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


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Today, it looks like we are going back to F35-B. Who's to say next week we may change our minds (again), and the week after change again?



who knew that CV stood for conventional variant, strewth i'm thicker than a whale omlette and i could do better than that, same paper that did an in depth report on the RAF apache!!

Looks like dave b then, 65,000 tonnes to do what a 30,000 could do anyway. arsecakes!


"Balanced budget". Devil will be in the detail.



The MOD ain't allowed to borrow money so it's budget is always balanced. The problem is and Phil the spread sheet may not be getting this is that the MOD does not buy it's kit from Tesco's. No one has a final idea of what programs will cost. Even relatively simple of the shelf procurement can run over budget.

I have very little faith in the top brass or the MOD to deliver kit at reasonable time and prices. Especially when we factor in BAE. However I do appreciate this is a very difficult job and it can't be done by simply firing in numbers to a spread sheet and declaring the balck hole gone.

(Interesting strategy for the Tory's to declare the black hole gone. I thought they were going to use that one until the end of time. )


From that linked BBC article "It is not clear exactly how Mr Hammond has done his calculations, though it's understood he has built in a reserve of some £8 billion over the next decade"

- cost of capital charges constituted a perverse incentive to scrap perfectly good kit - just to make the same money available for new purchases => those charges were scrapped when this was finally understood

I would bet on something similar being in the works here:

-project estimates, each one, include a risk buffer

- there is a "law of physics" that any slack you put in tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy

- taking such "fixed proportion to the total sum" buffers away and pooling them at the total budget level could easily come to 8 bn over ten years (MoD moving from after-the-fact style financial control to proactive management accounting?)



"there is a “law of physics” that any slack you put in tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy"

Precisely why I never told Abbey Wood how much of the training budget HQ LAND was willing to expend on WATCHKEEPER*. Drove the civil service numpties wild to not know that (and inevitably leak it or just give away the secret inadvertently), resulted in complaints all the way up to 2 star level, but in the end COS LAND held firm. And guess what? Thales started paying great attention to what the end user actually wanted, spending a lot of time on the Training LoD, and the budget being under-achieved.

* At least for my three years that coincided with the bid phase. Who knows what happened afterwards?


Hi James, RE

"At least for my three years that coincided with the bid phase. Who knows what happened afterwards?"

- catapult launch was tested

- I am surprised that it has not been adopted, as an operating option (landing could be hundreds of miles away, where ever we happen to have an airstrip)



I recall in the WATCHKEEPER bid phase at least one of the teams bidding was offering as the smaller air vehicle a UAV manufactured by RUAG of Switzerland which came off a launching rail - but I cannot recall which team it was! I think Northrop Grumman, but I may be mis-remembering. My vote (out of about 20 people) went to N-G for their Firescout UAV, but in the end the majority decision was Thales.

I think there were a couple of USN battleships involved in GW1 that had rail-launched UAVs for spotting the fire from the big guns. As I recall, it was the last time proper battleships took part in a war, and the first time UAVs played a role (Israelis aside). The battleships were I think leftovers from WW2. The USMC ANGLICO team we had in my Squadron were a bit miffed at us being too far inland to use NGS, so they had to control the F-18s instead.



This You-tube of USS Missouri firing its 16" guns in GW1 inlcudes some shots of UAVs launching and recovering.



The Andrew finally grows a pair!


To be fair, there are probably 100% of those deployed on this operation who would have done this years ago, without the political constraints. But even so, nice to see the Andrew justifying its' existence.... ;)


HMS Talent currently in South Africa, will then deploy to Falklands waters according to the media.

Talent has TLAM, I think? I'm not expert on Trafalgar-class subs.

Glad to see the Government keeping the FI on regular patrol schedules.


Sorry if this has been covered else were but I think I'm right in saying we have a return of the Jedi



Trident contracts to be placed. Presumably for long lead stuff or research work, as the official decision is not taken until 2015.



On book balancing at the MOD.

I heard at a meeting last week (Chatham House rules so no names) that the list of current defence projects that haven't been allocated a firm line item in the procurement budget amount to about 7.5% of the total worth of the existing wish list.

Some of these are projects for which costs are not yet firmly known, some are projects that are still being prioritised to see if inclusion in the official budget fits requirements/restraints.

7.5% sounds quite reasonable to me being, as we are, at the beginning of a 10 year timeframe.

The person giving the information was a very knowledgeable source with no reason to massage the figures.

Also 40% of the procurement budget so far allocated is for RN purchases.


Hi WillS,

"7.5% sounds quite reasonable to me being, as we are, at the beginning of a 10 year timeframe"

- yes

- and with mathematical roundation it is the same as the announced 8% contingency


Hi Mark, the linked article implies (but does not say) that the flight (-) on FI has been seconded out of the two sqdrns out of Leuchars?

Someone posted that the current Tiffie number stands at abt 80, so well on our way to 5 with 107 (as the older ones start to get dropped, while new keep "trickling"in)


Hi James,

The headline number is meaningless, through a trickle feed about 2 bn will be committed to the new build before this Parliament is over.


"Mr Hammond told MPs the contracts announced were a step towards ensuring the UK had a nuclear deterrent "into the 2060s".

'Cutting edge equipment'

He added: "We have a world-class submarine-building industry in this country and this programme will help to sustain or create more than 1,900 jobs across the UK.

"By making the core equipment programme fully funded and affordable, we are able to confirm additional equipment projects which help safeguard our national security."

He has also included the final cost of the replacement submarines - expected to be at least £20bn - in his latest budget plans."

-if the figure really covers both the boats and the designs (incl. CLC with variations)

- then, we are OK to 2040 - not 2060 - as in-between one can expect missile and warhead investments

- in the earlier announcements, cutting-edge was not the argument (I am sure it is one of them), but being able, in the first place, to have the first boat in water when the oldest "V" needs to go

- no one can drive this argument to any level of detail, as the RN is keeping the cards about SLEPping the "Vs" very close to the chest (I don't blame them, but I just wonder what sort of talks, based on what information, are going on within the Coalition)


Hawk order from the Saudis - some jobs saved at Brough.



good article from roger, he is becoming progressively less insistent in supranationalism as the means, and more focused on using europe effectively towards our ends.



PRSIM article on the onset of Her Majesty's Fighting Gendarmerie:


While all these pressures do exist, and will exert pressure on european nations to evolve in the direction stated, the OP was specifically written in reference to Britain and i do have some doubts about the end to expedionary war:

“The end of expeditionary operations. The British public and many members of Parliament are not likely to mandate future expeditions on anything approaching their previous scale to support U.S. military missions. After more than a century of overseas campaigning, ending the primacy of expeditionary forces will have a radical effect on the role and organization of the armed forces.”

Specifically, i have my doubts as to the [degree] to which this is true.

Yes, it is the end of protracted and nasty counterinsurgency campaigns that sees interminable blood and violence as the sole return on billions of taxpayers money.

That is not the same as an end to an expeditionary stance………………. unless the next SDSR ditches the commitment to spending the 2.0% of GDP mandated by NATO.

As an island nation, that does not have to plan for tanks rolling across ones border on a Friday afternoon, 2.0% of GDP can preserve a sovereign and strategic expeditionary capability.

The real question is about what kind of expeditionary capability you invest in, and the answer is obviously not the endless body-bags of COIN war that inevitably overburdens the host Defence budget as the campaign grinds on for a decade or more.

No, ambition and budget permitting, the answer is drawn from the DCDC’s own planning documents stating a desire for pre-emptive action designed to lower the total investment necessary to see the problem solved. That requires a greater emphasis on light-weight forces fully supported by the panoply and transport and theatre-entry assets necessary to justify the term “rapid reaction”.

Unsurprisingly, the SDSR saw the preservation of 3Cdo and 16AAB along with the amphibious ships, RFA support vessels, and RAF lift necessary to achieve this.

The future is bright, the future’s Raiding!


Roger never quite gets it for me. He always starts so well and then looses it

We are in Europe because of our geography; we are too big to be ignored. We should have aimed to be a "Super Norway" trading with but not part of the grand French experiment. If France could sit outside Europe's military structure for most of the Cold War "we" could have sat outside their political experiment. If war had come to Europe France would have been dragged in and economic or political shifts in their grand experiment would have affected us too. But that degree of separation from their experiment would have satisfied our national character, just as sitting outside NATO satisfied the French's nationalistic needs.

What "we" through away in the early 70s was the White Commonwealth. As a part of block that included Canada, Australia, and New Zealand we would have global span and through our navies with their common history global reach across the Atlantic, Pacific, and India Ocean. That is lost now. We still pull in the same direction more less but the association is much looser. "We" could have lead a block with a shared history and culture with a population greater than Germany's and the world's largest resources. "We" could have shared and developed technology; we used to before we through it away and we ended up with shares in expensive poor value Euro projects or sickly domestic projects. "We" could have used our collective influence. Together "we" would have been stronger. Hindsight is fantastic; not for nothing does the term "Little Englander" really piss me off.

Being a part of strong White Commonwealth block we would have been a more balance to the US. And taking more of the load would have probably paid benefits on Capitol Hill as the US wouldn't have been carrying the lion's share. It would still have been an unequal partnership, but not as unequal by a fair margin.

What we need now is another "Thatcher" somebody who can see some of that potential power as the UK sits as nexus betwixt the US, Europe, and the White Commonwealth. Doubt it will happen.

Turkey in the EU. Made me laugh.


Not so impressed by PRISM thing. Very late 60s/early 70s "oh, we'll NEVER need to deploy outside Europe again. And the peasants are revolting!" S/students/Muslims, /communists/Islamists.

I think his take on the riots is both alarmist (really, it didn't come close to "bringing London to a standstill") and poorly informed (rioters weren't all or even close to being majority Muslim). But I guess it's better for ex-colonels to advocate a bigger nastier police force than a private Tory militia like the original 1970s Walter Walker model.

Also, if we're not going anywhere, why does the Gendarmerie have to be deployable?


@ Alex

Yes it is poor. It would probably get a first if handed in as an essay on a Security Studies course..........

I don't think the likes of Afghanistan can be seen as expeditionary warfare after a decade. The first phase yes. Going into unseat the Taliban by bringing forces to concentrate rapidly on the target yes. But what came later no. Same in Iraq. The public don't mind quick wars with easily defined objectives. It is the attritional periods afterwards they come to despise. Unseat a dictator or regime yes. Stay to mould or build the nation afterwards no.

And I note there is some "unknown unknowns" with the "unimaginable changes". Always good to fill a paragraph or three.


Mark's link, posted on the 26th

- tells us that the army reorg will be informed about July (moving from the Feb-April target)

- also Ch2 LEP from 2018; Scout roll-out from 2020; and Bulldogs will have to last to 2022 (and beyond)... well, over 500 got an upgrade

- no date for Warrior upgrade, and if the new gun only gets rolled out to other platforms from 2020, that will make the economics for ammo production and development 'interesting'

"The 500 million pound ($784 million) demonstration phase being undertaken by General Dynamics UK to provide a family of tracked Scout and other specialist vehicles could be extended and the fielding of the vehicle pushed back, one MoD source said.

A second source said the Army was “looking at its options and while the issue had not been finally settled, it was likely the vehicles would not enter service until 2020.”

International observers will likely track the possible delay since the Scout Specialist Vehicle (SV) was already generating interest in the export market. A recent Ernst & Young study estimated the potential export value of the program at more than 1.3 billion pounds over a 16-year period.

The MoD has never publicly acknowledged the expected in-service date for the Scout vehicle, although Army officers at last year’s DSEi exhibition in London said it was 2015.

The number of vehicles eventually purchased could also be cut. That’s a reflection of continuing budget pressures and the fact the Army is facing a heavy downsizing as part of a restructuring plan.

Details of the restructuring, known as Army 2020, and a tri-service reorganization and expansion of the reserves are expected to be rolled out before the government goes into summer recess in July."


That " army reorg will be informed about July (moving from the Feb-April target)" makes it a full two years from SDSR speculation reaching the fever pitch as for the likely outcomes

- interesting if from pointing direction it takes two years to get a plan

- and we will have this every five years


@ X - "Roger never quite gets it for me. He always starts so well and then looses it"

It is the natural consequence of his affliction; an [interest] in FP combined with a [belief] in ever-closer-union resulting in the [need] to conflate the two. :D



very depressing when the original timescales for FRES UV were ISD 2008, and SV ISD 2011. That was back in 2002.

Funnily enough, what many wanted in 2002 were a reliable armoured box for the UV, probably a 40mm gun and some decent networked comms / SA, and a smaller armoured box with a mast and sensors, plus the networked SA for the SV.

Could have been fielded in easily enough time, if the C-130 deployable requirement had been dropped.

Given the original "budget"*** of £14B for around 3,000 vehicles, I'm presuming UV has pretty much dropped out of the ten year plan, and UV will become some warmed over Warriors.

432 will be well over 50 in 2022, CVR(T) about 50. 432 does not become any younger if you give it a new name of Bulldog.

*** That's "budget" as in what it was predicted to have cost, the figure pencilled in, but not in any way actually funded.


*Fourteen billion quid*, and some people complain about the shipbuilding budget...I really don't see why there's not vastly more outrage about FRES*. Perhaps it's just that some armoured-vehicles-that-aren't-quite-tanks don't have the iconic quality of a really big ship or a fleet of supersonic jets.

*or for that matter, BOWMAN or DII. There was a bit of outrage in the end about Annington, but only years after it mattered.


@ Alex

"Fourteen billion quid*, and some people complain about the shipbuilding budget…I really don’t see why there’s not vastly more outrage about FRES"

-- Because most people agree we need new vehicles. The same cannot be said about Carriers. Arguing over numbers of vehicles is still viable though.

I don't see why we can't just roll with the CV 90 (meets requirements, already has a 40mm, just stick Bowmans on it), put the new 40mm CTA turret on the Warrior to de risk it for a MLU to the CV 90, then start from scratch a small vehicle to fill the scout role.


If you say 60 per battalion x 20 x £3million a copy and then add in vehicles for the RA to I don't know RE and everybody else £14billion sounds quiet reasonable.


Yes 14b for vehicles and the opposition buys a Toyota pick up with a gun on the back!

X do we need 20 battalions worth of tanks if we're only ever going to deploy 4 battalions worth? Just that French vbci and have done with all this fres nonsense.


I've got no idea how it came to be £14Bn either, and here is me, then the HQ LAND bloke being the lead proponent for FRES (apparently, but Freddie Viggers' mind was rightly more on the here and now of AFG in 2002, so he agreed to let Upavon have the lead on this). As far as I was concerned, some modern reliable armoured boxes would have done, some with 40mm guns, some with gucci ISTAR kit, but there were those who really wanted it to fly about the world in a C-130, and in the manner of Doctrine HQs, they were tremendously self-important and all at least Lt Cols and all combining to vote for the expensive stuff. Most of them are now prostituting themselves around the defence industry.

You also have to factor in the most spastic (civvy) IPT leader ever in human history, with some completely mad ideas about Systems of Systems houses and Integrators. It was very little surprise to me that the megalomaniac was later quietly removed from position (only £500 million wasted) after he had a very odd fistfight on the hard shoulder of the M4 with a white van man that he believed had cut him up. Lord knows what he is doing now, but hopefully it does not involve an MoD chequebook.


@ Mark

I am just trying to make sense of £14billion. And that is the only way I can do it.

Um. I am "used" to kit that costs in the region of £3million so that figure seems reasonable. Most of these 8x8 come in at about £2million. So....

My view is concentrate all the Warrior in one brigade (3 x batts) and then buy/reuse Mastiff for the brigade off on the American's next adventure. And everybody else get on with whatever is to hand.


Did we even need 40mm guns? If we want to look at missed opportunities, then look no further than the Warrior 2000 paired with the Stormer. A procurement of those, back in the late 1990's/early 2000's would have covered almost, if not everything, that was needed. By replacing the RARDEN-armed vehicles in the armoured battalions with the new vehicles, some seven hundred modern and reliable hulls would be available to replace the FV430 series. Whip the turrets off, plate over the hole with mission-specific kit and you've got mortar carriers, APCs, Ambulances or whatever else you need.

Given the continuing work on the Supershot for the Mk44 gun with which both were equipped, there would now or in the near future be a 40mm (or near enough) upgrade as well.



there's no making sense of the £14billion, and that's me speaking as Mr FRES U Like, and as you know the chief cheerleader for the spending on carriers and F35s. It is monumental bollocks.

Just think of what we could have got for the nearly £25 Billion that was FRES + CVF + F35 combined. Or more likely, how much Gordon's deficit could be reduced.

Stryker comes in about £2M, Jackal about £500 K (not sure why, but that's published), LSV about £80 K. Add £100 K to both Jackal and LSV for the ISTAR kit and it is still as cheap as chips. That's pretty much all we need.


I know this will sound a bit derogatory but if Bugatti can build a Veyron for less than £2m then I'm sorry but any number of wheels and armour can't cost £3m each! Have people never heard of a production/assembly line? 3000-4000 of the things is "buy the factory" money!!!


@ Jedi - Interesting links, particulary the first one.


James as a total layman thats seem a sensible suggested list of vehicles to me. The marines did buy viking off the shelf for not a lot of money and they came in handy. Theres so many vehicles out there and a number built in uk I cant quite understand why this seems like pulling teeth.


It is the MoD so I am surprised you are all surprised that we would pay £3million for what everybody else will be paying £2million or less. Remember this is the organisation that couldn't even buy a decent tactical rifle.

@ James re Jackal and LSV

You will be advocating quads next! Let me get this right then. This week I have found out you think FRR vehicles don't need the autocannon on their vehicles. And you are not wedded to enclosed vehicles (I remember you said buttoned down in CVRT you might as well not bother) or tracks. This is interesting anything else you can add?


The Scout SV may be desirable now, but it will look most passe by 2020. We'll have to find a few billion quid more to begin a new scout vehicle development.

Meanwhile GD ASCOD will surely be selling all the SV variants we paid them to develop. Not made in Britain of course.



I assure you that it can. The Veyron is a stunning piece of engineering but it is simply a highly optimised car. It goes places on smooth roads. It does not have the ability to pick out a man at several kilometres in the pitch black. It isn't armoured against mines, missiles and machine guns. It doesn't weigh thirty tonnes. It can't put a shell through a window at over a mile. It cannot survive, much less operate, in the severity of environments than an AFV has to operate in.

It does build on a vast amount of experience in building cars - something that simply does not exist in the armoured vehicle world. How many models of car have Volvo made since the CV90 came out?


Mr Fred,

"it goes places on smooth roads"

No, if flys 1mm above the ground at 250mph :-)

Sorry, I said it would seem derogatory but I must be missing something. A shell through a window at over a mile? Pick out a man at several km in pitch black? 30 tonnes of steel plating for armour. Come on, that kind of stuff has been around for years - it simply can not cost £3m.



there seems to be some form of delusion that a cavalryman is wedded to an armoured box on tracks and does not like getting his boots dirty. I am against that tendency - I like recce people to live in the mud, walk about, and move from A to B unobtrusively but rapidly. I will admit there's probably a majority of recce people that like some more protection and don't mind trading noise and height.

In the end, it is all about getting into the right place to observe something, form a judgement and get that info back to the relevant commander in the most appropriate format (and also mostly to lie up for a while observing to get a pattern of activity). By and large, stealth is better than armour. There is however a fetish about wagons. Frankly, a quietened trials bike or even a mountain bike and man pack radio with some decent binos would be good enough in many scenarios.



"If we want to look at missed opportunities, then look no further than the Warrior 2000 paired with the Stormer. A procurement of those, back in the late 1990′s/early 2000′s would have covered almost, if not everything, that was needed."

