the same decision briefing package, to massage the savings potential between the “apparent alternatives””

    Cheers, understood.

  241. jedibeeftrix

    dammit, where is the edit function! :)

    [edit] although i still live in hope that the reduced ambitions (bg vs bde) are a temporary affair reflecting the fact that we are stuck in afghanistan till 2015 and will need to recover until 2020.

  242. Phil

    The brigade was Navy. The Navy wanted to send its medics. The Navy did so. The Navy betrayed its medics by not preparing them properly and giving the youngest silly ideas of what to expect. Thems the facts.

  243. All Politicians are The same

    The RN has a limited specialist CD capability provided by FDU 1 and 2. 1 does the para insertion etc and 2 the AT EOD role.
    @ phil, i accept the point on crew served weapons but there is no way anyone who has actually passed AACC does not know how to “stag on” the course has a 55% failure rate and many of them are trained infantry soldiers.

  244. Phil

    The sangers were equipped with crew served weapons. There were long arcs. You needed to be able to use them to defend the FOB. I’d be very surprised if there’s any sangers out there without at least a GPMG in it. Anybody can stand and peer but they’d have struggled to fight back. Probably not the older blokes but the young wet behind the ears ones would have.

  245. Mark

    Phil ok I hate the way this had descended to the one service up man ship that it has. The army has down just as bad with pow training in Iraq and it own recruits in the uk to name a few. Not one of the services are perfect in this regard but the everything grap unless it’s the army way or the navy way or airforce is so pointless. The navy went did the job I dont recall hearing that things fell apart when the navy was there so I assume they muddled thru

  246. Phil

    I have never denied the Army has problems. I said as such in my first post on the subject. And I don’t know what detainee maltreatment has got to do with Naval Medical hierarchy denying reality in Helmand in April 2011 which is the scope of my experience. Yes they muddled through, but it’s shameful they weren’t properly equipped because the bosses back in the UK and BSN decided, against all evidence, they wouldn’t need it.

  247. All Politicians are The same

    @ Phil and every army combatant in theatre had been trained to use the aforementioned GPMG? properly? There was a crew served weapon that required manning by every member of the sentry team? perhaps slightly more efficient use of the avialble manpower and resources would not have the medic manning a GPMG? Surely not the most effective use of there skillset.
    That i am afraid is an RN mindset, whilst everyone can do DC and FF GPMGs etc are a more specialist skill. We have watch and station bills to ensure that in any given condition from cocktail party to action sattions people know here and what they are meant to be doing.
    there is flex but not medics on GPMG fles because we want the medics able to respond instantly to a casulaty not be laying down suppressing fire at 400M. Are FObs so short of mapower that Medics are not only expected to stand watch(fair enough) but man a crew served weapon(a case of extremely poor manpower management)?

  248. Dunservin

    @ACC

    “…there is flex but not medics on GPMG fles because we want the medics able to respond instantly to a casulaty not be laying down suppressing fire at 400M. Are FObs so short of mapower that Medics are not only expected to stand watch(fair enough) but man a crew served weapon(a case of extremely poor manpower management)?”

    – Not just medics, apparently ;-).

    http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/SailorDefendsBaseInHelmandFromAttack.htm:

    “Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) were brewing tea and preparing their evening meal when they heard the sound of an AK-47 assault rifle being fired. They immediately grabbed their rifles and body armour, then moved to take up positions along the walls of CP Salaang.

    Already sitting on top of the barrier with her rifle aimed and ready to fire was Able Seaman (AB) Heidi Telford…”

  249. Phil

    The medics weren’t on board a ship though. They were operating as part of the infantry. And they operate in small checkpoints where everyone has to pull their weight. Saying that shouldn’t happen changes nothing. It happens, all the time. Sending blokes out without proper night vision kit is also shameful. They weren’t even trained on the pistol.

    So whether you agree with it or not naval medics were expected to muck in. Hierarchy wouldn’t accept it. Ours did. The SSM of the Close Support Med Sqn wore a green beret, he should have known better.

    And a tick in the GPMG WHT is part of PDT yes.

  250. All Politicians are The same

    @Phil, regardless of it being a Ship or a checkpoint using a medic on a crew served weapon is not efficient use of manpower, unless you have enough crew seved weapons for everyonee on watch to man them at same time. They should not have been allowed to deploy without pistol training it is clearly layed down in the DIIN.

  251. ArmChairCivvy

    Not at Jedi, but where did this cliche originate from
    ” stuck in afghanistan till 2015 and will need to recover until 2020″
    – what happened to the “battle-hardened” which historians always attribute so many things/ qualities to?
    – it does not refer to the “trickle of money, and hence the very slow pace of re-equipping the forces, for a better fit with “the mission”

  252. Phil

    You do not know the circumstances of each checkpoint etc. And as I said, it happens. It must happen. Do you think the medic is going to want to have a full nights kip when the lads are doing 2 on 4 off for weeks? It’s the reality of the situation. Saying its poor use of manpower is (a) not true, self defence is a very good use of it and (b) reflects the reality. It happens. Therefore blokes must be prepared for it. And as I said, it was not just the issue of sangers. They were diffy basic kit.

  253. All Politicians are the same

    I am not saying that they should have all night in, unless only 1 person is on watch which with even an 8 man section is unlikely to happen. It may on smaller checkpoints have been a good idea. i agree infact that people expected to use it should have been trained on it and equipped properly.
    My point about manpower however stands, the last place i want my team medic is somewhere they cannot leave to deal with a casualty, manning a checkpoint primary weapon is one of those places. i sense a bit of both sides here. the RN failing to roperly train and equip on one side and the Army saying “well they can fuck off if they think we are going to change procedures to help out”.

  254. DominicJ

    APATS
    Unless medics go around shooting soldiers in their PB so they can “medic” them, medics are going to be doing none medical stuff a lot of the time.
    If theres 27 people on a PB, all of them are going to be required to fight.
    Simple as.
    If that base has 8 crew served weapons, its pretty damn likely that everyone is at some point going to be in a position where its advantagous for them to know how to use those weapons.
    ***Civi Alert***
    Is it really that complicated?
    ****************

    “Are FObs so short of mapower”
    Yes. They are ruinously short of manpower.

    25 Men in a Fob, even assuming 16 hours a day active, gives you 16 men “on duty”
    Those 25 men will, in my understanding, have 6 LMGs in their own kit, and 2-4 GPMGs as part of the FOB defences.
    Half the men will be on support weapons.

    If you start saying x/y/z have better things to do than fight how long until no one is supposed to shoot back?

    Phil
    “As for ethical concerns, I don’t want to sound Apocalypse Now, but they really don’t matter out there.”
    Michael Yon was recently pointing out that a red cross more than likely makes the enemy see you as a crusader who deserves special attention, rather than a medic who should be left alone….

  255. All Politicians are the same

    2 Dominic, because an inbound rocket etc gives loads of time to respond. even by your own maths you do not need the medic on a crew served weapon. i have already said that ideally they should be trained to use one.

    As for the complicated civvi alert bollocks.

    I counter with definite Junior NCO alert! I would have said private but you can count.

  256. Phil

    What happens is the medic, or REME fitter or whoever, gets the first rounds down and he will be rapidly relieved when the CP / FOB etc gets stood too. Most of the time nothing happens, and a lot of the time infantry patrol. I’d rather stag on and give the Vallon man 6 hours unbroken sleep than deal with his missing legs feeling refreshed. For better, or for worse, everyone in a CP or FOB is expected to participate in its defence. The FOB defence shoot is part of RSOI where the medics could have made good their lack of GPMG skills. Everybody stags on. Everyone pulls their weight. You’re in a team. Pulling the I’m a medic line will make the tired blokes hate you. Medics mostly do radio stag but often times it’s up in the Sanger you go! Esp during the RnR window.

  257. DominicJ

    APATS
    I’m not saying they should stay on them during combat, but a medic manning a GPMG for 6 hours lets a soldier get some much needed sleep.

    Medic mans GPMG
    Soldier sleeps.
    Shooting starts, Medic Shoots back, Soldier takes over, Medic super glues wounded blokes arm back on.

  258. All Politicians are the same

    I agree that they should be trained, using them is less than ideal, I have also attempted to point out some of the reasons why they were not. good point Phil about using local training times to improve skills. the best GPMG aimer i have ever witnessed waqs a 5ft tall blonde female communicator. A lot of the time on a ship the GPMG is retained as a command weapon with the use of excalating force against closing contacts.

  259. Phil

    And it’s not an issue in every FOB or PB. But it is in the smaller ones and the CPs. You have to muck in. Anyone who can cut around a CP after a good nights kip when thr blokes have been doing 2 on 2 off because John’s gone man down with DandV after literally shitting hinself in stag at 0330 and you’re a man down because of RnR would have a gargantuan brass neck. You pull your weight, you muck in, you offer them rests, you cook, clean fight and patch them up.

  260. Phil

    Dom that’s about right. Or as sometimes happens, FOB takes incoming, medic runs to Sanger, pushes infantryman out the way and gets rounds down on the GPMG whilst the infanteer gives it large on the HMG ;-)

    Yes using medics is less than ideal. Running a med centre all day then stagging on then doing an op at zero dark thirty and expect the medic to be thinking straight is insane. But, it happens in the smaller bases.

  261. Phil

    They were told they didn’t kit out or prepare their blokes properly. Try patrolling at night with HMNVGs over rough terrain without an LLM! It’s emotional. Especially since a foot wrong leads to bad times.

  262. All Politicians are the same

    @Phil there is a central herrick lessons identified database, if you have never seen it you should ask. makes fascinating reading and def somewhere that this stuff should go, have gone. Never know things might be better in ten years for some other dusty campaign.

  263. Phil

    Don’t tell Dom. No not seen it. I used to read the OLAARs. Terrifying reading. Some funny though. I’m not sure if it made it on there. Sounds jack but we all just wanted to go home. The Doc may have bought it up in the handover. He should have anyway.

  264. All Politicians are the same

    @Phil The scary bit about it was the number of lessons that weres raised in Telic and again in Herrick. though i have to say thankfully far less were about kit.

  265. Phil

    As part of my course now I’m concentrating on organisations learning from disasters. It’s bloody terrifying.

  266. All Politicians are the same

    @Phil The UK armed forces have had our fair share to learn from. i take it you mean civvy companies though, e.g what BP have learnt from Deepwater horizon etc?

  267. Phil

    Yeah but the same mechanisms occur in the military really. And yes I mean stuff like that. Did you know that when the Herald capsized in 1987, that sailing with bow doors open had occurred five times previously on P&O ferries in the 4 years before. My jaw drops at some of this stuff. Essentially, organisations and managers forget to be afraid, as one researcher puts it.

  268. Jed

    Phil

    I understand your point on “good lads, shit bosses” and also on RN wanting all RN support for RM deployment BUT to me it raises some serious questions as to the mental state of the “higher ups”

    1. Did RAMC resources exist that could have been used ? Was this RN wanting to show they are relevant by “getting stuck in” to the ground war
    2. Is there enough joint medical personnel full stop ? If so, how many of them are “combat” oriented as opposed to surgeons ?
    3. After 10 years of the fight, why do we have to use other forces specialists to gap Army specialists ? I.E. highly trained clearance divers doing EOD ops in the desert ? Could we not recruit, train and deploy more “specialist” personnel such as EOD bods within the Army ?

    When I joined Psyops they actually asked me if I wanted to join RNR, RAFR or TA. I chose TA (Sigs) after they said actually RNR was not an option, the RNR was just not able to mentally cope with the idea of a reservist sailor being permenantly attached to a LAND unit, wearing DPM all the time – far to complicated…….

    On the other hand, promotion was also considered far too complicated for the TA Royal Corps of Signals, for a signaller that was actually a “Target Audience Analyst” 70% of the time, and was JNCO of the ‘Tactical Psyops Team” – so perhaps lack of organisational flexibility among our managers and leaders is rife, whatever service ???

  269. Phil

    1. The Navy wanted in on the hospital at BSN. Which isn’t a stretch seeing as its a posh RFAS Argus on terra firma.

    2. You’d think this would be an easy answer. Yes and no. There are sufficient medics but (a) the med laydown is very manpower intensive and (b) force generation is causing friction. On H15 they mobilised TA medics to make up the number, but they’ve only sent about eleven out there. Blokes were being told they weren’t needed, I have no idea what caused that arse and elbow party. So those two problems combined cause dramas even though one is self inflicted.

    I think it’s a combo, people want in on the party. I bet the Navy divers fancied a bit of C-IED. Plus C-IED is a massive priority and the specialists are taking heavy casualties seeing they’re only a handful of high threat operatives.

  270. Gabriele

    @AAC re PACSCAT

    “BUT I have not seen any order confirmed??”

    No, for now there is no order signed. The RN hopes to squeeze the order in one of the next Planning Rounds, i suppose. But the PACSCAT full-size prototype has been used extensively ever since last year and trialed in all the missions planned for it, including delivery on the beach of the HIPPO, of a single Challenger II, or of 5 Viking vehicles.

    All doable at more than 20 knots laden, which is more than twice as fast as the LCU MK10.

    But the better capacity of tackling a so far wider gradient envelope is even more important than the greater speed. It opens up many, many more beaches to landing ops.

    “The figures they both quote have since been proved to be false, using parliamentary answers.”

    Sorry, no. This is simply what you like to believe and claim. The most consistent argument you’ve been able to produce is a parliamentary answer, which by the way i had to find and link myself, which puts the saving connected to Tornado logistics at 4.8 billion.

    Regardless of what you say, this in no way denies the 7.5 billion figure, which is actually made even more likely by the above amounts for logistics.

    While logistics make for the biggest share of the costs, they aren’t the only expense voice connected to the fleet, and are not the only source of saving.

