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!
Of course we’re not. We don’t need Trident (if anyone can explain what it’s for in the post-Cold War modern world, beyond simply holding onto the idea of the UK being one of the world’s ‘big boys’, please do). So, bin it and spend the MoD’s funds on a well-equipped convential defence force.
Wow. I’ve been reading Think Defence for a few weeks now, but never really felt well-informed enough to comment on the more technical posts, even though I have more than a passing interest in these issues. This is game-changing stuff though.
The only way this will end well is if the MoD takes all the lovely cash to spend on Trident, and then through smoke & mirrors/incompetence (feigned or otherwise) manages not to spend most of it on Trident! Perhaps some kind of pot set aside for the replacement, which (oops) somehow accidentally gets spent on some F35s instead. I’m being grossly over-simplistic, but I really have seen this kind of grand dupe pulled before. Where that leaves our credible deterrent is of course another matter, but if we have to choose…
Great blog by the way, shame there’s not much good news at the moment!
If the MoD has to pay for Trident we’ll soon see what value our military commanders place on it. It’s always been a political, rather than military, weapon – and I’m betting none of them would swap any of their current operational capabilities to keep it going.
never ever play call my bluff with squaddies/airmen/sailors. Especially if you’re some young upstart, who thinks they know everything, what i hope happens now is the vanguards come off continous patrol and the RN effectivly “mothball” one or two to save money and start the paperwork to end of service for trident. When asked by the aforementioned upstart, just tell him we were told to choose stuff to cut, so guess what!!! Anyway it’s a bit like those chally tanks in germany that are never used isn’t dr fox, except unlike the challys that have been used in iraq and the balkans trident has NEVER been used so by your own logic time to mag to grid it, out to you
as said elsewhere, Fox should opt for the fourth RUSI option, some warheads in secure storage, and tell hague and cameron that if they want nukes for FP willy waving they had better have a word with the boy George, because his brief is Defence and the deterrent is as much a political tool.
I’ve ranted on these pages long enough for most people to know my stance on the issue of nuclear global status enhances.
Joss, you’ve hit a nail on the head, it is nothing more than a political weapon. It gives us a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and when we talk, a lot of countries listen.
It’s time to get rid of it and see if our politicians and diplomats have got a proper set of cajones that for too long have hidden behind the giant phallus that is Trident.
If Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan can do without it and still maintain a respected global status I’m sure we can do the same.
Getting “military commanders” opinion on the trident program is like getting the RAFs opinion on the AAC and FAA and treating it as gospel.
What if the MoD says flatly that it cannot afford Trident, will not take money from other projects in order to fund Trident and that being forced to pay for it will result in soldiers dying in Afghanistan?
Will the politicians then have to make THE decision; Fund Trident directly from the treasury or allow the MoD to decommision it.
There are other threads for this, but this one had me on title alone
This is a place for cool and relentless calculation, once we’ve repeated the post title a few times; to put on my naval-history anorak this is a situation for Jellicoe not Beatty.
1) Down to three boats at the next point of rotation. Give HMG a taste while things are quiet on the nuclear front, but could potentially heat up (Iran/Israel, the Koreas, etc.) at any time. Carry on with winding down Vanguard on schedule.
2)Do just as Pete suggested in the comment before this. The trouble is that I’m no longer convinced Fox can play poker at that level, having been the one to set this trap for himself with poorly chosen language. (Cameron and Osborne want his pelt for party-political reasons, and a veiled implication that he might resign if faced with this pass was all they needed. Have these folks forgotten their own party has, in several generational turns — 1890s, 1920s, 1956, the Night of the Long Knives, late 1980s — raised Cabinet bloodletting to an art form?) Hope the Service chiefs can.
3) Get the hell on with Option 3 from the thread below. Just build the four-tube modded Astutes, no need to reinvent the wheel so you end up slowing down the production rate. SSGNs are more useful than SSNs for independent (ie non-carrier group) action anyway. And when it’s clear these *are* Trident replacements, don’t let the idiot press on to the notion that maybe it might be sensible to have more than three warheads on one D5. At that point, the arts boys of Fleet Street go “four times three is twelve. Twelve warheads?” Out go long screeds in the Times and Telegraph with ruminations on the state of the culture and how even Nye Bevan wanted a place at the conference table (he did) — and others in the Guardian laced with schadenfreude — where, if one put on Captain Subtext’s helmet, they say “Ohgodohgodohgodohgod. Our national willy is **tiny** now. Oh, God, if the prefects find out we’ll never survive through sixth form!”
