UK defence issues and the odd container or two

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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!

520 Comments

  1. ArmChairCivvy

    Quite a different ring in the bell now ,” Obama said in a rare unplanned appearance this evening in the White House press room. ”We need strong American and European leadership now to forestall any further threats to international peace and stability. ”

    Was it picked up here how the Russian phone hackers picked up and “leaked” the US Secretary of State calling Ukraine, and one of the brilliant pieces of advice was “F*ck the EU”.

  2. ArmChairCivvy

    A correction as it is too late to edit: Assistant part of the tigte was missed in typing, soi the comment is attributed to Victoria Nuland.

    Anyway, the drift is that this is Biden level stuff, UN is the facade for bilateral dealings, and EU’s part (or perceived value) was described in vivid terms. Interesting, when it is oimpossible to use verbs like ” spaek, contact, persuade” and instead the woolly reaching out is used all through.

  3. Think Defence

    Its more RMA fantasy James, OK for short sharp raids but if you need to support ashore forces for any reasonable length of time, say over 4 or 5 days, the amount of airlift required simply is not there, it is not there for the US forces let alone UK. So there is generally no alternative to creating a lodgement area on shore and using ships and trucks for logistics

  4. ArmChairCivvy

    The defence integration story in the above linked article is credible. Poland forced a merger of 20 domestic companies as a step towards x-border, and have executed more focussed partnerships in helos and AFVs.

  5. x

    @ OZ

    It isn’t just her size but her speed and range too.

    The Albions aren’t really up to task these days being very much replacements for the Fearless (toddle sedately across the North Sea just before the balloon goes up as the centre of a group made up of RFA and STUFT) and we need something bigger and faster.

    If we had 3/4 we could have a (reinforced) commando at sea most of the time with a Bay (to slow too) lurking with stores and heavy equipment.

    But we have no money. :(

  6. ArmChairCivvy

    Now I am even more puzzled by why everyone is calling for Mistrals for the RN next-gen?

  7. Simon

    However, nice to see BAe delivering two ships for about £1.6b.

    Shame we can’t replace QE, PoW, Albion and Bulwark for eight of these babies.

  8. x

    @ Simon

    Sorry silly me. I should have specified Juan Carlos shouldn’t I? Another point there towards your pedant’s badge at guides…….

    Better a 21kt ship doing 18kt than an 18kt ship doing 18kt……

  9. Ace Rimmer

    Just done a bit of background research regarding the Ukraine crisis, I didn’t realise that Antonov was Ukrainian, not Russian, I wonder if the Russian Air Force will suddenly find itself with a spare parts shortage for its strategic/tactical lift capability if Ukraine turns its supply off, either willingly or through Russian obstinacy?

  10. All Politicians are the Same

    You must remember that Canberra/Juan Carlos are CODLAG ships. At anything above 15kts they are running gas Turbines and their range reduces dramatically. The good old Albions will plod along at 18kts (have seen Bulwark go faster) for thousands of miles.
    Of course that is until the synchrodrive breaks :(

  11. Ian Williams

    The important thing to remember is that a Canberra / Juan Carlos can float stuff out of the blunt end and is capable of operating a small number of fast jets on those occasions when we don’t want to risk a proper aircraft carrier (or we have and things went badly).

  12. ArmChairCivvy

    Now that the situation is over, OK, referenďum and something…
    It is the time to pay the ransom:
    - Ukraine is bankrupt
    - Putin’s pal robs the state coffers, and runs (ok, takes a bit to make him, but anyway)
    - this smoke and mirrors we have been obserbing delivers to Russia what they want
    - Ukraine owes, and will owe, Russia big time for energy… Discount ending
    - we step in and pick up the bill

    Where is the world, the rest of it ( remember, it was on the brink… Just yesterday)?
    No?
    Just the stupid EU left standing and looking each way possible.
    No, they are not laughing in our face, only because they are professionals, and there wiĺ always be the next round.

  13. x

    The important thing to remember is that two navies who operate in seas where, if there is another bunfight, the RN will be operating thought the engine fit out ideal for their needs.

    I suppose the RN could trundle into the AOA D+2 land some Chally 2′s and shoot a YouTube video or three.

  14. All Politicians are the Same

    @X

    “The important thing to remember is that two navies who operate in seas where, if there is another bunfight, the RN will be operating thought the engine fit out ideal for their needs”

    Maybe it is but you have to take a few factors into account.
    1. The Spanish Fly fixed wing aircraft from the deck and therefore need to create wind across the deck.
    2. It would have cost a small fortune to change the propulsion plant for the Australian vessels.

    They still spend most of their time at 15kts unless they have a tanker and can only sustain 19kts even on Gas when fully loaded.
    Nice Ships but not exactly the long distance high speed cruisers you infer.

  15. Red Trousers

    Re Juan Carlos types,

    I really don’t want to reignite carrier wars, so let’s accept for the purposes of argument that some form of carrier power projection is necessary for the UK.

    Which offers the best overall capability mix for the MoD? Two QEC plus the planned 72 F35Bs, or for the same amount of acquisition money 8 JCs plus 72 F25Bs? Clearly, 8 crews are probably more expensive than 2 QEC crews.

    With the 8 JCs, you can do lots of extra things like use landing craft, lift several thousand troops, still fly carrier strike, etc, or any mix. You have many more options, and lots of options at refit time or to conduct different missions in different places.

  16. All Politicians are the Same

    @RT

    I think given Defence Inflation you would struggle to get 8 and yes the manning costs would be a lot more expensive as you would need 8 times the number of the key expensive personnel without even worrying about final numbers. Then we have the operating costs in terms of fuel, munitions etc, the extra lines of training that have to be accommodated which is not cheap either.
    The extra number of jetty facilities required to berth 8 Ships that size which would probably require more modifications at Bases.
    You still have a seriously compromised design when operating as a carrier as well. So am afraid it is a bit of Apples and Pears.

  17. monkey

    The BAE Systems built designed and built Canberra Uniship’s advantage over the Mistral class would be it would be built wholly in British yards (maybe British and the newly Independent Scotland) and BAE should be able to sustain the price (or even drop it) as all the design and development costs have been picked up by the southern colonials. (that’s to say if the RN gain a brain and dispatch a dozen or so observers to help crew the Canberra and sign it off as fit for purpose and not reinvent the wheel .. if we just moved this here and that there ..and what if…)
    If we are to have true INDEPENDANT force projection we will have to replace Albion and Ocean. The ability to have one of these close to the theatre of operations could help with forward replenishment of F35B’s to reduce the time and fuel used to increase their time on station.

  18. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – as you have been kind enough to propose an eight (small) carrier RN, could I suggest we order the third CVF now and then pair each one with one of these? With an RM Commando plus supporting arms embarked, 24 F35b, the necessary helicopters, and an escort of T45/T26/Astute we could keep a potent Air/Sea/Land Task Force out and about much of the time; and if three T26 per group were sufficient we could reduce the numbers of frigates required and concentrate on SIMMS/OPVs to cover standing surface tasks, perhaps with two or three additional SSNs to slightly enhance our capacity for lurking about in a menacing fashion… :-)

    Dons helmet and body armour and retreats to bunker in anticipation of incoming fire from practically everybody.

    A rather nervous Gloomy

  19. Red Trousers

    All true APATS, but you also get lots of advantages, and there are trade offs to be done.

    As for carrier compromised design, it is only compromised in relation to the USN CVAs. It’s good enough for every other Navy in the world with less vaunting ambitions. It is a lot less compromised than the CVS.

    Anyway, the QEC is seriously compromised as a LPD, because it doesn’t have a dock in its’ bum.

    (I forgot to add to my earlier comment a question on doing 15 kts as opposed to 18 kts. How much of a compromise is that in real life? And no I don’t need a maths lesson… ;) )

    I think Pareto is often a good guide for ranges of variables, and certainly if those variables have ranges of uncertainty.

  20. x

    @ RT re carrier wars

    That is the trouble here. As soon as a flat top is mentioned commentators start trying to fly F35b off them. Nobody is concerned that one can lift an entire commando plus some reinforcements (the supporting battery and additional engineering capability) with enough “garage” space for a commando’s worth of vehicles. It is like reading an article on a car where the cupholders get 90% of the column inches.

  21. All Politicians are the Same

    @RT
    I do not want to use a QE as an LPD, it cannot as it does not have a dock and yes it is compromised as an LPH as well but not to the same extent.

    ref the speed issue, it would depend upon the SOA required along the Main Line of Advance (MLA) which in turn depends upon threat, requirement to mvre, tanker support etc etc.

    @X
    Blame the Spanish they are the ones that fly the AV8B off an amphib.

  22. Peter Elliott

    To solve this problem I propose to build the RN’s next Amphibs to the size and function of an LHD but with and LPD style transverse superstructure.

    That way no-one on the internet and no-one in HM Treasury can get any ideas about operating F35B whatsover.

    And we can still call them Hermes and Centaur.

    :-)

  23. wf

    personally, I can’t see the point of a carrier, whether an LPH or a CV, also having a dock and stocking thousands of marines. If you have a dock, you need to be close to shore to maximise the offload speed, even if you are using hovercraft or high speed LCU’s. A carrier can afford to be far further out, since aircraft are an order of magnitude faster. I’ll bet two CVF and 4 decent LPD’s would be a better deal than 8 Juan Carlos, as well as being cheaper.

  24. Red Trousers

    APATS,

    You might not want an LPD, but maybe defence has need of such a capability?

    I suspect the speed thing is a bit moot. Does an extra 3 knots make a huge difference? It is 72 nautical miles further in 24 hours. Nice, but essential?

  25. DavidNiven

    @ TD,

    Straight of the top of my head I’d say no vehicle deck with the 40 vehicles (I know that you could probably use the hangar space for some vehicles but then they would be limited by being underslung and how much would bringing them up with the lifts affect deck ops?) and about 600 less Marines and no rear ramp/mexe combo. I think without the vehicle deck and rear ramp/mexe combo we will find it a compromise too far, as the compliment of Marines is too small and the equipment they could use too light, it’s basically a company and a HQ element.

    Personally I don’t see which requirement the QE class are fulfilling, if it was carrier strike then they should have been CATOBAR so we could use longer ranged F35C and supporting aircraft, if it was an Invincible/Ocean replacement then they should have had the vehicle deck and ramp/mexe facilities of Ocean with the F35B.

    But we are where we are and will have to live with what we have, but I bet the Navy will miss Ocean when its not replaced.

  26. All Politicians are the Same

    @RT
    I never said I did not want an LPD, we have 2 and 3 Bya Class LSD(A) to support them. Eventually I would like to see us move to an LHD instead of LPD but that is a long way away I am afraid.

  27. monkey

    I mentioned the use of the Canberra class to replenish ONLY the F35′s (or Apache’s etc for the Army for that matter) up close to the beach (say at just over the horizon) , not to embark them like the USMC plans to from the Wasp/America classes. It would use up far to much deck/hangar space much needed by helicopters/airlift able vehicles .The fuel would all ready be bunkered for the helicopters and the magazines spaces would need to be enabled to hold the additional types of JDAMS etc. Rather than risking the QE/PoW close in where they would become a very big target for every medium range missile /land based aircraft .Better to make the enemies aircraft fly long extended missions over the ocean (such as the Mirages/Etendards had to in 1982) to reach launch point out at sea where they can be interdicted by the T45′s / an F35 CAP with a least a bit more notice than just popping out of ground clutter ,targeting , launching and bugging out.

  28. Oscar Zulu

    On the subject of crewing the Canberra Class will have a basic RAN complement of 293.

    Operating as an amphib the ships crew also includes a contribution of 62 from army (aside from any embarked forces) and three from the RAAF (air traffic control) for a total of 358.

    In the hypothetical 8 LHD versus 3 QE the crew numbers would be something like:

    8 x LHDs 2,864 (or 2,344 Navy only)
    3 x QEs 2,037 (not including air crews)

    The Spanish spec claims the LHDs can operate up to 30 aircraft although that would most certainly be a mix of fixed wing and helo not to mention being packed liked sardines below decks.

    Even if only 12 F35Bs were more realistic 8 platforms would mean you could (hypothetically) put an air arm of 96 aircraft to sea.

