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


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Nimrod AEW3 :D

Kibbitz Van Ogle

EURO-MEB to get dem Germans to invest in some LSD/LHD capability - being #5 global economy and very trade-dependent and all...


I never even knew that variant of the Nimrod exisited. I'm guessing it never became operational??

Anyone know when we might have to replace our E-3D's?


Has anything to do with Nimrod gone as planned?


@Big Dave correct If I remember reading correctly it was big vibration issues. Not unassailable though. So we were a nats doo dah away from having all our intelligence aircraft on one type!


E3d could go on for 15-20 years unless you decided that the thru life costs were getting a tad steep and you decided to use a much more economical aircraft for the capability.

Dave would it be unkind to say its decommissioning.


Vibration and cooling, amongst the vast list of things going wrong were the same reasons we went for Airseeker instead of a MRA4 variant to replace the R1.


AEW3? Whoa! deja vu - spooky! (http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/01/open-thread-january-2014/#comment-276767)

As for Nimrod and going well, I thought MR2 and R1 did alright? At least until a compromised air to air refueling mod went in. One of the big problems I understand all the Comet/Nimrod airframes brought was that they were made before high accuracy assembly was fully understood, which made each aircraft very slightly different to the others - only by small amounts, but different. Not a problem to the aircraft fitters of the 50s, as they took pride in making things fit together. As one fitter told me (with considerable pride) "We are not assembly workers, we are fitters. Assembly workers give up if parts don't slot together easily, we work at it until they fit."

When MRA4 got underway, I heard one of the big surprises was that the modern highly accurate jig-assembled new wing assemblies when offered to the fuselages did not fit - some airframes a bit longer or fatter, some shorter or thinner. Much unexpected work to try to at least standardize the wing root aperture and rib/spar structure in the ageing fuselages. The first of many unexpected consequences of starting with a 55 year old assembly.

Much the same variability was found when the refuelling probe was introduced - I understand it is the norm not to include any flexible sections in refuelling pipework because of the pressure fuel is pumped at, but in Nimrod there really was no choice. Either fit a section of rubber pipe or manufacture one-off adaptors (each separately flight cleared) for every single airframe. Turns out the rubber had its problems. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3ddbUjc_RvgC&pg=PA401&lpg=PA401&dq=nimrod+mra4+defence+secretary&source=bl&ots=xKJCCpvjTl&sig=h6FB7djTPwAAFvEX8BY9RPQCA9M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=u2ftUsvaOImBhAfh4IDoDQ&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=nimrod%20mra4%20defence%20secretary&f=false

There are two ways to make robust durable products, by robot or by craftsmen. The modern way obviously is the way of the robot - make every component of a type exactly the same as all the others so there's full interchangeability and assembly is easy and repeatable (hence even a dumb robot could do it). Just follow the procedure and perfection every time. The alternative, older approach was to require a workforce of experienced careful caring craftsmen who would coax and smooch and persuade products together, achieving just as robust a machine, albeit much more difficult to repair when things broke down. These two approaches do not mix. If the customer wants to rejuvenate a historic bit of kit, best you have a willing workforce of craftsmen on hand to do whatever fettling is necessary on an item by item basis. If you have brand new dimensionally perfect bit of kit, don't give it to a backstreet repair shop full of eager craftsmen to fix.

MRA4 would probably have turned out cheaper in the long run if the entire airframe, not just the wing, had been made anew. Who would have predicted that though? And who would possibly have been brave enough to put that in the proposal?

Kibbitz Van Ogle

How about President Gauck's speech in Munich yesterday ?

The new Grand-Coalition Government will apparently seek to be more muscular in its exercise of foreign-political obligations and opportunities towards matching its economic power (?).

May the Comet rest in peace.


So with 15-20 years left in the E-3D's potentially, now would surely be the time to start looking into a replacement?? Approaching Airbus maybe with our new found co-operation with France getting a European AEW off the drawing board?


The LibDems are still pushing their three-legged horse:




Today when you have mating structure such as wing to fuselages (hardest thing to get right in composite aircraft) your working too for example +\- .050 inch to global aircraft co ordinates nimrod was closer to +\- 3 or 4 inches (stress go into mild panic at shims over .1 of an inch). It wasn't just there, avionics racks attaching to frames everything. There was a proposal to remanufacture the fuselages I believe both raf and industry engineers suggested it but were overruled on cost grounds. In fact I know a couple of engineers who spent almost a year as part of a design team on a new manufactured fuselage.

Big dave 243 airbus and iai are already offering a brand new aew system on the cn295, Italy has ordered the iai g550 caew option. Sweden,Greece the erieye system. Turkey the wedgetail. It is highly likely we would be following something similar. It you wish to keep costs down and avoid obsolescence pitfalls it is important that the mission systems and there software is separated from the aircraft and its flight software.


Torpedo away as Westminster tests her defences


Quite good picks of the torpedo flying out the tube. Strange that the launcher is so fare from the edge of the deck.


"The new Grand-Coalition Government will apparently seek to be more muscular in its exercise of foreign-political obligations and opportunities towards matching its economic power (?)."

I doubt it. Merkel thoroughly burned her fingers on the Iraq issue in 2002 when she was pro-invasion and the majority of German weren't. She learned the lesson.

There will be some more stupid missions à la "paratroopers guard elections in Congo", but nothing resembling war. We may also help the French with airlift some more often.

Besides, there are no foreign-political obligations except what one has promised - and that's merely North Atlantic Treaty and Lisbon Treaty alliance obligations and the ongoing mission for a few more months or years.

And "opportunities"? There are "opportunities" to lose money and blood, and for Merkel to lose power. Nothing particularly enticing.


It seems to me that there is a need for a general-purpose, airliner-sized airframe to fulfil a number of requirements. ELINT, AEW, MPA, AAR* to name a few. It strikes me that the best way of doing this is not to try and retro-fit a disparate mix of ageing airliners but to get in with a new one.

The Airbus concept plane has been in the news of late, which always strikes me as being about the best candidate:


If you could talk them into going for a modular baggage hold system (ostensibly for faster airport turn-arounds) you would end up with an ideal location for sensor, fuel, and weapons bays along the ventral surface. Buy the military modules and if you need an airframe you ought to be able to pick one up at commercial rates (or less if you invest in the development, which, lets face it, governments do anyway.

* ELectronics INTercept, Airborne Early Warning, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Air to Air Refuelling



The torpedo tubes are built into the Air Weapons Magazine, so the ship's stock of torpedoes are immediately available for either hanging off the helicopter or firing over the side (as shown in the photo). It cuts down on signature and maintenance to have the tubes enclosed, as well.


MrFred - ref Weirdoplane - I couldn't stick the childish "look at the exciting developments we are working on" video to the end - GM vegetation configured to grow into precise shaped components, virtual physical decor like beds and tables, the airframe a carrier for individual travel pods... La-la-land. But I recall an aero engineer in the 80s telling me the comet (and still-born V-1000) configuration of engines in wing roots was much more efficient aerodynamically than bucket-on-a-stick engine pods; that it was only the square-corner window disasters that allowed Boeing to move ahead with 707 and their option to hang engines under the wing (presumably because the early jets needed lots of maintenance access) became the fashion. Who would design an aircraft to look like Comet after the problems it had? Here though, Airbus is seeming to revert to blended engine nacelles for efficiency reasons.

I look at their design and the bits that look about right for next generation are the engine pods, possibly the broad V-tail, possibly the non-cylindrical fuselage, and the long slender wings without engines dangling beneath. Morphing structures I suggest would first show in less conservative less regulated domains, such as (off the top of my head) racing yachts? As for all the la-la-land imagineering I think that has more to do with a warped idea of what impresses outsiders than any genuine design targets.

If Airbus asked nicely I'm sure Filton could rustle up some wings with engine nacelles embedded - all modern and mostly complete designs - that they could nail under their standard fuselage? We could call them Nim-bus


Mr Fred,

A agree. Unfortunately it might not be the same airframe for all requirements.

Maybe the A319 would make a good MPA and future AESA AWACS aircraft, but I doubt it will bring much to the party if it operates as a tanker. 75 tonnes versus 230 tonnes for our A330 MRTT Voyager.

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/01/future-maritime-patrol-part-1-challenges-missions/#comment-276997" rel="nofollow">I suggested the A330 as a combined MPA, AWACS and ELINT platform on another thread. I don't think it went down very well ;-)


The sensor are getting smaller the platforms required to carry them getting smaller all the time it's more about fusing that data from multiple sources as opposed to large individual platforms. You don't need larger air platforms to collect data anymore especially when your budget is stretched smaller more efficient ones are perfectly adequate.



I confess I rather ignored the video - the blended nacelle job was the one I was looking at.

Long endurance, large access doors mean it's easier to refit because you don't have to take the fuselage apart so much. If you could get modular cargo bays in then there are your weapons bays, sensor modules or additional fuel. If they did end up going down the completely modular pods routes then it's even easier to manage your fleet. Different sized aircraft have different numbers of common pods.


@ Mr Fred

They already have modular baggage hold systems- they're called ULDs (Unit Load Devices), big aluminium tea chests in various standardised sizes. The biggest ones are used quite ingeniously in Gambia as living accommodation, although not sure that the airlines like it though.


Cooling was a major issue for hte Nimrod AEW. Having to use the fule tanks as part of the cooling system meant that endurance was affected as a certain amount of fuel had to remain in the tanks to keep things cool. This became the tip of the iceberg. As originally designed the Nimrod would have worked as it was a much simpler design but the RAF wanted the platform to do what the E-3 could with a bigger platform and ended up trying to squeeze too much into the Nimrod airframe.

As for replacing the E-3D, well given the head start Boeing and SAAB have I cannot see Airbus really breaking into the market. There might be room in the elecronic department but that area is pretty crowded. It may be better to simply buy either a 737or its successor based platform and/or whatever the USAF decides to purchase. In fact when NATO decide to re-equip their AWACS fleet maybe we should join this time?

A Different Gareth

mr.fred said: "If you could get modular cargo bays in then there are your weapons bays, sensor modules or additional fuel. If they did end up going down the completely modular pods routes then it’s even easier to manage your fleet."

Perhaps it would be feasible to have a bomb bay of sorts and different modules that fit into it. The US did this for a time with the B-52. There was a module that fitted into one of the bomb bays which carried reconnaissance equipment and two operators. There is a picture of it being installed on http://www.spyflight.co.uk/rb-52b.htm" rel="nofollow">this page. You could have a series of interchangeable modules forming the underside of the aircraft. It needn't be quite so seat of the pants stuff in this day and age and the RAF would have themselves a long range bomber too...


That's another thing. The requirement for an MPA isn't that different from a permissive environment bomber. Range, weapons, sensors.



Order new trucks in May '13, have first batch delivered December '13. Now that's how to do MOTS purchasing. All thanks to piggybacking on a (much larger) British order. Thanks chaps!

PS Don't tell the Canadians, who are making a determined to challenge India for the the coveted 'Worst Procurement in the Commonwealth' trophy.


40degS - well done nzdf for showing defence procurement is no more difficult than any other purchase of equivalent value. Do they have a team of instructors they could send to MOD over here?



Last time I encountered a group of NZDF HQ staff, they all had English accents and were obsessed with house prices in the regional UK. Perhaps we could send them back once their work here is done?

NZ has a Minister who wants to get things done, an improving economy, and a defence force whose equipment is (literally, in some cases) falling apart after extended use. I hope this purchase, plus the Beechcraft Texan II training aircraft announced last week, are a sign of things to come. If nothing else, a couple of successful buys will give acquisition staff and politicians a bit of confidence.

Our Auditor-General has made strong recommendations about buying proven equipment already in service with allies, so we hope that carries over to the looming big-ticket items - replacing worn-out C130s and PC3s in the early 2020s. They have both come out of extensive refits that went badly over time and budget, and in the case of the Hercs, would have damn near payed for some new C130Js.

Sadly, mindless penny-pinching is an international sport.


Big modular fan; range of proposed possibilities when it comes to aircraft:

"Modulair System – TU München (Munich, Germany):

The system transforms the interior of the aircraft into a modular capsule, which can be

extracted at the airport terminal completely. (De-)Boarding becomes faster, more comfortably Crystal Cabin - Modular.JPGand more flexible with the whole aircraft interior becoming part of the terminal. While one capsule is deboarding another capsule, prepared before the aircraft’s arrival, can be inserted into the aircraft at the same time. Passengers benefit from a reduction of latency and (de)boarding times to a minimum, while the holding time of the airplane is shortened to the duration of refueling. The modular, mutable assembly of every capsule allows for a multitude of different module configurations guaranteeing the aircraft’s perfect calibration for every passenger- and utilization-situation. A vast variety of modules opens up new markets and new business models can evolve. Modules can be designed individually and combined in alliance, so that different airlines can fly together in just one aircraft."




Kibbitz Van Ogle

February 2, 2014 at 4:05 am

Sven Ortmann wrote in response to

“The new Grand-Coalition Government will apparently seek to be more muscular in its exercise of foreign-political obligations and opportunities towards matching its economic power (?).”

I doubt it. Merkel thoroughly burned her fingers on the Iraq issue in 2002 when she was pro-invasion and the majority of German weren’t. She learned the lesson.

There will be some more stupid missions à la “paratroopers guard elections in Congo”, but nothing resembling war. We may also help the French with airlift some more often.

Besides, there are no foreign-political obligations except what one has promised – and that’s merely North Atlantic Treaty and Lisbon Treaty alliance obligations and the ongoing mission for a few more months or years.

And “opportunities”? There are “opportunities” to lose money and blood, and for Merkel to lose power. Nothing particularly enticing.



On the other hand, the purpose of defense-forces in modern democracies is to be ready - on constitutional political demand (domestic and international) ! - to engage in missions of inherently uncertain outcomes, in an inherently uncertain environment.

In the case of Germany that holds true particularly since that modern democracy is indeed global-trader #2, aggressively pursuing strengthening its global standing, in order to 'trade' trade for the associated domestic jobs-base, and thus relative domestic political peace and domestic economic stability. As before - case of Afghanistan - both constitutional and diplomatic frame-works will be adjusted - if need be AD HOC - to match serious emerging challenges.

After the fact, experts will pursue exacting analysis of whether or not said intervention did exactly match certain documents, their political, diplomatic or constitutional interpretations, in parliamentary, legal, academic, historic, back-seat strategists' bodies of analytic pursuits.

Real Politik however will force Berlin's hand in ways less inhibited by the fading shadows of the past, or just plain parasitic reflexes by some in Europe's most powerful economy to let others do the foreign-political and thus inherently military 'heavy lifting'.

The lessons of partaking in Afghanistan are

- 1. a maturing of Germany's position - including taking tragic losses, making awful tactical mistakes, learning logistics and paying the bills,

- 2. a maturing trust by others that Germany could actually constructively engage 'elsewhere' as well,

- 3. a maturing of Germany's self-understanding of having to balance reflexively reaping the fruits of trade and massive fiscal and finance-political influence with a more engaged and more robust military capability, re-fuelled by a very promising domestic fiscal situation, in order to partake in international politics as an increasingly relevant player emerging with lots of lessons learned from across indeed the last 100 years - now increasingly leveraged to match the blessings of global economic opportunities with respective global obligations i.e. also military effectiveness.

For starters, Germany should invest in 3 modest LHDs, with 2 forward-positioned, and matching in their systems as far as possible extant precedents for maximum compatibility, from 'cross-decking' to identical well-deck dimensions etc.

Plus for each LHD one AOR supply-vessel such as the Type 702 "Berlin" class (20,000tons fl).

Plus for each a long-range edition to Type 212 attack subs to help e.g. the US manage respective littoral threats.

for three groups to be paired with extant 10+ Type 123, 124, 125 frigates.

Summation for Germany's future Global-Engagement Fleet (GEF) :

- 3x LHD

- 3x AORs

- 3x SS

plus perhaps a squadron of F-35B.

A rather modest investment in both the morality of 'pulling one' weight' while helping to secure global trade reach in support of domestic industrial power and thus political peace.

Since the first steps in the 50s-era 'Montan Union' between France and Germany, there is now no question that Germany has proven its reliable 'neighborliness' in so many political, economic and (yes !) Cold-War military sectors (495,000 soldiers at one point), to now warrant this next step in her evolution towards assuming a normal posture among progressive/civilized nations.

