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68 thoughts on “The Beast from Beneath

  1. jedibeeftrix

    Really?

    “Laid down in 1993, Completed in 2010″

    Do I detect the very best of 1980′s Soviet design?

    I’m sure it’s capable, in the same way a late-era upgraded Swiftsure is capable…

  2. wf

    Gosh. One in service and two more might make it by 2020. Even now I type this comment while frantically siphoning the heavy rain collecting in my back garden nuclear shelter: the one I started digging an hour ago after reading this post….

  3. John Hartley

    I think I read somewhere that the Russian Navy will get 40 new vessels this year, from nuclear subs to corvettes.

  4. S O

    The Americans may produce the Mk.50 torpedo in quantity after all.

    Another development which I think may be even more interesting is that the Russians apparently intend to rebuild their small titanium-hulled SSNs, since the hulls are still fine. These boats are small enough for more shallow waters and wrestle with SSKs, albeit they couldn’t exploit their hull strength fully there.

  5. Paul R

    titanium hulls? Super strength! It probably means deeper depths and no problem cracking ice. Saying that I heard when they were last in service they were the fastest things about but also the noisiest. The only reason they are being used is because they couldn’t cut them up, might as well use them to make up the numbers saves building new hulls but means having to modify them, but they’ll probably learn from it.

    Side note I’ve seen this in the news before hand. I didn’t think the granat missile was nuclear capable? I thought cruise missiles generally don’t have nuclear heads as well..

  6. Derek

    Russia is increasingly the Elephant in the room of European security. It is not just that they are finally getting submarines laid down years ago- they are also laying down new ones and modernising and upgrading old ones.

    This post has some silly comments in it. The new Russian boats are late 80s/Early 90s designs modernised during construction. They should not be that far behind an Astute. Remember that a Swiftsure is a 70s design.

    For a number of years the Russians poured money into defence for little return, they are now getting retire, activity is up and procurement is progressing in numbers that get bigger every year. Meanwhile, in Europe…

  7. FinneyOnTheWing

    If you read up about Russian defence procurement it’s even worse than ours (and I do not say that lightly),
    Russian naval projects, especially submarine & associated ones, have been hoovering up money without delivering much in return for the last decade. I somehow doubt this first of class will be upto much, the later subs will probably warrant respect but like WF said, 80′s design coming into service in the 2020′s, I hardly think they’ll be world-beating.
    That said, Astute is “world class” and they built her with the ‘wrong kind of lead’ and crappy gearing system so 20knts is apparently the speed to beat these days!

  8. S O

    Those titanium hulls allow great depths, don’t seem to corrode and are non-magnetic (merely paramagnetic). You can substitute for all of this, but you cannot substitute their greatest benefit; they’re apparently still in the inventory and probably good for decades of more service.

    It’s unclear how much of the hulls is actually left after “scrapping”, though. Keep in mind that many infos about Russian rearmament already turned out to be mere daydreams – even if the plans were official.

  9. Chris

    As I understand it the small titanium boats (Lyra, NATO Alfa) were noisy due to their machinery. They had very swoopy casings; whether the smoothed shape reduced hydrodynamic noise or increased it I don’t know. They were supposed to be fast; they could certainly go deep. The bigger titanium boats (Barracuda, NATO Sierra) looked much more conventional, suggesting perhaps the Alfa’s casing had more to do with the perception of stealth than its delivery. Wiki says the shape was for manoeuvrability & not noise reduction. Still – little Alfa was an interesting beastie and if reintroduced it might become a bit of a problem for us.

    A secondary potential benefit from a much stronger pressure hull might well be resilience against pressure-front weapons such as depth charges – if the hull can withstand three times the static water pressure then you might expect it to withstand greater levels of attack.

  10. jamesf

    Ah yes, the Alphas… I think they were an incredible achievement, Sovs had to develop a whole new industry to produce massive precision engineered titanium plates, probably part of he reason the economy went down the pipe. Pretty sure they (or anyone else) could not produce them economically today.. Very deep diving and quick – though still used old double hull construction. Makes sense to reuse them, almost impossible to do anything else with them. I think Spearfish HWT was specifically designed to kill them with a huge 300kg warhead and 80knt dash speed. Didn’t the prototype sink will a full load of nukes?

