UK defence issues and the odd container or two

About The Author

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!


  1. Engineer Tom

    MOD have announced that HMS Tireless has deployed to the Southern Ocean for the search for MH370. What happened to never saying where subs were, especially when there is a large Chinese presence, not saying it shouldn’t be there but why tell people unless you find something.

  2. Enigma

    I see we have had to use a library picture of an RAF aircraft for its birthday pic TD is that because they’ve banned cameras at hq ?

  3. Observer

    As the people doing MPA SAR in the “Southern Ocean” are currently finding out, it’s not a coordinate at all. More like a wish and a prayer.

  4. Challenger

    I was cheekily suggesting that making it public we have deployed an SSN doesn’t really matter when contrasted with the vast area currently concerned.

  5. Gloomy Northern Boy

    x indicated that he wasn’t intending too, but perhaps if he still follows the site we may yet hear the welcome cry of “build more ships! build more ships!” eventually – not sure about NaB i’m afraid…

  6. Challenger

    Always sad to see good chaps fall by the wayside. Disqus is ridiculously easy to set-up though. Hopefully we will see them back on here one day…

  7. Kent Horton

    “Hong Kong Tower, PanAm One-Three-Six. Don’t want to alarm anyone, but it looks like one of those little RAF fighters just blew up.”

  8. Steve Jones

    No thanks…nice dedicated ASICs thanks. That way, when the software driving the huge multifunction array folds and throws its hand in, we dont lose the radar, jammers, tdl’s and wider comms all in a oner.

  9. WiseApe

    I imagine the Spanish Ambassador will be entitled to his own parking space at the FO at this rate. Security probably just wave him through – which would be ironic.

  10. wf

    Don’t tell me, they still ban the carriage of guns by service personnel there. Make the US Army safer!

    PS Thank fuck Disqus is gone :-)

  11. Chris

    Mike – you have to laugh at Kirchner’s politicking – like her poking the UK in the eye about 20% youth unemployment when, funnily enough, Argentina has 20% youth unemployment itself: Anyway with the rate of inflation there* the new note will be scrap paper within the decade so it will soon pass out of public awareness.

    *Wiki stats give 60% inflation over the past 12 months.

  12. Observer

    Kent, when they say “fight” against drug traffickers, they don’t mean shoot on sight. 😛

  13. The Other Chris

    “I enjoy being in America: it’s fun, you know, because you have, you have so many things we never had in Russia — like warning shots.”

    – Yakov Smirnoff

  14. x

    @ TOC

    When I say that covered drill tower I started wondering about top weights margins and phased arrays and cheap diesel RADAR pickets armed with SeaCeptor and then I took my meds. There is lots of volume aft. Look at the price compared to what the MN are getting. I am going have to look up the spec’s now and compare them to those River replacements. :(

    (Not saying that is optimum just a “visual”. That uptake/drill head shroud area is just such an attention grabber. It is easy to imagine the exterior covered in phase arrays etc. a la………

    @ Ken Horton

    The BATRAL have done stirling work for the French in their overseas departments moving stuff about. As well as the BATRAL there is normally one or two patrol vessels on station too.

    My favourite Skywegiuan SES hunt slower game…….

    Good compromise for route surveillance between a helicopter and MCMV. Especially if your country operates SSBN like we do……..

  15. Kent

    @Observer – On one hand I could say, “Only if they refuse to heave to upon warning.” On the other hand, I could say, “Why not?” And, in the interest of working in a “law-enforcement” mode, we could remove the 8 Kongsberg Naval Strike Missile SSMs kept in an internal weapons bay and put a manned*, twin 35mm turret on it.

    *(The turret could be operated remotely in a combat situation, but in “law-enforcement” mode it helps to have a human finger on the trigger.)

  16. The Other Chris


    The vessel’s main particulars:

    Design: Rolls-Royce UT 777 CD
    Length: Approx. 168.8 m
    Moulded breadth: 28.0 m
    Moulded depth: 11.7 m
    Positioning Capability: DP3
    Ice class: ICE1B
    Accommodation: 91 persons

    Rolls-Royce [to] supply:

    – Design and Engineering Package
    – 4 Bergen Diesel Generator Engines (Type B 32:40L9ACD, 4190 eKW @ 720 rpm)
    – 2 Bergen Diesel Generator Engines (Type B 32:40V12ACD, 5587 eKW @ 720 rpm)
    – 2 Rolls-Royce ”Super Silent” side thrusters
    – 3 Azimuth Thruster System (stern) and 2 Azimuth Thruster Retractable System (bow)
    – Helicon x 3 Propulsion control system
    – Rolls-Royce Deck machinery package, including Windlass/Mooring winch, Chain stoppers, 2 Mooring winches Aft, 3 Hydraulic pump units
    – 1 Cargorail crane CRC 150-2-7TE, 19m
    – Bulk Handling System, Total 202 m3
    – Automation Package, including Rolls-Royce Automation system (ACON), Control Consoles, Emergency Telegraphs, Electrical Test Panel, Low voltage system.

    I was also allowing the imagination to wander about the structure’s (or a replacement structure) uses. A “Mission Deck” with a ramp from the helipad as an option to hangar maybe?

    All sorts of goodness possible.

    You’re completely right about the price ranges being discussed.


    Oh, and the class resembles the great (Great?) British Liners to me.

  17. Observer


    “Woops, my finger slipped.” 😛
    I’d go with a 40mm AGL if you asked me to design an interceptor. More flexibility. Tear gas round into the cabin tends to make people bail out of vehicles fast for some reason and tagging someone with paint rounds can make it easier to identify anyone who got away. Beanbags for non-lethal solutions.

  18. x

    @ TOC

    Not the optimum configuration. But in terms of steel and engines and power and hotel services a lot of ship for £25m

  19. Think Defence

    Have you chaps read about the Ulstein PSV’s with seawater injection exhaust cooling, vented at sea level?

    e.g. the PX105

    Four exhaust gas systems with controlled sea water injection, and with SCR catalysts, based on urea. Exhaust gas is cooled to 60-65OC, and is led overboard above sea level. Air pollution is reduced to a fractional part

  20. All Politicians are the Same


    No I have not but it is a good thing on many levels. The Greek Super Vita Class can vent under water :)

  21. Kent

    @Observer – You could mount a Mk 19 40mm AGL on one of the .50 Cal mounts and still keep the twin light cannon mount aft of the superstructure. See how reasonable I’m being? But, after all, they’re drug traffickers.