    At 18 aircraft the equation becomes 144 and at 28 it would be 224 (the latter would surely be too crowded for air ops and only for transport to an AOA).

    Still some interesting maths especially in the bang-for-buck and strategic/global reach debate.

    On the subject of training the Canberra’s are using virtual models of the ships for certain elements of crew training in a simulator.

    Obviously not a replacement for the real thing at sea but it helps to keep the cost down and allows some training to go ahead when the ships are in refit (or now while they are still being built).

  29. x

    We need dock space more than more hangar space. Don’t care if there is an airport up top but dock space and lift is more important than more facilities for our ever shrinking number of utility helicopters.

  30. The Other Chris

    Increased auxiliary requirements need to be considered alongside proposals resulting in an increase in hull numbers.

  31. Red Trousers

    APATS,

    LHDs seem so much more useful, so much more of the time, than CVF, and all of those choices were available in mature, and I would contend more usable designs. Just my way of thinking about things.

    The problem with having a really Gucci CVF is that it does not do all sorts of things that in a Joint campaign are necessary. The Bays seem very limited in what they can easily or quickly offload in less than a fully equipped port.

  32. x

    @ RT

    The Bays are about lift not through put. They are floating warehouses not assault ships.

    The Bays are auxiliaries not warships.

  33. All Politicians are the Same

    @TOC

    Another very good point.

    @RT
    LHDs do what LHDs do, carriers do what Carriers do and both can do some other things as well. The bigger you are the more flex that you have. The Bay can happily offload from the sea but is limited to one LCU Mk10, however each LPD brings 4 with it.

    A “joint campaign” is a very broad church. Do you have a port, or an airfield, how much time do you have to offload. what is the threat and how does it change as you approach the OP Area. What is the objective and what size of forces are involved etc etc etc.
    that is why we attend Amphibious warfare Course amongst others. Dependent upon the answer to those questions certain assets will be more useful than others.

  34. Red Trousers

    X, it was APATS’ suggestion about the Bays.

    It is to me still an honest question of interest. What is more useful (in terms of utility across the spectrum of operations, across a service life, and given that the budget even in the pre-crash days was only enough for either one type or the other, but not both)? CVF or LHD?

    Especially when design maturities made the LHD type a significantly lower acquisition risk, and the same capital expenditures would have allowed for 8 ships instead of 2, giving hugely increased ranges of options for employment in role or simultaneous geography, and a similar sized buy of aircraft.

    We are where we are, undoubtedly.

  35. monkey

    With Canberra class I was not implying embarking F35′s as a standard such as the USMC do on the Wasp/America class but merely as a forward ,say over the horizon from shore , replenishment platform , to refuel and rearm with JDAMS etc and the to return to CAP as quickly and possible using the least amount of fuel transiting between base and on station increasing their loitering time. The same could be said of replenishing the Army’s helicopter suite be it Apaches or Chinooks.
    A big target such as the QE/PoW class close inshore is asking for every Medium range missile/ artillery / Strike aircraft to attack. What would a MLRS do to a carrier task orce? At least well off shore (100km+) the T45 /F35 CAP has a chance of an intercept rather than facing a aircraft popping out of ground clutter ,getting a lock , firing and bugging out with very little reaction time.

  36. Red Trousers

    APATS,

    I seem to have had a comment Monstered, but maybe it will come back.

    I read your words about bigger size giving extra flex, but I don’t buy it. All it gives you is more of the same as far as CVF is concerned. If “the same” is not what is needed.

    Here we go. Fantasy Falklands Revisited. Would you rather have had 8 JCs plus “N” F35s (max 72) plus whatever helicopter mix you can stuff in among a landing force mix, or 2 CVF plus similar helicopter / FJ mix. As the JFC, not the MCC, of course.

    I know my choice, but would be fascinated to hear your’s. I come from a LCC background, where the MCC merely can lose the war, not win it, but you have an equally valid perspective.

  37. Oscar Zulu

    @ x

    “The Bays are about lift not through put. They are floating warehouses not assault ships.””

    Agree that that is what the Bay’s were designed to do, but you can have a little of both.

    The Spanish Galcia Class LPDs which are similar design, although a little smaller (13,800 versus 16,100 tons) than the Bays, accommodate 4 LCMs in their landing bay versus the Bay’s single landing craft.

    Th Galcia’s LCM1Es (same craft as the Canberra is embarking) can move 56 tonnes at 22 knots or 110 tonnes (full load) at 13.5 knots.

    So compared to an 8.5 knot LCU 10 embarked on a Bay a Galacia can basically shift 4 times the tonnage almost twice as fast.

  38. All Politicians are the Same

    @RT

    We cannot have 8 JCs for 2 CVFs we cannot afford to buy them or man them or train them, or fuel them or berth them or support them underway (not neough RFAs) or Escort them (not enough escorts to screen a TG that size). I would have liked 2 CVNs and 3 LHDs as it is about as realistic.

  39. TED

    I think @wf hit the nail on the head.

    I would love to have the flexibility of 2 canberra (2-3 Mistral) class with 5 Apache and the rest green Merlin and chinook on board. I don’t think you can have CVF participating in any landings. The concerns of it and its airgroup should be air superiority and subsurface and surface warfare. Its like putting all your eggs in one basket.

    Can’t remember who said it but the staging platform idea isn’t that mad either, it was proposed in the Falklands.

  40. Repulse

    Glad we are starting to talk about getting 3 Commando Carriers (CVFs) again… :)

    If the RN managed to stick 4 LCVPs on the old Centaur Class carriers in the 60s/70s then damn sure they could do it now. Pair them in the short term with a Bay and a Fort and you’ve got a great core of a RFTG.

    With three RFTG, the UK would have one in the barrel, one in the magazine and one at home if needed.

    Goes back to Chris C’s proposed change in operating in mass rather than in individual units, plus what the USN is looking at doing also.

  41. All Politicians are the Same

    @OZ

    “Th Galcia’s LCM1Es (same craft as the Canberra is embarking) can move 56 tonnes at 22 knots or 110 tonnes (full load) at 13.5 knots.”

    You are getting their displacement mixed up with their capacity. They weigh about 56 tonnes themselves and can carry another 60 tonnes loaded. They can do 22kts unloaded or 13.5 kts loaded, their capacity is listed as 1 MBT. They are actually 6M shorter and 1M narrower than a Mk10.

  42. Red Trousers

    APATS,

    The purchase costs for JC in 2001 were lower than for CVF in 2001, the design much more mature. I don’t think either of us have the full range of factors to hand to be definitive, but to me we’d have got 4 JC to one CVF at 2013 outturn prices. Probably a bit academic anyway. Air group is immaterial, as both sets of ships can lift the same mix of FJ or helos.

    Slightly puzzled at your view on increased training demands. A larger cohort needing training means training costs per person are reduced. The crew numbers of both Andrew and air groups are not wildly dissimilar. The berthing costs you describe seem high, given the smaller overall dimensions of JCs.

    Perhaps a set of sensitivity and multi-variate factor analyses might have come up with something like 6 JCs against 2 CVFs as being the optimum trade (both with a total 40-44 FJs split between them), and £1.6 billion for additional escorts or that total split between 2 more RFAs and 2 more FF. Given the extra flexibility of 6 docks, it is what I would favour.

  43. x

    @ OZ

    Sorry you have lost me. The Bays are bigger than Galcia. They carry more. Not only because of the size but their layout (smaller dock.) There primary role is to move follow on stores and outsize equipment into theatre. That a smaller ship used for assault with more LC can move more stuff to shore quicker isn’t the same thing. How would a logistics vessel benefit from having more than 2 berths for LC? Even with RO-ROs you can only load 2 at one time. That the Bays were constructed to only operate one LC at a time shows that throughput wasn’t a priority. (TBH I have never looked to see if the Enforcer are big enough in the beam to be configured for 2 Mk10 side by side. But being one of these modular scalable design concept wotsits I shouldn’t be surprised if they could be built so.) Perhaps a better question is ,whether the Mk10 is the best boat for the RM? Offloading tanks seems to be a big driver for the MoD. Though I think the last time anything resembling tank was offloaded in anger was some AVRE’s during Motorman.

    FWIW I have been aboard both of the Dutch navy Rotterdam class.

  44. All Politicians are the Same

    @RT

    You have to train each hull, you have 8 lines of training instead of 2 to fit in. That requires more expensive FOST staff hours, assets for training, btx etc etc.
    Each berth has to have a full set of jetty services so we need more gangways, power, sewage, tug hours, pilots etc etc.
    Juan Carlos was not even ordered until 2003 so not sure about 2001 prices. It also took 5 years to build so how long to build 6 or 8? They would have fallen victim to the same BS political delays that drove up CVF costs.
    You need slightly more than 2,extra FFS to escort your 6 JCs and 3 extra RFAs as well.
    The whole point is that a JC is not and never will be w CVF dub and a CVF is not a JC sub.
    One is an amphib with a limited fixed wing capability, the other is an aircraft carrier that is big enough to be a multi role aviation platform.

  45. Red Trousers

    APATS, leaving the rest aside, is a JC more useful to Defence than a CVF? Across a full service life? Note, not to the Navy, but to Defence.

    Even at 1:1, I submit it is. At 2:1, more so, and so on.

    Had we have merely ordered 3 JC in 2001 to directly replace CVS, we’d have been significantly better off than we were with ordering 2 CVF, of which we will in likelihood only ever see one on the ocean at any one stage, and 2 only in extremis.

  46. All Politicians are the Same

    @RT

    No it is not, JC is an amphib of which we have sufficient to meet DPAs whilst CVF offers a new level of capability.

    However I am getting very close to having to fine myself here.

  47. Red Trousers

    APATS, ah, DPAs, much venerated but in reality as useful and as ignored as yesterday’s newspaper.

    What DPA(s) require a whole new capability? Serious question, not frivolous, and one much argued about. The jury never came back in.

  48. Chris

    A forlorn attempt here to try to stop this becoming yet another ‘Carriers Good Or Bad’ thread…

    A bit of U-tube bouncing from the new Spitfire post got me to a handful of other fine video gems; first, flying Victor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGjPu6DPzWU (I think I worked in the same office as Bob, but knew nothing of this); second, flying Lightning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTr2UvLqfkQ; finally, returning to flying Spitfires http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5rGyP6SSYM – notable at 1:36 for 16 Spitfires in formation, possibly at RIAT Fairford in the mid 80s when they had a Spitfire celebration.

    OK you can all go back now to arguing about which variety floating plank is better than another.

  49. Simon

    RT,

    “Had we have merely ordered 3 JC in 2001 to directly replace CVS…”

    If we had done that we would have put all our eggs in one basked labelled “F35B – The Outsider”.

    There was no guarantee that F35B would be a go-er. In some respects the fact still remains. Probably the reason that Italy and Spain still operate AV8B.

    Amphibs MUST operate under air cover that can ward off intruding fighters, bombers, attack helicopters and strike aircraft. Giving an enemy command of the sky is a sure way to sign your own death warrant.

    I suppose you can suggest that they would always operate under the umbrella cover of the USN or land-based cover but that’s a different argument. Every day an aircraft carrier takes several squadrons of jets, copters, maintenance engineers, hangar facilities and nice, clean, bump-free runway 400 miles. Within two weeks it would have unleashed hundreds of sorties at a reach of 4000 miles. I can’t see the same kind of infrastructure for sustained activity mobilised by the RAF in a similar time scale.

  50. ArmChairCivvy

    I think I’ll keep score here, as the other threads sink into times immemorial so quickly:
    Kerry one – Barroso eleven

    Counting in bn’s, the fx rates are close enough.

    And I can quarantee that you will notbelaughing at the final tally!

  51. Topman

    @ Simon

    I think that’s a little pessamistic regarding deployment times. We can and move where needed quite quickly and are ready and set up. Various examples, Op Luminous being one.

  52. All Politicians are the Same

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10677230/Army-commander-bans-sandwiches-in-attack-on-barbaric-habits.html

    Have to agree with a lot he says:) Sandwiches often served from a separate room or as take away, some people have to work through lunch or like to hit the gym/go for a run.

    @topman

    You can only deploy and set up where you are allowed to and a suitable base is available. A Carrier is limited by geography. Complimentary capabilities.