Couldn't agree more. I presume you are referring to the Stormer 30 (for reconnaissance). Saw that vehicle down at Aldershot in the late 1990s - a mean, snarling sort of machine and one which looked right in every respect. You know what they say: "If it looks right, then . . ." What a phenomenal amount of wsted money would have been saved if those two vehicles had been selected. Furthermore Alvis amnd GKN might still have been in business.



to add some flesh onto that, I cannot at all think of a situation in my career where a decent lightweight trials bike (with some noise muffling) would not have been perhaps a better wagon than CVR(T). The optics on CVR(T) were crap, Drives and the Gunner were basically only enablers for getting my eyes to where I wanted them to be. Yes, over some weeks having extra bods about is useful in running a routine in an OP, but the CO didn't want to have my Driver explaining some sighting report while I kipped 50 yards behind the OP, he wanted me to do the talking.

I do believe you can buy trials bikes for less than £10K, which seems cheaper than FRES SV. If I were really pushed, I think you'd get a better recce troop than 4 CVR(T) if you had 6 on trials bikes, 6 on quads, a couple of which had some form of lightweight genny on the back rack, and the other 4 carrying some troop kit and a few Javelin. Add in a "mothership" Land Rover and trailer with some extra jerrycans of fuel. You'd probably get a Troop's worth of kit for less than £200K.


@ James

There is an American book called "Air, Mech, Strike" that says basically what you said. Some regard it as a bit "Looney Tunes" but as somebody who speaks crap about defence daily who I am to judge? In a way what you are advocating is a return to horses. Um. I don't know. Would the public buy it, however sound the reasoning behind the idea? Even though the public have no understanding of military matters. Look at the controversy over body armour, imagine replacing a tank with a half dozen of Honda or Kawasaki's finest. It is a better answer than LSV which was wrong in so many ways; wheels too small, ground clearance good but come on could be better, under-powered etc. etc. Who ever signed it off into service had never attended an AWDC Comp Safari and had a shufty at the more imaginatively engineered vehicles.



I'm not familiar with the book, and in a wider sense there are several ways to skin a cat. My cousin commanded the recce platoon of 1/2 Ghurkhas and they used to do a couple of kilometres a day in the jungle (Observer would probably relate to that). My recce background is in Germany mostly, plus GW1, so 50-100 clicks a day was about normal.

As far as protection is concerned, well, it is a risk business. I'd far rather have unimpeded all round visibility and the mobility to choose any path I want than being buttoned up in armour but stuck to a defined road. If you drive over a bomb in a balls out wagon, well life's a bitch.

I say LSV in a generic sense: anything from the original LSV to Jackal would work well enough. If one's got a problem with weight or wheel travel or engine power, sort it out or choose something different.

Nothing to stop you bolting on a lightweight Kawasaki trials bike onto the back of a Jackal to have the best of both worlds. The French used to do something similar with recce tanks and monkey bikes, a really odd combo.

Also nothing at all to stop a laterally thinking troop leader from packing a set of jeans and a grotty old hiking jacket in the CVR(T), and going for a hike on the Sunday before an exercise against the Bundeswehr in the Harz Mountains. Amazing what you can pre-observe while appearing to be nothing more than another hiker.


...re LSV in the generic sense.

Big snarly engine with shedloads of torque, mounted low and central.

As quiet as it can be, but not making the engine wimpy.

Low flat chassis. Off-board wheels with lots of travel. Those funny tyres with raised road profile centres and knobbly off-centre bits for speed on roads and grip off-road.

Bit of a barge board at the front to take small streams at a run.

Tubular rollover gear.

XPM bins.

A 40mm AGL, and several Javelin.

Secondary 28V circuit for ISTAR gear and the comms.

Local wi-fi "N" tied into the comms so you can take a PDA into a lie up position 100m from the wagon. Encrypted of course.

GPS mileometer and direction readout for Drives.


Small mmW radar for detecting vehicles, and for data-bursts between troop vehicles.

TI / II combined sight, roll bar mounted but also extensible by muscle power onto a 6m mast with a remote display. Including FAC-conmpatible LTD.

Leica's gucciest birdwatching telescope but with stadiametric range markings.

I reckon you could get the wagon for less than £75K, and the gear for another £50K. Maybe the mmW radar might nudge the price up a bit.


Might want to invest in a bit of environmental protection there James. You'd really hate thunderstorms dripping water into all the semi-expensive stuff.

Wifi sounds nice, but something I'd avoid. Someone with RDF equipment might sniff you out and send you a welcome present that goes boom. What we had was a super old version of the PDA (it was 15 years back) hard connected by cable to the radio set and set to convert image/text and compress to radio. Transmission time per screech was about 3 sec, no RF leakage. The "next gen" one we're playing with now does video as well, small clips, but longer transmission time.

And the motion detection activation feature on the camera's an idiot. Lots of clips of grass waving...

Guess the pointy end determines the equipment you end up using. Your experience was desert, which means LSVs work great, but what happens when your next dust up happens in a jungle? OTOH, if I do end up in a desert on a bike, I'd probably wish for an LSV too, deserts being terrible to handle with bike traction (fine sand = sliding) . So I guess we can have "common equipment" up to the "mothership" stage, Land rover or ATTC, as long as you get food and fuel to the troops, but bikes/LSVs at the front, terrain depending.

BTW, Log-P for the mothership too, scouts broadcast to the "node", node boosts signal to HQ. Saves from having the poor scouts carry a booster/long distance antenna for every radio.



I think that you are missing something. Possibly it was me missing out something too. That shell through the window is fired on the move and the first shot. The tolerance and control that you need for that is not only bespoke but quite challenging.

Thermal imagers have been around for a while but their market is limited and even the worst costs a couple of thousand. The good ones, especially when coupled to stabilised sighting systems, will cost hundreds of thousands.

These days, it isn't 30 tonnes of steel (and even then it would be 30 tonnes of good quality - and hence costly - steel) but 30 tonnes of sensors, engines, running gear, servo motors, weapons, ammunition and then modern armour systems which incorporate all manner of high-tech materials.

The low drumbeat is also important - maybe 50% of the cost will be due to having to re-learn or catch up. with new technologies - something that the car industry does incrementally over a number of models.

Even if the Veyron does fly 1mm in the air, I doubt it would fly so well down a heavily pot-holed track, or through snow at -20 degrees C. Or through a desert at 50 degrees C.

Finally, by the same logic as you employ, the Veyron is a car. It simply cannot cost £2m.

Or perhaps this: http://www.fly-q.co.uk/buy/used/ . A Robinson R22 costs £300k. How can the AW139 possibly cost $14m?

Mike W,

I was thinking about the whole Stormer family to fill the CVR(T) role, but yes, the Stormer 30 would be key in that. Not that the British army would have gone for it, but the Delco turret used on both vehicles was also able to mount TOW launchers. Even with just two in the tubes that would be a useful capacity without having to wait half an hour for air support to turn up.


Hi James,

Re "The French used to do something similar with recce tanks and monkey bikes, a really odd combo" I can quote from another European army:

- monkey bikes and 6x6 ATVs for armoured formations recce

- CV90s for recce in units where there is armour only for protected mobility and fire support

So, the formula in each case seems to be compensating for what the main unit does not have

- cutting across those axes of movement with road access

- ability to "fight away" from an unexpected contact


@ Mr. Fred - "I was thinking about the whole Stormer family to fill the CVR(T) role, but yes, the Stormer 30 would be key in that. Not that the British army would have gone for it"

Ah well, HMG will get a second shot at a CVR(t) 2.0:


An [opportunity] i am keen to see realised if only because it should spark reasoned debate over whether such a vehicle is needed by the Army.

I think it would be awesome as a single FRR capable of providing squadron level armour support to 3Cdo and 16AAB, but i'm just a civvie so what do i know? :)


@ James re LSV

Yes I did what I ask others not to do and talked about the specific not the generic.

The only mitigation I can offer the court was it was late.


@ James

This is what you need. None of that buggy rubbish.


Think of it as re-imagined Land Rover done properly for off-roading.

If you know your Land Rover history you know it was conceived as tractor-cum-load-lugger for farmers. Unlike Jeep which was design as a personnel carrier. Ibex is a Jeep-Land-Rover if you like. Amazing attack and departure angles. Big choice of engines. Super, super thing. There are times I wish I had bought one when I could have afforded one.


X / Observer,

I'm not too fussed about the specifics of the vehicle or who makes it, so long as it is fast and gives completely unimpeded vision, and has a tubular frame so that stuff can be bolted on and off quickly. As for the environmental protection, if the gear needs it have a section of the wagon protected from the elements.

Wifi is also a generic concept (other parts of the frequency spectrum are available). Short distance wireless connectivity is useful, but only in a dynamic situation. If you are lying up anywhere for more than an hour or so, you'd want a wired connection to avoid Observer's point about being DF'd. There's also are a range of data-capable radios now which hop and can self-mesh on a 10 MBit/s basis. That's nearly full motion video on a troop net, which is more than enough.

All of this is much cheaper than FRES SV, and makes for a better recce wagon than some armoured box.



Cheers for the 2nd hand copters link ;-)

From what you say it sounds like these £3m vehicles may be worth it, but do we really need 3000-4000 of them? It's like the whole of the Royal Marines being landed on Merlin HM1/2 rather than the cheaper HC3/4 variety or Sea King.

I'd have thought we needed a lot of cheaper APCs and only a few (hundreds, not thousands) of the high-spec MBT, AS90, and FRES type scout vehicles. It seems as though all and sundry are getting a high-spec mini-tank.

Please note, I want our chaps protected, but I also want our vehicle fleet to be flexible and cost effective. 3000 of the Piranha V (that was originally touted) would be 24,000 armored troops, which according to some is more than everyone that we've ever deployed in the last 10 years.



completely with you on your general sentiment.

However, point of detail. Many of the FRES UV will be going to non-infantry units and certainly non-infantry roles e.g. Sappers, ambulances, and therefore typically only crewed by a couple or 3 people. your maths breaks down on that.

As far as I can recall, the rationale for the numbers was to be able to put a Division into the field, plus enough other wagons to have a training fleet at BATUS, various places in the UK, plus one further Brigade as part of a follow-on sustainment force. Putting a Division into the field is based on GW1 / GW2 scenarios. Some may argue that we won't be doing that again, but on the other hand, it is what we have done rather more frequently than we have sent aircraft carriers down south in the last 70 years, against an enemy which appears rather less capable than it was in 82. So on balance I'm personally content with that (not that anyone is asking me, or taking note of what I think anyway).

I am fully supportive of the FRES concept (global deployability), but slightly dismissive of the "by air" detailed thinking, and wholly horrified by the botched execution by the IPT to date.

Let's buy 1000 bog standard Stryker (£3Bn), which is more than enough for the infantry and accompanying CS in the F Echelon, 200 Light Strike wagons (£20M), and be done with it. Less forward troops can cope with existing vehicles, and Challenger / Warrior are all bought and paid for. That brings FRES to something around £3.5 Bn, a big saving over the original £14 Bn, and actually gives us a pretty punchy force. Now let's turn our attention to the "globally deployable" bit, which means dedicated shipping, and enough of it on hand to be able to react quickly.

I seem to be more keen on spending money on the Andrew than the Army, which is odd for a Cavalryman. But I don't want any spastic carriers or stunted little jump jets.



Thanks, I thought I was the only one... an entire division in armour!

Perhaps we should be making sure that Argus, Victoria and Diligence are replaced by three more Bay class.

These along with the Point Class would deliver in the region of 38,000 tonnes of vehicle or 30,000 square meters of vehicle.

This is nearly 1000 FRES every month delivered!



As for your "spastic carriers" you managed to go to bed early last time I asked but... what would you do for air-cover for 2-3 battalions of RM/Paras/Army?



fast jets flown by Kevins from land bases, which works 98% of the time, and the other 2% is an acknowledgement that we are in the risk business.

Also, AH-64D from existing decks, which covers the 98% of the 2%.

So, £11Bn for the CVF + F35 deal, or existing kit for 99.96% of the time? There is not any credible threat anywhere in the world that overmatches Typhoon / Tornado / ISTAR planes and AH-64D, so we can (to quote the PM) "chillax" a little/.

I think in this post and the "cut FRES down to reality" post above I have saved about £20Bn. Unfortunately, there are some who will immediately reply that "we are where we are" and "these are sunk costs" (which is what should happen to both the QEC - a SINKEX about 2 miles off Rosyth once they get underway. They'd be cheaper uncrewed and sitting on the bottom of the Firth of Forth than they would be in service, and just as useful).


James, Others, TD,

Can I therefore ask if anyone even has the faintest inkling as to the number of operationally successful sorties (including my loathed Black Buck raids) that the RAF and FAA have undertaken since 1980?

This might sound a little mad but although the RAF do most of the combat sorties over land I'm not sure if they rack up most of the sorties.

Perhaps we can simply count "bombs dropped"?

e.g. Falklands (from memory) was about 1400 Sea Harrier sorties. Probably about 1000 bombs?

How many sorties did the RAF do in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc?

How many sorties did the FAA do in Palliser and Bosnia?


@ James

'(which is what should happen to both the QEC – a SINKEX about 2 miles off Rosyth once they get underway. They’d be cheaper uncrewed and sitting on the bottom of the Firth of Forth than they would be in service, and just as useful).'

Well the last time we tried something like that http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/29/newsid_2819000/2819369.stm no-one covered themselves in glory, maybe it's time for a skill refresher ?:)



You are clearly my long lost brother.

I don't want to sink the Elephants.

At a rough guess at a TARE of 4 tons there are 10,000 TEU Containers, in each ship.

(I suspect that is TD's motive for opposing elephants)


@ Simon

For the love of god don't go there...



Why not? I just want to see if James' claims about 98% (okay I don't believe that anyway) is vaguely justified.

Let's put it this way. If we only need naval air power for 2% of the time then 1 x Cavour would have done. If however, we need it 2% of the time but when we need it, we need it big time, then 2 x QE.

1. 2% of the time?

2. 2% of the sorties/bombs?



The legendary 'Blaster Bates' Demolition expert and comedian's (I kid you not)! Sketch, on how he wound up Senior officers on BBC national telly about that, including announcing that next time war broke out he was going to hide in the centre of target area, should be available on the net somewhere.

If your under 50 For a taste; Just Google Blaster Bates and Nicker Brook or the shower of shit over Cheshire......



I don't have enough time to justify your question (am hanging onto a global telcon, it's my turn in around 10 minutes, after that on with the proper productive work). I could come back in more detail tonight if you are still interested in the thinking.

In brief, there have been 3484 weeks since 1945, of which aircraft carriers have proven "vital" (which I don't really believe, but most do) for 6 of them. That is 0.17% of the time. There have been other occasions on which aircraft carriers have proved not to be only an expensive encumbrance. Even being generous and saying that it was for ten times the amount of weeks they were arguably useful, you are still only up to 1.7%. Add in some windage and you are about 2%.



If someone has those figures on hand, he must be with the MoD. And if he was, do you think he's going to be putting classified info on a public discussion board?


@ Simon

'Why not?'

Because when sorties rates start getting mentioned, threads end up dissappearing down the rabbit hole ending up in '1.0987 sorties per day per a/c' and so on with no other thought to anything as though that were the only way to look at things. Similar to trying to work out who was the best xyz unit by looking at who'd fired the most rounds and only that.



Why would it be classified?

The sortie stats for the Falklands and the recent Libya campaign are in the public domain.

I suppose we don't really know how many bombs and missiles were used though. Hmmm, maybe I'll do one of those "freedom of information" requests.



Ahhh, yes. I was trying to avoid the sortie rate thing. That's why I thought total live bombs and missiles would be a better indication since that is a measure of the "effect".

I would then have assumed that the RAF were as good/bad as the FAA in terms of accuracy and success.


@ Simon

You might well be able to find some information out, but I don't think enough to make a proper conclusion. Even then you would have to ask what effect did the bombs have? What sortie is worth more on which target? All very tricky to do online.



I suppose it all breaks down when you consider a GR7 with 7 x 500 pounders vs a Tornado with a couple of 1000lb Paveways IV.

In fact it probably breaks down due to JFH.

My gut feeling is that is you take Harrier out of the equation the number of targets destroyed since 1980 will drop massively.

What about air-hours-per-year in Typhoon, Tornado and Harrier? Surely you've got those figures to hand? Didn't Typhoon recently pass 100,000 hours?


@ Simon

'I suppose it all breaks down when you consider a GR7 with 7 x 500 pounders vs a Tornado with a couple of 1000lb Paveways IV.'

Not sure what you mean by that?

Well Tornado has passed 1 million flying hours if that's any use.

I can't remember the usage rates, but I think they're googleable.



I mean that if I count bombs alone the 7 on Harrier may have been dropped on a single target vs the 2 from the Tornado. i.e. counting bombs is not a good measure alone, I need the sortie count too.


Simon / Topman,

i think you both need to be counting in terms of targets hit (effectively), and possibly then also considering supporting sorties (e.g. AWACS / AAR / SEAD) that enabled a target to be hit. It does not really matter what size the bomb was, only did it do the job required? But doing all of that cannot be in the public domain as that gets pretty sensitive info.

My instinct is that over the years the Kevins have done quite a bit more bomb dropping than the Andrew. Don't forget all of those years patrolling No Fly Zones in Iraq.

The Navy is good with helicopters though, and should concentrate on those. Jets that are actually useful is a bit of a stretch for the Andrew. They weren't very useful in Bosnia, for example. Nor in either Gulf War, and quite rightly had the jets taken away in 2010 while we could still flog them off.


@ james yep that's my point counting up with only online info is pretty hard and that's why i try not get sucked into some war stat chat about it...

All Politicians are the Same

I guess the point in the carrier argument is that F35b can fly from concrete in Afghanistan and from a steel deck off the Falklands or any other place where we cannot quickly or easily base RAF aircraft.

They do not present a target for a ground attack and are capable of launching an attack from well over the horizon with complete suprise as once they are at sea very few nations have the capability to track them. Compare that to anyone with a pair of binos and a sat phone that can report on the squadron of Gr4s we have just flown into the despots Western friendly neighbour "should one exist".

What we have never taken into account is the number of options that have been closed to us or plans rejected because of the lack of more effective carrier based air power.


James, Topman,

I have done the FOI request. I'm sure they'll simply ignore it or say "sorry mate, not on your nelly".

James, if what you say is true (which I guess it mostly is) then I can see why JFH was conceived - generate land based use out of jets that were really property of the RN.

It also makes sense why any F35's purchased should operate under the RAF rather than FAA simply because otherwise they'll sit there gathering dust - as long as they are made available immediately they are required on the carriers, which I guess is outside the control of the RAF anyway - there are bigger wigs when it's war.

However, I'm still going to investigate some stats to back this up.

All Politicians are the Same

Simon, The only way IMHO to maintain proper currency of a Joint Force Lightning "JFL" organisation is for the squadrons to be interchangeable. Whether that means mixed Squadrons or simply that if it is the FAA squadrons turn to deploy somewhere hot and dusty then off they go and if a Squadron is then needed for carrier ops then the next one in line deploys. Even if it is an RAF squadron.



I agree. They each do their stints on rotation. I think the point then is that there really is no difference between RAF squadrons and FAA squadrons, they simply become F35 squadrons - deployed wherever they're told.


"I agree. They each do their stints on rotation. I think the point then is that there really is no difference between RAF squadrons and FAA squadrons, they simply become FAA squadrons – deployed wherever they’re told."

Is what I read it as........



I had to read that six times before I saw what you've done.

