This Weeks Top 10 Links

Interesting news and commentary from this week (or so)

ONE – Yodaville

The story of Yodaville, an urban targeting complex in the Nevada desert.

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The UK just does not have the space for anything near this scale, Cope Hill Down looks rather meek in comparison but how does the UK get access to these large scale and realistic training areas?

We have seen a recent increase in usage of partner facilities, especially in France and of course there is always BATUS and BATUK in Canada and Kenya respectively but with the withdraw of forces from Germany is the Army going to face a critical shortage of ‘room to train’?


TWO – Abusing Service Personnel

Did anyone see this bit of opportunistic nonsense from the Labour Party

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All well and good, but I surely some of the biggest abusers of service personnel are sitting on the leather benches where this was discussed?

Service personnel do not want to be treated like some strutting super class of people, just with the same dignity and respect as everyone else, the people they serve.

But then you read something like this

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And you wonder what the f**k is wrong with this country


THREE – The Post Afghanistan Army

A good piece from Francis Tusa about how the drawdown from Afghanistan can be turned to the Army’s advantage.

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As we know from the recent defence equipment plan, nothing that has been purchased as a UOR for use in Afghanistan has been considered in the budgetary assumptions for Future Force 2020 and Parliamentary answers repeatedly confirm that planning is ongoing and not a great deal has been decided in regards to what kit is coming home, what is being left for the Afghanistan government and what will be used to pay our way through the northern ‘little stans’ corridor.


FOUR – Naval Mine Warfare

Bring the Heat on naval mines, a good reminder of just how effective they can be.

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The Royal Navy continues to maintain a serious and credible MCM capability, evidenced off Libya and currently in the Gulf but in the future world of ever constricting budgets, increasing costs and competing priorities, will this pre-eminence continue?


FIVE – 1982 Part 2

Bring the Heat, again, on fighting another 1982.

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Be kind


SIX – Dutch Fire Support

This isn’t strictly a UK related story but interesting nonetheless

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It describes how the Dutch have stood up a Fire Support Command that combines their Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000NL 155 mm armoured self propelled guns with six 120 mm mortars.

What struck me about the article was the section on manpower differences between this and previous artillery batteries, the new having just over half that of the previous artillery battery.

That is a serious cost saving but at what cost, is the word ‘Fire Support’  meaningful in this context.

The French Army also operate a similar structure with their 120mm mortars and Caesar 155mm self propelled guns.


SEVEN – Are Submarines Really That Special?

Sven on the continuing love fest for submarines

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Some interesting and thoughtful comment there, the RN (I still think rightly) sees the Astute class SSN as a key capability but there is no doubt they are expensive so this is worth a read.


EIGHT – Video Codecs

Bandwidth constrained data connections are probably the main barrier to an even greater (if that is possible) use of real time video sharing

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H.265 is a new video codec that is designed to deliver 4K HD down 20-30 Mbps connections by cutting in half the data rate for video. It also means that lower quality video can be carried by lower bandwidth links using the proposed H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding system.

Expect in military systems soon



NINE – Batteries

Whether you are an infantry soldier lugging BOWMAN, ECM and assorted other batteries in Afghanistan or the pilot of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner the technology of batteries is of some interest.

This article from provides a great background on the world of batteries.

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As a couple of our commenters have noted, the technology used in the 787 is the same as that used in the F-35 Lightning II



TEN – Tempest

A few months ago I wrote a long post on counter IED/Mine technology through the decades, especially as applied to the British Armed Forces.

In that post I looked at the Supacat Tempest vehicle

Like all MoD vehicles that are past their sell by date they end up at Withams, the specialist vehicle disposal agent.

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They even have a video, if you like metal





As you can see, this is a slight change in format from the usual simple listing of links.

If you see what Chris does over at Defence with a C you should see some similarity, he does a similar thing, throws up some links but offers a bit of comment to them as well.

Its a great format, so Chris, consider this a thanks

And blatant rip off :)

Go 49’ers (did they win by the way)




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!

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February 4, 2013 9:42 pm

regarding #4

I have a naval mines / MCM post that’ll appear in a few days, but just as with submarines and certain aspects of combat aviation it’s incredibly uncertain whether one has at least all of the most relevant information.
These areas are fine for military history posts, but writing on current affairs is a bit like Russian Roulette for an author.

I suppose it’s even extremely tricky for insiders. Just look at how NATO was unaware of the AA-11 and its helmet cueing, how the USN was unaware of the Long Lance and how radar turned operational reasoning concerning bombers both in strategic and naval air war upside down within days of its installation. The early missile advocates got very much wrong, too.

February 4, 2013 10:33 pm

Bloody thieves these days!! ;)

And no, they didn’t win. So if anyone has a death wish, by all means laugh.

Paul R
Paul R
February 5, 2013 12:48 am

Re the guardian article.
I think you find, not just injured service men, but us disabled people as a whole are being pretty much hated by the government. The reforms are simply to save government money while handing money to their friends, like ATOS who bid to do the government dirty work.

This government rhetoric is painting the disabled as fraudsters, we are simply being ground down and treated like shit.

This sounds horrible, but former armed services men will probably contempt suicide because of the wars they fought, but also because the way the government treats disabled people.

The government at every stage has set out to screw you over. They will make decisions on shoddy medical reports, decisions made by nurses who are in no way qualified to ignore your own GPs and consultants medical knowledge and skills, but do anyway. Got a partner? Great you’re not getting anything!

