About The Author

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


  1. paul g

    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!

  2. martin

    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. )

  3. ArmChairCivvy

    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?)

  4. James


    “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?

  5. ArmChairCivvy

    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)

  6. James


    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.

  7. James

    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.

  8. WillS

    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.

  9. ArmChairCivvy

    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

  10. ArmChairCivvy

    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)

  11. ArmChairCivvy

    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)

  12. jedibeeftrix

    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!

  13. x

    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.

  14. Alex

    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?

  15. x

    @ 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.

  16. ArmChairCivvy

    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.”

  17. ArmChairCivvy

    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

  18. jedibeeftrix

    @ 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

  19. James


    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.

  20. 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*. 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.

  21. Chris.B.

    @ 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.

  22. x

    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.

  23. Mark

    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.

  24. James

    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.

  25. x

    @ 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 8×8 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.

  26. Mr.fred

    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.

  27. James


    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.

  28. Simon

    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!!!

  29. Mark

    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.

  30. x

    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?

  31. Brian Black

    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.

  32. Mr.fred


    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?

  33. Simon

    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.

  34. James


    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.

  35. Mike W


    “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.

  36. James


    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.

  37. x

    @ 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.

  38. James


    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.

  39. James

    …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.

    ISTAR Gear:

    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.

  40. Observer

    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.

  41. Mr.fred


    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.

  42. ArmChairCivvy

    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 6×6 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

  43. jedibeeftrix

    @ 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? :)

  44. x

    @ 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.

  45. x

    @ 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.

  46. James

    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.

  47. Simon


    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.

  48. James


    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.

  49. Simon


    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!

  50. Simon


    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?

  51. James


    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).

  52. Simon

    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?

  53. IXION


    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)

  54. Simon


    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?

  55. IXION


    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……

  56. James


    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%.

  57. Observer


    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?

  58. Topman

    @ 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.

  59. Simon


    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.

  60. Simon


    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.

  61. Topman

    @ 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.

  62. 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.

    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?

  63. Topman

    @ 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.

  64. Simon


    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.

  65. James

    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.

  66. topman

    @ 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…

  67. 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.

  68. Simon

    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.

  69. 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.

  70. Simon


    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.

  71. x

    “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……..

  72. 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.

  73. Simon


    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.

  74. x

    @ APATS

    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……..


  75. James

    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.


  76. James

    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.

  77. Dunservin


    “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.)

  78. James

    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.

  79. x

    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,

  80. 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!

  81. Mr.fred


    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.

  82. James


    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.

  83. 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.

  84. James


    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.

  85. 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.

  86. Not a Boffin

    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.

  87. James


    (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.

  88. x

    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….

  89. James


    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.

  90. 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.

  91. x

    @ 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…..

  92. James


    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.

  93. All Politicians are the Same

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

  94. Observer


    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.

  95. 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.

  96. x

    @ 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.

  97. James


    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.

  98. 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.

  99. James


    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.

  100. All Politicians are the Same

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

  101. James


    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.

  102. x

    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.)

  103. 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?

  104. wf

    @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.

  105. 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”

    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.

  106. James


    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?

  107. x

    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. :(

  108. 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.

  109. Observer


    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?

  110. Observer

    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.

  111. tsz52

    “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.

  112. James

    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)

  113. Think Defence

    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.

  114. 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.

  115. wf

    @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.

  116. x

    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.

  117. ArmChairCivvy

    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.”

  118. Chris.B.

    “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.

  119. ArmChairCivvy

    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?

  120. Chris.B.

    @ 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.

  121. James


    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.

  122. Not a Boffin

    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.

  123. James


    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.

  124. wf

    @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 :-)

  125. Dunservin


    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.

  126. James


    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?

  127. Observer


    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.

  128. Not a Boffin


    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?

  129. Think Defence

    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.

  130. James

    @ 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.

  131. James

    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.

  132. Simon


    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.

  133. Dunservin


    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.

  134. ArmChairCivvy

    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”

  135. Observer


    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?

  136. Simon

    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?

  137. Alex

    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.

  138. Anixtu


    “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.

  139. x

    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.

  140. ArmChairCivvy

    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?

  141. Topman

    @ 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.

  142. x

    @ 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.

  143. James

    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.

  144. x

    @ 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.

  145. Topman

    @ 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.

  146. James

    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.

  147. Topman

    @ 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 ;)

  148. James


    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.

  149. Simon


    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?

  150. James


    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.

  151. x

    @ 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.

  152. Simon


    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?

  153. x

    @ 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.

  154. James


    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.

  155. Chris.B.

    @ 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.

  156. wf

    @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…

  157. All Politicians are the Same

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

  158. x

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

  159. jedibeeftrix

    “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”.

  160. James

    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.

  161. Jed

    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….. :-)

  162. Chris.B.


    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.

  163. All Politicians are the Same

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

  164. James

    @ 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.

  165. Chris.B.

    @ 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?

    @ APATS,
    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?

  166. James


    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).

  167. Brian Black

    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.

  168. James

    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.

  169. Simon

    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 ;-)

  170. 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!

  171. James

    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.

  172. James

    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.

  173. 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.

  174. jedibeeftrix

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

  175. James


    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.

  176. 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

  177. Mark


    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

  178. James


    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.

  179. topman

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

  180. Think Defence

    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 :)

  181. 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.

  182. James


    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.

  183. Brian Black

    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.

  184. Dunservin

    @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.

  185. Dunservin

    @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.

  186. Lord Jim

    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.

  187. James

    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.

  188. James

    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?

  189. ArmChairCivvy

    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

  190. Mr.fred


    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

  191. James

    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.

  192. ArmChairCivvy

    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

  193. James


    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.

  194. x

    @ 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!!!

  195. James


    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.

  196. x

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

  197. Anixtu


    “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.

  198. ArmChairCivvy

    AEW… just in time for Falklands “And the Gannet went that year too”
    – they even had a COD version, then

  199. Dunservin


    “…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.

  200. ArmChairCivvy

    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

  201. x

    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…..)

  202. Topman

    @ ACC

    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.

  203. Observer


    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.

  204. ArmChairCivvy


    I think I saw them listed for GW1 – surely a mistake?
    “The mighty Canberra “

  205. James


    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?

  206. Topman

    @ ACC

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

  207. James


    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.

  208. x

    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……..


  209. James


    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?

  210. ArmChairCivvy

    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. “

  211. x

    @ 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. :)

  212. James


    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.

  213. James


    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….

  214. Topman

    @ ACC

    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.

  215. Anixtu


    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.

  216. x

    @ 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.

  217. James


    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.

  218. James


    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.

  219. Simon


    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? ;-)

  220. Anixtu

    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.

  221. ArmChairCivvy

    “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

  222. Anixtu


    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.

  223. Gareth Jones

    @ 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.

  224. Observer


    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?

  225. x

    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.

  226. Brian Black

    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.

  227. Brian Black

    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.

  228. Brian Black

    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?

  229. Simon

    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.

  230. Chris.B.

    “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?

  231. James

    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

  232. Observer

    … 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

  233. Mr.fred

    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.

  234. Simon

    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 ;-)

  235. Simon


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

  236. James

    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.

  237. James


    “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.

  238. Simon


    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!

  239. ArmChairCivvy

    “Add to this three squadrons of jets to kick the doors in”
    = one CVF, 36 plus some other kit onboarded?

  240. James


    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?

  241. Dunservin

    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).

  242. James

    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.

  243. x

    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.

  244. Simon


    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 :-)

  245. Think Defence

    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

  246. Topman

    @ TD

    I thought some ISO questions would bring you out ;)

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

  247. Mr.fred


    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.

  248. x

    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.

  249. x

    @ 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.

  250. James

    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.

  251. Simon


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

  252. Simon

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

  253. Chris.B.

    @ 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.

  254. James

    Mr Fred,

    this is a Javelin hitting a bunker. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzcQtGmx9C8 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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkdi8xmXEuU

    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.

  255. x

    @ 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…. :)

  256. James


    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.

  257. Gareth Jones

    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?

  258. Mr.fred


    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…”

  259. Observer


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

  260. Observer

    @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.

  261. x

    “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.

  262. Observer

    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.

  263. Simon

    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!

  264. Mr.fred

    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.

  265. James


    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.

  266. Observer


    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.

  267. Ant

    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.

  268. ArmChairCivvy

    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.

  269. Anixtu


    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.

  270. x

    @ 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.

  271. James


    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.

  272. Simon


    “…The largest bulk carriers can take about 350,000t…”

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

  273. James

    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.

  274. paul g

    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!!

  275. Anixtu


    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.

  276. James

    Paul G,

    yes, recall also firing CG on Hohne ranges. Byfocal, the effects at the firing end were impressive, let alone what might have happened at the target end. Had to leave your mouth open to avoid nosebleeds from over-pressure, and the firing signature was truly massive. My old man commanded a Wombat platoon (or was it Conbat? It was the 120mm mounted on a Landrover, anyway) at an early stage of his career, and he is still a bit deaf from a platoon day on the ranges, all 8 firing at once.

    I do recall that not all REME lady officers were dozy Dorises. There was one who got best student prize on my JDSC course (the Captain’s course at Warminster). I also recall she fancied my Messkit, so for a joke we arranged to swap kits for the final formal dinner. All a bit of a giggle, and she actually looked fairly dashing in that amount of gold braid and tight fitted trews. However, I was royally embarrassed when the Commandant of the course spotted that this had happened, got the Mess WO to change the seating plan, which put the female officer’s name seated next to the Guest of Honour, who was the CGS of the day, and sent a message over to me that no further changes were permitted. It’s a bit odd sitting next to your professional head of Service while dressed in a REME lady’s mess dress, and possibly he may have formed the wrong impression of me… However, the Commandant later sent over a bottle of fizz which made up for it a bit. As he was also a close friend of my old man the story did not stay secret for long.

  277. Mr.fred


    That would be why most modern AFVs that need to shoot accurately, including the Challenger 2, have meteorology sensors, typically called met sensors because meteorology is a pain to spell and say.
    These provide not only real-time updates on wind speed and direction, but also air temperature, pressure and humidity.

    Modern fire control is pretty much a case of put the pip on the target, lase and then pull the trigger.

    With on-platform met sensors, the problem of wind is now one of the differences of wind as the round travels down range.

    The tests would have been conducted on a calm day or the performance would have been compensated to calm day conditions because there is no other way to get useful engineering data. The inherent dispersion of the projectile from the gun is the only meaningful way of presenting it. Otherwise you have to present every detail on the conditions in order to design fire control.
    Performance from an AFV is dependent on the quality of the fire control system, which will also include the crew and this will vary from tank to tank, day to day and crew to crew.

    So 700mm at 3km (500mm at 2km) will grow depending on your fire control, but most modern MBTs like the Challenger 2 have fire control systems that will add less than the dispersion of the shell to the total.

  278. Observer

    Don’t you just love message lag. :)

    “It’s a bit odd sitting next to your professional head of Service while dressed in a REME lady’s mess dress”

    “That would be why most modern AFVs that need to shoot accurately.”

    In a situation like that, I’d seriously consider shooting him/myself too. :P

  279. James


    the worrying thing is that there is photographic evidence of me being dressed up as a Loggy woman while speaking to Gen Sir Peter Inge, then CGS, and known as “Syringe” for his lack of humour. It must have given both Loggy’s and Gen Sir Peter a bad reputation. About 4 years later when he was CDS he visited Bosnia and I had to brief him. Neither of us could keep a straight face – my then boss the Head of UNPROFOR who was a French 3 Star was completely perplexed until Sir Peter told him of our last encounter, at which point Bernard Janvier observed that it had been “interesting” to have me as his MA.

    Me being dolled up as a girl? Meh, not a big deal, and no one else on the course seemed too fussed. Life’s unusual sometimes, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  280. Observer


    No thanks, I’m afraid word might get out and that’ll put paid to any chance I’d have of getting into the black book of any female species. :)

    GJ, I’d be happier if the ships they sent didn’t include crap like the LCS. Even our coast guard can give those overpriced crap a hard time. As for 6 carriers? I’d believe it when I see it. 3-4 at a time on rotation I’d believe. All 6 at once? When pigs fly. Very few carrier capable docks out East. Even if some of the “carriers” are actually LPHs, it’s still a lot to maintain.

  281. Anixtu

    Six carriers homeported in the Pacific, not six carriers forward deployed to east Asia. i.e. same as now.

  282. Observer

    My bad Anixtu, I misunderstood it as forward deployment. So in short, the carriers are divided more or less 50/50 to each side of the States, and kept near their homeports, is that correct?

  283. Anixtu

    One is homeported in Yokosuka. Operating locations ‘worldwide’ with a tendency to spend time in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

  284. ArmChairCivvy

    James, looks like a reheated harriers-and-carriers story

    Aviation publications actually reported, soon after the deal, that two fully kitted sqdrns would come out of the extra planes, and the viability of the fleet, with more numbers from the additions, would extend to 2030

  285. Simon

    I’d imagine that the US were only really interested in the engines anyway.

    I doubt any of the 72 airframes will ever be in the air again.

    It would be interesting to find out just what they cannibalised!

  286. Simon


    Just been looing at a few ships (Knock Nevis, Emma, etc) and as far as I can see Emma M is the biggest non fluid ship. The only thing that is bigger is a tanker, which is not surprising since it’s really a submarine, just floating slightly above the waves ;-)

    As you say, some draught… Batillus = 28.5m !!!

