The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

As I said in the previous post my SDSR wish list is based on the assumption of a new government post 2015 prepared to spend a bit more on defence with additional funds being made available in three forms. Firstly removal of the successor submarine project from the MOD budget, perhaps a £ 1 billion a year in the next parliament and as much as £2 billion a year post 2020. Secondly, a one off fund to rapidly fill any gaps in military capabilities, perhaps £ 3 billion and thirdly, above inflation increases to the defence budget for the life of the next parliament.

While I feel the government acted correctly in 2010 by enacting an 8% cut in the budget to help reduce the country’s massive borrowing, the stealth cut enacted by Osborne and the Treasury of forcing the MOD to pay for trident replacement was shameful. I say this because most of the funds required for the program are to be paid after 2015 when the budget deficit is likely to be under control. The cuts seem to have been enacted more out of spite than anything else by a chancellor who was unhappy he could not cut more from defence and a Lib Dem party that want rid of Trident anyway.

My 2015 Wish List

Retention of Sentinel R1

raf waddington air show press day 2006 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

This aircraft is perhaps the most useful single platform we have at present. Given its capability it would be insane to scrap it in 2015. In addition to retaining the aircraft I would also like to see it enhanced with the addition of much of the imaging systems used in the RAPTOR pod. This will in some way go to replacing a high altitude reconnaissance capability we lost with the retirement of the PR9.

Purchase of P8 Poseidon MPA

P8A Poseidon 640x426 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

The loss of MRA4 left the UK with many capability gaps. Beyond MPA there is also the ELINT and ISTAR capability the Nimrod would have provided. I believe that while the P8 would not be the perfect successor to the MRA4 it’s the best thing available on the market that can be purchased quickly enough. It also comes with the added ability to tap onto USN training and support systems which will be important when operating a small fleet. I don’t care if it’s flown by the FAA or RAF but as far as possible it should be a purple asset.

Minimum modifications should be made to the base line USN version but we should seriously consider adding the following if feasible

  • Refueling Probe
  • Sting Ray Torpedo Wing kit
  • Elta EL/L – 8300UK Electronic Support Measures suite

Four aircraft should be procured from the special fund with a further five procured at a later date as the budget allows.

CROWSNEST Funded

I am really hoping this will have happened before SDSR 2015 but it’s too important a capability to lose even for a short period of time. Ideally a solution that could be installed on any Merlin would be great and if the funds were available it would be good to see the forced beefed up with the upgrade of the surplus to requirement HM1 aircraft brought up to HM2 standard.

Buying Out of the FSTA contract

raf voyager lands in uk for the first time 640x480 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

Great aircraft and capability but trying to provide such a capability via a PFI was a mistake. The cost and complexity of this contract is likely to cause problems for years to come. So use the one of contingency fund to buy out today and save the money and hassle in future. Keeping the 14 planes and still keeping the consortium onboard for training maintenance etc.  Also consider using spare aircraft for UK VIP transport and leasing out spare capacity to EU or NATO or anyone who will pay for it.

Install strike length VLS on T45

9366863604 0e1a2a991f z The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

Should have happened already but for one reason or another it hasn’t. Naval launched cruise missiles are a large part of any offensive air campaign especially when conducting opening night SEAD operations. It’s a key enabler and crucially something that virtually no one else outside the USA can do. We only have 7 SSN’s that can conduct this missions which is simply not enough. In the longer term once T26 comes on stream we should aim for a capability to be able to fire no less than 100 TLAMS in a single night. Currently T45 is our only surface ship capable of undertaking such a mission. My preference would be for 12 Mk41 Strike Length VLS on each. I would also like to see the GP version of T26 armed with 32 Mk 41 VLS instead of the currently planned 16. An increase in UK stores from 70 to at least 200 TLAM should also be considered.

 Crewing both Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers

Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers (in Action)

A move that will cost around £70 million a year but one that will allow us to have one carrier either at sea of on short notice all of the time.

Retention of River Class OPV

Fisheries Protection 640x405 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

All three River Class patrol vessels of the Fishery Protection Squadron, HMS Severn, HMS Tyne and HMS Mersey are pictured exercising off the coast of Cornwall. The Fishery Protection Squadron (FPS) enforces UK and EU fisheries legislation in order to ensure the long term sustainability of the UK fishing grounds. In addition, the three UK based Ships are the only warships on permanent patrol around the UK, contributing to the policing of UK waters and delivering an intrinsic element of the UK’s Maritime Security

I would like to see a commitment to retain the River Class OPV’s in service once the three new OPV’s arrive. The new OPV’s should be used to supplement the escort force and should be forward deployed with one in the Caribbean to replace APT(n), One of the coast of West Africa and One of the coast of East Africa. Possible basing could be considered in Sierra Leone for West Africa and Kenya or Bahrain for East Africa.

Replacement for HMS Ocean and RFA Argus

hms ocean royal navy amphibious helicopter 640x417 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

A dedicated LHD should be procured with sufficient hospital facilities on board to replace both HMS Ocean and RFA Argus. While two ships would be nice we have managed well enough with just a single LPH for the past decade. One of the QE’s can stand in for the LHD when in refit. Not a perfect solution but one I think would be good enough for us. The vessel could be a derivative of the mistral or Juan Carlos on simply a revised Ocean but the vessel should have a well deck, be built to commercial standards and be incapable of operating F35B (I say incapable because as soon as we have an LHD that can support F35B we can kiss the carriers goodbye)

Retention of Reaper and Cancelation of Scavenger

armed raf reaper aircraft approaches kandahar airfield afghanistan The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

The ten Reapers we are bringing back from Afghanistan should provide a decent enough MALE UAV capability. Combined with Sentinel, Watchkeeper, RAPTOR on Typhoon and other smaller UAV’s I don’t think we will be short on eyes in the sky. We certainly don’t need to be thinking about spending a £ 1 billion plus on another UAV program like scavenger until well after 2020.

Change in Law to Protect Reservists

People should not be penalized for being in the reserves and similar levels of employment protection should be given to UK reservists as their US counterpart’s receive. We should also conduct a review of reserve recruiting and try and learn from other nations such as the USA better ways to recruit reserves.

Doubling up on F35B

F35 External Pod 640x502 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

On June 14, 2012, F-35B Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft BF-2 completed the first test flight for the short takeoff and vertical landing variant with an asymmetric weapons load. BF-2 flew with an AIM-9X Sidewinder inert missile on the starboard pylon, a centerline 25 mm gun pod, and a GBU-32 and AIM-120 in the starboard internal weapon bay.

Doubling our order for F35B will be expensive. However I believe that this aircraft will be a real game changer for the UK. I also believe that a combined RAF/FAA fast jet fleet of just seven squadrons is too few in the long term. A buy of 96 (or their about) should allow us to raise four squadrons of F35B which would be complemented by five squadrons of Typhoon giving us nine in total. Four Squadrons would allow us to have two permanently available for carrier use and the ability to surge a full 72 onto both carriers if ever needed. We should defiantly avoid the temptation to have a mixed F35A/B fleet because the day we do have such a fleet will be the day that we kiss carrier aviation goodbye yet again. Plenty of F35A’s will be in NATO service with a number of allies but very few carrier or STOVL versions will be in service. As such we should concentrate on the naval aviation side of the equation. If funds are too tight to add an extra two squadrons then we should consider reducing Typhoon squadrons.

Typhoon Development

RAF Typhoon Aircraft Carrying Meteor Missiles 640x425 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

RAF Typhoon Aircraft Carrying Meteor Missiles

Commitment to upgrade Typhoon with AESA radar even if we have to go it alone. Integration of SPEAR 3 missile, storm shadow and RAPTOR reconnaissance pod as well as Conformal Fuel Tanks. Consideration to be given to keeping tranche 1 typhoons if financially viable until at least full purchase of F35B’s has been completed.

Confirmation of T26 Program and Increase in Numbers

Type 26 640x480 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

T26 program confirmed and numbers increased from 13 to 18. The additional five frigates will allow the navy to return to deploying separate ARG and CBG instead of single RFTG. This should allow for the following standing tasks

1* T45 East of Suez

1* T26 East of Suez

1* T26 APT (s)

1*T45 Carrier Battle Group

1* T26 Carrier Battle Group

2* T26 Amphibious Ready Group

1* T26 FRE/NATO/Spare

If T26 can match or exceed the T45 availability then it may be possible to do this with slightly less than 18 but it would be nice to have some flexibility in the escort fleet as well.

 

Apache Retention and Upgrade Funded

apache helicopter The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

An Apache helicopter from 4 Regiment, 656 Squadron Army Air Corps, during live firing training at Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland. Photographer: Peter Davies from www.defenceimages.mod.uk

I don’t really care if it’s a total rebuild to Block III standard, partial to block II or just sticking with what we have. Whatever is the cheapest way to keep it in service.

FRES SV funded

7145952431 4fb4223bb7 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

We have already spent a fortune on this and we need to finally get something out of the FRES program.

Conversion of HC3 Merlin as Commando Carrier Funded

Merlin helicopter sling load Light Gun 640x426 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

Something that is sitting on the whiteboard at the moment but funds need to be put into this ASAP or our amphibious capabilities will suffer greatly after 2016.

FRES UV selected and funded

boxer The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

I don’t care what it is Boxer, Striker whatever just pick something off the shelf and buy it with only minimal modifications and a fixed price contract. It really should not be that hard.

Reinstatement of 16AAB third maneuver Battalion

While I think the army 2020 plan is broadly a good balance between required capability and what is affordable I think the cuts to 16 Air Assault Brigade make little sense. This formation has proven the most useful part of the Army since the day it was formed. Cutting it to two regular battalions with 2 Para and 3 Para makes little sense to me. Reinstating the third battalion along with the support elements will allow one battalion to be kept on high readiness and it will allow us to deploy a full sized brigade if needed. It could be a reinstatement of the rifle battalion or moving 1 Para from its Special Forces support role and instead having a separate battalion dedicated to SF support.

Reverse of cuts to 3 Commando Brigade

As with 16AAb, 3 Commando Brigade has proven a fantastically useful formation. Reversing the cuts it has received to engineering and support units should be a high priority.

MARS SSS Confirmed

Three ships to replace the Fort’s leaving service in the 2020’s.

MHPC Confirmed

Royal Navy Sandown Class MCM Vessel HMS Bangor 640x425 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

Royal Navy Sandown Class MCM Vessel HMS Bangor

No less than 8 vessels to replace the Hunt, Sandown and Echo’s with first vessel entering service around 2028.

Purchase of AAR kits for A400M’s

airbus a400m aar 640x347 The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

One of the advantages of buying out of the FSTA contract is that we will be able to use our A400M tankers as a reserve AAR capability. This will be particularly useful in the Falklands were we can use a single A400M instead of having to deploy both an A400M and A330. With the 14 Voyagers and additional A400M’s the UK alone should be able to supply much of the required AAR capability for an operation the size of Libya.

 

Review of SEAD and Electronic Warfare Capability

7004816783 a00dbb92d4 z The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

One area that Europe is falling down on is its ability to conduct SEAD operations without US forces. With the increase in our ability to launch TLAM’s, the ELINT capability of the P8 and the inbuilt electronic attack capability of the F35B and eventually AESA equipped Typhoon we won’t be in a bad position but consideration should be given to some form of stand off jamming especially communications jamming which would seem vital for even the smallest operation today. Consideration of a joint program with the USMC to integrate the Next Generation Jammer on the F35B should be considered and also the possible acquisition of any stand in jamming capability the USAF eventually acquires.

Spear Missile from F-35

The development of SPEAR 3 and its integration on F35B and Typhoon will probably mean that there is no need for a dedicated ALARM replacement.

 Participation in Aster 30 Block II

This should provide a decent theatre ballistic missile defence capability for the T45.

I’m sure that there will many people who will accuse me of living in fantasy land with this wish list however it is worth noting that many parts of this will be included in current funding programs if budgets are not cut in 2015. There are few big ticket items and a lot of it is simply making better use of what we have. I think it’s entirely conceivable to get everything on this list with a relatively modest (given the government’s £600 billion + a year budget) increase in funding over the next decade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About martin

Think Defence contributing author

351 thoughts on “The Ideal SDSR 2015 Wish List Part 2

  1. Topman

    @ martim

    How much do estimate all this would cost?

    Small point re Conversion of HC3 Merlin as Commando Carrier Funded. I believe it is, Renamed HC4/4a plans are in place and are set to be converted.

  2. Red Trousers

    Seems a bit pricey, and in my belief over-focused on platforms. Nothing about the costs of manpower needed to operate that lot, nor about the less visible command support capabilities such as effective intra-theatre comms and joint battle management systems. Nothing on logistics. And that’s before even knowing anything about what the future threat might be (I acknowledge your first post addressed that by saying that no one knows: I happen to disagree that should be the case, and so believe that future procurement decisions should be as well informed by intelligence assessments as possible).

  3. martin Post author

    @ Topman

    The extra money I am abdicating would be an 1% increase above inflation for the next five years then inflationary rises after 2020 for another five years.

    That would equate to around an extra £11. 6 billion over ten years (compared to just inflationary rises in the budget).
    In addition the one of contingency fund would be around £3 billion.
    probably £2 billion would go to buy out of FSTA and (which would save a lot of money from the core budget in future) About £500 million for the first four P8′s then the rest spread across CROWSNEST, T45, Sentinal upgrade etc)
    Taking the successor program out of the core budget would probably save another £10 – £15 billion over 2015 – 2025.

    My biggest ticket item is likely to be the extra 48 F35B’s at the two additional Squadrons. Purchase price would be £4-5 Billion and I have seen figures of £120 million a year to run a FJ squadron but I am not sure how accurate these are.

    Also the five extra T26 which should cost around £1.7 Billion to buy and around £25 million a year each (£125 million total to run) although with T23 leaving service it’s unlikely we would add any net extra vessell’s to the fleet before 2025.

    Good point about the Merlin but as far as I know and I could be wrong the conversion is still awaiting allocation of funds from the contingency/unallocated part of the budget as with CROWSNEST even though they are in the core plan. Should definatly be a high priority for funding.

    So the extra money I am abdicating is around £24 – 29 billion between 2015 – 2025. I think thats enough to get most of the stuff on this list given that a lot of it’s already likely to be funded nayway

  4. martin Post author

    @ RT

    ” I happen to disagree that should be the case, and so believe that future procurement decisions should be as well informed by intelligence assessments as possible).”

    In an ideal world yes but with a minimum of a decade to procure equiptment it’s pretty difficult to use intel to form decisions. It’s all really guess work. So having as broad a set of capabilities to deal with unforseen contingencies would seem best to me.

    I agree this focuses a lot on kit and particular ISATR capability but I do advocate more men with reversal of cuts to 16AAB and 3 Commando not to mention two more FJ squadrons and two crewed carriers five extra frigate’s etc.

    What would you your self put on the SDSR 2015 wish list?

  5. rec

    I think what TD proposes is sensible, maybe in addition SSks to supplement the ssn force and provide training and costal protection, 6/7 bought of the shelf from Sweeden

  6. Mark

    Yeah a nice navy wish list which will probably require a doubling of the defence budget to implement.

    I would like to see a top to bottom look at istar capabilities from the platforms that gather it to the process and people who interpret it and communicate its findings especially uavs and if small manned aircraft may offer a better solution in many areas. If mpa is to return then it will be a multi mission platform the current contenders the c295 and p8 is potentially the classic gold plated against gd enough option an interesting conundrum no doubt.

    Equipping the chinook force or the puma force for the csar mission. I also think it would be gd to go round each force/base and ask the operators for one or two small things they think could be fitted to there existing fleet of planes or ships that would improve capability or safety and then do that.

    In the navy bring back the second Lpd and use it as fwd base mother ship at the expense of frigates if necessary. Movement on Mars SSS would be most useful. I would keep the 2nd carrier mothballed.

    The army need to sort out armoured vehicles foxhound development is a must, someone needs knocked over the head with warrior and fres sv. Apache needs to stay.

    Work out a better way of doing diaster relief missions between the services (initial airhead / port capability, puma helicopter deployment capability) have a more joined up quicker proactive response at the political level between departments. Fsta contract does get lots of stick and rightly in some areas but its cost to defence each year for the whole service is equivalent to the cost of just operating the type 45 fleet for a year.

  7. Mike Wheatley

    Some queries about the T-45 change:
    Mk-41 comes in 8-cell modules*, so it would be either +8 or +16. Conversely, the Mk-57 comes in 4 cell modules, and is larger, which is significant, as the US seems to be looking to larger missiles for the ABM role, which is the only sort of US missile we would really want on the T-45…
    …except that you then advocate Aster 30 block II for ABM capability, so we would be following the MBDA development path instead. I see no point in choosing a launcher “for future compatibility with future US missiles” whilst also having policy of “developing future missiles via the European missile house – which uses the Sylver launcher”.

    * If any of you know better, and are aware of a 4-cell strike-length Mk-41, please do correct me!

  8. Simon

    Retention of Sentinel R1 – agree.
    Purchase of P8 Poseidon MPA – disagree.
    CROWSNEST Funded – ahh, man, now you’re talking :-)
    Buying Out of the FSTA contract – does it matter?
    Install strike length VLS on T45 – agree, as long as we get 16 dedicated on T26 too.
    Crewing both Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers – agree.
    Retention of River Class OPV – disagree, better to replace with more of a more useful class.
    Replacement for HMS Ocean and RFA Argus – two LHDs please, not one.
    Retention of Reaper and cancellation of Scavenger – agree.
    Doubling up on F35B – well, I’d settle for 80 would be okay.
    Typhoon Development – not going there ;-)
    Confirmation of T26 Program and Increase in Numbers – build 8 x ASW T26, use remaining funds for the River Class OPV replacement above.
    Apache Retention and Upgrade Funded – scrap ‘em, unless carrier strike goes horribly wrong.
    FRES SV funded – scrap it, use Challenger II for forward recce. No point in FRES-SV unless you can carry two on an LCU.
    Conversion of HC3 Merlin as Commando Carrier Funded – agree.
    FRES UV selected and funded – agree.
    Reinstatement of 16AAB third maneuver Battalion – disagree.
    Reverse of cuts to 3 Commando Brigade – agree.
    MARS SSS Confirmed – disagree, scrap the project, spend the money on the above LHDs.
    MHPC Confirmed – agree.
    Purchase of AAR kits for A400M’s – agree, but only if we get MORE voyager.
    Review of SEAD and Electronic Warfare Capability – good God, yes, perhaps a little education of what it actually is and why we’re pretty useless at the mo.
    Participation in Aster 30 Block II – as long as this is my eagerly awaited Aster45/Aster75.

  9. martin Post author

    @ Mark

    “Yeah a nice navy wish list which will probably require a doubling of the defence budget to implement.”

    I don’t think you would need an extra £34 billion a year to run five more frigates one carrier and an LHD :-) In total extra annual running cost for these units would be around £230 million a year and the purchase for an LHD and five frigates would be £2.2 billion so over then years that would be something on the region of £4.5 billion from a defence budget of £392 Billion or just over 1%.

  10. martin Post author

    @ Simon

    “Participation in Aster 30 Block II – as long as this is my eagerly awaited Aster45/Aster75.”

    No but its as close as your going to get to Aster 45 anytime soon with out spending billions.

    “Buying Out of the FSTA contract – does it matter?”

    FSTA is not the end of the world. It does provide a good capability it’s just the long term costs of the PFI. Spending a couple of billion today will save tens of millions each year in the core equiptment plan.

    “Review of SEAD and Electronic Warfare Capability – good God, yes, perhaps a little education of what it actually is and why we’re pretty useless at the mo.”

    was hoping to write a post on this at some point. Unless anyone else is willing too because it’s really bloody difficult to find out anything about RAF EW capability :-)

  11. Mike Wheatley

    On one hand, the cut of the four type-22 block III seems to me to have made us short of frigates, in terms of the tasks we keep asking the navy to do, so I would like that made up – and that looks like the Type-26 to me.
    On the other hand, an extra four Type-26 frigates would go at the end of the production run, and so be well outside the bounds of the SDR 2015 review anyway.

    As an aside – to reduce gloominess – a lot of the proposals for the MHPC platform (the ship portion of the project) have it as well armed and equipped as the old Type-21 Amazon class frigates, but with a much bigger mission deck. But that capability gets called a “global corvette” these days.

  12. Red Trousers

    Simon, Challenger 2 for forward recce? You are trying to wind me up, right?

    FRES has been a debacle (both UV and SV), and personally I would scrap the concept. Buy enough 8 x 8s off the shelf to equip the infantry destined for UV, buy something small and fast for recce, make do with Warrior conversions for the rest of the SV fleet. Don’t over-think it, just get on with it.

  13. Tom

    Martin, interesting article, but I think there is one major flaw with your assumptions IMO – Trident will stay funded by the main defence budget. Now that it’s been done, none of the parties have any reason to move it back. It won’t win any political favours.

    On your wishlist:

    Retention of Sentinel R1 – Agreed, and would be surprised if it didn’t happen. I’m in two minds about adding RAPTOR to Sentinel.

    Purchase of P8 Poseidon MPA – Agreed. This is the lowest risk road to regaining a high end MPA capability.

    CROWSNEST funded – Agreed, and I think will happen, once the various financial planets align. I can’t see any additional HM2s coming into the force other than as a replacement airframe.

    BUying out the FSTA contract – Nice idea, but something that I can only see actually happening if the contract caused some problems on operations that casue political backlash against the government of the day.

    Install Strike length VLS on T45 – Agreed, and something I could see happening when we eventually get a new ship based AShM. The GP T26s are going only going to be the T26 without Towed Sonar and other easy to delete ASW kit. EVERYTHING else will be the same.

    Crewing both Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers – Agreed, and again something I can see happen so long there is small bit political will to do so.

    Retention of River Class OPV – Nice idea, though I’m not sure what one 80m OPV would bring to the West and East African Coasts? Basing one or two out of Bahrain to beef up the RN/US force protection fleet there makes sense. Maybe sending one/two to Gib/Cyprus?

    Replacement for HMS Ocean and RFA Argus – Nice idea, but sadly unlikely to happen. The best we can hope for is a RFA stores ship with a decent secondary helo capability. When we eventually replace Albion & Bulwark, can could see something like a LPH.

    Retention of Reaper and Cancellation of Scavenger – Agreed and quite likely. I would argue that it’s more likely that Reaper will simply fill the Scavenger requirement.

    Change in Law to Protect Reservists – Agreed, but will need a bit political will to work through businesses (both large and SMEs) caution.

    Doubling up on F35B – Nice idea, though I think your over reacting wrt a mixed fleet of As and Bs. Additional F-35B squadrons will be dependent on getting the 2nd QEC manned on a permanent basis and other factors. I wouldn’t expect a decision untill SDSR 2020.

    Typhoon Development – Agreed, though less fussed about Tranche 1 Tiffys. I see 2 Sqns of GR4s being kept at Marham until F-35B comes into service.

    Confirmation of T26 Program and Increase in Numbers – I think it’s very unlikely that we will see an increase in numbers of T26s. Also I’m not sure what establishing a separate ARG and CBG over a single RFTG will really do. I would rather the UK maintain a high tempo of ops and availability with a single RFTG. RFTG is not a fixed size formation.

    Apache Retention and Upgrade Funded – Agreed, and will likely happen in some form or another. The numbers that are upgraded are a different matter though.

    FRES SV funded – Isn’t this already happening?

    Conversion of HC3 Merlin as Commando Carrier Funded – Again, is already happening to my knowledge.

    FRES UV selected and funded – Agreed, but can’t see anything happening with this until SDSR 2020.

    Reinstatement of 16AAB third maneuver Battalion – I’m less bothered by this, as I’m not so enamoured with large Air Assault formations. FRES UV and host other projects/units would be much higher up my priority list.

    Reverse of cuts to 3 Commando Brigade – Agreed. Perhaps via additional ring-fenced funding to the Navy?

    MARS SSS Confirmed – Agreed and Numero Uno on my priority list.

    MHPC Confirmed – MHPC isn’t about getting a new ship, it’s about looking the MCM, Survey and Patrol capabilities and updating, making them ideally modular, so that a theoretical single class of ship could be used for all three missions. But I agree that the first ship to replace the Hunts/Sandowns/Echos should be coming into the fleet in the late 2020s.