    Actually, I’d like to see a batch of these operating in the Persian Gulf to handle “the assymetric threat” of swarming small boat attacks. Wouldn’t those Iranian FIACs of the Revolutionary Guard be surprised when they can’t run away from one?

  22. The Other Chris


    I think that’s just the RR portion of the contract to be fair.


    Excellent! It’s a go-er then!

    In all seriousness, from the descriptions, I read that entire rear structure and the tower as completely replaceable with a structure of your choice. Vents/exhausts/uptakes routed accordingly.

    I’m interested in the design from a personal curiosity side though. It’s… different.

  23. Kent

    @x – The BATRAL looks like a great ship for showing the flag and being able to provide not only a sea-borne presence but to put a significant force shore as well. Something of that class/type would certainly have a place in my “fantasy fleet.” It was Frenchie that brought up the drug traffickers!

    The Alta and Oksøy classes look good, too, and would definitely have a place, but I like the go-fast machines with guns!

  24. Observer

    Dropped the ball last month on this which might interest UK readers, it’s confirmed, our new AAR platform is the Airbus A-330 MRTT, 6 units. What’s also interesting is the study for a new “LST” which somehow seems to be describing a LHA considering that the current “LST” LPD is described as “limited in carrying capacity” and “needs more helicopters”. ST Marine already has an Endurance 180 paper design, but if BAE can come up with mature working solutions, there is a chance of snatching the deal away from what is essentially a powerpoint/autocad presentation. After all, paper design is one thing, people who have built working examples of the ship in question is another.

    There is also mention of an IFV upgrade program, which implies an upgunning, as well as doubling the number of platforms. CTA might be interested in that. 15 year program, lots of time to plan.

  25. Frenchie

    I found what they will serve, the new ships will be used in support of a naval force, accompanying a carrier battle group or amphibious group for towing ships or submarines, rescue, fight against maritime pollution and waterway police.

  26. Observer

    Simon, we shall see, 15 years is a long time, give 2 years to cut steel, it’s still 13 years to look around.

  27. The Other Chris

    It really is looking like we’ll go for a P-8x/MQ-4C option as an MPA choice given the sheer investment in training and cooperation:

    I suppose it’s likely not all one way either, guaranteed our Nimrod trained crews were able to feed back to the USN and others.


    Four crew involved in the early testing and training of Triton at Maryland to work on the introduction to service given likelihood of limited spots is significant.

  28. The Other Chris


    Come across any sonobouy launchers, pods or gliding Stingray kits to mount on the external mounts? 😉

  29. Mark

    The head of the U.K. Military Aviation Authority (MAA) has expressed concerns over a lack of suitably qualified and experienced personnel across the U.K. military aviation community.

    He notes that the airborne collision of two Tornado GR4s over the Moray Firth back in July 2012, in which three personnel died, is likely to lead to a Scottish Fatal Accident Inquiry.

    The report also confirms that several aircraft types—including the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat and the Thales Watchkeeper UAV—were grounded during test flying toward entry into service, but does not elaborate on the reasons why and when the groundings took place. However, the report also points out that the army has taken considerable steps in enhancing UAV operations—in readiness for Watchkeeper—by aligning its UAV operating responsibilities with the U.K. Joint Helicopter Command, a decision made after a damning report into the loss of a leased-in Hermes 450 UAV in Afghanistan.

  30. x

    @ TOC

    Yes. The design is interesting for all sorts of reasons. It was the layout that caught my eye more than specifics such as the ship’s draught; for example the flightdeck arrangement and other styling ques. Seeing fresh designs adds to the understanding of ship design. And though ships are designed for specific purposes in certain spheres it doesn’t mean design aspects can’t be transferred and modify for different purposes. That is to say I don’t think anybody was really suggesting we buy the RR design for the RN; though I suppose it helps some to reinforce their ego by trotting out the obvious concerning the vessel’s spec’s. One of the reasons why I try not to post here (too much.) We should be glad that Britain is a front runner in ship design if not building.

    @ Kent

    Back before the (supposed) retreat back from East of Suez the RN. the Army, MoT/MoS, and RFA all at some point operated numbers of small landing ship (LST/ LCT). Roughly grouped in the Gulf (and SE Asia), the Med, and Northern Europe. Once there was more to GB’s amphibious warfare capability than the RM skiing around Norway with their Dutch friends. I still think it is a capability we should retain but I don’t there’s any interest. You would think the Army would be up for anything that mentioned tanks but alas not. The ability to move outsize loads across the beach in useful chunks isn’t something to be sniffed at; especially seeing as we the West will probably have sea control and air superiority, why fight for a port when you don’t have to? The Turks are buying new LCT not just to counter their Greek opponents.

  31. Kent

    @Mark – “The head of the U.K. Military Aviation Authority (MAA) has expressed concerns over a lack of suitably qualified and experienced personnel across the U.K. military aviation community.”

    Gee, I wonder who is to blame? Is the MAA in charge of qualification standards?

  32. Brian Black

    “the truth about the Falklands is that it is the nuclear military base of NATO in the South Atlantic. This is the truth that cannot keep hiding”

    (“la verdad sobre Malvinas es que constituye la base militar nuclear de la OTAN en el Atlántico Sur. Esta es la verdad que no pueden seguir ocultando”)

    Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner continuing to suffer her delusions.

  33. x

    “the truth about the Falklands is that it is the nuclear military base of NATO in the South Atlantic. This is the truth that cannot keep hiding”

    Rhubarb! The truth is out there, over here, over the top, over sold, over the hill, over the rainbow, over the rainbow, wow double rainbow, over before it started, overground underground Wombling free…..

    DISCLAIMER: I have an interest in the history of computing especially British computing of the late 1950s to the purchase of ICL by Fujitsu. This was flagged up to me due to the Computer Weekly connection. Can’t say much more………..

  34. Obsvr

    “the truth about the Falklands is that it is the nuclear military base of NATO in the South Atlantic. This is the truth that cannot keep hiding”

    Which planet is she on? Do Argentines actually believe this sort of tosh?

