UK defence issues and the odd container or two

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. Tubby

    @ Chris.B.

    Are you trying to get Gabby to start posting on TD again, because comments like that would set him off on one of his great cut and paste diatribes why carriers are the best thing since sliced bread (and just to really p!ss you off, he would add an argument to why the RAF hates the FAA, and why the RAF should be disbanded)? In fact it would be even more enjoyable for the peanut gallery now, as Red Trousers could join in and advocate both cancelling the Carriers and disbanding the RAF in one post! :-)

    I do miss Gabby, just not enough to go over to his blog, or to read anything he has written recently (though to be fair I will most likely #have# read it as I look at TD every day and most of blog posts would likely feel like they had been cut and pasted from TD)! ;-)

  2. WiseApe

    Actually, Chris B has inadvertently done what I was considering when I first came across this like/dislike thingy, but didn’t do because I thought it might actually discourage people from commenting because they can simply click on like/dislike.

    It’s an excellent way of conducting a quick strawpoll though; if you agree with Chris’s statement, click “like;” if you disagree, click “dislike,” like this…. :-)

    Edit: It’s not working!

    Further edit: What do you mean I only get one vote!

  3. Brian Black

    Carriers are indeed a waste of money. Think of how many battalions of nerdy cyberwarriors we could have recruited instead.

    What I particularly admire about the carrier program is that, despite what will be a forty year capability gap, the Navy and MoD managed to whip up enough hysteria to convince so many people that it actually matters whether the big fat Queens are operational in 2018, 2020, or 2022. All of which are entirely irrelevant and meaningless dates considering the total lack of requirement.

  4. Mark

    Return of the open thread

    DEN linked several simulators creating a live battlespace scenario in which Typhoon pilots at RAF Leuchars operated with air and maritime assets located at four sites across UK in the first training mission simulation of its kind. “Royal Navy and RAF operators performed a complex real-time mission scenario which saw four Typhoons conduct a swing role mission scenario, integrated with the PLEXYS AWACS E-3D Sentry emulation based at BAE Systems New Malden and a Type 45 Destroyer simulation based at BAE Systems Broad Oak,” BAE Systems reported. (image)

    And a win for merlin

  5. dave haine

    I wonder how far you could take the simulator connecting thingy. How big could the simulated battlespace be? Could we see AFV simulators ‘aving it large with air and naval ones?

    And how long before the hackers get in, and giant rubber ducks come marching across the virtual battlespace?

  6. Mark

    Simon257 yep gd to see export orders still coming in just a shame we choose the s-92 instead of merlin.

    Think that’s already being talked about TD.

  7. Red Trousers

    @ DH,

    simulators can be extremely big and complex these days (as well as pretty high tech), using High Level Architecture (HLA) and Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS), and something called DSEEP which acronym escapes me now (Friday, spent all bloody day doing company strategy for the next FY).

    There are loads of standards coming out of customary defence practice, the engineering institutes, and increasingly from the computer gaming industry. You can pretty much interface anything with anything.

    I think there’s a future beyond mere exercising: I think we’ll increasingly see co-seating between forces deployed on operations and a support structure back in the home base for actual operations, freeing those deployed to do what they need to, but with decision support and intellectual burden-sharing with those deployed being “back-sourced” to the UK. Particularly useful for running of options and war-gaming before deliberate operations take place, spectacularly dangerous if someone decides we actually want to run a real operation remotely. It’s really an HQ gig: don’t (to my mind) ever dream of asking those in the line of fire / flying / sailing to have taken away from them their local freedom of action. (FoA is a principle of war, after all).

    @ Tubby. I yield to no man in my support for the Andrew having as many carriers as we can afford, once everything else more important has been paid for, and well before DFID gets more than 10% of their budget ;)

  8. wf

    @TD: what about a real rear seater, acting as an RPA coordinator? Close enough for line of sight exchange of sensor data and command and control, hence close control of RPA’s without a desperate dependence on satellite channels?

  9. dave haine


    That’s exactly what I was wondering- I can certainly see the value of having a remote virtual zone of operations, running alongside the real one, and conducting scenarios on behalf of the ‘local’ Head shed.

    I worked at an airline that had a similar facility in its ops system, known as ‘Core’ or IOS (integrated operations system), We had a ‘what-if’ mode, where we could construct a scenario to deal with any programme disruption. The object was always, of course, an on-time airline, with minimal programme change and cost. It meant that we actually became awesomely good at predicting disruption events and evolving counters. So good, in fact that the company kept being recommended by Eurocontrol and the Joint Aviation Authority to other airlines.
    The Germans, however, saw no benefit to it and binned the idea, as well as the decent computer system, in favour of their own bag of w**k.

  10. dave haine

    Further thought- we could have PWO’s or WSO’s running scenarios to get an optimum solution, before weapons launch.

  11. Swimming Trunks

    @ Chuck – thanks for the link. I haven’t had time to listen to all of it (hopefully tomorrow) but did listen to the time you suggested. Very interesting. Agree that RN can’t keep on going on in the same way.

  12. Fluffy Thoughts

    If Gabriel still reads Our Honourable Hosts site then,

    Please, please, please….

    The FN-MN are not gonna’ get 11 FREMMS (with added FREDA). It is only ‘cos “The Boss” is too polite – and I cannae be arsed to join – that this is not clearly pointed out on The QE Thread*. Five freckin’ ASW first-raters are gonna’ be 3,5k light-frigates: Wiki has some good coverage!

    I expect better from yourself and others….

    * Who is Enigmatically: Current poster or ‘Ex’…?

  13. Think Defence

    Fluffy, I do like posting on other forums and quite often I learn a lot, change my mind on things and get corrected but I have to say, MP is getting rather tedious and a bit ‘cliquey’

    Its fun sometimes but I think I will knock it on the head for a bit

  14. paul g

    arsecakes, just realised I was the 3rd person to put that link up!!

    To redeem myself I quite like how those clever Russians have developed a cheap (sort of) conversion kit for the T-72 as a tank support overwatch. a couple of these per sqn could be nice, obviously it would be our versions of the weapons although maybe not the CTA reading the other post!!!

  15. Challenger

    @paul g

    RE Norway & AW101:

    Good bit of business for Augusta-Westland if it goes ahead. Helicopters seem to be one of the few areas where the UK can still do a good export trade.

    If all or most of the foreign customers that went for Lynx go for Wildcat then that will be another sizable batch of orders on the horizon.

  16. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    Is anybody going to play “How would one assemble a Euro MEB” ?

    Could one ?
    Any shared hardware to rely upon ?
    “Where to go with it ?”

    That would be full of juicy bits, incl. opportunities for some intellectual trench warfare, UK-internal ‘moonings’, along with pomposity and ominous ruminations about large shadows cast by the USN/USMC master-practitioners of that Black Art and Science…

    Of course, we could discuss the relative reliability of Ukrainian tracked combatants’ gearboxes near Ghardaia or German such ‘kit’ in the continental climate rigors of the Ukraine.

    I’d vote for the EURO-MEB !

    …”Norwegian Helicopters”…??!! Tssk, tssk.

  17. WiseApe

    Just a quick heads up – tomorrow (Sunday) on BBC Radio 5 live at 19:30, On The Money, interview with the head of Lockheed Martin UK.

  18. Mark

    The challenge is to think beyond current materials and designs. To that end, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee is placing thousands of 3-D printers in U.S. schools to give future designers and engineers experience with the technology. Already the lab has helped local high schools in the First Robotics competition—including building the first all-additive robot. Beginning this year with 250 machines, the lab plans to place 3,000 printers next year, then 4,000 and finally 28,000 so every high school in First Robotics has one.

    Infusing reinforcing fibers into raw material is a key to scaling up 3-D printing to large parts—60-100 ft. in size—for aerospace. ORNL calls this broad-area additive manufacturing, and the lab has been working with Lockheed Martin and an equipment manufacturer to develop the capability, initially to produce low-cost tooling but ultimately to print structures such as the wings of a large unmanned aircraft.

    Well have a similar program along any century now to ensure a transition to a more manufacturing based economy.

  19. Mark

    Cold War jets on bbc 2 last night was well worth a watch if you missed it I recommend it on I player. Selling rr engines to the Russians for mig 15s which were used against us in Korea was one of those type42 to argies moments but the real interesting bits was on raf pilots flying recon missions over Russia on behalf on the yanks, particularly U2 missions which the yanks seen as to politically difficult to do, much like some of our early Cold War sub missions to Murmansk.

    Next week lightnings and the V force.

  20. WiseApe

    The V force was not a waste of money either. In related news, apparently RN is struggling to recruit sufficient submariners. How about modifying the Astute design for an eighth boat like this:

  21. Fluffy Thoughts


    We need to coax ‘desertswo’ over. I’ve seen your hints (cf. Loggie stuff) but he does not seem to have bitten. It would be a more natural location for him to reside methinks….

  22. John Hartley

    That BBC 2 Cold War jets prog, sadly had the usual failings. Random footage of jets at Farnborough without saying what they were, which year, what they led to. For example the Hunter prototype was given no description as to how widely sold or long serving it was. Talk of the Comet being used as the basis for a Russian bomber had footage of a Bristol Britannia turboprop?!

  23. HurstLlama

    Mt. X, I know that for a long time the RN have reserved the right to post people to the Submarine Service, but how many non-volunteers are there? I should have thought that forcing someone to pass the necessary training and then to perform effectively whilst living cheek by jowl in a metal tube for months at a time would require powers of leadership beyond that normally available, even to the RN.

  24. Fluffy Thoughts

    This latte points system is naff. A post I posited was -1 (until I corrected the situation). If “ThinkDefence” runs on a ‘hits’ basis for server-finance then I would humbly suggest binning the widget…. *

    * Cf. Junior‘s changes at politicalbetting…..

    [Will repost on other, relevant, thread….]

  25. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    X-Man November 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

    “D-Day” ?
    Looks more like R-&-R daze at Disneyworld-NZ, with pretty anchorage, nice beach, a ‘babe’ or two, marvelous weather – all in all a pretty screen-saver.

    Just nothing plausibly realistic.
    The news-coverage would should a sinking burning hulk, new (small boat) ‘habitat’ settling on the bottom of the bay, bodies on the beach and then – a board of inquiry, with the sincerely-held ‘understanding’ that ‘war is bad’ and amphibious anything ‘just not possible anymore’…

    What are the odds they’re off the Philippines’ east coast helping right now ?

    So, about that EURO-MEB…

  26. monkey

    The us carriers are usually escorted by 2 guided missle cruisers ,2 anti air destroyers and 2 or more anti sub destoyers ( also some nearby submarine support ) as well as a supply ship or 2, if our carriers were to be deployed with similar support (logical as the threats are the same) would we have to use for anti-pirate duty,drug runner interdication ,flag waving around the common wealth?

  27. x

    @ KVO

    Um would I be guessing right if I said you don’t know that D-day doesn’t actually have to mean June 6th, 1944?

    @ All

    A naval jet carrying 4 (four) AShMs over the Atlantic. Whoosh.

  28. Brian Black

    Two soldiers and two different cases. Marine-A guilty of murdering a wounded insurgent; and L/Cpl Liam Culverhouse guilty of causing or allowing the death of a child (an assault on his daughter) after returning wounded from Afghanistan.

    Any thoughts?

    Does anyone know of a similar case to Marine-A leading to a conviction? There have been convictions relating to Baha Mousa, and of Paratrooper Lee Clegg, and there are many allegations of mistreatment of prisoners leading to deaths since WWII – Kenya particularly. But I’m not aware of another instance of a battlefield execution leading to conviction.

    It’s something that has probably happened more than once within living memory; you can easily find mention of British soldiers committing war crimes against Germans in WWII, but a lack of readily available detail might suggest that formal proceedings have either never gone ahead or have never resulted in conviction.

    The Public Records Office do hold open records of historic courts martial; however, all but the most recent remain undigitised.

    Helmet-cam footage has not been released, but the transcript seems quite damning. Marine-A’s not guilty plee appears quite futile against the evidence. An early guilty plee usually attracts leniency of sentencing, at least in civil courts.

  29. Chris

    BB – it would appear Marine A acted in an unacceptable manner. Had his opponent still been fighting then the situation would have been entirely different, but the rules are once an opponent is no longer a threat the worst that can be done is capture. So the act was illegal and the system was correct in taking action.

    But why was it all in public? What purpose to wave a British serviceman to the world with the message that “the British Armed Forces are murderers and heartless killers. They are immoral and sub-human.” One Marine acted beyond all reasonable justification, apparently knowing he was so doing – I sincerely hope he is not representative of the average British soldier, but the case and more importantly its publicity will stain the reputation of all our servicemen/women. A total propaganda gift to all those looking to kick us down.

    The case should have been a military only affair; if outside inspection were deemed necessary there should have been a set of civilian auditors engaged but under Official Secrets rules. After the case a simple statement that A had been found guilty of bad things and was sentenced to hard punishment, while B & C were not found guilty. End of.

    As far as I can see this case has made the task of all our servicemen/women ten times harder and considerably more risky, for the sakes of lily-liberal ideals of ‘being seen to be fair’. I don’t care if fairness is beyond my sight – there are ways to let the public know the right thing has been done without publicizing every detail. The people who really needed to know that Marine A was guilty and heavily punished were the UK armed forces, the people who absolutely didn’t need to know were those positioning themselves as our enemies.

    In my opinion.

  30. Brian Black

    I see where you’re coming from, Chris. That is the reason the video has not been released; if that sort of footage got used in propaganda videos it could easily present an unrepresentative image of the hundred thousand men and women we’ve sent to Afghanistan, and of Britain generally.

