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

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March 1, 2014 11:38 am

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”.

March 1, 2014 1:15 pm

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.

March 1, 2014 1:46 pm

USMC paper on sea based logistics


40 deg south
40 deg south
March 2, 2014 9:48 pm


RNZN shows that the South Pacific isn’t all coral atolls and coconut palms.

March 3, 2014 8:54 am

As Poland Pursues Stealth Jets, Eurofighter Flies Into Picture


It’s pretty speculative, but still.

March 3, 2014 9:23 am

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.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
March 4, 2014 2:12 pm

First of RAN’s two LHDs Nuship Canberra commenced sea trials.

At 27,500 tons she is bigger than either Lusty or Ocean and the largest ship ever operated by the RAN.

Should be a really useful piece of kit. Sea trial pic and story at:


steve taylor
March 4, 2014 3:04 pm

@ 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. :(

March 4, 2014 3:32 pm

Aren’t the Canberra class 19 knot and the Albion class 18 knotters?

March 4, 2014 3:34 pm

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

March 4, 2014 3:35 pm

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.

steve taylor
March 4, 2014 3:36 pm

@ 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……

Ace Rimmer
March 4, 2014 3:39 pm

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?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 4:44 pm

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 :(

March 4, 2014 5:03 pm

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).

March 4, 2014 5:33 pm

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)?
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.

steve taylor
March 4, 2014 6:09 pm

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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 6:22 pm


“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.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 6:54 pm

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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 7:13 pm


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.

March 4, 2014 7:15 pm

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.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 4, 2014 7:26 pm

@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

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 7:33 pm

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.

steve taylor
March 4, 2014 7:36 pm

@ 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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 7:46 pm

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.

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

March 4, 2014 7:50 pm

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.


March 4, 2014 7:53 pm

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.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 7:55 pm


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?

March 4, 2014 7:58 pm

@ 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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 8:01 pm

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.

March 4, 2014 8:33 pm

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.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
March 4, 2014 8:49 pm

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).

steve taylor
March 4, 2014 8:49 pm

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.

The Other Chris
March 4, 2014 9:02 pm

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

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 9:04 pm


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.

steve taylor
March 4, 2014 9:08 pm

@ RT

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

The Bays are auxiliaries not warships.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 9:12 pm


Another very good point.

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.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 9:17 pm

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.

March 4, 2014 9:22 pm

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.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 9:28 pm


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.

Oscar Zulu
Oscar Zulu
March 4, 2014 9:33 pm

@ 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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 9:34 pm


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.

March 4, 2014 9:41 pm

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.

March 4, 2014 9:42 pm

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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 9:46 pm


“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.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 9:57 pm


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.

steve taylor
March 4, 2014 10:10 pm

@ 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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 10:12 pm


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.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 10:26 pm

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.

steve taylor
March 4, 2014 10:26 pm

More sewage……….yes. :)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 4, 2014 10:58 pm


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.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 4, 2014 11:30 pm

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.

March 5, 2014 12:22 pm

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.

March 5, 2014 1:42 pm


“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.

March 5, 2014 2:12 pm

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!

March 5, 2014 2:28 pm

@ 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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 5, 2014 4:32 pm


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.


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.

March 5, 2014 5:24 pm


lovely…. carriers without aircraft, Marines without an amphib, helicopters without weapons…ships without AS missiles… ;)

March 5, 2014 5:27 pm


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?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 5, 2014 5:58 pm


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.

March 5, 2014 6:46 pm

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?

March 5, 2014 7:15 pm
March 5, 2014 7:55 pm


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.

March 5, 2014 8:16 pm

Major General James Cowan has insisted “a gentleman or a lady uses a knife and fork”

lots of funny stuff

March 6, 2014 8:46 am


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.

March 6, 2014 9:00 am

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.

March 6, 2014 9:07 am

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.

March 6, 2014 9:08 am

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!

March 6, 2014 9:27 am

Re: Army 2020

We Are Not Amused, apparently:

Army 2020 plan is unconvincing, says Defence Committee.

The Army 2020 plan does not present a convincing blueprint for an Army that can effectively counter uncertain threats and unforeseen circumstances, says the Commons Defence Committee in its report, Future Army 2020, published today.


March 6, 2014 9:50 am


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)

March 6, 2014 9:58 am

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”.

March 6, 2014 10:05 am

And something a little different about Britain’s Atlantic Islands:
A wonderfully quixotic 5 minutes worth of pictures and commentary to lose yourself in . The final shot is particularly evocative.


March 6, 2014 10:07 am


Ha! Fame at last! You are most welcome.