  271. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Phil,

    I thought the really specialist CIED guys was a multinational task group. Certainly the MCD guy i knew who went and did it was working beside Uk Army aussies and the US. he lost his army oppo he trained with 3 days before return and left the CD branch to go RN mainstream.

  272. Phil

    You might well be right. I don’t know much about the TFH C-IED TF. I think other countries supply teams, I know the Danes do. It’s predominantly British though I believe. Or was H13/14 on the RiP matrix.

  273. Chris.B.

    I’m sorry Gabs but we’re not going throught the numbers thing again. It was broken down in detail and shown. In fact I think that’s happened twice now. Fuck doing it a third time. Your £7 billion figure exists nowhere except in a few newspaper articles (one original, the others basically copying that first article) and as a dreamy idea in your head.

    You’re always banging on about evidence, so the evidence was presented… and you just denied it without rhyme or reason.

    It’s a dead end. Believe what you want, but even the NAO have jumped on board and said the Tornado decision was the right one.

  274. Rupert Fiennes

    @Gabriele: I understood that PACSCAT was only able to lift up to 55 tonnes. You sure it has lifted a 72 tonne Challenger 2 to the beach? Great if it has, but…

  275. paul g

    @ phil, i’m going waaay off topic here but i had to the unit H&S course at arborfield, you should read up on piper alpha, now there’s a “how not to do things” rig burnt for so long (i’m talking days) because they needed permission to turn off the gas feeding the fire, it was a chuffing big pipe as well. accident occoured because of poor comms and a work to rule policy over pay. That is just the tip, we saw a video, in it was a survivor pulled out of the sea, when asked why he had junped into the north sea he said i knew i had a choice, death by burning or death by drowning, i chose drowning. ‘kin hell.
    rest of the course was dull as f*ck mind!!

  276. Phil

    @ Dunservin

    Where’s the diatribe against the medics mate?

    If you think sending blokes out on the ground without basic kit and basic quals is a good thing then you’re a fucking epic tool.

    You’ve just pushed my button with that sniffy little post. Did you read my posts? Because you can’t have comprehended what I was saying, other people seem to have.

    Perhaps you were one of those c*nts sipping Latte’s in the EFI while your blokes stumble around in the dark in a narrow safe lane cutting through an IED belt?

    I never once, came even close to criticising anyone out on the ground.

  277. All Politicians are the Same

    Phil calm down mate, @ Dunservin there was no diatribe what there was, was an exchange of views and an exploration of the facts. Not every issue has to degenerate into a Gabb v Chris b thing.

  278. Phil

    Buttons were pushed. I have a brew now. Zen.

    Anyway, JMC is Role 4, it is not Role 3, 2 or 1 which is what is out in Afghanistan.

    So no the Navy were not out there as part of JMC. Nobody is out there as part of JMC, except some individuals who liaise or learn.

  279. Think Defence

    Come on Paul, do keep up mate

    I linked to that site way back in the future of… posts on the dark blue…

    They are the originators of the concept, another garage based bit of British engineering innovation at its finest

  280. Chris.B.

    @ APATS

    “Not every issue has to degenerate into a Gabb v Chris b thing”

    I’m sorry to have to go off on my own little rant here but I’m fucking tired of this. The reason I respond to Gabby’s posts is because the guy has an A-level in bullshit and he isn’t afraid to spread it about. I’m sick of listening to him misquoting people, be they on here or from other sources, then presenting that as fact.

    I’m sick of listening to him and others fart on about Tornado vs Harrier when we’ve run the numbers several times on here. I’m sorry if challenging bullshit offends you but frankly tough.

    He’s quick enough to pile in with links to his own blog, which often contain substantial amounts of material copied straight off this site, so I think personally it’s fair game to go probing his arguments and links to check their veracity.

    If you read the posts and then read the background links you’ll understand that he has a persistence habit of taking offical facts and figures and then just straight up manipulating them.

    Those are the kind of stupid fucking distortions that belongs in the red tops, not on a blog/think tank like this. Many people who’ve been here for a while will be aware of it and can treat his assertions with caution, but people who’ve only just come across it could easily be swayed by arguments from someone who at least on the surface appears to be well informed.

    Of course there is an alternative to all this. You could spend the time yourself reading all the bloody documents and checking all the facts in order to spot the fibs and the twists, but trust me it’s a boring and monotonous task.

    Or I can save you the trouble.

    Unless you think allowing someone to wade into arguments and knowingly misrepresent and distort data before presenting it as facts is fine and dandy, in which case by all means skip my posts and lap up the bollocks mate.

  281. James

    @ DominicJ,

    while you are still designing your strategic raiding force, have a look at this: http://www.hybridairvehicles.com/hav606.aspx

    I’ve been following this company for about 10 years, and sometimes they’ve seemed like a lost cause (mostly financially, also there was some international legal aggro – they seemed to be in the right but couldn’t beat the US legal system from what I read). Anyway, they have the capacity to build this at Cardington, all the design work is done, just awaiting their first firm order to start production.

    The one I have linked to lifts 200 tonnes, they also have a design for 1000 tonnes of lift. Range of 3,225 nautical miles at 75 knots. Cellular construction, so almost un-shootdownable (they claim). Doesn’t need any infrastructure for landing – it “sucks” itself to the ground in the opposite manner to a hovercraft. You wouldn’t want it flying over the beach as the assault wave, but once you’ve got local air superiority it’s a lot more flexible than a ship.

    Google maps says Ascension to Stanley is 3,400 nautical miles, which is just a couple of hundred more than this thing’s range. A few spare jerry cans of juice for an in-flight refuel and you are there. If my knots / nautical miles calculation is right, that’s 43 hours of flight.

    No idea on price, but it’s probably less than a ship, and certainly closer to the production stage than your T46!

  282. James

    @ DominicJ,

    looks like Hybrid Air Vehicles have actually now got a production order, and a big one as well. See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/861d8c44-cdae-11e0-bb4f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1fDG0ca8C

    Cost for the 50 tonne payload variant is between $30M-$50M, so as a guess perhaps 1.5 times that for the 200 tonne air vehicle? Call that £50M per air vehicle, if you choose to equip your force with them. A squadron of 6 capable of moving 1200 tonnes over land or sea and putting them down on a rough field 1500 nautical miles away in 20 hours for £300M seems almost like a bargain compared to ship and plane prices.

  283. Phil

    http://harvardnsj.com/2011/11/good-bye-counter-insurgency-hello-air-sea-battle/

    Provoking your thought.

    This won’t work unless the US Government keeps in step with the military ambition.

    There is no point the US Armed Forces going down this path if their Government has no intention of modifying how it employs its forces and cracks on with more COIN. Perhaps its the tail trying to wag the dog but that hasn’t really worked out well for the US military in the past.

  284. RW

    Does anyone else see a basis for MASC in the now european tilt rotor AW609

    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/agustawestland-completes-transaction-of-aw609-tiltrotor-365386/

    we’ve seen it at Farnborough and I suspect it doesn’t destroy its transmissions like the V22 – different design rotates a larger part of the “wing”

    it does look like a whole bunch of CVF stuff looks good for 2020

    also well done Grippen – Swiss deal- we need the UK designed sea Grippen for when the F35 shrinks to F22 numbers and costs are unaffordable and the congress refuse us software access to maintain their “technical”advantage

  285. DominicJ

    phil
    the taliban are funded primarily by ‘security’ payments levied on the jinglies.
    If airships fly karachi to khandahar, thats a big change.

    You cant mine the sky

  286. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris B

    Do NOT snap at me! Some of us know enough about it to make our minds up. Therefore feel no need to engage in feeding the troll as you so frequentely do.

  287. All Politicians are the Same

    @ mark, why do they only fit half the silo? the big attraction of CAMM is that apart from range advantage a 32 seawolf silo can quadpack 128 CAMM. Even if we cant get 32 cells quadpacked would certainly want more of the silo used than shown.

  288. Mark

    APAS

    Dont know thats one of the reasons I posted it can only assume were keeping similar missile numbers.

    Think type26 has been shown in the old pictures with a small aaw silo I assume the type 26 silo outfit is being integrated on type23 first hence the half a silo look.

  289. DominicJ

    phil
    i’m not sure where the misunderstanding is?
    An airship link between kandahar and karachi could replace the truck link, the tribals cant block the route, so dont require bribes.
    The sovietstan route is probably viable with airships, bypassing pakistan entirely

  290. Phil

    Okay. Just the airships idea has come out of nowhere thread wise. A eureka moment? There were studies into using massive airships a few years ago. Does anyone know why they’ve come to nothing?

  291. James

    @ Phil,

    (1) sorry if, being a newcomer to this site, I may have appeared to chuck in airships “out of nowhere”. I’m a fan since we seriously considered airships for the WATCHKEEPER requirement.

    (2) Airships have always been in the background, but a slew of Cold War factors have conspired to keep them there. Pre-positioning, speed of reaction, technology, reactionary reactions from single services, only focussed on Europe which has great railway and motorway comms, etc. Now we are global, the sweet spot has changed, and currently airships are the best tradeoff between 20 tonnes in 8 hours and 5,000 tonnes in two weeks. That just for loggies, let alone the outstanding advantages even aerostats have for long term surveillance and comms rebro. Did you know you can hoist an 18MBit WiMax rebro 90,000 foot in altitude over a city and keep it there almost indefinitely (solar on the envelope, well above the clouds), with enough power and channels to feed over a million mobile consumers? Airship 2.0 is coming to the 21st century.

    (3) No one has even suggested a weaponised UAV airship at 150,000 feet, which would be possibly expensive as a one off, but in physics terms makes some sense. Hoist 100 tonnes of mixed ordnance that far up and nothing much earth or air launched is going to touch it, it’ll stay up for months and self deploy around the globe, gravity still works for smart bombs, radar eye sees over 2,300 miles, comms delay is still milliseconds.

  292. DominicJ

    phil
    james brought it up as part of srpd

    limited stabilisation seize the gold / diamond / oil mines for a few months

  293. Phil

    @ James

    Sorry, I had no idea you had posted about airships! I hadn’t read your link. I thought Dom had suddenly come up with an idea for an airship.

    It’s been a long day doing other people’s work as they adopt the “supine” model of industrial action.

    I’ll have a read.

  294. IXION

    James

    Airships have been the coming thing since the turn of the 19th century.

    I have family connections- great uncles who built the things in the 1920’s and 30’s. They were completely disparaging about the idea in general.
    I know we are talking about modern technology but consider the points they always made to me about them:-

    1. They are very vulnerable to weather. They can be structurally damaged by low medium and high altitude winds. and crash.

    2. They can Ice up and crash.

    3) They can be impossible to steer in high winds and crash.

    4. They have incredible wind resistance, making them very dangerous near the ground when sudden gusts can cause them to crash.

    5. Thermals can cause them to rapidly and almost uncontrollably gain or loose hight and crash.

    6. They have to avoid big weather systems or they can (you guessed it) Crash.

    7 In addition there will soon be a world shortage of helium (it could actually be the first ‘mineral’ we run out of). We could use hydrogen in which case they will explode …. and crash.

    It’s blowing a gale outside at the moment, I can just imaging trying to moor one of these 1000ft long super airships proposed in 60 mph wind; its going to need a serious block of concrete to tie it to..

    And as for vulnerability to enemy action sitting target comes to mind.

    Sorry I Like the idea of big skyships cruising the world but it aint going to work

  295. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi ChrisB,

    Much appreciated “Of course there is an alternative to all this. You could spend the time yourself reading all the bloody documents and checking all the facts in order to spot the fibs and the twists, but trust me it’s a boring and monotonous task.

    Or I can save you the trouble.”

    Gabby does pull a lot of interesting stuff together, but the conclusions do lean one way only

  296. IXION

    Mark

    Yes

    But the airship is vastly more vulnerable to theses things than, a fixed wing aircraft or even a helicopter.

  297. andyw

    The US will be deploying 2 surveillance airships to Afghanistan next year…

    “Mav6 has released the first image of the hull of the US Air Force’s Blue Devil 2 surveillance airship, which it calls the M1400. The composite image of the 370ft-long airship was taken in August after its initial inflation with air. Mav6 says the TCOM-built hull was inflated with helium in September and is now floating, anchored, in its hangar in North Carolina.

    The US Army’s persistent-surveillance airship, the Northrop Grumman Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), has also undergone inflation in a hangar at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey, but we haven’t seen any pictures yet.

    The optionally piloted Blue Devil 2 is designed to stay aloft for almost a week carrying a 2,500lb payload of multiple wide-area, full-motion video and signals-intelligence sensors and a range of datalinks. Both airships are to be deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.”

    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%3af629e354-9994-4a4a-a2a4-468c41e60aa1&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

  298. ArmChairCivvy

    Thanks Mark, for “a video on camm-m showing type 23 integration”

    – the first half was about Venator, but the utility of tight quad-packing and soft launch (can be more freely located anywhere as opposed to the fire&ire launches of the earlier generation missiles)

    The T23 retrofit was interesting, as it indicated half of the space being left unutilised – is that for at-sea reloading?

  299. Mark

    Ixion

    I wouldnt say vastly but it is an increased risk over manned fixed wing. Fixed wing can outrun or divert round or above storms or weather easier but a/c close to ground are all vulnerable to weather.
    The biggest single issue with airships remains mooring and speed which is were they have struggled in the commercial world. You only use airfreight if you need stuff moved quickly which an airship doesn’t really help with.

  300. Mark

    I should add personally I see cargo a/c possibly heading towards the large blended wing a/c sort of a airship plane hybrid so to speak. The issue with this design for pax transfer has always been emergency evac and claustrophobia

  301. Gareth Jones

    I’m with James – Been a fan of airships for some years. They are not a silver bullet but do have some useful capabilities, particularly for patrol, ASW, MCM, AEW, and other support roles.