    But isn’t it important that the legal process has to be as transparent as possible so that people around the world can see for themselves the contrast between the bulk of British soldiers and the savage behaviour of the Islamist extreme?

    Detail in the transcript seems quite clear, but it does not provide any snappy, media-friendly clips that can easily be used in propaganda against us. Release of that text, and the withholding of actual recordings, strikes a reasonable balance between openness and protection in my opinion. The identity of those involved also continues to be withheld.

  31. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Brian Black – Would that it were so…the reality is that the liberal elite in western democracies who hate the use of armed force and the consequences of it will see it as further evidence that anybody who puts on a uniform is a sociopath, and the only civilized way forward is to disarm and become pacifists…and our enemies will agree that we are a set of lily-livered nancy-boys because we just shot him rather than cutting him up with knives as well…and be encouraged.

    Idiotic at every level not to deal with the whole thing in private.


  32. ChrisM

    I think the case is propaganda neutral.
    They can beat us over the head with accusations of being heartless killers, but the case shows that our forces have rules, and that we will prosecute, and will hand out long sentences, to offenders.

    And it cant hurt that hobby terrorists and those who think it is easy money will be thinking that maybe they cant just chuck the gun and be home in time for tea…..

  33. dgos

    I was disappointed by the TV program. There was some very interesting bits ie the recce flights – however there were factual errors and the pitch that we were best and in front was a little tiring. No mention of German approach which with axial fans is the way things have gone (far greater compression ratio – low cross section )
    I thought that the Sabre with the modified leading edge outperformed the MIG 15. Also we believed that the cross Russia recce were done with Canberras – was this deliberate misinformation?
    No mention that the all flying tailplane was Miles design for M52 – handed to Yanks!
    As an aside my cousin who has done work in Russia has had fun pointing out to reds that their Mig15 was powered by Rolls Royce.
    I am one who spent all youth hoping to fly – aircraft were my life (program brought back youth) – failed medical! (ended up on gasworks!!)

  34. Simon


    I saw the tail end of the Cold War Jets doc. Excellent. Must watch the first 40 minutes when I get time.

    I too was pretty impressed with the U2 missions flown by the RAF. Mighty nice of us Brits to do something that puts us (closer than the US) in immediate retaliation consideration. The “special” relationship really was special at times.

    Looking forward to next week and promise of the English Electric Lightning doing her thang.

  35. John Hartley

    As a raving civilian, my take on the marine being found guilty of “murder” is this. I have read of a case where a yob with plenty of previous, beat a man to death in a pub fight, yet got away with manslaughter rather than murder. As a result he was out of prison in five & a half years. The Taliban insurgent had been badly wounded by 30mm Apache fire. The marine may have carried out a “mercy” killing. The BBC lefty luvvie types saying how bad this marines actions were, usually plead for mercy killers to be let off, or given a suspended sentence at most.
    To me, this marines actions, were not murder. They are either manslaughter or a mercy killing, so he should have got five years or a suspended sentence, not life for murder.

  36. Red Trousers


    I can’t agree, I’m afraid.

    Without the benefit of either having been there, or listened to all of the evidence at the CM, I can’t know of course of every possible circumstance or mitigation. However, there is a deep principle at stake: the British Armed Forces do not murder people as an institutional policy. If an individual does, he must face the consequences. I’m not so blinkered as to not know that this does happen, or lesser events such as what might / might not have happened in Basra.

    Two connected thoughts:

    In Northern Ireland through the 1970s and early 1980s there were “several” cases of some of the Paddies getting slotted quite illegally – “allegedly”. I personally believe some of the stories to be true. One, a drive by, one a gunman caught in a snicket between two streets in Belfast and out of sight, the pursuing patrol not even trying to claim that he was a danger at the point in time. Variously either publicly denied, wink winked away or never even came to light at all. It did the Army no good at all: it provided martyrs for those who wanted the British out, and poisoned the atmosphere for decades.

    I do know what happens in combat, I’ve led my soldiers into vicious assaults on prepared positions. The key thing I recall as the on scene commander was an overwhelming sense of responsibility to make bloody certain that immediately the fighting ceased that my soldiers mentally snapped out of assault mode and back into normality. It’s part of the leadership you have to take, along with everything else. The Marine who has been convicted of this murder WAS the leader, and just judging by his tone of voice and immediate instructions to his Marines to keep quiet, knew damn well that he had just murdered someone, and broken the Geneva Convention.

    I could give a monkey’s about what the yobbo you refer to got as his sentence: I’m a citizen of this country and on the face of what you say, I’d happily see him in jail for 30 years. But I’m not going to try to use the excuse of his early release to try to apply the same level of punishment to the Marine SNCO. He murdered someone, and additionally he betrayed the standing of Great Britain, and betrayed the leadership he should have had.

  37. dave haine


    I’m sorry but I’m with RT on this. The yob you mention was/ is an undisciplined wretch, with little self-control.

    Marine ‘A’ was a trained soldier placed in a position of responsibility, he ought to have had enough discipline to control himself.

    As for the CM being performed in public, again sorry but it should be- the world can then see that we expect certain standards of our servicemen, and we will take them to task when they fall short.

  38. Chris.B.

    @ JH,

    Have to agree with RT, it serves not favours to do it in private. Showing publicly that soldiers who break the rules (he clearly admits in the audio to what he’s done and the illegality of it) will be punished properly reinforces the sense of trust people have in the system, that soldiers are not above the law. Hiding it away, especially on the back of all this spying business, would do far more harm.

    As for the “yob”, what were the details? Beating someone to death is a phrase that papers kick around for anything ranging from a full on stomping of a person to death to something more innocent in nature, such as the victim gobbing off in the pub and playing the hard man, getting punched twice in response, and then dying because they hit their head on the ground and suffered a major cerebral bleed.

  39. WiseApe

    My dad was a POW of the Nazis; had they behaved like this marine (and many did), I wouldn’t be here today to agree with RT’s comments above. Our troops fight to protect our way of life, one of the central tenets of which is the rule of law. It was murder; the marine knew it; he’s guilty. Some liberal arsehole will ensure the video finds it’s way onto youtube.

  40. Simon

    A soldier “murders” at the behest of a higher power (The Queen and her Government).

    When a soldier “murders” due to his own whims he is no better than the yobbish wretch previously mentioned.

    Having said this, it’s a fine line, and I think we/they are making an example of this marine in order to ratify the legalities of the war in Afghanistan.

  41. WiseApe

    I have no problem with our troops killing our enemies, but once you become a prisoner you cease to be a combatant. There is a line; your ability to see that line may be clouded by circumstance, but that is mitigation not defence.

    Ixion may be along to explain it better.

  42. Red Trousers

    Not exactly a “good news story”, as sadly a veteran has passed on for the story to exist at all. But heart-warming.

    I’ve some great affection for the North West, having done a year there as Adjutant of the DLOY in Chorley in the early 90s***. Really lovely people. I’m glad this effort is being made.

    ****CHOR-li. Used to get a proper local meat pie for lunch, heated up by the Admin Sgt on top of a coal-fired boiler in the TA Centre. Had to live nearly 25 miles north of the place in the Forest of Bowland to have any form of social life. Watched Preston North End, from the North End (can’t remember who they played, they lost and we all got blotto in the pub before and after). Was taken by some Troop Leaders to the Hacienda Club in Manc for a bit of an insight into a world I don’t ever want to return to (shudder, but good fun for one night only), and ended up addressing the Aintree Women’s Institute on the Crimean War. Learned to refer to Skem with distaste. Quite a bloody decent year, so God love the TA Reservists. ;)

  43. Opinion3

    MP is very different to TD. The arguments here are usually intellectual ….. I say usually because I did pop in for a cuppa and ruddi-ell you were laying into some Yank. (Why are they called Yanks? – ‘cos they yank your chain?) Anyway I digress, Knowledge is king.

    I have got to say, this is a fabulous forum, it is easy to learn so much and can watch others learning too.

    Joining MP is like waiting in a call centre queue. The reasons you called are long forgotten because of the time wasted waiting and when you finally get through to someone you just feel like murdering them. MP is like that, quite why it is so difficult to process the requests in a timely fashion I know not.

    Going off topic is considered a crime by some or interesting by others. It can be very frustrating when some make it plain that you have to ‘fit in’ or ‘comply’ to be welcome. It has however been quite interesting lately.

  44. Dev90

    Hi guys,
    I know this is kind of off kilter but I’m an amateur who is a long time reader and a first time poster.
    I was wondering if any of you could give me a thorough answer to a question that’s been bugging me. How well would a modern CVBG counter an attack by well equipped enemy forces in the following situations:
    1. Diesel Electric submarines, equipped with AIP and supersonic cruise missiles
    2. Long range land based maritime strike aircraft, kitted out with supersonic strike missiles and are highly maneuverable aircraft like the Su-34 (or others in the Flanker family) supported by more stealthy fighter cover
    I ask #2 because the F-35 has had well advertised failings in the maneuverability department and experts like Carlo Kopp have been trashing it pretty thoroughly in the papers. Given its shortcomings (and reduced strike range) how well can it defend a fleet against more modern threats such as a J-31,J-20 or PAK-FA?


  45. lindermyer

    @ Dev 90

    There are just to many variables to say how something would counter something else, without defining specific scenarios and obviously the hypothetical result only applies to that scenario not all ( a fact many people fail to digest.

    Regarding F35 I suspect it will do as well as any of its compatriots and competitors. Mr Kopp appears to be an Australian Lewis Page.

    His rantings make popular reading, His views coincide with a good number of trendy people, he has a little knowledge on many subjects but no in depth understanding (thus proving the Altruism).
    In short read digest add large pinch of salt, consign to same bin as Mike?? Sparks (Him of M113 Gavin and airborne fame)

  46. Fluffy Thoughts


    Is it not due in the next few fiscal years? Where are they to be built and in what numbers?

    Could we use the RNLI as our constructor and, if so, how could we change their design – say Severn-class – to fit our requirements? [Plus economies-of-scale and supported supply-chain….]

  47. Simon


    My take is that a CVBG is designed to control a chunk of sea and air (and possibly project this control over land). It is therefore inherently designed to counter the missile and submarine threat you speak of.

    Generally the “detection” of the enemy is the first part of defence.

    Subs (any kind) make noise so listening with another sub (Astute), which is essentially a floating ear with thousands of sensors covering it, is a good start. We then continue to listen with towed arrays and ultimately might have to “ping” to cause a reflection to be heard. We then engage with Merlin which subs find hard to fight against.

    Supersonic cruise missiles can be shot down (potentially easier) than a supersonic jet. They don’t tend to carry their own ECM. However, the fun starts with a saturation attack situation.

    Your point 2 seems to semi-contradict itself. It doesn’t matter how maneuverable the enemy jet is if it’s going to launch a long-range missile, which will be shot out of the sky by Aster, Sea Ceptor, AMRAAM or CIWS.

    The jet-on-jet engagement between F35 and the kinds of jets you list is a little more difficult to answer. The game changes when stealth is introduced. BVR engagements are preferable to dog-fights. In a dogfight situation F35 might struggle (even with its wonderful sensor array and pilot aiding systems).

  48. Brian Black

    John Hartley’s suggestion that the Marine incident was a mercy killing is plainly wrong, as medical assistance was readily available. And a pretence of first aid was used when it was believed they were being observed. There was also no suggestion of that in the defence case.

    The case of a pub fight leading to a manslaughter conviction is not really relevant. If any such incident had ended with one party using a weapon to finish off another, while that person was lying immobile, then that would almost certainly have been considered murder regardless of whichever party started the incident.

    Someone I was on remand with years ago was convicted of manslaughter after a drunken scrap in the street. A third party decided to intervene, got punched, fell (he’d also been drinking), hit his head on the curb and died.
    That’s the kind of incident that results in manslaughter charges. If you shoot, stab, kick someone on the ground and they die, expect a murder charge.

    I don’t care at all about this terrorist; I think it’s a terrible shame that whichever Marine that located him in the field didn’t immediately put a couple of rifle rounds or a bayonet into him – he did have an AK with him after all. But once he’s in the Marine’s custody, one can’t really defend the action.

    This court martial has nothing to do with the legality of the war, Simon. Individual conduct of soldiers and the actions of their leaders are formally separated. Which is why soldiers are not indictable for illegal wars; and is why “just following orders” is not a defence for illegal conduct during a war. It’s a protection for the common soldier in particular, as shit always rolls downhill.

  49. IXION

    It is rule and discipline that sets the difference between armed psychos and soldiers,

    Unfortunately despite a shit load of self delusion humans ain’t logical, reasonable or clear headed.

    Despite all the rules and discipline, people don’t think like that. If you take mk1homosapian and surround him with death and the means of death, death becomes normal.

    There is a big difference between death squads or organised attrocities, and this kind of thing, which has gone on, and will go on, as long as war goes on. There are a huge number of recorded incidents in ww2 by allied troops.

    IMHO it is akin to manslaughter. The balance of his mind being disturbed by the environment he was in.

    However from a discipline and public relations point of view he needs to be hung from the highest yardarm to encourage the others.

  50. Mark

    An article that covers the marines conviction and

    A snippet in keeping with the first post on this thread

    “General Houghton also said that if he could “turn the clock back” he would opt for a smaller version of new aircraft carriers expected to cost £6.2 billion. Last week it emerged that they are £800 million over budget.
    He said: “If we could turn the clock back, might we make a different decision? It might be that we’d go for a smaller version of that carrier. But the more often you change your mind on these things, the more costly they become. “

  51. HurstLlama


    ” We then continue to listen with towed arrays and ultimately might have to “ping” to cause a reflection to be heard.”