  287. James

    La Presidenta going off at the deep end, again: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/9311204/Argentina-to-immediately-launch-criminal-proceedings-against-UK-oil-firms-operating-off-Falklands-Islands.html

    I suspect that she is being very badly advised. This latest move is clearly going nowhere – any international court is going to say “no case to answer as Argentina has no jurisdiction”. This sort of obllocks has to be only for domestic consumption.

    We’ve already sent a prince and a gunboat. Why not send Spearhead for an exercise, and follow it up with the press release of a periscope camera shot of the Buenos Aires seafront taken at a distance of 12.0001 miles offshore*****, along with an apparently completely unrelated video of a TLAM firing trial from somewhere else in the world?

    **** No, sod it. Creep in close and get a massively high resolution shot of something onshore that is intricate, or a car’s numberplate or something. Then pretend it was taken from outside of the 12 mile limit, and leave them wondering just how bloody good the SSNs actually are.

  288. x

    What worries me as I have said many times is that they force an incident and HMG handles it badly.

    It is all very well being “mature” and coming out with the rhetoric about Realpolitik and playing the game that is IR. But half of South America believes her, the rest of the Third World is fall of agitators motivated by a “good book”, YouTube videos, and a hatred of the West, and we have a rising power in the Far East that doesn’t really care about the “rule book of international affairs”. To counter that we have Call me Dave; I don’t think he has the balls to order the arrest of any Argentine vessel that interferes with drilling, let alone arrest it, pull the crew off, and scuttle it. In coming decades those who dither or show weakness in the fight for resources will come worst off.

  289. James

    I think that forcing some form of incident is next up in their plan. I think we all agree that they don’t have the capacity to re-invade, but some incident on the high seas is do-able for them, something that puts them in a good light, and keeps the publicity going.

    Or maybe they’ll try to sabotage one of the oil exploration rigs. They’ve got some SSKs and some SF, against an unaware civvy oil rig even Carlos Fandango might be able to score a success with a charge against one of the legs or something disabling, requiring oil crew rescue and international media. They could even coincidentally have a ship nearby in international waters that rushes up to the rescue.

  290. Phil

    Why on Earth should we dance to her tune? Let them all get on with their lunatic rantings and fist waving – it’s all for the benefit of domestic voters anyway.

    Who gives a shit? What are we school boys?

    Why should we ramp up tensions over a peat bog that is perfectly adequately defended albeit not against the genetically enhanced Argentine SF Ninja’s who are currently tabbing over the South Atlantic manpacking ATGW and Stinger missiles bought on the black market?

    To even issue a statement about their insane rantings or pathetic little wind up actions degrades us.

    Leave the vile little piggies at their trough. Ignore them completely like you would a snot nosed kid.

  291. Observer


    Half of South America believes her? When? 2040? Chile would be one of those looking to take her down a peg, and Brazil can’t be bothered.

    People can see she’s clowning around. Not everyone’s stupid, and if she thinks evicting everyone from the Falklands to retain control won’t make her look like Israelis to the Falklander’s Palastinians, she’s got to be smoking something.

  292. x

    They aren’t idiots and we under estimate them at our peril.

    What bothers me is that we are talking a society where within living memory the military went to war against its own people and seemed to relish too.

    A bit of imagination and with state resources who knows with what they could come up.

  293. Mike


    Well we have a guard destroyer in the area…I do remember the incident where an argentine patrol vessle entered Falklands waters… it was only until a nice *bigger* grey shape appeared on the horizon that it turned away…
    Perhaps we should also authorise low level Thphoon buzzing if they get too close ;)

    But I agree with James, it’d feed their flames… she wants to put in legal action? Lets do what China/France does and simply ignore it. Keep a weather eye on it, but act as the grown up parent of a crying child.

  294. James

    “genetically enhanced SF ninjas”

    Good one Phil. I agree with you an the appropriate response, but somehow I don’t think chilly silence is going to keep the lid on this one. She’s clearly got some domestic issues that she feels is best addressed by this sort of grandstanding, and will keep on going.

    I do honestly believe that a combined no-notice Spearhead deployment to conduct some training on the Islands, and a UK to SA REFUELEX for another flight of Typhoon to stretch the legs of the Kevins would be useful. I’m completely unsighted on the loggy plans within MPA, but I’d be hugely disappointed if there’s not room for 800 soldiers to kip in one of the hangars at MPA, and enough on hand scoff to feed them for a few weeks.

  295. Phil

    They are complete idiots. Their domestic agenda is making them look like drooling retards on the international scene. They are imbeciles, amateurs, pathetic cry babies that if it would not satisfy their own agenda I would like to see beaten most thoroughly with a metaphorical garden hose until ones metaphorical arm gets tired.

    Nobody has under-estimated them. If we had, we wouldn’t have a garrison and a reinforcement plan for the damn place.

    Honestly, they’re completely pathetic. And it boils my blood that they fuck about with potential conflict like they do.

    I’d completely support a TLAM strike right on that stupid fucking whingeing bints head, again if it wouldn’t play into their hands.

  296. Observer

    I’m with Phil on this. They’re just humiliating themselves, and I suspect some Argentinians know this. All you need to do is let her go on and on and on and keep going until her credibility’s burnt up with her people, then it’s on to the next El Presidente.

    Not a long term thinker this one. If she turns the Falklands into a hot emotional issue, then sits by impotently making noise, she’s going to make herself look incompetent.

  297. Mike

    Amen Phil,

    “I’d completely support a TLAM strike right on that stupid fucking whingeing bints head, again if it wouldn’t play into their hands.”

    lol well she isnt that popular really, especially in many regions outside the capital – if that happened, I can imagine a few relieved faces XD

    An argentine freind of mine (a teacher) once told me that their foreign trade minister once brought a revolver to a meeting with his Brasilian counterpart, apparently he was demanding they buy more… this iscolated their trade with Brazil for a while. Thats how nutty her cabinet can be at times :s

  298. Anixtu


    “Just been looing at a few ships (Knock Nevis, Emma, etc) and as far as I can see Emma M is the biggest non fluid ship.”

    Longest, but not ‘biggest’ in cargo shipping where the key measure is deadweight.

    Maersk E class are 397m long and have a deadweight of 157,000t, drawing only 15.5m at maximum draught.

    The bulk carrier Vale Brasil OTOH is 362m long but has a deadweight of 400,000t and draws 23m at maximum draught.

    Vale Brasil has a much greater deadweight than Emma Maersk, and your original comment was with reference to cargo capacity. Emma Maersk herself almost meets your 160,000t needs without being 500m x 500,000t, and on only a modest draught too!

  299. x

    @ Observer

    You cannot deny in South America there is a swell of populist politics from Venezuela to Bolovia to Peru all egging each other on. And the peoples that vote these politicians in might be stupid, but what maintains them in power is a complex web of money, nationalism, and thuggery and fear. If the peoples of South America were so reasonable the likes of Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would never get in power nor would the systems of government support them in power. We have just commemorated a war where professional honourable Argentine officers went to war because a corrupt regime in the name of the state ordered them to go to war. Do you think we have moved on much in those 30 years? Do you not think within the Argentine military now there isn’t core of troops if ordered to arrest a drilling platform wouldn’t do so? Or do you think they would turn around and say “Madam President we all have degrees in IR and to be honest we don’t think this is a good way to conduct foreign policy towards a nuclear armed permanent member of UNSC whose military has just spent 10 years fighting a hard war in Afghanistan.” Fuck no they would do as so ordered. In the Argentine government there are enough idiots with enough resources to make trouble. It isn’t the trouble itself. But how we handle the trouble and how it is interpreted by the rest of the world. Look at the Palestinian Peace Flotillas.

  300. x

    @ Mike

    The sea is a different sphere. There is a freedom of action out there, there isn’t the scrutiny that accompanies events on land. We have little patches of sovereign territory called ships operating on a global common governed by esoteric conventions, treaties, and to some extent precedent. Even today with modern communications the commander on the spot will be in a difficult position in a “less than war” incident.

  301. x

    @ Mike re revolver

    You see that might have been a smart move if the revolver was a Taurus. He had could have waved it around saying “Look we buy your guns…..” If it was an American make probably not such a good idea.

    The thing is their systems keep these bods in place. And that only happens if there support for the system and support for the political ideas too. That is why these idiots are so dangerous.

  302. Observer


    X isn’t that bad. :P


    You’re painting with too broad a brush. During 1982, Chile supported the UK, though covertly. And what has one country’s popularist propaganda got to do with the other countries around it? Greece just voted in a far Left political party, does that mean people in the UK is going to vote Liberal next election too?

    As I said, too broad a brush.

  303. Simon


    Ahh, fair enough about Vale Brasil. I now see what you mean about the load not being in quite the right format ;-)

    My 500m, 1/2 million tonner, was a finger-in-the-air guesstimate for a military spec vessel that could manage tanks and TEUs. But as you say I think Emma would suffice with a bit of structural modifications.

  304. x

    @ Observer

    I think not. I think you have no understanding of current power structures or relationships in South America. Or indeed how the world works in general. But heck you guys who have worn a uniform know everything.

    @ All

    For the record it wasn’t me who said anything about TLAMing BA or Argentines invading the Falklands. I find it odd James posts something and then I can the shit for it.

  305. Phil


    Its the housepipe treatment for you to.

    And I never said I wanted to TLAM BA, I want to blow her up.

    Because her cavalier attitude to war and potential conflict disgusts and repulses me.

  306. Brian Black

    There are very few certainties in life, but that you will always be able to find a lawyer willing to take money off your hands is one of them.
    I doubt whether any of those five companies mentioned have any assets in Argentina – Desire, Falkland and Argos in particular are 100 per cent concerned with fields in Falkland Islands waters. So unless she expects the boards to be extradited to Argentina, I’m puzzled as to what she thinks she’ll achieve.
    And no one’s going to be blowing-up any oil rigs.

  307. James


    doing something and then letting OPFOR get all of the wrong ideas is part of the recce thinking. I’m sorry if you copped the flak!

  308. x

    @ James

    I am busy burning all my books on the Cod Wars and USN/Soviet naval coming togethers during the Cold War. Plus all the other books I have that recount relations less than war at sea between states.

    And soon as I have finished I am off on to campus to burn any books or journal articles that mention Argentine and Chile rapprochement because they are obviously talking bullshit.

    After that I might have to start on books on Nazi Germany because the very idea that a small bunch of nutjobs can actually wield power over a whole nation, the majority of which doesn’t really support them and just wants to get on with life, and make the armed forces of aforementioned nation do stoooopid things well that is a daft idea.

    I can’t believe I am being lectured on voting by somebody who lives in de-facto one party state that thinks banning free speech is a good idea.

    One final thing. I have got Call Me Dave to sack William Hague and just give the job to some random bod who has done a tour of Afghanistan.

  309. Observer


    Got it the other way round. You get voting one party states only after you mastered power structures. If you have strong opposition obviously you need to learn how to practice the “James Manuver” more. :P

    And you can keep burning your books. I knew a girl from Argentina, so unless you have a closer source, I’d postit that I actually have a closer “grassroots” level look at the country than you do.

    “I can’t believe I am being lectured on voting by somebody who lives in de-facto one party state that thinks banning free speech is a good idea.”

    That from someone who thinks Singapore has “foilage”. :P
    250 square km. 5 million people. You do the maths. And think how much damage a riot caused by a loudmouth with less brains than common sense can cause in an area with that population density.

  310. James

    X and Observer,

    the little trick comes in handy, but sometimes to beneficial effects. You can let the mother of your children take all of the heartache and whining of the two little darlings being forced to have a symbolic sprig of broccoli on their plates for the Sunday lunch, and then distract everyone with some sleight of hand and pointing to some pre-positioned oddity in the corner of the dining room, while quietly removing and eating the sprigs of broccoli. It really works well if Mrs J is part of the conspiracy, and it works even better than that if the children are also part of the conspiracy, but don’t know that Mrs J is, and Mrs J also not knowing that the children are in on it.

    After that, you take the children out on their ponies and make sure they soak up some sunshine, and force an apple down them for the vitamins. And later, you take Mrs J to bed and give her a right royal Jubilee seeing to. Everyone’s happy that way.

    Now, if only the business was doing so well… :(

  311. Mike


    Indeed, his nickname is (was?) ‘the cowboy’ and is a good example of the unstable/odd part of her cabinet, I am no expert on S.American politics… perhaps its as common as the punch ups we see in the eastern europe regions, but the past histories of the men in power over there are just as questionable as the neighbours. Thugs in suits, and can be just as stupid as thugs.

