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November 7, 2011 9:55 pm

@ Gabs,

The official sources quote a £4.8 billon cost for Tornado into the 2020’s. You routinely quote £7 billion, which so far appears to be only the work of The Times. Thus, you’re not quoting official sources.

November 8, 2011 4:22 pm

@Chris B.

Actually, no. The SDSR DOC Audit was very clear that the expected savings from immediate grounding of Tornado would likely total some 7.5 billion by 2018. This figure was debated in Parliament as well. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/101027-0001.htm

The MOD DOC audit is also referenced in the analysis of SDSR made by the Parliamentary Defence Committee, even though the document does not appear to be directly accessible to the general public. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmdfence/761/761vw22.htm#note112

It also emerges that the original Tornado upgrade bill was 1.1 billion of which the Engines would get £650 million, fatigue life would be corrected at a cost of £207 million, rear seat training would get £243 million.
Almost all parts of this upgrade have been cancelled, leaving an expected 300 millions of indispensable interventions.
This also explains why 96 planes are projected to deliver only 18 elements at readiness, probably, due to the relatively low number of them being available for flying at any one time.

The 7.4 / 7.5 billion figure also does not appear just on The Times, but is reported by many more newspapers, including the Daily Mail in its beautiful farewell piece on Harrier (worth conserving even just for the images, by the way).

Before the SDSR was published, a MOD Audit was made, and several details emerged. Including the 7.5 billions Tornado bill and the 2.7 bill for the confirmed Tranche 3A Typhoon buy which could not be cancelled.
Interesting to note how, 5 days prior to SDSR publication, it was widely expected that Tornado would go.

It is very easy to find if you google it.

The 7.5 billion figure was, as far as i’m aware, NEVER denied by the MOD or Government, even when it ended up on all newspapers.

The 4.8 figure that you reference, which i’m guessing comes from here: http://services.parliament.uk/hansard/Lords/ByDate/20101116/writtenanswers/part005.html

Covers only the logistics relating to the fleet. Expenditure on an aircraft type, i’m sure you know it, is not just about logistics. 4.8 billions come from the contracts with BAE, Rolls Royce and other contractors.
What about training? Crews? Bases? Training sorties? At 22000 sorties a year in average, with a 5000 pounds per hour marginal cost (excluding of course depreciation and capital costs which make that into the better known 35.000 pounds figure) we already log a minimum of 1100 million pounds out to 2021.

We both have incomplete patchworks of information, Chris. 7.5 billion might be the top estimate, and perhaps savings would have been effectively a bit lower.
It is an estimate, after all.
But the 4.8 billion is, on the other hand, merely a component of the overall savings that could be expected.
The 7 billions saving figure came from the MOD, it is not a press invention. And it sure is not mine invention. It is based on rather solid data which suggests it is actually realistic.

November 8, 2011 4:34 pm

The only reason I could think of for saving Tornado, was to avoid burning through Typhoon hours.

However, the T1 Typhoons are all going to be scrapped in a few years anyway, so that doesnt really hold much water, unless a decision has been made to, not, scrap them….

steve taylor
November 8, 2011 4:39 pm

£4.8 billion would buy an awful lot of TLAMs.

November 8, 2011 4:54 pm


In 2003 the UK asked for the possible acquisition of 105 TLAM Block IV. Total cost was put at 143 USD million, or 1.361 million dollars per missile including all support. A true bargain. http://www.dsca.mil/pressreleases/36-b/UnitedKingdom_03-36.pdf

Yet only 65 missiles were acquired.
If i have understood the FMSs thingy correctly, the others in the original request are “available” for successive orders – example; for replenishing the stock after Libya – without re-presenting all the paperwork for the buy.

The UK, after all, made a request for 10 Reapers very early, but initially only got 3, and ordered the others in other periods. The last 5, as we know, have yet to arrive.

However, yes. I’ll always support an expansion in the TLAM stock. It always is the first thing that we end up using, yet buying more never seems to gain support.

… Horrendous suspect:

“We have more than 800 Storm Shadows still to use, what the hell!”

But moreover, the point remains:

Even assuming “just” 4.8 billion were saved, say that we used that for: 1.3 per Harrier to 2018 and Ark to 2015 (make that a year longer, an QE arrives, so no gap), 390 millions for weapons integration on F35C (covering Brimstone and Storm Shadow, which got delayed to “one day”), as much for Typhoon accelerated integration, additional funding for more Harriers to be pulled out of the hangars to have a better contingency capability.

Saving remaining, well over 2 billions. Still more than what was obtained with Harrier and Ark.

Doesn’t it make more sense…? To me, it does.

November 8, 2011 5:11 pm

@ Gabs

“Actually, no. The SDSR DOC Audit was very clear that the expected savings from immediate grounding of Tornado would likely total some 7.5 billion by 2018. This figure was debated in Parliament as well. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/101027-0001.htm

— The only reference to the £7.5 billion figure in that text is from Lord West of Spithead, or as he’s otherwise been known Admiral Adam West, former First Sea Lord (ret). The MoD only seem to have a figure of £4.8 billion.

“The 7.4 / 7.5 billion figure also does not appear just on The Times, but is reported by many more newspapers, including the Daily Mail…”

— As I said earlier, many papers jumped on the story by the Times and quoted their figure rote. I can find no official source yet which states the £7.5 billion figure.

“Covers only the logistics relating to the fleet… What about training? Crews? Bases? Training sorties?”

— Really? This argument again? How many personnel does it require to operate Ark Royal? How much does it cost to base the crew the Harriers on land when not at sea? How much does Harrier training – widely acknowledged as the most difficult aircraft in the RAF inventory to fly – cost?

“The 7 billions saving figure came from the MOD, it is not a press invention.”
— Then where is this MoD data? If you have it fine. Show it to me.

@ X

With the cutbacks to the Sub fleet thanks to Carriers, we wouldn’t have enough platforms to fire them from ;)

steve taylor
November 8, 2011 5:16 pm

No arguments here either.

I am not sure whether SS fired from F35c isn’t just a fudge……

Oh well.

November 8, 2011 5:24 pm

Morons the other Lords and Commons who do not check the goddamn MOD Audit and call Lord West’s bluff, if it is a bluff, then.

Chances are that it is not a bluff.

But of course. The MOD Audit has only been read by parliament members, MOD and others. It is quoted, as i linked, but not accessible to the general public.

So the excuse is always the same: “He is an ex Sea Lord! He is clearly biased! He is saying false things to the Lords in parliament!”

Again, NO ONE in Parliament contested the 7.5 billion figure, and they are in the position of doing it.
You are not, yet you clearly call Lord West a liar.

I’ve supplied evidence. You’ve supplied the old and unimaginative “he is biased”.

If you can sustain your point with a bit more substantial back up, perhaps you should.

November 8, 2011 5:46 pm

The Lords tend to come out with some gibberish.

Put a random word, like Corned Beef, into TheyWorkForYou and see what utter gibberish a Lord has spewed about Corned Beef…..

November 8, 2011 5:46 pm

By the way.

“Really? This argument again? How many personnel does it require to operate Ark Royal? How much does it cost to base the crew the Harriers on land when not at sea? How much does Harrier training – widely acknowledged as the most difficult aircraft in the RAF inventory to fly – cost?”

That’s because you assume that the savings declared for retiring Harrier and Ark Royal do not keep any track of these factors.
On which ground, i do not know.

Logistics of the Harrier, signed in 2009 and to 2018, were worth GBP 574 million [http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/britain-moves-forward-on-harrier-support-agreements-03368/], plus 198 millions to Rolls for the Pegasus engines support, again to 2018/19. http://www.rolls-royce.com/defence/news/2009/280109_support_pegasus.jsp
Savings from the Harrier retirement are put at 1.1 billion, roughly.
The difference, of course, tells nothing to you.

Again, morons the government officials that – oh, they are not biased, they do not try to tell everyone how right they were in retiring the Harrier, they are pure and sincere! – do not include all those expenditure voices in their savings estimate and deliberately justify one of the most contested decisions ever on weak and incomplete figures.

Half of the UK population now hates them for scrapping the Harrier and they, poor idiots, also tell them wrong figures. They saved loads of money, but only say they saved a tiny amount, just so they can be hated a little more.

If you think that it makes sense… then your politicians really must all be donkeys.