    @ James – I had thought the Yanks had got exclusive rights after Skycat went in to administration; if the Brits are still in involved thats cool!

  302. Chris.B.

    @ ACC

    No worries.

    @ APATS

    I’m at peace now. Apologies. But it’s very frustrating.

    Onto CAMM and the only thing I could suggest about that half loading on the missile bay is that maybe the second half is designed for another weapon? It does seem odd otherwise.

    What concerns me a little more though is that CAMM is supposed to be a cross service missile, but I can’t see where it’s going to fit in with the RAF. They have a long range active seeker weapon lined up for the future, and for short range they need a Passive IR weapon, not another active. So where is CAMM going to fit into that?

  303. James

    @ Airships commenters,

    Certainly, not a silver bullet, but they could be a surprisingly versatile club in the golf bag. Although this is the wrong thread, I thought they’d be worthy of at least consideration for the Pocket Division.

    We spent about 4 months looking at them as part of the background investigation into WATCHKEEPER. The main reason we did not take the idea further forward was that WATCHKEEPER URs at the time were only tactical, not strategic. That’s different now.

    Re icing: nominally only a problem below 60,000 where there’s enough water vapour to ice up, so for comms and ISTAR sensors hoisted higher the risk is concentrated into climb and descent windows. Above 60,000 there’s little risk, and depending on mission duration that risk is concentrated into a tiny fraction of the whole mission. The main anti-icing measure is “more helium”, and modern airships normally have a great excess of lift capacity over other structural factors. The 200T payload of the example I linked to is driven by the strength of the internal deck mountings on the envelope, not what that volume of helium-filled envelope can hoist.

    A heavy lift airship of course will fly much lower, and thus be vulnerable to weather. The performance window is most limited below 5,000 if I remember the dstl report, so transit above 5,000 is easier than below that level if flying in a gale, and gales happen. Equally, all aircraft have limitations in gales. I wouldn’t know if the limitations are better or worse than helicopters (I had a horrible ride in a Puma from Split to Sarajevo once on a windy day).

    Still an interesting concept, not perfect, but then what option for transporting lots of tonnes 1500 miles in a day over land or sea is?

  304. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi ChrisB,

    RE ” though is that CAMM is supposed to be a cross service missile, but I can’t see where it’s going to fit in with the RAF”
    – that’s where it came from (ASRAAM: ability to launch way off target direction & high manoeuvreability)

    I declared ASRAAM out of date in one post,but was probably wrong. The current AMRAAM is going out-of-date faster (of course there will be ever better versions)as it makes no sense to upgrade between now and Meteor ISD 2015 (Meteor itself should be fully tried and tested in 2013).

  305. Chris.B.

    Ahhhh, so CAMM will just be an atcive guided version of ASRAAM. If that’s the case then now I’m with you.

  306. Gareth Jones

    The CAMM/Type 23 video showed the electronics for the seawolf system being removed. Could the space next to the silos be CAMM electronics?

  307. Gabriele

    OT, but i cannot resist!

    “You cant mine the sky”

    Of course you can, and the UK did in IIWW.

    It didn’t work too well, admittedly, but the idea was there.

    The RN had a multiple rocket-launcher of which the rockets dragged forth a huge net, with the wires loaded with contact mines.
    It was to be fired against incoming aircrafts.

    Main problem was that the wind would push the net around… and possibly back towards the ship.

    Said rocket launchers were later replaced by, mostly, Bofors guns.

    And there were also flying-mines mounted on balloons and other systems used in the Battle of Britain.

    “@Gabriele: I understood that PACSCAT was only able to lift up to 55 tonnes. You sure it has lifted a 72 tonne Challenger 2 to the beach? Great if it has, but…”

    55 tons was an earlier prototype thingy.
    The RN trialed the PACSCAT and landed a Chally 2 ashore, then brought it back to the LPD too.

    There was a beautiful article on Amphibious exercises on Navy News a few months ago, and PACSCAT was used and tested during said exercise.
    I don’t remember which number of the journal it was, though.
    Maybe August’s number, but i really can’t remember.

    @Chris B.

    The only one i know that manipulates official figures, is you.
    As with this:

    “I’m sorry Gabs but we’re not going throught the numbers thing again. It was broken down in detail and shown.”

    This just NEVER did happen. The saving figure expected for Tornado has NEVER been released in any parliamentary answer. They only always say that each flying hour is 35.000 pounds, that there’s a 1.5 billion contract with BAE to 2015, another with Rolls for nearly 700 millions to end of service life, and that’s it.

    Another answer put the logistics at 4.8 billion.

    You try to pass that one as the “complete” figure, and also do cheerfully ignore that all “articles” and people point to the frigging MOD Audit document that, just because it is not shown to you and me internet folks, surely does not exist.
    Because of course they have to tell us everything.

    That is just how it works.

    That ends the matter. If AAC wants to believe to you, fine.
    But I suggest he takes the time and checks the documents on his own, though. It doesn’t take long to make a search of all the answers containing the word “Tornado” in them.

    He will see what i said.
    As always.

    Also, stick a big piece of soap in your mouth and chew on it.
    That perhaps will clean up your language a little bit and reduce your dependency on curses and insults.

    “The CAMM/Type 23 video showed the electronics for the seawolf system being removed. Could the space next to the silos be CAMM electronics?”

    Honestly, i cannot be sure.
    It could be, but CAMM is supposed to have little electronics of its own due to it being sensor-agnostic and all that.
    Besides, i’d find it weird to literally put the weapon and its electronics in the very same point of the ship, where a single blow would terminate the whole system.

    No surprise instead on the Seawolf radar and components being removed: CAMM only needs ARTISAN (or any other 2 or 3D radar, anyway) and the MBDA two-ways data link in order to work. Getting rid of the SW trackers will save a lot of money in mainteinance.

  308. jedibeeftrix

    @ Phil – “I can’t see how you can have limited stabilisation?”

    To quote from the document:

    “As the department’s senior leaders visualize the future land force, three realities are relatively certain. First, the force will be smaller — perhaps, significantly so. Second, tomorrow’s landpower demands will not look like those of either today or yesterday. And, finally, third, national leaders will hesitate when faced with future interventions that look — in cost and scale — like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, they are likely to drive down expectations about outcomes and, as a consequence, limit investment of blood, treasure, and time.”

    All three apply identically to Britain too.

    “There is clearly emerging cognitive dissonance between what we now know to be the requisite (and enormous) investment in blood and treasure needed
    to put a modest-sized state of 25-30 million people tenuously back on its feet and what the risk and cost tolerance of American officials are as a result. Repeating commitments that match
    Iraq and Afghanistan in scale and duration hazard prohibitive costs for a war-weary nation. Further still, they promise to fix finite U.S. land forces strategically in a single theater, severely
    limiting broader global freedom of action. Thus, increasingly the FM 3-07/FM 3-24 blueprint will instead have to be a menu; where minimum essential outcomes are pursued through selective and limited stabilization and reconstruction efforts in pursuit of ‘good enough’ but certainly not ideal outcomes.”

    Again, this is the 21st century and Britain needs to provide greater justification and legitimacy to its Demos to launch into wars.

    “Big HEAT challenges will increasingly become
    the objects of dissuasion, deterrence, and, at their most intense level, coercive campaigns — certainly not regime change. Whereas, small wars of disorder need to increasingly be seen as
    management challenges where intervention seeks to drive active threats to levels senior decision makers find manageable. To the inevitable retort that failure to go ‘all in’ in any small war only
    guarantees U.S. forces will have to return, the best answer is “perhaps”; as the absolute cost of one, two, or more future wars like Iraq and Afghanistan become increasingly unthinkable.”

    Anyone here think a British government is going to enter an [elective] war that looks or feels like 2003 anytime in the next fifteen years……?

    “The limited stabilization mission anticipates opposed, minimum essential pacification of a state, territory, or region — friendly or hostile — where central authority has failed and disorder itself threatens core U.S. interests.22 Among others, trigger events might include external attack, coup, civil war, insurgency, insurrection, and natural or human disaster. From a planning perspective, the most significant operational difference between opposed stabilization and large-scale, classical COIN and STABOPS centers on the type, intensity, and varied sources of violence, as well as the assumed absence of ready-made local partners. It is also important to note that the capacity for limited traditional military campaigns remains embedded in the force, as the armed stabilization model offered here assumes that opposing forces will often possess and employ sophisticated military capabilities and methods.
    The term ‘limited’ is only an indication of the extent and sophistication of the objectives pursued. It is not an indication of the aggregate size of the U.S. commitment. I anticipate that a limited opposed stabilization might involve between eight and twenty combat brigade equivalents and between 90,000 and 230,000 personnel in the immediate theater of operations. At max intensity, a limited stabilization is intended to achieve a circumspect set of key defeat and stabilization objectives in a high threat environment with a hostile population.
    Likeliest use of the limited stabilization option is in the establishment of functional security in the most important areas of a crippled state or region. By definition then, limited stabilization is not optimized for bottom-up, long-duration nation-building but instead focuses on establishing and maintaining those minimum essential security conditions necessary for the local reconstitution of effective political authority. The mission assumes a limited duration — perhaps two years. The combat forces employed — especially early entry forces — should be drawn first from the active component. And, the force should have sufficient depth to accommodate the initial commitment of forces and a single full follow-on rotation, with options for a more extended commitment under extraordinary circumstances at significantly lower numbers.”

    Broadly the same role as identified for our five rotating MRB’s, and to be complemented by:

    “Rapid entry/punitive campaigns are also predicated on forcible entry into and operation in high-threat environments also boasting hostile populations, albeit with a more modest U.S. land contingent. The rapid entry/punitive campaign likely involves four to seven combat brigade equivalents and a total personal commitment in the immediate theater of between 45,000 and 80,000 personnel. Rapid entry campaigns also focus on achieving a limited set of very specific security objectives over a relatively short period of time (i.e., no more than
    12 months). This latter force does not require the warfighting potential resident in the other two but may need additional specialized capabilities to better enable it to meet its homeland defense and security demands.”

    Well lookee here! Somewhat similar to our rapid reaction forces post SDSR, as constituted in 16AAB and 3Cdo. And what are the purpose of the ‘strategic-raiders’ when we all know very well that it is a bust model of no utility to anyone at any time in history?

    “Rapid entry/punitive campaigns might be necessary to:
    • ­Defeat hybrid military threats or hostile irregular groups;
    • Neutralize violent threats to friendly governments or unim-
    peded use of the global commons;
    • Protect U.S. citizens and property abroad;
    • Establish short-term control over un-, under-, or irresponsibly-governed territory;
    • Destroy or dismantle criminal or terrorist sanctuary and
    support networks;
    • Reverse illegitimate seizures of political power;
    • Underwrite the extraterritorial exercise of U.S. law; or
    • Seize and exercise temporary control over WMD, critical foreign infrastructure and resources, or foreign territory that may be essential to local restoration of order, authority, and the protection of wider international security.”

    Hmmmm, does seem pretty useful, but again, why is this split personality necessary?

    “Finally, they will need the ability to do all of this faster as there are likely to be new unspoken restrictions on the scale and duration of future foreign contingency operations.”

    Because it will no longer be acceptable to have the sum of your expeditionary capability locked in a single theatre for over a decade when the rest of the world is a powder keg that may need ‘some’ attention at the spark of a match.

  309. DominicJ

    Can we just drop the Harrier/Tornado arguements?
    Short of a major change, The RAF isnt getting any F35’s, which means its entirely reliant on Typhoons for a very long time.
    Since it only has 160 Typhoons, and these are going to have to last 20 years at least, it makes absolute sense to husband their flight hours and instead use the Tornado.

    Ragrdless of what anyone has claimed in parliament, THOSE ARE THE FACTS!

  310. paul g

    @james, we had an airship on trials at middle wallop/boscome down in 96-97, it was going to be used for overwatch in NI. Had afew problems with it although it was a typical “blimp” design. If you go on PPRUNE, they are big fans of the airship there……………not!!!

  311. Rupert Fiennes

    @DominicJ: Tornado will likely cost far more to run than Typhoon, as we are talking about double the numbers of aircrew, and a much older plane. Personally, I’m all in favour of WSO’s…but they cost money to train and pay. The best solution for the RAF would be to retire the Tornado and buy the full complement of Typhoon’s…it’s the only practical option, but it would involve the MOD *taking a decision and following through*…oh well, what was I thinking?

  312. Chris.B.

    I know I shouldn’t but I simply must. Before you read these links let me remind everyone that a Parliamentary answer is bound by certain rules. Minister must endeavour to answer questions in all parts, as fully as possible. For obvious reasons they are not permitted to twist the facts, lie or manipulate the data. You’ll have to stick a www. in front of each link;

    publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110706/text/110706w0003.htm – Scroll down (or use the “find on this page” tool under “edit” on your toolbar) and you’ll see the direct running cost of a Tornado is £5,000 per hour.

    services.parliament.uk/hansard/Lords/ByDate/20101116/writtenanswers/part005.html – Nice and simple, just the one question and answer, that puts Tornado’s life time cost at £4.8 billion, including the cost of disposal at the end.

    services.parliament.uk/hansard/Lords/ByDate/20101111/writtenanswers/part004.html – this is a compilation of a number of questions regarding Harrier vs Tornado asked by members of the Lords. There is a weapon comparison table, and also one interesting nuggest that I shall share with you here, in case you can’t be arsed to click the link;

    “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the average cost of a flying hour for a Tornado GR4 and a Harrier GR9.[HL3484]”

    Lord Astor of Hever: “The average cost per flying hour of Tornado GR4 and Harrier GR9 are around £35,000 per hour and £37,000 per hour respectively.

    These costs are based on total fleet costs (including manpower, servicing, stock consumption, aircrew training, accommodation etc, depreciation and cost of capital charges).”