    That’s what I have always thought – going active was if not a last resort, then certainly not something done as first line defence (save in special circumstances). The point being that the opposition will hear your active pings at a greater distance than you will get a return and so he will know where you are but you wont know where he is. However, Mr. APATS, gent of this parish and a fellow who certainly knows more about these things than most on here, gave me a right smacking the last time I suggested that. From his comments I got the impression that things have changed and being active for the surface fleet was now very much the norm (apparently trials of the 2087 against a Dutch SSK caused the rule book to be re-written). I dunno, and I suspect those that do will not, and quite rightly, say.

  52. HurstLlama


    “However from a discipline and public relations point of view he needs to be hung from the highest yardarm to encourage the others.”

    A remarkable comment from a lawyer, if you’ll pardon me for saying so.

    “it is akin to manslaughter. The balance of his mind being disturbed by the environment he was in.”

    Surely grounds for appeal, right there. The RM and perhaps the army too, need to get some lesson from the Met Police on how to gun down innocent people without getting prosecuted.

  53. mike

    @ Marks comment;

    “… but the more often you change your mind on these things, the more costly they become. “

    Don’t we know it!

    Again, the discussion should have been 1998… we’re here ‘cos we’re here.

  54. x

    @ Hurst Llama

    Modern well driven SSK’s, especially in the difficult acoustic conditions of the littorals, are just too darn quiet.

  55. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    x November 9, 2013 at 10:45 pm
    Boots on the ground – Exercise Southern Katipo

    More bliss.
    Conveniently available airfield, happy discovery of a suitable port to ‘take’ – and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ ??
    Just not a Marine…

    Are these videos all fig-leaf exercises to justify the meager capabilities as a budget line-item ?


    So, about that EURO MEB ?

    Then we’d go on to the ASIA MEB, dropping our NZ-friends an invite to participate with due warning that possibly ‘too much reality’ may be part of the deal…

    (Amphibious) Marine Expeditionary Brigades (MEB) will be the most potent and thus necessary form of democracies’ intervention via heavy-weight armor and man-power, only deliverable via serious numbers of dock landing ships. Helo-only dreams are ‘cute’ and very short-lived in 3-D. And that goes for other ‘light’ approaches as well. Evasiveness all the way to flat out avoidance/ going AWOL on the issue is not any option.

    Of course, before we’ll get to that, we may really have to discuss that battle-field incident at some serious depth, digging out all the facts and repercussions…political, social, doctrinal, legal, personal, transcendental, emotional, fictional … and we’d just be getting all warmed up.

  56. Mark

    As the comments are closed on the Haiti post on TD ship to shore series i can but only wonder how useful that would be now the full horrors of the typhoon in the Philippines are becoming known.

    These always occur with regular frequency and it would appear the international response is as slow as ever. It amazes me that as this was predicted several days in advance that DFID in the uk cannot somehow get together with the MoD to ensure that either an appropriate rfa or some such rn could divert to the area or 2 c17s with aid or perhaps a couple of reasue helicopter loaded on c17s could have been made ready and moved on spec to fwd position or a scan eagle team even to lend assistance in earliest part of the crisis.

  57. x

    @ KVO re Conveniently available airfield

    If you are a regular here you know there is always a conveniently available airfield…….

  58. dave haine

    @ Fluffy Thoughts

    Severn class is not being built anymore. The Tamar class has just finished building. It was built by Babcock, but designed by RNLI.

    They’re now working on the ‘Shannon’ which will replace the two smallest classes.

    The RNLI seem to have really got their ‘drumbeat’ right. Makes me think that they should be given the contract to supply and run the 1st Patrol Boat Sqn (like the OPV contract).

    I would love to see what they would design as a patrol boat.

  59. Simon


    Well, Mr APATS certainly knows a thing or two more than I, but is it possible he was talking about the littorals? I’d guess that is certainly somewhere that the SSK has the edge with all the water/white noise. In open ocean however, I’d imagine we still run in passive mode switching to active to locate the threat with Merlin rather than totally identifying the location of the escorts, however, I wait to be corrected ;-)

  60. Simon


    If we had a crystal ball then I guess we’d have built 3-4 LHDs.

    Unfortunately I can’t find one on Amazon or E-Bay. John Lewis weren’t that much help either asking me if I meant a “real” one or one that just glows dimly. :-)

    Oddly recent thinking is leading me to the conclusion that it’s not just the STOVL/CTOL bit that drives us towards CVF; it’s also the desire to operate and maintain Chinook at sea. Drop that requirement and you’re at the Juan Carlos and Cavour options, with it, your stuck with CVF or a larger Rotterdam type LPD design.

  61. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    Absolutely spot-on, Mark,
    as I stated earlier in regards to the NZ exercises, who is there right now ?
    A USN Carrier Strike Group showed up east of Fukushima in no time…

    An ASIA MEB compact would kick in for both HA/DR missions and more aggressive/defensive demands.
    Doing well in peace-time emergencies, such as the Philippines right now, helps justify the expenses inherent in standing up an ASIA MEB.

    And in light of what S. Korea, Japan, Aus, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, NZ etc. are establishing in terms of amphibious-operations- suitable assets, developing a multi-stage process of development and progressive harmonization of respective protocols towards such an MEB – incl. selected ‘Opt-Out’-provisions via diplomatic frame-work – would seem an obvious Project to put on the agenda.

    Taking structural details from NATO and other suitable compacts, getting going on this should not be a very protracted process. A lot of suitable infrastructure, geo-politics, and respective undeniable challenges are already fairly well-defined well beyond just well-forecast lethal weather-events.

    Well (????),
    once the current heavy-lifting on Ship-to-Shore protocols has been wrapped up,
    these two Projects of
    1. EURO MEB and
    2. ASIA MEB
    could logically follow on the ‘To Do List’ first of THINKING DEFENSE.

    Then the emerging wisdom in this forum could help boost public conversation around the often ill-understood reality that amphibious ‘swords’ more often than not do ‘Dual-Use’-Duty as ‘plow-shares’ in Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) emergencies, such as unfolding right now in the Philippines. Again, USMC-engagement in HA/DR challenge numerical vastly outnumbers the episodes when its more aggressive capabilities are initiated.

    Since there is no UN-white-painted such force to count on, such regional ‘Dual Use’-Collaboration offers both a higher form of civilized hands-on neighborliness, while also establishing a shared understanding/insistence on the significance of the rules around the 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone.

    Brings folks together across borders, while reaffirming the respect for the sanctity of boundaries.

    ‘Dual-Use’ military hardware and protocols are nothing new. But in this HA/DR driven format would be strong medicine against the ‘pacifistic’ silly of misunderstanding incapacity to protect your interests with being ‘post-modernist advanced civilized’.

    ” So, what actually constitutes an MEB…??”

  62. Mark


    The capability is already there bar some minimal tinkering. The british military station at Brunei would seem an obvious c2 , personnel and logistics staging area we could augment the bell 212 helicopters out there with the ones from Belize and use them as sar or as we knew this was coming pre position 2 herc or c17 with DFID aid to whatever airfield we use there.

  63. IXION


    I was making the point that frankly attempts to apply normal civilian standards of law in war situations is, (and after some thought I think the correct term), BOLLOCKS.

    A cursory check of most of the worlds religions,philosophical systems, and ethical codes: – Upon which the worlds civil law code are mainly based, (even the ones that call for death penalties theselves), will reveal that pretty high on the list is “thou shalt not kill”.

    There of course is your basic problem, your basic war, whatever its aims, has as it’s main effective element the process of killing. To go to war is to be emersed in killing, see killing, smell killing, touch killing, avoiding your own death, and being the instrument of death of others.

    We create laws of war, according to our social mores , and set a practical limit on pointless slaughter. They are at best loosely and eraticaly enforced. Do you think this marine is the first chap to do this in Afghanistan? I don’t.

    In order however to prevent this sort of thing becoming ‘acceptable,’ in order to prevent the British Army going from fighting machine to prisoner slaughtering psychos in an instant. Rather like the rioters last year, examples must be made.

    As for manslaughter he should have been offered this as an alternative plea. Ever he wasn’t or he rejected it.

  64. Think Defence

    X, because generally, there always is

    Mark, agreed, not very joined up is it, the company I work for were standby a week ago as part of their corporate social responsibility theme, primed and ready to go, as were, i expect, numerous charities.

    Have extended the auto comment close period to 90 days, it is a spam prevention tactic because older posts generally are the ones that get hammered.

  65. Observer

    Kibbitz, problem with an Asian MEB is the question of “who pays” and “who controls it”? If for example, China picked a fight with Vietnam, do all the contributors of the MEB pile in ala WWI or would some of them rather sit it out? And some of the countries simply can’t afford it, like New Zealand, who can’t generate a FJ or armoured force without a budget reappraisal, which means that the cost of the MEB would have to be paid more by some countries than others, which would make them very unhappy.

    IXION, I believe the proper phrase is “not commit murder” not “not kill”. Big difference. If it was “not kill”, then the subsequent history of the Israeli purging of Canaan would not be able to have taken place as they would have been an utterly pacifistic society. Biblically, historically and legally, there has been a distinction between legal killing (wars, capital punishment) and illegal ones (usually personally motivated).

    A missing or changed word makes a lot of difference. Classic case is the phrase “money is the root of all evil”. What is to blame? Money. Actual phrase- “love of money is the root of all evil”, what is to blame? The person’s love of money. So you can see that blame is pushed from the person in the actual case to the inanimate object in the common case.

  66. x

    @ TD

    Only on the dry bit which covers only 1/3 of the planet. Most of humanity lives within 80nm of the wet bit which covers the other 2/3. :)

  67. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    1. the well-established and -respected ASEAN format seems quite rich in opportunities to leverage towards am ASIA-MEB Compact.

    2. NATO has always had economically very unequal members, a reality for which intricate budgetary and political mechanisms were crafted – to apparently reasonable success.

    3. HA/DR would always have all respond as a matter of ‘Good Form’ and expectation of future mutual support, each according to their capability and relative location.

    4. EEZ-issues should be a mutual concern as well, with the current ‘Deterrence-Free’ de facto erosion of the successful 30+ years UN-based agreement producing ‘bad thinking’ in a number of capitals and fleet-HQs. Instead of progressively festering ‘Wild West’-absence of effective structures, the ASIA-MEB would equal bringing the ‘Marshall’ back ‘into town’, particularly with USN/USMC/RAN/NATO (?) etc. happy to add diplomatically well-balanced weight on the right side of the ledger.

    None of this is easy, but not without plausible precedent.

    ASIA-MEB would come to beat the current vector towards economically-destructive un-coordinated arms-races and periodic ‘testing’ each other’s hormone-levels…
    ASIA-MEB would likely complement if not upgrade the ASEAN ‘Red Telephone’.

    But all this should be part of a new EURO-MEB/ASIA-MEB Thread here on TD, if I may respectfully suggest this.

  68. as

    Are we going to have CRV7 integrated on to wildcat, typhoon and f35.
    Just with the new CRV7-PG it offer a cheap anti tank guided weapon.
    Also should we be looking at the ground launched version as a light short range GMLRS. 4km Range
    That you could also mount on ships. There are a variety of warheads that can now be fitted for different targets.

  69. IXION


    Depends on which religion or philosophy you are talking about. In the king James bible I think it is rendered a ‘Do no murder’. But the difference from the psychology of the individual soldier is irrelevant.

  70. Red Trousers


    am finding your comments on the law – and I know that you are expert in that – slightly baffling.

    Surely the prosecution in the Marine’s case made a decision to charge him with murder only after reviewing the evidence they had, and if they felt that murder was inappropriate or too high a bar, could have gone for some kind of manslaughter? And surely his defence team could have offered a plea of manslaughter due to “X, Y, or Z” depending on what they felt best able to prove? But, the law is a funny thing. Despite knowing very little of it I do seem to recall that it is rules-based (apart from “divorce law is completely fucking one-sided” (don’t ask, not going back there, most expensive 22 minutes of my entire life)).

    However, the layman should always remember “this is not a Court of Justice, this is a Court of Law:( . And try not to quite accidentally trip over your ex’s humanoid snake in the car park afterwards as he passes by carrying an armful of files. He tore the knee of his expensive suit. Oh dear.

  71. Observer

    IXION I believe most of the major versions render it as “Do not murder”, not “Do not kill”. I know the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NASB and ESV do. The outliers that I do know of are the Wycliff (Thou shall not slay) or the old Revised Standard, but the New Revised Standard switched it to murder. But you are right, it’s not really relevant to the Marine’s situation. What may be relevant is “Sanction”. The state empowers an individual to take a life during combat, or old martial law cases? (deadline etc) so how is this any different to killing an enemy combatant? Can it be taken that his actions can be implied to be a legal extension of his mandate from the state to suppress the enemy?

    On a related note, this isn’t the first time news of killing of wounded “enemy” combatants hit the news, I remember in the US during the early days of the intervention, a US Marine was clearing a compound and he stumbled across an injured enemy. I believe the situation went something like “This one is still alive!!” *bang*. It went all over the news with heaps of commentary and hand wringing. At that time, I think he did the right thing, you don’t ever need or want a fanatic at your back with a possible firearm or worse, a grenade parting gift. In this current case though, there was obviously no pressure so there isn’t really an excuse to kill for security, but personally, I really don’t see anything wrong with finishing off an enemy who 1) Was trying his best to kill you earlier and 2) may have been far gone already. Brutal I know, but I guess it’s due to me being comfortable with a stricter set of game rules than the UK is comfortable with. Have to admit though that the West seems to have softened a lot and do a lot more hand wringing these past few decades. Not a good sign to me when emotion takes over rationality.

