The First UK F35 in Flight

The first flight for the U.K.’s first F-35, known as BK-1, took place on April 13, 2012. BK-1 is also the first international F-35.

The timing of course, could not have been more interesting!

  • UK First F35-B Joint Combat Aircraft flight BK-1 01
  • UK First F35-B Joint Combat Aircraft flight BK-1 02
  • UK First F35-B Joint Combat Aircraft flight BK-1 03
  • UK First F35-B Joint Combat Aircraft flight BK-1 04


And here is another interesting picture…


MoD ‘reconsidering aircraft carrier changes’

Take your bets…

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. Repulse

    They couldn’t cause more damage by spending money if they tried… Whoever got the PM to make a rushed last minute change should be named and publicly held accountable.

    Let’s sea if those Sea Harriers still work :)

  2. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Repulse @ 7.03

    LF isn’t looking very clever as all this stuff comes out.
    Dave the Rave is just the pitch man, others do the thinking.
    If they go back to the B version then he will pay a heavy price.
    Looking more and more like the Grocer with every passing day.

    One question will the UK F35s be assembled in Britain / Warton?

  3. Repulse

    FBOT: Do we know though that LF was the man? Sounded like the PM was getting direct lobbying from the service heads as the announcement loomed and the last minute change took most people by surprise…

  4. Mark

    No the uk passed on the offer of a final assembly italy took that. The uks f35s will all come from forth worth Texas. We will however build all aft fuselages and ejector seats for every a/c produced.

  5. Hannay

    It’s worth pointing out that we don’t have actually have the aircraft yet and this flight was by one of the LM test pilots.

    The reports in the Times regarding the service chiefs support for B likely comes down to being told that they’d otherwise have to make very large cuts in the short term to pay for Nellie and Dumbo. Totally ignoring that we’re going to be paying through the nose for the next 50 years or so.

  6. Brian Black

    That Telegraph article seems a little garbled, like it was written by someone who isn’t quite sure which F35 is which. Do wish these defence correspondents could figure out the complexities of wikipedia sometimes.
    I’m pretty sure the military chiefs apparently lobbying for a re-switch back to B would rather have the F35C, if there were no strings attached. Coin-flipping defence planning wins the day though, great.

    The Navy’s site posted and then pulled an F35 story just a few hours ago. Wonder if they pre-empted an official decision.

  7. Challenger

    Going with the B saves some cash in the present but sticking with the C plans for the future.

  8. Ichabod

    Did the Navy sacrifice the Ark Royal to try to get F35C? … and has the RAF outwitted the PC Plods who run the Navy once again?

    Tell me at least that the Navy will get to own and operate its own aircraft … or maybe even get to keep the second carrier ….

  9. Waddi

    F35C too heavy to land on CdeG, amazing, don’t these people check Wikipedia before making billion pound policy decisions?

  10. Topman

    @ Ichabod, ‘and has the RAF outwitted the PC Plods who run the Navy once again?’

    I’m not sure what you mean?

    ‘Tell me at least that the Navy will get to own and operate its own aircraft ‘

    The exact outline hasn’t been announced yet, but they will have 40% of the manning and various posts throughout the Joint fleet. Although ‘ownership’ I think will be done through 1 Group although there maybe RN snr ofs within that. As to sqns; whether this an entire sqn or all mixed isn’t clear yet, although the first posts have been drawn up.

  11. The Oncoming Storm

    The thing I can’t get is the F-35 is too heavy to work off CdG, so in all the discussions we had with the French in the last two years did no one ask them or did they not say “Err sorry guys bit of a problem there…” Or is that going to be used as a scapegoat?

  12. Waddi

    Given that the French dropped out of the EFA programme (that lead to the Typhoon) as they wanted a smaller plane that was carrier capable surely to god somebody in the MoD/RAF must have known that as well?

    But hold on if it is true that would mean that the F35C could only land using AAG not the current US Navy standard arrestor gear which as also used on CdeG? That would mean it could only operate on the new still to be built US Carriers not the existing Nimitz class. Something smelly here?

  13. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Repulse @ 7.24

    Dave the Rave doesn’t like the military.
    They are just a useful electioneering tactic.
    I fear he was bullied by the Eton branch of the OTC.

    If LF was not involved in the opriginal decision then it was worse than a shambles.
    Dave doesn’t / can’t do detail as the ongoing shambles of his administration proves on a regular basis.
    Consequently someone with braid will be up for the chop.

    This really is a VC10 class fiasco.
    The only difference appears to be that it could not be kept internal
    You have to wonder who started laughing at Dave dancing bollock naked in the street?

    Interesting that RN/Frog co-operation was the main driver regarding the change.
    Am I alone in thinking we are far too reliant of the French and other allies?

  14. Think Defence

    Blame the French, I don’t think so

    CDG wont be there forever and wasnt the plan to use their investment in CVF design to build a replacement, one that one would assume would have the same handling characteristics as the UK CVF design.

    Setting the French up as a convenient excuse I think

  15. Hannay


    If the Daily Fail is right then I think the only possible thing to make this clusterfuck worse is if the US cancels Dave B in their defence cuts…

  16. Ichabod


    The issue over control of aircraft is that if Joint Air Base Queen Elizabeth is ever to be more than a floating near-offshore runway it needs a full suite of aviation assets – not just the ones the Royal Aircraft Force want to play with. Like AEW, ASW, cargo etc etc.

    Unless a fully capable organic air group is stood up, the rationale / national intent to possess a carrier is fatally weakened …. the RAF would never want that, would they?

  17. George

    My God.

    It’s reached the stage where I don’t care what they decide, JUST MAKE A FECKING DECISION

    That said if they do decide to go down the B route, then only sell 50 Harriers to the USMC (ideally none but …) and keep the rest for the FAA to keep their hand in until the Bs start arriving. Probably cheaper than reactivating the SHARs….

  18. Ace Rimmer

    “F35C too heavy to land on CdeG, amazing, don’t these people check Wikipedia before making billion pound policy decisions?” Waddi, the runway for the CdeG was only found to be too short during its sea trials. Now that’s a huge fu** up…… this what they mean by closer military ties? Even bigger mistakes, but with the ability to blame the other partner?

    George, I think its too late for the Harriers, I’m sure they started leaving in November last year, packed in crates under cover of darkness. Will have to check.

  19. Ace Rimmer

    ….still think its a truly amazing aircraft though. I sincerely hope it never gets canned.

  20. Jed

    I reckon Solomon (of SNAFU) has been, erm’ “leaning” on various UK politicians to ensure his beloved USMC get it’s equally beloved “Dave B” as it won’t be easy to can it now if were back on it……

    what a load of bollocks eh – Gimme some Growlers !

  21. Jed

    Ref: “Unless a fully capable organic air group is stood up, the rationale / national intent to possess a carrier is fatally weakened …. the RAF would never want that, would they?”

    Shock news just in via Financial Times of Yorkshire:

    “In a quiet Monday night news release, the MoD has revealed that in future all Tomahawk missiles launched by RN submarines will be flown by RAF pilots. Air Vice-Marshal Biggin Hill noted that “Air power is the RAF’s business, if UK military policy requires deep strike capabilities then they will be provided by the Air Force, as it is the branch of the armed services that has the key role of “reaching out to touch” the enemy”.

    Although the Admiral of the Fleet was unavailable for comment (on a run ashore in Gib), a naval spokesperson stated that there should not be any problems, as long as the RAF personnel will fit in a standard diameter torpedo tube.

  22. jackstaff


    That was fecking magical. Will their standard diameter torpedo tube be en suite with turndown service, 300-count bedsheets, and Continental breakast with cappucino provided in one’s, erm, quarters? Because if not there will be hell to pay at High Wycombe ….

  23. Aussie Johnno

    So, what is QE’s day to day airgroup going to look like?

    12 F-35B’s;
    5 EH-101 ASW
    3 EH-101 AEW
    2 CH-47 with long range tanks for COD.


    Atleast it would allow training when Queen Elizabeth commissions.
    Assuming no further delays on the F-35, full production should be authorised by 2017 so an RN order around 2016 for 20 or so aircraft with deliveries between 2018/20 and you are in business.

    The question then becomes when and to what extent the RAF gets F-35’s.

  24. Jed


    You can imagine the mirth among the wardroom stewards:

    “ere, make sure that bleedin’ crab get’s a hearty breakfast, he ain’t figured out yet that ‘is Tomahawk don’t come back….. least we can do do is send i’m off with a big fry up…..”

  25. Jed

    From Financial Times of Yorkshire:

    “In a related development, Air Marshall Sir Topam Hat has noted that for the RN’s planned T26 “global combat thingy” his service will be looking for “tall, lanky individuals” that can be packed 4 at a time into a VLS tube, so that if the RN ever gets any land attack missiles into the surface fleet, the RAF will be ready to provide the pilots, so that they too can be flown by “proper” aviators.”

  26. STV

    Which aircraft do you mean Ace Rimmer?

    If it’s Harrier I think it’s a perfect candidate for a CAS and expeditionary aircraft much in the same vein the U.S.M.C uses them.

    Generally I’m supportive of having the RAF but I don’t think there is much argument that they have utterly failed to justify their large and expensive armed wing with the last two wars and been shown to be severely deficient in other regards.

    They seem to have failed to notice this particular shortcoming, probably because the politically correct brigade that runs them thinks their efforts are better spent being nice to Lesbians and getting the LGBT seal of approval.

    However, I think most people will agree that the ‘show of force’ is the most limp wristed and useless contribution to the field of modern warfare.

    The other options are limited to buying some of the A-10s that the air national guard in the U.S are losing or armed Tucanos much like the U.S navy COIN programme.

  27. martin

    The problem with the CDG is not the arrestor gear but the actual deck its self. The F35C is a big aircraft and lands at a very high approach speed. Obviously CDG was never designed with such an aircraft in mind. It really shows the callibare of the MOD top brass that no one thought to check this before coming up with our new grand strategy. If it’s back to B then I am okay. Atleasst we are likley to get carrier air back 1 or 2 years earlier and we have a much increased chance of keeping both QE and Ark Royal (POW).

    In terms of holding some one to account for this farce I am sure it is the current governments fault. I doubt the service chiefs would have liked to announce such a decision in the short period of time that SDSR allowed with no clear indication on cost. But it made a great headline and every one at the navy was to busy congratulating themselves about having a proper carrier to note that half the fleet was gone in one go.

  28. jackstaff


    And here I thought Topham was spending his retirement as colonel-in-chief of the RLC these days….

    Nah, don’t waste a fry-up, cold launch does nothing for the crabs’ stomachs, just a banjo or two and they’re sorted. If they want tall, lanky individuals all that Fenland inbreeding ’round the old Bomber Command bases will come in awfully handy ….

  29. Repulse

    This fudge can only go so far surely… If the switch goes ahead, the FAA should get just enough to support a permanent 12 a/c squadron with a token ability to surge 36 in extreme circumstances – this needs what 40 a/c? These will be to provide layered air defence of a task group. Apaches / wildcats should be used for ground air support.

    The RAF should in the meantime go back to the drawing board and decide what they actually need / want for deep strike – though one of the requirements should be it can fly from a CVF. In the meantime, extend the life of the Tornado, upgrade the Typhoon and get the RN another SSN – to cover the requirement.

  30. Topman

    @ Ichabod
    ‘Unless a fully capable organic air group is stood up, the rationale / national intent to possess a carrier is fatally weakened …. the RAF would never want that, would they?’

    I’m not sure how/why you’ve linked capabilities such as AEW etc with who ‘controls/owns’ the F35 fleet unless I’ve missed something.

    @ Repulse, I think the split on manning has already been done, the FAA won’t get 40 a/c.

  31. mickp

    Let’s not get disappointed by the switch back to B. If the decision is made it only gets us back where we started which I believe was realistic for our budget and needs – i.e. a substantially more capable VSTOL carrier provision than that offered by the Invincibles and a ‘carrier strike’ capability second only to the US with swing role to more helicopter focussed for assault role. It also gets it much earlier than cats and traps and will hopefully allow both carriers in service, one active, one hot reserve (two active in major crisis). As for the RAF, lets sweat the enormous investment in typhoon, keep all tranche 1, withdraw tornado immediately and take time to consider the most appropriate longer term typhoon replacement (Dave A B or C – or D?). RAF then focusses on getting right MPA / land based AEW and transport and other important aspects of its service. These to me are equally important as expeditionary fast jet capability. Yes, one extra Astute please

  32. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Topman, If we can switch one way and then another we can easily do a switch on manning especially as it looks like we will have F35B and another type of fast jet as a tornado replacement.
    Surely F35B will become Joint Force VSTOL or something? 3 operational squadrons and one training/OCU.
    Manning TBC, in the mean time back to the drawing board for the RAF and tornado replacement with F35A being favourite but not nailed on.

  33. repulse

    @Topman – I agree with APATS, changing the ownership of the F35B would be a mere fleeting blush on the crimson face of a goverment who is doing more U turns that a learner driver practicing for their test.

    Let’s have clear accountability and decision making for a change…

  34. Lord Jim

    As has already been mentioned I fear the F-35 will be operated just like the Harrier Force, never permenently asigned to a carreir but flown out for exercises and operations as required. How many squadrons is unknown but there has always been a shortage of RN FJ pilots (Reason 2nd FAA harrier squadron never stood up) So in reality they will be under RAF control and if needed on land will not be available for carrier rotation again like the harrier force when committed in Afghanistan. SO we are going to have 1 or 2 very expensive mobile airfields, but definitely not Carriers in mould of the USN, france, India, Brazil and China or as most people understand what carriers mean. Bloody great HMS Ocean replacements!

    Everyone involved in the CVF/JCA cock up since 1998 should be put against a wall and shot with photographs of the event widely distributed around the MoD, Government departments and Industry with the logo “Mess things up again and this is your future!”

  35. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Mickp I broadly agree with you but worry that Typhoon will never be an adequate replacement for Tornado. So we lose the capability that Tornado gave us. Would love an extra Astute but not cheap and with spreading capability maybe the money could be spent on putting in the 16/24 cell Mk 41 silo on t45 to give us more units capable of land attack.

  36. Topman

    @ APATS, yes a change in manning could occur and in the grand scheme of these is nothing at all. Yes it will be a joint formation. I was just putting what had happened so far, and what was likely to happen rather than what people want to happen. I can’t see the FAA getting all the F35 for various reasons.

  37. Ichabod


    Simply that doing naval aviation is a complete package not just the fighters. If you have the two organisations sharing a common fighter only based part-time at sea the RAF may justifiably ask why they should support the Navy to get funding for manned aircraft for the other parts of the task.

    If you have full-time naval fighters, getting the funds from the Treasury for the full package ought to be easier?

    BTW – doesn’t the whole French excuse stink to high heaven? Who is to say they will even clear F35B for operation off CDG?

    So we are switching back to what is objectively a less capable aircraft because the better one can’t land on the French mini-carrier (but can land on the USN’s 10+ platforms).

  38. Topman

    @ APATS

    ‘So we lose the capability that Tornado gave us’

    Extending it’s life would be the cheapest option, the German are doing a similar final upgrade as us and are looking at 15-18 years until OSD.

  39. Topman

    @ Ichabod

    ‘Simply that doing naval aviation is a complete package not just the fighters. If you have the two organisations sharing a common fighter only based part-time at sea the RAF may justifiably ask why they should support the Navy to get funding for manned aircraft for the other parts of the task.

    If you have full-time naval fighters, getting the funds from the Treasury for the full package ought to be easier?’

    My thoughts would be not, even if it is part time, it would be in both parties interests to have a full capabilities on board. Infact it’s more likely, it’s both sets of blokes in the firing line both services are tied to the same project. My thoughts are a single service force would make it less not more likely to give you what you want in your earlier post. 2 voices are louder than 1.

  40. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Topma, How would that go down with the US if we decided that actually our total F35 buy was going to be 48 B variant? The German airframes will almost certainly have less hours on them and definitely less hours in places like afghanistan and Ops in Libya. they do like to squeeze every bit of life out of an airframe do our Deutsch friends. They will have F4Fs in service until september this year i believe.

  41. George

    I have to agree with the comments above – 40+ Bs for the FAA and let RAF take its time over Tornado replacement. Jfh was too much of a compromise IMHO


  42. Topman

    @ APATS

    Sorry I think I’ve missed something, how would what?

    ‘How would that go down with the US if we decided that actually our total F35 buy was going to be 48 B variant?’

    ‘The German airframes will almost certainly have less hours on them and definitely less hours in places like afghanistan and Ops in Libya. they do like to squeeze every bit of life out of an airframe do our Deutsch friends. They will have F4Fs in service until september this year i believe.’

    They may well have, but as you say they’ve kept F4 going for 20 years since we last got rid of ours so airframe hours is no barrier to extending the life of GR4. The one going through ours now would see easily past 2020, it’s other issues that might stop it.

  43. Topman

    @ G

    ’40+ Bs for the FAA and let RAF take its time over Tornado replacement. Jfh was too much of a compromise IMHO’

    That possible but is it likely? To my mind the question is would the RN want that? Which isn’t such a stupid question as it sounds at first.

  44. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Topman @ 9.15

    Surely the big issue here is the cost base of the RAF and its high unit cost of doing anything?

    We are spending more and more, doing less and less.
    8 squadrons and falling of fast jets is not an airforce it is nice chaps dressing up in uniforms.

    Maybe now the education subsidy is for the chop we will get people interested in the job at hand and not distressed gentle folk trying to make good private schooling affordable.

    Why does every aircraft type need a hugely expensive BWoS support contract attached to it?
    We seem to have run out of 3LAs and we are now onto 4LAs / 5LAs to describe them.

    Wasn’t the Jaguar run pretty efficiently over its last decade?
    Did the support infrastructure actually work or was it just MOD spin?

    How many squadrons do the IAF have?
    What costs do they work to?
    How does the RAF compare?

    Was this not an issue when MP was involved in the mid 90s?

  45. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Topman, well we said we would buy 138 didn’t we. So if we turn round and say actually we only want 48?

  46. Fat Bloke on Tour

    All PATS @ 8.57

    Just what are the costs of an 8 cell MK41 VLS system?

    I am looking at £4mill, £6mill tops.

    The MOD will be on the ball when they get the VLS system free with every missile order they place.

  47. Topman


    ‘8 squadrons and falling of fast jets is not an airforce it is nice chaps dressing up in uniforms.’

    I wasn’t aware there was a minimum number.

    ‘Why does every aircraft type need a hugely expensive BWoS support contract attached to it?’

    It’s what the gov of the day wanted. A reduction of service manning and an increase in civilian manning.

    ‘Did the support infrastructure actually work or was it just MOD spin?’

    That depends on whether you believe the stats and who produces them.

    ‘How many squadrons do the IAF have?
    What costs do they work to?
    How does the RAF compare?’

    Do you mean the Isrealis?

  48. erebus

    On this occasion, I agree with the Phoenix Think Tank.

    “From a review of all the data and the implications associated with reverting to the F-35B, it is concluded that such reversion would be against the national interest and would lead to a severe reduction in Britain’s planned strategic ability over the next 50 years to project Foreign Policy in terms of military, political and diplomatic power.”

    Cats and Traps are the only sensible approach, for Nellie and Dumbo, giving the option of the F35C, F/A 18 E/F or Rafale and ancillary aircraft.

    If you want compatibility with the French CdG, buy French aircraft (Rafale, 92 Million USD).

    If you want affordable aircraft buy the F/A 18 E/F (60 Million USD).

    If you want the full cream, buy the F35C (130 Million USD – Full Rate).

    If you want the complex, expensive (F35C + 25%) and heavily compromised (range, bomb load) solution then F35B it is.

    Aviation week gives full rate production costs (circa 2019 – slipped from 2016) prices for the F35 as double the F/A 18 E/F and rising.

  49. Topman

    @ APATS

    ‘Topman, well we said we would buy 138 didn’t we. So if we turn round and say actually we only want 48?’

    I see know, my apologies, I guess they would have to take it on the chin. The Italians have reduced their buy, I don’t think they will be the only ones. Just about every project in the last 10 years has ended in a reduced buy. I think they’ll get over it, they I think will end up reducing their buys as well.

  50. x

    Is/wasn’t the German navy the biggest operators of Tornado?

    Where are we now with the manning of all this? Is going to be like JFH with RN maintainers and RAF maintainers and what appeared to be a common pool of pilots? All RAF? All FAA? All USMC……?

  51. Topman

    @ x

    No I don’t think so, they had a few though, not sure how many. They were very similar to our GR1B. Someone could probably check numbers on wiki.

    So far yes a mixed pool on the postings now and in the future. The precise details haven’t been released and are no doubt still projects in working.

  52. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Topman @ 9.45

    If the numbers keep falling when do we move to a UKDF arrangement?

    With the RAF we seem to spend lots but get little.

    IAF = Our friends in the ME.

  53. Topman

    We wouldn’t lots of countries have far smaller armed forces but still have all 3 arms.

    They I’ve never studied it but they are a bit of a one off and aren’t really set up for the same sort of ops as us. There’s other difficulties in comparing for example I believe they still have conscription.

  54. Mark

    Tornado had an original service life of 4000hrs this has since been doubled to 8000. In the early 2000s the fleet leader was at 4500hrs so were getting close to a decision. As typhoon same issue with tranche 1 6000 hrs life going at a rate of 30hrs per month since 2003 and I was told recently 80hrs per month during Libya. Extending will cost quite a bit. Is typhoon tranche3 safe if Saudi want another 48 and Oman 12 or will we see another slight of hand. Upgrade typhoon with conformals and aesa that along with f35 from carrier covers all based with tornado replacement. I ask people to look at are strike targets the last 30 years and see how far we’ve actually gone from fwd base or a possible location with and without aar it not as far as some may think

  55. Topman

    @ Mark

    LEP 5 pushes it to 12000 if I remember right. The fleet leader isn’t far off 8000 now.

  56. x

    @ Topman

    I still think young people don’t join the RAF to go to sea if you get my drift. A one off draft yes. But I can’t see how the FAA will maintain a mass of FJ tech’s if it doesn’t become the F35 centre of gravity. The FAA onboard carriers may be just passengers but at least they “expect” to go to sea. All of this especially if “we” buy just 48 airframes.

  57. Topman

    No they wouldn’t but people join up for all sorts of reasons those on Harriers managed. They will have enough keep their hand in but not for the whole lot. If we get B instead makes it a lot easier for that sort of thing. FAA more like full time, RAF add on with training to surge but not there all the time.

  58. Ichabod

    @Topman/FBOT 1011

    The reality is that the democratisation of air power (drones) is wresting control of airspace from the high priests of aviation (“air” forces) across the world.

    Think CIA, US Army and even the secret Luftwaffe of the Royal Artillery (Watchkeeper/Fire Shadow).

    Even if smaller countries today support a separate air force that isn’t a justification for the existence of the RAF … in the long term EVERY military and para-military force will have air power (lethal or non-lethal).

    The RAF can only see its hold over aviation slip further and ultimately the Treasury will have to consider the facts.

    In 2009 the head of the RAF predicted the takeover of the FAA & AAC, claiming there should be no “sacred cows” … yet the RAF is itself a “sacred cow”.

    Ignoring the indiscriminate carpet-bombing of German civilians, they stake their emotional claims on the nation around their part-role at the time of the stillborn invasion of the UK in 1940.
    Oh, and the Dambusters … which even at the time was another attempt to hide the fact they were mainly focussed on cooking civilians in their own homes (“de-housing”).

  59. Brian Black

    We shouldn’t be disappointed by a switch back to F35B, but I feel that the B is just a fleeting whim of the defence chiefs in order to keep hold of both ships. As soon as they’ve both completed their sea trials the F35B will immediately be considered unsuitable for the needs of the UK.

    Dave should just accept that the carriers are as much (or more) political and strategic tools as they are military weapons, be a man and just suck up those costs.

    We’re prepared to pay billions for nuclear weapon systems that we’ll never use for their strategic worth and Great Power symbolism; there should be a few billion for cats, traps, and indeed, flaps.

  60. x

    @ Topman

    I can only speak from what I saw through cadets. A good number just didn’t want to go to sea. It wasn’t so much being away from home more the ups and downs and ups and downs and ups and downs of life in a ship. And some just didn’t like the idea of living out of a small “wardrobe” or being “confined” Just as some who went into the RN wouldn’t have liked much the idea of 6 months in say Bastion. Different folks, different strokes.

  61. x

    @ Brian B

    We choose not to have certain capabilities through the democratic system. We vote in parties that choose to give billions in cash in over seas aid instead of investing in UK companies to provide practical help. We choose to be members of the EU and pay billions into that organisation. We choose to vote in parties that have an open door immigration policy that costs billions both in term of benefits and fatigue on infrastructure. Compared to those 3 areas nuclear weapons are cheap. Carriers are cheap. FRES is cheap. F35 is cheap. One years over seas aid budget could buy the RAF/FAA the 100 or so F35. It isn’t just the “bomb” that costs us.

  62. Repulse

    I think we should think about a F35B fudge as a way to get us to 2030, after which we should be planning for the long term. Who honestly thinks that manned a/c will be the weapon of choice for deep strike post that date?

  63. Ichabod

    @ Repulse

    RN Tomahawk – range 900 miles
    F35B – range on internal fuel 400 miles

    Why are manned aircraft the weapon of choice for deep strike today?

  64. Fat Bloke on Tour

    X @ 11.12

    It is easily sorted.

    Do you want to fly?
    Can you live on a ship for 3 / 6 months?

    Two positives and you are in.
    Not two positives and MO’L / EJ awaits

  65. Bluenose

    Using some quick figures for the debate about ‘C’ ability to use the C de G:

    Rafale M Empty Weight: 10,200 kg
    Rafale M Max T/O Weight: 24,000 kg
    Rafale Max Landing Weight: 22,000 kg (not clear to which variant / exactly to what this refers)
    EC-2 Max T/O Weight: 26,100 kg (for reference)

    Against which

    F-35B Empty Weight: 14,515 kg
    F-35B Max T/O Weight: 27,216 kg
    F-18 E/F Empty Weight: 14,500 kg

    F-35C Empty Weight: 15,785 kg
    F-35C Max T/O Weight: 31,751 kg
    F-18 E/F Max T/O Weight: 29,900 kg

    So it looks like the B and C at max T/O weight might not be able to land on C de G, but clearly both could at less than max. Given landing at max weight is usually not undertaken, this point ‘in favour’ of the F-35B is suspect to say the least. With a larger deck, the Rafale could operate from QE class (though I am not sure if EMALS would in actuality rule this out)

  66. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Ichabod, the capabilities are complimentary, Once you fire a TLAm that is it gone. Once they have all gone you go home and rearm. a FJ can fly to the target and decide not to drop, it can be used as a show of force. it can fly day after day as long as the carrier has bombs and missiles and fuel.
    They are not mutually exclusive.

  67. Bluenose

    Using some quick figures for the debate about ‘C’ ability to use the C de G:

    Rafale M Empty Weight: 10,200 kg
    Rafale M Max T/O Weight: 24,000 kg
    Rafale Max Landing Weight: 22,000 kg (not clear to which variant / exactly to what this refers)

    EC-2 Max T/O Weight: 26,100 kg (for reference)

    F-35B Empty Weight: 14,515 kg
    F-35B Max T/O Weight: 27,216 kg

    F-35C Empty Weight: 15,785 kg
    F-35C Max T/O Weight: 31,751 kg

    F-18 E/F Empty Weight: 14,500 kg
    F-18 E/F Max T/O Weight: 29,900 kg

    So it looks like the B and C at max T/O weight might not be able to land on C de G, but clearly both could at less than max. Given landing at max weight is usually not undertaken, this point ‘in favour’ of the F-35B is suspect to say the least. With a larger deck, the Rafale could operate from QE class (though I am not sure if EMALS would in actuality rule this out)

  68. Repulse

    @Ichabod, I agree in principle about the preference for unmanned strike but question our ability to do it at scale (currently). I see any F35 order primarily for layered air defence / supremacy around a task group. F35 used in the way I describe plus Apache / Wildcat / Tomahawk will meet all of our likely needs till 2030.

  69. Topman

    Yes it’s tied in with the latest upgrade I would imagine both if possible to be done at CMU on similar timescales.

  70. Topman

    @ Ichabod

    ‘Think CIA, US Army and even the secret Luftwaffe of the Royal Artillery (Watchkeeper/Fire Shadow). ‘

    Other arms have had such capabilities for years, the started in the 60s.

    ‘Even if smaller countries today support a separate air force that isn’t a justification for the existence of the RAF’

    Well if it’s a global trend it’s something to be looked. Although your arguement could extend to all sorts, why should we have an army just because other countries do is no real reason.

    ‘they stake their emotional claims on the nation around their part-role at the time of the stillborn invasion of the UK in 1940.’

    Have you been earwigging at the MoD ;-)

    @FBOT I like your ideas about streamling the recruitment process it would save us a great deal :)

  71. x

    @ FBOT

    Pilots aren’t the issue. It is maintainers. The differences in how the RAF and RN go about their business. Differences not because of different cultures but because one operates from a fixed point in benign environment and the other on a platform that takes several weeks to get where it is needed in what could be described as at times less than benign. I spent over 10 years listening to kids make their minds up about which service they wanted to join. And then when they returned as young adults listening to if they had made the right choice. Being at sea isn’t for everybody. Living in a messdeck isn’t for everybody. I think you have to either have been in the RN or like me spent an awful lot of time around the RN to appreciate that.

    There is a saying in the RN, “That’s life in the blue suit. If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined.”

  72. Fat Bloke on Tour

    X @ 12.30

    Fair point but the RAF needs to learn how to live out of the back of a container.
    We cannot have £5bill of kit tied to a field in Norfolk.

    This issues crops up in every area of human endeavour.

    Car mechanic – AA Man vs Garage guy.
    Consequently we only employ AA men and leave the garage guys for MO’L / EJ.

  73. Topman

    @ x I’m not sure the differences are that great. People adapt and get on with it after a good winge and a bit of huffing and puffing. Maintenance wise there will be some differences but it’s all much of a muchness. There’s others too, ops staff other techies and the such like will have to onboard and from the RAF.