    Purchase of AAR kits for A400M’s – Nice idea, and would certainly make sense for the Falklands.

    Review of SEAD and Electronic Warfare Capability – Agreed with NGJ for F-35B (possibly more important than Storm Shadow?). Stand off jamming it something to consider, but is likely to be way down priority lists.

    Participation in Aster 30 Block II – Agreed and something that I can see happening once the financial/political/technological planets align.

    Couple of things that I would add in:

    Replacement of LCU Mk10 and LCVP Mk5 with something nippier – PACSCAT or a development of the French EDA-R; what ever makes sense.

    Retention and possible expansion of Exactor system

  14. martin Post author

    @ Mike Wheatly

    “except that you then advocate Aster 30 block II for ABM capability, so we would be following the MBDA development path instead.”

    No because MBDA will make all its missiles compatable with Mk41 and I am hoping the blokc II Aster 30 can fit in the A50 Launcher.

  15. martin Post author

    @ Tom

    “Replacement of LCU Mk10 and LCVP Mk5 with something nippier – PACSCAT or a development of the French EDA-R; what ever makes sense.”

    This should have been on my list thanks for adding it.

    @ Tom

    “interesting article, but I think there is one major flaw with your assumptions IMO – Trident will stay funded by the main defence budget. Now that it’s been done, none of the parties have any reason to move it back. It won’t win any political favours.”

    This is not an assumption but a wish. I agree its highly unlikley to happen but if a government wanted to raise the defence budget with out making it look like it was getting priority over NHS etc this would be a good way to do it.

  16. Mark

    “was hoping to write a post on this at some point. Unless anyone else is willing too because it’s really bloody difficult to find out anything about RAF EW capability ”

    Do you think there maybe a reason for that? Probably better it stays out of the public eye

    Anyway it’s not like the uk don’t practise these things.

    “RAF Spadeadam is the only Electronic Warfare Tactics Range (EWTR) in the UK, and the only one of two such facilities in Europe. The other facility being Polygon, in Germany.

    The Range provides realistic Electronic Warfare training for aircrew, primarily for the RAF, but other NATO Air Forces use the range as well. The task sounds straightforward but in practice is difficult to achieve and extremely expensive. The task is achieved by fielding a variety of equipments that emit signals that appear to aircrews as threat radars. The threat systems consist of Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) systems, Surface to Air Missile systems (SAM) and Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) radars. Additionally, they have an array of visual targets including a dummy airfield, complete with aircraft, missile sites and vehicle convoys. The aircrews try to evade the threats, whilst carrying out their assigned mission. The aim is to achieve realistic Electronic Warfare training.”

    And in conjunction with the AWC at waddington who provide the following

    “The Thomson Building is also home to the tri-Service Defence Electronic Warfare Centre (DEWC) which contributes to the operational capability of the British armed forces by providing Electronic Warfare (EW) support directly to the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) in Northwood and to a wide range of operational units and platforms. The DEWC is an integral component within the AWC’s Integrated Mission Support process and is jointly staffed by Royal Navy, Army, RAF and civilian personnel who maintain the UK’s Defence Electronic Warfare Database and provide Electronic Warfare Operational Support for all aircraft, ships and some Army units.”

  17. jedibeeftrix

    “While I feel the government acted correctly in 2010 by enacting an 8% cut in the budget to help reduce the country’s massive borrowing, the stealth cut enacted by Osborne and the Treasury of forcing the MOD to pay for trident replacement was shameful.”

    Is it right to call it a stealth cut in 2015 when this was known and understood before the CSR and SDSR in 2010?

    As to the wishlist, mine is shorter:
    Buy some P8
    Crew the second pale elephant
    Add a third maneuver formation to 16AAB
    Return support elements to 3Cdo that give it independence

  18. mr.fred

    On the MPA front, the C295 might be a more affordable stop-gap, with the added benefit that it can also be used for cargo transport and as a gunship.

    I’ve wondered on the logic of getting on-board with the next Airbus project for a medium-weight airliner, such as the future concept they are banding about.
    http://www.airbus.com/innovation/eco-efficiency/design/future-concepts/
    If you could incorporate something that would work as a weapons bay and modular equipment fits then the platform could operate as MPA, Air-to-air-refuelling, permissive environment and long-endurance bombing, cruise missile carrier, transport etc. etc. It wouldn’t necessarily be that hard to arrange, either.
    One of the concepts that Airbus have been looking at is modularising the payload so smaller sections can be loaded simultaneously without the constraint of the door cut in the outer skin. This would reduce turn-around times at airports if you have multiple modules (i.e. you don’t have to wait for the plane to load up) and provide a suitable location for a weapons bay, which would reduce drag and reduce damage to the weapons, prolonging their life if you don’t use them.

    This would be a long-term solution, but probably worth getting in on at the earliest opportunity. The more closely your utility aircraft aligns with the airline-spec ‘plane, the cheaper your spare parts and maintenance is.

  19. HurstLlama

    @Red Trousers

    “FRES has been a debacle (both UV and SV), and personally I would scrap the concept.”

    I agree, but I am not sure we should buy anything in its stead. In what circumstances would such kit be used? Will the UK ever again join in a land war or at least one that requires armour? I struggle to think of circumstances in which we would, certainly not over the next twenty years.

    Maybe the next Government should take the opportunity of the 2015 review to actually set out a new strategic direction rather than yet another round of Treasury driven salami slicing. Or to be more accurate perhaps the UK should return to a modern version of a very old strategy.

    Just bin the army. Do away with it completely. We don’t need it any more and its very existence gives politicians an excuse to meddle in other countries’ affairs. Take out the need to support extensive land operations and the RAF is also 50% redundant. Use the dosh saved to seriously beef up the RN because our trade is our life and that is done at sea and refocus the RAF on defending UK airspace.

  20. Chris

    Getting bored with the number of lost posts. Salient points of last post:

    Scrapping FRES gains no cash back. Therefore: Buy a small number of SV for cases where they might be the right tool for the job. Scrap FRES UV competition and use ASCOD/Scout derived tracked APC/role specific armour for cases where heavyweight protection is needed. Use saved cash from reduced SV buy and lack of UV competition to get smaller lighter armour that is readily transportable (more than one per aircraft/LCU) and has high utility in ops as befits rapid reaction forces for small scale rapid interventions.

    Agree ref FRES/Warrior FLIP – heads should roll for wasting such a mountain of funds to determine the shape size weight & capability of FRES Scout was the same as Warrior.

    I must agree the service that is in need of beefing up is the RN. I believe in weight of numbers. If we require the RN to keep a credible presence in every ocean then there need to be enough platforms to station around the world (taking into account the proportion in refit and on turn-round between tours) while still having a fighting fleet worked up.

    In all these SDSR rounds, the overwhelming loss has been contingency.

  21. Red Trousers

    Apart from the competing list of platforms above (and everyone has their pet fancies), what about enabling capabilities? For example, DII will need replacing in that timeframe, Skynet 5 will need a mid life update in order to cope with ever increasing volumes of data, the Joint Forces Intelligence Group in Wyton have a very expensive shopping list of new information management needs, Bowman needs an MLU…

    There is also great personnel costs associated with even the modest uplift in platform numbers suggested above. Please all note that I don’t begrudge any of the services increasing in size, but I think we’d all do well to remember that these costs exist. Someone reasonably knowledgeable about manpower cost planning (the Command Secretary at HQ LAND) once told me that she used a rough Figure of 2.5 times military salary for the annual cost of employing a serviceman, when all overheads including accommodation were taken into account. Slightly surprising and scary how it all mounts up.

  22. Red Trousers

    TD,

    Can you please change your spam monster’s diet to something other than posts from known contributors? ;) I appreciate that you are fighting a noble fight against a tide of junk, but still….

    And while I’m feeling cheeky, can we have a “jump to the bottom” arrow for Christmas? Those of us on iThingy devices are getting RSI scrolling to the bottom on the longer posts.

  23. Red Trousers

    @ HL,

    Blimey, that is radical.

    I sort of agree with you on the need for armour rapidly diminishing. Despite be a retired cavalryman, I don’t necessarily support retaining the levels of armour foreseen in the 2010 SDSR. Rather I think we need to re-role existing units to give greater wheeled capability, which is more strategically deployable. The French are quite inventive in their use of wheeled armour: we could learn something from them.

    I do disagree with you on not having the capability to deploy intervention forces. But, your’s is a perfectly valid opinion.

  24. Simon

    Can someone please explain why MPA is so high a priority.

    What is it that MPA gives that AWACS doesn’t?

    What is it that MPA gives that can’t be provided by SSNs and frigates with tails?

    What is it that MPA gives that can’t be delivered by Merlin?

  25. HurstLlama

    Mr. Trousers,

    The bootnecks would still be there, beefed up a bit perhaps with their own loggies, engineers and maybe even artillery (or rather having those assets returned to them). So HMG could still pull off a Sierra Leone type operation if needed or do a hostage rescue in foreign climes (those awfully nice gentlemen at Poole are a pretty capable bunch).

    Looking to the future I just don’t see what the army is for. It is too small to defend the UK and nobody is going to want invade us anyway. The Sovs, if they kick off, will threaten us at sea and in the air not on the ground. The public won’t stand for another ground war in the ME, not there is much chance of one happening that we would want to get involved in (just buy the oil from the winners). The Empire is gone and the battle for dominance in Europe has moved on from the military sphere. In short, all the reasons why for the last five hundred years the UK needed an army have gone and so I would argue the army should go too.

  26. All Politicians are the Same

    @Simon

    An MPA brings range, speed and endurance to the equation.

    It conducts vis id of surface vessels and is a weapon carrier in both ASW and if required ASuW roles.
    It is extremely useful in a SAR role and its ability to loiter makes it fat better ar shadowing surface targets than a helo.
    The height at which it can operate allows it to monitor a wide spread of buoys. Its range and speed make it useful for sanitising a potential choke point well ahead of a surface transit.
    In short it bring a unique set of attributes to the party.

  27. Az

    @HL

    Next year is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. The war to end all wars. Look how quickly that fantasy ended. So too with the 1990s ‘peace dividend’. In the realm of defence, we should NEVER SAY NEVER and as such should rationally fund our forces properly. And that means an appropriately-sized and equipped land force capable of committing expeditionary operations as HMG sees fit and forming the basis of a defence force as and when required.

    @Simon

    I see where you’re coming from, but MPA are an essential part of a force mix which complement those assets. AEW&Cs, SSNs, FFGs and Merlins provide a good enough force mix, but they could do with being backed up by an asset such as C-295 or P-8 which give range, speed and certain ASW capabilities which other assets cannot. Without wishing to sound too alarmist, we need to keep a constant eye on that GIUK gap… something wicked this way comes…

  28. wf

    @RT: not to proclaim the Frogs are mainly using their wheeled fleet against wielders of sharpened kiwi’s, but their African adventures in ex-colonial policing do sort of rely on the forces densities being low and the local terrain not being too challenging.

    Looking at the weights of say a Mastiff and a Warrior, there’s not a massive difference, certainly not enough to assume we can airlift significant numbers. A Mastiff can deploy from a port far faster and further than a Warrior of course, but if we have a port the decision isn’t quite as fraught.

    I do worry that a lot of our defence planning seems to assume that our likely enemies have a surplus of the aforementioned sharpened kiwi’s and a shortage of say, Kornet’s. So far this has proved to be the case, but it won’t last for ever, and we don’t want to find ourselves with another “IED problem”…..

  29. Chris

    HL – ref “all the reasons why for the last five hundred years the UK needed an army have gone” – after a thousand years France is still just 22 miles away…

  30. Engineer Tom

    Two of the cheapest ideas in the list are activating the PoW and retaining the three batch 1 River-Class OPV’s. There would be no outlay for new equipment only the maintenance, manning and running costs for the vessels.

    The running cost of the PoW will be 70m and for each OPV it is 5m, so for approx 85m you can keep an extra four vessels in the fleet.

    Personally I would leave the three River-Class vessels to patrol Home waters with the support of one of the new OPV’s, this will leave two of the new OPV’s for overseas duties, I would forward base one out of Kenya or the BIOT for anti-piracy and other duties, the other I would base out of either Bermuda or Gibraltar.

  31. Mickp

    On MPA for the reasons others have set out above I see that as a key requirement for 2015. The P8 is very high end and way over the top for routine SAR. In the current absence of hordes of Russian SSNs around our shores I would have thought the C295 fits our bill and allows commonality were we to chose some light transport versions or SF insertion aircraft

    @Engineer Tom – agreed on retaining Rivers, perhaps move Clyde back to the Uk to head up the Uk EEZ patrol fleet and put one or two of the new ones in FI. I would like us to seek a total of six of the new OPVs to give a more balanced fleet structure (looking for 12 T26s at least) and allow us to push MHPC out a bit maintaining our current upgraded MCM fleet until we are clearer on future patrol and MCM designs

  32. The Securocrat

    Lots to wade through here, but my first comment would be that it is interesting we’ve all rushed to the capabilities thread and not commented on the strategy thread (and like a sheep I have joined in!).

    Off the top of my head, CROWSNEST is already in the core funding. And SCAVENGER is the description of a capability requirement, not a vehicle/platform itself. So the SCAVENGER requirement could easily be met over the next decade by upgraded Reapers.

    And finally, after a couple of years I have finally snapped: it’s F35Bs, not F35B’s; OPVs (or OPV) not OPV’s’; SSN (or SSNs) NOT SSN’s. Please please please pretty please stop encouraging me to have a stroke through abuse of the humble apostrophe. My pedant gland can’t take it any more…

  33. martin Post author

    @ Mr Fred
    “the C295 might be a more affordable stop-gap”
    It would be but I think the P8 will be not a stop gap but a full capability lasting us at least 30 tears. The C295 might be a decent MPA but it’s the other capabilities lost in MRA4 like ELINT and ISTAR the worry me more than the pure MPA role. Why waste money on a stop gap when you can buy the real thing.

    @ RT

    “Skynet 5 will need a mid life update in order to cope with ever increasing volumes of data”

    I thought this was why we just launched skynet 5D. Original constellation was suppose to be 2 now we have four plus the Skynet 4 system partially in operation. I’m only guessing here and you may well know more than me but satellite communication seems to be an area we will be well off in between 2015 and 2020 compared to other areas.

    “Figure of 2.5 times military salary for the annual cost of employing a serviceman, when all overheads including accommodation were taken into account. Slightly surprising and scary how it all mounts up.”

    This is a good point and fits in with my assumption that the UK can’t afford to match less developed foreign nations man for man. We must excel in areas that require top class training and technology.

    “The French are quite inventive in their use of wheeled armour: we could learn something from them.”

    Agreed, seems to have been quite effective in Mali for one. Do you think there is merit in the UK operating a light wheeled unit in the sustainment force or could you see 16AAB doing such?

    @ Mark

    “How beefed up a navy do we need to protect sea lanes in the channel, North Sea and Atlantic?”
    I would say about 18 Frigates, 6 Destroyer’s 2 Carriers and as many SSN s we could get our hands on LOL

    @ Simon
    “What is it that MPA gives that AWACS doesn’t?”
    Maritime Patrol Capability for one and hopefully some ELINT. Also the ability to look under the surface of the water.

    What is it that MPA gives that can’t be provided by SSNs and frigates with tails?
    The ability to fly above the water and reach an area rapidly. Also the ability to stay out of range of enemy submarines.

    What is it that MPA gives that can’t be delivered by Merlin?
    Range and speed of deployment also ELINT. It’s not like we have a vast number of frigates armed with Merlin either.

  34. Observer

    Just to set the cat among the pigeons, why the P-8? Why not the P-3? It’s not as high end granted, but it still gets the job done and is cheaper.

    Martin, lots of new stuff but no talk on funding increase? :)

    I think that with the cut happy government sentiment, the armed forces should set aside 1% of it’s budget annually into investments, at least it’s an alternate fallback source of funding just in case the government decides to bugger them over again. It IS going to be painful for them, 1% in already tight circumstances, but if they can stay the course, give it about 100 years, they would be able to save a sum capable of handling an estimated 60(?)% of the military budget (assuming serious inflation) in case they get hit by cuts again.

    We have already seen militaries hit very hard by economic “attacks”, it’s high time to think of a way to “storm proof” the military from economic fluctuations. Having their own sources of funding would help a lot. Rental of military land for commercial development?

  35. Red Trousers

    Just a thought, building on the figure of 2.5 times military salary as the annual cost of employment….

    Bringing Nellie 2 into service (1,000 complement, about), plus 6 additional T26 (each about 150 complement), and given an average military salary of £35,000 at today’s money is annually £166 million.

    I’m not saying that is not worthwhile, merely that it should not be ignored.

  36. mr.fred

    Martin,

    You buy the stop-gap because you can’t afford the full thing?
    Or if it gives you the opportunity to get in at the right time on a more native next generation general utility aircraft that can fulfil AWACS, ISTAR, MPA, AAR, ELINT and transport.

  37. Simon

    APATS and Martin,

    Thanks, but I think you’ve just proved the point why it isn’t a high priority. We can do all of that with the assets we already have.

    MPA is a “nice to have”, not an essential.

  38. Topman

    Just to add further to the costs point.
    You’ve things like training schools to add on. Are they large enough, are there enough instructors? Then you’ve things like housing, we may have enough on paper but are they in the right places? Then there’s the base sp to support them a bigger base eg means more trips to the med centre, bigger MT section etc. When you start adding them up it will add quite a chunk to just working out the running costs.

    If I’m honest martin the money you’ve laid out doesn’t look enough to pay for what you want.

  39. The Securocrat

    @Red Trousers

    DII and Bowman are funded for replacement and upgrade through the Defence Core Network Services and Land Environment Tactical Communications and Information Systems (DCNS and LE TacCIS) programmes respectively.

    And yes, I wish they just had simple names like ‘Bob’ and Fred’ rather than long aggregations of nouns…

  40. Mark

    “The C295 might be a decent MPA but it’s the other capabilities lost in MRA4 like ELINT and ISTAR the worry me more than the pure MPA role. Why waste money on a stop gap when you can buy the real thing.”

    Why would the cn295 not be the real thing or more than a stop gap? Considering other air systems have been introduced or are being introduced to replace the nimrods on the overland tasking since they were withdrawn do you not think the other not pure mpa role may not be as neglected as you might think? Anti submarine warfare sar and surface/sub surface weapons release maybe the area the current istar fleet are lacking in. A long endurance platform is always welcome but these are not cheap assets and will require long hard thinking on what you may need to cut to afford them along with a look at how critical strategic airborne istar will be delivered going fwd.

  41. All Politicians are the Same

    @Simon

    You cannot respond to a SOSUS contact, take scene of incident commander or support an ASW action at a range of 1000 miles in 2.5 hours with anything we have.

    @RT

    Would love to see a breakdown of that 2.5 times and see what they were including. You are talking about an average of 52k per person on top of salary.

    To illustrate up until this Summer I was foreign and shore based. I was expensive.
    I lived in an apartment that I know cost the MOD £1k per month more than I paid.
    So 12k. I got £1440 a year domestic assistance allowance. So £13440. My other allowances LOA and LOSLA amounted to about £1k a month tax free, so £25440 or if MOD picks up the tax just over 30k, now obviosly the MOD contributes to my pension but 22k a year worth and that would only be to meet the average not 2.5 times my actual salary which would have required not 22k more but in excess 50k more.

  42. Red Trousers

    @ Topman,

    You are certainly thinking along the right lines. I don’t know the detail of the derivation of the 2.5 times salary figure, but it was along the lines of the official capitation rate ( so including pensions etc) plus the additional costs. Basically, the cost of running LAND Command including capitation rates divided by the number of regular soldiers and a proportional cost of the TA and Cadets.

    I certainly don’t know the details because I’m not a finance geek, but I suspect that the equivalent for the Kevin’s and the Andrew might be even higher per head, but only because the costs of training with the really big toys are higher than some boxes of bullets, a five pack of Max Factor@@@ cam cream per platoon and a bucket of range stew.

    @@@ yes, they really do have the contract….

  43. Topman

    @ APATS

    I’ve seen those figures banded about before, I think 2.5x includes the salary.

    Naples was it? Is it a dump as the rumour mill suggests?

  44. Red Trousers

    APATS,

    See comment immediately above. I think that it might partly address your comment? Basically, the cost of the Command divided by the number of personnel.

  45. Observer

    APATs, you eat on base/ship? Water? Uniform et al? Medical coverage? Insurance? Hell, even admin staff man hours to process your paperwork?

    Lots of little things. Even the really weird ones like rental of space to store the thousands of records of people in service, alive or passed away and all the incident reports stored over someone’s entire military life. God only knows if they ever throw those old records out.

  46. mr.fred

    Simon,

    The assets we have can each do a portion of what a decent MPA can do, but each is lacking in some respect. The Frigates and SSN are slow, the AWACS can’t do anything about what it can see and the Merlins have short legs.

    The area coverage, as in the area within which we can actually do something for a four hour window is a whole lot smaller with our current assets than with a fixed-wing MPA.

  47. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Observer

    The admin staff have their own cost line, surely? Actually I ate out or cooked, no extra money on top of what I already described.

    So we are actually including all the support, logistics, training etc. Remember these things can only appear in one budget line. So actually the cost is not a pure personnel cost at all but rather the cost of having trained and equipped personnel doing their job on their “platform” which makes a lot more sense.

  48. IXION

    Your spam filters at it again spam spam spam spam lovely spam……..

    Basically this isn’t a review its a straight forward give defence more money for existing commitments or else.

  49. HurstLlama

    @Chris

    “after a thousand years France is still just 22 miles away”

    True, but the buggers show no sign of wanting to invade and even less capability of doing so. Maintaining an army against the remote possibility of the Frogs trying to invade and the even more remote possibility of them succeeding – they never have yet (William the Bastard wasn’t French) seems a bit silly. Of course, we have invaded them any number of times but that was their fault – the next time anyone from the EU stands up to shout about treaty obligations are inviolable we should wave a copy of the treaty of Troyes at them.

    @AZ

    “that means an appropriately-sized and equipped land force”

    I agree. Where we differ is on what we is an appropriate size. I think a beefed up RM would be enough. Where is the land war going to come from that will require us to need more? What threat is there for the army to defend us against?

  50. Red Trousers

    APATS,

    I suspect that in reality the finance ninjas have it down to several more layers of granularity than we mere G3/Warfare operators, but then they are paid to perform that level of analysis. Hence the Command Secretary not bothering to worry my pretty little head with confusing details about the cost base differences between cavalrymen and gunners versus staff officers and MT drivers.

    But, at large scale, it makes sense. LAND Command was there for only one purpose: to generate force elements at certain readiness levels. Everything else was subordinate, including the cost of training, replacement engines, housing, the GOC’s cook, and buses for the children to get to school in Salisbury or Osnabruck. And indeed Alison my civil service PA who was paid an inadequate £14,000 (2002 salary) and who could not afford to buy her own small flat in Salisbury, but who cheerfully dug me out of the shit on numerous occasions. None would need to be paid for at all were LAND Command not in existence. The same for FLEET and AIR.

    Divvy all of those costs up by number of soldiers employed by LAND Command and I’m not surprised it was 2.5 times salary.

  51. All Politicians are the Same

    @RT

    Now I realise you were including training, operating, civilian support etc it makes sense.

  52. TED

    @Martin could not agree with you more on any of your points. But P8a, if we are making fantasy fleets I want c295 for reasons I’ve discussed.

    I think the HC4 contract has been signed so that bits sorted!

    A definite plus 1 for getting out of FSTA.

  53. Red Trousers

    Careful x, you’ll have someone’s eye out with that….

    I wish we had a Navy that would cheerfully have several barrels of those conveniently close to the RHIB in its’ davits, just for shits and giggles. But any such suggestion would I expect be greatly frowned upon, and indeed the Army seems likely to have a similar corporate reaction.

    It’s only 20 years since I got spammed to do the Annual Report on a Unit (ARU) on the Defence Animal Veterinary Centre in Melton Mowbray. Good 2 days out that was. Among the horses, they also had a bunch of Alsatians which had collectively failed their guard dog training for being too brutal and berserk. Huge fun getting dressed up in the kapok suit and having a pack of them launched at you(well, I thought so). It was only a 1.5 day task, but we stretched it out a bit.