    But what is clear is that the Argentine people who think instead of shouting in this are rather more level on their approach; a group of leading Argentine academics writing to the government to not harp on about/distract with the 1982 conflict went by largely un-noticed in the media a few months back, apart from Al Beeb.
    Perhaps they’ve long since burned their books? ;D

    My Argentine teacher freind always tells me “…it’ll happen when they pay me on time…” aka a snowball’s chance in S.Afghanistan.
    Meanwhile their military has been rather quiet, no words nor moves; either thats something to be a little disconcerted about, or perhaps there are still men from ’82 that remember and have sense. Not that they have any assets to use other than bugging around with their Navy/Aviation, both of which we can counter (hells bells, the ’45 could do both…)

  312. James


    I’m sure that among many officers (I’m well out of it now, but some are still serving), I was not the only one dis-quieted about Argentine officers being part of the Joint staff Course. One from each of their services. Didn’t feel right at all, despite the fact that individually they were all nice fellers. The Airman had a quarter in Bracknell a bit diagonal from ours, and I remember his young boy falling off his bike in front of me and losing his front teeth on the tarmac – there’s only a human empathy when you pick him up and take him to his parents’ front door, and the mother is in tears of concern and probably some gratitude.

  313. x

    @ Mike

    It isn’t the quiet majority who worry me it is the vocal minority. It wouldn’t take a fleet to cause trouble. The Presidency doesn’t exist in a vacuum there has to be some residual support.

    Anyway what I do know? :)

  314. x

    @ James

    That is the sad thing though isn’t it? Both our countries have such a long history of friendship.

    Heck like all our cloest friends “we” have been to war with them and had a bit of shoeing at their hands.

    It isn’t the Argentine people but their crackpot president with whom I have problem.

  315. Observer

    At least it’ll blow over soon. At the rate she’s making herself look stupid, dogmatic and ineffectual, she’s bound to be out of a job soon.

    Idiot presidents last 1 term, countries last a lot longer. Give it time to blow over.

  316. Simon

    As far as I see it many of the South American countries exist on a knife-edge between corruption and democracy. This added to the need to “bond” creates some interesting allegiances. I doubt this is what the majority of the people want but we’re talking about people who are in the back of beyond of Patagonia or struggling to survive in the Darien Gap.

    How long do you think it’s going to take before a South American Alliance really will call the shots in the South Atlantic?

    What’s the general consensus for the future of South America (since I really do not see Argentina standing alone for much longer)?

  317. x

    @ Observer

    Yes countries do last longer. This is country that should be as wealthy as Australia and with attendant living standards and infrastructure.

    Shame really.

  318. Observer

    “How long do you think it’s going to take before a South American Alliance really will call the shots in the South Atlantic?”

    Not too long. It’s the next thing on the list after “melting the poles”.


    Richer. Australia’s biodiversity and resources, while fairly unique, is also rather poor, most of the continent is desert and scrubland, not so for Argentina, it’s located in one of the most prolific areas in the world. Which makes it’s condition even worse.

    I’ve always argued that “democracy” is a system of government for medium-high developed countries, simply chucking “democracy” into a country doesn’t work, you need the educated middle class first before it can grow. Can you imagine people living hand to mouth asking to vote? Is it that much of a stretch to see the golden opportunity to gain power by greasing a few palms? In poorer countries, “democracy” and “capitalism” almost always go together, to the detriment of the country.

    Of course, dictatorship isn’t sainthood either.

  319. Simon


    With the amount of water that’s been falling here in the last couple of months I’d guess the poles must already have melted :-(

    As soon as UNASUR manage to create a true single market the “Brazillian effect” should grow exponentially, this will then mean the burning of a lot of fossil fuels (like China) and help speed up the ice cap melt – hee, hee, hee!

  320. Chris.B.

    You wait till the Aussies start tapping their natural gas recources. Then their economy will probably pick up a fair amount.

  321. x

    The Argentines are sitting huge reserves of shale oil/gas too. A lot easier to get at too than drilling platforms in the lumpy South Atlantic.

  322. Simon


    I guess the Brazillian democratic/capitalist system would like a piece of that. Just join in a free market economy and spread those companies like a virus on the land – just like the west have done in the last 100 years.

  323. James

    A little more detail on the forthcoming announcement of the plans to cut the Army to 82,000


    It seems that CSS units are going to face the brunt of the cuts, with some form of alternative use of reservists, contractors or even Allies to fill the gaps. I’m not personally convinced by that. It sounds “innovative”, but how will it work in practice? To take an Afghan example, it’s all very well getting the fuel delivered by a convoy of Spaniards or local contractors, but what happens when the Spanish are withdrawn or the Taliban put the frighteners on the local drivers? Also, how can NATO look serious come the next Libya when the Septics, the French and the Brits are all hung ho on providing combat aircraft, but no one steps forward to provide the logistics? It will put weeks into force generation and make us less effective. Will need to wait to see the details.

    Loggy units are much easier to cut than famous old cap badges though. Politics at work.

    I’d like to see a strong and forward-poised Army, but not at the expense of having no tail at all. I’d also like to see the Army balanced in relation to the Andrew, the Kevins and what our nation wants the Armed Services to achieve in all domains. If that means cutting some teeth arm Regiments to save a General Support CSS Regiment, then so be it If it means the Army cutting numbers in order to give the Kevins some critical capability, then so be it as well.

    I can’t believe I am publicly supporting the Kevins, but there we go.

  324. Observer

    What I question, James is “Is it a false savings?”. Sure, you save up front on equipment and personel pay, but by contracting, will you end up paying more than if you did it yourself? One thing I know, outside contractors don’t usually come cheap.

    And better some lost regiments through cuts than loss of aircover AND losing the same regiments through Mr Clusterbomb.

  325. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James,
    RE “I was not the only one dis-quieted about Argentine officers being part of the Joint staff Course.” Which two countries could ever be closer: The Brits built the railways for them, they play rugby, and our Royals run away with their horse polo players…

    Except the country where horse polo came from: RM training theirs, a nice lot of hovercrafts sent (=sold) over, and three days before the defence treaty with “Trucial States” is over, the buggers (just trained and kitted out) take the strategic islands, which, according to the letter of the Treaty would have put Britain at war with them… and this was before the mullahs

  326. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi PE, RE Nigeria “Conspicuous absence of any boats on order from BAE…”
    – not so with other providers
    – the latest is some fast Israeli attack/ interceptor boats, but actually built in South Africa (whether already delivered… don’t know)

  327. James

    This is some crazy stuff. I’m not sure if it is genius, or completely barking mad.

    Wing Effect mini-plane hovercraft. I reckon the fellers from Poole will want dozens of these. Scale it up to carry a lightweight wagon and 8-12 troops and have several of these coming out of the back of Albion and we’ve got a winner…. or not!


    Hand launched loitering munition for infantry company use. 30 minutes loiter time and 4 miles data link range, which sounds quite useful. I am completely amazed that the video editing by Textron is so cheesy, but put that aside and the idea is a good one, unless the enemy have got 12 bores, in which case it could be like a scene from a grouse moor on the Glorious 12th. I suspect, so long as it can get up to about 200m and stay there, it would probably be pretty difficult to shoot down even with a GPMG, and certainly consume valuable resources while the company commander is doing his ISTAR and planning the company attack.

    The thought strikes me it would also be quite useful strapped onto the side of one of the Andrew’s finest for doing boarding operations, particularly anti-piracy. It does armed overwatch for 30 minutes, and if all goes well it flies back to the ship and crashes into the netting for reuse. If things get nasty, it goes all vertical and takes out the pirate skiff.


  328. Observer

    Had the same idea regarding hydrofoils too, unfortunately it seems like ground effect vehicles have a very low weight limit.

    As for the UAV, why not just arm the damn thing with a 3GL tube? 20,000 pounds for a flying one use missile seems a bit steep when you can use it in a way for reusability, and 1-2×3 40mm is a decent payload.

  329. Topman

    for those interested in typhoon, rumours at the moment is that the twin sticker trainers will be the version cut sooner rather than later.

  330. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi ToC,

    Though this is not from FN (in your link), I think it puts the right idea forward
    “Development of the SCAR series stemmed from a United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) requirement for a new family of combat assault rifles designed around two different calibres but featuring high commonality of parts and identical ergonomics.”
    – calibre is like the ink cartridge in your printer (well, they do have space for both at the same time, that’s the difference): is this job to be done in B&W or colour
    – in that, a 5.56 MG or one firing short 7.62 would stand for the option of shades of Gray, or whatever the intermediate option is called in the Microsoft world

  331. Observer


    Problem is that both rounds are for the same job, it’s not talking about 5.56/7.62 NATO, it’s about 5.56 NATO and 7.62S. 7.62 NATO is a MG/Sniper round. 7.62S is simply the round used in the AK, which is analogous to the round used in the M-16 (5.56mm SS109 ball?)

  332. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Observer,

    Yes, “it’s not talking about 5.56/7.62 NATO, it’s about 5.56 NATO and 7.62S. 7.62 NATO is a MG/Sniper round.”
    – I wanted to bring that effort/ focus (not by FN trying to do it, but by the customer expressing what would be ideal)into a more general view
    – go low: 5.56 MGs
    – go middle: 7.62 (short round, don’t restrict your thinking to NATO only!)
    – go long: well, the round that has lived for more than a century by now, must be OK then, just that the MG and the rest of the squad can never share… NEXT question: in what kind of circumstances would that matter (let’s assume the snipers always carry their own, so that is out of the consideration… you misunderstood my quote of one shot – one kill the last time we were here)

  333. Jed

    Observer at 1306

    Sorry matey, this sounds like your a little confused:

    “7.62 NATO is a MG/Sniper round. 7.62S is simply the round used in the AK, which is analogous to the round used in the M-16 (5.56mm SS109 ball?)”

    7.62mm NATO is not a “round” at all, it is simply a caliber, which has been set as a NATO standard. It is also called 7.62 x 51, whithin that caliber there are many types of “round” including “ball”, armour piercing etc – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.62%C3%9751mm_NATO

    The 7.62mm Russian caliber used by the AK is, as such not analogous to the 5.56mm used in the M16. It is actually 7.62 x 39 caliber and thus is bigger than any 5.56mm – see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.62%C3%9739mm

    The actual Russian analog to 5.56x45mm (NATO 5.56mm) is the 5.45x39mm used in later Russian assault weapons such as the AK74 series.

    So in any of these calibers you can have “rounds” or bullets that are optimised for a particular job, such as highly accurate bullets for the marksman / sniper role which are more expensive to manufacture than those that can be spat out in great volume by a machine gun :-)

  334. Observer

    I’m not sure if you guys should be cursed as pedents or idiots…


    You seem to love the latest tech toys, regardless of utility. The SCAR switches between 7.62S and the 5.56 NATO round, not the 7.62 NATO, which means all you are doing is switching from the NATO intermediate round for ARs to the Soviet intermediate round for ARs. You’re NOT switching to a sniper round, just assault rifle for assault rifle. And since in any campaign, SOMEONE should have brought enough ammo, then the chances of you using enemy ammo types is very low. For SF types, maybe the chances are higher since they pack light, but for line units, it’s more a novelty than actual practical use. Ask any of the other people serving, like James and Phil about the utility of this. I’m fairly sure their opinion will parallel mine.


    Calibre is a measurement, not an object. Proper english demands that you state what object you are describing with the measurement after it.

    For example 25mm. 25mm of what? There is the 25mm shell, or the experimental 25mm grenade. So going 5.56 NATO round is not wrong, just being specific as well as proper english.

    “The 7.62mm Russian caliber used by the AK is, as such not analogous to the 5.56mm”

    And you think people don’t compare the AK-47 with the M-16 on a one on one basis as the primary assault rifles of NATO and the Warsaw Pact? This includes acknowledging that the 2 rounds are effectively used for the same function. (And not that they can be shoved into the same chamber as you seem to think).

    I’ve been on night shift for a few days straight, so I’m too sleepy to call you names like you deserve, so do me a favour and call yourself names will you? I’ll try to catch more sleep and insult you later.

  335. paul g

    obbo mate, bit harsh, we’ve all been tired, go get your head down, you post good stuff on here don’t spoil it :-)

  336. Observer

    Got to really start an anti-war rally with the government Phil, getting into Afganistan was bad enough, but going against grannies with handbags? Horrors! The casualties are going to be awful, those old ladies don’t pull punches.


    I know those calibers were developed very early in the Cold War, I was around when they were most used too (Vietnam/Korea). I was even in service when the discussion of changing from M185 to SS109 (think it was called FM109 then, speculations being that the new round would be FMJed) came up.

    On the other hand, the SCAR (Special ops Combat Assault Rifle) is very recent and suffer from lack of sales with only a single buyer on record, the US SOC.

    If you’re still going to fire 5.56 anyway, why not just stick with what you already have?

    Save the Budgets! Due to human overconsumption Budget natural habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate, if nothing is done soon, Budgets will become extinct!

  337. James

    FN SCAR 7.62 doesn’t use normal (as opposed to Russian) 7.62? WTF?

    Observer, we’ve got the runt of the litter in this one. No wonder others said is was all a bit pants. There’s me labouring under the misapprehension that it was my old SLR slightly warmed over and come back again after the madness of the 90’s with the 5.56 love. Obblocks.

    Looks as though we could have gone straight back to the 1960s drill handbook as well with SCAR, instead of the fancy nonsense with changing arms and not being able to ground the weapon properly. And the ten pence piece in the magazine to make a sexy rattle on the present? Double Obblocks.

  338. Observer


    Think they do have a 7.62 NATO one, along the lines of “you want one, we’ll build it for you.”

    Did some checking up, joke is that SOCOM now doesn’t want 5.56, it has M-4s for that, they only want the 7.62 NATO one now.

    So yes, you new love is safe.