March 6, 2014 10:19 am

@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?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 6, 2014 1:17 pm

@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…


March 6, 2014 1:29 pm

It appears than hms vanguard is to be refueled again and that potientally astute ssns will need refueled also due to reactor issues.


Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 6, 2014 1:41 pm

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


steve taylor
March 6, 2014 2:11 pm


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,

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. :)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 6, 2014 3:35 pm

@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.

March 6, 2014 5:22 pm


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.

March 6, 2014 6:43 pm

@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…

steve taylor
March 6, 2014 7:31 pm

@ 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

March 6, 2014 8:05 pm

@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.

March 6, 2014 8:10 pm

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?

March 6, 2014 8:46 pm

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

March 6, 2014 9:08 pm

Showing my ignorance here: why so much?

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

March 6, 2014 9:19 pm

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.

March 6, 2014 9:33 pm

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.

March 6, 2014 9:40 pm

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 .

March 6, 2014 9:54 pm


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.

Elm Creek Smith
Elm Creek Smith
March 6, 2014 9:54 pm

@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?

March 6, 2014 10:06 pm

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.”

March 6, 2014 10:19 pm


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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 6, 2014 10:34 pm

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.

March 6, 2014 10:35 pm


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


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?

March 7, 2014 10:23 am

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.

March 7, 2014 11:07 am


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.

March 7, 2014 1:09 pm


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.

March 7, 2014 1:54 pm

@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.

March 7, 2014 1:58 pm


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.

March 7, 2014 2:41 pm

“”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.

The Other Chris
March 7, 2014 2:54 pm

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.

March 7, 2014 2:54 pm

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.

March 7, 2014 3:10 pm

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

The Other Chris
March 7, 2014 5:16 pm

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?

March 7, 2014 5:49 pm

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.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 7, 2014 6:24 pm


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.

March 7, 2014 6:31 pm

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.

March 7, 2014 8:09 pm
March 7, 2014 8:10 pm

@The other chris

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

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 7, 2014 8:22 pm


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

The Other Chris
March 7, 2014 8:41 pm


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.

March 7, 2014 8:43 pm


“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 ;)

The Other Chris
March 7, 2014 8:44 pm


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?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
March 7, 2014 8:51 pm


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).

March 7, 2014 8:55 pm

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.

March 8, 2014 9:02 am


“…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?”


“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!” ;-)

March 8, 2014 9:05 am

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.

March 8, 2014 10:14 am

LHDs it seems are like buses; you wait ages then two turn up at once:


Even on the same site as the Russian Mistral. Couldn’t we just say the ski jump on the front is for seakeeping – gives better mpg.

March 8, 2014 10:40 am


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!!

March 8, 2014 11:00 am

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.

March 8, 2014 11:38 am


“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.

March 8, 2014 12:02 pm

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..

March 8, 2014 12:25 pm

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.


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

steve taylor
March 8, 2014 1:04 pm

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.


March 8, 2014 5:30 pm


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.

March 8, 2014 7:40 pm

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.

March 8, 2014 8:36 pm


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 ;-)

steve taylor
March 8, 2014 8:38 pm


Um. This ship will it be carrying any troops?

steve taylor
March 8, 2014 8:41 pm

A rather nice pic of HMS Northumberland……..

And some nice pictures of the Osumi class……..


March 8, 2014 9:07 pm

@Simon yeah re branding! But more fighty please!

@X yeah I would hope so

March 9, 2014 9:53 am


Gotta love this, EU threatening sanctions and France is selling Ivan just the kit he needs.

Business continues.

March 9, 2014 11:22 am

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?

March 9, 2014 11:42 am
March 9, 2014 1:07 pm
March 9, 2014 4:09 pm

It would appear Gen Cowan, has a reply. Not a bad effort.


Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
March 9, 2014 5:39 pm

Here’s something to keep you entertained (or enraged as the case may be) for five minutes. NPR presents “Do We Really Need The Air Force?”.

steve taylor
March 9, 2014 6:44 pm

I can’t remember whether I saw this here first or I found it, lost it, and struggled to describe it properly when I have mentioned it here. Um. Yes. Anyway………..


steve taylor
March 9, 2014 6:52 pm

@ 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.

March 9, 2014 6:58 pm

@ 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.

March 9, 2014 7:10 pm

This one is almost as popular as the Aircraft carrier posts. Almost ;)

March 9, 2014 7:38 pm


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.

March 9, 2014 7:43 pm

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).

steve taylor
March 9, 2014 8:35 pm

@ 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.