    Interesting I think. But ignore me, I don’t speak the facts or ever provide links ;)

    If you want a laugh, read this to, written by four or five Navy officers. You’d never know just to read it; publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmdfence/761/761vw39.htm

  313. DominicJ

    Rupert
    Its possible its cheaper to buy another Typhoon with 6000 flight hours, than operate 6 Tornados each with 1000 flight hours left over, but I’m not sure personaly.

    Can an ADV function without the WSO?
    Does it actualy increase costs that much to have him in place?

    I know the French have ordered a lot more two seater Rafales than they planned, because the second guy is very useful and fairly cheap..

  314. All Politicians are the same

    @Chris B Is this the link to the Sir sandy Woodward evidence? That is what i got. It is biased piece but given his militray record I do not believe that it can simply be dismissed by you as “if you want a laugh”. How many task forces have you commanded?

  315. Mark

    Dom

    Adv tornado retired a year ago. F15 and many other fighters have been single seat for quite some time. He costs a lot to train. French have 2 seaters for the nuclear strike role which rafale will assume as most consider a 2 seat preferable for strike missions. Next generation fast jets have significant information management and sensor capabilty which reduces workload along with very easy flying characteristics allowing single seat strike capabilty.

  316. jedibeeftrix

    “That is what i got. It is biased piece but given his militray record I do not believe that it can simply be dismissed.”

    Agreed, over-sensitivity to single service bias has on occasion led to the motive fallacy popping up left right and centre.

  317. Rupert Fiennes

    @DominicJ: you can’t ignore replacement cost with regard to Tornado. They have to be replaced with something…

  318. Chris.B.

    @ APATS

    “@Chris B Is this the link to the Sir sandy Woodward evidence? That is what i got. It is biased piece but given his militray record I do not believe that it can simply be dismissed by you as “if you want a laugh”. How many task forces have you commanded?”

    – It is the Admiral Woodward evidence. I find it slightly odd that you on the one hand call it biased and then on the other dismiss the comedy factor of what is clearly a heavily service centric piece. If an RAF Group Captain wrote a piece that essentially suggested (subtly or otherwise) the near entire disposal of the Royal Navy in favour of a massive fleet of MPA, would you not casually dismiss it out of hand as service centric bias? I certainly would.

    I find it amusing because commanders such as Mr. Woodward are supposed to give evidence to parliament in order to inform politicians who then make important decisions about the armed forces, not to drown them in biased drivel.

    And you’re right, I haven’t commanded a task force before, but then neither have you. None of us have. Does this mean we should all shut up shop now? TD has never commanded a task force, yet he wrote an entire series of posts on how he would reshape not just a task force, but the entire fleet. Do you feel he is ill qualified or ill positioned to make such suggestions?

    You regularly comment on subjects which one can only presume are greatly beyond your military experience (unless you served in all arms of all three of the Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force at some point). Am I now to ignore everything you say that falls outside of your particular area of practical expertise?

    And having never commanded a task force, I’ve also never been as heavily criticised from as many quarters about as many issues in my handling of a task force as the Admiral has.

    Make of that what you will.

  319. All Politicians are the same

    @Chris B I did not say that you should not be critical of the piece but I belive the man has earnt the right to be above a flippant comment such as the one you made ref laughter and 4 naval officers.

  320. Chris.B.

    As I said, I laugh (perhaps smirk?) at it because other than some interesting points of discussion it’s basically just an argument for substantially dismantling the army and air force in favour of the Navy. It’s presented as being in the best interests of the country, but reads like a thinly veiled piece of service in-fighting.

    I treat it the same way I would treat a submission by an Air Vice-Marshal that said “what we should do is scrap most of those boys in dark blue and Green, and just fly. Everywhere. And solve every problem with aircraft”.

    Or in other words, it makes me chuckle.

  321. paul g

    i’ve commanded a task force, 6 of us tasked to clear the weeds outside, before the brig came for a visit!! (it’s december tis the season to be jolly).

    mind you i refused to lose one second of my life reading the white paper written by some RAF multi bar-coder titled “one nation, one air force” teeeeee-wat!

  322. Chris.B.

    Just dipping further into that report by Mr. Woodward and co. I found something interesting. Remember that MoD DOC Audit that keeps getting brought up? Well the Admiral was kind enough to include an excerpt from it as Annex D.

    So, if you’re a betting man, now’s the time to put your money where your mouth is. How much do you wanna bet that the £7.5 billion figure wont hold up to scrutiny?

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    According to the report;

    60 Tornado to 2025: £3,284 million
    40 Tornado to 2025: £2,189 million

    74 Harrier to 2018: £1,100, million
    40 Royal Navy Harriers to 2018: £595,000 million

    So uhm, where’s the £7.5 billion? Supposedly this document was the one that contained it, but there’s no sign of it?

    Interesting.

  323. Mark

    This is not a excuse for a carrier “debate” chrisb gabby please

    While the RAF looks back at the success of its efforts in the skies over Libya, logisticians involved in the operation say they are keen not to repeat the mistakes made in the early days of the action.

    Within days of the UN mandate allowing the no-fly zone over Libya, RAF aircraft were deployed to bases in Italy and Cyprus. Tankers were moved forward to Trapani in western Sicily while Typhoons and Tornados were sent to Gioia del Colle in southern Italy to begin flight operations.

    ‘Operation Ellamy was not the model for how we want to do things in the future,’ said Gp Capt Richard Hill, A4 Force commander and station commander of RAF Wittering and Cottesmore.

    ‘The pump had not been primed: aircraft arrived in theatre before logistics support was on location. They struggled to keep up,’ he told delegates at the Military Logistics Conference in Bristol on 29 November.

    Within days, several Typhoon aircraft had become unavailable because of unserviceabilities and the units were beginning to run out of munitions.

    During the early days of the conflict, munitions for the aircraft had to be flown in on RAF transport aircraft because land supply lines were only just becoming established.

    However, flying munitions by air is neither cost-effective nor efficient, and the rates at which bombs were being dropped meant that munitions began running out. Furthermore, no weapons were available to the RAF at Gioia del Colle. ‘Gioia del Colle was not how we left it eight to 10 years ago,’ added Hill

    In August the RAF website reported how personnel at the base were forced to do ‘regeneration’ work in consultation with the commanders of the Italian airbase. In 20 days alongside Italian contractors, the RAF resurfaced the eroded taxiways and parking areas and erected sun shelters for the aircraft. They also cleared the site of foreign object debris.

  324. Mark

    also some interesting answers to questions to defence select committee
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmdfence/uc950-iii/uc95001.htm

    Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton: The overall position is that we were able to maintain all our commitments-for instance, UK air defence, air defence of the Falklands and our commitment to Afghanistan-while conducting the operation in Libya. We did necessarily prioritise where assets went on a daily basis. In some cases they were sent further east and in some cases they were kept in the Mediterranean. These are assets that are, by nature, designed to be able to flexed from one theatre to another when they are needed for the priority that they are doing. Therefore in terms of the overall ability to conduct what we are tasked to conduct as a standing set of tasks, we were able to do that without impact on the operational capability, and where we needed to move assets around we did so. Another example would be that we sometimes took TriStars off mounting air logistics deployments to make them into tankers to support the Tornadoes that were flying out of the UK. We backfilled that, if necessary, by using other assets. If we did not need to and we could delay the missions for the air logistic support, that is what we did. We prioritised the tasks at the time, depending on what they were.

    Q265 Penny Mordaunt: Does that include not just what was used but what was there? I am thinking of ships being deployed with very much under the number of Sea Wolf or Harpoon missiles.
    Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope: In deploying ships, we equip them for the mission which they are tasked for. That might be constrained with regard to the equipment placed on the ship. There are areas of risk in the positioning of ships that require us to put more equipment on board them, for instance, operations in the Arabian Gulf, where the threat levels are higher, than if we are going to operate them in the North Atlantic. Some of the vessels used for Libyan operations were not fitted with what one might call the area-specific kit, nor was it required.

    Q266 Penny Mordaunt: And you were comfortable with that?
    Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope: With the operations off Libya, as they progressed, yes, I was comfortable with regard to the equipment, self-defence equipment and the ammunition stocks, which is what we are talking about here, that they held.

    Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton: There are three things on that question. First of all, the performance of Tornado has yet again proven it a bedrock of multi-role capability, having precision weapons, first-class reconnaissance capability and first-class targeting capability.

    Typhoon, on its first outing in an operation as opposed to its defensive counter-air role in the UK and the Falklands, proved again to be very reliable-4,500 flying hours with no engine changes. It is an amazingly reliable piece of kit. Within a matter of days, we were able to bring forward its existing air-to-ground capability on top of its air-to-air capability and to deliver very effective and very poignantly laser-guided bombs, and eventually to make sure that it could conduct that role simultaneously with its air defence role. Therefore, it could provide the requirement to enforce the no-fly zone and target precisely and accurately targets on the ground.
    All of those have proved extremely reliable and effective. We have, of course, had to make sure that the ISR piece that supports them, which is the key element to make sure it all joins up, is equally available. As we have already said, those assets are in short supply. Undoubtedly, if we had had more of those, we could have done more effective operations, but they are nevertheless joined up in a way that makes the whole thing come together.

  325. x

    But how could the RAF logistics guy do any better? Any permanent structure they would bring in could only be much as they did with some tweeks. Lots of stuff into lorries and off you go. The RAF isn’t deigned to self deploy in a hurry. It was rush but they did what they could with what they had.

  326. Chris.B.

    @ Mark

    It’s an open thread about Land, air and sea. Harriers and Tornados are “air” are they not.

    I don’t understand some people. Comments are made either misrepresenting data or unintentionally quoting false data. That data is then probed and the truth turned up.

    And people moan?

    Would you rather just stumble through the discussion blissfully unaware? Why come here if not to debate defence and try to learn as much about the facts as you possibly can? Or have we reached the point where people are only interested in the selective data that conforms to their position or interest?

    I just question why you would not be interested to know that some data and figures that have been quoted in the past have now been proven to be false? Would you rather just take figures at face value without any form of interrogation or rigour?

    To me that is an unacceptable state of affairs. If we’re not going to challenge numbers and research the background behind the data then we might as well all give up and go play golf or something, because we’d be wasting our time discussing matters while knowingly or suspectingly using false information.

    And now another interesting quote from the “Woodward document”, from another Annex.

    “While there will be temporary degradation in the outer layer of air defence until FCJA is operational, this will be adequately compensated for by the introduction of the Type 45 Destroyer, and other elements of our layered maritime air defence system. Also, with the increasing emphasis on coalition operations in the littoral and the much reduced requirement to conduct blue water operations, there are few, if any scenarios which in the interim will require FA2 aircraft to ensure operational success”

  327. ArmChairCivvy

    RE “The RAF isn’t deigned to self deploy in a hurry.”
    – why has it become fashionable to have “expeditionary” attached to unit names… is it a capability that exists, is exercised but without a provision for rapid reaction (cfr. the Bare Base concept that the Americans have had the kit, and lift, for at least for the last two decades)?

  328. x

    @ ACC

    You have gone all Yoda again. If the RAF had the capability the Group Captain wouldn’t have said what he said would he?

  329. Mark

    Yes it is a place to discuss defence but tornado Cost figures and capability were discussed endlessly on multiple threads and very early on they proved gabbys arguments were wrong your still swinging long after the bell has rung. the decision has been made and harriers done and dusted. It’s how we move forward not looking back is the issue

  330. ArmChairCivvy

    I lifted the quote that follows from grandlogistics. blogspot, and rather than debating past decisions (already implemented), I would love to focus the debate more on
    1. how many JSF by 2020 and by 2030
    2. in the light of Tornado OSDs 2024/2021/2017 all being feasible choices, and the much highlighted relative costs (but de-emphasizing sunk costs)
    3. and taking into consideration major derived costs of different time profiles (like accelerated conversion training, accelerated ground-attack training…)
    4. calculating the costs a bit like has been done below (the source as given at the beginning) would be an informed basis
    “Eurofighter Typhoon

    The current planned Typhoon fleet consists of 160 aircraft.

    The procurement cost of 160 Typhoons is £20,627 Million.

    The unit procurement cost is £129 Million per aircraft.

    The cost per flying hour of a Royal Air Force Typhoon in 2010 is £70,000,including all capital costs (this may decline in future,in 2009 it was £90,000 per flying hour).

    Each of these aircraft has an expected airframe life of 6,000 flying hours.

    Assuming each aircraft flies for 240 hours a year,each aircraft will have a service life of 25 years.

    This suggests the lifecycle cost of a single Typhoon is £420 Million and the lifecycle cost of the 160 strong Typhoon fleet is £67,200 Million.

    This suggests an annualised lifecycle cost of £2,688 Million a year for the Typhoon fleet and £16.8 Million a year for an individual Typhoon.”

    … now in this light, like one blogger mentioned, nurturing the airframe hours by using and managing down the Tornado fleet (which is plentiful, save for the famous “upgrade for 96 planes only” but still plentiful, considering that in a modern environment Tornado is more of a one-trick pony than Typhoon – or the JSF, in due course)

  331. ArmChairCivvy

    Didn’t finish the sentence:
    … now in this light, like one blogger mentioned, nurturing the airframe hours… … SHOULD BE A GOOD IDEA?

  332. Mark

    Acc the only warning I attach to your numbers is that the mod adds asset depreciation to it flying hours cal so it’s not really that much and why older a/c appear cheaper.

    I would accelerate the typhoon force especially if a export order is won and resulting in less concerns on the production line. Retiring tornado quicker freeing personnel and money even if that means a typhoon Sqn transitions to f35 when the typhoon numbers reduce in 2020.

  333. IXION

    Just to get back to airships – they have uses as maritime patrol, observation skyship style/ size.