  339. James

    I am going to emigrate immediately to the most permissive gun law state in the USA and buy a FN SCAR in 7.62mm (proper 7.62, not whatever Ivan used to shoot). You can all come and visit me and shoot beer cans from the back yard.

    It’s like getting married all over again, except with weapons, but probably less sex.

    Does FN do a bayonet attachment for the SCAR, or do I have to make my own with black nasty tape?

  340. Observer

    “It’s like getting married all over again, except with weapons, but probably less sex.”

    Well… the barrel has a hole… depends on your stamina I guess.

    And I’m so saving this post for your daughter when she’s 18

    Off wiki

    “A variant of the SCAR was entered into the Army’s Individual Carbine competition, known as the FNAC (advanced carbine). The weapon is similar to the SCAR Mk 16 but with modifications including a .3 lb weight reduction, a bayonet lug for an M9 bayonet”

    So yes bayonet, but it’ll have to be the carbine version. Or maybe you might like nasty black tape? Adds a bit of kinky to it. :P

  341. Think Defence

    Thanks Gareth, thats interesting stuff, remember reading about IAI developing something similar but smaller for recce vehicles. I think its a very sensible idea actually

  342. Observer


    Nope, but nothing to stop from making one here.

    What do you think of it? Can the UK use it? What does this give over the P-3? Can it be carrier launched?

  343. ArmChairCivvy


    We took part in “BAMS” at the early requirements stage (whenever that was) and now, less than half a year ago the expert statement to the Parliament on such capabilities (admittedly SAR & ASW figured in the picture) rubbished UAVs categorically
    – I just wonder who will be proved right (other than that a mix is always better than one silver bullet – call it the latest Nimrod, or anything else)

  344. The Other Chris

    Thank you, always appreciate the additional information.

    I’m usually of the opinion that a mix is advantageous: Fleet of BAMS-like UAV’s to provide general defence, fishery and civilian coverage with a Nimrod-like… errr… P-8-like fleet to investigate and/or add the additional layer.

    Ability to prosecute a target being important.

  345. x

    Good news. But next time include a phrase like “for Norway”, I was very excited for a second there. :)

  346. Jim

    Will they be operational on the F-35B external pylons as presumably they will not fit inside the smaller weapons bays?

  347. The Other Chris

    I’ve still not seen any details on the NSM/JSM not fitting internally on the B. The reduction in size isn’t very dramatic.

    The B should still be able to carry 4 externally, and given that usual operation will be with external pylons that isn’t too bad.

    I also take the acceptance of NSM as the official JSM into the F-35 ecosystem to mean that availability to the UK won’t be an issue.

    The main blockage would likely be a) money and b) political favouring of Storm Shadow with a madcap adaptation of FASGW(H).

  348. Mark



    “Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $489,528,000 advance acquisition contract to provide long lead-time parts, material and components required for the delivery of 35 low rate initial production Lot VII F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft (19 Conventional Takeoff and Landing [CTOL] aircraft for the U.S. Air Force; three CTOLs for the government of Italy; 2 CTOLs for the government of Turkey; six Short Take-Off Vertical Landing [STOVL] aircraft for the Marine Corps; one STOVL for the United Kingdom; and four carrier variant aircraft for the Navy). In addition, this contract provides long lead-time efforts required for the incorporation of a drag chute in CTOL air systems for the government of Norway.”

  349. ArmChairCivvy

    RE “include a phrase like “for Norway””
    – the issue at stake was: will LM integrate it in time for the deliveries to Norway, or two software iterations later (Norway threatened to drop out if the issue was not solved)… so it will be a factory fit (for; not with)for all now
    – have not seen any confirmation for the internal carriage on B’s
    – Australia who have been funding JSM also funded a study of the JASSM fitting internally (but that was for their “A”s)

  350. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Mark,

    This “one STOVL for the United Kingdom” must be the one that was swapped to a “C” and now back?

    Strange that Norway should pay for the drag shute design as it was part of the requirement set that the Canadians chose the “A” which Norway is also getting – theirs will arrive earlier and Canada is dragging its heels over the whole deal, so I can see some “under the table” dealings here for the sharing of the cost of JSM sw integration being brought forward?

  351. The Other Chris

    Although civilian, lots of grumblings that ATR may announce a VTOL project, possibly Rotodyne style, at Farnborough in July.

  352. The Other Chris

    @Max H

    I think the comments for the Type 26 article is where the Black Swan concept received the most coverage.

    Also check out TD’s SIMMS articles, same concept but different platform.

  353. James

    Seem to be hitting MoD pensions now: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9340188/Armed-Forces-must-wait-five-years-longer-for-pension.html

    As someone who deliberately extended a posting by one year in order to leave age 37 and one day and thus qualify for an immediate pension, I can see how those now facing redundancy just short of their pension point and apparently deliberately to save some cash will feel. I don’t think this is a single service matter – as far as I am aware both officers and the boys and girls of all three services have pretty much identical terms of service.

    Don’t misunderstand where I’m coming from – the existing pension scheme is about 500 times better than a civvy would get. But this sort of feels like taking toys from children – not hard, but completely bloody wrong.

    Christ knows what it will do the the “profile” of manning figures, given reductions in overall totals for all 3 services, and people serving longer until they leave. Need a computer programme to visualise all of that, but at a guess, it is longer in rank between promotions and less recruits per year, at least for a while.

  354. Phil

    With this kind of thing the government always taketh away but it also giveth a bit too. I bet that there will be transitional protection for such folk as you describe. There nearly always is the papers like to miss that bit out though.

    Like the higher fees. You need a bigger loan. HORROR! But everything you owe 25 years after graduation is written off. I don’t get anything written off till I’m 67 and in this economy I can tell you some folk will hit that 25 year point and not even covered their interest and it will get written off. Another story but just one to illustrate that there’s nearly always a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

  355. topman

    @ james there does seem to be a whiff of that. I know one person that lost out on a pension by 2 months. Looks like the first leaks from the nem reviews, and i doubt it’ll be the last and i’ll bet they’ll all be bad news for terms of service :(

  356. ALL Politicians are the Same

    The secret as to put you notice in with just less than 1 year to go from IPP if you are planning to leave. the redundancy scheme is not allowed to get rid of anyone with less than 2 years left to go. these Officers should take MOD to court under the legal rule of “reasonable expectation”.

  357. Think Defence

    This from Janes

    UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has cancelled the deployment of the MBDA Fire Shadow loitering munition to Afghanistan because of concerns over the long term future of the weapon system

  358. Red Trousers

    Firstly, a change of call sign as it appears there’s another James on the blog – no doubt making sensible points, but we need to disambiguate.

    The Future Land Operating Concept is available for download from http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/98670ABC-0F28-4893-8081-8F2912D84407/0/20120607jcn_2_12_floc_2.pdf

    Published on 6 June 2012, a fortnight ago. I did a quick search on TD but didn’t note any obvious topic, so it is possible it has not been noticed by the community.

  359. paul g

    just read on the reuters website all future A330 conversions to voyager tankers for the RAF will be done in spain with the loss of 320 UK jobs. Think i’ve found a use for hadrians wall, line up all the twats involved in this farce of a contract, including the one eyed oaf and fill ’em full of smokey holes!!

    I just wish this move could invoke a nullification of the contract, fat chance of that though

  360. x

    re: Voyager and Spain

    Treason!!!!!!! Treason I say!!!!!!!

    You couldn’t make it up. HMG should tell them no. The work to be done here or the contract gets torn up.

  361. El Sid

    It’s worth noting that Cobham expect “no material financial impact as a result of this change”. We don’t know how the contracts work, but presumably the offsets get wiggled around to compensate.

    People’s concern for the good folk in Bournemouth is touching, but I’m a lot more worried about the guys on the frontline who are dependent on a VC-10/Victor fleet held together by hope and gaffer tape. We’re at war, and we simply can’t afford to risk any more slippage on the Voyager ISD. If Cobham are flat out, then for goodness sake just give the work to Spain, I’ll be cheering them on.

    In any case, I’m not convinced by the merits of having final assembly, sexy though it is. If you’re only going to have x% of the work, then it’s much better to produce sub-assemblies that everyone needs and with a high value-added component, rather than doing lower-value assembly work that is wholly dependent on HMG’s orders. Look at the F-35, would you rather have 3000 of them fitted with British ejector seats or be assembling 150/100/err – 40? for the FAA/RAF? Specialising in sub-assemblies also gets you into programmes with no UK involvement. For instance, when a Rafale pilot takes the quick way down, he gets a Martin-Baker tie – but we would never get final assembly on Rafale. The Frogs had little choice when shopping for ejection seats.

  362. El Sid

    Going back on topic, Galrahn has been celebrating the 5th anniversary of http://www.informationdissemination.net/ with a month of invited articles from a stellar lineup of senior US military bods, he’s got the likes of SACEUR contributing articles, along with some junior officers, representatives of the Obama and Romney campaigns, and even a guy from Maersk…

    First of all – everyone should have a look at those articles, even the comments have featured some high-profile names.

    Second – @TD (and TD readers ????), how about pointing some UK/NATO bods at that series of articles and suggesting they do the same here? They’d feel more comfortable about it having seen some of the names that Galrahn has got on pixel. It would be great to have someone like Bernard Grey contributing his thoughts, and people like that might have some time to do it now that PR12 is out of the way. I know Jim Murphy has contributed to political blogs in the past, it might be good to get him on some topic like the future of shipbuilding etc, something narrow enough that it’s about what he would positively do differently, not just yah-boo politics.

    PPS @TD – any chance of making the open threads a bit easier to find, or am I just being thick?

  363. Observer

    But wasn’t protectionism part of what caused the industry to become so inefficient in the 1st place? If you go on a “jobs guarantee” spree, doesn’t that reduce the drive to become more efficient as you know you can’t get fired anyway? This = more costly products, lower export potential etc.

  364. Mark

    El SID

    I would say I dont really care if its service personnel or guys in cobham but guys losing there job it sad particularly in the current jobs market.

    If ISD dates is your issue then pissing about for 7 years trying to get some PFI together hits it more than a few months delay at cobham. My however bigger problem is these deals are repeatedly sold as its gd for british jobs ect ect when they arent (for example the UK a330 order keeps the wing build teams in broughton busy for about 6 weeks). It always seemed strange to me that airbus miltary final conversion on a330 was in spain(with a significant number of UK contractors doing the work) but that we tried to set up a similar facility for the last 10 or so in UK. Airbus miltary uk is centered in filton and perhaps making use of conversion facilities for the whole a330MRTT program or indeed the a400m program at broughton would have been advantageous for UK as a whole but that decision was over a decade ago.

    And while I agree and have said before on here major sub assembly for multiple programs is a gd bet for the future, experience and history also shows it is far more difficult to kill programs or withdraw or move them elsewhere if final assembly lines are concerned. Something with military and civil crossovers would have been ideal.

  365. Gareth Jones

    From Red Trousers’ link above:

    ” Why? The reason is the same as with every other digital technology: a Moore’s-law-style pace where performance regularly doubles while size and price plummet. In fact, the Moore’s law of drone technology is currently accelerating, thanks to the smartphone industry, which relies on the same components—sensors, optics, batteries, and embedded processors—all of them growing smaller and faster each year.”

    Essentially flying smart phones.

  366. El Sid

    @TD, as a connoisseur of container porn, you’ll like this, it’s the good stuff :


    Just look at the utilisation efficiencies on those….

    And the Pentagon’s latest attempt to stop LM ripping them off, “should-cost” procurement, or “wish-it-would-cost” as the more cynical might put it :


  367. Observer

    X, would you rather “low tech oilers” or “no oilers”? I’m a glass half full kind of guy. :)

    And it’s not like the turbines are going to NORTH Korea. Anything happens, the South will more likely than not, be on the UK side providing support. You give them low quality stuff, expect low quality support.

  368. jedibeeftrix

    some of britain’s best generals leaving:


    “Another senior officer said the “consistent loss of the best talent” meant that Britain was rapidly losing influence with the American army. We face existential meaninglessness. This government doesn’t do defence and it doesn’t do the Army.”

    Sorry guys, I truly am, but the broad thrust of the cuts was 100% correct, and if you truly don’t like them I recommend you start a new career as a politician lobbying for public acceptance of an increased Defence spend.

    Would these be the same brightest minds on both sides of the atlantic that Max Hasting referred to in his article making the case for a continental doctrine?

  369. Red Trousers

    In advance of today’s announcements, I thought it would be useful to try to work out the cost of a formed unit (ie the capitation rate per rank, multiplied by the number of each rank on the unit establishment). This would give the cost per unit of just the manpower, ignoring any equipment costs, but does include pretty much all of the ancillary costs for national insurance, housing, food, training, even costs of welfare and education of children in service schools. It should also even out across the services, as rank for rank they are all paid the same, and specialist pay (eg flying, or parachute, bomb disposal etc) averages across as well.

    Turns out it is not so easy. The MoD stopped calculating capitation rates a couple of years ago. The capitation rate per rank is not uniform (ie a General is not the same as a private soldier, because he has house staff, driver, cook, gardener etc that the private soldier does not), but then there are many fewer Generals than Privates.