Hopefully when the Afghan war ends we’ll see more examples of failures of the welfare system.

Sorry for the rant, but I’m disabled and now days disabled people are not allowed any dignity and are a cheap ‘n easy political score. The fact soldiers are being shafted isn’t because them fighting a war is not recognized, its because they are disabled.

February 5, 2013 5:51 am

@Paul R,

Sorry to hear your disabled, it’s pretty shit – my step dad is disabled waiting on a new knee after a full working life as cleaner and handy-man. However he’s moaned that he knows of three people who claim DLA who do not need it. The question, which is true of any benefit, how do u stop false claims and protect genuine claims. I forgot to mention part of the reason that the three people who falsely claim DLA issue because there GP’s take there word for them still having medical issues that entitles them to DLA.

February 5, 2013 8:41 am

The Dutch item is somewhat ambiguous, it could mean they deploy with one or other, or with both. The headcount is big by UK standards and could well be both. IIRC a UK AS90 bty with 8 guns at war estb was close to 170 all ranks, but only three observation parties. I certainly wouldn’t call a bty of 200 particularly ‘lean and mean’ even if manning both 6 155 and 6 120.

February 5, 2013 9:30 am

@ Paul R and Tubby – I think its easy to forget with all the talk of cutting benefits to pay for frigates its easy to forget that it affects real people. I think everyone knows some one on DLA taking the piss and I know several people who have quite rightly lost it in the past year. However the papers make it out that half the country is asylum seeking chancers who only want to be here to claim disability benefit I think the reallity for the vast vast majority of people is quite the reverse. Its likely one of the reasons why the government is finding it hard to make any meaningful cuts from Welfare. I know despite having a very serious illness last year my brother was unable to get any disability payments. It really is not that easy to get even for those who deserve it. The simple fact is that the vast majority of government spending goes on Pensions and the NHS. If the government is not prepared to tackle those two that account for around half of spending then there unlikely to make any progress on cuts.

February 5, 2013 10:03 am

@ Martin,

I think it is sad fact that people who deserve the various benefits struggle to get them, while there always seems to be a certain percentage who do not deserve benefits manage to get them. Not sure there is an answer, even the simplistic let’s cut back DFID and give it to defence fails to deal with the fact that if we cut back DFID funding, certain issues that are addressed by soft power would have to be addressed by other means (for example funds are used to help address poverty and lack of employment in Jamaica, targeted at communities with strong gang culture – which if it works will obviously translate to reduced drugs trafficking via Jamaica).

Paul R
Paul R
February 5, 2013 2:16 pm

There will always be someone scheming the system. But it’s being reformed to make things really hard to claim for, even if you are genuine, we’ve all heard about the work programmes which clearly take the Michael out of the claimants and government.

The reforms they should be really doing is the minimum wage, why is the government having to subsidised private companies because they don’t pay enough money, ie those who are in work and get tax credits and housing benefit (That’s if they’re lucky to get them) The saying “Make work pay” doesn’t quite seem to work for these benefits and people.

It’s amazing how terrible the decision making ability this government have got.
Unfortunately it seems the 3 main parties still ain’t got a clue on anything.
Take for example the limp dims, they come out saying an awful lot about how they’re anti nuclear weapons, which quite frankly amazes me. Hardly a word on welfare, NHS, tuition fees, you know the pretty big important stuff they campaigned for, then they start talking when we mentions nuclear weapons. They clearly have no backbone and don’t understand the concept of nuclear weapons, more importantly they don’t seem to understand why we chose Trident and the “Keep it in the cupboard” sound bites sound pretty ridiculous.

I think I may have wandered a bit of topic.. sorry…

February 5, 2013 9:02 pm

paul r – after their performance re: tuition fees i would suggest the lib dems will be pretty much destroyed at the next elections, and for many years to come, so their view on the nuclear deterrent should hopefully not matter one jot. when you have the toad-like Argentinian minister claiming they’ll get the falklands in 20 or so years (note: not back, they never had ’em in the first place!), troubles across the arab world / north africa, north korea, iran, china, the world seems more unstable than ever. giving up our remaining “can of ultimate whoop-arse” seems very silly. and yes i know 99.9% we will never use it (and thank god for that) but just like the big stick i have next to my bed, you never quite know …
i would further suggest that the government attitude to disabled (veteran or not) is fairly shocking. not just the atos (?) tw*ts but things like closing down the remply factories etc. … i am a firm believer that some things a) should never be privatised b) are too good for society to be concerned with cost (and i’m a free-market right-wingy kind-a-guy a lot of the time). i don’t think defence is to blame – you look at the cost of social security, nhs, overseas aid versus defence and defence comes 3rd there … with overseas bribes … erm aid now 1/3 of the defence budget, the primary responsibility of the government ffs. a couple of frigates would be around 0.5% of a single year’s social security. then you have people on tv ‘this morning’ explaining how it’s not worth working for less than £16,000 a year cos their benefits are more than that. i just don’t understand tbh. deffo seems the system is broken when this happens, but a disabled person can be driven to suicide etc. by cuts?

February 5, 2013 9:04 pm

Is selling off mine protected vehicles wise?
Is giving DfID money to Jamaican drug dealers wise? Won’t they just use the aid money to fund more drug deals?