4) So, while the firestorm continues, you build regenerative capacity under the furore. Eight SSGNs (modded Astutes) on top of four to six “plain” Astutes. No need for more than, say 16 Trident D5 missiles (for three to four SSGNs on deterrent rotation) instead of the fifty-odd now — cost savings. Only about 120 or so live warheads — cost savings again, and a bare minimum for regeneration. And if you end up scrapping the whole thing because someone throws a tantrum about not having a Vanguard-sized SSBN to wave about, then at least you have delivery systems that could re-equip down the line or, as others have suggested, be kitted out with big conventional arsenals of cruise, “rods from God,” etc.
5) Then, and here’s the really evil part, you let Osborne take the credit. Oh, he figured out how to kill Trident without killing a deterrent (ha), he’s the Geddes of a new century (look how well that went come 1939), who knew there was such perspicacity under that inbred brow. Puffed up that much he’s sure to step in something explosive out of sheer arrogance. Best served cold, etc.
The headline says it all.
There is no way that the MOD can afford Trident, FRES, two aircraft carriers and Eurofighter. Something has to give.
I still say that given our current commitments Tucano is a better prospect than Eurofighter; especially given the related costs, but then what do I know?
The Tucano is interesting but I think an armed recce aircraft might be more relevant
Have a look here for some background and a couple of opposing views
Welcome to TD by the way
The thing about nuclear weapons is that now they have been invented, they can’t be uninvented. They are a fairly omnipotent weapon and those nations that have them have suddenly found that their political negotiating power has increased quite substantially. When you have intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be fired at the push of a button, you could argue that actually we don’t need a conventional army at all. Invade us and we’ll nuke you is a fairly terrifying threat, especially when it comes from an unstable dictator in a regime with a poor record for human rights.
So, while the Cold War may be over, all sorts of new members are joining the nuclear weapon club. There is no longer the single possible scenario of a USA versus USSR standoff, but with India and Pakistan at loggerheads, China and Taiwan equally mistrustful of the other, Israel threatening Iran and Iran threatening everyone, and every terrorist group plus North Korea all bent on acquiring atomic bombs, the world is actually a lot less safe than it was. What makes mapping potential scenarios so hard is not what any of the above mentioned protagonists might do, but how the nations most affected by their actions might respond to a nuclear attack.
It would be great if we lived in a world where such weapons were not needed, but the sad truth is that human nature mandates them. In short, the UK needs nuclear weapons to ensure it has a very strong negotiating position.
If we, a small, island with limited land mass and a large population, need nuclear weapons, it is quite difficult to know where to put them (a) so their locations are not obvious to an enemy who might try to neutralise them pre-emptively via sobatoge and (b) so that they are safe and don’t pose a danger to our own population. Submarine launched systems therefore make perfect sense. We have thought this through over many generations, Polaris, and Trident is the ideal solution for the UK. If you want a car that operates 365 days a year, you don’t buy a FIAT, you buy a Mercedes/ BMW/ or Volkswagen. Similarly, if you want a nuclear deterrent that works in the same way, you need a four-boat ICBM missile system. Period.
I am terrified by this new coalition government. It just isn’t clear what they really stand for and worse still, they all seem to be a bunch of self-serving professional politicians who have no experience of the real world. So, I kind of agree with the central thrust that if the Trident replacement has to be funded out of the Defence budget, we won’t get something new and effective – we will indeed be placed in an unfortunate position.
Personally I think a nuclear deterent for the UK is pretty pointless. Such a deterent doesn’t deter nuclear terrorists and Iran or North Korea or, indeed, anyone else who manages to acquire a nuclear tipped ballistic missile is not going to use it offensively because the consequences for them if they do are invasion and subjugation at best and nuclear retaliation at worst. Dictators want to stay in power and setting off nuclear weapons on foreign soil is going to result in them leaving office so fast that their feet won’t touch the floor – possibly on the crest of a nuclear blast wave.
As everyone agrees, funding the trident replacement from the MoD’s core budget is unaffordable. I think the MoD should call the Treasury’s bluff by announcing publically the amount of cuts that will be required and their impact if this stupid idea is carried forward. If the MoD continues to fight behind closed doors the public will not be able to see the real impact and hence it’s opinion will not be able to be influenced by the facts rather than PR spin and the whole arguement will be swallowed up in the greater debate on reducing the deficeit.
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