    @ FBOT,

    ‘Car mechanic – AA Man vs Garage guy.
    Consequently we only employ AA men and leave the garage guys for MO’L / EJ’

    What’s MO’L and EJ’

    ‘We cannot have £5bill of kit tied to a field in Norfolk.’

    Aircraft are expensive and need quite a bit of support, you can’t put all that to sea. Where should we put it?

  74. Mark


    From reading a bit about it at the time was there not a final decision to be made around now about going ahead with structural mods to the fuselage to allow the a/c to increase its life and was only to cover a fleet of 40 a/c?

  75. Topman

    @ Mark

    I haven’t read the policy on the LEP yet. But from my understanding it’s similar in scope to the other LEPs. What structural mods were mentioned?

  76. Monty

    At the time the decision to change form the F-35B to the F-35C version was made, let’s not forget that the F-35B had been put on probation – which was shorthand for: ‘if you don’t get this aircraft’s development process back on track we will cancel it.’

    That represented a huge risk for the UK; so we had to consider an alternative. We thought the F-35C would suffice. Now the boot is on the other foot: the F-35B has overcome many initial development hurdles, while the F-35C is proving to be too heavy and thus less agile. It is possible that the F-35C may require a redesign that would substantially delay its introduction into service. Which is why we cannot not depend on it.

    Like FRES UV, which we abandoned in the early noughts, we are a key partner in the JSF. Exiting FRES UV cost us almost half a billion in sunk costs without a single vehicle being fielded. To do the same with the F-35 would also cost us dear.

    Given the ups and downs of the F-35 development process, we had no alternative but to re-consider our decision to change. If Labour had remained in power, they would have been forced to make the same U-turn and we would have vilified them too. What was not acceptable was to pretend that nothing was wrong. In fact, our decision to switch aircraft may have been a key factor in making the US Govt apply pressure on LM to get it right.

    As things stand, however, the F-35B is making steady progress. It already offers the following advantages over the Harrier:

    – Faster
    – Longer range on internal fuel tanks
    – Greater payload
    – Easier to fly
    – Easier to service (you don’t need to remove wings to get at the engine)
    – Safer due to great reliability (Harrier was at the bleeding edge of technology with a massive loss of aircrew and airframes in accidents over the years)
    – Stealthier

    There can be no doubt that with the F-35B we will give us a better aircraft than we had before. I believe we are right to stick with our original aims and intentions.

    Would the F-35C give us a greater capability? Possibly, if it can be made to work. But, right now our defence policy must be consistent with our available budget. How can we acquire an increased capability at a time when we have limited resources and when there is no particular threat we need to respond to? We are not a world power nor are we the world’s police force.

    LM totally underestimated the time and resources to develop three versions of the same aircraft. The differences between them are much greater than anticipated. Their performance has been lamentable. We had every reason and every right to expect more of them.

    The major issue that has retarded testing for all F-35 variants is software coding. The level of automation in this aircraft is mind boggling. It requires 10 million lines of code (whereas the F-22 required only 5 million lines of code). It means that when the on-board systems are finally configured, the presentation of key flight and target data to the pilot will enable him to focus on combat itself instead of needing to interpret information first.

    Just to reiterate, this isn’t merely about the airframe itself, but the weapon systems it supports. The goal was ambitious, but if we achieve it we will have a great aircraft.

    In fact, the F-35A for the USAF is actually performing well as it notches up test flight hours, although there is still a long way to go before it catches-up with the projected flight program milestones. In spite of everything, there are signs that the F-35A too will also be considerably better than the F-16 it is intended to replace.

    At the end of the day, as far as UK defence needs are concerned, the F-35B will fulfil our requirements.

  77. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Topman @ 12.44

    Ryanair / EasyJet

    Ships have home ports.
    Aircraft would have home bases.
    Service accommodation and heavy support.

    It would just be a case that they could live out the back of containers for 3 / 6 months as a matter of policy not a one off emergency.

    The containers can be in a new airfield / dispersal or another country or they could be located in the hangar of a CVF.

  78. x

    @ Topman

    When I say maintainers I mean personnel other than pilots. Maintainers is just one word. Personnel other than pilots is four words. :)

    I can only speak from what I have experienced.

    Of course I will take your “not much difference” to be an affirmation of my ideal that f35 should be an FAA only venture……. :) ;)

  79. Topman

    @ FBOT
    They already have home bases and all deployable equipment has been moving around in ISOs for years.

    This is what we (broadly) have now

    ‘Aircraft would have home bases.
    Service accommodation and heavy support.’

    ‘Consequently we only employ AA men and leave the garage guys for MO’L / EJ.’

    Contract out the support to them? Is that what your saying?

  80. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Monty @ 12.50

    We should not be comparing it against the Harrier, we should be comparing it against the alternatives.

    Harrier = Light fighter / 13K lbs unladen / flexible but limited.
    F35 = Full on heavy fighter / 30K lbs unladen approximately / the next gen of our air assets.

    That is why we need to go with the F35C it offers the more capable aircraft and it will be cheaper.

    We should have kept the Harrier as it offers a mix that we still need – cheap / flexible / capable.
    If BWoS / RR were in anyway dynamic they would be busy thinking about the Harrier 3.
    However given their history with the Hawk there is no chance they will do the right thing.

  81. Bluenose

    @ Fat Bloke,

    I concur; the F-35 is akin to an F-105 hiding in a very small suit. This is one of the problems that the programme has had; LM ‘sold’ it as an F-16, but it is far larger and more complex platform. This has backfired as problems grew, times lengthened and costs rose.

    The C model has had a single issue; that of the hook (which, supposedly, is now solved). The underlying issues of the B model; especially range, payload and thrust-to-weight, all remain. Its ability to operate in hot environments with WOD is questionable and even if it could it would still offer less than the C for what is probably a higher through-life cost.

    Since aircraft tend to get heavier and more expensive as they get older, this is pretty worrying.

    You an also kiss goodbye to an kind of UCAV naval strike / other aircraft operation with the ‘small deck’ option.

  82. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Guys we cannot always live in a jam tomorrow world. The official report is not out yet but if the leaks are true then.
    1. If we go cats and traps no capability until 2025.
    2. We can only afford 1 Carrier with cats and Traps.
    3. We would have no interoperability with CDG anyway.
    If we go F35B we get a capable platform in service before the end of the decade. We get both Carriers so always have 1 available and in crisis most likely 2, especially in the early years.
    We are probably only going to commit to 48 F35B initially. if in 2030 the strategic outlook changes well we have to 65K Carriers which we can convert if we need to, keeping one in service whilst the other is being converted, EMALS will be a mature proven design. The aircraft options may well be different, F35 will be mature one way or another.
    In short we get capability sooner whilst retaining flexibility against long term strategic changes.

  83. wf

    @APATS: my worries are thus. If we go with F35B now, we still have no effective capability until 2020 earliest. That is too long: I say go with CATOBAR conversion in slow time, waiting for F35C to mature, while renting 30 AV8BPlus in the meantime. We did just send them 74 GR9….

  84. x

    For power projection we need to think more of USMC interoperability than USN interoperability.

    Playing nice with the French is all well and good. But hard foreign policy wise who do back the most? The US. Do the US stuff us occasionally? Yes. But the French have a tendency to do the latter more often and to our greater detriment. And when it comes to hard foreign policy where are the French and the Germans? More often sitting on the sidelines complaining first about military action and then once the fighting is over complaining they aren’t being allowed to bid for reconstruction deals. We have to think a bit beyond Europe. Who do the Canadians deal with mostly over defence? The US. Who do Australia look to on defence matters? The US. In the next two to three decades I can see us needing to support the US and/or Australia militarily more than I can see the UK contributing to an EU (read French) military adventure.

    I have said before I can see CVF being home to 48 or whatever F35b. Does it matter if 24 of those airframes belong to the USMC? No not really.

  85. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Wf, The Queen Elizabeth will not be ready for an air group until 2018 or 2019. she is a first of the biggest class of Ships we have ever had. So the timings actually fit.
    We are not going to be flying any fixed wing assets off Lusty that is just fantasy land.

  86. Bluenose

    The times and costs are all very suspect and doubly so when you’re talking about assets in service for decades; why have a half-backed capability 5 years early? B is not even naval strike and by plumping for that kind of carrier you guarantee the RN will not have that capability at all.

    EMALS has been, by most measures, a pretty successful programme; it offers a lot more for everyone involved and it is not clear it will be less expensive to fit in 10 years time or that the ski-jump arrangement and B model through-life cost represent any great saving.

  87. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Bluenose, Yes but if what we are being leaked is true we only get 1 cats and traps carrier.
    So you can have the capability offered by an f35 B air wing with 2 Carriers pretty much guaranteeing 365 24/7 availability of at least 1. Maybe 2 in a crisis. Compatible with Italian f35B and spanish AV8B as well as USMC F35B.
    Be interested to see if Australia thinks of F35B for her Canberras.
    Or we can wait until 2025 to operate 1 carrier with aircraft that can only use the CVF and US super carriers.

  88. Fat Bloke on Tour

    All PATS @ 1.45

    Your timelines just highlight the current absurdity of defence planning.

    Why no CATOBAR capability until 2025 – 13 years away?
    The CVF build is gathering pace.
    The EMALS build is stable – we are up for the second ship set.
    We learn the CVF ship ropes using the QE.
    We learn the aircraft ropes using rented F/A 18s and a USN deck.
    We learn the concept of TQM / Cost of Quality to sort out the EMALS cost.
    We learn to walk and chew gum with the PoW and the rented F/A 18s.
    We stitch it all together when the F35C’s arrive.
    We then sort out the QE – sell as F35B carrier and build the Eagle (proper carrier name) with CATOBAR as standard or we convert.

  89. Waddi

    Re X

    Absolutely spot on, don’t forget the Aussies will have the Canberra class and the US the America class. This will be where the true interoperability will be , not with CdeG or a Nimitz.

  90. ALL Politicians are the Same

    FBOT Do not shoot the messenger. The decision has been made to build the first carrier without Cats and Traps so we have to wait for POW. The US do not have enough hulls to give us one to play with and if they did we could not man it as it has a ships company measuring in the thousands.
    where do you suggest we get enough FJ pilots to be Flying FA18s and training on F35C?
    There is no good solution but 2 F35B carriers in service by end of the decade is the least bad one from an operational view point.

  91. x

    @ Waddi

    That is why I think we missed a trick with CVF not being a Mega Cavour. We have good well practised amphibious capability. We do heliborne ASW well. We do flying STOVL well. We haven’t done strike carrier what in well over thirty years? We can’t bring lots of platforms so why not two big fast flexible platforms.

    All we need to do now is convince the GS staff to scrap the Army’s procurement programmes and just buy what the USMC buys…….

  92. wf

    @APATS: nothing wrong with Lusty if it’s still operating helicopters. They haven’t removed the ski jump. And the QE already has a ski jump

  93. ALL Politicians are the Same

    wf, no there is nothing wrong with her but it would be a u turn too far for even this Govt.

  94. x

    @ FBOT

    Manning the likes of Eagle and Ark were major head ache for the RN even when the service was well over twice the size it is today. No way we could we just borrow a USN vessel and use it.

  95. Bluenose


    1) there is a requirement for 2 CVs; having 1 is a complete waste of money and given we seem to be building 2 and they offer 60 years of service, induct both and EMAL them.

    2) Whatever any given agenda-based budget forecast might be, this country can afford 2 CVs if it is based on a common fighter type for RAF / RN (F-35C) with shared costing coupled with ongoing contracting out of non-critical military functions (let’s not start on the waste less public money on everything else aspect).

    3) There seems little prospect of an F-35B wing being operational much before one composed of Cs, though this is always stated as a point of fact. I suspect given the lower complexity of the C and the contiguous development, IOC for either is likely to be close.

    4) Interoperability extends beyond the aircraft; a proper carrier allows far better flexible and multi-national operations using fighters, fixed wing support fixed wing UAVs and greater vertical lift. Right now, I would not e terribly confident about Spain or Italy, Australia was not really interested in B models and it still does not solve the problem of the B not actually being able to do terribly much by itself.

  96. martin

    I have to a agree about interoperability of CATOBAR carriers. Interoperable CATOBAR carriers be they French or American always sounded like a fantasy. It seems much more likely that STOVL aircraft would be interoperable and there are a far greater number of platforms both in US and other allies hands that could operate them.

    We have to commit to F35 in one way or another for two reasons. Firstly it’s a massively important project for British industry. Secondly it really will be the only game in town for some time to replace the aircraft we have today. UCAS show great potential especially in COIN and A symmetric threat environments. However I think we are a very long way off from replacing deep strike missions against advanced adversaries.
    Satellite communications will always be vulnerable to jamming or even anti satellite weaponary. At what point will we truly be able to rely on AI to conduct a bombing mission without a man in the loop somewhere? Would it even be legal? The Tornado is not going to fly for ever it will need replaced at some point and Typhoon is far from ideal.
    We are broke today but we can’t keep waiting for the Jam. If service chiefs are saying 2025 for F35C with CATOBAR then clearly that is too long. A limited buy of F35B now seems the best course of action. We should follow the US lead and simply stretch out our procurement. Buying 40 B’s today in FAA hands lets us get back in the game of naval aviation with more capability than we ever had before. The RAF can then get 40 – 80 F35 C in the post 2020 period as a replacement for Tornado. The choice between 40 and 80 should be based on an assessment of the capability at the time of UCAS to replace some or all of the mission .The C seems to make far more sense than the A, prices are similar but the C has the greater range and drogue system of AAR. This way we maintain a credible air force, regenerate carrier strike earlier and meet most of our commitment to the F35 program. It’s okay to kick the can down the road a little when your broke as long as you don’t keep kicking more cans after it.

  97. Waddi

    As a country we have never deployed more than a handful of fast jets. Even Libya where we were supposedly one of the “lead” nations our commitment would not have equalled half a CATOBAR flight wing. We are not going head to head with Iran on our own but we might tag along with the USA if they want to have a go. If that is the case we could fly our contribution, typically 6 fast jets off a Wasp/America as well as a QEC or indeed Argus/Bay/assorted RFA’s, would an F35B fit into a T45 hanger? Much as a full blown strike carrier would be nice to have again, sadly it isn’t actually needed.

  98. Fat Bloke on Tour

    All PATS @ 2.43

    Not getting at you just the timeline you introduced.

    USN – Rent the flight deck not the carrier.
    F35* – Where are the pilots going to come for any version?
    We have a Harrier cohort twiddling their thumbs / stacking shelves at Tesco.
    We have a 10 year gap opening up in front of our eyes.

    The MOD / RN need to start learning how to move fast.
    What was once counted in years is now counted in decades.
    Renting F/A 18s offers the quickest way forward.

  99. Topman

    @ FBOT

    ‘USN – Rent the flight deck not the carrier.’
    That along with the F-18 how do you know we could convince them to rent them? Looking at the demands they have it seems unlikely to me.

    ‘We have a Harrier cohort twiddling their thumbs / stacking shelves at Tesco.’

    Scattered to the four winds now.

  100. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Is Bluenose Sharkey?
    1. The Govt have said we only get 1 Cats and Traps. (we can moan about it or we can get on with it).
    2. See my point 1. The decision has been made, we have no more money!
    3. Excuse me, Queen Elizabeth will be physically able to accept F35b as soon as she is worked up, so before we even have POW in the water. we have experience in VSTOL ops but none in conventional ops and you think the inservice date for each air wing will be the same?
    4. How can a conventional carrier offer greater multi national ops, we cannot fly c of CDG but they could fly Rafale off POW. Other than that we have the USN. Of course writing off Italy and Spain suits your purpose and well lets wait and see about the Ozzies. i have had a few interesting conversations. Greater vertical lift?
    As for not able to do terribly much by itself? Please. it sacrifices range but look at ranges we have operated carrier aircraft out to and where we are likely to have to. it gives us a massive capability boost that we can actually almost afford.
    I would love to have 2 conventional carriers to play with, both with 40 F35cs and attached support aircraft but it is not going to happen.

  101. SomewhatInvolved

    Stick with F35C, tell BAE to just finish the bloody thing and we don’t care what shape deck it has, get the ship working and sail it to Virginia, and get Newport News to carry out the conversion. They will do it cheaper so we can ignore BAE’s staggeringly idiotic billion-plus price tag for changing the design. Then EMALS gets installed by the people who will be doing it for the Ford class, Americans are happy, we’re happy.

    Bluenose, I read your figures for landing weights and I agree with you.

    Wonder if we’ll get our money back for EMALS Set 1 since we’ve paid for it already.

    F35B will get canned later this year. The USMC’s days of being its own private expeditionary force are rapidly running out.

    I’ve had enough of F35 anyway. Buy Rafale.

    Anyway, why are we all getting so upset? All you have to go on is the chuffing media leaking stories!! Reliable sources? Hah!!

  102. LurkMike

    The choice of AWACS platform doesn’t seem to have been discussed here, surely changing from C to B means we’ll definitely be stuck with the helicopters, giving us less choice etc.

  103. Fat Bloke on Tour

    All PATS @ 3.23

    What is the build schedule for the F35?

    When do the B’s come off the line and in what numbers?
    When do the C’s come off the line and in what numbers?

    Where would we fit in?

  104. Bluenose

    No, I’m not Sharkey Ward but this seems a ridiculous half-plan for something which will be in service for 50 to 60 year. ‘The Govt’ says argument is not exactly conclusive, is it? The Govt says lots of things and changes its mind (quod erat demonstrandum), this is a debate about what should be done:
    – We have less money, yet this is a 30 p-40 year aircraft purchase and the B is more expensive
    – The QE will be able to accept Bs when she is ready (timeframe not exactly clear) and when the aircraft is ready (also not exactly clear). What IOC does that give you? Pick a figure out of the ether.
    -We have experience with Harrier, a very different aircraft, and some experience with USN exchange pilots. It may take longer for the SOPs but the B is not a Harrier and the operation will be different in any case. Is learning the lesson to operate the C not worth the investment of time over 60 years?
    – Multinational operations are about more than the fighter I pointed this out; about AEW, ISTAR, UAVS; all are better serviced from a larger carrier.
    – Italy and Spain looking healthy to you at present, procurement and sustainment-wise? No, me neither
    – Australia may or may not buy Bs. You might as well add Japan to your list
    – The ‘capability’ boost is that it is better than a Harrier, but it is far less good than its own C model which would also suit the RAF better at a Tornado replacement. Just because we’ve buggered through in the past does not mean it is a good idea.

  105. x

    Somewhat said “The USMC’s days of being its own private expeditionary force are rapidly running out.”

    As one of our defence professionals on what do you base that opinion? What do you see that I don’t? I would say it is the US Army post-A-Stan that is struggling to find its way? Ditto USAF. Of course then there is Sol’s favourite devil SOCOM…..

    If F35B can drop some bombs, provide an outer AD layer, and God forbid carry some form of anti-ship missile what more do we need? The days of deep strike by manned platforms is over. Forget the F35C………

  106. x

    @ APATS

    Bluenose was the name of a famous yacht. Perhaps Bluenose is Yachts and Yachting’s defence correspondent. The alias is to high brow for Practical Boat Owner…… :) ;)

  107. ALL Politicians are the Same

    A ridiculous half plan for something that will be in service for 50 or 60 years, exactly! With 2 we can rotate and convert later if we need to. the F35B will still be useful and the c if purchased for the RAF later can be incorporated.
    you know as well as I do that lifetime costs are of no interest to a body that has to stand for re election every 5 years.
    The IOC for QE will be before that for POW and C and conventional carrier ops being learnt i will tell you that much.
    We are not planning on buying E2 anyway so AEW will remain rotary or tilt wing.
    UAVs yes, they are fab, the Canadians are operating one of a FF in the Med just now god forbid we could not manage on a 65K tonne Carrier without cats and traps.
    Italy and Spain are not looking healthy just now but neither are we and you ant us to continue down the spend spend spend it will be ok in the end route.
    I am sorry but whilst it is a debate and I have admitted that i would love to see 2 conventional carriers with f35C operating it is also a debate tinged with realistic financial and operational parameters. at least it is for me.

  108. andyw

    some weird things going on with the US Navy – apparently the F-35C is NOT replacing the SuperHornet, but deployed alongside it. The F/A 18 will be replaced by the F/A XX and an rfi has just gone out

    Perhaps the best solution would be to get CATOBAR and F/A 18 and tag on to the new project.

    Primary missions for the F/A XX will “include, but are not limited to, air warfare (AW), strike warfare (STW), surface warfare (SUW), and close air support (CAS).” This seems suspiciously like the mission set for the F-35.

  109. martin

    @ Andyw

    If we go down the F 35 C route then we need F18 EF along side it. The US navy is not going to develop an AAR capability for its $120 million dollar stealth aircraft when it has F18 to do the job. Estimates for us to develop this capability on our own are around 1.8 billion basically meaning we can buy a squadron of F18’s for the same price.

    Also as far as I am aware we have not yet bought the EMLAS 1 system yet. If we have which given the current government I would not be suprised then we may as well go CATOBAR with F18 initally and purchase F35C in the 2020’s

  110. Waddi

    One question not the F35C too heavy for QEC? If it’s too heavy for CdeG and given that the French Thales was the lead designer for QEC it may be that’s where the £2bn extra cost is i.e. welding a load of rsj’s under the flight deck. Pure speculation but it may be that the QEC design is simply not strong enough to land anything bigger than a Harrier, Rafale or F35B and not an F18 or F35C.

  111. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Waddi, you would seriously hope not! The C is a beast though her max take off weight only very slightly lighter than an F14 was.

  112. Waddi

    Nope, personally I would love to have seen two British CATOBAR strike carriers with Sea Typhoons and T45 escorts with ASM and land attack cruise missiles just like the Froggies have, hate to be second best. But have to be realistic as well would love an Aston Martin but can only afford and actually only need a mini.

  113. martin

    @ Waddi

    “Nope, personally I would love to have seen two British CATOBAR strike carriers with Sea Typhoons and T45 escorts with ASM and land attack cruise missiles just like the Froggies have”

    A dream that nearly was. If only we could have found a few more quid down the back of that magic sofa in the MOD.

  114. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Martin @ 4.52

    £ / € / $ – 1.8bill to sort out a AAR capability?
    That is what is wrong with MOD cost control.
    A ridiculous number is put forward and nobody blinks.

    You could develop a whole new aircraft for that sort of money.
    Spending other people’s money comes far too easy to some people.

  115. Observer

    He doesn’t mean a single plane bloke. He means a fleet of tankers.

    As usual, you seem to be complaining about everything under the sun.

  116. Bluenose

    Looks like decision for B has been made. Let’s hope the QE is not called upon to generate sorties in high temp, low-wind conditions or in an adverse sea state, especially if the aircraft are expected to be armed or fly more than 100 nm, all things the B model can’t really do.

    Still, good thing we didn’t waste any money building a CV capable of using a genuine multi-role aircraft or a future mixed manned / UCAV fleet. Learned nothing and forgotten nothing, once again.

  117. Jackstaff

    X @ 1531Z,

    This. The USMC has been boxed in on a few fronts (some salutary — the EFV program was becoming an almost FRES-worthy mess) but it’s managed greater threats to its rationale. The USN has gained two hugely important portfolios — BMD and the branch of the American deterrent least likely to see cuts — but will end up paying with at least two CVNs (one because the pre-Ford “holiday” down to ten will become permanent, the other because of budgetary pressures and the fact USN supply chains are scraped bare trying to provide air wings for the extant decks.) The Army and USAF really are in a fix, the latter most of all which is why their moments of sanity in trying to develop a more expeditionary model of logistics basing (to keep a jet-speed global taxi/lorry service running even if its not sexy) and the drive for a new bomber to project firepower over strategic distances (recognsing the other three services have been steadily eating more and more of their lunch on combined-arms use of smaller aircraft, A-10 aside, since the end of the Gulf War in ’91.) The Army, which to be fair is still very deeply bogged down in the Stan till late next year, seems just to be in denial. That won’t last; get past this next election cycle and there will be hard reckonings.


    Last year I would indeed have said Dave B was for the chop. But now, if A does in fact go ahead (instead of “Phantomising” C back into USAF as we’ve seen advocated for the UK often round here) looks like the runt of the litter now, mostly due to continued USN distaste for the sheer ugliness of the JSF program’s development cycle. The Boeing offering is supposed to be “sixth generation” whatever that is, probably cleaning up the coding mess and improving overall rcs reduction. And there’s a long working relationship there thanks to SuperBug, a long USN/Boeing relationship that is, where their recent LM experience is chiefly delays and farragos.

    A general remark,

    If there is in fact one operational carrier at a time w the other in reserve for a national crisis (not one carrier heads for port, the other makes to get underway, but one working up and down at a time) some of this angst about uniform colour and will to serve at sea (I have genuine questions and concerns re the latter) can resolve itself. If you have 2×12 sdns of B on line, don’t piddle them out a bit at a time — build two sdns of wafus and all 24 work up and down with the carrier as carrier air wings ought. Then if need be you can split one to each QE on a big-crisis mission and flesh out each sqdn w extra bods and spare airframes as done thirty years ago this month. That’s your baseline carrier air sorted until the 2030s. And it concentrates carrier air where it should be 1) combined arms for sea control in fleet action (how long has that been? Did we fight the Third Shock Army outside Hanover? Was it foolish, if you mean to have a military, to be prepared?) And 2) combined arms to seize a lodgement on shore away from enemy defences and (in the age of flashmobbed civil resistance and IEDs) urban port facilities so the khaki folk can be delivered by LOTS to go do their work. Making the RN again into a weapon that can, practically, fire the “projectile” Britain-based Army would be a huge step forward in the surface fleet’s rationale. And as a navalist I’m all in favour.

    Martin (or was it Mark),

    There was money down the sofa. They just used it on a piss-up in the sandbox instead. In my Shoulawouldacoulda land I would have two CATOBAR carriers, each with 1×15 navalised Typhoon (Tempest?) Flown by FAA and 1×15 Dave C flown, like the lumbering light bombers they are, by RAF. Still room to get TLAM and ship-killers on the T45s. The trick is to not be as madly in love with their own frigate-navy youth as Their Lordships. In the three key oceanic choke regions the UK can actuall effect (Bab al Mandeb area, Arctic near the soon-to-emergre Svalbard-Finnmark passage, South Atlantic) would post a T45/Astute combo and have done with it, and TLAM on each for regional striking power. Yes that means you need Dubious and Doubtful to make up task force numbers. Frigates to guard task forces through ASW and NGS 3yes of course they need PDMS.) The light stuff, and not too much of it ’cause the UK cannot and should not be everywhere, to light sloops.

    I can see three likely options on this (no partiuclar order of likelihood)
    Option 1 “Son of Harrier”
    JFH all over again with Dave B and its build rate. Plenty of acrimony for Her Majesty’s Treasury to divide and conquer.

    Option 2 “JCA? What JCA? Ooh, Look… Shiny!”
    45-50 B variant to rebuild FAA, more Tiffs for RAF as T1 replacement, lots of pretty distractions about regional bombers, UCAVs, satellite platforms, and magical unicorn sparkle ponies that drink from angels’ teats and piss rainbows.”

    Option 3 “JCA is Dead, Long Live JCA, or, The Italian Job”
    B for FAA, A for RAF, talk of going back to a buy of 135 over time, cats and dogs living together.

    What I’ve got, anyway.

  118. Hannay


    The £1.8bn to develop aerial refuelling capability for F-35C was put forwards by Sharkey Ward and most likely plucked out of his arse to suit his agenda (which is maximising Boeing’s profit)

  119. Repulse

    If the option is one carrier or two, there is no option. Get on with STOBAR and sort out what we need / can afford long term. We are in the territory of “least worse option” let’s stop digging…

  120. andyw


    The rfi also says “Also consider the ability of your concept to provide other capabilities currently provided by strike fighter aircraft, such as organic air-to-air refueling (AAR), Tactical Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA), and airborne electronic attack (AEA).”

    If the F/A XX can do all this, then what is the point of the F35C? Also they will probably have x47 on board by then. At this rate they’ll be bankrupt before any F35 gets in service.

    re 6th generation – I think this is a 5th gen but with a tailless design and optional manned or unmanned flight.

  121. Jackstaff

    That should be “sea control *and* fleet action” in my above, and C as the runt of the litter. Blackberries and their tiny keypads, I dunno….

    And yes, on all fronts, if future governments see some sense and start investing in a pair of flat-top phibs and angled decks for the QEs ahead of MLU, *fabulous*. If not, the phrase from my editing days was “don’t get it right; get it written.” The, I think, very real efforts by the top bods in the current government to kill the whole carrier enterpise (chiefly to bag quick savings and shank Gordon the Toad) make that approach a real and necessary consideration.

  122. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Blue Nose, Nothing like being bitter. I will wait for the report but if it is a choice of 2 carriers with VSTOl F35 and getting that capability by 2020 or 1 carrier in 2025 with F35C and spending extra money we do not have well, I agree with 1SL. We will have 2 65k tonne hulls as I often like to point out the original T23 did not have a command system yet they will leave service with merlin, 2087, 997 and sea Ceptor making it one of if not the most capable multi mission Frigates in the world.
    If the decision has been made then so be it and perhaps we can now concentrate on ensuring we it operational on time without more goal post changing. Of course unless like you, you already know the performance of an unbuilt carrier for an aircraft that has never been onboard or done any trials onboard.
    How do the russians manage the Su33K with a max TOW of 33,000kg from Kusnetsov and as for the USMC well they are absolutely wasting their time with F35B from the 257M America class and no ski ramp.

  123. x

    @ Jackstaff

    Not sure if you are agreeing or not or just continuing on another of mad points. :)

    Even the US Army with Pax Americana, pre-positioning fleets, and arms dumps world wide still is dependent on the sea to deploy. The problem isn’t just getting there but getting your equipment into play.