  54. Simon

    APATS,

    You cannot respond to a SOSUS contact, take scene of incident commander or support an ASW action at a range of 1000 miles in 2.5 hours with anything we have.

    Mr Fred,

    The area coverage, as in the area within which we can actually do something for a four hour window is a whole lot smaller with our current assets than with a fixed-wing MPA.

    Why would you need to engage or support a slow moving sub/ship at 1000nm or within these kinds of timeframes?

  55. Mike W

    @Martin, Mark et al

    Martin says: “I believe that while the P8 would not be the perfect successor to the MRA4 it’s the best thing available on the market that can be purchased quickly enough.”

    I don’t know whether this point has been mentioned so far in the dialogue in this thread or in other discussions but while contributors are arguing the relative merits of the two aircraft, it does seem that they have at least got the two contenders correct. In an article on the Jane’s website, entitled: “UK will not use UAVs for maritime patrol … for now”, we are informed that the two platforms being considered for the manned MPA and ASW role are the Boeing P-8 Poseidon and Airbus Military C295 aircraft. The article mentions sources confirming that statement and Jane’s sources are normally pretty reliable. I don’t know whether Mark was already in possession of that information when he mentioned the “current contenders.” Am I late with all of this?

  56. mr.fred

    Simon,

    At the end of that four hours, even a slow moving sub can be somewhere within a 40 nautical mile circle, or 5000-odd nm^2. That area is only going to increase in proportion to the square of the time, so the longer you take to get there, the larger your search area is. If you can get there at all.
    The other thing that MPA are used for is SAR. A ship can certainly sink in four hours. An MPA can drop life-rafts and vector other assets to an exact position.

    Four hours is an arbitrary time frame, but the concept holds true until you get to days.

  57. John Hartley

    I am starting to think, that there is no point spending billions on defence, when an invading army can fly in on Ryannair & walk through our open borders.
    No French invasion! They have taken over London.

  58. Simon

    Mr Fred,

    Please forgive me but again, why do you need to locate a sub that far out?

    1000nm makes no difference to ballistic or long-range cruise missile strikes so seems pointless to me.

    1000nm is outside of our EEZ and there’s no way we’d get the “go” to engage a Russian sub in the Arctic Ocean.

    It just seems like the MPA enthusiasts are living in the old (cold war) world.

    We need EEZ patrol and the ability to engage something that has broken the surface (i.e. a Sentry contact). This could be a cruise missile or the whole sub.

    As for SAR, well, any airliner can do that – including Sentry (but preferably not).

  59. Red Trousers

    I’m all for the military utility of MPA. Shame we do’t currently have that capability.

    But as a taxpayer, and citizen, I think that our political masters have sold us short for in-year savings. The UK as a sovereign nation has responsibilities for civil maritime SAR under UNCLOS that we are not fulfilling (although Christ knows how the Paddies have managed to not assume responsibilities for our patch of the eastern Atlantic to the west of their bit of rock).

    Looking to the future, there’s a bit of money to be made in doing the systems engineering for a UAV that can carry 100 kg of life raft and other necessaries to support life for ten people out to 1,000 nm and drop it within 10 yards of a sinking ship, then circle about for 12 hours acting as a comms rebroadcast until a proper ship gets there.

  60. WiseApe

    @Martin – That’s quite a shopping list – what no LRBs? Some of the more useful things are actually at the cheaper end, like AAR kits for A400 and CFTs for Typhoon.

    I share RT’s astonishment at the notion of using Challenger for a recce vehicle – I imagine there are quite a few places a 70 ton MBT can’t go, which is not good for the mission profile.

    I also share earlier commenters’ doubts about a P-8 purchase – smacks of gold plating, though I concede your point about it being a long term investment.

    Also Apache – if we really are going to be using attack helos off ships more in the future, perhaps we should look again at bespoke alternatives like SeaCobra, or whatever it’s called these days. Is Tiger marinised? Would hate to see Apache go though.

    Also, what’s the point of new equipment without the personnel to use it, which is surely what CDS was on about in another thread?

  61. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Simon

    You do realise we try and track Russian SSNs whenever they poke their nose South of the GIUK gap. Much easier to pick them up there than let them dissapear into the North Atlantic. Their greater range speed and endurance make them an ideal response platform.
    MPA also offers an ability to support the detterent that is greater than a helo can provide. They can provide support to expeditionary ops at great range and their ability to sanitise water is infinitely greater than that of a helo.

    They can track surface units at long range and provide cueing or simply shadowing. They are capable of being fitted with ASuW weapons.

    A sentry contact is just that a contact. The radar cannot tell the difference between a barrel, a yacht and a FV, trust me I know. The way you employ E3 in a matitime role ( proven on Op Active Endeavour in the Med) is you use an AIS fitted E3 to compile a large area picture and match its contacts against AIS data. The HQ feeds in with potential COIs and you then compile a list of targets, non shiners or potential COIs. Then you use the MPA to vis ID them.

  62. Simon

    APATS,

    Forgive me for appearing to pick you helpful response to bits but I’m still not convinced.

    …we try and track Russian SSNs whenever they poke their nose South of the GIUK gap…

    Okay, so MPA can “track” subs if it happens to ever figure out they’re there in the first place. What do you do? Drop a dozen sonobuoys every day? Sounds prohibitively expensive for a cold war that we’re no longer in.

    I appreciate the range, speed and endurance thing, but not the projection of this capability. Why not have a frigate or SSN stationed in GIUK gap doing sonar sweeps? Why not have a cheap little OPV with a Merlin dropping the same sonobuoys and using Sentry to relay the transmissions?

    MPA also offers an ability to support the deterrent that is greater than a helo can provide. They can provide support to expeditionary ops at great range and their ability to sanitise water is infinitely greater than that of a helo.

    How does it support the “deterrent”? How does it “sanitise” water? It can only prepare a corridor which it announces to everyone with a splash and ping. I appreciate it is more effective than a copter but not as effective as a ship which can change course ahead of the SSBN and fool any listeners.

    Then you use the MPA to vis ID them

    I get the Sentry “contact” thing. I’d use Typhoon or F35B to id and engage a surface contact. Much better than sending a whopping great SAM target. I’d use Merlin to id and engage a sub “contact”.

  63. Red Trousers

    Simon, “I get the Sentry “contact” thing. I’d use Typhoon or F35B to id and engage a surface contact. Much better than sending a whopping great SAM target. I’d use Merlin to id and engage a sub “contact”.

    You slightly forget that there’s no such thing as a Typhoon precision guided anti-ship weapon, nor an in service F35B. And even if there was, you’d still be reliant on some young Kevin, probably from the wrong service, to visually ID some innocuous fishing boat in fog and in darkness while trying not to crash his enormously expensive little plane into the sea, so you couldn’t trust his judgement anyway.

  64. All Politicians are the Same

    @Simon

    You are not. The fact is that you are in a very very very small minority that does not see the utility of MPAs, you and the Govt :)

    An MPA can respond far quicker to a SOSUS os SURTASS detection than a Ship or a Helo. They can react and localise, because of their speed and ability to drop buoy lines aid ely dispersed. Then their ability to change altitude quickly allows them to monitor buoys over a wide area.

    You want to permanently station a unit in the GIUK, so we now need 3 as they have to be there all the time. So we are spending more money permanently tying down units.
    Merlin is slow, short ranged and barely carries any buoys compared to an MPA.

    You want to put a Ship ahead of an SSBN, why not just broadcast its position on tv. The MPA because of its speed, range and endurance can drop buoys in various locations and choke points, therefore not giving away which one actually matters.

    Sentry can get surface contacts at 150 miles, it can take Merlin 90 minutes to get there and then it has no endurance. As for your other scenario I wad talking about peace time surface picture complilation, an MPA has the endurance and systems to work with an E3 far better than an FBA.
    Even in war time scenario the MPA with Wescam or modern equivelant can ID the contacts at far greater distance than an FBA, outside the vast majority of SAM ranges.
    Your STOF distance is based on enemy SAM capability not the size of the platform you are sending in.

  65. TED

    @ Martin. I would support the aircraft that was best for commonality. Why can’t they strap on stuff to C295 like they will do with P8a.

    C295 can operate at gentlemanly MPA altitudes.

    @Simon to add to other posts protection of our own subs. Its a deterrent against deterring the deterrent!

  66. Radish293

    X “100,000 TAVOR”
    I wondered who was going to mention the SA80 replacement.
    100,001 Beretta ARX160

  67. Red Trousers

    Bloody hell x, are you the TD Chrimble Cryptic Crossword setter, or just 100 yards down range on that case of decent Claret you picked up in last January’s sales?

  68. Simon

    APATS,

    Okay, now for a question (or two) you may not be allowed to answer and one that might make me understand the value of an MPA…

    How long do the sonobouys stay operational?

    …And… at what range can they detect a contact?

    PS: The questions are in response to my idea of stationing a ship in the GIUK gap. Basically, I’m saying, better a ship than a few fuel guzzling jets on 24-7 surveillance.

    PPS: I don’t see the value of MPA over and above what we currently have. If we didn’t have Sentry, Astute, 2087 and Merlin then I’d want them immediately ;-)

  69. mr.fred

    Since someone else mentioned small arms…
    100,002 MSBS, license built and adaptable to different calibres (changeable barrels, receiver able to accommodate longer overall length cartridges)
    Plus a smaller number of Minimi Mk3 in 7.62mm (adaptable to other calibres) provided the weight is suitable.

  70. Chris

    Wiseape – ref Challenger – agreed it is a daft thing to use for recce because its too big and too heavy. But take a close look at Scout SV and you find Scout is 2/3 Challenger weight, width at over 3m is about the same, height at about 2.7m to cupola top is about the same – only in length is Scout smaller, something like 6.8m hull length instead of 8.3m. Track length on ground is about 80% of Challenger’s but I believe the track links are narrower too meaning Scout’s ground pressure will be somewhere near that of the MBT. So we have a new recce car that is as wide and tall as an MBT, with ground pressure of an MBT, but less armoured and much lighter armed. Accessibility looks like it will be about the same then – which would you rather take on recce given the similarities – the lightly armed weaker armoured one or the MBT?

    Like I said I think an MBT is daft as a primary recce wagon, which by the figures has to be the conclusion with Scout. But if you really think Scout is just peachy for the recce task, Challenger 2 is nowhere near such an idiotic option as you’d initially believe.

  71. Observer

    Replace it? You just got it! :)

    Simon, the operating procedure of an AWACs craft and an MPA is also different. AWACs stay behind a CAP and flies high where it uses the radar to compile a picture at stand off ranges, an MPA goes out and down low to visually/FLIR identifies an enemy. If you mixed the roles, how are you going to operate the MPA/AWACs? Stay behind? In which it can’t go out to track the sub’s heat signature/sonar contact. Or forward operate it and risk getting it intercepted? Fly high for the radar? Or low for the FLIR? FWIW, that was also one of the reasons I was suggesting a cheaper plane, MPAs are unfortunately units to be put at a fair bit of risk, you’ll cry less if you lose one. AWACs does not need to be risked at all.

    I’m still saying a P-3 might be sufficient for needs at this point in time.

  72. Simon

    RT,

    You slightly forget that there’s no such thing as a Typhoon precision guided anti-ship weapon, nor an in service F35B

    Too true ;-)

  73. Chris

    Simon – ref sonobuoy questions – I’m sure I used to know their max operating time but its strangely slipped my mind. As for range, that’s affected greatly by the environment (underwater that is) – thermoclines, layers, background noise, water depth, bottom type, bottom slope – pick any parameter that might define a lump of ocean and it almost certainly affects sonobuoy performance. So the answer is: It depends…

  74. Mark

    I think mpa should come back but I haven’t yet though what I’d offer to chop to ensure it does come back. I would actually have considered scrapping grey merlin with out the update they’ve just gone thru bought a high end mpa with some of the 750m saved and transferred all the wildcat to the navy to do the ship based asw/asuw. However navy bods would have exploded with such a suggestion. The fact foreign mpa are constant visitors tells us all we need to know about the effectiveness of such assets to uk defence of these islands.

  75. All Politicians are the Same

    @Simon

    The whole point of an MPA is that because of its speed and range it doesnt have to be there 24/7. A ship would. As the shup is not going to cover the entire gap anyway so you still rely on SOSUS or SURTASS cueing but the response has to be on station ad it is slow and has a slow short range helo with limited buoy capacity. An FF Merlin combo is excellent for keeping submarines awatpy from HVUs or maintaining contact when it has a submarine.
    It is not good at rapidly responding and localising a contacr detected by other means.

    Sonbuoy operational times depend on settings and also whether they are active or passive but hours rather than days. Detection range is dependent on conditions but look at the size of a buoy vs a helo dipping sonar.

    If you cannot now see the value of an MPA despite the numerous examples I have given you where they can do things we cannot otherwise do, or do things faster and better well that is you opinion.

    You are however in a very small minority.

  76. Red Trousers

    Chris, which is why something like the Chenowth Desert Strike Vehicle with either a Javelin or 40mm AGL (or even better, two such pairs in a troop) is about bloody died and gone to Heaven goodness for a proper recce troop. Couldn’t give a hoot about the levels of armour protection. Don’t get seen, simple. If you are, then you’ve crapped out.

    And at the price for such wagons in comparison to anything else, let’s have lots.

  77. Simon

    Observer,

    I’d keep the AWACS at altitude for “detection only” duties. I’d then dispatch an interceptor (either jet, copter or ship) to do the id and kill.

    Mark,

    What you suggest is the “catch” I end up with. Either Merlin from a carrier can protect a fleet or the fleet needs to work within reach of the MPA. If the latter is true it may as well work within range of Sentry and tankered Typhoon.

    APATS,

    Thanks for your patience. I think you’ve managed to get through ;-)

    …An FF Merlin combo is excellent for keeping submarines away from HVUs or maintaining contact when it has a submarine. It is not good at rapidly responding and localising a contact detected by other means.

    That appears to be the MPA’s USP (Unique Selling Point – since I’m supposed to qualify TLAs).

    The value I attach to that USP is obviously very different to others – I’m happy to be in the minority – must be the alcohol :-)

  78. x

    @ mr fred

    Ewww. Really? Interesting. But. Ewww. If you want something exotic from the east what about…….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CZ-805_BREN

    I am going to order 5000 No 4s chambered in 7.62 for public duties with some of the long sword bayonets.

    http://www.guardsatwar39-45.com/smleP1090478.JP

    Note that’s the right bayonet, but the wrong pattern Enfield.

    Found this pic’ too………

    http://www.bayonetsplus.com/images/HMS%20Alacrity_China_detail.jpg

    You can tell they are just itching to get back on board to make a YouTube video and check their FaceBook status.

    EDIT: Removed the word order after public. Whoops!

  79. WiseApe

    @Chris – 2/3 the weight of Challenger, less armour and a pop gun. So where’s all the weight then – fixtures and fittings? They’ll have to sacrifice the minibar.

    Doesn’t the recce vehicle need to be air portable – and I’m thinking more A400 than C-17. We’re not talking about sniffing out the Soviet hordes anymore.

    Edit – Here’s a thought – how about forgetting armoured recce and using swarms of cheap as chips (and expendable) mini-UAVs?

    Further edit – Even though they fly, I’d let the army operate them :-)

  80. Peter Elliott

    @Simon

    I would also add that MPA adds Theatre level situational awareness of the sub-surface threat. How many hostile or unidentified subs are in the ocean where you are operating? Which direction are they coming from?

    Knowing those answers will allow you to deploy the RTFG FF Screen and our single expeditionary SSN much more effectively in the direction of the threat, and if necessary enegage it at greater range from the HVU than if you were having to peer cautiosuly in all directions at once.

    Equally if you can sanitisie a whole chunk of ocean and be fairly sure that there is no SSx threat then you can bring tankers and supply ships forward without having to convoy them with scarce combat ships.

  81. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Simon

    An interceptor is neither equipped nor the pilot trained to conduct maritime ID at range. An MPA is equipped and the crew trained.

    Read my point about Merlin. When you are protecting the Fleet you are simply trying to keep the Submarines away. You know where they have to be to do you harm so you simply have to sanitise the water out to 15-25 miles ( threat dependent) this is what Escorts and Merlin do very well.

    That is one USP? The others are that it is hugely flexible. Has an ASuW role, has a SAR role, can do EEZ patrols. Can provide a nuisance by dropping buoys in choke points enemy subs must transit hundreds of miles away from a TG.

    The reason we could keep the duty TAPs in Port was tha a Russian SSN detected by SURTASS or SOSUS could be localised and tracked by NATO MPA until the Frigate arrived and took over.

  82. Red Trousers

    X,

    Re bayonets, the opposite end of the spectrum is (was) the Sterling SMG with the same type of shortish SLR bayonet fitted: an unusual combo, but recce at least in Gulf 1 were so issued.

    You needed to get really up close and personal to make that work. I had an ultimately successful, but intermediately effing terrifying experience with the combo. I wanted to take prisoner an Iraqi post-ceasefire who we’d cornered in a bunker, but he wasn’t so keen. I thought shoving my bayonet up against his throat might seal the deal, but didn’t bargain on tripping over some piece of crap on the bunker floor, falling over, and jabbing him 4 inches deep in his thigh. In my defence, it was bloody pitch dark in the bunker. But the boys didn’t let me easily forget this frankly Mr Bean behaviour.

  83. Chris

    RT – identity determined by said comedy stumble! I declare you to be Norman Pitkin (seen here with another clever recce wagon):
    http://www.assetstorage.co.uk/AssetStorageService.svc/GetImageFriendly/721195465/700/700/0/0/1/80/ResizeBestFit/0/PressAssociation/55C5C65E964B0C14536AF0E50258A8F4/film-the-square-peg-pinewood.jpg

    Wiseape – ref UAVs – I think flying cameras have their place (although I suspect slots in the RF band for UAV datalinks will be a limiting factor), but their utility when the unexpected happens is limited. I greatly dislike suicide UAVs – those fitted with warheads – and would not like to see them employed – indeed I have on an earlier thread advocated their banning under international treaty. Recce (and any other role) personnel on the ground with own transport and weapons can react to situations in a myriad of ways, from standing a fight to evacuating civilians to protecting choke points and and and. UAVs just don’t have this flexibility.

  84. Observer

    Simon, MPA has a few ways of detecting subs, but one of the key ones is the hot splotch of water that is heated up by the hull of the sub and floats to the surface. An AWACs at 25,000 feet is not going to be likely to even see the heat differential from that far up. No one randomly drops sonar buoys and hope for the best, no plane has enough buoys to do that for a large area, so they look for hints that there might be something there, THEN drop the sonobuoy to localise. Which is why there is a need for MPA. 2 totally different jobs with different operating protocol and goals.

    Not to mention I’m not sure if AWACs radar is able to sort out sea clutter properly. It might, just that I’m not sure. An air environment does not have the problems that a messed up reflective surface like the sea can give to radars.

  85. Red Trousers

    Chris,

    Not a deliberate position that I put the boys in. But (reaching back into the Hollow Force thread) something that preceding habit lulled me into, and for which just as much as I now think that Cornwall’s CO should have faced Court Martial, so should I have faced the music.

    It was quite a simple bunker: two entrances about 15 yards apart. There was clearly an Iraqi in there as we could hear him talking. I put 2 of the boys onto and into the back entrance, and went myself with 2 more into the main entrance and shouted for surrender. He let off at us with an AK. At that point, I should probably have got some grenades in, but it did seem a bit useless to kill yet another man after the ceasefire, and I didn’t want to open fire when there were 2 of my boys somewhere in front. So advancing to capture him alive seemed a bit of a middle course.

    God I got reamed out by the Squadron Leader and the Colonel later on, and worse by the old man when we got home (he’d been a professional infantryman in his time). And the boys thought me a bit brave or weird fucking foolish afterwards.

  86. mr.fred

    x,

    It may lack a bit of elegance, and baby-poo-yellow is not the best colour in the world, but it’s still only at prototype stage so I think a few rough edges can be forgiven. I like the idea of having both a conventional layout and a bullpup with essentially the same operating mechanism, quality of manufacture etc. if for nothing else beyond a good comparison between the two layouts.

    I’ve had the opportunity to handle a few rifles (though sadly not fire them) and the ARX160 looks nice enough – ISTR that it is adaptable to different calibres. I just feel that the Poles and the Czechs have a good track record of decent firearms design and it might be worth having a look at their rifles, especially if it permits a bull pup, because I like those (EM-2 is by far and away the most pointable rifle I’ve handled, but that counts for little without actually trying to hit something)

    Regarding the No4 bayonet, wasn’t there a knife bayonet developed for the No5, which might be compatible? There was a knife-blade bayonet for the No4 as well, in place of the ‘pig-sticker’ and, google tells me, the No7 bayonet which would do admirably.

  87. Sir Humphrey

    Great list, now show me the money!

    The issue as I see it is the lack of funding, the reduction in staffing numbers in 2010 and the reduction intraining places across the piece. To reactivate some of the capabilities listed would take a lot of work to put pipelines back in place to make it happen.

    At best I’d see this as an overly optimistic assessment of what would be ‘nice to have’. In reality I see SDSR taking the current baseline expenditure and either putting a 1% real terms reduction into play, or seeing if we can keep the underspend going a little longer. there will be some modest enhancements, but in reality expect more cuts, particularly to the Army which has yet to find a persuasive raison d’etre post end of Cold War.

  88. HurstLlama

    @red Trousers

    “At that point, I should probably have got some grenades in…”

    Yup.

    ” I got reamed out by the Squadron Leader and the Colonel later on, and worse by the old man when we got home”

    And quite rightly so. I expect your sergeant has a few things to say as well. You had been a very silly soldier and were lucky to get away with it. What I want to know is did you learn from this experience and in your subsequent career did you teach your young officers that when clearing bunkers grenades go first not soldiers and certainly not officers?

    Not that the cavalry should ever have been in a position where they had to dismount to fight. Its like seeing a dog walking on its hind legs, its against nature and you are surprised that it is done at all but it won’t be done well.

  89. Red Trousers

    @HL,

    Guilty as charged, and only retold because I’ve got a sense that (from the Hollow Force article, in which someone cast aspersions on the enlisted sailors of HMS Cornwall’s boarding party) you don’t ever blame the boys for cockups. You blame the officer concerned.

    @ Sir H

    “…but in reality expect more cuts, particularly to the Army which has yet to find a persuasive raison d’etre post end of Cold War…”

    That’s enormous crap, and you know it.

    1990/1 Gulf 1. Enforcing the will of the international community.

    1992-2005 Bosnia. UN then NATO peacekeeping.

    1999-2001. Kosovo. Conflict ending.

    2000. Sierra Leone. Conflict prevention.

    2001-2014. Carrying out the national will, expressed through Parliament, in seeking to rid Afghanistan of Al Qaeda and leave the country in a better state.

    2003-2010. Ditto for Iraq.

    Well over 1,000 soldiers have died for our country in those operations. I don’t care about the politics, those soldiers went to do their duty, and if there has been failure at a strategic level, it is not the fault of the Army, but rather of politicians.

    I think your’s is possibly the most snivelling and cock-eye’d comment to be posted on TD. It really is disgraceful.

  90. martin Post author

    @ Observer – RE the P3, In mnay ways it might be a better dedicated MPA than the P8 but its old and even with midlife upgrades won’t last for ever. As the USN stops using it it will be increasingly difficult to keep in service.

    I’m not overly worried about the loss of MPA from the MRA4 program. What I think we really do miss is the ELINT and ISTAR capability. To get anything near the MRA4 capability we will have to invest heaviliy in the platform and I am not sure its worth doing that on a old airplane. I think its a mistake to look for a stop gap measure.

    The C295 may not be a bad option but it’s likley to see us having to go it alone with no USN support that we could get buying into the P8 program.

  91. martin Post author

    @ Sir H

    At best I’d see this as an overly optimistic assessment of what would be ‘nice to have’. In reality I see SDSR taking the current baseline expenditure and either putting a 1% real terms reduction into play, or seeing if we can keep the underspend going a little longer. there will be some modest enhancements, but in reality expect more cuts,

    @ Sir H – I would agree with your assessment. However if we are seeing 1% real term reductions then we can expect to see some very significant cuts when the successor program ramps up.
    I think its time for the top brass to put up or shut up. Either fund the forces, resign from UNSC or the entire senior defence staff will resign.