  11. Derek

    The Alpha’s are not coming back- they have mostly been scrapped. The main problem with them was the reactor which was, how should we say, unique. The shaping was because they were designed with a focus on speed, supposedly so they could run fast and deep.

    It is the Sierra class that are being modernised, they are not that small, 7-8,000 tons.

    Russian defence procurement is starting to yield serious results.

  12. Obsvr

    It’s all very well having hardware, but what really matters is the wetware. While the Russians have long history of lengthy officer training (although content relevance may be an issue) non-commissioned training has been somewhat different.

    Not sure about the ‘fitness for purpose’ of their naval design. I seem to remember something to the effect that the customer had little or no say. The procurement ministry bureaucrats made all the decisions and usability wasn’t one of their strengths.

  13. Chris

    jamesf – the experimental/prototype boat Komsomolets (NATO Mike) is the one resting on the seabed with fuelled reactor and a set of nuclear warheads aboard – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_submarine_K-278. I believe the Norwegians keep an eye on the wreck to monitor leakage of radioactive material as the steelwork rusts away, although the liquid metal cooled reactor using molten lead & bismuth in the cooling circuit would have frozen solid very quickly, probably making the wrecked reactor very stable and ‘safe’ (everything is relative).

    Derek – I’m sure reworking Sierra class boats makes more sense although the little Alfa would have been a much more interesting – or scary – resurrection. I noted a few years back the mini-Alfa boats, Project 1710 Mackerel (NATO Beluga) diesel electric, which were shaped all swoopy like Alfa were being scrapped too. It seemed even then that the appetite in the Russian Navy for these more sleek hullforms had gone away.

  14. Sir Humphrey

    I seem to remember reading most years that the Russians will get dozens of new warships that year. I’ve yet to see any of them and yet kuznetzov and the old udaloys and sovremmneys soldier on. That they aspire to build is clear, but turning aspiration into something meaningful is very very different.

  15. arkhangelsk

    As a minor Russophile, I’m happy to hear that thing is getting into service. I’ve always thought they should have concentrated on squeezing out a 885 instead of playing with those Boreis in the post Cold War environment.

    @Sir Humphrey: I don’t hear dozens. But I do remember that back in 1998 it looked very much like they’ll have 885s that year (even Jane’s seemed to have thought so). Yet it always seems that SOMETHING gets in the way.

  16. Chris

    SirH – I walked the deck of an Udaloy (Admiral Levchenko at Portsmouth IFOS 2005) and as a landlubber I have to say I thought it an impressive machine, not because it was full of electrickery (no doubt it was), not because it was in pristine condition (it was evidently getting on a bit), but because it was built like a tank. Literally – the plates making the superstructure were between 6 & 12mm thick and felt like steel – wrapping knuckles against large area plates returned no noise at all – clearly the entire structure was dense & solid. Similarly, looking along the hull from the dockside there was no dimpled plate effect that the UK ships all show. The entire impression was that the ship was built to survive severe punishment. On its deck it had a Kamov dual rotor helicopter (NATO Helix) http://www.military-today.com/helicopters/kamov_ka27_helix.jpg – a peculiar little spud also getting on a bit. It has a typical 1960s glass front, through which the rear of the instrument panel was visible. It looked like the wiring behind the dash of most 40 year old cars I’ve seen – a rat’s-nest of multicoloured wiring with Scotchblock type temporary splicing and repairs and tacked-in additions – probably indicative that the approach to airworthiness in the Russian Navy is a bit more ad-hoc than in the west.

    The combination of rugged structures and a make-do-and-mend approach to updates and keeping the systems operational probably means the ageing Naval equipment can be kept going with adequate capability and resilience.

  17. Derek

    Sir Humphrey,

    Two points.

    1) The Udaloys are not much older than a T23 and they are being modernised/reactivated; not much wrong with deploying them

    2) The Russian shipbuilding industry is starting to produce results. 8 corvettes have been laid down of which 3 have been commissioned and further two should be this year and there are 12 frigates/destroyers that have been laid down of which 4 should be commissioned within the next twelve months. On top of that the Mistral programme is making considerable progress with the first ship expected to enter service late this year. The Russian Navy has also received its first Mig-29Ks and MPA modernisation is about to begin. The submarine fleet, in addition to new boats is also receiving comprehensive upgrades- even in the surviving Oscar class ships.