    However, doing quite a lot of digging (looking at published payscales for 2012 and published capitation rates in 2009, then increasing by 3% a year until now), I am reasonably confident that a rate of 200% of published pay rate is pretty much a good average, certainly for the Army, and I see no reason why it would not also work for the Navy and RAF as well. It’s a pretty inexact science, but the final total capitation costs for a light role infantry battalion – adjusted for 2012 – are about £30 million per year.

    If anyone wants to work out the same for your favourite ship or RAF Squadron, the capitation rates I used for this (ie 200% of pay for a mid-level holder of whatever rank it is) were:

    Lt Col 140,000
    Maj 104,000
    Capt 84,000
    Lt 62,000
    2Lt 50,000
    WO1 82,000
    WO2 76,000
    SSgt 70,000
    Sgt 62,000
    Cpl 56,000
    LCpl 44,000
    Trooper 36,000

    Fiddling around with numbers and totals, it looks like:

    Armoured Regt: £25M per year
    Recce Regt: £27M per year
    Light Role Infantry Bn: £30M per year

    What does all of this tell us? Not too much, apart from given that tens of millions are small change for the MoD, saving cash is not the reason for cutting any light infantry battalions (they do not have lots of expensive vehicles with big through life costs), but as you scale up in kit terms that argument loses its’ power. Even so, the costs of running 40 Challengers for a year is still probably in the tens, not hundreds of millions bracket. It depends on if you take the overall acquisition and through life costs into account, and divide by years of service life.

  370. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James,

    Leaves a huge gap to the all-in annual cost of a bde that was toted around when the SDSR was in the making (to help compare hypothetical alternatives)
    – I think the only benchmark to control such, potentially made-up figures, is the RM whose all-in cost is a budget line item, and who are roughly of a bde size

  371. Topman

    I think it’ll be the TES for F35. The sqn will be first in Florida then move out to Califonia.

  372. x

    @ Topman

    You are harshing my mellow dude…..

    When are you putting your transfer request in to join the FAA? :)

  373. Topman

    @ x

    Are you on a bonus rate from navy recruiting? Anyway not really my thing, I might end up been mistaken for a YMCA extra in that fishhead outfit.

  374. Red Trousers


    re Fly Navy

    This is an acceptable solution:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eJgsiS3xH8 (there’s an ad first, you can skip it)

    Apart from being a Frog effort, this ticks all of the right boxes:

    It goes damn fast, and that’s always fun.

    You do not need to get beneath the waterline, and with Andrew Captains and their mania for crashing into solid things, there’s a bonus there.

    I’m assuming that it is going to seriously fox Chinese torpedo designers, because there’s not much to hit. Also, being mostly carbon fibre, there won’t be much for the airborne radar boys to lock onto.

    You can either go balls out into the teeth of a gale on a boys only trip, doing some serious physical work pulling ropes and having a giggle while getting wet and cold, or get the girls on board for a gentle cruise about with a G&T and a barbie on a beach. Works both ways. I suppose that to get it past the Commons Scrutiny Committee and NAO you’d need to do some creative thinking about defence diplomacy and international regattas, while downplaying the getting the girls on board aspect, but once it’s in service, different rules apply.

    It cannot possibly cost as much as 2 spastic carriers and a whole load of useless jets.

  375. The Other Chris

    Upcoming V-22 Options[1]:

    “Further upgrades in the pipeline (defence budget permitting) would be a buddy refuelling kit (developed from the ground FARP system already in use) and interestingly an EW or command and control version, possibly similar to the Royal Navy’s Sea King ASaC. That would, says one source, allow a Marine MEU to have its own organic airborne EW/C&C platform.”

    [1] http://media.aerosociety.com/aerospace-insight/2012/07/08/farnborough-osprey-goes-global/7027/

  376. El Sid

    I was on http://www.defenceimagery.mod.uk/ yesterday and the search wasn’t working so I had to browse it, people might like some of these that I came across whilst looking for something else. They’re not all new, so apologies if you’ve seen them before. The search still seems a bit flaky, but the Extended Search seems to work more often than the simple search.

    45154037.jpg Protector in the ice – beautiful
    45154031.jpg The transports that the Army has more of than helicopters
    45143613.jpg An army without a navy
    45150489.jpg Apparently frigates are no good for MSO
    45154021.jpg AFD on Abbey Road
    45154028.jpg Scots Guards next to their eponymous steam train for the Olympic torch
    45144950.jpg One of several on a PHOTEX of Plymouth docks
    45149247.jpg Nice pic of a Shielder
    45152932.jpg Everyone loves a 120mm mortar
    45149255.jpg AVRE with fascine
    45147325.jpg Don’t often see pics of Argus
    45152750.jpg 3 of our biggest ships together
    45151590.jpg T-Hawk
    45153234.jpg Sentinel – would make a good desktop wallpaper
    45136807.jpg This is how they slum it at Abbey Wood for those who haven’t been there
    45143651.jpg VC/GC window in Main Building
    45152957.jpg We were talking about how Voyager uses the engine mounts on the A340 wing for fuel pods – compare this with eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turkish_a340-300_tc-jih_arp.jpg

    PS Mark – might I suggest F-35 stuff goes on the CVF open thread? Keeps it all together then.

  377. Red Trousers

    Farnborough International Air Show 2012

    Having spent the last 3 days there (I bailed out of stand manning and BD networking on Monday and Friday – better things to do), some impressions:

    Less defence, more aerospace than previous years. Northrop gave it a miss entirely, GD seemed to have down-scaled. But worth a trip down the flight line, the Finnmeccanica stand and LM’s stand to get up close and personal with their kit. LM in particular for fans of F35 – they’ve got a full size resin replica of I think the A version, with a fully wired up / equipped cockpit that you can sit in (there will no doubt be a queue for that). Also a life size B variant engine, lift fan etc, and a JASSM lined up alongside the weapons bay.

    Fire Shadow low down explained to me by MBDA. Look for foreign funding to take things to the next stage, then when the MoD have found some more pennies down the back of the sofa, we may buy it OTS. They’ve now done live firings, but it’s not yet a system of systems. MBDA also have life size models of all of the various missiles, launcher tubes and cross-fertilisation options.

    Thales have got some good land kit on display. Raytheon is mostly missiles, with a new addition of cyber security solutions added to their core offerings.

    Space section well worth visiting.

    You need to seriously check out the 6 (British) girls on the Offset India stand in Hall 4, towards the back. I am in love, several times over. One of them is about 6 foot 3, 6 foot 7 in her heels and makes even Mrs RT need to look to her laurels as the most beautiful woman in Christendom. Once I’d put my tongue back into my mouth and clamped my jaw shut to avoid further embarrassment, it is worth noting that India’s defence budget is INCREASING from $30Billion in 2010 to $80 billion in 2015, and they’ve reduced offset requirements from the normal 50% to 30% – deduction – they are moving away from Russian kit and are looking to go western.

    (I don’t know how many knowledgeable BD people may be on hand to talk about the kit at the weekend – many may think like me and bail out. But you should still be able to walk about and look at the kit)

    I don’t know the weekend timings for the airshows, but don’t miss the Malaysia Airlines A380 apparently hanging in the air doing 2mph and at a ridiculous angle of attack. You also get a living demonstration of why V-22 is not something you are going to get me into the back of it: The horizontal to vertical and vice versa demo of the propeller / heli blades made me want to hold onto something solid. And don’t forget, these things in British service would be flown by Kevins.

    There’s a really zippy little Korean jet that looks sexy, cheap and just the thing for fast response CAS – turns on a whisker.

    Take a camera (I forgot, and my BB’s camera was disabled at birth by the IT department). Also comfortable shoes (lots of walking) and home-made sarnies rather than pay concession prices. Coke is more expensive than petrol!

  378. Red Trousers

    …oh, finally, had a glass of hooch with an American who came to our stand (no business reason – he was attracted to one of our demos). Turned out he’s part of the F35C landing hook problem solving team (but not in LM)

    Issue is with either failing to engage on a wire due to being long, and flex in the length of the hook causing it to bounce out, or if it does catch, transmitting serious loading into the main frame of the aircraft (that’s enough physics for RT). The latter is causing too big loads to be transmitted back into the frame of the jet and the first line of investigation is into dampening mechanisms. The bouncing out issue is predicted to be more easily solved by using different metal that does not vibrate so much. Work ongoing in both areas. But there is a chance that either / both dampening and changing metals may not be enough, and in that case it is into a redesign on location, length, something else, and that looks to be more challenging, but not in any way viewed as back to the drawing board.

  379. ArmChairCivvy

    James, you can now referee this great debate
    “Also a life size B variant engine, lift fan etc, and a JASSM lined up alongside the weapons bay”
    – will a long-range, stand-off weapon (no doubt about JASSM credentials there) fit in?
    – Australia paid for a study re: A, you can just take the tape measure for B

  380. Mark


    Hope you enjoyed the show did you get up to the terma stand? They had some interesting things on show and for an istar man like your self.

    This would be your korean jet http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/farnborough-korea-aerospace-industries-t-50-rides-high-in-uk-374093/

    A video of the cockpit for those not fortunate enough to not get to the show for a go http://www.engadget.com/2012/07/11/lockheed-martin-f-35-hands-on/

    Interesting on the hook as I suspected more complicated than just its position. Its attached to one hell of a beefy titanium frame if its causing high loads in that I hate to think what the loads are.

  381. Red Trousers

    @ ACC,

    I can say with certainty that a JASSM is “about” short enough to look as though it will fit in – that as you know is good enough for any BD operative to spin any nonsense he wants. Actually, the JASSM model is lined up exactly with the open bay, so it would not be hard to check for someone with more care for precision than a BD man, but sadly I did not have a tape measure or camera on me at the time.

    I did realise however that the opening of the various doors is going to have to be controlled (presumably automatically by the jet), or else there’s going to be tears as Kevin cocks it up or worse shoots off his own undercarriage. That should not be too hard to do (a few lines of code), but it made me think that Kevin is going to have to think pretty quickly as to which of his gun, bombs and missiles he wants to use before his attack run. He can’t just dive in with everything open and available.

  382. Chris.B.

    @ Mark,

    Just watched that Engadget video, that F-35 is looking pretty damn impressive from a perspective of intuitive piloting and ease of use. If that’s the future then the future looks bloody good for us!

    Did have to laugh though when the guy at the end was talking about how comfortable the helmet was and how pilots love it. It was all he could do to stop himself laughing as he said it.

  383. Dunservin

    I am often amused by posters on TD who propose chopping and changing round bits of ships and equipment (e.g. LFAS, sophisticated missile systems, different propulsion plant, etc.) or suggest that modules can be buttoned on to any hullform to meet requirements, all for ‘pennies’, and everything still performs up to expectation.

    I know the linked article is about the infamous LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) but this was designed with modularity in mind from the start. It provides food for thought for some of the more naive proponents of ‘cheap and cheerful’ modularity for warship C4I facilities, weapons and sensors (Type 26 anyone?) despite such complex issues as system integration, interface design, software configuration control, manning, continuous training, planned maintenance, logistics and infrastructure including basing and environmentally controlled storage, etc:

    Defense News 14 Jul 2012 – LCS: Quick Swap Concept Dead (http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120714/DEFREG02/307140001/LCS-Quick-Swap-Concept-Dead?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE)

    “U.S. Navy Revising Ships’ Operational Plans

    The original idea for the littoral combat ship (LCS) envisioned modular mission packages that could be rapidly swapped, so one ship could change missions easily from mine warfare, for example, to anti-submarine warfare over the course of a single deployment.

    But instead of taking just days to make the switch, it’s now apparent it could take weeks. An LCS assigned to a particular operation will likely operate in a single “come-as-you-are” configuration, requiring additional ships equipped with other mission modules to provide the flexibility the concept once promised.

    That’s one conclusion among many following a series of Navy exercises and reports intended to take stock of LCS. Other conclusions criticize the ship as failing to match capabilities inherent to the ships it would replace. The assessment aims to figure out what the ship can and can’t do, how it should be employed, what kind of support it will need, and what changes must be made to man and fight the ships without wearing out their small crews…”

  384. Dunservin

    I’d better add for TD’s benefit that I am not opposed to modularity per se. I just don’t think it is always the answer to a maiden’s prayer that some people proclaim. ;-)

  385. Phil

    “Just watched that Engadget video, that F-35 is looking pretty damn impressive from a perspective of intuitive piloting and ease of use. If that’s the future then the future looks bloody good for us!”

    Exactly, if it all works stuff like that puts us light years ahead. It just doesn’t come up on the Wiki specs pages…

  386. Chris.B.

    @ Phil,

    “Exactly, if it all works stuff like that puts us light years ahead. It just doesn’t come up on the Wiki specs pages…”

    — Aye, I’ll second that. Impressive how the pilot was able to tailor the layout of the screens based on what phase of the mission he was in, as opposed to being rigiidly constrained by a fixed layout. If this whole sensor sharing thing works the way it should, that’s going to be an absolute game changer. Colonel Boyd’s OODA loop has just been taken to the next level.

    @ RT,
    Good news on the pipeline. It’s a start if nothing else.

  387. El Sid

    Saudis pump oil into a UAE pipeline? You’re more likely to see an aircraft carrier crewed by cavalry.