But then again, it is perfectly logic to say that 7 squadrons of planes with twice the crew and much more ground support technicians cost less than 2 squadrons with less personnel in, so why do i bother…?

We are in the world of the Opposites, and all that say otherwise are obviously and evidently biased.

steve taylor
November 8, 2011 5:49 pm

@ Chris B

One would suggest it has more to do with chicanery at the MoD over who does deep strike…….

November 8, 2011 6:27 pm

If we could all pay attention to me for a moment…..

I think I’m on to something here.
Harrier could only really cover Afghanistan, puting everything else on Typhoon.
Thats fine, if we have Typhoon hours to burn, which given the out of service date of the T1’s, is true.

If the T1s are to be kept on long term, husbanding their hours suddenly becomes a priority.

Has anyone heard

One of the reasons the destroyers lost land attack missiles was, the carrier handles deep strike.

November 8, 2011 6:35 pm

@ X

Possible ;)

@ Gabs,

This is why I can’t “debate” with you for long without resorting to getting annoyed and just mocking you. You’re harping on about evidence and facts and how I should support my argument blah, blah, yet we know two things so far;

a) Through Ministerial questioning the cost of keeping Tornado is estimated at £4.8 billion, by ministers who work for the MoD and have seen all the detailed numbers, and have no service bias to prompt them into fudging numbers, and who are not legally permitted to report false answers to other members of the house,


b) The only “evidence” you have to rebuke this are a newspaper article, copied by other newspaper articles, and then an off hand and slightly fecious sounding comment during a debate in the Lords by a former First Sea Lord, that dates after the Times article, with no indication of where he acquired said data.

But you’ve not ended there. Oh no.

You’re now trying to argue that;

a) the official reported cost of keeping Harriers and Ark Royals in service accounts for not just support but also personnel and basing,

b) while the figures for Tornado do not, presumably because that doesn’t tally with your argument.

And no one is arguing that Tornado is cheaper, we know it’s not, but the margain by which it is more expensive is considerably less than you are representing and you’re failing to take into account that for the little extra money spent we are getting;

– higher numbers,
– double the service life,
– and the (even you agreed) more capable aircraft,

So my advice to you? Stop digging holes for yourself and go find an online magazine to copy/paste some more material from.

November 8, 2011 6:37 pm

Its nice that TD created a area for chrisB and gabby to play in.

Remembering of course that the storm shadow cost is total program cost per missile and that tomahawk price is per missile. Also remembering that storm shadow attacks a different target set to tomahawk and further remembering that an a/c can attack a huge variety of target or conduct various other non kinetic missions which is beyond a missile.

steve taylor
November 8, 2011 7:01 pm

Is the target set that much different?

November 8, 2011 7:07 pm

Storm shadow is deep penetrating, TLAM isnt.

November 8, 2011 7:22 pm

Not sure I’d agree with that really.
True, Storm Shadow is much harder to shoot down, but lack or range means aircraft have to risk themselves as well.

I know what I’d trust to break through a deep air defence.

November 8, 2011 7:47 pm

“I know what I’d trust to break through a deep air defence.”

A B-2 Spirit…

Storm Shadow has a much shorter range, but still a not insignificant 155 miles. The BROACH warhead is a two stage job, specially designed for penetrating hardened targets; first bang is a shape charge to clear a path, then the big bang comes next.

Price according to ministers (though this data is often not good enough for some it would seem) is £790,000 pound per unit, which is inclusive of VAT and the development costs. Future missiles will likely be cheaper. TLAM block IV is £870,000 a pop now, but with better range. A case of horses for courses I guess.


November 8, 2011 8:06 pm


I dont mean harder to shoot down I mean deep penetrating bunker busting. Again its range is classified but not tlam range.

If it’s sub launched it’s about another 350k for the launcher. I would add that very long range tlam also requires very long range intel assets.

November 8, 2011 8:35 pm

“Again its range is classified”


In excess of 250km (155 miles). Still not a patch on TLAM, but then it’s;

a) much smaller (you can carry two underneath a Tornado)
b) Air deployable, so you can still fly it into range if needed,
c) Different warhead type,
d) Flies faster and incorporates low observability features to improve survivability,

November 8, 2011 8:58 pm

I was just going to say this “If it’s sub launched it’s about another 350k for the launcher” but Mark got there first…
more exactly it is just for the wrapper, to get the missile through the torpedo tube and to launch properly when it has reached the surface, so add the cost of the missile (they are mass produced, so that helps).

But who wants such expensive, even-though long-ranged missiles that you can’t reload without going to port, or the easy to shoot down SS’s. JASSM can carry a 1,000-pound warhead to an effective range of 200 miles/ 320 km, while transmitting back via a 1-way datalink… having an extremely low radar signature… the USAF sees it playing a critical role against targets defended by sophisticated, long-range air defense systems.

The USAF is JASSM’s main customer, and Australia as well as Finland have ordered it. Orders may also be coming from the Dutch, from South Korea…

November 8, 2011 9:04 pm

So it’s longer than 155m then as I said it’s range is classified but not as long as tlam.
We have about 200 launch platforms for storm shadow and seven for tlam. Uk has sufficient tlam stocks for any uk only operatiion do we need anymore than that, stock can be replenished quite quickly from us navy stocks.

November 8, 2011 9:16 pm

We’ve discussed this befiore, I think conventional thinking was 155miles is the SS’s range on its sea skimming terrain following mode.
Whereas 1500miles is a Tomahawk launched from 60,000ft from a mach3 platform following a glide route.

Cant the broach warhead be fitted to pretty much any (big) missile?

November 8, 2011 9:34 pm

Dom are you asking can broach be fitted to tlam? If you are only if the yanks want to we can do it independantly. The fact they haven’t done something similar suggest perhaps not.

November 8, 2011 10:16 pm


I’d imagine the actual BROACH warhead itself wouldn’t be compatible due to size and weight issues, but the theory (a two stage warhead) could be adapted to TLAM if needed without too many problems I’d imagine.

And yes, I believe the range is based on a skimming profile. While the precise range is classified as Mark points out, a missile that size travelling at that speed probably won’t go a huge amount beyond 250km in the skimming mode.

What should be born in mind though, before conspiracy theories start reaching their peak, is that Lightning is supposedly going to be able to carry two SS, one on each inner pylon.

I’d guess this is why the Navy isn’t up in arms, because it quietly has designs on being the main user of the weapon in future. And as Mark pointed out, a Lightning firing SS will be able to fly back to CVF and reload for another strike sortie the next day. A full compliment of Lightning’s carrying SS will be able to deliver twice as many cruise missile shots in one mass package as a single Astute, even assuming that the Astute carries nothing but TLAM. When you factor in that the aircraft will likely rotate (not all flying in one mass sortie), the pace they could probably maintain over a weekend (or Day 1 & 2 door kicking) will likely make the yanks SSGN’s look like amateurs in the cruise missile delivery business.

CVF could yet redeem its mahoosive budget.

El Sid
El Sid
November 8, 2011 11:01 pm

Don’t forget that BROACH is also on JSOW-C, but the USAF explicitly rejected it for their needs.

Mind you, the main problem with BROACH is not delivering it, but getting it to go bang when it gets there….

November 9, 2011 1:31 am

DomJ said: “Whereas 1500miles is a Tomahawk launched from 60,000ft from a mach3 platform following a glide route.”

LOL, seriously….. the RB70 Valkyrie somewhat pre-dated the Tomahawk Dom !!

1500nm is range dropped from a B52 at medium altitude and dropping down to “low” altitude, how that differs from it’s terminal approach “terrain following” altitude, and at what distance you switch between such modes, and the effect that has on range is not public “open source” information.

Dominic Johnson
November 9, 2011 7:37 am

chris b
pretty much what i’d figured, average two launches an hour.
Not quite 72 in 6 minutes, but a relentless assault all the same.

November 9, 2011 11:18 am

@Chris B.

MOD DOC Audit, note 112 in the link.

Do not try to ignore the fact that the Parliamentary Defence Committee and Lord West himself clearly have a document in their hands that they reference and present it instead merely as the diabolic machination of Lord West, will you?

Try also to not ignore that your 4.8 billion cost is stated very cleary being for LOGISTIC.
It is not the whole story. It is like saying the Army is only made up by the RLC. Same realism.