P.S.: In light of the Iraqi's failure to balance domestic challenges, Germany will come to learn that not engaging in the Iraq-2 effort contributed diplomatically to the pressure upon the US and Iraq to eventually part ways, a premature move increasingly recognized on both Iraqi and US side, likely only reversible if e.g. Germany engages here as well to help stabilize Iraq. The distance from Kundus to Bagdad is less than half that to Berlin.

With Germany's extended industrial relations with Iran, Teheran might allow passage by road...


Kibbitz, is that their official plan? The 3/3/3 system looks a bit lopsided to me.


Heavy-weather offshore ship design

A few days old, however the design of the UT 777 is very interesting, both in itself and in terms of thought moving once more in the deep-sea/seakeeping while on-station terms.

http://gcaptain.com/rolls-royce-island-offshore-ut-777/" rel="nofollow">gCaptain: Rolls-Royce and Island Offshore Prep for Heavy Weather with New Ship Design

http://www.rolls-royce.com/news/press_releases/2014/27012014_island_Offshore.jsp" rel="nofollow">Rolls-Royce: Rolls-Royce develops high-end offshore vessel for Island Offshore

http://www.islandoffshore.com/?c=9413&a=115295" rel="nofollow">Island Offshore: Island Offshore orders high end offshore service vessel


Morocco have taken delivery of their FREMM:


Costing them €470m (£390m/US$630m) for a cut-down version of the Frog version (notably no A70 tubes) - the FY12 cost of the French FREMMs is €592m (£490m/US$800m) excluding R&D.

Talking of that neck of the woods, this is a good overview of what the Algerian navy is up to - they've been busy spending their gas money, the San Giusto derivative LPD is due in September :



On the theme of aew aircraft


The Ministry of Defence has awarded Lockheed Martin UK a £24 million contract to run a competition to design, develop and demonstrate Crowsnest.

The decision to bring forward the Crowsnest Airborne Surveillance and Control programme has been made as part of the annual review of the MoD’s Ten Year Equipment Plan. The MoD said the acceleration of the programme to ensure it is operational by 2019 will save £22 million.


Good news, better financial management means that LHA Queen Elizabeth/Prince of Wales will get her Heath Robinson AEW capability about the same time she will get to fly F-35B's. Now that is a significant improvement.


In the world of the British Armed Forces and MOD procurement you can sometimes almost forget that good news does sometimes exist.

Still how good is it? 18 months early and a bit of cash saved but still a 3 year capability gap unless the Sea Kings are retained for longer and still a bolt on Crowsnest system for the Merlin HM2's which will already be hard pressed instead of a dedicated fleet.

Still....better than nothing I guess!


The navy took an age to get a UAV lets hope this will encourage them to buy more.

The US Navy have taken to the far more enthusiastically. This is a pretty cool idea.

U.S. Navy Launches XFC UAV from Submerged Submarine



A lot of the talk of MPA is bases on subs and ship that do not fight back.

Anti-aircraft weapons on subs could cause real problems for an MPA.

A3SM: A True Game Changer for Submarine Self Defence against Threats from the Sky


The Russians and Chinese are also working on similar system.

All are available for exported.

It is possible that the first you now about the sub in an area is when aircraft manned or not start disappearing.


Just been listening to Hammond on 'today in parliament', He basically said we can do without an MPA capability as we can get by with the assets we have now.

He did say that it would be reviewed however.



I am just not sold on the fight it out model. I think it is a chancy proposition against a helicopter. A submarine is just too blind and vulnerable to really be messing with that kind of stuff. As a last resort I guess it makes sense. But beyond that I really don't see the point. It might save you if you are lucky enough that you are being hunted by just one aircraft. But ASW is generally a team game. Seems to me that you are just creating a nice datum point for someone else to come along and kill you.

I thought the idea of sticking up your periscope to search for an MPA was particularly suicidal.


Jeremy. A sub in the deep ocean would never try to fight it out with an MPA, but a sub caught on the surface (dropping off/collecting a SF team) is probably better off fighting rather than a crash dive. That was the conclusion U-boats came to at the end of WW2. They started fitting heavy AA guns.

Changing subjects, I like the look of the new Remington R51 9mm pistol. Same size & looks as the Walther PPK, but fires 9mm Para ammo. Also cheap at under $400. Any "funnies" reading this, might want to check it out.


Maybe well be keeping a few typhoons around for a while yet


"Then, I have to go through the [service life extension plan] and [cost and assessment program evaluation] efforts with airplanes to try to get modern technology into my legacy fleet. That is why the current upgrade programs to the F-22 I put easily as critical as my F-35 fleet. If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22. Because I got such a pitifully tiny fleet, I’ve got to ensure I will have every single one of those F-22s as capable as it possibly can be."


"A sub in the deep ocean would never try to fight it out with an MPA, but a sub caught on the surface (dropping off/collecting a SF team) is probably better off fighting rather than a crash dive. That was the conclusion U-boats came to at the end of WW2. They started fitting heavy AA guns."

Yes, but I don't think it actually worked, though. Lots of U-boats got sunk trying to fight off Catalinas on the surface in the Bay of Biscay. A bit of googling shows that the Fight Back Order was issued by BdU on 1 May 1943 and stayed in force for the next three months. During this time 28 aircraft were shot down by U-boats over Biscay, and 26 U-boats were sunk (and 17 damaged). That's not a great record, which is why BdU changed its mind so soon...


a. At the end of the war, there were not enough 37mm guns, so the U-boats had to make do with 20mm. If they had got the heavier guns they wanted things might have turned out better for them. In the 70s, there was a way of fitting Blowpipe missiles to subs. Not sure, but I think the Israelis bought it. Do quite fancy a pedestal rising out the fin with 2 LMM & 2 Starstreak. Would give the sub a chance if caught while surfaced. Though obviously it is better off being deep under the ocean.

Gloomy Northern Boy

Although I hesitate to re-open hostilities about the Beeb. I would suggest that people listen to "The Great War of Words" at 9.30 tonight on Radio 4...presented by Michael Portillo. Broadly speaking this confirms that the Beastly Hun did indeed commit atrocities in Belgium, and in consequence there was considerable righteous anger in the mix in the early months of the war...to the extent that those stories were exaggerated it was by the victims or because of that anger, not because the Press or Government were peddling falsehood and propaganda...and their essential truth was established at the time in a an Inquiry led by a QC who had been a prominent opponent of the South African War, and was no jingoist...with the later belief that these stories were false mostly arosing from a book written by Arthur Ponsonby called "Falsehood in War" and published in 1928 which was itself socialist/pacifist propaganda...and generally that the Hun were a damned bad lot who deserved a sound thrashing and generally got off pretty lightly in the aftermath.

I was almost cheerful after listening to it this morning, not least because it will have given some BBC Editorial Staff the urgent need to lie down in a darkened room to recover from the shock.




Re: Typhoon and F22.

I'll sleep better at night knowing Typhoon is around. If we end up with an all F35 fleet I'll probably build my own SAM site on my roof - already got the passive missile EO/IR seeker and flight control working, just need to work on my propulsion (aluminum powder, jam and petrol) and warhead (flag on a stick saying "bang") ;-)

Kibbitz Van Ogle

Oll sis tork abawt gjermans isch veery dioschkonzerting...


JH, the Israelis later took the system off in refits.

MANPADs converted to sub anti-air defences might be useful against dipping ASuW helicopters, but MPA operate at a higher altitude than that. Not sure if it would really work against targets that are not going very low, the climb to altitude for SAMs take up a lot of fuel for rather slow acceleration (curse you Newton!!), hence most SAMs tend to the large side. You really want an air defence submarine, slap a few VLS on them ala Los Angeles Mk II or Virginia class subs and load a few Standard IVs or Astors in them.


I think the Blowpipe variant was called SLAM :-)

The Yanks had a project in the 80's called SIAM: self initiated anti-aircraft missile. The idea was that a sub would launch a canister from underwater, it would broach, then a radar seeker would conduct a search to the horizon and then launch when it found a target. Never went into development AFAIK


KVO - I can't speak for the others here but from my perspective history is exactly that - things done in the past by previous generations. I no more hold the current Germans to blame for the two World Wars than I hold modern Europeans (especially the British) responsible for the slave trade of the 16th & 17th centuries. What's done is done, can't be undone, can't be wiped from history.

GNB - I half listened to the Portillo program; that which I heard seemed mostly fair, although like Monday's Paxman documentary the ever-so-slightly relevant fact that the Lusitania was carrying munitions - quite a lot of them - was entirely ignored. Apparently the munition cargo was at least in part recorded on the manifests without any attempt to hide it, so it would be a fair assumption that Germany could have found out via its embassy (I think trans-Atlantic telegraph was fully established by 1915). There was also on the manifest a large consignment of butter which mysteriously didn't need cooling to survive the journey - various observers assume this was more explosives. It had long been considered curious that one torpedo from U-20 could have caused as much damage as needed to send the huge liner to the bottom within an hour - compare with Titanic that remained on the surface for hours while it filled with water through a long gash in the hull? If the torpedo had by chance ripped into the hold containing munitions then the liner would have been torn apart, much like poor old HMS Hood 25 years later.

Assuming Lusitania did have many tons of munitions aboard, was that an honest simple use of available cargo space? Was it deliberate goading of the Germans into committing an atrocity? Some believe so. Or was it an early attempt at moving military materiel under a human shield? I doubt there's anyone who could say one way or the other without the evidence; that evidence (if it exists) is still not yet released from its Official Secrets dungeon.

Anyway. I digress. Yes the Portillo program is worth hunting out on I-player. No I still didn't like the Paxman documentary for many of the same reasons but I'm not going to bang on about it, other than to say I think its a shame given the much better presentation by Paxman of the war in context that was in the podcast Twecky found: http://d2j7noxmrt3xhh.cloudfront.net/bbchistory/audio/HistoryExtra_2014_01_23.mp3


Why are US/UK forces burning valuable airframe hours on AH-64 Apaches, not to mention high performance jet aircraft, to support ground operations in a conflict in which we have total air superiority? The Beechcraft AT-6 Texan II or (hack/hack/spit/spit) the Embraer Super Tucano have the capability to support the types of operations we have been mounting at much lower cost with much longer loiter time to stay around. While slower than jets, they are faster than the Apaches, and they have available to them a mix of weaponry from laser-guided 500 or 250 pound bombs through the Hellfire missiles down to the new versions of the 2.75 inch rockets with laser seekers. I know why the USAF hasn't jumped on the 'light attack' bandwagon, and it isn't flattering to the zipper-suited thunder gods who never wanted the A-10 either: It isn't a sexy, supersonic jet fighter designed to smite other sexy, supersonic jet fighters from the sky. It also isn't the fancy, science-fiction UAV that costs almost as much or more than a jet. However, it makes financial sense to field an aircraft that anyone who went through training in a two-seat turboprop can operate and hit targets that they can actually see instead of passing in a blur. Also, the light attack aircraft can run 20 to 30 sorties for the fuel burn of an F-16 two-ship just taking off. It also makes sense when operating in an 'allied' country where you can have an 'allied' airman in the back seat to help identify and coordinate with our forces and 'allied' forces without shooting up someone by mistake and causing hard feelings. That makes life easier for the guys on the ground, as well.

Yeah, I know. It makes too much sense. Sorry for the rant. I'm just a retired US Army tanker who sometimes has too much time on his hands.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Chris (&KVO) - I trained as an Historian, and like you see the past as the past - but I hate to see bad history presented as fact to prove a current point - and the re-making of the real history of the Great War in the 1920/30's into an overwhelming argument for peace at any price and the policy of appeasement did real harm in fostering the re-emergence of German Militarism during that decade; the "Oh what a lovely war/lions led by donkeys/blackadder" trope was less grievous in it's outcomes than that, but is still a calculated insult to the memories of brave and decent men trying to the best of their abilities to do the decent thing.

I liked the Portillo programme because it was good history, and a welcome contrast to some of the lazy tripe we are likely to be served over the next four years...not because it was anti-German...hence my use of the language of the time, intended to lighten the tone...genuine apologies if it didn't.

Best not start on Slavery...another pile of grievous and lazy nonsense as it is normally taught...which is a pity as it is in reality a story around which Brits of all origins could readily unite...and I could bore for Christendom on the question of the Crusades...the general misinterpretation of which does real harm on a global scale.



@ GNB re Crusades

Still remember the look of astonishment on the teenage lad's face on my history degree course when I told him that Middle East (Mediterranean littoral, Asia Minor etc. and on) was Christian for an awfully long time. I don't know which is more troubling that or how over the last decade or so (the era of the so called arm band politics syllabi) many A / AS history students were taught that Nazism was extreme right wing politics. Eek!


@ Elm Creek Smith,


"Zipper suited Thunder God"? The Kevins will be getting ideas above their station.

Welcome to TD. We need more Cavalrymen on here. I warmly recall spending a few weeks with 7 ACR in Cold War days. We co-discovered that 7th Cavalry's choice of Garryowen as Regimental music was largely due to the influence of my lot's 5th Lancers being disbanded and most of the boys shipping out to the New World and enlisting en masse in the US Army, taking their music with them. And 2 ACR were good flank mates in Gulf One.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@x - Quite right...if a few more of our politicians had the backbone to point out that the various "Commanders of the Faithful" mostly started the Long War and their would be successors are mostly pissed off because they have been on the back foot since King John Sobieski gave them a caning before the walls of Vienna in 1683 we would all be very much better off...

@Elm Creek Smith - Welcome - and look out for @RT...he's the kind of chap you go out for a beer with, and then regain consciousness in Singapore with a heavy beard, a new tattoo and a banging headache...(would add a smiley face, but still not clever enough)



@GNB, re heavy beards and tattoos. Sounds very Andrew to me, but I congratulate you on the modernity of your thinking. Wrens are very accommodating these days.

True story. We had some potential officers come out to visit us in Germany while we were doing an Annual Firing Camp at Hohne ranges, to which the only sane response is to have a run up to Hamburg for some banging music, a big eff off meal in the most expensive restaurant in town, then hit the Reeperbahn. For some reason, we only had a Range Rover and horse box for officer transport, so we took that, about 15 of us.

One of the POs was picked upon as "audience Participation" by one of the girls in the stage show. Aged about 17. The lad did his duty well enough without stage fright, then disappeared behind the curtain for follow ons. As we left, the boxhead greaser who ran the joint stepped forward with a "bill" for about 1,500 Deutsch Marks for services rendered by his girls, which was tantamount to having a dust up. But the boy was as cool as cucumber, and wrote a cheque for 1,500 pence, supported by a Wiltshire County Council library card. Kudos, he successfully sold himself to us as someone with proper Cavalry manners.

5 years later, I wrote up a young Lieutenant in my Squadron for the Military Cross for gallantry in the face of the enemy during Gulf One. The little sod got his Scimitar shot up badly by 12.7mm fire by an Iraqi tank, comms disabled, WP going off inside his turret, and still managed to get out, had the presence of mind to take his man pack radio with him, and complete calling in a pair of F18s for an air strike.


tim, that's a slanted piece. The -35 I believe is designed to be a multi-roled fighter, which means that it should be able to handle aerial intercepts in a class by itself, not in a dissimilar squadron of mix and match. That article is just someone trying to sell you two systems in a single deal. With the price of 2 systems, no discount. That is the current day analogy of saying that "If you don't buy the F-15, the F-16s are useless.", which is a patently false statement.

The F-35 is going to be the future successor of the F-16. it should be able to handle a fair range of jobs. Of course, a 2 tier fleet with higher performance F-22s would be nice and overall multi-squadron performance may be better, but hardly a case of "no F-22s = useless plane". That's bullshit.


There's a gd idea scrap the apache, arm the army wildcat like the naval version and let the army fly a couple of Sqns of super tucano.


@Mark - I never said we should scrap the Apache; they will come in handy in the event we have to fight a well-armed enemy and in those situations where someone has to get down in the weeds and slug it out supporting troops in heavy contact. I would love for the US Army to get the AT-6 Texan II, but we have a little thing called the "Key West Agreement" that keeps fixed wing air support in the hands of the zipper-suited thunder gods of the USAF fighter mafia. In light of "Key West," my solution would be to take Air National Guard units that operated the A-10 and give them the AT-6's. Hell, we could fill the skies over Afghanistan for the price of one F-35B!

