UK defence issues and the odd container or two

Putting the Deep into Deep Strike

I know that might like some dodgy porno flick but its a good article at Defence IQ

 Putting the Deep into Deep Strike

A good read, this in particular is illuminating

“We have to move beyond deconfliction – which was still apparent in Libya – to integrated effect. We must use our low observable capabilities to open windows which higher signature platforms from less high-tech coalition partners can then exploit with a high degree of confidence that they will not be targeted.”

 

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

130 Comments

  1. Brian Black

    “naval assets must consider operations further away from shore lines than afforded to previous campaigns”

    The US conclusion from this issue, and the reason behind X47b, was that a 1,500nm unrefueled combat range was required for naval strike. The carrier itself would sit back further still from the final refueling point, and up to 500nm offshore. That is compared to the 450nm combat radius of the UK’s carrierborne naval strike platform.

    “we need to consider [the concept of] ‘deep’ – it is too simple to simply consider it in terms of geography”

    Or to put it another way, the Americans put the deep into deep strike by developing a long-range strike platform; the British put the deep into deep strike by redefining what ‘deep’ means until our short-range systems can reach the newly designated ‘deep’ targets.

  2. x

    it isn’t just the range of weapons that matters. But we also starting to lag behind the technology needed to identify and survey these deep targets. Even Turkey is buying ISTAR satellites.

  3. Simon

    I understand what they mean about “deep” being “the heart” of their defence rather than physically “far” into the enemy nation, but I agree with BB in that this is how we have to think about it.

    To strike “deep” we need RANGE and SEAD.

    We seem to have ommited both of those requirements from our list with carrier strike and I’m not entirely sure how land-based assets can deliver the latter either.

    Is SEAD supposed to come from TLAM/Storm Shadow?
    Is the iSTAR needed to target these (as X points out) coming from special forces? ‘Cos we have little else!
    Is there a replacement for Alarm for Typhoon or F35B?

  4. Brian Black

    I was reading the other day, X, that we’re giving aid money to South Africa, who have a space program including farming satellites; and we give money to Nigeria, who want to get a man into space.
    Others too. So if you want to get satellites into space, apply here for a generous handout.

  5. All Politicians are the Same

    Deep strike has never been limited to a Geographical descriptor. It has always been about the ability to strike at the OPFOR COG.

  6. Bob

    TLAM from SSN and F-35C from aircraft carriers with Storm Shadow (though JASSM would be better)- job done. We came so close.

    As for ISTAR, currently and will continue to be provided by US, primarily space, assets.

  7. Chris

    Bob – being fair and level-handed, I remember a lot of imagery coming from the French SPOT satellites – I presume that’s still the case? The website states they expect to remain useful until mid 2020s.

  8. Simon

    Bob,

    We can still do the SS from F35B (just from less range). So instead of 600 + 150 = 750nm we should be able to do 450 + 150 = 600nm. Both radii need reducing for drag of external stores.

    I’d just have thought that the initial SEAD should use internal Paveway?

  9. Bob

    Not just less range but also less useful ordnance. The inability of the type to carry, 2,000lb class ordnance internally seriously reduces the types effectiveness as a deep penetration aircraft as it has far less ability to engage heavily defended targets. If the UK had a common sense approach to providing a deployable deep strike capability it would have- years ago- pursued F-35C for its new carriers.

    F-35C with JSOR-ER would be an awesome deep strike capability.

    As for French satellites; some useful stuff- but the vast bulk came from the US and there is whole infrastructure in place to facilitate that.

  10. Simon

    Bob,

    One of my favorate subjects is the F35B/C debate, but we are where we are and the nearest thing we’re really likely to get to a 2000lb-er is 2 x TLAM.

    The 2000lb bomb on F35C would have been as inaccurate as most other bombs wouldn’t it?

  11. Simon

    TD,

    Just been watching the MBDA vids of SPEAR (and all the rest). Looks good, but hardly a big hitter. Might take out the antenna but the box of tricks below it will probably be okay… so, a one-day fix?

    Compare that with a 2000lb Paveway* which would remove the whole thing, wires, water, sewage lines and all.

    *Not suggesting we can do this with F35C – Shame though!!!

  12. All Politicians are the Same

    @Simon

    The GBU 31 2000lb bomb is GPS guided when fitted with a JDAM kit. What we lose with B is the ability to carry the 2000lb internally and also externally on pylons 8 and 10. 2000lbs can still be carried externally at station 3 and 9.

  13. Bob

    Why inaccurate? JDAM is perfectly accurate. It is about the ability to penetrate hardened facilities at long range- exactly the sort of targets that occur on deep strike missions. F-35B is an inferior platform for that mission.

  14. x

    Bob said “If the UK had a common sense approach to providing a deployable deep strike capability…..”

    If the UK had a common sense approach to providing a deployable deep strike capability, deep here being a synonym for long range, we would have built all 12 T45 with strike length VLS probably a second VLS aft. One for the Med and one for the Gulf.

    Not for nothing has footage like this become the signature of late 20th century early 21st war……….

  15. Bob

    APSA,

    Spot on, theoretically an F-35C can carry six BLU-109s whereas a B can only carry two. Even more importantly the C can carry two of those internally whereas the B can only hang them under the wings.

  16. Bob

    x,

    The reason that footage has become signature because burning rocket motors at night are spectacular, you can find just as much of aircraft taking off with afterburner at night. Brightly coloured flames keep the simple minded satisfied.

  17. Mark

    Is that another new weapon were going to buy? No 2000lb jdam in uk inventory as far as I know. Paveway 4 penetrator, stormshadow paveway 3 is the uk weapons.

    As for sead is it kinetic or electronic? Is it built into each aircraft or specialist wide area, do aircraft still require specialist weapons for the task or new weapons in inventories do the job? Was f117 missions in gw1 deep strike was that long range many variables not much info likely in the public domain.

  18. Think Defence

    I think we all understand the F35C offers a number of advantages in some areas but as we have done to death many times, when the bigger picture and bigger cost gets taken into account the B is the right choice

    Actually X, I don’t disagree with the sentiment in what you say about surface vessels and long range strike but there is no doubt that fast jets get their quicker, relying on a T45 being in the right place at the right time might be considered a tad risky.

    The most expensive way to deliver TLAM is our submarines though

  19. Bob

    Mark,

    Yeah, because JDAM BLU-109 is sooooooooooooo expensive.

    TD,

    F-35B was the wrong choice from the start, F-35B was only the “right” choice, in the loosest sense of the word, in 2010 because so much time and money had already been wasted on it whilst it was the wrong choice. F-35C would have been the correct choice from the outset.

  20. Scribbler

    Much of the comment here on the F-35B is invalid because the quoted 450nm radius of action repeats the history of the Tornado. It is fictitious and the truth has been suppressed, as it was with the Tornado. (Remember how the Tornados were to be based in East Anglia, and then the NATO Strike Plan had to be rewritten when the Tornados had to be moved to West Germany. See >>http://forbesblog.dailymail.co.uk/2012/09/theres-money-for-defence-there-always-was-part-3.html<&lt;.) For a typical operational sortie from a carrier, flying a typical flight profile, there is significant doubt whether even 380nm is a valid figure.