    I have said here at least once that the USAF actually proves the separate air service model is flawed in that it does nothing but support the US Army with a limited strategic role (hello Bx bombers!), has its main combat power residing in holes in the ground in the Mid-West (that don’t need pilots are more akin to artillery), and seems to be constantly on the search for new areas to exploit to justify its existence (space and cyberspace.) The other US armed services all have considerable air assets of their own which directly support their main missions. US Army helicopters move US Army soldiers about or provide fire support. US Navy aircraft defend the fleet and strike land targets. USMC aircraft defend the fleet, provide top cover for marines, and provide CAS. USCG aircraft support SAR, law and order, and protect the US sea margins. etc. etc. Air power used as a tool not as a reason to be…..

  124. Jed

    oooh did someone mention RAF Info Ops…..

    Exlcusive to the Finanical Times of Yorkshire – transcrip of Air Chief Marshal’s speech is leaked.

    Dateline: Tuesday 17th April, Hull, Peoples Republic Of East Yorkshire.

    Today the FToY got it’s hands on a secret transcript of the the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Douglas Vader’s speech to the Royal Society of Rocketry on the future of air power:

    “We have to accept the future of air power is not going to look like Dan Dare ! Nor is it going to look like Terminator, however much we think we are rushing towards the ‘singularity’ there is as yet no chance of fitting an Artificial Intelligence (AI) to an unmanned combat aircraft. This provides us with a problem, as communications bandwidth is not infinite, and the enemy has a input to the equation, by jamming our comms and datalinks.

    Therefore we are very pleased to announce the Cybernetic Ucav Pilot (CUP) programme. Through the advanced technology provided by the Tryell Corporation, we can now fit a human brain into in the BAe Taranis UCAV ! This is a world beating, revolutionary development. Luckily for the RAF, there was a group of young, single and unemployed RN Harrier pilots, who were happy to sign up to have their brains implanted into RAF aircraft, if it meant an additional unlimited number of years of flying.”

    Sir Douglas was also said to have mentioned that he now did not care if Argentina purchased Russia’s best possible S300 based integrated air defence systems, as his new CUP enabled Taranis had the top secret “Red Eye” EW system.

    However Sir Douglas was apparently challenged by ex-FAA fight pilot Capt. Nobby Clarke (RN, Retd.) who stated that even if a Taranis with it’s CUP did look like a Cylon Heavy Raider, it’s not actually space ship, and therefore would have a problem reaching Argentina if not flown from an RN carrier. Apparently Sir Douglas became highly agitated, demanding the Capt Clarke take an immediate blood test to prove that was in fact human….

  125. Brian Black

    Hi, x. “The days of deep strike by manned platforms is over. Forget the F35C”.
    But the options for carrier borne deep strike from NG and Boeing involve cats’n’flaps. I would guess that the independent development of stealthy, automated, long-range STOVL aircraft capable of carrying a couple of thousand pounders would make the catapults look like small change. And the American possibilities have quite a head start on anything done this side of the water.
    The F35C opens the door to other existing programmes, whether you want the C for deep strike or not.

  126. Ichabod

    Info ops? … if moving Australia 600 miles west on a map in a staff paper worked in the 1960s to help kill CVA01 why wouldn’t the same techniques pay dividends again?

    After all they had to hone their propaganda skills to a high pitch after WWII to explain away their carpet bombing war crimes.

    The real cyborgs are the recent and current leadership of the Navy though … generally bamboozled by the superior intelligence of the light blue crew

    Lewis Page said today that Stanhope ought to resign rather than support the RAF/BAE stitch-up:

    Let’s hope he can pull something off …

  127. jackstaff


    Thanks kindly for the update, that’s very useful. Definitely makes you go “hm.” Whether that “hm” is about Dave C or X-47B I’m not sure. I’m sure they want a Tomcat replacement in time: some of the Air-Sea wags have likely done the math that, if you mean to bollock A Redfor That Looks Suspiciously Like China with stand-off missile batteries, those need to be defended by a spectrum of capabilities against counter-saturation, including a “fighter” that actually is. But yes, I would bet on quite a bit of hedging wrt both JSF and X-47 going on.


    Oh, agreeing — just while perambulating as usual ;) But at least, at least, the Zoomers are making a semblance of effort to fulfill the “we cover the globe” business rather than chuffing along across your own continent, sweating like a Pioneer doing his multiplication tables, while topped up by tankers soon to be replaced by the Worst. PFI. Ever. No. Really. As for the rest, that was my point wrt combined arms: much more sense, unless you come up with a genuinely unique mission, for a substantial military (and even now the UK’s is substantial compared to most) to combine arms for best effect. Less’n you dispatch War Rocket Ajax to bring back his body, that means there’s actually less cause for a separate air arm than in a small military, where the fairly tiny number of fixed-wing airframes (plus a CSAR heli or two — really, or two) can be put in a singular air arm for efficient management. But efficient management and woolly bits of Douhet aren’t reasons to turn away from creating effective structures to win wars, even little ones. And Gates’ admonishment (it was, flat out, an admonishment) to the wild blue yonders a year or two ago is a sign even senior admin may have noticed.


    :) :) :) Is ACM Vader working on the new remote-sensory-muscle-control technology codenamed “FORCE CHOKE” ? (Scifi nerds always need a mashup ….) Are we going to be recruiting feisty blonde birds from the Pacific Northwest for the FAA then? Because, bloody hell, I might be on the next flight back and damn the age restriction….

    Speaking of Yorkshire and money management, does that mean I get to do my bass-baritone version of “The Yorkshire Couple” at last orders?

  128. jackstaff


    Ah, the Gannet, an ugly bird but reliable. (Mind out of the gutter….) Love to see if the deck on the QEs is long enough for some mad OAP from Eagle/Ark days to run one to takeoff from them.

  129. jackstaff


    Ref: FAA blondes
    Yes, yes, I know, you’re more interested in their Korean oppos — just means there’s more to go round :)

  130. Jed

    Jackstaff – you may want to sit down for this, but I work with a small asian girl who looks like Boomer, and fair haired girl who is actually called Kara !

    Where do I sign for the Viper pilots course….

    In real defence news – the UCAV versus manned is now moot for the USN – they have released plans to get a naval UCAV operating earlier than previously planned AND released and RFI for their next manned aircraft – the so called “generation 6” F/A-XX

  131. Topman

    @Ichabod ‘generally bamboozled by the superior intelligence of the light blue crew’

    Thanks for that, I was always to modest to say it myself.

  132. Bluenose

    Not being bitter, being depressed. The Russian Navy manage by flying their Su-33s with almost no weapons or fuel (and certainly not on actual operations). The USMC undertakes CAS with a support element the UK could only dream of (including, of course, Super Hornets from Nimitz class).
    If you think I’m merely making up F-35 B model shortcomings then good for you, but please have a look at the weight, thrust, wing-loading, fuel fraction, payload and what this means for effective operations and bring-back if things are less than perfect.
    So at some point – maybe before 2030 – the RN will have a small number of short range aircraft with limited payload and significant operational restrictions that have next to know no long term future capability evolution owing to inherent design limitations. And the carriers will never be able to host any other form of fixed wing aircraft, even after 2020 when UK finances are likely to be back on an even keel.

  133. Mr.fred


    An aircraft with a combat radius of 300+nm cannot fly more than 100nm? Would you care to explain that one to me?

    While you are at it, would you kindly expand on your other comments, especially the one about adverse sea states. The received wisdom is that STOVL carriers can generally operate in higher sea states than CATOBAR carriers, and that is comparing a 20k tonne CVS to a 100k tonne CVN.

  134. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Ichabod, Please not Lewis page, I can almost stomach Sharkey due to his achievements but Lewis was a whinging MCD who never even qualified as a PWO.

  135. Brian Black

    x @ April 17, 11:26

    We don’t choose to have military capabilities or not through the democratic system. We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a one party state; where the differences between the party’s factions can be boiled down to bickering about pasties.
    There is no real choice. The only semblance of democracy we have is the right to vote in tv talent shows.

  136. andyw


    “Less’n you dispatch War Rocket Ajax to bring back his body”

    I’m now going to have Flash Aaaraaagh stuck in my head all bloody night now

  137. Bluenose

    @Mr Fred.

    300nm combat radius is – as always – a best case scenario and takes no account of excessive fuel wastage during the sortie, flight-path, weather, threats etc. When things are hot, heavy and going against you the manufacturer paper figure falls by an order of magnitude. The fuelling issue of the B also removes a contingency

    The sea state issue is about the restriction on successful recovery with any ordinance based on fuel needed to find and circuit the ship. A conventional landing, though arguably as or more difficult in high sea states, continued to make use of aerodynamic lift rather than fighting Newton with thrust or the hybrid rolling approach. The air temp / density is also a key question for take-off and landing for the B if it is going to balance load and fuel.

  138. x

    @ Jackstaff

    Ugly? It is a thing of beauty. I can never get over how tall they are. And the engine or engines are a marvel.

  139. Observer

    It also depends on how they calculated “combat radius”. If it’s just how far it can travel on a full load of fuel, you’d have to halve the distance (there and back), and this is not considering patrolling/loitering time. A plane isn’t doing it’s job of setting up a barrier against enemy aircraft (BARCAP) if all it’s doing is touching the max range, then having to fly back. So what distance you get must be divided by more than half. And that isn’t even considering using afterburners.

  140. Jackstaff


    I’m sorry; I think you said something there but I suffered a sudden loss of blood pressure and it’s all a bit hazy.


    True that. Panem et cirences. Does that at least mean new naming conventions that will give us HMS Cilla (no, not another HMS Scylla) out of the MHPC, and RAF Crinkly Bottom?

    On a related note, the number of times I’ve had to browse past the Daily Fail website these last couple of leaky days makes me want to renew a long-cherished relationship with bactitracin….

  141. Brian Black

    If we absolutely, positively have to have some Lightnings flying from the first carrier, would it not be an idea to have a minimum number of Bees within our early airframes; then just continue with the plan to fit ship number 2 with cats’n’slaps. Ship 1 could be refitted five years and several budgets down the line to meet the needs of the growing F35C fleet.
    I’m not keen on such a mixed buy, but if we want the F35 to replace Tornado, F35B aren’t going to satisfy the RAF, and we’ll end up with two types anyway.

  142. ALL Politicians are the Same

    I must have been imagining the Su33 ops we saw flying off Kusnetsov in the Med earlier this year. My watch must have been malfunctioning with the time they spent airborne and the weapons they were carrying must have been made of cardboard then?
    I am glad your equations help you feel better ref the F35B. I notice you now maliciously add on another 12 years, sometime before 2030?
    I am glad you are confident we will be rich post 2020 because I am not but because we will have 2 carriers the option to retrofit them in turn will exist should the requirement arise.
    As for CAS, well firstly the AV8B was not designed to have an A to air capability and every operation the USMC has conducted with it has been done under complete air superiority.
    if you read the doctrine though the F35b is designed to allow local air superiority and CAs CSCAR escort and CAp to be provided for an amphib group without a CVN needing to be present.

  143. Jackstaff

    You pays your money and you takes your chances ’round here.

    I will give you the engines, I have seen them as you have and they are gorgeous. Get those blokes working for JLR, stat.

    Don’t worry about flight school; the good ladies of Viper Command know the flyboys will be on to the next nugget out of OCU sure as breathing. Its groundcrew that give them what they need reliably. Need your tank topped up, ma’am?

  144. x

    Didn’t Ward always say that a VTOL jet could be landed in worst sea states than a CTOL ‘plane could manage? And that perhaps a CATOBAR carrier would have struggled at times in the South Atlantic? So surely the F35b would be a tad better?

  145. Mark

    Below is the current f35B KPP in relation for the US marines which is real world assuming an engine at the end of life and is currently being meet. Also as testified to aus parliment despite changes to the jet so far in sdd no weight has been added to the f35b to incorporate them

    With two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM-120s,full expendables,execute a
    600 foot(450 UK STOVL)STO from LHA, LHD,and aircraft carriers (sea level, tropical day, 10 kts operational WOD) and with a combat radius of 450 nm
    (STOVL profile). Also must perform STOVL vertical landing with two 1000# JDAMs and two internal AIM-120s,full expendables,and fuel to fly the STOVL Recovery

  146. Bluenose

    I must be thinking of different Su-33 carrier strike aircraft; please elucidate me on their air-to-ground capabilities and the way they have been used by the Russian Navy.

    I indicated 2030 based on military programmes to date; you really think they’ll have anything approaching a FOC before then?

    Not personally convinced by the VTOL better in bad weather argument; basic physics suggest otherwise and the rolling vertical approach has yet to be tested under benign conditions, let alone anything more demanding.

  147. Mr.fred

    An order of magnitude? That seems quite a severe modification. Would you also apply that to other carrier aircraft? With similar restrictions, the F/A 18s (both A-D and E-G) would struggle to meet a 100nm combat radius (although your earlier comment would imply 100nm RANGE). What fuelling issue? The inability to operate AAR from a STOVL carrier?

    The difference in methods between CATOBAR and STOVL are obvious. The usual assessment is that STOVL operations can continue in higher sea states than CATOBAR. Temperature and pressure effects will have an effect on both methods – the CATOBAR aircraft need to generate thrust to achieve lift, especially for go-arounds. While one method may triumph in aesthetic appeal, does it actually provide an advantage? CATOBAR may have aerodynamic lift, but the speed it needs to maintain that lift counts against it. The STOVL aircraft can close at a more amenable speed and land with much smaller impact.

  148. ALL Politicians are the Same

    The definition of combat radius is “the maximum distance of an out-bound leg with a full load of weapons and fuel” The profile this is calculated against is far from an ideal high efficiency cruise.

  149. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Ichabod @ 8.18

    LP is always a bit mental with his arguments but he does make you think. He is probably more anti BWoS than I am so is moving in the right direction.

    His talk of alternatives to get things flying quickly and in numbers follows my own thoughts, rent some F/A 18s and get things moving. We could run them for 10 years and see how things turn out.

    Loved his stuff about the RAF and dogfighting.
    It just shows how useless the RAF has become and the crap aircraft that have been foisted on them.

    Regarding the 600mile shift – did this not have something to do with DG and the plans to build a base there which ultimately ended up in the hands of the US?

    The story has now attained legend status but I thought there had to be some sort of plan or sense behind it.

  150. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Blue Nose,mm basic physics versus decorated pilot with combat experience and no one else who has flown is actually disagreeing. Damm relying on Sharkey to make a point.
    The Su33 air to ground capability is irrelevant we witnessed them flying long patrols with a lot of weapons onboard and also practice dogfighting, suggesting an ability to launch at high take off weights and with plenty of fuel.
    Yes we will have an operational F35b capability long before 2030.

  151. Bluenose

    I am aware of the difference between range and radius; the issue is the outbound leg is subject to restriction on bringing back or not those expensive weapons, the realities of flying a complex approach at low altitude in difficult conditions.

    The difference between relying on lift to mitigate weather conditions is that you are more flexible in terms of the fuel required to undertake a return under difficult conditions (again, with greater mass onboard the aircraft. You land with lower forward velocity with a lift fan at the price of lower supportable landing weight and much greater fuel burn to accomplish this. Again, the rolling approach remains a WIP.

  152. Bluenose

    ‘Long’, ‘Lots’, ‘dog-fighting’ – you were watching all of this? Which weapons, how many, how long a sortie, what weights, any adverse circumstances? Sounds like a thin basis for judgment.

    Note that this is not irrelevant; the Russians do not use the aircraft as attack platforms, expected to undertake precision attack over long distances – not because the aircraft cannot but because the naval package does not work.

    Hope you’re right about the pre-2030 actual operational capability. Not sure I believe this or that it will turn out to be much ahead of the C in USN service.

  153. Think Defence

    @Bluenose, Ichabod, Lurkmike, welcome to Think Defence.

    Wow, the conspiracy theorists are out in force today. This endless light blue versus dark blue nonsense is going to have to stop at some point because it is tremendously counterproductive and I suspect, only prevalent outside the services where I am sure, there are professionals trying to do their jobs to the best of their abilities to deliver the best outcomes for the nation.

    I find it quite sad that so many people expend so much energy on stoking the inter service political fires and dreaming up ever more outlandish conspiracy theories instead of being constructive.

    Anyway, I think we all agree that going for 2 CVF with 30 F35C each and a collection of supporting assets would be the ideal but we can’t afford it unless that it is you want to trash the rest of defence to pay for it.

    Sometimes I think those calling for the RN to get back its proper top tier position in the league of world navies see that as the objective, not defence as a whole and therefore don’t care what impact it would have on everything else.

  154. ALL Politicians are the Same

    BI was not personally watching but they were watched and monitored. a thin basis, radar tracking of speed altitude etc and behavior allowing fuel burn to be calculated, take off and landing times and visual on stuff carried? Pretty comprehensive actually.

  155. Fat Bloke on Tour

    TD @ 9.20

    The real issue for UK defence policy is the ridiculous costs of doing anything.
    Value for money / reality / delivery are now alien concepts – the outlandish and indefensible are now taken as read.

    The RAF leads the way.
    They are now down to 8 squadrons of fast jets and falling.
    That is not a sustainable posture it is nice chaps trying on uniforms.

    No matter what they deliver they will cost a lot.
    That cannot go on, consequently now is the time to recognise the failings.
    Not try to rationalise them through the prism of US MIC waste and greed.

    Consequently please don’t see it as inter-service rivalry and back-stabbing.
    See it as a necessary first step towards self awareness and redemption.

  156. Bluenose

    But, old chap, that does not a combat sortie make. A mixed AA-11 / AA-12 on a traning jollie is one thing, conducting sustained sorties in adverse weather in the face of air defences and a dynamic environment is quite another.

    I don’t see this as an inter-service issue by the way, TD, more a question of second-rate forces being the most expensive toy. This seems to be that kind of decision; lots of other things on which the money could have been spent, after all.

  157. ALL Politicians are the Same

    BN, I never claimed it was a combat sortie it does however prove the ability to get the aircraft off the deck with a high take off weight.

  158. John Hartley

    Its not just defence, you can see the same short termism, poor value for money, endless U turns, putting off tricky decisions, all over the UK public sector.
    Taking more time to make a sensible decision, find the best deal, then stick to it, seems alien to our out of touch politicians/senior civil servants.

  159. Fat Bloke on Tour

    JH @ 10.13

    England is an incredibly centralised country.
    Add in the Oxbridge angle and the private school influence and you have an incredibly limited talent pool to pick from.

    One issue always stood out for me.
    Pre 97 NHS / lowest share of GDP in Western Europe – but the UK had the highest paid doctors.
    The upper middle class were brilliant at playing the system to their own advantage.

    My favourite at the moment is the number of journalists and commentators who got the private education subsidy from the MOD.
    They all seem to be same age – death of the grant maintained sector? – and their fathers all appeared to be RAF types.
    Again the upper middle class playing the system to their advantage.

  160. Challenger

    The more I read about it the more hopeless it seems.

    Is it time to take the really hard decision and go with the Super Hornet?

    Any takers?

  161. Hannay


    With the RN down to less than 20 frigates (and who knows how many more Nellie and Dumbo will despatch), you can level exactly the same criticisms. Just a bunch of chaps in uniforms standing on boats, and if we’re really lucky, a single ship might be available to deploy to a crisis the other side of the world.

    Is it time to can the RN and simply buy some coastgoard vessels with some transports (container ships?) to transport the Army around the globe?

  162. wf

    @Challenger: I’ve always been a Super Hornet advocate. But right now we need operational fighters, so I’d prefer we lease AV8BPlus. Given the time cats and traps take to fit, by the time it’s done, F35C will probably be ready

  163. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Hannah @ 11.09

    Fair point.
    High unit costs / total lack of value for ,oney is a MOD problem.

    However I think that the RAF are holding the Yellow Jersey just now regarding spending a lot and getting very little in return. I think it comes down to the Typhoon and how quickly they appear to have dumped it to get the 5th Gen stealth of the F35.

    That and the huge support contracts that are given out on a regular bais to BWoS and the “all must win prizes attitude” that comes over any new development however small.

  164. Challenger


    I appreciate that the time it will take to convert is the main concern in this debate (given that the costs are almost certainly inflated and would probably be covered by the Americans).

    Remind me, when would the first carrier be ready if they were to be given cats and traps?

  165. Hannay


    You’re a bit out of kilter on the support contracts. Sure they seem like a lot of money, but bear in mind that it’s spread over a number of years over a number of aircraft. In practice over the last few years, the various supprot contracts put in place have been a massive success from a capability front – we are getting much much better availability from platforms which corresponds to more capability.

    At the end of the day, with a shrinking number of aircraft (or ships) it becomes more difficult to justify having a large number of service bods set up for maintenance. I’m sure over the next decade or two we’ll move towards a much more Industry solution, whereby the same pool of Industry people does production, upgrades and deep maintenance. it’s a sustainable way forwards that doesn’t involve sacking a few thousand people every time a production run finishes.

  166. wf

    @Challenger: I believe POW is supposed to be ready 2018 with cats and traps under present plans.

    I think a 10 year lease of Harrier would give us capability very rapidly, as well as buying time to take a sensible decision on F35/F18

  167. Challenger


    I thought that the recent news over the cat and traps wasn’t just about the expense but also claiming that the fit could potentially set back the in service dates by several years?

    The lease of Harriers would indeed give us some crucial breathing time over the decision, but really…leasing Harriers after selling ours for next the nothing, can’t see that going down well!

  168. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi ALL Politicians are the Same
    April 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm
    – interesting post as it contradicts written sources
    – I have no way of knowing the true state of affairs, but with the soonish refit for the carrier the SUs should go out of service, and the MIG29 (available now as the carrier version’s development was paid for by India)replacing it. The smoke screen given for this switch by the Commander of Naval Aviation was “we don’t need several makes of aircraft”

  169. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Bluenose,
    not quite sure what was the thrust of this argument “more a question of second-rate forces being the most expensive toy”?

  170. Chris.B.

    I think people seem to be forgetting that the F-18 is not a cheap run around. The USN is buying them at prices similar to projections for the F-35A, and you’re not going to get F-18’s at the same price that the USN does.

  171. wf

    @Chris.B: Australia got them at USN prices, and so will we if we order before the USN stops buying. Since the F35C is further delayed, I expect there will be another MYP IV lasting until 2019.

    Not only does the Hornet cost less than half the F35A price, it’s predictable. Wanna bet when the F35A/B/C will actually reach IOC? Anyone doing so over the last 10 years would have lost their shirt several times over…

  172. Mark

    Really wf we keep hearing of the 50m dollar superhornet from the us and Australia paid double that just to buy the planes. To buy and support 24 for 10 years is costing aus 6b aus dollars not really cheap. Also how much to pay for the block software upgrade to operate uk weapons aus didn’t have that problem they only needed to get asraam integrated we need to do somewhat more than that.
    The f35s original isd was 2012 it will now been in the 2016/17 time so not great but not a total disaster

  173. Jim

    There has been a lot of talk about having two carriers. No matter what we will have two as DC claimed it cost almost a much to cancel than build. The problem no one seems to have considered is there will be no crew for the second carrier. The navy just does not have the manpower.

  174. ArmChairCivvy

    @ Mark “To buy and support 24 for 10 years is costing aus 6b aus dollars not really cheap.”
    – quite right, and it is the only bench mark to go by
    – I understand formally the deal is a lease and buy-back (?), not that anyone expects it to turn out like that. Would explain the USN proc price, and also the ten-year tenore (v short for such a major purchase)

  175. ArmChairCivvy

    @ Jim ” The problem no one seems to have considered is there will be no crew for the second carrier. The navy just does not have the manpower.”
    – in one of his interviews Adm. Stanhope said so pretty clearly
    – the original plan (now invalidated by the in-service dates disappearing over the horizon)was balancing the crew rotation between Ocean/ Lusty/ sea-trials with the 1st carrier and in the end actually having an operational (2nd) carrier – with aircraft and all

  176. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Hannay @ 11.47

    You make a fair point about the effectiveness of these contracts.
    But this then opens up the can of worms that is service – RAF / RN / BA controlled maintenance.
    I still remember being shocked by the great Scammell Commander Disgrace of 84.
    From what you say it must be endemic across all three services – people did not look after stuff.

    As for moving to a contractor based regime – where is the split?
    What do service people do and what do BWoS people do?
    My issue is the cost and the fact that a lot of upgrades / deep maintenance appears to be scheduled to suit BWoS factory work schedules rather than actual need.

    Also you have the Typhoon contract that appears to we a wrapper for just about everything going on with the aircraft – I think that there is a development element to it. my thoughts are that this is wrong, it allows inflated figures to become the norm and it lacks focus to be able to measure apples with apples if every contract is a mixed bag of servicing / enhancements / refurbishment and development.

    Consequently greater focus and transparency is required.
    Although the main issue remains – what does the need for them say about service management abilities?

  177. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Jim @ 8.26

    The bigger question is what size of RN do we want, do we need?
    My thoughts are that the numbers are too low.
    We should enlarge the numbers and make it more efficient.

    How many berths are there on commissioned ships?
    How many people are there in the RM section?
    How many people in total are in the Navy?

  178. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Blue Nose, yes the Russians are going to Mig 29K as the Su33 needed replacing and building more of them in small numbers just for Russian use was impractical and expensive.
    As for manning a second carrier, the ships company is listed as 679 for a Carrier fully operational and capable of conducting flight Ops when the air group embarks. it will be far less than that to simply get the hull to sea and test systems. No need for full department manning. So just 3 or 4 bodies to test ops room equipment, We equipment etc and a reduced complement in other areas. You then start to transfer from the carrier coming off its op cycle.
    Though want to bet we would manage to man both in a crisis?

  179. Ichabod

    @Think Defence 2120

    If the elimination of the RAF is a logically valid outcome of advances in technology and the abandonment of its former independent task of urban area bombing as a war fighting technique then why can’t that be debated?

    Is this blog sponsored (in the broadest sense) by the RAF or is it not ?


    The MoD-owned Point class Ro-Ros and the River Class coastguard vessels are already in service …. the reduction of the Navy to these types is also a logical conclusion – if you never need to truly control an area of sea or the seabed outside territorial waters.

    The argument is not that air tasks do not need to be performed, simply that, as the blog comments amplify, splitting it across 3 entities doesn’t make for stable decision-making.

  180. Observer

    Ichabod, normally, I’d be content to let Chris shoot you down, but this time, I’ll make an exception.

    1) You’re biased.
    2) You’re trying to force your bias on others.
    3) When you fail, you accuse others of being bribed.

    In sum, you’re an ass.
    And irony is still lost on you.

  181. paul g

    TD is an RAF sponsered site, ha ha that’s class. Get a cup of tea and read old posts on here.

  182. Chris.B.

    @ Ichabod

    What were you saying a week or so ago? Something about service politics and special pleading by the RAF derailing the defence debate?

    And yet every single post you’ve made so far on Think Defence has been about how the RAF should be eliminated. You’ve not contributed a dime to the actual debate. All you’ve done is proclaim that the RAF should be removed.

    You haven’t even given any solid reasons. You talk about area bombing in WW2, but I think things have moved on a little since then.

    I think you’ve set a new record time for the fastest “from first posting on a forum to becoming its laughing stock”.

  183. Observer

    Well, to avoid being called Ichabod number 2, I’d state here why manned air is still needed over drones, which was the main thrust of what Ichabod thinks is the need to demob the RAF.

    1) Situational awareness. All the fancy cameras cannot at this point replicate the experience of being at the scene itself, as well as direct info-processing. This also has massive implications in combat. No peripheral vision means you’re vulnerable to flanking by enemy air, and when bombing, you’re limited to what you can see on camera only. There may be a more important target just out of camera view (SAM site, AA vehicles, radar etc), but you won’t know it as you won’t have that “corner of your eye” spotting ability.

    2) Manpower. A UAV requires 3 crew to run, a launching crew, a transit crew, an onsite ground control. This is due to the UAV not carrying it’s own crew, but transiting from one area to another. Manned air on the other hand, carries one crew through all the areas. Lots of manpower savings.

    3) Engines. Most drones are propeller or turbofan for endurance, FJs are turbo-jet. Much higher performance. A FJ vs a drone would result in a dead drone in short order. As of now, despite AAM armed drones, no drone has successfully downed a fighter. Fighters on the other hand, have shot down drones. Upgrading to turbojet drones don’t really work, one of the things we discovered with camera shells is that if the camera is moving fast while the operator is not, there is massive disorientation as there is insufficient info for the operator to localize the drone’s actual location, which is why camera feed shells got scrapped for snapshot airphoto of a location. This means that there is a limit to how fast a drone can go before the operator “gets lost”.

    4) Bandwidth. Lots of radio users out there, and only a fixed number of channels for UAV control. Unless you want to discover that turning on the News causes the drone to launch missiles :)

    There are other reasons too, but these are enough to put paid to any rosy picture of a totally drone dominated air farce. Pun intended.

  184. x

    The only light blue sponsorship this site receives is from Maersk……

    TD is only as biased and just as wrong as we all are here.

    Of course I tend to be more right than wrong. But that is just a cross I have to carry. :)

  185. Chris.B.

    I can just imagine a secret slush fund of Maersk money pouring into TD. It’s no coincidence we see so many containers on this site ;)

    I’d also have to agree with Observer about Drones and add that the current generation of jet powered drones cost a significant sum of money for what they are. Once we start getting into the realms of high performance engines and avionics, we may actually reach a bizarre occurrence compared to predicted trends whereby automated/remotely piloted aircraft actually become more expensive than manned air, not less.

    Funny how these things turn out in the end.

    And if it gives Ichabod any remote pleasure, most people on here agree that the RAF is far from perfect in many regards. But that is a reason to tweak the service, not disband it.

  186. Ichabod

    … I’ll simply ask why can’t the 1 vs. 2 vs. 3 services proposition be debated … surely it isn’t off-limits as a topic?