@RT - I was a sergeant (E5) tank commander/instructor at Fort Knox when my battalion command sergeant major "talked me into" (proper term is probably "browbeat") me into going to officer candidate school. I went from the M60A1 with IR sights/no stabilization up through the M1A2 (CITV) in my 20 years with a short time with an M48A5. I was also the NCOIC of the data collection/reduction section and a TC onf the HSTV-L project at the Armor-Engineer Board at Fort Knox. I got to fire the 75mm ARES autocannon which was GREAT! The US Army didn't buy a service version of the HSTV-L it because it couldn't handle a bigger gun.

@GNB - I've done the heavy beard thing and managed not to get any tattoos. You guys can't scare me; I've done the "combat in cities" tour through Sachsenhausen with LTC Ralph A. "Bud" Barkman, Jr. The junior lieutenants would be sent in turn to recon the next bar and lead the battalion officers through the "houses" to the objective. This worked very well until one 2LT Jxxx Kxxxx found an "Olde Englischer Pub," and led us there. It didn't take long to notice that there weren't any women in the place, and, the next thing you know, a tubby little guy with a bad combover came prancing up to "Bud" and asked him to dance. Our battalion commander stood up, way up since he was six inches over six feet and said, very politely, "Nein, danke," before sending Kxxxx out with very clear instructions to find another, "more suitable" bar.

I also survived a deployment with 1/10 Cav (CATF)* to CFB Wainwright, Alberta, Canada, late in my career. The charming little town of Wainwright went all out to welcome us, including importing the finest in "adult entertainment" from Edmonton. Some of our soldiers were shocked by the language the "young ladies" used when the troops tried to roll "loonies" between their legs. One of the "young ladies" snatched up the "loonies" and threw them back at the young gentlemen screaming that she wasn't coin-operated. She started throwing bottles when one infantryman pointed out that she had a slot...

*(1/10 Cav (CATF) consisted of 3 tank companies of M1A2 and M1A1, two Bradley-equipped mechanized infantry companies of the 15th Infantry (Elvis Presley's old outfit), and one battery of M109A3 155mm guns from the 77th Field Artillery (my late father-in-law's old outfit).)


@Phil - Seen this? what do you think?

"Dealing with gunshots wounds on the battlefield is a brutal process. The only way to stop the bleeding is to stuff the wound with gauze, sometimes as deep as five inches into the body - and even then the treatment can fail, meaning the gauze has to be removed and new material put in.

Using this almost medieval process it's no surprise that haemorrhaging is still the leading cause of death for soldiers in the field.

Now a company named RevMedx has designed a device that they claim can stop a wound bleeding in just 15 seconds. This is the XStat, a modified syringe that injects tablet-sized sponges directly into the wound and that was inspired by the design of emergency tire repair kits.

“That’s what we pictured as the perfect solution: something you could spray in, it would expand, and bleeding stops,” John Steinbaugh, a US Army Special Operations medic who joined RevMedx told Popular Science. “But we found that blood pressure is so high, blood would wash the foam right out.”

So instead of foam Steinbaugh and his team experimented with sponges cut into 1-centimetre pills. Like the foam these sponges expand to fill the wound cavity, but they also adhere to moist surfaces, creating enough pressure to ensure that the bleeding stops.

RevMedx experimented with animal injuries and after early successes (and $5 million in funding from the US Army) they finessed the material, using sponges made from wood pulp and coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance called chitosan. Each sponge is also marked with a special X that show up on X-rays, ensuring that none of the pills are left within the body.

Using the XStat is also incredibly simple. Medics or other soldiers would simply insert the end of the syringe into the wound and push down the plunger to inject the sponges. The device is currently awaiting FDA approval in the US, but RevMedx are already pushing ahead, developing three different sizes of the XStat to treat a variety of wounds. Each syringe is made from lightweight polycarbonate and is expected to cost around $100.

"I spent the whole war on terror in the Middle East, so I know what a medic needs when someone has been shot," Steinbaugh told Popular Science. "I’ve treated lots of guys who would have benefitted from this product. That’s what drives me"."



BAE Systems has unveiled plans for a £200m revamp of its Scotstoun shipyard on the River Clyde in Glasgow.

The defence contractor's plan to expand shipbuilding capacity is a signal that it aims to secure contracts to build the Royal Navy's new Type 26 warships.


Gloomy Northern Boy

@ Mark = unless Scotland votes for independence that is...



Proof positive that the Portsmouth decision was a stitch-up to avoid being the people who ended shipbuilding on the Clyde.

The vast majority of that capability already exists in the Portsmouth Shipbuilding hall and the "overhead" functions like commercial, purchasing, security etc are already provided on the Portsmouth site (as are many of the technical functions which are required for the in-service support part of the business). The only thing that's a bit exotic about Portsmouth is the launch method and I'm pretty sure it would take less than a couple of hundred mill to sort that out.

It's no co-incidence that the majority of the BAES Maritime head-shed originate from the Yarrow operation....



The second F-35B unit for the UK has been named as 809 'Immortals' Naval Air Squadron (NAS). Despite their separate Royal Air Force and Royal Navy identities, both 617 Sqn and 809 NAS will be operated as combined units, with a mix of service personnel and pilots.

In 2018, operations from the first of the UK's Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers will commence, with a full operating capability (land and maritime) for the F-35B set to be declared in 2023. A decision on whether both carriers will be fielded will be announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review [SDSR] in 2015. While the programme of record remains at 138 aircraft, no firm numbers will be announced until the SDSR in 2015.


Bugger, was saving that story up for when they actually announce the deal!


Oops a thousand container pardons you can delete remove if you wish.

All Politicians are the Same

@ Mark

Too late :)


Good to see some firmer dates on F35B acquisition and entry into service, i'm mildly pleased that in 6 years time we should see 2 front-line squadrons plus OCU/OEU's up and running (if i remember correctly the post SDSR 2010 gloom predicted a single large OCU and nothing else until after 2020).

Although when this article refers to a bulk order in 2017 i'm assuming it's still only referring to the balance needed to bring the fleet up-to 48 air-frames.


Scottish independence: MoD accused of pressing firms to back pro-UK stance



Immortals? How very ... Persian.


I'll probably watch The Patrol - but I'd wish they'd just make a war film that doesn't involve everyone having an existential crisis or the chain of command dissolving in front of a ruperts eyes. Well more of them as Band of Brothers did a good job of not doing that.

Most people just grizz it out or go off their nut. One lad I know gobbed off at the OC and he was nearly fucking shot!

Gloomy Northern Boy

@BobbieBall - As I understand it, EU competition legislation allows Governments to build big ticket items like warships at home and in consequence EU Countries with Navies for the most part do just that (not least because the rules would not allow a sweetheart deal with another Country, but would require open competition with all the options...if Scotland became independent why would the UK do anything different? Why would the Defence establishment advise an alternative after having been put to the trouble and expense of shifting the nukes? Why would the FCO put themselves out to negotiate this in Europe when already busy fighting to keep the UNSC Permanent Seat against the inevitable (serious or simply mischievous) proposal that we hand it over to somebody the Russians or Chinese like better? Why would a UK Government help save Edinburgh Seats and Scottish jobs on the Clyde when they could win Westminster Seats and secure English jobs in Pompey? Why would English Voters prefer the former to the latter?

Makes no sense...getting the carriers finished and keeping options open with the three bonus OPV.s without placing T26 orders on the other hand makes perfect sense if my analysis is correct...



GNB. totally agree. Seems to me that the SNP are happy to give the impression that it should be a forgone conclusion that all future RN orders will go to the Clyde whilst conveniently forgetting that the award of any such orders would be, as you say, open to EU wide competition, and cry foul when BAE and alike point out this will probably not be the case and would therefore effect Scottish yards/jobs.

I simply do see any UK government placing orders for RN combatant vessels with any foreign country, let alone with another EU member state and that's even before the costs of moving the deterant is factored in.

We will no doubt at some time enter into a joint venture to procure future vessels with others but the RN's vessels will always be built in the UK.

Can someone please remind me exactly how much of the cost of relocation trident have the SNP agreed Scotland will meet?

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Bobbie Ball - Interesting times - apparently the recent bounce in support for the SNP has almost exclusively been in more challenging urban areas (standing to benefit from increased welfare spending as described in the Salmond Manifesto)...whilst Scottish Business has started very tentatively to suggest that there might be some negative impacts attached to breaking up the UK.

If I were an unkind person, I would imagine a post-Independence future in which the demand for public expenditure grows in direct proportion to the businesses and wealth creators heading south through the gates in the shiny new fence at the border...and if I were Newcastle, I would be planning my economic development strategy accordingly...


Gloomy Northern Boy

@Simon 257 - I was wondering if you enjoyed the Match?




Not as much as you! Fairplay we were crushed!!

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Simon 257 - as you say, although the Irish were very good and their campaign clearly benefited from two home games in a row...the crowd in Dublin are always a tremendous boost...I reckon they are now the men to watch.

The Calcutta Cup seems to be taking place on the Somerset Levels for some reason! Attending a Scotsman's sixtieth later, so I might be getting some stick myself if our lot doze off again...

Have a virtual Brains SA on me.



GNB, BobbyB - An interesting situation to mull over. I tend to agree that businesses might feel better connected in the UK rather than in Salmondland, and that it is most likely in the event of a new international border that the North East would be the obvious focus of relocation. Good news for Swan Hunter's return.

But thinking a bit further afield, there are many who have big misgivings over HS2 (I mean, even something ChrisB and I agree on!), moreso in the South than the North. If Newcastle earns a big renaissance perhaps the ideal is to run HS2 from Brum to Liverpool Manchester Leeds and Newcastle? Reasoning thusly:

1. London is a sponge. It sucks in people, wealth, businesses, opportunists, hopefuls. The streets, they say, are paved with gold. It is a fraud, but London like many capital cities portrays itself as the only place worth being. And people do believe such flam.
2. I have for much of my life lived at the outer edges of The Commuter Belt. Originally to the North, latterly to the South. Every morning the railway stations are heaving with Important People boarding the stupid-O'clock train to get to work in the City, every evening they spew back out into their country dormitories. In the daytime the country villages play host to Important People's Wives who do Important Things normally involving committees or horses. The erstwhile salt-of-the-earth locals who at one time lived and worked in these villages have long since moved further away (or perished) and couldn't afford to compete with Important People for housing anyway.
3. In my youth The Commuter Belt was rigidly the Home Counties (notably Surrey, Middlesex, Herts & Berkshire) but as the expendable cash of Important People far outpaced normal people's income, the Home Counties both reached commuter saturation and soared in cost of living. The train service became a bit tidier and faster so the Commuter Belt expanded to accommodate the corpulent bulk of Important People, such that they could take over large areas of Sussex Kent Hampshire Oxon Bucks and Essex. *So* much nicer to see horses in all the fields than dirty tractors, dusty combine harvesters, sheep, cows or pigs!
4. Improving travel links to London has but one effect - to extend The Commuter Belt further and further out. Birmingham less than an hour from Euston? Commuter Belt. The much vaunted boost to Brum where the City elders believe Londoners will travel to Birmingham to sample its cultural delights? Almost right, just 180 degrees out. Watch Birmingham lose all its culture-vultures to the bright lights in London. Watch Midlands businesses lose their brightest talent to the hungry London companies. Watch it bleed dry - the sponge needs more and HS2 provides the straw.
5. The way to even out the country's wealth is not to funnel more into London but to restrict the flow. It sucks up enough of the country already. By making the non-London cities more connected, more enabled, more inviting, more sheik, more shiny, new companies might consider them better suited to their needs than overcrowded overpriced London?

Just a suggestion.


@Chris: I agree completely. I may be a transplanted Londoner now, but things really cannot go on the way they are, and the implicit subsidy to London projects like HS2 represent annoys me. Being the network engineer I am, I call for the twin miracles of Fiber To the Cabinet and Bob Crow to move us towards working from home more.

I could really do with moving back to Somerset anyway :-)


x - you have to admit it would have made the job much easier if Red Forces arrived on the opposition front lines looking like this: http://77rus.smugmug.com/Military/Tank-Biathlon-2013/31342047_62tG3S/2/2713495459_rcNGSvR/Medium

Interesting to note on your chosen picture of the four contestants together, if you squint a bit to blur the image the red painted vehicle really doesn't stand out from the background? Probably less noticeable than yellow or even green. Baby blue though is not a good camo colour.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Chris - whilst I certainly agree that much better links between the Core Cities are key - and an important opportunity was missed with the development of Finningley (it has a long runway designed to receive US Armoured Divisions coming in by air, and plenty of space to put in another two and establish a full scale international hub) - it is hard to avoid London altogether because of it's links with the European Rail Network which I think we need to make much more of.

That said, I think spending the HS2 budget on a much wider-spread programme of rail infrastructure improvements - and looking seriously at re-opening the Great Central Railway might have wider benefits and be better value for money than the current proposal.

However it is at least equally important to sort out the broadband issue per my good friend @wf, establish differential tax regimes to encourage investment in high-tech manufacturing in the Core Cities, and shift public spending from the current to investment account in respect of infrastructure (especially transport, energy and housing but also a few more big grey ships & sleek black submarines*); as well as backing serious world leaders like ALL the Russell Group Universities, not just the ones in spitting distance of the M25.


*@RT - and a new generation of home produced protected vehicles - and for the Kevin some fast jets, as well as lots of Taranis and tin sheds to fly them from outside Grimsby...


GNB - OK how about sending Eurostar high speed rails under the Thames by QE2 bridge and routing it alongside M25 before sprinting up the M1 and across the M6 then? All existing transport corridors; no ancient woodland or farmland or historic villages harmed. The route into StPancras can remain as a spur for holiday makers.

Forgive me if I'm in error, but isn't the intended HS2 London terminus at Euston? And Eurostar's a quarter of a mile away at StPancras? Yes they are. HMG thinks a slow train shuttle between the two is the answer - at £1Bn half the price of a high speed link. So this glorious new 5-star trainset couldn't even coordinate the two high speed train routes so that a passenger might travel from Paris to Manchester without hassle. Instead the weary traveller must disembark at Eurostar's terminus, move him/herself and all luggage onto a rattly shuttle (presumably DLR-like) for a five minute transfer to HS2's terminus, then struggle to drag the luggage aboard a second high speed train. Proper joi
ned up thinking. Its really not very impressive, is it?

I have in the past opined that the same amount of railway investment focused on rail freight might have delivered much greater benefits, but of course fewer votes. A freight network connecting Felixstowe, Southampton and Liverpool docks to freight road-rail hubs (for example one at M1/M6 junction, one at Leeds, one at M5/M4 junction, one at Manchester, one at Bracknell/Basingstoke, one at Newcastle & one at Exeter) would allow international freight to largely stay off the roads, being collected at the most local freight hub for the last part of the journey. Similarly to send freight abroad (or to the other end of the country) the road haulier only goes to the nearest road/rail hub. No need for high-tech high speed railway lines, so no need for long sweeping bends - again running alongside existing infrastructure to keep impact and costs down, but linking up at the hubs (where wagons would be unhitched & transferred to trains going to their specific destination). Lots of long freight trains but not interleaved with passenger services. Each goes their own pace.

Just send the knighthood in the post thanks.


GNB - previous note currently being eyed greedily by the spam-monster. But I forgot to add:

Agreement in full ref reliable high rate data connection. It just has to be more efficient working from home, or better still at your local village/town/parish e-office complex, where well insulated screened offices allow each attendee to securely work over internet while the complex supplies a work-like environment free from domestic distraction, a place to socialise over lunch etc.

Some jobs do require physical attendance, but many involve little beyond interfacing with computer databases; its hard to see what advantages would be lost if such work was distributed to the places people live.

Also agree about focused investment - spending taxpayers' hard earned cash on enterprises that will bring in international revenue is blinding common sense. I noted some senior knowledgeable fellow on the TV last week stating the most efficient earner of foreign revenue is still the manufacturing sector. In truth I think its a close run thing between the sales of manufactured goods and the shady commission on financial services, but I'd rather my taxes went on 'proper graft' as a certain Guy Martin would call it - that is on manufacturing capability and not on schmoozing bankers.

As for nice new vehicles for RT and his pals, just let me know how many you want and write out the cheque.


Hi changing the thread abit (a lot actually) if 3/4" of UNDPE will stop a conventional bullet to NIJ III ,would 10" stop a 14.5mm AP round? Just a thought that a Scimitar sized recon vehicle could come in under 7 tons making it very transportable by many aircraft .