    Kubbitz, if there wasn’t an arms race, everyone would then slack off and you’d end up with a defence glut similar to what is happening to Europe now. :) So keeping all the little armies in competition with each other helps keep up the numbers that can be later turned on someone else (*cough* China) in a co-operative venture if they started to play rough. If there is a regional force, “Oh, let the MEB handle it, we can cut a few corners” becomes the operative default.

  72. Red Trousers

    Colonel Tim Collins had it right, I think. His pre-battle speech is well published. Kenneth Branagh delivered it well in a film:

    I know that’s a dramatisation, delivered by one of Britain’s finest actors. But to me, it is extraordinarily evocative of Gulf 1 twelve years before. My Regiment had a similar speech made by our Brigade Commander, but he was crap at it. The speech Branagh delivered was more like those given by the Colonel to very small groups on several occasions – conversationally, and he engaged in a small debate. Above all, he told the Troopers to trust their instincts of fairness and decency. To the officers, he challenged us to be watchful, to be skilful in the art of flicking the boys’ minds from assault mode to compassion in a moment. He reminded all of us of his policy: if a soldier transgressed, his Troop Leader was equally guilty.

  73. Chris.B.

    @ Observer,

    “but personally, I really don’t see anything wrong with finishing off an enemy who… ” etc,

    — It’s against the accepted laws of war, laws which we’ve signed up to. Hence why it becomes wrong.

  74. Observer

    Chris, actually, no. There are a few factors that stand against that. For one, I doubt the injured enemy actually surrendered, it was more likely he fought till incapacitated. I also doubt that he was formally ever taken prisoner, which meant that his status is still an enemy combatant, both by his actions (shooting at others) and lack of actions (not surrendering). There is also the problem of applying the Geneva Convention, which is a convention of WAR to an insurgency that is not a war, nor are Islamic terrorist/guerrillas a recognised state in any form.

    Either way, it really is a difference in inculcated values so it’s going to be hard to reconcile the two viewpoints. Just have to remember that not everyone has a western mindset.

  75. IXION


    Never mistake amcourt of law for justice. I have spent 30 years in the law and whilst Most of the time some sort of right is done. True Justice is often just a happy by product. The prosecution get to pick the charge. The law has something to do with it but politics has about as much. The more high profile the case, the victim, or the defendant, the more the case is sexy publicity wise, the less the law has to do with it.

    One example is anything called ‘domestic violence’ . little more than a heated argument is classed as that now. It will be charged, it will not be dropped, the alleged victim will be dragged to the court in chains if he or she does not want to come. No one in the CPS will even consider dropping it. Because they will have to sign off on reviewing the file. Politically impossible. Anyone shocked by plebgate needs to get out more. No one who deals with the police on a daily basis believes eliments of them to be particularly competent or trustworthy.

    Some of the riot sentences were ridiculous in the cold light of day. Its all about keeping order and peace not justice.

    I cannot comment in detail about this case with confidence, particularly as I have not seen the file.

    The actual trial part is over so I guess I can comment without committing contempt!

    At a guess the crown decided the apparently logical (note use of apparently), decision making process of the marine made it murder. Something the court clearly felt was the case.

    Its possible he have been advised by his team to plead to manslaughter. I have had the experience in death cases of giving that advice. Clients often do not want to take the leap of admitting responsibility for a death. The crown of course can refuse to accept that plea and try and prove murder.

    The marine’s case that he seemingly still considered the fighter a threat and therefore his decision to shoot justified, can’t really run alongside an admission that it wasn’t , becuse the balance of his mind was disturbed. He may have played shit or bust and busted.

    I do stress the above is guesswork but hopefully it illustrates some of the forces and issues involved in charging, pleas and trials.

    The court will sentence on the facts of the case as it has found them and to be. But deterrence (as in sending out a message to other soldiers) will be a factor in any sentence.

    Oh and knock of the lawyer insults. You had a pop at me for sticking my nose in into army life.

    Well in this field – this is my kungfu and it is strong.

  76. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    Observer wrote
    “Kibbitz, if there wasn’t an arms race, everyone would then slack off and you’d end up with a defence glut similar to what is happening to Europe now. :) So keeping all the little armies in competition with each other helps keep up the numbers that can be later turned on someone else (*cough* China) in a co-operative venture if they started to play rough. If there is a regional force, “Oh, let the MEB handle it, we can cut a few corners” becomes the operative default.”

    NOT when every such MEB member-country explicitly has a good chunk of its (suitable) assets very much integrated into the floating, diving, rolling, flying, marching roster of that MEB.

    Using a GDP-divided by-population-based metric for instance would produce an ‘ought to bring to the table’ roster of such assets – give or take a fudge-factor and temporary hardship-adjustments. Any showing up with less or in poor repair would be frowned upon, with a rich range of ‘incentives’ conceivable, quite apart from de facto public military and thus national ‘shaming’.

    With every member-state accountable for their share and role in the MEB, you might still have a chance of an ‘arms-race’. However it would likely more focused on what is tactically/geo-strategically necessary as a matter of self-interest in the power and protection from a cohesive whole – versus an emotional mine-is-shinier-than-yours duplication in one area, while another vital but less ‘shiny’ one goes under-equipped.

    Basic shared understanding of certain fundamental principles already exist within NATO/EU. And they seem well-evolved (on paper at least) for ASEAN, ASEAN-PLUS, ASEAN-PLUS+…

    Heck, even the history of COMECON/EAST BLOCK has a few worthwhile elements to add to the discussion, such as the specialization of certain members in certain areas of weaponry and direct and indirect support-systems; the Philippines or Vietnam may not be building decent Frigates anytime soon, but could offer other essential contributions, etc. And unlike Moscow sitting on your chest dictating what ‘thou shalt produce’, if Manila finds an emerging niche-capability in certain road-going equipment, particularly effective island-hopping Marines, or short-range big-punch missile-boats, there would be no reason for them to not leverage that into more and bigger – until they figure they could indeed do their own helicopter-carrying, well-deck-equipped multi-mission frigate, especially if a standard-type has emerged and a few more would really help the regional compact.

  77. Chris.B.

    @ Observer,

    The details of the case made it quite clear that when they came across the fella he was wounded but alive, and practically unable to move (they stood around over him talking first). One of them asked the others if they fancied offering him first aid, to which the other two replied “no”. Under the law, he was their prisoner. He had – for all intents and purposes – been captured. Then they shot him. At which point the remark was explicitly made about not mentioning the situation to anybody, because they’d just broke the Geneva Convention.

    Whether you like it or not, they were wrong in the eyes of the law and have been found guilty as such. Had you done the same, you would have been equally culpable. Your differing nationality would not have prevented those actions from being unlawful.

  78. Observer

    Chris, as IXION had put it, it would depend on how sexy the news is for public consumption. Here, chances are more likely that it wouldn’t even go to trial or get commented on, just filed as a “soldier finished off critically wounded enemy combatant” in an AAR somewhere. Unless some idiot decides to post it on Facebook for the Western media to feed on.

  79. Observer


    “NOT when every such MEB member-country explicitly has a good chunk of its (suitable) assets very much integrated into the floating, diving, rolling, flying, marching roster of that MEB.”

    Exactly! Chances are high you would end up with a country having NOTHING but the MEB. Look at New Zealand’s armed forces and what they got away with cutting out. And if the contributions are not up to par, make enough of a fuss and the country in question might just tell you to go suck it, take their contribution and go home, leaving you short. This isn’t even considering the differing motivations. Philippines and Vietnam would want a more confrontational stand against China, after all, most of it is someone else’s equipment and men, while Cambodia is more pro-China due to Chinese investment. So you are going to get “national command” of the MEB in conflict among itself. That leaves the question, who gives the orders? Cambodia? Vietnam? Philippines? Brunei? Singapore? Malaysia? Who gets to be top dog? Who’s agenda should it follow?

    As for Philippine production, sad thing is that their manufacturing is down the creek, they are lacking severely in infrastructure. Only bright point on military hardware I heard is that they produce rather good and cheap quality ammo, which unfortunately most countries already have an excess of.

  80. Brian Black

    IXION, it was reported that Marine A’s defence was that he believed the fighter was already dead, not that he thought there was still a threat from him.

    Any residual threat from the barely conscious fighter would seem to have been removed anyway once his rifle, magazines, and a grenade had been taken from him.

    If the reporting is correct regarding the claimed belief that Marine A was shooting a dead body, that’s the confusing thing about this case.

    Video evidence would seem to have easily rubbished that claim; the fighter is said to have been seen moving, and to be heard vocalizing something before being shot; there is also the pretence of treating the fighter’s injuries, and the various things said by the Marines.

    I wonder whether Marine A followed the advice of his defence, or whether he had dismissed them altogether. With a fairly shallow look at the incident and court martial as reported, it would seem that the only reasonable options would have been to either offer some kind of psychological defence, or to plead guilty as early as possible.

    From media reports only, there does not seem to have been any competent defence in this very serious case.

  81. wf

    @Brian Black: very good points. You do wonder what an earth Marine A or his defence team were thinking. If the environment was that dangerous, putting a couple of rounds through Terry first before approaching seems sensible anyway: a previous commenter said as much. Doing it face to face sounds like the motive was revenge.

  82. WiseApe

    @Observer – I see the point you’re making but it really doesn’t matter what rules – if any – are followed by jihadis/insurgents. Our troops fight under our rules – that’s part of what “fighting for our way of life” means.

    I’m not an expert on the law, certainly not military law. What if the marines had simply left him to bleed out? Given the audio evidence which we’ve heard, and the video evidence which we’ve not seen, marine A was either ill-advised or wrong himself to choose the defence he did. He should have pleaded guilty with diminished responsibility, or whatever the courts call it.

    I don’t like senior military figures weighing in via the media about what sentence he should receive before he’s even been sentenced.

  83. Observer

    Wise, good point on the discussions about the sentence even before guilt has been determined, it predisposes people to assume that a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion.

    There might actually be another person to go after in a case like this. Unless it is SOP, you’ll need to go after the knucklehead who downloaded it into his laptop. Talk about a security breach with consequences. The media getting hold of it is very bad. Think of what’ll happen if Terry got a hold of it first? Propaganda coup. “Western Marine Executes Afghan in Cold Blood”.

    I wonder if his mates are going to bring him out back for a little talk.

  84. Think Defence

    I have to disagree about the propaganda value in Afghanistan, personally, I don’t think anyone in that postcode would give two shits because its the norm there

    There has been worse committed by US troops in Afghanistan, do you hear about them?

    Our rules of engagement and Laws of Armed Combat are just things our most recent enemies exploit seem to me

  85. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    Observer November 11, 2013 at 6:45 am

    On the ASIA-MEB:

    You seem to (again) dismiss experience on ‘internal imbalances’ from for instance our shared NATO foundations and respective daily practical protocols ?

    And if a member-country has with its investments and state-of-readiness lived up to its MEB-obligations, and believes that beyond those metrics no further is necessary, what would you object to on that ?

    The point of such a regional MEB is
    – to establish professional relationships,
    – foster (hopefully) rationally coordinated and even shared acquisition-programs (say to buy a big bad batch of go-fast air/surface/submarine PLAN-killers) to establish/support/boost the MEB-structure,
    – directly counter ‘bad habits’ by violators such as the casual breach of for instance 200nm EEZ of member-states,
    – thus produce overall a reduction of friction-potential in the context of neighborly support systems for both HA/DR and at least deterrence from aggressive/defensive action.

    We have plenty of experience to draw on to establish respective formalities.

  86. Kibbitz Van Ogle

    Since it would likely be in a Final Approach path to ‘Boris Island International Jet-Port’, that would sound like a fine excuse to at long last blow up the RICHARD MONTGOMERY before its internal fuzes go off unscheduled.

    On either shore-side I’d start putting up bleachers and a ticket-booth to sell the spectacle – ‘waders encouraged’.

  87. x

    @ Wise Ape

    Power stations, gas storage, coal, fracking, and internet infrastructure first I think.

    Remember HS2 sounds a lot but it is only 5/6 years’ worth of DfID budget.

  88. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Boss – my concern is propaganda here to the effect that “Anybody in Uniform and anybody who believes in the Defence of the Realm is an Imperialist Racist Sociopath who needs to be in a Re-Education Camp” see Ms Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s Column in today’s Independent if you think your blood pressure can stand it…I would put in a link if I was clever enough.

    All – liking this talk about infrastructure – we Northerners were much less Gloomy when digging canals, building railways and so on…


  89. John Hartley

    GNB re infrastructure. Given that ten times more people/goods travel by road rather than rail, I wonder if a new M7 motorway from Edinburgh to the English border, with the M11 extended to meet it, would do more for the North than HS2?

  90. Red Trousers

    Re the security breach of downloading the video onto a laptop, some thoughts:

    Are the helmet cams part of issue kit in Afghanistan? I recall about 5-7 years ago they were not, but lots of people were buying them privately for jollies. But that may have been overtaken by events since.

    If privately owned, then the stupid fool who did it is not guilty of anything more formal than a Section 69 (or whatever the Service Discipline Act calls that clause: offence against good order and discipline in the old Army Act). Still an utter taunt for doing so, of course.

    If officially issued, then in addition to the Section 69 charge, he’ll have broken the RMADS associated with the system (i.e. system policies / procedures).

    In both cases, there are probably theatre-specific rules and regulations as well. But I suspect that whoever he is, he’ll probably be in much more legal trouble over whatever it was that caused the police to break into his house and seize his laptop looking for something completely different.

    GNB, would it make you Gloomy again if I suggested that the Irish built most of the Victorian infrastructure, or at least claim they did….. ;) I can’t recall the exact saying, but along the lines of financed by Englishmen via the City, designed by Scotsmen, built by Irishmen and operated by Welshmen. Something like that.