Sneaky ;-)

All Politicians are the Same

Simon/X the Difference is the service they are in and their career progression and future. FAA pilots may fly for some time but then look at PWO course, small ship drive and onwards within the Naval structure. That is a future that might not appeal to RAF pilots who quite fancy being an F35B pilot but when they reach the stage of being in zone for Wing Commander may well want to return to their normal career progression.



I guess that's where they can leap to RAF or RN depending on which service they aligned themselves with more. They would certainly be qualified enough to move through either.



I am trying not to get involved. :)

But as you probably have gathered I am familiar with the possible career trajectory of an RN aviator.

And you also know my concerns about RAF maintainers not joining the RAF to go to sea. Even though a good number here laugh at me when I say it. I know they are as much passengers as embarked RAF, but I think there is something to be said of shared culture (up to a point! odd Uckers rules and propensity to call ladders stairs etc. etc.) and expectation to serve at sea.

The only solution I can see is that the F35 squadrons are FAA in that maintainers, clerks, and bottle washers are RN. And the pilots are either RN or RAF and the RAF even command squadrons. Not wishing to demean FAA ratings, splendid bunch of ladies, but it is piloting the blessed things that is the problem not finding technical ratings (though that can be problematic too at times.)

As I said I am not getting involved. Too busy with my trials seeing how we can navalise key RAF personnel........


I feel a bit guilty. Having asked TD to create a "Tip Offs" thread so that he had a one stop shop for little snippets over his morning coffee, I have among others been guilty of derailing it.

Perhaps what we need is another pair of Open Threads: the first "Kevins and how they are a ridiculous waste of money", and the second "The Kevins fight back - why naval aviation is completely pants and the Corporal pilots of AH-64D and CGS are deluding themselves". We could entertain ourselves for several years on those threads.

I would also propose a third thread: "Oh. My. F*cking. God. How much for an Aircraft Carrier and Some Dinky Little Jump Jets?", but I suspect I'd be talking with myself alone on that one. Everyone else seems to accept it as a done deal.



I'm afraid I have my daughter to thank for the "OMFG" phrase. Despite washing her mouth out with soap, it appears popular among early teenage girls in State schools.



"Simon/X the Difference is the service they are in and their career progression and future. FAA pilots may fly for some time but then look at PWO course, small ship drive and onwards within the Naval structure. That is a future that might not appeal to RAF pilots who quite fancy being an F35B pilot but when they reach the stage of being in zone for Wing Commander may well want to return to their normal career progression."

- Concur. I suspect that few RAF FW aviators will choose to emulate the career of someone like Mike Clapp who ended up as COMAW (Commodore Amphibious Warfare) during the conflict in the islands that shall remain nameless (see biog at http://www.directart.co.uk/mall/profiles.php?SigID=403). But if he/she is up to the mark and happy to swap uniforms, then why not?

(Yes, I know one or two things have changed since then but the principle remains valid.)


Hang on, does anyone fly after the rank of Wing Commander / Commander in either service (or Lt Col in the Army for that matter)? I'm not talking jollies, but the proper day job.

For most officers, after flying training, it is a round of 50:50 Squadron / staff appointments from the age of 24 to 38, after which it's all staff or for some Command and staff.


Dunservin re "RAF aviators" and RN careers

The idea never ever crossed my mind perhaps because it well wouldn't. One assumed that they would follow the career path of their own service which appears to be FJ for 10 years then a regional civi airline.... :)

That recent documentary on Ark Royal the JFH squadron leader was a RM major. Didn't half confuse my dad,

All Politicians are the Same

James, I don't think so but the RAF guys would probably rather command an EAW and Group than a FF/DD and do their staff jobs in light blue away from the nasty sea! Whereas the ultimate aim of young RN Lt flying an F35B should be to drive the Carrier!



Bog standard Stryker? Waste of time and money. Overloaded in most senses and you could do better for the same money. A Patria AMV, Piranha V, VBCI (sans turret) or Boxer might do the trick. A bit lighter and perhaps one of the RG-series? License-built locally.

£3m for an APC is pushing it.



if I had my way, there'd only be a Wildcat or Merlin for the young shaver to fly, not an F35, and certainly no carrier to drive. If he's lucky, and can forget the fast jet nonsense, he can learn something of amphibious operations and drive a JC*** instead.

I would however prefer someone from the Navy to drive the ARG, and not a Kevin.

*** That would be a JC without the stupid ski jump that might encourage some in the Andrew to start thinking of a stunted little jump jet. It would be a JC with a flat top optimised for moving helicopters about, and even more optimised for moving landing craft about, for hosting entire Battle Groups, and for being close inshore to deliver them, not several thousand miles to the East as the Sea Lords appear to think necessary.

All Politicians are the Same

James, None of the US LHDs have a ski ramp and they are going to fly F35B! You know my opinion that if we were going to go B then we should have bought two LHDs in the 45-50k range with a ski ramp and able to do 25kts plus. Basically a what is envisaged as a batch 2 America.
I am not getting into the positioning of Carriers 30 years ago when the armies main complaint was the inability to request fast air due to poor HF comms with Hermes.



would that be "poor and risk averse commanding from Hermes", as opposed to "poor comms"?. Otherwise known as "the Admiral was frit" argument. I don't believe Sandy Woodward was personally not courageous, and certainly the crews of the carrier group would have willingly gone to where they were told to do, as did the companies of Coventry, Sheffield and others. But I do believe that Sandy Woodward made a fundamental misjudgement on acceptable risk, and prioritised ship safety over landing force effectiveness.

People talk of a carrier sinking as being a "mission killer" in 1982. Would it really have been? I don't believe so. Yes, it would have been a heavy blow to morale, but the carriers were not really doing very much, and only mounting a mostly ineffective CAP over San Carlos. They were not really fundamental to overall victory. What nearly was a mission killer was allowing critical logistic and transport ships like Atlantic Conveyor and Sir Galahad to be attacked so easily.

All Politicians are the Same

James, It would not have been a "mission killer" in military terms it may well have been a "political" mission kill. certain Senior Officers though the loss of a Carrier would lead the politicians to the negotiating table.

In 1982 the cabinet were very sensitive to the manner that the US public reacted to the sight of body bags coming back from Vietnam. They has also seen the Argentinian reaction to the Belgrano sinking.

Sir Galahad was an uber cluster of offloading and Atlantic conveyor a disaster but to say having the Carrier half the distance away would have prevented either is just guess work.

Remember the enemy get a vote too and the Argentinian Pilots were brave and dedicated.

1982 has virtually no relevance to the positioning of carriers for a future Op.


As you should be well aware, the positioning of the carriers was driven by the lack of AEW and consequent inability to run CAP on an optimised risk basis.

IIRC the SHAR component got 20+ kills - something like half the total Argentinian losses (excluding the Pucara/Skyvans destroyed on the ground at Pebble Island). That also excludes the number of A4/Mirage/Dagger that jettisoned ordnance when they saw SHARS in the area.

To suggest they were not fundamental to overall victory is stretching credulity in the extreme I'm afraid. Don't forget that the carriers were also home to most of the helos, providing ASW as well as lift. Without the carriers, even less tactical mobility than we ended up with.

If you think they weren't really doing very much, then I'm afraid the Joint warfare bit of the joint staff course syllabus is or was sadly lacking.



(positioning) - let's hope not, but equally let us also institute a doctrine where carrier task group commanders get repeatedly battered with baseball bats to the mantra of "it's not about your carrier group, it is about what you are here to do, and that might involve the carrier paintwork getting scratched".

I'm still sceptical about the political aspect of a carrier sinking. Once they were down there, we weren't going to sail away if we lost a carrier, so the risk should have been taken. That's a decision that should have been immediately obvious in the South Atlantic, taken by Sandy Woodward, and no need to refer back to Northwood at all, let alone Downing Street.

You want to hear Gen Julian Thompson on Sandy Woodward. Let us say that scathing does not do it justice. Also Gen Brian Pennicot, who had under command the guns ("Fires" in today's parlance), including NGS, and the Air Defence assets.


Going back to what James said about the UK only needed carriers for 6 weeks since WW2. We will forget Suez, the Soviet threat...

Any how can you imagine what would have happened if we didn't have the carriers and couldn't get the islands back? The government would have fallen. The skids would have gone under a shakey recovery. Doesn't bear thinking about it....



you appear to have a very broad definition of "fundamental". How were SHARS "fundamental" to victory? Were they the single point upon which everything else relied? No, they were not.

What was fundamental to victory were two Brigades of infantry. Everything else was enabling. Do not think that enabling implies some secondary status, or is not allowed to be important. But fundamental is a sole capability, one thing only, without which everything else is a waste of time. And SHARS in 1982 did not fall into that category.

I'm not much fussed about your judgement as to how much I listened to the joint staff course, after that little intervention.

All Politicians are the Same

james, I am sympathetic to your view point but remember that losing Hermes and her embarked staff and air group would have been the worst single loss since task force Z and in terms of manpower may have been worse.

Incorrectly as it may have been Hermes was seen as the UK COG by some Politicians.


@ James

All the brigades were weapons fired by the TF. I have no doubt the 3 RM Commandos could have walked to the FI carrying everything they needed, fought the war, invaded Argentina, and walked home again. But HMG made them take some army bods too which meant ships.....



there were about 7-10,000 men potentially getting the crap bombed out of them in San Carlos Water, and 2,000 on Hermes which was nearly 300 miles east. Hermes could have been a bit closer, given that it was known by that stage that there were no fast attack jets at Stanley, the Pucaras had been pretty much wiped out, the combat radius for any Argentine jet from the mainland gave them negligible reach beyond West Falkland, and the on-station time for SHARS on CAP was ten minutes, with a total out and back transit of 80 minutes.

You will not be able to persuade me that there was a horrifying lack of judgement by Sandy Woodward. I don't know why you try. More importantly, his subordinate commanders also felt it was a terrible lack of judgment, and they were all there and in his confidence.


ha ha. Don't forget that the Paras wanted to fly in (but too far away), the Gurkhas to crawl in sneakily but can't swim very well, and the Guards wanted to march in open order, doing the left form on Fanning Head. But it was all a bit wet. So Andrew rules for a while, until normal service resumed when they got ashore.

All Politicians are the Same

James, the average on station time for a SHAR during the FI campaign was close to 40 mins!



Think there is a bit of doublethink in your argument, if the carrier wasn't such an important asset in the war, why then are you saying that men were being bombed due to it's mispositioning? If it was so useless, it would not have mattered if it was parked next to Port Stanley or in the Channel. The fact that you made such a big deal of it's positioning implies the opposite, that the carrier WAS fundamentally important in the campaign.

I for one, think that it did serve a big role then, the AAW frigates then appeared to have been a little less AAW and more "bomb target" than was initially expected, and Fleet Air did pick up some of the slack in air defence.

Of course, that was then. Now? Hard to justify the cost of a full up carrier. Wonder how a cat equipped LPH would fare? Through-deck LPH carrying a single squadron for area defence? Cheap enough that it might be risked on dangerous ops, enough planes to make a difference.

All Politicians are the Same

Observer, or a CVF launching 24 F35b from 200NM behind a TLAM strike, F35B utilising JSM and laser guided bombs to finish of the AAW and C2 network, cueing SF and satellite and then the ARG closing the coast under an F35b umbrella and T26 5 inch vulcano rounds form an Oto Breda lightweight out to 70NM. What a difference in capability.


@ James re Ghurkas and swimming

I remember reading a story about a platoon of Ghurkas being transported in one of HM's ships. I think it was in the Far East. It was a nice day and the captain decided to give the ship's company an opportunity for a swim. The ship was brought to a halt and "Hands to bathe" was piped. There was much consternation amongst the mountain men who thought they were being ordered to swim. They were up for it, but none too happy.



not doublethink (I don't think, but you'll be the judge).

CAP was important, so therefore a carrier also important. But CAP was not vital: it cannot be demonstrated that the amphibious landings would have been impossible without CAP. So if CAP is important but not vital, let's do it. If the balance of risk is between 7-10,000 who are the ones to actually go and win the war, and temporarily are variously offloading and ARG-ing or providing an AA screen, and 2,000 who are supporting CAP, then move the carrier closer.


I got the 10 mins from a reasonably recent TD post (was it about the FOB? Can't quite recall). I do know that Rupert Uloth who commanded one of the Blues Troops was incensed after being razzed up by a Pucara when a Harrier arrived about 10 minutes too late, that Arthur Denaro commanding an SAS Troop could get no air cover for a raid, and that there is a massively over-engineered story about air cover at Goose Green that is designed for political purposes to stop any discussion at all of Julian Thompson's anger with the Fleet for leaving 2 Para balls out in the scrub. If you read the soldier's accounts of the battle, or even the official log record kept by 2 Para of radio messages, there is literally Zip reference to air. And yet, the 2 stars claim there was. Hmmm.


heard similar, delete ship insert aircraft and parachuting and not enough parachutes to go around. A cousin of mine was a Ghurka (you know what I mean), and tells of a time when he was on OP duty in the HK New Territories. He received a written report that 2 Chinese policemen were observed playing ping pong outside their guard post with no arms. Another time a Ghurka came back from a bicycle patrol along the frontier with a freshly severed human hand, and a report that a Chinese man had been trying to climb the fence, but he had "told him to go back to his village". There's telling, and then there's "telling" while waving a ruddy great kukri about, I suppose.

All Politicians are the Same

James hence my earlier point about HF comms, there were relatively few aircraft covering the area. the army had persistent HF comms issues with requesting direct support via Hermes. In the age of tacsat that would not happen.



actually, I think that's a bit hopeful. Skynet struggles to provide the comms that far south and right down in the corner of the orbits (it's all a bit single point of failure). But it is possible if all works well. You will of course tell me of fantastic data transmissions from MPA happening dozens of times daily, to which I will only say "concrete pad, constant electrical power, engineering and a large fixed dish". It is a bit more dodgy on the side of a hill at night, under fire with some nearly futzed batteries, and the rain pissing down.

What we all need is Stratsat, a deployable comms rebro airship that sits up at 80K and is pretty much immune to any form of attack, short of dozens of suicide U2s. It'll do 30 knots as well so can deploy above the Task Group. But it is optimised for station-keeping well above the weather.

All Politicians are the Same

James when was the last time you were down South, we have a few more satellites now!



2000, and then only for a fortnight. Skynet 5 was not yet in service.

However, digging my "Schoolboy's Guide to the Cosmos" big book of pictures out of the back of the loft, there is a difficulty with latitudes above 57 degrees north or south (please don't ask me why 57 is important and not 58 or 56, because I will have to plead ignorance and being a Cavalryman, which is much the same). It's pretty damn marginal, and the boffins want to start replacing the standard satellites with ones in polar orbits, but because of techno-reasons that make my head spin, that's a pretty crap answer, and expensive, and they spin off into space after a while anyway.

So, reading those articles in the Economist about 21st century resource wars in the polar regions and also (when there's no fighting) the new North West and North East Passages being ice-free year round, I'm suspecting that comms is going to be an issue. Maybe it's worth investing in a company that has a decent answer to that.


What we want is SKYLON. And then we can put satellites where we want, when we want, and for little cost.

Of course we would have establish a Royal Space Force to operate it with its own ground troops, helicopters, and dog handlers (and dogs.)

All Politicians are the Same

Reading my little book of having been there and utilsed SCOT I guess I should nod to the economist? Bloody hell James you base an argument on an economist article?


@James, 3 Cdo and 5 Brigades were the only way of finishing the war, but it's nonsense to declare that SHAR were not fundamental. They were far and away the most effective air defence weapon, and no landing could have been made without their presence. If you think San Carlos was raining bombs with them, without them, with Rapier, Blowpipe, Sea Slug, Sea Dart and Sea Cat all effectively useless, a chronic lack of AAA other than the GPMG, and no way of interdicting aircraft before they reach visual range of the landings, it would have been the sort of disaster that makes Dieppe look like a minor learning experience.

Thompson and others (including the infamous Sharkey) have been on record for the last two decades that Woodward was the wrong man to command the carrier group, as a man who had specialised in submarines. They wanted Derek Reffell, as someone from a carrier and amphibious background. They are probably right. But he did well enough to allow a successful landing nevertheless.



"Or a CVF launching 24 F35b from 200NM behind a TLAM strike, F35B utilising JSM and laser guided bombs to finish of the AAW and C2 network, cueing SF and satellite and then the ARG closing the coast under an F35b umbrella and T26 5 inch vulcano rounds form an Oto Breda lightweight"

I wasn't aware carriers could launch TLAMs. As for the rest, which part of it could not be done by a pair of the budget carriers that I was suggesting? 24 F-35s are 24 F-35s, regardless of being launched from a carrier or from a rowboat. The only difference which you rapsodised about is the 5 incher, and even that is from a different platform. Unless you're implying the QE has an inbuilt T-26. Satlink is not dependent on ship but on installations, you can even build it on the helo flight deck of a destroyer and it'll still work. Though I won't recommend it.

But it's a dead issue. Despite what James thinks as "approval", I actually see the "we're committed" issue as resigned acceptance. Steel has been cut and assembled, going backwards is going to be more costly than going forwards, and plans with too many people's approval have been laid out. It's a dead issue. All we can do is hope that better decisions can be made the next time.


Problem is not with delivery, problem is that recon sats don't stay still, and after a while, they go off course.



no, SHAR were useful, not fundamental. It is not really too problematic to see that, nor does it demean the Navy. It does however seem to be some lodestar of faith among many people.

Most of the landings took place without a CAP. Some of the landings took place before the first CAP arrived, and most of the landings occurred at night when neither Argentina nor the UK had planes with night vision equipment. The CAP was in place for less than 90 minutes a day.

The majority of SHAR kills were achieved away from San Carlos Water, although some of the chases certainly started there.

If you really believe the FAA historiography, may I interest you in some KoolAid?


Neither the Argentine airforce or navy had a night capability. Seeing as the landings began at night and the Argentines didn't know straight away where the landings were there was no need for CAP from the get go.

I can see I am going to have to get Ward's book off the shelf. :(

All Politicians are the Same

Observer, i aplogise if you didn't realise I was talking about BG capabilities. As for the rest of your post , I guess you are a Singaporean in service or retired officer, so in terms of making objective comments about RN amphibious capability you are another internet Admiral.



And what was the difference in battlegroup capability? That was the point that puzzled me. If the only units that are different is the carrier type, launching the same number and type of aircraft, how does the change reduce the CVBG capability?


Sorry guys, my post initially was more polite until APATs editted his to be more snarky.


Less chest thumping, more info. Rank and post reitterations do little to provide facts.


"Thompson and others (including the infamous Sharkey) have been on record for the last two decades that Woodward was the wrong man to command the carrier group, as a man who had specialised in submarines. They wanted Derek Reffell, as someone from a carrier and amphibious background. They are probably right. But he did well enough to allow a successful landing nevertheless."

Just to point out for fairness that Woodward's long been on record as saying that himself, and at the time he suggested to his superiors that it would be better to wait until a better commander was available: just another problem that went with the Task Force having to sail immediately.


Can I retell of the result of the recent Army Navy Rugby match? :) Just want to get the tone back to mildly joshing, not finger pointing.

(Andrew crapped out, but the Army had about 30 Fijians. Rumour that the Sea Lords have sent around a press gang to Fiji being strongly denied)


Sortie Rates

Trying to draw conclusions from sortie rates is a favourite pastime of those with a pre formed opinion. It is a fool’s errand because the definition of a sortie can be so varied and the definition of a successful sortie even more nebulous. Then of course you have to look at a million and one things to provide context, a successful sortie for a SHAR in 1982 might well have been zero munitions expended, what about recce missions, what about shows of force/presence. Too many variables to make it a meaningful means of measuring ‘worth’

Even using comparisons of munitions expended is not a reliable indicator either, just far too many variables.