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Chris - Got my vote - that chap Farage is looking for a manifesto, and he will get a better class of nutter recruiting in these parts..!



David, more like budget in a vice.

Once they get it operational, the buyers will come. Eventually. People are tired of overruns, both in time and cost, and once people wait long enough, they'll tell you "I'll be back later once you finish the job, no point wasting time watching a project with continual delays."

Most people, especially the media, don't get that the unhappiness was never about the plane, it was about the delays and cost overruns.


Just to finally nail the myth that has sprung up about QEC flightdeck strength, the latest build progress report includes a rather helpful photo of a flightdeck panel being turned and open source reference to steel thickness of 50mm (or just shy of 2" in real units).


Not only does that steel have better than a 50% higher tensile strength value than that in a CVS flightdeck, it's also well over 3 times the thickness of a CVS flightdeck and that's without mentioning the rather large T-bars (again very deep and at fairly short pitch) providing much of the local strength.

Of course you can't directly compare CVS and QEC structure, they have different design loads, QE is a longer ship but much deeper hull, it has a wider hangar, but gallery deck (and no I'm not going to do the calcs here). However, it should give people a sense of the difference in structural style. They're a long way indeed from being "flimsy merchant ships".


Interesting stuff, but do we actually think anybody will listen:???:




Personally, I think the Russians don't have the money to back all of this up. But in the end, it's a matter of priorities: the Soviets didn't have the money either....



The RAF’s brand new Voyager transport and refueling aircraft fleet has seemingly been grounded after an incident over Turkey.

We have learned from British Forces News that a Voyager aircraft plummeted 2000 feet while in the air over Turkey. The incident was caused by a yet unexplained fault on Sunday night. The aircraft was reportedly carrying 181 military personnel to Afghanistan.


And to brighten things up


The UK is about to commit to the F-35 fighter project, a US-led effort to produce 3,000 aircraft which is set to cost more than £600bn globally.

The initial UK order for 14 F-35Bs will, with support costs added, cost about £2.5bn, Newsnight has learned.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the F-35B was an expensive plane, but one with an "incredible capability".



As reported in more detail by IHS/Jane's/whatever-they-are a few days back:


14 Aircraft plus one of the existing 4 to make a total of 15 for 617 squadron.


Just to be clear, this figure of 14 does not include the 4 that we have already received or have ordered, yes? With my "glass half full" hat still on, I note that Hammond repeatedly said carriers, plural.

Imagine if we get into a shooting match in the next seven or eight years but are unable to commit our expensive new "incredibly capable" assets because we are awaiting a software patch. Sorry, my hat has slipped off.

Edit: Apologies Derek, your comment and link appeared after I'd done all the typing.



RE Voyager:

Sometimes a service doesn't get the chance to ground a fleet and work out what's wrong, as sad as it is even with every precaution in place and safety angle explored sometimes aircraft just drop out of the sky for one reason or another.

It's why i really dislike this culture of buying the absolute minimum number of something to provide a capability, what happens when an aircraft crashes or a ship sinks, or heaven forbid an SSN hits a submerged obstacle and never resurfaces? It can take years to produce and bring into service the very complicated systems we now operate.

Every aircraft fleet or class of ship needs a bit of give, some flexibility so that the wider group can still cope with it's tasks using a diminished force. If we need 5 of this or 10 of that then we should be ordering 6 of this or 12 of that!



Yes to an extent, but accident or incidents are always the result of a chain of events we get mandated SMS briefing every year to help avoid the holes all lining up there's always a chain. What's somewhat interesting about this one is its only the airtanker military register ones that are affected apparently the single civil one is still flying.

As for lack of mass goes with the territory of only every buying high end spec equipment on a finite budget.


For those that think software offers a safe pair of hands in safety critical or mission critical situations: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26148711


I know you folks have issues with your political functionaries and elected officials, as do we. Our military has ways of showing the esteem in which we hold ours


Just sayin'.



Sooooo how much do we get to fine airtanker as we have no AAR capability according to the contract?


@TED - Seize the aircraft for breach of contract and have the RAF operate them when the problem is fixed. Some things (national defense) should not be privatized.


I have to agree. Its not so bad we still have Tri-star. In little over a months time we wont.

This is the danger with single type fleets. Imagine Typhoon gets grounded... who does the QRA?


New video of THOR; not the Norse god, but a multirole floaty little boat:



looks like a date has been set to put the first CVF into the water.



@paul g - July has been in the public domain for a while now. Convenient how it's a few weeks before the Scottish referendum. I'm not quite sure why it should be a mystery who the sponsor of QE is going to be, although it would be a bit embarrassing if the old girl popped her clogs before the ceremony.

Courtesy of @John_Hudson by way of Galrahn, the ongoing political mess over the Benghazi incident has led to the publication of the USN fleet disposition around the Med/Gulf on 11 September 2012 :


18 escorts and 2 carriers deployed between Galicia and Oman - note the number of support ships required.


Also courtesy of Galrahn this is a fun piece on the beluga whales that are protecting the Olympics from incoming divers :



"France sunk by Royal Navy again after paying €100m for UK warships

Two centuries after the Battle of Trafalgar, the French government took the first of a series of decisions that led accidentally to its taxpayers subsidising two British aircraft carriers"


"The US Army is testing a "smart rifle" technology designed to improve the accuracy of shots.

A spokeswoman confirmed reports that its equipment testing specialists had acquired six TrackingPoint rifles as part of efforts to identify state-of-the-art kit.

The tech allows the user to place a virtual tag on a target seen through the weapon's scope.

If the trigger is pressed, it fires only if the gun is correctly lined up.

This prevents errors such as trigger jerk, range miscalculation and accidental firing from being a problem."


Gloomy Northern Boy

I greatly enjoyed Osborne's speech on (No) Currency Union post-independence...I wonder if Hammond has plans to head north of the border and discuss (No) future RN Shipbuilding on the Clyde in like circumstances...

Would add a smiley, but still not clever enough...



@GNB - no need to bring up shipbuilding just yet, when the launch of QE will make the point more eloquently a few weeks before the referendum.

Smilies - you just do text ones and the software automagically converts them, thus :-)

Nice to see the one remaining Ol-class possibly paying a visit home :


Gloomy Northern Boy

@ El Sid - I'll try that then :-)


Gloomy Northern Boy

:-( Much better - I'll stop now,Boss.



'When a light attack helicopter does MEDEVAC'

In an emergency and not routinely.


Argentina accused of intimidation after British cruise ship in South America is ordered to lower red ensign


They have a real thing against flags.


Interesting picture of a lorry on HMAV Abbeville's tank deck from Wikipedia.

That's a Polaris missile under the tarp'.


TD and all those interested in amphibious operations:

Check out what the US Marine Corps Commandant James Amos had to say just the other day at WEST 2014 in San Diego.

Gen. Amos starts an intriguing monologue at about 0:12:20 and goes on and on for a bit.

Big exclamation-mark in there about Connectors and Assault-Operations:

- Notice him speaking of a distance of 70-80nm offshore of Amphibious vessels, ARG, or 'Sea-Base' to start amphibious operations from.

- Notice him speaking of the need for fast heavy-lift Connectors

- Notice him speaking of "folding" hull-geometries.

- Notice him speaking of USMC-funded R-&-D - versus NAVSEA-funded efforts, an aggressive assertion of ship-development authority.

And then later on just a pinch more, for good measure.

Elements of General Amos's perspective have been discussed here across various Threads, starting in TD's massive Ship-to-Shore Study last year.

After the Nov.'13 article in the PROCEEDINGS by the Ellis Group on the emerging new Amphibious Doctrine, this very public statement before the community and the industry is the beginning of a paradigm-shifting focus.

Later this Spring, the new Doctrine seems due, setting the USMC Agenda for the next 10 years.

Last Wednesday in San Diego certain 'tectonic' movements registered on sensitive 'meters'.


Another exercise the newspapers have inexplicably failed to pick up on:


"To support the simulated multi-threat environment, four Maritime Patrol Aircraft and helicopters from France, Germany and United Kingdom will operate from Sola Air Base ..." - If only.


If I'm reading this right (and I'm very tired after too much compulsory overtime so I hope not) The prospect of the foxhound (ocelot) being an export success for the country that designed and built it (ie the UK) has just a right big chuffing two fingered salute delivered.


edit just read it again, can't make my mind up is it just for 8x8's or for foxhounds as well?


Paul, I read it that GD are already producing Ocelots in Canada and will continue to do so when the big order drops on the doormat

Pretty gutting isn't it, but thems the breaks in the global defence market I guess


Paul, TD - this is not fact but belief. The mechanical design work (suspension driveline steering etc) was Ricardo work. To be truthful I don't know if it was speculative PV funded by Ricardo or a contract from Force Protection from the outset; if the former, then I'm sure Ricardo would have offered the design to UK producers too. Whatever; Force Protection, the folks that make Cougar which we rework into Mastiff/Ridgeback, was the lead designer of Ocelot from the outset - this has always been a vehicle with a strong US claim of ownership. GD bought Force Protection in the US. The difference we see is that GD understands this to be a good vehicle for any nation where Force Protection seemed content to let the UK arm own the export task as a lower key task.

It seems the Canadian variants are steel not composite; its possible the MOD has an export veto on the composite technology. If so, that might be the reason why Canada lead export bids.

Anyway. Point is this was an American funded development performed in the UK for UK forces, it wasn't really ever a true-blue 100% British vehicle.


I'm trying to recall us ever doing this with the French before:


A sign of things to come?



I think and hope we will see more of this in the future, not just with the French but other willing allies in Europe and further afield. We should be wary though and only see this as increased cooperation when it suits both sides in order to present a stronger military face, it shouldn't replace the UK's ability to either conduct independent actions or contribute to a coalition with partners other than France on some scale.


Anyon else see Paxo's latest BBC prog on the Great War last night. A very moving and thoughtful docko I thought; Paxo making the case that 1914-18 rather than 39-45 is the conflict that really made the UK what it is today. But of course I may have missed the lefty bias, again.


Some interesting speculation on the stealth capability of Taranis: http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_02_17_2014_p33-662743.xml&p=1


The more I read and see about Taranis, the much, more I'm fundamentally impressed by the aircraft. It's one hell of an achievement.

As a nation we seem to be really pushing the boundaries in aviation/ aeronautics (I'm thinking of REL and Sabre/Skylon, as well)

I'm a bit hopeful about our industrial future.


Twecky - ref TV prog - I have to say I found this one the most balanced of the lot. It did point out it was a war that had to be fought, it did explain that the upper crust as junior officers were as brave and courageous as plucky Tommy Atkins despite a much higher likelihood of being killed (leading from the front). It did point out that it was a war of all sectors of society. It did point out that compared to civilian living conditions of the poor the Army life was easier - more food, adequate clothing etc. And that they probably lived longer healthier lives than if they'd stayed in civilian poverty. All of the above of course written out of history by the sociologists of the 60s onwards. It was still a hideous experience for those directly involved, and the widespread grief it left in its wake quite appalling, but it wasn't the pointless slaughter of a generation of working class Tommies just on the whim of inept and uncaring Generals to extend their gastronomic tour of Châteaux tasting every vintage of fine wine their Adjutant could muster.


Chris - Dear god, I hope that sort of thing doesn't make its way to the UK. Do the US really think that usap MRAPs sends out a good message?


Tom - unfortunately I think the same message is delivered with their use by the military too. If there was ever a way to visibly describe the intent to crush mere mortals who stand in their way, these do it. So whether its rioters and looters and the vehicles are a nice shade of blue with battenberg stripes, or whether its villagers/potential insurgents in far off lands and the vehicles are still in camo, the message is the same: 'Cease and desist or die, insignificant worms!'

Perhaps I'm overstating matters just a little...


David, I'll believe it when I see it. :)


A mastiff would have been over kill for British police even in Northern Ireland though heavier armour would have saved a lot of lives there. I do think each police force should be equipped with a few armoured vehicles for riot and armed operations, maybe a common pool that can be drone from as when and needed.
I particle like the RG-12
Looks just enough like an armour bus that you can not be accused of making the situation worse.


This will kill some time or ruin a productive day. A good old fashioned stiff documentary about Ex Lionheart.




All Politicians are the Same

'Phil, was this not the exercise that nearly sparked WW3?


That was Able Archer in 1983 I think.

RT there's some Scorpions in it from an inferior Cavalry regiment.

There's also Harriers for those that like Harriers.

And then there's some chap in a silly white helmet directing traffic for the Navy's representation ;-)

Loving the issue suitcases.

All Politicians are the Same

@Phil, curse you, up to day 3 so far.


"This will kill some time or ruin a productive day"

Bye, bye early night, maybe tomorrow...


as - perhaps you would like this then? http://www.milweb.net/webverts/68539/ Going cheap...

The only reason to consider Mastiff/Ridgeback for civil order policing is that they are not really useful to the military - not until HMG sends them to another COINfest anyway. They are essentially road vehicles - not too good on soft ground despite all wheel drive - and not really suitable for lanes and byways due to both weight and size (listed by MOD as 3.2m wide, that's 900mm wider than the legal maximum for unrestricted road use, and as a consequence 900mm wider than the national roadway infrastructure was designed for). So big wide towny streets would be about the only place they'd comfortably fit.


as - I'm sorry, but I can not think of a single policing situation is recent memory where a MRAP or similar would of actually helped, and not just exacerbated the situation. They send entirely the wrong message. Lets stick the Peelian Principles of Policing.


Hah! I notice that phil didn't show the sequence with all the civvie airliners piling into Gutersloh, and the bottlenecks, caused by the army being unable to cope with the influx. The RAF coped happily with the aircraft movements, but it was getting the troops off the airfield that caused the trouble.

Still I blame the MOD- they just told us they wanted 'x' number of troops in Germany by 'x' date, rather than 'x' number of troops per day.

Still it was great fun....


@ Phil

Weren't they 'case, valise, other ranks, for the use of'?

By that time, the RAF were issuing huge, blue-grey holdall things. Ideal for hiding appropriately folded colleagues.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Tom - never been to Barnsley for a quiet beer on a Thursday night then... :-)



Or indeed Luton, just after Ramadan.....


Tom said " Lets stick the Peelian Principles of Policing."

Between ACPO, the Police Federation, human rights legislation, misuse of equality legislation, health and safety legislation, ill founded data protection legislation (and indeed unlawful data collection and control of that data), and overtures from Brussels re the Napoleonic Code viz-a-vie quaint ideas founded in English Common Law ( a la European Arrest Warrant (presumed guilt) vs trial by jury) we haven't been policed by Peelian Principles for well over a decade.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@x - Worth adding that Sir Robert Peel's perfectly correct assertion that Police Officers should see themselves as being a part of the people rather than a group apart representing the interests of Government had a very different meaning when law-abiding subjects of the Crown were at liberty to own, carry and if necessary and lawful (as in the defence of self and others) use weapons...pocket pistols and sword-sticks being the most commonly found amongst and used by the "Respectable Classes" when out and about in the tougher parts of town after darkness fell...

In the same spirit, in some areas Police Officers often supplemented their truncheons with cutlasses and pistols whilst on duty in some places and at some times...and as anybody old enough to have watched Dixon of Dock Green (as a child in my case) or the more recent Endeavour or Inspector George Gently will have spotted all Police Officers had access to, carried and sometimes made use of firearms well into the 1960's. There were some in every Police Station, signed out by local Commanders as required...

Both the public and the Police have been disarmed in my lifetime...with the inevitable consequence that only the villains now normally have guns.


Gloomy Northern Boy

I note from the Telegraph website that the Dons have now started arsing about with RN exercises off Gibraltar...all getting rather past a joke in my view... :-(




Way back in the 1970s Guns Review featured a series of articles on the myth of the unarmed British bobby.

It is a bit of cliche in some circles but it is oft said when seconds count the police are tens of minutes away.

It easy to produce statistics that show anyone is safe in a certain set of circumstances. That is fine if you want those odds that is your affair but please don't force them on me. In a way that is violence in itself.


x and GNB - While I understand your point, I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on gun control in the UK.

The simple fact is that given that highly trained Police Firearms Officers have trouble with always making the correct call in armed confrontations, I can not see a situation where an essentially untrained civilian will definitely make the right call. You only have to look to the US (particularly in states with 'stand your ground' laws) to see a number of cases where innocent people have been killed because they were acting suspiciously, etc. Likewise people who thought they had made the right call, end up in court on manslaughter charges.