    That kind of thing is really political – and in any case ignores the fact that the pipeline is designed to cover most of UAE’s exports, there isn’t room for any from anyone else. Its capacity is only about 10% of the oil that goes through Hormuz (let alone the LNG, which is our main interest), and even then it only solves one fairly narrow problem for that 10% – mines in Hormuz. Even after going through a multi-$bn pipeline, oil still only ends up at Fujairah which is still vulnerable to mines and in particular anti-shipping missiles. It’s less acute than mining Hormuz, but tankers in Fujairah are still not out of the woods.

    The Iranians are still not short of targets.

  388. Red Trousers

    @ El Sid,

    I’ll bow to your greater knowledge, but it does not seem like a retrograde step. There’s some interesting fracturing dynamics possible though – UAE now not so concerned if the Iranians do kick up a fuss in Hormuz, as they’ll triple their port revenues. Presumably Phase 2 of this project is a 17 lane superhighway between the inner Gulf ports in the UAE and Fujairah, with a grown up container exchange point.

    As for aircraft carriers crewed by the cavalry, I can see some advantages, but APATS and the rest of the matelots would have a fit (and quite rightly – so would I if a Naval Commodore turned up to conduct a Brigade advance to contact and clearance operation).

  389. ArmChairCivvy

    They must have confused me banging on the number 48 here on this site, now for two years, with a fact (even though it is in a quote from Hammond?)
    – just that 48 is the logical number for the first batch, to meet the limited aims so far confirmed
    – FOAS will get a new name, 5 years will go past and then we’ll hear something more (mind you, at that point the first planes are still not an a carrier)

  390. Phil

    Sounds like shit reporting as ever.

    Has there ever been a plane whose development has been so thoroughly followed? It really skews things. It must drive the developers nuts that every single problem is reported on like no other engineering project has ever had problems. Testing is to sort all this stuff out! If you could knock out a new plane just like that then we’d be doing it.

  391. ArmChairCivvy

    The article says “post-Olympics”
    – as if events in Syria will wait (having got to the boiling over point took 16 months, but regardless)

  392. The Mintcake Maker

    @ RT

    I was under the impression that this was already a planned exercise with the French to take place after the Olympics anyway. So the only thing that’s different to the original plans is that we might be hanging around a bit longer to pick up some expats/tourists/workers up afterwards.

  393. Swimming Trunks

    @ Mr fred – cost probably a factor but so could be doctrine. As I understsnd it the British pratice was for the infantry to dismount and the Warrior to provide firesupport from a stationary position, or a series of positions. That may be deemed unacceotable nowadays. Could be totally mistaken – please feel free to correct me.

  394. Mr.fred

    Swimming trunks,
    Not knowing for sure I would raise the question of whether it was doctrine defining technology or technology defining doctrine.

  395. x

    Don’t worry! We can have one of our rapid reaction heavy armoured brigades down south in 3 months if needs be…..

    EDIT: Sol has some more RIMPAC vids on his site. Those crazy Americans and their amphibious light forces.

  396. Simon

    I think it’s about time the British government funded an oil drilling platform down there. Then we can start to build up (and sustain) a decent supply depot – put other South Atlantic ports out of business ;-)

  397. Brian Black

    Who cares if British flagged ships are banned from Argentina? The oil companies can hire vessels from anyone they like. These are multi-national ventures anyway – Falkland Oil & Gas, for example, are in partnership with the Italian energy company, Edison, which in turn is part of the French EDF group.

  398. x

    They could just as easily ban any ship supporting any none Argentine approved oil exploration activity. Ports aren’t public car parks, ships just don’t turn up to berth, ship movements are planned, and port authrotities will know who you are, where you are from, and what you have been doing. Consequently the actually flag is inconsequential. It is just easier for the Argentines to target ships wearing the British Red Ensign.

  399. Mike W


    “Don’t worry! We can have one of our rapid reaction heavy armoured brigades down south in 3 months if needs be…..”

    Lovely point! Succintly made. We all know that the “Reaction Force” is mainly based on 3 armoured infantry brigades (with of course an air assault brigade). One armoured battlegroup is supposed to be at very high readineess but really, what is the point of the MOD and Army calling the heavy armour a “Reaction Force”, when we all know that it will take the kind of time you describe to get anywhere.

    I was of course leaving out the fact that heavy armour would, as last time be useless on the Falklands terrain. Vikings and CVR(T)s would be about all it could take.

    I am all for the retention of some heavy armour but it is a question of the balance of our forces.

  400. Phil

    Do we know what our Army will be doing in 3 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?


    What part of an Army is the hardest to regenerate and maintain?

    Heavy forces.

    Given that we do not know what the Army will be doing does it make sense to retain a heavy armoured force which would take 25 years to reconstitute?


    Are these forces the only reaction forces avilable to HMG?


    People bang on about balance. There are heavy forces and there are light forces. And you can shade in between.

    Given the strategic context keeping hard to re-generate forces makes perfect sense.

    And guess what, if we needed to re-do the Falklands we could send EXACTLY the same forces down there on land (albeit one is now called 16X when it was a hotch podge 5X before).

    It seems there are people here who would rather see an inadequate force deployed fast (Desert Shield) than a proper force deployed on a more realistic time table. And before anyone bangs on about how Desert Shield worked, at the time, it was perfectly well recognised that they might just be speed bumps and that the force was wholly inadquate.

    The strategic mobility of light forces is massively offset by their tactical and operational punyness when they are on the ground.

    Heavy forces remain the most potent source of ground power. And they are the hardest to regenerate.

    It’s a no brainer they are being emphasised. And we still have an air based light force and a sea based light force and a more adaptive pool of medium / light forces.

    Balance. It’s right in front of your eyes.

  401. x

    Is bang on Army speak for open fire? Bit severe calling down ordnance on him just because he lives in the 70s. Then again at least posting from his sangar in his back garden we know he will be safe…

    EDIT: Quick add on there by the site owner so as not to be seen as completely green in outlook and alienate other commentators…..

    EDIT 2: Silly thing is I never said anything about the size of the new armoured force, just poked at the rapid reaction bit. For a site big on logistics the considerable load heavy armour brings on to the logistical effort seems to get conveniently overlooked. The only way armour can be rapid is if it sitting across the border from you. But heck somebody always bites.

  402. Observer

    I’m with Phil on this one. Infantry you can conscript and regen in 3 months, 5 for AI, and this is considered long. A factory can bang out rifles by the hundreds in a week, more than enough to arm any infantry regiment once they finish training, and you can get APCs out in large batches or if you are in a hurry, plate armour tractors and trucks like rebel forces do. A MBT is a completely different monster entirely, with emphasis on monster. It’s mostly solid armour with few weak spots (top and bottom). Building them is difficult and require specialised equipment, not to mention ammo creation and usage.

    Even if you want to reduce them, I’m all for keeping a few in reserve. Just in case. The rest? You can get them back much faster if you need them, unless they are really speciallised units like Chemical Warfare, EOD or Engineering.

  403. Phil

    Living in the 70s. Cute. The principles of warfare remain unchanged. Technology and reorganisations are just refinements and different ways of bringing about the same fundamental, basic effects. Just because people will things to be different, that we are living in some new paradigm, does not make it so. The practicalities of fighting a war are the same as ever at the fundamental level, certainly it is more complex, but all that complexity is being deployed to the same ends.


    The trouble with light forces is their massive offensive weakness. Light forces require blokes to get up, and fire and manoeuvre toward an enemy in a defensive and strong position. Heavy forces require this too but there tends to be a lot more direct fire at their command and when heavy forces are involved, by default the battlespace is more developed with regards to combat support.

    I think the best way to improve the hitting power of light forces in a conventional role is to not bother frankly. Their weapon in a conventional war is surprise and infiltration. They simply cannot organically bring to bare or carry anything like the fire-power they need to take on strong defensive in-depth positions. So the best way to enhance them is to develop their use of external fire power agents I will call them, artillery and air power and this seems to be what is happening with the emphasis on FSTs and air strikes.

    But, there is still a limit to their effectiveness in a conventional battle when employing the offensive. Arnhem is a tragic case in point – infiltration and surprise was the Para’s main weapon and they squandered it which meant that apart from a small group under Frost they simply couldn’t get past even hasty and light defences on Day One because they lacked the mass and firepower.

    If you add mass and firepower to light infantry they cease to be light or you degrade their main weapon, surprise and infiltration. Light units must make use of a framework of firepower provided by external agents internally co-ordinated and then you are still less powerful offensively than heavy forces doing the same.

    That said, light infantry is otherwise extremely versatile and suitable for a wide range of roles in modern operations.

  404. Mike W


    Your whole case is so cogently argued and with such fervour that you have persuaded me. However, before I crawl under the table in ignominy, I would just like to say the following:

    I have never been for the scrapping of tanks in large numbers (which is what some people wanted, including some within the RAC!) and have always argued for the retention of sufficient heavy armour. However, it did seem to me that, as we have never deployed more that approx. 100 tanks in recent campaigns (including Gulf War 2), that a certain re-balancing (Dare I use that word or will you be off again?) should take place. There is another side to the argument and that was put forward in the SDSR. Until your stormer of a post I was under the naive impression that that review might have got it more right than the recent Army 2020 decisions.

    It is really a question of fine tuning (or is there a rather stronger term than that?) Perhaps two dedicated Armoured Brigades rather than three with more emphasis put on forces that can get to trouble spots quickly.

    However, you seem to know a hell of a lot more than I do about this subject than I do and I am prepared to learn.

  405. Phil

    “The only way armour can be rapid is if it sitting across the border from you.”

    A weak, absolutist argument.

    Yes, by all means have a rapid but inadequate force. Or, you can have a slower but more powerful force. It is all relative.

    And the logistics are not conveniently overlooked. What is overlooked is that the Armed Forces have consistently shown over the last 20 years they can take a powerful armoured force, and move it thousands of miles and fight and win a war at the end of it. The logistical problems are perfectly within the ability of the Armed Forces to solve.

    But instead I suppose we should write off our hardest to regenerate force because the Armed Forces can’t move them in a time that is useful because they’ve got collective amnesia and because light forces get to land (and die faster) in the new theatre. If Im stuck in the 70s old boy you’re around the the time of Cardwell.

  406. Phil

    Mike W

    The Army’s force structure is about generating some high level effects.

    Firstly, what it wants to do in effect is maintain a powerful operational grouping of a size that allows us influence in a coalition. This is why there is a traditional triangular division in the reaction forces and it is why it is heavy (an armoured division is big currency these days).

    Secondly, it is about maintaining a viable force generation model and three brigades ties in nicely with that with the 36 month cycle.

    The structure of the division is tried and tested, as much as we like to tinker and re-imagine what is interesting is just how constant ground force organisation is across time and theatres and countries. I argue that this consistency is because there are laws governing the use of ground forces and the rule of 3 or 4 has almost by natural selection, been proven to be the most effective. So, the Army’s divisional structure seems very conservative. I argue that in fact it is very fundamentally sound.

    If you look at the history of divisional and brigade and battalion organisation throughout recent modern history you see flairs of imagination or deviation (US WWI divisions, British WWII early armoured divisions, US combined arms battalions in the 1980s, British armoured divisions in the late 70s, US pentomic divisions of the 1950s) but always, without exception, organisations revert back to more traditional organisations because, conservative as it is, it works and it works for good reasons (simply, it balances the number of sub units a HQ can effectively manage with the 2 up 1 in reserve principle with balancing the number of higher HQs across the force (better to have more medium than many small or a few large)). It is also telling that these reorganisations back to more traditional structures tend to happen during times or after times of conflict or war.

    I think, as disasteful as the young thrusting minds find it, our new organisation in the RF is solid and thoughtful.

  407. Observer


    Armour tend to bring most of their own supplies. The poor infantry OTOH can only hump a limited amount of stuff. They need vehicular support for even their basic supplies like water and ammo. What our reservists tend to pack into an APC if they’re lucky to be in one is a running joke in our country. Cans and cans of preserved fruits, spam and coloured water. Which is less funny once you realise that other than jerrycans carried with them and water tankers (maybe), is the only other supply of water for them.

    Ammo? Food? Bah. Take away their water, and after a single day of fighting, that’s it for your infantry. At least armour can carry their own water supply. Their weakness is fuel.

  408. John Hartley

    One of those “how many angels” pointless arguments. You need light & heavy forces to be flexible.
    Arnhem. I would have wanted heavy Comet tanks storming up the road to relieve them, but its a shame there was no ability for the Paras to have a dozen light Honey tanks with them(yes I know about the lightweight glider tanks used on D-Day, but strangely not at Arnhem). Comets came into service a couple of months too late.
    Back to now. We should revamp some Challenger 2. Keep the others in reserve. Forward deploy a handfull to the Falklands, Gib, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, Ascension. Do not have to be manned, just there in reserve.
    We should have evolved the Stormer family with better IED protection. That is the sort of light armour that is easy to reach tricky places. Carried by CH-53K perhaps?

  409. Phil

    Arnhem: what would have worked was dropping them close enough to the bridge that they could use their surprise and infiltration advantages to seize the objective and then dig in tight as a tic and hope they could hold out longer than it took for them to be relieved.

    Adding some light tanks would still have seen them over matched by the German forces and their ability to be supplied would be severely limited, they might have lasted a day in action if they were not destroyed before then. But by squandering surprise and infiltration, against a competent and aggressive enemy, the effort was doomed. Against even a light hasty defence, light forces are at a severe offensive disadvantage.