  91. Mark


    Nice to see. My only thought is about 4 day to late them in DFID ect should have been much more on the ball as TD mentioned yesterday.

  92. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @John Hartley – sooner save the money to fortify the border and dig an anti-tank ditch, and arm and re-train the Border Force for their new responsibilities…

    (More seriously, the routes from the south make much more difference than those going further north…although I might prefer re-opening the Midland Main Line and upgrading the others to a decent standard (rather than HS2)…as well as developing Doncaster as a serious international airport.

    “Up to a point Lord Red Trousers” – we dug the coal that powered our machines that made our steel that provided everything from shovels to steam-engines to ships…and that was a lot of steel…without us the navvies would have been using wooden shovels…and it was the money we made in the eighteenth century that kick-started the spivs in the City in the nineteenth…


  93. Red Trousers


    Where would we all be without Yorkshire? ;) The Empire built on Tetley’s and Tate & Lyle.

    I love the place, but sadly have spent too little time there. Actually, I love North Yorkshire, and used to think I had to endure ‘t People’s Republic to get there. But, friends in Sheffield live in a lovely environment***, and have a really a good set of cultural options, so perhaps I was wrong in my youth to roll up the car windows and drive determinedly up or down the A1 until it was all behind me. I’ve even managed to spend 2 hours in Donny station between trains without having to dig coal or join a union.

    *** Who knew that within 5 miles of mild uphill from Endcliffe Park in Sheffield, going up the Dore Road you could be in the most stunning Peak District? Well, I didn’t, until I went to stay there taking the sexy Italian road bike in the car in case I got a chance of a Sunday early morning ride. Almost seems a blessed place.

  94. x

    Fluffy Thoughts said “send frigate HMS Daring”

    Yes. But a true destroyer would be just the Daring class and would not have been assigned a frigate type number……………… :)

  95. HurstLlama

    ” … and it was the money we made in the eighteenth century that kick-started the spivs in the City in the nineteenth …”

    Oh,no, I’ll not have that, Mr. Gloomy. The Spivs (aka Gentlemen Capitalists) were well up to speed with their short-term, get-rich-quick investment strategies in the early to mid eighteenth century. By the late nineteenth century the effects of their attitude to industrial investment (plus the idiocies of the education establishment) meant that the UK had fallen behind both Germany and the USA. Its been downhill all the way ever since, for pretty much exactly the same reasons, and there is no sign of anything changing soon.

  96. Red Trousers


    I’d go easy on the giggling about HMS Daring. If you look slightly above to El Sid’s post, you’ll notice the Andrew are now sponsoring charabancs. They may not have the glamorous Type Numbers, but they do have the important Route Numbers…

    Jokes along the lines of “you wait 14 years for an OPV and then all of a sudden 3 come along at once” are completely unwarranted. Completely, you hear?

  97. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – For goodness sake don’t tell everyone – my favourite ale-houses are already awash with nervous looking Tarquins and Tobys for months every autumn, and half the little sods stay on after graduating…the bright-eyed Jocastas and Jemimas only partly make up for them. Next time you are up this way I’ll buy you a pint in The Lescar – your friends will know it.

    @Mr H Llama…I agree about the propensity for spivvery, but some of the earliest investments came from honest labour – wool in the fifteenth century and piracy in the sixteenth gradually making way for coal, iron and cloth in subsequent years…and in fairness some of the under-investors were local families who should have known better.


  98. x

    GNB used the p-word (which I won’t.)

    I object. Drake and his ilk were servants of the state operating an overseas quasi-PFI-tax-collection-security-military-trading-standards-service, sort of.

  99. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @x – Privateers then – developing a fine tradition of free enterprise patriotic activity first established during the Hundred Years War – providing the cash to rebuild villages, farmsteads and manor houses right across the Green and Pleasant – and offering a prototype for professional armed forces that endures to this day.

    I’ve a book written in my head about how the longbow contributed to English Liberty, avoided full-scale revolution and class war, and set the scene for Empire as well…


  100. Observer


    Re: The Marine’s friend, yes it’s only a misdemeanour most likely, but it’s still an utterly stupid thing to do, keeping evidence like that. It unfortunately is also a bad habit of the current technophile generation I fear, posting or keeping video clips like that without considering the consequences. It has become a trend that is worrying. Just had a publicised case today where an idiot urinated on his officer’s bed then posted the video. Don’t these idiots think before doing things that implicate themselves?

    Oh well, back to carriers.

  101. El Sid

    Re: Daring going to the Philippines

    It’s worth noting that under Article XVIII, Section 25 of the Philippine constitution, “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred in by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for that purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.

    The US and Australia have signed the necessary treaties, we haven’t :

    So once Daring gets there they either a)paint some stars on the White Ensign or b)bob about offshore doing nothing.

    I suspect there’s some useful jobs to be done as a comms relay and maybe air traffic control, but that’s about all they will be allowed to do.

  102. The Other Chris

    @El Sid

    The Philippine government have already declared a state of “National Calamity” which allows everyone to skip those sections with a polite nod (Proclamation No. 682 [1] empowered under Republic Act No. 10121 [2]).

    A good job too. Wouldn’t want a bit of red tape getting between the aid and those who need it.

    [1] Proclamation No. 682
    [2] Republic Act No. 10121

  103. Obsvr

    Re the RM verdict.

    This sort of situation can be very tricky, but in this case I think the charge and verdict were correct. But I know of another, as ever on the battlefield it depends on the tactical situation.

    In Vietnam an Aust inf pl had a contact and swept the area, there were en casualties on the ground but they left them be. One of these casualties raised himself, grabbed his AK and opened fire into the backs of the pl, who took casualties. Subseqently the procedure in that unit was to put a couple of bullets into every body on the ground without assessing their state. It’s also useful to note that checking bodies in a hurry had been out of fashion since one was turned over to reveal a grenade with the pin removed. Kicking aside weapons is not always simple either.

    There’s a nice legal point about whether or not a person on the ground might be trying to surrender, or would be if they were able, and how do you know if they are able without examining them, at some (unnecessary?) risk.

  104. Mark

    Well they’ve arrived

    The first RC-135W Rivet Joint intelligence-gathering aircraft for the U.K. Royal Air Force (RAF) has been delivered to its main operating base at RAF Waddington.

    In preparation for the Rivet Joint’s arrival, 51 Sqn. crews flew missions with the Air Force’s 55th Reconnaissance Wing to gain experience on the type. U.K. crews already have achieved in excess of 32,000 flying hours and 1,800 sorties with the 55th Wing.

  105. Swimming Trunks

    @ El Sid – Thanks for the link; I fear they are being ever so optimistic…

    But I shall have to read it before commenting further.

  106. Mickp

    @ EL Sid – not sure about the validity of the costing, but that makes for a reasonably balanced force it seems to me. Wonder what the rest of the UK would put together if we had to start from scratch again?

  107. Angus McLellan

    Regarding the MacDonald & Parrott paper, I see that they included Hawks or similar. Clearly it’s harder than they thought to shake off that British-way-of-doing-things mindset.

    So far as I can tell, Norway and Denmark have nothing between their antiquated piston-engined Saab Safaris and their F-16s. I know that Denmark has a deal for advanced training in Canada. So too does Austria. But my Google-fu seems unable to answer the question “what does Norway do for advanced flying training?”. Any ideas?

  108. Red Trousers

    El Sid,

    the Scots can’t support 6 battalions even now (5 x SCOTS plus the Scots Guards), unless they recruit half of Fiji. I don’t see how that is getting better if they stupidly opt for independence. Who’d want to leave Dunfermline to serve in Inverness? (The reverse is even more horrifying a thought)

    If I know Scots soldiers, which I do, most will opt to stay on as mercenaries in the English / Welsh / Northern Irish army and have a chance of fun and adventure. So the 6 battalions will probably shrink on Day 1 to about 2, and from then on be a challenge to recruit for. I expect it will be the same for young Scottish Andrews and Kevins: who’d join up to sail about in fishery protection or fly some twin propeller airplane doing not very much at all, when they could join the Rump UK armed forces and do a proper job?

  109. dave haine

    Hmm, just read messrs MacDonald & Parrott’s paper.

    Of course, they’ll be able to afford a £2.5bn defence budget, initially, at least. From my understanding, effectively, the rUK will have bought or given them the kit, to start with. They talk of approx £10bn of kit and cash, being handed over.

    The problems I see with the paper:

    They make no mention of replacement programmes, and £2.5bn budget doesn’t allow for that, so you would see them eventually obsoleting into ineffectiveness, especially as it seems that the navy will be dealing with all boaty things, even for the police, the PRSAF (Peoples Republic of Scotland Air Force) will deal with all flyey things, including for the police.

    They’re ignoring the very things that RT alluded to concerning recruitment & manning.

    Good things about the Paper:

    They’ve hit the nail on the head, concerning the Northern Sea Route, and the increasing importance of the arctic. Which HMnG are wilfully ignoring.
    They’ve hit the nail on the head, concerning defending and securing the homeland, from the sea. Which HMnG are wilfully ignoring.
    And they’ve hit the nail on the head about the coastguard, safety at sea and emergency towing. Which HMnG are wilfully ignoring.

    None of which having two bloody great carriers will address. If the 3 new OPV’s are additional to the fleet, not replacements, that’ll be a start. Then 24 Kawasaki P1’s, 10 or so Zephyr UAVs, 30 odd fast guided missile/attack boats, some of which can be used by the URNU’s until we need them for fighty stuff. Maybe a dozen guided missile corvettes. Let the RAuxN have some to play with, too.

    @Angus Mclellan

    Like most of the smaller Nato nations they do their own pilot selection, then send the successful students to Canada, where they train on the CT156 Harvard II (Beechcraft Texan II) onto the CT155 Hawk (BAE Hawk).

    And as the hawk has a limited AD (air defence) and a reasonable CAS (close air support) capability, not a bad choice to have as a back-up.

  110. El Sid

    For future reference, the Scottish stuff has been moved to

    @dave haine
    The NSR is a bit overrated – it has draught constraints which limit you to ships of around 2500TEU, which means it will always be cheaper for the average box to be sent the long way round on an Emma. Speed is not that much of a concern, as the move to slow steaming shows – what matters is reliability, something that the NSR is bad for, thanks to fog and ice. That’s not to say it’s irrelevant, just that it’s being overhyped.

  111. El Sid

    This is fun. Boston Dynamics have previously demonstrated the Cheetah, a 4-legged bot that could outrun Usain Bolt, but was tethered. Now they’ve cut the leash with the WildCat (best bit is the last 40 seconds or so) :

  112. George

    @GNB – Ah Sheffield – that was my Alma Mater! The proper University, not the ex-Poly Hallam! 4 happy years :-) Don’t think the Lescar was there when I was living there however.

  113. El Sid

    @dave haine
    Well it is a bit of a big thing, but mostly in relation to Russian internal affairs – it opens up some better routes out for Siberian oil and will generally help the economy of their north, as well as opening up a major new way for their navy to move around. You will get some international traffic going through, but it will be more things like bulkers and oil product tankers rather than containers full of plasma TVs. The Russians are trying to treat it as an internal waterway that will allow them to charge Suez-type fees, they’ve sort of got an argument in the early stages of ice cap melting, but not later on.

    It’s coincided with the hype around the big Arctic gas fields, but current gas prices mean their economics are even dodgier than they were a few years ago, eg Statoil have walked away from the Shtokman field in the Barents Sea.

  114. WiseApe

    @Dave Haine – I’m sure it’s not too late to add a tow bar to the rear of CVF. Hopefully not £800 mil, but you never know – it will have to be a gold-plated UK spec tow bar, none of your good enough for johnny foreigner rubbish.

  115. Jules

    Bit more from Phil on the new OPV’s, apparantly getting shot of the Rivers is up to the Navy… (I wish I could believe that!) There will be no extra budget for the three extra ships, looks like. So something else would have to go. Speaking of OPV’s/Corvettes etc, are those three still tied up at Barrow??? Dunno what use they’d be for anything but could we not also lease them for a bit to get hulls in the wet stuff?, we’d also need another 200 or so Sailors I guess too…

  116. Challenger


    Whilst I believe that the RN will technically get to make the decision on the OPV’s the reality of no extra money and extreme manpower limitations does sadly but effectively make the decision for them.

    Although I think SDSR 2015 will probably prioritize the RN/RAF over the Army to fit in with a flexible, expeditionary doctrine it will at best leave the RN relatively untouched. At worst we could see more cuts and this time their isn’t anything left to salami slice!

    With an Albion at extended readiness, frigate numbers unsecured and the fate of the second CVF far from certain I think the RN has other priorities, leaving the situation with the new OPV’s and Rivers fairly low down on the list.

  117. HurstLlama


    “… this time their isn’t anything left to salami slice!”

    Really, what about frigate numbers. “The new larger OPVs , capable of taking Merlin will be able to perform most of the duties we expect from a GP Frigate and those other capabilities, which are seldom needed, can be provided by other assets. Additionally the strategic situation and likely threat level has changed since 2010. Therefore, the number of frigates in the Fleet will be cut to 10″. Alternatively, they could just do what they did with the T45; ignore the task and just cut the number.

    The army probably will not see any further numbers cut from the 2015 review, though anyone thinking they will hang on to their equipment levels and training budgets is likely to be disappointed. Dunno about the RAF, training (i.e. flying hours will go down) but their kit is too tied in with international agreements. As for the Andrew, I think it depends on who wins the next election. If Cameron remains Prime Minister then expect the loss of two or three frigates. If Labour get in (with or without a coalition with the Lib Dems) then the frigates will go and, probably the Successor class.