    Anyway, I promise to read the “Future of …” posts from the archive with a cup of tea (probably camonile) as paul g recommends …

  187. Observer

    Actually, I’m for the total intergration of all services, air, land and sea. Saves us this mess of service rivalries. It might end up a huge organization but instead of allocating resources by service, why not put someone “in charge” of a region and let him configure the force mix he thinks he needs in regards to air/land/sea? Someone in command of the mediterranian might want more ships as opposed to a higher ground force mix that CinC Europe might want, or CinC Asia might want more air to counter the lack of sea and road access in jungles. Saves on the cookie cutter “one size fits all” solution.

  188. Observer

    And I left my brains at home. Drones and jets all use turbofan, just that jets use low bypass turbofans, drones use high bypass…

    My apologies. I plead zzzz…

  189. Observer

    Same thing isn’t it?

    CinC Home
    CinC Somewhere else?


    But it seems that the one thing we agree on is that the individual services do not get to choose their own fates.

  190. Ace Rimmer

    Observer, I’m with you on combined services, given their future size I’d amalgamate the lot on the lines of the USMC. If the current Chiefs of Staff can’t make their forces work together, rip it up and start again.

    Ok, its not going to happen, but I’d break it into one main force amalgamating the tactical and amphibious forces and have a Royal Strategic Air Force for the C-17’s and tankers, plus a few Typhoons and Tornado’s and a Royal Strategic Navy for the SSN/SSBN’s.

    That way the RAF and RN still have a few toys to play with and the rest of the forces can get on with fighting wars.

  191. Bluenose

    @APATS, the SU-33 was also simply too big for anything smaller than a Nimitz; you can bang on about the ordinance loads but it has never carried anything bigger than an AA-12, is not used for strike operations and does not appear to have ever conducted anything approaching an actual combat operation; it’s a white elephant given the size of its carrier. This is my worry about the realities of the F-35B – there’s manufacturer brochure figures and there’s trying to actually do something useful when everything’s going to hell in a handcart.

    On the subject of merging services did the Canuks not recently un-merge because it turned out to be at least as inefficient as have thing separate?

  192. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Bluenose, well forgive me for banging on about actual things that happened. How dare I actually know how long we have witnessed them flying for and the ordinance they carried. As for an actual combat op, Russian carriers have done precisely how many combat op, answer zero so they have taken part in zero out of zero! The strike role from russian carrier groups falls to the SU25 and missiles. The Su33 is there for air defence.
    So now the argument against F35B is that it is meeting its requirements but that is not good enough? The USMC as primary customers are unable to assess whether the aircraft will be ok when it “goes to hell in a handcart” due to their lack of experience?

  193. Topman

    @ APATS

    What was yours (and the general) impression of the Russian carrier and it’s ability to conduct ops. I assume you were more an observer than taking part in joint exercise, still I’d be keen to hear your opinion on what you saw.

  194. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Topman, whilst they conducted flight ops and training they never conducted any form of high tempo continous ops that would give any clue to what they are capable of.
    They did not have that many aircraft onboard and as myself and Bluenose have been going round the houses on the Su33 is a big single role carrier aircraft which has to be supplemented with the SU25.
    Swap that for a complete group of smaller and lighter multirole Mig 29K which they are replacing the Su33 with; they are talking about an air group approaching 30 and you have a capable platform but one which will have to spend more time at sea.

  195. SomewhatInvolved

    Oh come on you lot, we’re all on the same side!! That said…

    Bluenose had lots of good points, the biggest being that F35B is NOT a Harrier. The transition from a small, relatively slow bomber to a fast, heavy jet, regardless of it’s STOVL capabilities, was always going to be a massive transition, not least in flight deck management issues. Cats and traps adds another dimension, sure, but you were still going to a carrier easily an order of magnitude bigger than the CVS types and consequently a Harrier-trained crew were never going to be able to simply ‘step across’ to the new type.

    I still don’t understand how so many people here can be in favour of the epically expensive and flawed compromise that is the F35B. I have completely gone off the F35 now, based on its continually spiralling cost, but no matter. It has unmitigatedly failed in its promise to deliver an affordable aircraft no matter which way you spin it. You’re all as bad as the politicians, willing to save a little money now knowing full well that you will spend more in the long run. Buying a smaller batch of B’s will still cost billions and waste more when we trade them in a few years later. Pull the plug on the whole thing, now.

    The biggest failure however is the widespread agreement and acceptance of the ridiculous price tag BAE have slapped on changing the deck over to CATOBAR. Over a billion and a half? Notwithstanding what some have said we have already paid for EMALS, that’s on good authority. This entire debate has ONLY come about because BAE have yet again decided to profiteer from the UK Government’s entirely sensible decision to buy C. Why the hell should we accept that? Find another yard and get them to do it. Why not the US yard doing the cats installation on the Ford? We need to stop pandering to BAE and LM and hold their bloody feet to the fire. Building our carriers as they should always have been, CATOBAR, at least gives us an opportunity to choose what we will operate from them. STOVL limits us to US aircraft and nothing else. And what happens when, as I confidently predict, the F35B gets canned later this year? Cameron knows full well that’s what will happen and the disaster that awaits. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t, he must make the decision that will give us the greatest flexibility in the future.

    On UAV’s, they only need 3 crews right now. Don’t forget that Reapers are still very early models that have been rushed into service to fulfil immediate needs; they cannot fly in controlled airspace and lack many basic air safety and navigation requirements. Only when the US decides to shut down somebody’s airspace (Afghanistan, Libya) or ignore it altogether (Pakistan) can these things fly without restriction. BAE did work on this with their various UAV programmes, namely Telemos. Aircraft, including civil airliners, only actually need 1 pilot so a transit ‘crew’ of 1 is hardly a manpower stretch (number 2 is backup or training only). Same goes for launch/landing. Reaper is being flown by remote from Nevada; the time lag means they can’t be launched by the mission crew. All the aircraft requires to eliminate this ‘manpower’ issue is to co-locate the flight crew with the launch airfield; 1 man can launch and transit (if necessary) handing over to the mission crew later. I think this has been magnified from a non-issue.

  196. Bluenose


    you did bring up the Su-33, not I, as example of heavy aircraft ‘successfully’ operating with a ski-jump. I pointed out that it does not do quite the ‘heavy’ work expected of the F-35B and despite the capabilities of the airframe and lack of a CV-based alternative, the Russians have never used it as such even during the Georgian conflict when it might have been some use.

    Anyhoo, I’m more sad about the lack of non-F35Bs using ski-jump carrier and concerned this has been done for the wrong reasons (as SomewhatInvolved was saying regarding BAE)

  197. ALL Politicians are the Same

    SI, If the govt had bothered to do any research before making a political point and switching to C in order to ridicule Labour then we would not be in this position now. We may have been in the same position but it would have been in late 2010 or even before.
    The fact that they are only discovering this now is gross incompetence at the highest levels. Why are the chiefs saying we would not have cats and Traps until 2025 and we would only get 1 hull.
    If they are facts then the F35B is the least bad decision at this time. Once we have 2 65k tonne hulls we can alternate them through an upgrade package if required whilst maintaining capability with the other.
    As for F35b getting canned, it seems to be ok since january and remember it is going to Americas favorite service, the USMC has a place in the hearts of americans and power in the lobbies of washington DC out of all proportion to its operational impact.
    On a lighter not I am sure my auto spell check has switched to septic English! Oghh and if I was a UAV pilot I wouldn’t swap vegas for Afghan either!

  198. SomewhatInvolved

    Well the RAF UAV crowd are hardly likely to swap out of their Vegas hotels now are they?!

    On a more serious point, are you seriously trying to say that the decision to swap was to spite Labour? I mean, I know politicians are out for No1 but really? Mate, I have some scepticism about Government but that’s one hell of a stretch.

    A least bad decision now does not make it a good one.

  199. Bluenose

    Humiliating the opposition probably seen as a bonus; no need to do this for that reason. Ironically, of course, it’s had the opposite effect.

  200. ALL Politicians are the Same

    SI, Know I believe the Govt genuinely though swapping to C was the best option but they also pretty obviously did not do their homework. if you look a the announcement of the switch to c they were scathing and ridiculed Labours choice of the B variant. they had however not conducted due diligence themselves.
    As for not a good choice, unfortunately the question has become multi choice and none of them are good.

  201. Fat Bloke on Tour

    SI @ 4.10

    Whoever pitched the change to the F35C was an expert.
    He knew exactly what issues would get Dave the Rave excited.
    And the rest they say is political point scoring, MOD shambles and history.

  202. Waddi

    In one of my earlier post I picked up on the Daily Mail comment that the F35C was too heavy to land on CdeG and wondered whether the same was true the QEC and perhaps this was the reason behind the unbelievably high CATOBAR conversion cost. Quick Google search has turned up the attached article from theengineer which gives this previously preposterous idea some credibility.Please God I hope I am wrong.

  203. Brian Black

    Folks have mentioned leasing carrier aircraft. There are no aircraft to lease.
    The USMC bought the UK’s Harriers to keep their own fleet flying, to fill the holes that would otherwise have been caused by delays to the introduction of the F-35B. They didn’t buy them so that they could polish them until we wanted them back. And similarly, the USN committed to F-18 aircraft that it would not have bought had the F-35 programme been on time. The Americans, certainly, won’t have spare aircraft to lend.

  204. Brian Black

    Not fitting the PoW with cats’n’chaps would surely just be going back to the defence spending ‘bow wave’ problem. Pushing out an inevitable decision until after the ship has been completed and entered service; saving some money up front on the ship build, but having a consequently more expensive conversion later. And in the meantime buying the more expensive B variant too, which will leave the RAF clamouring for a different version to replace Tornado anyway.

  205. Think Defence

    Ichabod, I do not presume like you that the elimination of the RAF is a logical conclusion to anything. Of course we can discuss disbanding the RAF (and have done so many times in the past) but we can equally discuss disbanding the Fleet Air Arm or Army Air Corps, Royal Marines, RAF Police or much of the support functions across all three services.

    My view has always been that we need to ruthlessly eliminate duplication.

    To answer your tired, jaded old question of if Think Defence is sponsored by the RAF, in the broadest sense or not

    Just because I have the audacity not to think the same as all the chumps in the Phoenix Think Tank, Save the Royal Navy, the Navy Campaign and all their fellow travellers, that the answer to the nation’s defence issues is more Navy followed by an extra serving of Navy with a side order to Fleet Air Arm does not mean I am some light blue shill.

    I am sponsored by no one but myself.

  206. Topman

    @ BB

    I agree the leasing idea seems more hope than anything realistic. The fact they bought our harriers tells us they were streched for a/c and have little spare capacity. I understand the USN are struggling to meet the demands of the carrier groups air needs.

  207. Phil

    Why would merging services eliminate inter-service rivalry? And no, the question is not as dumb as it sounds.

    My employer has many service areas, all integrated under one chain of command as it were. Does that stop the human beings running it all from fighting and plotting and backstabbing and competing and engaging in special pleading and grabbing resources and resorting to petty tribalism?

    Does it f…

    Seriously, what is the empirical evidence that things would happen like that? Why has Canada for example essentially reversed the process and even small armed forces maintain independent services?

  208. Chris.B.

    Can I just congratulate the PTT for marking every paragraph of their paper with the number one. Apparently counting has now become a challenge for them.

  209. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Waddi @ 7.48

    It has all the hallmarks of a Grade 1 shambles.
    We have a poor Fiesta Design Team trying to build a 44 ton truck.

    It is difficult to know where to start.
    The talk in thge article is trying to reduce topweight.
    Given the dimensions and weights of the ship I wonder why?

    The dimensions look OK – deep draught / wide hull.
    The freeboard looks quite low for a 65K ton carrier, consequently the shape factor looks reasonable.

    However then we have the GT / powertrain issue.
    Instead of 8 heavyweight MSD’s deep in the hull we have 2 GTs above the waterline and two smallish MSD’s in the hull.
    Then there is the issue of the ridiculous number associated with the steel needed for the hull.
    Could it be the case that the pre-fab hangar sections have been drawn up in crayon and turned out to be porkers?

    Either that or the curse of BL engineering has struck again.
    Someone spots a new material in a magazine and then is desperate to use it to show how cool, trendy and with it they are?

    If the FD cannot take F35 weights on CATOBAR then someone needs to be held to account.

  210. Observer


    No it doesn’t really eliminate the oneupmanship between services, but it does remove the service rivalry from the budget considerations as it makes only a single commander responsible for procurement. If the mentioned commander wants to play games and neglect services, he can do that too, until he gets his arse handed to him on the field. Hopefully, the top guys are intelligent enough to realise they need balanced forces to survive, and having the person making budget decisions directly responsible for the consequences will also help things, unless he’s a total short sighted idiot. Then budget would be the least of your worries.

  211. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Topman @ 8.33

    Not sure that the issue is a lack of aircraft.
    I think that the issue is a lack of funded aircraft – budgets are being cut and squadron numbers are falling.

    When it comes to F/A 18s beggars can’t be choosers.
    If A/B’s are all they have got then we should learn on A/B’s.

  212. Phil

    Does it though Observer? Does it? You still have capabilities fighting for a limited pot of money. And you still have humans running it. People talk of these efficiencies in money and decision making paths but what is the evidence for it?

  213. IXION


    That is pretty funny.


    People are people etc.

    However I know people always quote Canada, but why never Isreal?

    I am also somewhat concerned that seperate forces allow for far more damage to be done by infighting.

    But along with

    ‘the Islands that shall not be named’,

    The doing away with the Raf is the

    ‘thought that dare not speak it’s name’

  214. Observer


    Give the GT/diesel rant a rest will ya, it’s getting repetitive.

    As for the steel figures, from your badly written previous rants, I’m not sure if you were complaining about why a 40kT carrier has a final displacement of 65kT or if you were complaining about why there is 40kT of additional steel ordered. You were ranting and skipping between the two so often you were not very coherent.

  215. Phil

    All I ask is what is the evidence that splitting the RAF would create more benefits than disadvantages. Yes people are people. And too many people forget that.

  216. Topman

    @ FBOT

    My understanding, somewhat limited, is that there is an issue with a/c managerable but challanging. I really can’t see any spare a/c that they would rent us, it would make their already tight situation even worse.

  217. Topman

    @ IXION

    ‘I am also somewhat concerned that seperate forces allow for far more damage to be done by infighting. ‘

    Which would be replaced by intra service infighting. See RLC/RE EOD for further details.

  218. Observer


    Difference now is a single human making the final decisions, though he can be advised by his air/land/sea subordinates. This should cut the backstabbing down at the decision making level, unless that guy wants to backstab himself that is.

    This is the extreme drastic solution of course, caused by centuries of individual service traditions. A less drastic possibility is a centralised teaching institute where all officers, air, land and sea, go study their basic strategy and get it pounded into their heads that they either work together or they get canned, along with an intergrated teaching program of using all 3 services together in ops. That could also reduce interservice conflicts if officers are taught from the beginning that they are part of a single organism as opposed to enemies fighting for limited resources.

    OTOH, you could also be right and idiots will be idiots and screw up the whole thing too. We’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.

  219. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Observer @ 9.11

    Cut the crap.

    There are issues people want to discuss.
    If you don’t understand the issues or you don’t want to join the debate then keep quiet.
    Failing that away away and play Naval S-S missile Top Trumps.

    Consequently away and throw sh*te at yersel ya muppet.

  220. SomewhatInvolved

    FBOT, don’t follow you on the power issue so here are some figures to get you excited. According to RN press and Wiki, the “largest diesel ever supplied to the RN is an 11MW Wartsila” and is installed in the CVF. The marine Trent is rated at 36MW. So unless a Trent is three times the weight of a Wartsila and uses three times the fuel, it’s an improvement to have the turbine generator instead of the diesel. Isn’t it? GT’s are more efficient at higher power outputs.

    On a ‘generic’ warship of personal experience, a diesel generator generated 1.6MW for a fuel burn rate of 0.25 cubic metres of fuel per hour. The gas turbine generated 18MW for a fuel burn rate of 3cz/hr. So that’s 6.4MW per ton of fuel for the diesel, against 6MW per ton for the GT – but you need 11 diesels to generate the same power. Efficient? No. In 5 years of service we never once had to change a gas turbine.

    The flight deck issue sounds like a cost saving measure self generated by BAE and if so, they should be liable for all costs associated with strengthening the flight deck. Unless the original contract was so badly drawn as to fail to specify the structural integrity needs of the deck, for a design supposedly ‘adaptable’ to CATOBAR. I shan’t hold my breath on that one.

  221. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Topman @ 9.11

    I know that the USN have issues with aircraft numbers.
    When they next lose a carrier it will be because they do not have the aircraft / flight crew / squadrons for it rather than the running costs of USS Three Mile Island and her 6K hungry mouths.

    However that is not to say that we can’t ask to see what they have got rattling about at the back of the cupboard. We would only be looking for a time limited lease so they could re-jig their attrition stock, just a thought.

    Very interesting that the IDF use the Skyhawk as an advanced trainer.
    Needs must and a bit of flexibility can make a little go a long way.

  222. Topman

    @ FBOT

    ‘When they next lose a carrier it will be because they do not have the aircraft / flight crew / squadrons for it rather than the running costs of USS Three Mile Island and her 6K hungry mouths.’

    I can’t say I’ve looked into it a great deal, but I would think the 60’s levels of manning would have an impact on costs? 6000 personnel is huge, that’s more than the biggest RAF station.

    ‘Very interesting that the IDF use the Skyhawk as an advanced trainer.’

    Intesting, how so?

  223. ALL Politicians are the Same

    SI, on your ‘generic’ warship which may or may not be in line to be replaced by the type 26. Do you agree we should keep the same propulsion system but with modrn GTs similar to the more fuel efficient ones found on a T45 and more modern DGs?
    This could potentially see a DG cruise speed of 20kts plus whilst retaining the acoustic benefits and allow a 30kts plus sprint capability.

  224. Fat Bloke on Tour

    SI @ 9.35

    Article talks about changing the steel spec to save on topweight.

    I highlighted the fact that we are missing some heavy kit deep in the bowels of the ship because we have went for a Hybrid GT / MSD diesel install with the GTs in a non trad position to save on trunking space losses.

    Heaviest kit on the CVF will be the MSDs.
    The ones we are installing are not the biggest.
    They may be the biggest in use with the RN but they are not in anyway special out in the real world.

    Consequently your experience / RN experience is very limited when it comes to ships powertrains.

    GT are finished as prime movers for large ships.
    They are not as economical as MSDs and while they may have had a bit of popularity in the recent past that was when oil was $20/30 per barrel their time has gone.

    As for economy figures I fear you are mistaken.
    From the figures I have seen upmarket / high tech GTs have just managed to get under the 200g/Kwhr barrier recently – last 10 years – and only at very high loadings.

    Modern MSDs are 10% better at high loadings and significantly better at lower loadings.

    As far as outputs are concerned MSDs are heavier but as the RSN have shown it is possible to fit a powerful – 36MW / 4 x 9MW sets – powertrain into a 3.5K ton vessel.

    As always issues and complications abound but the slope is towards diesel / diesel electric installs as warships get bigger plus range and payload requirements get more demanding.

    Moving to diesel electric means a significant weight increase no matter the choice of prime mover. All the generators / motors are much heavier than any GT that would power them

    MSD reliability is a given.

    Regarding the specifics of the FD issue I know only what appears on here or in the press.

    Regarding the potential for problems and mistatkes I can only offer up my comments on the corporate lack of product knowledge within the UK ship design community.

    It would appear to me that the team working on the CVF are having the same problems as you would expect if you asked the Fiesta Design Team to build a 44 ton truck.

  225. x

    I think I am right in saying the largest ship in the RN crew wise is HMS Seahawk aka RNAS Culdrose.

  226. Observer

    “Consequently your experience / RN experience is very limited when it comes to ships powertrains.”

    You had better be with the RN to make statements like these.

    “As far as outputs are concerned MSDs are heavier but as the RSN have shown it is possible to fit a powerful – 36MW / 4 x 9MW sets – powertrain into a 3.5K ton vessel.”

    And this scales to a 65,000 ton vessel, how?

    Vitrol is vitrol, no matter how numbers are used to hide it. Or are you actually working for a company that manufactures diesel engines?

    Others wish to learn. You just wish to poison the internet.

  227. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Topman @ 9.47

    I was surprised at the story when I read about it in a couple of articles.

    The issue is the lack of aircraft / aircrew / squadrons.
    Seemingly the pure USN numbers are so tight the average carrier wing will soon be 50% of the previously accepted norm.

    I am sure that USMC squadrons are having to be roped in to keep the carriers busy – on paper at least.

    I do not know much about what the USMC has in the way of FJ’s beyond the AV8B but whatever they have they are being counted to stop the CVN numbers from being double decimated over the next few years.

    Seemingly one carrier is a goner and it could be 2 unless they can find the stuff to fly from her. I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of the America class on the TV in years to come.

  228. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Observer @ 10.13

    I am going to keep quiet because it is TD’s gaff and it is his rules.

    I think it would be appreciated if you would do the same.

  229. Jackstaff

    I have a suspicion, which could be unfounded, about both the deck and the steel. Yes, there’s a decent chance of subcontractors going gucci or BAE looking to trim costs (although they’re not building the decks themselves, are they? That’s part of the whole Carrier Alliance business.) But, as I understand it, the QEs’ engine plant is not, mostly, bwl near the keel, but instead just a deck or two below the hangar. This (since I’m guessing due to the high level of automation itd put the GTs and all getout near various fuel and ammo bunkers for the air wing) significantly increases the chance of a catastrophic cascading explosion if Opfor gets a lucky missile in the side of one of these big girls. I would think then, despite what’s open-source on the project (and a throwaway comment by NaB ,that I don’t think was professional showing off) that thee’s compartmentalised armouring in the actual design around those vulnerable design components. Just having major engine plant in that part of the vessel is going to affect its COG (and so flight deck stability, hull resistance to wave impact over time, etc.) Factor in armoured compartments as well and…. So back when CVF was “let’s link this to JSF and sneak it past the Treasury as a sort of largish CVS” you have a chance to resolve that design choice with a lighter deck since you’d be flying VSTOL and helis off it. And before Gordo the Toad’s endless prevaricating on carriers it wouldve been spun as a feature, cutting down costson a design already much cheaper than a Nimitz. Just a guess, anyway.

  230. Topman

    @ FBOT

    ‘The issue is the lack of aircraft / aircrew / squadrons.’

    Have you some of those links? Like I said I would have thought the cost of the carriers themselves would be a big driver. A/C can be used elsewhere need not be on a carrier for example when I was at KAF there was a USMC Sqn there, it’s no drama if they work from land. A carrier without a/c is a bit pointless.

  231. ALL Politicians are the Same

    FBOT, The USMC has 13 operational F18 squadrons. It is standard practice to have at least 1 USMC squadron on a deploying CVN. Regarding SI figures, I reckon they are actuals, figures from a nav data book. The Singaporean frigate is a version of the La Fayette. the French operated them first, the saudis bought a stretched AAW version, Taiwan an ASW version of the same size. the Singaporeans put more powerful DGs in but their version is much smaller hence the short legs. It is only 114m long.

  232. Topman

    @ FBOT

    Just seen your earlier post.

    ‘As for moving to a contractor based regime – where is the split?
    What do service people do and what do BWoS people do?
    My issue is the cost and the fact that a lot of upgrades / deep maintenance appears to be scheduled to suit BWoS factory work schedules rather than actual need.’

    It depends on the contract, but on the whole what was previously termed 2nd line off a/c would now be done contractors, that would be things like in component repair. 2nd line on a/c which is various servicing levels would be contract run ie BAE but on the shop floor a mix of servicemen and contractors. At the top it tends to be a nominal RAF presence and BAE run. This will vary from platform to platform for historical reasons. FJ tended to have far more of a military input into the whole chain of servicing in what would have been termed 1st to 4the line. Larger a/c such as AT tended to have more civilians/contractors and less servicemen involved.

    Meeting a/c slot times has always gone on to a lesser or greater extent. But it tended to be manager at a lower level at sqn level with ‘fly hard/slow’ various a/c to meet the slots in the hanger as req’d.

  233. Topman

    Edit last sentence doesn’t make much sense. But it tended to be managed at a lower level ie at a Sqn level. They would come to an agreement to meet an a/c slot with ‘fly hard/slow’ to meet that slot date. I think both systems had pros and cons, but under the new system that flexibility and ease of ability to change quickly to the needs of those it looked after has gone now as it is no longer all within the same chain of command within the station.

  234. Fat Bloke on Tour

    All PATS @ 10.34

    As always I struggle to work out some of your more technical language and the point you are trying to make or my point that you are arguing against.

    Now onto USMC squadrons on CVNs.
    Do you have any links close to hand?
    When did this practice start?
    As mentioned above the articles I have read suggested it was quite recent – 2004 onwards at a guess – so do you have any updates?

    Regarding RN experience of diesels …

    From the clues the engine was the Valenta.
    That is late 60’s HSD famous for its gig on the HST.
    Consequently two generations at least from the stuff now available.
    SFC – 200g per Kwhr approx.

    Modern stuff is looking at 180-185g per KwHr.
    The irony here is that the tree huggers have transformed diesels.

    The need for better emissions has driven the development of much better fuel injection systems that have increased power and reduced fuel consumption. Now that is something you won’t read in the Toryraph or the Forger’s Gazette.

    Regarding the GTs involved – RR Spey – SFC is 220g per KwHr at full load, much higher lower down the load range.

    My thoughts on diesels are modern, chunky MSD units with SFC of around 170g per KwHr.

    GTs have improved but they struggle to break the 200g per KwHr barrier and they need a lot of expensive kit to make them any way efficient under half loadings.

  235. Observer


    Internal armouring would make a lot of sense in a ship that valuable and big, and would explain a lot.

    There is also the part where the ship is built in sections and when you finally stitch the whole thing together, you’d need to reinforce at the joins as they are not really a single piece and need to be strengthened.

    Add that to the fact that such “stitching” tends to leave a lot of tailings and add a safety margin to the amount of steel you need, I can see where there is going to be a lot of “waste” metal. It’s unavoidable though, it’s part of the construction process, and the alternative is to build the ship as a single whole, which itself has it’s own share of problems.

  236. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Jackstaff @ 10.26

    Interesting that you should comment on the need for armouring and the the exotic placing of the GTs.

    The phrase running before they could walk springs to mind.

    My take on the GT placement issue is that not only are they close to the Hangar / FD they are also not on the Cl but close to the islands so that the trunking volume could be reduced.

    I fear we are starting to see a design that will make the 1939 Hunt class a paragon of deep analysis and useful detailing.

    From memory thae armour issue came up when the MOD were trying to thrift BWoS “BAFO” which was £1bill too high. Armour or its removal seemed to be on the table for discussion.

    Surely the armour was not removed to be replaced by thousands of tons of steel plate all placed very high up to protect the GTs and the space for GTs?

    Finally the magazine and the fuel tanks would be placed low in the centre of the hull with only transfer facillities leading to the hangar?

  237. IXION


    This has been argued out before on these pages +

    Essentaily there are 3 schools of thought-

    1) Everything is hunky and dory as it is

    Boring but proven…

    2) The TD position which is in essence:-

    a) We have very little money
    b) We have very little in the way of aircraft
    c) It makes sense to have only one support organisation got to be more efficient, so RN and AAC should be merged with RAF, if it flies it’s light blue.
    d) The supporters of this have a fair ammount of logic on it’s side.

    3)Starting from the same logic as the if it flies its light blue.

    There are those (like me), who see the best option as aboleshing the Light blue and deviding its functions between FAA, and AAC.

    In our view the RAF does virtually nothing but support the other two arms.
    What it does do like Air defence of UK is easily done by FAA anyway.
    We see it as taking 3 organisations and making 2 – reducing ‘back office; organisations from 3 to two.

    We criticise Td’s position as that still leaves 3 armed forces, even if the other two don’t now do air.

    Nor does TD;s position deal with the fact that in some scenarios, like AS work on Frigates the Chopper is an intigral part of the operation and it is litteraly ‘All at sea’ anyway so the ‘All RAF’ savings are lost to a degree as the units are broken down into bits and sent to sea anyway…Just one example.

    I do stress; I respect TD and his fellow travellers position, and believe it to be better than status quo. I just think rather than taking part of 2 organisations and addiong them to the third is innherently less efficient than scrapping one altogether and splitting its functions between 2.

    Hope that’s fair to all???

  238. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Observer @ 11.14

    Joins need to be strengthened?
    What factor would be working to?

    Remember it is welding we are talking about not riveting.
    Are you an engineer?

    40K tons of steel for the hull and structure of a 65K ton full load ship does not make sense.

    Does that mean there is 60K tons of steel in a Nimitz / GF class carrier?

    The T45s were built in sections / slices, they do not appear to be porkers.

  239. Topman

    @ IXION

    ‘We see it as taking 3 organisations and making 2 – reducing ‘back office; organisations from 3 to two. ‘

    I think that is one of the core myths it wouldn’t really.

  240. IXION


    Like I say, I am happy to agree to differ.

    I see it as a proven logisitical civilian managment principle that seems applicable to what is essentailly a logisitical issue- the managment of aircraft. I am cool with others who disagree.

  241. Think Defence

    Ixion, just a minor clarification

    I have always caveated that position with a statement about trading off any potential cost savings against loss of operational flexibility/capability

    The suggestion isn’t about some service centric power grab bollocks but getting more for less, nothing else.

    If someone could show that we could achieve that by binning the RAF then fair enough

  242. Gareth Jones

    Would it logically follow that reducing from two to one would be even more efficient and further reduce back office?

  243. wf

    @TD, @IXION: the fundamental issue that drives the future sustainability of the RAF IMHO is that, like all fighting services, the top brass need to be teeth, and now that the pool to recruit from has gone from the high hundreds to the low hundreds over the last twenty years with the prospect of further reductions, it’s not sustainable to recruit that brass. Better to split the functions between the FAA and AAC

  244. Brian Black

    Hi, FBOT. 65,000 tons is the full displacement figure for a catobar QE, not the weight of sheet steel. Full displacement for a STOVL QE with just 12 x F35B will be less, and I believe QE’s light displacement is closer to 50,000 tons.

    For comparison, US Navy figures for USS Nimitz (CVN68). Light displacement, 78,280 tons. Full displacement, 101,196 tons.