  18. jamesf

    The only likely Russian threat that embroils Europe I can imagine is an intervention in Ukraine, I don’t think we will go to war with them over Syria. Can we foresee more?

  19. S O

    A collapse of Belarus and the lingering issues with Estonia are other possible locations of conflict. Transnistria might become one only after Ukraine turned pro-Moscow (for geographical reasons).

  20. jamesf

    Yes, I concede Russia is an issue. Yet Belarus is already a Russian ally, and totally economically dependent upon Russia, even if there was a 2011 repeat, I can’t see us wanting to go to war with them over that. But you are right it would create a conundrum. Estonia is part of NATO. The Russians end up fighting the US if they take on Estonia, and they won’t do that because they will lose in so many ways.

    My interpretation of Putin’s Russian policy is that its primarily about regaining prestige, something all Russians are very concerned about (I’ve worked in Moscow and in the Russian Far East extensively). Maintaining allies that don’t like the US such as Venezuela, Syria etc. is as much about the perception of power as the reality. Recently the Russians have focused upon ‘demonstrations’ always with prestige platforms (the Tu-160 bombers that flew to Venezuela, the carrier in the Firth of Fourth, the sub patrols on the US eastern seaboard, the bears off Northern Scotland). I’m sure these play very well in the domestic press and make Putin look like the strong man that will make Russia great once again, as he likes to be perceived – and its not far off a totalitarian regime, so we do need to be careful. But I’m not sure what really lies behind this. Russia is run by an elite that have created a lot of personal wealth out of dismantling the soviet state and concentrating on an extractive economy that generates dollars not from general taxation but from exporting oil and gas and weapons. The CIA estimate that only 4 tu-160s actually fly, how many Sierra’s are still able to put to sea? Its seems more politically useful to Putin to have one or two platforms serviceable in each prestige capacity to look good, rather than a real capability to prosecute a war against the west. But I might be wrong!

  21. martin

    Don’t see this as a concern. It’s not like the US and UK are sitting still in SSN’s. we have a Substantial new program delivering a very high quality SSN all be it in smaller numbers. The US has not only a highly successful design in the Virginia Class but is knocking them out in numbers while the Russians and Chinese are playing fantasy fleets with 1980′s tech.

    we should note for the Russian economy to break even they require oil prices to stay at around $110 a barrell and the price is already below this and likely to fall much further whichever I’ll hit Putins program of modernisation.

  22. martin

    @ Jamesf

    I would agree with you for the most part that Russian forces seem to focus far more on prestige than capability? Something to keep an eye on a possibly a threat to small neighbouring countries but not a serious threat to western democracy.

  23. Alex

    The incredible thing about the Alfa boats was that the shore boilerhouse that should have kept the unique liquid metal-cooled reactor liquid when they were in port kept breaking down and eventually they decided to either get steam from a tender, or else run the reactor all the time and accept that the sub was basically consumable.

    So they could build a reactor cooled by molten lead-bismuch to drive a submarine at 40kts dived…but they couldn’t make a gas-fired boilerhouse on a quay work. I think three or four of them eventually froze up at the dockside in the first couple of years after the USSR.

  24. Chris

    Ref molten metal cooling – I thought someone tried liquid Sodium once – now that really is an explosion in waiting. But it strikes me it must have been possible to embed heating elements in the cooling circuit (as daft as that sounds) so that a frozen coolant reactor could be revived? The designers must have considered the likelihood of such accidents – its just blindingly obvious that a cooling system running hundreds of degrees above real world ambient would freeze if the pumps or reactor stopped. Oh well – I suppose it was another cost cutting genius saving a few roubles on the purchase price – I wonder if the cost of four boats wrecked as a direct consequence has cancelled the saving?

  25. Observer

    Maybe we’re looking at the situation from the wrong way around. We keep seeing the situation from our eyes, but how do the Russians see it?

    Russia obviously hopes not to cause trouble that will derail their recovering economy, so them tooling up to take on NATO and claim Poland again is not really a valid scenario, they are probably more concerned with defence than conquest, having the Communist Evangelist spirit knocked out of them in the 80s and 90s. Even then, their focus was heavily on a missile based defence to keep American carriers away.