If you look at the history of aviation since the end of the war you should be able to reasonably determine when land based aviation has been used compared to sea based.

Light Blue onboard

This seems to be one of those issues which is so decisive and yet seems very simple to resolve. I tend to think people just get on with things and over a period of time, with enough training and commitment from all concerned should be resolved.

Carriers, Risk and 1982

James makes an interesting point about balancing risk. I tend to agree that with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight the decisions that led to a lack of cover for ACO, Sir Galahad and San Carlos in general were arguably incorrect, protecting the carriers rather than the logistics and amphibious forces. But would bringing the carriers in closer have prevented those incidents, dunno.

It is also very easy to see why the carriers were perceived as being so essential, two sides of the coin.

If you read the San Carlos FOB and ACO posts I did recently you should find some of the background details, the FOB in particular should (in my opinion) have been established sooner. The 10 minute time on station was in one of those, double checked sources and have seen that number a few times but of course, we know that sources can sometime be wrong.

NAB, I think most of the helicopters for tactical lift in support of ground forces were staged out of the FOB and Atlantic Causeway.

All Politicians are the Same

Obeserver, we are looking ta a BG that can have SGNs in on location CVs in an other an other and FFS in a third we can synchronise tot FOR TLAM and F35B JSM and use a 3rd wave of f35B on top then push escorts inshore to utilise oto breada 5 inch light weight whilst also bringing the ARG in, I know you guys cannot but we can.


@James, come now. After all our friendly discussion as to the importance of landing of supplies, you forget that the support stores for 3 Cdo alone took a week to land, during which time the SHAR's scored the majority of their kills. I'm all in favour of the bayonet, but it seems a little optimistic to see the RM and Paras taking the islands without ammunition after half their supplies are sunk.

I'm sure you also know that the CAP was planned specifically on the basis that it would not fly over San Carlos, which was to be a fixed wing free fire zone, unless the aircraft concerned approached in a fuel emergency with landing lights on.


TD said "Light Blue onboard"

Did you have much to do with recruiting arm of the Army during your time in?

I was on very good terms with the succession of CPOs and POs out our local office. I had a lot to do with an ex-WO recruiter during my time with cadets (on the UMC side.) And I know the why's and wherefore's of how youngsters decide on which service they are going to join. And IMHO based on all that is that KIDS DON'T JOIN THE RAF TO GO TO SEA. THEY DO IT TO AVOID THE SEA. AND RUNNING AROUND OUTSIDE IN THE COLD, DIGGING THE OCCASIONAL HOLE TO LIVE IN, AND PLAYING WITH BANG-BANGS. JFH isn't a good example. The Harriers spent more a lot time ashore than deployed to the carriers. I think your "light blue at sea" point of view is more to do with making your model of no FJ for the FAA work. Exchanges are a novelty in a long career service. An 18 year old signing on the dotted line thinks he will be pending his service time will be spent in Lincolnshire or the Home Counties with perhaps a tour in Bastion. He isn't expecting a life on the Oggin with RN frequency of deployments. He wouldn't join else. That is the modern youngster.


Now we need to do the 5 minutes during the Midway encounter that sealed the Pacific war's outcome, as a fraction of the time elapsed from Pearl Harbour to Nagasaki bombing, RE

"there have been 3484 weeks since 1945, of which aircraft carriers have proven “vital” (which I don’t really believe, but most do) for 6 of them. That is 0.17% of the time."


"with Rapier, Blowpipe, Sea Slug, Sea Dart and Sea Cat all effectively useless"

I don't understand why this myth persists. Blowpipe proved to be a bit of a dog and the others had their problems, but missiles shot down more attacking Skyhawks than the Harriers did, so I'd say they had a pretty good hand in protecting the landings. The majority of Harrier kills were the higher flying Dagger escorts.


Hi Mr. fred, RE

"Bog standard Stryker?"

- $3.5m lately, much cheaper to begin with

-" Waste of time and money" Agreed

" Patria AMV"

- $2m, add turret and any advanced sensors

"£3m for an APC is pushing it."

- if those two were meant (cheaper is better?), how come?


@ X

I would say your characterisation of young people seems to be rather more service driven than anything based in reality. One kid from my school (alright, we're going back a while now) joined the engineers because he thought it would set him up for life in trade skills. Another joined the RAF because he liked planes but wasn't smart enough to fly them.

I cant imagine people actually joing certain services because they plan to just sit around in Oxford for the next few years or because they don't want to get their hands dirty. That just sounds to me like you're doing precisely the same thing you're accusing TD of doing; constructing an argument from nothing to fit your preferred profile.



you make my argument for a properly constructed Brigade-sized ARG beautifully. Yes, we need loads of lovely loggies coming ashore in quick time with whatever it is that loggies carry. Scoff and bullets, presumably.

Why does "loggies" default on my Apple spell check to loggias, as in bosky Italian flower-decked love nests? Perhaps I missed out in my service years by not being a loggia? I am concerned that there are service teachers, QARANCs at Rinteln and WRACs that got away unmolested.


The reason the carriers and SHAR were fundamental is simple. On April 2nd 1982, had the Navy been asked "can you assure a landing of 3 Cdo and follow on forces against an air force of 200+ based in Argentina?", without the SHAR, the answer (from all senior naval officers) would have been "no". Had the answer been "yes", both CGS and CAS would have asked some fairly pointed questions along the lines of "how?" - probably because back then, the air threat was something that all services thought about and understood - particularly as they had not grown used to it being dealt with by "someone else" back then. Result, no deployment of what I absolutely agree was the required "effect" - the infantry and also no Op Corporate, end of. Hence fundamental, like it or not.

TD - Causeway may well have brought a shedload of Wessies & SK, but Hermes brought 845 and half of 846 from the off. She also had the AE department and facilities to sustain them, which Causeway did not. She also didn't get there till four days after the first landings, by which time 845/846 and the HAS SK squadrons had got the Rapier and 105 batteries ashore to provide some defence for the FOB.



good thing that the Navy were not asked then, but instead one man. The only Admiral with balls since Nelson - Leach - stood up and said it could be done. Much against his staff's advice.

As it was, SHAR was useful but not critical.

I do feel like I'm slightly banging my head on a brick wall with this "fundamental" definition. It is one capability only. If you really want to say that the Falklands could not have been retaken without a carrier launched fast jet capability, say so, but it appears that every piece of evidence is completely against that.

Or to put it into your court, if SHAR was fundamental, how did Sharkey and the Far East Fleet plan to capture the Argentinean trenches on East Falkland? Would they have gone for the riskier right flank at Goose Green? What about that tricky SF position on the northern side of Longdon? And how good is Harrier at crawling through the mud silently before the attack on Tumbledown, and can it hook in there for over 24 hours in a battle group attack, or does it need to bugger off for some fuel at some point? It would also be useful to know of your logistic calculations for how many pallets of 105 ammo SHAR can under sling, or even if the young pilot on board has any concept of the land tactical battle. Certainly in 1982, the SHAR pilots had none. Junglies yes, SHARs no.


@James, you are deliberately tilting at windmills. @NAB and I have no issue with land forces being those that finish it, but since SAM and AAA managed to knock down less than half AR's fighter aircraft losses, you are looking at rather a lot of additional aircraft that would have been dropping bombs on amphibs. We're not a pair of Sloane's begging for some cavalry goodness you know :-)



You feel like you're banging your head against a brick wall? There is simply no question about it. Any idea of mounting an opposed landing 8,000 miles from the UK without a scrap of air cover against an enemy possessing considerable numbers of aircraft equipped with ASMs, bombs, cannon and rockets would have been a non-starter, even with Leach.

The campaign was a close enough run thing as it was but, thanks mainly to SHAR and with one notable exception, at least the ships managed to deliver the troops and most of their kit ashore relatively unscathed. However, they paid a hideous penalty in the process, mostly owing to the lack of a proper fleet carrier with fast, long-range FJ and AEW. I pray that we never risk being placed in such an invidious position again.


P.S. That's for the Army's sake as well as the RN's. :-)



SHAR were useful, no doubt. But there is not a scrap of evidence that the landings could not have proceeded without them. The landing sites were mostly (on a 24/7 basis) unsupported by CAP, but the landings went ahead anyway. There is plenty of video and documentary evidence that SHAR were not actually that successful in keeping the Argies away from the landing sites (i.e. several ships attacked and sunk, without SHAR getting involved). There is an easy mathematics that says "but SHAR took out more than 20", but if you analyse the evidence, most were Mirage flying "top cover", and many of the rest were not actually attacking the landing sites. And on the day the Sir Galahad was hit, where were the SHAR? Nowhere to be bloody seen. That is mostly explained by the fact that someone deemed it not to be flying weather as far east as the fleet was, but as far west as the Argentine Squadron airbase, it was good enough to get airborne. So the SHARS were socked in, the pilots eating cheesy eggy hammy, sand Carlos Fandango had a free run in. It doesn't matter that the Army were stupid and should not have remained aboard, the Andrew for technical weather reasons were stuck on deck. So don't give me this "without SHAR it would have been impossible" crap,

So it wasn't mainly thanks to SHAR. SHAR did their job, but their job did not win us back the Falklands by themselves and with no other help, and without them we'd have been helpless. Or do you really want to pretend that they did?



Despite your desire to see all FJs turned into tin cans (very useful tin cans mind you) and my corresponding desire to do so just to put one in the eye of APATs, I have to say that FJs still have a very important part to play in the battlefield. Sure, they can't hold land, but they are incredible "enablers" that allow other forces to operate with much more ease.

Just think off the AH force you recommended on the JC LPHs. They're wonderful CAS, but against FJs with BVR missiles and look down radar, they fare fairly badly. A friendly FJ force allows your AHs to go tank hunting without having to worry about enemy FJs as they would either have been shot down or engaged in a contest for air superiority instead of turkey shooting helicopters.


Did you hit your head? Most of what you brought up are just smoke and mirrors, red herrings, strawman arguments and innuendo, not to mention the severe decline in your spelling.

Your ships come with SYLVAR 70s? No? Then you can't do TLAMs either, and Mk 48s? Your carrier comes with them? No? Then why are you claiming that CVFs will suddenly give NGS ability? Or that changing CVFs to CVEs will suddenly disable T-26 4.5 inchers? You got enough red herrings to feed Africa for a decade. My only conclusion to all this nonsense is to either conclude that you

1) Have just hit your head and have lost your faculties to reason or

2) You don't really have a good answer to the question and are trying to obfuscate the issue to your CVF bias.


James said "The only Admiral with balls since Nelson"

Beatty? Cunningham? Vian?



Which bit of "what I absolutely agree was the required “effect” – the infantry " did you not understand? Your references to "Sharkey & the Far East Fleet" are therefore absurd - as is your denigration of naval admirals.

However much you dislike the fact, without SHAR plus carrier, the "infantry effect" would not even have loaded aboard ship and it would have been CGS making that decision, never mind 1SL or CDS, probably because all of them understood threat assessment.

I can help you with "fundamental" - the definition of which is "adjective - forming a necessary base or core; of central importance". Sounds pretty much like the contribution of SHAR plus carrier, plus RFA & STUFT, plus (of course) 3 Cdo & 5 Inf. Or did you just want to suggest that the land forces did all the work and that the most intense naval war since WW2 was an unimportant sideshow?


Is it not fair to say that every component of the task force and its supporting elements was fundamental, essential, important etc?

How much of this debate is actually about definitions of words on the head of a pin.

How would the RN have managed if RAF Hercules weren't doing regular stores drops, how would Army Rapiers have maintained operations without daily supplies of fuel from Navy Sea Kings and how would RAF operations from Ascension coped without fuel supplies from the US?

The whole thing was intimately interconnected.

James makes the point that the final effect was delivered by land forces which is of course true, and equally true of the majority of operations, but as others have said, they would not have got into that position without other elements of all three services.

NaB, Causeway wasn't just a ferry, helicopters carried out over 4,000 landings in the very short time it was operational and the FOB delivered 50,000L of fuel per day (not just for aircraft) and 120 movements per day. I am not disputing what the carriers did in terms of rotary but they were not the only game in town.

1982 is an object lesson in what happens when you fail to achieve control of the air but lets not forget, control of the air is not just about aircraft carriers, fighters or AEW.

In any objective analysis we failed to achieve that control and the price should be obvious to all.


@ TD and all,

the point I am trying to make - not very successfully, it appears - is that in all military matters there is one capability without which strategic success cannot be imagined, and that in the case of the Falklands, it was land combat power. That is NOT to say that everything else was unimportant or only there for the ride. This is a concept that has been around for hundreds of years, and is codified by all militaries that I know of in their doctrine. It can be captured by several names - Main Effort, Schwerpunkt, Centre of Gravity, etc. At a tactical level, the Army for instance also follows this in the names of types of artillery support: Direct Support, General Support, General Support Reinforcing, that tell both the Artillery and Combat Commander what to expect at certain phases of the battle.

It makes a mockery to suggest that everything is "fundamental". It is also true to say that very many things were very important, and in this case I include everything that I am aware of that the Navy did. It has not come up in the discussion, but I personally believe that the three SSNs were the key naval asset, as they were able to keep the Argentine Navy bottled up in their ports.

Would the Falklands have been re-captured without an infantry force? I suggest the answer is no. Would they have been re-captured without carrier air? I suggest that it would have been much more bloody and less certain, but not impossible. Would they have been recaptured without the deterrent effect of the SSNs, and if the Argentines had come out for a proper naval battle? Much less likely.

Honestly, anyone would think that questioning the role of fast air in the Falklands is heresy. It's really not.


Just to add that if carrier fast air had not been available (and leaving aside any considerations as to whether the task force would have been sent at all without fast air), then what would have changed? I suggest that there would have been even more emphasis on taking out the Pucaras that were on the islands (more SF raids, and NGS onto the grass airstrips), and that the landings would have been made in north east Falkland, a further 50 miles away from the Argentine bases on the mainland. The biggest single mistake the Argentines made was not to put fast air on the islands themselves. Once the Pucaras were neutralised, if neither side had no fast air in the vicinity of the landing site, then air threats and the need to deal with them become a non-problem.



Can I presume from your lack of value of carrier jet aviation that you like the idea of the air being dominated by the enemy dropping cluster bombs all over the front line and removing every UK helicopter that pops up with a sidewinder? I say this based on your 98% of 98% rather than the stuff said above.

You don't need CAP over the landing site. You put CAP in a place to make sure enemy aircraft don't get to the landing site.

I'm not sure 1982 is a good example of "fundamental" air power - we only just scraped by. But generally the foundation for a successful military conflict (or at least the one's I've seen) is to dominate the air either with air-supremacy jets or by taking out the enemies capability to control the air (SEAD). MANPADS and Sea Viper/Ceptor have only a limited coverage.

As for 1982, if we had lost a carrier would we not have used the other one but closer in? If we lost that one too would we not have nuked the Argentinian airbase? Black Mamba backed into a corner and all that!


I'd have procured 4 x WASP - 2 active, 1 as carrier, 1 as LHD.

Also, you just said "...CVF launching 24 F35b from 200NM...". Have you changed your tune? You wanted to put it 50nm with the ARG last time we spoke. Anyway, wouldn't the initial strike wave come from ~400nm (100+ sorties a whole day before the landing).

I like your sub-fired TLAM strike!


Please don't brand me with the "sortie rate" thing. I never said RATE! It's total sorties or bombs and, unless statistics has changed, a comparison does actually provide meaningful information.


I'd join the RAF or the FAA to fly jets - nothing else. If you're recruiting people with long-term career visions, you're recruiting the wrong people.



How about the view of the Yanks who seem pretty switched-on about joint operations? This is the heading at the top of Page I-1 of Chapter 1 (INTRODUCTION) of JP3-01 (Joint Doctrine for Countering Air and Missile Threats) (http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/docops/jp3_01.pdf) endorsed by the US Navy, USMC, US Army and US Air Force:

“If we lose the war in the air, we lose the war and we lose it quickly. (Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery)"

(I didn't realise he was American - I thought he was one of yours ;-) )

These are the second and third sentences of Para 1 on the same page:

"...Air superiority delivers a FUNDAMENTAL benefit to the joint force. It prevents adversaries from interfering with operations of air, space, or surface forces and assures freedom of action and movement..."

Still quibbling about the use of the term "fundamental" with regard to the SHAR during CORPORATE? They may not have constituted 'Air Power' (if only) but they were able to provide local 'Air Superiority' at critical times. No matter how much you demur, the TF would never have sailed without them.


Thanks Dunservin,

Sadly ours seems to be badly out of date (and very descriptive, without much prescription... isn't that what doctrines are for?)which might be a reflection of the likelihood of actually having to counter the threat

"(Joint Doctrine for Countering Air and Missile Threats) (http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/docops/jp3_01.pdf) endorsed by the US Navy, USMC, US Army and US Air Force"



Schwerpunkt and CoGravity is a fundamental concentration of force, and indirectly, of capability or function (through high concentration of strength) and not a direct concentration of capabilities (i.e Carrier air, infantry etc.)

A Schwerpunkt (spearpoint) would usually have fundamental troops like aircraft support, infantry and tanks, not a single troop type only, and more importantly, have it in large numbers to allow for a big effect on the field when unleashed. I'd say the concepts you brought up are more related to troop concentration/supplies than a single unit type.

Might I suggest we stop looking at the Falklands and look more towards 2012 for possible problem areas? Why not use our current biggest headache, Iran, as a force comparison target? Makes more sense than fighting a battle already won 30 years back.

That would be

~40 F-14s, 60 F-5s, 35 Mig-29s and 30 Su-24s

3 Armoured brigades and 7 Infantry Divisions

~74 gunboats, 5 frigates, 3 corvettes, 3 subs.

If they threw the armour and 2-3 Inf Div at you along with 1/2 of the aircraft, what would be a resonable defending force that can endure till help arrives?


A dozen Apache working under the umbrella cover of 2 x Daring with 2 x Astute making life difficult for their subs/ships and chucking the odd TLAM at their bases?


I suggest that there would have been even more emphasis on taking out the Pucaras that were on the islands (more SF raids, and NGS onto the grass airstrips), and that the landings would have been made in north east Falkland, a further 50 miles away from the Argentine bases on the mainland. The biggest single mistake the Argentines made was not to put fast air on the islands themselves

A landing in NE Falkland was the No.2 option in COMAW and Thompson's planning. It was eventually ruled out because there were too many no-landing days due to the surf, as a result more helicopter movements would be needed and there weren't enough helis. Also, after the task force arrived, the Argentines realised the Mk8 guns on the ships outranged their 105mm and flew in 4x 155mm, which could reach the proposed beach head. They held the option quite late on, which makes me think there was a special forces recce of the site and that made their minds up.



"I cant imagine people actually joing certain services because they plan to just sit around in Oxford for the next few years or because they don’t want to get their hands dirty."

I can. Taking the comforts of home everywhere you deploy is one of the benefits of a career at sea. I went RFA because the comforts are a few notches higher than in the RN.


Chris B said “I cant imagine people actually joing certain services because they plan to just sit around in Oxford for the next few years or because they don’t want to get their hands dirty.”

Yes they do. People like you and I on the outside of the services perhaps have too an idealistic view of how servicemen see their job. Well I would if I hadn't spent a lot of time around service bods. One of my best cadets joined the RAF because he wasn't going to live in a messdeck. Bobbing up and down on the oggin wasn't for him. Another cadet joined the RM and seemed only to be happy at -20 living in a snow hole. I am always surprised by how many join the services without an apparent interest in the services before hand.