  35. ArmChairCivvy

    Now, an opposed landing onto the Malvinas might benefit from this type of config on existing hovercraft… It is like 4 Apaches hovering side by side and using their cannons that level 4 feet of concrete in seconds

    It is a pity that the deepskirt LCAC project was cancelled as it included armouring up, to be able to minesweep for landings under fire, and take moderate hits. They did transfer the technology to another country, though, who built a prototype.

  36. ArmChairCivvy

    This could go onto the tank thread, but perhaps is too close to trivia.

    Both Sweden and Switzerland Built prototypes with a 140 mm cannon,before going for Leos. Sweden had a whole new tank and the Swiss just a turret (for Leo, anyway).
    – has anyone, anywhere actually adopted that gun?

  37. Daniele Mandelli

    “the truth about the Falklands is that it is the nuclear military base of NATO in the South Atlantic. This is the truth that cannot keep hiding”

    Nuts. One can make out most of the infrastructure of the Falklands just by looking on Google Earth, not too many Coulport style security features. Only one I can see, and its not nuclear.

    Maybe it is our greatest underground base, invisible on the surface. And maybe the Strategic Reserve is actually hidden under MPA?

    Even if it was, so what? UK can place assets ( whats left of them ) where it wants.

  38. John Hartley

    ACC at one time there was talk of a Merkava with a 140mm gun. Do not know what happened to that. Had the Cold War kept going, British/US/German tanks would probably have a 135mm electrothermal gun by now. Some development work/experimentation was done at the time.

  39. monkey

    I like Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner – wait hear me out.
    Its national leaders like her (and Putin) who’s ranting will enable our military to at least be funded as it is , we might get all the Astute’s ,T26’s , Successor class designed and built etc .
    God bless her for her delusions for thinking we would put land based nuclear weapons on the Falkland Islands where their very endangerment of capture by Argentinian military aggression towards the FALKLAND islands would bring about an un-balanced possibly disproportionate response on our part (half a dozen Storm Shadows levelling the Argentine Parliament buildings which would win us no friends in the region).The four Typhoons on the Islands ,however capable, could not stop a determined air assault landing well away from any ground based AAA which had not already been neutralized by the very capable Argentine special forces(their 1 year version of the USN SEALS course has a similar drop out rate of 95% with a good few of the soldiers dropping out due to a lack of a heartbeat).
    Any way that’s why I like Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her printing of very pretty 50 pesos toilet paper and her accusations we have the impudence to put things that go bang on our own territory .

  40. as

    Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner you have to wonder if she is compensating for something?
    Does she not feel Argentinian enough so has to play to the nationalists.
    Her family has no history in Argentina because her father is Spanish and her mother German.
    It make you question her motives. It also makes her remarks about the 11th generation Falkland islander even more funny when under her premise she would have to go back to Spain or Germany as a child of the occupation.

    We do in need as many nutty world leaders as we can to get for funding.
    The question is how many of though nutty world leaders are willing to go to war?

  41. x

    @ as

    Modern politics is contrary isn’t it? On the one hand our political elites tell us the nation state doesn’t matter. And then when it suits them the nation state is all. Being able to swap, change, and ignore what I would think are pretty fundamental values is disingenuous and ultimately self-serving.

    Miliband being the progeny of an illegal alien Communist duplicitous rapacious father (whose own father sold out his own people to a foreigner power) worries me than Clegg having a Dutch mother (even though like many firmly entrenched middle class women she despise class. Ho hum!)

    Compare and contrast with dynastic Europe……..

  42. x

    Further to the discussion on uptakes above……….

    HMS Lincoln, a Salisbury class AD frigate…


    HMS Exmouth trialling Olympus (note the huge hot plume of efflux)……..

    and the Finnish Turunmaa-class gunboat Karjala,

    the exhaust from the diesels and GT is trunked down the vessel’s and exits to the atmosphere just by the quarterdeck.

  43. Red Trousers

    A thought. Is TD (the comments, not the person) becoming relentlessly equipment focused? Defence is about far more than kit, it is about national mindset, priorities, capability fusion, Allies and threats, demographics on a global scale, the differential velocities between technologies and cultures, resources, hard and soft power and many other things.

    It might just be me, but increasingly I look at the title of a thread and think “the comments will be full of people banging on about their favourite wagon/ship/plane, and none of them will be able to see the wood from the trees”, and so don’t bother.

    Kit has its’ place, but it is pretty marginal.

  44. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – As somebody interested in the politics and strategy of this not the kit I’m inclined to agree, but it seems to me that articles come in waves, like the Chinese at the Imjin River…I’m pretty confident that there will be a different wave along in due course…


  45. ArmChairCivvy


    The quote mentions a mock-up already paraded?

    Found this on defencetalk… Should be rolling out from next year onwards:

    It’s supposed to be a cheaper to produce variant of the Object 195, with probably tie ins from the features added to the T-90MS. So imagine an unmanned turret config, 2-3 man crew in either individual armored capsules or a single armored capsule for all, possibly a bustle-stored ammo rack with blow-out panels, panoramic sights, extremely advanced FCS, possibly French thermals (since Russian MIC doesn’t seem to have anything to offer, though it remains to be seen). Granted it’s all speculation, so I’d wait and see until they release something concrete.

    Read more:

    The first Italian deal, for 700 of their Linxes has seen most undelivered, or not accepted. Would be nice to know what happened to Centauro, as the Russians were trialling them with three different guns?

    And finally, the mortar vehicles able to fire while crew stays protected have had some dvlmnt difficulties, so there has been an enquiry for about 500+ AMOS units.

    The last three mentioned are on wheels, but also on the tracked side only the MBT is 100% domestically designed & produced. The effective doubling of defence budget seems to be driven by other than defence industrial concerns?

  46. ArmChairCivvy

    So only one tracked, the MBT, and new wheeled platforms tend to have foreign participation.
    – talk about go-getters and hang-abouts in armour procurement!

    Both the MBT and the IFV with unmanned turrets.

  47. x

    @ RT

    Equipment is just symbolic of our capacity to physically act upon or react to a given situation. We don’t know what situations may arise in the future but we do know (approximately) our capacity to react (force levels and equipment type). There is lot of discussion here on where those crisis may occur; for example I think capacity to act in the Indian Ocean is more important than capacity to act say in Central Asia others have other ideas. There is a lot of discussion here on international aid and its utility. There is discussion about industrial capacity here. I don’t think anybody here actually likes the idea of killing and our focus on equipment is just schoolboy fun. Lastly there is only so much time in the day, we are all not present all of the time, and we are a divers to discuss deeper topics in great detail. Some here sadly aren’t tolerant of views that diverge from their owns or don’t have the courage to stand away from the supposed norms. When I studied Security Studies the potential field of study was very wide and stretched from water to gender studies. I don’t think you would enjoy discussing some of the more abstract areas of SS because I think given your background you (and most here) would find them to be nonsensical irrelevances. That is why we end up talking about kit all the time.