  21. Simon

    Scribbler,

    If the F35B range is misquoted/misrepresented then so are the ranges of F35A/C. C especially! It really isn’t as good as some think. Well, it isn’t as good as I thought anyway ;-)

    I suppose A2A refueling helps the F35C’s range though, before anyone jumps down my throat.

    I get the impression we have decided on “B” because our primary concerns are fleet air defence and air support rather than strike in the “kick the doors down” mentality.

  22. Simon

    Just as an aside…

    Is a GPS JDAM as accurate as Paveway? I would guess “not” by quite a long way, otherwise Paveway would really be the gravity weapon of choice nowadays.

  23. Bob

    Simon,

    We chose B because of bureaucratic inertia. Rather than accepting the fact that UK military air-power was shrinking and it might be a good idea to reduce the number of aircraft types in service whilst maximising key capabilities (like long range strike) the MoD carried on believing it could have three aircraft types so our F-35 procurement was to be a one for one replacement of the Harrier/Sea Harrier Fleet. The end result of this is the 2010 mess in which the RAF was finally forced to abandon an aircraft type and got stuck with the two procurement programmes closest to fruition- Typhoon and F-35, they tried to correct their mistake by choosing the C but the damage had already been in the carrier design meaning conversion was impossible so back to the B it was.

    In short, when it was decided to move to 50,000 ton + carriers it should also have been decided to ditch STOVL and in both the RN and RAF and protect the deep-strike capability by providing it with CTOL carrier capability- ie F-35C.

  24. All Politicians are the Same

    @Mark

    What are your thoughts on F35B weapon integration and priorities?
    I must admit to viewing it through a biased naval prism but my thoughts hand reasoning are.

    AMRAAM/Meteor and ASRAAM/CAAM(A). One of if not the primary role will be Fleet Air Defence and for this reason a combination of BVR and shorter ranged AAM is crucial.

    JSM. The Norwegians are developing it, we just need to buy them and the software patch. Gives a long range stealthy Jon active anti shipping capability along with a secondary land attack role.

    Paveway.Brimstone/Spear x. Storm Shadow. A reasonably full range of strike options.

    Hopefully a user will integrate an ARM which would give us an off the shelf option.

  25. x

    @ TD

    I don’t disagree with the sentiment that FJ get there quicker either. It is obvious that a mach 2 jet will out pace an at best 30kt ship. We have this discussion a few million times now.

    But let’s say there is a Libya like situation. HMG is looking at its options. It will take a day or so for the initial planning. By which time a ship travelling at 25kts will be 600 miles closer. Forget the nature or type of warhead that is to say whether TLAM or SS, and just look at range. Targeting information will come from one source. Plus the transit time from the UK to the Mediterranean for the FJ, outward bound leg, moves the ship and its missiles 100 miles closer; never mind the time to get the tankers into place to hold the hands FJ across friendly airspace. We are talking a lot of effort to move handful of 250nm range missiles against a multi-role platform moving a 1000nm range missile (TLAM or SCALP-N). Not for nothing are the French developing SCALP-N. Day 1 of Op Eallamy there were 3 RN units in the Med. I would argue that the RAF resources would be better expended moving to the nearest friendly airfield for the next phase of the war doing what they do best which is dropping the likes of Paveway in good numbers from reasonably safe skies. As I have said a few times I didn’t see Op Ellamy as a demonstration of the flexibility land based air quite the opposite.

    EDIT: How many SS were expended during Op Ellamy?

  26. scribbler

    @ Simon,

    We need those carriers so that the RN can have the F-35B aircraft necessary to defend those carriers. Now, having decided that, calculate their sortie rate. No one knows what it is, but perhaps we can guess. If the stealth coatings give the same problems as afflict the F-22, then each aircraft will fly one sortie on alternate days. Even if it has 36 on board, the maximum expected, the carrier will still not be able to operate a CAP. My nautical colleagues tell me that this does not matter because the carriers are so vulnerable today to the existing ramjet supersonic missiles that in 2020 and onwards the admirals will never sail them into a hostile environment to face the hypersonic missiles being developed by Russia and China and marketed to other countries. And no, in case you ask, although I suspect you won’t, the Type 45, which can knock down incoming missiles aimed at it, cannot hit supersonic crossing missiles, those aimed at the carrier it is protecting — and the Type 45 warships carry insufficient missiles to counter a serious attack anyway.

    “Deep Strike!” Forget it. No matter how it is redefined we are always faced with Forbes’s First Law of MoD-speak which states that no aircraft range figures are ever true. (They never have been throughout my time as an aviator.)

  27. Simon

    Bob,

    What you say may well be true, but from what I’ve discovered here it’s somewhat deeper than that. Unfortunately it lies in budgets/money/cost.

    I think the move to B was simply a statement saying “you’re only having one or two flat-tops guys”.

    Do you really see us being able to afford the necessary LHDs and crew to undertake ops on our own? I’m working on a big “no”, even though I completely and utterly disagree with the planning and lack of long-term vision :-(

  28. Jed

    TD said: “when the bigger picture and bigger cost gets taken into account the B is the right choice”

    Erm, no…. !

    That is your opinion matey, not a universally supported one, nor a “fact” per se either.

    Perhaps when the costs get taken into account there should be no F35 at all, and just helos and “the bastard child of X47B / Taranis” …. ???

    F35B that we are planning on, from the carriers we are have can do many useful things I am sure _ “deep strike” aint one of them, unless your redefine what the term means, oh wait…….. :-)

  29. Bob

    No,

    It became a function of budget/money and cost in 2010 because of the sunk cost which had been used to make the carriers difficult to convert. Prior to that the B was selected due to short sighted inertia.

  30. All Politicians are the Same

    @X/TD

    It completely depends upon where the Ships are? A Ship from the UK would almost definitely take a day or so to get ready to sail and would then spend half a day embarking land attack missiles. Though you would hope that for both options a requirement to deploy would not come as a shock.

    The fact is that an immediate rapid response would almost always be delivered quicker utilising FJ and AAR. What a Ship gives you in a land attack role is persistence and also to a certain extent a presence that is seen as less threatening. it is an excellent choice if you foresee the problem or it is a standard deployment area.

    A Arleigh Burke or Tico is a pretty standard presence in the Gulf and very few people know whether the Silos are mainly SM/ESSM for air Defence or chock full of TLAM. This unit can poise for months without the sort of escalation that flying in a few squadrons of fighter bombers would cause.

  31. scribbler

    @ All politicians are the same

    “Shorter ranged AAM” — When the BVR missiles have been fired no JSF pilot is going to stick around for a knife-fight. He will be flat out at perhaps M1.6 maximum with a M2.2 fighter’s missile fired from two miles higher chasing his afterburner. The purpose of the high-tech helmet and the unrivalled SA it allows is to give the pilot who has not fled for home the exact knowledge of where and how and exactly when he is going to die.