    I know its a fantasy to think this will happen as they will all lose out on gold plated pensions and industry directorships but one can dream :-)

    Without a move like this politicians will continue to dip into the MOD budget for everything from tax cuts to free bus passes and ice cream for anyone older than 45.

    It’s fine for the politicians to do this if that’s what the country wants but they should not be allowed to continue with the illussion of all this punching above our weight crap. It may have been true pre 2010 but its not now and things are about to get much much worse without a change in direction. One more Tory election victory is probably enough to kiss it all good bye.

  92. John Hartley

    There are hardly any sound people on defence that matter in the Conservative, Labour or LibDem parties. Those in power do not “get it” until we have an underfunded military disaster.
    Only UKIP are sound on defence, but they are half good people, half nutters.
    One item for the wish list. Convert the RAF 10 short body C-130J to US coastguard standard for ocean patrol/SAR. Part exchange the 14 long body RAF C-130J-30 for 10 new build (5+5) KC-130J & MC-130J.
    Then hang for treason, everyone connected to the Voyager PFI.
    Then buy the computers with the Interpol/FBI/GCHQ links so every passport is checked entering/leaving Britain.

  93. Mike Wheatley

    Note to spam filter: this is a post, not a mince pie. Do not eat.

    @ Martin, re: Mk-41 launchers on type-45 destroyers.

    What do you think should be put into the mk-41 launchers?
    - Not SAMs, obviously.
    - Not ABMs. (You also suggest Aster-30 blk II missiles, which will go in the Sylver launcher. Also future US ABMs look like they will be sized for the larger mk-57 launcher.)
    - ASW? That seems too niche a missile, especially for the Type-45 destroyer.
    - ASuW? Why not a VL Exocet missile in the Sylver launchers? Also, the ships are getting dedicated Harpoon missile launchers.
    - So it seems like the sole objective is for cruise missiles.

    (1) Can we first have a fly-off competition between the US TacTom and the MBDA Scalp-N missiles?
    (2) If we then choose the US TacTom, last I heard, they could be squeezed into the Sylver A70 launcher.
    (3) Sylver has 2/3rds the deck area of the strike-length Mk-41 launcher, so that means using the Sylver launcher gives us 50% more missiles, for any case in which Sylver can hold the missile.

    What am I missing, that is worth a 1/3 reduction in the number of missiles?

  94. Sir Humphrey

    Martin
    I think threats by CDS et al to resign will go nowhere – the line from HMT is clear- you have your generous funding settlement to spend as you wish. If you choose to maintain horses, large officers messes, multiple training establishments etc, then thats your call, but dont come crying to us for more money when you are nowhere near getting maximum value for money from what you already have.

    As for RT and the Army. Bless, did someone suggest that your precious little organisation isn’t relevant? Yup, I did – and bluntly I’ve got sufficient OSMs on my chest to know full well what sacrifice means, so don’t try your overly emotional soldiers dying line to guilt trip me as it wont work.

    Any rationale look at the Army reveals a hidebound organisation with far too many admin structures and far too much in the way of overheads – look at all the ridiculous numbers of uniforms for instance. The Cold War force was an abberation in history, representing probably the only time we needed a substantial force in being on the ground to handle an existential threat.

    Since 1991 every single one of our entanglements on land has been entirely discretionary – we didnt need to go if we didnt want to. Not going would not have lost us a UNSC seat or changed the price of fish. We went because there was a strong sense of ‘if something must be done then lets try and get a jolly good war out of it’ . The problem the Army has got is that all of its efforts, with the possible exception of Sierra Leone have ultimately been for very little, and once they’ve gone, little has changed. Land power entanglements result in body bags, long term drain on resources and damaging international relations – look at the fall out over TELIC or HERRICK. What do we have to show for either campaign – practically nothing.

    Yet, despite all this, the Army is now positively salivating at a return to contingent operations and defence engagement as yet another chance to go and stick its nose in somewhere where it will ultimately get stuck for little good reason.

    I see no problem with the basic idea of a small Army, I utterly fail to see the purpose, value or point of an 82000 man Army.

  95. WiseApe

    It is rather juvenile to question the existence of one of the services, but I hardly think SirH has cast the first stone in that debate, has he. Perhaps he meant justifying the army’s current and projected strength? But I don’t like putting words into peoples’ mouths.

    “There are hardly any sound people on defence that matter in the Conservative, Labour or LibDem parties.” – Sadly I believe this to be true. Hammond I think is a competent administrator, no more. Murphy was a joke, the new Labour bloke is yet to show his colours. The LibDems seem to regard the armed forces in much the same way I regard sardines: fine for other folk, just not anywhere near me!

  96. wf

    @Mike Wheatly: why buy Betamax when VHS is plenty good enough? The French have failed to make Sylver a standard, so why indulge them? And I really fail to understand why we should be buying a VLS good for only one type of missile: surely the point is to be able to put any sort into the same launcher, in whatever mix we require, far into the future.

  97. Anixtu

    Simon,

    “MARS SSS Confirmed – disagree, scrap the project, spend the money on the above LHDs.”

    This one seems to have slipped through. Without solid stores support a deployed naval force is totally hamstrung. What are the sailors in your fleet going to eat after the first month at sea? What bombs are they going to drop after day 3? How are they going to keep their ships moving and aircraft flying when they suffer breakdowns or take damage? The capability represented by MARS SSS is vital to the future operational effectiveness of the RN.

  98. Simon

    How many battalions can our 82,000 man army actually field?

    How many battalions can our 82,000 man army actually sustain in the field?

  99. Red Trousers

    Sir H,

    The Army is 82,000 because that is the size needed to generate a deployable Division, which is what the politicians of all sides largely want us to be able to do. I won’t say there’s no waste anywhere, because that would be ridiculous.

    I think you to be both callous and wrong in some cases with your statements about nothing much changing. In Gulf 1, a country was restored to its’ people. In Bosnia a brutal civil war was ended, in Sierra Leone one was averted, as again in Kosovo. In Gulf 2 a regime was changed, and in Afghanistan a regime fell as they were too inept to eject the world’s most murderous network. I count all of those as positive results.

    What you might identify as failure is caused very largely by a failure of planning at the political level. Of course CGS has an input, and it is only when CJO and CDS are Army that you can even begin to blame an entire service for that failure. As for failings of operational planning, the blame spreads pretty evenly around in joint Headquarters and often to Allies.

    Taking a broader view, virtually every campaign since WW2 has required the Army to actually complete the military task, supported ably by the other 2 services. Looking to the future, I don’t see much that would fundamentally change that.

  100. Peter Elliott

    @RT

    Not sure that’s strictly true.

    Isn’t the 3 Brigade RF plus the two Elite Light Brigades (Cdo and Air Assault) what is needed to generate the ‘Deplorable’ Division.

    Aren’t the rest of the AF there to provide the sustained roulment of an enduring Brigade?

    If we gave up the enduring brigade capability then presumably we could generate a ‘best effort’ division from fewer than 82,000 regulars?

  101. East_Anglian

    Good starter.
    Would definitely like to see Sentinel retained, as well as a P-8 buy,

    Would rather see two more C-17′s procured than the Voyager PFI bought out,
    We need the Navy to be brought back to a decent number of surface escorts – so a proper build of T26′s please and VLS for the T45s. Would like the see the T45s properly equiped with SSM and TLAM.

    Apache and Merlin – yep.

    Whilst more F-35s are nice, I dont think we can afford them – just yet. Would rather see the Typhoon fully developed and a couple of Squadrons of T3 with conformal tanks and Storm Shadow to allow a deep strike capability.

  102. Challenger

    Good list of stuff there Martin, if perhaps a touch ambitious!

    I broadly agree that the focus should be on protecting and investing in enablers, with retaining Sentinel, getting Crowsnest as soon as possible, regenerating MPA, securing MARS SSS and dare I add getting a couple more C17 before Boeing sells them all to India and others being the top priorities.

    Seeing how relatively cheap it would be to achieve I also agree that every effort should be made to get the 2nd CVF into proper service and retain the new OPVs alongside the Rivers, though it seems that the quite severe lack of manpower to crew extra ships in the RN may be a major stumbling block.

  103. Simon

    If 7000 Royal Marines can field three battalions (and, I presume, sustain one) then surely an 82,000 man British Army should be able to field/sustain 11 times as many?

    So that’s 10-12 battalions sustained in the field.

    I make that a sustained division ;-)

  104. Peter Elliott

    The Elite formations appear to work on a 3:1 readiness ratio.

    The rest of the Army aims for 5:1.

    Being worked hard with little downtime of part of the bargain of joining an elite unit. I suspect some of the family men in the rest of the Army would srrtuggle to stay with the pace of 3:1 readiness cycle.

  105. Red Trousers

    @ Peter Elliot,

    Any 3 of those 5 brigades you mention could combine into a deployable Division. Or even all 5. It depends on the nature of the task.

    We still retain leadership of the ARRC, although whether that organisation has a real future or not I don’t know. So in theory, we could command a deployed Corps including several Allied Divisions.

  106. Simon

    Anixtu,

    What are the sailors in your fleet going to eat after the first month at sea?

    I’m sure food can be transported using any of the other ships, including the tankers. Perhaps the currently planned Tide class should be modified. I can’t understand why we’d need more than 148,000 tonnes of extra supply shipping (over and above Wave and Bay) as we currently only have about that with all the Forts, Leafs and Rovers.

    What bombs are they going to drop after day 3?

    The stockpile in the carrier’s magazine will not be out in 3 days. At the rate we drop bombs it is unlikely to be out after two-weeks! After that I’d hope the second carrier will relieve the first. If you’re suggesting replenishing 1000 x 1000lb-ers at sea, I hope you’ve signed an agreement with the enemy to allow you to “have a break” whilst you jam up the deck and weapon loading systems.

    One of the design goals of CVF was to have deep magazines to avoid all that.

    How are they going to keep their ships moving and aircraft flying when they suffer breakdowns or take damage?

    Seriously? I thought the carrier hangar was for servicing aircraft. I thought it was kitted out with machine shops and all the spares one would hope for O-level maintenance. In addition, it would be cannibalising other airframes if necessary.

    I was under the impression Dilligence was our forward repair ship? Maybe this needs replacing? Maybe this is what MARS SSS should also deliver?

    The capability represented by MARS SSS is vital to the future operational effectiveness of the RN.

    I agree. But only if we are intent on undertaking “sustained” operations. My feeling is that we do not have that capability (or intent) beyond a couple of months.

  107. Mark

    I would very much like the raf to be expanded to support a army division! However the threats likely facing the uk in Africa, med and Atlantic (north and south) do not suggest we need huge increases in defence spending or the continuation of some of the high end capabilities we continue to keep. How much the Mid East changes or not remains the great unknown. At some point we can’t keep saying we need to keep this just incase when we last needed it 30 years ago and have been fighting totally different conflicts in that time relying on huge uor contracts to keep relevant and with little likely hood of that changing in the foreseeable future. To operate a cvf for a decade and have 1 refit in that timeframe will most likely cost 1b pounds plus so I wouldn’t say its a cheap option.

    I would think that before we write a wish list of new things we’d like are favourite service to have we think first on what we would cut from that service to afford something’s new because that is most likely were we will be.

    So as not to end for Xmas on a gloomy note if we look back at were and what are armed forces have done this past year I think well realise there far more active and capable than many would have us believe and what a great job they have done.

  108. Observer

    Can we look into some ways for the armed forces to generate revenue apart from that grudgingly “given” to them by politicians? If you are looking for politicians to increase funding so you can fill your wish list, it’s going to take a very long time. The armed forces needs a way to get funding without hitting that particular roadblock or you will always fall short.

    Donations from those concerned about the state of the military? Land rentals? Investment accounts for money held for long term projects?

  109. martin Post author

    @ Mark

    That’s what I was trying to do, end for christmas on a happy note with a nice wish list because Phil and the boys at the MOD have been very good this year. Trouble is everyone here is a miserably, realistic b**tard for to obssesed with the terrible reality of our predicament instead of a bit of dreaming. :-) Bah humbug

  110. George

    As a lay person, I feel I have to say to Sir H, that although I have admired your articles in the past, I think you spend too much time defending the political decisions ( I won’t say kowtowing), rather than pushing back. If we cut any further then we may as well go the whole hog and have small self defence forces.

  111. martin Post author

    @ Observer – How about invading countries and nicking their resources and forcing them to pay us tax. Worked pretty well for the East India Company :-) The RN owes its foundations to piracy so could send a task force to the IO and beat those somalians at their own game. I’m sure we could also use the C17′s and C130′s for a budget airline as well. job done :-)

  112. mickp

    Sentinel – agree.
    MPA – yes but on balance I’d go for C295; allows larger fleet and other spin off options, light transport etc
    Crowsnest – number one priority for me
    Buying out FSTA contract – possibly; need flexibility of being able to use other aircraft as tankers
    Install strike length VLS on T45 – would put lower down my list – ensure we get 16 on every T26 first. Would look at midlife T45 upgrade to provide additional cells – AAW should still be priority
    Both QE carriers – yes
    Retention of River Class OPV – yes, with Clyde form the core UK water patrol option, possibly bringing customs cuter and Archers into more effective combined UK patrol fleet. Look at small force of more aggressive FAC to cover key ports
    New OPVs – 6-9 please, 2 for FI, one for Med, and 6 to cover two standing tasks
    Replacement for HMS Ocean and RFA Argus – no LHDs until Albion / Bulwark replaced – a variant of Mars SSS to replace auxiliary helo carrier / PCRS capability of Argus. No direct Ocean replacement
    Keep reaper, not sure about Scavenger
    F35B – no more than enough to operate 2 FAA and 1 RAF squadrons – 60-70 max
    Typhoon – I’d just close out 12 extra Tranche 3s to leave us with 120 airframes going forward
    T26 – commit to 12 – all fully kitted out for
    Apache – not sure. Would not spend money on marinising them
    FRES SV – really don’t feel we need it – need a much smaller recce vehicle that can also deploy with RM / Paras to give them a bit of clout
    Conversion of HC3 Merlin for commando – agree.
    FRES UV – off the shelf please
    Reinstatement of 16AAB third battalion – not sure of need
    Reverse cuts to 3 Commando Brigade – possibly
    MARS SSS – a must have, and leverage off the design for Argus replacement in due course
    MHPC – push out a bit – if Hunts and Sandowns have ben upgraded and we have 6-9 enhanced Rivers as new build we can defer
    AAR kits for A400Ms – agreed
    2 extra C17
    My left field one is a small force of conventional subs, off the shelf for UK EEZ patrol and to provide a better training and progression path to the SSNs, and 1-2 more Astute ‘batch 2′ pushing Successor out a little even if it means we drop to 3 SSBNs for a short time

  113. Anixtu

    Simon,

    Your ideas smell of ‘crank’.

    “I’m sure food can be transported using any of the other ships, including the tankers.”

    In the quantities necessary to sustain a task force and delivered with the speed necessary to minimise time spent on replenishment? What solid stores delivery rigs are these tankers fitted with? How big are their refrigerated holds?

    The ordered Tide class cannot be modified for this role without recasting the entire design. Too late for that.

    Explain 148,000 tonnes of supply shipping? Is this deadweight cargo capacity of the ships you mention and how much of it is suitable for dry and refrigerated victualling stores?

    “I hope you’ve signed an agreement with the enemy to allow you to “have a break” whilst you jam up the deck and weapon loading systems.”

    What proportion of the task group’s air delivered weapons do you think is carried by the warships of the task group vs those held in the dedicated magazines of the accompanying ammunition ship? What do you think has the larger magazine capacity, an aircraft carrier or a stores ship? Don’t you think there are a whole host of reasons why the second carrier might not be available within the timescale you indicate? And yes, there is a break in operations for replenishment. There has to be, operations cannot continue without resupply.

    “I thought it was kitted out with machine shops and all the spares one would hope for O-level maintenance… I was under the impression Dilligence was our forward repair ship?”

    The level of stores held on a warship – and the space available for those stores – reflects the expectation that replenishment will be available. This is everything from spare aircraft engines to toilet roll.

    To put this into a land warfare context, do you advocate slashing the stores and resupply element of the RLC such that Army units operate only with the food and stores available at combat unit level?

  114. Sir Humphrey

    “As a lay person, I feel I have to say to Sir H, that although I have admired your articles in the past, I think you spend too much time defending the political decisions ( I won’t say kowtowing), rather than pushing back”

    @George – I don’t spend my time defending decisions because I don’t believe in them, I try to put the context across as to why they may or may not have been taken. The point of PSL is to provide a second opinion which puts across the arguments why something happened. Its not always popular, and you’d be surprised how much abuse one can get for suggesting that things aren’t always clear cut, but thats the real world for you.

    Do I personally think every decision made makes sense? Not necessarily. Do I think on balance that presented with the budget, the situation, the wider issues and stuff that never makes it to the media that decisions are taken because they are either the right ones (or the least worst) for the time – yes I do. Never forget that no decision is taken without military and civilian advice and recommendation as to what do to do. The problem is that MOD and the Military is very good at forgetting that they are the ones who recommend these decisions in the first place.

  115. as

    Upgrade of E3 to USA block 40/45 E3G standard.
    Airseeker is expexted to be in service until 2045 but look in to putting the equipment from these airframes in to new Airbus A330 aiframes. Same for the equipment from the E3 so they are all on a common airframe.
    Replace the last 5 BAE 124 cc3 with Bombardier Global Express.

  116. dave haine

    Right….my idea’s

    RAF
    Sentinel yes
    Dump FSTA
    Instead buy:
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/767f/pool/16103393@N05/
    Which then enables:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KC-767_Aeronautica_Militare_tanker_refueler_2007.jpg
    And in the future:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:E-767_Japan_AWACS_112010.jpg
    Common platform, see….
    Buy 2 off C17 and maybe 3 more Atlas
    Retire tonka, retain tr.1 tiffie and trickle buy more tr.3 tiffies as tr.1′s hours expire.

    Army
    Store challenger.
    Scrap Warrior, FRES, Bulldog, Scimitar, Spartan, Sultan, Samaritan, Mastiff, Wolfhound, replace with lots of:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VBM_Freccia_visto_frontalmente.JPG
    And
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Centauro01.JPEG
    Replace Landrover WMIK & Snatch, Mastiff and Panther with:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ocelot_LPPV.jpg
    Replace AS90 with:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Denel_G6-45_Ysterplatt_Airshow_2006.jpg
    Or
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Archerside_commons.jpg
    All can fit in a Atlas…..

    Navy
    Replace Albion, Bulwark, Ocean and RFA Argus with 3x LPH/LPD 23,000t
    Confirm MARS SSS
    Increase T26 to 16 hulls
    Replace All OPVs with new class of 9 90-100m
    F35B fleet of 60

  117. Chris.B.

    @ Sir H,

    “The Cold War force was an abberation in history, representing probably the only time we needed a substantial force in being on the ground to handle an existential threat.”

    – Do we forget so easily? The loss of the BEF back in 1940 brought the Germans to our doorstep. The loss of France resulted in the Germans gaining access to Atlantic ports. It also resulted in them gaining access to airfields just across the channel, which were subsequently used to bomb the country very heavily. If the BEF had been given better kit and more of a priority for resources at an earlier stage, it might have had a hand in preventing that state of affairs (which of course is up for debate).

    I also find it somewhat hilarious how quickly people discount the use of the British army overseas anytime the subject of the Empire comes up. Who do people think were manning the various garrisons around the world and fighting off the local forces/the French/the Spanish? Which force has spent the last 300-400 years winning favour and demonstrating committment to allies by getting stuck in alongside them on the continent, helping to shape the course of Europes future on many occasions? That would be the army.

    It has been as much responsible for the security of the nation, its allies and its trade as the Navy has. It boggles my mind how quickly people are prepared to dismiss the role of the army.

    Still, it seems this is the new version of “disband the RAF”. Having failed to make that argument, it would appear the army is now going to take the brunt of the ‘if we disband that service, we could give the money to the Navy’ group.

  118. Anixtu

    Can anyone explain to me the perceived benefits of co-locating the naval Role 3 medical facility with an amphibious assault ship, as compared to the present situation where they are separated giving the flexibility to locate the medical facility somewhere safer (as implied by Role 3)? I’d be tempted to go in the entirely opposite direction and have a real hospital ship, at least for those occasions when dealing with an enemy inclined to abide by the Hague convention.

    Apologies to Simon for my unnecessary ‘crank’ remark.

  119. WiseApe

    @david haine – I said it’s not ON sale, not that it’s not FOR sale. All the foreign muck (i.e. lager) can be got at knock down prices, but not Speckled Hen. Will investigate Old Crafty Hen. I may be gone for some time….

    Merry Xmas to all, even if you’re not in the frigate mafia.

  120. dave haine

    @WiseApe
    A very palatable alternative.

    @ All
    A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year…even to the dark blue….

  121. Mike W

    @Red Trousers

    Regarding his reply to Sir Humphrey:

    “I think you to be both callous and wrong in some cases with your statements about nothing much changing. In Gulf 1, a country was restored to its people. In Bosnia a brutal civil war was ended, in Sierra Leone one was averted, as again in Kosovo. In Gulf 2 a regime was changed, and in Afghanistan a regime fell as they were too inept to eject the world’s most murderous network. I count all of those as positive results.”

    “Taking a broader view, virtually every campaign since WW2 has required the Army to actually complete the military task, supported ably by the other 2 services. Looking to the future, I don’t see much that would fundamentally change that.”

    It’s about time somebody said it. Agree with every word. Do those advocating cuts to the Army remind any of you of lines from Shakepeare’s great tragedy “King Lear where the two “pelican” daughters between them reduce Lear’s followers from one hundred knights to fifty, then to twenty-five and finally Goneril says:

    “Hear me, my lord:
    What need you five and twenty, ten, or five?”

    Followed by Regan’s:

    “What need one?”

    Is no one on this site capable of seeing the need? Ye gods, it was only a few years ago the General Dannett was talking about a request he had put in to the Government to increase the size of the Army by three thousand(from 100,000) and the Government was looking at it seriously. Moreover, it was only the fact that the economy was banjaxed beyond belief by the previous lot that prevented it happening. As soon as that economy is stabilised and starts growing in a sustainable way, the cuts to manpower should be restored. All the campaigns mentioned by RT were for the good of world stability and it was the Army that did the fighting, as he says “supported ably” by the Navy and RAF.

  122. Bob

    Sir Humphrey, as usual, has nailed it. This fantasy fleet list is useless without some understanding of how it could be funded and the fact it has been posted suggests many still don’t realise just have sharp the contraction in UK military strength has actually been.

  123. martin Post author

    @ antixu

    ‘Can anyone explain to me the perceived benefits of co-locating the naval Role 3 medical facility with an amphibious assault ship,’

    Because we don’t have a budget for even one much less two. Argus is not a medical ship anyway and in any op she is likely to be very close to the LHD anyway. Not to mention any medical evacuees are likley to be on helo’s so having the hospital on the LHD can make things simplar. Also makes it a fantastic platform for humanitarian aid. I agree it far from an ideal solution but by the mid 2020′s we are unlikley to have either an Argus or Ocean replacement. So thats why I opted to put a single one on my list.

  124. martin Post author

    @ Mike W

    “As soon as that economy is stabilised and starts growing in a sustainable way,”

    while i would agree with you its unlikely that the economy will ever recover to pre 2008 levels. The NHS and pensions will continue to take up an ever larger piece of the pie. I would put an 100,000 man army very very far down on my list. No one ever came up with a decent explanation for me of what we can do with a 100K vs 80K in terms of real world op’s.

  125. Anixtu

    Martin,

    “Because we don’t have a budget for even one much less two. Argus is not a medical ship anyway and in any op she is likely to be very close to the LHD anyway.”

    Argus’ primary role is as a medical ship under the term “Primary Casualty Receiving Ship”. The aviation training role is secondary, and everything else tertiary or lost completely as confirmed by the alterations made at recent refits. When fully manned for the PCRS role there isn’t likely to be any accommodation left for an embarked flight or any other warlike enhancements.

    A replacement in the floating hospital role could be a cheap civilian standard vessel, probably based on a ferry design (as an example, Ben-My-Chree reportedly cost £24,000,000 in 1997) with a minimal peacetime civilian crew (RFA or commercial as per Strategic ROROs) and depending on what state of readiness she is kept at, absolutely minimal annual running costs.