  53. Think Defence

    My favourite bit of this story where the MoD and Army try and cover it with the old favourite, ‘was only joking’ line

    Priceless

    Bet SIB are on a witch hunt for the phantom letter leaker

  54. Simon

    Topman,

    I was unsure exactly how quickly you could deploy. I was just under the impression that even with a nice clean airbase available at the other end there’s no way you’d get the machine shops/kit necessary for sustained, high-sortie operations?

    Yes to planes and people.
    Less to ordnance and spares?
    Not a lot to sustainment facilities???

    How long did it take you to get in place for Ellamy?

  55. All Politicians are the Same

    @Mike

    We placed the initial order for LMM in 2011 and Thales have recently demonstrated in from a UAV. Think the article writer got confused. The marines just have to make do with 2 LPDS and an LPH if required, supported by 3 LSD(A) and the point Class. F35B will fall into line nicely with us actually being ready to begin carrier ops and T23 has Harpoon with deployijng T45 being fitted, I assume you meant Antis Shipping ASuW missiles. Not an ideal solution but an antis shipping missile is actually quite a simple plug and play system to replace or upgrade.

    Now I am not happy about this delay (bloody French) but letb us keep it real, it is bad enough without any need for exaggeration.

  56. ArmChairCivvy

    As NLOSs come back from A-stan, why not put on the navy helos (for the next 5 years) as they do in S. Korea?

  57. mike

    @APATS

    Was more tongue in cheek referring to what we’ve seen/heard since ’10. Though the Navy’s future ability to sink ships is taking a hit, I guess the delay is the lesser of two evils that we had to choose from, something we often do across all services.

  58. Obsvr

    @acc

    Because RA is taking them into core as the second system in their precision fires batteries. Having developed their use in Afg they seem to rather like them. RA is no longer allowed to run manned aircraft units, they lost that to teeny weeny airways in 1956 (yes I know they were nominally RAF but the sqn comd was always a RA major and most of the pilots and non EME ground crew wore the right cap badge), so they don’t have any helis to hang them on.

  59. ArmChairCivvy

    A good find, wf!
    2 psi pressure, traversing land/ muddy deltas
    OTH delivery of LCU loads but “on the double”
    All that without the expensive-to-own aircushion technologies, full or partial.

  60. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Obsvr,

    Good to hear… i did not know there were batteries of the type ” precision fire”. That sort of xevelopment explains why the precision munitions proc has been repeatedly put on hold?

    I was responding to the heart felt pain by APATs in his post above mine, the marine helos having to make do with insufficient ASuW weaponry for another five years.
    … The bloody French, and all that.

  61. TED

    Why not put Hellfire or Brimstone on Wildcat in the interim. Plenty say we can wait but Wildcat is for dealing with those nippy little boats and (in the words of our favourite lance corporal) you never know when you might need it.

    Or… An Apache on the back of every destroyer or frigate. Got a targeting radar, trainable gun, flachette rockets would make a mess of a swarm of RHIBs and then there is Hellfire. Just hope the seas not too rough!

  62. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi TED,

    Brimstone was designed for launch from an aircraft doing a high speed; would that make for a redesign/

    Hellfire is not quite out to 25 km, so the danger is that you vector out in the wrong direction (not saying that you can ignore dealing with multi-direction threats, without needing to take the time to change your own position… by much)

  63. ArmChairCivvy

    I am glad the Defence Committee is finally starting to use the powers it has, and could not agree more (while saving further comments as I believe TD isd going to put up a thread on this):

    “Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, says,

    “The MoD has failed to communicate the rationale and strategy behind the Army 2020 plan to the Army, the wider Armed Forces, Parliament and the public. Our concern is that the financially driven reduction in the numbers of Regulars has the potential to leave the Army short of key personnel until sufficient additional Reserves are recruited and trained.”

    Given that, on most occasions, expeditionary operations will be carried out in cooperation with the UK’s Allies, the Committee calls on the Government to set out the current status of the UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force. The Committee also calls on the MoD to provide an update on progress on the development of the new UK Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), including how it will train and operate and the extent to which appropriate multi-national partners have proved willing to participate in JEF planning and activity.”

    Having a mid-term report before the next elections is a brilliant idea, as it seems to me that papering over the cracks (until the election is over) has been the “strategy”.

  64. TED

    @AAC 1. No idea I thought it had been discuseed as an option before though…

    2. Hmm it depends on the ranges we are talking. If you have 2 Wildcat… one red 45 one green 45 at 5 clicks or so that should give you more time to respond to threats. If mother if moving then it will take longer for vessels to approach her from the rear. One threat detected Nearest wildcat moves to intercept secong moves to dead ahead mother. Anyway I think you could cover it.

    What range would these little boats have to get to to attack? What is the likely armament?

  65. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Ant – Interesting stuff on the Atlantic Ridge BOT’s…in an increasingly resource hungry 21st Century we really should use our possession of a lot of hostile environments (deep cold ocean, remote cold rocky islands) to learn how to live in and develop both…the EEZ for it’s own sake, the cold rocky bits to practice for Mars and the Moons of Jupiter…

    GNB

  66. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Genuine, as opposed to provocative question – if we did move to a high/low RN with two or better still three RFTG based on 1xCVF, A/W assets with embarked Commando, 2xT45, 1 or more SSN, how many T26 would each group need? I am trying to understand the minimum Frigate requirement and therefore the scope to build additional SSN (with lots of TLAM,) SIMMS, and OPVs on steroids – thinking of an RN with a high/low presence (SIMMs+ OPV known to have a lurking menace close at hand) and a stout stick continuously at sea (the active RFTG).

    Cheers chaps

    GNB

  67. x

    @ GNB

    I would say 1xT45 (full cream), 1x 1st rate ASW frigate, and 2 x (cheaper) CODAD frigates, plus 6/8 Merlin ASW (AShM capable)

    But force structures aren’t set in stone; don’t get too carried away with photo’s like this,

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Abraham-Lincoln-battlegroup.jpg

    because it isn’t exactly a true representation of how things are…………

    No doubt APATS will pop up like periscope during a Thursday War with some wise words. :)

  68. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @X Cheers – which suggests that if we went for the kind of high/low mix I am thinking of, we could think seriously think about three CVF/AW based RFTG, and a number of SIMMS/OPV “presence squadrons” underpinned by more SSN…even if we lost high end frigates…be interested in what @apats thinks.

    By the by, no clear view on the Ukraine myself, but much to agree with in what you say…it is a messy old bi-polar world, and what that means for us has to be energy security/less dependence on The City/more independent military options/a political class who have a sense of history and think long-term.

    Not sure what to do even if we had that, and no great expectation of getting it mind you..!

    Thus Gloomy as usual.

  69. Mark

    http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/asd_03_06_2014_p01-02-669564.xml&p=1

    Pratt & Whitney is investigating the cause of an F135 fan failure that developed in the first stage of the Joint Strike Fighter engine’s three-stage unit during ground tests in Florida in December.

    The fan crack occurred on Dec. 23 during accelerated mission tests (AMT) on ground engine FX648 at Pratt’s West Palm Beach facility, as the engine reached 77% of its required life, says F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan. Discussing the problem at Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements Conference in Arlington, Va., Bogdan says Pratt may have “underestimated the stress at low-cycle fatigue” of the fan, which he says “blew” during the test.

    “Our investigation is ongoing, but we have determined this incident does not pose a flight safety risk and will have no near-term impact to the operational fleet,” says a statement from Pratt. The engine maker says it will continue to monitor operational cycles for each engine in service, and is confident there is no safety issue because of the low-cycle fatigue conditions of the failure.

  70. Repulse

    @GNB: I’d say the number of escorts for a RFTG would depend on what you are escorting, where they are going and if they are going at the same speed.

    The following would in my book make a reasonable full on RFTG benchmark:

    - 1 × Commando Carrier (CVF)
    - 1 × LSD
    - 1 × SSS
    - 1 × Point
    - 1 × Tanker
    - 4 × AAW/ASW escorts
    - 2 × MHPCs
    - 1 × SSN

    Means that the RFTG would be able to support a strengthened RM Cdo, but let’s forget about the dreams of opposed landings…

  71. x

    @ GNB re Ukraine

    I am not sure even I agree with myself over the Ukraine. But it is nice to see some ships on TV during a crisis none of this landlocked nonsense. :)

    re Escorts

    I see countering flying things as the main problem. But with SeaViper, SeaCeptor, Crowsnest, and the F35b coming on stream that threat will be well managed. 4 surface ships mean one for each compass point. Another SeaViper platform would be nice and in a proper bunfight one would be present but it would still be nice to have 12 T45. As for under the oggin well again in a proper bunfight there would be more 1st raters available But as I have said before there is owning submarines and there is using them effectively. 6/8 Merlin would give us good coverage especially in shallow waters; again that is why I like the idea of 2 per hull spreading the screen. The number of SSNs out there is much lower than the the number of coast hugging SSKs. The other chaps with good SSNs are on our side. In a proper bunfight our side’s SSNs would be up threat. Helicopters with missiles to help with opfor’s ships along with shipborne (cheaper CODAD ships could hopefully be built in larger numbers) and FJ and hopefully in the future MPA and UAV. But as I said it isn’t simply a matter of allocating ships

  72. Repulse

    @X: Agree on AAW being the main threat especially if the task group Escorts are running in fully active sonar mode with our SSN lurking.

  73. Peter Elliott

    On the subject of how best to enable the RN Task Group I am coming more and more round to the idea of A330 as a future ISTAR platform. Start with the MRTT design and work up.

    Its range would be monstrous. Nimrodesque. With the addition of a bomb bay it could carry as many Stingray, StormShadow or NSM as could ever be needed. And it has the size and power to hang all the radars and cameras off it that there are. And a cabin big enough for 20 FITS workstations and then some. Retain the wing drogues so it could trail fuel for its own escorts if necessary in semi-permissive environments.

    There’s no point developing an A320 that will just be a perfromance clone of the P8 or the Kwackers. Why bother? To add something distinctive to the allied mix we either need something that will operate off a flat deck without strings (say a Bell Tiltrotor with a pressurised cabin) or something land based with such monstrous range and endurance that it can close the mid ocean gap.

    Now on the suject of costs what percentage of through life costs does fuel actually form? I reckon its not so much compared to aircrew, groundcrew, throughlife support, parts etc etc. So if going for an A330 enabled you to delete both R1 and E3 with all their associated support infrastucture you might still be able to make a business case, even though it burns lots more fuel.

    It would have a massive USP in the export market. And it would be transformational in expeditionary situations and ‘down south’. Cycle them through a month at a time. Patrolling the mid atlantic ridge as you go.Just one bird down there to do AEW, AAR and MPA. And no extra tanking needed. What’s not to like?

  74. Mark

    “What’s not to like?” Probably the 450m pounds per airframe price not including supt.

  75. Peter Elliott

    Showing my ignorance here: why so much?

    Or is that really just the going rate for a plane that size?

  76. Mark

    A rough metric for conversion of an aircraft to a special mission one is take the list price and multiply by 3. A330s cost about 220m dollars each list and the configuration you suggest requires a lot more tech to be inserted than normal so it could be a optimistic price at that.

  77. Peter Elliott

    OK – thanks Mark

    There were the following silent assumptions to my line of thinking:

    That after 2015 budget will be identified for a new MPA-ASW-ISTAR purchase.
    That R1 capabiity gets reinsteted into core budget after 2015
    That there are real savings from deleting E3 and R1 upkeep and rolling it all into Voyager.
    That becuase of the open A330 line the capital purchase can be profiled across a number of years.

    And finally the biggy:

    That SDSR 2015 takes a more pessimistic view of the threat than SDSR 2010
    And honours that threat with spending

    Thats the contraversial one I know. But I do think we are at or near a tipping point like 1991, where the trajectory of our defence spend has to shift upward. How soon and how much depends on lots of politics between now and 2017. General Election, Scottish plebiscite, EU referendum etc etc.

    But its all to play for.

  78. monkey

    Having finally watched More Med Moor Fun It occurred to me that in the event of needing to land troops over a shore (TD will nuke me!) all we need to do in the event of a shooting war needing amphib is to raid the med coast for all the ferries (and their crews) with few drachmas (i.e. bribe) and then no coast in the world would be safe from a landing by our forces .