    All this rearmament isn’t for a war of conquest, it’s them trying to rebuild a decent military deterrent again after their great collapse in 1992. Remember, China is on their other border, and the Chinese have been getting rather aggressive the past few days.

    My guess is that the Russian in the street and maybe even in some high up places in their government think that their defences are lacking and are trying to take measures to address that shortfall.

    If you had to design a force to defend Russia, what would be your major goals and worries?

  26. Phil

    If you had to design a force to defend Russia, what would be your major goals and worries?

    Exactly the same as the Russians.

    The vast majority of their combat ready ground and air units are in their Southern MD which has the Caucasus as its focus. Then it’s the Eastern one.

    For the Navy its protecting the SSBNs.

  27. John Hartley

    I have long rambled that high temperature gas reactors are better than PWRs. They burn more of the fuel, so are more efficient & produce less waste.
    However, I am intrigued by the Toshiba 4S (Super Safe, Small & Simple) which uses Sodium (or alternatively lead) as a coolant. Does anyone know if the 4S is suitable to stick in an SSN or an aircraft carrier?
    As for the Russians, their investment in defence is partly national pride, part fear of Islamo-nut-jobs, part export sales.

  28. Chris

    JohnH – I can’t help thinking after Fukushima there will not be many rushing to buy Nuclear reactors from Japan. Not for a while anyway. Just a few too many optimistic assumptions made as to the worst that could happen. Anyway, considering how much fun can be had with hot Sodium & water, I’m content that we leave such technology to the side and find more benign alternatives.

  29. John Hartley

    Chris, all the modern Japanese reactors shut down as planned when the earthquake/tsunami struck. As per usual it was the old reactors that caused a problem. There is a good case for shutting down all pre 1985 reactors. Think Windscale, Three mile Island, Chernobyl, but the modern reactors have all those extra safety features.
    For those that do not like Sodium as a coolant, the idea of using lead instead was proposed for the 4S.

  30. Phil

    No, not really. But they have worried about the SLOCs of their enemies.

    They straddle two continents and the Middle East. They’re almost the definition of the world island.

    Their Navy during the Cold War was all about firstly defending their SSBN bastion, secondly about denying US reinforcements and thirdly about holding back US CVBGS (which ties in with one and two). I don’t see that that has changed.

    Their overall posture is strong air defences in the west, high readiness ground forces in the south and their largest ground forces in the East. Makes sense to me. They fear western airpower, need high readiness forces in the volatile south and need bigger ground forces in the east where they face China.

  31. Gloomy Northern Boy

    I have not really thought through the significance of this thought, but I’ll put it out there anyway – the UK Olympic Opening Ceremony celebrated ideas like Children’s Fiction, the NHS (?) and the Beatles…the previous Chinese version rather obviously didn’t, and I expect Sochi to be more like China than London 2012…it all leaves me a little concerned that our ideas about what we ought to be proud of leave us in a bit of an odd place with respect to those who remain rather keen on columns of tanks ten miles long, twenty squadron strong fly-pasts of fast jets, and great big fuck-off grey warships…I’m far from confident that this fundamental difference of understanding is likely to work out in our favour…

    A long time ago and in the same year I saw a gentle hippy in Barnsley beaten senseless before we got stuck in to keep him alive…and an obviously (obviously!) gay ballet dancer drop a truculent six-foot skinhead by kicking him neatly under the chin so hard it was a miracle his head didn’t come off…is the West now the hippy or the ballet dancer?

    Answers on a postcard please

    GNB

  32. martin

    @ GNB

    I think the west is a diverse place and parts of it resemble the hippy and the ballet dancer while other parts especially the Anglo Saxons bits are still entirely capable of kicking ass and taking names. any country that needs big military displays is in my mind inherently insecure. The Chinese and the Russians are still light years behind in the technology front. They are making advances but much of their technology basis remains behind and without opening their economy’s and having a diverse idea driven economy is dough flu they will ever catch up. Its also important to note that both the UK and the USA have fairly healthy levels of population growth Russia and China are having a population collapse. Neither wants a fight with their biggest customer NATO countries and neither would win. Also it would seem in the longer term the biggest threat to Russia is China and a Chinese Grab for Siberia would seem about the only conceivable logical major war event to me. Russia’s nuclear weapons prevent this today but that may not always be the case.