Like my earlier comment about Police MRAPs, my [i][b]personal[/b][/i] opinion is that the widespread use/ownership of guns would only exacerbate violent crime in the long term, as criminals resort to increasing their firepower to outdo any opposition.


GNB - ref Gibraltar - answer is easy; conquer Spain. Huge UK presence already in place at the Costas; military on Gib, about time the underhand machinations of Philip of Spain were formally punished. They are out of funds already so nothing left to fight with. It would be a walkover. And a sound signal to Argies not to mess with the Falklands. Hand over administration to Billy Butlin's as no-one there seems to work at all and its already a holiday camp akin to Butlin's very high standards. Simple.

For those of gullible sensitivities, please note this is a jape; a quip; a comedic nonsense; a joke. Honest.


Gen. Carl Spaatz: "I'd rather have an airplane that goes like hell and has a few things wrong with it than one that won't go like hell and has a few things wrong with it." - This was in reference to the problems the P-38 was having during its development, long before the P-51 and P-47 had come along.



Phil, you like ration stories don’t you

I have an odd fascination with them yes thanks! Have to say glad I am not in the Spanish Army.

I am still trying to hunt down the New Zealand made strawberry porridge that was in Menu 1 I think of the Multi-Climate Rat packs. Mmmmmmm.


@Chris - As RT has pointed out, we should not automatically assume that "Spanish" equals "bad." Probably just a default setting, easily put right by extended exposure to Britishness.

@TD re price of Saudi Typhoons - "...which costs about $100 million each..." - Should that not be a £ sign?


@Tom - "The simple fact is that given that highly trained Police Firearms Officers have trouble with always making the correct call in armed confrontations, I can not see a situation where an essentially untrained civilian will definitely make the right call."

Here in the States it is a given that armed civilians are less likely to shoot innocent bystanders than are the "...highly trained [p]olice..." Most police officers aren't "gun people." Most civilians that take advantage of handgun licensing ARE gun people.

"You only have to look to the US (particularly in states with ‘stand your ground’ laws) to see a number of cases where innocent people have been killed because they were acting suspiciously, etc."

Please provide numbers. You make it sound like legally armed civilians "...particularly in states with 'stand your ground laws..." are shooting people indiscriminately.

"Likewise people who thought they had made the right call, end up in court on manslaughter charges."

Charges are one thing. Convictions are something entirely different.

"Like my earlier comment about Police MRAPs, my [i][b]personal[/b][/i] opinion is that the widespread use/ownership of guns would only exacerbate violent crime in the long term, as criminals resort to increasing their firepower to outdo any opposition."

Firearms ownership in the United States has doubled over the past 30 years, and the firearms related homicide rate has decreased more than 50%. Try again.



@ Tom

Your understanding of the situation within the US is superficial at best. How many innocents have been shot by mistake? Does the FBI or CDC publish those figures? I do know what the FBI does publish figures on when it comes to the use of legally held firearms used by innocents to defend themselves. You should go look them up as I am not here to educate you. There is always a risk of prosecution within the US for even legal use of firearm. But the risk isn't as great as the anti-gun lobby would have you believe. It is a clever argument used to make those who use it sound more considered than they are mostly because they are repeating said argument without the research to back it up. It sounds good. Basically you are saying that is better for you to be innocent and dead at the hands of a criminal which is statically a much greater risk by several factors than one innocent shooting another innocent by mistake. Most firearms deaths in the US are either suicide by handgun or criminals shooting other criminals with illegal arms often in large metropolises with very strict gun controls. These arguments bounce around on figures that are often so many a few incidents per 100,000 of the population. Again you are free to feel safe being unarmed, but please don't dictate to others because you don't have the statistics or rational to think otherwise. More are killed in the US by fist and foot than are shot by rifles. More die through access to legal drugs like alcohol. It may be awful but the idea of the greater good actually comes into play here. Gun crime and violent crime in general is actually falling in the US. Guns don't make humans violent; unlike some illegal drugs. Go for a walk around the estates of south London at night at a weekend and see how you fair. In most situations involving a civilian using a firearm to defend themselves in the US the firearm is never fired, if fired there is a clear target normally in a private or remote setting, and rarely are they discharged in a public place with the risk of innocents being injured. because as I said strangely bad guys pick targets in remote places or private places and not in the full view of the public; look up the word witness.

As for MRAPs in police service the growing militarization of law enforcement within the US is a concern. But given the current trend for risk mitigation in modern society perhaps it is understandable. Isn't your argument that innocents get shot by these awful devices? A large moving bulletproof structure might be useful to have on hand if you as an official wanted to mitigate risk. And when I say risk I mean risk of litigation not risk to the public or police. I take it you are not in favour of LEO's wearing body armour then?

As for police training British police are highly trained. Much better trained than the average US beat cop who probably has to qualify once a year. Shooting a handgun is a very perishable skill. You can learn the basics of rifle shooting at still maintain a level of competence; most of the British Army only shoots once a year. One of the reasons why the MP5 and similar are popular with British police forces . But with a handgun it is a cliff; a month on without using it and you would be a risk; especially in a stressful situation. Of course with your vast knowledge on the subject I don't need to tell you that do I? We mustn't excuse the comical cock-ups perpetrated by British police; their record for losing firearms would be laughable if it wasn't so serious and if a member of the general public did similar there would be a chance of serious sentence.

You basically don't know what you are on about............


@Phil - Back before the first iteration of MRE's, properly described as "Meals Rejected by Ethiopians," our C-Rations often had little baked in the can cakes. There were Chocolate Nut Cakes and Maple Nut Cakes (both marginally edible), Fruit Cakes (not even marginally edible), and (my particular favorite) Pound Cakes. Back when I was a tank platoon leader on REFORGER, one of my tank commanders had accidentally opened a Fruit Cake, and, when he saw what he'd done, he set the opened can in the .50 cal ammo storage. We were on a movement to counterattack the Blue Force when one of my troopers tossed some candy to a couple of small indigenous personnel. The small ones were pushed out of the way by a teenager who grabbed the candy and made a rude gesture at my trooper. Seeing this, the tank commander of the following M60A3 retrieved the Fruit Cake, removed it from the can (Thank God!), and threw a sidearm strike into the back of the teen's head from a tank running around 25 mph. I didn't see it, (because if I had I would have had to taken action), but I was told the rude young fellow went down like Saddam's air force and the small indigs walked over him and recovered their candy. One of the witnesses told me (off the record) that the Fruit Cake just bounced off the teenager's skull without coming apart.

That's a ration story you probably never heard!



I'd rather not see a fire-arm saturated country like the US is. Causes more problems than it solves personally. The main reason for them having such liberal fire-arms laws is to defend against Government tyranny but that reason has been (a) watered down to a pathetic extent and (b) hi-jacked by blokes who think its a God given right they get to play with hi-speed assault rifles. The result has been a monstrous mish-mash which has led directly to MRAPs and each town having its own SEAL Team 6 all the while leaving the average US citizen no better able to defend him or herself against a tyranny.



Ah fun with MRE acronyms. :) Think the most common I heard was "Meals Rarely Edible".

As for gun laws, let us be honest, does anyone really think the US is going to turn into a "fascist" state overnight or even in the middle term? Irony of it all is that the most likely way of it turning fascist is not some takeover by force of arms but if armed crime and lawlessness shoot through the roof, then people will start calling for tougher measures and you start to lean towards the iron fist approach. This is actually how places like China end up being so fond of dictatorial control, too much banditry and rogue warlords in the ancient days. You know it's bad when you prefer a dictatorial government over bandits.


Re: MRAPs in police service. My wife and I went for a drive Sunday and passed through Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capital of the Cherokee Nation as well as being the county seat for Cherokee County and the home of Northeastern Oklahoma State University which we both attended. On the way out of town, we passed the Cherokee Marshal's Service HQ and there in the parking lot sat an International MaxxPro XL. The Cherokee Marshal's Service has responsibility for law enforcement for members of the Cherokee Nation on tribal lands within the boundaries of the Nation which comprises all or parts of 14 counties in the state. Many law enforcement agencies in the US are getting MRAPs thinking that it will be great for their SWAT teams and rescue operations, but I doubt that they have throught the maintenance requirements through. If an MRAP breaks down, it may well stay "broke down" due to the cost of repairs.

The SWAT team in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has a Saracen that has been put on a commercial heavy duty truck platform for maintainability.



There are more than just 2 examples of private handgun ownership, but all we hear are the two extremes of the UK ban or the US free for all. I am warming to India, where a law abiding citizen can get a licence for a .32 S&W long revolver or a .32 acp semi auto. Neither is a manstopper, but either would give a mugger/robber/burglar/rapist a really bad day.


@Observer - I guess you weren't paying attention. In the 40 years since the US homicide rate reached it's peak, the number of firearms in civilian hands has doubled from roughly 150,000,000 to 300,000,000. In that time the firearms-related homicide rate has more than halved and the overall crime rate has also tanked, despite what the hoplophobes would have you believe.

I would remind you that the flash point of the American Revolution was when a dictatorial government attempted to disarm the militia (the people) at a couple of small towns known as Lexington and Concord.

As for the Chinese, there has never been a period in their history where the "common man" was allowed the general possession of arms, so your example is specious.



@Phil - Have you ever visited the United States, or are you just going by what the hoplophobes have told you?

BTW, you're misinformed about the reason for the Second Amendment. And you'll excuse me if I do not take advice on keeping and bearing arms from a country that has criminalized the right to self-defense.



Elm Creek Smith

Think I'll pass on Self defence advice from a country that buys it's right to own guns with the lives of its school kids.


@ Elm Creek Smith

I would go look at the average age of most volunteer fire departments' appliances. These MRAPS won't do thousands of miles in a decade less a year. And the internals of most MRAPs (engines, filters, hoses, etc) are off the shelf items.

@ Phil

You appear not to know much about policing within the US or federal firearms legislation. Your use of the term assault rifle points to you having no knowledge of the NFA. You make it sound like the whole of the US is a two-way range ignoring facts like declining violent crime in the US (lower than the UK) or how the there is a direct correlation between the introduction of state CCW legislation and street violence.

As for "watered down to a pathetic extent" really? I urge you to look up the following on the internet, Operation Banner. It is a story of where one of the West's finest militaries had a whole division tied down because a few hundred men had some plastic explosive and small arms. Indeed the same army in that story has just spent another decade being held down by another bunch of blokes with small arms and plastic explosives. Many AR owners in the US are respectable professionals, many are just average Jo's, many are ex-servicemen who have seen more action than you, and the vast, vast majority of them are decent. Obviously a statist thinker like you is horrified that the average man should hold a rifle. Or are you saying you are just better than they are? How do you square the violent and lawless minority being armed and the decent majority being disarmed? Have you heard about Clausewitz and his government, the people, and the army triangle? Do you see what is going on in the Ukraine at the moment? As Orwell wrote, "That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage, is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there." You can't ignore the presence of nearly 10 million assault rifles (AR's, AK's, and others) in private hands. And you can't assume the US armed forces or local law enforcement would go into bat within CONUS against US citizens if their system broke down. Even their civil war doesn't meet that criterion.

I hope your MSc is better researched and thought out........


Have you ever visited the United States, or are you just going by what the hoplophobes have told you?

Let's get one thing clear. I don't advocate gun control in America. That there is any gun control at all is ridiculous. I also don't argue against a well regulated militia.

The trouble is, there isn't one.

So instead of having a sensible system of an organised militia with the very public purpose of threatening to hold a gun to the head of the Government at any moment like the English model around the time the United States was created, you have a no militia and instead have a powerful lobby who have hi-jacked a very sensible idea to further their objective to indulge a penchant for weaponry.

So I'm not coming at this from a communist British, can't remember how to defend himself from the Queen's tyranny perspective. I'm saying your gun laws don't go far enough in many respects. Hoplophobe I am not. And if I was you I'd be getting very twitchy watching the increasing militarisation of your security forces as you are denied the right to an armed, organised and well regulated militia.


John Hartley said "but all we hear are the two extremes of the UK ban or the US free for all"

Firearms aren't totally banned here and it isn't a free for all in the US.

If you look at Hungerford and Dunblane what stands out is that both perpetrators, especially in the latter case, held FACs due to police failings. The police fail and legal gun owners are penalised. FAC holders are statistically speaking less likely to commit crime than a non holder. If failing systems leading to deaths, especially those of children, means legislation we should outlaw social workers and the police.........


@John Hartley - I wouldn't recommend shooting one of our criminals with a .32 S&W Long or .32 ACP. If he finds out about it, he'll likely be upset. A very high percentage of our criminal sub-class are "chemically enhanced." On duty I carry a 4 inch S&W Model 686 in .357 Magnum with a S&W Model 37 in .38 Special as a back-up. Off duty the least I carry is the Model 37. But that's just me. Most of my coworkers carry .40S&W Glocks.



I hope your MSc is better researched and thought out……..

Bore off.

See above if you can be bothered. As we say in the services old chum, don't anticipate the word of command. Likewise, don't anticipate a man's opinion.


@ Phil

I looked above as you suggest.

I will bore off as I am indeed guilty.


Isnt the well regulated militia the state national guard?


I would say not no although on finer legal points I believe it is considered as such. But it's a state force and on top of that it can be federalised easily enough. Even the state militia's I don't think represent what was meant when the second amendment was written which was a more pervasive and thoroughly localised armed body of men model.

What gives a group of humans power and influence is organisation. Small arms on their own don't. Arguing that individuals should be armed to maintain a free state but then not allowing them to be organised on a regulated and local basis is half a story. When a powerful lobby acts like owning a weapon is enough then that powerful lobby I believe is undermining part of its publicly stated mission.

If a well regulated militia was enacted properly you'd have thoroughly local bodies of armed and drilled men, armed not just with small arms but all the paraphernalia needed to take on a modern army - ie explosives and heavier weaponry. Nearly all denied.

So my over-riding point is that US gun laws don't work. They don't achieve their overall original purpose but they nonetheless saturate the US enough with fire-arms that owning one should be every sensible persons objective. But the federal government is constantly interfering in that sensible objective.


The second amendment was adopted in the US around the same time as it was considered acceptable to burn people at the stake in this country so the only sensible comment on this one is what IXION said times about 1000.


I was not advocating the use of MRAP vehicles by police. There are situations where the police could use some sort of armoured vehicle. At the moment they pull armoured land rovers from the police Northern Ireland pool. This takes time in the case of Raoul Moat it took 4 days for them to arrive. If each force had one or two vehicles and then a central pool for when needed. There are loads of internal security vehicles to choose from. MRAP are overkill but the land rovers are too light (in northern Ireland protesters managed to tip them over). The problem is riot police and armed police have different requirements. I am not talking about ordinary policing. I'm talking about the extreme situations that happen from time to time. The point at which it can go from being a police problem to an army problem (usual involving the SAS). Terrorist at airports and embassy. manhunts for spree killers that type of stuff.

Gloomy Northern Boy

It was almost as easy to get legal firearms in Great Britain as it was in the US until 1937 - the Firearms Act of that year was the first which did not allow people to own guns just for self-defence, although I suspect that for respectable folk ways and means would continue to be found at least until the 1968 Act - and I'd guess that our own frontier societies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand were no different to the Cousins.

Despite that, it is only the USA that has developed such an unfortunate (albeit very often overstated) for gun-related violent crime...culture is of great importance in this discussion, probably of greater importance than legislation.

I should declare an interest - when in the US I did own a legal hand-gun on the advice of the Campus Police because as an overseas student I was one of few people living in edge-of-campus accommodation during the holidays...but I was never tempted to do more than fire a few rounds every month so I could remember how to use it...and I was glad to have it.

It's a bit of a trope, but guns don't kill people - people kill people...and that facts show that we didn't do much of it even when they were readily available.



My mother remembers as a young girl of 8 or 9 being told to take her father's service Webley to Kensington & Chelsea Central police station when in 1947 there was a firearms amnesty. Seems incredible now, I wonder why my grandfather did not take it himself. How/why he had it post de-mobilisation is also not recorded.

She recalls she had to queue up to hand it in, and there was no comment at all by the policeman who took it from her.

Different days.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Mark - Burning at the stake in the sense of burning alive was not normally used as a punishment in Great Britain after about 1600 - from when those burnt were routinely hanged or strangled beforehand - the point was to destroy the body and prevent resurrection at the Last Trump; there was one isolated burning early in the eighteenth century, but that was almost certainly a cock-up.