  48. All Politicians are the Same

    @ El Sid

    We have surveys and retention studies on an almost constant basis, with the more serious ones having dedicated teams. We just do not publish them on line.

  49. Red Trousers

    The Chindits. As a concept, mad as a box of frogs or surprisingly still salient?

    Just finished reading a small memoir of a distant by marriage relative. I was struck by his completely focused approach, which was that he didn’t expect to get out alive, so no point worrying about it, do the best he could in the time he had. The kit was shit, so no point worrying about it, and in any case, the Japanese kit was even shittier.

    He did get out alive, perhaps luckily.

    Could these attitudes even exist in today’s Armed Forces? No Service point scoring, as I think we’re all much the same now, softened by decades of peace and ever increasing expectations. Not just at the individual serviceman/woman level, but among our Commanders. The appetite for something like the Chindits would I think be non-existent these days.

  50. DavidNiven


    Its a good job they are in the navy, from the first frame above I don’t think they are going to bother the enemy with their knowledge of small arms weapon handling 😉

  51. x

    @ DN

    I thought it all a tad embarrassing. Nothing wrong with motos etc. and tradition. But invented mission statements? Shudders……..

  52. DavidNiven


    It’s no worse than what we churn out here for all three services, it’s all stuff designed by media types to portray a nice message and if it works, who are we to complain :-)

  53. All Politicians are the Same


    I quite like it, simple to the point and demonstrates pride in both their service and nation. My issue with the Kiwis is they cannot self sustain so personnel requiring more advanced courses are sent to Australia or here and they poach relentlessly.

  54. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – Wasn’t Viscount Slim a bit uneasy about the Chindits, and indeed elite units generally? It’s a while since I read the book…bloody awful war though…my Dad’s best pal lost an arm in it, but he was a tough old bugger… used to win amateur cycle road races for years after the war against younger men with a full complement of limbs…


  55. DavidNiven


    All recruitment videos are a bit cringe worthy, but seeing them for what they are comes with experience. Which comes a bit too late, after signing on the dotted line in some cases 😉

  56. Red Trousers

    GNB, re Slim. I think he was, although anecdotally from my distant relative’s memoir and from Regimental diaries of the time, I suspect that the Chindits themselves thought they were somewhat out of the ordinary, and certainly pre-selected by cap badge if not individually.

    I feel that it was a shattering experience for those men who survived. Certainly Orde Wingate wrote of this, his deputy as well. The full panoply of PTSD (in modern terms) was exhibited post War. But yet little remarked. My own relative took his own life in the mid sixties, and while I have no psychiatric training whatsoever, his writing to me suggests someone who really should have been talked with.

    He never was, like a whole generation he was demobbed and disappeared off the radar. I don’t think it was better after the Falklands. I recall listening to an Army psychiatrist 10 years after the Falklands, bemoaning the lack of care. It was better after Gulf 1, and probably better now again. But the thought strikes me that it is never good enough. We ask our young men to do some brutal things, and are not that good at making sure the nightmares stop.

    I don’t want to get too gloomy, but even this cavalier sometimes wakes up at night feeling uneasy at what he saw and did, and it’s not something that I was particularly given any training to cope with.

  57. Challenger


    ‘Wasn’t Viscount Slim a bit uneasy about the Chindits, and indeed elite units generally?’

    He was, but i believe a lot of senior commanders were, the trouble was Churchill’s overwhelming enthusiasm for special forces and the existence of eccentric men like Wingate who could implement his vision.

    The Chindits were only formed by breaking up the 70th infantry division, a regular and experienced formation in India at the time which many thought would have been better used as a cohesive unit rather than being squandered on costly expeditions of questionable value.

    Part of a broader problem in the British Army at the time of special forces taking substantial resources and more importantly the best/brightest men away from the regular line units.

    Then again four years of having the bulk of the army sitting at home waiting for a second front was perhaps bound to produce an enthusiasm for irregular forces that were one of the only means of taking the fight to the enemy.

  58. Daniele Mandelli

    Thing is Triton does the High altitude surveillance bit and compliments a proper manned anti sub aircraft.

    On its own it is only part of a capability.

    If we purchase P8 and the Triton then we are in business.

  59. Shackvan

    My hope is that we do go down the Australian/US route and have Triton for all the Tedious Sea surveillance stuff and a small number of P-8’s to do the Sub hunting. I would be interested if anyone is aware of any sources to read regarding how deep the co-operation between P-8 and Triton is, Can a P-8 crew directly control/co-ordinate the drones or to they need to tap into the Sat Controls links or go through a ground station?

  60. El Sid

    My point wasn’t so much the existence of retention surveys, it was more about the use of them, and the processes by which policy is developed. Publishing on the USNI blog or in Proceedings may not be a perfect route to debate things, but I still like the way you’ve got a public platform for an OF-4 to take those surveys and use them to develop an argument and offer solutions.

    It’s all very well having committees of bureaucrats in the ivory towers of Whitehall taking surveys, but one of Snodgrass’ arguments is that by the time the Pentagon elite notice a problem in the rear-view mirror – it’s too late. Are we to believe that Whitehall is any better – it’s not like they have a reputation for openness and fostering debate. I don’t want to get too hung up on the specifics of retention (I know it’s a bit of a pet topic for Sir H, I’ve pointed him to it separately), I was more just highlighting an example of how a debate was being conducted.