As to Storm Shadow.
Perhaps it is not clear. I’m not advocating retiring Storm Shadow.
But 900 SS and 65 TLAMs in stock…? That so not makes any sense in light of operations. It just makes NO sense.

“Whereas 1500miles is a Tomahawk launched from 60,000ft from a mach3 platform following a glide route.”

Not really. Also, the ALCM is derived from TLAM concepts and components in some parts, but it is NOT a Tomahawk, and has really little to share with the naval TLAMs, especially with the latest Block IV. It makes no sense to compare them. The TLAM the Uk and US Navy use is not at all air launched.

For the rest, by all means, keep going on with your “sea Lord lies” smart arguments and all that lot.

November 9, 2011 11:27 am

You do appear to be pushing the borders of gentlemanly conduct here….

November 9, 2011 3:09 pm

@ Gabs,

Your link has no follow on to any actual document. The reference doesn’t lead anywhere. Where is the document that the good Doctor is linking to? I also read just his general comments on the RAF and the Tornado/Harrier decision. He seems particularly misinformed on their capabilities. In fact his whole article on the RAF sounded like a Dark Blue diatribe of the kind I’d expect from you, so I did a bit of research on Dr. Duncan Redford.

Turns out he’s a research fellow at Exeter University. Allow me to quote his complete bio that he provides;

Dr Duncan Redford joined the Royal Navy in 1991. After officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College as well as onboard HMS Broadsword and HMS Boxer, he was selected to attend the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, Plymouth where he completed a BA (Hons) in Maritime Defence, Technology and Management. A volunteer for submarine service, he served on HMS Torbay, Tireless and Turbulent between 1996 and 2001. In 2001 Dr Redford left the Navy to study for an MA in War Studies at King’s College London. Having won the Laughton Naval History Scholarship at King’s College London in 2002, he was awarded his PhD in 2006 for his research into ‘The Cultural Impact of Submarines on Britain 1900-1977’. Prior to the award of a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship he was the visiting Lecturer in Naval History at the University of Westminster.

“My research interests centre on the Royal Navy during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I am currently working on a research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the University of Exeter examining the role of the Royal Navy in the construction of British national identity between 1870 and 1980”


I’m sure he doesn’t have a horse in this race though….

November 9, 2011 3:47 pm

OOpps, looks like I put my entry re:”BROACH is also on JSOW-C, but the USAF explicitly rejected it for their needs” and what the USAF chose instead on the “wrong” thread Air-Land-Sea
– they prioritised stealthiness and range and have JASSM in 320km and 900km versions

November 9, 2011 4:08 pm

Continue to believe in fairy tales, and continue to tell everyone that has had a link to the RN is a biased incompetent. Go right ahead.

“Your link has no follow on to any actual document. The reference doesn’t lead anywhere. Where is the document that the good Doctor is linking to?”

How smart. The MOD Audit was an internal document redacted during the SDSR and containing the options presented to the NSC with their estimated economic implications as valued by NAO and MOD.
It has not been publicly released, and probably never will be made accessible, for obvious reasons.

“can’t recall seeing anything that cam out in favour of the £7b.”

The 7 billions figure DID surface. In parliament, and even on newspapers.
But both these sources you do deny.
The MOD Audit is not released to public. So you can just say that the sources that quote it without showing it are simply biased. That’s it! We decide what’s the truth, and that sets it.

And no, the parliamentary answers about the cost of Tornado are of two kinds, in fact, if you check:

– One kind of answer lists the Rolls Royce and BAE contract and the cost per flying hours, but does not disclose savings estimates “because that would hurt negotiations efforts ongoing about other contracts” or other bullshit like that.

– The other kind, appeared once or twice, contains the “logistic support cost of Tornado was to be 4.8 billion” that Chris continues to bang on, oblivious to the fact that logistics are only part of the costs and thus of the savings.

You can check. The answers to the (many) questions about Tornado are ALWAYS the same answer, told again and again and again, always with “contract negotiations” issues preventing the revelation of savings estimates.

How funny, huh…?
Perhaps they are uneasy with telling people the amounts involved, one might cynically suspect.

“Gabby, what do you think the implications of a total withdrawal of Tornado would have been”

At least one base closed, possibly two, several thousands of redundancies, Leuchars that remains in its place and role, a retirement partially a little longer than with the Harrier for keeping CAS going in Stan to enable the Harriers to prepare to go to Afghanistan in their place. At the Harrier retirement there were at least 62 Harriers still in flying conditions, but with many parked in the hangars, and for what i read at least 50 crews. More than enough to sustain Afghanistan, and there would have been the chance to bring out a few of the many planes parked in the hangars after the (then still recent, and very suspect) cut of a Sqn decided in 2009, to bring the Force at Readiness from 10 back to 18 (the same planned now for Tornado).
Very possibly some of the other cuts would have then be avoided, and there would have been a definite relief on the next planning rounds which instead are currently regarded as Critical, in particular PR12 and PR13.
Capability E for the GR9 would have gone ahead and went online fully by early 2012, perhaps with Brimstone being urgently integrated for Afghanistan (actually, it is not like it is used that much over there, apparently).

Less planes deployed over Libya, but closer to the targets. No Storm Shadow raids, but faster response times and longer time on station, assuming the same availability of AAR but the elimination of the long travel back and forth from Gioia.

Cynically? Probably better kinetic results in some of the worst phases of the Libya war. Remember the reports from Misrata bombed savagely by rocket launchers, with no NATO planes in the area to hit them?
With Harriers a few miles away, that would have not happened.

Capability of deploying at least a small force even in absence of bases retained. No gap in air operations at sea. If the 2014 date is respected, a gap of sole 4 or 5 years in Storm Shadow capability, since after that there will be the Typhoon.

It wouldn’t have been nice. There would have been evident loss in numbers and capabilities, and a lot of job losses. I never did say it would have been nice, nor i did say that Harrier was better than Tornado, nor do i like to propose it, believe it or not.
But it would have been financial realism, and operationally the impact would have been far less severe than you want to imply.

And the risk of 5 years without Storm Shadow is less than the risk of 10 years of incapacity to put fixed wing assets at sea, plainly.

“it was a genuine shock horror surprise that they decided not to take it.”

Your irony pretends to forget that it WAS a surprise when the SDSR came out. Literally days before, the Tornado was set to be grounded.
But of course, i was forgetting! They are all controlled by Navy-biased evil spirits, and they surely faked even the surprise.

“Lets not also forget that the Tornado fleet was cut pretty heavily which will have also accrued savings.”

Again, how expert you are in putting things in the way that best suits you.
The official position of government is that with the SDSR they endorsed a PR10 option that dates back to labour.
In 2009 they announced the cuts to pay for 22 Chinooks and the 7th C17, remember?
The RAF offered to scrap the Harrier (as they had done the year before already). The Navy once again fought to avoid that.
The end result was that one only Harrier squadron was disbanded, with “one or more squadrons of Harriers or Tornado to disband next year”.

As a matter of fact, these cuts did not pay for 22 Chinooks as we know. And cutting two more Tornado squadrons alone would not suffice.
But in the meanwhile the Harrier force at readiness and fleet was scaled down.

And, surprise surprise, the RAF used the just scaled-down Force at Readiness level to justify the Harrier cut, which in addition to the two Tornado sqds was politically big enough to stop more cuts even though the saving was not big enough.

The third try in 3 years was finally successful.


The surprise of these days, you can easily find memory of it if you seek for it.
You can also remember the 1 billion hole in PR11 which was somewhat covered up by the Treasury when Libya popped up, making it impossible to present to the public yet more cuts. But it was there. You did forget it all already? I don’t think so.

And further holes, sized in the billions, are reportedly still riddling the financial plans of the next years.

Militarily, it makes a good deal of sense to retain Tornado, even if it leaves a big and potentially dangerous hole in capability for a long decade.
But financially, no. And no matter how many people you call biased, the reality remains.

November 9, 2011 4:46 pm

“Continue to believe in fairy tales, and continue to tell everyone that has had a link to the RN is a biased incompetent. Go right ahead.”

— Fairy tales? You have NO LINK to your figures. The only official links are to the £4.8 billion figure, which you deride as being the logistic cost, without understanding that the £900 million figure for Harrier was delivered on the same basis so it too, combined with the manning cost of Ark Royal etc, would be higher.