    But remember very few countries actually bought them when they could! If they were so F**ing wonderful why are the skies not full of them?

    The dirigible airship has been a functioning technologically feasible object since the 1980’s.

  334. paul g

    on other air matters, defense industry daily is reporting, that the original costs for the boeing tanker are going to be about a billion more than originally quoted, boo hoo unlucky!!

    BTW stop moaning about the cost of carriers i live in wales and they’re bloody 5p each now!!

  335. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Mark,

    I agree, as we are going to end up with the 107 number. So convert all pilots using those airframes that will bring the 160 down to 107 once they have reached “their life” – and not upgrade them any further.

    RE “I would accelerate the typhoon force especially if a export order is won and resulting in less concerns on the production line. Retiring tornado quicker freeing personnel and money even if that means a typhoon Sqn transitions to f35 when the typhoon numbers reduce in 2020.”
    – there is still an argument in favour of some Tornado sqrns (simply because they can do a job that will be a gap for many years, they have a very large pool of qualified pilots and the airframes (not their operation) is “free”

    Normally the export orders argument is done in the opposite direction – the partner nations are good enough so as to slow down their own take up, in favour of the honoured customers… of course the truth is that slowing down orders to a minimum
    1. saves cash by delaying the purchases
    2. keeps the production lime alive, to hedge against the uncertainty of export orders (some of it remains even after an announcement; just think how many “done deals” have fallen through in the end)

  336. Chris.B.

    “BTW stop moaning about the cost of carriers i live in wales and they’re bloody 5p each now!!”

    We’ve been paying 2p each for them for about 2-3 years now! I saw an old lady on the TV when the 5p charge for Wales came in and she said something along the lines of “5p! Now 2p I can understand. 2p I can live with. But 5p? That’s a bit much”

    Carrier bags = worth 2p, but not 5p.

  337. Gareth Jones

    @ IXION – I never claimed the airship is a miracle weapon or a silver bullet, but it has unique capabilities. I my opinion these unique capabilities are its strength but also its weakness; it falls between ships and aircraft. Too much like a ship for the air force, too much like an non-ship based aircraft for the Navy. If rumour is true the army used them as floating watchtowers in NI but even then, they don’t fit in with the AAC perceived roles.

    Add in the fact if you mention airships everyone has a mental image of the Hindenburg in flames and…

  338. James

    160 Typhoons, each of “austere” ground attack capability. £129 million each. 240 flying hours per year.

    They’re ruddy expensive, these Typhoon things, for limited utility in a modern conflict. No credible enemy is going to be able to put up even something as good as a Tornado against us, so it seems like expensive overkill for a tiny problem that’s not going to happen. If I were cynical, which I am, I might observe that the Typhoon’s existence is little more than a misguided “Save the RAF” scheme, when it would have been smarter to have spent money on saving the RAF by buying more transport, MPA, ISTAR, AEW and slow speed mud movers like A-10 or A-67, and keeping the Tornadoes. That set of choices would save the RAF for a lot longer than betting everything on Typhoon and bankrupting the other two services.

    (This argument also available in CVF and FRES flavours. Only two arguments can be funded at any one time, not three. Bonus points if the two arguments chosen do not include the ability to actually decisively influence a conflict.)

  339. Tubby

    Hi James,

    I am not sure I can agree that Typhoon is a waste due to a lack of peer enemies, as the Chinese are ramping up sales of their JF-17 and the GR4 is simply not equipped to survive a merge with a JF-17 – the JF-17 might be relatively underwhelming compared to F-16/F-15/Typhoon or Mirage 2000-9 but I bet its more than a match for any mud mover like the Tornado GR4 (or Jaguar or AMX for that matter).

    There is however a good argument for a small core of expensive multi-role fighters backed up by cheaper mud mover – you could speculate that a good mix for UK defence would be a small number of Tranche 2 Typhoons backed up by a large number of Hawk 200’s or a similar LIFT reconfigured as a ground attack platform.

  340. DominicJ

    james
    i dunno, typhoon can carry 20+ brimstone, could probably integrate sdb bomb racks, maybe even 120mm laser guided mortar racks.

    With an aesa, pirate, thrust vectoring and conformal fuel tanks it’ll be a groovy little bird.

    Carriers and fres, i’ve got nothing….

  341. James

    @ Tubby,

    you may well be correct. Perhaps a couple of squadrons of the better F-16/F-15 families, together with top end missiles would be a useful insurance. But no more than that is needed. I recall the RAF officers on my joint staff course in 2000 (when Typhoon was still coming) raving about dogfighting abilities, Gen IV, etc when it was clear to anyone with a brain that those days were over. Sadly, most of them went on to be posted to the MoD and closely involved in purchasing decisions. Muppets, most of them, fully bought into the two winged master-race delusion.

    Let’s say we do end up fighting the Chinese over at their neck of the woods. Just exactly where are we going to base Typhoon, and how many of them could we realistically put into the air? How much more effective would Typhoon be at taking out JF-17 than any other anti-air system such as T45? If we are fighting the Chinese, are we doing it by ourselves (gulp) or in a coalition?

  342. James

    @ DominicJ,

    Brimstone: any UAV can do that for 1/5th of the price of Typhoon.

    Laser guided mortars coming off a super-expensive fast jet? you’ve got to be joking.

  343. Mark

    Think you need to take a look a fighter proliferation round the world from both Russia and now china before making such assured and bold statement. I think there’s 4 or 5 African countries operating su27 or later aircraft. F15 cost much more than typhoon and latest f16 is a similar price.
    Tubby were at the high end core now and tactic uavs will provide the cheap low threat strike requirement.
    Airpower was is and will be the cheapest most politically acceptable way this country will deal with most future threats while offering the best economic value

  344. Phil

    The thing is. Typhoon has a life of another thirty odd years? She’s a good swing role plane, useful for a vast array of things and we’ve got it now. She’ll potentially have to face threats still on the drawing board as of now. I’m not one for gold plating anything, I personally think that a planes weapon systems and sensors are far more important than speed or pulling g’s, but we do need some degree of insurance when it comes to peer threats. It’s just risk management sense.

  345. DominicJ

    james
    in a permissive environment, yes.
    Rember iraq?
    Yugoslavia?
    Iraq again?
    Falklands?

    Phi
    its a bit of steel that holds 10 120mm mortar bombs and plugs into a hardpoint

  346. Gabriele

    “i dunno, typhoon can carry 20+ brimstone”

    It can carry zero at the moment, and it’ll be at least 2014 before DMB and Storm Shadow are integrated. ALARM is not being integrated at all.

    And when DMB will be integrated, the missiles carried will be 18 in 6 triple racks, at most.
    Not 20+.

    The 52 (one written off in 2008 after a bad landing during an exercise in Nevada, US) Typhoon Tranche 1 will be retired from service between 2015 and 2019, leaving 67 Tranche 2 and 40 Tranche 3A.

    “but the raf isn’t getting any f35s since when?”

    Land IOC in 2018 with N planes (maybe 10, but it is not clear)
    6 carrier-capable F35C at Readiness level 2 in 2020
    A 12-strong squadron of F35C per carrier work in 2023

    FOC expected in 2030 with three carrier capable squadrons being available. This in CVF briefs that have generated the famous recent uproar on the press.

    However, the FOC objective is actually not confirmed anymore in the JCA briefs. Until the SDSR, FOC was “36 Force Elements at readiness”, in practice a carrier air wing.
    Now the FOC target level is left white and waits for “adjustment” as the number of planes to acquire and the plan are finalized.

    Officially, the capability to provide 36 planes in a crisis by 2030 is still an objective, but how that is effectively achieved is to be seen.

    Originally, JCA was to go to:

    1(F) RAF Sqn
    800 NAS
    IV RAF Sqn
    801 NAS

    plus OCU.

    As to Tornado, i find it amusing that people quotes figures such as the cost per flying hours and all that, and saving figures that they do not know what they involve and what they leave out, nor how many possible plans for retirement have been made.

    Are they figures for
    Immediate retirement?
    Progressive retirement?
    When, how?
    There were 8 Tornado GR4 in Afghanistan, a progressive retirement would have been necessary, at the very least to allow the Harrier force to prepare and replace them.

    With entirely incomplete information, people here say they have found Truth like the sky had mercifully whispered in their ears.

    You blessed ones, how i envy you!

  347. IXION

    Must admit that the requirement for typhoon and F35 was something I came to late Previously regarded them as very expensive wastes of money. Other have persuaded me I was wrong.

    However The jf17 exists is in fighter terms as cheap as chips and more importantly is reliably reported to do pretty much what and early – mid block f16 does with 70’s style soviet technology maintenance requirement- slots in pretty well with with third world air forces existing structures.

    Its no super weapon but I bet it would and a tornado it’s as, lets not forget the SU 27 and its, many variants is definitely ‘out there’ and not all in reach of of t45 either.

    So we need a core of fighters- IMHO air too air will come back into fashion soon (please not not necessarily same thing as dogfighting). But whether we need all the typhoons and all the f35 is another matter..

    Certainly a while back when I watched the defence select committee the RAF were all excited about f35 as the ‘only thing’.

    TD rather put to bed the high/low airforce mix, but I cannot help thinking a some sort of c130 medium bomber conversion using targeted weapons would be more use in our coin wars than putting hours on very expensive airframes which lack persistence?

  348. Mark

    Domj
    Can the mortar survive pulling 9g at 600knts at 30k ft?

    Making a a/c manoeuvre at 9g is not expense. Having 2 engines with the latest avionics and information management and carefree handling is. Which do we not need in 21st century warfare? Even a reaper will costs $30m and that’s not could buying the satellites or ground stations

  349. DominicJ

    gabriele
    the t1’s wont be withdrawn after 8 years unless they are hitting their flight hours limit.
    The government might not agree this is the plan, but the government was promising lots of stuff, until they dont.

    The tornadoes will be kept as long as possible, the typhoons will be used ad little as possible, and kept going as long as possible.

    Disagree if you wish

  350. ArmChairCivvy

    Further on
    “Tubby were at the high end core now and tactic uavs will provide the cheap low threat strike requirement”
    – first part agreed, and the second, too, with some provisos: not necessarily so cheap when you consider all the elements required to operate them, but through their endurance achieved through numbers of (cheap) airframes, having a persistent presence, with almost immediate reaction ‘from pointing to shooting’ is the benefit over operating FJs (or AHs for that matter, only).

    Going over to mortar rounds, NAMMO’s N. American sub has been working on an 81mm round to arm small UAV’s.

    I believe this one is one step up on the scale:
    “Raytheon, the defense giant, has been working since 2009 on what it calls a Small Tactical Munition — as the name suggests, it’s a bomb tiny enough to attach onto the military’s fleet of small to medium drones like the Shadow. Weighing 12 pounds and standing 22 inches, the guided munition has the potential to expand the drone war dramatically, giving battalion-sized units that fly small drones the ability to kill people, like the remote pilots who fly the iconic Predators and Reapers do.”
    – source:http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/12/mini-missile-drone-war/

  351. James

    Do we really need 160 Typhoons, to generate X aircraft somewhere in a different quarter of the globe? X being a number between 4 and 48. Or is the 160 somehow more connected to the RAF’s current structure, not a useful structure for the future?

  352. DominicJ

    phil
    it was just the first thing that came to mind, replace with 50lb bomb if you wish.
    Mark
    the us medium uav is called warrior, i’m on my phone so cant get exact numbers, but its way way cheaper, i think wiki had prices.

  353. All Politicians are the same

    We are very kit orientated on here. yes country X can buy Y JF17s, how well trained are the pilots in the first place? Combat simulators? Major exercises? Hours flown per month? Maintenance up to date, airborne or even ground based Fighter Control, missiles bought and integrated? There is a lot more to producing the total package than some shiny toys.

  354. ArmChairCivvy

    RE “Why drop mortars and not bombs?! Is this another Dom Innovation?”
    – let’s call it Dom’s lateral thinking
    – next, IXION wants a C-130 bomber with targeted weapons

    Funnily enough these two things come together:
    – the AC-130 has proved effective but expensive
    – as there are never enough of them C-27 was considered for the role (did not happen)
    – the biggest stress on the airframe is from the repeated firing of the 105 mm (same as ours, practically)
    – they tampered with it, to make it fire mortar rounds (much lesser stress produced, through the same harness of the gun-to-the airframe)
    – very good results, possibly because you are firing from above (standard mortar rounds have proved to lack stability in direct fire mode, when level with the target)

  355. Mark

    Apas absolutely agree but we don’t want a fair fight. They stiill have a capable a/c and can hire pilots.
    We will be at about 200 ac from now on for fast jets so assuming we get 1/3 at readiness (which is higher than now) well have about 60 ac for all tasks. With 12 assigned to qra well be at 50 deployed ac which to me is as low as we can go

    Domj the us has bought enough reapers for 65 caps or around 400 ac

  356. Phil

    An air force is kit though. I wouldn’t be upset to see an all F35 fleet as long as it can lob Meteor and the full suite of A2G munitions. If one could start from scratch I’d have no qualms about a core fleet of F35 and a larger fleet of F18 or F16s geared up to carry all the modern munitions and with good sensors, perhaps pod based. Would this be any cheaper than just cracking on with what we have? If we had a blank sheet possibly but certainly not after sinking so much into Typhoon and JCA. What’s JCA going to be called anyway?!

  357. ArmChairCivvy

    Yesterday’s DID informs us why the 105mm gun combo with standard mortar rounds was not adopted:
    “The nose-mounted RCFC guidance has now been successfully demonstrated on multiple mortar calibers, in both air-drop and tube-launch applications. The tube-launched application has been successfully demonstrated at Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ in a tactical 120mm guided mortar configuration known as the Roll Controlled Guided Mortar (RCGM), which uses the existing 120mm warhead and the M934A1 fuze.