    These are the key facts —

    1). The JSF is not a fighter.

    2). “Fifth generation” is a marketing term with no true meaning.

    3). The JSF’s OT&E regime is currently supplying data that will justify cancelling the whole programme.

  32. Simon

    Scribbler,

    I don’t see it as necessary to maintain the coatings for a CAP so allocate 12-18 jets for 24-7 CAP. That still leaves one-or-two for strike/CAS.

    Aster cannot intercept supersonic missiles! Really? Sorry, I do not believe that for a single second. Why do you believe that?

  33. Simon

    Bob,

    I thought it was due to the massive cost of EMALS.

    The slightly cheaper through life cost of the F35C and EMALS “house” is no good if you can’t afford the mortgage deposit in the first place!

  34. Bob

    Massive cost of converting the carriers to EMALS was the issue in 2010. Prior to that it was just stupidity.

  35. Simon

    Scribbler,

    When the BVR missiles have been fired no JSF pilot is going to stick around for a knife-fight. He will be flat out at perhaps M1.6 maximum with a M2.2 fighter’s missile fired from two miles higher chasing his afterburner

    When the BVR missile has been fired the JSF pilot will need to stick around in order to provide mid-course update to the missile.

    Why would he light his afterburner?

    How would this M2.2 fighter see him from BVR? The one he’s just fired at didn’t!

  36. Simon

    Bob,

    Massive cost of converting the carriers to EMALS was the issue in 2010. Prior to that it was just stupidity.

    Well, I suppose we could have just blindly blundered on with our fingers in our ears yelling “it will be okay” and “don’t worry about the catapult” and “integrated electric was a bad choice” ;-)

    Are you advocating nuclear power to generate steam too?

    Again, I’m with you all the way if it weren’t for the costs.

  37. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Scribbler

    Do you perhaps work for Air Power Australia? The stealth coating on the F35 is much easier to work with than on the F22.

    “My nautical colleagues tell me that this does not matter because the carriers are so vulnerable today to the existing ramjet supersonic missiles that in 2020 and onwards the admirals will never sail them into a hostile environment to face the hypersonic missiles being developed by Russia and China and marketed to other countries. And no, in case you ask, although I suspect you won’t, the Type 45, which can knock down incoming missiles aimed at it, cannot hit supersonic crossing missiles, those aimed at the carrier it is protecting ”

    Sorry but maybe you should get some “nautical colleagues” that know what they are talking about. The ability to hit incoming is all about the positioning of the escorting vessels and the envisaged detection ranges. The vast majority of these “hypersonic” missiles are big fast and noisy, detecting them and positioning to intercept them then becomes less of an issue. In an air threat environment you would also generally have a vessel in the GK position as well as a designed screen.

    Ref the F35 and 5th generation and fighters etc. I have read so many different opinions ranging from frothing at the mouth opponents to it is going to be brilliant fans. I tend to ignore the 2 extreme views and listen to people I know who are involved in the development. Who say it will be good, just how good they are not sure yet.

  38. Bob

    Simon,

    I have no idea what you are banging on about. There is nothing intrinsically expensive about EMALs and it works with Electric propulsion. It was expensive in 2010 because the carriers were already well under construction and had lost the ability to be easily converted.

  39. All Politicians are the Same

    @Bob

    I am sure NAB will be along with the correct story but what I believe the issue to be was that. When the Carriers were being designed EMALS and EMCAT were nowhere near mature enough to allow a proper study as to what would be required in terms of build to allow an easy conversion.

  40. mike

    Ahh the ‘coulda-shoulda-woulda’ argument with the F-35B/C :)
    http://southpark.wikia.com/wiki/Captain_Hindsight
    Working with data on a yet untested airframe… heck, of all the F-35 trio, the C is the least developed and probably most at risk. But who knows?

    The issue is, this argument should have been made in 1998, not 2010. We’re stuck with what we’ve got, time to think how best use it.

  41. Mark

    Apas

    In terms of weapon integration I think the two most vital are paveway 4 and AMRAAM. The paveway has many variants and more coming all the time and from what I’ve read is quite popular and gives the ability to attack the widest possible set of ground targets. AMRAAM offers air defence capability and if historical conflicts are looked at is as likely be used in closer in fights as any other weapon. I would not integrate storm shadow I see little point on fitting such a weapon externally and then attempting to penetrate an air defence system with the aircraft configured in such a way. To an extent likewise asraam it would not be fitted internally only external so not a priority. Spear 3 perhaps don’t really know what that’s like. I do like the Norwegian weapon and think it would be of benefit. With f35 of any varity I think the priority need to be getting the systems working and ensuring it can preform the ground attack/cas mission to the same extent as current jets which may not be the case at present. I do also get the impression these aircraft will be use mainly (as they were designed) in the ground attack role with air defence handed off to the type 45 no matter the rights or wrongs of that case.

    As for long range deep strike well even harriers have been airborne for 6hrs using aar so in my mind no tactical jet offers long range deep strike without support in the true sense of the word only bombers of the b2, b1 ilk offer that. Which leads onto some people’s idea of what these carriers will do, yes they offer the ability to deploy some of the uks air power and support allied operations but no one not even the US would go up against a enemy of such capability that it requires all the capabilities offered and ONLY use carrier air , any major operation will have use of significant land based assets.

    As for the f18(enter what ever jet you like)/uav against the f35 fleet options I honestly don’t know which ones right or wrong there’s so many ifs and buts it really ends up 6 of one.. But that argument was for the uk several years ago and we made our choice.

  42. HurstLlama

    With regard to catapults etc. what I don’t understand is why the decision to go with STOVL was made in the first place.

    That the UK should get back in to the “proper” carrier business was a decision made in 1998. What is now going to be the Queen Elizabeth was supposed to have been in service in 2012. The decision to go with a glorified “through deck cruiser” is so inexplicable that I can only think it was down to the malignant hand of the Treasury.

  43. x

    Brian Black said “I was reading the other day, X, that we’re giving aid money to South Africa, who have a space program including farming satellites; and we give money to Nigeria, who want to get a man into space.
    Others too. So if you want to get satellites into space, apply here for a generous handout.”

    Yes. :) A couple of things drive these Third World space programmes. India sees space as a way of uniting diverse people into one nation by extending and improving internal communications without the need for costly infrastructure . Or is that extending the influence of one government over many peoples? Neo-imperialism? :) They use it for climate monitoring as well because of the (rather obvious) impact on agriculture. But I think they, and others like Nigeria, should be looking to find their own sources of income to fund these projects; the market will find away if there is a genuine need.

    ISTAR birds aren’t cheap. These programmes can cost as much as say CVF. They are vital really if you want to be a truly global military. No point in having ordinance whether it is dropped from a plane or fired from a ship if you don’t have a clearly defined target. Again we choose not to buy these things through our democratic process.