  245. James

    It would not work having the RAF run the FAA. You’d never get more than a 3 week deployment out of them, and there’d be endless whining about crew duty time, lack of hotels and fire regulations on board banning the burning of pianos.

    I recall quite clearly a rather disgruntled Sqn Ldr RAF bemoaning the creation of JFH in terms of “If I’d wanted to go to sea, I’d have joined the sodding Navy”

  246. IXION


    Sorry did not wish to imply it was a service centred power grab. Although some of my fellow travellers on other web sites (not sure about this one), are undoubtedly indulging in a power grab by the other two services when they suggest scrapping the RAF. My Motives (on this at least) are Pure.

    Like I said I respect your view.

    I just think that ‘on the ground’ (If that’s not an oxymoron when talking about air power) in practice it would be better (and I suspect this is where we disagree),AND more economically utilised by the other two services. That’s all

  247. IXION


    I know that sort of stuff is what wind’s TD up.

    It is a constant criticism of the RAf they live a 5 start lifestyle. In particular the ground staff, and as my old mate Wayne (USAF) used to say

    “I joined because we salute the officers; and then send THEM off to die heroically in the service of their country, with the other armed forces- it’s the other way round”.

    However that kind of thing, along with the inability of Army officers to bath, and their supposed lack intelligence; or the RN’s legendary opinion of itself, hardly counts as a serious reason to scrap the RAF.

  248. Chris.B.

    I think the issue you always come up against is that removing the RAF saves little in terms of manpower.

    You still need the pilots to fly the planes and the ground crews to service them, check the weather, intel etc. You still need someone to command each squadron. You still need someone to command each wing. You still need someone senior to represent the whole shebang, if only to the other admirals/generals now and not the prime minister.

    You save effectively nothing, barring perhaps the odd post here and there. Then before you know it the FAA/AAC are lobbying for funding to replace their old kit and getting turned down in favour of other priorities.

    You end up in the same boat that you started with, except that now the Royal Marines have to argue with the AAC to get access to Chinooks and the AAC is shaking its fist at the FAA for spending the entire ISTAR budget on Maritime Surveillance while not meeting its promise of releasing a certain number of aircraft for overland ISTAR.

    Eventually the government has enough when a bun fight breaks out between the FAA and AAC about their differing requirements for an air superiority aircraft, with the FAA wanting something heavy with a powerful but delicate radar and the AAC wanting something more robust and easier to maintain that can easily be turned to CAS.

    As a result the government forms a dedicated air force branch, to handle the majority of aviation tasks and to centralise the current dual fleets of training for everything from fixed wing transport to helicopters.

    Or in other words, they just reinvent the RAF.

  249. wf

    @Chris.B: well, the savings are a lot more than that. The RAF has it’s own basic training establishments which could be replaced with Army or RAF. Manning helicopters to AAC standards would save quite a lot. Service only staffs would go.

    If memory serves, fixed wing flying training has been centralised for 50 years now.

    But your final point illustrates how I believe you are wrong. There’s no need for a separate Service to service a type of equipment. Separate branch will do fine. I cannot see why the RTR or heavy cavalry should exist as regiments when they are always battle-grouped anyway in practice with infantry units.

  250. Topman

    @ wf ‘The RAF has it’s own basic training establishments ‘

    Very little money there as the units in question do more than basic training and x amount would still need training. Like you say nearly everything else is tri service anyway.

    ‘There’s no need for a separate Service to service a type of equipment. Separate branch will do fine. ‘

    Why not extend that line of thought further? Why have a seperate service for operating ships it’s just a piece of equipment?

  251. Phil

    All I can see is endless duplication and far more complex reporting lines if you split each capability the RAF provides and divide it between the other two services. As Chris says the RAF would need to be re-invented eventually.

    If its simpler reporting lines and purely economic efficiencies then the logic implies that if it flies, it goes in the RAF under Fleet Air Command and Army Co-Operation Command. Two new commands I invented.

  252. ArmChairCivvy

    Don’t know how we got here (again), but I quite agree with Phil
    “All I can see is endless duplication and far more complex reporting lines if you split each capability”

  253. ALL Politicians are the Same

    I agree with Phil and ACC. The process of splitting it all up, working out where it all went in terms of reporting and command chains. Rebranding, uniforms etc would be an absolute nightmare and wipe out any dubious savings that may be made.

  254. Brian Black

    Inter-service competition is mostly caused by the lack of a clear overall strategy for the forces. Rather than jointly trying to reach the best possible conditions for meeting our defence needs and our strategic/political aims, we get the eternal squabbling as each service fights for a bigger slice of the pie.

    If their were a clear political consensus as to what our forces are meant to achieve, then much of the fighting would not go on. CVF/F35 is a prime example of that. The government flip-flops back and forth and what passes for strategy and planning struggles to keep up with whatever happens to have been decided on any particular day; rather than having a strategy and tailoring the carriers and airwing to fit.

  255. Challenger

    I agree that at the moment breaking up the RAF would be a massive headache and on balance not save much money.

    I would however like to see a bit of ‘tidying up’.

    The main one being a transfer of the Chinooks to the AAC. The RAF doesn’t give a crap about ‘boring old cargo helicopters’ and it would clearly make more sense to put them in the hands of those that need them, want them and use them.

    I have some other ideas for a bit of a sort out and spring clean.

    Any other suggestions?

  256. James


    clearly I need to work on signposting my attempts at humour rather better.

    I do wish the RAF would spend rather longer deployed though. 3 months is not really enough to get to grips with a theatre and the local differences on things like ROE, planning and reporting, and mission planning cycles. The learning curve is steep, they are not really efficient for a month, and pretty quickly another crew arrives needing to start again with the learning process.

    And don’t let me start on the occasion when a Corimec shelter was good enough for CDS and a two star to share overnight, but CDS’s pilots had to sod off to another country entirely so they could get their beauty sleep in a proper hotel, and then found themselves fogged in in the morning, leaving CDS with a 6 hour drive and then civair back to Heathrow. Pair of jumped up specialist air crew Flt Lts. I hope he gave them the roasting of their lives back in the UK, and Chief of the Air Staff as well.

  257. Phil

    How do you mean the RAF doesn’t give a crap about Chinooks?! It’s probably the most vital airframe in the fleet at the moment. Anyway, they’re part of JHC.

  258. Mark

    If we sent helicopters to the army can we be sure they’ll remember they need a budget to teach people to fly them?

    We would be better just expanding the marines and FAA and scraping the raf and army reduces lots of over heads all round.

  259. wf

    @Phil: so, now every Apache and Lynx needs two officers in the cockpit? Should every UAV be flown by officer aircrew? Airforces end up requiring this because they need take every opportunity to boost their “teeth” officer count for the reasons I specified above. See the way the US Army crews Predators vs the USAF for example.

    More to the point, you’re in the same trap as Chris. There’s no more need for all aircraft to be in a single service than for everything that floats to be in the RN, especially since flying training and aircraft maintenance expertise are already tri-service. Despite a few percent that would be in joint duty, a service is where you make your career, which produces institutional resistance to change.

  260. IXION

    Like I said you pays the taxpayers money and you makes your choice.

    There are arguments on both sides, the status Quo crowd rightly point out there would be a huge upheaval and quite a bit of ‘thats mine, no that’s mine form the other services, and not a little one off expenditure, mistakes would be made, decisions change…..

    I do think they over egg that pudding quite a bit, and some of the objection IMHO arise form not fully grasping the change nettle, and thinking for example that because the RAF does it that way- that’s the way the other services would do it or would have to do it.

    I see quite a lot of savings in the abolition of the post of Air vice-Marshall car parks (North), and the transfer of his role to the existing office of Rear Admiral Car parks (North). (I stress I exaggerate to make the point). But there would be hundreds of small savings from that kind of thing, and one or two large ones.

    EG What’s the Air Ministry worth in cash terms as real estate?

  261. IXION


    Given the expeditionary elective, nature of our modern wars, that might not be a bad idea…..

  262. Topman

    @ wf I agree on the UAVs although they still need training to a lower would be cheaper. Although I think the USAF have moved to a UAV operator branch and a trial was done in the RAF with non aircrew operating them. However the teeth officers count is no different to anywhere else, you’d just be changing the branch they came from not getting of the numbers.

    ‘There’s no more need for all aircraft to be in a single service than for everything that floats to be in the RN’

    To be clear you would also support disbanding the navy?

  263. ALL Politicians are the Same

    The Air Ministry ceased to exist in 1964, too much Harry Potter! I really think that lots of posters fail to grasp the manner in which todays armed forces operate. The creation of Joint Force Command, reinforces all the good work done by PJHQ and has seen a quantum leap in tri service integration on ops.
    To be honest if we were going to do anything we would be better putting everything that flies under the RAF and allow them to have maritime and ground support branches. That would be less hassle than the ridiculous idea that somehow getting rid of the RAF would do anything other than put people lives at risk while we spent 5 years working out how the new system was supposed to work!

  264. Topman

    @ IXION

    ‘(I stress I exaggerate to make the point)’

    I think that’s the point, would it? Each holder of a post can only do so much.

  265. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Challenger,

    Would be most interested to hear about the spring clean, but this one
    “The main one being a transfer of the Chinooks to the AAC. The RAF doesn’t give a crap about ‘boring old cargo helicopters’ and it would clearly make more sense to put them in the hands of those that need them, want them and use them. ”

    would give us our own C-27J debacles.

    I think the border lines are difficult to draw with choppers (them being so versatile across uses, the few dedicated assets being AH (now we will soon have two different makes)and ASW (this one less so, especially with the frigates/ destroyers – I hesitate to call them escorts collectively – when there is normally one onboard, to cover all roles).
    – recce/ command support looks like a dying breed (Apaches are superior recce machines… until we consider the price and complexity (maintenance intensive), and therefore how many at any given time will be available)

    If any merger mania takes hold, I will vote for AAC+RAC, leaves two combat arms (and as someone commented, it is more of an exception than the rule of one of them being fielded without any contribution from the other [two])

  266. wf

    @Topman: my point was more that for selfish service reasons, airforces use officers when another service would use NCO’s. This greatly increases costs.

    I don’t think we can talk of disbanding, we need ships just like aircraft. On balance I think the RN should stay a service because all it’s personnel have to go to sea at one point of another, while only a tiny proportion of the RAF need to go up in aircraft. The RM should go to the Army of course :-)

  267. IXION


    Sorry late night last night..

    Yes indeed I see the practical issue RAF and army 2 different ethoses (ethosi?) leads to those kinds of problems.

    Chris B

    I REALLY do not want to start another flame war in particular as we are brothers in arms against the carrier junkies..

    Please accept this as constructive argument.

    I do not see why because it has wings it needs a special service to run it.

    a) we do not currently work like that
    b) We apply it to no other type of equipment, the RAF Had / Have rescue launches, the Army operate some boats, The Marines operate armour, everybody has trucks guns etc…
    c)Including Aircraft are already run by both the other forces anyway.

    There would have to be joint training and even joint 4th line maintenance, etc. I do not see that as an issue.

    However there are real issues at the moment anyway! There always will be, only it’s a 3 way rather than 2 way bunfight, (SEE ARRSE on the ‘Helibedford’.)

    Some of the kit centric things need dealing with full stop end of story. The next heavy helicopter, even if its the next version of the chinnook should me carrier capable. There will have to be compromise in design decisions re all aircraft purchases as there are now.

    IF it is true that the Blackhawk purchase was scuppered for the AAC, because the RAF made it clear, that anything that useful was going to be flown by the AAC over The RAF’s light blue clad dead body; then inter service politics has cost this country a very useful capability, and quite possibly lives.

    BTW I am sure there are other situations where other services have suffered at one another’s hands..

  268. Challenger


    Well the Chinooks may be in JHC but that doesn’t mean RAF sqaudrons and pilots don’t fly them.

    I totatlly agree that they are one of the most, if not the most important airframe in use at the moment.

    However I still believe that once Afghanistan is over the RAF will revert back to treating them, and tactical lift in general as a fairly dull and umimportant capability.

    They use them in Afghanistan because they have to, because they are crucial to an army led deployment, not because they really want to use them.

    I may be being a little over simplistic and synical but at the end of the day I really think the RAF are always going to prioritise shiny, sleek and cool looking fast jets over everything else. So why shouldn’t tactical helicopter lift for troops be put in-to the hands of the people that are going to use them?

  269. wf

    @ACC: the C27J debacle was due to USAF double dealing. The US Army had run Shorts Sherpas for years, which it wanted to replace. The USAF wanted to push the “if it flies, it should be USAF” angle, so it suggested a joint program, which then became a USAF-only program, that was then cancelled, leaving the end users with nothing. The same trick was pulled for Joint Force Harrier

  270. IXION


    BTW I think the logical reality of ‘if it flies it’s light blue’ means for exactly the same reasons that Rock apes and RM go to the Army.

  271. Topman

    @ wf

    ‘my point was more that for selfish service reasons, airforces use officers when another service would use NCO’s. This greatly increases costs.’

    Like I said the costs would just move somewhere else you wouldn’t get rid.

    ‘because all it’s personnel have to go to sea at one point of another, while only a tiny proportion of the RAF need to go up in aircraft.’

    A very odd arguement. Even if they do it’s only bits of equipment, just disband them and move the kit elsewhere easy peasy.
    Rank and reponsibility as well, the Navy doesn’t have NCO pilots, best get rid of them as well.

  272. Topman

    @ IXION

    ‘I do not see why because it has wings it needs a special service to run it. ‘

    If I changed wings to hull and using your point ‘We apply it to no other type of equipment, the RAF Had / Have rescue launches, the Army operate some boats’ to expand on that train of thought, explain why we couldn’t disband the navy?

  273. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Mm it is all so simple is it not? If it flies it is light blue, if it sails it is dark blue and if it fires a rifle it is green! Of course that takes absolutely no account of the level of support in each of the three areas that other services require instant access to. The fact that personnel serving with other services are often disadvantaged career wise in a manner that they are not when conducting the same job within their own service.
    It would also seriously damage the morale and ethos of individual units like the RAF Regt and Royal Marines but hey what does that matter?

  274. James


    your cunning plan for the RAF Regiment falls down because there’s no way the Army would have them, apart from bottle-washing duties and maybe doing the odd ammunition depot guard. Complete waste of rations.

    The Booties would be very welcome. Proper fighting soldiers.

  275. James

    …and while we are at it, if anyone suggests RAF helicopter squadrons moving across to the Army, you’ll need to factor in a brutal 8 month course in physical fitness and battlefield drills for the pilots, an acceptance of kipping overnight in a trench in a damp sleeping bag, an ability to accept that they are not God’s gift to humanity, the ability to land in the correct field to pick up patrols, and not to whine to the Brigade Commander if the patrol fires Schermuly flares at their helicopter to “helpfully” alert them to their presence in the correct, next-door field. Plus, their civilian attire would need to be completely vetted to ensure no polyester gets through. And none of them should be called Wayne or Kevin, or have attended one of those Polytechnics that call themselves Universities.

    I imagine the wastage rate from that sort of course would be very high indeed.

  276. IXION

    APATS and Topman

    A case can be made for the Army running the amphibious warfare/transport arm of the navy- Bays Points Ocean Albion etc. They are only floating taxi’s.

    I am not sure I go that far but if a good case could be made then why not.

    I think the Rn’s fighting functions at sea take it well beyond being run by say the army. Just as Afghan is a long way from the sea… They are just so different, in required ethos and equipment organisation and training. IF we are not to merge them all the 2 services makes more sense that 1.

  277. wf

    @Topman: I wasn’t aware that NCO’s had the same selection, training and career development costs as officers. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    I’m all for NCO crew in the RN: 3 Commando air squadron has some for starters. But just like the Army needs people who can march, shoot and read a map, a branch or service that exists to fight on the sea will require persons who can live, navigate and fight at sea. I suspect that’s different enough from the Army/RAF to justify a separate service.

  278. James


    you can’t really be suggesting that the Army crews the Bays, Points, Ocean, and Albions can you? As much as I enjoy having a bash at the old Andrew, there’s some skillsets in driving those boats that take a very nautical mind to master. Sextants, the ability to express perfectly proper grid references in some base 60 mumbo jumbo, and not to crash into the dock because you did not slow down enough ten miles out, liking Pink Gin, etc. Not really compatible.

  279. Topman

    @ IXION

    ‘I think the Rn’s fighting functions at sea take it well beyond being run by say the army.’

    I guess that’s where we disagree, I can’t see the difference between arguing it’s all just kit in the air, but then stop short when discussing it’s all just kit on land or at sea.

  280. Brian Black

    Scrap the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. We can solve all this bickering with four new services.

    Small, operating kit from 1kg to 999kg. Medium, 1t to 9,999kg. Large, 10t to 99,999kg. Super-size, 100t and heavier.

  281. Topman

    @ wf

    ‘I wasn’t aware that NCO’s had the same selection, training and career development costs as officers. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!’

    No problem. A lot of them do yes. Anyway the officers you would get rid of on merging would just be replaced anyway, it’d just be another branch.

  282. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Ixion, but not as much as the 3 we have. Bay class are run by the RFA, Points are on a contract system. It would take years to train army personnel to operate a warship like Ocean or albion and if you are just changing the colour of the uniform it is pointless a bit like this whole debate.
    The Candians tried it with land Force Command etc but then changed the names and whilst they still claim to be 1 service they are once again called Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Army. With individual service chiefs reporting to the Chief of Defence Staff (beginning to sound familiar)? They even have an Expeditionary Force Command for purple ops (Joint Force Command) anybody?
    I am sorry but in this time of cuts and austerity anyone who seriously believes the bitter infighting and squabbles that would erupt from major reorganisation and disbandment of one service, not to mention the opportunities it would present poorly informed Politicians to make further cuts, is genuinely in the armed force best interests is in my opinion plain wrong.

  283. Phil

    Perhaps one must accept that the armed forces exist in a political and social and economic context that is constantly in flux and that they are both staffed by and ran by imperfect human beings and thusly the organisation will always be somewhat behind the curve, imperfect and inefficient. And perhaps 3 services is simply the best of a bad job. The model can certainly do with some refinement but I’ve yet to be convinced it is fundamentally unsuitable.

  284. IXION


    ROFL ‘:)


    ‘It’s all just kit in the air’

    Yes it is really.

    Whereas the RN’s fast pointy stuff is totally different to the armies heavy metal. Of course the first tanks were called Landships….

    As for army running Amphibs – maybe not but how about RLC taking over RFA? solves the issue. (OK OK I am trolling (a little bit).).

    But I am trying to make a point that we should look at effects based solutions..

    What do we want to do to the queens enemies and the cheapest most efficient way to do it.

    NOT what can we get the RAF/RN/Army to agree on what they will allow each other to do to the queens enemies.

    And to make in clear I am not Navy centred, how can I be, if I am anti carrier, and pro giving the leathernecks and quite possibly the amphibs to the pongos

  285. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi wf says:
    April 19, 2012 at 11:26 am
    – exactly what I meant
    – let’s keep the dedicated assets where they belong, and the rest pooled (if you put the latter, in totality, to a different service, they will be orphaned). More specifically I meant that in battlefield/ intra-theatre lift you should have rotary and fixed wing in the same place… if you are dropping less than a Chinook load, that’s not lift – that’s insertation (SF, recce, AT teams, snipers…)and the real gap will open between the Wildcat (does not lift much) and the Chinook, but only when the Puma will be retired

  286. Topman

    @ IXION

    ‘And to make in clear I am not Navy centred’

    I know I was just using it as an example.

    To my mind it’s all equipment and we have 1 service or it isn’t and we have three. It’s a bit of a weak arguement to say this air equipment is just stuff but this land/sea equipment is special.

  287. IXION


    the point is that The army don’t go to sea to fight. (or at least not till they reach dryish land). The navy, don’t go onto land to fight, the dark blue bit anyway much. (And I know they are in Afghan but that’s because by and large we are so short staffed).

    Both Army and Navy have business in the air to fight, and go up in the air, or call upon the RAF on their behalf to go up in the air a hell of a lot, lots of their kit/ personnel are transported by air for them to carry out their functions.

  288. Alex

    Obviously, Royal Find, Strike, and Support Forces. In many cases this would involve individual units being tri-service, but that’s a good thing…right?

  289. x

    @ Topman

    But ships are special. Honest. The day when we can pack the entire airfield into one Typhoon and then use that Typhoon for everything from air defence to fisheries protection to disaster relief to NGS to fighting pirates to SAR to hosting cocktail parties is the day the Typhoon (read fight jet read aircraft) becomes something special. Until then is just ordnance delivery system.

  290. Observer

    Think he means that since aircraft need airbase to function, can they be considered equipment? And if so, how heavy are they (aka who gets them?)

  291. x

    @ Topman

    I am just interested in how you perceive things. I see ships as more than just equipment. It isn’t just the high utility of the ship. I would say they are nearly “places” to me.

  292. Topman

    I’m not sure I fully see what you mean by places, but I undertsand that you seem them as special in some manner. I just can’t see it or understand it. Back of a Herc or back of a ship, it’s just size.

    My point throughout is the arguement that ships are special and need a seperate service but a/c aren’t because it’s just kit makes nosense. There are either both seperate or just lumped to gether as ‘kit’ to draw a line undermines the whole line of thinking.

  293. x

    @ Topman

    A place is a “a particular portion of space”, it is a somewhere, just as say a village or your house is a somewhere. Interesting.

  294. Topman

    @ x

    ‘A place is a “a particular portion of space”, it is a somewhere, just as say a village or your house is a somewhere’

    I know that, you had quotation marks around the word I assumed it meant something beyond the dictionary meaning.


    How so?

  295. x

    @ Topman

    A place too most of us is more than just a grid reference and the collection of objects found there.

  296. Topman

    You’re losing me again, it starting to sound a bit abstract and a bit ‘out there’ for my tastes.

  297. Simon


    Just a quick question that you may have an idea about. If the thrust of a jet is 125KN at sea level (on a nice day or whatever) what’s the likely thrust at 30,000 feet?

    I should really know the answer but can’t remember my Thermodynamics… too much beer!

    I’m only after an “ish” figure.


  298. IXION


    Your not that wrong wrong about it being ‘just size’ It ois also though about role.

    I will try and put it this way.

    The current force structure makes an artificial 3 way division between our services. All divisions between services are artificial. Its just whether they are practical or not, or whether some divisions are more practical than others. A 2 way Army Navy division is artificial as well.

    I have used the word logic in relation to my arguments, and to the counter arguments of others.
    Perhaps that was a mistake, in the human world logic only goes so far.

    The current arrangement functions; we can argue about whether it functions well, or a new arrangement would function better, and or how much better.

    But it is a kit centric argument. You could
    Start from the position that all the armed forces wear clothes; (With the possible exception of 3 para mortar platoon). So should they all be in the same force? Of course not. (well not for that reason anyway).

    To use your Navy / army point…

    Warships do so much on their own, away from everyone else.
    They are large single multifunction units.
    They can (indeed are designed to function and fight independently of immediate support in an environment that is totally foreign to the army (and Visa versa).

    The Navy don’t ‘do’ land the Army don’t ‘do’ Sea. As a result they have completely different force structures, training etc.

    The Army and the Navy both ‘do’ air. Indeed the majority of the job of the RAF is actually supporting them or joint tasks. The fast sexy pointy stuff is increasingly less of what they do. And that is a job the FAA could ‘Do’.

    The RAF do not currently man ships or tanks or have forces remotely designed for that. The other forces do have parts that could be expanded to do what the RAF does, NOT visa versa.

    Is it not logical to distinguish between kit because some is bigger / different to others. But is practical we do it already hence the current 3 forces. Given it is artificial division; it is not some scared text and should be reviewed and revisited generally.

    After all if we get our nuclear powered hover ships, we may one day have one force anyway.

  299. Simon


    “The Navy don’t ‘do’ land the Army don’t ‘do’ Sea”

    So what are the Royal Marines then?

    They create as much overlap as the Army and Navy “doing” air.

  300. IXION


    Look at my earlier post.

    I am in favour of Marines and RAF Reg going to the Army. That is logical, practical choice.

  301. Observer


    Ballparkish figures? My guess is about 40-45 kN as atmospheric pressure is only about 1/3 of sea level, so less to push against.

  302. Simon


    Thanks, so thrust drops in proportion to the atmospheric pressure (0.30)?… or density (0.38)?

    It’s not a test, my original guess was density, but I really can’t remember.

  303. Topman

    I don’t think it would be that much Obs, a few percent off the top of my head. A 2/3 reduction in thrust and it wouldn’t be in the sky for long.

  304. Observer


    Density, though that and pressure are related. More/less mass to push against.


    That is compensated for by much less air resistance, increasing lamin(ar? er?) airflow, which increases the Bernolli effect on the craft. The thrust isn’t keeping the aircraft up, it’s the lift and that is generated by speed (though also related to thrust). As I said, ballparkish, it’s complicated, and more complicated by compression ratios, inlet ratios, combustion rating etc.

  305. Simon


    Really? If the F35, for example, only drops a few percent (e.g. to 120KN) I think it would be able to super cruise. Is it normal for a jet like this to “just” or “just not” supercruise?

    The drag of F35C is only about 25KN at 400knots (at altitude). That’s a lot of excess power… ???

  306. Mark

    It is complicated it is not just dependant on density but also true air speed. It also dependant on engine type. Thrust is proportional to density and so falls as density and pressure reduce however thrust will increase as temperature falls but falls with altitude as density and pressure reduce quicker than temp rises. What are you attempting to do Simon. I would also add you should either quote your thrust in pounds or change your altitude to metres.

  307. Simon


    Sorry, 9000m and 125KN.

    I’m currently working with a density ratio of 0.38 so a thrust of 47.5KN at 9000m.

    I’m also assuming subsonic cruise conditions – preferably very subsonic (i.e. ~200ms-1 and not 300ms-1).

    It’s this F35A/B/C simulation again, just thought it would be another variable that would affect the overall range. Turns out that it makes no difference anyway. 47.5KN is still enough to overcome drag at the 200 – 210ms-1 speeds that seem to optimise V x L/D. Although C is not happy getting to altitude on dry thrust alone, whereas the other two are?!?!

    I still have A at 600nm, B at 450nm and C and 560nm on a very unrealistic hi-drop-hi mission (i.e. no descend, drop and climb).

  308. Mark


    I was just pointing out units consistency easy to make a mistake.

    Simon are you in industry a student or general interest because you made a rather bold drag statement on f35 there for which the it would be impossible to work out without insider information.

  309. Topman

    @ obs yes it’s more complicated with all sorts of things to factor as you say; drag of the ac bypass ratio and all sorts. But from my experience yes 2/3 less would leave the aircraft needing to land rapidly. As to my few percent comment that was more about calculations worked out for safety. It was more to show how little thrust loss is acceptable

  310. Simon


    My drag statement was not meant to be bold, it’s just what I’ve calculated it to be so not necessarily accurate. However, the same set of calculations seem to work for Typhoon and Harrier of which there’s plenty of data in the public domain.

    Oh, and I’d give my appendix and my gall bladder to be a student again.

  311. SomewhatInvolved

    I’ve been thinking (despairing) at the pro-STOVL argument and have an interesting question for the aforementioned guilty parties. Why is a CATOBAR carrier not compatible with STOVL aircraft?

    If you say anything beginning, ending with or containing the words ‘ski jump’, why is it that the USN has so far shown no intention of fitting said ski jump to its amphibious ships? Answers relating to F35 please, not the need for helicopter deck spots.

    If the USMC is expecting to be able to deliver the necessary combat power with its F35B’s with no assisted takeoff devices then we, with a bigger ship and longer takeoff run, can do the same. So it would be logical to, at this stage, eliminate the ramp and build a flat-top, with the bill for adding cats much reduced later on. No?

  312. Think Defence

    Cant fault your logic SI, where are you going with this?

    The question for me is what does the ski jump bring against what it costs (cash and operational penalties, space etc)

  313. Simon


    I keep trying to suggest that but these guys here don’t seem to have a direct line to the MoD ;-)

    Build STOVL, buy a few F35B, convert to CATOBAR, buy F35C, operate either aircraft.

    This is especially useful if you consider an HMS Ocean replacement which is in refit, leaving POW as the LPH – in this case it can operate F35B and have loads of space on deck for copter ops.

  314. ALL Politicians are the Same

    SI/TD Unless we know the answers to TD point it is speculation. does the angled launch device allow us to launch substantially heavier aircraft in more testing conditions? I don’t know.

  315. Jim


    The USN/Marines have AAR assets that can refuel their planes after take off, weapons heavy but fuel light.

  316. Simon


    If the USMC are operating at 50-100nm from Wasp/America, I doubt they’d spend time refueling before their sortie. Poor tanker wafting around in the sky will get used for target practice.

  317. SomewhatInvolved


    Which ones exactly? AAR buddy refuelling Harriers?

    All, my main point was to try and shoot out the logic of the compatibility issue regarding CATOBAR and STOVL configured carriers. It’s been bugging me for a while and I finally tripped over the logic (during a particularly dull afternoon of Information Operations briefings – yawn!). But all points to a CATOBAR configured carrier as the logical choice, irrespective of which aircraft we fly off it. Further, it would be interesting to see if the catapult, being the airframe-friendly EMALS (apparently!), could catapult a B variant to any degree that would offset the performance advantage of a ski jump. Either way, a CATOBAR carrier delivers the maximum compatibility and flexibility, whilst a ski-jump configured carrier is fundamentally limiting.

    I’m not sure Ocean carrying aircraft is even a debate. She is knackered, being cheaply built, and will need to be replaced before the F35 comes into service. Even if there is any overlap it will be for only a handful of years and thus not worth investing in the reinforced and heat-proof deck required to take the F35.

  318. ArmChairCivvy

    Jointness or not jointness was rearing its ugly head earlier today
    – one practical solution is the the role of FACs
    – when A-stan started, there was an FAC per bde
    – now on this bde-sized deployment there are 40-50 plus some (SF)

    April DTI paper copy has a nice feature on this, which implies that the next step is training on airborne platforms (not specifically rotary or fixed wing, but any)

  319. ALL Politicians are the Same

    SI We all know a CATOBAR carrier is more capable than a STOVL carrier but it is not one of the answers on the skint HMG Carrier multi choice question!