  33. Phil

    is the West now the hippy or the ballet dancer?

    We have a way of life and are able at the moment to be very indulgent and very peaceful. One day that will sadly change, so we should enjoy it whilst we can and not bemoan it. It doesn’t take long to strip away huge chunks of the veneer of civilisation.

  34. jedibeeftrix

    @ Derek – “This post has some silly comments in it. The new Russian boats are late 80s/Early 90s designs modernised during construction. They should not be that far behind an Astute. Remember that a Swiftsure is a 70s design.”

    Silly comment indeed.

    Russia is, and will remain, a country with a limited population base, a low HDI score, and an economy raddled with corruption that increasingly relies on mineral export to prop up government spending.

    To repurpose my original statement:

    “I’m sure it’s capable, in the same way a britain or france are capable, but russia remains a tiny part of a bigger picture that involves a world with NATO and China”

  35. Sir Humphrey

    The question about defence strategy for Russia is interesting. My own answer would be my prime concern was low birthdate in long term, and the mid orientation of people versus territory, leaving the resource rich empty east open to exploitation in decades to come.

  36. McZ

    “The K-329 is designed to be fast and virtually undetectable. The 390-foot submarine has a nuclear power plant that is near silent while running, a hull coated in sound-absorbing material, and can dive to 2,000 feet. The submarine also has a top speed of 30-35 knots (35-40 miles per hour), outpacing most anti-submarine weapons.”

    What a pile of rubbish.

    This submarine still has conventional propellers, which means it only runs either fast OR undetectable. A Stingray runs 45kn, dives 2400ft, easily outpacing the vessel. An helicopter carrying up to four of them runs 200+ kn…

    The cruise missile outfit is in itself impressive, but you will have a hard time finding a purpose for them. The same old “carrier killer” ideology, which would never have worked out.

    The fact remains, their submarine force is rusting away faster than it can be rebuilt. According to Wikipedia, the second vessel of the Yasen-class will cost $3.5b. Which effectively means, they will never risk them, even in a war situation. The Borei SSBN program, especially the Bulava-missile, is a mess in itself.

    The Russians seem quite in a dramatic strategic situation. The US builds its missile defence, regardless what they are telling. Every pipeline crossing Turkey or Georgia weakens Russia’s influence in the carbon game. No real allies to count upon. The hassles of still being the only European empire not unwound by history. An ever-decreasing population. While in the far east, China flexes its muscles while exporting people into Siberia.

    All this is easily mitigated: join NATO and sign a free-trade agreement with the west!

    But Putin keeps playing the nationalistic card; this (and vodka, indeed) seems to be the only way to feel great as a Russian today. I still wonder, if being the #2 or #3 player in the worlds most powerful alliance and the security it gives has a greater value than becoming a second-rank world power with nothing but “budget foes”. The economic case would be even better; wouldn’t a Russia within NATO find a ready market for its still excellent fighter planes?

  37. McZ

    @GNB

    The NHS is not too bad, compared to other countries systems.

    On the London Olympics, there were strong elements of British genius, science, entrepreneurship, music, literature, the military (first by showing the heritage of the two world wars, the whistles being the best part of the whole celebrations IMO, and by the servicemen setting the flags), the secret service, an a lot more! I think, it was a great story for a diverse country.

    If Sochi will fail to show such a diversity, it’s because Russia as a society is lacking, not because we are hippies not able to play the world power game.

  38. McZ

    @Derek
    “On top of that the Mistral programme is making considerable progress with the first ship expected to enter service late this year.”

    According to French sources, the Mistral is operational only from 7°C upwards. This effectively constrains them to the Black Sea, the entrance of which is firmly in NATO hands.

    “The Russian shipbuilding industry is starting to produce results. 8 corvettes have been laid down of which 3 have been commissioned and further two should be this year and there are 12 frigates/destroyers that have been laid down of which 4 should be commissioned within the next twelve months.”