    Aviation training can be managed in ways other than having a semi-dedicated platform as we have had for the last 50 years, but it will impact on operational availability of the vessels used as substitutes, or the training pipelines as those vessels are prioritised to other tasks.

    Co-locating our sole maritime Role 3 facility and an amphibious assault ship – would you site an artillery battery in the middle of a field hospital?

  126. Defiance

    @Anitxu

    “Co-locating our sole maritime Role 3 facility and an amphibious assault ship – would you site an artillery battery in the middle of a field hospital?”

    Not quite, IIRC RFA Argus isn’t technically a ‘hospital ship’ because she’s armed (vaguely recall her paintjob being relevant too, something about her being grey when a proper hospital ship should be white, or having no external red crosses or somesuch).

    Meaning that RFA Argus could be argued to be a legitimate target in wartime, perhaps not on the scale that an LHD might be, but still a target nonetheless.

  127. dave haine

    @ Martin
    My concern for the size of the army, same as the other two services too- is the fact that below a certain level, it stops being self-sustaining from the point of view of retaining talented and able officers with a broad spectrum of experience and skills. If you factor in the increasing ‘civil servicisation’ of posts within the MOD. (Not that I’m saying that the Civil Service don’t have their place-they most certainly do, and it’s important too) We get a situation in which we have an increasingly limited pool from which to uplift talent, and increasingly limited opportunities to give the ‘talent’ real and relevent experience and skills to equip them to be excellent staff officers and potential CDSs.

    As for Sir H’s comments about the CDS and threats to resign- It may not have an effect on HMG- but can you imagine the public response, which would drive the media, especially if the aforesaid senior officers then carried out ‘briefings’- not a vote winner I suspect.

  128. Anixtu

    Defiance,

    See my post at 241808. Argus is indeed not a hospital ship per the Hague conventions, and I have carefully not said or implied that she is. She does however have a 100 bed hospital facility, carefully labelled “Primary Casualty Receiving Facility” to avoid the legal issues around “hospital” in this context. That hospital is her primary function.

    We have chosen to make our afloat Role 3 medical facility a legal military target for purposes of military/naval flexibility, and perhaps in view of the likelihood of fighting an opponent inclined to observe the Hague conventions. We need not stick with this route, or as advocated in the OP go further down it. JCTS as proposed mid-noughties would have been a legal ‘hospital ship’.

    Note that in the Falklands conflict we operated a convention-compliant hospital ship and three “ambulance ships”.

  129. Derek

    An SDSR wish list should probably be a list of what you want to keep, not what expensive new toys you want to buy and keeping stuff probably means sacrificing something you want to buy. The Anglo/French IAV has gone very quiet…

  130. Sir Humphrey

    One wonders about how much of a need there will really be for an Aviation Training Ship in the post ARGUS environment for a forward fleet of not many aircraft (say 15 Lynx, 10-15 Merlin). The numbers are so small that it may be cheaper to just use an LPH/CVF/LPD flight deck when required.

    As for Martin, firstly I think that any threat to resign would gain headlines for a day or two and change nothing. Look at Gen Dannat, the only CGS to speak his mind for many years and see what happened to him? At best they’d get a round of applause, then clear their desks and go on. It wouldnt’ achieve anything beyond embarassing their services reputation, and ending a career for no good reason. At that level its about steady as she goes leadership, not grand gestures of flamboyance. The place to resign with best effect is at OF5/1*, when you can go throwing a hole in succession plans and make a point, without causing major problems for the service .

    As for civilianisation, I’d argue that the MOD CS can see the same issues with lack of talent, career path and development as the Army does but for its own posts. My own experience suggests that the Army is very good at putting people into HQs but has little idea of what it wants them to do beyond fight for capbadge, service and country (in that order!).

  131. Think Defence

    Derek, have edited your comment, hope you don’t mind

    But I draw the line at sending traffic to sites that have stolen content from Think Defence and presented it as their own.

    Am sure you didn’t know

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    On fantasy fleets, I like them as much as the next man but in general I think the best we should do is draw out priorities because we are never going to be in possession of the budgetary facts

    Tell you is equally wrong though, people saying we are all doomed, we are approaching irrelevance and the end of the world is nigh

    Compared to our peers, except the USA, we are way better equipped, trained and catered for especially in the things that the bath tub admirals who count frigates don’t understand

  132. IXION

    TD

    I don’t think we are doomed or will become irrelevant.

    One example: – any one remember ‘the end of civilisation as we know it’???

    Come on some one at the back? Anybody?

    Happened this year when US wanted to got to war in Syria. And we said no.

    According to some that is………

  133. dave haine

    @ Sir H

    I dare say that’s true…but how do we deal with this, after all, training is important, but experience is still very necessary.

    Your point about the army I’m sure is very true- but we’re are back to what do we do about it?

    It seems to me we have a very real disconnect between parts of the MOD and the operational side…and that’s exacerbating the other ‘difficulties’ from both sides.

    We have the military coming out with gold-plated, flights of fancy specs, because in truth, they have little idea of budgets, and industrial realities.
    The civil service, who are generally more aware of costs and budgets, have little idea of military need (there are honourable exceptions, of course)
    Industry are doing their best to leverage maximum profit because, well, they’re a business, and business needs to make a profit to survive…and to be honest government work is no longer reliable, or can be trusted…so you grab what profit you can while you can. I can tell you about battles with the MOD cancelling flights at 24hrs notice after building a contract over 6months previously, then wondering why we hit them with eye-watering penalties… because it was too late to charter to anyone else.

    Why should industry take a hit because the MOD has changed its mind on something?

  134. Anixtu

    Humphrey,

    “One wonders about how much of a need there will really be for an Aviation Training Ship in the post ARGUS environment for a forward fleet of not many aircraft (say 15 Lynx, 10-15 Merlin). The numbers are so small that it may be cheaper to just use an LPH/CVF/LPD flight deck when required.”

    + Merlin HC4, Chinook, Apache, AAC Lynx. Argus and other platforms provide afloat aviation training on a thoroughly purple basis. My time on Argus was a few years ago, but one of our biggest customers then was RAF Chinook squadrons. Argus is not the only RFA to provide a platform for afloat aviation training – Largs Bay’s last operational task was deck landing training for an AAC Lynx unit – and it is common for other units to supplement or stand in for Argus. IIRC, in the mid-noughties she was the most highly utilised naval asset. No idea if that is close to true today, but in addition to the aviation training and PCRS stuff, she is regularly used to support exercises, participated in Libya (duty strike carrier!), then went EoS and has recently been APT(N).

    I don’t think we should replace her like-for-like, but there has to be a significant impact on fleet scheduling of losing yet another capable multipurpose platform. Yes, we can and do use CV/LPH/LPD/LSD/AOR/AFSH/SSS for elements of the aviation training role, but yet again we will run into the “too many tasks, not enough ships” problem.

  135. Not aoffin

    What Anixtu said.

    Some years ago, Fleet were cajoled into quantifying a requirement for DLT availability. It was eye-watering, albeit with a slightly more numerous FAA.

    Point is, particularly post Sandbox when CHF (and the baggers) will have a more pressing requirement to maintain quals, that burden will fall on a smaller number of hulls. X weeks per annum across three suitable ships becomes a lot more demanding when there’s only one ship capable of providing it.

  136. Anixtu

    Somewhere between “not much” and “not at all”. It’s not something I have direct sight or knowledge of, but basic deck landing qualifications seem to be based on a relatively small number of landings, launches and other evolutions conducted in a variety of conditions (day/night etc.).

    Other elements of the Aviation Training task include taking units to sea to practice operating in, on and from a real ship. The whole point is that it *isn’t* simulated.

  137. Think Defence

    That’s what I thought but they are increasingly realistic and increasingly seen as a means of reducing training burdens, they even have them for parachute training.

    I suppose there is as big difference between training and qualification though

  138. Obsvr

    Of course it could be argued that no nation requires any armed forces if everyone agreed to behave themselves. Oink, oink, porkers airborne. Most war occurs on land.

    Back on planet earth the need for armed forces is not going to disappear, IIRC at the end of the Cold War there was also some doubt about their need because the Soviet threat had ended. As RT pointed out since then UK has lost about 1000, mostly soldiers, killed. The lesson from this is that just because there’s nothing obvious this week does not mean there won’t be any cause for concern in the future.

    The Cold War was a stable balance, and most unlikely to turn hot unless someone made a serious mis-judgement. De-colonisation and communist inspired expansion in warmer climes apart the world was reasonably stable after 1945, from a European perspective. While Europe is undoubtedly more stable some parts elsewhere are deteriorating, the rise of militant islam could head in various directions in the next decade, Africa is not looking entirely happy, and Peking will engage in a bit of pot stirring if they can get away with it and gain strategic advantage. Then there is Korea, UK is a participant and only a ceasefire is currently in place (I do hope MoD hasn’t been neglecting serious cold weather clothing).

    The current political tiredness with land operations is just that, ‘current’. The politicians will get over it when the need arises. Anyone who believes otherwise is clearly using an anal aperture sight.

    I have to laugh at the need for the RN being all about protecting trade, what utter bolloks, too much reading fantasy comics I’d say. It would be much cheaper to build a few more Channel Tunnels to carry the trade that can’t be flown, and I’m sure the nice Mr Putin would be happy to have a pipeline or three under the channel to supply oil and gas.

    So my ideas. First there is no justification for RM or paras. They are merely light infantry, with a bit of experience with heli. Paras haven’t jumped for yonks and RM haven’t conducted an opposed landing for a similar time (and the big amph ops were always led by the army anyway – basically RM have being trying to postpone the inevitable since big gun ships with turrets manned by RM disappeared (and the need to guard the Wardroom), they’ve been humoured with the amph nonsense for long enough, but seem to have bluffed a lot of ignorant people). The para regt should become bns of the Rifles and RM revert to wherever they belonged as Maritime Regts of Foot (an interesting little task for a military historian).

    Getting rid of RM will enable greater use of RFAs as transports, which should free-up resources to properly crew the second carrier. Of course fixed wing cbt a/c need to focus on targets in some depth, close support of ground troops is the role of the AAC (that’s why they are a cbt arm), control arrangements make them more responsive to ground troop needs and heli are just so much more suitable for effective tactical flying.

    The real issue for the army is armd inf. I’m in no way convinced there is a need for such a creature, it’s neither fish nor fowl, all it does is provide a ‘target rich environment’. The need is mech inf (preferably tracked) and light inf with adequate organic transport. I’m with RT on the small, quiet and agile for recce. That leaves MBT. It’s useful to remember that MBT combines three roles: ‘cruiser’ (ie ‘shock action’, the heavy cavalry tradition), infantry support and anti-tank. I’d suggest that the latter is now best performed by indirect fire missiles plus infantry direct fire weapons and scatterable mines. In this environment the shock action bit clearly needs a lot of protection. Infantry support needs a gun and munitions with suitable trajectory, fuzing and effects (ie neither HESH, HEAT nor APDS in any form – although a little bit of the first is useful and the old guard will say you need solid shot for the knock, knock technique). That leaves artillery – field, AD (Ceptor to replace Rapier) and tgt acquisition; engineers – mobility and counter-mobility; and communications, EW & IS. Not forgetting that automated spoken language conversion devices will be great.

  139. Martin

    my point on argus was based on the fact she is a warship and not a hospital ship so I can’t see a major issue putting our hospital on th LHD. The French mistral operates in the same way.

    a lot of the things on my list are not about buying new fantasyfleets but rather retaining capabilities we already have an spending a bit more to get more capability out of them I.e. T45 with Mk41 and aster 30 block II.

    @ Sir H

    I agree with your point on the army numbers its nonsense to suggest a force of 82,000 is too small to give career prospects the navy has less than 30,000 and manages just fine.

    My point on the resignation was not for a pointless gesture but to tie the UK’s UNSC seat to military resources. The last thing I think politicians want is a debate about our UNSC position because I think joe blogs public might well want to give it up. Politicansq might find a few years of above inflation rises easier to swallow than a public debate about the UK retreating from the world stage.

    It will certainly stop call me Dave waffling on about punching above our weight.

  140. John Hartley

    I know I had promised not to be a misery until tomorrow, but with half of Surrey underwater, I think one good reason for a 100,000 strong Army, is aid to the civil power, whether its floods, tsunamis (thankfully rare in Surrey), earthquakes (was woken by a minor rumble) or other “acts of God”.
    I realise politicians need a face saver & would settle for an 89,000 strong army.
    Is the UK strong or weak? Depends on what you look at & what you compare us to. I do fear that if the world blundered into an accidental major war (repeat of WW1) we do not have the numbers or stockpile to last very long.

  141. Martin

    @ John Hartley

    “we do not have the numbers or stockpile to last very long.”

    Who does? even the USA could no longer support a major war effort with its current stockpiles and reserves. Modern weapons are hideously expensive and I don’t think anyone can afford to stockpile them for a low probability eventually like a conventional world war.

    If anyone was thinking about kicking off we will likely get many years warning in which to rebuild our forces and stockpiles.

    I also think regular soldiers are too expensive to use as a gap filler for civilian services. if we need such a thing we should use reserves to organised civilian volunteers.

  142. John Hartley

    Well Martin, various Gulf countries have just blown over $10.5 billion stockpiling US smart munitions. Lots of new kit in the Far East too. I do not want to be corporal Jones shouting “Don’t panic”, but I am alarmed at the smug complacency in the UK & Europe.

  143. Martin

    should be noted that those countries are firstly allies and secondly lack the ability to produce their own munitions. also how long would $10 billion in high tech weapons last in an all out shooting war against a Europe and America with a combined peace time arms budget of over $800 billion a year.

  144. HurstLlama

    “If anyone was thinking about kicking off we will likely get many years warning in which to rebuild our forces and stockpiles.”

    I wonder what sort of warning you think we might get. A hand written note on velum saying “Dear Western Countries, in ten years time we are going to declare war on you”? We already have a situation where one potential adversary, Russia, has declared it is to spend hundreds of billions on rebuilding its fleet capabilities over the next decade and is pushing ahead with its programme. Another, China, is spending even more whilst at the same time spending vast fortunes securing control of strategic minerals and either buying or stealing as much western IP as it can. In the Middle East a full scale arms race seems might be about to break out.

    OK, Russia has industrial problems involving quality control and allocation of resources (see recent RUSI paper) that probably mean its upgrade path will not go as smoothly as they would like, but it will go in the direction of increased capabilities and numbers. China has also declared a peaceful development path and its a long way away, too far for a direct confrontation, but Africa, with all those minerals, ain’t. Nor for that matter is the Arctic, which may become another pressure point over the next decade.

    So to echo, Mr. Hartley’s point, we have potential adversaries building their forces at the same time as the USA has stated it wants to move away from European engagements and the Europeans are cutting back on defence across the board.

    I’ll ask again what sort of warning do we expect to get?

  145. jedibeeftrix

    i was roundly pilloried for predicting the army would go down to 80k, both before the SDSR and before its official update in spring 2011.

    many people thought i was advocating it out of blind prejudice, and that the idea was idiocy (for a number of different motives on their part).

    i simply saw a smaller cake and believed this would be a more effective way to divide the slices, and I believe i take a similar view of SirH.

    i am broadly content withe the manpower split as is, but i am worried about what effect the non-appearance of the funding uplift post 2015 would have. i would like to see the RN lifted by a 1000 or so in order that a second crew can be found for CVF2 and the marines regain operational independence, and i would certainly protect the RN from any further manpower cuts by looking to the other services first.

    but whatever, no doubt it will be branded partisan idiocy once again. ;)

  146. Dunservin

    @Obsver

    “…I have to laugh at the need for the RN being all about protecting trade, what utter bolloks, too much reading fantasy comics I’d say. It would be much cheaper to build a few more Channel Tunnels to carry the trade that can’t be flown, and I’m sure the nice Mr Putin would be happy to have a pipeline or three under the channel to supply oil and gas…”

    - And I have to laugh at the blinkered outlook of little Englander/Britisher types who think that the security of the UK’s supplies of energy, food, raw materials, consumer goods, etc. to power its economy and meet its domestic needs aren’t affected by availability and free movement (which drive world prices) and that our vital supply chain begins and ends at the local supermarket (or even the Channel tunnel!). The UK only dropped from being the largest maritime freight transport country in the EU two years ago but its ports still handled around 500 million tonnes of freight last year. By comparison, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted airports combined handled less than 2 million tonnes of freight last year and the Channel tunnel handled just over 1 million tonnes. You can google “freight statistics” for any of them.

    - Yes, we receive commodities from the Continent but only because many of them (or the raw materials involved in their production) are shipped via such hub ports as Rotterdam and Antwerp. We could leave the global security of maritime trade (and its bounties) and the transport of enabling products, including dwindling natural resources, entirely to other, possibly selfish nations but these would be the same nations we would be competing against for their uninterrupted supply. Guess which of us would win?

    - Try thinking globally and the interdependency of things like minerals, chemicals, fertilisers, grain, animal foodstuffs and meat or consider what would happen to the price and availability of oil, gas, lng or any other petroleum products such as plastic, not to mention the effect on transport costs, if even a fraction of the global supply was blocked or even interrupted significantly. As a modern developed nation, we and our economy are particularly vulnerable to JIT (Just In Time) supply and processes. Some non-bulky, expensive items are carried by aircraft but I don’t think we would survive long on iPads, iPhones, tropical flowers, caviar, smoked salmon and truffles.

    “Getting rid of RM will enable greater use of RFAs as transports, which should free-up resources to properly crew the second carrier…”

    - If this demonstrates your understanding of the Naval Service, then words fail me.

    @Martin

    “I agree with your point on the army numbers its nonsense to suggest a force of 82,000 is too small to give career prospects the navy has less than 30,000 and manages just fine…”

    - Actually, 7,000 of those 30,000 Naval Service personnel are Royal Marines. The balance of 23,000 Royal Navy personnel is below critical mass and struggling (often failing) to maintain/retain practicable numbers of experienced specialists at various levels, particularly in technical trades such as nuclear and weapons engineering. You can’t promote someone if he/she is (a) already filling an essential billet or (b) lacking the necessary technical expertise and experience for the next level. Nor can you fill someone’s billet in an emergency if all you have left in the ready use locker are people lacking the required specialist attributes. It’s a vicious circle whereby gaps are causing greater pressure on those filling seagoing billets leading them to march with their feet. Even the the golden goose comprising staff in training and other supporting billets has died because, more often than not, they have been cut to the bone anyway and those surviving have already reached or exceeded their seagoing time.

  147. x

    @ Obsvr re armoured infantry

    I agree. GW1 and GW2 oddly proved that for us. Modern tanks as a spear head combined with PGM mean an enemy’s front (hello China, sorry guys) would be in tatters. The tanks would need some infantry in support obviously but not 2 battalions worth. Follow on forces could be mounted in APC and protected vehicles to mop up. The Italians have armoured of 2 x MBT and 1 armoured infantry. If we increased the number of Chally regiments in 3 Div by 1 we could have two similar brigades and move all the rest somewhere elses. Invest in modern tech for recce warrior in all 3 units. And buy some tracked mounted 120mm mortar for support.

  148. IXION

    HL

    OK the Russian business.. Its balls. They don’t have the cash for half of it, or the technical capability for the other half. Neither even in Russia’s ‘democracy’ is a war with ‘the west’ a sellable issue to the population. A War to reconquer the Soviet Union maybe. But invading Germany I doubt. And if they do invade the Ukraine, just WTF are we supposed to do about? Even if we had 3 times our current forces?

    Even if you take this shit serously , there will be plenty of warning of a building real potential for war, years before they can offer an existential threat. Then we act. Then we spend money.

    Like the threat of China, Argentina, and ‘maritime trade routes’, a resergent Russia is for frightening kids and to go to bed, when pleading for more soldiers tanks and FRES. We categoricaly will not be engaging them on land in armoured formations.

  149. dave haine

    @ TD and Anixtu

    Civvie airlines have been doing zero flight time type conversions and type ratings for years. You could well be boarding an particular type of aeroplane for the first time, with one of the flight deck doing the same.

    Proficiency checks, type ratings and ILS (Instrument Landing systems) checks are all invariably done in the simulator now, because of the cost and ability to introduce non-normal flight conditions into the check. All perfectly safe, and well proven (the Hudson River A320…the captain had practised a controlled descent onto water, in the sim) single and double engine failures, loss of horizontal empennage, complete systems failures, lightning strike on approach, explosive decompression, cargo or cabin door failures….all practised. In fact in a recent conversation a training captain told me that there was nothing like the flashing-red-oh shit-screen to focus your mind. Rather that, than the flight-deck windscreen going though your mind, anyway.

    Simulators are extremely realistic nowadays, although I’m not sure they can yet realistically do the ocean spray across the chops, that our salty seadog aviators seem to think is an absolutely necessity.

    And before the dark blue brethren get all sniffy and say “well it’s not the same is it” well…yes…it is….bringing a 150-250 tonne aeroplane full of the hoi-poloi, safely to the stand on a slippy runway in zero visibility or a 30knot crosswind has a special skill and mind set all of it’s own. And one certainly equal to bringing a 27 tonne fighter onto a wet pitching deck in the rain, and stopping within 250m. Simulators can do these things and more (the Air Battlespace Training Centre, at RAF Waddington, comes to mind) (As well as the B737 simulator having a carrier landing scenario-why?-I don’t know, but it was fun trying), without bending or breaking either people, or more importantly, aeroplanes.

  150. as

    As we are running our stock piles down. The middle and far east are building there’s up. They appear to think a war is coming. We are hopping this is not the case. The far east is having its own cold war at the moment we just have to hope it stays cold. China, North Korea and Iran are very capable of casing regional problems. There are also a long list of other countries that can cause a small regional war that can drag in neighbours.

  151. Sir Humphrey

    The RN manpower pool will be 30,000 – 7000 RM, roughly 3500 FAA, 4000 Submarine Service and 15000 general service in future. I’ve heard cynics suggest that if the RNR fails to meet its targets for manpower, then there could be flex to play with headcount ceiling that way.

    @John – the problem with MACP is that the First Responders have very little idea of what the Military should do. I worked in this sphere for some time. The Military deliberately moved away from it some years ago due to their being seen as a source of cheap manpower. Today with much better co-ordination and responses in place, plus some very good first responder kit, the reality was summed up to me by a senior police officer who said ‘we dont know what to do with the Army in a crisis beyond having them stag on’. The Army is here to defend against aggression, not act as the cover for councils unwilling to invest in civil defence.

  152. Mark

    Jedi

    Its rather pointless bringing the second cvs into service IMO as we have neither the aircraft or helicopters to operate of it coupled with the fact CDS thinks there to big for our needs I would rather have the second Lpd activated if that means increasing personnel numbers or scrapping 2 frigates so be it.

  153. dave haine

    @Dunservin

    Your point is very well made- air freight is limited by weight and volume…so only the high value and speedy items come in by air…and out (one of my aeroplanes was chartered by a saudi princess to take a chandelier back to Riyadh- she was meant to travel with it but according to her ex-RM/SBS ‘bodyguard’ she was still on the nest…or pissed) Not iPhones though- flowers, fruit & veg, diamonds, gold etc.

    The RAF will have exactly the same problem, very, very soon. It’s estimated that 25% of aircraft engineers and aircrew in civvie airlines will be retiring in the next 5 years (roughly 25 years since the last major binning of gingers- the disposal of Britannias, Comets and the Belslug)…
    Now ever since the government of the day made it uneconomic for airlines to run engineering apprenticeships… salaries for qualified engineers have been creeping up…

    At some point there will be a mass ‘Fuck-It’ road to damascus revelation amongst RAF gingers, followed by a crossing of the Rubicon to the civvie side. (I suspect there an awareness of a major temptation already amongst the most disaffected- hence the harmony guidelines for the RAF). No qualified blokes to maintain the fast, pointy things- effectively, then, no fast pointy things..

    I can’t imagine navy aircraft gingers being immune to the temptations of going over the wall, for a settled existence and more beer vouchers, either.

  154. Martin

    @ Hurst lama

    So China, Russia, the Middle East and presumably the rest of the developing world are going to declare war on western civilisation? For what reason or benefit? What warning will we get? I should think several decades worth of ship building to get anywhere near just the USN let alone the combined NATO force which still accounts for nearly 3/4 of world military spending. Not to mention if Europe, North America, Australia stopped selling them food they would not last very long.