    Related tube-launched small precision weapons, which already include Raytheon’s Griffin missile and Lockheed Martin’s Scorpion, are finding their way to USMC KC-130J and Special Operations MC-130W Hercules, which are receiving roll-on/ roll-off weapon kits that can turn them into multi-role gunship support/ aerial tanker aircraft.”

    So the key was multi-role again: the platforms are so much more expensive (to procure, man, operate and maintain) that the higher cost of (advanced) munitions goes into roundation errors

  358. paul g

    @ gareth, the airship was never used in NI, it was trialled, they used a rip stop material in the trials…..it ripped!!!

  359. James

    @ DomincJ,

    “In a permissive environment, yes.
    Rember iraq?
    Yugoslavia?
    Iraq again?
    Falklands?”

    I take it (sorry if I’m wrong) that was in response to my view on UAVs vs FJ carrying Brimstone. I don’t see any reason why any of the conflicts you mention favour FJs over UAVs.

    In fact, I’m struggling to think of any time since 1945 when the UK or any of our likely coalition partners have actually needed to fight for air supremacy – possibly for a few weeks in Korea up on the Yalu, when the Chinese MiGs appeared to have a go at the US F-86. I don’t believe the Argentinians ever achieved air supremacy in the Falklands, as they were limited to a single pass before heading for home. Given the mind-numbing cost of modern air superiority fighters, the ever-increasing capabilities and range of missiles which can be launched from ground or older airframes or ships, I think that strategically we could get by with less capable airframes and UAVs which are optimised for ground attack, and if need be backed up by a much smaller and cheaper pool of air defence FJ such as Tornado.

    And if that would stop the RAF being led by a tiny pool of pilots, so much the better. There’s about twenty senior / retired RAF officers who are responsible for the total waste of money that is Typhoon. There’s about another thousand RAF officers who never got the chance to make decisions about the best strategic balance of capabilities because they did not have a FJ pilot background.

  360. DominicJ

    acc
    we have blazing rows about the entire purpose of the armed forces!
    Hell, we’ve contemplated their virtual disbandment, seriously!

  361. Tubby

    While I highly respect TD, the debate on how lo fighter mix has recently been re-opened by Italy who commented the costs associated with using aircraft like Typhoon in low to moderate threat environments was disproportionate and they questioned if specialist ground attack craft should not be brought back instead of continuing to concentrate on expensive multi-role platforms (I’m biased BTW as I love the old mud movers such as the Su-25, the Jaguar, Skyhawk and the AMX, hell I even like the old Chinese Q-5 Fantan).

    Totally agree with Phil’s point that Typhoon has a long service life and you need a design that can evolve to meet future threats, this is the issue with James suggestion of the Tornado for air defence (I assume he mean’s the F3 and not the GR4), as the F3 got older it became more and more expensive to keep it in the air as it required upgrading to meet modern threats while have less and less fatigue life left in the airframe.

    It’s a valid question however, exactly how many fast jets do we need, and would we be better served with say half the number of fighters but twice our current inventory of helicopters and transport aircraft

  362. IXION

    I had in mind more c130 carrying brimstones/guided bombs etc rather than direct fire weapons. More some sort of paalatised system that could be bolted on to ether c130 or Td’s favourite the a400 or something smaller c235 style if you like. Mud moving does seem to be important BUT something that Typhoon and F35 are a very expensive way of doing.

    Really, we should be worried about kit like the JF17 not brilliant, but in the right hands can kick butt.

    Its like the ‘Global cruiser’ (can’t bring myself to call it Colonial Sloop). If it is to be any kind of fighting ship it needs all the kit, which is why it shouldn’t be a fighting ship….

    The JF17 is just one of these ex soviet/married to modern electronics stuff out there.

  363. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi DJ, sorry, what?
    “we have blazing rows about the entire purpose of the armed forces!
    Hell, we’ve contemplated their virtual disbandment, seriously!”
    – I still need to take time to read the other two latest posts on this thread, but this one made no sense to me, on the first reading – hence, rushing the response

  364. Mark

    I’m going say this again designing the airframe is NOT the expensive bit it’s when you add communications avionics and radars, das ect they get expensive. These systems require more power which means bigger engines and we have to stand off further more altitude ect. Which bits do we leave off to make them cheaper? Uav are great but the enemy jams the sat signal game over. Also they can’t deploy long ranges or fly IFR conditions when you start to add it all up the only thing you save is the ejector seat.
    When a USmc brigade expeditionary brigade goes to war Iraq for ex it takes 65 fast jets with them. When we look at the min number of fast jet were already here the is no slack left.
    We need to keep up with being able to connect in with us forces or we become irrelevant in future missions.

  365. IXION

    Mark

    We need to keep up with being able to connect in with us forces or we become irrelevant in future missions.

    Suits me!

    No more ‘me too ism’ trying to be ragged trousered world power.

  366. James

    @ Mark,

    it seems to me that it would be at least sensible to conduct a risk-assessment of the RAF not spending vast – and probably unaffordable – amounts of money on what seems to me to be a vanity project such as 160 Typhoon, when for significantly less we could have carried on a different course, and diverted resources to other necessary capabilities that are unfunded or seriously poorly funded. Things like MPA. A “different course” could be running on Tornadoes, or buying much better anti-air missiles, or buying a couple of squadrons of F-16s and keeping all of the Tornado GR squadrons, etc.

    Buying 160 Typhoons with only an “austere” ground attack role when we face no credible air threat of comparable capability is a total waste of money, and utterly typical of the sort of blinkered thinking that is routine in the upper echelons of the RAF.

  367. DominicJ

    james
    232 typhoons and 80 f35s was mental.
    160 typhoons is a bit on the light side, to be honest.

    The typhoon is overpriced, but really, that just means we should have told our partners to **** off and gone our own way, maybe sharing tech with the swedes.

  368. Mark

    James

    We spent 4b on mpa. It buying 400 main battle tanks also a vanity projecy or spending 5b on tank hunting attack helicopters also vanity project weve only fought a single 14 vehicle tank battle since ww2. or spending 20b on submarines that have carried out there task only once? No its called deterrent capabilty

    It only has “austere” (which is guns and laser guided bombs) ground because its an incremental upgrade program every weapon currently fielded in the uk inventory will be on typhoon by 2016. This has been due to a need to stand up qra a/c.

    Typhoon unit cost is £79m(ex development costs). F16 will cost you £55m and require 2 to 3 times the amount of aar refuelling assets to complete the same mission, have inferior sensors or carry the same weapons load. Tornado is nearly 40 years old how long do you think it can go on for?. And how much will it cost you to maintain.

    Anti air missiles are only useful in a full shooting war. Cant shadow and investigate.

  369. ArmChairCivvy

    RE “rather than direct fire weapons. More some sort of paalatised system that could be bolted on to [ether] c130…”
    – there is amazing stuff like that, to be fired through the open cargo hatch (of a C-130)
    – but I just latched on to the mortar rounds, and their usability in aviation context (as it was raised , and contested)

  370. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Tubby,

    RE “has recently been re-opened by Italy who commented the costs associated with using aircraft like Typhoon in low to moderate threat environments was disproportionate and they questioned if specialist ground attack craft should not be brought back ”
    – why bring back when they still fly AMX
    – have even sent to A-stan, but has it been used (for anything else than recce)?

    BTW: their fantastic new trainer a/c has a ground-attack version, sort of sold to the Gulf, but again one of those deals that fell through… is this “raising of the issue” perhaps a sales blurb by them?

  371. ArmChairCivvy

    This is exactly the problem; a very short period of history is taken for granted and perpetuated into the overall strategy and thinking about capabilities:

    “In fact, I’m struggling to think of any time since 1945 when the UK or any of our likely coalition partners have actually needed to fight for air supremacy – possibly for a few weeks in Korea up on the Yalu, when the Chinese MiGs appeared to have a go at the US F-86.”

    James, I appreciate you have a very good grasp of major operations, but in Korea the peace dividend had been taken for granted. When it then “happened” Mustangs had to be sent to ward off opposing jets, and were often in desperate need of being rescued by Sabres (before their production volume could be ramped up).
    – probably you cite the Yalu example as so many of the MIGs were flown by Soviets and they were on strict orders not to go take the fight over such ground that ,should they be shot down, there would be evidence of their presence

    AS one blogger put it today, A2A will soon be important again (and it is not only quality, but the quantity -that can be fielded to where ever – that counts)

  372. James

    @ Mark,

    We ordered our Challenger 2’s during the Cold War, when there was a perceived need. We’ve deployed 200+ Challenger 1s for Gulf One, and 140 Challenger 2s for Gulf 2. My Regiment destroyed well over 100 Iraqi tanks in Gulf One, three other Regiments probably similar totals.

    How many aircraft has the UK shot down using a dedicated air superiority aircraft since 1945? What is the ratio of air defence sorties to ground attack sorties? High during the Cold War, almost nothing since the end of the Cold War. What is the threat prediction that sees us choosing to buy some incredibly expensive Gen 4 fast jets over other capabilities? You’d have thought that someone at the top of the MoD could have thought those magic words “balance of investment”.

    MPA (which also cover some elements of SAR) would see an awful lot more operational use than Typhoon. AH-64 (I think we have 67 of them) have seen operational use in Kosovo, Iraq and Libya. Submarines are multi-mission.

    I’m not against the UK having a deterrent capability in air superiority fighters; it is the scale of purchase, and prioritisation above other needs that I object to, particularly as we have bought a single mission variant, and when the nature of the threat they deter against is so unlikely to happen. Yes, they will be upgraded to be able to hit ground targets, but that’s additional cost.

    When was the project got off the ground? 1988, one year before the Cold War ended. That was early enough in the design cycle for some senior RAF people to think “the nature of the threat has changed, let’s design a ground attack optimised aircraft”.

  373. DominicJ

    james
    how many tanks would be left after typhoons with brimstones were let out to play?
    We still need tanks, but you’ll be picking off stragglers not wrecking tank armies.

  374. All Politicians are the same

    @James

    Every instance that you have named has been in a war of our choosing and abroad. I do not disagree with all of them but, the first job of Governmnet is the security of the nation. If we needed to use high performance fighters to defend UK airspace it is too late to wish we had them because we will need them.

  375. ArmChairCivvy

    APATS/ James,

    The exception is, again Korea.

    UK had nothing to send, except a few Sea Furys to patrol the outer edge (Sunderlands did a great job, too, but that would be diverting from the topic). All combat action by RAF pilots was flying somebody else’s planes (Sabres).

    Was it DJ? who had a long list of conflicts for the FJ vs UAV argument;
    GW1 was on the list, Tornados could only bomb the airfields, not do the A2A (forgetting that they were not ideal for that task anyway) as they did not have compatible FOE kit on them. In those days, getting into the melee was still on the assumption of a visual identification rather than being blasted off the skies with a BVR, or two)
    – not anymore, you have to be kitted out – or stay out
    – the FOE standards are now following the expansion of BVR missile ranges and you will need to have one that is good out to 300 km… If you read the NAO project level reports carefully, this cannot be done for Tornados, citing structural airframe reasons. As it is a roomy airframe (judging from looking at it from the outside), hard to believe. But this reason alone might expedite their retirement.
    – so they are not obsolete; rather obsolescent

  376. ArmChairCivvy

    DJ,

    Hard to believe that I said “too equipment centric” as I love the banter; where did I do that?

    This is a forum, so all related topics will do; separately, I have called for threads with a more geopolitical orientation (they haven’t happened yet, maybe that would disperse the interest group to other, more focussed forums… I don’t know)

  377. ArmChairCivvy

    Thanks Mark, I think that is a pretty good nut-shell description
    ““austere” (which is guns and laser guided bombs) ground because its an incremental upgrade program every weapon currently fielded in the uk inventory will be on typhoon by 2016. This has been due to a need to stand up qra a/c.

    Typhoon unit cost is £79m(ex development costs). F16 will cost you £55m and require 2 to 3 times the amount of aar refuelling assets to complete the same mission, have inferior sensors or carry the same weapons load. ”
    – except that “no gun” of course
    – the fantastic 27mm that the other users have was deleted for a mere £15m saving (before buying the Mausers); I suspect there were bigger reasons behind that, related to the future AESA/ EW capbilities plannes (and the space requirements, for a retrofit to earlier production runs… not 1, but 2 and 3a; no 3b to be? Or, with exports taking up slots on the line, I would never say never.)

  378. IXION

    ACC

    We have small armed forces who can do only what their kit allows them to do…

    A more geopolitical orientation:- what does that mean?

    We can discuss threats from .. (pick the bogeymen of your choice), the next question is how can we defend from it? which then gets into discussions about:- what we can do which comes back to 2 things geopolitical alliances, and -Kit.

  379. James

    @ DominicJ,

    I’ll take your word for it that Brimstone will be integrated onto Typhoon in the future. Presumably the aircraft will need new computers to handle the targeting info? Currently Brimstone is programmed by the Navigator in GR4. Against moderately sized forces, there will still be lots of tanks left over even after weeks of bombing. Gulf One and 2 showed us that.

    You make a good point about security of the nation, and I don’t disagree. However, it’s all about a balance of risks. The only enemy who could conceivably fly against the UK are the Russians, and that’s only their long range bombers, not their fast jets. Against them, BVRAAM fitted on even a Tucano with some long range tanks would be effective. I don’t advocate such a solution, of course, hence above me saying a couple of squadrons of dedicated air superiority fast jets would be enough, freeing up money to be spent on other things such as MPA.

  380. DominicJ

    james
    its certainly the plan to integrate them, i have no idea how they will be given target information, but i can only assume its been preplanned.

    Hellfire came out of a us project called assault breaker. Its purpose was to annihilate soviet tank armies. The only tanks that will survive on a modern battlefield are hidden.