    Anyone expecting the HMS Prince of Wales to join the fleet is, I fear, delusional. At best it will complete acceptance trials and then be mothballed. At worst it will be offered for sale, find no takers, and then be towed off to Turkey for breaking after a few years swinging on a buoy at Pompey.

    Too Gloomy? I don’t think so, but if anyone wants a wager….

  118. Challenger


    Just off out so I can’t make a detailed reply, however I do agree that their is a chance we could see a cut of 2-3 frigates in 2015 and anyone can see that the fate of POW is sadly precarious.

    I still believe that whatever shape or form any cuts take the RN won’t bear the brunt of them in the way that it arguably did in 2010.

    These new OPV’s may be able to take a Merlin on deck but if they replace the Rivers then they are surely going to be far too busy conducting fishery and other patrol work in UK waters to have any time to fill the gaps left by any potential scrapping or reduced order of frigates?

    I agree their is reason to be gloomy, but your views are a tad too gloomy for my taste. Although I’m still more than happy to have a wager with you!

  119. x

    @ El Sid

    Thank you for the second link, quite some read. Of course RN submariners in O-boats were undertaking similar missions around the Kola. Explains exactly why the RN still needs a SSK capability.

  120. Repulse

    @HurstLlama: The fact that both carriers will enter service I think is a done deal. Question Time on BBC was interesring as the fact that the carrierS were going to be in pompy was stated on many an occasion. The fact that Labour signed the contract cannot see that changing regardless of who wins the election.

    Cameron must be loving the RFTG model at the moment given the Philippines. Though the fact is that apart from support a full time RFTG escorts are of limited value nowdays. SSNs, MCMs and RFAs probably have more value than a T23 nowdays in our quasi peacetime.

  121. Repulse

    “SSNs, MCMs and RFAs probably have more value than a T23 nowdays in our quasi peacetime.”, oh and OPVs :)

  122. HurstLlama


    “SSNs, MCMs and RFAs probably have more value than a T23 nowdays in our quasi peacetime.”

    Only an idiot builds a fleet for peacetime, quasi or otherwise. because doing so leaves one exposed when war breaks out.

    Mr APATs, gent of this parish, gave me a good smacking on here a few months ago for daring to suggest that the RN needs to be capable of fighting a war against a capable enemy. His view was that there is no capable enemy in sight and nobody is building up their potential and so the RN is fine as it is thank you very much.

    There was a paper published by the RUSI a few weeks ago which detailed how the Russians are rebuilding their fleet, from memory 50 new warships joining in the next decade and their submarine squadrons are going to be bigger than European NATO can handle. Not that I am suggesting we are going to get into a re-run of the cold war at sea, but if you run down your own forces at the same time as potential enemy is building up his I think you become very vulnerable.

  123. Simon257

    @ WF

    Siemens have bought all three transformers from the now closed Didcot Power Station. They are going to be shipped to Germany, then refurbished and then reused.

    Nothing has replaced Didcot or the other two stations that have closed this year. We are putting our faith in Prayer Wheels, which don’t work when it gets really cold, as it does every winter in this country!

  124. Mark

    Bit more on x’s link to martime patrol aircraft

    A video


    “The company says it is studying a wide range of sensors and systems for the aircraft, and while Boeing does not envisage an armed role for the aircraft, Eric Martel, Bombardier’s president of specialized and amphibious aircraft, said there were no airframe limitations if customers wanted to add pylons to the wings. Boeing plans to make the MSA available to customers in 2015.”

    A version on the global express maybe nice add a few anti sub equipment as its a bigger platform.

  125. HurstLlama

    For anyone interested in the Normandy Campaign this paper has today been brought to my attention:

    It is a fascinating read with lots of factoids that I wasn’t previously aware of and some interesting interpretations of the history (the German contributor’s comparative analysis of the SS and Heer units for a start) . It also has a confirmation of something I have been banging on about for years – Normandy, especially for the infantry, was at least as bad a campaign as the Somme, but nobody calls Montgomery a butcher or complains that the British army in 1944 were “Lions led by Donkeys” (yes, I know that was a made up quote but it has stuck).

    Anyway for those military history buffs on the site its well worth a read.

  126. Chris

    Ant – ref GOCO competition of one – many years ago, when asking specifically what would happen to an MOD competitive procurement programme if all but one of the competitors bailed out, I was told the rule was that the competition was void and either had to be restarted with revised conditions, turned into a sole-source procurement with all the additional justifications and contractual structure such procurements demand, or the procurement abandoned altogether. In this case, I would have thought a sole-source justification would be verging on impossible, firstly because doing procurement programme management is hardly a unique skill to the one remaining bidder, and secondly because there were two bidders in the frame until yesterday.

    This means either the competition should be terminated and relaunched, or just terminated. If what I was told all that time ago was right and is still valid.

    To continue a competitive process when there is no competition is barking. What red-blooded commercial outfit wouldn’t smell blood and find as many excuses as possible to raise their prices? If the only competitor had decided the level of remuneration was inadequate for the risks involved, that’s carte-blanche to the last man standing to monster up on the risk budget. Kerrchingg!

    So I really hope HMG doesn’t attempt the ‘special case’ justification to give GOCO management to Bechtel just because its the only bid in town. When even Uncle Sam over the water told HMG this was a stupid idea so full of risk they would not sell to UK unless the GOCO company was American, the Gov’t ought to have taken the hint and put their efforts into fixing the MOD/Civil Service organization instead of trying to privatize this bit of the machinery of State.

    Two thoughts spring to mind on the subject of GOCO though; first, how much money has been spent running what ought to be an aborted procurement? Second, if the GOCO competition was being run by the very organization that was to be decimated if GOCO was installed, might there have been a degree of making life difficult for the bidders to scare them away? (if so wouldn’t that be the most valuable thing the procurement branch had done in decades?)

  127. Nick

    Radar cloaking, interesting technology whether practicable in covering many wavebands I wouldn’t know, but science moves on, could see it being used on small boats, submarines on special ops.
    ” The cloaking device involves covering the ship, or indeed any object, in tiny antennas that radiate an electromagnetic field. The field effectively cancels out the incoming radar waves, meaning there’s nothing left that will bounce off the ship and return to the radar”

  128. Challenger


    ‘Normandy, especially for the infantry, was at least as bad a campaign as the Somme, but nobody calls Montgomery a butcher or complains that the British army in 1944 were “Lions led by Donkeys”’

    Interesting. They may not have been ‘Donkeys’ but the over-caution and lack-luster performance of British leadership within 21st Army Group (arguably in the British Army generally at that time) is an opinion which I have seen crop up quite a bit in various pieces of work on the campaign.

    Better than average commanders such as Crocker, Horrocks, Rennie and others did exist, but the consensus seems to be that they were the exceptions to the rule. I think that their was definitely something missing in British leadership, some vague but very real lack of dynamism and flair, but the serious shortage of manpower must have been a very significant contributing factor to how the campaign was conducted. I’d argue that the successes and failures of British leadership in Normandy would have been very different under other circumstances, especially if they had had the kind of manpower the Americans enjoyed.

    The British Army seemed to learn a lot of the lessons needed to fight the top notch enemy it faced….but unfortunately only by a time when the resources where no longer available to actually put them into practice.

  129. IXION


    I would have thought most people who were interested would have known about the casualty figures.

    The difference is that Normandy as a plan worked the Somme didn’t.
    Those planning Normandy expected heavy casualties (although not as bad as they were).
    Normandy and its post D day Battles, including British failures like Goodwood, all contributed to breaking the German Army in the West; and after Falaise it was Broken: – it in effect legged it out of France.

    We were in Berlin a less than a year after Normandy If we had been in berlin a year after the Somme it might not be so recalled.

    SS Units could and did perform some mighty feats of resistance and courage. (as well as blood thirsty Murder). But particularly later in the war there were incidents of army commanders regarding them as a bit of a double edged sword.

  130. Observer

    Nick, radar can’t be used underwater, why stealth a sub? It’s acoustics that you need to hide a sub from. And …well…

    This is an improved version from 3 years ago where the entire contraption had to be soaked in refractive oil for it to work. Still a kludge, but getting to be a workable item in small steps. As for future advances, remember, radar is an electromagnetic wave just like light. Who knows, maybe in 15-30 years, we might get a true cloaking device instead of just RAM (radar absorbent material). Cap this around a missile….

  131. Chris

    Obs – reflections are generated on boundaries between media of different refractive index. Perspex (acrylic) and paraffin have the same refractive index; put a clear perspex structure in a bath of paraffin and it becomes entirely invisible. I do not know the physics, but I suspect a boundary layer of variable refractive index from that of outside environment on the outer surface to that of underlying structure where it bonds to the structure would reduce much of the reflectivity – the same sort of technique used on the glass of camera lenses where multiple evaporated layers of different metals reduce the reflectiveness of the individual lens elements and so reduce unwanted internal reflections. Obviously these layers on lenses are incredibly thin, hence still transparent, but still do their job. I can’t see why similar boundary treatments couldn’t be adapted for the radar band. Just a suggestion…

  132. Nick

    My thought for cloaking a submarine was for various reasons, concealment of periscopes when targeting ship, snorkels on diesel-elctric subs (I understand it was the high definition radar, airborne and ship, that broke the back of the U boats in the latter stages of the Battle of Atlantic), lastly to enable submarine to insert special troops on enemy coast.

  133. Observer

    Good point Nick, didn’t think of the periscope or the snorkel. As for the SF guys, release them underwater, let them swim. The exercise will do them good. :P

  134. HurstLlama

    Fair points, Mr. Challenger, some of the leadership amongst British and Canadian formations was certainly of a lower standard then one might have hoped. Sackings were not uncommon during the campaign. For example, Bucknall (XXX Corps) went after Operation Perch, to be replaced by Horrocks, along with Erskine (7th armoured), Kitching (4th Canadian armoured) was given the boot and, if memory serves, diverse brigadiers were sent home as well . Two thoughts though.

    Firstly, there is little point in complaining about a lack of flair and dynamism from corps and divisional commanders when Montgomery himself held them on such a tight leash that they were only ever expected or allowed to perform the parts he had allotted to them. To deviate from his plan seemed to have been regarded by Montgomery as a more besetting sin than having half a brigade slaughtered or missing a chance of a breakthrough. How much of that was because Montgomery, after the desert campaign, didn’t really trust subordinate commanders and how much because complying to the plan allowed maximum use of artillery (and so minimise the manpower issues) is a moot point.

    However, that Brit/Canadian troops could, when allowed, display flexibility, flair and dynamism was I think demonstrated during Op Bluecoat when 11th Armoured found and exploited a gap near Saint Martin des Besaces and second army was able to switch the focus away from XXX corps, slogging away to the East, and use VIII corps to push where 11th Armoured was leading. Maybe Montgomery was away from his HQ that day and couldn’t get back in time to issue the “no deviation from the plan” order.

    Secondly, you mention the undoubted manpower shortage that was manifest in the British army, especially in the infantry branch by the summer of 1944. Every general must have been aware of the shortage, Montgomery certainly was, and operation plans were devised to minimise casualties. Yet casualty levels were as high as the Somme campaign. There was no failure in staff work or culture of recklessness amongst the generals and their staff – it was just the nature of the battle that they had to fight.

    The generals planning for the Somme didn’t know their artillery plans wouldn’t work, they were still learning how industrial scale war functioned, they had the most primitive of communication systems and virtually no knowledge or control once their troops went forward. In Normandy none of those restrictions applied yet the casualty rates were much the same, if not actually worse, and that, I think, is my point.

  135. Chris.B.

    @ HL,

    So much had changed between Normandy and the Somme though. Tanks for a start. The reason Normandy gets something of a free pass is because – as IXION mentioned – it worked. It resulted in a significant breakout and ultimately lead to much progress in exchange for the casualties suffered, as opposed to the Somme, which ended as a stalemate.

  136. Mark

    LONDON — Helicopter maker AgustaWestland is on track for an £800 million (US $1.28 billion) boost as the UK Defence Ministry prepares to go ahead with a program to convert a fleet of Merlin AW101 aircraft for mari-time use.

    Meanwhile, a deal to support British Army Apache attack helicopters will be extended by another five years, according to government and industry sources.

  137. John Hartley

    Just read the defense news article. I still fear this is the next MoD procurement disaster. Trying to make non-folding, land based helos into naval machines, has so many risks, I don’t know where to start. I think it would be better to leave those land based Merlins with the RAF, to replace the knackered Pumas, then use the conversion money to buy new build naval transport helicopters. Less risky + a better long term solution.

  138. IXION

    Chris B


    You launch an all out attack designed to take territory and smash the enemies engaged forces.

    You take virtually no territory, suffer the bloodiest cassualties in the history of the British Army the opposing forces remain unsmashed*. And its a stalemate??????

    There are such things as Phyrric victories and the Somme was certainly that*.

    . But the starting point of assessing any battle is who ends up in possession of the field. And in any meaningful way that was the Germans.

    *what you are left with is the ‘mathematics of blood’. Attrition. And in that respect its a victory we could afford to exchange casualties at a worse than one to one ratio. We did kill a lot of the best pre war infantry the Germans had, we did come out the end with a better understanding of modern war, all good things.

    But ultimately we stopped attacking. They did not withdraw.

  139. Chris.B.

    @ IXION,

    Yes, a stalemate. As in, neither side advanced. Both suffered heavy casualties. The status quo resumed. A stalemate.