  320. Observer


    Unless you stand the plane on its tail, thrust does not equate lift, so the a/c not having more thrust than drag does not mean it’ll stall, it just means it stops accelerating, so all loss of thrust means in this case is lack of acceleration. And with the drop in air resistance, even with less thrust, the plane actually moves faster than at sea level (i.e drag drops faster than thrust loss). That is why Raython’s Standard missile performance looks so fantastic, other people use sea level data, they use high altitude data. Big difference. And sneaky. Easy to fool the uninitiated this way.

  321. Observer


    That was the point I made ages ago on the flexibility of the carrier to launch many types of planes as opposed to a fixation on the F-35.

    The mixing of the two projects seem to have generated requirements that are self-limiting.

  322. WW

    On Navy Matters website there is on (old) table with performance indicators. Both USMC and UK F35B’s are quoted to have a 450NM range and to carry the same waepon load. USMC F35B needs 550ft for take off; UK F35B required 450ft when using a ski-jump.
    So, assuming all other prameters are equal (the table does not mention other parms), these figures would suggest a ski-jump reduces the take off distance by 20% or so, or, alternatively, if you have 100ft of extra deck length available, you do not need a ski-jump to launch F35B.
    Conclusion? Scrap it?

  323. James

    All of this refuelling business. Would it not be simpler to get F35B which can at least tootle along a helicopter speeds, and chuck a 20,000 litre jerrycan into the back of a Merlin with some form of drogue arrangement? Cheaper than the extra £1.8 billion someone mentioned way up thread for conformal fuel tanks for the C model.

  324. ALL Politicians are the Same

    WW you are confusing range with combat radius. Which in the F35 case is the maximum outbound distance achievable to launch and return to base with 5% fuel left whilst carrying max fuel and weapons load.

  325. Simon

    By the way,

    ‘cos I’ve done this simulation thing and just ‘cos it’s fairly contentious I have F35B leaving the end of the deck with full fuel and 1000kg of ordnance at 74 knots in just 90m. It’s only when you put the full ordnance load on does this go up to the 200m mark.

    The same code puts a GR7 off the end at 87 knots in 140m – not sure if this is accurate, but it seems right looking at the size of Vince/Lusty.

  326. Mark


    Well the harriers info might be but I doubt very much typhoons is. The too biggest pieces of information missing is the cd min value from its drag polar and the aerofoil section used. Getting a handle on an a/cs drag is one of the most difficult things to measure Correctly the grave yard of aerodynamists.

    I believe the us navy carrier sop is the issue. There is no reason why an f35b cant take off from a conventional carrier. The sk jumpi just helps a jet get into the air. We can vary the takeoff run to get heavy or light loaded jets up. Using a ski jump adds additional stress cases for the jet which have been taken into account on f35b. The problem the us navy may end up having is a LHD can rock with 20 f35b and preform a signifant amount of a cvn carriers capabilty with only 1000 personnel where as a cvn requires 5000.

  327. Think Defence

    I would imagine that the need for the ski jump has been very carefully factored into deck movements and sortie rate calculations, hence the 450ft KPP

    I think this is one of those questions where as above, you need very detailed information

  328. x

    @ Observer

    Complicated hull forms like hyrdofoils are interesting but ultimately prove to be more trouble than they are worth. Stabilisation and draft can be a problem. Bearing that in mind I think hydrofoils win out over exotica such as Ekranoplans. Having given it a little thought perhaps the way to would be to use a multi-hull design like pentamaran as a starting point. The broad beam would keep the main lifting surfaces on the central hull clear of the dock wall. The outer sponsors would house folding foils. Seeing as they have no function other than to provide buoyancy machinery for the folding foils would be easily accessible. Seeing as a pentmaran design using the same power available in T45 could easily do 35kts plus I don’t think there would be more advantage to going with foils.

    Nice graphic of the Bras d’Or (240t, 60kts using 19Mw.)

    A pentamaran container ship with a 19MW engine fit out could do 25kts with a payload of 9009t.

    It doesn’t take much ooomph to become foilborne,

    as long as your “hull” is light. Remember the system keeping those Moths stable is the same system that allows us to walk on two legs. I think Asimo is a few years off owning and sailing his/her/it’s own Moth…

  329. Jackstaff

    Observer, just above,

    This. The QEs are not now and never have been simply carriers, which would indeed make all this clearer. Instead, while we discuss carrier design, srategy, necessity, philosophy, etc their defining political nature is as “platforms for F35 to fly off of.” If you invest in only the land based variant, and try the same game of writing your task and doctrine requirements around the one airframe, you may discover — as the Canadian Tories and their defence-industrial lobbyists/bagmen have done to their horror — that people may rumble you, ask pointed questions, and suggest other aircraft available on the global market. In navalised combat aviation, if you carry on the “F/A-18 is a dying production line” logic and whistle past Rafale then its F35 as far as the eye can C (sorry couldn’t help myself.) And then you can sell it as Saving British Jobs (a few boutiquey ones anyway worth a fair bit of income until they get Dagenhamed midway through the line’s lifetime once no ones paying attention any longer. Helmets and ejector seats? While Italy gets the assembly line? Sure, *that’s* a heroic effort to bolster the British aerospace sector….) And I would guess makes loadsamoney for major BAE shareholders (many of them American now anyway) who’ve invested in LM in anticipation of the day, again once people have taken their eyes off the ball, when the two giants can merge into one galactic gibbering mass of pork barrel and the screaming remains of smaller, effective companies digesting in the beast’s twin stomachs. That’s the principal reasoning I think. Both dark and light blue are simply trying to get something militarily (and parochially) useful out of that, underlying reality.

    SI, Simon, et al.

    This too. Whether its a straight deck now to be angled later, or an angled deck now to be strengthened and CATOBARed later, no reason I can think of not to build them this way. Makes them identical so you can rotate them without hiccups and doubles the effect if ever you doubled up, so you preserve the very real advantages of the least-bad STOVL approach now,plus you’ve laid the engineering ground for the later upgrade. (Sell the Bs back to USMC, they’ll be grateful and the jarheads, like Lannisters, pay their debts. That ones for you, Jed.) How we got here I think is:

    1) The RN decided “let’s sneak this past HMT as an upgrade of CVS capability, the ski jump and STOVL will be good camouflage.”
    2) The marketing bods, as FBOT suggested, knew how to sell JSF to politicians of every party: cheap as chips, does everything, just fell off the back of a lorry honest, it’ll make loadsamoney so get in on the ground floor. And since politicians have roughly the same reasoning process as a drunken univeristy fresher’s erection, they leapt at the offer and came prematurely to, ahem, a programmatic decision.
    3) This was a chance to zombiefy Joint Force Harrier getting ever closer to “One Nation, One Air Force.” So Sir Jock Strap looked at Dave B and said “this is my beloved Plan, in which I am well pleased.” And Colonel Dave RA said “so you can port these ashore to cover endless COIN slogging because I Have Seen The Future? Wizard.” And then he launched into another rambling, Lance Corporal Jones-like anecdote about Sierra Leone but no one was listening anymore.

    That extremely short-lived historical moment launched the path. Now in an effort to save both ships we’re back on it, but I’d really like (said so a couple of days ago) an assessment of why they can’t be built as Simon and SI and Observer and TD suggest.

  330. Anixtu

    @James 1158

    RCT used to do it with LCLs, 17 P&M still do to an extent with RCLs. I’ve met ex-RCT guys now in the RFA and it sounds like LCLs were run in a suitably salty manner.

    LSLs were originally operated for the Army by a private contractor. It is only relatively recently – and especially with the arrival of the Points, managed in a similar manner – that RFA sealift has been controlled so tightly by the RN.

  331. Topman

    @ obs yes i know that. I was just saying (badly) it only takes a small degredation in engine performance to become important to the aircraft in flight. Although looking at the thread now i think i’m coming at it from a different angle to everyone else i was thinking more along the lines of safety inflight and maintenance rather than out and out performance.

  332. x

    The US Army has a substantial number of landing ships ships. This though is no argument for the British Army to have the amphibs. Unlike the US Army having a substantial number of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft which is an argument for disbanding the RAF. :) ;)

    The crews of the RCL landing craft wear 4’s (8’s) and do quaint RN-sailor-type things liking piping. This is proof that the servicemen from the junior arms can be assimilated, sorry I mean grow to love the RN…..

  333. Hannay


    If you’re interested in those sorts of aircraft performance questions, then I suggest either of the aircraft design books by Raymer or Anderson. They cover basic performance equations, but also have empirical equations for things like thrust at altitude and speed (dependent on bypass ratio).

    Getting an at all validated unclassified performance model of F-35 together would require quite some work. To get accurate aero data you need to take into cg positions for trim, LEF and TEF schedules that drastically alter wing characteristics, accurate mass estimates – and of course accurate open source validation data. Don’t for a moment believe that the open source data is actually representative of the actual aircraft performance.

    STOVL take-off from flat deck massively reduces useful load. The performance increase is a lot more than 20%. The thing is that it is possible to operate off a flat deck, but with lower safety margins and much reduced range/endurance/payload.

    A just flat deck CVF doesn’t have the detailed structural strengthening to support the catapult slots you need to cut out of the deck and so doesn’t really save much on the conversion cost later on. The ramp is a separate structural item, and isn’t too difficult to remove.

  334. Ace Rimmer

    With regard to EMALS, being more of a spanners kind of guy than electrickery, can anyone out there with a qualification in the stuff say if there will be any perceived problems in placing an avionic rich aircraft full of cables directly above a very powerful electromagnetic field.

    From what I remember from school physics, a magnet can induce current in a wire that is moving through its magnetic field, it induces an electromotive force, EMF, am I correct or are my concerns unfounded? In my minds eye I’m picturing uncontrolled initiation of ordnance.

  335. Brian Black

    Hi, Ace. EMALS has launched F-18 already without problems. Wouldn’t have gotten this far if it was going to kill planes.

  336. Simon


    Thanks, I have both the books you mention. And like a pillock am not using either. Raymer uses too many empirical graphs to “computerise”. So I’ve just steered away from the transonic drag area and hoped that the old “half roe vee squared” bit does the trick with some Cd0 and Cdi shoved in – oh, and the thrust drop off with altitude.

    However, you’re right, I’m flogging a dead horse (or at least one that’s sleeping) – I’ll never get the stats or data I need. I’ve only just maanged to lay my hands on the USMC NAVAIR AV8B flight manual to validate my code against the Harrier II.

    I said last time that I’ll just give up… trouble is, I just can’t let it lie. I see a gaping hole in the performance of C that I just can’t explain without carrying less ordnance and more fuel.

    I’ll try not to bring it up again :-(

  337. Observer


    Re: Type45 with foils

    I was being sarcastic. At 1B as a conventional ship already, if you wanted to convert the Daring into a hydrofoil, in addition to expected redesign and bureaucartic inefficiency, how much do you think the cost will inflate? Not to mention trying to get 8kT to lift is an impressive accomplishment itself.

  338. Simon


    Excellent. I’ll dig the old book out and find out where I’m going wrong.

    I had Cd0 at about 0.017 so not far off.

    I’ll be back in a few months!

  339. Simon

    Also, I love the references on that paper… me, me, me, me, Janes, me. (with me being Daniel P Raymer).

  340. x

    @ Observer

    Ships are serious topics young man. ;)

    I think a hyrdofoil T45 would cost a small fortune even for the non-nuclear non-stealth one me and Chris will sell you……

    As for a T45 pentamaran. Well the “models” I alluded to come in at a project cost of $100million. So if we doubled that for a military hull plus a bit of a margin should we say ball park about $300million hull only. It would be though a bigger (have more volume) and would be a lot quicker.

    The BMT specs for a such a ship are,

    F5 pentamaran frigate concept – Length: (oa) 181.5m – Maximum beam: 32.1m – Draught: 6.3m – Displacement: 6,339t – Complement: 105 – Service speed: 35kt – Maximum speed: 45kt – Range: 5,500nm at 35kt with one stop – Propulsion: COGLAG – 1 x MT 30 gas turbine (direct drive) – 2 x MT 30 gas turbine alternators – 2 x 32MW HTS motors – 3 x 30MW waterjets – 2 x 3MW auxiliary diesels – Weapons and sensors: 64 x vertical-launcher cells (two modules) – Electromagnetic main gun – Inner-layer missile system – 2 x small-calibre guns – Fixed phased-array radar – CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability) – CESM (communications-band electronic support measures) – 2 x organic helicopters (Merlin) – Chinook-capable flight deck

  341. John Hartley

    If we are playing fantasy T45, I remember the last cruisers, HMS Tiger & Blake, with their ability to operate 4 Sea Kings. A stretched pair of T45s with a larger hangar for 4 Merlins (2 ASW, 2 CSAR) would be my choice.

  342. Observer


    Displacement: 6,339t

    Ouch. Most military hydrofoils only top out at ~500t.

    “I think a hyrdofoil T45 would cost a small fortune even for the non-nuclear non-stealth one me and Chris will sell you……”

    SOLD!! Just let me get out my stealth checkbook.

    Can I have a side order of point defence lasers to go with it? Nothing says trendy nowadays better than “I haz lazors”.

  343. Hannay


    Depends what version of Raymer you have. The most up to date version (4th Ed I think) has equations you can use as well as graphs.

    Harrier isn’t a great validation point as it’s engine, airframe, and performance are all quite different from other fast jets.

    Not sure why your F-35C performance is a way off – probably due to incorrect L/D or a bad mission profile. From what you were saying about performance at altitude, I suspect your drag estimate is a way off.

  344. Gareth Jones

    “The thoughts of DK Brown…… his idea for a future 6000 ton “destroyer” from “Future British Surface Fleet” published 1991:

    “The primary role of a 6000-tonne destrover would be to lead ASW operations with its four large helicopters and to command and control a force including older frigates and corvettes as well as maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) arid SSXs. It should have the capability to defend itself and sliips in company against air attack, using FAAMS.7 At 6000 tonnes, such a vessel can be designed as a double-ended ship able to move and fight, at least to some extent, after a single hit.

    The design is dominated by the big hangar. The cheapest solution is to have the hangar forward with a rear door giving access to a flight deck aft (somewhat similar to that shown on page 134). This is awkward in practice, involving a lot of helicopter movements. and the flight deck tends to be shifted too far aft as the design progresses, particularly when the arrangement of weapons is considered. The preferred arrangement is the mini carrier, shown in figure 9 1.

    Aircraft operators rightiv object to arrangements which are
    dependent on a single lift. whose failure might put all the aircraft out of action. Figure 9 1 is a compromise: there is only one lift but rear doors to the hangar give access to an alternative landing spot on the quarter deck which can be used. at least in favourable weather. It is likelv that three helicopters would be sufficient to ensure one on station at all times, but a reduction in numbers would not affect ship cost significantly. The fourth helicopter offers a good chance that one will be available at all times, and also makes it easier to rotate helicopters with the corvettes for maintenance.

    Admiral Metcalf. in his “Revolution at Sea” called for a bridge ‘no larger than a 747 cockpit” and this has been provided as a crow’s nest on the forward mack. Both masts are to starboard, leaving an unobstructed flight deck. Since this is long enough for Harrier take-offs, a ski jump is provided. It is not intended that the destroyer should be capable of operating Harriers, but there may be occasions when a refuelling platform, some considerable distance from
    the carrier, is valuable, and the destroyer would fulfil this role.

    The combination of a big hangar and a long flight deck raises
    the same problems which were apparent in World War II aircraft carriers. If tlie hangar sides and flight deck take the main load, there will be a major discontinuity in the depth of the hull girder at the ends of the hangar, which would lead to failure under the whipping loads due to an under-keel explosion. On the other hand, the deeper section amidships could be of value under the same loading. I lie alternative would be to support a flight deck on steel portal frames with GRP cladding on the sides. More detailed analysis of the design is necessary before a firm conclusion can be reached.

    The hangar, flight deck and quarterdeck are open, making the
    ship very adaptable to other roles such as troop carrying or disaster relief. The open quarterdeck could carry small landing craft, inflatables or vehicles. One or more helicopters could be landed to provide space for troops or evacuees in the hangar.”

    Stolen from:

  345. x

    @ Gareth J

    Flightdeck and hanger space is important. T45 wins on the former fails on the latter. And F35 to one side that is why CVF is important to the UK. If CVF hosts USMC F35b or acts as helicopter UAV hub that frees US deck space elsewhere for FJ operations or co-ordinated lifts that is top table value we can bring to a coalition.

    I have been worrying about F35b heating the trapping cables and dumping carbon onto EMALs rails if went dual use…….

  346. Observer


    Good point on the colours.

    Think I’ll call the first ship HMS Disco.

    Re: Destroyers- through deck destroyers? :)

    I was wondering previously why you had such little faith that naval guns could destroy other ships, but that was until I checked out the 4.5 inch’s rate of fire. One round/3 sec? That’s … suboptimal. Might want to change it for the 76mm Italian Super Rapido. 2 rounds per second. If it takes over the anti-fast boat role, you can actually get rid of the 30mms or replace them with a second 76mm. 4 rounds of 6kg shells per second is enough to deter other escort warships and increase flexibility (anti-small boat, anti-missile, anti-aircraft, anti-ship, shore bombardment).

  347. Repulse

    T45 with extended hanger space is interesting, but assuming that we will only have enough to float next a CVF or on BMD duties, not needed. If on the other hand some of the T26s could host 4 medium sized helicopters, that would be interesting – though I suspect it would be better just building 8 ASW T26 ships and starting again with a blank piece paper…

  348. Simon


    My problem wit F35C is that if I put it through the same mission profile as A or B it just wont give the range. I guess it cruises at a different altitude or something?

    My mission profile is naff anyway, I just expected that each aircraft would be much the same (Cd0, mu, etc) and that putting the C airframe into the simulation that gives A as a range of 600 and B as a range of 450 would give C with a range of 650(ish), but it doesn’t, it gives 570. Even if I take into account that it took no fuel to accelerate (‘cos it was flung off a carrier).

    The doc that Mark provided has Cd0 a fair bit lower than my estimate, but I’ll haveto change Cd0 for A, B and C so relatively the simulation won’t really change.

    It’s really got to be cruise alititude or something that makes the whole thing different.

    It doesn’t look like any of them cruise at 500 knots by choice, their optimum (on my code) is 400-ish, which is an adaptive optimisation of V x L/D as it flies.

    As I said, I’ll have a gander through Raymer (old version) to make sure it’s not something fundamental I’m forgetting.

  349. Simon

    Oh, for the pilots out there.

    Do you ever actually do a cruise-climb? Or do you just set the throttle and maintain altitude?


  350. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Repulse,
    RE “If on the other hand some of the T26s could host 4 medium sized helicopters…”
    A pity then we can’t bring back Blake and Tiger, converted to helicopter cruisers in the 1960s
    – Wiki tells me (without quoting a primary source) that their reactivation for Falklands was started, but stopped in mid-May as they would not have been ready in time

  351. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Observer, During the Libya Op the only ships that could provide the extremely useful NGS missions were those that had a proper main gun. It is a matter of priorities. Against a small boat attack the 30MMs are useful but upper deck mini guns, GPMGs and maybe the royal boarding party (small boat attacks more likely in the Gulf) with javelin are all useful weapons, as is the helo. I off the top of my head cannot remember the last time we used a main gun armament against another Ship or boat but NGS was used down south in 82, al Faw in 2003 and Libya 2011.

  352. Simon

    Isn’t the main gun on a frigate/destroyer used in much the same way as the main gun on an MBT – obviously from the sea.

    It’s large calibre to do large damage at large range.

    If the min gun on these ships is pointless then does that not make the MBT pointless too?

  353. Observer


    First, you would have to define “proper”. Range of the 76 and 4.5 are about similar, difference is “just” the weight of shell thrown, and the question of if a 6kg shell hitting the top of a MBT can burn through as opposed to the 21kg shell, and their effectiveness in airbursts. Of course, while there is data for the Mk 45, there is none on the 76mm, as the 45 was the only weapon in play.

    As for ship vs ship, just because it is rare is not really an indicator of the effectiveness of a weapon. IIRC, there is also never a case of the TShM being used against a ship in battle. Does that make it ineffective as a weapon? I think that there might be something worth taking a look at with a swap in weapons to increase flexibility, a single weapon system that can do the same job as two seperate systems that are currently in use (5″ and 30mms). Of course, this hinges on the NGS question and how effective is the 76mm in that role. (shell weight vs ROF)

  354. James


    tank main guns are used in the “precision” role 98%+ of the time, i.e. with KE rounds, normally APFSDS. I always wanted to vary my standard load to increase the fin shots and decrease the HESH rounds.

    HESH still has a role, but with increasingly restrictive ROE it is diminishing.

    As far as I understand, naval guns do not have the equivalent of a fin round, and I struggle to see how it would be used.

    I’d like to see a GMLRS launcher on some naval ships. The sea-induced wobbliness can be counter-acted, and GMLRS is guided anyway so the launching parameters would not be as critical than those for unguided missiles or rounds.

  355. Observer


    MBTs don’t use miniguns, and it’s usually the IFVs that use 30mms. In fact, I think the 30mm is the same used on IFVs (Bushmaster IIs).

    And re NGS, it’s more like artillery than direct fire tank guns. Up and down rather than straight ahead.

  356. Observer

    @James, true on the GMLRS, but that and the gun system are 2 totally different kettle of fish. The GMLRS might be more compared to VLS missiles or packed Harpoons than the gun.

    Not to mention a single missile takes up the space for a hundred or so shells.

  357. All politicians are the same

    Observer to answer your question 76mm is not used for ngs by European nations possessing the weapon Iowa national doctrine.

  358. James


    I think a useful ship design would be a small corvette in the “Bombardment role”, with a pair of GMLRS launchers forward and behind the bridge, and lots of storage space for rocket pod containers. Perhaps a 4.5 inch gun as well to satisfy naval tradition. Quite shallow draught to allow it to get close inshore.

    Add on a Scan Eagle launch / retrieve system with control station somewhere onboard and you have got a complete capability that the Navy does not currently have, and that is actually useful for modern amphibious warfare. As for hull, I imagine something like a River-class ship would do well as a starter.

    I have no idea how much such a ship may cost, but it is going to be considerably cheaper than a frigate or destroyer. We might even be able to afford a whole squadron of them, and they can also do patrol and regional duties.

  359. Observer

    APAT, don’t think they ever got a chance to. When was the last time Italy got called up for NGS? :)

  360. Simon

    Observer, James,

    Are you saying that the Naval Gun is generally only used for “cover” and not for precision shots?

    I thought the whole point with inertial stabilisation was to be able to provide high accuracy and be able to take out a tank on the shore?

  361. Observer


    6 launch cells per launcher? Or the tactical BM one of 2 cells?

    With a ship that small, I’m definately going for a 76mm solution as opposed to the 4.5″. DDs have the 30mm and minis to cover them against small boats, so the 4.5 isn’t really needed for anti-swarm, but without 30mms or minis, you’d really need the 76mm for self defence from PVs

  362. Observer


    There is direct fire “precision” and artillery “precision”. Direct fire precision is putting APFSDS through the hull of an enemy tank. Artillery precision is hitting the general area you’re aiming for. Big diffence. Of course, if you can get point target performance out of an artilley gun, good for you!

  363. James

    Observer, 30mm, 4.5, I’m easy.

    I see that Clyde already has a 25 ton crane on it. Give over the entire back deck to a pair of GMLRS launchers (6 RPC), put the pop gun and Scan Eagle Launcher up front.

    I am in danger of going into FBOT-style ship design, about which I know nothing, so I shall stop at this point!

  364. SomewhatInvolved

    Naval guns at present have no guidance whatsoever. The gun is not regarded as a precision weapon, because ‘precision’ requires initial accuracy of tens of feet and an assurance of minimal (read zero) collateral damage. We stabilise the gun, account for atmospherics and have a very capable fire control system, but some errors cannot be predicted and the round will never be ‘precise’ unless guided. We *could* fire on tanks or other targets if we can see them in direct line of sight and can track with the electro-optics. The Mk8 is one of the most accurate naval guns in service today, but needs some form of guidance to bring it into the ‘precision’ category.

  365. Simon


    You seem to be implying that the main gun on a ship is used primarily as artillery.

    I thought the whole point in packing HE rounds in the ships is so that we can do “demolition” and attempt to do anti-armour when needed.

  366. Observer

    Thank god…


    Interesting ship you came up with. I think some OPVs can accomodate your ideas, they come with a helipad that can be modded to launch cells or rocket pods. Think the cost would be somewhere along the lines of 200M USD by current market rates. Need to up their sealegs though.

  367. x

    @ Observer re sinking ships with guns

    It takes a lot to sink a ship with a small gun that is one 8in or below. Even during the world wars prolonged exchanges of fire would be more like bludgeoning than a surgical strike. Big guns say 12in and over are a different matter. But these still relied on lots of hits hopefully hitting a weak spot like thin armour over say a magazine. Look at the Battle of Jutland. All that fire and look at the combined losses. Or look at the performance of the Mk8 and Sea Skua in the Falklands against small Argentine vessels. If you want to sink a ship, not just stop it and set it alight, the weapon is the torpedo. I do think that modern guided munitions though will bring the gun back. Providing precise NGS with similar ordnance loads to a SDB without the need for aeroplane. And though not a ship killer a ship stopper if infra-guided munitions can strike uptakes.

  368. Simon


    Can I disagree slightly. The hulls on the old warships were a lot thicker than modern ships.

    Surely this means there’s still reason to put a shell through the side of another ship.

    Also, isn’t the ships nemesis the anti-ship missile rather than the slow torpedo nowadays?

  369. James

    Observer, re sealegs,

    If Clyde got down to the Falklands, that’ll do.

    Doing some minor calculations, you’d need to have space for 4 ISO’s worth of RPC storage under the back deck (i.e. 40 RPCs total), and some form of crane / hoist system for reloading. I think that should be doable on a River-class hull. You might even get a temporary helideck on top of the GMLRS units as a roof.

  370. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Observer, RE “if you can get point target performance out of an artilley gun, good for you!”

    At sea Vulcano is not (?) in service yet.

    So let’s find the “best practice” from land ( tells us:)
    “The Archer [that Swedish 155 mm] also fires Excalibur precision guided extended range projectiles with a maximum range of 60 km. It is also compatible with Bonus precision guided projectiles.

    Maximum a rate of fire of 8 – 9 rounds per minute. The Archer is capable of multiple-round simultaneous – impact firing. It fires up to 6 rounds in 30 seconds, each in different trajectories, so that all of the shells arrive on target at the same time.”
    – 6 rounds for simultaneous impacts is obviously for much less than the max range (as the first one will have to go really high)

  371. Observer


    Excal and like artillery needs a damn long barrel to stabilize the rounds. Compare the 4.5 vs any 155mm howitzer barrel length. This is not including different operation methods, most telling of which is that artillery guns use bagged or incremental charges for propulsion while NGs use cased rounds. You don’t want to be stuffing extra bags of powder into a naval gun.

  372. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James, quite like your innovative ship design

    Observer gave such a generous budget that you can get a Visby for it
    – a lot of the cost in Visby comes from the laminated construction, to improve stealth
    – we can do away with that, and just keep the stealth that comes from the shape
    – it has a very large platform (relative to its size) in the back, and already has a pop gun
    – so is the overall size big enough to hold the 4 ISO equivalent near the position where the contents will be expended; and, is there a suitable position for catapult launching your airborne targeting devices?

  373. Observer

    BTW, even the Excal is not a precision weapon without a spotter to lase the target, which NGS don’t usually have.

  374. James

    Does anyone know if GMLRS can be launched vertically, and then bend over and head off on a ballistic course to the target? Or has it got to be pointing roughly in the direction?

    Vertical launch GMLRs would be a real space saver. Have a look at the picture here and imagine that double RPC launch system placed vertically into the back deck of a River:

  375. Observer


    He did call for a corvette, and that is the price range for it though the 200M figure did include logistics. OTOH, it might simply be a big OPV. The lines are a bit blurred there.

  376. Observer


    It’s not in-flight corrected, so no 360 degree flight profile. Not that big a problem though, there is such a thing as a turntable. Or simply turn the ship.

  377. James

    I’ll leave the design details to others with expertise. To be honest, me saying “corvette” is my shorthand for “smaller than a frigate” – I’m not expert in ship classes.

    Anyway, small enough to get close inshore. Stealth a bonus. Poor man’s TLAM at out to 60 km, and fantastic for NGS.

    I think you could put the Scan Eagle launch rail on the pointy part of the ship up front – it is quite slim and not too long. Point the ship into wind for launch / recovery operations.

    Crew of 30-40 to drive the ship, and another 15-20 for GMLRS and Scan Eagle ops. Get the cost under £150 million and we’ve got a good thing going, particularly operating in pairs or quads, with a destroyer sitting 5 miles back and doing the air defence.

  378. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Observer,

    RE “Compare the 4.5 vs any 155mm howitzer barrel length. ”
    – for the precision rounds, Archer got the barrel extended to 52 cal (from the previous, more conventional piece that it is based on)
    -Mk.8 has been 55 cal since the 60’s (I mean, new pieces produced since then, as they live for ever)

    Fixed round or bags?
    – does it matter with automatic loading (when men were pushing the rounds in, you could only satisfy ROF rqrmnts with a complete/ fixed round, which then set the upper weight limit)
    – what do you think happens with the Archer automatic loading when it puts through six rounds in quick sequence to arrive at the same time? –varies the number of bags loaded

    Would it not (now that automatic loading works; unlike in tanks it can be designed without severe space constraints)be a good idea to separate the propellant and whatever “warhead” its sends away?