    There is no military force plating in the same league as NATO nor is there ever likely to be. The only allies China and Russia have are the handful they buy and none of them are credible military powers and China and Russia don’t get on so well. as for the Arabs they have never performed well against western forces in several conflicts and I don’t see that changing.

  155. Jeremy M H

    @Martin

    I think you are a bit off base regarding stockpiles in nations outside of Europe and within Europe. The US maintains pretty extensive stockpiles. In most major weapons categories the US maintains weapons stockpiles into the thousands (Air Launched Cruise Missiles, Sea Launched Cruise Missiles, anti-radiation missiles, air to air missiles, SAM’s ect) and it has a very extensive stock of JDAM (around 200k) and will have large amounts of SDB’s.

    Is it enough for a major war? Well…who knows but it is a lot compared to what most others could bring to the table. The real difference between the US and Europe when it comes to munitions is more nuanced I think.

    I actually think the UK got what amounts to a very large number of Storm Shadows relative to its ability to deliver the weapons. 900 of those should last quite a long time. In fact Europe is fairly well provisioned as far as ranged cruise missiles delivered by tactical aircraft go. Between the big 3 powers you could have more than 1,000 of such weapons to use. The bigger problem is delivery than having those weapons.

    I think where things get problematic are for your more tactical or high volume weapons like JDAM, Hellfire, Maverick, Paveway type weapons. This is likely an outgrowth of the fact that to put together a program like Storm Shadow you have to buy enough units to drive down the procurement cost per unit to a reasonable number. Those are industrial projects that nations are investing in. The other core weapons are more like commodities that you buy what you think you will need. For things that are inherently not all that expensive people find ways to skimp likely on the presumption that they can buy more when they need to.

    It would take a fairly major conflict for Europe to shoot itself out of air launched cruise missiles for example. But even in small wars some powers have found themselves running short of more basic munitions that are consumed much faster than the more high end items.

  156. Martin

    if we re only going to operate an RFTG it is pointless crewing second CVf if we can’t also crew second LPD.

  157. Martin

    @ Jeremy MH

    I agree that US has vast stockpiles of weapons and more than its ever likey to need but the point that was being made was fighting a conventional world war. That level of stockpiling is quite different and it would be a waste of scarce resources for anyone to maintain such stockpiles given the highly unlikely scenario ever developing.

  158. Jeremy M H

    @Martin

    I would agree that maintaining huge stocks of everything for a protracted World War would be silly but I do think those that worry about European weapons stockpiles have a point. And in many weapons classes a relatively small investment each year could build up good stocks overtime. They are not sexy, job creating programs though. It is basically building bombs and guidance kits and sticking them in cold storage year after year after year.

  159. x

    Obsvr said “I have to laugh at the need for the RN being all about protecting trade, what utter bolloks, too much reading fantasy comics”

    And there, in one sentence is why UK defence policy has gone to cock since the Army gained sway. Jumped up colonial gendarmerie which has no understanding of depth beyond the range of its biggest gun, and thinks logistics magically arrive in theatre. Probably that is the stupidest thing I have ever read here.

  160. John Hartley

    Well in the 1920s we thought we could save money on naval building because we would get ten years warning of any major war. What happened? A few visionaries warned of Hitler in 1936, but mainstream opinion did not catch up til 1938. So we got one to three years warning, even with a Hitler sized menace.
    The idea we will get any longer warning now is laughable.
    Even if countries are notionally friendly & not aiming their weapons at us, what do we do if they attack someone else? What if Saudi decides on genocide on the Christians in Syria or Egypt? Do we stand on the sidelines?

  161. Repulse

    Okay, late to the party but here are my SDSR 2015 wishlist thoughts…

    I think the points about any additional money going on traning / manning / backend supply chain is spot on, so the money for additional equipment should be based on the 1% increase and cancelling planned kit to pay for the new kit.

    May equipment strategy is based on the following broader UK defence focus / priorities:
    > The defence of UK (and dependency) territory, airspace and EEZ
    > Gobal intelligence, survelliance and reconissance capability to monitor threat levels
    > Limited global strike capability to deter an attack on the UK (and dependencies) and protect UK nationals / strategic interests
    > Ability to provide enabler assets to broader NATO/Commonwealth/Europen/UN alliances for global stability
    > Ability to regenerate major war fighting capabilities in a 5 year period (assuming extraordinary budget allowances)

    Therefore, this in terms of capabilities:
    > Ability to detect, challenge and if necessary destroy any threat entering UK (and dependency) territory, airspace and EEZ including ballistic missles.
    > A expeditionary global martime based posture based on an always available high end core (RFTG and SSNs) with lower end patrol / ISR presence backed up by long ranged air assets.
    > Ability to rapidly deploy and support a full joint Army/RM commando battlegroup within 3 days either via air or sea. The ability to extend this to a brigade within 30 days and two brigades within 60 days and a division within 180 days. Maximum deployment period of 6 months.
    > Additional air / sea transport resources ready to deploy in support of allies.

    On the wishlist:

    > Retention of Sentinel R1 – Agreed
    > Purchase of P8 Poseidon MPA – Agreed
    > CROWSNEST funded – Agreed, but not on the Merlin (see below)
    > Buying out the FSTA contract – Disagree, make it work and let it run it’s course.
    > Install Strike length VLS on T45 – Agreed, but for BMD / ASuW missiles not TLAM
    > Crewing both Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers – Agreed
    > Retention of River Class OPV – Disagree, scrap them in favour of the Light Frigates (see below).
    > Replacement for HMS Ocean and RFA Argus – Disagree, should be covered by 2nd CVF and JSS (see below)
    > Retention of Reaper and Cancellation of Scavenger – Agreed
    > Change in Law to Protect Reservists – Agreed
    > Doubling up on F35B – Disagree, cap at 60 and assign all to the CVFs. RAF can invest additional money in long ranges UAVs.
    > Typhoon Development – Agreed
    > Confirmation of T26 Program and Increase in Numbers – Disagree, cancel the programee and buy 6 additional T45s instead and upgrade
    > Apache Retention and Upgrade Funded – Agreed
    > FRES SV and UV funded – Disagree, need a complete review of requirement based on heavy reserve forces and light rapid forces.
    > Conversion of HC3 Merlin as Commando Carrier Funded – Again, is already happening to my knowledge.
    > Reinstatement of 16AAB third maneuver Battalion – Agreed, should be able to have one Air / RN battlegroup always available.
    > Reverse of cuts to 3 Commando Brigade – Agreed.
    > MARS SSS Confirmed – Disagree, combine with a broader requirement for joint operations (see below).
    > MHPC Confirmed – Agree, but again this is just modular kit. Platforms should be light Frigates (see below)
    > Purchase of AAR kits for A400M’s – Agreed
    > Review of SEAD and Electronic Warfare Capability – Agreed
    > Participation in Aster 30 Block II – Agreed

    Additionally, I would:
    > Cancel the T26 programme
    > Cancel the Successor programme
    > Decomission the current Hunt, Sandown and River classes by 2035.
    > Decommission the Albion class, Bay classes, Fort classes and RFA Argus by 2030.
    > Decommission of the P2000 and Sabre classes by 2030
    > Purchase 6 additional T45 (batch 2s). All T45s fitted with additional VLS for ASuW and BMD defence, 127mm gun and upgraded hull mounted sonar.
    > Order a new 32 ship class of 90m (Light) Frigates based on the BAE 90m design, each optimised for one of the following 3 roles. Standard fit would include a small UAV hanger, larger telescopic hanger (sized for a lynx), ability to launch (via davits) two craft upto CB90 size, a 76mm Oto Melara Strales gun (with DART) and 2 x 30mm SIGMA mounts with CAMM.
    > EEZ Patrol (8 vessels)
    > ASW / MCM (12 vessels): Hull mounted sonar, TAS and additional equipment silencing.
    > International Patrol / Survelliance (12 vessels): Artisan Radar and 2 x 8 cell VLS
    > Purchase 7 additional enhanced Astute SSNs with VLS and mission bay (for launching USVs and UAVs)
    > Order a new RFA 6 ship JSS class with floodable stern dock, hanger sized for 6 Merlins and capable of supporting a 300 man RM force (800 man in austere conditions) with vehicles and landing craft.
    > Order new RM landing craft classes optimised for OTH operations that can be transported by Light Frigates and JSSs.
    > Cancel the plan to sell 2 Points
    > Plan a new 24 class of Fast Mid Shore Patrol craft based on the Australian Armidale-class patrol boat.
    > Purchase of 12 Osprey V22 aircraft with modular Crownest / Refuelling (for F35B) capability.
    > Upgrade the Typhoon to carry a heavy anti-ship missle.

  162. Jeremy M H

    @Martin

    RE: Type 26 number increase

    While I share your belief that if the RN is to operate two major task groups of any type they likely need more escorts I think one thing that is overlooked here is that going beyond the 13 planned units would likely see the unit cost spike quite a bit.

    They quote a unit cost of 300 million pounds per ship or something like that right now (which I am skeptical of to a degree to begin with). But you have to remember that this cost includes recycling the major combat systems from the type 23 ships that will be upgraded. The ASW variants will get the sonars from the type 23 ships. Presumably portions of the systems used for the new CAMM and Artisan installations on the type 23 ships will be reused as well. Any ships beyond the 13 planned would need everything to be bought new. It is not a crippling expense but it certainly would add to the cost of the last 5 by a fairly substantial amount, particularly if you want more of the ASW variant.

  163. Mike W

    I have to agree absolutely with Dunservin’s comment:

    “And I have to laugh at the blinkered outlook of little Englander/Britisher types who think that the security of the UK’s supplies of energy, food, raw materials, consumer goods, etc. to power its economy and meet its domestic needs aren’t affected by availability and free movement (which drive world prices) and that our vital supply chain begins and ends at the local supermarket (or even the Channel tunnel!).”

    If the Little Englanders are right, then all we have to do is presumably declare that we have become isolationists, make a rapid purchase of some extra Typhoons squadrons, together with a few dozen THAADs, stick ’em around the coast and Bobby will be your uncle. Does anyone in his right mind honestly believe that will work? Within months there would be problems over the security of our trade routes, our interests abroad, and world stability would be severely lessened. No, we need increased an increased Army, Navy and Air Force and that means a stronger economy. The present cuts are draconian but temporary contingency measures to right an economy which, as a result of the inane policies pursued by the previous administration (a 60% increase in public expenditure over a decade when our growth was averaging out at 2% per annum – lunacy!) underwent the biggest crisis in living memory! Never mind, blame it all on the bankers!

    Anyway, lads, nil desperandum! All may be well. According to today’s “Telegraph”, Britain is set to become the largest economy in Europe! The Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) (a respected and authoritative body) says that we are on track to overtake both France and Germany, passing the former by 2018 and the latter by 2030. We are apparently set to become the second most successful of the Western economies after the US, on current trends. Seemingly, it is down to a relatively low taxes, independence from the suffering Eurozone and a rapidly growing population. The Treasury has hailed the report as evidence that George Osborne’s policy of reducing the public deficit and cutting corporation taxes is working. The report also mentioned that France, with its “bloated public sector and 75% higher tax rate meant that it would become one of the worst performing of the Western economies.” The CEBR chairman said: “Entrepreneurial Frenchmen don’t want to pay 75% tax, so they come to Britain instead.”

    So, there you have it then. If you want 30 C-17s or another dozen T-45s or T-26s or 2,000 extra FRES vehicles, you won’t have to wait long if we get through the next four years following the same policies. TD might even have to revise his opinions about indulging in fantasy fleets! Mmm! Does anyone believe that extra money, if generated, would be spent on defence? Look at the evidence of the last twenty years!

  164. Chris.B.

    @ Mike W,

    I’m not sure which I found more amusing; ” Within months there would be problems over the security of our trade routes, our interests abroad, and world stability would be severely lessened” or ” The Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) (a respected and authoritative body) says that we are on track to overtake both France and Germany, passing the former by 2018 and the latter by 2030. We are apparently set to become the second most successful of the Western economies after the US, on current trends”. Both were equally worthy of a laugh.

    Now, I’m absolutely not, by any means at all, advocating we shut up shop and retire to our own island, that’s ridiculous. But the idea that if we did then within months the world would start falling apart without us and all of a sudden the rest of the world would make a mad dash for our supply lines is equally so.

    I just can’t understand why some people are unable to see a middle ground? Why is it that anytime someone supports current spending for the army or air force (and indeed the military in general) they’re automatically ascribed the position of being the Frigate Hunter General, determined to deal a fatal blow to the Navy?

    But now you’ve peaked my interest Mike. Who do you think would have a crack at our supply lines within those first few months? I’ll even give you Argentina and “Them Islands”, presuming you made no effort to strengthen them in kind, and presuming we stretch the definition of “supply line” very, very thinly. Who would be the first to lead the charge, presuming they’re prepared to take on others like the US and the EU? I’m genuinely curious. That’s not to say there wouldn’t be any long term problems, because I suspect there might. But I’m intrigued to know who you think is just sitting on the fence right now, waiting for the UK to withdraw an escort before it makes its move?

  165. Think Defence

    Supply chain, supply lines, trade routes, economic and physical goods flow are fascinating subjects which I have tried on a number of occasions to write about.

    Chris.B is spot on, it is a complex and nuanced subject but anyone seeking to pit a needle into the over inflated bubble that often characterises the debate on such issue is harshly criticised.

    That argument that 98% of physical trade comes by sea = need for a large navy is childlike in its simplicity and has been deployed by everyone from the Royal Navy to the Phoenix Think Tank (remember them)

    Dunservin is equally correct though in countering the counter argument !! about cross channel and Irish Sea trade flows because of the import and export of raw materials and precursor products.

    You also have to look at exactly why, by whom and how would these trade routes be interdicted.

    Once you have a credible view of that only then can you look at risk and means of controlling that risk.

    On the whole, I find the argument for more navy based on sea trade rather weak and unconvincing

  166. All Politicians are the Same

    @TD
    Of course you do.
    Question for you, as I know the answer, how much UK trade is offloaded from containers that originate outside Europe but are offloaded in a European Container Port then counted as merely crossing the Channel?

    Sometimes the argument looks childlike as it expects a level of knowledge or reseach it never gets.

  167. Mark

    Sometimes even the country that sends trade has as much interest in seeing it delivered as we have of receiving it. You then may even have to think about what blue water threat to trade is there and by whom (or is the blue water threat actually from the country the trade originates from) or is it just choke points which have many solutions to policing beyond the rn or even alternative routes and incidents there affect far more than just us.

  168. All Politicians are the Same

    A lot of questions Mark, I am not sure, I do know however the cross channel fugure is as much BS as the whole trade figure? If you assess how many imports we receive that have to transit some chokepoints then the latter is more accurate?
    However the host has his own agenda.

  169. Mark

    Apas

    My questions are more of interest than disproving the theory. Trade routes being important I would agree but I would ask why the navy is configured the way it is, if it considered this a serious issue, I would be asking mod and government why mpa, frigates, helicopters, mcmv and even submarines are being cut or numbers shrunk to channel significant resources to carriers and some stealth jets in a word of finite budgets we have to prioritise the highest risks and if this is one then surely resources should be channeled in that direction.

  170. All Politicians are the Same

    @Mark

    How would you exert control over a friendly chokepoint? Continual presence? Abi!ity to intervene? Do not over sinplify without proper assessment.

  171. Mike W

    @Chris.B.

    “But now you’ve peaked my interest Mike. Who do you think would have a crack at our supply lines within those first few months?”

    OK, Chris, so I exaggerated, as is my wont, and you have rather put me on the spot. Of course I can’t be specific about the assailants on our supply lines within the first few months but the general thrust of my argument was that if we (and perhaps others in the West) start withdrawing naval protection on our supply routes, it will not be very long before the consequences are felt. Even you admit the longer term danger: “That’s not to say there wouldn’t be any long term problems, because I suspect there might.” You give me “Them Isalnds”. Would you also give me Gibraltar? (although I admit you would have to stretch the definition of “supply line” very thinly there too. But what about the Mediterranean and the consequences of the Arab Spring, which have made much of the area volatile and insecure? There is a pretty important choke point in that region, isn’t there? Remember 1956? I could link that point somewhat tenuously perhaps with John Hartley’s: “Even if countries are notionally friendly & not aiming their weapons at us, what do we do if they attack someone else? What if Saudi decides on genocide on the Christians in Syria or Egypt? Do we stand on the sidelines?” Threats or dangers are seldom obvious ones that incubate for decades. They mostly arise suddenly and unexpectedly.

    Dunservin puts it well:

    “Try thinking globally and the interdependency of things like minerals, chemicals, fertilisers, grain, animal foodstuffs and meat or consider what would happen to the price and availability of oil, gas, lng or any other petroleum products such as plastic, not to mention the effect on transport costs, if even a fraction of the global supply was blocked or even interrupted significantly. As a modern developed nation, we and our economy are particularly vulnerable to JIT (Just In Time) supply and processes.”

    @TD

    “On the whole, I find the argument for more navy based on sea trade rather weak and unconvincing.”

    Parts of my reply to Chris.B are relevant to you too. Moreover, my comments were not specifically about the need for a larger Navy. We need a more powerful Army and RAF too, so that if the need arise for us to intervene out-of-area, we shall be able to do so effectively.

  172. Mark

    Apas

    If there’s no real threat then were fine as we are if there is Uk, France and even NATO have bases close to all the major coke points between here and the Arabian Sea. Air land and sea resources can operate from any if required. Over simplistic maybe but I’m also not foolish enough to think spending on one capability does not reduce spending on another in a finite budget.

  173. Brian Black

    Isn’t the main correlation between big navy and sea trade simply that the sea is a particularly handy way of moving materiel about the world relatively cheaply. And that remains true whether it is PlayStations and washing machines arriving in the UK, or tanks and bombs leaving it.

    When the issue of protecting maritime trade is raised, I think some folks get hung up on the idea of someone’s u-boats sinking shipments of canned meat and car parts coming to Britain. Ports and oil or gas terminals are major transport and supply hubs, and can be threatened by events on land in those countries and regions.

    Threats to maritime trade won’t necessarily involve mischief on the high seas; it could be land based bother. Having sturdy naval forces allows us to reach those areas and to carry out various tasks when we get there.

  174. Chris.B.

    @ Mike W,
    I remember the events of ’56 (not literally, a few decades before my time), which involved a combined operation of the three services…

    As for Dunservins comments, in principle they’re correct, but it still doesn’t explain why the UK should invest huge quantities into the Royal Navy. That global interdependency affects everyone. What benefit does, say for example, Malaysia gain from disrupting trade in its region? It would piss off a lot people, not least the Chinese. If Algeria or Morocco decided to unilaterally block the Straits of Gibraltar, that interdependence means that more than just the UK would be put out by it. The idea that we are the only ones who can save the world is more than a little absurd.

    Contribute to the protection of trade; absolutely.

    @ APATS,
    You have to be careful with the arguments about shifting containers etc. For example Civitas did a paper about this, but ultimately even they admitted in their own piece that their assumptions were quite wild and the net influence of places like Rotterdam on the total figures is not huge.

  175. Think Defence

    Apats, good question, off the top of my head, not a clue.

    How would you treat tonnage v value, how would you characterise value anyway, would it be economic, strategic or something around the ability to source elsewhere or even locally.

    What about the impact on figures of short sea routes and feeder traffic, how do you treat cargo that is offloaded and transhipped to another UK or non UK destination.

    What about commodities, raw materials and finished goods.

    There are so many complexities to the numbers behind the numbers that don’t get considered beyond the headlines, as I said, a complex subject.

    But even if you establish the correct numbers and percentages, so what

    What comes next

    This is the problem with much of the debate, it never gets beyond the stats

  176. martin Post author

    @ Jeremy M H
    “I would agree that maintaining huge stocks of everything for a protracted World War would be silly but I do think those that worry about European weapons stockpiles have a point.”
    I would certainly agree with this statement. I would put lack of stores up there with lack of ISTAR and AAR as major European NATO failings.
    @ John Hartley
    “Well in the 1920s we thought we could save money on naval building because we would get ten years warning of any major war. What happened? A few visionaries warned of Hitler in 1936, but mainstream opinion did not catch up til 1938. So we got one to three years warning, even with a Hitler sized menace.
    The idea we will get any longer warning now is laughable.”
    There was plenty of warning from 1933 onwards they just chose not to listen. Also no one had nuclear warheads in the 1930’s as we do today. I could stockpile all the conventional munitions in the world but its not going to do us much good when the bad guys start glassing us or vis a versa.

    “Even if countries are notionally friendly & not aiming their weapons at us, what do we do if they attack someone else? What if Saudi decides on genocide on the Christians in Syria or Egypt? Do we stand on the sidelines?”
    Surely a job for the UN to decide not the UK on its own. If Saudi forces invaded a neighbor then yes we would respond. If Saudi sponsored terrorist and involved in bitter sectarian wars then I am not inclined to do much.
    @ Jeremy MH
    “going beyond the 13 planned units would likely see the unit cost spike quite a bit”
    Certainly for the Radar but more hulls could see us spread the cost of R&D over more units. The Artisan 3D system is at least already in service and as such not large scale R&D effort will be required just buying five more sets.

    @ TD and APATS
    One thing that is rarely stated in the chokepoint world trade debate is our ability to use such methods offensively. This tactic has effectively one us every war we have fought in. If things ever did kick off between two major powers then naval blockading is about possibly one of the few tactics we would be likely to employ because almost anything else would invite a nuclear retaliation.

  177. martin Post author

    @ Repulse

    some interesting points

    “Order a new RFA 6 ship JSS class with floodable stern dock, hanger sized for 6 Merlins and capable of supporting a 300 man RM force (800 man in austere conditions) with vehicles and landing craft.”

    One issue I see with this is the cost of the vessels. If we end up upgrading the MARS SSS into a JSS then we risk losing the entire program on cost grounds. Basically we are turning what should be three cheap cargo ships into LPD’s.

    I definitely think the vessels should have large hanger as hangers are cheap and can be very useful but I think the well deck is just too expensive. For a small navy that can afford LPD’s, LSD’s and carriers such a ship can be very useful but I think trying to stick everything on one platform is more expensive than than simpler cheaper dedicated platforms.

  178. Obsvr

    As I said, the ‘protecting trade argument is fantasy comic stuff. Several tens of miles up and down the coast from where I live are two moderate size ports, sometimes there are up to 50 bulk carriers off-shore from each waiting to load. If one tenth of bugger all of these ships was going anywhere near UK I’d be amazed.

    If UK wants to export luxury cars to China (not forgetting JCB has a factory in China) the new route is emerging quite fast, by rail across Central Asia, the bottle neck may the Chunnel freight capacity, hence cheaper to build more tunnel that waste money on RN ships. Talking of which, piracy of NE Africa, the obvious solution are RFA mother-ships supporting patrol boats, in much the same way as they support minesweepers. Apart from a few cars most UK exports are high value small size and well suited to airfreight, but most of the value is in services, and while it may surprise some business travel tends to be by air (do try and keep up sailor). Note I stress exports. I could also ask how many ships fly the Red Ensign and the size of the merchants fleets owned by UK companies.

    Re RM, 7000 men for a mickey mouse brigade, ships’ boarding parties and a bit of nuc protection, seems incredibly wasteful given that there are minimal overheads of logistics, comms, training establishments and the like. Of course it’s possible this figure includes some double counting, in that the army elements are counted against RN headcount but also against the army. Be that as it may the RM are on borrowed time, which is where they have been since the late 1940s. The RN should train its own boarding parties as other navies do (eg RAN), nuc protection could be passed to service police – or even RA – they ran their own ‘Special Defence Groups’ in the past. The military role is light infantry, best to let the experts do it.

  179. Repulse

    @Martin, I see the JSS concept should be just extremely large multipurpose utility motherships that operate far over the horizon. The size allows for stores, hospital facilities and modular accommodation. A hanger and aviation support / repair facilities (inc F35B in VTOL mode) with well deck (similar to the Bay Class) shouldn’t be excessively expensive if the ship is built to civilian standards.

    The days of parking a LPD a few hundred yards offshore are over. The sophistication is going to be in the fast landing craft and air assets.

