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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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February 1, 2014 7:02 pm

Nimrod AEW3 :D

Kibbitz Van Ogle
February 1, 2014 7:10 pm

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

February 1, 2014 8:23 pm

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?

February 1, 2014 8:33 pm

Has anything to do with Nimrod gone as planned?

February 1, 2014 8:33 pm

@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!

February 1, 2014 8:44 pm

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.

February 1, 2014 8:44 pm

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.

February 1, 2014 9:40 pm

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
February 1, 2014 9:59 pm

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.

February 1, 2014 10:00 pm

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?

February 1, 2014 10:22 pm

The LibDems are still pushing their three-legged horse:


February 1, 2014 10:25 pm


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.

February 2, 2014 12:00 am

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.

February 2, 2014 4:05 am

“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.

February 2, 2014 9:40 am

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

Jason Lynch
February 2, 2014 10:17 am


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.

February 2, 2014 10:29 am

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

February 2, 2014 10:56 am

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.

I suggested the A330 as a combined MPA, AWACS and ELINT platform on another thread. I don’t think it went down very well ;-)

February 2, 2014 1:13 pm

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.


February 2, 2014 4:34 pm

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.

dave haine
February 2, 2014 5:29 pm

@ 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.

Lord Jim
February 2, 2014 5:44 pm

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
February 2, 2014 7:22 pm

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 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…

February 2, 2014 8:57 pm

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

40 deg south
February 2, 2014 9:21 pm


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.

February 2, 2014 9:27 pm

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?

40 deg south
February 2, 2014 9:45 pm

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.

Swimming Trunks
February 3, 2014 12:39 am

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 3, 2014 2:15 pm

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…

February 3, 2014 3:16 pm

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

February 3, 2014 5:01 pm

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.

gCaptain: Rolls-Royce and Island Offshore Prep for Heavy Weather with New Ship Design

Rolls-Royce: Rolls-Royce develops high-end offshore vessel for Island Offshore

Island Offshore: Island Offshore orders high end offshore service vessel

El Sid
February 3, 2014 5:55 pm

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 :

February 3, 2014 6:36 pm

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.

February 3, 2014 6:57 pm
February 3, 2014 7:45 pm

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.

February 3, 2014 8:46 pm

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!

February 3, 2014 10:49 pm

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


February 3, 2014 11:03 pm

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.

February 3, 2014 11:48 pm

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.

February 4, 2014 12:24 am


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.

John Hartley
February 4, 2014 11:31 am

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.

February 4, 2014 5:51 pm

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.”

February 4, 2014 6:00 pm

“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…

John Hartley
February 4, 2014 6:53 pm

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
February 4, 2014 8:12 pm

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.


February 4, 2014 8:55 pm


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
February 4, 2014 8:55 pm

Oll sis tork abawt gjermans isch veery dioschkonzerting…

February 4, 2014 9:23 pm

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.

February 4, 2014 9:43 pm

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

February 4, 2014 9:52 pm

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

February 4, 2014 11:32 pm
Elm Creek Smith
February 4, 2014 11:44 pm

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
February 5, 2014 12:02 am

@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.


February 5, 2014 12:32 am

@ 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!

Red Trousers
February 5, 2014 12:41 am

@ 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
February 5, 2014 12:54 am

@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)


Red Trousers
February 5, 2014 2:00 am

@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.

February 5, 2014 3:00 am
February 5, 2014 3:41 am

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.

February 5, 2014 11:27 am

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.

Elm Creek Smith
February 5, 2014 2:44 pm

@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).)

Swimming Trunks
February 5, 2014 4:32 pm

@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”.”


February 6, 2014 6:28 pm

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
February 6, 2014 10:14 pm

@ Mark = unless Scotland votes for independence that is…


Not a Boffin
February 7, 2014 10:31 am

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….

February 7, 2014 5:04 pm


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.

February 7, 2014 5:37 pm

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

All Politicians are the Same
February 7, 2014 5:40 pm

@ Mark

Too late :)

February 7, 2014 6:29 pm

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.