  61. Gloomy Northern Boy

    A couple of things to start a discussion not about kit:

    Lord Robertson’s Speech to the Brookings Institute on the “cataclysmic consequences for the West” of an SNP victory in the forthcoming referendum…a touch hyperbolic in my view, but much truth in it…hard to see how an Alliance predicated on CASD with a first strike capability (NATO) or a Country that provides part of that capability with the support of both it’s likely future Governments (the UK) can readily deal with a Country that considers its underlying strategy to be “An affront to Human Decency” as anything other than adversarial or possibly hostile…especially when that Country sits squarely on it’s key sea and air lanes…

    My Native City has been the first to express support for the independence of Northern Somaliland…should we pile in with DfID and Military Aid to make it so in this key strategic area, and secure a friendly partner with a large and increasingly successful diaspora in the UK? Should we be doing the same in Sierra Leone?…not my idea originally, so cries of “Author, Author” from Gloomy Court…

    GNB :-)

  62. DavidNiven

    Bring the CASD to Anglesey if they vote for independence, there’s already have a power station near buy so no anti nuclear campaigners and a ferry port, plus RAF Anglesey and the jobs would be handy if the scots don’t want to take dirty money. 😉

  63. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @DN – Not previously thought of that, but I am confident that given will (and money) Dai the Bomb could readily become the normal shorthand for a civilian worker at the new Holyhead Submarine Pens…the issue for me is more that with Russia stirring and NATO degrading before our eyes just how serious is the issue of an immediate neighbour viscerally hostile to the long-term cornerstone of our foreign and defence policy? A cornerstone that is supported by both major parties (and even kind-of supported by the third) and has been supported by every Government elected since the Labour Party committed to a British Nuclear Capability?

    Thing is, I don’t think history has ended…I think the events of the next ten years will prove that…and I think that the SNP attitude to the measures that we think essential to the defence of our Realm is a matter of real importance…a vital interest at least as significant as the one that has just led Putin to annex the Crimea…


  64. Challenger


    ‘Maybe the UK will buy a 9th or 10th C-17 in the next 12 months?’

    I certainly hope so, the UK must be one of the previous buyers in talks with Boeing and it’s a case of now or never.

  65. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @x – Fascinating stuff…interesting that everybody on earth is getting tooled up with the exception of the West, which is shambling haphazardly in the direction of it’s next skinny latte…financed, naturally, by the public purse …I’d like to imagine it will end will, but I rather doubt it…


  66. as

    I can not see the deterrent going to Wales unless there is an legal agreement that they will never become independent. It costs to much to move it. So it either has to be built in England or the Welsh have to promise they will never have a vote for independence.
    I would hate to think how much it is going to cost to move it.

  67. DavidNiven

    ‘I can not see the deterrent going to Wales unless there is an legal agreement that they will never become independent’

    With RAF Valley being there as well, you do not need to have a legal agreement that they will never become independent ( which you would never get ). Have an agreement drawn up that if they go independent the Isle of Anglesey will become a sovereign base area, as it’s an island so would be a fairly simple task if the security situation deemed that you had to seal it off from the mainland.
    Welsh are not as ideological as the Scottish when it comes to independence, they just want to keep their language ( and therefore history ) and have decent opportunities and jobs without the need to move away if they do not want to. In some respects Scottish independence could be a golden opportunity for Wales (if we had decent politicians).

  68. x

    @ GNB

    The multipolar world will be. already is, a dangerous place. The idea of armed conflict for national survival, or for the national interest, is beyond many of us. Look at the shock some have gone into because a few thousand Russians with rifles have popped across a border/left their barracks. Reaction ranges from “it’s against the rules” to basing back BAOR as BAIP. Both extremes show a detachment from the “reality on the ground” as it were. No state operates in a vacuum. A British PM or foreign sec’ will always reference the EU and/or the US in an announcement on a security issue. A Japanese PM, though closely allied with the US, speaks for Japan without much need to reference others. Contrast Japan with Germany who are going the other way. (Though I think, tinfoil hat on, that Europeans perhaps see the UK’s place within the grand project as Europe’s squaddies…….) I think if there is any truth to Germany’s actions in support of one side of the Ukraine flan then the Teutons are a bit naive and stupid and perhaps it is a good thing there aspirations to play outside of Europe beyond trade aren’t progressing at the same speed as South Korea’s and Japanese moves to act out of area. We have lots of capability, little depth, I wonder about whether is a willingness to act if the US wasn’t involved (forget Sierra Leone) , and I think we could do with a focus, a direction, to make up the absence of a peer enemy. Obviously the Japanese don’t have that problem. A bit of vision beyond keeping BAE in business is what is needed. Nationalism isn’t fashionable, and with the majority going through a anti-nation pro-Europe tertiary education system I can’t see the situation being reversed soon. I don’t want kids of my niece’s generation dying for a blue flag with a circle of yellow stars.

  69. ArmChairCivvy

    To be read together with David Loyn’s
    Butcher and bolt (2009)
    ISBN 9780099522638

  70. Gloomy Northern Boy

    I’ll reserve judgement until I read the book…my impression from watching the Author on Newsnight was that his view was rather more nuanced than the one portrayed in the Independent Review, which sounds rather like the standing Independent line on the War to me – and is inaccurate in important ways; as I’d guess all here know Afghanistan was never a British Colony, and we always stuck to punitive expeditions in those parts, not long term occupation.

    I suspect he may also have more to say about the Army getting involved in a area with a series of long-standing clan feuds and tribal wars…which the politicians spun as an ideological conflict with a unified Islamist proto-state…then further complicated by a pc determination to achieve education for girls and votes for women. My own view is that we should have stuck to a punitive expedition, given the Taliban a caning and then either left or paid the Northern Alliance a handsome sum for basing rights in their territory to keep an eye on things…and left the nation-building idiocy well alone…

    However, I know nowt but would be keen to hear from those here who do, if and when any of them read it…


  71. ArmChairCivvy

    GNB, ehat you describe waz termed the Biden strategy… Unfortunately it lost out to yhose who had been impressed by the Surge in Iraq.

    The recommended reading I put up leaves off when the Helmand build-up began. Together these two books would give a comprehensive 200- year narrative.

  72. Tubby

    Not sure if this been mentioned, but the Italians are inducting 15 Merlin variants to take over the CSAR and special forces role currently carried out by HH-3 Pelicans.

    Not wanting re-open the wound’s of moving the Green Merlin’s to the FAA, but it seems to me that if we find some spare cash down the back of the sofa that we might want to consider further Merlin purchase for the RAF, maybe alongside a phased draw down of Puma in 2025, say around 25 – 30 cabs, some of which should be of a similar configuration as the Italian CSAR cabs, with the rest being vanilla green Merlins (while it may be wise to add folding rotors and tails, I suspect the performance would be poor at best) . I wondered what the lowest numbers you can build per year at Yeovil without incurring any cost penalty, as we could agree delivery of say 3 new Merlin’s year from 2016, allowing us to re-build slowly the RAF’s Merlin fleet.