  79. Mark

    Peter

    There will be a review of Istar coverage or how to maximise current asset performance. E3 is expensive to run I would think, r1 is much cheaper. You would not be able to use current voyager aircraft you could add more but the cost is huge.

    Personnally I don’t see how the threat has changed at all with those outlined in 2010. We may decide we wish to do more in certain areas and less in others but fundamentaly nothing has really changed in the last 5 years.

  80. Elm Creek Smith

    @monkey – How you gonna get them ferries to “no coast in the world?” Hmm? Sounds like a great plan to get a bunch of people to meet Davy Jones. Dunkirk in reverse?

  81. Peter Elliott

    The Russians are coming…

    OK – so maybe they are or maybe not. But they aren’t the non issue they were in 2010. Our NATO allies in the Baltic States are shitting bricks. Even the fudgepot that is the Eurozone is actually looking at and thinking about what’s going on right next door. That’s a big change.

    And the USA has its own rolling budget crisis. In 2010 the PAcific Pivot and the reducing role of ‘somone else’ round this way was a theory. Now its here.

    And at home the MoD has its programmes under control and some hard won credibility with the Treasury. That’s not like 2010 at all.

    “nothing has really changed in the last 5 years.”

  82. Simon

    GnB,

    Not sure what the official line is but I wouldn’t want to go to sea with anything less than two frigates (for redundancy) one AAW (the redundancy is in the ASW frigates) and an SSN ahead (or perhaps trailing).

    You therefore have a 1st rate ASW vessel (SSN), a 1st rate AAW vessel (T45) and two multi-purpose vessels (T26). Add to this a couple of Merlin on the frigates, a couple of Wildcat on the T45 and you have the building blocks of an escort force for something serious.

  83. All Politicians are the Same

    The required escort numbers depend upon how many vessels you are escorting and the threat.

    You are will not operate an SSN in direct support, you allocate it water normally ahead of a TG and let it do its thing in Associated support.
    Escorting a CVF and tankers and maybe 1 amphib in a multi threat environment. I would want 2 T45 and 4 T26.

  84. Mark

    Peter

    Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 doing much the same as they are doing in Ukraine.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/61936/national-security-strategy.pdf

    Page 27

    Tier One: The National Security Council considered the following groups of risks to be those of highest priority for UK national security looking ahead, taking account of both likelihood and impact.

    • International terrorism affecting the UK or its interests, including a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack by terrorists; and/or a significant increase in the levels of terrorism relating to Northern Ireland.
    • Hostile attacks upon UK cyber space by other states and large scale cyber crime.
    • A major accident or natural hazard which requires a national response, such as severe coastal
    flooding affecting three or more regions of the UK, or an influenza pandemic.
    • An international military crisis between states, drawing in the UK, and its allies as well as other states and non-state actors.

    Seems they got it about right?

  85. ArmChairCivvy

    Keen US interest in ship/ boat launched long-range strike weapons is explained by this example, cited by the USAF Pacific commander
    “We have tested an F-22 with its sensors teeing up a T-LAM strike from a submarine against a moving target,” he said. “This is the future, whereby the weapons on target are not simply carried by the aircraft but the forward-based sensor can provide the moving target and, over time, those forward sensors can have the ability to direct that weapon to the target.”

    To have those sensors everywhere he cites all the support for 4 Raptors flying with them on a C-17. Quite a xevelopment from the Cold War bare base concept, when you needed to support at least a whole sdrn , to have any relevance in the field.

  86. Peter Elliott

    @Mark

    The point about Russia is that there is now a very clear trend and trajectory to their actions. Their actions are steadily becoming bolder, larger and closer to home. So far all have succeded in their own terms.

    They clearly place themselves outside the western diplomatic system and are prepared to use force agressively to ‘game’ for what they want at the most opportune moment. They are smart in how they do it, both at a macro and and a micro level. Clever news management and use of FSB to infiltrate and provoke. Their P5 seat makes it hard to pin them down through the UN. Which leaves economic, conventional and nuclar deterrance as critical tools for us.

    At least the Chinese have a defining objective of stability – albeit defined in their own terms. The Russians, from their more torrid history, have a macho concept of dominance as the only guarantee of their security. If we appear weak that is exactly how they will treat us.

    The Russians are geographically much closer to us than the Chinese are. And have a historical claim (in their own minds) on the Baltic States that are NATO members to whom we have formal defence obligations. Our European trading partners are also heavily exposed to Russia both militarily and economically. Two out of their principal sea lanes (Northern and Blatic) come right past our front door. Their relationships with Cyprus, Syria and Egypt will impact on our mediterranean and middle eastern interests.

    All this points, at the very least, to a renewed focus on securing our own coastline and airsapce from Russian incursion, sustaining the security of CASD, and a strategy of militaty preparedness for conventional containment. That means having enough deployable air squadrons to be able to send _our_ war planes to Lithuania and Poland when required. As well as a full fat ASW MPA and enough modern Frigates and SSNs to maintain local dominance in the North East Atlantic even if the Russian Fleet comes out. What it means for the Army I’m not so sure. Not sure we will be sending our armoured brigades into Poland. Or re-invading conquered countries outside NATO. But a sensible recapitalisation of the Apache fleet and upgrades to C2 and Warrior plus Fres SV and UV, CAMM(L) are wise precuations that we should underwrite the funding for.

    Short term I agree nothing has changed. But the trajctory is now such that the medium term threat has incresed. And procurement lead times do justify an increased spend over the next 5-10 years to repair our capability gaps and be ready if the time should come.

  87. Mark

    Peter

    Sorry but I don’t see this as an excuse to suddenly return the navy or indeed the airforce or army to Cold War posture.

    I’m not entirely sure Russia in there eyes is doing anything different to what we in the west have done the past 20 years. On top of that if you look at it from a Russian point of view they have seen an ever eastward advance of NATO missile shields et al and even EU states and there old friends in the Mid East be squeezed hard. They may fear the west is attempting to remove there access to the Mediterranean by the situation in Syria and in there eyes the removal of Allies in Ukraine potentially threatening there Black Sea fleet.

    As for the north altantic well its not like there suddenly returning the red banner northern fleet to Cold War levels of a hundred submarines and regimental strength air arms. Are they actually expanding anything or just attempting to recapitalise there fleets of aircraft and ships over a long period with smaller numbers than present exactly the same as we are. This may mean they are more compotent in certain areas but we aren’t standing still either. The thing we probably lack more than anything is persistence due to lack of personel than necessarily lack of equipment. Does it simply mean prioritise north altantic tasks over other tasking areas? The exception would be has the threat profile to the deployed ssbn changed and we are not in a position here to judge that and frankly russian action in Ukraine has very little impact on that.

    As for policing the Baltic air defences well NATO partners in Europe can call on close to 350 typhoons and rising , a 100 and rising odd rafale, several hundred f16s not to mention many other types so I think we can handle policing NATO airspace fairly well. Like wise with frigates and air warfare ships, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Germany and holland all now have modern effective vessels and combined with the US that would far out match any threat we face from Russia.

  88. Repulse

    @APATS: “Escorting a CVF and tankers and maybe 1 amphib in a multi threat environment. I would want 2 T45 and 4 T26.” – Would agree that that would be the high end, but I guess in a Falklands style high threat operation you’d want the option to combine the 2 RFTGs possibly into a super task force which could have fewer Escorts in total.

  89. Peter Elliott

    @Mark

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say Cold War posture. We have been disarming since 1991 and all I am saying is we should cease that and begin a moderate increase. Probably not even so far as SDR98 levels.

    And I agree with you that before we even think about increased scale of forces we need to staff, equip and train with what we have. De-hollowing if you will.

    Where we do part company I think is that I have little confidence in many of our European partners to come to the party. If we are looking to demonstrate continental solidarity then why aren’t Germany or France or Spain deploying any addtional fighters to the Baltic…? I find our EU allies flaky on defence at best. And would expect UK to drift further away from the EUzone centre of gravity whatever the outcome of the planned in/out vote in 2017. That’s why I forsee a moderate medium term (10 year) build-up of our forces probably not reaching or exceeding SDR98 levels as being justified.

  90. Mark

    “”If we are looking to demonstrate continental solidarity then why aren’t Germany or France or Spain deploying any addtional fighters to the Baltic…?”

    Maybe because the threat isn’t really there? If you don’t think they would send aircraft if they were requested then what your really saying is that NATO is irrelevant.

  91. The Other Chris

    The USA are currently performing the Baltic Air Policing role as part of the NATO QRA rota.

    They have increased the number of aircraft in the area and added additional tankers.

    My understanding is that Poland are due to take over the role later in the year for the 35th rotation.

  92. Peter Elliott

    I agree with you Mark. In the short term, ie now, the threat isn’t there.

    What I am saying is that there is a trajectory of events that now suggests an increaed possibility of a real threat manifesting in a 5-10 year timescale.

    No-one was sinking our ships or shooting up our planes in 1932, 33, 34, 35 or 36. But by 1940/1 we were desparate for hardware. And fortunately as it turned out the build-up we initated in the mid 1930s arrived only just in time.

    But I do think its interesting that when our Baltic allies feel threatened it is US F15s that appear to reassure them. Not anything from us and our allies. That does tell a story. And the Visegrad states aren’t stupid. They will remember who is ready to help them and who isn’t.

  93. ArmChairCivvy

    The 4 extra F15s and a tankerr all came from UK bases, so not a big hop, but a clear signal anyway.

  94. The Other Chris

    First of three Mistral’s to Russia has begun Sea Trials:

    Vladivostok begins sea trials

    Will be an interesting side headline to watch.

    If a spare £1b was found behind the sofa, would three Mistral-class originally intended for Russia be of interest to the UK in some kind of Saturday Morning Fantasy Fleet Swap Shop deal?

  95. WiseApe

    It really is pointless buying up extra ships if you’re just going to park them in extended readiness because you don’t have the manpower to crew them.

    And “extended readiness” sounds so much better than “mothballs” doesn’t it.

  96. All Politicians are the Same

    @http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140307-706072.html

    The USN has sent USS Truxtun (Flight IIA Arleigh Burke) into the Black Sea to conduct exercises with the Bulgarians and Romanians. The rest of the Bush CBG remains in the Med.

  97. John Hartley

    If we are playing fantasy fleets, then I think the RN could do with a couple of HMS Visby style stealth corvettes. Very handy for sending into enclosed waters like the Black Sea, when you want a bit of old fashioned gunboat diplomacy.

  98. TED

    @The other chris

    That would be lovely ta. But as wise ape says we aint got no one to man them :(

  99. All Politicians are the Same

    @TED

    The Mistrals are really lean manned, could retire Ocean and one LPD to man all 3 :)

  100. The Other Chris

    @APATS

    Blimey they really did pick a serious ship from the group huh?

    USS Taylor is still in the area (repairs after running aground) and USS Mount Whitney left at the end of February.

    @TED and @WiseApe

    Re: Fantasy Fleets

    I know. I’m not always so serious all of the time. Honest. No really!

    The Mistral deal is still definitely one to watch though.

  101. Mark

    WiseApe

    “BAE Systems has performed the first test flight of a Eurofighter Typhoon fitted with a mass model replicating the type’s future active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.”

    Who says blue circle has gone out of vogue ;)

  102. The Other Chris

    @APATS

    I know you’ve said you’d like to replace the LPD’s with LHD’s, would you take the Mistral’s if offered or hold out for something else, hypothetically?

  103. All Politicians are the Same

    @TOC

    Taylor is heading to Crete for repairs.

    I would take the Mistrals in a minute given the opportunity, I was lucky enough to have a look round Mistral at sea off Lebanon in 2006. Lovely ships, dynamic positioning, great facilities, Tier 3 medical facility. if I had 1 issue it would be range at speed but they are really good ships.
    Smaller than a Canberra or a Juan Carlos but we would use them as the French do in an LHD role supported by a real carrier rather than a Carrier Hybrid. (can dream).

  104. Challenger

    I’d take 2-3 Mistral’s in a heartbeat, nice looking ships with some good capabilities and most importantly lean crewed. Not sure what we would do with Albion/Bulwark, would anyone want to buy them?

    Unfortunately i think at the moment with monetary pressure and the future of CVF still not fully defined anything with a flat top is going to be seen as a waste of money and a duplication of resources by the less informed areas of the public and media.