  44. Mark

    HurstLlama

    Really sdr98 called for two 65k tn aircraft carriers and a proper carrier ( not sure what that is by the way) don’t ever remember reading that

  45. All Politicians are the Same

    What the 1998 review actually said was.

    “To meet our longer term needs, we plan to replace our current
    carriers from around 2012 by two larger, more versatile, carriers capable of carrying a more
    powerful force, including a future carrier borne aircraft to replace the Harrier. These plans will
    now be developed in detail in the normal way”

    No mention of CTOL or STOVL. We were also caught at an unfortunate time. Electro magnetic catapults were fag packet designs and we did not want to go Nuclear which is the best propulsion system for steam cats. personally I think we should have built 2 Nuclear powered CTOL Carriers, utilising existing catapult technology, maximising flexibility and aircraft choice but maybe I am biased.

  46. Mark

    This is the wording from the report.

    “The centrepiece of the new strategy of force projection is the planned acquisition of two large, 40,000 ton aircraft carriers, with a complement of up to 50 aircraft and helicopters each. The first will have an in-service date of 2012. The fixed-wing component could be provided by the Joint Strike Fighter but the MOD is also studying a marinised Eurofighter 2000, an upgraded Sea Harrier and other existing US and French naval jets for its Future Carrier Borne Aircraft requirement.107 The two new carriers will replace the three existing Invincible class light carriers, which will be retained in the meantime. The latter, of 20,000 tons, only deploy a maximum of 24 aircraft and helicopters and were originally designed for anti-submarine warfare operations rather than force projection.”

  47. Phil

    We should have gone CTOL because CTOL would have brought us E2.

    Paid for probably by retiring the E3 fleet.

  48. Simon

    Mark, APATS,

    Surely Brimstone is also a major requirement (or as TD says SPEAR 3, which looks to be somewhat based on Brimstone).

    So:

    AMRAAM for air defence
    Paveway IV for heavy strike
    Brimstone for CAS and anti-armour

  49. Simon

    Come on. You wouldn’t seriously replace E3 with E2 would you?

    They’re not even in the same league!

  50. Phil

    They’re not even in the same league!

    No they’re not. But you seriously think the bean counters would have been impressed with spending billions buying ANOTHER AWACs when we already had 7 very good ones?

    I’d have bet my hat the deal would have been one for the other and the RAF and FAA would be sharing 3-4 E2s.

  51. All Politicians are the Same

    E2D is actually a decent buy at £80 million a pop and they are within size and mission personnel limitations far more advanced than the E3. We could do with upgrading E3D to allow live feed to NSWAN and incorporate AIS amongst other issues.

  52. Mark

    E3 is declared to NATO that’s why they cannot be replaced with e2. E2 is closer to 175m a pop and are usually relegated to aar tow lines when e3 s are in attendance according to a conversation I once had with an e3 chap.

  53. Simon

    Right cards on table…

    CTOL/CATOBAR*: more expensive up front, less expensive long-term, deeper penetration of both endurance based aircraft (deeper CAP/CAS) and deeper strike, heavier payloads for LO, reasonable capability for LO SEAD and “bunker busting”, 400km AEW. Really requires LHD or LPH to host support/attack/escort copters for an assault. Costs significantly more when this is costed in.

    STOVL: cheaper now when funds are tight, allows easy integration with rotary wing assets for assault and attack copters, limited (200+km) AEW. Essentially the same capability as we currently have/had (3 x Vince + Ocean) in a different package. Less redundancy. Higher risk with F35B (even now).

    Rewind a couple of decades and…

    F35 on drawing board. F35B was high risk regardless of anything (time proved this to be the case), EMALS was high risk (although the entertainment industry seemed okay with their rollercoasters being launched this way). Better to have designed a 65,000 tonne CTOL carrier and a 30-40,000 tonne LHD.

    Given the obvious economic bubble (even I knew it wouldn’t last and I’m a cretin) the CTOL carrier + required LPH would be the cost risk. Better to do one of the following:

    1. Do not build the carrier until the launch system and/aircraft are evidently going to be “goers”.
    2. Build 2 LHDs on the premise that:
    2a. If F35B is a “goer” then build another two and we have a flexible Navy with 2 available LHDs (possible 3), one as the jet carrier and one as the assault carrier. The jet carrier hosts LCUs but no vehicles providing a “double up” of assault capability onto the beach. It’s dock-down tanks are full of AVCAT.
    2b. If F35B is a “pig” then commision the CTOL carriers or do nothing.

    If we end up at 2b we are no worse off than we are now (in fact we’re better because bigger ships mean more flight deck).

    A JFL consisting of F35C is as viable and reasonable as a JFL consisting of F35B so the RAF should not be too concerned about this.

    I may have missed a few things in my list but hey, I’ve had 1/2 a bottle of Cotes-du-Rhone.

    * I put CATOBAR because I know it will get NaB’s attention and he might read this ;-)

  54. Phil

    E3 is declared to NATO that’s why they cannot be replaced with e2

    Nobody is replacing anything! I am just stating that nobody was going to get anything for free and CTOL carriers would never have equated to “free” E2s – there’d be a devil’s bargain that something else somewhere else would get the chop. And as APATs points out – the E2Ds are not bad. It would have been inevitable.

  55. All Politicians are the Same

    @simon

    My last post and repost attempt have vanished but in an effort to answer your point. As i expressed earlier I would have.

    Built 2 large Nuclear powered conventional carriers. Using steam catapults.

    1. Tech is safe and prove.
    2. offered an escape route to some Nuclear personnel who are fed up with submarines ;)
    3. Maximise the choice of platforms we could operate.

  56. tweckyspat

    E3 is declared to NATO that’s why they cannot be replaced with e2

    That is tosh. Alliance states may be asked to ‘offer’ capabilities to the NATO force pool but that is completely up to the providing state. It didn’t stop us withdrawing other capabilities previously allocated to NATO eg AMF(L) CSS Bn

  57. Simon

    APATS,

    Yes, I had the same problem with a couple of posts. You press [Post Commit], it goes through the motions and then just vanishes?

    1. Agree.
    2. Interesting – you must know a few that are sick of oversized cigars ;-)
    3. Agree.

  58. IXION

    I’ve a good idea lets get a fleet ofunicorn powered dragon launchers ridden by multi armed deamons…. well comments on this post departed reality pretty rapidly so i thought i would join in.

  59. Simon

    WiseApe,

    2 x CVF is 1200-ish crew.
    2 x Albion is 600-ish crew.

    Total = 1800-ish.

    Divide by 4 = 450 per ship.

    Juan Carlos = 250 ish (but that’s not enough anyway).

  60. All Politicians are the Same

    @ ixion

    That is really constructive criticism of the highest order. Care to expand?