    Their advances into Arnhem were being held up for hours at a time by single snipers, snipers that heavy forces could just drive past or over.

    I agree you need both light and heavy forces. Each has a role to play. But in conventional warfare, your emphasis must be on the heavy force or you will simply run into a brick wall that your leg infantry can neither go over or around.

  410. Red Trousers

    We should revamp some Challenger 2. Keep the others in reserve. Forward deploy a handfull to the Falklands, Gib, Cyprus, Diego Garcia, Ascension. Do not have to be manned, just there in reserve.” (John Hartley)

    1. Tanks have their best effect when massed, not deployed in handfuls.

    2. Tanks and the terrain of the FI, Gibraltar, Ascension and Diego Garcia don’t mix. Possibly you’d get a decent run in Cyprus. But what on earth is the point of having tanks – either a handful, or a lot – in any of those places?

    3. Tanks left unfettled on a daily basis break down. Crap British engineering, but that’s what we’ve got****. So unless you want to park up some static hulks in those places, you’ll need someone there every day giving the engines a turnover and all electrical systems a thorough shakedown.

    **** I don’t know enough about British AFV manufacturing to know if my Scimitars, Spartan, CR1 or CR2 were made by Alvis, Vickers, or some jobbing Irish builder. But they were all completely crap. Less reliable than the worst of the British car industry in the 70s. Completely and totally rubbish. Worse than that actually, in reliability terms. Totally shite. And don’t get me started on the total level of crapness that is the software for the Chieftain / Challenger 1 fire control system, which often required multiple reboots to get it into working order. Thank the Lord that CR2 at least sorted that out.

  411. Brian Black

    The Reaction Force component of the Army will have light infantry in the shape of the air-assault/airborne group, and protected mobility infantry battalions too, as well as the armoured infantry, tanks and cavalry; so it’s a bit disingenuous to present the force as a slow to respond, lumbering, all heavy armour force.
    There’ll be a mixed bag to choose from when constructing the lead battlegroup, and you’d expect the Adaptive Force component to begin gearing up immediately as soon as it became apparent that a deployment might be needed. There’s no reason to believe that this set-up will leave us worse off, as far as rapid reaction goes.

  412. Challenger


    Where do you start on what went wrong at Arnhem. Radio’s that didn’t work, senior officers getting cut off from the main force, multiply drops that took several days and were subject to the weather and more besides.

    I agree the main problem was the lack of surprise. They were dropped too far away from the objective (because of the fear of encountering heavy flak I believe) to have any chance of quick/decisive infiltration.

    Para’s are always lightly equipped, what use would a dozen light tanks have done against two (albeit understrength) SS Panzer divisions!

    A high-risk plan that was probably doomed by the decisions made right at the beginning, no matter how fantastically brave and ferociously tough the red devils were.

  413. Mike W


    Thanks very much for the teach-in, tutorial, or whatever you care to call it. Most instructive. I certainly take your point about “divisional and brigade and battalion organisation” – “it works and it works for good reasons (simply, it balances the number of sub units a HQ can effectively manage with the 2 up 1 in reserve principle with balancing the number of higher HQs across the force (better to have more medium than many small or a few large))”

    Aren’t you blokes quick! I sent off the last post, then thought about Arnhem as as an example of how our light forces could have done with more hitting power, then set off for a walk with the missus. On my return I find that the subject of Arnhem had not only been been introduced but the the campaign dissected and conclusions reached!

    Just before I go, Phil, ‘cos time is short tonight, I’d like to ask you one more question. You say:

    “The principles of warfare remain unchanged. Technology and reorganisations are just refinements and different ways of bringing about the same fundamental, basic effects. Just because people will things to be different, that we are living in some new paradigm, does not make it so. The practicalities of fighting a war are the same as ever at the fundamental level, certainly it is more complex, but all that complexity is being deployed to the same ends.”

    Well, yes, but we have been arguing about “technology and reorganisations” here, if you like about tactics rather than strategic ends. I’m not sure of the value of introducing an argument about “ends”. We all want to win!

    No, the argument has been about formations and kit. Now, you are not telling me, are you, that something like the IED has not been a game-changing thing? Not only in COIN warfare, where it has meant the introduction of a whole range of new equipment to counter it but in the future, won’t it be introduced to high intensity warfare too?

  414. ArmChairCivvy

    These references to Arnheim are disturbing, surely one of the most studied actions in WW2:
    1. Photo recce discovered (traces of) the existence of two German armoured divisions in the area, resting from the eastern Front
    2. This was expediently (for “political” purposes) thrust aside
    3. Germans executed their own version of Balaclava Charge, to buy time, because the recce bn (wheeled)was the only one in an operational state (tanks in maintenance had had their tracks removed; a lot of the tanks had actually been “rail’ed” back to factory
    4. Additionally, the Commanding Officer of the main (out of 7) German Parachute Division (the one engaged in Monte Cassino at that time; recuperating from the wounds received there) was in the area and advised on the forming of the early counter-ops, knowing how to read the tactics

    It is not productive to infer anything as for the present day usability and capability of light forces (sorry).

  415. Challenger

    Hey guys, I wanted to enjoy talking about something historical! I agree it doesn’t have much relevance to the modern day usage of light forces and application of mobility.

    I just wanted to respond to John Hartley’s inference that some light tanks would have been a good thing at Arnhem by saying that it wouldn’t have made one bit of difference.

  416. Challenger


    Forget to add, some good points on Arnhem (or rather Market Garden).

    I added ‘albeit understrength’ to my post because I was aware of the situation those two panzer divisions were in during September 1944, I probably should have been stronger and said something like ‘depleted and skeleton formations’! Although you know as well as I do that with or without tanks, any officers and men of the SS would have represented some seriously fanatical opposition.

    Am I right in thinking that the information gathered before the kick off was ignored largely because of Monty’s obsession with directing a northern punch in-to Germany, coupled with the need to have the airborne army actually doing something after so many cancelled operations?

  417. Phil

    “It is not productive to infer anything as for the present day usability and capability of light forces (sorry).”

    Negative. Study the movements of 1,2,3 PARA toward the bridge in the first day of the operation. 1 and 3 PARA hit light resistance and sporadic sniper fire and were held up long enough for the Germans to crystalise their defences. 2 PARA only got through on sheer serendipity and walked right past the Germans, if they had taken another route they’d have been stopped too.

    The lesson is, light forces have little offensive mass but are useful for surprise and infiltration missions. 2 PARA got to the bridge using surprise and infiltration, and it held out long enough for it to have been relieved under the original plan.

    That was the point of failure in the whole operation, three axis of advance by three light infantry forces, 2 hit opposition and were stopped, the third infiltrated (by luck) and got to the objective.

    There are plenty of lessons to be learned from this operation. The wider problems have their own aetiology but otherwise the first day is a classic study into the efficacy of light infantry on the offensive.

  418. Mr.fred

    What is the analogue for the IED in high intensity conflict other than a land mine? Regardless of the method of initiation, the concealed charge is not new to high intensity conflict. When used in such a scenario, the IED becomes a one-shot counter-mobility device. Once passed it has no further effect. Only in a COIN environment does it attain any kind of persistence because you have people available to install new devices.

  419. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Challenger,

    It was not directed at you, rather at broad conclusions drawn from v specific circumstances, and yes, absolutely
    “Am I right in thinking that the information gathered before the kick off was ignored largely because of Monty’s obsession with directing a northern punch in-to Germany, coupled with the need to have the airborne army actually doing something after so many cancelled operations?”
    – the history thread has not taken off, after two great contributions about the anti-invasion work (and tactics) RE : Operation Sea Lion
    – Sven (S O) has some good ones on his site, but the cross-over to here is not great… considering that the purely Churchillian view of history started to crumble in the 80’s, with the 30-year rule concerning the opening of archives ( monopoly access till then, call it: Executive Privilege)

  420. Phil

    “Not only in COIN warfare, where it has meant the introduction of a whole range of new equipment to counter it but in the future, won’t it be introduced to high intensity warfare too?”

    I don’t know if you read it but I’ve argued this before on here. An IED is a mine. In conventional warfare you remove the “I” part as it is not improvised.

    The weapon itself has not changed a thing, it is a simple counter mobility weapon. What changed things was the context in which we operated amongst that threat. In conventional warfare you can move aggressively, with smoke and suppressing fire and you can take different routes and clear the mines.

    In COIN, you have to mix with the population, you have to move non tactically a lot of the time, you cannot destroy obstacles like buildings or blow bridges most of the time, thus your methods of dealing with a very conventional and very normal threat are changed a lot. Instead of them being one aspect of the battle, they become the main focus because our modus operandi in environments like that do not allow us to deal with the IEDs or mines as we normally would. So we need new kit, new TTPs and so forth.

    Place the Army back in a more conventional scenario and mines can be dealt with in more traditional ways and are just one aspect of the field problem and not one of the main emphasises.

    Mines are devastatingly effective weapons in counter mobility terms, but they can be cleared under fire reasonably well. But as I said, we can’t operate like that in Afghan.

    So the technology has not been a game changer. Its nothing new. What has changed from our PoV is the context of our operations out there which means we have had to change our kit and TTPs.

    So no, not a game changer, it just shows how effective mines are.

  421. Phil


    I think there were a lot of reasons for Market Garden going ahead, you mention two of them. Also, a lot of it I think was misapplied lessons from the early part of the war where a narrow front advance was seen as being more effective than a broad front. That debate rages even now but the trouble with a narrow front is that not only does it concentrate your forces in space and time, it can concentrate the enemies forces in space and time against you.

    I think the key to a narrow front advance is to concentrate your strategic strength against strategic weakness like Germany in the first few weeks of May 1940.

    Monty wasn’t ever going to get the level of strategic strength necessary and it is debatable that he could have deployed it fast enough against German weakness to stop them concentrating in time and space in front of the British who had quite the logistical choke points in their rear over the bridges and the limited roads.

    That said, there was an allied air army doing nothing, the Germans seemed completely broken on the strategic level (whatever the difficulties locally, on a strategic level the western front seemed to be in pieces) and there was an opportunity for a daring but risky plan to end the war in 44 and save hundreds of thousands of lives potentially.

    In that context launching the operation makes sense, I don’t believe the allies thought the Germans had any strength left to concentrate against a narrow front. What nobody counted on was the crystalisation of the western front in just a few weeks in September and how quickly an aggressive and competent Army can re-group and get back into the fight.

    With hindsight, it was doomed.

    At the time, it was worth a shot, at worst you lost a few divisions which as callous as it sounds, was short change in WWII, at best, you saved so many lives and so much treasure.

  422. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Phil, there is the “black & white man, again”
    ” not productive to infer anything as for the present day usability and capability of light forces (sorry).” Negative. Study the movements of 1,2,3 PARA toward the bridge in the first day of the operation.”

    You obviously saw the folly of your comment, and went back to the history books:
    – once the assumptions underlying the tactical action (albeit it was on quite a large scale) had been overturned by events – and facts – unfolding (faulty intelligence in the case being discussed; I made my comment about its worth as a general reference),
    – then: go back to the assumptions underlying the planning for the relief effort (heavy part of the force?)

    Did anything happen (go wrong) there?
    – this is the heart of the matter:
    – using light forces quickly, but making sure they are not left to their own devices

    As for eternal & unchanging truths

  423. John Hartley

    There were a couple of light modern tanks on Crete in 1941. Gave the German paras a nasty shock & drove them back. Had we had more, history might have been differrent.
    A dozen light tanks at Arnhem. On paper, no match for the Germans, but reports of the allies having armour would have made the Germans more wary. Also boosted the morale of our paras, that it was not all one sided. In other words, we would have got more time for the cavalry to turn up. Had Comets been in service a couple of months earlier, they would have stood a better chance of punching through.

  424. Phil

    No I am not talking about the operation as a whole, I am talking about the tactical and operational lessons to be learned on day one which was three well trained, aggressive, coherant allied forces advanced on an objective along three different axis of advance. Two axis met light resistance, they did not get to the objective. One axis met next to no resistance and gained surprise and infiltrated, they reached their objective.

    That the rest of the plan fell apart around Arnhem is not relevant to my point which is light forces have limited offensive utility and this can be seen on day one of the Arnhem drop.

    Around Market Garden light force units tended to only manage success in offensive operations without the elements of surprise and infiltration by using supporting units from XXX Corps – an armoured formation. This can be seen around Nijmegan.

    So I stand by my point, there are isomorphic lessons to be learned from Arnhem. And a huge number of other light infantry actions in WWII. They are arguably far more relevant than ones from the Falklands because on the whole the enemy was aggressive, manoeuvred, had depth, organic fire-power and was competent.

  425. Phil

    “but reports of the allies having armour would have made the Germans more wary.”

    The Germans weren’t retarded, they’d know they were light tanks and they’d know all about their limitations. Perhaps if they had been with 1 and 3 PARA they might have tipped the balance in the initial clashes but the infantry were being held up by snipers and skirmishing units and the tanks could not have moved faster than their supporting infantry.

    “Had Comets been in service a couple of months earlier, they would have stood a better chance of punching through.”

    This is a classic case of technological determinism.

    Tell me how the Comet tank would have widened the single, polder lined road to Arnhem? How would it have helped the infantry clear German resistance faster so it could advance? And how would it have made the capture of Nijmegan bridge go faster?