  379. x

    @ Repulse re T45 flight deck

    The flight deck is huge. You stand in the middle and you can’t see the edges of the deck. The NAAFI team have been provided with a little electric tea trolley so they can drive out into the middle and provide refreshment for flightdeck crew crossing from one side to the other. Marines will be stationed onboard to provide search and rescue just in case anybody gets lost out there…….

    Seriously though steal and fresh air are cheap. T45 is 5ft wider in the beam than the twin hangared Absalon. Adding an extra hanger wouldn’t have added much to the cost; nor does it mean the ship has to be provided with two helicopters. In GW1 T42 found themselves in the upper reaches of the Gulf acting as motherships to multiple Lynx. The hanger and flightdeck of a T42 aren’t big. I don’t think anybody ever saw that happening. But it just shows the utility of both ship and aircraft working in concert. Lets say the screening force for CVF is composed of dual hangered ships. So 3 to 4 escorts would have a capacity of 6 to 8 ASW helicopters. A force big enough to have one available perhaps two at all times without relying on CVF to bare some of the that load so freeing her deck for other operations. Imagine a scenario like Libya where a large aviation ship isn’t available. Let say we have 2 to 3 dual hangered escorts in theatre that is 6 helicopters. They may not all be British helicopters. Imagine those 2/3 escorts swapping their ASW copters for Italian commando Merlins or US Marine helicopters. Imagine a SF ops conducted with say one or two Merlin backed up one or two Wildcats. Imagine just needing somewhere to land and secure a £40million aircraft from another ship that has developed a fault without interfering with the operations of the ship’s own flight. Imagine having space for some of those mission modules (aka shipping containers) everybody here is fond of. Or even giving somewhere undercover for Clubs to torture the ship’s company.

    In summary a 7000t escort with only one hanger is waste. I think we have stop focussing on the AAW or ASW designations these ships have and see the utility inherent within. Stop treating them as single function devices like tanks or FJ. Sometimes I get the vibe here that utility of the hull is scorned or seen as some confidence trick by those of us of a more maritime leaning to sell the idea of a navy. Or perhaps it is more of a product of the mindset of the other two services. Not a deliberate thing as such but more as I said a consequence of dealing with low utility equipment (despite the high utility and quality of the personnel using those equipments.)

  380. ArmChairCivvy

    RE “even the Excal is not a precision weapon without a spotter to lase the target, which NGS don’t usually have”
    – that’s why James had the ScanEagle or similar?
    – and I made it into plural, so that you can make sure one is up in the air when needed (not ready to be relaunched soon after recovery; and too big to be dragged about the ship)

  381. Observer


    NGs and ground based artillery are totally different systems, trying to mash them together does not do either any good. The list of why is very long.

    And no, seperate charges are not a good idea on ships with rolling decks. I’m not sure if the Archer actually changes the amount of propellent used, it might be working with pre-fixed amounts of charge, which makes sense if you’re doing TOT, all it then really changes is the angle of shot.

    Like the airspeed/altitude talk on the F-35, it’s complicated. Long story short, artillery rounds and naval guns don’t really cross load well.

  382. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi James, RE
    “Does anyone know if GMLRS can be launched vertically, and then bend over and head off on a ballistic course to the target? Or has it got to be pointing roughly in the direction?”
    – there was such a project but nothing came of it

    “Vertical launch GMLRs would be a real space saver.”
    – use the Israeli Jumper instead, a bit smaller but a really compact box for ship-handling

    ” Have a look at the picture here and imagine that double ”
    – it is scary enough; why not put just one on an LCU
    – there’s your draught problem solved (there isn’t really a problem, because of the extensive range)

  383. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Observer, you are 100 % right with
    “He did call for a corvette, and that is the price range for it though the 200M figure did include logistics. OTOH, it might simply be a big OPV. The lines are a bit blurred there.”
    – the border line between frigates/ OPVs/ corvettes is a hundred million higher
    – I was just trying to make the point that Visby has the capability, has lots of capability to be stripped off for this use, and in either case it is “damn cheap” – bearing in mind it is quite small, too
    – I was going to post a cut-out, will probably be late p.m. before that (and then we can let FBOT lose on it!)

  384. Observer

    “(and then we can let FBOT lose on it!)”

    I hate you.

    “- the border line between frigates/ OPVs/ corvettes is a hundred million higher”

    I hope you mean cost, not tonnage :) but TBH, I’ve been checking the prices for these and they don’t differ that much, up to 200m for a frigate, after that, it jumps to 1B for destroyers. Interesting.

  385. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Observer,

    It does both RE “all it then really changes is the angle of shot.”
    – that’s why I said that for this the max range is unachievable

  386. Observer

    Was right. Preset charges.


    “2IM modular charge system consists of two sizes of combustible charge cases; one full-size and one half-size case”.

  387. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Observer, my first port of call is the newwars website, and then one can assess against peers, or capability increments:

    Visby (Sweden)-$184 million – bench mark

    Absalon (Denmark)-$269 million -good value, unique uses

    Bertholf National Security Cutter-$641 million – expensive, but you have to pay for the endurance and the comfort to keep them at sea year in-year out

    F100 Bazan (Spain)-$600 million – good value

    F105 Cristobal Colon (Spain)-$954 million – benchmark against peers

    De Zeven Provincien (Netherlands)-$532 million – great value (have to check if inflation corrected)

    FREMM (Franco/Italian)-$745 million – see previous comment

    LCS Freedom-$637 million – ridiculous, but they are now approaching 500m a piece

    Holland (Netherlands)-$169 million -great value

    LCS Independence-$704 million – also getting v close to 500m

    Iver Huitfeldt (Denmark)-$332 millon – this should be the benchmark for T26 costings

    Nansen (Norway)-$557 million – built in Spain, see above for the cousins

    Sachsen Type 124 (Germany)-$1.06 billion – compare with what? (125 is going to be great… and dear)

    Valour MEKO A200 (South Africa)-$327 million -so many MEKOs (as was the planned with the design, too)



    Baynunah (UAE)-$137 million

    Braunschweig K-130 (Germany)-$309 million

    Clyde (Britain)-$47,000,000 – this is unlikely to be the ship cost, as the contract is pay-for-use

    Khareef (Oman)-$262 million

    Kedah (Malaysia)-$300 million

    Knud Rasmussen (Denmark)-$50 million -very dinky, but not a warship (stays afloat in all weathers and even breaks ice)

    BAM Maritime Action Ship (Spain)-$116 million

    MILGEM corvettes (Turkey)-$250 million

    Otago (New Zealand)-$62.6 million

    Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago)-$76 million

    River (Britain)-$31,400,000

    Sigma (Indonesian/Moroccan)-$222 million

    … so , to cut the long story short, there’s only Visby and BAM that would fit (for under $200m)
    – BAM if you have to loiter for long
    – Visby if you are expecting short and sharp action

  388. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Observer, you are a man in a hurry (you did not read the sentences around your quote):
    “carries 20 155mm projectiles in the fully automatic magazine and an additional 20 projectiles for reload. The howitzer can use NATO modular charges or Bofors Uniflex 2 modular charges. The Uniflex 2IM modular charge system consists of two sizes of combustible charge cases; one full-size and one half-size case, both filled with the same type of insensitive guanylurea dinitramide (GuDN) propellant. The modular charge system allows several increments of charge to be available and increases the gun system’s multiple rounds simultaneous impact (MRSI) capability and good range overlap between the increments.”
    – now we could go into the jokes about field trials in India (5 is the max, but they insisted trying with 7; the artillery piece did not go to “pieces” but not sure about the ear drums of the Indian test crew)

  389. IXION


    IMHO with a lot of (but not all) warships bigger has got to be better.

    I particular because bigger generally bring more multifunction utility

  390. Observer


    Some of the numbers are off, I know the Oman one was for 3 ships not 1 and some are also maintainance contracts. Brunei also has 3 F2000 mods for sale by BAE at 200M pounds per.


    But bigger signature too = less stealth. Tradeoffs I guess.

    Anyway, ACC, artillery guns are different from naval guns though their usage sometimes overlaps. Just look at the ROF. Mk8 does a round /3 second. Arty tends to 1 round in 15-20 sec.

  391. SomewhatInvolved

    Interesting trivia for you. The gun barrels on the Mk8 do wear out after a while so we have to change them over. When we take off the old ones, the quality of the steel means we can sell them for a nice price to the oil industry who apparently use them as the basis for new drill bits.

    Land artillery using bagged charges can vary the charge they use to extend barrel life. This also means they can achieve higher, more pronounced ballistic trajectories to clear terrain at short range. Naval guns, particularly the modern compact mountings, cannot handle bagged charges and as such every shot is at full charge. This also tends towards a flatter trajectory than land artillery as the round is on average travelling much faster. The lack of separate charges is what lends the higher rate of fire – loading once not twice. Having stood in the turret as we ‘fired’ a number of drill rounds the machinery moves ferociously quickly.

    The long caliber of the Mk8 was designed to provide high accuracy in the antiaircraft role for which it was originally optimised.

  392. James


    as I am sure you know, sustained rate of fire for artillery is not really a very exciting statistic. It is initial burst rate that counts, because the enemy at the target end get caught in the open.

    I cannot recall exactly, but AS90 had something like a burst rate of 3 rounds in 15 seconds, then it had to slow down. But no one ever fires for more than 20 seconds anyway – shoot and scoot.

    The mortar platoon of 45 Commando (unusually, attached to an Army Battlegroup one year in BATUS) could get 18 rounds in the air at once in about 10 seconds, all coming down onto something smaller than a football field. While 81mm mortars are not so very big, it was still quite an impressive demo and would have been pretty nasty if you were on the receiving end.

  393. Observer


    I know. I wasn’t pointing out the difference in usage, though that does play a part too. I’m just trying to convince ACC not to use an artillery piece as a naval gun, or trying to shove an artillery round up a naval gun’s breech.

  394. x

    @ IXION

    You watch the T26 won’t have twin hangers either. Supposedly our next gen 1st rate ASW escort but it will only have space to carry one copy of the world’s best ASW helicopter. I suppose it will be argued that it won’t be needed…

  395. Fat Bloke on Tour

    X @ 11.06

    One of my reasons for going large / jumbo when it comes to naval ship design is that if you increase deck area and stability you can do a lot with it.

    Buiding an ASW frigate with space for two or more helos doesn’t mean you have to fit them all the time just when the resources are available and the mission demands it.

    My thoughts on the Colonial Sloop was big and cheap.
    Looking at 1100m2 for the flight deck / 300m2 for the hangar.
    Not sure what this would cope with but it would be a start, a marker.

    On the issue of NGS my thoughts are that 155mm is the way to go.
    My reasoning is that it is a universal technology and we can ponce off the efforts of others.
    Numbers in service are measured in thousands.
    It is a commodity technology.

    If the ROF is sub-optimal then fit two.
    I would go as far as to suggest welding AS90 hulls onto the deck.
    If multiple charges are awkward then pick two versions and optimise.

    Basic munitions out to 40 / 50 km.
    Upmarket stuff out to 80km with more to come if we want to get all exotic.

  396. IXION


    I agree about stealth, but you are going to have to work hard to convince me a 7,000 to ship is half as stealthy as 3,500 ton ship or that a 15,000 ton super destroyer is much less stealthy than a t45.

    In the Words of an old article I read on the then new concept of stealth in the 1980’s, (which despite the phraseology was written by an American Civilian radar expert from (I think MIT))….

    ‘I remain to be convinced as to the values of radar and thermal ‘stealth’. Any warship operating its engines at more than minimal settings, or sensors, or weapons systems in operational modes will be sending out bloody great here I am signals’.

    Later on he talked about Nimitz class carriers as being ‘lit up like Christmas trees’ hydromagnetic wise.

  397. IXION

    X bearing in mind I hear passengers in the super lynx, will have to strip off and grease up to fit in it. I would like to see a ship like that old Japanese class that could carry 3 sea kings.

    So it could carry a couple of lynx for the sexy asw stuff and a couple of Merlins for boarding air sea rescue chasing pirates boarding etc.

    Still…. 4 naked greased up gun toting marines arrive by helicopter… enough to give miscreant pause for thought…

    BTW is this a new tactical UK requirement as I believe TD has heard that to get 4 into a panther, you need the strip off and grease up drill…

  398. x

    @ IXION

    No I was just saying twice the hanger space gave options. I wasn’t advocating a particular mix of aircraft. Wildcat can carry 7 pax, so I suppose to allow for equipment that would be more like 4. One hanger means one helicopter (or I suppose 2 smaller ones.) Just seems a waste of space.

  399. Gareth Jones

    RE: NGFS. Ithink I’ve posted this before but hey! Thats never stopped me posting links before…

    French 100mm design intended to be fast firing enough for the AA role but also the minimum weight for NGFS (lessons from Indo-China). I also remember reding somewhere (could be DK Brown…) that the we did some tests on NGFS and came to the conclusion 105mm was the minimum size (although that may have been some time ago).
    It also mentions the POLAR GMRLS concept and a British tank gun turret that only weighed 6tons…

  400. Observer


    Stealth is not due to tonnage, it’s related to size. The bigger it is, the more surface area for radar to return from.

    If you get 8,000 tons into a frigate sized hull, you won’t get a destroyer’s radar return, you’d get a frigate’s. OTOH if you shoved 3,000 tons into a destroyer’s hull, the radar return would be that of a destroyer. One of the reasons I’m not convinced about the “steel is cheap, air is free” argument. It just simply gives a bigger radar signature to home in on.

  401. Observer

    “On the issue of NGS my thoughts are that 155mm is the way to go.
    My reasoning is that it is a universal technology and we can ponce off the efforts of others.
    Numbers in service are measured in thousands.
    It is a commodity technology.”

    I wasn’t aware that the RN had 155mm naval guns. Or any other navy other than the future white elephant the US is trying to create. And if you say use an artillery piece, I’ll laugh in your face.

  402. Jackstaff


    That’s a job for 3 Para mortar platoon, surely?

    Well, I missed it the first time so thanks for the repost. In an update of a fine Welsh tradition I think it’s time we dub you Jones the Hyperlink.

    In general,

    Been greatly enjoying the discussion of “monitor OPVs” which is sort of what these things would be. Yet another reminder as if one were needed, what can be done with present-day “herbaceous borders” sized hulls.
    I’ll just beat my dead horse again, shall I? The fact T45 was not built with a twin hangar, towed array, fitted with all its bits incl the 16 more vls cells as the single class of main surface combatant (ask for 15 in hopes of at least getting the bare minimum of 12) is a mistake the RN will be paying for for decades. It’s perfectly possible for the fleet to remain remarkably powerful and versatile and effective, for a country of ca 62 nillion with a big GDP in a world where everyone but the Pacific Rim is slashing military inventory. But you have to go about it in ways that break with big-numbers fleet practice.

  403. Observer

    BTW artillery is 30/40/60 (normal/basebleed/excal) at 80km, you’re hitting MRLS territory. Harpoon is 120. Tomahawk is “just fire the damn thing, it has the legs.”

  404. IXION


    I get the point about size ratehr than weight, it’s just that heavier ships tend to be bigger so I was using shorthand.

    My Point is However that the square are of steel plate, coupled with the angle to incoming radar is only one fraction of what makes a ship visible to radar. The ships own Tracking and target radars, it’s own coms and satellite links; all fitted one assumes because they are useful, all scream out ‘here I am come and get me’.

  405. Hannay


    Cd0 for Dave C will be a bit higher than the other variants due to the larger wing, but cruise L/D should be a bit bigger. Fuel fraction is greater other variants as well. Hence if you’re using Breguet range equation, range performance should be better. I’d have another look over your code.

    Cruise climbs are done in practice but air traffic control presents the biggest obstacle so it depends on where you operate.

  406. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Observer @ 4.39 / 4.43

    I see you are the current holder of the TD “Obtuse” yellow jersey.

    155mm is the most active area of gun development.
    Are you a projectile snob – cheap and cheerful RA / Army stuff don’t count?
    We would be missing a trick if we did not want to join the party.

    As for stealth and the influence of size, I have mentioned it before –

    F117 vs B2 – Who’s the daddy?
    Did the USAF get it wrong?
    Or is size only one of many issues to be considered when trying to make a platform “stealthy”?

  407. SomewhatInvolved

    Chaps, the days of stealth ships are some way off and rather more in Star Trek territory. The more relevant term is signature reduction. On the open ocean, bearing in mind a radar can detect a periscope these days, you are never going to hide. The trick is to make your radar signature smaller than it would have otherwise been so that you do not stand out from background shipping. With proper emission control/management you can hide reasonably well in the crowd, but you cannot disappear into thin air.

  408. ALL Politicians are the Same

    SI, I hope you are remembering that cloaking devices are against the Treaty Of Algeron!

  409. SomewhatInvolved

    Oh no, there’s an actual Trekkie loose on this site? APATS, go and have a word with yourself!!

  410. Simon

    Can I add that “stealth” is not just radar.

    You my need to dig around in some physics forums but there’s already magnetic anomaly detection and very soon (when CERN figure it out) gravitational (mass) anomaly detection.

    Both affected by the total mass rather than the cross section area.

  411. ALL Politicians are the Same

    SI, I am not a trekkie by any manner of means but remember seeing an episode once that talked about cloaking devices being banned and 30 secs on google!

  412. Jackstaff


    Quite right. But when (before Khitomer anyway) have the Klingons regarded a treaty as more than a namby-pamby human piece of paper? And don’t get me started on the Romulans. Anyway, Tholian webs are the way to go. Cheap as chips, export licensed, takes the energy field to the enemy, and I hear they’re plannning to put the. Generators in ISO containers….

  413. SomewhatInvolved

    APATS that’s a weak and feeble excuse. I bet you have at least 3 DVD boxed sets and a signed poster of William Shatner.

  414. Fat Bloke on Tour

    SI @ 5.36

    I fear then any efforts at stealth are self defeating.

    If we are trying to hide in the run off the mill shipping crowd then we stand out as being the fishing boat / yacht / jet ski which can do 25 knots in SS4/5.

    Regarding positives for stealth.
    It then becomes the Chevaline gambit.

    We make ourselves smaller so that we can more easily look like the decoys we can deploy in numbers and at great speed.

  415. Simon

    Hannay, (and Mark also),

    Thanks. I think I’ve found the problem. My drag was too high (my transonic bump kicked in too early), which is why I wasn’t getting the 1200nm radius I should have been getting to tell me that the mission profile looks like hi-lo-lo-hi. i.e. only about 1/4 fuel used to cruise out.

    In addition, F35C cruises higher and slightly faster (8% ish from initial calcs) – simple really when you think about it.

    Just goes to show my claims for the drag force were complete unfounded.

  416. Jackstaff

    Also surprisingly fast if you trained as a researcher — “Star Trek energy fields” is a surprisingly interesting search term apparently, thanks to physicists without sex lives. X, do you think Chris B just cloaked the sodding biscuit tin aboard the anti-gravity hovercraft cruiser with the triple-mountd Gatling plasma cannons and has been playing a game of silly buggers all along?

  417. Jackstaff


    Shatner? Please. APATS is a patriot– it’ll be Sir Patrick Stewart at least, even if his old dad was an RSM among the pongos….

  418. Jackstaff


    Just be glad Jed’s not round at the moment. He can match us blow for blow and look out when the UCAV discussion turns to Cylon Raiders….

  419. Repulse

    @X, I’m with you 100% on multi-role escorts. My comment about going back to the drawing board is to draw a line under the T45 / T26 (as we cannot afford further delays) and get a multi-role vessel designed from bottom up. I am a firm believer of the need for 3 tiers of warship:

    – Tier 1: Top End long ranged multi-role escort configured for offensive capabilities. 7kt vessels.
    – Tier 2: Long ranged utility / patrol vessels configured for defence, but capable of operating mission modules (ASW, MCM, Survey etc). 3kt vessels.
    – Tier 3: Mid shore fast patrol boats for littoral scenarios and EEZ protection. Capable also of limited close to shore ASW, MCM, Survey duties via modules. 500t vessels.

    The RN probably needs roughly the same number of vessels in each tier (e.g. 18 to 24).

  420. Repulse

    @X, I’m with you 100% on multi-role escorts. My comment about going back to the drawing board is to draw a line under the T45 / T26 (as we cannot afford further delays) and get a multi-role vessel designed from bottom up. I am a firm believer of the need for 3 tiers of warship:

    – Tier 1: Top End long ranged multi-role escort with layered defence systems but configured for offensive capabilities (ASuW, AAW, TLAM etc) . 7kt vessels.
    – Tier 2: Long ranged utility / patrol vessels configured for defence, but capable of operating mission modules (ASW, MCM, Survey, UAV mothership etc). 3kt vessels.
    – Tier 3: Mid shore fast patrol boats for littoral scenarios and EEZ protection. Capable also of limited close to shore ASW, MCM, Survey duties via modules. 500t vessels.

    The RN probably needs roughly the same number of vessels in each tier (e.g. 18 to 24).

  421. Observer

    SI, it isn’t that bad re LO, in bad sea states, the ground clutter can help hide the ship better, though you are right, Romulan D7 type cloaking is way off into the future.

    BTW, isn’t MAD detection very close range?

  422. Observer


    Re Tholian webs, I keep seeing Harrison Ford vs Sword wielding Immortal

    “Captain, Tholian webslinger flying in circles around us!”
    “They done yet?”
    “They done yet?”
    “They done yet?”
    “Torp them. Full torp spread too just in case.”


  423. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Repulse @ 6.59

    Why when it come to ship design why is size / weight always paramount?

    You talk about your second level ships only in terms of displacement – why?
    What about other factors to describe the vessel?


    That is Black box the design and work to the 5 C’s mentioned above?

  424. Jackstaff


    Ha! When I used to teach, the “Raiders” example was always the one I reached for to explain escalation dominance.

    Re: Tholian webs and carrier air (trying desperately to hurl this discussion back towards the topic) one should kill the archer not the arrow. Find the Tholians’ home base and nuke it from orbit — it’s the only way to be sure ;)


    What you said in five foot letters of fire. Although I think your sloop type (Type 2) can afford to outnumber the others. And honestly if we’re into wishes and horses, I’d still shunt the T26 to the right as an export design and build eight stretched 45s with towed array added (maybe a chsance to sort out the engine aarangement on a one-block-longer hull?) As your fleet escorts, moving the current batch into highest-priority regional patrol roles (teamed where necessary with an SSN.) But, yes, if one keeps the current build plen, I’d move right on to your categorization for the next generation.

  425. Observer

    My take on the issue is since type 2 and 3 often end up with approximately the same capabilities and the same cost, you can combine the 2 requirements in a 3kT hull. This way, you save duplication of effort and logistics and also allows a pool of reserve frigates to draw from in case of losses or sudden upswing in threat levels.

  426. Simon


    Why do we need to stretch the T45? The hulls as they stand would make excellent multi-role escorts or ASW escorts (esp due to the two lynx hangar).

    I agree that the T26 looks like an export/sales thing with the “mission bay” etc – really don’t see the need for our navy.

  427. x

    @ Jackstaff re Biscuit Barrel

    Well the main trouble Chris and I are having at the moment is our new line of stealthy “can’t see me” suits. We made the mistake of not only making the wearer invisible to the outside world, but making the outside world invisible to the wearer. Why the latter? Well we reckon what you can’t see can’t hurt you. Trouble is the wearer has a tendency to become complete lost if there drop their end of a spool of paracord. What has this to do with the biscuit barrel? Well the barrel has a similar level of stealth and being artificially intelligent too it has lead to pro-longed periods of loss. Further it is only fitted for but not with hands to hold the paracord. Yes it is the British spec’ barrel that is missing….

  428. Simon

    …such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you

  429. Observer


    No worries mate, I’m sure someone will find it soon. Just follow the trail of banged knees and foul language.


    I’d love for 1 and 2 to go together, unfortunately, there is a huge size and cost jump from 3kt to 7kt, not so much from 500t-3000t.

  430. Repulse

    @FBOT, I agree on the C’s, my sizes were just indicative of size to help visualize the type of vessels I am referring to. I see each tier as unique and shouldn’t be merged… Merge 1 and 2, you get too few hulls or underarmed vessels, merge 2 and 3 they are either too slow for Litterol ops or too big for costal / river work (and too expensive because of the speed).

    I believe that top tier should be able to defend themselves from subs, but use smaller (more expendable) vessels to go hunting for them… After all isn’t a big 2087 tow arrayed sonar just not a big “i’m here” sign (as per the earlier post).

  431. Simon


    Are there any “long range” 3kt escorts out there? Medium range at best, I’d guess.


    You’re probably right about merging 1 and 2 and ending up with too few hulls with the politicians in charge.

    Not sure about the 2087 being a beakon – it can operate in passive mode too.

  432. x

    @ Repulse

    Well MoD(N) should just do the sensible thing and buy FREMM for the T23 replacement. It is going to end up costing that much as we all know. With only 6 T45 we will have one following CVF everywhere and one in “reserve”. We build 12 FREMM which should cover us for CVF, APT(N) (standing TAS patrol vessel), full time ARG escort, and a “reserve” (NATO contribution?) My confidence is ASW first rate doing more has been buoyed by the promise of SeaCeptor performance. That is 18 first rate ships in various stages of build from FFBNW to having the kit they should have. I don’t think that is enough as I think 32 is a bare minimum. Six more somethings would help I suppose. As I have said here many times I like the Danish Iver Huitfeldt class. A ship based on that class without its AAW fit out replaced with SeaCeptor seems a good fit; it will even out range T23 by 3000km at 15kts. I would still fit it out with the Atlas sonar system.

  433. x

    @ Simon

    We can neither confirm or deny we are keeping aliens in Chris’ garden shed so we can reverse engineer their, sorry its technology Before the conspiracy theories start I know I didn’t mention my shed. I don’t have one, I have an aviary….

    Why hasn’t this blog comment thingy got a damn redact option? :)

    @ Observer

    Anechoic sealed so no bad language. ;)

  434. Simon


    With 6 T45 shouldn’t there be about 4 in the water when needed?

    Also this Iver Huitfeldt class is nearly as as big as Daring. Why not just use the Daring hull?

  435. Observer


    Ok, medium range then.


    You need 2 T-45s, for the carrier, port and starboard. Having a AAW ship on only one side runs the risk of having the carrier itself blocking your radar, not to mention the risk of having to fire missiles “cross the bow” of your own carrier. That means 1/3 of the predicted total force accounted for.

  436. jackstaff


    So what you’re saying about the biccies is, I suspect, that HMT will only pay for the hands if it can defund, in return, development for the artificial chewing device intended to turn the biscuits to highly digestible mush — a world-beating specialist platform that will demonstrate We Are Still Skilled Men You Know and be highly sought-after during coalition snacking. Of course they just could buy false teeth COTS — British mouths being FFBNW molars, which explains a lot about the dentistry of our forebears — but that would rob British jobs in a sought-after design sector ….
    The cloaking reminds me of a conceit from Sir Terry Pratchett: if you throw a sheet over your head the Bogeyman can’t see you. If you throw it over the Bogeyman’s head, total existential confusion….

  437. Jackstaff

    X again,

    Do you have planning permission for that shed? After all ne can’t just muck about with alien super-technology in the back garden of a Grade II listed Gimcrack Suburban Hovel. The council will be up in arms (and no I don’t mean the one timelocked on Gallifrey….)

  438. Repulse

    “long range 3kt escorts”:

    – Leopard class T41 7,500 nm miles at 16kts (as the T61s)
    – Florèal class 10,000 nm at 15kts
    – Comandante Joao Belo 7,500 nm at 15kts
    – Madina 8,000 nm at 18kts

  439. jackstaff


    Yes: all but the second (Floreal, really a big aviso with teeth) are direct (only second-generation, really) heirs to the original 1940s concept of the modern frigate, a small, dedicated ASW vessel with better seakeeping and weapons than a Flower-class-style corvette, with very log legs. The Joao Belos had a bit more to them, with some dual role colonial sloop qualities (mainly carrying a couple of platoons’ worth of Fuzileiros Marinheros) but that’s the principle. My one worwry like Observer’s is that once you start adding on fightiness you end up trending back to a modern “frigate” (just see that shot from a few years back of Montrose, I think, alongside HMS Belfast for illustration.) Then we lose what you identified so well, the broad utility, useful size (yes they can have legs) and cost efficiencies of sloops. And one of the principal arguments for a big (size and displacement) single-class combattant with knobs on is not only its own usefulness as a line-of-battle ship (which I’d define now as having some utility in absorbing whatever Opfor may throw at it — no significant Achilles’ heels — and some ability to throw stuff back.) It’s also in convincing your admirals that they have sufficient of that sort of ship to let you get on with building the ships that will handle that high frequency low-to-lower-medium spectrum from friendly influence to active patrol or jobs like sweeping an LZ for mines with a T45ish vessel giving cover.

  440. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Repulse @ 8.06

    When it comes to the top two classes –

    Type 1 – full on world class at something.
    Type 2 – patrol / GP version / able to stand is ground.

    Why not split the build cost into two components –

    1) Fully navigable hull with all the systems needed to make it move around the world.
    2) Warload – armament / sensors / CMS – everything is RO/RO or LO/LO or CO/CO.
    That would allow focus and more transparent costs.

    My thoughts on going large / jumbo is that the resultant platform would be more capable / flexible / robust / cheaper.

  441. Repulse

    @FBOT, I understand the point, but as long as the option doesn’t force too many compromises – for example for AAW needs height for the rad and stealthar, utility is probably about deck space and mission bays…

  442. Chris.B.

    @ X

    There’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is, I’ve finally found the biscuit tin. The bad news is, it’s decidely empty. Just don’t tell anyone.

  443. x

    @ Observer

    Yes two T45 would be preferable but we don’t have them. I think a small class (6!) of Horizon-esque like ships using SeaCeptor backed by latest gen CIWS (35mm) would be a better option for each beam leaving the T45 to gain sea room for area defence with Viper. Of course I am all for some form of missile onboard CVF be it Ceptor or Viper; awkward I know but doable just about.