Hi Observer,

As the country is so big, you can see that the "outer edge" here

"~40 F-14s, 60 F-5s, 35 Mig-29s and 30 Su-24s

3 Armoured brigades and 7 Infantry Divisions

~74 gunboats, 5 frigates, 3 corvettes, 3 subs"

capable of any offensive action, is quite thin

Take it out and there is only a non-manoeuvre force left, to be dealt with

- Bush I was properly advised, and did not run into any Stalingrads

- Bush II probably got sound advise, but had an inner circle of fanatics... and the rest of history

BTW: 90% of CIA and other intelligence services staff never leave the good old USA; so if you have fanatics, believing in something, in the inner circle - and the next circle out is feeding them "BS" as "the facts"... what is bound to happen?


@ X

I doubt that many will have such exacting views of where their career will take them so I doubt many plan to join the RAF so they can be posted to brize. However being a 'service bod' I would agree with you on the last part I include myself in that, I wouldn't say say nil as I have did have an interest in the RAF beforehand but it wasn't very strong, no family members, no cadets or anything like that . I assume you work with sea cadets how many join the navy from what you see. Last figures I saw had 30% for air cadets.


@ Chris B (found your comment now)

Well yes a good number of air cadets join the cadets and the the RAF because they like planes. And many do join the RLC or RE for their tickets. There are lots of reasons why recruits join. And some are very calculating in in selecting their career path. Even down to accident (miss the bus walked pass the recruiting office) or on a whim. Oddly enough while RAF new entrant intakes or Army new entrants intakes will have a good number of ex-ATC or ex-ACF kids surprisingly few Sea Cadets go on to join the RN. I think there are reasons for that, but I am not up with current situation. Though strictly speak SC isn't a pre-service organisation.


Good afternoon all,

I can see that I'm fighting a one-man campaign on the SHARS being "vital" (everyone else), or "useful" (me). I suspect no one will change their minds from this point on, so probably not worth pursuing. However, a few general thoughts pulled out from the last 24 hours of discussion.

1. Given that we had carriers and SHARS, it would have been ridiculous not to have taken them - I'll very happily concede that point.

2. Having got carriers and SHARS into the S Atlantic, they performed creditably in their primary mission, and I'll bet that British lives and ships were saved by the being there, and that is an excellent thing.

3. I do honestly believe that more ships and lives could have been saved if the carriers had been closer to the landings, and that the extra risk of moving therm closer was not as great as Sandy Woodward thought. There was a point in time (pretty much when the first landings were made, 1st May IIRC) when the balance of the force changed, and our centre of gravity became the landing site, not the carriers. When this balance changed, so should have our force posture. Given that intelligence was available that there were no Argentine fast jets on the islands, and combat radii for all Argentine aircraft were known, plus the ability to know of launches from Argentine air bases (radar and sub detections), it seems incredible to me that we could not have been more intelligent in our positioning of the carriers.

4. On a general point, of course air superiority / supremacy is something any force will seek to achieve. However, only having air parity, or in some cases no aircraft at all (if we'd not had SHARS and we'd have landed in the NE so too far for the Argentines) should not by itself rule out other military operations.

5. I must come across as some form of anti-carrier fundamentalist. I assure people that is not the case, but merely that in a time of very tight budgets, there are other capabilities we'd have been better spending our limited funds upon. Unlike some people, I don't want all funds to go on my own old service, in fact I have made a case repeatedly for money to be spent on something (a proper ARG, not the half-measure we currently have) that would be operated by the Navy.

6. However, foolishly Gordon Brown did not listen to me, and placed the order for QEC and F35, so that's what we'll get. And if we do and Carlos Fandango decides he wants our islands again, you will find me insisting that we use the QEC and F35 as part of our force package to go and kick him off again. See Point 1.

7. I really am bewildered that I have not been able to get my point across that in the end, there is always one thing that we cannot do without to achieve strategic success, and everything else, while probably hugely important, is in that sense secondary. All conflicts have this characteristic, but it varies depending on circumstances. For instance in WW2 it was sea control of the Atlantic that ultimately decided that Hitler was unable to concentrate his land forces in Eastern Europe and thus hold back the Russians, and American sea control in the Pacific that ultimately delivered the capture of a single small island from which the atomic raids were launched. Arguably, as we saw with the Doolittle raid, they did not even need the island, merely dominance of some sea and airspace close to Japan.


@ Topman

I am slightly guilty of conflating "reasons for joining" and "career path". We both know all three services have "trades" that aren't exactly popular. If F35 maintaining means considerable sea time beyond the novelty that it was with JFH do you think it will be a positive for take-up and retention with the RAF OR? Or will they be scrambling for Typhoon, C17 or whatever squadrons? Perhaps my view of the problem is to holistic? As always I speak as I find. If I am guilty of using this to argue for RN pulling the majority manning weight for F35 perhaps those saying I am wrong are guilty of not understanding how much life at sea impacts on a person's job satisfaction or work life balance.


@ X

Horses for course to be honest. It's only one real area for the raf OR that relates to what you mentioned, aircraft techies as they are usually kept for a while on type to 'payback' training costs. Other areas tend to matter less, supply for example.

Like anything it's what you get used to, if all a person had done was SH then living in a tent or working at FOBs and the such like becomes the norm. 'Mafias' tend to spring up and people can get boxed into fj/sh/at, although people still move around. I think it's quite to get across online without sounding like I'm contriditing myself.

I guess it depends on how much and what the plus side is in other areas in the manning and basing of the F35. Basing the F35 somewhere popular would help for example decent MQ so the OH isn't upset and so on.


X / Topman,

maybe we are prisoners of our own thinking, in this case that FJ and the maintainers should always go together in Squadron terms. Would it be possible to have a "Maintenance Squadron" of FAA permanently based on QEC, and they service any F35 that happens to be aboard, whether it be RAF or FAA?

I can certainly see X's point that for some people, being at sea is not what they want to do, so will find ways to avoid it. That's the flow, maybe we should go with it. Equally, for some being at sea frequently is what they wanted so joined the Navy.

Oddly enough, from the perspective of being in my late 40s and so with some hindsight, I would not have minded joining the old Andrew*** back when I had left school. I'm not at all unhappy with what I did do (join the Army), but there cannot be much wrong with the Queen paying you shillings and sending you around the world to see exotic places. Really, not a bad life at all. Once you get trapped into marriage and the rug rats arrive, maybe life changes and you look for something else, but by and large people of all three services spend significant time away from home anyway, at least until you are in your early 40s and not so useful in either a ship, tank or cockpit.

*** The RAF was never an option. You can fly if that's what you like in both the Army and Navy, but in the Air Force you have to wear polyester and put up with everyone being called Kevin.


@ James

Possibly, it can work in some but not in others. It needs to be carefully managed, it worked for the RAF at Lyneham (and now at Brize) where all GC are in an Eng Sqn. Yet it was tried at Lossie and was a bit of a disaster and canned after a couple of months. I think that sort of centralised Engineering lends itself to AT rather than FJ. But there may well be plans to do that. I think that F35 for the GC will be a big change in a good way from anything else in service, although the manufacturers always say that.

Just read your edit, it wouldn't have been that bad, you could have been a cavalryman of the skies ;)



I'm not sure any of my friends would have spoken with me or made available their spare rooms for some serious shagging on returns to London if I'd let the side down by joining the RAF. Plus, there was that incident with the Puma in the wrong field and the helpful Schermuly to alert the dozy Kevin at the controls that he was in the wrong place - I do believe that Air Commodore Kevin took a very dim view of that and thus my cards would have been marked.



1. Agree.

2. Agree.

3. Agree with the exception that I don't think we did truly know the capability of the Argentine jets. However, once we'd discovered their limitations we whould have "pushed".

4. Sort of disagree but will bow to any examples you have where a large land force has been successful with the enemy having "the edge" in the air.

5. You are not anti-carrier (JC is a carrier) you are an anti-naval-jet fundamentalist ;-)

6. Agree.

7. What "one thing" do you refer to?



Russia never had any form of air superiority (there may have been the odd local occasion when they did - I'm talking generally across a huge expanse of land and over 3 years), and yet pushed the Germans all the way from Moscow to Berlin. Similarly, the Viet Cong didn't own the skies in Vietnam, and yet sent the US packing. The Iraqi militias and Terry Taliban don't own the air either, and yet their "waiting game" appears to have been successful in achieving their primary aim of not having us around, even if I would not agree that there has been a military defeat.

I would not agree that I am anti-naval jet. I am anti spending money on number 73 in the list of priorities when we have not funded numbers 1-72. If we were awash with cash, then let the Andrew fill their boots with whatever type of jet takes their fancy, and great numbers of floaty little boats to launch them from.


@ James

During the Cold War when the Navy was approaching a half decent size there were many "sailors" who clocked up more seatime on the Gosport or Torpoint ferries than in destroyers or frigates.

As for an FAA maintenance squadron that is what I was driving at. It is the pilots that are difficult to find. The FAA goes ashore and works ashore always has done.



Okay, Russia, but they paid a huge price in lives doing it. Hardly really a victory, just that they had more resources to throw at the problem.

Ah, the Viet Cong. I'll yield because what I'm about to write seems like playing with semantics, but I don't see these examples as a true representation of victory simply because they didn't win the battle - they just outlasted the attack. They are, however, examples where air-power was not the deciding factor.

Perhaps I should have asked for examples where an aggressor was successful without dominant air-power?


@ Topman

I still think there is difference between even living in a tent and being at sea.

Everybody gets seasick at sometime. Some odd bods even adore rougher weather. And accommodation afloat has improved beyond Jed's days when you were shackled to the oar at the start of the commission. Joining the RN means sea time. Joining the RAF means dry land, the Home Counties, and perhaps getting home a couple of times a month. I would hope those joining the services way these factors up.

Retention is important. I think everything has to be done to facilitate retention. The important issue here is getting F35 to sea not what uniform the maintainers wear. That argument runs both ways which means isn't shouldn't matter to pro-RAF bods if the F35 squadrons are dark blue heavy.



off the top of my head, the first half of the Korean War, when the NKs jammed the UN right down into a small southern perimeter. It was sea-power that reversed that situation when a second front was opened up at Inchon.

The Sino-Soviet war, and also in the same area, the defeat of the Japs in Manchuria.

The Cuban Revolution, and for that matter the Rhodesia conflict (yes there was a peace settlement and ceasefire, but it was only going to end one way).

Mostly, however, air power is with the victor.


@ Anixtu

Fair play fella!

@ x

Aye, lots of horses for many different courses. In addition to the afforementioned engineer and RAF bod that I went to school with, a college friend joined the Navy because he wanted to travel, someone I used to work with in a bar has recently joined the Navy and did so because there is some technical trade that he wants to get into that apparently only the Navy can provide, a mates mate joined the Infantry because he thought it would be a laugh, got sent to Afghanistan, and has since stopped laughing having lost people he knows, a doorman I once worked with joined the infantry because he thought it "would be a blast like" (scouser), ended up with the Anglians and nearly got blown up in Iraq when his mate was supposed to throw a red smoke and instead threw a live frag without telling anyone about his mistake (the whizzing shrapnel eventually gave it away, but luckily no one was harmed) and I once did the door with a Marine who I can't remember what made him chose the Marines, all I remember is his bizarre aversion to punching people in the face (a bizarre trait for someone wanting to be a bouncer at least).

@ James,

"I can see that I’m fighting a one-man campaign on the SHARS being “vital” (everyone else), or “useful” (me)"

-- Budge up then fella, I'll come and sit with you. I get what you're saying; a SHAR-less Falklands would have been bloody and more difficult, but possible. The ships actually shot down more of the attacking Hawks than the Harriers did, and I believe in some cases were even called off targets because of the promximity of friendly aircraft. If you're asking me personally would I have sent the task force down without air support, I'm afraid the answer would have been absolutely. There is no way the government can just sit back and do nothing because it fears it might lose some personnel. It must do what it must do.

I also agree with your sentiments that if the MoD had a bottomless pit of cash then by all means, let the Navy knock itself out and get drunk with Carriers. But while budgets are tight and so much stuff needs funding, I agree that Carriers are a low priority.


@James, the VC didn't "win" the war, the NVA did, because the VC were crippled by Tet and had gradually melted away by 71 or so. The NVA invaded in 72 because the VC was incapable of another Tet, and US airpower provided both CAS and wiped out half their supplies up North (see Linebacker II). They then waited until the US was out (including it's airpower) before starting again...

All Politicians are the Same

I thought CNN won the Vietnam war on behalf of the North Vietnamese Spelling much easier sans Vin Rouge.


As I understand we weren't involved in Vietnam because North Vietnamese were doing well enough without our help. :)


"I get what you’re saying; a SHAR-less Falklands would have been bloody and more difficult, but possible."

I am happy to accept that it might have been [possible], however i don't think politicians would have given it a "go".


Not re SHARS, but GR3s in the FI.

How much usage did we get from them, and were they effective? I'm aware of some post Black Buck raids on various positions in / around Stanley airport, and a couple of strikes on Goose Green. But what about the other battles - Longdon, Two Sisters, Tumbledown, etc?

Wiki has this page, which if the data is correct shows only 126 sorties by the 10 GR3s, in comparison with 1435 by the 28 SHARs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_air_services_in_the_Falklands_War . There is also this page on another blog which - to my suspicious mind at least - appears to get pretty anti-RAF as it goes on, so it may have an agenda and take it with a pinch of salt fellers. http://grandlogistics.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/sea-harriers-and-harriers-in-falklands.html . However, buried down at the bottom are a few comments on "sorties" - to me a sortie is one aimed at either doing the Air Defence, or doing the CAS or Deep Strike. However, "sorties" could be counted as including pretty routine admin moves between ships, which don't really count in my book.

Basically, I'm trying to identify how much British fast air was involved in offensive vs defensive air support. Both are needed of course in a campaign, but the balance between the two is interesting.


X said

"Some odd bods even adore rougher weather. And accommodation afloat has improved beyond Jed’s days when you were shackled to the oar at the start of the commission. Joining the RN means sea time."

Ahhh well, as you mentioned me....

I done Leanders, T42's, Hunt class MCMV, HMS Herald and RFA Diligence. All except Diligence (2 man cabin) would be considered "rough" compared to a T45 !!

Also spent 6 months at RAF Cosford, far, far better accomodation than any RN shore posting I ever had, far far better food too ! From that 6 months (21 years ago) I have lasting friendships with RAF people (well mostly ex-RAF people now) and I am sorry Topman, but I still consider the RAF to largely be a shirt sleeve service that has life easy. This also based on my 8 years in the TA living in bivvy bags (and my first OC in the Army was RAF Regiment too !).

It is only personal opinion, and I have not been around on the other threads lately as I am bored to death with the current conversations, but please note while I will take every chance and opportunity as an ex-Matelot AND an ex-part-time-Pongo, to bash the hell out of the Crabs, I am NOT one of those calling for the disbandment of the RAF.

Finally - to X point, and this is aimed at TD Admin's comments from earlier up the thread - there is a massive difference between signing up for a life at sea, and signing up for a life in accom block at "RAF Flatlands" even if the young airman / woman now gets to rough it occasionally at Bagram / Kandahar or wherever. A quick exercise deployment on a carrier for RAF Harrier aircrew or Army Air Corps Apache crews is not the same as spending 10, 12, 22 or however many years on the bouncy blue stuff..... :-)



I dunno. Not defending the territory would have been a pretty serious failure of the Government. I suspect they would have had to send them off with a "at least give a try" type mentality.

An intriguing question from there is would the TF's plans have changed based on a lack of SHAR? Pickets further out? Air attack placed as a much higher priority? Any aircraft flying over 200 knots would have been easily identifiable as Argentine, so maybe a change of ROE? Deploying more T42 to the west in the clear oceans?

All the stuff of much debate.

All Politicians are the Same

Chris B, a blockade to begin with maybe? Open season on Argentinian naval shipping? Fascinating exercise.


@ JDBTx,

I read a bio of Maggie, which I don't have to hand so will have to summarise. As far as I remember, most of the concern she had - and addressed to both CDS and CNS - was in what the Argentine Navy were capable of, not their Air Force. So losses of ships, yes, but the losses coming from sea or submarine action, not being bombed. It's quite possible that others in MoD or Northwood at lower levels really understood about the Argentine air threat, but if so that never appears to have percolated upwards to No 10. Assuming the bio is accurate, we were either lucky (probably), or foolish (possibly) in basing a strategic deployment decision on the wrong premise, and by luck we were not caught with our pants down.


@ Jed

Thank you.


@ James,

Well the Sheffield BoI indicates that the submarine threat was considered a higher priority and more likely than an air attack, so I guess that must have been a general opinion?


A blockade of where, The main naval yard? Could have been worth a shot. I wonder how the Argentine Navy would have responded to a lack of SHAR? Might they have pressed home more aggressively with their carrier in the search for the British TF?



I'm impressed. How did you manage to confront the mortal terror that I certainly felt on my few months attached to the Andrew, of the Captain crashing the bloody boat (seems normal for RN Captains) and being trapped well under the waterline? There are too many Pinewood films of young stokers being deliberately shut into compartments fast filling with water, normally with some corny line about "Don't worry about me, save yourself and the ship". I demanded some accommodation well above the bouncy blue stuff, hence causing some Andrew irritation at my use of the phrase "on" Bristol, not "in" Bristol, but it is accurate in spatial terms.

(I am aware that submarines and ships are mutually ships or boats, but it has become traditional to deliberately confuse the two. As indeed the Andrew do with MICVs, AIFVs, APCs, SPGs, recce wagons and tanks, and sometimes to refer to them all as Tonka Toys. So we can all live with that).


Considering what was fundamental to winning the Falklands War bear in mind that there were many, many armies of the time that could muster a force of two light brigades; there were far fewer countries that could actually have pulled off a similar operation.

And when considering the shar bear in mind that with the Navy's boats effectively controlling access to the islands, the Argentine supply line for the war was reduced to blockade running C130 - at least one of which ended up in the ocean. Had there been British air-superiority, the Argentine forces would have been totally cut-off. They're islands, unlike examples raised previously, air and sea control entirely isolates the enemy and presents an entirely unwinable situation.


Brian Black,

assuming that the Navy had been able to impose a total air and sea blockade (probably achievable), how do you propose that it would have been able to advance the situation from being a stalemate? You appear to believe a blockade was an alternative solution to establishing local sea control and landing a big fighting force. You may disagree, but I'm pretty certain that Argentina being in place on the Falklands, and the Navy sailing about off the Falklands, would not have translated into a strong negotiating position for the UK, and even if some compromise ("one island each") had eventually been hammered out in the UN or somewhere, it would have done nothing to discourage Carlos Fandango from coming back and taking the other island whenever he wanted. Having first built an airstrip on the one he did have and filled it full of jets.

Which has greater endurance: a task force of 100 odd ships daily consuming diesel and about 10,000 hungry mouths 8,000 miles from home in a south Atlantic winter, or an island of 7,000 people with 120,000 sheep? Not a pleasant prospect for either really, but less so for the task force.


I have asked for live ordnance quantities expended per type, per aircraft type, per year since 1980 from the MoD.

My last request for the costing calcs for CVF propulsion options (nuclear) were refused on the basis that they no longer had them, so I don't hold out much hope ;-)

All Politicians are the Same

James, a blockade would have been unpleasant for the Argies but at the end of the day the best way to get rid of them was always to allow yourself and your oppos to introduce them to the Queens Bayonet. You have to do something to justify the wearing of red trousers!


I was wrong. Apparently there are 500,000 sheep on the Falklands. At 1/10th of a sheep per day per person, that is 5 million man days of food. Divided by 7,000 islanders plus invaders, that is 714 days of adequate if repetitive nutrition for everyone on the islands.