The only source you have for your £7 billion are two former Naval personnel, who took their respective opportunities to speak on the subject to play down the RAF, before quoting a figure for which there is no evidence to support it. NONE. Not a sentence, not a letter. Nothing.

And you’re accusing other people of believing in fairy tales? It’s just laughable.

steve taylor
November 9, 2011 6:57 pm

TD said “I thought Storm Shadow was a light blue plot, instigated by those naughty chaps at Deep Strike, just to piss off the one true Senior Service and stop them getting more TLAM shaped toys.”

I already said that earlier. Keep up! ;)

steve taylor
November 9, 2011 8:07 pm

Field dressing or super glue?

November 9, 2011 8:50 pm

I would rather they withdraw from the defence main effort but that’s to political as opposed to uk security requirements. But I see little point in going over this it’s done. It’s like asking for direction and getting told I wouldn’t start from here.

November 9, 2011 9:08 pm

I agree TD. I would say it wasn’t mod that run the review it was NSC who are to over see future uk security requirements using military force as only one part. Afghan And the scale and type of our commitment was a difficult decision that I believe was ducked for politic reasons only. Helmand and future uk security is not IMO linked.

November 11, 2011 10:31 am

“I will continually challenge nonsense where I see it”

Well, there is plenty that you did produce yourself:

“Harrier and Tornado were not comparable in either capabiliy or sustainability to their OSD so the decision actually made itself.”

As a matter of fact, the decision did not make itself. The two fleets were compared for months.

Nonsense: if they were equal in capability, they would have been either all Tornado or all Harriers. What the hell does it even mean?

Also, the differences between Harrier and Tornado in roles have actually been reducing in the years, since Tornado, a deep-strike platform, ended up doing CAS 95% of the time.

Sustainability to their OSD.
Again, nonsense.
Both were sustainable. Under many points of view, Harrier was more sustainable, for example since its support contracts were all signed out to planned OSD in 2018, and an extension to 2020 to cover the entry in service of F35 was judged possible. Indeed, there was talk of 2023.
The major BAE contract for Tornado support, worth well over a billion, will have to be renewed in 2015 unless the OSD is advanced further. Which might well happen, to complete the joke.

“Withdrawing from the DME”

Please. Again, this is nonsense. The reduction in the number of airframes available for ops in addition to Afghanistan is not exactly the same thing as the doomsday scenario you imply.

“The link is not working.”

Have you looked down the Notes of the Parliamentary Defence Committee report?
Pretty much none are links, but only static notes. Even several notes about the SDSR.
But the SDSR document does undoubtedly exist, and the DOC Audit must exist in the same way as well, otherwise i doubt they would have made a note about it.

“If the Dr is quoting an MoD report in his evidence and given that he is not employed by the MoD or a Government Minister or Civil Servant, how does he know what was in the report?

If it was released to the public i.e. him, then surely it would be available for all to see”

This is the worst of nonsensical affirmations.
Internal documents like that can be shown to a pretty wide range of people, officially or not. The MOD seeks well-paid consultancy all the time.
He could have been shown the document by anyone inside the MOD involved in the SDSR process, along with quite a few others, for the most diverse reasons.

And that still does definitely not mean that said document would be thrown on the internet for the whole world to see.

This said, it might even be available, at least in part, somewhere. Unlikely, but it might be. And if i find anything about it, i’ll share.

“I would rather have CAS/RECCE”

Yeah, because Harrier cannot deliver that. Especially the second. “Oh, it has not got the RAPTOR!”
But it flew with its own RECCE pod for years over Afghanistan.

November 12, 2011 12:37 pm

I don’t know if this is the right place but I put it there, a cut of one billion pounds more.


Already posted before but it fits together.


November 12, 2011 3:12 pm

But it flew with its own RECCE pod for years over Afghanistan.

sniper is more of targeting pod it’s equavilant would be the litening pod not raptor. Raptor carries on where the pr9 left.

November 12, 2011 3:53 pm


I am aware of what SNIPER is.
In fact I did not mean the Sniper targeting pod, but the Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod (DJRP).

Not quite as powerful as the RAPTOR, but a good system. Besides, it was handy because it was routinely carried, along with a vast arsenal of weaponry:

GR9 standard Afghan weapons load:

Sniper targeting pod
2 Paveway IV
2 CRV7 pods; or 2 Paveway IV; or 2 Maverick; or 1 CRV7 pod and 1 Maverick



“This is what makes you lose credibility and look like a bit of an obsessive with no real grasp of the underlying principles or realities at hand.”

Might be. Probably not, though.
I also do prefer to base myself on evidence, numbers and facts when i talk about reality.

You choose the way of arbitrarily deciding what fits reality and what does not, in this kind of comments. Just as you use “financial reality” as a password that opens all doors, to justify all kind of observations, UNLESS, of course, a financial observation is made about Tornado.
A bit cheap.

“that predicting that night follows day and then telling everyone how clever I am because night did indeed follow day”

The only one prediction i made and got right, which i’m guessing you are referring to, is that about Cats and Traps.
If it was so easy to predict that Prince of Wales would be the one getting the catapults, why didn’t you predict it yourself, instead of bitching about it later?

I don’t think i ever claimed to have the gods giving me the Truth. I’m no prophet. But i have eyes and ears, and i think i can make my observations and guesses, without you having to bitch for it, thank you.

November 12, 2011 5:30 pm

Fair enough gabby, although although djrp was good enough I really think raptor is well above in terms of quality.It’s a real key asset asked for quite often, and can be carried along with a weapon load.

November 12, 2011 6:11 pm

“Fair enough gabby, although although djrp was good enough I really think raptor is well above in terms of quality.It’s a real key asset asked for quite often, and can be carried along with a weapon load.”

I do not put it in doubt.
My point is not about quality. Tornado has many advantages on Harrier, and i know it well.
My point is and remains one of balance between financial and military aspects. I’m not at all convinced that the right choice was made, and i’m worried not just for its already covered costs, but for those still present in the next planning rounds as well.

November 13, 2011 2:47 pm

Britain Denies Troop Cut Claims in Leaked Memo


November 15, 2011 12:27 pm

Loathe though I am to point to another Lewis Page article but apparently the USMC are buying all our stored Harriers….


November 17, 2011 11:50 am

Hi TD – just had a look, lots of heated comments!

Nice photo from the deck of HMS Edinburgh though

November 25, 2011 4:57 pm

The UK will “certainly” not be able to operate both Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers in 2020 if the Royal Navy is reduced to 29,000 personnel in line with current planning, the head of the Royal Navy has said.


November 26, 2011 2:15 am

I think the key line is here;

“It is ambiguous but, given the people, we certainly can’t use both.

I didn’t think they was a plan to? If so 29k might be enough if only one is used at once.

November 26, 2011 2:11 pm

Topman – Around 6k of that 29k in the Naval Service will be Royal Marines.

The remaining 23k RN personnel need to encompass hundreds of wide-ranging skill sets with varying degrees of experience, expertise and responsibility at levels from AB to Admiral, e.g. submariners, aircrew, air engineers, aircraft handlers, air traffic controllers, fighter controllers, other aviation specialists, nuclear engineers, gas turbine engineers, diesel-electric engineers, weapons engineers, hull engineers, armourers, hydrographers, survey recorders, oceanographers, meterologists, radar operators, sonar operators, operations room supervisors, medics, divers, minewarfare specialists, logisticians, CIS, etc.

Take a look at the job types on the RN website at http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/Careers/Careers-Introduction/Career-Packs and then drill down into the specialisations and sub-specialisations. An SSBN can’t go around short of one of its nuclear watchkeepers so there needs to be enough flex in the system to cope with leave, accident, illness or other reasons for a particular specialist being unavailable.

The complete text of 1SL’s speech can be found at http://www.henryjacksonsociety.org/stories.asp?pageid=49&id=2508.

November 26, 2011 3:12 pm

@ Dunservin, I know there a lot of trades in the navy. I’m not sure what your point is?

Wasn’t nuclear watchkeeper one of the most undermanned trades in the navy, I think it was highlighted in the AFPRB a few times.