Furthermore, some believe that the practice of strangling was normal albeit not universal long before that...even going back to the execution of Jeanne D'Arc.


@RT - Was he on the Reserve List?


@ Mark,

"The second amendment was adopted in the US around the same time as it was considered acceptable to burn people at the stake in this country"

Eh? It was at least 1776 or soonish after then. Were we still burning witches that late? Death penalty yes, deportation of course, but burning people at the stake.....?

GNB..... History fact check needed....



Women were burned at the stake for things like counterfeiting gold and treason up to 1790



We are talking culture here.

Switzerland arms it citizens to the teeth.

Many other countries allow citizens access to guns. Without US levels of death.

The problem in the US is paranoia.

Be it the conspiracy theory wingnuts who bang on about UN world govt schemes. 911 was all the Federal Govt etc etc.

OR the personal paranoia of the lower middle class bed wetters who grab dad's gun and start blasting at schools.

OR the paranoia of the street gangs that has a little bit more reality as if your poor and black in some cities in the us you live longer on death row than you do on the street!

When you put automatic weapons in the hands of people like that the phrase petrol on flames comes to mind...

As for violent crime levels

UK had about 600 murders in 2012.

population about 66 mill

US population about 320 mill

So say 5 times UK.

so rate for US should be 3300 or so.

Wrong! US gun deaths alone 2012 9000 +

Anticipated by 2015 gun deaths in US will exceed road traffic.

UK Gun lobby constantly claims that somehow relatively gun free western Europe is more dangerous.

I have given that argument some thought: - it's bollocks.


in the mid to late 70s there was quite a lot of opposition in US gun circles to military assault riffles.


Seeing as this is a defence blog it's worth noting the collapse of law and order in northern Mexico is fueled not only by drugs but by mass influx of assault weapons imported illegally from US.


Elm, check under the titles of Water Margin or Sui Hu Zuan. It's a fictionalized story of an actual situation, something similar to how Hollywood does things, but it is semi-historical in how a group of bandits actually resisted government control so well that they ended up being granted amnesty and sent to the borders to resist invaders instead when the government gave up on trying to control them. This should serve as a reference on the power of bandit gangs at that time where they were stronger than even the state army.

As for the common man not having arms, that was because everyone being armed was the default, even if the weapon was a staff or a hoe or a cleaver, and their governments were not stupid enough to try legislating something they could not control. There was no way a "sword hunt" like what happened in Japan could succeed. Same as my opinion on arms control in the US. Nice idea, but forget about trying to execute. At least in the short term.

There were huge number of weapons that evolved from farming implements, even Western ones, like the scythe or the flail or even the spear.


@ GNB,

Re Reservist, I don't know. He'd signed up to the Wavy Navy in 1936 while drunk, spent the majority of the war commanding an MTV in the Channel, but post D Day was posted out to Malta and had some unspecified Naval staff job and a very minor role in operations in Greece in 46. He probably just took it to Malta and then on demob didn't know what to do with it. It lived in the bottom drawer of a half full silver canteen which contents had been split in an earlier divorce. Why he thought it appropriate to ask my mother to hand it in is unknown: charitably, I imagine embarrassment, but even so, I'm slightly disturbed at a cavalier attitude.

Mark, the death penalty I always recall was for arson in a Royal Dockyard, or interfering with the person of the King's daughter. Please don't let anyone spoil my fun by telling me they are urban myths....


RT, my father remembers his school friend getting a clip round the ear from an ex-guards teacher for bringing a revolver (unloaded) to school. The teacher confiscated it and told him to pick it up at home time...and not to bring it again!


It all depends whether you read the second clause of the 2nd Amendment as ratified by Jefferson as providing additional information or there solely to support the first clause.

Seeing as the people were armed before the start of the revolt as a necessity (for both security and hunting), and that without those arms the revolt wouldn't have gained momentum even before we consider a structure military of even the most rudimentary kind I tend to read the second clause as supplying additional information. So.......

(1st clause) The state needs some formally organised defence but not by a standing army,


(2nd clause) but just because there is a militia the people ** shall still have the right to have arms.

The new state wouldn't have come about without a revolt made possible by privately held arms. To fight a war for independence and and then to take away the means away from the people ** that brought about change would have been unconscionable. Formations and ranks without the arms are nothing. Arms first. Formed military second. The revolt coalesced from a range of events both minor and major. Freedom movements spring up like shoots in a freshly sown field initially there is no organisation as such. Indeed isn't that the strength of today's terror cell?

That the 2A doesn't specify hunting or target shooting or whatever is because at the time everybody knew why it was prudent to be armed and that it needed no in depth explanation.

To read the 2A just as militia means the people ** bearing arms is a bit naive and shows little understanding or knowledge of the American Revolution or thinking of the so called Founding Fathers or how 18th century English was written.

** the people as the body politic not individual human beings.


RT, it's actually one single law, the King's daughter is the Royal....



Sorry to go completely off topic - burning people at the stake? - but I just wondered if those Typhoons ever returned from Cyprus?


To read the 2A just as militia means the people ** bearing arms is a bit naive and shows little understanding or knowledge of the American Revolution or thinking of the so called Founding Fathers or how 18th century English was written.

So we all agree that in the US a well regulated militia is necessary for the defence of the free state?


But there still aren't any of those militias, not at least on the lines of what contemporaries would have recognised as being such.

So both my points still stand. There's no well regulated militia and the right to bear arms is infringed on a daily basis.

But apparently to Conservative Americans it is us British and Euro-weenies who are the poor suckers having the wool pulled over our eyes.


And further off topic (why are we talking about gun laws anyway)


Great but will the really be flying in that mode in close formation for real.


I see there is a misunderstanding of the Second Amendment. "...well regulated...," meaning well-trained/proficient with arms, modifies "...militia...," which is "...necessary to the security of a free state..." It does not modify "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms..." which "...shall not be infringed." The question remains, what don't you understand about "...shall not be infringed?"



@ Phil

Yes I agree with you on the militia point (and absence there of), but I think it has nothing to do with the right of the American citizen to bear arms. As I said "militia not army, but the private citizen keeps his arms nevertheless."

Again the use of the word of arms is interesting. The 2A doesn't specify a particular arm. During the recent 2A Crisis there were wonks going around saying the 2A meant muskets

All very interesting

EDIT: Some of you may find this interesting......



@IXION - "Seeing as this is a defence blog it’s worth noting the collapse of law and order in northern Mexico is fueled not only by drugs but by mass influx of assault weapons imported illegally from US."

To use your own word: bollocks.



The question remains, what don’t you understand about “…shall not be infringed?”

Nothing. As I've said, you've got a law that in the modern world has grave consequences. But its become an ineffective political and social football.


ECS asked "The question remains, what don’t you understand about “…shall not be infringed?”

Um. To whom are you addressing that?


During the recent 2A Crisis there were wonks going around saying the 2A meant muskets

Personally I think the text should be read in its normal everyday meaning of the time.

One can't avoid the fact that one man with a high capacity magazine rifle can now inflict damage that would have taken nearly a platoon of cooperating men to achieve in the 18th century.




TED possibly in a landing or takeoff sequence.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@RT - the normal method of judicial execution in England was hanging from earliest times, but burning at the stake (for women) and hanging, drawing and quartering (for men) remained on the statute book for both High and Petty Treason until the end of the eighteenth century...and coining or murdering one's husband were the commonest Petty Treasons, just as Arson in His Majesty's Dockyard and an assault on a Royal Princess would be High Treason (even if the Princess in question consented, it would still be an assault unless you were married to her - you have been warned!).

However, carrying out the punishments in full started to fall out of favour around 1700, and after that the condemned were most likely to be hanged or strangled before the faggots were lit or the butcher's knife applied...the whole grisly business was much more of a ritual than a horror show...a final humiliation intended at least in part to prevent resurrection which had real meaning in a much more observant age.

Mind you, over 200 offences were routinely executed by hanging, and the deceased handed over for dissection (which was itself a public spectacle) so the difference was largely academic.

On the wider question of gun control, worth noting that other parts of Europe are less regulated than us, but don't go in for widespread mayhem...as I said, Culture has more traction than Law...



Guys shall we give it a rest? Even Americans themselves can't agree on this topic much less us who are a quarter or half a world away. Besides, we all have our own cultural bias and local situations so to expect universal agreement is something like expecting world peace. i.e. Nice idea, good luck on the execution.


@ Phil

I think the language is deliberately not specific for that very reason. The Bill of Rights was written for the long haul. Those learned men of the 18th century were more literate than us. They chose their words carefully. Many spoke several languages and most could recite many long texts from memory. It is punctuation which causes the problem because back then though spelling was settling down but punctuation wasn't. Imagine how much easier the reading of the 2A would be if that comma in the middle was semi-colon. The semi-colon was present in English by that time. Commas are the Devil's punctuation mark; no wonder legal bods avoid them.

@ Observer

You are just jealous because nobody knows your constitution apart from the bit about the death penalty for littering.


So, IXIOM, how long have you been a troll?



ECS, think he started 2 years after you did so he has a bit of catching up to do. :P

Treat it as a difference in opinion. And it's hardly unique is it? You don't really need to look cross 1/4 of the world just to find an anti-gun proponent did you?

x, most of our laws can be summed up in 3 words.

"KILL EM ALL!!!!" :)


Chaps, very emotive subject, understand that

As Observer tried to say earlier, shall we chill out a bit?


I was given for Christmas by a Canadian cousin a seriously grown up hunting catapult. You need to be adult to fully draw it. I googled it and it's about $100 CDN. Not a toy.

So far, I can get about a 12 inch accuracy at about 40 yards. That's good enough to be able to knock a wood pigeon from out of a tree.

Better answer for most Brits than a firearm licence.


@ IXION glad you posted the actual stats. It's also useful to note that Australia has had a significant drop in deaths by shooting since stronger laws were introduced after a couple of massacres in the 90s (although the local rednecks keep trying to stretch it). It also seems that Switzerland has a high gun death rate by European standards, mostly involving military firearms. Strange that, but I always remind people that 50% of the population are below average intelligence, what I haven't seen is a statistical correlation between IQ and gun ownership. Place your bets.


A sensible answer for Brits is either an air rifle or shotgun to your pigeon problem. I could talk at length on this subject but there really is no point. The only thing I will see is that it seems ridiculous that any member of the public should own an automatic weapon (especially of military grade) after all theres only so many deer you can shoot.

@Mark Yeah sure they will use that mode then but would you really be in tight formation? Maybe a line ahead to land on a carrier?

Was also good news that the C is finally getting through its carrier trials!


I can do no better than an quote an american relation-

"Why the hell does anyone need to own anything but a hunting rifle?"

To be fair, though he lives in Ottawa, Illinois, which is pretty much rural USA- nice place, nice people and coppers who sometimes forget to carry their guns with them.

After a long drunken conversation with him one night, we came to the conclusion that, as in the UK, owning a gun isn't the problem- it's who's owning the gun that's the issue. (From my wife's point of view, my general antipathy towards tail-gaters, is probably the best reason for gun controls in the UK)

He argued for proper checks and ownership requirements, that filtered out in his words 'jerks'.

Although, what about that retired copper shooting a bloke in the cinema for throwing popcorn?....ummm.

As an aside, the reducing violent crime rate is happening in the UK too, so i'm not sure you can relate that to gun ownership, or otherwise. (There is compelling scientific evidence to suggest that it might be more related to the decline in leaded petrol).


Apologies to TD and the wider community for posting what is (in hindsight) a personal opinion that I should of known would cause problems with other members of the community. I should emphasise that my opinions are coloured by knowing people who have lost friends to gun violence (the weapons in question being legally owned).

I respect that others have a different opinion and neither of us are going to change our position. That said I think my views would be different if the US gun culture was based on the idea of a local well regulated and trained militia (as Phil suggests).

Anyway, I am going to leave it there. Somebody please start a fantasy fleet conversation. Those are always fun.


Here's a happy story of a Kosovo refugee who is now a Royal Marine Reservist: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/refugee-awarded-green-beret


Tom, nothing wrong with discussing anything you like, its an open thread after all

Just prefer it when there is an outbreak of civility!!!


@ Tom

You have need to apologise to me. And I am sorry for your loss. But your loss shouldn't deny me or my family a right to defense. Or the 800,000 to 2,000,000 others who per year, FBI figures, who have depended on a firearm to save them from robbery, rape, and possibly death.


Sorry x, why does my personal opinion require me to apologise to you exactly?

I apologised for stating the sort discussion/debate that inevitably becomes overheated and overblown; never leads anywhere productive and causes discord.


Re: Germany cancels last order of Typhoon, no great surprise.

Nope not really! I wonder if we could dump all our tranche ones and get into two and three wholesale?

Much better fleet then?

Wonder if Germany would do a deal here?

There must be a penalty for cancelling, if we took up the slack we could modernise our fleet over again for a bargain price maybe?

Wouldn't need to buy quite so many as 138 (Pie in the Sky!) F35's, certainly no A or C models anyway, maybe 80-90 B's in total...


Tom - I suspect x meant to write "You have *no* need to apologise to me" - its part of the fun with x's comments that some words are missed out - sometimes its quite easy to see the missing word from the resulting tortured grammar, but other times it can make reading the comment extremely.

Anyway, disagreements come, disagreements go. No harm results. Usually.


If you are right Chris, then apologies x for taking your comment as it appears and not it's intention.

.... Oh dear, I think I might need a lie down.

New tail fins for the Red Arrows to mark 50th display season:


Here's hoping for a successful season.


You're American are you now x? Or has someone else taken on the moniker? Perhaps for years, maybe x really did leave the first time he said he would and other x's took his place and reanimated the handle.

*twilight zone*


@ Chris

Yes. Thank you.


Personally, I see it as a "local" problem, gun laws. There are a lot of factors in play, like political will, cultural tradition, ability to enforce, media, degree of partisanship etc. So it really isn't for someone in another country to say what is right or wrong for them. For the US, they don't have either the political will or the ability to enforce, an extreme degree of partisanship and a strong guns tradition (compare this to Japanese whaling to sort of understand why the Japs are so pissed at anti-whalers etc. same cultural emo.)

For the US, even if they had a guns amnesty, all you will see soon is that the weapon numbers will shoot up again as they produce a lot of guns in-country, something like a leaky boat. You can bail the water out, but without the ability to stop the leak (weapons manufacture), all that does is delay the time it needs to fill up the boat again.

In contrast, where I'm from (the KILL EM ALL capital of the world according to some :P ), there is the ability to enforce as well as jam up the supply as the nearest source of illegal guns is from Thailand and the Philippines, and border controls are strict. As for cultural factors, having universal conscription and yearly weapons training, the allure of guns sort of fades slightly when you add annoyed (and annoying) armourers telling you "Clean it again, I can still see carbon." Seriously. 10 minutes of range, 4 hours of cleaning the bloody thing. The trill is still there, just that the follow on responsibilities are a serious pain. And it's nice to know if you still got the touch sometimes. :)


Tim Marshall,Sky News' foreign correspondent, this afternoon on the Ukrainian crisis jumped the shark by dangling the possibility of Russian intervention post the Soggi Olympics.

Dude get a grip and have a word with yourself.


As far as reaction look at how NATO did taken in guns off the locals in Kosovo but not in afghan because they where viewed as part of the culture. The number of guns in a country make for a big operational changes. Iraq and Afghanistan would have been very different if every gun are troops had found was destroyed rather then given back. It also makes it easy to tell who the bad guys are.


@ Observer re Gun ownership in the USA.

Most, well all, gun amnesties are failures. Just political stunts.

In recent times what we have seen in the US is a boom in a new gun owners mainly due to CCW legislation with Illinois joining the other 50 states in the last few months with legislation. (Illinois is a real one off in terms of law and political organisation .)

Oddly the Trayvon Martin and Sandyhook events actually pushed many sitting on the fence (not owning isn't necessarily anti-gun) towards gun ownership.

Another thing is it isn't about the allure of guns either. Lots of gun owners in the US who own more than one gun own them just as they would any other tool. It is another anti-gun tactic to portray all gun owners as rabid gun enthusiasts.


OK @ DH, I'll bite. How is the reduction in violent crime linked to the decline of leaded fuel? Most puzzled.

I sympathise with your hatred of tailgaters. I have exactly the same problem with people insisting on driving about 3 feet in front of my bonnet. Most irritating.