  61. Mark

    Tweakyspat

    No not tosh if we scrapped e3 we would then have to fork out for the e3 force at geilenkirchen as we provide aircraft instead of money with the benefit of being able to use them on national tasking. Same deal as how we’re planning to keep sentinel so you would be paying twice regardless.

  62. Phil

    The E2s would probably be declared instead. Where there is a will there is a way when it comes to funding!

    Anyway, it’s not going to come about.

    Plus, I thought E3 was solely for the old UKADGE thing?

  63. x

    Phil said “Nobody is replacing anything! I am just stating that nobody was going to get anything for free and CTOL carriers would never have equated to “free” E2s – there’d be a devil’s bargain that something else somewhere else would get the chop. And as APATs points out – the E2Ds are not bad. It would have been inevitable.”

    Who said anything about free E2s? There would be a devil’s bargain? Gosh………

  64. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Tweckyspat

    AMF(L) was disbanded in 2002 and replaced by the NRF, which we declare all eligible personnel and assets to.

  65. wf

    @Simon, @Phil: given the service ceiling of the E2 is around 10km, while the E3 can go to 12km, I suspect the difference in raw performance is a matter of degree, especially since the E2D has a radar 10 years in advance of the E3. The big difference is that the E3 has room for more controllers on board. These days, I suspect that is no longer the big deal it was, since datalink capacity and onboard automation is such that most of those controllers can be based on the ground instead.

    If I was asked if I wanted 7 E3’s or 11 E2D’s, I’d probably prefer the latter. The tiny numbers of some aircraft scare me witless sometimes….

  66. wf

    @Simon, @Phil: given the service ceiling of the E2 is around 10km, while the E3 can go to 12km, I suspect the difference in raw performance is a matter of degree, especially since the E2D has a radar 10 years in advance of the E3. The big difference is that the E3 has room for more controllers on board. These days, I suspect that is no longer the big deal it was, since datalink capacity and onboard automation is such that most of those controllers can be based on the ground instead.

    If I was asked if I wanted 7 E3’s or 11 E2D’s, I’d probably prefer the latter. The tiny numbers of some aircraft scare me witless sometimes….

  67. All Politicians are the Same

    i did twice attempt to submit a post with a link that had the first production E2D costing $615 million for 5.

    I then pointed out that E2D could not replace E3 due to range, speed and endurance issue but E2D had far superior link and satcom capability as well as CEC.
    Whilst our E3D could not do live feed to NSWAN and had no AIS.

    This time no link so see if it survives.

  68. Mark

    Phil

    There was the feeling that had the AWACS not been tasked to the NATO force it would not have survived sdsr 2010.

    Apas

    Comments appear to be working intermittently on TD at the minute I keep getting post deleted spam which could be to do with my content i post who knows but

    From defence industry daily

    “July 24/13: FRP-1. A $617.1 million modification finalizes the 5-plane Full Rate Production Lot 1 advance acquisition contract into a firm-fixed-price contract. All funds are committed immediately, and the new contract brings total announced spending on FRP-1 to $824.4 million (q.v. Feb 1/12, April 24/13, June 4/13, June 27/13), or $164.9 million per plane.

    The $17.5 billion E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program aims to build 75 new aircraft with significant radar, engine, and electronics upgrades in order to deal with a world of stealthier cruise missiles, saturation attacks, and a growing need for ground surveillance as well as aerial scans. It looks a lot like the last generation E-2C Hawkeye 2000 upgrade on the outside – but inside, and even outside to some extent, it’s a whole new aircraft.”

  69. Simon

    wf,

    If the E3 couldn’t support our naval task force at extreme range then I’d be all for E2D. As it stands (and as I’ve calculated – I don’t expect people to accept my proofs :-() E3 (and Voyager) will provide iSTAR for everything we need assuming we don’t have to fight two airwars at the same time.

  70. IXION

    APATS

    It was not constructive at all. It was exaspertion.

    See twecky’s post on ship to shore.

    We have closed our knicker factory and still churning out fur coats

  71. HurstLlama

    My thanks to you gents who have provided answers to my post. But hang on a minute, Nukes, EMALS, why did either have to enter the equation? We did have the technology to provide catapults on aircraft carriers without either and it worked very successfully for decades. Could we not just have dusted off the 1960s designs for the replacement of the old Ark Royal? Bring the engineering up to date and job done. Would have been a lot quicker, cheaper and more effective than the mess we have ended up with (mind you I am not sure that today’s Jolly Jacks would have appreciated sleeping in hammocks).

    It will be 20 years, at least, from decision to entry into operational service of a jumbo size through deck cruiser dependent, for full effect, on the Crabs flying an unproven and massively expensive aircraft (that may yet be cancelled) and the price has been the emasculation of the Royal Navy. Yet I read of no court martials, Admiral Byng was shot for less.

  72. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Mark

    “July 24/13: FRP-1. A $617.1 million modification finalizes the 5-plane Full Rate Production Lot 1 . So once the R & detc has been allowed for it is about £80 million an airframe.

  73. WiseApe

    “i did twice attempt to submit a post with a link that had the first production E2D costing $615 million for 5.” – I posted a link on this topic a little upstream of here.

    I had problems posting comments a while ago but having registered as a Contributing Author to TD, I find my comments appear almost instantaneously when I’m logged in. I recommend registering – IT’S FREE.

    Er, that’s assuming TD wants anymore CAs?

  74. All Politicians are the Same

    @ wiseape

    I registered with world press and yes I probably have an interesting article in me if I ever get time. Guessing the link set off some software.

  75. All Politicians are the Same

    @ixion

    Twecky is the classic definition of a troll. He posts outrageous comments and when challenged on them simply moves on. you also offer no evidence to support your opinion.
    I love the way people on this site debate things reasonably and sometimes quite aggressively but generally they do so with evidence to support their position and reply to questions.
    Twecky never does that and you have not done that either on this occasion.

  76. x

    Simon says “If the E3 couldn’t support our naval task force at extreme range then I’d be all for E2D. As it stands (and as I’ve calculated – I don’t expect people to accept my proofs :-( ) E3 (and Voyager) will provide iSTAR for everything we need assuming we don’t have to fight two airwars at the same time.”

    Really? 9 Voyager, the circumference of the Earth about 21,500 nautical miles, over flying rights, crew fatigue, divert fields, tactical considerations? I grant there wouldn’t be a need for 24 hour cover but really? I know it is a staple of Think Defence to tie ships to land based air but that is stretching it a tad. Which of the planet’s major land masses have you shifted to achieve this (hypothetical) feat?

  77. Mark

    Apas

    With r@d its 233m dollars a plane there was other long lead parts not in that part of the budget that’s why is states concludes frp-1 and then gives a total for frp-1 of over 800m and also states 165m per plane. No where near 80m pounds and certainly not for a uk foreign military sale which adds cost and vat ect you end up with the emals underestimate again.