November 26, 2011 5:13 pm


I suspect the results of such studies are what’s causing 1SL to lose sleep. The switch to CATOBAR must place a significant burden on ADQUAL (Additional Qualification) training at least, if not the number of personnel having the basic skills. As things stand, the range of esoteric systems and equipment that come within the purview of some personnel require up to a year or 18 months of PJT (Pre-Joining Training) courses on top of their basic professional qualifications. Often, these courses are at a premium owing to shortages of trainers/training resources and not scheduled to fit a particular ship’s programme although they are modularised* whenever possible. When you combine the frequent turnover of deep-specialist personnel (routine moves to other vessels or shore billets, promotion, higher professional courses, termination of service, etc) with the constant changing or upgrading of systems, this becomes even more of a headache.

* ;-)


My point is that it’s not simply a question of personnel ‘numbers’ that determines critical mass, e.g. the ability of the Royal Navy to complement its aircraft carrier(s) and all its other vessels so they can float, fight and move effectively in an operational environment. Individuals’ attributes also need to be taken into account with a certain margin for attrition and contingencies.

November 26, 2011 5:36 pm

Yes I understand that it’s the same in the other two services, my point was that the item highlighted was the underlying numbers, and is 29k enough to contain all those specialites if only one carrier is operated at once?

November 26, 2011 5:46 pm

“do you know if there have been any studies on the additional crew aboard and total extra personnel (trainers etc) for CATOBAR?”

I believe I’ve seen 50 people as the figure put around. This is presumably total personnel in the system, so perhaps 15-20 deployed on QEC at any one time? I think this was for additional deck crew and maintainers etc. for the catapults and arrestor gear.

November 26, 2011 6:22 pm

The V2 division who do the cats and traps on a US carrier has about 200 personnel to look after the 4 catapults and arrestor gear. The EMALS technology should reduce this by about 30%. As the UK will have only 2 cats we can questimate the number to be around 90-100 personel.

From the recent emals sale notification we have this

“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.”

As F35 training will most likely always be done in the US as is the case with F16 training for european airforces I would guess the US navy system may train the RN personnel.

November 26, 2011 6:27 pm

TD, I don’t think we’ve got anywhere close to working that out. I wonder who drove this pushed this change. We’ve heard loads about the harrier and tornado choice and all sorts of stuff about imaginary ‘mafias’. Yet we’ve heard nothing about the politics behind this, who wanted this and why?

November 26, 2011 6:34 pm

@ Mark As the UK will have only 2 cats we can questimate the number to be around 90-100 personel.
Is that onboard at anyone time?

As F35 training will most likely always be done in the US as is the case with F16 training for european airforces I would guess the US navy system may train the RN personnel.

I wonder if that happens, what impact it will make on the a/c numbers bought since we would need a smaller ocu?

November 26, 2011 6:44 pm


I humbly suggest that the range of roles, environments (surface, sub-surface, air, land) and systems (weapons, CIS, propulsion, domestic, etc) involving the Naval Service is somewhat wider and usually more sophisticated than those affecting the bulk of the other, larger services. Just think about it for a minute.

As I said before, around 6k of the 29k Naval Service personnel surviving redundancy will be RM, not RN. I can only speak from my own experience of gapped billets in floaty things but, even with the recent reduction in hulls, 23,000 personnel does not sound particularly viable to support the complex range of capabilities at every level I have described earlier. This is the crux of the Critical Mass issue.


You are now asking me questions where my knowledge is probably little better than yours and I am unwilling to speculate. However, I would say that the disproportionate cut of 5,000 Naval Service personnel (who tend to spend more of their time deployed than in the other services anyway) will probably contribute more than anything else to any inability to operate both carriers.

November 26, 2011 6:50 pm

For some reason, I am unable to use the edit mode or I would have added “sensors” to the the list of systems in my first paragraph above.

November 26, 2011 6:57 pm

You can suggest it, but I respectfully disagree, I don’t think it so different from the two other services in a technical sense, if anything I would (no doubt with bias) it would be the RAF, I think till we have the largest numbers, percentage wise, in a technical trade.

But whatever the % my point was can 29k give the needed trade structures the room to produce enough people to man a single carrier?

November 26, 2011 6:58 pm


I believe that would be. Around 200 crew do the cat and trap on board a US navy carrier from what ive read.

The OCU will be smaller no 2 seat trainer required much more simulator work and more mission stores work done on hawk prior to OCU. The OCU will I suspect stay in the US along with the OEU unless a large amount of investment is made here. Better weather climate in florida that here too.

November 26, 2011 7:08 pm

I wonder how many that would work out across the navy then?

Yes I saw that, still not sure about no twin sticker, but it’s too far down to do anything about it now. I’ve not heard of the ocu being set up in the us, I thought it was going to be pauxtant river anyway. I know that’s where the first raf went to. The cost of keeping uk personnel in the us would be eye watering. I know of the budget issues at creech with 39 sqn, they would be much smaller than an ocu and they are under constant cost pressures. Because of the nature of the work I think the oeu would stay in the uk.

November 26, 2011 7:28 pm


You are right the RAF going to Pauxtant that is home to the us navy and marine F35 flight testing program. Eglin AFB in florida will be home to around 60 f35s of all variant and will train all US f35 pilots.

It was awhile ago so it may have changed but not only the ocu but the first operation sqn was to stand up in florida and gradually transition to the the UK.

The OEU may stay in the US due to the source code/ weapon integration and mission system complexity on the f35 and the cost involved in the UK setting up a similar facility here.

November 26, 2011 7:38 pm

Yes I understand the first sqn would stand up there most probably 1(F) sqn.

It would be a step change, but then this a/c is like no other and lots of things are changing. So you may be right, although it’s hard to have an oeu so close to the us even if they are a friendly country there are still things that are uk eyes only and projects just for the uk. I’m not sure what value anything other than how we have the oeu now would bring. Might be best costwise just to leave it to the US.

November 26, 2011 7:44 pm

I note the posts after this one “The EMALS technology should reduce this by about 30%. As the UK will have only 2 cats we can questimate the number to be around 90-100 personel.”

– still seems the most accurate estimate – and that should be netted with the lesser maintenance hours for the C as opposed to “B”
– when the boarded aircraft are 6 or 12, that difference may not show much, but once you have a steadier workload across all specialist skills with a higher throughput, a good percentage out of the 100 or so will be cancelled out (as a delta to the original crewing plans)

November 26, 2011 7:47 pm


I agree with everything you’ve said but then who would of thought we would give up sigint and get so close on the rivet joint.

November 26, 2011 7:47 pm

a good percentage out of the 100 or so will be cancelled out (as a delta to the original crewing plans)

Sorry if I’m being dense but could you expand on that?

November 26, 2011 7:51 pm

True I wouldn’t have though it, but FJ tend to be slightly different, in that they have there own units and therefore a under constant upgrade so much so they justify their own units. Having worked under the AWC, I know how much goes on in an OEU it’s pretty specialised stuff and a surprising amount of upgrades and trials on at the same time.

November 26, 2011 8:26 pm

Hi Topman,

Good to have discussion! I agree with Mark’s extrapolations and to be safe (in this discussion) I picked the top end number – C/B analysis between the two versions will still be going on ten years from now… assuming they both did enter service!

When this B-or-C discussion was at its hottest, about a year ago, I looked at the detail. Can’t now recall the exact estimated maintenance hours (per flight hour, not something that the a/c would be facing in their “old age”)but the difference was huge, in favour of “C”.

Carrier air ops are based on pulsing (that is maximum capacity, but can only be maintained for so long… 2 days?). Then the sortie rate starts to tail off
– we are basically looking at an F1 pit stop scenario: they know the number of laps over which max effort will have to be maintained (well, we don’t, it is as long as possible, and the sustained rate becomes something else – before the need to call in a port sets in)

Surely the number of maintenance personnel is affected/ can be derived from the known fact difference between B and C
– how to load a production line (optimally)
– basic queue theory: goes all the way from launch and recovery rates; lifts; rearming; refuelling

The turn-around times in the first hours and days of any battle are crucial, but now we are talking (disputing?) steady state manning level requirements between two options?

November 26, 2011 9:10 pm

I remember a Nick Harvey answer that put the crew for the carrier, post CATOBAR announcement, at 760 men.
Earlier, crew was 679 in the ACA estimates and 682 in RN estimates.