    The corvettes delivered are local defence vessels. The frigates delivered were one Goshkov and three vessels derived from the Talwar-design for India. Of the Gorshkov-class, only four vessels are ordered since 2006 of 20 planned. The destroyers of project 21956 are paper tigers with not a single steel plate cut, not even a model has been shown.

    “The Udaloys are not much older than a T23 and they are being modernised/reactivated; not much wrong with deploying them”

    The youngest Udaloy was commissioned in 1989, the eldest T23 in 1990.

  39. Kazuaki Shimazaki

    >All this is easily mitigated: join NATO and sign a free-trade agreement with the west!

    You must be really naive. If China does attack Russia (and who else would), the West would find a way to not get involved. They’ll just be sucked dry.

    The Russians know that the West as a whole holds an irrational Russophobia which makes any real cooperation impossible. Consider the constant NATO expansion and the ridiculous attempt to pretend Iran is the real thing the missile shield is defending against…

    >According to French sources, the Mistral is operational only from 7°C upwards. This effectively constrains them to the Black Sea, the entrance of which is firmly in NATO hands.

    They must be making mods to them then because IIRC they mean to deploy some of them to the Pacific.

    And do the French really want to admit one of their newest warships can’t survive a little freezing weather? Europe as a whole isn’t so warm that they’ll never have to encounter <7°C conditions!

  40. Jonathan

    Is the west now a hippy. I would say not, look at the 20th century. History shows that western liberal nations however peace loving they may appear are just a brutal as any totalitarian state if threatened. With a far more educated and motivated population and ability to generate wealth they turn from pussy cats to rabid tigers in very short order. Freedom seems to be a far greater motivation to violence in defence than ideology or fear.

  41. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @McZ – Don’t entirely disagree about either the NHS (although like any big bureaucracy it can be horribly complacent, self-serving and incompetent on occasion); nor about the Olympic 2012 Opening Ceremony (although some of it made me cringe) – and on balance we remain more ballet dancer than hippy (albeit with bunions, a knackered hamstring and laddered tights) – my concern is that we are increasingly likely to look like a hippy, and that might lead to a dangerous misjudgement on the part of others…

    There were many reasons for the unpleasantness down south in 1982, but the belief within the strutting nincompoops of the Junta that our generally liberal views made us soft and decadent was certainly amongst them; not that I anticipate a re-run of those events…more a re-run of the same misjudgement by somebody else in respect of a different issue with equally dangerous consequences…

    GNB

  42. Phil

    Gloomy I think there’s a disconnect between what you say and reality.

    We attacked like a cornered rat the moment a peat bog we never gave two shits for before was invaded.

    We’ve driven an armoured division into Iraq twice in 13 years.

    We’ve spent 13 years fighting a war in Afghanistan.

    We’ve launched two campaigns from the air and a persistent peace-keeping mission.

    We’ve fought in Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East (twice) and Asia over the last thirty years.

    Some hippy!

  43. All Politicians are the Same

    What Phil says twice.
    There is a reason my “holidays” have been happening in Iraq, Kabul, Yemen, GOA and NAG among others.
    It is not because I am in the employ of the Armed Forces of some left wing hippy state.

  44. Red Trousers

    …what APATS says twice (Phil is now compounding in rightness, despite not being forgiving of Lt Hiroo Onoda this morning).

    My departure from most of the citizenry of the country is that I think it the bare minimum of what we should have done, not a cause to now sit back. And being in the Forces as a relatively young person is epically good fun, character building and leaves you a better person. Mostly. Especially if there’s war involved.

  45. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Steady on chaps – I think we are the ballet dancer – but we risk looking, and especially sounding, like the hippy…which as I suggested was one reason why we ended up “attacking like a cornered rat” in respect of said peat bog…I am concerned that we should avoid presenting a misleading appearance…not as to our ability to dish out mayhem when required…and I also agree with @RT about our having done the “bare minimum”….

    Please bear in mind that I opened up this exchange after several pints, a bottle of claret and a number of glasses of malt…

    Remorseful and Gloomy

  46. dave haine

    What RT says twice (who is also now compounding, as well as APATS, and phil even more).

    Having watched some TV from the sixties and seventies…not being old enough to be present, you understand, hippies seemed to be pretty mean at times anyway.