    Of course the main problem with the idea of CSAR Merlins is the requirement for in-flight refuelling of helicopters, which appears to be something that we do not want to invest in :-(

  73. ArmChairCivvy

    @ Tubby, all for your idea. The Portuguese CSAR spec by now so old, that better to look at the Italian (and the US, that did not happen, but it was a combined rqrmnt to protect the Minuteman prairie, so quite fighty… In the air, as well as the landed contingent).

    Whatever the minimum rate of production, it should be preserved and safeguarded. It is like ammo (between light and heavier helos):
    – you can always have your ARs supplied from an alternative source
    – not necessarily so for arty shells and missiles (cfr. Heavier,more specialised helos).

  74. Tubby

    @ The Other Chris -Not sure, I assumed it was as the development work and testing is taking place at Yeovil and the development aircraft have UK military registrations, so I presumed that the still have the ability to assemble Merlin’s in the UK – hopefully someone who has a definitive answer will pop by!

  75. Tubby


    I was inspired by the fact that the Italian’s are getting CSAR helicopters. A few years before the SDSR there was talk of holding a competition for medium lift helicopters and given we do not want to induct new type into service, I see lots of justification for a trickle build of new 101’s for the RAF, not least the commonality in maintaining them along side the FAA’s Merlin’s, while preserving our sovereign helicopter design and build capabilities.

  76. ArmChairCivvy

    Not factual, but may have some bearing:

    The Italians were happy to go down on the Typhoon workshare, to secure the F35 assembly line.

    Always look to the future and discount the past:
    -Merlin optimised for the N Atlantic conditions
    – anyone since the Norwegians who have taken some?

    Hence, dive in there, as per Tubby, and secure your workshare through the continuation of that product line.

  77. ArmChairCivvy


    We actually do have a CSAR helo, which is the same as the SF Chinook… Can refuel, but where from?

    Speed and range are of coursenothing to be sniffed at.

  78. Observer

    x, not much difference between this and TAR really. Most AR platforms are generic, differences are mostly cosmetic for all of them. Functionality wise, not much difference between issuing an infantryman an M-16/M-4, AUG, TAR, SAR or MSBS. They simply just give an infantryman a 5.56mm rifle.

    The extremely rare case of a weapon that is so functional that it simply stands out from the rest of the class, I have only encountered ONCE in my life, that is the Ultimax. All the rest are really swappable. M-16/M-4 vs TAR/SAR? Tried than, not much difference. 40mm AGLs? Not much difference there as well. M-2 vs CIS 50? Same thing more or less.

    All the talk on “model x vs model y” is really cosmetic.

  79. Tom

    Re AW101 – as I understand it Yeovil is the main builder/assembler for AW101, but I imagine that politics demands that Italian Military AW101s are built in Italy.

    The original RAF Merlins were brought with half an eye towards, CSAR/SOps role, hence things like being plumbed for a refueling probe. The RAF Regt had a ground extraction element permanently attached to 28 (AC) Sqn as E Flt.

  80. Tubby


    Thanks for the information re: Chinook, I was under the impression that it wasn’t used for CSAR but for CAS VAC, I guess we had wait for Project Julius to sort out the software to get a CSAR capability.

  81. monkey

    Just to stir it up a bit , only from Russia not one but two ,over and under, 152mm Howitzers on a single chassis.
    The demonstrator of the Koalitsija-SV uses a modified Msta-S chassis, however production self-propelled howitzer will have a new tracked chassis based on the new Armata series. Production vehicles will be also fitted with larger turret.
    The demonstrator vehicle has a crew of 5, however production Koalitsija-SV will have a high level of automation. It’s crew will consists of only two men, located in a protected compartment at the front of the hull.
    In terms of added weight / complexity vs redundancy / rate of fire I guess the Russians have done the math that the much more likely system to break down in actual combat is the very complex auto loader , having a spare tube and loader on the same chassis for a ‘few’ extra tonnes could keep the system at least firing until the broken loader is fixed/cleared. In the MRSI mode surely using two tubes would reduce the required rate of round selection by each of the autoloaders reducing the likelihood of some malfunction (say each loader cycling at 6 RPM rather than one at 12 RPM)
    It was due to enter production by the end of this year.

  82. mr.fred

    Curiosity demands I ask what advantages the Tavor might have over other rifles, even if they are broadly similar.

  83. DavidNiven


    As I think x knows, over the current service rifle it has ergonomic and weight advantages. Which is pretty much the same advantage many modern assault rifles have over the SA 80.

  84. Observer

    On the other hand, a few hundred grams of weight isn’t going to break an infantryman’s arm, and ergonomics sometimes just means what you are comfortable with. Not many ARs are messed up to such an extent that they cannot be used by humans in their main role of aimed suppressive fire or single shot takedown.

    Name me one rifle that can’t be used at all.

    I transitioned from M-16, to M-4 carbine to a bullpup SAR-21. None of which ever gave me problems, just a need to get into new habits of weapons handling. Some M-16 guys complain about the new bullpup, but when the new guys who were only trained on the SAR-21 were given the M-16 to handle, they made almost the same complaints. Why? Because both parties were not used to the other rifle and had to get re-familiarized.

    Were any of them not able to use the rifles? No. 5.56 rounds still went downrange.

  85. All Politicians are the Same

    The L85-A2 is quite heavy, when both loaded with a 30 round mag and a sight it is 1.6KG heavier than an M4.

  86. x

    @ DN

    Dude I read it on the internet that Tavor has no advantages over the M16. So it must be true.

  87. DavidNiven

    I never said that it can’t be used, the SA 80 is a very accurate weapon. But if it was to go on trial today against modern assault rifles it would fail every time on ergonomic issues and weight.
    The SAR 21 has an ambidextrous cocking/charging handle do is not? also is the change lever located on the left hand side of the weapon above and behind the magazine, like the SA 80?

    As I said the weapon is usable and has proven itself to be reliable (after some modification, which made it heavier) but if you were designing it today the ergonomics would be better thought out.