Assuming that CATOBAR is the source of the increase, there would be an expansion of some 78 men or so from earlier RN assumptions.

November 27, 2011 4:28 am

The turn-around times in the first hours and days of any battle are crucial, but now we are talking (disputing?) steady state manning level requirements between two options?

I think we are yes, how many for a normal deployment say into the med no hostile actions.

November 27, 2011 7:04 am

I was coming from the angle of full operating/ fighting strength, not manning at training level
RE ” how many for a normal deployment say into the med no hostile actions.”
-I don’t think the same argument applies here as with e.g. an infantry bn; that you bring it to full strength (from other units or by mobilising reservists)before you deploy.

Carrier (flight) operations are such a specialist trade that we just debated whether they can be regenerated after the long gap (and how disproportionately we will have to rely on two other nations helping)
– China is not trying to learn them on dry land (as opposed to their pilots using a mock flight deck for taking off and landing) but have sent their guys onto the Brazilian carrier instead

November 27, 2011 7:20 am

I don’t see why they can’t be relearnt, nothing is innate someone had to learn it the first time. I think it’s more a matter of time and money. I haven’t worked much on the ops side, I’ve seen 10 years mentioned, I think that might be over egging the pudding, although it will take a while.

November 27, 2011 7:56 am

10 years refers to only other nations’ flattops being available
– you can slot in pilots (as training programmes run anyway)
– you can’t have a large ops team learning by doing, observers yes (and of course the first EMALS will go to sea with the USN, not the RN, and even they have stuff to learn, I’m sure)so at least we won’t be the guinea pig

November 29, 2011 10:10 am

I wonder what today’s (release date) report really says, here’s Guardian’s take on it:
“The first, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be mothballed immediately it is launched in 2016, according to the existing plan. However, the second, HMS Prince of Wales, is not now expected to be fully operational until 2031. Moreover, it will only be able to stay at sea for up to 200 days a year, significantly fewer than envisaged, says the Commons public accounts committee.

It continues: “The technology proposed has yet to be tested and the [fighter] version the UK intends to buy will be unique to Britain…

Margaret Hodge, the former Labour minister and chair of the public accounts committee, told the Guardian: “The carriers’ starting cost was £3.5bn, is currently about £6.2bn, and is likely to rise to up to £12bn. There will be nine years without a carrier, and it will be at sea for fewer than 200 days on average.”

November 29, 2011 10:28 am

According to BBC

Our big eared friends will now be not fully operational until 2030 and cost 12 billion.

(Just a reminder that they were originally going to cost 2-3 billion and be ready by 2012…


4 times the cost.
18 years late.
1 instead of 2.
Not Stovl..
That one usually deployed with 12 aircraft not 36.

So a little calculation (and I accept these figures do not include plane costs).

We were going to pay £3billion for the ability to deploy on a sustained basis 36 aircraft.

We are now paying 4 times as much for the ability to deploy on a sustained basis 12 for half the time.

So capital costs, about £850,000 an average deployed fighter/year is now:- (wait for it)£2billion per average deployed fighter/year.

Oh yea and we don’t get that for 18 years.

Sorry but this programme has gone form the dodgy, to the silly to the downright Pythonesque and an has now lost all connection with military/ economic reality.

November 29, 2011 10:35 am

12b actually includes the planes. I would say the report presents a more considered option than the headlines on the beeb. TD did the nao project costs a few days ago

November 29, 2011 10:38 am

Hehe, I can see the printed media wing of the BBC got there first

November 29, 2011 10:39 am

Talking of Monty python..


UK Conglomerate naval shipbuilding corner shop, in the corner the band of the Marines is playing ‘A life on the ocean waves..

Shop bell rings..

In walks high ranking square Jawed son of Nelson in full dress regalia.


‘I was just reading in the library Janes fighting ships when I came over all sexually excited by the big American carriers, so I curtailed my carriering activities and ventured hence to your emporium to purchase a like vessel complete with bells and whistles.


Well you’ve come to the right place…….

For our non English readers or those under say 40.
I should explain that in this classic sketch a man goes into a cheese shop tries to buy his chosen cheese, for which the shopkeeper makes increasingly bizarre and outrageous excuses for not having, and it eventually transpires there is no cheese in the shop at all, frustrated the customer shoots him dead.

November 29, 2011 10:44 am

“frustrated the customer shoots him dead”
– you forgot the punch line, or is it not your prediction?

November 29, 2011 10:52 am

Nao have released a supplement on carrier strike today also it make interesting reading and informs the tornado harrier debate in tornados favour.

November 29, 2011 10:57 am


You are so right. In stand corrected.

Of course the old figures are now so old. but I will do the maths again:-

Original cost we were told would be £2 billion for the ships.

36 fighter at the then projected cost of around 30 million would be £.9 billion. So total capital 36 deployed fighter year cost £3 billion.
£900.000 per deployed fighter year (ish) originally.

What a relief I got my sums wrong an we are only paying 2.2 x that (ish) now, I feel so much better…….

Or at least I will in 18 years time…18 years after we were supposed to have them.

Oh and if you think £12billion is the last word on costs I prepared to bet the mortgage money it is only going to get worse..

November 29, 2011 10:58 am


Very much my prediction. Thank you

November 29, 2011 11:09 am

So the fact the UK won’t have 3x F35 squadrons the very minute the carrier goes in service in 2020 is a shock to some people? I’m confused.

As others have said the £12bn includes the planes. Hey we could always cancel the F35 and the predicted massive benefit to the UK economy because £12bn sounds a lot right?

Apparently the NAO report says EMALS is risky and untried. Geez, it’s a wonder anything ever got invented.

November 29, 2011 11:12 am

All my figure rough approximations but that extra 12 billion we are paying for this devastating strike capability, would sure come in handy right now…

After all we could have:

12 more type 45 block 2, or
10 more Astutes, or
240 River Class!
75 bays…

steve taylor
November 29, 2011 11:16 am


Sometimes when I read your stuff I think spam. And then I think about spam, spam, and spam perhaps with extra spam. And then spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, with some spam on top. :)

November 29, 2011 11:24 am


The f35 thing is not a shock to me. It should be to some of the carrier junkies who talk like it is all done deal and it will all happen on time and on budget.

The f35 buy is not tied to Nellie and Dumbo.

How lucky we are that our enemies we are going to so devastate with our wonder weapon have agreed to 18 years, before doing anything naughty.

I have to ask if we can live from 2010-2030 without them, why are Nellie and Dumbo so god damn important then why is it 2020 ‘nope don’t need them’ 2030 ‘they are vital to our defence’?

November 29, 2011 11:25 am


‘Is this 15 minute argument or the full half hour’?

November 29, 2011 11:26 am

“When the carrier is introduced it will be able to operate at sea for only 150 to 200 days a year, compared with the original plan to provide carrier capability for 435 days a year using two carriers.”

Well, damn!

November 29, 2011 11:27 am

‘The f35 thing is not a shock to me. It should be to some of the carrier junkies who talk like it is all done deal and it will all happen on time and on budget.’

I’m a carrier junkie and I fully understand the timetable. Stop being a condescending twat.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 29, 2011 11:39 am

We could always buy Swedish if F35 is to be out of our price range.

A deck full of gen 4.5 fighters will always out perform an empty carrier and a photo of an unaffordable 5th generation all singing-and-dancing magic stealth aircraft pictured in a Lockheed Martin brochure on the Defence Minister’s desk.

November 29, 2011 11:41 am

The report says ZERO new things.

In 2018 F35 UK will hit Land IOC.

In 2020 there will be six Force Elements At Readiness able to embark on the first carrier, supported by training fleet, to grow to 10 afterwards, and then to a full 12 planes squadron.

The capacity to embark all 36 planes won’t be there until there are three squadrons of planes and crews.

So it all depends on when and how rapidly F35s are acquired and prepared for frontline service. At the moment, the 3-squadrons force is not expected before 2030, since the F35 acquisition was pushed largely to the right into the next decade to save 2.8 billion pounds.

IXION panicking and his fantasy figures backed by no reflections are frankly of no interest other than for the psychological extent of his carrier-hating illness.

Also, the reduction in at sea time, is a logical consequence of the current assumption of only using one.
The ship remains capable to operate 9 months in a row and support 70 days of air ops with the supplies it carries.