  105. Simon

    Chally,

    “…at the moment with monetary pressure and the future of CVF still not fully defined anything with a flat top is going to be seen as a waste of money and a duplication of resources…”

    I completely agree but think it’s about time the chaps in charge had a few stock responses. Like:

    “If you see more flat-tops as wastes of money and resources then why don’t you close all airbases other than one?”

    or

    “Would it help if we put a crane or brick wall on the bow to stop any chance of F35B operating off it?”

    I would then append the chosen above statement with “…you spanners!” ;-)

  106. Peter Elliott

    Seriously speaking Simon and Chally I would probably build our next Amphib with a transverse superstucture rather than parallel for that very reason.

    Same size dock and hangers, same number of spots, as and LPH just build the bridge acrross the front so it looks like an LPD. Saves on aircraft lift too cos you can just roll in and out of the hanger.

  107. Peter Elliott

    @Wise

    Maybe a naval arhitect can explain it : but if you are _not_ looking to operate fixed wing, is there actually any benefit to a flat topped ‘through decks’ LHD layout compared to a really big LPD?

    I understand why the Aussies went for Canberra. It was an off the shelf design of the right size that does everything they want. And credit to them for not adding cost to the process by fucking about to delete the ramp just becuase it ‘wasn’t needed’.

    But asssume from a blank sheet that both layouts (LHD and LPD) are specifed for the same outputs. For instance: 6 landing spots, 6 hanger spots, dock for 4 LCU and xxx LIMS of vehicles; medical and command centres; limited self defence weapons.

    Which layout is actually more eficient (a) as a trans oceanic ship and (b) for amphibious offload (c) for build and through life costs? Is it really all about the fixed wing? In which case why is Mistral a flat top?

    Help us please @Not a Boffin!!

  108. Peter Elliott

    Actually, thinking about it: maybe its all about the ratio between spots and LIMS?

    The LHD uses the whole length of the hull for spots with a full length hanger underneath, and the LIMS/Dock underneath that.

    The LPD uses half the length for spots, half for the hanger, but still the full length for LIMS/Dock.

    So for a given amount of LIMS/Dock the LHD will have approx double the aviation capacity of even a well laid out LPD.

    Am I right?

    If so it would still be most cost effectve for the future RN to build new LPDs (with hangers) rather than LHDs, becuase of the glut of avaiation capacity offered by 2 QEC class with no LIMS/Dock at all.

  109. Simon

    PE,

    “Saves on aircraft lift too cos you can just roll in and out of the hanger.”

    Very true.

    However, that design can only really operate up to about six copters – otherwise it’s very difficult to move them around.

    The idea of “lillypadding” from the carrier/LPH through the LPD deck is absolutely fine but now we have all our aviation eggs in one basket I’d be inclined to keep CVF out of harms way. This still supports the “lillypadding” concept with one important exception…

    It is WAY, way, way more efficient to operate AH from closer range, this means rearming, refueling and at least O-level maintenance OTH on the assault vessels. This means in the LPD design above I think the whole vessel, deck, and forward hangar would be occupied by Apache. This stops operation of the drop-off/pick-up of utility copters, which is not good.

    This, along with the general utility of an LHD are the only reasons why I’d want to drift towards heavier aviation capability from the assault group.

  110. ArmChairCivvy

    Forward hangar; does that imply air ops from the front xeck?

    How often do you see that? In supply vessels, where it does happen bcz of theneed for cranes, the platform is well raised-up… Makes for a single helo..

  111. Mark

    More than £35m is to be spent on rebuilding and lengthening the runway at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the investment would extend the runway’s operational life by a further 25 years.
    It said it was vital that the base, which is the “eyes and ears” of the UK’s armed forces, continued to provide surveillance and reconnaissance in support of military operations.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-26484959

    We all know what happen shortly after upgrades……..

  112. x

    Peter said “Maybe a naval arhitect can explain it : but if you are _not_ looking to operate fixed wing, is there actually any benefit to a flat topped ‘through decks’ LHD layout compared to a really big LPD?”

    It isn’t just fixed wing aircraft that like to fly forwards. And even slow helicopters fly faster than even fastest ship. If you want to operate lots of flying things removing structure from in front helps. Ship’s don’t need a big bridge. Space for sensors is probably a bigger consideration. And if your ship has GTs the need for large uptakes.

    My opposition to LHD is that hangar space even if it can be used for vehicles is a huge volume within a ship. A Warthog say is nowhere near as tall as a Merlin (plus space above the Merlin so the rotor head and other gubbins can be accessed). That space would give you another deck’s worth of “man sized” spaced. We are going to struggle to fill QEC’s hangars with buying more hangar space when what need is more dock and cargo space. Just because an amphib isn’t carrying helicopters it doesn’t mean you don’t want it to have good aviation facilities in terms of flightdeck space. It doesn’t mean you won’t want to offload the embarked military force quickly be helicopters from another ship. The trouble here is too much thought is given to designing yet another ship to carry helicopters just in case and not enough thought is given to large operations and the assault ship’s function of moving marines ashore as quickly as possible in large concentrations with all their necessary equipment. It is the latter that wins the day not garage space for £20 million troop transporter.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Csumi-class_tank_landing_ship

  113. Simon

    x,

    I do agree with you but it still doesn’t solve the AH problem.

    I’d rather like to understand how we would plan to use AH from CVF (if at all) and/or from another platform?

    With reference to X’s statement about copters and through-decks, there is also the fact that copters too can make use of a runway. ASaC7 often launches with a takeoff run (yes, I know, surprising isn’t it) simply to maximise efficiency.

    PS: With reference to my “forward hangar”. I meant a hangar, forward rather than a spot forward of the hangar.

  114. TED

    Helicopters with wheels benefit form a rolling takeoff not from efficiency but for payload. All to do with lift of course and wind over deck is just as helpful.

    Why would we need to operate AH from ships other than in all out war? Well as normal you don’t need to but look at Libya. I asked myself earlier when AH on a ship would help, i.e. in Ukraine it might make the Russians think twice but unlikely. However for things like Libya, Mali and CAR it would be ideal.

    Therefore I propose a ‘projected force vessel’. Something like Canberra or Mistral could both operate Apache (maybe paired with recce wildcats) and then just 2-3 Merlin HC4. Wiki (sorry!) states 8 aircraft at normal capacity; thats perhaps 6 Apache (enough for taking out some tanks or safeguarding any troops?). 18 total aircraft at full capacity but I digress. Maybe if you used 4 Apache, 2 Wildcat for recce and 2 Merlin HC4 it gives you a good capability.

    My reason for including Merlin is to provide some troop lift but possibly more importantly if you lose and Apache you have 2 cabs capable of launching CSAR (quite good if we are operating alone.) You also retain the boaty things you keep in the bottom closer to the water (I will let someone else take over there…)

    Ok but thats nothing new… Well returning to others suggestions of Vertical launch sites for anti ship or air… Perhaps GMLRS for ground close ground attack as well. Maybe a 40mm on the front for bombardment of shore defences although you could always use a nicely armoured AH… If you remove the ramp you free up room to weapons or maybe another heli spot. But given this ships is for a more inshore vessel I would suggest (without p*ssing about too much) that you apply the deck protection needed against F35 so that F35 may land in emergencies or to increase the time on station.

    Mistral offers similar capabilities.

  115. Simon

    TED,

    I thought HMS Ocean had a nominal RFTG air group of 3 Lynx + 3 Apache + 4 Sea King HC4.

    So doesn’t your “projected force vessel” already exist?

    PS: ASAC7′s rolling takeoff increases the payload of fuel and therefore endurance efficiency ;-)

  116. ArmChairCivvy

    Minus the command systems RE the Mistrals
    - initially the ships were tobe sold w/omods
    . then the other NATO countries stepped in, and some more sensitive components were omitted

    I seem to remember that France was.not the only bidder?

  117. x

    @ Angus

    A couple of times here I have listed out what each US armed uniformed gets from its organic airpower and actually who is the ultimate customer. Most here are happy until they get to the part where I discuss the USAF where I get accused of all sorts of bias, misrepresentation, and evil. Pointing out the USAF does nothing apart from fly the US Army around the world, that their main combat power is find in missiles not aircraft, they play about with satellites a lot (that mostly look at the ground surely something for the US Army to do), and that if the USN and USMC can provide fighters above the sea then surely the US Army could do the same above land doesn’t go down well with some here.

  118. Chris.B.

    @ X,

    Without getting drawn into the wider, tired old debate, it’s because your comments about the subject are normally complete bollocks, like “Pointing out the USAF does nothing apart from fly the US Army around the world”. You often present it as a joke, but the sad fact is you actually seem to believe most it.

  119. IXION

    Yea

    let’s give the amphibians to the RFA. To run on the behalf of the army. Army can have the marines.

    The RAF could run the Elephants. We could merge the paras with the raf regiment….

    The Navy can run around in sharp pointed sex things. And sneak up on stuff in subs.

    Everyone happy.

  120. Simon

    I don’t agree that we don’t need an air-force, however we do tend to get stuck in ancient mind sets.

    For example, if we had a missile defence screen on the mainland of Britain who would operate it?

    The only sensible answer is the RAF as it requires integration to the air picture and coordination with AWACS and QRA assets. However, it doesn’t seem to stack up as “Royal”, “Air” or “Force”.

    The same is true for the submarine service. It’s not strictly the Royal Navy, especially when you include the SSBNs in the equation where they struggle to even be part of anything!

    This is why I keep touting a change of “branding”. Home Island Defence Force (HIDF) and Expeditionary Response Force (ERF).

  121. x

    @ Chris B

    As I have told you lots of times if you don’t like what I say don’t comment.

    At least I am not an unimaginative, boring pedant who seems to think they are the sole arbiter of truth on this site. You never say anything original. You are incapable of original or lateral thought. Most of the bilge you pump is conventional wisdom.

    Have you heard ever heard the term metacognition? You should it look it up. You see I do realise most of what I say is tongue in cheek. As opposed to you who actually sincerely believe your that trotting out the MoD line or snippets form whomever is the current fashionable thinker or scoffing at the Daily Mail are their original thought, The Mighty Chris B Sole Arbiter Of Fact At Think Defence. Christ on a bike.

    The aggression amazes me. Who the fuck do you think you are? Come on? You are just like the majority here a faceless nob-entity on the web. I am not the only commentator here who you have weighed and judged am I? No am I not.

    Why do you go off to your own blog and manage the traffic there because it must be rivalling here by now. Surely the great unwashed must turn up in the millions to read your latest musings on nothing at all that can’t have been read elsewhere on the web or in a book from decades ago,

    I feel sorry for you. You are one of those who think by belittling others you add to your own status. It doesn’t. It just shows you to be somebody who is sadly lacking in the personality department. And even worse doesn’t know they have a problem.

    Because I am the bigger and better man I shall take me leave on the forum once again and see if I can’t make it permanent this time.

  122. DavidNiven

    I agree with IXION, we should build mega float runways and bin the elephants so we can transfer all the amphibs to the RFA (who are civil servants). With a mega float runway we could put a hotel on for the crabs and some sangars for the pongo’s to sit in while its getting towed to the required hotspot. It can provide its own air defence and is so large that it is practically unsinkable, we can purchase it through a PFI agreement with one of the major civils companies.

    We can do away with the marines and the money spent can buy the tugs (run by RFA of course). A mega float runway would give us truly world beating expeditionary capabilities and the ability to save money buy reducing a single service by 90%.

    We will keep the submarine service to continue altering global events by their mere presence ;-)

  123. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @ David Niven – I’m not sure you are taking this seriously… :-)

    @x – I think perhaps you might be taking this a bit too seriously, but you no doubt know your own mind…hope to hear from you again though :-( By no means enough of us arguing for more ships!

    GNB

  124. Red Trousers

    We have a need of inter-service naked group hugs all around, so long as my hugging group only involves the prettiest females among the Andrew or the Kevins, and no polyester uniforms. I can cope with stockings.
    ;)

  125. Red Trousers

    The Spam Filter has eaten his last meal from me. It is beyond ridiculous, despite very generous behind the scenes assistance from TD to work through the issues.