  88. Red Trousers


    I think the L85 weight is not an issue. I find SA80 insubstantial, and much preferred the SLR, but as Observer alludes to above, it is probably a matter of loving what you first trained with. In truth, the all up weight of L85 plus four mags of 30 5.56 is probably not much different to SLR plus four mags of 20 7.62.

    I haven’t fired an SLR since about 1994, but I am still completely confident that I could strip and assemble one blindfolded. Muscle memory! I really don’t think I could say the same if L85. Ghastly fiddly thing with bits that drop off and using toy town bullets.

    No, I am not inviting a 7.62 vs 5.56 war…..!

  89. All Politicians are the Same


    I was awaiting the first 7.62MM comment and I have no issues with that but the relevant question is what advantage am I gaining by carrying an L85-A2 and an extra 1.6KG over a similarly equipped M4?
    Of course it is lighter than a full length 7.62MM rifle but it is still bloody heavier than its contemporaries.

    It was also heavier than the AKMS I had the pleasure of using on one deployment.

  90. x

    I remember the first time I carried an SLR. I thought it was too heavy even unloaded who could carry it? I carried it on a huge trek across a great plain into a cave……

    OK I was 5 and I was allowed to carry it all away across the drill hall to the armoury.

    But the memory did scar me.

    Even then a 5 how I wish I had a M16 and thought surely the M16 must be the apogee of small arms design.. I wonder if in some distant future would God’s chosen people waste time building a rifle out of plastic to better the M16. Nah! Too improbable. I was quite the philosopher even at 5.

  91. Red Trousers


    No opinions on one dinky little toy rifle over another.

    The only proper rifle for drill is a 7.62 or wooden .303. You can also club OPFOR over the head with it rather better with either than with some piece of plastic shit that’s not very long. And you are further away from OPFOR when using a bayonet. And there were a well known 27 bits of an SLR that you could use to open a bottle of beer (coke when in some prudish country), and I don’t think that was a KUR at all on the L85 design brief.

    There, the eternal calibre war, sorted. RT style. 😉

    I rather love the FN SCAR-H, in the absence of an SLR.

  92. Observer

    APATS, no advantage, yes, but does that mean you can’t deploy with it? No, you just suffer a bit more. It builds character. 😛 Think of it as muscle building. You can still deploy, you can still fight a war with it. You just get a bit more uncomfortable. That is what I mean when I say that there is no difference with most similar equipment, strategically there is absolutely no change at all in your capabilities, just your comfort level.

    And if you joined the army for comfort, you need a long talk with your recruiter.

    DN, ambidex charging handle yes. But the extraction port is close to your cheek on the right, so if you tried to use it left handed, beware of flying hot brass. And if you lean too far forward as a lefty, it gives literal meaning to the term “eat hot brass”. So no, SOP is everyone uses their right hand. Or you give the lefty the SAW.

    RT, you just touched on one of the biggest complaints of our new rifle lol. Can’t butt stroke someone properly with it.

  93. All Politicians are the Same

    I like Rifles that look like rifles as well :)

    Personally, I have a tooth that has never failed me with a beer bottle when push came to shove.


  94. All Politicians are the Same


    As i never ever joined the Army, can i complain that i am even forced to discover these things though? :)

    I never ever said it was unusable but you have to question why your rifle weighs 33% more than the person next to you and it cannot be fired left handed?

    there is a change in capability levels as a higher percentage of people will be firing “off handed” and some people wills struggle with the extra weight. It may not be a strategic game changer and personally I never found it an issue but it should not be glossed over either.

  95. Observer


    “As i never ever joined the Army, can i complain that i am even forced to discover these things though? ”

    Sure! It’s your wife’s duty to listen to all her husband’s cares and worries. 😛 Hope your sofa’s comfortable.

    ” you have to question why your rifle weighs 33% more than the person next to you”

    The army was cutting costs on dumbbells. Rifle overhead now lad! Hurry it up!

  96. mike


    Ahh but dont the Americans perform drill…. “drill”… with hollowed out rifles?

    Or is that a forces-myth? lol never bothered to ask the USAF guys on BoB/Remembrance Sunday parades.

  97. DavidNiven

    ‘ambidex charging handle yes’

    Well there’s an ergonomic advantage straight away.

  98. ArmChairCivvy

    Heh-heh , I did join the army

    … Just a working accident by Observer.
    And as for today’s org. Chart, I would, in fact, háve joined the navy, rather than the army.

  99. ArmChairCivvy

    I can’t ask for a retroactive transfer… Marine recce, anyway (today they are under the navy… Again, don’t think of the USMC).

  100. Red Trousers


    You overlook the secret provisions of the Naval and Army Acts 1955, which mutually forbade APATS and I from joining the wrong service. Too much trouble.

    I am however agog that APATS worries so much about 400g of weight, when the Nellies are at least 20,000 tonnes obese. 😉

    APATS, you should be ashamed of such dentistry. However, I once knew a Corporal who could do the same with his inner elbow when flexing a bicep. Impressive. I find I can take off a cap with a pair of shoes with proper wood and leather heels, but not the sort of mass produced shoes you buy on the high street.

  101. All Politicians are the Same


    400g? Try 1600g over an M4, was about 400g heavier unloaded than an AKMS which gave me a folding stock, 7 working parts and 7.62mm short, and oghh never jammed ever. Made in Bulgaria as well, not even an original :)

  102. Gloomy Northern Boy

    With coal reserves underground that would last 300 years, and a rather obvious need maintain energy security from domestic sources in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world…this is clearly the time to shut two of our three remaining deep-coal mines; I am looking forward to our far-seeing political masters making fracking illegal by the end of next week, prior to introducing legislation to compel the wind to blow consistently at the optimum speed and in the appropriate direction to secure the future using bloody great bird-mincing machines…

    A very Northern Gloomy :-(

  103. x

    @ GNB

    You will feel a lot better if you put a warm towel on your head on watched a nice YouTube video about thorium reactors.

  104. Observer

    I can sympathize and empathize with the M-4 part, went through that phase myself lol.

    You just have to get used to your new rifle.

  105. John Hartley

    DECC fitted new high tec burners in two of our old coal stations a couple of years ago. They greatly reduced emissions, though not to the latest EU standards, but good enough to ask for a ten year exemption. However, MPs with connections to fat wind subsidies, rigged the market against coal.
    Interesting article in the Telegraph, saying that price reductions & performance improvements are making solar power viable without subsidy.