    I am proposing a class of 6 for maximum flexibility from supporting amphibious forces, the RFTG, acting as a MCM mothership or even as a ASW helo base. None will be as sophisticated as the Albion class, but thats the trade off.

    I disagree that this would kill the SSS, I see an order in 2 phases. First order of 3 to replace the Forts and Argus, then a second 3 later to replace the Albions / Bays once the RM fast landing craft are in place. 6 ships replacing 9.

  180. dave haine

    @ Martin
    I can’t imagine that nuclear weapons are much of a deterrent to any non-nuclear power….most nations will assume that we wouldn’t chuck a bucket of instant sunshine at them, unless they tried it first, and the nutters wouldn’t care anyway.

    The CASD is our insurance policy against similarly equipped unpleasantness, but the reality is that we are too reasonable to use it unless we are deeply, deeply in the dwang….which I can’t see for a while anyway.

    Our main threat will come from states, with aspirations, exploiting instability in parts of the world, other than western Europe, or fundamentalist, multi-national, non-state organisations pursuing a particular agenda (maybe on behalf of certain states), and using terrorism or major crime to extend the aim.

  181. Observer

    I don’t know about that Repulse, not sure if a “dry stores” ship and a “liquid stores” ship can be so easily swapped over. Sure, dry stores can easily be swapped out for hospital accommodations and vehicles, but water and oil needs a frightening amount of piping, I have severe doubts that the piping can be as plug and play as that. My guess is that you’ll end up with a stores ship class and a tanker class all the same. Maybe on a common hull, but the internal structure of each would be pretty much unique to role.

  182. Topman

    @ DH ‘The RAF will have exactly the same problem, very, very soon…’

    Interesting that you should bring that up. It’s become increasingly an issue. Those risks are coming to the forefront now. I covered this early on a few months ago. It happened at Lossie, the station had to stop flying for a period and reorganise, as the Flypro was far in excess of what could be supported. Reading the report at work, on the ground crew side the experience levels lost in 12 months numbered 3200 years on GR4 alone at Lossie.

    ‘Fuck-It’ road to damascus revelation amongst RAF gingers, followed by a crossing of the Rubicon to the civvie side.

    Although in my experience few cross into civi a/c for various reasons, other areas tend to be more popular. It is a big risk (the biggest on one fleet) on some fleets, noted by Air ranks at a briefing only a few weeks ago.

  183. John Hartley

    Martin. I have been saying that the global financial crisis of 2007-8, was likely to lead to war/wars a decade later. People choose not to listen, that is their right, but please no “nobody warned us” wailing when the proverbial hits the fan.
    If we intervene in response to a UN call, do we still have the means to do it? Does anyone in Europe? The USA is heading for big budget cuts &; becoming isolationist again. Our smug complacency might be in for a rude awakening.

  184. Martin

    @ Dave haine

    I recon if a country without nukes invades us we are well with in our rights to give them a sunburn.

    @ repulse

    The LPD’shave a fair bit of c2 kit so you would need to purchase that for all six of your ships and that’s not likley to be cheap. also do you want to be moving all your marines with all of the fleets weapons and fuel in ine ship? The is barley a budget for a basic MARS SSS in 2015 let alone a LPD version. I’m guessing we end up with 2 of a quite basic design

  185. colky7

    @TD/anyone else,

    “Compared to our peers, except the USA, we are way better equipped, trained and catered for especially in the things that the bath tub admirals who count frigates don’t understand”

    I often hear these type of comments without people actually explaining it in depth. Could you or anyone run through exactly what gives us this advantage for me please?

    Might be a good idea for an article to lift the doom and gloom of cutbacks as well?

    Hope everyone had a great christmas…

  186. Stuart H

    My personal view (based purely on what I’ve read to date as I have no inside knowledge) is that SDSR 2015 will be a holding review with little change other than some minor manning adjustments and some gaps being addressed.

    Between now and the next SDSR there will be the Scottish Independence Referendum and another General Election. Assuming Scotland vote for the status quo (I’m guessing 60-40 in favour of the union) the biggest unknown is who will form the next government. If this is the Conservatives, then the decisions made so far will be affirmed, if it is Labour then they will look for political advantage but generally I think the big decisions will be held off until next time (presumably 2020) while FR2020 beds in and the existing procurement projects conclude. Any repeat of a coalition will probably see 3 rather than 4 Successor boats as the formal requirement.

    When Philip Hammond confirmed the budget was in balance the breakdown for the 2012-22 period went something like this:

    £bn
    4.8 contingency
    8 unallocated
    35.8 Astute and Successor
    18.5 F35, Typhoon and UAVs
    17.4 CVF, Type 45 and Type 26
    13.9 Voyager and A400M
    12.3 AFVs (inc Warrior, Scout)
    12.1 Helicopters (Chinook, Apache, Puma & Wildcat)
    11.4 Weapons
    25.8 others

    The only “big ticket” item I see being bought outside what is already officially required would be an MPA (probably 8 P-8s costing around £1.5bn according to one article I read) otherwise the balance of the budget would be to bring into core those items already mentioned, such as the second CVF (held in reserve rather than formally “mothballed”) and Sentinal.

    As far as the RN goes, I would have thought the shopping list is:

    On order
    2 Queen Elizabeth class CVs
    4 Astute SSNs
    4 MARS tankers
    Wildcat
    FASGW (L)

    Budgeted for but not on contract
    Successor SSBN (first of class)
    7th and last Astute SSN
    Type 26 (first of class and 3 others building in this time period?)
    3 OPVs
    FASGW (H)

    Projects not yet budgeted or contracted for (so called “White board” projects)
    MARS FSS
    MPHC
    Crowsnest
    CEC
    Merlin marinisation (assessment only funded)
    Replacement LVCP and LCU

    The £8bn unallocated budget has to cover a number of items so I doubt there will be scope for much over and above an MPA replacement and some of the smaller requirements across all three services.

  187. All Politicians are the Same

    @Obsvr

    Ref RM and light infantry. They are the experts:)
    How much freight do you get on a train in comparison to a ship?

  188. Challenger

    @Stuart H

    ‘that SDSR 2015 will be a holding review with little change other than some minor manning adjustments and some gaps being addressed’

    Sounds about right, I think any optimism is misplaced when it comes to a list of fantasy acquisitions and projects. The best we can probably hope for is avoiding any more painful cuts and maybe using the under-spend on MPA and bringing a few things like Sentinel into the core budget as you suggest.

    As far as the RN goes bringing the other CVF into full service and having those 3 new OPVs as additions to the Rivers rather than replacements would be major victories, but my rather gloomy worry is where the manpower would come from to get them to sea?

    My other priorities would be to secure MARS SSS, get Albion/Bulwark out of mothballs and speed up Crowsnest.

    Another worry is the stuff that just isn’t mentioned, like Argus and Diligence replacements, a new fleet of small patrol boats or a like for like capability to replace the Archers. What about some fast protection craft for the Royal Marines? Even if the money isn’t their some planning and clarity on a number of fast aging capabilities and what is going to be done once they need to retire would be good.

    MHPC isn’t particularly pressing seen as the Hunts/Sandowns can be incrementally upgraded with new systems and the Rivers/Echos should last a while yet. T26 will be a lengthy program, as long as the first 8 get well under way with the systems and capabilities promised then final numbers and variant mix can be wrangled over post 2015 and beyond.

  189. dave haine

    @ Topman
    Ermmm…don’t know that ‘few cross into civvie a/c for a variety of reasons’.

    According to a HR mate in an airline, in the south-east…they’ve had an entire squadron, linies, hanger blokes etc from a chiefy tech down, send their CVs in…and yes it was so organised, they sent them in one package, on a DVD, organised by trades, and with covering letters, referencing the DVD entry for each person….

    I tell you one thing, one bloke is definitely going to be offered a job-the bloke who organised and set up that…

    BYaM, the squadron concerned isn’t from the Tonka fleet!

  190. WiseApe

    “Does anyone in his right mind honestly believe that will work?” – Some do and they’re not.

    “I recon if a country without nukes invades us we are well with in our rights to give them a sunburn.” – Say goodbye to Bulgaria then.

    Old Crafty Hen not bad.

  191. Topman

    @ DH

    I suppose it depends what station/fleet etc. But from my experience for everyone that went into civvy airline world a dozen didn’t.

    Hmm, now let me think which one it could be…

  192. dave haine

    @ obsvr
    Based on what my Brother in Law told me (Works for the MMO- Marine Management Organisation). It looks as if the long term plan is a sort of hub and spoke system for imports. Apparently the EU plan is for the vast ships instead of chugging up the English Channel to offload at the nearest port to the ultimate destination, they will just go to the first port they come to with an available unloading berth… The cargo will either be cross loaded to smaller vessels or cross onto other transport modes.

    Hence the reason why a lot of british ports have recently been bought by international ports operators and had huge amounts invested in them.

  193. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @apats, re @Obsvr – quite right, and furthermore a long train journey across an increasing unstable region seems to me not only costly, but also highly prone to “Leakage” and “Unexpected Increases of Custom Dues”….and as to the RM if we have ships we might need Men expert in operating from them; barely seems to matter if they are RM/RN or Lord Admiral’s Regiment, British Army…somebody needs to be able to do it.

    Plus, when did they not operate as Light Infantry in Land Operations led by the Army?

    GNB

  194. martin Post author

    @ Stuart H

    some good points there. I knew it was only the assessment phase of the Merlin marinisation that was funded.

    @ Colky 7

    What makes our forces better than most is training, force multipliers and operational readiness.

    Many nations in Europe have larger forces but do not keep them at a state where they can be deployed outside of their own boarder. If you look at TD’s recent post on the defence budget you can see a cost of around GBP 340,000 per service personnel deployed. While active units at home won’t cost this much it gives you some idea of just how much more expensive it is to keep forces than you are actually able to use.

    In terms of force multipliers and enablers we have platforms like AWACS, Sentry, Reaper that allow us to find the enemy and direct forces on to them known as ISTAR. Few other nations in Europe have anything like this. In addition we have our new RC135 Rivet Joint aircraft that allow us to listen to enemies radio signals that can be deciphered by GCHQ. We are also rumoured to pay for part of the NSA’s space based listening satellite network although this is highly classified.

    In addition we have an amazing satellite communication network in SKYNET 5 with four satellites providing near global coverage. Added to this we have ships like the Albion Class with which have command centres on board and we can deploy a divisional head quarters almost any where. These capabilities fall under what is known as Command Control Computers and Communications of C4.

    So our C4 ISTAR is probably superior to anyone in the world outside of the USA.

    We also maintain the ability to move our forces into place with large strategic air lifters and amphibious vessells. Again Europe has very little if any of this.

    In addition to this our Navy in particular has excellent capabilities in Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Mine Counter Measures (MCM) In these roles our navy is probably superior to even the US navy. Added to that we have possibly the best Nuclear Submarine in the world in the Astute Class who’s sonar in particular is top class and the T45 destroyer that is unmatched in Anti Air Warfare (AAW).

    Our special forces such as the SAS and SBS also have a reputation for being the best although these days I am sure that most NATO special operations forces are top notch.

    On top of all that we have some of the longest most in depth training programs of any armed forces in the world and a military tradition that has not known serious defeat in over 200 years.
    300 years for the navy ;-)

    There are quite a few other capabilities we poses that no one else in Europe does but its hard to list them all.

  195. martin Post author

    @ Dave Haine

    “Apparently the EU plan is for the vast ships instead of chugging up the English Channel to offload at the nearest port to the ultimate destination, they will just go to the first port they come to with an available unloading berth.”

    Seen some interesting plans to use Scappa Flow for such an operation for future mega container ships that can’t get up the channel.

  196. Peter Elliott

    I know what you mean by that. The last war that is generally chalked up as a ‘strategic loss’ is the American Revolution (which was actually won by the French).

    But big chunks of WW2 were actually pretty disatrous. The defeat at Singapore for instance was not only a thumping great tactical defeat, but even though we fought back to defeat Japan at Kohima/Imphal and in Burma the strategic effect of Singapore was to wipe out the Empire East of Suez as a viable entity.

    “a military tradition that has not known serious defeat in over 200 years.”

  197. Peter Elliott

    And on the subject of streategic defeats what about the London Naval Agreements of the 1920s? Its arguable both ways actually.

    Although Beattie cocked up most of the tactical engagements the RN played a key role in winning WW1 by its effective blockade of Germany and protection of our imperial and neutral supply lines. (You could even argue that the Western Front was actually a distraction in resource terms although it probably finished the was 5-10 years quicker than a pure naval blockade would have done.)

    By the time WW2 came along although we succeded in interdicting Germany’s trade we lackeed the resources to protect our own supplies from the U-Boat threat. The WW2 Battle of the Atlantic was onlly won with massive American help. And ultimately resulted in the USN replacing the RN as ‘top navy’.

    Why is it arguable both ways? Becuase what we lacked in WW2 wasn’t the battleships we had scrapped without replacing in the 1920s. It was the Destroyers, Frigates, MPAs, and Light Carriers necessary for effective convoying and offensive ASW.

    You could make the case that without the 1920s Treaties we would have been even more unprepared. Because we would have had 20 modern Battleships and next to no modern Escorts at all.

    Its all about juggling resources – of which by 1919 we didn’t have enough. So maybe the strategic defeat was in getting involved in the Western Front at all? Maybe we would have been better off just blockading the contient, cleaning up the colonies, and quietly getting on with modernising the RN, strengtheneing the Empire/Commonwealth into a viable block of Free Trade Dominions and starving the resulting Germano/French Empire into agreeing to our terms of world trade. And been strong and ready enough to kick Japan’s arse at Singapore in 1941.

  198. Jackstaff

    @Peter Elliot,

    That’s a point well put. And indeed the loss of Malaya and Burma stands out, over and above even Dunkirk, for its geostrategic import. On a smaller scale the big failures of 1915, Loos and Gallipoli, had some practical consequences. Looking back to the 19th century, while it got less men killed than Isalndwana, Majuba Hill was a pretty substantial catastrophe, especially in that it broke the perception that Britain often began poorly but always finished well, by showing off a campaign that was precisely the opposite. Also much earlier the failure of the Walcheren expedition had consequences for Anglo-Dutch relations until the 1940s. And my own favoured service– the senior one– got its ears boxed by the Armada Espanola off Toulon in 1757 and of course by De Grasse in the roads of the Chesapeake.

    Now, I say none of that to do down the Forces. Quite the opposite. Looking at what methods, institutions, and qualities have helped the Forces do so remarkably well in an imperfect reality is far more important than stories of invincibility. (Indeed that insistence on evidence of being always right or successful whenever it’s mattered is as literally Puritanical quality, passed on with gusto to my current side of the Pond where it has deformed the American character for centuries. Although sometimes Hockey Night in Canada can give it a go, too. :) Just as it’s far more impressive that we kept beating the French (except in the actual Hundred Years’ War, which we ultimately lost) when you consider the French of that day were actually frighteningly good at the whole “war” thing, we can have a better sense of what particular qualities and methods to encourage in the Forces by keeping an eye on how they dealt with real setbacks and what, ultimately, served to put things right.

  199. Jackstaff

    Back on the subject of the actual thread (heaven forbid, we’re so good at getting off of it) the crucial issue across the services, and in all strategic and fiscal planning, is the one to which the CDS already alluded: it’s all about critical mass. Not specific platforms, or personnel structures, or networks of enabling elements. It’s about deciding what tasks and assets are a must, and what’s required to maintain their viability.

    On that front, I think the RAF is actually the easiest to discuss because there are a few key tasks and capabilities required to justify an independent air arm:

    - All the ISTAR assets need investment, guaranteed as part of core, and in cases like Sentry, recapitalization through replacement.
    - More investment in transport and particularly in slowly picking up some if not most of the A400Ms that will be loose on the market in the next decade as other states cut their orders.
    - Critical mass of air superiority fighters (Typhoon). This means at least six operational squadrons from around 130 airframes, or at most eight sqdns from around 160 airframes.
    - Having at least one (if eight Tiff sqdns) or two (if six) unsexy, transcontinental Son of FOAS missile-and-ordinance trucks. Something that can saturate a foe with cruise from a standoff distance and that takes minimal refueling.

    Those are mission-critical requirements. What you do with the other services depends entirely on what you want *to* do with them. But it raises the same issues: what assets and personnel can you not afford to lose or let dwindle, and in reshaping budget choices quite directly around them.

    Now I can put in my own plugs for what those would be, as others have done, but that’s the terrain where we need discussion, not just as blokes having a chat but as advocates.

  200. as

    We do not want only a single fleet of fighters so just F35 or just Typhoon. This would be in case there was a problem and the fleet was grounded you need another type that can take over. Just as when the Bucc fleet was grounded the Tonkas took over. When hawk was grounded there was no cover so all training stopped. So we need some of the F35 to carry out the fighter role as well as strike. They are suppose to be multi role so it should not be a problem. it is then just a matter of having enough airframes,

  201. Jackstaff

    One thing I will say, though, with reference to the other services, even though it would come under the crabs’ budget. I’m set against P8 for the MPA role. Instead take advantage of current Japanese attitudes and get the Kawasaki P1. Similar cost, as good or better on ELINT, four times the range, and a weapons payload capacity comparable to MRA4. Get a small sqdn for MPA,go back for a larger one tweaked to the FOAS role. And I then join the chorus for a contained, carriers-only F35 buy.

  202. colky7

    Martin,
    Thanks very much for the reply and explanation. Sorry if i’m pulling the debate off topic but would like to ask another couple of questions if thats ok? :)
    I’d always figured training gave us a big edge but i always worry about quoting that as I often see people from other nations saying ‘our guys are supposed to be the best….’ and though i do believe our people generally better than even the US in a few areas, i’ve nothing in terms of hard evidence to actually back this up. This makes me worry that i might be falling into the same patriotic trap i see others from abroad falling for and making me cringe!!
    I know you can get stuff like basic infantry training time fairly easily, but do you know anywhere i could get info to support say the UK having better/more ASW training than another nation? As it relates to my second question, lets say RN vs. Japanese maritime SDF?
    Also whilst i’m a big fan of the Astute and agree from my limited knowledge its as good, or perhaps even better than any other SSN in the world, same with our sonars on Astute and type 23 but we are short on numbers. When you bear in mind our capability gap with MPA since the loss of nimrod, could we really justify the RN having better ASW capability than Japanese MSDF? They have larger numbers (sometimes massively more – over 100 P3s!!!) and what seems to me to be pretty good kit. I realise they can’t do a thing outside their own local area but how could i justify saying the UK has better all round capability? In fact if we look at anything other than power projection the comparison with japanese does worry me at sea. Yes i did blunder into a row where i responded to someone saying USN and JMSDF are one then 2 at ASW with no one else coming even close!!!!
    Thanks again for your help!!

  203. Dunservin

    @Obsvr

    “If UK wants to export luxury cars to China (not forgetting JCB has a factory in China) the new route is emerging quite fast, by rail across Central Asia, the bottle neck may the Chunnel freight capacity, hence cheaper to build more tunnel that waste money on RN ships…”

    - You seem to have missed the stats the first time so here they are again. Last year, UK maritime ports handled around 500 million tonnes of freight. By comparison, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted airports combined handled less than 2 million tonnes and the Channel tunnel managed to handle just over 1 million tonnes.

    - As further food for thought, a typical freight train carries around 60 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units). Container ships can carry up to 18,000 TEUs or 300 times as many.

    “Apart from a few cars most UK exports are high value small size and well suited to airfreight…”

    - Where do you get such outrageous ideas? Last year, inward air freight totalled around 1.3 million tonnes and outward air freight totalled around 1 million tonnes. By comparison, inward sea freight totalled around 320 million tonnes and outward sea freight totalled around 180 million tonnes. Further data available at:

    - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/port-freight-statistics-2012-final-figures

    - http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?page_id=886

    “Re RM, 7000 men for a mickey mouse brigade, ships’ boarding parties and a bit of nuc protection, seems incredibly wasteful… The military role is light infantry, best to let the experts do it.”

    - As APATS pointed out previously, the Royal Marines are expert light infantry but they have several other, unique strings to their bow, too. Differing service routines mean that they are also deployable on a more frequent basis than their Army counterparts. To date, RM personnel have been issued 8,708 HERRICK OSMs/Clasps for service in Afghanistan (with several of the recipients having completed four or more tours) and their long list of gallantry awards speaks for itself. I don’t usually regard casualty rates as a valid metric but when taken into account, your description of the Corps as a “mickey mouse brigade” is in incredibly poor taste. Why such hostility towards the Naval Service (both RN & RM)?

  204. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Correct me If I am mistaken, but I believe that the selection process and training course to become an RM Commando is amongst the two or three toughest and longest in the world? I think some basic facts need to be checked here..!

    GNB

  205. Jeremy M H

    @Jackstaff

    Regarding the P-8 basically everything you posted on it in relation to the P-1 is wrong.

    The P-1 does not have four times the range of the P-8. They have very comparable ranges. Any basic level of research would reveal this to be the case. More than that basic logic would tell one that two aircraft of roughly the same size with similar shapes, similar wing sizes and similar installed thrust are going to have fairly similar range. If one stumbled across (or more likely incorrectly read) a source that really stated that it really ought to set off alarm bells for anyone.

    That does not even get into the fairly substantial (and rather scary) amount of problems that the P-1 has had thus far. Engine combustion issues, airframe cracking ect.

    I don’t know that the UK would go for the P-8. But the P-1 would be a pretty bad idea until Japan sorts out all the issues with it and would certainly be much harder to support.

  206. Martin

    @ Colky 7

    I’m sure that APATS or RT can give you a better idea on areas where our training is longer than others. In terms of ASW and the JSDF. we certainly have some superior capabilities. The Merlin is certainly the best ASW helicopter and the Towed Array Type 2087 sonar is better than anything else. The type 23 Frigate is also very quiet. However the Japanese also have some quality equipment and certainly have the numbers. UK forces are increasingly optimised for expeditionary warfare rather than fighting major land and sea battles in Europe. Obviously we have a different set of security issues from the Japanese. I’m not sure if you could say either is better just optimised for different roles. Indeed JSDF looks very much like the RN in the 1980′s optimised for a fight against the Russians in the GIUK gap but struggled to retake the Falklands. The near future RN of 2020 would find it relatively easy to mount a 1982 style op but would probably not last long against a massed Russian SSN force in the North Atlantic.

    also as with our airforce compared to the JSDF we have much smaller numbers but more modern equipment. The JSDF are still flying F5′s. when other airforces make the transition to gen 4.5 and 5 aircraft as we are in the process of doing now its unlikely they will be able to maintain numbers. even the USA is likely to have this issue as they currently operate a relatively old fleet and the F35 is not cheap. we are probably the furthest ahead on this curve and it shows in the small number of RAF squadrons but the RAF fighter force of 2020 will have one of the youngest fleets in the world and every aircraft should be multi role and able to deploy on operations. we could follow the example of others like the French and maintain more aircraft but not have pilots to fly them all of the time or copy the USA and put our older aircraft with reserves but this would diminish our expeditionary capability.

  207. Jackstaff

    @JMH,

    Always happy to learn something: the root of the large discrepancy (I’ll return to the smaller one), it turns out, lies with the USN itself, misquoting radius as range on the P8′s specifications (to be fair to whatever anonymous rating entered the data, the original typo seems to issue from one of Boeing’s product spec PDFs.) That does, however, leave FlightGlobal, Jane’s, and the JMSDF listing a range (when it’s working :P ) for P-1 roughly 1.8-1.85 times that of the Poseidon. Now, can that happen? It may be a stretch for that much but the A320 family certainly had thirty-to-forty percent more range than what were by and large comparably sized 737s until the NG stage of the production series (700+ series Boeings) increased wingspan and engine power to compete. (And with nice results — I’ve flown transcontinental here in N. America on them, and like them as well as any of the larger birds I took back in days of transatlantic commutes) I suspect, in my own amateurish way, that much of the difference and perhaps some of the early problems encountered (especially after tracking down the physical location of the cracking you described) have to do with the new series of engines they’ve put on the P-1s. Lighter in construction, still quite powerful, and perhaps intended to be measurably more efficient, but have so far indicated that they haven’t solved problems with distributing the various effects of thrust and vibration with the airframe to which the new engines are attached? Seems like a plausible teething problem.