  78. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Mark

    You never know unless you ask. They know exactly how much they cost to produce now and if they do not export they shut the line. So therefore selling for a profit they keep the line open and recoup money. I said £80million your original post was £160. I am guessing we could obtain them easily for 120.
    Also the EMALS snag was that when the CVF was being designed EMALS was a concept so it was impossible to design the Carrier to be easily converted. Nothing to do with actual system costs.

  79. Not a Boffin

    The QE programme is a victim of a number of conflicting factors, all of which involved managing risk. It is unfortunate that so many have co-incided and that explains some of the reasons why the procurement looks like the b8ggers muddle it is.

    First off, lets deal with the nuclear issue. The decision that she would be a conventionally powered ship was made in the early 90s. To the best of my knowledge no serious engineering studies were conducted on a nuclear option, the decision was made primarily on the perceived capital investment needed to acquire and later dispose of the ships. To put this in perspective, the UK has been in the nuclear propulsion game for fifty years. In that time, the UK has designed (with some US help) three reactors, all for submarines, of which only two have actually entered service – PWR3 is yet to arrive. Reactors for surface ships have different design drivers and require different solutions to a number of problems. Specifying a reactor for what became CVF would have been instantly unaffordable and that’s before we get to the thorny problem of how to decommission them. At the time, the whole NIREX deep repository was (as it is now) undecided and the first gen SSNs and bombers were beginning to pile up in Rosyth and Guz less than 10 at the time, over double that now). Across the pond, Congress had passed a resolution prohibiting the US from accepting foreign waste in Hanford, which was actually aimed at the environmental basket case that was the FSU/CIS, but had just as much impact on us. I remember writing a paper at the time that suggested we ought to at least cost a CVN option properly, but in hindsight, that was p1ssing in the wind.

    All of that is before we get to the problems of retaining NSQEP sundodgers or running a training and logistic support programme for a one-off reactor.

    Then you look at the catapult options. Essentially there are/were four options.

    1. Ask MacTaggart-Scott to dig out the drawings for BS6 (last manufactured in 1966) and do a build to print with whatever “improvements” could be made.
    2. Ask the USN to do an FMS of C13-3 (or 3F as per CdeG) when the USN was (at the time) talking about backfitting EMALS to later Nimitz-class, risking loss of logistic support.
    3. Ask the US to do an FMS of EMALS – then projected as north of $1Bn per ship set just for the equipment and far from certain to work.
    4. Develop a UK designed EM catapult (the proposed EMCAT). Same problems as EMALS only we’d be paying for the R&D and testing.

    The steam options had several problems, all adding significant through-life cost – manning, training and a dedicated steam plant, which while feasible was certainly not desirable. The EM options suffered from two problems – risk of delay/cancellation and cost. Primarily they were never going to be available to meet the original programme.

    The result was that CTOL was always perceived as risky and that’s before you get to the actual operational aspects like Carquals etc, which are not insignificant (but perhaps not as costly as they have been painted). It is also a fact that the CTOL option was always assumed to require tankers and that STOVL did not, despite a report circa 2001 identifying that it was actually the number cabs in the recovery that determined whether you needed Texaco or not. There was therefore an institutional reluctance to believe that CTOL might turn out to be the best option – it was retained primarily as risk reduction against failure of the STOVL F35.

    Had the ship and aircraft programme held its original dates, we would not be having this debate. The fact is that somewhere between 2002-2004, the decision was made to go with the “adaptable” design as a hedge against failure of the STOVL cab to meet it’s performance targets. The ships remain perfectly convertible, the structure and the compartments where the cats and arrester gear would need to be do not prohibit backfit and there is plenty of weight and electrical margin. General arrangement drawings as far back as 2002 show both BS6 and assumed configurations for EMALS/EAR – ITAR was an issue than as now – as was the maturity (or not) of EMALS.

    However, the programme then entered the era of complete paralysis primarily caused by the refusal of the one-eyed financial genius to countenance ordering the ships. During this time all effort was expended on trying to design cost out of the ship and firming up the construction programme. What was not requested was any sort of level 3 or 4 design effort to actually define the detail engineering of the EMALS/EAR installation. Nor could it have been, as until 2007 the EMALS design had not been frozen.

    It would probably have been sensible back then to execute as much of that work as could have been progressed, but by then the ACA did not trust HMG to commit to anything and were surely not going to do it themselves. Meantime the MoD teams were busily fending off accusations that the ships were vanity projects and that the army was being starved of helicopters, body armour, mine-resistant vehicles in order to pay for them. In fact the budget was paying for MRA4, Typhoon, Chinook HC3, T45, Astute, Sentinel and other wondrous things including Bowman and DIIF. Asking for any money to do a CTOL detailed installation project was never going to fly.

    So, here we are. We’ll get two ships that can operate 40+ cabs each. The F/W component of that will be much more capable than anything else at sea except a CVN – particularly if the proposed F35A option for the RAF is staked in the heart and then left out in the sun. Crowsnest will deliver a good AEW/ASaC capability, though not as capable as MASC dreamed of and we will be short of tankers afloat and ashore. Wibbling on about this range vs that range vs “Deep strike” vs “carrier strike” vs PWIV vs JDAM is not going to change anything nor actually does it mean that much.

    Requirements get traded off vs cost throughout the life of a project. What we should end up with is not perfect, but will meet as much of the requirement as we can afford at the minute.

  80. Mark

    Apas

    My apologies I should have put a monetary value beside the figure I was intending dollars and on re reading (your posts have now appeared) I see how it could have been confusing. I would have thought 100-120m pounds each would be the ball park.

    In an idea world it would be nice to have e2 but I don’t see a uk requirement when we have e3 which could the upgrades the rest of the NATO e3 fleet already has for a lot less.

  81. Simon

    x,

    9 Voyager? I thought we’re getting 14? It only works with 14 (13 at a push, 12 if you pray quite a lot).

    As for radius of operation. Well, I’m working on a friendly base within 7-8000nm.

    I must admit that I haven’t done the sums properly ‘cos it doesn’t seem the kind of site that is happy to examine the pages of equations needed to prove it. But give or take, 7-8000nm radius over open ocean should be achievable.

  82. All Politicians are the Same

    @Mark,

    Not suggesting we should buy E2 either but given their price i think they would have been a reasonable priced option if we had gone CTOL. Merlin HM2 upgrade is £30 million an airframe before we look at AEW costs.

  83. Simon

    APATS,

    …when the CVF was being designed EMALS was a concept so it was impossible to design the Carrier to be easily converted…

    That wholly depends on how bad a “concept” EMALS was. If “conceptually” it was a steam cat replacement then it was easy to design in. It just seems that someone decided to use the space allocated to the cat for something else on the STOVL CVF. I’d love to know what it was and why it was so important to go there rather than deeper down?

  84. All Politicians are the Same

    @Simon

    Ref design EMALs etc I am only passing on what i have been told by people who know more about these things than me.
    As for friendly base within 7000-8000Nm care to illustrate where on earth we are likely not have an airbase within 8000NM?