  140. Tubby

    @John Hartley

    Surely it is a fairly easy conversion as they are based on a naval helicopter, so it should be fairly easy to make the changes? Personally I would have preferred a new medium helicopter purchase as discussed some years ago, aimed at replacing sea king and puma, even if the leading contender was NH90. Only advantage I now see to life extending the puma is that when Scotland goes independent we can offer them all of the puma’s as the back bone of their army aviation – I guess they will want 9A’s for scout/anti-tank role (I can see them buying TOW), and some naval Wildcats configured in the same way as the south korean one’s for operating of their brand new OPV’s

  141. Think Defence

    Tubby, come on mate, aren’t you being hopelessly optimistic there!

    So at just under, what, £30m per CHF Merlin on top of the roughly £30m each we paid for them, plus upgrades and bits and bobs, will the CHF Merlin be even more expensive than the famous SF Chinook’s?

    i.e. the most ridiculously and needlessly expensive helicopters in the world

  142. x

    Southern Katipo: Enemy bed in – watch it as the title doesn’t real convey what the video is about. It isn’t tactical……….

  143. dave haine

    @ Ixion, Chris B.

    The shame, if that’s the right word, of the somme campaign was that,unbeknown to us, the germans were actually on the ropes according to Ludendorf- it was the first time that losses exceeded replacements, and they were forced to combine units and put casualties into the field with all the effect on morale and efficiency that comes with that.

    “Enemy superiority is so great that we are not in a position either to fix their forces in position or to prevent them from launching an offensive elsewhere. We just do not have the troops…. We cannot prevail in a second battle of the Somme with our men; they cannot achieve that any more (Von Kuhl, Diary 20 January 1917)”

    Don’t forget on the first day of the campaign the French 6th and British 4th armies broke the German 2nd army around Gommecourt. Throughout the campaign, the allies had successes, and failures, but put an enourmous amount of pressure on the german army, with long range artillery creating a situation where german troops were exhausted from continuous bombardment of the rear areas, let alone being on the front line.

    And ultimately ended nearly 10km into German held territory (the furthest advance since The Marne).

    The end story of the Somme came the following January and February when the German Army crumbled against british attacks, withdrawing to the Hindenburg line.

    Ultimately, the numbers of casualities, were only part of the story:

    Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria wrote, “What remained of the old first-class peace-trained German infantry had been expended on the battlefield”

    Philpott called the “blood test” a crude measure compared to manpower reserves, industrial capacity, farm productivity and financial resources and that intangible factors were more influential on the course of the war. The German army was exhausted in 1916, had a loss of morale and the cumulative effects of attrition and frequent defeats, caused it to collapse in 1918, a process which began on the Somme, echoing Churchill that the German soldiery was never the same again.

    So not really a stalemate, the germans were pushed back and ultimately couldn’t sustain a defence against the pressure the allies put on them.

    Unfortunately, the allies had little other option than to carry out an attrition campaign- the cream of the French army had been decimated in 1914, and the british army was not very experienced. After the campaign, it could be said with some certainty, that the British and Commonwealth Armies took their lumps and learned some very valuable lessons.

    So in that regard, the Somme campaign was a qualified success, but at some cost.

  144. Chris.B.

    @ DH,

    The front line moved forward about 5 miles at its maximum, across a front no more than 20 miles wide, at a cost of over 600,000 allied casualties. It barely moved for the next year. A stalemate.

    By comparison, the Normandy campaign led to a breakout that ultimately pushed the Germans back to their own borders in around 6 months. That’s why the two are viewed very differently.

  145. Challenger

    @John Hartley

    ‘I think it would be better to leave those land based Merlins with the RAF, to replace the knackered Pumas, then use the conversion money to buy new build naval transport helicopters. Less risky + a better long term solution’

    Absolutely spot on! Unfortunately we all know the MOD rarely think along such logical lines.

    How much all told is being spent on both updating the Puma’s and transferring the Merlin’s? Surely enough to have replaced the RN Sea Kings with something off the shelf?

  146. Mark

    Depending on the Right People: British Political-Military Relations, 2001-10

    “Recent evidence, including from the Iraq Inquiry, shows that this view is too simplistic. Instead, Britain seems to have suffered a wider failure of the government system, with politicians, senior military officers and civil servants all playing their part.

    They were also apprehensive of the close relationship between the armed forces and the media, and were therefore reluctant to challenge military opinion. For their part, some senior officers showed little appreciation of the political impact of military action, while others felt their role was principally to support the institutional interests of their branch of the armed forces.

    This led to decisions on the use of military force not being taken solely on the basis of national interest, but because of politicians’ wish to maintain good relations with the armed forces. In 2002–03, Britain decided to make a ground force contribution to the invasion of Iraq, with implicit responsibility for post-war security in that country’s southern provinces, primarily because politicians feared they would have problems with the British army if it was left out, and that these problems would find their way into the media. In 2009, Downing Street was not convinced of the military need to send reinforcements to Afghanistan, but agreed to do so because it wanted to prevent hostile press briefings by the military.”

  147. Brian Black

    There is obviously enough life in the Puma fleet to make it cost effective to upgrade them, rather than buying more of something else.

    And where is the risk in the naval mods for the RAF Merlin? I should. imagine that’s a pretty stable and straightforward programme.

    I think that £30m an aircraft is a bit off too. I’ve seen suggested £10 to £12 million averaged across the 25 aircraft, and that was including avionics upgrade to the mk2 standard that will happen regardless of whether the airframe mods went ahead or not.

  148. Challenger


    I sympathize with the very difficult position Montgomery was in during the summer of 1944. He was clearly more aware than most of the acute manpower crises and what effect it was having on both the Army’s operational ability and how it was driving British strategy far more than himself or anyone else would have liked. He was caught in the very unenviable place of having to follow though with the plan for Normandy by having the British and Canadian forces on the Eastern flank tying down enough German manpower and panzers with repeated battering against the line to give the Americans time and room to build up and break out….whilst also being very aware of just how empty British manpower reserves were and how little he could afford the casualties his forces were sustaining. I wouldn’t have wanted the job!

    Having said that I still think Montgomery was a cautious commander irregardless of the limitations placed on him. The strength of his personality and mistrust of others both enabled that caution to filter down through his 21st Army Group subordinates but also meant that a lot of them weren’t particularly strong characters who brought lots of ideas to table to begin with (although you are of course correct that some of the very ineffective ones were replaced). That’s not to say that British men and officers weren’t capable of being flexible and showing initiative and daring (in terms of commanders in N.W Europe Pip Roberts of 11th armoured immediately springs to mind), I just don’t think it was to the same extent seen in other armies and theaters of war.

    I’d say it was combination of the manpower crises, Montgomery’s style of command, perhaps also war weariness that all contributed to the idea that 21st Army Group lacked flair and dynamism, particularly when compared to the fresher American forces.

  149. Mark

    Only 4 exist x all built bespoke by Boeing to transport pieces of there 787 to final assembly in Seattle. Airbus have a similar aircraft called beluga which they are about to replace.

  150. Phil

    He was caught in the very unenviable place of having to follow though with the plan for Normandy by having the British and Canadian forces on the Eastern flank tying down enough German manpower and panzers with repeated battering against the line to give the Americans time and room to build up and break out….whilst also being very aware of just how empty British manpower reserves were and how little he could afford the casualties his forces were sustaining. I wouldn’t have wanted the job!

    That’s a post hoc bit of history re-writing by Monty there. I don’t believe a shred of pre D-Day evidence has been published that shows the plan was all along for him to pin down the Germans in the East so the Yanks could go for it in the West. If you look at pre-invasion plans you can see the Allies clearly anticipated a steady German withdrawal behind rivers and various other achors hence the steadily expanding phase lines.

  151. Fluffy Thoughts


    I am a bit tired: If anyone has suggested this before then accept my apologies! Why don’t we deploy Watchkeeper to Gib?

    It flying circular routes over GBTW would give the spics opposing-party a moment for thought. It flying armed with Brimstone/Hellfire ‘on-a-trigger’ may even prompt an EU refund! Anyhows: Funny that summinck from Phil ‘Make the Whities Angry’ Woolas could – infact – make some Iberian folks concerned….

  152. x

    @ Mark

    125t 4000nm-ish isn’t to be sniffed at though. If Fat Bloke on Tour were here he would be advocating cut and shut jobs on secondhand 747s I’m sure……

  153. dave haine

    @ Chris B

    I’m not denying, that in strategic terms, Normandy was a successful campaign.

    What I’m arguing is that the Somme campaign, wasn’t the great failure that popular opinion believes.

    It didn’t achieve all the laid down objectives, for sure. the British and commonwealth armies were expected to advance 25km.
    However, it did force the German army to suspend their offensive against the French at Verdun,
    Destruction, capture, damage, wear and defective ammunition had caused 1,068 of 1,208 field guns and 371 of 820 heavy guns in the two German armies on the Somme to be out of action by the end of August.
    The Second Army had been starved of reinforcements in mid-August, to replace exhausted divisions in the First Army and plans for a counter-stroke had been abandoned for lack of troops.

    And, Although, British large operations stopped in November, they resumed in January. And In February 1917, successive British attacks, caused the german front to crumble and forced a withdrawal to the ‘Hindenburg’ line, some 15km to the east of the Somme.

    And in 1917, What about Arras, Vimy Ridge and Passchendale, all offensive operations by British and Commonwealth forces.

    Finally one of the other outcomes of the Somme was the adoption of the ‘Chantilly’ doctrine. Basically, this stopped the use of full-frontal attacks, in favour of operations to turn a line rather than roll it over. Quick attacks, which would cease once momentum was lost, and then resume somewhere else or on a flank.

    Arras was the first example of this doctrine, but a more successful example would be Cambrai.

  154. x

    @ Mark

    We would have to fly one in first with a custom unloader. Something that uses hydraulics and unfolds itself. The question is could we get the weight down to 50 tons? And of course we could pre-position too. (One Gulf, one FI, one Singapore etc.)

    Yes I see it all so clearly

    EDIT: Also we would be unloading stuff not as large as aircraft wings and fuselages.

  155. Mark

    The story of a freak hailstorm at Kandahar airbase, Afghanistan back in April of this year has been widely covered, but few details have been revealed about the full extent of the damage to fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters parked on the ground.

    Golf ball-sized hailstones peppered the coalition airfield on April 23 with press reports suggesting that hundreds of aircraft been seriously damaged and even written off. But now details have emerged about the more serious aspects of the incident.

    For the U.K. Royal Air Force, the day proved particularly disastrous. When engineers inspected aircraft in the aftermath of the storm they discovered that the RAF’s five based C-130J Hercules had suffered “unprecedented damage.”

    We could indeed pre position we do that a lot anyway. Think they proposed a 747 variant to the USAF but the c5 won the contest.

  156. Mark

    Very true x we could usaf were offered a 747 transport but opted for c5 back in the day

    The story of a freak hailstorm at Kandahar airbase, Afghanistan back in April of this year has been widely covered, but few details have been revealed about the full extent of the damage to fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters parked on the ground.

    Golf ball-sized hailstones peppered the coalition airfield on April 23, with press reports suggesting that hundreds of aircraft had been seriously damaged and even written off. But now details have emerged about some of the more serious aspects of the incident.

    For the U.K. Royal Air Force, the day proved particularly disastrous. When engineers inspected aircraft in the aftermath of the storm they discovered that the RAF’s five based C-130J Hercules had suffered “unprecedented damage.”

  157. x

    @ Mark

    The 747 was a product of Pentagon thinking about rapid reinforcement of Europe back in the Cold War. C5 was the route taken but it also represented a shift in how the problem was to be tackled. Um. Surely 747 spares are a tad more common than say C17 spares? And though the low slung high wing form factor has its uses in a world full of convenient concrete runways then surely something more conventional, therefore more common, would be a more cost effective option? Isn’t that the argument used here against buying specialised naval ships when there are cheaper options? Beyond the occasional rough or austere field landing the large USAF cargo planes live on airfields. How often do they carry MBT? A ship is always in contact with the sea and the layout of the hull is driven by the task. All good stuff. :)

  158. Tubby

    Sorry TD,

    Hectic day yesterday. Anyway I would have thought of all the current helicopters that you could choose to marinise, the green Merlin would be one of the easiest, especially if they skip the folding tail and limit the changes to folding rotor, tie down points, flotation device and what I would expect to be small changes to enhance corrosion protection (I am of course being optimistic that the differences in construction materials between the RN and DAD Merlin are minimal).

    BTW has anyone crunched the numbers of the helicopters to see if they are adequate in 2020?

  159. Obsvr

    According to his diaries Brooke was for ever trying to find good commanders. Perhaps one interesting constraint is that the ‘Indian Army types’ don’t seem to have been welcome in the west. Of course one of the most notable div comds in Burma, ‘Frontline Frankie’ (later CIGS) was not an Indian and seems to have been picked as a corps comd in NWE, trouble was he was that rare animal, a senior Brit offr that Stilwell got on with, which sentenced him to remain in the East.

    The source of the infantry manpower shortage is well known – the resources wasted in the crab great delusion that strat bombing would win the war.

    @HL, the arty problem at the Somme was pre-Zero, insufficient time was allowed for the CB battle, bad weather in late June, meant that the job couldn’t be completed. The covering fire plan was OK, although you can argue about the infantry inexperience in hugging it, speed of creeping barrage movement is very tricky. It would also be true to say that the pre-Zero CB failure was compounded by the fact that reactive CB against active btys was still primitive (the arty int org didn’t exist). I’ve yet to find a so called professional military historian who understands artillery in WW1.

  160. Think Defence


    I’ve yet to find a so called professional military historian who understands artillery in WW1.

    That sounds very much like the genesis of a TD guest post :)

  161. Mark


    As the 747 is more expensive to buy requires more specialist equipment to operate it and prob equally as expensive running costs (hence airlines divesting themselves of such aircraft for wide body twins) its hard to see the comparison you draw.