    @ Simon

    1 deployed, 1 working up/returned/maintenance less than refit, 1 in deep refit. If the balloon went up and we had 4 available would you commit all 4 straight away? I think saying 2 available is realistic. Or perhaps 2+1? That is why losing T45 7 and 8 was a real blow. I prefer a system of 1 working up, 1 deployed, 1 returned, and 1 refit. Less time at sea to fatigue both hull and crews. You could have 4 available then while having time to work and ready 2 more.

    As for Daring well if were to acquire a class of second rate escorts you would want simplicity and an off the shelf design. The T45 engine fit out is cutting edge so expensive; the IH runs 4 diesels in CODAD. T45’s have a good range but will be deployed at the sharp end so will have access to tankers to feed her hungry GTs. The IH running diesels has superb range and therefore won’t impact on fleet support assets like tankers as much. She can reach the Falklands and still have fuel for another 1000nm; pop in to Freetown on the way down and she would have 5000nm of fuel available. The Danes also ring value out of their build by having the hulls built in Lithuania. If we did the same we could buy 2 IH for the cost of 1 Daring. Of course that is the cost of Daring that hasn’t been rejigged to take diesels. The layout of warships is determined by what engines are used. GT like lots of air and produce huge volumes of exhaust gasses. I will quickly say it a lot of vertical real estate. Diesels need less air and produce less exhaust and take up horizontal space which means great deck area. That is very rough.

  444. x

    @ Chris B

    Do you think the barrel powered itself off the biscuits? If so how many custard creams would we need to power CVF? What about a form of AIP based on pink wafers for the Vanguard replacement? The possibilities are endless. The Yanks will be buggered if all they have is those Orioosoos, whatever, biscuits.

    @ Jackstaff

    A small confession here. My dad is an electrical engineer and one of the staple sources of work was the bakery industry. I am sad to say I know an awful lot about baking on an industrial scale. So I agree it does take skill to bake biscuits, but all the skill is to be found in the machinery production and not the actual bakers themselves.

  445. Simon


    For your tier 2 you said “long ranged utility / patrol vessels configured for defence, but capable of operating mission modules (ASW, MCM, Survey, UAV mothership etc) – 3kt vessels”. The examples you provided don’t carry the necessary load for effective defence, let alone modern ASW operations.

    The main driving reason for combining your tier 1 and 2 is it gives some economies of scale and continued ship-building in this country. If the Navy just ask for 6 ships every 30 years there will be no company available to build them, we should try and build 1 hull every 2 years (ish) using a common hull, which can morph over time with changes in technology and requirements.

    We don’t have the luxury of building 60 Arleigh Burke at 2 a year and keeping that up forever, the only way we can remain competitive is to have a single class – which is daft – so the next best thing is a single hullform with the possibility of exporting (preferably just the hull).

    A bit of a disjointed post so sorry.

  446. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Repulse @ 9.44

    I would go Jumbo on both types of ships.

    My thoughts for RN AAW hulls 7 + 8 were 15K tons at least.
    Regarding Type 2 / GP + Patrol I would work to a well defined budget.

    If the number is £200 mill per ship my thoughts would be £75mill on the hull / £125mill on the warload and see what we could get for that kind of money.

  447. Fat Bloke on Tour

    X @ 10.05

    Do you have any idea on the cost of the T45 powertrain?
    £30mill / £50mill / £70mill?

    Do GTs cost more per MW than MSDs?
    Any idea of the ratio – 1 / 1 or 2 / 1?

  448. Simon


    I get what you mean with the “active” T45 but would suggest 2 active, 2 ready and 2 refit.

    This is perfectly adequate for our needs since wartime would see two flanking the carrier fleet and another two on the assault fleet. In peacetime we’d probably have 1 T45 with 1 T26 GP and 1 T26 ASW escorting each battlegroup (plus subs, etc).

  449. John Hartley

    Yes the 6 existing T45 will escort the carrier/s, but my 2 fantasy stretched T45 carrying 4 Merlin were meant for independent action or as flagships of small taskforces. Much as Tiger & Blake operated in the 1970s.
    Back to F-35.
    Telegraph has an article saying more 130+ F-35B would be needed to perform the same tasks as 90 something F-35C.
    This is going to run & run.

  450. Simon


    I think 130/90 is a bit unfair because it depends what you’re doing, with what, and at what range.

    For sortie generation rate it’s the other way round!

  451. John Hartley

    Agreed. Its apples & pears. Which is better depends on what you are trying to do.
    Many times I have said, I would put 12+ F-35B on QE as a Sea Control/assault carrier & make PoW a cat/trap strike carrier with 24+ F-35C.
    Sadly we will go on arguing one over the other & getting nowhere.

  452. Simon


    Well at least we won’t be arguing.

    I’m all for QE as an LHA, it will save us loads and we’ll use the F35Bs even if we convert her later.

  453. x

    @ FBOT

    Ball park I would say the “engines”, T45 being an electric ship built by BAE at warship prices, about £125million-ish.

    As for your other question GT and MSD are tools used to satisfy different engineering problems. A 1.1ltr car engine can move 2 + 2 adults plus the weight of the vehicle and only develop what 80hp. A 1.1ltr motorbike engine can produce twice that. But you can’t transplant a bike engine into a small car because the characteristics of how the two respective engines produce power (and torque, well more torque.) And it is the same for GTs and MSD hooked up to gen sets to produce electric and not mechanical systems. GTs are more expensive because of the materials they use, but for the right application that cost is unavoidable. For example you can’t hang MSD of the wings of ‘plane. So it horses for courses and that makes comparison difficult especially cost comparisons.

    (One of the main criticisms levelled at GTs is that being light that long thin warships are too dependent on fuel for stability. And that is exacerbated by the high consumption of GTs. Ambuscade on her way down south in 82 had trouble with contaminated fuel and got into severe problems with stability.)

    @ Simon

    One of the reasons given for cutting T45 numbers was the ability of the platform to outperform T42 by a considerable margin. With only 4 available only 2 could be used as you would have simply no reserve. You need hull numbers. In your scenario one would go with the carrier and one would go with the ARG. Or more than likely two would go with CVF and the ARG would be escorted by a frigate relying on other assets to provide defensive depth. That is to say CVF would have gained sea control to a sufficient degree in the area of operation that the ARG could approach from some distance in safety. Back in 82 we were still building T42 so we could soak up losses knowing more were popping off the line. We couldn’t simply afford to put all four available Darings into harm’s way. Perhaps 3 but not 4. Of course T45 is a super platform and won’t get sunk…….

  454. ALL Politicians are the Same

    I think a lot of people are rally getting confused by the need 3 to get 1 scenario. You do need 3 to guarantee 365 24/7 coverage but as any CBG or ARG is not going to be at sea 365 24/7 you can look at their planned operational tempo and the 45 operational tempo to maximise availability, it is not rocket science.
    As for a T45 Port and Starboard bow, NO! The 45 is an area air defence weapon designed to engage aircraft and missiles at range, The only time you have close in escorts as described is to guard against a pop up sea skimmer detected at 8-12Nm. the vessel will be in the goal keeper position, up threat off the quarter and close in. the role can be fulfilled by Sea Wolf and Sea Ceptor will allow the goal keeping unit to open out. It is not a job for an area AAW weapon like Sea Viper.

  455. Observer


    Your radar works in the X-ray band? If not, having the carrier will still block the radar from seeing the other side. Even with an area defence weapon, you can’t hit what you can’t see, and most naval missiles are sea skimming nowadays. That is why you need 2, for vision, not for weapon arcs.

    Protected ships bracketed by escorts while passing through the Straits of Malacca

  456. Observer

    Come to think of it, there IS one formation that can work with a single T-45. Point ahead. T-45 immediately ahead of carrier, other escorts to abeam and abaft. Weakness of this formation is the rear quarter is not covered by the T-45, so you just have to hope someone doesn’t sneak by and slip one up the tail.

    Not to mention firing across the bows (or across the flight deck!) of your own ships is an insanely risky act. Who knows when an idiot seekerhead is going to take into it’s head that any thing it sees = target.

  457. Repulse

    A couple more recent long range 3kt escort designs:

    – BMT Venator 7,000 nm at 12kts
    – BAM 8,000 nm at 15kts

    In terms of cost for a tier 2 escorts I would have thought a design to commercial standards with a base cost of £100-120mn. This would exclude mission modules. Base crew would need to be close to current MCM fleet (around 40) excluding any aviation support crew. Would need to be able to support the RN medium calibre gun, hanger large enough to accommodate a Merlin, short range missile defence (CIWS and / or VL MICA) and a sensor fit like the recent Al Shamikh class but integrated with CMS-1 (i.e. SMART-S Mk2, Vigile 400 ESM etc).

  458. Observer

    Maybe we’re going about this backwards, we should be looking at “best value for money” instead of “buy BAE”. I know, British companies pay back some of it in taxes, factor that in and compare with the rest of Europe. This way, you won’t break the bank and possibly cuts development costs. If BAE can’t deliver a cost/combat effective ship, even with the homeground advantage, it deserves to fold.

  459. clinch

    The Telegraph has documents that show the military has serious doubts about the F-35B. Seems at odds with the suggestion that defence chiefs have advised ministers to switch back to the B.

    “Britain will be less able to undertake military operations with the fighter jets that ministers are preparing to buy under a cost-saving exercise, secret defence plans show.

    “The Daily Telegraph has seen a Ministry of Defence document setting out secret contingency planning for future military operations in Afghanistan, the Falklands, Saudi Arabia and Africa.

    “The highly-classified report shows that planners have grave doubts about the capabilities of the jump jets ministers now want to buy for the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers which are still under-construction.”

  460. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Observer, Have you herd of a screen? Escorts do not maintain a stationary aspect relative to the HVU. They patrol their assigned sector within a screen. Congratulation on your Photex pictures. If you have one AAW escort it possibly have something like all round sectors between 1-4Nm of the HVU if you have 2 then they will have 0-180 and 180-360 off the HVU 1-4Nm, that is not the way they are written in a signal but I simplify. The idea being that other assets AEW etc, and frigates conducting ASW further out along the MLA but also with one possibly tailing the force also add to the sensor picture. This allows the 45 to engage aircraft and missiles at range.
    The close in unit in a high AAW threat would be a frigate in the goalkeeper position tight in to the quarter up threat to take pop ups and leakers.

  461. ALL Politicians are the Same

    clinch, I think that everyone on here understands that the C variant is a more capable aircraft than the B and the decision is being made on cost grounds. Someone who is obviously very unhappy with the prospective switch back to B has leaked these documents.
    As for contingency planning, well better to have a plan and never need to use it than not have one at all. i am pretty sure that if the full range of contingency plans in existence were ever made public there would be shock.

  462. x

    @ APATS

    I am not confused. I clearly said above that T45 is an area defence asset and needs space to operate. The Horizon-esque escorts I referred to are for goalkeeping/inner screen; used the way French intend for their Horizon protecting CdeG. When I said 2 T45 for CVF would be preferable I meant in the same way USN CVBG go to sea with more than one Aegis ship.

    As for 3 for 1 we all appreciate that CBG/ARGs won’t be at sea 365 days a year. And further many of us here having managed “assets” know that programmes can be slipped or gapped or emergencies arise or other unexpected needs arise meaning “assets” have to be deployed and used in different patterns. With 6 Darings and 2 CVF obviously deployment patterns will be different. But to make life simple for us here can we assume for working out the numbers of ships needed that to have one to work with we need three hulls? That way if we have 12 frigates in our fantasy make believe scenarios we know 4 available and the other 8 will be in varying states of availability from crew on leave to hull out of the water with major bits missing. Consider also that the RN is busier now than ever and hasn’t enough escorts. Are we also to add into our fantasy fleet deliberations a caveat saying some roles maybe filled by RFA or gapped? So yes 3 for 1 is an ideal, but it just gives us a system to work with, a framework, for us armchair admirals to use to get handle on numbers. If you want to add something of use type something about how RFA ships cycles differ from RN cycles.

    As for me liking a 4 for 1 system. That is me. 1SL is going to go to the PM demanding enough ships to fill a 4 for 1 rota just because some madman on the interweb thinks its a good idea. So don’t worry about it. I also think 16 T45, 16 first rate ASW ships, 24 second rate ships, 4 CVF, 4 ARG, 16 SSN, 12 SSKs, and a flotilla or three of stealth biscuit barrels are a good idea. It ain’t going to happen. So don’t panic…….!!!! :) ;)

  463. clinch

    The Government have been leaking that the possible U-turn is on the advice of the armed forces. What this document seems to do is kill that stone dead.
    On budgets, well they seem to be claiming £2 billion for cats and traps – more than double what the Yanks say it should cost. Even if it was £2 billion, that’s small change compared to the £10 billion Osborne has just found to bail out the Euro via the IMF, taking to about £40 billion he’s found for the IMF since moving ino number 11. And we are finding £8 billion a year for foreign aid. Cats and traps is £2 billion spread over 50 years.

  464. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Repulse @ 8.03

    Are you “Leander to the core”?
    Is this the reason for your fascination with 3K tons?

    Anyway any more detail on the budgets for the ships you propose?

    What would it cost toput CMS onto a ship – price range vs capabilities?
    What would it cost to put GP / Patrol AAW onto a ship?
    What would it cost to put Tier 1 / T45 AAW onto a ship?

  465. Mark


    It kills nothing stone dead. The report leaked and it would be interesting to know if all of it was leaked or just bits to support a view point was done by dstl. The ability to fly further does not mean a capabilty bigger or smaller if it’s only available half the time and less than that every 5 years with one variant and all the time with the other. We you look at actual current or recent operation there is nothing that has been done by any fighter a/c in the uk that couldn’t of done by either of these variants. We really are talk round the edge of a pin in some extreme situations to begin to notice any differences. Someone does though really need to get a grip of this highly classified document leaking or we end up with the mod saying well if your so worried about long range strike then fine well take the a version and save money.

    As for escorts ect other than I operational area the uk will conduct high intensity operation with some sort of coalition. The majority of are allies tend to support these with some sort of ff/dg. This will mean that 2 or 3 uk escorts of a response task group will be agumented by someone else we don’t need to do it all ourselves.

  466. Simon


    I totally understand your “3 for 1” concept. I just think that it’s twice as expensive as “3 for 2” and not how the Navy has been operating for the last few years. Just look at where various assets have been stationed recently. I don’t keep on top of it at all times but have a gander every now and again and can say that we normally have 50-66% of our escorts deployed (some are in training I admit, but they’re still active).

    The other thing is that with a “3 for 1” design there simply isn’t enough to cover our requirements. You’re implying that 6 (maybe 7) escorts can defend the active carrier (was Vince/Ark), the active LPH (Lusty/Ocean), the active LPD (Albion/Bulwark) and all RFA vessels that get into harms way, AND do the Falkland and Mid Atlantic (think this is really the Carribean) patrols.

    Perhaps we should settle in the middle and work with 1/2, this scales down in “lean” times and up in “emergency” times. It also suits the 2 CVF, 2 LPD model well.

  467. Fat Bloke on Tour

    X @ 9.52

    From the outside / big proviso I know – Utilisation rates in the RN look very low.

    They should be in the water and moving 75% of the time.
    It might be local training or an Oceanic jolly but they should be doing stuff.
    The excuse of long periods of heavy maintenance / dry dock needs to be sorted / made realistic.
    I fear we have too many ships and not enough people – I think this was the case with the Invincibles, 3 ships / 2 crews.
    Consequently the 9 / 12 / 18 months out of the water allows the crew to be re-assigned to other units

  468. x

    @ Simon

    Yes I know 50% – 60% are active. That is still covered by 3 for 1 if you think of it as 1 deployed, 1 x (working up or just returned or self-maintenance or doing something else, that is account for the “between” figures) , 1 x deep refit. And I am not saying that if an emergency was to arise and their was a frigate sitting alongside the north wall of HMNB Portsmouth a crew couldn’t be found by scouring the shore establishments for a crew and getting the ship away from the wall to go and answer the emergency. As I said in my reply to APATS using 3 for 1 is just a convenient ideal for those reasons I outlined. I will add a rider and say for escorts…….

    If we were to look at big units like carriers well the RN has had the ability to operate 3 for 1 for a long time. If you look at the figures the RN has only really been running 2 CVS. That is why even though I would prefer 3 CVF I am happy with two because in reality that is all we have had. As for ARG Brown’s writings have indicated a “need” for the UK just to have two because of the tempo and scale of our operations; 2 x (lph, lpd, rfa’s). I advocate three ARGs because I oddly believe a commando based battle-group at sea these days is better use of our resources than an armoured brigade sitting on Salisbury Plain. Have 3 ARGs would allow the one at sea to be reinforced if necessary. That is just me.

  469. x

    One more thing….

    In my small collection of navy books .I only have a picture of Ark Royal, Lusty, and Invincible at sea at the same time.

  470. Simon


    When we had Vince. Lusty and Ark didn’t we operate one as CVS and another as LPH (i.e. 2/3)?

    When they got a bit old we purchased Ocean to allieviate the strain on the older hulls?

  471. Simon


    Just mulling this over. I think we’re talking slightly cross purposes.

    We both agree that 1/3 of the fleet is “unavailable”. The difference is that I’m saying that the other 2/3 are “active” whereas you’re saying they can’t always be active, one of them must be coming home, or going out.

    If so, I agree. I just don’t think the one that’s going home or coming out spends 50% of its time doing it… or at least, I hope it doesn’t.

  472. Repulse

    @FBOT: Are you “Leander to the core” – no not really, very much open to suggestions. I like ships like the Absalon, but it tries to be a 1st tier, 2nd tier and amphibious assault ship in one, and has too many compromises. I like the idea of being able to host a couple of platoons of marines on a tier 2 escort, but when it comes to tanks and landing craft it’s gone too far in my opinion.

    As for costs, I’m not in the business, nor is it easy to compare costs. However the quoted cost of the Venator was an estimated £100mn. The Al Shamikh was also in the order of what I quoted £120mn and that had SSMs. Also, HMS Clyde has CMS-1 which was half the price. Therefore, it seems reasonable that the price bracket I quote is achievable for a sizeable batch of vessels (i.e. 18 – 24). Remember that if you add up the number of MCMs, Rivers, Echos then it is in this range – even the SDSR didn’t touch these as even the stupid powers that be realized the benefit of them.

  473. x

    @ Simon

    “has hadn’t 3 for 1 for carriers” we don’t have an edit function and the comment above I said by mistake “has had”

    “In my small collection of navy books .I only have a picture of Ark Royal, Lusty, and Invincible at sea at the same time.” It was just an aside. The ships even to get underway needed a sizeable crew. I was just trying to illustrate how much of a burden they placed on manning. To have 3 at sea at one time at one place was something special a one off.

    Yes we are agreeing on 3 for 1. It is just defining the inbetweenees that is the problem. Not many years back ships would hand over on station. The RN can’t do that now. So perhaps we could say 1 x (deploying, deployed, returning) instead of 1 deployed or on task. All good fun. 3 for 1 is just convenient. No literature I have talks about 2 for 1 in general or uses say a percentage figure for availability.

  474. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Repulse @ 11.37

    There was a joke in there somewhere.

    The mad mentalist over at the Register is always going on about the RN mutating in the 60’s into an ASW small ship navy and the mindset has stuck around well beyond its usefulness.

    Regarding the Absalon it is Tier 2 GP at best.
    If you look closely you can see its PSV / AHTS heritage.
    My concerns with the design are in the main cosmetic – it tries to hard to look like a mainstream warship.
    Take away all the padding and puppy fat and it would look very striking / sparse.

    Finally a general point regarding utilisation rates –

    CVF escort – Given the choice of 1 T45 or 1 T45 and 1 T45 training / working up – what would it be?

  475. Simon


    Two T45 please!

    Can you think of a fleet/group layout that can sensibly get away with one?

    I’d hate a salvo of Granite to come in with Daring illplaced to deal with it. Perhaps Sea Ceptor will help, leaving Daring to engage satellite and AEW detected threats.

  476. Observer

    Glad to see someone thinking that 1 AAW escort is not enough. APATs, even if your escort is offset 4 nm to the escorted ship, IT STILL CAN’T SEE THROUGH THE CARRIER!! This means the other 180 degree arc opposite the carrier is totally open. You can’t intercept what you can’t see or lock on to.

  477. Mickp

    I cannot believe a CVF base battle group would sail with less that 2 t45s to any environment that was warm or above. For a really hot environment it should have 3. In a prolonged very hot engagement if CVF 2 was sailing to relieve or supplement CVF 1 with its own group then that keeps telling me 8 45s (or equivalent long range aaw vessels) is the real minimum (or alternatively if we need a separate ARG detachment). The chances of the latter are admittedly low at present but who can tell the future. One thing is clear to me if we’re are to run A carrier battle group properly, it needs to be properly and adequately resourced. That to me drives the size of our high end fleet I think around 16 escorts. Some sort of patrol frigate / sloop / corvette / 21st century Leander fitted for but not with most stuff but capable of war upgrade for mine hunting, towed array, seaceptor etc

  478. Mickp

    I meant to finish the above by saying the patrol ship would cover all other requirements. As for the 16 it could be any of a number of ship types. It just seems to me highly inefficient to develop and build 6 of one type and then start afresh ( type 26). If there is nothing fundamentally wrong with t45 design surely economies of scale of a batch 2 would be better than t26 from scratch

  479. All Politicians are the Same

    Observer, no its radar picture is obscured by the carrier toa certain range, are you saying it cannot engage aircraft at 60NMm
    It will have a reduced radar sea level horizonnm it will typically position itself up threat.
    In a high threat environment a frigate will sit in tight to cover the hvu on the other axis.
    Your scenario is only valid for a pop up inside 12nm having avoided detection by all BG assets 180 of the threat axis
    In an environment where a gk unit was not considere neccasserym
    Bear in mind by the time we have an operating carrier our frigates will have a 19nm aaw capability.
    We will also hav aew and CAP if the threat dictates.
    2 aaw escortts are preferrable but it is not quite the we are all doomed scenario u portray.

  480. Repulse

    Okay, really fantasy fleet time… What would a CVG / ARG group look like in 2030 if we were recapturing the Falklands?

  481. Simon


    Aircraft will be approaching QE from the rear to land, flying off the front and circling in holding patterns above. This whole area is NOT a great place to launch an Aster through!

  482. Simon


    I’m glad you ask :-)

    CVBG: QE, 2 T45, 2 T26 ASW, 1 T26 GP, 2 MARS, 2 Astute.

    ATG: LHD, 1-2 T45, 2 T26 ASW, 1 T26 GP, 1 WAVE, 2 LSL, 1-2 Astute.

    +2 T26 GP used for escorting the MARS supply line and the LSL supply line.

    It’s pretty much what we’ll actually get (with the exception of the LHD) me thinks?

    What about you?

  483. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Simon, If there is a genuine air threat then Air ops off QE will not be routine. A Missile Engagement Zone(MEZ) will be established. Aircraft access into the MEZ will be strictly controlled and a set approach vector established. AVC will if required hold outside the MEZ.

  484. Peter Elliott

    @ Observer

    An effective CEC will make it easier to protect the carrier group with fewer ships.

    You could then put a Sampson radar nice and high on top of the carrier and have the Aster missiles fired from any one of 3 frigate escorts.

    In this scenario a single available T45 could then be depolyed ‘up threat’, to protect the ARG or for firing land attack missiles.

  485. SomewhatInvolved

    However CEC, which was an assured capability upgrade for the T45 as part of the agreement to reduce from 12 to 6 hulls, is not being purchased and is unfunded.

  486. Gareth Jones

    Interesting project from TSSE; a large missile carrier (effectively an early arsenal ship but also intended to act like a floating magazine for the Ageis system)
    Even when it replaced an Ageis equipped escort the CEC equipped task group performed better in most scenarios, except for “very high density enemy raids”, where the lack of illuminators was a drawback. Worth a read, if only the conclusions.

  487. Observer

    Sigh.. if you can’t get it, you can’t get it. A single air defence escort will always end up with a gap in coverage where only the carrier’s defences are covering itself. If you think this is acceptable, go right on ahead.

    APATS says the gap invisible to the T-45 is until 12 nm, I think it’s up to the horizon, it’s like a projector screen, single point light/radar source blocked by an object magnifies the “blind/dark” spot to a size larger than the blocking object (i.e your carrier). It doesn’t “bend in” to cover the gap later, light goes in mostly straight lines, unless you’re talking about something exotic by bouncing radar off the troposphere. Usually, this is filled in by AEW or other escorts, but with only one, good luck. Not to mention trick shooting by firing blind over the carrier and hoping the Astor’s active seekers will lock on. So much uncertainty just because you want to save on ONE more escort ship. Not worth it in my opinion. Penny wise, pound foolish.

  488. Observer

    BTW, “up threat” directions are guesswork and should be taken with a grain of salt. Trying to guess enemy intentions is fine when it works, a disaster if you guess wrong. Unless you have a friendly “agent” feeding you the enemy battleplan?

  489. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Observer, wait a minute you completely ignore my points about detection by other assets in the screen, AEW, CAP, Frigates in goal keeping positions dependent on threat.
    I also point out that 2 AAW Escorts are always preferable but using a frigate and an AAW Asset especially with the capabilities of Sea Ceptor make it possible to provide reasonable coverage,
    You continue to insist that the 45 will be directly behind the carrier with no other escorts covering the HVU inside their missile isoleth and the threat will come form exactly the opposite direction.
    Your AAWO course must have been strange.

  490. Observer


    I wasn’t aware that the terms “port” and “starboard” were considered “behind the ship”.

    I didn’t ignore the part about other asset detection, frankly, I do think any incoming will be detected. Unfortunately, without datanet linking, ships will have to fight as individual units, unless the Network Enabled Capability program was intergrated already? Which means it is up to whatever ship that detected the threat to deal with it, along with what the carrier can contribute. This takes the T-45 out of the picture if it is in the wrong spot.

    I do agree using a frigate/destroyer combo does give resonable coverage, just that if it was me, I’d feel safer with 2 destroyers in air defence, and the frigates doing what they were made for. Submarine sweeps. Belt and suspenders for me. After all, those damn carriers are expensive.

  491. Observer

    BTW regarding the 2 LO frigates flanking the Stennis carrier, I wonder if they were trying to use their stealth hulls to lower the carrier’s signature? Interesting idea. Of course, the carrier will still be a huge target, but every little bit helps?

  492. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Observer, i am lost about the bit of Port and Starboard being behind the Ship? I think I said that for the 45 to be completely blocked it would have to have the carrier directly between it and the missile. Screens vary dependent on the perceived threat. with only one 45 but a few frigates you may choose to keep 2 frigates closer in 1-3Nm 1 0-180 the other 181-359 and let the 45 have 0-360 further out in oder to mvre according to any threat detected. obviously the ASW threat becomes an issue but if the threat is conventional you can place any further frigates ahead on the MLA and keep the transit speed up supplementing the ASW role with dippers as a conventional sub is limited in the angle that it can conduct an attack from by its speed. it is swing and roundabouts, asset juggling and sometimes a gut instinct as to what the correct screen is.

  493. ALL Politicians are the Same

    The 2 Formidables? were where they were so the photo looked good! PHOTEX, happens all the time.

  494. Simon


    If we have one AAW in the CVBG then we’d definately need CAP in the main threat axis. Trouble is, you’re now talking about an entire squadron dedicated to CAP, which reduces strike capability by about 50% (unless we’re maxed out with three squdrons – which I doubt will ever happen).

    An entire squdron of jets is around the £billion mark, double it to own it and you’re in line with the fact that it’s becoming a waste of money to allocate that kind of resource to something that another T45 can do.

    I get your point, but the US Navy do not drift about with a single AAW destroyer.

    I do like the idea of a couple of Sampson (T45 and CVF) and a load of missile silos being emptied at various targets though.

  495. Simon

    Just to add to my last line. I also like the idea of AEW doing the designation with almost no point in Sampson. Obviously only works with a carrier, but gets a 200nm radar horizon.

  496. ALL Politicians are the Same

    Simon, only in high threat areas the US CVNBG that heads for the GUlf splits up when it enters the Med and only joins up again at Suez. Often the CVN transits solo for some period though more often the CC stay with it and the DDs conduct separate port visits. My entire point from my very first post about 3 to 1 asett availability is that our Deployment of a CBG east of suez or to a threat area will be planned far enough in advance to ensure at least 2 T45 are available and in non threat areas 2 are not required. In an emergency well it will be whatever we can get together.

  497. Chris.B.

    “Even if it was £2 billion, that’s small change compared to the £10 billion Osborne has just found to bail out the Euro via the IMF, taking to about £40 billion he’s found for the IMF since moving ino number 11. And we are finding £8 billion a year for foreign aid.”


    This is the one thing I’ve never understood. When it comes to banks, foreign aid, railway lines to Birmingham, or underground lines to the city, various governments seem to have this magic ability to find money.

    Debts? No problems?

    But when we’re talking about money for important military capabilities, especially given how loose governments are with their trigger fingers, suddenly there’s no cash to be seen.

  498. Simon


    I’ve almost just said this but building up on the idea from Peter…

    Perhaps we only need Daring and one T45 hull with Asters (no Sampson) – use AEW to target it.

    This saves at least £100m for Sampson and must be a little more in systems integration. In addition, we don’t need the hull to do 30 knots – 25 will do so we can drop on of the WR21s and save even more?

  499. Simon


    There is a bit of a difference between spending money and investing it. Isn’t the £10b a loan? Maybe at some stupidly low rate, but a loan all the same. We should get it back.

  500. Observer


    Photoex is possible, though another reason for the flanking was that the Straits are narrow with lots of islets to hide behand and this was after the USS Cole. Malaysia did the initial transit flanking from Penang. If it was just the American ships, there is a higher chance of being attacked, them not being too popular with Indonesia and Malaysia with the Middle East and Afganistan and all. If they know they can’t get to any American ship, the chances of being hit are less.

  501. SomewhatInvolved

    Observer, re signature reduction – no, sorry, doesn’t work like that. The carrier will be visible no matter what.

  502. Observer


    Don’t recommend the AEW as the only targetting, if anything happened to the AEW or it gets forced out of position, you can end up losing your defences. So, sorry, think the SAMPSON’s here to stay.