    8000NM is the equivalent of Dallas to Dubai non stop, a flight serviced by Emirates with a 777 200 LR it takes 16hrs.

    If you were fighting a war in Melbourne Australia it is only 6300Nm from Minhad Dubai

  85. x

    @ Simon

    Pretty sure it is only 9 available fulltime. As important as I know CVF to be for defending UK interests worldwide I would rather the RAF be well equipped to defend the home islands and that means tankers etc. I think having only 7 E3 available would kibosh your plans too. You are going to reach a point where planned maintenance catches up with you.

  86. x

    @ Mark

    Thanks. Does 6 allow us 24 hour 7 day a week coverage within reason?

    @ Simon

    BTW I am not bashing E3. I just think twin turbo-prop fixed wing for fleet AEW/ASaC is better than a helicopter based system.

  87. Mark

    x

    Do you mean in the air coverage or available to deploy? If its in the air I think 4 deployed to gw2 to give a permanent orbit for a finite period of time. Will much more depend on crews I would have thought.

  88. Topman

    @ TD

    I take it you mean the timeline, I don’t put much faith in it. I know it’s from the MoD but it’s trap 2 reading material.

  89. All Politicians are the Same

    @mark/X

    4 E3 allowed designated 24hr coverage during OUP. They can fly longer missions than 6 hours but the time taken to replace an OPDEF cab that goes tits up either on station or in the hangar would suggest that to guarantee 24/7 coverage you need 6 cabs and 10 crews. The slack in OUP was taken up by AAW destroyers.

  90. All Politicians are the Same

    Must learn to save posts before hitting submit these days. 4 E3 give you allocated 24/7 coverage. OUP proved that does not work. You need 6 and 10 10 crews to guarantee 24/7 coverage.

  91. x

    Mark said “If its in the air I think 4 deployed to gw2 to give a permanent orbit for a finite period of time. ”

    That’s it! :)

    I think Simon’s idea would need the other 2 air frames.

    As I said when I mentioned E2 up above I wasn’t knocking or thinking about E3. I just think a multi-billion pound project like CVF needs a well thought out AEW/ASaC system. Seeing as last time we went to war without one it cost lives.

    We are just short of everything. Being economical and gapping only gets us so far. To me E3 (and land based air in general) is the follow on big stick capability that we call on when the SHTF. We need AEW/ASaC off CVF so we can stay in the fight long enough for the land based air to arrive en masse.

  92. El Sid

    @Bob
    The inability of the type to carry, 2,000lb class ordnance internally

    Said like noone will ever develop another weapon system ever again. If there’s a requirement, it’s not difficult to come up with an 1,800lb bomb or whatever that _will_ fit internally. In fact just about every NATO tacair-launched weapon developed within the next 40 years will be designed with the F-35 internal bays in mind – and 400-odd F-35B’s are a sufficiently worthwhile market that it’s worth at least designing in an option for a cut-down version of weapons that are intended to completely fill an F-35A bomb bay.

    @NaB
    Nukes aren’t my thing but could we not have stuck a single A4W/A1B core in CVF, or does that run into treaty complications?

  93. x

    Bob said “The reason that footage has become signature because burning rocket motors at night are spectacular, you can find just as much of aircraft taking off with afterburner at night. Brightly coloured flames keep the simple minded satisfied.”

    I wasn’t being arty. :) Though I do get accused of being a right artist on occasion. But what is meant by that I don’t know………….

    What I meant was every war since GW1 and police action has started with the USN TLAMing somebody. Taking out the big chunks of the enemy air defences and command nodes. Mostly so manned aircraft can fly into harm’s way a bit more safely. That’s what we need more of….

    Of course the pictures look good. And of course it would be very hard for CNN or the BBC to film a B2! Shades of when war correspondents stand with an arty battery in the background trying to appear as if they are near the front lines.

  94. tweckyspat

    APATS, Mark

    I agree the use of the word `tosh`and AMF(L) example both poor choices in my earlier.

    However, I don´t think it´s trolling to challenge these tropes which are trotted out time and time again about what the UK does and doesn´t offer or earmark for NATO and whether that makes them exempt from scrutiny.

    It may or may not be true that the E3s survived SDSR because they help support UK´s commitment to NATO. I doubt anyone will find that given as a reason in writing. The Red Freds also survived but AFAIK they are not NATO designated/earmarked.

    I have worked on NATO Capability Requirements process and (in my opinion) it is a game UK plays badly whilst others play it well. I would argue the RAF E3s are a good case in point. I don’t believe they attract NATO common funding (perhaps some limited infra) so HMG bears the cost. Clearly there is the opprtunity to use these for national missions which would not be the case if UK relied only on the NATO E3 component or allies.Same goes for other nations with their own E3s eg FRA. Interestingly though the French feel they can meet their national needs with fewer E3s than UK, even though they were outside the NATO mil structure when they procured theirs. It is a question of trying to estimate the costs against the risks of not having them for some unspecified national op where we don’t have the support of allies.

    So in that context I don’t see why E2D might not be considered as a reasonable alternative as the E3 OSD approaches (2020-25 ?)

    And if HMG decided not to replace the E3s at all, in NATO terms all that would happen is that this would be considered in the burden share/apportionment phase of the NATO CRR. Maybe UK will decide it makes more sense to offer another capability of which NATO is in short supply such as amphibious logistics. But it won’t, because it’s clearly much more useful to have 6 and a half useable AWACs with roundels for the Kevs. If there is any evidence to show that this is actually the case, it would be useful to share.

  95. x

    APATS said “4 E3 allowed designated 24hr coverage during OUP. They can fly longer missions than 6 hours but the time taken to replace an OPDEF cab that goes tits up either on station or in the hangar would suggest that to guarantee 24/7 coverage you need 6 cabs and 10 crews. The slack in OUP was taken up by AAW destroyers.”

    Thanks. Like I said I wasn’t knocking E3. Never gave it a thought. I think what E3 resource we have has enough work already without the extra load of trailing CVF about the globe and all what that would entail.

    Can’t believe one little throw away comment can cause so much hoo ha……….

  96. All Politicians are the Same

    @TS

    France have never offered E3F to NATO OPCON once in the last 3 years. The UK has 4 times but only after national commitments are satisfied.

  97. Simon

    x,

    I think I needed 9 Voyager sorties per day and 4.5 Sentry sorties per day (9 every two days). 6 Sentry would be pushing things now!

    PS: It was 7-8000nm range, so 1/2 that for radius of operation (about 4000 statute miles). London to St Helena, St Helena to Port Stanley, Singapore to Melbourne, etc. Sorry.

    PPS: I’ll redo the calcs at some point and also point out just how many toilets will need to be fitted to the E3s ;-)

  98. x

    @ Simon

    You don’t work for Ryanair do you?

    Airpower has tremendous reach. Seapower great endurance. And somewhere between them, depending on what we want to do lies the optimum choice.

  99. Red Trousers

    Arriving late to the debate.