    Good hunting, all. :)

    RT

  126. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – getting a bit like the first day on the Somme in these parts – decent chaps falling left and right -quite spoiling my day :-( hope to hear the jingle of your spurs again in due course – when the mine I’m digging under the spam filter goes off…

    Gloomy, Lieutenant, First North Country Mud-Monkeys.

  127. ArmChairCivvy

    My contributions turn up even 3-5 hours late, and as they appear with the right time stamp, the discussion will have moved on and I believe so have those who actively read the thread it happens to be, at any given time.

    I only got this problem when I moved to the super-star author status and (with zero articles contributed) would be quite willing to give up that status.

  128. Think Defence

    Christ on a bike, its all happening :)

    1.
    Please chaps, I know I keep asking, and asking, and asking. Can we fucking well play nice

    2.
    Thinking about moving the comment engine to Disqus, it has improved vastly since I last looked at it. Not 100% but that is my thinking, anyone have any violent objections?

  129. Simon

    Re: Mark’s ASW link…

    Anything to do with an aggressive stance from Russia recently?

    Next, they’ll be dusting off the FA2s at Culdrose too – a long overdue excercise in my opinion.

  130. Simon

    In response to various commenters vanishing points…

    I get comments eaten pretty rarely.

    What is it that is typed to cause such a lot of false positives? Too much about stockings I guess [see if this one gets eaten ;-)].

    PS: This got through immediately. I’m going to add “knickers” to the equation and see if that makes this go into the “big dustbin in the sky”.

    PPS: No. That worked too ;-)

  131. The Other Chris

    Numerous hyperlinks or multiple edits to a post within a short space of time normally eat my posts.

    Quite like Disqus, would let you experiment with a static html site using the Disqus engine to chat.

    Less stats though, can get pricey, no idea if you lose comments after a time period, would recreating profiles cause a loss of userbase?

  132. ArmChairCivvy

    Google+, WP and the likes that provide multiple survices (Disqus, too?) Are a clear threat to discussion forums where free (too free?) Formulation of thoughts is the fuel that keeps discussion moving.

    Accidental disclosure of username happens all goo easily, because there is no way the end user could transparently understand the logical and logistical workings of a platform. Example:
    - I created the non-sensical user name accattd just to manage my subscriptions on the WP platform
    - while doing something else the platform takes me to TD’s Open Thread
    - I am positively surprised (at some stage it was to be abolished), see all the good names, from the good times and contribute just Hi! Good to see it is still going strong here!
    - before I even know it,my “other” alias has jumped out from the logistics “cage”

    I don’t quite see what Disqus could bring, and the bespoke feel of TD (be it on the WP platform) should be preserved.
    - one thing that is missing from TD is the QUOTE button. Should work on any high lighted bit, rather than dragging whole submissions in, repeatedly, just because it is easier to pdess the button than first high light the relevant point, and then press the button.

    The attrition of users ix also a real possibility. The profiles are a pain, and I just can’t Be bothered ( in most cases).

  133. wf

    @TD: I had blocked Disqus since it was slow and error prone. Will enable it again for a week for another site and see what it’s like now, then report back

  134. Chris

    Ref comment platforms – I could never understand why there wouldn’t be a ‘trusted poster’ list of display names allied to email addresses that the platform would use to vet comments against – if name X from e-mail Y had 400 comments posted over a 12 month period the chances are X would not post spam (although possibly irrelevant annoying mischievous misleading or blatant rubbish). But then I’m not a software geek so no doubt that’s just impossible to implement.

    Note that reference to poster X does not relate to x, recently from these parts.

  135. Not a Boffin

    The reason ships designed to operate numbers of aircraft tend to be flat-tops is that it’s usually the most flexible layout for doing so. It is sometimes linked with operation of f/w, but is not necessarily driven by that. People also tend to get hung up on the designation LPD vs LPH vs LHD vs LSD etc which is really the function, not what it looks like (although there can be an interdependence).

    Take your amphibious assault requirement. For the UK that tends to be based around one or two company lift by air, which has traditionally been based on 6 Merlin / SK4 type cabs. The surface lift requirement is also valid, but doesn’t tend to drive the topside design. To maintain cohesion and minimse effort, you want to launch all at once, which tends to mean you need six spots on deck capable of having cabs turning and burning. You also tend to want to have a second wave able to be moved relatively quickly into position and/or some armed helos as well, which tends to make you want to park them on deck. You also want to control the movment of chalks of troops on the flightdeck, which means having them approach the cabs from known directions under control of chockheads. All of that tends to point to a long flightdeck, with parking area to starboard and access to the flightdeck at specific points along the length to starboard, given tha the cabs take off to port.

    You can change the cabs to Chinooks and use less spots, but the spots tend to be a bit bigger and you get some downwash issues in terms of locating things. The relationship between size of lift (ie number of spots) and length doesn’t scale perfectly, but you basaically end up with a long ship. Putting the hangar forward (a la Jeanne d’Arc) is feasible, but has some fairly serious drawbacks, primarily to do with motion (a high-pitch location is not good for working at height on cabs) and with airwake turbulence. The latter can lose you many of the savings you thought you might be getting in size – people were very surprised on AOR when spot 1 was rated unusable in a number of relative wind conditions, basically because the cab fell out of theh sky as it transitioned into the “shadow” behind the hangar block.

    Then you have the nature of the various cargoes. Pax going by air tend to go up vertically from troop spaces, issue centres etc onto the flightdeck, as do lighter stores. Vehicles (and heavy stores) tend to go longitudinally aft to the dock funnily enough and don’t like doing ‘tween deck movements if at all avoidable. All of which means that turning a below decks hangar space into a vehicle deck is not entirely straightforward, primarily from an access PoV, but also because that length of deck (linear metre-age) is best positioned down low. It can be done of course – the Italians and Spanish have proven it, but it’s a size trade-off for them against a bigger ship.

  136. ArmChairCivvy

    What Chris says, March 10, 2014 at 10:47 am
    Is probably what we had earlier, but with the need to make the platform scale,
    Maybe the baby went with the bath water?
    - I am really annoyed that my comments only come up when the readers , the active ones partaking, are already on the “next page” – Sometimes literally ( well, the page length is liberal, but who enjoys combing through the same stuff twice).

  137. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @ACC – Don’t leave us – you would have to form an insurgent group with @RT, and the pair of you together would guarantee a minimum of three opinions on any issue…it couldn’t possibly end well! :-)

    GNB

  138. Tom

    NaB – Thanks for laying at some the considerations in amphib design.

    To me this says that the UK combo of LPH (or QEC multi-role aviation platform) and LPD is perhaps a better choice than 2 smaller less optimised LPDs ala France/Spain/Italy. The trade off being than you have to operate them in combo rather being able to split your efforts.

  139. Tom

    ACC – Try logging in to WordPress. This seems to circumvent the spam issues and comments come up instantly.

  140. Not a Boffin

    The trouble with the UK amphib disposition is that it actually dates from the late 80s / early 90s, where the role was essentially to get 3Cdo, CHF and the CLR over to Norway en masse in specialist shipping, together with their command elements. It was also supposed to do this at the lowest cost.

    That led to a force structure of 1 x Aviation Support Ship (great acronym!) to replace Hermes, essentially like for like replacements for Fearless & Intrepid and a SLEP of the LSLs. ASS became Ocean, so interest then moved onto the 2 LPD(R) which were NAPNOC’ed into what they are today – seriously dense-packed ships. Then when Bedivere got SLEPed people relearned old lessons about trying to upgrade very old ships. Which led to ALSL, now LSD(A) – good ships with a reputation coloured by MoD not twigging they were seriously under-bid. The common thread here ought to be obvious – chasing an individual requirement (that might not now be optimum for the whole) for the lowest cost.

    In fairness, in the noughties, MoD did have a look at a more “modular” fleet solution under what was the LPH(RC) studies, where one option was to package a Cdo group (including r/w and LC support) in a single LHD style ship, with the full CLR and WMR in LSD(A). Trouble was the pax, LIMS and offload asset requirements for the LHD were allowed to creep up without a firm dose of reality, so you ended up with 30000 to 45000 tonne ships. Nothing inherently wrong in that, particularly if you factor in opcost savings from a reduced overall fleet, but way more bunce than was available in the Great Financial Genius’ scheme of things. So it all got quietly parked. Note that these got to the level of pre-concept studies – essentially to inform what the long-term costings might look like. There are no drawers full of worked up designs for 40000 te LHDs ready to be handed over to a friendly builder, nor any endorsed staff targets (URD and SRD in NewSpeak) justifying them for that matter.

    The other thing those ships would have needed was a carrier along to provide fleet air defence. You don’t send your high readiness contingency force (or even a bunch of Points fuill of pongo vehicles) somewhere without appropriate air cover, unless you’re happy to base your plans on a compliant air threat equivalent to the peace loving natives of MBoto Gorge, with or without cricket balls.

  141. WiseApe

    @Simon – The trigger word you are looking for is “elephant.” :-)

    I now have this recurring nightmare where it will just be TD, me and M&S left; a container junkie, a carrier junkie and a…..well, where do I start.

  142. Observer

    Wise, with a parachute.

    NaB, could you expand on the problems with pax, LIMS and offload asset requirements? Always fascinating to learn about new stuff. Do you mean that they overloaded it with too little lift to shore?

  143. Dunservin

    @Chris.B.

    “@ X,

    Trolled like the drama queen beauty that you are!”

    And thus you validate his point in spades.

  144. Red Trousers

    Well, that worked. It is obviously not my choice of subject. So long as I confine myself to now middle aged reminiscence, we’re good to go.

  145. Not a Boffin

    Observer

    No problems just wanted the moon on a stick in a single platform. If you put loads of LIM, loads of pax and loads of offload assets on one ship, don’t be surprised if it’s a tad on the large side……

    Nothing wrong with it being large provided you’re prepared to pay the price. Or understand what requirements are driving the design beyond their actual utiliy and trade down those bits to follow-on shipping…..

  146. Not a Boffin

    Nope, far from it. It was just too big and therefore in a world (MoD) where ships are costed by weight, too expensive. Dispersion doesn’t work at sea when you get down to Cdo group level. You’re always going to lose enough of the force in one ship that you can’t do your mission, whether you have two or three small ones or one big un.

    .

  147. Peter Elliott

    @NAB

    Nothing wrong with the basic concept then.

    But in an era when we’d just renewed the Amphib fleet, were desparate for new Destroyers, and had 2 Carriers to pay for was probably never going to get funded.

    An idea whose time may yet come again though – although maybe on a smaller scale now we have the possibility of a big heli-garage parked further offshore. So can lillypad some (but not all) of the required inshore rotary.

  148. Jackstaff

    @WiseApe,

    Thanks for the update even if it’s not a good one. Also for your earlier fever dream about the blasted remnants of TD you have won the internets for today. You may collect a weaponised Jammie Dodger from the biccy tin.

    @RT,

    Following on your model of brevity in expression: cleft.

  149. wf

    @WiseApe: I suppose if it’s just the three of you left, you’ll need an interpreter. Not sure I can decipher more than 60% of M&S’s posts, but if that’s good enough I’ll turn up at weekends and work overtime :-)

  150. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @wf – If you are managing 60% you need to be getting out more, my lad….or does the scrumpy of your native heath have unexpected side effects like “Speaking in Tongues”! All good wishes…

    GNB

  151. wf

    @GNB: long ago, back in the mists of time before I discovered girls and booze, I used to read Flight International and the like obsessively. Thirteen year olds have a remarkable ability to absorb acronyms…perhaps M&S is around that age too?

    Good wishes for you too up North :-)

  152. WiseApe

    Eagerly anticipating delivery of weaponised jammie dodger.

    On the subject of LHDs, there’s been discussion over on f16.net about the one that Turkey are looking at. Basically a mini Juan Carlos (about 19000t) sans the ski jump.

  153. Red Trousers

    On the subject of Knockers, is it a bit prejudicial to have pre-shagged a Prosecutor before appearing as a Defence witness?

    I only ask as there was a time in BAOR where various Court Martial shenanigans had led to a ruling by someone senior in a wig that defence lawyers needed to be from a separate Service, not under the chain of command. So we had three Kevin lawyers posted in to 1st (UK) Armd Div to act as Patsies on Court Martials. There was me as the SO3 G3 Ops, at the peak of my unmarried powers. One of the Kevin lawyers was dramatically Welsh, pretty enough, and possessed of a tremendous chest. So I shagged her, not once but many times and she became a reliable standby for a wet evening in Herford when there was not much else going on.