  47. Red Trousers

    Chuffing Nora, are we now at Phil^3? I think we should bottle that and keep it in a locked cupboard, or otherwise hide from the UN inspectors. ;)

    @ GNB “Please bear in mind that I opened up this exchange after several pints, a bottle of claret and a number of glasses of malt…”

    Sounds like a reasonable lunch. Did you eat anything?

  48. dave haine

    Gloomy has a point….

    We have as Phil has elucidated, demonstrated that we’re quite willing to give a shoeing out if we feel we need to….but we do seem to give out mixed signals- we only seem to go to war with a huge amount of handwringing and imposing some silly limits on the forces carrying out the task. (I would rather that the Vulcans had put a bomb on an military airfield on mainland Argentina- I think that would have sent out a clear, unequivocal message)

    Excuse the odd grammar- someone was kind enough to gift me some 10yr old Aberlour, and I’m conducting taste trials.

  49. Red Trousers

    @ DH,

    I’m rather hoping the answer is “nothing”, or some brilliant description of a Yorkshire pie.

    I had 2 really enjoyable years in Lancashire as a regular Adjutant of a TA Regiment. Not my normal neck of the woods (being half Wiltshire, half Perthshire, and half Kensington, and yes that is 3 halves), but I enormously enjoyed my time up North and the Lancastrians are really wonderful people. And not bad on the temporary girlfriend front either.

    My favourite dog was from Northumberland, bred by a no nonsense local girl. Christ that dog was good on a grouse moor. Sadly passed on now.

  50. All Politicians are the Same

    @ David Haine

    You could say we go to war after proper Political consideration and with ROE in place to achieve the aim without risking the conflict escalating which is what would have happened had we bombed the mainland. Welcome to Democracy.
    I think sticking a brace of torpedoes in the Belgrano sent out a pretty clear message.

    Walk quietly but carry a big stick. The stick may no longer be as big as it once was but it is far more precise and infinitely harder to stop.

  51. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT Confit of duck, beef and lemon meringue pie thank you for asking…not bad for Rotherham…and the free floor-show when the ladies took to the dance-floor was a sight to behold…office do’s, a hen party and a lady of eighty celebrating her birthday…decent DJ as well…

    GNB

  52. Red Trousers

    GNB, I’d be disappointed if that did not come with Picalilli, consumed either at the time or directly from on top of the slightly glistening belly of one of the dance troupe ladies… We could probably dispense with the birthday girl.

    I shall now return to serious domestic duties…

  53. Red Trousers

    @GNB,

    Office politics is something I don’t concern myself with, apart from:

    1. Flirt enough with the HR Director that she thinks you’re a giggle and she’s slightly embarrassed about inappropriate touching two Christmases ago that you are never going to find yourself on the “at risk” list.

    2. Make great friends with the youngest lady in Accounts, and make sure your expenses go through her. She will always be able to ignore missing receipts, and after suitable training, be able to convert lunches into something impressive.

    3. She will always do your time sheets as well. I once had a harridan from Accounts chase me down the corridor to tell me that I was 59 weeks delinquent on my time sheets, to which I told her that if she was that much diffy, it was not my problem, but her’s.

    4. Always meet your targets.

    Anyway, does not matter much what is on the slightly glistening belly. The fact that you are there at all is all you need.
    ;)

  54. S O

    @McZ:
    “An ever-decreasing population.”

    You’re behind the curve on this. Their population is growing again. The 90′s and 00′s are over.

    Not-so-fun fact: Almost 900,000 Russian male citizens reach military age per year.

  55. Swimming Trunks

    No mention yet of the Eurasian Union; possible Ukrainian membership of, rather than EU, is causing all the demos there at the moment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_Union

    It might have been laziness or malice on someone’s part but early maps of the Eurasian Union were based upon the Soviet Union, including the former Soviet Baltic states; I think they’re firmly in NATO/EU now but the early maps would have caused them some worry.

  56. jedibeeftrix

    @ SO – “You’re behind the curve on this. Their population is growing again. The 90′s and 00′s are over.”

    Very true, right now, but once the limited groups of people born in the 1990′s reaches baby-producing age the decline will kick right in again.

    It is not as disastrous as originally feared, but the long term trend is decline.