  162. dave haine

    @ mark, x

    The 747 is actually cheaper to buy than the C17. Mainly because of the structural weight of the low wing form.

    The issue with structural weight in aeroplanes, has nothing to do with flying-its to do with being on the ground-With the wings at the bottom of the fuselage the undercarriage load can be transferred directly to the main spar and keel (the main load carrying part of the structure). With the wing at the top, the load from the undercarriage has to be transferred through enhanced fuselage structures to the main spar and keel. The enhanced structure is heavier, obviously, and weight costs. Which is why an A330-200F has the same max payload as a C17, and can carry it further, on two donks. Cargo planes such the C17 have to make compromises, as a necessity of their intended mode of operation. They will never be as efficient as a more conventionally designed aeroplane. however, the downside of a conventional aeroplane, is the ground support equipment requirement. You takes your money, and you makes your choice.

    As mark rightly says four donks cost more to operate than two, in passenger ops it’s not so marked, but in cargo ops, it is a bigger factor, cargo operators tend to work nearer to the max payload mass, which is where engine performance becomes more critical, than pax operators.

    The only thing common between the CX-HLS and the B747 is the overall layout. The B747 was conceived by boeing at the request of Pan-Am, before the CX-HLS programme, because of airport congestion.

  163. Chris

    Mark, x – ref C5 vs 747 – I must admit I’ve never been that impressed with C5; its big but that’s about all I can say about it. Payload of about 120t for such a big airframe doesn’t compare well to 170t for 747-100 – a smaller aircraft by 10% in span & length. Payload for 747-400 (first one with glass cockpit) was 215t. And 747 has a marginally wider fuselage.

    You’d sort of hope the C5 design was skewed by operational need – like short take-off runs, manoeuvrability, low noise signature or the likes, but Wiki tells me the take-off roll is similar between C5 & 747, and having seen what was described in the program as an ‘air display’ of a SAC C5 at RAF Fairford in the 80s, it took minutes – literally – after completing each fly past to perform a hugely wide turn back for the return run, and the screech from the engines was both loud and unpleasant. Nothing about this aircraft looked in the least ‘tactical’. By contrast, in the late 80s I was at the Farnborough airshow at which there was the Antonov AN225. It performed a very sharp display, pretty well all within the confines of the airfield perimeter: – this did look like a useful military aircraft.

    From what I’ve seen the C5 is loud and unmanoevrable, Wiki tells me it has a similar take-off run to other big civil jets, that its cabin is similar in size to 747, that its range at max payload is half that of 747. Considering how many countries operate fleets of 747, with the spares & service infrastructure that entails, the case for selecting C5 over a cargo 747 seems thin.

  164. Mark

    list price of a 747 cargo is currently in the 350 m dollar range and that’s without any military bits don’t think the raf pays that for c17

  165. Chris

    wf, topman – I thought C17 was designed after McD was bought by Boeing but I’ve looked it up and note it was indeed McD designed and built. But since 1997, when McD was absorbed into Boeing, I expect design changes and updates have continued? And I would have thought it makes sense to raid the civil airliner stores for proven parts and subsystems if things need updating.

  166. Alex

    I always thought the answer to most of the FRES requirements was the Antonov An-124, to be honest. I know it means buying spares from the Ukrainians, but we could stash a job lot in a shed.

  167. x

    @ TD

    I think low wing is more about rolling vehicles on and off more than a structural need. WIngs are sucked up into the air. Surely it is better to push the body, the load, from below than drag behind (wing on top)? I thought “we” designed aircraft to fly not taxi?

    Isn’t the pallet the most important load in these situations than the occasional wheeled vehicle? Wasn’t here I learned that Brit forces in Afghan took delivery of 125 pallet loads per day?

  168. Chris

    Not exactly a large nose door: – the tail is hinged out sideways instead. Like the Airbus, there is no ramp. This would never do in the forces…

    But I am reminded of the HS Andover, a fine light cargo aircraft, which was a modified HS748 turboprop passenger plane, with the tail re-engineered to accommodate a rear ramp. Seems a doable job on the 747LCF; rather more difficult on the Airbus.

  169. Think Defence

    X, don’t disagree with the basic premise of what you are saying, you need specialists for specialist jobs i.e. C17/C130/A400 for outsize loads, challenging flying environments, austere conditions etc but nothing wrong with using civilian style aircraft for shifting pallets on a sustainment basis

    Hence, why I think not having the cargo door and floor on the Voyagers is just a heinous crime as not being able to take on fuel itself

  170. x

    TD said ” you need specialists for specialist jobs ”

    I shall remind you of that when we all next discuss ships and modules……… :)

    How many 747 freighters could we have bought for the “cost” of 7 C17? What is that important we need a £200 million pound aircraft on the books to move it? £200 million is a lot of ship. £1.4 billion is two new LPDs or several simpler ships a la Point-class. It is nearly 1000 Warthogs. How many MPA? How many days “rental” on a Russian or Ukrainian Antonov? How many really useful niche aircraft like BAe146? I thought the mantra here was we can’t do everything, but it appears one of things we must be able to do is have the ability to occasionally move a vehicle costing a couple of million. Not good economics.

  171. Mark

    There are structure differences between between high and low wing aircraft obviously and each have benefits in stability, types of landing profiles and size of tail all coming into play. In purely structural terms high wings need structural provision for landing gear loads as there mounted in the fuse and main wing attachment loading point but still tend to mount on similar frame stations, with low wings with the landing gear in the wing you can use the same structure to do both jobs saving weight but in the grand scheme of things it’s not significant amount. When talking about aircraft weights and in particular payload its important to look at zero fuel weights (not also made available). empty and mtow can sometimes be misleading in aircraft because in some cases you may not need all your fuel but that can’t be offset for additional cargo as the aircraft may have already reached its max zero fuel weight.

    Lows wing for civil jets usually all comes down to ease of maintaince access to the engines and the FTACs on the wing, position of the engines in relation to the cabin for noise and safety ( less likely for rotor or indeed tyre burst to enter the passenger cabin). High wings are gd for operating out of less well kept strips as it reduces FOD damage to wing and engines.

    TD. Voyager can still carry the same number number of pallets as a hercules in its current raf configuration.

    x you could have bought about 6 747 cargo aircraft for the price 7 c17 and until ships can travel over land to say mail or afghan and get there it 16 hrs we need large aircraft.

  172. Chris

    x – ref pushing or pulling – the fuselage is a structure; engineered down to minimum weight for the calculated loads – the structure may be different if it hangs under the wing to cases where it perches on top, but I don’t believe there is a generic strength issue either way. From a basic aero stability point of view hanging the payload under the wing is naturally more stable; dihedral applied to low-wing configurations tries to fix this. I’m no aero-engineer but I’d bet the degree of dihedral suits specific fuselage/payload weights & CoG – that as payload weights increase the stability margin provided by dihedral drops away? High wing designs would gain stability as weight is added below the wing – seems a better bet for a cargo lugger.

    So whether the fuselage is a structure in tension (high wing) or compression (low wing) has little real effect on structural integrity or durability. Accepted the use of fuselage as a connection between wing spar and undercarriage does add complexity; because the fuselage transitions between a structure in tension to one in compression as the wheels take the weight. Note early high wing designs (Valiant; Victor; WW2 bombers) had wing mounted undercarriage which avoided the situation.

  173. mr.fred


    You are right, you are not an aero engineer.
    Compressive loadings of the light weight structures typical in aircraft create sensitivity to elastic instability* while a tensile load will often increase the stability and even strength of the structure to other loads.
    A compressively loaded structure is stronger for a given weight or lighter for a given strength.

    It’s a very real and significant effect.
    * Desktop examples would include a ruler, which tends to flex out if you push it while in tension it will take a much higher load. This simplified case is Euler buckling. If you move to thin-walled structures you start to get local buckling effects as well.

  174. Mark

    Dihedral is more to do with aircraft mode of motion. The aircrafts sensitivity to side slip and and roll stability. Also to increase ground clearance for big engines and wing tips of swept aircraft on rotation. These effects will change with wing position and indeed sweep angle.

    If the frames are in tension or compression they will be designed to suit, structure in tension will usually be thicker. Fuse frames in the centre wing area are machined and prob in two main pieces, on smaller regional aircraft you can usual lift each section with one hand.

  175. Chris

    mr.fred – many thanks for that kind insult. But the descriptions of stability have confused me further – I am not an aero engineer but I am an engineer with feet on the ground. I appreciate structures designed to be in tension – particularly triangulated ones – are rigid and lightweight but may have much less strength in compression. whereas compression loaded structures need struts designed not to warp bend or twist. I got lost in your sudden change of direction when despite the previous sentence’s statements (with which I agree) you stated “A compressively loaded structure is stronger for a given weight or lighter for a given strength.” That I don’t follow.

    Its all down to materials science naturally – a non-reinforced concrete structure may be stronger in compression than tension because it fractures easily when stretched. But most thin section metals are reasonably tough in tension but prone to warp or crumple if compressed. I think – based on land-lubber engineering – the ideal structure for the cargo carrier is a high wing aircraft with wing mounted undercarriage – that way the stresses through the structure (with the exception of the tailplane and outboard sections of wing) do not alternate wildly as weight transfers from wheel to wing or wing to wheel. the size of modern cargo planes and the consequent weight of long-reach wing mounted undercarriage means this configuration is unlikely.

    Mark – I don’t get the “thicker if in tension” bit – please explain? I can accept the frames that connect floor (loaded with all the downward forces) and wing (loaded with all the upward forces) must be strong – is that the only reasoning?

  176. Mark


    Structure that cycle on tension loads tend to crack so to help that they then to be thicker Lower wing covers are thicker than the upr cover for the same reason.

    All attachments in the centre fuse on big low wing aircraft are articulated including floor beams. Wing box is supported by struts from centre wing box to floor beams. No matter if its a high wing or a low wing the frames will be deep and thick with heavy longerons supporting the skin. The main structural issue on military transport fuselage is primarily the cargo it’s asked to carry as this effects bending of the wing fuselage structure more than anything, hoops stress is also a concern as there’s no floor beams in the middle to help support the structure.

    A gd cs view of a civil aircraft can been see in this photo

  177. Mark

    Apparently were not going GoCo anymore

    Plans to privatise the UK government’s defence procurement arm are “dead in the water”, a former defence minister has claimed.

    Lord Lee of Trafford told peers there were now too few private firms bidding to take over the organisation which employs 21,000 people across the UK.

  178. Mark

    “That program’s leaders admit that the F-35’s projected operational costs are not affordable—while promising to bring them down—but one major U.S. contractor has broken ranks and challenged the value of the Pentagon’s huge investment in radar cross-section (RCS) reduction, the JSF’s dominant technology.

    Much of the U.S. defense community “has lost sight of reality” as to what stealth means, a Raytheon executive told the Defense IQ International Fighter Conference here this month. Michael Garcia, the company’s senior business development manager for active, electronically scanned (AESA) radars, suggested that longer-range sensors and weapons and electronic attack should be considered part of stealth, rather than placing complete reliance on RCS.”


    “JSF schedule performance is important to the Royal Air Force, which is approaching a 2015 decision date on the retirement of its final three squadrons of Tornado GR4s, according to Air Commo. Dave Waddington, Tornado force commander. Two out of five 12-aircraft GR4 squadrons retire next year, and “there is a plan for Tornado out of service date” as the RAF adds numbers and capability to its Typhoon force, but that plan will be “validated or adjusted” in the next U.K. strategic defense review, due in 2015.

    The RAF’s migration from a Tornado/Typhoon force to a Typhoon/JSF force will be managed “to retain sufficient quantity while retaining key [Tornado] capabilities until they exist on other platforms,” Waddington says. While there is “more we can do” with the Typhoon, he stresses that it is “a superb air-to-air platform,” while the JSF will be “our top-end capability in transforming the RAF, able to access and serve the full range of targets.” This suggests that the service may shift Tornado missions to the JSF rather than expanding the Typhoon’s air-to-surface capability.

    The challenge, Waddington adds, “is that we are not buying very many F-35s, at least for a while.” The U.K. is acquiring an initial batch of 48 aircraft, equipping an operational conversion unit and two squadrons that will have “the same training and embark [on the new aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth] for the same amount of time,” he says. With one operational squadron embarked, this would leave one land-based squadron for deployment.”

  179. dave haine

    @ chris

    i the perfect aeroplane form for is actually the lifting body form:

    Burnelli was a major proponent of this form. The lifting body was more efficient because the main load carrying structure also generated lift. The following picture gives you an excellent idea of how the fuselage worked

    Even the skyvan manages to generate lift from its fuselage- as much as 35% of what each wing produced.

    However it is appallingly ugly…

    Why lifting body designs never caught on I don’t know, from a safety point of view, they were excellent, with 60% of the structure surrounding the passengers, basically putting them in a reinforced box.

  180. Topman

    @ Mark

    Coded words for saying we’ve 2 options extend GR4 for a bit, or take a gap till F35 comes online. The second is most likely however that gap, personally speaking, will be longer than most people think.
    The F35 will make it, of that I’ve little doubt however seeing how the a/c has been through it’s early days the point at which it reaches a real capability will be later than many think. Maybe I’m a bit cynical, however I think that with having testing at the same time as producing deliveries varients to various customers mean it will take longer than if done in the traditional sense. There will be many many faults and issues that only come to light during day to day flying. Fleets within fleets will be the order of the day for years.
    Many first off customers will be in for a long wait for the a/c to end up at the state they want it.
    17(R) Sqn’s lim log will be as long as your arm :)

    Not that any of this will be different from many other FJ entry into service, just that the expections and microscope review have brought all this into focus.

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