    About four months later, one of my Regimental boys came up on a big charge of beating severely a Boxhead in a bar. She was appointed Prosecutor, and I was a character witness (to be fair, he was guilty as sin, it was merely the character the Court enquired after).

    Was the pre-shagging a bit of a legal issue? I shagged her the night before the Court sat, and the evening after. Everything in the Court itself was properly done.

  154. Chris.B.

    @ Dunservin,

    “And thus you validate his point in spades”
    – Merely what he has been doing to others for quite a while now. Though in fairness I didn’t expect him to go quite that far off the rails.

    And the original point still stands. Most of his arguments on that subject are (were?) bollocks. The argument usually crops up once every six months. It’s been done to death on TD. X (or some other) will bring the issue up. It gets comprehensively torn apart from multiple angles. Then he’ll sit and wait for a few months, just long enough for people to forget, before bringing it up again as if the previous discussion never took place, completely ignoring the detailed arguments presented to him last time and trolling the forum with more “the RAF only transports the army” type comments.

    Like a lot of people he can give it, but clearly can’t take it.

  155. Red Trousers

    … She did have tremendous knockers however. And much as though I am a bad man, I cannot help but recall that phrase in a Welsh accent. Tremendous. And nipples like Stalwart wheel nuts, and she was as tidy down below as a Sennybridge forestry block.

  156. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – I’m shocked RT, shocked…a Keviness AND Welsh…I hope your Club Secretary doesn’t roost in these parts at all or he will be offering you the traditional glass of malt and Webley Mark VI in the Library..!

    Can’t wait for @IXION’s views on how many principles of jurisprudence you managed to breach in a series of acts of illicit concupiscence mind you.

    Boss – great series of emollient posts tonight…are you practising Psyops on us in the hope of quieting a restive bazaar? Mind you, still one or two hard-liners who might need further persuasion…

    GNB

  157. Ace Rimmer

    RT, I can’t wait for your memoirs to come out, any chance of a signed copy?

    From a legal point of view I think you’re OK as there was no real conflict of interest. Did you know in advance that she was acting on behalf of the prosecution? Probably not, had you shagged her in the hope of coercion, then I feel there would’ve been some grounds with regards corruption, or at least attempted!

    Never mind Sennybridge, I can remember tabbing over the Brecon and seeing Fan-Y-Gud (or something similar) marked on the map, good days! I’ll have to check an OS map…

  158. Red Trousers

    @ GNB. Hugely relaxed about what the law might decide. After all, it’s the Prosecution that need to decides what’s what and why for, the Defence gets lots of free passes.

    Am however disturbed to think I belong to a Club, of any description. Not my scene at all. The only Club I belong to is one of my fellows, and that is informal. If a mucker wanted £100k for something, he’d have it. We don’t need a committee to decide it.

    Re Kevinesses, why not?

  159. Red Trousers

    “I would, M’lud, like to state for the record that not only did she have a delightfully Welsh accent, she also had tremendously pneumatic tits, that she threw herself at me in the months before this appearance, that she did not mind that I was also seeing other women, and that she was a Kevin and had been told that without a European title, she was not in the running to become Mrs RT, no matter how tightly her thighs could grip my hips. And that she had big tits, if I have not stated that before.”

  160. Ace Rimmer

    “no matter how tightly her thighs could grip my hips. And that she had big tits,”

    Am I on the right website? TD I think there’s definitely an opportunity for a spin-off to Think Defence, ‘Think Thighs’ perchance? At least one that requires a Visa card, any chance of buying in early? I feel there is an opportunity for investment…

  161. Jackstaff

    @RT,

    To speak the common TD mind for a moment: sweet galloping technicolor Christ on a recce bike, man, when at last you mount up to race the Great Course in the Sky, will there be an entire chancel in Our Lady of Inappropriate Bonking dedicated to your memory?

    On the other hand this is a rare case where je comprende tout. Not a Keviness but a second year law student at uni, good hearted, Swansea born and bred, and, um, enthusiastic.

  162. Observer

    RT, bad news mate, your wife was looking over your shoulder when you posted that. To which hospital should we send the get well card?

  163. Jackstaff

    Of course the ability to imitate Welsh friends and distant relations helped win the missus just half a decade later: who was then, as I sometimes remarked, half-Scots, half-Texan, and all bosom. After four daughters, and rather like a Grade II Listed with a proper foundation, she has managed natural settling remarkably well. Of course she’d be entirely too happy to meet RT :) Charming, horse riding scoundrels belong in her “reading material”, not sidling up Bucks Fizz in hand….

  164. Jackstaff

    @wf,

    Speaking of scrumpy, did you ever drink at the old Coronation Tap in Bristol, just on the town side of the Downs? Proper old cider bar the Corrie. They had one tap just called Exhibition that was only drawn by the half because they wouldn’t be legally liable for some dim bulb tourist trying to drink their weight. Some of my mates swore there was wormwood in there along with the birds’ nests and rat skulls….

  165. Jackstaff

    @Observer,

    She is not only Spanish, but a high Castillian Madrillena. This is a business in which,if she does not decapitate him this night, she will be quite happy to spend years quietly developing an elaborate process that will slowly but inexorably rob him of all the things he loves, then remind him how desperately he’d like to shag her, then kill him outright in the most socially awkward circumstance possible, having selected a magnificent antique teak wood pole on which to mount his head (what she does wil his skull will be an entirely different matter…

  166. Chris

    Ace R – ref Brecon Beacons – would that be near Cross Dyke or Clawdd Coch?

    Jackstaff – ref Coronation Tap (or Carnation Tap as voiced by locals) – visited a Uni pal in his native Bristol – after much beer down by the docks* we walked up to Carnation Tap for as much scrumpy as they’d put in a glass, then left to head back to his home – that was to Upper Knowle via the Clifton Bridge, various Ashtons and Bedminster down, only breaking off flying down the centre of the roads to get a curry from a Chinese takeaway; in all about a three hour roll downhill…

    *Docks. Uniquely these were a grass covered field in the middle of the city centre, now paved. Must have taken huge numbers of horses to drag cargo vessels up there.

  167. dave haine

    It must be the scrumpy….I too can claim to reasonably understand about 60% of St mikes missives to the the TD massive….

    @ Chris
    Always wise to commence an evening of refreshment with an uphill walk, because at least the post-prandial perambulation will be downhill….I’ve never managed a hill whilst ‘refreshed’, especially as I’d usually drunk the ‘taxi tenner’as well, despite putting it in another pocket to keep it safe.

    ……I have, however, managed a hill with a head-shattering hangover, funnily enough in the Brecons, but thats another story.

    Interestingly, Somerset has now been inundated with floods of another sort. We seem to have lots of ‘Community Payback’ people in bright orange jackets, up to their knees in sh*t, doing the clearing up.

    ….Oh, and the first case of suspected Cholera…..

    Another sad thing….Pasty Aid has ceased….

  168. TED

    @ST Now I really hope that they didn’t get the bearing to the target confused with the bearing from the target!

    Got to love the ITV report “village x where there is a school”. I know its the country but we still have schools, dont sound so surprised!

  169. dave haine

    @Ted

    The ITV report was probably written by some metrosexual numpty from hammersmith, who hasn’t been beyond Slough.

    As opposed to the BBC who actually interviewed the farmer, who was in the field at the time, and seemed to be rather amused by it all.

  170. Observer

    @ST Now I really hope that they didn’t get the bearing to the target confused with the bearing from the target!

    That actually happened to one of my friends once on the pain of extreme sarcasm by his instructor.

    “The target is that direction, right? Right? So why is the gun pointing THERE?” *points in opposite direction*.

    They were using the battery as the spotting point, so when they accidentally swapped the target and spotting point coordinates in the calculator, it really went 180 degrees. It was extremely obvious it was wrong when they started setting up. Oh well, you live, you learn.

  171. Chris

    Other Monty – as no-one in Gov’t circles can be fussed to get on with it, suggest TD writes it with whatever help he wants to command, then sends it gift-wrapped to MOD. It would probably hold more sense than a Civil Service whitewash, with the exception of an inexplicable surfeit of ISO containers.

  172. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Jackstaff – I don’t think our friend @RT really does “sidling”, with or without Buck’s Fizz…although I’d guess he’s more the classic champagne cocktail type (A generous glass of the Widow poured over a brown sugar cube lightly soused in bitters and covered in Armagnac – never failed in the typing pool at Christmas back when we had both typing pools and proper Christmas Parties :-) )…and I’m keen to know when it isn’t socially infelicitous to be killed and decapitated by ones own beautiful, talented and charming Wife.

    My best offer is when she discovers you – pistol in hand – having just fought a duel over somebody else’s wife…

    GNB

  173. TED

    Implementation of new firirng orders; Before firing have a quick peep to see which way everyone elses gun is pointing. On confirming that you conform check that the incredibly barren featurless impact zone is your target. Do hope it wasnt the RWY who were said to be training up there.

    Anyway onto more useful topics: http://www.airbusmilitary.com/PressCenter/LatestNews/TabId/176/ArtMID/681/ArticleID/315/Airbus-A400M-successfully-completes-first-airdrop-trials.aspx

    A400m looking more capable

  174. ArmChairCivvy

    Always wanted to ask
    … But always forgot:

    The paratrooper trials were to be done by the French; how did they go?

  175. Mickp

    @Nick well at least the CGI puts paid to any visions of up gunned vessels. Amazonas basically

  176. Elm Creek Smith

    1. As a retiree, I believe the US Army would dearly love to have and control the A-10s, if a little thing known as the Key West Agreement could be scuttled. (A cloud of AT-6 Texan IIs for loitering about with a gazillioin laser-guided 70mm Hydra rockets would be good, too!) Removing the zipper-suited thundergods from close air support would let them play with their supersonics, bombers, and flying trucks/buses. The argument could be made for taking the flying trucks/buses away from the zipper-suited thundergods, too, and consolidating all transport into a military airlift service. (Nothing like stirring the pot!)

    2. The US Navy is considering decommissioning some Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers. Consider converting them into 30 knot modern Escort Carriers (CVEs) loaded with navalized AT-6 Texan IIs and ASW helicopters/attack helicopters, as needed. They would be available (like the Army AT-6s above) to support SPECOPs missions and patrol, with loiter at range, out to 500 km from the CVE.

    More gasoline for the fire later.

  177. monkey

    Re the Pre order for the OPV
    the picture “Mick Ord, Managing Director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, and Defence Minister Philip Dunne view ” Is this a mine is much bigger than yours picture or what!!!! .
    The bulbous bow in picture cannot be just for hydrodynamic purposes surly but is meant at some point to house or will at the outset some form of ASW kit .This maybe the precursor to be some form of ‘Corvette’ class , cheap and and easy to build with a specific purpose that is convoy escort.

  178. Mickp

    @monkey, if only. All these opvs unfortunately are going to do is replace the Rivers. I fear the only pirates they will come near are those on the Bridlington pirate boat. Your suggestion is what they should have been aspiring towards. I suppose the mythical GP type 26 may end up being that

  179. Elm Creek Smith

    @Mickp @Nick – Surely it wouldn’t cost a ton of money to put a 76mm/62 Oto Melara, maybe the Strales version, on there, would it?

  180. mickp

    @Elm Creek Smith – that would be good with a couple of 30mm on the sides. The strales is a bit like a swiss army knife gun that would give the ship an acceptable degree of defensive and offensive capabilities if it is really to go where the RN were alluding its capabilities would allow. However, even a modern 40mm or 57mm bofors would be an improvement. The picture possibly suggests the armament will be 1 30mm plus mini guns – that’s even less than the Amazonas.

  181. Mark

    WiseApe

    We could divert the blocks for pow from roysth to a build yard of their choice for a small fee if they wanted a ship to put those planes on…

  182. Elm Creek Smith

    @Mickp – Years ago, I read in Jane’s about the SAR 33 which Turkey ended up buying for their Coast Guard. The illustration in the magazine showed the SAR 33 with a 76mm/62 Oto Melara forward with a twin 35mm one deck up aft of the superstructure with 4 Harpoon tubes 2×2 on the stern. The Turks opted for 1-40mm forward and some .50 Cals. No one puts enough guns on ships these days!