Does a task force of 100 ships carrying 10,000 hungry fellers carry the equivalent number of man days of food? Not to mention all of the fuel and consumables needing to keep 100 ships sailing around in circles. I'm pretty sure the RFA is not really scaled to do that for 2 years at 8,000 miles of distance.


Not for nothing do Falkland Islanders call mutton 365.

The Other Chris

Tip off:

New French Defence Minister, Le Drian, reviewing decision on Franco-British drones [1].

[1] http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_05_31_2012_p0-463344.xml


Just an aside. I took part in a week called "The Realities of War" on the combined staff course: lots of lovely old boys telling us young thrusters what war was really like, across all three services in all sorts of environments. One of the Speakers was a fantastic gentleman who had been the XO on one of the SSNs in the Falklands - not Conqueror which got the kill, but one of the others and I don't recall which it was. However, his story was that the sub was ordered from an exercise to get down south PDQ which they did, and they spent something like 70 days submerged which at the time was some form of record. The only casualty they had was a mental breakdown, by the submarine's Chief cook. He was overcome by the pressure of trying to eke out the onboard food they had and trying to present something a little different each day. When they did eventually surface for a replen, the poor feller had to be casevac'ed off the sub.

I'm re-telling that as accurately as I can recall the conversation, in respect to both the XO and to the Chief cook. If there is a detail that is wrong it is my fault. I have no doubt at all that it is not a "Dit", but an honest recollection of what happened, and a salutary tale for anyone in the service that does not see unexpected problems.

All Politicians are the Same

James, you actually walk on the food in an SSN. It makes up a lot of the passageways and as it is used you gain more head room. An infinitely believable tale.

The Other Chris

Really need to work on those http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicator_(Star_Trek)" rel="nofollow">replicators for the SSN boys.


ahhhhh! I forgot about the 2+ links = moderation. Try again...

1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards march in Swansea:



@ Toc - not surprised about the french backtracking, always thought merging the potential of son-of-taranis and son-of-taxation.



I'm thinking there surely must be some form of metal flaps covering the floor of the passageways, with the scoff in boxes below, and the boss cook with some form of map as to where the eggs are, and where the tinned beans? Otherwise it's going to be like an assault course, and I don't imagine the matelots wash their feet too much.

Came back from the Caribbean on a 40 foot cat once, and being non-nautical my job was to do the cooking. But I had it easy - a gas stove on some gimbals, and a whole spare cabin to store the scoff in. Plus a barbecue on deck. I was also OIC fishing, which was great fun - skipjack tuna ahoy! Followed by sushi.

The Other Chris

- Three paces beyond the officers mess
- Turn to port
- Look for the water pipe that resembles your wife's arse
- X marks the... eggs



Interesting on the drones. Shock horror French looking after number 1 they wanted access to uk tech nothing else. Not very much money has been spent or planned on this partnering if we ever get watchkeeper to work don't expect the French to buy it. As I mentioned at the time this deal was announced much better to ask general atomics to open a plant in the uk or press forward with a certain company in the broughton area who's done a couple of not to bad Istar a/c for us do far or rethink drones altogether



not sure that would work. Would a Naval Officer recognise his wife's arse?

Turning to port should however be encouraged on any form of ship the Navy owns and deliberately chooses to submerge below the waves. Having worked through the Gin, Whisky and Vodka first of all. You've got to have something to numb the total terror of being under command of an RN Captain, but also no windscreen and no headlights to work out where the bee you are driving. Some of those charts have not been updated for hundreds of years.


@ mark we might know more soon. There is a sales push for watchkeeper to the french this summer.


Chaps, have been rather absent of late. Been down under, busy with other stuff and not very well with man flu.

Normal service should hopefully be resumed by the weekend.

Just one thing, can we all chill out a bit :)

The Other Chris

Re: Watchkeeper

If the noise problems can be sorted (presumably due to the Wankel) then civilian certification would make for a great selling point in Europe.

Re: Treasure Scoff Maps

I'm guessing that after a month in a sub anything would remind you of your wife's arse.



you don't ever want to learn the words to "Zakhmi Dil", you know the one that begins with the line "There's a boy across the river with a bottom like a.... " It provides the single best excuse to get out of Afghanistan, and until we are out make it an Andrew-only posting. I'm sure that Afghan poets and the Andrew can swap tales of that sort of thing, and on hunting for golden rivets. ;)

I was going to tell a joke about a naval officer returning to Blighty after some enormously long time at sea, but it's a bit crude and it still frightens the dog, who has run away with her tail very firmly tucked between her legs. It does however explain why some naval wives sleep with the brass fire poker firmly clenched in their hand, and also one eye open.


It may be a truism that some mug will always have to get his boots and bayonet dirty to win a war, James. But air-power was essential to the Falklands, and more air-power would have made the whole operation comparatively easier in a way that more boots on the ground wouldn't have. Buccaneers, Phantoms and Gannets would have ended things quicker than another infantry brigade.

If the British had been in a position to gain air-superiority, I'm pretty sure the land war would not have been as bloody as it was. And having all the raw sheep a gaucho can eat would not have staved off the dehydration and hypothermia for longer than the Royal Navy could run its ships.


@Gareth Jones

"RE: Sub Food. Vaccumn packing might help:

- I thought so too until I discussed this with a killick chef on board a grey funnel steamer a couple of weeks ago. As the National Centre for Home Food Preservation website mentions at http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/vacuum_packaging.html:, "...Vacuum packaging is also not a substitution for the refrigerator or freezer storage of foods that would otherwise require it. In fact, vacuum packaging can add to the concerns associated with storing of these perishable foods (which are foods not stable at room temperature and requiring cold storage)..."

- Imagine the repercussions if the refrigeration plant on board a submarine went down for 36 hours on Day 5 of a 90 day patrol if all the meals were vacuum packaged and there was insufficient fresh/dried/canned food to fall back on.


@Gareth Jones

Rather than await moderation owing to the two links rule, I have removed the Heston link from your post of May 31, 2012 at 21:06 as quoted here:

“RE: Sub Food. Vaccumn packing might help: [Heston link]"

- I thought so too until I discussed this with a killick chef on board a grey funnel steamer a couple of weeks ago. As the National Centre for Home Food Preservation website mentions at http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/vacuum_packaging.html:, “…Vacuum packaging is also not a substitution for the refrigerator or freezer storage of foods that would otherwise require it. In fact, vacuum packaging can add to the concerns associated with storing of these perishable foods (which are foods not stable at room temperature and requiring cold storage)…”

- Imagine the repercussions of the refrigeration plant on board a submarine going down for 36 hours on Day 5 of a 90 day patrol if all the meals were vacuum packaged and there was insufficient fresh/dried/canned food to fall back on.


Althought the 10 year budget for replacment and upgraded AFVs for the Army seems alot, looking at requirements etc it still seems the MoD is trying to do more than the actual budget allows and that is before any future cuts. Whilst I see the need for a CVR(T) replacement the decision to extend the assessment phase on the surface looks like the MoD going back to its bad old ways, especially if there is a related increase in costs.

The Warrior upgrade programme is a must if we wish to remain in the Heavy Armour game but do we. The Warrior has been used successfully in numerous campaigns over the past two decades, but in how many of those was it used because we either had no alternative or because that is what Cold War doctrine said was needed?

A problem I see with the Army's re-equipment programme is the planned reorganisation into six multi-role brigades as part of FF2020. To me this is not a case of planning for the future but rather of how we fought the last war(s). In addition the MoD is retaining two light-weight rapid intervention brigades split between two services. IF we have been able to amalgamate the helicopter assets of all three services into a "Purple", organisation why can't we do the same with the Royal Marines and Airborne forces. Forming a single 4 battalion Brigade would mean the HQ structure could be halved but individual battalions would retain their areas of expertise whilst gain more in the others. It would reduce duplication and given the army's favourable experience with the Viking, allow additional equipment to be purchased or transferred to give the Brigade more teeth. An additional purchase of Viking in existing and new variants to allow a single battalion to be fully mechanised or individual comapnied in separate battalion would be a major gain in capability. Enough M777 to equip a single RA Regiment would greatly increase the brigade indirect fire support, and the purchase of more marinised Light attack variant of the wildcat instead of the pure army verion would provide better air support.

Moving back to the Army, I do not believe we need to retain the conventional Heavy Armour capability so beloved of the Panzer mafia. I do believe we need to retain an number of Challenger IIs as these are superbe anti-tank and foresupport platforms which has been under used in my opinion. A 120mm HE round is far cheaper than a ATGW and can be delivered with the same acuracy but with greater effect. WE do need to change the gun however and the German 120mm L55 smoothbore is the obvious choice but comes with a number of problems the major one being the one piece ammunition and its stowage. Most of the Challengers ammo is stored below the turret ring for maximum protection but the bins are too shallow of one piece 120mm rounds. placing the bins at an angle would halp this but would reduce the number of rounds stowed there. Additional rounds could be stowed in the turret bit this would require a redesign but should be possible.

The warrior upgrade should be continued but the upgrades vehicles should not be issued to the Infantry but to the Recce regiments instead of the FRES SV. The warriors will basically come out of the upgrade programme as "New" and so will have many decades of life left in them. The support structure alreadsy exists and it is a very mature platform. COmmand and engineering variants already exist and either adding ATGWs to the turret side or a bespoke design would fill the overwatch role well. Infact work on the former has already been carrier out by the contractor using the Javelin, but other options exist.

So what do the infantry ride into battle in? Simple we purchase the US Striker, adopt the US Army's BMS and fit Bowman. At around £0.8M it is certainly affordable, has a substantial existing support structure we could join up to and has all the variants and future developement we couild ever need. Yes it isn't a cutting edge 21st century platform but it would do the job and has been proved able to de so. Curretn production version have a double vee hull to protect against IEDs and add-on armour to protect against RPG type weapons. Automatic protection systems are available that have been proven to be able to stop ATGWs, IATWs and even APFSDS rounds fired from MBTs. Support and training costs sre substantially less and the Striker can keep up with and operate with MBTs. In firepower terms the Striker matches most tracked IFVs and APCS. Finally as it is a mature platform it could be into service around 2020 if not earlier.

Next we have the large numbers of MRAVs purchased under UOR for Afghanisatn and Iraq. The Foxhound will be retained and I believe so should the mastiff. These should be tranferred to both the regualr and TA RLC, providing sufficient vehicles in the required variants for up to a single brigade. This would either be a regular brigade swapping some or all of its Strikers or a light Infantry battalion.

So what would the Army look like with these proposals. Well as already mention there would be a single joint rapid deployment brigade. There would also be 5 Mechanised Infantry brigades each with;

1x Reduced Challenger II Regiment, reduced to 3 squadrons

1x Formation Reconnaissance Regimants equipped with upgraded Warriors anf Recce Foxhounds.

2x Mechanised Infantry Battalions equipped with Striker variants.

2x Light Infantry Battalions.

1x ISTAR Battalion

2x RLC Regiments

1x RE Regiment

Plus smaller contigent for the RMP, RAMC etc

There would also be a Fire Support brigade of 4 RA Regiments eact with 1 battery of GMLRS, 3 of AS90 and 1 of Starstreak HVM. A number of 105mm Light Guns of ideally M777s would be available to replace the AS90s on operations in a single Regiment plus a number for training.

There would also be a Support brigade to provide additional logistics for sustained operations, (Front end brigades would have sufficent assets to support themselves for short term operations) and theatre assets such as field hospitals and high level headquarters including theatre ISTAR assets. This is also where Aviation assets would be allocated be it rotary or fixed wing and would by its nature be purple.

There are Special forces assets which would be available to theatre or even brigade commnaders but obviously their chain of command is rather cloudy.

So there is my blueprint, Push the Warior upgrade and purchase Striker off the shelf (mostly)as the priority. Upgrade around 180 Challenger 2 and purchase a small number of additonal Vikings, Foxhounds and Mastiffs. Lastly cancel FRES programme entirely. My appologies for any spelling mistakes above but as you can see the time I am posting this my hand eye co-ordination is becoming impaired.


Brian Black,

it's not very often one comes across a post that one can disagree with every element of.

Air Power "essential", as in "the war could not be won without"? I doubt it, very much. Important, useful, a great thing to have, no doubt. But clearly not essential.

The Buccaneers were retired from the FAA in 1978. Throughout 1982, the RAF Buccaneer Squadrons were grounded due to metal fatigue issues. The two RAF Squadrons were also not equipped with deck landing gear, nor had their crews any experience of carrier operations. So, in toto, Buccaneers were not available in 1982.

As I understand it, the last Phantoms flew from decks for the FAA in 1980 on Ark Royal which was the last CATOBAR carrier the Navy had, and was being broken up in 1982.

The Fairey Gannet first flew in 1949, and had been replaced by the mid 1960s. I am unsure if you mean some less medieval aircraft.

So, of your suggestions, one could not fly from a carrier at all in 1982, one could fly from a carrier but we didn't have a carrier to suit it, and one was like a doddery old grandfather, and had been retired more than 15 years before the war. I do believe that your suggestions are therefore not valid, unless you want to play fantasy FAA.

On the other hand, an additional infantry Brigade (and there were a further 6 potential Brigades) could have got themselves loaded into some ferries as 5 Infantry Brigade did, and would have been just as useful, assuming they could have been got there on time.

This may sound a little crass, but is not meant as such. I'll have to take the risk of being misunderstood. The land war was not really very bloody at all, at least not in terms of conventional estimates of casualties. It would have been less bloody still with three Brigades on hand, if logistically more challenging. The doctrine then - and indeed now - is to achieve a 3:1 overmatch for land forces, so 3 Brigades should have been sent. We managed to get away with 2.

As for the endurance and food and water, you must be completely loopy if you think that 7,000 people equipped with 500,000 sheep on a wet island with more peat for burning than you can shake several large sticks at could not have survived for longer than 100 ships with 10,000 people at the end of an incredibly tenuous supply chain in the middle of a south Atlantic winter. Really, that's so obvious it is not worth arguing about.


Lord Jim,

apart from the eye-glazing skim over 99% of the length of your post, you lost me when you try to compare Challenger HE rounds with ATGW. It is like comparing a fish to a church, and indicates you may be barking up the wrong tree.

Sorry feller, can you condense your post a bit so we know what you are driving at?


I wonder if also the joint intervention force gets the guillotin on Bastille Day?

RE "Le Drian said he would make his decision before July 14."

- that is by the way, about the same timing as for announcing Carter's plan

- if the joint intervention force is no more (has it been stood up, anyway?),then - as it was meant to be bde-sized - our "brigade over the beach" discussion and revising the defence planning assumptions might meet conveniently



I thought that Lord Jim was comparing one method of delivering high explosive to a target with another method of delivering high explosive to a target. Granted some of the detail is glossed over, but since you already view the length of the post as excessive I would have thought that you would look poorly on any further exposition.

Lord Jim,

The attraction of the Piranha III, in the form of the Stryker, is hard for me to fathom. With the upgraded protection it cannot keep up with MBTs anywhere other than metalled roads, and it may not be able to keep pace over rough ground without the tonnes of armour it requires to reach what protection levels it does.

Automatic defence systems - I presume that you mean hard kill defensive aid suite (HKDAS) - will add to the already overloaded chassis weight. On a light platform like the Stryker it will be partly effective against ATGW and short-ranged rockets but it is unlikely to be effective against kinetic energy rounds and will be completely ineffective against medium calibre, rapid-firing threats. It would also be very costly; your £0.8m, already a suspiciously low figure, will rise rapidly.

Firepower for a Stryker? A .50cal HMG or a 40mm grenade launcher on a remote weapon station in no way equals a turreted autocannon and coaxial machine gun that is the common armament for IFVs. There are other mature, wheeled, platforms out there that are superior to the Stryker


I'm sure most here will know the essential difference:

Challenger HE (or formally High Explosive Squash Head) is a big bang that results in secondary scabbing. Cheap because it is nothing more than HE in a thin metal tin and the dumbest of impact fuses.

ATGW = guided, typically with an explosively formed penetrator. Expensive because it is a complex integration of motor, sensor, and precision engineering to fine tolerances, sometimes with fusing that by itself costs more than a HESH round.

One is imprecise with a highly ballistic trajectory and fairly inaccurate. One is precise and can be placed exactly onto a very small area. Very different effects at the target end. Not used for the same job.


Hi James,

Does this " sometimes with fusing that by itself costs more than a HESH round" cover the dual warheads, needed to deal with reactive armour, or is that further extra?

- I am not versed on the component prices, more like at what price do they come a piece



sounds like further extra to me.

Years ago, HESH cost about £70 a shot, and Milan was £9,000***, and Milan wasn't that smart or Gucci.

*** "Price of a fully loaded VW Golf, Sir" in response to a question I asked. Back in about 85.


@ James

Last Phantom landing in 1978 I think.

And the Gannet went that year too and not in the mid-60s.

It wasn't a Medieval aircraft either. Ugly maybe but it was a sophisticated airframe. The Double Mamba was a fantastic thing. Heck is a fantastic thing!!!


Wasn't the longest recorded tank kill done with HESH, isn't it pretty accurate because it is rifled?



thanks for the update.

I do however believe that - given the choice - an extra infantry brigade would have been welcome over squadrons of 3 aircraft types that could not possibly have been there, flown off a ship that was being broken up at the time.

Still waiting for Brian Black's view on the half million sheep eating contest versus the best the RFA could do over 8000 miles into the South Atlantic winter.


Extra infantry brigade? Don't care about I hadn't read what you said TBH. I was concerned about the slur on the Gannet...



"Still waiting for Brian Black’s view on the half million sheep eating contest versus the best the RFA could do over 8000 miles into the South Atlantic winter."

I didn't really follow your original point, but the old Ness class were scaled to carry 450,000 man days of rations, supposedly including 37,000 cubic feet of beer. These were the predecessors to Fort Austin and Fort Rosalie of which three were in service in 1982, but were all sold to the US shortly after.


AEW... just in time for Falklands "And the Gannet went that year too"

- they even had a COD version, then



"...The Buccaneers were retired from the FAA in 1978. Throughout 1982, the RAF Buccaneer Squadrons were grounded due to metal fatigue issues. The two RAF Squadrons were also not equipped with deck landing gear, nor had their crews any experience of carrier operations. So, in toto, Buccaneers were not available in 1982..."

- Not entirely true. Carrier-capable Buccs flew from the Ark with 809 NAS until Nov 1978 when they were transferred to 12 Sqn at RAF Honington in the maritime strike role (remember that?) using Martel before the squadron moved to RAF (ex-RNAS) Lossiemouth in 1980. Whatever happened in 1982, Buccs were deployed to the Gulf in 1991 where they used their Pave-Spike pods to provide airborne laser designation for Tornado GR1 Paveway LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs). Buccs continued in service with 12 Sqn until replaced by Tornado GR1Bs in 1993.

"...As I understand it, the last Phantoms flew from decks for the FAA in 1980 on Ark Royal which was the last CATOBAR carrier the Navy had, and was being broken up in 1982..."

- Correct. As with previous FAA Phantoms, the long range supersonic all-weather multi-role F4Ks were transferred to the RAF in Dec 1978 and continued to fly with 111 Sqn at RAF Leuchers until replaced by Tornado F-3s in the early 1990s. Together with the decommisioning of HMS Ark Royal and the cancellation of CVA-01, this criminal decision probably cost us Sheffield, Coventry, Antelope, Ardent, Atlantic Conveyor, Sir Galahad and the deaths and serious injuries associated with their losses, not to mention the sorely-missed Chinooks and other materiel on board the Atlantic Conveyor.

"...The Fairey Gannet first flew in 1949, and had been replaced by the mid 1960s. I am unsure if you mean some less medieval aircraft..."