    Whatever the fate of P-1 (and the Japanese have good reason to invest in fixing this if it can be done given the centrality of ASW to their whole naval strategy, alongside ABM defence) it highlights the two chief limitations with P8, however attractive the known quantities of a big American buy and block upgrades may be. The first is range — horses for courses, for starters, and the British “course” is in measurable ways different. This was the chief attraction, besides domestic industry and the pipe dream of recycling airframes, behind Nimrod. Huge legs. An aircraft (and here I don’t simply mean MRA4 but anything with greater range than P8) that can get up not only into the GIUK Gap but well up along the North Cape and then back to domestic British airfields (given RAF ownership) without having to involve the farrago that is AirTanker. Likewise something that could fly itself down to Ascension at ferry range, and then down past Cape Town or diagonally towards Those Islands with only one or perhaps two top-ups on the round trip. Likewise the larger (though measurably less so, still a few thousand pounds) ordnance capacity, both for strewing sonobuoys and potentially trucking standoff missiles more like Storm Shadow or a really long-legged ALCM down the line, as well as torpedos or Harpoon/Naval Strike Missile/something else. The P8 suits three of its first customers — US, Australia, and India — very well, not only for the mission profiles but also geographical radii from basing required. It’s less smooth for the UK, particularly once you start to consider opportunities to fold FOAS capabilities into an airframe.

  208. Obsvr

    @All pols et al

    Trains over 1 km long are quite normal in some parts of the world, and I think 2km trains are operating in some places. Trains are also faster than ships and the route is much straighter, the move to land transport across Asia has started, the only real issue at the moment is a gauge change.

    It’s helpful to remember that in 1945 the USSR moved three Fronts from Central Europe to the Far East in 3 months on what was basically a single track railway. Probably the greatest logistic feat of WW2

  209. Obsvr

    @ GNB

    “and as to the RM if we have ships we might need Men expert in operating from them;”

    bit of a duh this one, ships are just there to transport troops, the traditional role of the RN – if you take a long perspective. Getting off a ship does not require a high degree of training, the difficult bit is what happens when the troops hit land. Heli assaults are a piece of piss unless you’ve picked a LZ with existing owners (which is politely called ‘military incompetance’). You just have to get the loads lined up in the right place for boarding, doesn’t matter whether the ground is dirt or steel. (and yes I have done battalion heli assaults on operations ). In Jun 1944 six standard British infantry brigades and an armoured bde crossed the beaches, so there’s no rocket science in that either. All that said I have to admire the great con pulled by RM on all this amph stuff.

  210. Repulse

    @Observer: I agree, the JSS would be in addition to the current Tanker class and would be focused on Solid Stores.

    @Martin: C2 would go on the CVF which would lead the RFTG.

  211. Dunservin

    @Obsvr

    ” In Jun 1944 six standard British infantry brigades and an armoured bde crossed the beaches, so there’s no rocket science in that either…”

    - Operation DYNAMO wasn’t quite the walk in the park you suggest. Most historians appear to share my view that it was one of the most challenging and technically complex military operations in history. To land and sustain 160,000 British, American and Canadian troops on D-Day with their vehicles, equipment, ammunition, food, potable water, POL, spares, etc., took years of intricate planning, months of rehearsal and the involvement of 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships including battleships, cruisers, destroyers, minesweepers, patrol craft, miniature submarines, troop ships, landing ships, landing craft, etc., not to mention the RN beachmasters and successful engineering achivements such as mulberry harbours, PLUTO, bangalore torpedoes, crocodile flame throwers, AVREs and other ‘Hobart funnies’.

    - Underpinning everything was the considerable amphibious expertise of Combined Ops staff, gained at some cost and exercised both at the planning stage and in afloat command centres during the operation. You claim to have a military background so why don’t your contributions indicate it?

  212. HurstLlama

    ” In Jun 1944 six standard British infantry brigades and an armoured bde crossed the beaches”

    Really? Didn’t they have rather a lot of training beforehand? So not quite standard brigades. More standard brigades who were given an awful lot of training in conducting a beach assault. There were also some tasks that needed even more specialist skills (e.g. beach recon, cliff climbing, marching further and faster than a standard infantry unit could be expected to do).

    Is amphibious warfare training included in the current infantry training programme? If it ain’t perhaps we need a brigade size formation that does have all the required skills, after all when the need arises we may not have the time to spend training one up. We could call it a commando brigade.

  213. Dunservin

    @Obsvr

    ” In Jun 1944 six standard British infantry brigades and an armoured bde crossed the beaches, so there’s no rocket science in that either…”

    - Operation DYNAMO wasn’t the simple walk in the park you suggest. Most historians appear to share my view that it was one of the most challenging and technically complex military operations in history. To land and sustain 160,000 British, American and Canadian troops on D-Day with their vehicles, equipment, ammunition, food, potable water, POL, spares, etc., took years of intricate planning, months of rehearsal and the involvement of 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships including battleships, cruisers, destroyers, minesweepers, patrol craft, miniature submarines, troop ships, landing ships, landing craft, etc., not to mention the RN beachmasters and successful engineering achivements such as mulberry harbours, PLUTO, bangalore torpedoes, crocodile flame throwers, AVREs and other ‘Hobart funnies’.

    - Underpinning everything was the significant amphibious expertise of Combined Ops staff, gained at some cost and exercised both at the planning stage and in afloat command centres during the operation. You claim to have a military background so why don’t your contributions indicate it?

  214. Challenger

    @Martin

    ‘Obviously we have a different set of security issues from the Japanese. I’m not sure if you could say either is better just optimised for different roles. Indeed JSDF looks very much like the RN in the 1980′s optimised for a fight against the Russians in the GIUK gap but struggled to retake the Falklands. The near future RN of 2020 would find it relatively easy to mount a 1982 style op but would probably not last long against a massed Russian SSN force in the North Atlantic’

    Never really thought about the comparisons before but you make a very good point.

    ‘we are probably the furthest ahead on this curve and it shows in the small number of RAF squadrons but the RAF fighter force of 2020 will have one of the youngest fleets in the world and every aircraft should be multi role and able to deploy on operations. we could follow the example of others like the French and maintain more aircraft but not have pilots to fly them all of the time’

    Again a very good point, although I think their is a middle ground between what the RAF is heading for now, as in a very small 6-7 squadron front-line force but which has plenty of pilots and ground-crew, top notch maintenance/logistical systems, good upgrade paths and so on, and the larger but less effective fleets the French and others strive for.

    The phrase ‘quantity has a quality of it’s own’ comes to mind. We need to find the right balance between the two, which to me is roughly the 9 squadron 180-200 air-frame fleet we are just about holding onto now.

  215. Peter Elliott

    @HL

    That leads onto an interesting argument about the value of Elite formations. Slim, for instace, was against elite formations like the Chindits becuase he believed that they took the best fighting men out of the regular formations for acheived little stretagic effect. He would rather have had his main infantry units a bit ‘fightier’ becuase he knew that they were the ones he would have to rely on to achieve the decisive effects.

    Relating that to our current situation we need to think about readiness cycles. The RM and and the Paras apppear to work on a 1:3 or even 1:2 readiness cycle. The Response Force on 1:3, but the Adaptable Force is specifically set up for a 1:5 Roulment.

    The logic appears to be that the individuals who sign up for Elite Regiments make a bargain to thave less ‘quality of life’ and more military activity in their lives than those who join the Line Regiments. Could you argue that by spreading the naturally ‘fightier’ soldiers across the line regiments we could acheive a smaller but more battle ready force? If we set up the whole army for a 1:3 readiness cycle it could be a lot smaller and still generate the same deployable forces? Being smaller would then aid in selecting those individuals prepared to sign up for the ‘lifestyle’ of frequent deployent and higher readiness, and releasing those who who aren’t.

    In terms of specialist trianing we would still need to cycle certain units through Airbourne, Amphibious, Winter and Jungle Warfare High Readiness. But the basic precept should be to build a whole army fit and agressive enough to go to the fight. Don’t know if it would work. But its an interesting idea to kick around.

    One other wrinkle is recruitment of Special Forces. A high percentage of our Special Forces appear to come from the Elite Regiments. If we diluted the Elite ethos by spreading those ‘fightier’ soldiers throught the army then the gap from Line to Special might prove too large for many soldiers to cross. The risk is the standard of our Special Forces would be dragged down as a result.

    Would be interested to hear what a ‘fighty’ individual from ‘Line’ Regiment, such as our own Red Trousers, thinks of this debate.

  216. Observer

    Previous post got eaten by the munch monster again.

    @Obsvr

    Thailand proposed construction of an oil and rail link direct to China and even a Suez canal link from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea in the 2000s which worried us a bit as bypassing the Straits of Malacca means that our position as a trade and transhipping nexus would become irrelevant. However when the complete plans were published, it was found that the rail and oil pipe route would only ship in a year what ship freighting and tankering would carry in a single DAY! to China. This ties in with what Dunservin said, that the ratio of ship to rail is about 1:300, think we can take it as an approximate constant as 2 different parts of the world ended up with the same results.

    As for the wishlist, first, we have to ask “Who are the opponents?”. If SLOC against piracy is the problem, a pair of STUFT container ships converted to RM floating barracks and RHIB/PC dock for area denial would solve most of the problems. If you wanted to take on nastier opponents like a country’s militia or navy/army/air force, then your requirements shoot up and so do your budget needs to match. This also runs into equipment and force manning. For example, if you were fighting the Russians in Europe, you would definitely need more ground troops than ships. Inversely, if you were facing the Chinese as part of a UN group, you would then need more ships for transport and logistics than ground forces due to the distances involved.

    So the question is “Who are you planning to fight against?” The rest comes later.

  217. Challenger

    @Jackstaff

    ‘- All the ISTAR assets need investment, guaranteed as part of core, and in cases like Sentry, recapitalization through replacement.
    - More investment in transport and particularly in slowly picking up some if not most of the A400Ms that will be loose on the market in the next decade as other states cut their orders.
    - Critical mass of air superiority fighters (Typhoon). This means at least six operational squadrons from around 130 airframes, or at most eight sqdns from around 160 airframes’

    Can’t argue with any of that!

    The spare A400m that the Germans and Spanish (maybe in time others) will want to get rid of could be great value for money if we want to grow our transport capacity a little. I can’t see many others takers at the moment so maybe we could haggle a little and get ourselves a bargain!

    Out of interest how big would you want the RAF’s transport fleet to be? Obviously the more the better, but what do you see as the largest force that can be realistically justified? I keep thinking that (give or take) 30 A400m and 10 C17 would represent a pretty awesome capability.

    With Typhoon I seriously think that the original plan for 7 squadrons is what we should be sticking with. If the force is doing both QRA and taking on a lot of the Tornado’s current roles then we need a set-up which provides at least 3 permanent expeditionary squadrons so that 1 can be quickly deployed and the ability to rotate 5 units on an enduring basis if necessary. Fag packet sums tells me that 2 QRA + 3 expeditionary + 2 swing-role squadrons using 140-150 air-frames sounds about right.

    Drip buying 30-40 extra T3 Typhoon’s over several years to gradually replace the T1 air-frames isn’t asking the earth!

  218. John Hartley

    Was there not a plan for a Special Forces back-up unit a few years back? I think the idea was to use better than average soldiers who only just failed for SAS/SBS/14 Intel. They would provide the extra muscle when the elite units needed supporting. At one time the Black Watch was mooted for conversion to it.
    Re Normandy 1944. Once read of a Dads Army unit supposed to go in on D-Day + 4 weeks, to guard prisoners, who due to an admin mix up, went in on D-Day + 4 days. Ended up being fightier than they bargained for, but still got through it. Cannot remember the details now.

  219. Jeremy M H

    @Jackstaff

    Honestly, I think you are simply misreading the range listings at most of those places.

    The common range given for the P-1 (which suffers somewhat from a lack of public domain information) is 8,000 KM’s. No one really states if this is a ferry range or not but it certainly reads like one since MPA’s don’t just fly out and back. The P-8 generally has its range expressed as 1,200 nautical miles from base with 4 hours on station. If we convert this we end up with 2,400 nautical miles of transit and 4 hours at 440 knots for another 1,760 nautical miles. Our total is thus 4,160 nautical miles of operational range in whatever the typical mission profile is (that would include some time down low, some time at higher and lower speeds and reserves) which works out to an operational range of 7,704 km’s. This matches pretty well what Australia states about the aircraft.

    http://www.airforce.gov.au/Boeing_P8-A_Poseidon/?RAAF-Z4PUOpGXH/eLtWmc6qxYl9xYycb+rKng

    You might get a bit more range out of the P-1 than what is floating around out there. You might not. The 737 (or A320) are both very efficient designs that have to fight it out in the real world where fuel economy is everything. When one trades passengers and bags for more gas they are going to be very efficient at flying a long way. In all likely hood, as is suggested by the numbers out there, you are going to get very similar ranges from two very similarly sized platforms with pretty similar wings and cross sections.

    I will grant you that the MRA4 would fly further (it should it is damn near 25% bigger than either the P-1 or P-8) but the P-1 is not going significantly further at all. Let alone 4 times as far which was your original claim. The MRA4 could certainly go further as an airframe but those cost basically killed the program and I am honestly not sure that range was all that operationally significant in the first place. Clearly the UK government decided it certainly wasn’t worth the cost involved with it. The P-8 would do just fine covering the GIUK gap and could get up to North Cape, albeit cutting an hour or so off its patrol time. The GIUK gap is within easy reach for a four hour on station time and if getting up to the North Cape and spending 4 hours there is really critical just tank the thing a couple hundred miles out from base after all. The key is that it is an affordable program that actually exist. The MRA4 doesn’t and the P-1 does not really get you much of anything the P-8 does not.

  220. Observer

    Peter, the one flaw to that kind of thinking is that it assumes there is a fixed “skill points” pool, that if you took from one, the other will decrease in skill. That is not the case. As someone who is in a “fighty” unit that gets trawled for SF recruitment, I can safely say that the people selected are not some kind of “born superman” or the like. They are just like the rest of us until they are TRAINED to the SF standard, same as us line infantrymen are normal grunts until trained to the “elite” standard. It’s not some inborn ability or a fitness or skill level that you are born with. It is something that you train with blood, sweat, muscle pains and suffering for months on end and having lesson plans thrown on top to stretch your brain too. The only people who can’t reach the standard would be people with physical disabilities or mental disabilities. The rest, I can say it is done through training and hard work.

    The SF units want more men? Go ahead. Just recruit more men from the “grunt” pool and train the living hell out of them to the “elite” standard as replacements for those taken.

  221. HurstLlama

    @Peter Elliott

    Good points.

    Slim, one of my few heroes and a man who has never had the recognition he deserved (I know he was made Viscount and has a statue in Whitehall) was decidedly against “elite” forces. From memory he said that wars are not won by such units but by the quality of the average ones. He went on to say that there was nothing that a commando could do that a well trained infantryman couldn’t and in the XIVth army did. However, Slim was talking about soldiering in a very different world to the one we know inhabit. Indeed his campaign in Burma was very different, and far less technical than the one the was going on in NW Europe at the time.

    I am not sure I would agree with your comments about “fightier” soldiers. It was not that long ago that I was reading that the big threat to army recruiting was the lack of likely operations after the 2014 drawdown. I don’t think that there are a group of recruits that will join up if there is an ops ratio of 1:5 and another that are happy with a ratio of 1:3 or even 1:2. Youngsters join up to play in the mud and the more of it they do the happier they are (as long as they get to get pissed and go chasing crumpet at regular intervals); it is the senior NCOs and Officers who want more barrack time.

    Could we build a structure where units cycle through, RM, Para, Junglie, etc. roles? I don’t think we could and if we tried we would be far less effective in any one role. People join up with certain expectations as to what they will mostly be doing making them do something else is not going to work awfully well. A trivial example will make the point; I can’t stand being at sea and will throw up crossing the channel on a calm day in June; what would be the point of trying to make me a sea soldier for a couple of years? (As an aside I have never worked out this idea of the RAF providing air squadrons for the carriers. Its not so much the pilots that I worry about its the mechanics).

    As for Special Forces recruitment, well I wouldn’t worry. They are never short of volunteers and as long as they maintain their standards there will be enough people from whatever regiment trying to meet them. I don’t know about the hooligans from Hereford but the last time I asked those awfully nice gentleman at Poole were embarrassed at the quality of the people they had to turn away, fellows who in years past would have been accepted are no longer good enough.

  222. Peter Elliott

    @Observer

    I don’t quite buy that argument. The UK’s soldiers are volunteers. It takes a certain attitude to stick out any kind of arduous training for weeks on end. And then continue keeping yourself at that physical standard month after month. Some people just aren’t up for it. And they will vote with their feet if you try and put them through it.

    Look at top sportsmen. Some have all the skill sets and all the physical attributes. But they just don’t make it at the top level becuase their attitude is wrong. That for me is the advantage of both the Elite and Special forces. They have proportionally more of the necessary attitude not just to combat but to arduous trianing.

  223. Observer

    Point there Peter. Yay for do or die conscription. :P

    One thing that keeps elites as elites is their pride. When you get 2 guys together to talk about their army life, they start bitching, but what they are really doing is boasting.

    ” And they will vote with their feet if you try and put them through it.”

    Well, this is certainly a different interpretation to the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” :)

    ” Some people just aren’t up for it.”

    These are not the recruits you are looking for. Heaven forfend, if they can’t suffer through training how are they going to react in a war? Cry? Call their mommies? Personally, my opinion is that given a choice between sink and swim, a lot of people surprisingly start to swim. The ones that don’t are 1) a minority and 2) not suited for the harsh life of the army. Remember how Sun Tze trained the king’s concubines into a military unit?

    Break them down, build them up. Let them cry in training, scream, throw tantrums. Then in a year, make them proud to have gone through it and become stronger.

    Remember, ALL of us over here are conscripted. I’ve met some platoon mates in Basic who I won’t really trust with a rifle, he’ll be slotted to support positions but the majority can and will rise to the occasion. Some will surprise themselves to find that they even like the lifestyle and stay on.

  224. Jackstaff

    @HurstLlama,

    Your comment of 1525Z has won the weekend Think Defence Sarcasm Pools (this is a good thing and a feather in your cap, especially with the likes of x and Observer around here. It also entitles you to one free sip in the TD biccy tin. Mind the Jammie Dodgers, though, Chris B. and x get jealous of stock levels.) Also dead on about recruiting and tour management. Roulement cycles outside the self-identified hard-man units is about stressors on those with households, in every nation’s forces (I’ve noticed this particularly among the Canadian and American militaries which seem to have a higher rate of younger marrieds than HM Forces.)

    @Challenger,

    A 30-10 split would be ideal, but probably idealised as well. Go right for the tenth C-17, it simply makes sense. And then creep back towards the original plan of 25-26 A400Ms on the open market. Two squadrons of those and one of C-17 would do a great deal to get the RAF’s legs back under it and provide a clear “capability plus” combo in OGH’s phrase. We seem to think alike on Typhoon. An outstanding if criminally (no, really) overpriced airframe that’s going to be useful again as the USAF comes out to play less and less often in rogue/failed states with proximity to Europe.

  225. Mark

    Challenger

    Your increase in transport aircraft will cost something like 1-1.5 billion pound in acquisition cost alone never mind crewing and support costs. No matter how nice or ideal it will be we don’t have financial room for that.

    For mpa to return certainly a p8 variant will require things to go most likely at least one istar aircraft fleet most likely astor maybe even reaper as well, but also most likely anything up to and including all the type 26 gp frigates eg 5 would the navy be prepared to pay that price for a multi mission aircraft to return cause these things will cost billions of pounds.

  226. dave haine

    @ Challenger
    Won’t the transport fleet be defined by what the army need to move?

    If we’re talking a more traditional ‘heavy’ army such as:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Challenger_2_Tank_During_Amphibious_Demonstration_MOD_45152080.jpg
    And:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AS-90_Howitzer_1.jpg
    Then it should be C17s as many as we can afford.

    But I rather think the army should be moving towards a lighter force, along the lines of the French but with more depth.
    With something like:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Centauro01.JPEG
    And:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VBM_Freccia_visto_frontalmente.JPG
    And:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Archerside_commons.jpg

    All Of which can be carried by Atlas.

  227. Observer

    dave, those are “traditionally” shipped over for a good reason. There is no point shipping ONE tank over to play hero and I doubt the budget can stretch to 16 C-17s for a first wave landing of a sabre squadron.

    I still think a collaboration with Russia for a AN-124 Mk2 would be a good idea. If a single lifter can carry 2 MBTs at once, there is a chance that you can fork out enough for the 8 airframes needed to move the single MBT squadron. Provided that the cargo haulers drop all their other jobs for this single surge of course. And range is going to suffer with such heavy loads, but it is an option.

    Failing that, try the 747-8Fs, even if they are 2nd hand.

  228. Jackstaff

    @dave haine,

    I’m wary of over committal to wheels– but the rapidly deplorable assets do need both coherence and reinforcement, and it doesn’t have to break the budget either so you’re backing a good horse :) Foxhound can be jam-packed in both of the big lifters. So can the Light Gun and a tow vehicle (or in an outbreak of optimism the British-made M777 while the production lines are still running for, well, most of the old settler colonies.)

    And the latest iteration of Jed’s favorite RG-35 would be really lovely for some mech bns: improved suspension, STANAG 4569 4/4b all round and tolerance for further appliqué up front, modular engine block like Boxer and Foxhound, and they’ve even bunged a Bushmaster 25mm up top and left room for 11 dismounts. Gorgeous. Cheap as chips or, even with procurement inflation, a UOR. All that moves tidily on the birds. And if we want something useful out of the FRES mess besides some FV430 series replacements in the armoured forces (inf/RAC/RE) then bung a 90mm turret on the SV, stop using it as a CVR(T) replacement and start using it as a British AMX-10RC. Plus of course the MAN SVs and even the big OshKosh bar stewards can come aboard, much less the support Pinzes and such. Lots of lovely battle groups out of that lot for future Malis and Sierra Leones and such. Good fun.

    @HurstLlama,

    Should’ve said earlier but I see we’re both paid up in the Bill Slim Club. Of course he was cheating a bit in his remarks: just within the Indian Army, the Sikh, Gurkha, and Rajput regiments were certainly self-enforcing elites at least culturally. (Also think you’re right about the relative level of operational complexity, though credit where due to his concept of maneuver, stuff to learn from for a small Army.)

    I still love the story about a Gurkha detachment training for Chindit work. They listened intently to instruction about a low altitude drop into the jungle and assured the officers they would hit the DZ and do the job. Then an officer moved on to the workings of their chutes; a lance-naik brightened up and with utter seriousness said, “oh! We get parachutes!” ….

  229. Martin

    @ Dave haine

    I agree the army should have some form of 8*8 force and something light enough for us to airlift a decent sized rapid reaction force. Possibly a role for the regional sustainment brigades using FRES UV.

    That being said any requirement for a force like this will be some form of rapid intervention in support of a peace keeping operation and we should expect Minimal of US support to air transport this force. The USA has bucket loads of C17′s and C5′s so I think we have little need for a much larger C17 force that we can’t afford. I would rather see the money spent on something else like P8 or retaining Sentinel.

  230. Repulse

    The whole idea of FRES which results in a vehicle that cannot be easily transported by air (outside of the Galaxy) is expensive madness. If it was my decision, I would be looking at buying the French VBCI off the shelf now.

    An alternative is to look at the vehicle needs Reaction Force as a whole (integrating the RMs in this structure also) separate from the Adaptive / Reserve force. The ease of transportation of the Reaction Force is much more key, than for the adaptive force.

    In my opinion, the Reaction Force should be structured around 12 battle groups (3 Para, 3 RM and 6 Army), each with supporting heavy armour (say 2 troops of 8 Challenger MBTs), air, artillery, engineer and logistics resources.

    Assuming there are enough capability to deliver the MBTs via C17s / LCUs, the rest should be deployable either via a Hercules, in / under a Chinook, in a LCVP or even be amphibious and deploy itself (over the horizon).

  231. x

    Mixing apples and oranges but 16 C17 is enough to buy 8 LMSR/TAKR-300. If 6 were available you could move 6,000 vehicles at 24kts. We need 16 C17 but not for moving MBTs around the globe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>