    I agree that the OPB should have some version of the 76mm/62 and at least two 30-40mm (port and starboard). Leave some deck space for some VLS missiles, and, with some software, you can tailor the ship to specific missions (ADA, ASW, etc.).

  183. Challenger

    I don’t necessarily think the new OPV’s should come with a 76mm gun as built (depends on the cost and on the mission spec i guess) but i agree that something like a 57mm up front with perhaps twin 30mm looking port and starboard would be nice, with perhaps the room and design for a 76mm to be fitted if it was an option put on the table at a future date.

    Unfortunately i think they will rather predictably get the same single 30mm mount and little else similar to HMS Clyde, which as mickp rightly points out is even less than the Amazonas which the design will probably be based on.

    The RN seems the odd one out compared to a lot of other navies in the sense that it only fields light (20-30mm) and heavyish (114mm) systems with nothing in-between. What is it with the RN and a reluctance to put guns on ships!

  184. Swimming Trunks

    You know, if the OPV’s can tow a sonar array it would essentially be a modern version of DK Brown’s baseline corvette…

    “The baseline corvette is a development of the Castle class and it will have the same excellent seakeeping qualities and small superstructure. It’s primary role will be to deploy a towed array and to provide a landing for a big helicopter. For this role it will have to be quiet, and therefore it will be fitted with diesel-electric propulsion. A speed of about 25 knots seems desirable to keep up with container ships…These corvettes will have a peacetime role of offshore protection, for which they will need a gun capable of destroying a terrorist or pirate launch…In a major war the corvette would operate as a towed array ship, up to 100 miles from a destroyer or carrier, and its helicopter would use the bigger ship for a major maintenance and to avoid the worst consequences of being left in the open.”

    Anyone know what their machinery/propulsion will be?

  185. mickp

    @challenger – crazy isn’t it? These OPVs were touted as being deployable further afield to alleviate pressure on the escort fleet in low threat areas, but it seems in reality they are little more than updated Rivers. If we want to use them for gunboat diplomacy type stuff in lowish threat areas, then first thing they need is a decent gun! The bofors 40mm at least has a turret that from a distance through binoculars looks a bit more threatening. Furthermore it fires a variety of ammunition. The 57mm is the same and the strales even better. In strales you have a degree of CIWS / AA / Surface attack all in one. It looks more and more like a gap filling project and in SDSR 2015 we lose the Rivers for these. Frustrates the hell out of me the way we seem afraid and incapable of arming ships

  186. mickp

    OK some glimmer of hope

    On BAE twitter they comment on the CGI image “that is the OPV design before the modifications for the Royal Navy’s requirements”

    Now the cynic would say its before they take the gun off!

  187. Challenger

    @mickp

    I totally agree, all the talk of these new OPV’s being more capable and deployable seems like smoke and mirrors to put a more positive spin on events as opposed to having any real substance to it.

    A real force multiplier which could take on a wide variety of roles would surely have both a hangar and as you say a combination of larger main gun and better array of small caliber stuff. But of course despite the ambiguity they are currently projecting the unfortunate reality is that their is very little hope of these ships being anything more than slightly bigger/better replacements for the River’s and for no real logical reason other than a need to find something cheap to build which keeps people in work until the T26 program gets going.

    Said it before and i’ll say it again, real force multipliers need to be cheap as chips if they aren’t to divert much needed money and manpower away from the high-end surface fleet. I really don’t think the RN would be at all well served by some kind of compromised, medium sized corvette or light frigate. I want to see a defined high/low mix of surface combatants, but an Amazonas sized/shaped OPV with at most a mix of 30-57mm guns and maybe a Lynx capable hangar wouldn’t exactly break the bank!

    I’m well aware of the problems surrounding manpower, but if it was up-to me i’d be seeking to build 4 extra OPV’s to keep alongside the River’s and Clyde, the latter of which would all be based in the UK and the former of which would take over Falklands patrol duties and relieve some of the pressure on the wider surface fleet by taking care of piracy and/or drugs interdiction ops where possible.

  188. Repulse

    Interesting that the OPVs do not even get a mention on the RN future ships website page…

    I agree (of course) with the comments on weaponry. Wonder what the cost difference would be to add Artisan and EDO MFS-7000 sonar… i know the argument would be why / what would be the impact to T26 numbers, but I think these would be harder to add later, than more guns etc.

    Lastly, I’d be happy if these replaced the 3 non helo OPVs, as long as another 4 were being built in substitution of one of the T26s. ;)

  189. jonesy

    It would be interesting to know what the all up cost of these OPV’s is going to be. As far as i understood it these hulls are nothing, really, to do with RN requirements. Rather there a way of getting something deliverable from yards that the government have guaranteed work and would have to be paying for anyway. I’d not expect any significant change from the Brazillian units at all as this would mean redesign work and additional costs in an area where they dont want/intend any spend to go.

    With a decent crane stuck back aft there may be a role one day in deploying MCMW/droggy UUV’s etc and possibly ScanEagle. The hulls could therefore take a role in MHPC….perhaps even be useful in developing it. They aren’t the transformational ‘enabling platforms’ that many hope are ultimately on the way though.

  190. John Hartley

    Article on the Telegraph today, “UK faces crippling tax rises and cuts to fund pensions and health” by Szu Ping Chan.

  191. Tom

    The new OPVs have never been portrayed as anything other a made work for the remaining yard(s) till T26 is ready to go, with the added benefit of correcting some of the design weakness of the original Rivers.

    Introducing 76 or 57mm into the RN just for three ships, that are intended primarily for UK waters seems a waste of money to me.

    If we wanted something to do overseas pirate chasing/counter narcotics/etc I would go for a larger ship that can carry 4 MGBs types + a couple of helos and a useful amount of disaster relief stores.

  192. Challenger

    @Tom

    ‘If we wanted something to do overseas pirate chasing/counter narcotics/etc I would go for a larger ship that can carry 4 MGBs types + a couple of helos and a useful amount of disaster relief stores’

    So would i if money/manpower were no object. In the current situation we have to make do with what we have or what we can afford which is why i’d at least try to keep the Rivers in service for UK based ops and get these new ships doing something else.

  193. ArmChairCivvy

    3 Rivers is not much; think of the Irish Sea, the Channel, and then there is a lot of North Sea and Atlantic left
    - whatever happened to the Customs cutters (they were 4?)?

  194. IXION

    Still astounds me any RN ship of whatever capacity can be not-fitted with a basic air ASM system such as Strails or a couple of Phalanx or RAM.

    Really at some point, if its an RN vessel, then some people may well shoot at it. for a given value of ‘people’. The more fighty the ship the more fighty the people likely to shoot at it.

    Even in home waters etc the use of knock of old Russian anti tank missiles cannot be ruled out … Hells Angels in northern Europe have used those on one-another!

    OK no pirate with a brain cell is going to engage any ship operating off Somalia with the international fleet, but what about fundi jundi, all keen to meet 72 virgins…?

    And these things are too small but there all we can afford.

  195. Repulse

    Agree with Challenger, if these new OPVs just replace the current Rivers or just sit in UK waters then we might just as well build them and give them away…

  196. Tom

    Challenger – But what can they realistically do, other than directly replacing (or working directly alongside) the existing Rivers? They don’t have the range of a frigate so would need to be forward based but how many places can we sensibly and usefully forward based from?

    Bahrain? Ok, but what are they going to add to our presence there? They’re armanant* is nothing useful for that environment. The US Cyclones are far better for a patrol or force protection role.

    Pirate Patrols off the East or West coast of Africa? Finding a suitable location that we would want to set-up a forward base is tricky. Would the lack of hanger be an issue for this role, assuming that we couldn’t have a tanker, etc supporting them all of the time.

    Caribbean? Maybe, though again, lack of hanger is a potential issue. But the same argument against using a frigate (it can’t carry a really useful amount of disaster relief stores) applies to an OPV.

    *and for a ship of its size and low crew compliment I’m not sure what you could usefully add to it without impinging on its intended low operation/manpower cost.

  197. jonesy

    “*and for a ship of its size and low crew compliment I’m not sure what you could usefully add to it without impinging on its intended low operation/manpower cost.”

    In fairness its probably not that dramatic an upgrade list in ship terms. ScanEagle plus a pair of those THOR units from C-Truk on the davits gives these a fairly solid MSO capability. Thales ARTEMIS and an Outfit DLH fit probably gives you enough to enter modestly contested waters with confidence…and the Ultra C2 system (if thats kept on from the Brazillian ships?) looks enough to cope with both without really onerous integration issues.

    Not a wonderful capability set but certainly a useable one without major reworking required.

  198. ArmChairCivvy

    That FREMM (Normandie) is almost identical in looks to the S. Korean design that won the Thai frigate competition.

  199. All Politicians are the Same

    I wait to see the final spec of these vessels but the more complex you make them then the more expensive they become to run because you do not only add numbers but you add more expensive manpower in terms of training courses and seniority.
    One thing even the original Rivers were not short of is external deck space so the opportunity to fit “for but not with” is definitely there. If we are going to use them for Fishery Protection in the North sea then a 30Mm ASCG and the ability to mount mini gun and GPMG is more than sufficient and minimises manpower costs in terms of weapons C2 and maintenance.
    If we decide to send them to the Gulf or somewhere then like the Hunt Class and her old “Gulf Fit” we put on the extras.
    Perhaps 2 Hitrole 0.5 Calibre Weapon Stations aft and 2 Sea Hawk sigma Mounts Midships, these mounts all have good EOD capabilities and put another EO device on the mast. these all have the advantages of running from self contained consoles so no requirement for a command system but dramatically increase the Self Defence and policing capabilities of the unit whilst still minimising extra man power.

  200. TAS

    Tom is right. The new OPVs have no use whatsoever outside UK waters because we have no requirement for a small, lightly armed, limited utility vessel that is basically little more than a coastguard boat. In UK waters, they can do much in the UK’s interest as the Rivers already do including HM Coastguard’s job, take on a number of training roles and maintain public awareness of the RN through port visits. The three Rivers are busy, so if we must profit from the cack-handedness of MOD procurement and daft contracts I’m happy to improve the place the Rivers have in UK home waters. The on-station RFA’s do a far better job with greater utility.

    The Rivers are prime candidates for the MHPC concept demonstrators. Decommission three more Sandowns and let the Rivers grow into that role.

    Whoever raised the idea of the new OPVs towing towed arrays and flying Merlins – hilarious! I can just see the pilot getting close in the North Atlantic and saying ‘you want me to land on that? ‘%*@ off’. Maybe we could mount a 16″ gun on them as well for general attack duties or a ski-jump for F35 – it’s about as sensible an idea as any posed so far. CLYDE rolls like a bastard on a flat calm sea let alone out offshore – she’s not called the ‘vomit comet’ for nothing!

  201. Elm Creek Smith

    @APATS – The problem with “…the opportunity to fit ‘for but not with…’” is that when “…with…” is needed, it’s already too late. I’m a big believer in the “Horton-method” of combat preparation: “Put the biggest damn’ gun you can fit on it or carry yourself.” No one in combat ever wished to be undergunned. Of course, I’m the guy that supports putting a MCLWGS on cruisers.

  202. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Elm Creek Smith

    “is that when “…with…” is needed, it’s already too late”

    No, read my post about the old Hunts and fitting before Deployment. When I joined my Hunt we were doing Fish and had a 30Mm and mounts for GPMG (Minigun did not exist). We then deployed E of Suez and were fitted with 2 extra 20MM midships and extra GPMG mounts before we deployed. If we decided to deploy these OPVs I would simply propose the capability to fit extra weapons as I detailed in my post.

  203. WiseApe

    I agree with Tom: “Introducing 76 or 57mm into the RN just for three ships, that are intended primarily for UK waters seems a waste of money to me.” However, I would like to see them fitted 4 but not with, just in case we introduce the 57/76mm on a later design. How about one of those Seahawk Sigma 30mm mounts with LMM capability in the meantime? Hopefully these are being pencilled in for Type 26, so could familiarise on the OPVs.

    BTW, could someone clarify what the “O” will stand for on these larger vessels – Offshore or Ocean.

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