- Wrong. Gannet AEW Mk3s of 849 NAS were still providing a first class service for the Fleet (5-6 hours loitering at up to 25,000 feet) right up to Ark Royal's decommissioning in 1978. Their highly capable AN/APS-20 radars were then installed in RAF Shackleton AEW Mk2s of 8 Sqn, initially as an interim measure, but they ended up soldiering on until the acquisition of the Boeing E-3 Sentry in 1991.


This is trivia... but I wonder about the longest serving aircraft (type)

"capable AN/APS-20 radars were then installed in RAF Shackleton AEW Mk2s of 8 Sqn, initially as an interim measure, but they ended up soldiering on* until the acquisition of the Boeing E-3 Sentry"

- or the Sunderlands?


* the other Nimrod fiasco; in today's money the AEW was not much short of the recent write-off


Any how I thought a low level high speed pass by a big fast FJ was a battle winner? Or does that only work against Third World types?

(Actually I don't think it works against Third World types and the suggestion it does is a tad arrogant and may even allude to racism.....)



The mighty Canberra would give both those a run for their money in years of service.

@ X

It's not so much, look at the scarey white man's weapon, it's more carry on and you get a PW IV to make a mess of your day.



Think LJ's point was tank killing. HESH and ATGMs make MBTs go "boom". Or "poof" actually (no hollywood SFs in real MBTs, pity).

I think I can finally see why we were talking at cross purposes with regards to air cover. When you talk about lack of air cover, you simply mean "ONLY" lack of air cover without enemy air superiority, in which an army can operate perfectly fine.

However when we talk about lack of air cover, we automatically assume enemy air superiority, which is a whole different kettle of fish. I for one, do not ever want to be on the receiving end of even a single plane's payload of JDAMs or Brimstones (~12 I think?) or even worse, a daisy cutter.

So 50/50. No enemy air? No problem. Enemy air superiority? Big problem.



I think I saw them listed for GW1 - surely a mistake?

"The mighty Canberra "



thanks for the more precise info. I do however believe that the 3 aircraft types were not an option for the FI in 82.


it was the assertion that others made that a blockade - as opposed to recapture - of the FI would have worked in our favour. To me that is a ludicrous idea, both in a diplomatic sense, and also in a practical sense. The logistics of supplying our 100+ ships sailing around the Falklands for a couple of years before all of the sheep on the islands were eaten is difficult.

This raises a slightly wider and loggie point. At balls-out level of effort, how long can the RFA keep a task force supplied, particularly if the task force is a long way from the UK, and has thousands of soldiers onboard, all doing gym work and PT every day and therefore very hungry? On a slightly wider basis, are the ships we STUFT all geared up for RAS, or do they need to pull into a port to take on fuel?



I'm not sure if they went to GW1 I would have thought so though. They carried on until 2006 when 39 Sqn disbanned.



HESH does not make MBTs go "boom". It rattles stuff about inside, probably makes the crew bleed from nosebleeds and through the ears by overpressure, but it does not penetrate.

What HESH does do, very satisfactorily, is to vapourise wheeled vehicles and blitz bunkers. It is also my favourite fire order: "HESH!, traverse left, steady....house, ON! One two hundred, {LOADED!} Loaded, FIRE!" Happy days, and the recipient did not need to carry on paying his mortgage. He was in possession of a largish pile of rubble afterwards.

On the anti-tank side of the equation, Arthur Denaro when CO of the Irish Hussars named his house "Fintankon House". As in "FIN! Tank ON!". Good for a giggle.


I think we should all shut up and let James continue making the case that armies have limited strategic worth because to be effective they have to be "there" in large numbers which is logistically difficult. And the further away "there" is the bigger the problem........




stop joshing with me. The answer is clearly a large and very rapidly deployable ARG, with enough scoff and bullets on board to get the boys there, offload them rapidly, and let them do the business. Sort of like FRES should have been without the stupid skinny fancy bullet-proof wagons that can travel in the back of a Herc and are thus physically impossible.

We also want X-Boxes, the MOD Sky Sports subscription, rowing machines and pretty Navy girls on board for the journey. In fact, all female crews on the ARG. (That's a welfare issue. If you are going to deliver the Queen's bayonet into the gut of the Queen's enemy, the least the Queen can do is to make available the opportunity for a last shag). Can do?


Topman, 2006! Not bad

- beats this "The last operation flight by an RAF Spitfire was made by a PR XIX on 1 April 1954. Three continued to fly with the Temperature and Humidity Flight, performing meteorological research, until they were finally retired on 10 June 1957. "


@ James

A light brigade needs about 20k tons of stores for 30 days. In TD's terms that is 1000 containers which is nowt at all in shipping terms. (Of course before Anixtu points it out all those stores won't necessarily fit into nice boxes but it is a good illustration.) I think you are struggling to comprehend just how much stuff ships can move so easily.

And yes I was pulling your leg. :)



the "Temperature and Humidity Flight"? I missed my calling. The very idea of that sends shivers of ecstasy, visions of polyester and being called Kevin down my spine.



I'm not pulling your leg about the all female crews on the ARG though. That really is a fantastic idea, brilliant for retention, and something that the Andrew could actually do as an apology to make up for the colossal waste of money that is CVF. So, Commodore, lie back and think of England....



Nope not bad at all, the bombing got dropped years before it went out of service. It was purely a PRU but very good at it's job, some of the kit was really advanced. It had a long range and flew at very high altitude and it's large bomb bay meant you stuff all sorts of in there, pity it's gone.



I just noticed that Lyness and Tarbatness had already been sold to the US in 82, leaving just Stromness which was converted into a troopship.

"At balls-out level of effort, how long can the RFA keep a task force supplied, particularly if the task force is a long way from the UK, and has thousands of soldiers onboard, all doing gym work and PT every day and therefore very hungry? On a slightly wider basis, are the ships we STUFT all geared up for RAS, or do they need to pull into a port to take on fuel?"

Are we talking about today or 1982? Is a port or anchorage available at an intermediate point for additional stores to be transferred from STUFT to RFA for issue to the fleet? At what rate are unRASable VLS missiles being consumed?

In 82 RAS reception gear was added to many of the STUFT ships.


@ James re all female crews

I suppose it would help efficiency if they were moving the Army about. The "passengers", who belong to an organisation whose fundamental MO involves men hiding in bushes with other men, would leave the crew alone to get on with running the ships' routines......

The bloke who run my unit was a former LMA and his wife a QARN. Apparently their mutual friend did an awesome trade entertaining the "troops" during the FIW. She earned enough to put a good deposit on her first home. Having seen photos of her from back then, well, yes I would have ... :)

PS: The Danish navy has some absolutely gorgeous lady sailors.



this is a more interesting debate (but completely O/T for the Tip Offs thread). Let's move it away from the FI 30 years ago. Let's say we had to put 10,000 soldiers onto whatever ARG we've got, plus lots more STUFT, and sail them to the Pacific, and then stooge about offshore for a while while the Diplomats waste time. A couple of months from deployment from the UK until they go ashore.

Can the RFA cope with the wet replenishment of fuels over that sort of time / distance?

What about the scoff for all of those hungry fellers?

Other issues? (not being naval or a loggy I'm at a slight loss here, but there must be some. Spare parts for engines for example).

So, basics are 10,000 mouths x 60 days - 600,000 man days of scoff.

50? ships including escorts, each sailing 10,000 miles and then stooging about.

Extra fuels available from the Gulf (sod the cost), but it is a 6000 mile round trip for a tanker to go and replenish itself.

I genuinely have no idea if you are going to say that this is easy, or impossible. No idea at all how much stuff the RFA can lift and keep sustained at the end of 10,000 miles.



those men who hide in bushes with other men managed to get some really racy shots of Slab Murphy's 40th birthday party, which had seen a minibus full of good Catholic stripper girls sent up from Dublin. The sort of racy shots that show where a girl may not have matching collar and cuffs, and that can probably only be taken by some fairly covert sneaking about underneath windows, and that demand 1600 ASA film as the lights were low. Slab went a bit quiet when copies of the photos arrived in the first class registered post (and yes he was also photographed signing for the package, with a further copy of that picture arriving in the post a couple of days later).

But it's not about filling in the log book of sightings with your OP crew. It's about what you do at the weekend.



You say "Pacific" and then say 6000 mile round trip to refuel in the Gulf? It's more than 3000 miles from the Gulf to the Pacific.

Do you mean South China Sea? ;-)


An RFA tanker doesn't have to go to the Persian Gulf for fuel, it either loads at a port near where the TG is operating or if the locals are being awkward it loads from a STUFT tanker. The same applies to other stores.

The TG can bunker and resupply in port en-route and when you get there you aren't operating 10,000 miles from the nearest resupply.

FI is pretty much a unique scenario because of the extreme distance (3,500nm) from the nearest friendly base at Ascension.


"Do you mean South China Sea? " Through the Malacca Strait, and you are onto the next Ocean

- I guess the Baltic and the Black Sea are not necessarily counted in, but most "seas" are part of an ocean



I would consider the South China Sea to be a part of the Pacific along with any other bodies of water east of the Malacca Strait and west of Cape Horn.

The Other Chris

Actual Tip Off:

UK Apache Block III decision in December, BERP IV blades considered ahead of USA carbon fibre option.

- http://www.shephardmedia.com/news/rotorhub/british-army-apache-block-iii-upgrade-decision-exp/


@ Dunservin - A good point. I remember in the documentary "Caribbean patrol" their meat freezer broke and they had to get rid of something like four months of meat IIRC. They had the mother of all BBQ'S but most was just tipped over the side. Bloody waste.



No choice. Shit happens.


Yes I know how HESH is supposed to work (spalling) vs Milan (shaped charge penetrator).

Travelling in the back of a Herc isn't something to be scoffed at, after any initial beachhead landing, your next source of reinforcement is usually from these "skinny" vehicles you mentioned, until the stuff packed in floating containers can arrive. Admittedly not very impressive stuff, but in tight situations, you'd be smiling and thanking God for any reinforcements.

BTW IIRC, wasn't one of the old goals for Rangers and pathfinder groups to find an area suitable for an airfield and use metal mats to lay out a temporary airstrip? Think the basic spec for the temp airstrip was that it would be C-130 capable?


An MRE weighs about 750g for 1200 calories. So if we say to feed one man takes 3kg. So for 10,000 men that is 30tonnes. If we round up to say 40 tonnes which is two TEU. So a years worth is 730 containers which is still bugger all. I am using MREs as something that is easily quantified. Remember MREs aren't dry but hydrated so no additional water has to be taken into consdieration. Most food is mainly water so perhaps it isn't too far off. Heck if we round it up to 1000 containers which isn't much.


Hi, James. I was of course speaking hypothetically, I know there was no Ark Royal and Eagle by then; but I was applying that to the mention of an additional brigade too - you mentioned yourself the logistics problem of supplying thousands of troops down there.

On the side issue of the Buccaneers' metal fatigue, I'm not sure, but I think that applied only to aircraft of the original mark in service (though with upgraded engines and avionics). I also believe that even by the time of the war there were still Gannets in the Navy's inventory, but not operational and obviously with no ship to carry them. Gannet AEW may have addressed many of the Harrier fleet's shortcomings that have been raised.




Roll on Super Frog. Sadly, we spent all the money on A400....


And James, Argentinians eat beef. I'm not sure they even have sheep in South America. They'd probably think the Falkland's sheep were low lying clouds until it was too late. And a couple of dozen Buccaneers down there would have ruined many a barbecue anyway.

The Other Chris


Interesting. I http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2010/05/open-thread-land-sea-and-air-ii/#comment-58855" rel="nofollow">commented on the Land, Sea and Air II thread about Heavy Lift platform options earlier on. Must be a meme.

This is one :)


This may be old news but just in case, Cyber tip-offs:

Flame redefining cyber espionage?


All electronics from China unsafe?



Carrier positioning during '82 was mentioned. The Argentine Air Force did operate two KC130 tankers throughout the war, and I think their last air-launched Exocet was not expended until 30th May -several days after ships entered San Carlos Water- so they did have some reach while the landings took place.

There was also a submarine threat which was taken seriously throughout, and I wonder whether positioning further from the Islands was more conducive to ASW. We also know now that the carrier had engine problems, and was drawn back after Belgrano in early May, but what was firmly known about the disposition of the Argentine navy at the time?


4 (of 6) Point Class would shift 32,000t of stuff.

UK to South China Sea (est 7500nm) - 15,000nm round trip with fuel stops wherever they're required.

Assume 42 days transit, 7 days loading, 7 days unloading = 56 days.

32,000 / 56 = 571 tonnes per day continuous supply.

Assume 10kg per man per day (food, ammo and/or water) --> 57,000 troops sustained! Even better with local reverse osmosis plant. Better still with tankers and STUFT.


"32,000 / 56 = 571 tonnes per day continuous supply.

Assume 10kg per man per day (food, ammo and/or water) –> 57,000 troops sustained! Even better with local reverse osmosis plant. Better still with tankers and STUFT."

Now start adding batteries, trucks, fuel for all the trucks... and so on.

Also keep in mind that weight figures have to be treated carefully. It's weight and volume than you need to be thinking about. The new A400M for example can lift over 30 tons for quite a considerable distance, but if we filled one with bicycles we could quickly use up its useful internal volume while putting very little actual weight on board.

So the same with the Points. How much volume do they have and in what layout? How much volume does a box of ammo take up? How much space is lost in between pallets?


But Simon,

it's not 10 kg per man per day. That's only scoff and water and a basic load of bullets. You also need to factor in fuels and supplies and stores for the 50 ships, and once the fighting gets going, the ammo tonnage is going to explode. You can get rid of 10 kgs of ammo in a pre-breakfast skirmish - what about the proper fighting? Once you get up to crew-served weapons, it is tens of kilos per missile or whatever, and you might fire off 20 in a proper punch up.

Plus, it's not 571 tonnes a day, it is the total tonnage divided by 4 in your example, unless ships have the ability to be in several places at once. However, this is all entering into dangerously loggy territory involving calculations I am not familiar with, so I revert to my basic question, can the RFA handle it?

To put my question another way, what is the total tonnage of stuff required per day for 10,000 men divided among 50 ships


... er...

or you guys could have quietly nipped over to the 10 nearest market in Chile or Brazil and cause a boom economy in the food industry...

Or even buy American and ship it down by private cargo movers. Chile or even an Antarctic offload.

This was why money was invented ya know. :P


Going back to the ballistic HE vs. ATGW for a moment:

Lord Jim's comment was:

"A 120mm HE round is far cheaper than a ATGW and can be delivered with the same acuracy but with greater effect."

If one were to compare the abilities of each to:

* make an explosion,

* for the purpose of defeating an infantry target,

* at a point remote from one's own location,

Then the above is entirely correct.

There are other factors in the equation, but at present the British Army is employing Javelin missiles at £60,000 per shot to engage Taliban firing points. These are certainly targets that a 120mm tank gun can engage with sufficient accuracy at the very least.

Also, kudos to The Other Chris for posting the link to the article about the BERP rotors.


James only asked for scran sustainment. I know it's not enough for other things. But Bay can provide vehicles at aout 500 tonnes per week. The tankers have most of the fluids volume anyway.

I just picked the fact that just 4 Point Class can sustain that many men with food, water and bullets.

And it is 571 tonnes per day... on average. Think of it as 4 ships turning up every 8 weeks (or so) with 32,000 tonnes of stuff. Obviously you'd schedule them to turn up at one every two weeks or thereabouts.


I'd just ask the chaps in Singapore to supply the front line for the South China problem - they speak good English there ;-)



Give me a proper infantry weight utilisation when fighting and I'll do the maths ;-)


Mr Fred,

Your comparison is not really valid unless one is comparing the two effects entirely suitable to one of them only. It is also not factually correct to imply that HESH is as accurate as ATGW.

As for the cost of Javelin being used against non-tank targets in AFG, HESH is not precise enough for ROE, plus there are no British tanks in AFG. It would cost a lot to get them there, they would presumably need quite a few UORs to get them up to theatre levels, they need a crew of four not one firer, they cannot cross most of the bridges due to weight, and it's not really the right force posture for most of the time.

Against all of that, £60K a time seems not unreasonable.



"Shedloads". It's a bit difficult, but for a proper full on battle group attack, we used to use (going by full replen, weight is my guesstimating):

About 700-900 Challenger rounds at 10 kilos each
3,000 clips of 3 of 30 mm Rarden at 3 kilos each
50,000-80,000 7.62 in 200 round boxes at 8 kilos per box.
20,000 5.56. Christ knows, they come in boxes of 50, maybe a kilo a box.
About a lorries worth of other stuff - grenades, smoke, ATGW, mortars. Call it 4 tonnes.

That was just the BG. We would also expect about 100-200 rounds of 155mm HE or smoke on the target, at 20 kilos a round.

We could do three or 4 BG attacks in a day, easy enough.

Rough all up total for 4 BG attacks per day = 100,000 kilos per day, or 100 tons just for the ammo.

Add on the fuel at ten 22,500 litres bowsers per day = 225 tons of fuel

Add on spare parts, engine spares, bits and bobs = 50 tons per day.

Add on the scoff for 1000 men = 2 tons

Add on the water = 10 tons

So all up, for an active BG, you need about 400 tons of stores of various types PER DAY, which typically will be spread across 100 4T trucks.

Scale up to the Division we are talking about in the example, it's probably about 5,000 tons a day. There probably is some stuff on the web if you want to go and look at it: "Logistics op granby" and "logistics op telic" is probably a good enough start on google.

So can the RFA deliver 5,000 tons a day, just for the Land element (nothing in the above allows for fuel, food, water and supplies for any ships or air or aviation assets - that would all be on top).

The reality is that the planners work in terms of "days of supply", or DOS. An armoured Div would expect to deploy with 14 DOS, only after that it needs the 5,000 tons a day.



Put it this way. As far as I can make out given a load of figures that have been mentioned in the past (here) and various figures on wiki and in various books, I'd suggest that the RFA can support 10,000 men at a distance of 8-10000nm. I think I'm right is suggesting this would be a light infantry brigade, and a slow build up of an armoured brigade. Add to this three squadrons of jets to kick the doors in, and keep the enemy from obliterating your tanks and infantry, and you've got the second most capable projected force in the world!


"Add to this three squadrons of jets to kick the doors in"

= one CVF, 36 plus some other kit onboarded?



I don't think total tonnage is so much a problem, as shuttle times. Granted not everything will come all the way from the UK but all hardware in terms of spares and ammo will. It may be possible to put 100,000 tons on a ship, but that is only enough for 20 days of supply for the land element. If it takes 4 weeks sailing to get there, there's pretty soon going to be a problem.

My instinct (not that I know anything of logistics or the RFA, merely how maths and the balance of risk works) is that we want lots of smaller and ideally faster ships to maintain a constant and comfortable flow. Is that how the RFA works?


Looking forward to seeing some answers from the loggies.

Just out of interest, how many C-130s would be required to deliver 5,000 tons of stores per day over a distance of 8-10,000 nm? (other likely combinations of a/c welcome).


20 tons per C-130, plus the weight of the fuel it needs for flying that distance.

250 Hercy birds, each and every day, not allowing for Kevin's crew duty hours, so probably make it 500 Hercy birds.

That's the reason FRES was so crap an idea when they tried to put it into a C-130, as opposed to a proper ARG. you can move an armoured Brigade and anything bigger than that around the planet much more quickly on ships or trains than you can with the small number of transport aircraft we own. Basic maths, but the pointy heads in Shrivenham were too intelligent to work that out for themselves.