But without a second vessel operative, the single carrier cannot be at sea all the time. Indeed, in peacetime years it won’t spend 9 months at sea, but less than that, the famous 150 to 200 days, to conserve availability as much as possible for when it is truly needed.

Just as the hysteria about 20 sorties per day against 72, and all that, without realizing that it purely depends on how many planes you do embark.

If people would think, or at least read, before opening their mouths to howl to the Moon, perhaps the debates would make sense.


November 29, 2011 11:43 am

I don’t believe the figure but i’ve seen reported that F35 involvement for the UK could be worth up to £100bn. Let’s not bite our nose off to spite our face.

November 29, 2011 11:47 am

That figures in the new nao report and is based on many many assumptions. also f35c launched from emals 10 days ago

November 29, 2011 11:48 am

“When the carrier is introduced it will be able to operate at sea for only 150 to 200 days a year, compared with the original plan to provide carrier capability for 435 days a year using two carriers.”

Thus the case for two carriers. Not that operational deployment for 150 to 200 days per year for a single ship and her air group is that bad. What does a typical RAF FJ squadron achieve?

November 29, 2011 11:53 am

The F35s price tag is too high for its advertised capabilities. With the carrier construction turning into an expensive debacle, I can’t see that we can afford the F35 anymore.

I hate to say it, but I can see Rafale being purchased instead at this rate and our flight crews training on board the french carriers.

steve taylor
November 29, 2011 11:54 am


November 29, 2011 12:00 pm

Why? Rafale was recently rejected by the UAE I believe because it costs an arm and a leg too. And it’s a generation behind the F35.

November 29, 2011 12:25 pm

“12 more type 45 block 2, or”

We could in fact have had another 18.5 Type 45’s :P

November 29, 2011 12:35 pm

Phil, Rafale would be a worse buy certainly, but I think the purchase will be made for political reasons rather than whats in the best interests of the Navy. The rising costs associated with the carriers makes this option more appealing for the more pro euro politicians out there.

November 29, 2011 12:39 pm

I dont think there’s even been a semi official hint at Rafale from anyone, not even Dassault. Buying it would make no sense unless F35 is binned.

November 29, 2011 12:42 pm

@Bergendale: I really, really hope you are wrong. We don’t need another PAAMS, a product we buy off the shelf from the French that doesn’t work properly. F/A-18E/F, works, other people want to buy it, and it has an upgrade path. If the RN has done one really dumb thing, it was to insist on F35 when F18 was available at a fixed price and schedule. The carriers would have entered service in 2012 and 2014 as first planned, at cost, using C13 steam, which we could then upgrade to EMALS if necessary

November 29, 2011 12:48 pm

@ Bergendale – “Phil, Rafale would be a worse buy certainly, but I think the purchase will be made for political reasons rather than whats in the best interests of the Navy. The rising costs associated with the carriers makes this option more appealing for the more pro euro politicians out there.”

More appealing that £100B to the economy over the next half century?
More appealing the 25,000 high-tech UK manufacturing jobs?
More appealing than the £10B anticipated revenue to the exchequer?

I think not.

November 29, 2011 12:51 pm



‘I’m a carrier junkie and I fully understand the timetable. Stop being a condescending twat’.

Congratulations, could you bit some of the others? Because when I and others raised:-

‘Great we get a carrier with no planes for some time after it is due to be commissioned’, to put on it.

I was told off, because all 12 planes would be ready and waiting in 2020.


Of course When one RAF squadron Goes down the RAf has another. When one carrier goes down -errr


Without getting into a flame war with you ..

Sorry but 12 billion for the program for 12 deployed fighters- 12 billion per deployed fighter. That is not fantasy maths its first year primary school maths. 12 billion for a fighter to be deployed on average about 6 months = 24 billion per deployed fighter year.


Feel free to put up your own figures to contradict that. But as a carrier junky you won’t care if it’s 2,3,4,or 10 billion. It will be worth it, for the 20 sorties a day…

What was the sortie rate in the war for the Nameless Isles?

November 29, 2011 1:03 pm

Oh and Gabs

If your going to post links, don’t post ones which; (those of us who read govt and politician speak every day know), say in effect we haven’t got a clue how much it will cost, nor have the govt.

Indeed Public accounts committee chairman said so on radio.

This program is out of control financially.

November 29, 2011 1:07 pm


‘If everyone is thinking the same thing then noone is thinking..’

Gen Patton (I think)

November 29, 2011 2:40 pm


F18 road map is available provided we pay boeing to develop those capabilities. In the end you want fastjets of this capability level there will be little difference across the full life costs. Benefit of f35 we get some money back in the form of tax revenues we don’t with f18 or rafale.

November 29, 2011 3:16 pm

“It will be worth it, for the 20 sorties a day…”

I didn’t want to go down to this level, but you force me.
Done the math, 20 sorties a day is already more than the RAF flew over Libya during the whole campaign, despite the count including the AWACS, Sentinel and other assets, you know.

3010 sorties on 217 days = 13.87 sorties per day.
Of these only around 2000 were strike sorties, so the actual figure is even lower.

The 20 sorties of CVF are all sorties of strike aircrafts and do not include any additional embarked asset, which could be Merlin AEW, Apaches, or whatever else.

12 F35C on the carrier are going to do on average more sorties than 16 Tornado (+some at Marham for the SS raids) and 6 Typhoons from Gioia del Colle did in all these months.


“Sorry but 12 billion for the program for 12 deployed fighters- 12 billion per deployed fighter. That is not fantasy maths its first year primary school maths. 12 billion for a fighter to be deployed on average about 6 months = 24 billion per deployed fighter year.”

Other assorted nonsense.

The Typhoons deployed so far have been 6, soon reduced to 4, then brought back home entirely.
I didn’t hear you moan and howl about that. Maybe you missed it.

You are saying idiocies.
Even when 150 F35B were planned, production of UK planes was going to end only in 2027, with last delivery 2 years later, so in 2029.
For the full 36 Force Elements at Readiness, and the document i’ve linked says it, but you won’t go and read the written evidence in it, was always going to be around 2030.

The long time it takes to build up the F35C fleet, and its cost, is the inescapable reality of modern day – guess it – AIR FORCES.

Have you looked at the costs and times related to the Typhoon procurement, production, and entry in service?
It has been around for forever, but it is far, far from ready still. There are still two squadrons to stand up, ground attack capability won’t be complete until 2014 in the most optimist estimate, and the full fleet won’t be delivered until many more years in the future, with production having further been slowed down when already the Tranche 3 was planned to start delivering only in 2013.


With Gripen, F18 or anything else, things would not be much different.
Possibly, they would be worse.

A carrier-capable Gripen only exists on paper, and the F18 International is little more than mock-ups and paper.
Rafale is currently incompatible with all british systems and weapons that would have to be used on it, save for Meteor, which France is integrating.

The only B plan is buying F18 “as it is” and only put on it british radios and weaponry.
It would cost somewhat less, perhaps (not very sure), and would (again, perhaps) allow a bigger, earlier buy to have more planes ready to go in 2020. Provided that it was ordered now or tomorrow, and the whole training and all other plans were changed, again, now.
Because personnel is as much of a challenge as the plane.

But the F18 would make only Boeing happy, and steal the Uk industry participation in the 100 billion wet dream that F35 is estimated to represent for the UK.

And if you read your beloved document, the 100 billions figure appears in it.

November 29, 2011 3:53 pm

Can someone expand a bit on that 100billion pound figure?
Assuming a 3.000 aircraft production run (I’m an optimist today) and a price of a 100million per aircraft, about one third of the total value would come to the economy of the UK.
Wishfull thinking?

November 29, 2011 3:57 pm

Very wishful thinking would be my guess.

November 29, 2011 4:17 pm


It also involves the support contracts which uk should get a similar share to production percentage. They being economic advisers for nao believe this will general 10b pounds worth of tax revenues. It long term an open to a number of variation. The new nao report is worth a read it states f35 was a main driver for keeping the carriers and it would appear significant us pressure.

November 29, 2011 4:19 pm


2 billion per deployed 6 months of fighter is simple maths (not 24 as I slipped up and now cannot edit posts- TD can you do anything about that).

Should have been 2 billion per aircraft/year.


Look at all the qualifications, the outright statements in it, that the figures cannot be quantified, or the details are not available.