Gloomy Northern Boy

As we are all apologising and clarifying, I feel I should make it clear that I am not keen to see the entire population armed to the teeth...but as an oldish fogeyish sort of a chap it really does annoy me that if somebody like me had inherited his Dad's service revolver or trophy Luger, and then kept it securely locked up as a part of the Family Archive...were it for some reason discovered it would be assumed that it was right and proper to treat him as though he was a full-on gangsta from the other side of town with a fine collection of sawn-offs and knock-off Uzis.

Now some might argue that this represents equality under the law...the flaw being that if as a middle-aged white father I decided to withdraw my hypothetical daughter from school when she reached her menarche...or ship her off to the ancestral home of the Gloomys a year or so after and browbeat her into marrying an equally hypothetical cousin of my own age...or a few years before take her home so that the wise woman of Gloomy could remove some important bits of her anatomy with a razor blade...I would be a very bad man who needed locking up for a very long time.

But those things do happen to her perfectly real perfectly British potential classmates all the time in Schools I know, in my City and in my Country all the time...and the people who do them don't even get arrested, much less banged-up...so there is no longer equality before the law, any more than the Peel's principles continue to be observed in policing...

And that sense of not quite recognising my Country any more really does bother me....the belief that I should be allowed to have an inherited service revolver locked up in my study if I happened to have one (NB Special Branch, I haven't) is a symptom.

End of Rant, but somehow all those things hang together for me...I have got a session on the couch booked. :-)

@Tom - Sorry for your loss.

@x - Are you sure? Russia was invented in KIev, just as Serbia was invented in Kosova...I am a bit less sanguine


Thanks for that Mark. I was reading about an Israeli exercise on Cyprus which mentioned the Typhoons and it dawned on me I had no idea if they were still there.

I'm with Jules on those "ex-German" Typhoons - get 'em before the Saudis grab 'em! A delay on F-35B orders would be no bad thing while DoD club some sense of urgency into the LM code writers. Fighters are meant to be able to fight, not just pootle about the skies.

How many guns do you have to own before you admit you are a fetishist?


BAe shows off it's new personalised HUD for the battlefield soldier.




Yes I am sure. Sky News repeats its content doesn't it every or hour so? And I have magic box that allows me to rewind the transmission. He mentioned the Russian base at Sevastopol and the naval infantry brigade stationed there.

As I said the man needs to get a grip.



'I’m with Jules on those “ex-German” Typhoons – get ‘em before the Saudis grab ‘em! A delay on F-35B orders would be no bad thing while DoD club some sense of urgency into the LM code writers'

I think it would be a good idea as well. Have long thought taking some urgency out of our need for F35B beyond providing a carrier air-wing and doing some general evaluation/work-up stuff until further down the line would be a good idea, these now vacant German slots sounds like the answer.

Any chance of a discount for a late in the day order?


Not surprised the Germans are passing on tranche 3b typhoon I thought they already had announced that, the italian and Spanish have . Infact I thought the UK had already announced they were passing on tranche 3b also.

TED Fastjets takeoff and land in tight formation almost all the time when operating in pairs form land stovl operations are not just for operating form carriers and so needs to be tested.

WiseApe for the sake of the column inches that would exponentially explode from the dark blue club should f35b be push right and for the sake of the sanity of the rest of us I think it probably better to continue with our initial small f35 buy no matter how sensible your suggestion might be.

James Bolivar DiGriz

@RT All of this is from memory, so I cannot give you any links.

There is a link [1] between lead taken up (eaten or inhaled) by children and a diminished IQ, impulse control, etc.

So the removal of lead from petrol and from paint (which children used to eat whilst chewing on painted items such as cots!) is believed to be associated with an improvement in IQ, impulse control, etc.

I believe that test animals (probably rats & mice) fed lots of lead have been shown to be less smart (e.g. learning & remembering mazes) and more aggressive and that autopsies show lead in their brains

As an aside. There are some indications that lead poisoning may have hastened the decline of the western Roman Empire. In towns & cities they used lead piping for water distribution and lead alloys (sort of pewter IIRC) for plates and drinking vessels. Also some skeletons have been found to have elevated levels of lead in them.

One other line of thinking is that, in part, the declining US crime rate is down to Roe vs Wade.

My understanding is that in the UK (please forgive the following broad-brush groupings)
- Poor/working-class women who have an unplanned pregnancy are more likely to have the baby
- Richer/middle-class women who have an unplanned pregnancy are more likely to have an abortion
whereas in the US the opposite is the case.

To be clear, here 'more' and 'less' mean a statistically significant number of %age points above and below the mean. So effects that can only be seen in large groups of people, and have absolutely no predictive capability about individuals or small groups.

In the US there was a decline in crime associated with the practical availability of abortion, with a 15-20 year time lag of course. Practical availability is important because the passing of a law (or a SCOTUS judgement) does not mean that clinics appear nationwide at the same rate.

1. REALLY BIG CAVEAT. Probably the first thing to learn about statistics is that correlation does not equal causality. Just because a doubling of X in the population and a doubling of Y happened at the same time we cannot assume that one caused the other.

So at the same time as lead was taken out of petrol (and paint), lots of other changes were happening in society, including diet, entertainment, etc. So maybe removing the lead was 100% of the cause of any improvements, maybe 0%, maybe somewhere in between. Also, maybe it was an important factor only for children who also had something else. If many (or most) children had that something then the change will show up in population statistics (which it has) but will not be universal.

I hope that helps rather than confuses!



OK @ DH, I’ll bite. How is the reduction in violent crime linked to the decline of leaded fuel? Most puzzled.

Yes there's some very compelling studies that suggest a link.




Have some regimental journals. I was very surprised to read about the 15th/19th Kings Royal Hussars doing border patrols and ambushes in Northern Ireland, in...1959. And also the defence freeze of the winter of 1980/81 which meant almost no training and almost no POL until march 1981.

Anyway, there goes another evening!


Phil et al

The really facinating thing is that whether your country is a gun 'totin' hang em all, shoot first and ask questions later society. OR a flower arranging free drugs and smack on the wrist and stiff talking to society.

Regardless of the criminal justice policies of the society or how they compile their statistics crime has been falling for 30 years accross the western world.

No one really knows why....



The lead thing is quite serious. Also increased Zinc consuption. Marmite might be the key! And im not joking about that.

ANYONE who says this that an armed populus and death penalty had has resulted in a drop in crime, might as right or wrong as someone who says community service and treatment causes a drop in crime. Cos both can point to succeses.

Oh and EC smith



both have task forces chasing the cross border weapons trade. And the Mexican govt are severely pissed off about the thousands of m16 clones being smuggled in from 'legitimate' gun sources in US.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@James Bolivar diGriz - You are the Stainless Steel Rat and I claim my fifty quid!

Taken me bloody ages to remember that one - I'm getting old.

GNB :-)

James Bolivar DiGriz

@Gloomy Northern Boy

I needed a _nom de plume_ for the first blog I commented on, as it was policing related blog that seemed to me an apposite name. So I have just used that name in all blog postings since then.

I don't try and hide the link, see:



Open thread is back, with some good names on it.

Apologies ahead of my comments, I may have missed a lot in between, so might not make sense all f the time
... too much in between to read.


IXION, think it might be due to the number of people "buying in" to the system? It's speculative though, no hard figures.

One of the key anti-rioting platforms our first PM worked on was that if people have something to lose, they are less likely to buck the system, which means planned crimes will drop, some impulse crimes will also drop, though not all. Not many people riot if they parked their own car on the same street and encouraging looting while their own shops are on the line. This also runs into petty thievery. I have a belief that there is a little mental calculator going in all of our heads constantly calculating profit/loss, and you can head off a lot of crime by stacking the calculations into the category of "not worth it". Save for the extreme impulse crimes of course, but better than nothing.


@IXION, I'll start worrying about why the Mexican government is pissed when they stop helping their people enter the US illegally to reap the economic benefits of those illegals sending US currency across the border. The action or inaction of the MG in securing their side of the border and the corruption down there enables the drug cartels to extend their reach well into the US. There are places in Arizona and New Mexico where the government has installed signs warning Americans that they aren't safe due to human trafficking and drug smuggling. The MG gives lip service to cooperating with the USG while lecturing us that we should restrict the civil right of OUR citizens.

And, yes the BATF and the FBI have task forces working to restrict the trickle of American guns across the border, that is when the BATF isn't facilitating it. See also "Fast and Furious." Before you swallow the bilgewater that it is guns from American gun stores that is fueling the violence in Mexico, take a good look at the photographs and videos of the Mexican "authorities" showing off their weapons seizures. There may be some American handguns, but the bulk of the weapons are select fire AKs, GPMGs, rocket launchers, and hand grenades, NONE of which are generally available at American gun shops.

I'll stop now, and I shall no longer discuss gun control here in the US or elsewhere, except in direct response to civil questions.

@everyone else. I shall not apologize for anything beyond I'm sorry I may have distracted the board from defense issues.

And, now, good night.



Testing of the fighter’s durability was stopped in late September after inspections turned up cracks in three of six bulkheads on a plane used for ground testing, said Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the F-35 program office.

“We consider this significant but by no means catastrophic,” Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisition, said in an e-mailed statement. While the program office is still performing an assessment, “based on preliminary analysis, a redesign” of some F-35B structures will be required, said Kendall, who has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering.


Whats your overall take on the F35B Mark?


A fairly comprehensive list of the all the operation parachute jumps conducted: http://www.specialforcesassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Combat_Jump_Record_03.07.2013.pdf

Fairly interesting looking at the trends.

1) The freq of smaller jumps deploying SF/Intell types before a large operation.

2) The general drop off of parachute drops as helicopters become more prevalent.


TD I think it will still do a job for the UK but with more longer term issues than had been hoped for. There has been a lot of comprises to get a low observable platform and will it be worth those comprises don't know if we can tell that yet.


@TD & Mark

Which is why being left with just 107 Typhoon's from 2016 and the talk of it getting binned completely by 2030 for more F35 doesn't sit at all well with me.

Yes i agree the F35B will eventually do the job for the UK, but beyond getting enough to put on the deck of a carrier i don't see the advantage of winding down something which although costly does at least work (Typhoon) for something that still has various issues to be ironed out and even with a falling price will be far from cheap.

I know their are various economic and political considerations around this but if we were solely talking about what's best for the defence of the UK and the ability of our armed forces to remain effective then i would say that capping our F35B purchase at 48 for the foreseeable future (with vague assurances to Lockheed-Martin about another order) and keeping a larger 130-150 air-frame Typhoon fleet in service would be the safest approach to take.

You get your moneys worth from something like Typhoon only by keeping it around and incrementally updating it, not cutting your losses prematurely for something even shinier/pointier. How much would a new batch of T3 be per unit?


Makes you wonder if there's a manned version of Taranis lurking at the back of a hangar under a tarpaulin marked "In Case of Emergencies"


Re F-35B. Its too late now, but its a shame they did not adopt the Harrier type lift system from the ugly Boeing rival. Perhaps the last hurrah of the old Soviet Union could solve the current problem. They toughened up Aluminium with the rare earth element Scandium. Would that fix the bulkhead?


Challenger 2030 is there as a historical planning number simply because aircraft get designed with a 25 year life or there abouts and tranche 2 typhoons arrived on the scene about 2008. They'll be around a long while.

Chris people will tell you taranis is manned they just don't happen to occupy the same airspace at the same time :)



'Challenger 2030 is there as a historical planning number simply because aircraft get designed with a 25 year life or there abouts and tranche 2 typhoons arrived on the scene about 2008. They’ll be around a long while'

Oh i know that in likelihood, if our masters have any sense, Typhoon will be around after 2030. You do however see these little tentative whispers about standardising down to a one type fleet with extra F35 around then.

I'm more worried about being left with only 107 Typhoon's from 2016 on-wards when the F35B will be far from fully proven and still relatively expensive.


On the subject of UAV - or more specifically UCAV - I missed this last November: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24941919

There's quite a lot more scattered on the web since May 2013, but mostly repeating the same line. Some may recall I argued exactly the same points in TDland earlier - I do not want machines off-tether that can hoover about looking for someone - anyone - to kill. I haven't found any software yet that has proven itself bug-free and adequately reliable to come anywhere close to deserving as much trust as man-in-the-loop.

For that matter, when it does decide to shoot up a schoolful of children, just who is going to be put on trial for murder? The team of 1500 software geeks that each wrote a module of its faulty brain? The Chief Engineer of the manufacturer for signing the design off? The MOD team at Boscombe Down for not finding the bug? The RAF maintenance team for not noticing the UAV seemed a little off-colour that day? Once off-tether, the autonomous machine lacks all responsibility - it doesn't care what it kills because it doesn't think. If no-one is in control of the device then no-one is responsible. It has the capability of being as indiscriminate as chemical or biological weapons and therefore should be dealt with in the same manner. In my opinion.


"...alternative uses of 65000 tonnes of metal..." - How about as a second runway for Gibraltar - one that doesn't have to close every morning to let the cleaners in ;-)

@Sir H - The best response to uncivil comments is a good stiff ignoring. If I was to make one small criticism of your blogging style it would be: WiseApe is always wary of those who refer to themselves in the third person. First sign of madness. Or is that talking to yourself. Sea-blindness must be up there as well. As must rambling....


The F-15 Eagle first flew in 1972, entering squadron service in 1976. The strike variant F-15E Strike Eagle entered service in 1989. The USAF expects to have the Eagle serving through 2025 and the Strike Eagle into the 2030's. The Eagle is still in production for foreign customers with the line expected to shut down in 2019. Currently over 1100 F-15's and 480 F-15E Strike Eagles have been produced.

For sheer longevity, the B-52 first flew in 1952, entering squadron service in 1955. As of 2013, 78 were still in active service. With upgrades, the B-52 is expected to serve until 2045.

Considering the difficulty of putting effective advanced fighters with stealth characteristics in service, I don't see why the Typhoon should be phased out completely in favor of the F-35B. If the RAF was buying F-35A's to replace the Typhoons, I could see the advantage, perhaps.



They've unearthed this old girl from the hanger so you maybe right

James Bolivar DiGriz


"I haven’t found any software yet that has proven itself bug-free and adequately reliable to come anywhere close to deserving as much trust as man-in-the-loop"

I believe that the NASA Space Shuttle software never had a bug in the deployed software.

However the development team had a huge test environment that ran the software through every scenario that had been conceived of after every single change, irrespective of whether the change was related to that area or not. So after a change to the software for, say, landing the whole software suite would be run through all cases including those for, say, the take-off scenarios. This meant that deploying any change to the STS software took a long time.

As well as this they had the same software running on, IIRC, three computers. Normally all three would make the same decision. If only two of them agreed then their decision would be used and the third computer would be shut out of the decision making processes thereafter.

As a contingency in case this process went wrong there was a fourth computer. This was running a parallel set of software to perform the entire process. This software had been written by a different team completely separate from the others. AFAIUI this fourth computer was never called upon.

This process was, as you can imagine, slow and expensive.


Mark - looks a better shape to my untrained eye than the F22/F35 too-deep-in-the-middle profiles. Not a bad effort for the early 90s. And with 2D vectored thrust just a very short step to hovering...

JBDG - A320 also had parallel flight management computers, three coded by one company and two coded by another. All supposed to agree with each other. Its interesting really - the belt & braces approach (I guess that's 'belt & suspenders' for the US readers - if only you knew what images that brings to the mind for us over here...) rewind... that approach is a tangible indication that the software is inherently unprovable, so best fit a handful of corroborating systems and hope a few agree. Personally I think software design fell off the rails of sound engineering when someone decided to let loads of interdependent modules run in parallel, with no fixed scheduling and interrupt driven processing paths of different length. Multitasking computers. Feminine logic prevails.

The last really big software item I worked with was a Full Flight Sim using some 24 card bins each capable of running 5 or 6 processor cards, all chomping away in parallel. But it was a rigidly scheduled regime of major and minor timing frames, and rigidly defined public variables. Every software module ran in its allotted time-frame and its public variables were updated at the same point in each cycle of the schedule. It meant some variables were updated slower than might be desired but it never had a brainstorm. Quite different from the modern Object Oriented free-for-all that roughly does the same stuff for the same inputs most of the time.



Fascinating. All that effort put into software and the undoing of 40% of the fleet were decisions made by men.