James said "To put my question another way, what is the total tonnage of stuff required per day for 10,000 men divided among 50 ships"

UKNL, strength of 5500, required 17,000 tons of stores for a month in the field. Round it up 20,000t and double it 40,000t to cover your 10,000 men. For a 3 month campaign plus a month for stabilisation and withdrawal 160,000t. Or TD's favourite unit 8,000TEU. To carry that in one ship (as containers) requires a ship about 300m long. That is 125m longer than a Bay.


What's the max weight can you fit in an ISO ?



160,000t of dry cargo would require a ship 1/2 a km long with a displacement of about 1/2 a million tonnes and a draught that would dredge most oceans :-)


Topman, are you teasing?

The answer of course, is that would depend on what type of ISO!

One of the big Maersk E Class container ships will do about 13-14,000 TEU (roughly) in one go


@ Topman


@ Simon

Have moved a decimal place somewhere? Silly me. :)


@ TD

I thought some ISO questions would bring you out ;)

Serious I've no idea what size they come in.



Go on then. Give me the 1 sigma error for ATGW and Challenger gun-launched HE from 20m out to three kilometres.

The comparison is entirely valid. I want an explosion at point B, defined by being with a km or two and within line of sight of point A, which is where I am positioned. All else being equal, which is the most cost-effective way of causing that explosion?

The use in Afghanistan is an example. In any potential conflict I would not want to rely solely on ATGW for my direct-fire HE delivery method, which is what I believe that Lord Jim was alluding to.

You state that HESH is not accurate enough. I would contend that it is plenty accurate enough and that the major problem is the size of the explosion. Not for nothing were Challengers in Iraq equipped with PRAC shells for lower collateral damage. Both Challenger main gun and ATGW are designed to engage, hit, and destroy AFV targets out to 2km+.

Presence or absence of MBT, British or otherwise, in AFG is also not relevant. As I have noted, repeatedly, that it is a specific case in which the two can be compared with each other.


I have seen what I have done. I typed out the wrong set specs off my table. 160,000t would require something like the Emma Maersk. Still we would be spreading that load over a number of ships.


@ Topman

Different shipping companies use different measures. Maersk only load to 14. The actual figure is 28 for a TEU. 20 is a good compromise.

A TEU container displaces more than it can carry.


Mr Fred,

If you know much about tanks, you'll know that destroying AFVs is not done with HESH, it is done with fin stabilised rounds. HESH has a completely different ballistic trajectory, is wind-affected and has different software.

Killing AFVs is kinetic energy, blowing stuff up with HESH is chemical energy.

I've spent ten years in tanks. Quite happy to take you on in this one.

HESH is about 5m at 3,000m. ATGW about 1m. A good crew will get HESH down to around 3m but it would require CABF daily. As far as I know, most of the ROE would not authorise a HESH shell, but they do allow for Javelin as it is more pinpoint and the effects better contained.

Tanks in Afghanistan are a really weird idea. They can't really travel anywhere on the infrastructure in Helmand. There are hundreds of bridges in the Green Zone that would need to be replaced at a cost of God knows what, and all so that the once a week or so that Javelin is fired, you can replace it with a HESH shell that is less accurate, will knock a whole house down rather than take out the Taliban in one room, that requires sea and road lift to get it there, and that needs 4 crew and a maintainer per vehicle. It's completely barking to suggest it is more cost effective, or that it would be more effective in the role you suggest than a Javelin.



Does Emma have reinforced tank decks? I think that would bump the size up a tad.


Maersk work on 14 tonnes per container. Generally however they ship lighter containers which bumps up the number they can carry.


@ Dunservin,

"Just out of interest, how many C-130s would be required to deliver 5,000 tons of stores per day over a distance of 8-10,000 nm? (other likely combinations of a/c welcome)."


Assuming the use of the new A400M (Atlas), flying from Brize>Gibraltar>Ascension>Mount Pleasant, carrying 20 tons cargo at a time, you would need 250 flights South (not including returns). Using the advertised cruise speed, minus a bit because of the extra weight, and taking into account fuelling stops, you're talking about 24 hour transit one way.

Or in other words, well beyond our abilities.


Mr Fred,

this is a Javelin hitting a bunker. As you can see, the missile goes in through the door, the explosion is contained with the building, and the collateral damage is light.

This is the damage done when a HESH shell hits a small block of flats. The results are different.

You have to think of the essential nature of what is going on. An ATGW forms a jet of liquid metal that penetrates a wall through a small hole and kills what is directly behind it. A HESH shell has a massive explosion that flattens everything around it, breaks down walls and thus causes collapse of the whole house.

To directly answer your question, Javelin at £60,000 is unquestionably better value for money than all of the costs of deploying tanks, upgrading the infrastructure, having more troops in Afghanistan, the costs of not being able to use it when ROE are too restrictive, and the additional costs of paying damages to Afghans whose houses have been blown to pieces.


@ Simon

I don't know about Emma M. I would suggest the size of her would suggest that the tank-top would be "re-enforced" in that her beam is that great. When necessary steel becomes re-enforced I don't know.

These are what we want.......


One could supply a battle group for a month. So we would need what a class of what 8 or 9 and then rely on STUFT to pick up the slack. After the class leader the US were buying them for $300million or so. I always convert US defence dollars straight into pounds. So that is about £2.4billion pounds of shipping. Or about 1 FRES vehicle.... :)



don't forget that the 5,000 tons a day is only for the land component (which we are arbitrarily putting at 10,000 men. The 50 ships that they are spread about also have further crew on board needing "vittleing" with Cheesy Eggy Hammys, and fuel and spares etc. So we need more than the base 5,000 tons to cater for all of them as well. Any embarked air group needs more stuff as well, plus jet fuel.

I really don't know how the RFA goes about its' business, and am genuinely interested. I'm sure they do it very well. I do however have a suspicion that a sea-launched deployment of a land component 10,000 men strong over a significant distance is going to be a massive challenge to support logistically, require lots of STUFT, and a balls out effort. We might not even have a proper port at the far end to offload all of TD's containers, and I'd certainly be wary of putting them all onto one ship.

No one has really also talked about the shuttle running. I think the SLOC would be like a motorway, with ships coming and going all of the time, dropping off 500 containers at a time and then returning all the way back to the UK to pick up more. Perhaps we could get the containers most of the way to the Pacific on trains to somewhere like Singapore, but whoever commands this particular log operation is going to deserve his CBE if it all goes well.


RE: Shipping. http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2012/03/a-ship-for-all-seasons-or-the-return-of-the-auxiliary-cruiser/

8 or 16 X 3,000 TEU, self-escorting?

RE: ISO Containers. It was my understanding that a 20' Iso container (the TEU) weighs 2.5 tons and could carry a maximum of 20 tons = 22.5 tons.

The 40' container can carry 30 tons (not sure if that includes its own weight).

RE: 120mm vs Javelin. Do you need a tank for a 120mm gun? What about a modern version of the WOMBAT? If you want accuracy, procure a version of the LAHAT?



I would not consider myself an authority on AFVs but I am content that I know a bit.

This is what I know: HESH was developed to be used against fortifications, displayed useful effect as a velocity-insensitive anti-tank weapon and as such was the secondary shell for tank guns since shortly after WW2. In British service it also saw use as the primary warhead for early ATGW and, IIRC, the MOBAT and WOMBAT anti-tank recoilless rifles. In effect against soft target and for ballistic purposes it would not be incorrect to view it as a full-bore HE round. Its utility against primary armoured targets (MBT) lessened and ceased due to the increasing deployment of spall liners and laminate and spaced array armours on the same. It remains an effective nature against light and medium targets.

Round-to-round dispersion of full-bore HE tends to be no more or less than sub-calibre projectiles. A modern fire control system should be able to compensate for most effects other than inconsistent wind effects. I do believe I asked about 2km, not 3, where extended flight time favours the ATGW in range firings.

To go back to the original point of contention, it is entirely possible to compare ATGW to tank-fired HE for the purposes of making a target explode. We have seen that, in the absence of tanks capable of firing HE shells, infantry will use ATGW for the task. Therefore unless we wish to use ATGW, which are rather costly and optimised for other purposes, in all situations where we wish to make a target at range explode it makes sense to retain a vehicle capable of accurately firing HE shells to said range.

Since we can make value judgements between the two options; we can assess that a HE shell is too large for some targets, that accuracy is well within the area of effect for either weapon and that they are used in similar roles. Thus it is entirely right and proper that they can be compared directly and are not, as you put it:

"...like comparing a fish to a church..."



Caption for the 2nd suggests HE artillery round, not HESH. Different effect as you mentioned.


@Mr fred

Didn't the UK get some MATADOR-AS from Israel? It's a HESH warhead weapon.

Beats having to lug a tank around.

Think the US Rangers use the Ranger Assault? Weapon, a cut down Carl Gustauv RR for the same job.


"vittling" now there's a word that I don't use any more. When I was involved in cadets I had to be tri-lingual; English (which is a struggle), teen (or is that just tn as they don't use vowels), and RN (both proper and Jackspeak).

5000 a day? More like 1333 per day for 10,000 strong formation over 30 days.

10,000 is too many. We should be aiming at just one brigade. I suppose 3Cdo now it has 1RIFLES is as big as UKNL used to be. As keep saying 17,000t is for everything for 30 days. I round it up to 20,000t to make the maths easier.


As I mentioned earlier, maybe you do not have to lug everything the whole way to where you are going.

Resupply ships could always stop off at ports enroute to restock, the ports of Mumbai and Singapore being the most obvious points East. West, it would be America and Brazil. Maybe even the whole BG itself should dock for the troops to stretch their land legs and get rid of cabin fever. Ambassadors to countries enroute can help do the pre-requisitioning and logistics before the ships pull in to port, that is part of what they are supposed to do. Other than the final stretch, you should always rely on route resupply to keep your bunkers topped up.


All this makes you realise why we have the RM... without heavy armour!

I've been looking into James' battlegroup and it looks like this is what we can land as sustain with Albion + 1 x Bay. Scaling this up by a factor of 15 is a lot, lot, lot... but still probably just about doable!


The Matador has been acquired as the Anti-Structure Munition, As I understand it. The literature for the AS version describes an "advanced tandem warhead" while reserving HESH for the MP version.

I'm not against the use of shoulder-launched weapons and I don't think the comments by Lord Jim, which sparked this whole thing off, are against them either. Instead, where tanks are available for fire support they should be used as such.



not too worried about the food, fuel and water for the sea-going contingent, but the land hardware has pretty much by definition got to come from the UK. You can't just buy a spare part for your WATCHKEEPER from a shop in Singapore! Ditto ammunition. Also, for reasons you will understand, local purchase of rations for the deployed land element is probably also out - the boys need to separate out all of the dry packs and get them stowed somewhere in the gear, calories need to be right, and it should all be cookable together in a crisis. (I did that once as an experiment - literally chucked the entire contents of the 24 hour pack less the chocolate bar into a couple of mess tins and cooked them up and ate it all within one sitting. It tasted Godawful, but it kept me going for 24 hours without a problem. It is one of the tests that each new menu redesign has to pass, apparently. I can imagine that the Kevins would go on strike immediately if anyone asked them to do such a thing.)

Of course, it's only a subset of the total daily tonnage, and local provisioning makes life much easier, but you can't avoid having to get things delivered out from the UK.

The Other Chris

Interesting comment on Two Carriers:

“We have two superb carrier ships being built, not to use them would be a crime,” [Peter] Luff concluded.

- http://www.defenceiq.com/air-forces-and-military-aircraft/articles/defence-minister-peter-luff-discusses-carrier-stri/



Re: Parts. FedEx is your friend, these are not the droids you're looking for... :) On a more serious note, having local supply eases logistical burden, so more space can be reserved for the parts that absolutely have to come from the UK.

But I get the point on ammo, though in a pinch, it is an option. Most countries I know produce their own. Just have to make sure they pass QC.

Sometimes, I simply have the urge to do what one Israeli unit did and call for pizza. Handphones are so convenient.

"chucked the entire contents of the 24 hour pack less the chocolate bar into a couple of mess tins"

Try it with the chocolate. It helps a lot. Or at least confuses your taste buds into committing suicide. As you can guess... ug... soggy mush.. yuck..

IMO, the UK has been too inward focused since 1971, a lot of links with outside countries have been neglected or cut for so long that trying to reestablish a long term military cache through foreign countries is going to be very difficult to sell to their public. You can package it up as annual "foreign exposure/training exercises" and build up your own supplies as an emergency measure.


Just worth pointing out that on the projected diet of mutton, mutton and more mutton the enemy will be incapacitated by scurvy within six months, thus reducing the need for a prolonged resupply operation.

If in doubt about the sheep being just too bountiful, one could consider introduction of a spot of foot and mouth. Anthrax is probably a bit OTT. After all we would want to use the islands afterwards, unlike that island off Scotland. And it would be a bit off to the WMD end of the spectrum.


Off on a tangent but thought this might...er...interest...

one man crew - driver, gunner and commander...


Hi GJ,

Interesting about the comeback of recoilless rifles, as opposed to the more recent disposable ones. I guess ability to change from bunker busting to anti-personnel flechettes in a couple of seconds is nothing to be sniffed at

- will it be 90mm - 95mm only; weight being a problem?

Effective range: moving target 700 m, stationary target 1000 m

Armour penetration: >560 mm RHA

Penetration after ERA: 500 mm RHA

Night vision sight (Pilkington Kite Mk IV), laser range finder

Weight 140 kg (tube 90 kg, mount 50 kg)is much lighter, the crew can drag it thru a swamp, compare how easy would that be with these;

308 kg for WOMBAT, practically no range improvement from the 120mm round

Swedish 90 mm PV1110, 260 kg.

American 106 mm M40, 220 kg.



All this bulk movement of stuff from UK to theatre is not the task of the RFA. That is STUFT's job. The RFA's party piece is supplying the ships at sea. In the scenario you propose I would minimise use of that capability until they were on station by resupplying in harbour en-route.

Why have your troops been split into penny packets averaging 200 per ship? If you've TUFT a few cruise ships or big ferries you should easily manage c. 1,000 per ship.

Bulk fuel is the easiest to manage - product tankers can shift up to 100,000 tonnes each.

Urgent or unpredictable stuff (Watchkeeper parts or whatever) obviously goes by air.

Note that in our model op 3 x STUFT were reefers carrying provisions and at least 1 x STUFT carried ammunition for land forces.

Points should be used first for carrying armoured vehicles as that is their speciality, with STUFT ROROs used to carry softskin overflow and other wheeled/trailered supplies, possibly in lieu of container ships if we won't be able to land containers.

Ultimately the ability to conduct the op you have in mind has relatively little to do with the RFA and rather a lot more to do with the availability of commercial shipping. We've had c. 10,000 in Afghanistan for nearly the last decade mostly supplied by sea, and we have twice in the last 25 years deployed a larger land force to the Persian Gulf.

The only different thing you want to do, and which may present some difficulties, is loiter at sea for an indeterminate period prior to landing. How many days provisions can you squeeze into a cruise ship? Would it be better to employ ROPAX ferries with trailer loads of provisions on the vehicle decks?


A ship to carry 160,000t dry cargo is nothing. The largest bulk carriers can take about 350,000t, albeit not arranged in a manner suited to military logistics other than James' lunch.


@ Anixtu re STUFT etc.

Wasn't the reason behind procuring the Points was because the STUFT process didn't run to plan? The MoD couldn't always get the shipping it needed when it needed?

My view is that the UK has the amphibs and auxiliaries to have an ARG (one battle group approximately equal to a USMC MEU) at sea, that is worked up and deployed. In terms of supply that has very modest needs in terms of shipping.

As for measuring things in TEU as I said above it is just an easy metric. I always say that military cargo is often break bulk and not easily containerised for a variety of reasons. And if it containers isn't about handling cargo at sea. Further I also appreciate that a particular ship I mention may not be the ideal for a particular role but I use them to illustrate size and capabilities.

Lastly as for dry cargo and Simon correcting me. I often make silly mistakes and often grab the wrong end of the stick. I am not paying attention with it being TT so when he said I had cocked up I defaulted to my safe position and assume as per usual as was being a numpty.



all fair and interesting points. So the RFA does not do the shuttle runs to the UK, but stays close to the fleet.

I picked 50 ships as it is about half the size as the Task Force in 1982 (I think I read 116 ships all up somewhere). I didn't think that the troops would be penny packeted all around - I thought about 4 ferries each with about 2000 onboard, plus those we can carry on Ocean and Albion rounding out the land force. All the rest of the ships would be either military doing escort or other operations, logistics STUFT, or the RFA doing ongoing supply at sea work. No idea on people numbers for the maritime force - 100 average on Naval ships, maybe 50 each on the RFAs, and commercial cargo shipping seems to have smaller crews of maybe 20. But they all need feeding. How do we replenish a STUFT ship with fuel at sea, when it expects to be refuelled while in port with the engine off? I've really no idea how this all works, so it is interesting talking with someone who does know.

Do we have the capacity to transfer containers from one ship to another while at sea? Assuming reasonably calm conditions. Not sure how it would be done - by landing craft? But that would need a well deck ship at either end.

I hope the MoD has small enabling contracts in place with some of our ferry companies so that at 2 weeks notice we can call them up. I travelled from Plymouth to northern Spain on a ferry called the Pont Aven - a for-ro car ferry with accommodation for about 3,000, and a very useful Chinook sized helipad. That would be perfect.



"...The largest bulk carriers can take about 350,000t..."

I thought Emma was about as big as they got other than oil tankers?


From Tony Williams' site, the NDIA armaments proceedings are up:


There's this one on 120mm HE getting a 0.23 mrad dispersion, amongst other things:



Mr Fred,

that HE shell is considerably advanced, programmable fuse, data link, etc. It is a world away from a standard HESH round! Shows what is possible these days though.

The accuracy issue is all about the wind. On a perfectly calm day (no doubt how the company conducted the tests, to deliver impressive results) it can be pretty good. A day with moderate wind will blow a HESH round off target fairly easily, hence the 5m circle. You do programme in the local Met once a day into the fire control system, but not the wind. I had a gunnery instructor who was fairly expert at judging the wind, and aiming off very slightly - that's what I mean about a good crew getting better results. I suppose a wind direction and speed sensor could be incorporated into a tank and used to update the fire control solution on a round to round basis, but as far as I am aware no tanks currently have them.


haven't commented for a bit, so thought i'd come back (not very good at the grey funnel stuff). Although if you want speedy resupply copy the americans and get a 35+ knot ex ferry!!

with regard to ATGW and the US getting on the charlie G bandwagon (shudders at the memories of ranges in the 80's, oh and the stupid woman officer who volunteered herself to fire the only full bore round we had and banged it into the deck 30 metres away, dozy doris).

The german panzerfaust (even sounds cool) is a good option reuseable,light (without warhead) and comes in several flavours including my favourite, the bunker buster! The blurb on it says there is now new better sights and a tandem warhead for reactive armour


BTW had to drink reverse osmosis water for 4 months, tastes like badgers piss, i'd rather dehydrate!!



IIRC the need for strategic ROROs was identified after one of the big international ops in the 90s when half of NATO chartered ROROs and the spot charter market ran out of stock and/or gouged on price. So yes, what you said.


Total number of ships for CORPORATE not deployed as a single group with landing force. Many were part of follow up logistics or would not necessarily be required for an op with a logistics base closer than Ascension-Falklands.

As mentioned, many STUFT had RAS gear added for the op. Teaching how to use it and conduct RAS and TG ops is more of an issue, as is politics of STUFT crew nationality. Pont Aven very nice, but French!

In calm (pref. sheltered)conditions geared (i.e. has cranes) container ships could raft up to transfer by crane, but why?


Largest bulk carriers are similar DWT to VLCCs. You will probably find that E Maersk DWT is much less and her draught shallower.


paul g,

RO water produced at sea is high quality. Where was the SW source for yours?