I did not mention Tornado, never mentioned RAF or Typhoon or Grippen.

November 29, 2011 5:13 pm

Having read the Public Accounts Committee report and the NAO supplementary, I have to say that I can’t see anything there that suggests any real change. To the program. I think the BBC might just be stirring the pot to be honest.

November 29, 2011 5:33 pm

10 bn in tax; 100 bn to the UK over 45 years
– it is for free, seen from Treasury coffers point of view
-the carriers will last the 45 years (minus what it takes to build them; the planes perhaps 25, counting from average ISD 2020 optimistically)
… purchase costs are typically only 10-20% of total life costs (which tend to be calculated over 20 years max because no-one can predict the major upgrades in late life)

So,not only for free (to buy) but with F35 (part) exports, also Balance of Payments neutral – without counting on any derived warship exports

I would like to read this assessment and its assumptions

November 29, 2011 5:41 pm

” To the program. I think the BBC might just be stirring the pot to be honest”
– and their journalistic wing

I must say that the summary of the report is quite badly written… may be to egg on the journos (knowing that they would not read any further into the report)

The best bit is the NAO note on the two NSC meetings (briefings & minutes) that specifically considered carrier strike; also the way amphibious shipping is used as spare change between the presented scenarios

November 29, 2011 6:04 pm

The thing I don’t get is the £100 billion figure. The NAO report said it had come from having some independent analyst look at it, but all BAE is doing is the control surfaces and some ECM I think.

Just running the numbers quickly, if there were 5000 aircraft built and BAE brought in £100 billion in revenue then that would mean that every F-35 had £20 million’s worth of control surfaces and ECM.

I remember seeing a figure a long time ago which was £35 billion and that was on an expected order of 4500 planes.

November 29, 2011 6:39 pm


BAE are doing a lot more than that aft fuse,v and h stab, cv wing tips, fuel system, crew escape, life support, health management integration and a number of support function such as testing and thermodynamic stuff. RR are involved with both engines should the f136 ever be selected and they are the alternate helmet supplier. On top of that martin baker provide the ejector seat.

This figure also cover there thru life support.

November 29, 2011 6:50 pm

Fair enough. Didn’t realise the extent of their involvement. Still, a report from I think 2009 or 2010 pegged their revenue over the life of the project at £35 billion, now it’s suddenly spiked to nearly three times that amount? Sounds like some dodgy numbers. Unless the cost of the carriers and all their through life costs get factored in. But even then it sounds like an over estimate.

November 29, 2011 7:08 pm

Capita isn’t doing the study is it? The bastards.

November 29, 2011 7:27 pm

IXION, stop it. You are plainly rambling.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 29, 2011 8:32 pm

Gabriele, “A carrier-capable Gripen only exists on paper”

That may be so. However, Saab’s London office -with its co-sited Aeronautic Design Centre working on the Sea Gripen- opened in September. The Gripen concept also included a naval varient from the get-go (unlike the Typhoon and its fanciful Seaphoon proposal).
Sea Gripen will be a varient on the GripenNG, and NG technology demonstrators have already flown. Saab have said that they can begin delivery of Sea Gripen (not just a prototype) by 2018, which makes it a viable option for a cash strapped RN.

November 29, 2011 9:05 pm

Hi TD,

What’s the swapperoo rate? Over a year ago I put it at 1 to 58 and a half (the half would be spares?)

Of course we are only inflating the carrier construction price to get more Rafales on the deal! At this rate (of increase) we will have double your number (of 35 to 40)of planes to onboard

November 29, 2011 9:57 pm


Rambling Sid Rumpo, thats me!

Look I know you probably shout CVF! At the point of Orgasm but…Don’t just read the NAO ‘figures and conclusions read the words they have written in the main body of the report about the unknowns and assumptions.

TD is spot on about the speculative nature of those figures.

I suspect 36 could be done in some sort of emergency nameless isles style. But only then. They will probably do it once for the cameras and then never again in peacetime, for costs reasons.

The RAF want f35. So as for the supposed economic benefit of F35, great! But got sod all to do with nellie and dumbo.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 29, 2011 10:33 pm

Swapping one of the two British ships with the French.

If continuing construction and building a third ship (for delivery to France) would cost less than a billion; and the French would haggle down the price of PoW way below that cost (because we strengthen the buyer’s hand the longer we remain undecided on the ship’s future, and they’re French); then, wouldn’t selling become too politically risky? Ending construction and flogging half a 5+bn project for 9/8/700,000. and to the French of all people! Could be easier to suck up long-term costs.

November 30, 2011 9:51 am

“Anyone have any predictions on whether CVF will EVER deploy with 36 F35C?. We don’t yet know how many JCA we will end up buying, the programme still being pre main gate, sweepstakes anyone. I reckon 35 to 40 tops”

Well, then why you do make all that noise just because PAC is saying things that have been around for ages now?

6 F35C embarkable in 2020, a 12-strong squadron for carrier ops in 2023, full operational capability of the F35 and carrier combination in 2030/2031.

Nothing new.
But here people howls at the Moon for nothing.

November 30, 2011 10:11 am

@ Admin – “We don’t yet know how many JCA we will end up buying, the programme still being pre main gate, sweepstakes anyone. I reckon 35 to 40 tops”

72-80 is my bet, but only by 2030 for obvious reasons.

December 2, 2011 5:20 pm

I think it was Mark on another thread that said that when a USMC bde is deployed, it takes 65 jets with it.

Now, without factoring in QRA, but assuming 33% of the total a/c numbers are ready for use at any time, then we can answer the question (in the spirit of further harmonisation with the US forces):
– 107 Typhoons and 40 F-35s no good
– to get to 65, we’ll need 48 more F-35s
… there’s the answer?

Dominic Johnson
December 2, 2011 5:33 pm

40, just enough for an embarked squadron, at all times, two squadrons at a pinch and a full load for operation plc

Chris in Virginia
Chris in Virginia
December 2, 2011 6:04 pm

Maybe the question could be how many JAS-39 Gripens? The Swiss deal will give them a big leg up on the Brazilian, and Indian competitions… Why doesn’t BAE grab some of that co-production, say if the UK steps up to the plate for a large order of the aircraft?

December 2, 2011 10:29 pm

Yep, for Brazil
“The Swiss deal will give them a big leg up on the Brazilian, and Indian competitions…”
Out from the other one, I’m afraid

December 2, 2011 10:38 pm

Flightglobal has this snippet:
“It previously pledged to at least meet a 100% offset requirement linked to a Gripen NG purchase, while Stockholm also expressed possible interest in the Swiss-built Pilatus PC-21 as a potential replacement for its Saab 105 jet trainers”
– 100% offset anyway, and the trainers will have to be replaced anyway… so why not (except that the Swedish training model was unique in skipping one step on the way to jets, but never mind)

The same ‘barter’ model is in use with Brazil: Ohh, you’ve got that beautiful middle-weight transport plane in the works; our Hercs are actually quite tired and will need replacing (they will need replacing, that is true)

December 12, 2011 8:25 am

BAE was Saabs largest shareholder, and is still joint largest.

The Gripen bears a striking resemblance to the one engined “light eurofighter” Germany wanted in the early 90’s….

December 13, 2011 1:15 pm

Hi DJ,

You are a step ahead of me in the ownership stakes; I only knew about the cross-holding for international sales.

But on the euro-light and Gripen NG: Europe will only be in the game after Eurofighter if we can do enough commonality between the “light” and the the twin-engined design.
– there is nothing to stop Gripen NG being that “light edition” for budgetarily-challenged (if Switzerland and Sweden are, which of the smaller nations won’t be?)
– but it does not seem that there will be a “full tar” version; rather the UCAV (which might fall down on the Franco-British discord… and the Germans pick up the pieces. No problem with that as long as the top tech still has a heart beat on this continent).

December 13, 2011 2:02 pm

It was purely an accident of wikipedia.
I was just looking at a picture of the NG next to a picture of the Typhoon and alarm bells went off.
I vaguely remembered talk of a single engined Typhoon, and a bit more reading threw up BAE/Saab ownership.

All speculation on my part of course, but still.

December 20, 2011 9:29 am

the latest on the F35/F18 debate:


particularly recommend the posts from Istobie and Trouble.

December 20, 2011 10:01 am

guy has stamina. :)