  57. McZ

    @S O
    I propose, we take a deep breath and look into population growth figures in Russia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Russia

    “Russians” as a people, especially in the European power-house parts of the country, are stagnating, while the Caucasians are developing growth. Medium term, this will create secessionist powers.

    If Russian statistics are as reliable as during various 5-year plans, we should expect the situation to be worse than official numbers suggest.

    “Not-so-fun fact: Almost 900,000 Russian male citizens reach military age per year.”

    And? http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/russia/2011/russia-111117-rianovosti02.htm

    @Kazuaki Shimazaki
    Fact is, the western Europeans are eager to secure energy supplies. Fact is, a pro-NATO strategy would be of more economic and security benefit to Russia. Fact is, each and every western politician would make a hyperbole of “historic dimension” to welcome Russia within NATO.

    If the alliance is worth the paper it’s printed on is still not proved, 9/11 and the continuous hassles over Afghanistan being no proof.

    “They must be making mods to them then because IIRC they mean to deploy some of them to the Pacific.”

    My personal experience with Russians is, that “must” is not a category in their thinking. They will certainly make-do with what they have, no question. But we are talking about combat efficiency in face of a peer adversary, with China or Japan being the anticipated foes.

  58. McZ

    But back to topic: we can bet here and now, that we will not see a single new destroyer, cruiser or carrier being laid down until 2020. From then, the Udaloys, Sovremenyis and Slavas will require urgent replacement, so numbers will dwindle and the surface force will be a pure frigate force, plus an ageing carrier.

    The Yasen-class will deliver a couple of boats to replace the Sierra and Victor classes, but at $3.5b a boat this replacement will eat up the whole budget. The five years from 2019 onwards will see the first eight Akula class subs needing refuelling or replacement. If they cannot deliver a cheaper SSN class – and I honestly doubt their capability to do so – they’ll have a hard time keeping their SSN-number above 10.

    They will have a capable Black Sea Fleet, protecting the datchas of Moscowite billionaires and backing the occupation of 30pc of Georgian territory.

    Their only reason to be optimistic is PAK-FA, the occasional long-range SAM and maybe Bulava (on which I would bet no money).

  59. All Politicians are the Same

    @McZ

    They have built and are building some nice Corvettes though in typical Russian fashion they are heavily armed Corvettes plus the Amphibs but yes replacement of major surface units will become a priority.

  60. Kazuaki Shimazaki

    >My personal experience with Russians is, that “must” is not a category in their thinking. They will certainly make-do with what they have, no question. But we are talking about combat efficiency in face of a peer adversary, with China or Japan being the anticipated foes.

    I won’t be so sure. With nationally-built equipment, they might indeed do so. This is not a uniquely Russian concept – Brits might remember how long their Army “made do” with the old SA80. This is a foreign weapon bought against a lot of pressure to buy local. If there was a point like “It won’t work at under 7 degrees Celcius”, the critics on the Russian side would already have seized that point to kill it.

    To begin with, “It won’t work at under 7 degrees Celcius” means the thing won’t work all the time in *France*, at home, which already kind of makes it fail the smell test. It is one thing to say oh for example a Project 941 (Typhoon SSBN) won’t work well in the tropics because that is indeed not a regular regime for it. It is another thing to say a ship won’t work in its home.

    >Fact is, the western Europeans are eager to secure energy supplies. Fact is, a pro-NATO strategy would be of more economic and security benefit to Russia. Fact is, each and every western politician would make a hyperbole of “historic dimension” to welcome Russia within NATO. If the alliance is worth the paper it’s printed on is still not proved, 9/11 and the continuous hassles over Afghanistan being no proof.

    If we accept your last statement, then NATO membership is not very valuable for Russia. For the first, you might remember Yeltsin already kind of tried the pro-Western route. There are reasons why Putin is still in power after so many years, not all of which are undemocratic.

    Historically, I’ll say Europe as a whole is anti-Russian. Any alliances are once of necessity and convenience. When Russia is weak, they denigrate it and even expand at its expense. When it is strong, it is played up as a threat (the Cold War being an example). When it is somewhere in between or there is room for ambiguity, it is split between denigrators and threat mongers.

    And the Russians know all this.

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