    Would like to first support APATS’ much earlier comment about “deep” being a state of mind, OPFOR CoG, and not geographically related. Of course, that’s how it was first conceived. Now if the debate has boiled down to “deep” = “”a long way away”, fair enough. But the original concept to me does not seem so difficult to grasp, and still a fundamental.

    Just guessing, but over the last year or so I have come to suspect that APATS and I have a similar MoD education whatever service we were in, and some MoD fast track civil servants also attending the College of Knowledge on a Joint basis. Something about APATS’ reasoning, insight and logic seems very familiar from Whitehall corridors. Not that I made it to the big leagues which APATS probably has, with me being lured out by Mrs RT getting bored of moving every 18 months, 2 little darlings crawling around, and the prospect of yet another year in Sarajevo, while an unnamed American big defence contractor waved wads of dollars in front of me while my intimate knowledge of CBM and ISTAR programmes as an SO1 desk officer was fresh.

    Secondly, I think we would all benefit from looking to 15 years from now, at least in the context of this debate which is falling into an E2/E3 rabbithole. Old tech, both of them. Does anyone seriously think that another manned aircraft (putative “E4″) will actually have any Kevins at all in it? Might be a satellite, might be a LEUAV. Might even be a Stratsat, or other type of airship… ;). Or a Stratsat with weapons (golly, lots of fun with that one – 6 months aloft and well out of reach of any possible missile a Tier 2 country could field, gravity working all the way in our favour).

    @ TD: seconding everyone’s comments about lost posts. Happened last night, hope this one gets through.

  100. Think Defence

    TD gets about a couple of thousand spam comments a day, which as you can imagine takes some managing!

    I deploy a range of software solutions to check them against known spam databases, sort and reject them without me having to do nothing but sift and sort. Because TD also has about 85 thousand comments sitting in the database the software looks at those to see known commenters that are approved. I had to do a bit of tweaking and changing this week and am trying something new to make it more efficient.

    I am hoping the false positive rate will be very low and will be fine tuning it as we go this week

    If you do have something rejected I should be on it pretty quick but let me know if it does not appear quickly

  101. El Sid

    Whilst it’s fun to say E-2 or E-3 has this or that difference in its electronics – surely the biggest differences are a) runway requirements and b) range/endurance (and to some extent speed, which also affects how many you need to maintain an orbit at distance). E-2 worked for the Israelis and others because they didn’t need to send them off across the Norwegian Sea, and there was a risk of their home runways being degraded (plus not many divert options). The French have naval Hawkeyes to supplement their E-3’s if shove comes to push.

  102. El Sid

    Various domestically-produced radars loosely referred to as Phalcon installed on various airframes – the current EL/W-2085 Eitam version is AESA-based on a Gulfstream G550 which also replaced the E-2 with Singapore. Chile’s are on a 707, India’s are on an Il-76.

  103. wf

    @Mark: Phalcon.

    @Red Trousers: I actually suspect it will be another 10-15 years before UAV’s really catch on for AEW. I reckon E2 is probably state of the art for the time being, unless we want to buy Wedgetail. Funnily enough, I reckon those UAV’s and what manned aircraft remain will provide their own AEW, since active arrays can be slapped all over the airframe, which will be good in two ways: the detection-shooting time will decrease and we’ll spend far less time worrying about ultra expensive and rare assets.

  104. Jed

    Oy RT, dont you come around here teasing us by mentioning airships – where is this bloody post on them you have been writing for years, I am getting impatient……. :-)

  105. Simon

    Although there are obvious benefits of unmanned AEW I really can’t see unmanned iSTAR anytime soon.

    There seems to be a continuous presumption that we’ll be able to “beam” information to and from these assets. Without investment in high-bandwidth satellite* relays this isn’t going to happen. So whilst all and sundry see this as an important thing to do (e.g. Turkey) we will end up having to fight for space.

    The first component of war will no longer be air supremacy, but space/communications supremacy. Destruction of our comms satellites would render umnanned iSTAR platforms useless meaning we must keep some manned versions. Perhaps this is a case for Hawkeye or Crowsnest (cheaper, more flexible, but less capable platforms)?

    * I say “satellite” as I can also see investment in comms blocking/jamming systems to stop iSTAR assets communicating directly with their host carrier or whatever.

    On a similar note… is there any chance of SAMPSON being able to focus a 1MW pulse sufficiently to fry the comms and/or receivers on a UAV? Sounds a bit science function, but I like the idea of it.

  106. x

    @ Simon re Satellites

    If only Britain had a nascent satellite launch technology of its own like most of Third World appears to have…….

  107. HurstLlama

    What a lot of interesting and informative posts in this thread. I think we should give a special vote of thanks to Not a Boffin for his post of 13th August at 7:54 pm which gives an explanation for how the QE class project became the clusterfuck that it has. What I call a glorified through-deck cruiser he calls a ship that will be more capable than anything else at sea except a CVN, time will tell but at least we now know how we got it.

    @Simon

    I think you are on to something very important when you talk about the ability to block/scramble/burn the enemy’s communications while protecting one’s own being the key to the next war. I would hope that the UK’s ability to do this is unpublicised because the classification of information system is actually working though I fear its because we are now so poor that we just can’t play in that league and are relying on hope (and the Septics).

  108. topman

    @ mark. The staish at Lossie gets on the internet quite a bit, don’t think i’ve seen one have such a “presence” online.

  109. Mark

    Topman

    Dont know what hes like to work for and he maybe very different in that regard but having only come across him when the article about the tornado stand down went about and reading some of his stuff I think its quite refreshing.

  110. Simon

    The Other Chris,

    Actually that was the kind of comms I was talking about jamming. I think we’ll see more investment in deconstructing the “net fusion” in the coming years, which will place more emphasis on individual unit redundancy rather than the sharing of data and capabilities using comms.

    I suppose an example is E3 (great) and no radars on any GR9. It all works perfectly whilst you can disseminate information to the fleet, but when either the E3 is destroyed or rendered incapacitated (e.g. by comms jamming) EVERYTHING loses. This means the sensible money would be on backup systems in the jets themselves. Not necessarily expensive all singing, all dancing ones, but at least something.

    The other alternative is to send information upwards where it can’t be so easily jammed (inverse square rule and all that). That means a battle in space for “comms superiority”.

  111. The Other Chris

    Geostationary satellites (civilian) operate at around 42,000km and generate around 100W. GPS satellites generate around 50W and are around 20,000km up.

    Each AESA element is around the 50W mark with 1,200 elements comprising an AGP-81. Each element is independently powered and commanded but collaborates with the other elements to vary frequency, interference pattern, detect, transmit and receive.

    Beam forming is very different to the likes of a PESA and these aspects combine to provide resistance to jamming.

    Distance between aircraft in a flight or an AESA node would vary as would distance between flights/asset groups but either is likely to be less than a BVR aggressor. Likely ISTAR/ISR could be exchanged up to the point where EO/IR and visuals are solely relied upon.

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