    Or maybe i’m wrong, but bae say a typhoon brimstone combo will locate, identify and annihilate a squadron of tanks.
    Idle boast?
    Well, they also claimed challies would knock out t72’s on equal numbers without loss.
    They werent telling porkies then.

  381. James

    DomincJ,

    In theory, a single Typhoon loaded up with Brimstone will be able to knock out a squadron of tanks, but I doubt would happen very often:

    1. Got to catch that squadron in the open first, as opposed to dispersed and hidden.

    2. You need the appropriate ROE. I don’t think UK is likely to often allow a single pilot to ripple fire 14 or so Brimstones at full range (20 km plus) without having first identified visually what he’s shooting at.

    3. Typhoon will need a much better sensor solution than it currently has to identify tanks with sufficient fidelity to make ROE decisions at the sort of ranges Brimstone is capable of. Just doing a little background reading the radar and IR sensors are designed for air to air. Of course, Brimstone has a laser guidance mode, so could be cued onto target by another aircraft or a ground party, but for the Typhoon to launch 14 missiles at once you’d need 14 lasers, and the Typhoon pilot is going to be a very busy boy programming 14 missiles to 14 separate laser frequencies, all the while flying the beast.

    I’d take the BAE Systems marketing speak with a slight pinch of salt: having worked for a few defence companies I know that there is a slight tendency to leave out the necessary caveats among probably all marketing departments…

  382. ArmChairCivvy

    An Apache Longbow should be perfectly capable of scanning at 20km range and then giving a go-ahead for the 14 or whatever Brimstone pass (and pick off any stagglers itself)
    – mmw radars draw not only the object silhouette, but also the shape in depth that is good enough for target classification (I may fall for marketing speak, but that’s why we are here… to learn)

  383. DominicJ

    james
    true, but as i said, the only tanks that will survive will be hidden.
    As i said, i dont know the specifics, but i thought you loaded a selection of targets and its radar identified the target.

    I agree, it sounds unlikely, but so did ’10 challies will roll into 10 t72’s, 10 challies will roll on, 10 t72’s will go *bang*’

  384. James

    @ ACC,

    “perfectly capable” – yes, but only under certain conditions.

    1. Range maximum 8 kms to targets (per Northrop Grumman’s publicly available specs for Longbow. See http://www.es.northropgrumman.com/solutions/longbowradar/assets/longbow.pdf

    2. Some form of datalink between Apache and Typhoon.

    Frankly, if you’ve got a helicopter optimised for anti-armour warfare to within 8 kms of an enemy tank squadron, it may as well do the job itself with his wingman, rather than call in one of the world’s most expensive aircraft to fire 14 of the world’s most expensive anti-armour missiles, and rely on all of the electric string working together.

  385. James

    @ ACC,

    sorry, forgot:

    3. The mmW can perform some depth analysis, but it’s only in the missile heads of Brimstone. It’s a bit late by then to be useful for a human to identify whether he’s looking at a tank or a school bus! Longbow is Ka band.

    4. Lots of complicated cross-training needed between RAF and Army, but that’s just a matter of practice.

  386. James

    DominicJ

    “but i thought you loaded a selection of targets and its radar identified the target.”

    Certainly technically possible, assuming the pilot has the authority to fire on any blobs that appear on his radar screen, and I think that is these days a risky assumption. Most of the long range stand-off anti armour weapons systems were developed or conceived of in the old Cold War days when ROE were much looser. Even in Gulf One we had to have positive target identification, and it just keeps on getting tighter and tighter. Most of the development work going on in the sensor field (certainly thermal sensors) is aimed at optimising resolution to improve target identification.

  387. James

    DominicJ,

    I don’t know if they can or can’t, but even if they can, they are not going to show very much at long range. They may not even be pointing at the target, they are fairly small and so the resolution is limited.

    I’m not an expert on Brimstone, but I believe that the purpose of the mmW radar is to be able to select which part of the target they impact upon. It wouldn’t be too hard for them to know to hit a tank and not a truck if two targets are presented. But they are not going to be able to present sufficient detail to a pilot for him to be able make ROE judgements from 20 mms away.

  388. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James,

    I think we are referring to two different versions:
    “The AH-64D Longbow Apache is a remanufactured and upgraded version of the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter. The primary modifications to the Apache are the addition of a millimeter-wave Fire Control Radar (FCR) target acquisition system…

    A total of 501 AH-64A Apaches were to be upgraded to the AH-64D configuration, 227 of which will be equipped with the FCR.[Are we behind? Is this why the expensive Block upgrade is being pursued? Even sometimes suggesting that the numbers could be cut ?? to accommodate that in the budgets]

    The data transfer module (DTM), mounted in the Longbow Apache, is used to quickly upload the mission data and initialize aircraft systems for the mission. Data can be loaded into all aircraft or loaded into the first aircraft and transmitted via the IDM to all other aircraft in the mission.

    The aircraft is able to detect and classify more than 128 targets, prioritize the 16 most dangerous targets [a nice match with the Typhoon Brimstone load], transmit the information to other aircraft and initiate a precision attack, all this in fewer than 30 seconds.”

  389. Phil

    The aircraft is able to detect and classify more than 128 targets, prioritize the 16 most dangerous targets [a nice match with the Typhoon Brimstone load], transmit the information to other aircraft and initiate a precision attack, all this in fewer than 30 seconds.

    Does that capability synchronise with IFF? I can see the point James is making – in a fluid battlefield, how does the Apache know that it is not about to cripple a squadron of allied AFVs? Last few conventional ops we’ve fought we’ve done more damage to ourselves than the enemy has done almost.

    There’s the implication that these “wunderwaffen” can do just a good a job at chewing up our own forces if stringent ROE are not used. And this is in a conventional conflict where worries about civilian casualties are presumably less, things get even worse when you factor those in.

  390. ArmChairCivvy

    Tactical networking, tactical networking…
    ( I don’t think General Richards said it more than once, but he said it with emphasis when talking about the future shape of the army and what to invest in)
    – all very good that the Kiowas (Wildcats), Apaches (Apaches) and the FJs talk to each other, and share the battle picture and targeting info
    – it is only ever going to work when the ground units are networked in (FRES SV Scout as a platform [?!], as they are the ones that should be closest to contact; RA Warriors, too, but they are already fully laden with kit)

  391. Think Defence

    Hi all

    Sorry for not being around much recently, have been otherwise engaged and spending a bit of time on the bridging series which I know doesn’t generate as much discussion but I enjoy it anyway!!

    Catching up…

    Edit Function

    Not sure why it’s not working, will investigate

    On Fighty Matelots

    I think APATS’s, Jed and Dunservin have cleared this up for us all and added more to the knowledge base, cheers fellas

    P Squadron of fighty matelots which seems one of those eminently sensible ideas that the forces do all the time in spite of the politicians!

    The question is then, are there enough?

    Interesting discussion on RN medics and Phils experiences, it seems obvious there are failings at many levels but then surely that is the nature of these things, the question I would be more interested in seeing answer to is, are there improvements being made to correct the issues identified.

    The discussion on using specialists efficiently is also very interesting, if you look at any of the Army CS and CSS functions it is very clear that it is always soldier first, tradesman second and so if a combat engineer, REME technician or loggie were in a FOB or PB then staging on is something that not only they would expect to do but also ‘be’ expected to do.

    So this is the norm, if we then throw an RN medic or RAF comms technician into an augmentee role are we kidding ourselves that with a bit of extra training we can expect them to make that change. I don’t know how the RN and RAF view these things so am asking if we are asking too much?

    Ex Somethings

    Just because someone has commanded a task force does not mean that we have to automatically take everything they say as gospel. There is a difference between respecting the person’s achievements and rank and thinking they are talking nonsense. It seems to me that old ‘navy somethings’ seem particularly prone to public displays of service centric rubbish. We see it through the PTT, Save the RN and other single service organs that if I was a member of the senior service would find acutely embarrassing and wish they would just shut up. It is clear that ex green and light blue indulge in single service bias but it just seems on a different scale and much more subtle.

    So yes, lets afford them the respect they are owed but let’s not afford what they say any respect whatsoever if it is blatant rubbish, and that goes for anyone.

    By the way, I am not going to say to whom I was referring but it was not Lord West and not Lindley French, who I actually think talks a lot of sense a lot of the time. Gabby, I don’t think I or Chris.B accused anyone of lies, simply bias, which is a different thing.

    Airships

    James, good subject for a separate post I think and I know I keep throwing older TD posts at you but have a look at this for my take on Watchkeeper.

    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/01/the-future-of-the-raf-10-%E2%80%93-istar-04-watchkeeper-and-scavenger/

    Would be interested in some feedback from one who ‘was there man!’

    Airships seem to be one of those ‘nearly there’ ideas that never actually ‘gets there’ and one has to wonder why this is, is it a lack of ambition, underlying technical issues or something else.

    The US and Hybrid Air Vehicles seem to be pushing on with trials so these should at least finally prove or disprove the theory.

    On using them as an airborne radio relay, again, sorry to do this, but…

    http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/01/the-future-of-the-raf-12-%E2%80%93-istar-06-high-altitude-platforms/

    Limited Stabilisation

    Isn’t that like only a bit pregnant?

    When you have observed these things for some time you perhaps get too cynical but you also see the undercurrents. Everyone keeps saying that COIN is dead, the future is high intensity and coastal.

    Two things strike me about the mountain of comment from here and the US.

    The first is that we are spectacularly bad at predicting the future and the only certainty is that we will be caught with our pants down yet again. So this tells me as soon as you start moving away from a balanced approach and start leaning to one end of the spectrum or the other the degree by which you find your pants around you ankles will be determined by how much you follow military fashion. Am I alone is seeing the strategic raiding, maritime strategy, COIN is dead theme strangely reminiscent of the Revolution in Military Affairs, save us from military fashion!

    The second thing that strikes me is the promised land of limited stabilisation and strategic raiding is that it will need lots and lots of lovely hi tech widgets and gadgets. This is being promulgated by a global defence industry that is facing a sharp reduction in budgets and staking its claim, with the assistance of ex military, think tanks and others that rely on the defence industry for their bread and butter.

    I think we need to be alive to the power of the defence industrial lobby.

    The RAF

    If you read any of my stuff you will see that I fully appreciate the need to maintain control of the air but I do think the RAF have been too FJ centric for some time, we are too much teeth and not enough tail.

    Just a few extra points…

    We must also appreciate that air power is not just about your fast jets and neither is air combat, it’s a team game with training, logistics and other capabilities such as AEW and Strike playing an equal part. If you can put your enemy on the ground by a day 1 Storm Shadow/TLAM strike then you have won the air battle.

    UAV’s are not significantly cheaper than manned and in some cases more expensive when taken in the round

    We don’t know how many Brimstones Typhoon can carry because that is what the carriage and release trials will determine.

    F35 will be in a JOINT force and the degree of split between maritime and land taskings and training will be taken on a joint basis, plus we don’t actually know what the squadron split will be because we don’t know how many we will be getting. I wish people would stop predicting the future with certainty as if they are in the MoD capability directorate.

    Let’s stop obsessing about 36 aircraft onboard CVF and sortie rates. It really is not done like that, these are just one of a range of options and aspirations that will be dependent on the task and cash.

    Gabby, do you not find it ironic that in one sentence you berate people for saying things based on incomplete information yet you are without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest culprit?

    If you all remember when we discussed Super Tucano’s for reactive CAS I was pretty dismissive, and remain so. But this does not mean I am against providing a hi lo mix for other tasks, did I not suggest arming the Shadow’s and Army Wildcat’s, if you can all remember, I even put forward a proposal for modern day buccaneer or medium bomber!

    Being controversial, I would trade CVF/F35 completely for a more rounded land/sea/air force

    Ripple firing Brimstones is never going to happen because of restrictive ROE…

    Are we sure?

    I think we did just that in places warm only a few months ago!

    I know the comment was not actually that but let’s not forget it has a very sophisticated seeker system that can have its target library constantly updated and use offsets, so designate one and let the others work off that. A much under rated weapon I think

    Of course ROE is going to complicate matters but with control of the air comes the ability to carry out depth and persistent ISTAR so synchronising things would seem eminently doable, now is a Typhoon necessarily the best way of getting a Brimstone onto its firing point is a very interesting debate which brings us around to armed airships, medium bombers and unmanned systems!

    Fantasy Logistics and ISTAR/Information Dissemination

    James, bring it on (as long as it involves ISO containers)

    Seriously, its a hobby horse of mine and yet again, I must apologise in advance, but have a wade through the TD back catalogue, plenty there

  392. James

    @ ACC, and Phil

    no, I think we are talking about the same thing (I know the internet is renowned for misunderstandings etc). The critical element here is the Longbow radar, which is what makes the AH-64 the D variant. The US Army originally had one in every 4 helicopters as a D model, the rest being A’s. We decided to go for the full set of 67 D models straight away. Years later, the US are merely updating their A’s to D’s.

    The Longbow data transfer model is proprietary to Longbow. It can swap data between Longbows, not to any other platform. I’m sure some company could do some reverse engineering to either export in Link format, or replace the data modem, but that’s extra costs.

    The final hurdle on this case is as Phil refers to, shared situational awareness. Sea and Air pictures have been fairly common (both senses of the word) for years, Land much less so but Bowman etc is making that less of a problem. So, the AH-64D will probably have a very good idea of whose tanks they are (i.e. Blue or not yet identified and positively confirmed as Red), but getting that information into the Typhoon is still nigh on impossible in reasonable time. There are some workarounds, mostly involving AWACs acting as a data converter / bridge.