Phil - they weren't men, they were Programme Managers... A race of beings that put corporate image, programme schedule and programme cost ahead of all else. I recall the documentary about the rocket booster O-ring failure that did for Challenger, specifically the bit where the engineers tried to stop the launch because they had data showing the O-ring was too fragile at the launch site temperature, and their programme management essentially told them they could either shut up and sign the release parperwork or they could be sacked....


There's a very in-depth book by someone called Diane Vaughan about the disaster. What she found was that NASA was operating under similar pressures as a private corporate company. Instead of producing profit they had to produce space shuttle launches.

What she found was that nobody there broke any rules when they launched that day, the rules said launching was actually okay. What had happened was over time the acceptable risk to the O-Ring drifted more and more toward the danger level since every time in the past that they had launched on the margin, that margin became the new norm. She argues that deviance was normalised - inside the organisation nobody knew what was happening. Fascinating bit of research (monster too at about 500 pages). Everyone was making decisions they thought to be perfectly normal within the organisation - which they were. To the rest of us peering in when NASAs knicker drawer was rifled, things were clearly wrong.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Mark - Does a tin shed on an industrial estate outside Milton Keynes count as "air space"?



Phil - ref Ms Vaughan's view of things - that sounds like corporate blame deflection to me - I had heard very quickly after the disaster that the engineers had declared a problem; Wiki says that was a year before the disaster itself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Boisjoly

If the testimony of Boisjoly was accurate, as many seem to believe, then it is hard to square with 'no-one did anything wrong' - whether NASA's inter-company bullying tactics, or the managers at Morton Thiokol overriding the engineer's fears, someone was putting commercial advantage ahead of doing the right thing. In my opinion.


Gloomy - Yes! A tin shed on an industrial estate outside Milton Keynes does count as “air space” - its a space, and it has air in it. Ask any 5yr old for confirmation...


She's an ethnographer and sociologist by trade who is interested in corporate deviance so she has no dog in the corporate white-wash hunt. That's why she was interested as it seemed such a clear cut case of a corporation going bad. But that's not what she found. She found an organisation reasonably happy it was making correct decisions at the highest levels.



Phil - sociologist you say? At Uni the sociologists were the most strident complainers, mostly about the horrendous amount of work they had to do. Some had as much as one whole hour of lectures a week. How were they ever going to fit in the important things like Ban the Bomb rallies and Save the Whale demonstrations and joining the secondary picket lines to support Arthur Scargill's bid for revolution and fundraising for the Contras in Nicaragua and stuff? We the engineering slackers who only had 40 hours of lectures a week (and terms several weeks longer) were constantly told by disgusted sociology students that we were pathetic because we wasted the opportunities to 'make a difference' that University provided. I dare say, because we wasted our time learning our trade, we collectively have probably made a considerably bigger difference to our world than the ranting sociologists ever did. But hey, I'm biased.


Chris, sounds like your sociologists are as misnamed as our civil engineers. :P


Curling, Royal Army style.

James Bolivar DiGriz

"A320 also had parallel flight management computers" - Now you mention it that does ring a bell.

"I guess that’s ‘belt & suspenders’ for the US readers – if only you knew what images that brings to the mind for us over here…"

The one time I was in New York I walked from my hotel* to the office past a bar called 'Suspenders'. The pub sign (bar sign?) however showed a portly & moustachioed chap in a striped shirt with braces holding up his trousers.

* In the WTC complex, where the breakfast room's glass ceiling gave a great view of the Twin Towers.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@ Elm Creek Smith...Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, but - oddly - British Army, although with a number of Royal Regiments of this and that. Daft, but it's a post Civil War thing....



@GNB - O-o-okay. I had older relatives who asked me if I was still in the Yankee army. It's a post Civil War thing too.

I just got a giggle when I saw the photo. That's a deep, manly giggle mind you.


Gloomy - mildly tangential question ref your last post - Cromwell's New Model Army was uniformed in red coats. The Army continued to wear red coats long after the modern variety of monarchy returned, but by the 18th Century the rationale was that the enemy would not be able to see which of the soldiers was wounded because the blood wouldn't show. I suspect the soldiers would have preferred that the enemy could not see them at all but we need to wait until 1914 before the Generals agreed...

So the question is, did the Army continue wearing red tunics and do they continue to wear red tunics for ceremonial and mess purposes and is the official colour of the British Army at MOD all to do with pride in the historical New Model Army or is it instead the symbolic refusal to show pain and injury? There. A simple question for a historian of high calibre.

Personally it seems more credible that it is a proud nod to Cromwell's militia, one of the first professional armies and one which promoted on merit - quite revolutionary in the 1600s.



I suspect the red coats hiding blood is a bit of an urban myth, reinvigorated by lame jokes and Blackadder.

My knowledge of the Army suggests that once something (eg colour of uniform) becomes accepted practice nothing much changes it. Hence red coats (or more accurately but pedantically, scarlets) were retained as ceremonial dress when khaki was adopted. Khaki considerably pre-dated WW1: various South Africa campaigns, Sudan and in India from about 1880.

Anyway, my thoughts only.

What did the Andrew do in the English Civil War? Cromwell expanded the Navy afterwards, so the RN is equally part of his legacy as the Army, even if they were first raised as a "Navy Royal" by fat Henry.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Chris - I'd certainly share your view, and it is worth noting that English Regiments on both sides in the Civil War favoured red - as opposed to the Scots for example who wore "Hodden Grey"...I suspect the Redcoat Tradition started to emerge in the sixteenth century as the sophistication of the cloth-dying trade grew, was taken up by both sides, and reached its apotheosis with Cromwell's New Model and his "Plain, Russet-Coated Captains"...and has been memorialised ever since in full dress uniforms...

Viz "Russet-Coated" worth noting that dye-stuffs were not fast, and colour washed out...in a long campaign the red was probably more a faded burnt-orange/pink sort of shade...which was probably much less obvious than we now assume, especially in deciduous woodland in the autumn...and remember that red Russian tank from a while back which was oddly less visible than things like bright blue; probably because washed out reds are a colour found quite commonly in nature in temperate northern climates.

On the wounds business, much less sure...ranges for exchanges of fire were short and with a musket ball weighing an ounce and having a low muzzle velocity if one hit you it knocked you down pretty conclusively...I think there is an explicit nod to Cromwell in our traditional Red Coats...and rightly so...




Sorry old chap your dates are a bit askew.

The first use of camouflage in the British Army were the light infantry regiments, operating in the skirmishing, or screening role. Uniformed in dark green, hence the names Royal Green Jackets, Green Howards etc.

And of course in the Indian Mutiny (1857) British Troops dyed their white tropical uniforms with tea or elephant dung. By 1896, Khaki uniforms were general issue outside Europe.

In 1902, by the 2nd Boer War, Khaki was general service issue.

Funnily enough the british army was the first to issue disruptive pattern clothing as all-units, general issue.


DH - I am cheerfully corrected - I wasn't there so can't argue. But I have seen both Man Who Would Be King and Zululululululu in which the 4th Regiment of Michael Caine's Foot wore bright red throughout....

Gloomy Northern Boy

@Chris/Dave Haine - Actually I'd say you were both right - certainly the Rifles and the 60th Foot were wearing dark green in the Peninsula War...and I think they brought that from our North American Wars even before the big one when we left...the famously green Roger's Rangers from which the American Rangers trace their lineage was of course a British outfit, and Major Rogers held the King's Commission...and given the likelihood of dye-stuffs to fade, run and patch and soldiers to make repairs with whatever came to hand the men wearing those uniforms probably often looked a bit like a precursor MTP...

Likewise in tropical climates white cotton drill uniforms were almost universal, and on campaign would quickly take on the colour of the local dust...even without the assistance of cold tea, elephant dung or whatever which was certainly very frequently employed, especially in the Indian Mutiny...also during that conflict various ad hoc and volunteer units made use of various grey and tan shades from the off.

That trend continued in Egypt, Sudan and elsewhere in East Africa...the Imperial Camel Corps, for example were specifically uniformed in grey coats (and Bedford whipcord breeches I believe) - and Officers often favoured patrol jackets in blue (or sometimes other shades, as they were privately tailored, or even various items of civilian clothing); but many regiments were still uniformed in red at least at the outset of the campaign.

As to the Zulu War, I can do little better than to quote Cetshwayo's General Order on the eve of the battle of Isandlwhana "March slowly, attack at dawn, and eat up the red soldiers"...which they indeed did, but at a massive cost to their army....and ultimately freedom...



I dare say, because we wasted our time learning our trade, we collectively have probably made a considerably bigger difference to our world than the ranting sociologists ever did. But hey, I’m biased.

Let's not confuse some gobshite undergrads with some serious research on why an organisation kills its own employees and other people.

As an engineer you're more likely to be killed by your employer than a university professor is. I don't think it's a bad effort to sit there and try to work out why that should be the case and how it happens.


Camouflage I think is an excellent example of the utility of something being dependent on context and use.

Camouflage was a no-brainer, it was obviously not beyond the wit of man to know the harder he is to see the harder he is to kill. But as we fought in great big masses of men it was all a bit pointless and the regiments could wear whatever made them feel best. When individuals began operating amongst these groups then camouflage had utility.

This is why I suspect that we see camouflage becoming more and more apparent as formations of fighting men became looser and looser and being camouflaged gained more and more utility. It's quite fascinating I think how so much technology and thinking we consider a no-brainer now was not beyond the philosophies of the time but just didn't add any value to how things were done in that time and place.

There's a lesson for military technology here - to me it says that if the context of operations change so does the utility of the concepts and kit used. Perhaps that's obvious but we'll do well to remind ourselves of this as times and the world change.

A tank will always have latent utility because its a big armoured mobile box of death. Camouflage has always had utility in itself because you're harder to kill and can inflict more surprise. So tanks, even though as units they are powerful and useful, they may not always be as useful to us in a wider context because they may not add value to how things are done.

I'm picking tanks as a random example - could be first rate frigates or hi-tech fast jets.


Chris said "Uniformed in dark green, hence the names Royal Green Jackets, Green Howards "

Not the Green Howards (XIX Regiment of Foot). As command and control became more sophisticated, armies became more professional in every sense, countries took to their line infantry the largest component wearing one colour of coat hence for us red coats. One of the ways soldiers from one regiment could be distinguished from another was by the colour of their cuffs. Regiments often took the name of the man who raised them. So the Green Howards were raised by a man called Howard and their uniform had green cuffs (there is a proper word for cuffs that escapes me). See also the Buffs.

Gloomy Northern Boy

Close, but no cigar - originally raised by Colonel Francis Luttrell in 1688; became known as the Green Howards in 1744 during the War of the Austrian Succession because it was then commanded by The Honourable Charles Howard, second son of the Earl of Carlisle and was at the time brigaded with another Regiment commanded by a chap called Howard whose men favoured buff facings...thus the Green Howard's as opposed to the other Buff Howard's...

GNB :-)



The point was the green in the name was after the colour of the cuff facings and not that they wore a green warfare like the light infantry.

I am sorry if the minutiae of it all slipped my mind.


Phil - ref "As an engineer you’re more likely to be killed by your employer than a university professor is" - everything is comparative; I don't recall Uni Professors being regularly attacked by their management so the chances for the engineer still rate quite well. In my case though being self-employed at the moment I'd better watch myself, or else...



Question is, is ten enough? Also, after Afghanistan, wonder if the RAF might consider forward basing a squadron in Cyprus?

Gloomy Northern Boy

'@x - I'm sorry If I appeared a smart-arse - not intended (this time!)




Taken in context as part of a whole ecosystem: There are 54 Watchkeeper's given the green light with half already produced.



The question is not is 10 enough but do we enough people and systems to adequately interpret all the information that they current provide. 10 air vehicles will provide 3 continuous orbits at any one time according to mod.


Ten should be plenty:


Queen Elizabeth, Prince of Wales, Ark Royal, Warspite, Dreadnought, Lancashire, Nelly.....


New danger from the floods is revealed after storms unearth wartime BOMBS on beaches ahead of new gales due to hit Britain today

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2565824/New-danger-floods-revealed-storms-unearth-wartime-BOMBS-beaches-ahead-new-gales-hit-Britain-today.html


Not sure about Cromwell introducing red tunics, presumably immediately after the civil war. I've always understood that red was adopted because it was the cheapest dye, which sounds like a very British military reason.

Anybody who thinks the Brit army was in colourful uniforms in 1914 has obviously spent too long in the French military museum in Paris and been brainwashed (actually its a bit more subtle than that and an attempt to excuse their use of full colour uniforms in 1914).



The Crimean is the last war were all British troops wore red (apart from the rifles). It was not until 1902 that the hole army adopted khaki dress.

The last time I have hard of the red coat being warn in combat, was a cavalry officer in 1940 with the BEF. He was shot by a German sniper unsurprisingly. He was riding on the top of a Matilda on its way to Arras.


Watchkeeper piece from the Beeb:


Notable hesitation to the "will it be armed?" question!


The Israeli version of the Watchkeeper, the Elbit Hermes 450 is armed so it is possible.

Wish it had been operational hear a couple of months ago. It would have been far cheaper to of used one of these to survey the floods then the Tornado they used.

Interesting that it is operating from Boscombe Down and not Aberporth.


as - re Watchkeeper basing:

1. RA UAV regts are going to be based at Larkhill. Boscombe Down is 15 mins down the road.

2. Boscombe Down is very close to Salisbury Plain, making conveniently located for most major exercises.

3. Aberporth is not a military base. Its operated by QinetiQ and used for UAV testing. It also fecking miles from anything useful. Excellent for testing, crap for actual basing.


GNB, re: your comment about 'knock-off Uzis' faaar back up the thread, I was somewhat surprised to find out recently that you can buy these legally in the UK...


...and you can also get legal semi-auto MP 5's in .22LR as well, certainly beats the crap out of great-grandad's rusty old service revolver!


Re Ukraine,

I'm not a prophet, I don't remotely claim to know what the future holds.

However, is anyone else feeling that statements from Moscow (Putin and Medvedev), with supporting and often inflammatory language on Russian Twitter / blogs might be setting the scene for some form of "protective" intervention by Russia into SE Ukraine where the majority of ethnic Russians live?

Maybe I am over-Gloomy, but I'm feeling similar things to that I did in the run up to Gulf 1, where any fule knew that Saddam's rhetoric was merely teeing things up for an invasion of Kuwait, and indeed Russia's initial invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 to come to the aid of President Najjibullah.


@RT: yes, I get that impression too. However, I suspect they would want the Crimea and to create a nice corridor to Moldova and Trans-Dniestr as well, hence taking Odessa. Not good


as, Hermes are armed? Thought you couldn't do that without modifications. While hardly a universal sample, most 450s I saw usually carry a belly payload of sensors but no weapons pylon. Not that anything is stopping you from tinkering one on of course, but armed Hermes 450s are not standard.

Can you remember the name of the Israeli "suicide" UAV, one that is designed to crash into targets with explosives in dire situations? Can't remember the name but I don't think it's part of the Scout -> Searcher series.


US defence budget out


Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before World War Two.


The US government will delay procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35Cs by two years and ground its aging fleets of Fairchild Republic A-10s, Lockheed U-2s and Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors under the US Department of Defense’ fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.

The Pentagon intends to slow F-35 Joint Strike Fighter procurement overall by 24 aircraft through fiscal year 2019, Hagel says.


Hagel is directing the Navy to prepare recommendations for a new “capable and lethal small surface combatant, consistent with the capabilities of a frigate.”

Hagel also discussed a plan to take half the fleet’s 22 Aegis cruisers out of service, laying them up pending the availability of modernization funds.

Gloomy Northern Boy

@RT & wf - My money is on the Russian Navy stepping in to keep order in the Crimea "at the request of the local authorities" - which is likely to be forthcoming, as I believe that area has a lot of rich Russian expatriates/seaside villa owners, as well as the continuing influence of the Navy itself...whilst simultaneously allowing the various Cossack Militias to enter Eastern Ukraine as "Volunteers" acting for the leaders of the previous regime, who have not conceded legitimacy to the insurgents in the West...when there is enough trouble, Moscow will impose a cease-fire line leading to a de facto Partition, probably legitimated with a referendum in a few years time...

And the EU will boldly...wail and wring it's hands...the Cousins will simply sit it out...are we all enjoying our peace dividend Humble Pie boys and girls? No need to ask for more, the slices will be coming thick and fast from here on in...



@GNB: sounds about right. They did much the same to Georgia :-(