    The limiting factor in Market Garden wasn’t the kit, it was launching an Army operation up a single, one track road and the speed of the infantry in clearing German positions.

    Comet would have changed nothing. The limiting factor wasn’t German tanks or British tanks getting knocked out, it was having a divisional axis of advance 12 feet across and having to winkle out German infantry.

  426. Observer


    Intrestingly enough, the field least changed since WWII is actually infantry tactics, so I do disagree that there is nothing that can be learnt from their actions. Part of that reason is that infantry equipment themselves have limited ability to change, and it was, as Phil said, all about infiltration and surprise. Who was it that said that “Infantry are like lice in the folds of the ground/earth(?)”.

    What I can forsee is the use of infantry more and more in the indirect fire role, combining their skill at infiltration with firepower delivered by mechanised units in the rear, or airstrikes.

  427. Tubby

    Can I also ask some questions about the Reactive Forces – will all our armour be restricted to the Reactive Forces, if so how do we do enduring operations with long term deployments of armour? In another thread ACC indicated that the Army felt that the Mastiff was not the right platform for the Reactive Force, and it appears to be planned as a short term stop gap until we procure FRES UV. Given that Philip Hammond has said that the Army needs the right equipment for the job, and the Army says that Mastiff is the wrong equipment for the job, why are we wasting money bring them back from Afghanistan, bringing them into core equipment and using them for a decade?

  428. ArmChairCivvy

    So, Phil, back to my question, and about the relationship of the “fast” light and “slow” heavy:
    “Tell me how the Comet tank would have widened the single, polder lined road to Arnhem? How would it have helped the infantry clear German resistance faster so it could advance?”
    – other than faulty intelligence, which planning assumptions actually did fall down (scuppered the whole thing? We did start from the point whether this case was a reference for the usefulness of light forces)

  429. x

    I should Mastiff is stop gap until an 8×8 can be bought. One that is air portable under slung from a Wildcat , does 10000mpg, impervious to direct hits from 1 megaton warheads…..

  430. Phil

    “will all our armour be restricted to the Reactive Forces, if so how do we do enduring operations which long term deployments of armour?”

    Methinks an enduring operation with long term committments of armour will come under the world war label. There is no anticipation of needing large numbers of tanks for an enduring operation. We used a squadron in Iraq but there is sufficient tanks to drop off a sqn in theatre and have blokes fall in on them as usual.

    As for Mastiff. Well it’s better than the 4 tonner in a tin. It clearly has a role, whether its the bet vehicle to bounce around in on a brigade attack I cannot say.

  431. Phil

    No I never said Arnhem was a case. I said the day one activities had some lessons that were relevant for light infantry today.

    Im not really sure what your question is saying? Intelligence was the main problem. We thought the Germans were finished, everyone but the Germans thought we had broken them in Falaise.

    We were really bloody wrong. Even if Arnhem had worked, the operation as a whole probably would not have.

  432. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Tubby,

    “Manoeuvre” as in units capable of manouevre warfare was the context, as in
    “how do we do enduring operations with long term deployments of armour? In another thread ACC indicated that the Army felt that the Mastiff was not the right platform for the Reactive Force, and it appears to be planned as a short term stop gap until we procure FRES UV.”
    – long term deployments typically would not require “manoeuvre capable units” as for the kit, i.e. combined arms capable & trained, which is the “entry level” for winning hot wars

  433. ArmChairCivvy

    Sorry, Tubby, that was too one-dimensional
    – have to add the original reference in: It (the Mastiff) is not an IFV

    Reference case:
    Now that the Canadians realised they will need tanks (and the ones they are getting, not the ones they are leasing, are great)…
    – they will not “even dream” that the LAVs will be able companions
    – they are looking for something like the CV Armadillo (90 is good to drop from the name, as it was specced for the Force 1990, not 2020 or anything like that)

  434. Tubby

    Thanks Phil and ACC,

    Do we need some Challenger 2 or Warrior’s in the Adaptive Force, so that they can generate a squadron or two over long enduring periods, or can the Reactive Forces cope with enduring ops if you are deploying smallish forces – my guess is yes the Reactive Forces can cope, but I am trying to work out what happens to the Reactive Force once the operation turns into a long term operation – are they withdrawn and it becomes solely a job for the Adaptive Forces? Presumably there is a real risk that if we are drawn into a long-term commitment say peace keeping the newly demilitarized buffer zone between Turkey and Syria and the Adaptive Forces cannot produce enough personnel and equipment it will be raided from the Reactive Forces?

    Sorry to misquote you ACC, however surely we are not looking to replace Mastiff with IFV, we are looking for some sort of wheeled APC which can transport in troops to the edge of the battle so that they can de-bus? If that is the case – that we are looking at a wheeled vehicle to just transport the troops to the edge of the battle, then this is where I get confused – if I had to guess I would say that Mastiff is likely very poor over difficult terrain, and lacks sufficient protection against anything other than IED’s and therefore cannot fulfil the FRES UV role, which makes it puzzling that we would buy them at not inconsiderable cost into the core equipment programme, and then transport them back to the UK to use them for about a decade, with the aim of procuring FRES UV for introduction into service in 2021/2.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to buy FRES UV now. Hell, if we had to go for a less UK-specific programme we could buy a number of Stryker’s on the back of the US programme.

    Finally, does anyone know if the FRES SV Protected Mobility variant will be able to carry a full section, or will it only carry 4 men?

  435. John Hartley

    Rubbish all you want, but it is all conjecture. I think the Honey/Comet combo would have tipped the balance. You do not. Neither of us can prove it either way. It was called a near run thing. A little bit of extra help might, just might, have done it.
    The lesson for now, is that you need something light you can deploy quickly, followed by the heavy stuff not too far behind.

  436. Phil

    It is far less conjecture than you employ. As I said, a different model of tank would not have changed the two greatest problems: the single lane axis of advance and German infantry resistance. King Tigers would have made no difference if we somehow managed to have a battalion of them.

  437. Mr.fred

    If the SV PM variant carries only 4 then it will be a rum business as the platform can carry at least 7 in an IFV configuration.

    Buying FRES UV now would result in a five year delay before it gets into service, at a rough guess, assuming that funds are available.

  438. John Hartley

    Phil, Phil,Phil.
    Unless you go back & fight it, there is no way of knowing. As I get older, the more I realise there is very little certain. Making great sweeping statements without proof is just folly.

  439. Phil

    No folly is thinking that a tank can change the main reason cited for the failure of the whole operation: the single lane axis of advance. I can’t see how an incrementally better British tank would have allowed the infantry to clear German defenders faster. The other main hold up was that tanks can’t advance faster than their supporting infantry.

    At best you’d have had Bogart accusing us of drinking tea with Comets in the background and not Shermans.

    I’m suspicious of any and all claims that a single piece of contemporary technology could have changed any outcome in WWII.

  440. Observer

    JH, all that the Comets would have done was to end up facing Konigstigers. There was a squadron of them in the field. Fortunately though, they were too heavy to move off the roads. I suspect the Comets would have faced the same problem, not to mention German infantry anti-tank weapons were very, very good and the terrain would have favoured their usage. Panzerfausts and Shreks in closed terrain would have jammed up XXX Corp anyway until infantry could be brought up to sweep the area.

    And seriously. Not a good idea to ram an invasion up a single axis. Never mind the problems of maintaining it from being pinched off from the flanks.

    The Germans were no fools either, blowing the bridges. The need for pontoon bridges delayed the invasion for ~3 days or more IIRC.

  441. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Tubby,

    You are not confused at all. You’ve elaborated why Mastiff-equipped units, on their own, cannot be considered manoeuvre units, whereas they can easily constitute mobile reserves within such.

    And no one would deny that the Stryker Bdes are manoeuvre units, so the borderline goes somewhere in between, RE
    “Hell, if we had to go for a less UK-specific programme we could buy a number of Stryker’s on the back of the US programme.”
    – just that you can get more for your money (today; Stryker was best of breed when it was selected)

  442. ArmChairCivvy

    Observer, the following numbers from a battle fought over two months on the Karelian Istmus (roughly contemporous with Arnheim)prove your point ” German infantry anti-tank weapons were very, very good and the terrain would have favoured their usage. Panzerfausts and Shreks in closed terrain would have jammed up XXX Corp anyway until infantry could be brought up to sweep the area.”

    75,000 soldiers (initially)vs 451,500 soldiers
    – defending force grew to 268,000 soldiers (after reinforcements)
    1,930 artillery pieces vs 10,500 artillery pieces
    110 tanks vs 800 tanks
    248 aircraft vs 1,600 aircraft

    Without such weapons and (closed) terrain favouring their use as opposed to tank-to-tank battles on the open steppe it would not have been possible to wear down the attackers’ overwhelming force, and by yielding terrain selectively, to stop them

  443. John Hartley

    Arnhem was “a close run thing”. Many have pointed out changes that could have turned a defeat into victory.
    For example; General Pattons forces were starved of supplies & at a standstill. If anyone could have pushed tanks up a narrow road, he was the best candidate.
    The Polish underground army had good radios that kept Poland in contact with London. Dropping a couple of those radios & operators at Arnhem would have greatly helped communication.
    Delaying the Arnhem part of the operation by one day & using it to bomb the woods where the German armour was suspected to be.
    Would a few light tanks at Arnhem have helped? Well look at Galatas, Crete, 1941. The Germans took Galatas. The ragbag British forces fled to the fields. Two light British tanks turned up & that so boosted morale that infantry that had just fled was now keen to “get stuck in on Jerry”. So 2 tanks, Maoris + odd soldiers lost from their units waded into Galatas. The Germans panicked as they thought the battle was over. They reported a general counter offensive, the tanks confirmed their view, even though it was only a local counter attack. (Source Alan Clark, The Fall of Crete,1962).

  444. Phil

    “For example; General Pattons forces were starved of supplies & at a standstill. If anyone could have pushed tanks up a narrow road, he was the best candidate.”

    Sometimes actions are constrained by the physical environment. Patton, for all this bluster and ego, was not an X-Man and thus could not have changed the physical dimensions of the road by will power. I am sure you have heard this but professionals think logistics, and Patton would have had to have driven up the same road. And what we see with Patton is that actually, whilst he was very good at driving his men forward with virtually nothing in front of them, he was no more succesful, arguably less succesful than other allied commanders when he hit dense German resistance. So I doubt changing commanders or even the entire Army would have made any difference.

    It was not beyond the wit of most commanders to force their way up a single narrow axis of advance, what proved impossible was to do it in two to three days even with the enemy to their front diluted by the need to contain and destroy the allied operational groupings in their rear.

    “Dropping a couple of those radios & operators at Arnhem would have greatly helped communication.”

    What would that have achieved over all? Nothing more than a running commentary of Frost running out of ammo and having to surrender and the fact that light forces were proving unable to get through to the bridge on their own. Radio’s do not change the pressure on the landing zone. Perhaps the Polish brigade might have dropped somewhere else but again you’d have had light infantry having to drive through urban terrain to get at the bridge which they were unable to do.

    “Delaying the Arnhem part of the operation by one day & using it to bomb the woods where the German armour was suspected to be.”

    Carpet bombing enemy formations was shown time and time again to be spectacular but very ineffective. And it might just have had the effect of moving forces in front of 2 PARA as it would have done anything else. This is one of those “we will never know” options you talked about.

    “The Germans panicked as they thought the battle was over. They reported a general counter offensive, the tanks confirmed their view, even though it was only a local counter attack.”

    The Germans were a competent, aggressive and surprisingly manoeuvrable enemy with on the whole strong leadership and battlefield intelligence. I personally doubt that the remnants of 2 SS Pzr Divisions would have ran away from light tanks and even if they initially did it would have been 12 hours or so before the Germans got a good picture of what was happening (air drops behind the lines astride key bridges and a thrust from the south on an axis that lines up with them) and realise that the light tanks, if they had not run out of fuel and ammo by now, were a very finite, and very weak armoured force. Panic was prevalant on all sides in an attack but the Germans generally were very good at recovering from the initial strike, forming a good picture of what was happening and then shaping the battlefield to counter attack. Perhaps 2 SS Pzr Divisions might have panicked, perhaps more of our blokes might have got to the bridge, but as it was, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, in a quiet area 64 miles behind their lines as they rested, thousands of bloody paratroopers fell out of the sky and started trying to kill them, with no warning whatsoever, they didn’t panic. Instead they got amongst it very quickly and reacted very rapidly to events. What we have instead is professionals reacting to fast moving events aggressively and fighting despite the shock.

    Arnhem wasn’t a close run thing. The strategic context was that the German Army in the west had recovered enough to stiffen the line and to make any attempt at a thrust untenable no matter where it happened and we did not have the supplies to maintain multiple thrusts on different axis after punching through ever thickening German forces falling back on their LOCs and thei fortifications and the forests.

    Arnhem was launched a few weeks too late.

  445. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi JH,

    The Germans had thought about it, but in practice did not take many of these http://militaryanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/recoilless.html
    with them
    – they had enough trouble keeping the force supplied with the “normal” stuff

    By the time of Market Garden, normal infantry had ample anti-tank capability – in fact, the STUGs were produced in such great numbers specifically to retain the usefulness of infantry divisions in the field, as they vastly outnumbered the heavy (panzer & panzerjaeger) formations

  446. ArmChairCivvy