    I know we are not on DomincJ’s Strategic Raiding thread, but even once we’ve got the Land Forces sorted out on that one which I know he’s working on, I’m going to be demanding some “fantasy C4I” capabilities, Battlefield Combat ID, and a Common Recognised Operating Picture (CROP). And then there’s the whole logistic piece to get sorted…

  393. James

    @ TD,

    “ripple firing Brimstones”…

    Did we do that in either of the recent sandy places? I don’t doubt you, but I hadn’t heard and I’m fascinated. I know something of the ROE and targeting conflabs that go on in HQs (always good to see a military lawyer and a weapons effects specialist completely miss each other’s point and logic, but actually those discussions are mostly very mature and focussed, they have to be). I’m very surprised that authority was granted, not that technically it was difficult to achieve.

  394. Think Defence

    I am going to have to back up my big gob with a link now James, am pretty sure I read it somewhere though. Now was this the single mode or dual mode. not sure but the way i read it, it seemed to be referring to radar mode.

    Perhaps the target set was sticking out of the background like a sore thumb?

    Will have a dig around

    Me an my bloody big mouth

  395. DominicJ

    td
    i enjoy your less fighty topics, admitadly, they are much harder to comment on, but they are the bits that set you apart from ‘woot woot typhoons are better than f22’s’

    the medic thing is making me think seriously about a single service armed forces.

    As for c4i.
    I advise everyone downloads ‘supreme commander’, either demo or the full game.
    Thats what i want.

  396. James

    @ TD,

    re Airships, do you want me to put some thoughts together for you to top and tail and publish on the site? Happy to do so, but it could take a month to 6 weeks – I’m starting a new job on Monday which’ll take most of my attention, and I’ve got the children for Christmas. However, all doable in slower time.

    re WATCHKEEPER, had a very quick skim, and looks very good. Just a little nugget for now: I chaired the military judgement panel for HQ LAND and HQ DRA (i.e. we had all of the technical volumes, not the priced volumes which the IPT held back). We were unanimously in favour of the Northrop Grumman Firescout solution and the Thales CONOPS. Lockheed were nowhere, BAE Systems put in a very poor technical bid and CONOPS. Reality is that Thales won out (it wasn’t just price, there was some developmental risk with Firescout, some concerns with ITAR and support from NG into the UK, and Firescout was thought by some to be logistically intensive needing a helicopter-like logistic tail).

    But in terms of flexibility, Firescout was unparalleled and that’s what the men in green wanted (and I had a very serious steer from ACGS that he didn’t want the MJ panel to select something that was shiny and large and that the RAF might demand control of).

  397. Think Defence

    Thanks James, the door is always open for guest posts, its what I like about doing this more than anything, well, except containers and mexeflotes of course

  398. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James,

    Looking forward to that piece (TD: no challenge is impossible for you?)

    On this Apache as a Scout topic, there are three possible sources for confusion:
    1. my sources could be out of date
    2. the FCR (the millimeter wave length system) for the 227 of the (US)501 total was first going to be designated as D (and the rest Cs) but they all became Ds
    3.The integration, as explained below, works with US forces but not with the UK systems, and hence the IDM (only working between Apaches and nothing else) can be called proprietary
    -CFR “The AH-64D Longbow Apache (LBA) provides increased data transfer capabilities such as SPOTREPs, SITREPs, battle damage reports, target handover, and real-time images of the battlefield with use of the IDM. The IDM is *a tri-service device* that offers backward capability to the *OH-58D airborne target hand-over system (ATHS)* and tactical fire *(TACFIRE)*. With TACFIRE integration, the Longbow can send target information to the entire TACFIRE net for immediate suppression.”

  399. andyw

    Raytheon have taken the tri-mode seeker from the SDB2 and stuck it on a Brimstone body for the Americans Hellfire replacement (JAGM), perhaps we should ask them to upgrade our Brimstones, we could also replace our Hellfires with them (for ruthless commonality)

  400. James

    @ ACC,

    of the three, your (3) sounds most likely from a UK perspective. Nothing else we have will speak Longbow. Now, for FRES SV, my thoughts were putting Longbow on an erectable mast (oooh, Missus…) and thus integrating AH-64D into a proper combined arms ISTAR matrix, that’s when they’re not off doing some deep raid of course.

  401. ArmChairCivvy

    I wasn’t clear about which piece I was especially looking forward to (also very much to the one James is going to produce); I was referring this one
    “I’m going to be demanding some “fantasy C4I” capabilities, Battlefield Combat ID, and a Common Recognised Operating Picture (CROP).”

  402. Tubby

    RE: “Ripple firing Brimstones is never going to happen because of restrictive ROE…

    Are we sure?

    I think we did just that in places warm only a few months ago”.

    Just reading the latest AirForces Monthly which has an article on the Tornado in Libya (pg 8 – pg 9) and to quote the article ‘One Tornado pilot talked to the author excitedly about how he fired a salvo of 12 missiles (belived to be on September 16) at different targets, including T-72 tanks at Ajdabiya. “They were all gone within a few seconds – it was all very impressive”. There was another Tornado on the same mission which also fired its 12 Brimstone – making it the first time a salvo firing technique had been used operationally. Utilising millimetric radar, each missile was guided simultaneously on to a separate target.’

    Please delete TD if this will get you into trouble quoting so much from a magazine.

    With regards to target identification, presumably once the CAPTOR-E upgrade occurs and Typhoon gets an AESA radar able to use reverse SAR/GMTI modes combined with the helmet mounted sight the Typhoon pilot will allow for optimum use of the Brimstone missile from the Typhoon.

  403. James

    @ ACC,

    point of detail. Longbow FCR is not milimetric. It is Ka band, different from mmW.

    Also I noticed a typo in my post above about Brimstone mmW heads not giving enough resolution to allow a Typhoon pilot to make ROE engagement decisions. I meant of course “at 20+ kms”, not “20+mms”, although given the AFV recognition skills of the average RAF officer, maybe I was right the first time….

  404. Tubby

    Hi ACC,

    “BTW: their fantastic new trainer a/c has a ground-attack version, sort of sold to the Gulf, but again one of those deals that fell through… is this “raising of the issue” perhaps a sales blurb by them?”

    I suspect your right that its a sales ploy, but as it was an Italian Air Force Brig. General I cannot but wonder if it is pitched at getting the Italian Air Force to buy it to replace the AMX rather than export sales, which in this case it might also represent a fair argument that burning the airframe hours of expensive multi-role fighters while hunting for armoured vehicles in a fairly permissive environment is not cost effective.

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=defense&id=news/asd/2011/11/10/02.xml&headline=Libya%20Ops%20Show%20Need%20For%20Lower-Cost%20Strike

  405. James

    @ Tubby,

    stretching the old brain here, but is not resolution of SAR dependent on the baseline length of the RX antenna? I may be wrong on that, but do (dimly) recall that as an argument advanced for ASTOR being a business jet length, as opposed to the original CASTOR plans looking at an Islander aircraft with a trailed antenna on a retractable stick coming out of the tail and a nose pod. Typhoon is fairly short on the lower fuselage, plus such a radar would remove the centreline hard points. Putting SAR into a nose mounted radar would reduce possible resolution further.

  406. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James,

    These guys say it is http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/ah-64d.htm

    So does the company itself, when they developed it into a podded version for the smaller AH-1Z
    http://www.lockheedmartin.com/news/press_releases/2001/LONGBOWINTERNATIONALTEAMSWITHBELLHE.html

    I would be surprised if it was anything else as the (original) primary purpose of the tank-hunter platform was to
    – see through fog and battle field smoke
    – millimeter wavelength is not only very difficult to jam, but especially suited for highly reflecting metal objects (read tanks and the like)doing away with camo net and parking under-the-trees type of tricks (Russians also loved to dig them in – that’s a weebit more difficult to counter)

  407. James

    @ Tubby,

    very interesting on the 2 x 12 Brimstone salvo. I’m willing to bet a reasonable amount – up to 20 pence – that those 24 targets had some very close eyes on them and a serious positive ID as enemy, maybe a role performed by the Hereford hooligans, before those salvoes were fired. I’m puzzled that we didn’t get public notice of this feat of arms – 24 T-72s taken out all at once? Also, having done a quick google on Brimstone prices, dual modes come in at £175K each, so that was a pricey night of work at £4.2M.

    I hope there’s no journalistic licence going on in Air Forces Monthly, with “salvo” being a translation of “a couple”….

  408. James

    @ ACC,

    let’s call it a score draw. Ka band is 26.5-40 GHz, mmW is 30-300 GHz, so Longbow FCR covers the lowest end. However, resolution increases with frequency, so the 3D-style pictures mmW can generate come from the upper end of the mmW spectrum. Longbow FCR can’t do the 3-D picture thing, it’s all still blobs on a screen. That’s a good thing for the role it has, as the higher the frequency (and 3-D pictures, etc), the more it is liable to degradation and attenuation due to weather, dust, rain, etc.

    The trade off is “blob on screen available in all conditions” versus “3-D picture available in some conditions”.

  409. James

    DominicJ,

    we spent £3.5M blowing up some pickups? As a taxpayer, I’m appalled, although I know how these things work, and it is better to get them expensively and come back tomorrow with some cheap bombs and find the pickups are no longer there.

  410. DominicJ

    james/acc
    i dunno, 20 trucks, 20 hmgs, 80 crew, improves the ratio a bit.
    Add in the rebels who didnt die under fire from them.
    We’re what, fifth or sixth richest country in the world, we win £ for £ against anyone and Penny to pound against a fair few.

  411. ArmChairCivvy

    James, yes a draw – and I’ll buy the beers

    There are other tank-hunters with such radar – such as improved versions of Abrams (the funniest thing is that the French have a fairly liberal defence R&D allocation, though not necessarily procurement budget. The company building LeClerc built a prototype for a low-reflecting tank… and it looked just like Abrams, with some more angled surfaces).

    Anyway, here comes your proper ISTAR matrix for the friendly side (based on the same technology as detecting and classifying the targets):(US again, as is obvious from the price quotes)
    ” The Battlefield Target Identification Device (BTID), which is NATO STANAG 4579 compliant, is an updated version of the Battlefield Combat Identification System (BCIS).

    The canceled Battlefield Combat Identification System was a real good system but also really expensive. Its millimeter wave radar technology was promising; however, the leadership said BCIS was not affordable when you have to put it on so many platforms across the Army. Service officials are hoping to find a low-cost alternative that perhaps uses different technology. The price tag for BCIS was between $30,000 and $40,000 per vehicle, depending on the type of platform. The “A-kit” needed to integrate the system onto the host added another $20,000 to $30,000. Service leadership has indicated the sum of those two pieces is beyond the Army’s current means.

    The Battlefield Combat Identification System (BCIS) reduces the risk of fratricide by identifying BCIS-equipped targets under degraded environmental conditions.”
    – so even though it works; too expensive
    – what the other technology is, they don’t say

  412. James

    @ ACC,

    That’s a Raytheon product, and a very good one. I tried for 3 years to sell it to the MoD when I worked for RTN, up against a Thales system that the MoD had paid to develop for about 5 years. Unfortunately even though it was a NATO STANAG, no NATO nation ever decided to buy it, and until one did, no one would. After a while, MoD and DoD lost interest. The Thales version was for a few months mounted (probably with slightly more than sticky tape, but certainly not fully integrated) onto a GR Harrier, and that worked quite well.

    The RTN version had an advantage over the Thales system in that it used some spare frequency to be able to generate a collaborative real time map of Blue forces. The design engineer was Dr Greg White, a really very smart cookie. It was the RTN facility in Fort Wayne Indiana that developed it.

    It still didn’t do the 3-D picture thing though. Symbology was injected into MBT sights – a bit of a traffic light code (red / green) appearing next to laser range information. About the size of a shoebox externally.

  413. James

    @ ACC, re the other technologies,

    there were a range, based on lasers, thermal, RFID (yes, I thought that was only short range as well, but no, can be tuned), SIFF Reverse Mode 5, and predictive filtration of sighting reports coming up in a CROP using some clever algorithms. BTID was by far the most mature technology.

  414. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James,

    So if you look at the pictures of M1A2s with the radome, externally this device for friendlies would be as big (I guess the other one would take up much more internal space?).

  415. James

    @ ACC,

    I don’t have those pictures, but the BTID device as developed by Raytheon came in two variants:

    1. An “answer” module for non direct fire combat vehicles, which bleeped an “I’m friendly!” code when interrogated by a question module. Typically could be antenna mounted, size of a tennis ball, omni-directional.

    2. A “question” module, mounted on direct fire vehicles. The transmitting antenna on that was about the size of a carton of 200 cigarettes, and highly directional. That and the brains of the unit were contained in an armoured box about like a shoe box that typically on a tank such as Challenger 2 would be clamped onto the top of the commander’s periscope, and cabled into the commander’s and gunner’s relaxed view monitors to give the “friendly” or “unknown” data in among the other fire control information. Took a 28v power supply from the vehicle. An “answer” module was also on one of the tank antennae.

  416. ArmChairCivvy

    Whatever happens with the Typhoon 3a’s (numbers, timing), this is the likely benchmark for thru-life costs:
    “The Gripen had both the lowest acquisition costs and lower 30-year life-cycle costs by far, says Maurer. The procurement program is likely to cost less than 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.3 billion).

    … The first aircraft is likely to arrive in 2015 and all aircraft are to be handed over in a 2-3-year period.”

    In pounds 2.3 bn at today’s rates, that is

  417. ArmChairCivvy

    Oohh, can’t edit the last line away (rubbish, from CHF to pounds, not from dollars as the article states it)

  418. James

    @ Tubby,

    “can do” not “has fantastic resolution”. Interesting they are proposing the nose radar, which puts this AESA firmly into the Northern League Division Two in terms of SAR / GMTI performance. Pure physics dictates that an antenna mounted in the nose suffers all sorts of compromises in terms of resolution.