February 7, 2014 7:56 pm

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


February 7, 2014 8:00 pm

Immortals? How very … Persian.

February 7, 2014 8:23 pm
February 7, 2014 8:32 pm

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
February 8, 2014 12:40 am

@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…


February 8, 2014 2:02 am

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
February 8, 2014 12:09 pm

@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
February 8, 2014 4:27 pm

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


February 8, 2014 4:32 pm

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

Gloomy Northern Boy
February 8, 2014 4:48 pm

@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.


February 8, 2014 5:17 pm

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.

February 8, 2014 8:41 pm

@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 :-)

February 9, 2014 12:21 am

February 9, 2014 9:56 am

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
February 9, 2014 11:37 am

@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…

February 9, 2014 12:50 pm

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.

February 9, 2014 1:15 pm

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.

February 9, 2014 9:09 pm

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
February 9, 2014 9:28 pm

@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..!


February 10, 2014 8:37 am

Italian Lawmakers Consider New Cuts to JSF Purchase,


Storm in a tea cup?

February 10, 2014 8:55 am

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.

Not a Boffin
February 10, 2014 12:57 pm

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”.

February 10, 2014 3:31 pm

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


February 10, 2014 4:49 pm
February 11, 2014 5:29 pm
February 11, 2014 5:39 pm
February 11, 2014 6:47 pm


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….

February 11, 2014 6:49 pm


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.

February 11, 2014 6:53 pm

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”.

February 11, 2014 7:08 pm


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.

February 11, 2014 7:17 pm

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.

February 11, 2014 9:11 pm


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!

February 11, 2014 11:31 pm


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.

February 12, 2014 1:06 pm

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

Elm Creek Smith
February 12, 2014 1:40 pm

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’.

February 12, 2014 5:04 pm


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

Elm Creek Smith
February 12, 2014 5:08 pm

@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.

February 12, 2014 5:24 pm

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?

February 12, 2014 7:12 pm

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


paul g
February 12, 2014 8:41 pm

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

El Sid
February 13, 2014 4:54 pm

@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.

El Sid
February 13, 2014 4:54 pm

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

Swimming Trunks
February 13, 2014 5:48 pm

“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
February 13, 2014 10:34 pm

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…


El Sid
February 13, 2014 11:31 pm

@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 :

El Sid
February 13, 2014 11:47 pm
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 13, 2014 11:51 pm

@ El Sid – I’ll try that then :-)


Gloomy Northern Boy
February 13, 2014 11:56 pm

:-( Much better – I’ll stop now,Boss.


February 14, 2014 12:08 am

‘When a light attack helicopter does MEDEVAC’

In an emergency and not routinely.

February 14, 2014 2:43 pm
February 14, 2014 8:22 pm

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


They have a real thing against flags.

February 14, 2014 8:42 pm

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

That’s a Polaris missile under the tarp’.

Kibbitz Van Ogle
February 15, 2014 5:57 pm

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’.

February 15, 2014 7:08 pm

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.

paul g
February 15, 2014 8:48 pm

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 8×8’s or for foxhounds as well?

February 16, 2014 10:34 am

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.

February 17, 2014 6:31 pm

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


A sign of things to come?

February 17, 2014 6:42 pm


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.

February 18, 2014 9:08 am

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.

February 18, 2014 9:20 am

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

dave haine
February 18, 2014 10:16 am

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.

February 18, 2014 11:06 am

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.

February 18, 2014 11:09 am

Just found this: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/10/cops-use-armored-military-vehicles-to-deliver-shock-and-awe-during-routine-police-work/ – looks like there is a use for old Ridgebacks and Mastiffs after all.

February 18, 2014 12:18 pm

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?

February 18, 2014 1:05 pm

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…

February 18, 2014 5:32 pm
February 18, 2014 6:06 pm

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

February 18, 2014 8:20 pm

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.

February 18, 2014 9:15 pm