  106. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @x – You have good information that they are about to make a big investment in them, I take it…presumably strongly backed by the Guardian, the Liberal Democrats, and the Leader of HM Loyal Opposition? Super – I feel much better already! :-)


  107. mr.fred

    Looking at the MSBS rifle (and going back a few dozen posts), it does look quite interesting. Selector/safety and what looks like the magazine release are by the pistol grip.
    The cocking handle looks a bit far back, but presumably that’s to keep commonality with the conventional layout. I hope it’s non-reciprocating.
    There are a number of versions planned (see the comments section on the link) including a wooden stocked ceremonial rifle for the traditionalists.

    It might be worth looking at licensing it for when the SA80 wears out (ten years time or less?) or simply buying some, depending on which suits us and the Poles better. If FB Radom also make good on their suggestion to build it in other calibres, so much the better. (Even if it is just 5.56 and 7.62 NATO calibres)

    The Poles are also building a NATO-fied PKM, using 7.62mmNATO round and M13 links. That would be interesting too because the PKM seems to be somewhat lighter than most western machine guns.

  108. x

    @ GNB

    There was £50 billion lined up to fund the programme. But somebody spent it on a foreign holiday.

  109. DavidNiven


    Oi that was not a summer holiday! ………………………….It was a busmans holiday (of sorts ) 😉

  110. Red Trousers


    Mines only make sense without the ruddy unions. Can’t say I’m crying for today’s decision.

    I have a however despatched a clean cap and fresh whippets up the Great North Road in solidarity. Call if you need more canaries, Davey Lamps, or socialist monographs. 😉

    I am hopeful that in the same spirit, someone somewhere will revive subsidised farriering, equine ploughing and so my £1,000 donation to the Suffolk Punch Association may well avoid being a merely nostalgic attempt to stave off the future.

  111. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – Keep the Suffolk Punch…you’ll need it to plough the lawn at Red Trouser Manor when the abandonment of our onshore and underground energy reserves in favour of imports (that will be diverted or cut off) and green sources (that don’t work very well) results in the lights going out; but I’ll think of you whilst reading by the light of the Davy Lamp after taking the whippets out after rabbits… :-)

    I should add that the behaviour of both sides in 1984/5 appalled me because the only long-term consequence was always going to be the abandonment of a very large energy resource that we own and control…and could have developed long-term had common sense as opposed to a determination to win at all costs prevailed…


  112. Red Trousers

    GNB, re 1984/5.

    It seems odd, because if such an event of such magnitude happened today, I’d have been following it on every hourly bulletin, and not thinking very charitable thoughts about Arthur Scargill. As it was, I can barely recall it. I was at Sandhurst at the time. We weren’t allowed TVs, newspapers or radios, and indeed spent every waking minute between 0400 and midnight doing something useful like running, drilling, log runs, and polishing stuff. I recall once waking up in the Churchill Hall lecture theatre to find that I was the only person in the company awake during some lecture on terminally guided mortar rounds, but it was after double PT, double drill, double platoon tactics, a changing parade, and with map reading, a cold water swim in the lake, tactical recognition, more PT and drill to follow before yet another late evening of polishing stuff.

    Odd fact. In two terms at Sandhurst (I was on the last such course, it is three terms now) we had more official “teaching time” than I would have had if I’d done the 3 year modern history and politics degree at either Durham or Exeter which I had got places for, but turned down.

  113. wf

    @RT: going out with English students rammed home the lesson that I had obviously taken the wrong degree. 25-30 lecture and practical hours vs 2, with a week off half term to do reading?

    @GNB: it was unavaoidable, because it was what Arthur wanted. The miners were a means to an end, he was no Joe Gormley :-(

    Amuse yourself by asking the Greens why they were so quiet about dirty old coal in the old days …

  114. DavidNiven


    One option open to the government, said the TUC, was applying “to Europe to use £60m of taxpayers’ money in state aid” which would have kept the pits open until 2018, it would at least give us time to stock pile as much coal as we can, and allow them to find other jobs (less than the price of one F35B), which I would consider a bargain for a bit of energy security.
    Green energy has it’s place and there are better more reliable alternatives to wind for large scale generation, but then again how would the crown estate get it’s massive cut from the subsidies if we are not building wind farms, If we are only paying them rent on far fewer sites?

  115. Observer

    Oh yes, always meant to ask.

    RT you interested in immigrating? 😛

    You got command experience, experience in military procurement, field experience, hell, you’re more qualified than all of our brigadier generals. Minister of Defence in 10 years. Interested? :) Our current one is an oncologist.

    And yes, I’m shamelessly poaching.

  116. Obsvr

    Talking of miners, I believe arfur is still breathing but what about his mate who fled from UK to E Germany to escape from the British secret police?

  117. monkey


    The seawater into CO2 and H2 using electricity and then a variant on the ‘Fischer-Tropsch’ (developed in the 1920’s and used extensively in WW2 for coal to liquid fuel production ) process would produce the JP-5/ship fuel oil for the air wing and conventional powered fleet. This would revolutionise the endurance of the USN at sea operating on a full war footing , continuous high intensity air operations and the conventional support fleet of ASW/AAA dashing about the ocean burns up huge quantities of liquid fuel. A nuclear powered fuel production vessel accompanying the fleet would release more warships to be available for other duties than escorting the tankers to and from the fleet deployment area. In WW2 destruction of an enemies tanker fleet was number 1 on both the allies and axis forces list of priorities so in any future hot war the assets diverted from destroying the enemy to protecting the tankers is great. I can see that future versions of the Gerald R Ford class incorporating at least a limited version of this process to keep the air wing topped up with fuel before a dedicated fuel production vessel was designed and built.

  118. Chris

    Peter E – perhaps this is an indication that the next SDSR will be a traditional exercise in salami-slicing, on the basis that its much harder to coordinate public outrage and anti-change campaigns if the local units all remain albeit somewhat smaller

  119. Not a Boffin

    “But note the weasel words about rebalancing. Some other part of 3Cdo’s army establishment is presumably being cut in order to save 24 Engineers…?”

    If I were a betting man, I’d be thinking that RN/RM bods will be used to reduce total Army headcount in CLR or 30Cdo to balance out retaining 24.

  120. The Other Chris

    @monkey and @x

    One of the reasons it’s a shame we didn’t go nuclear with CVF. May have made back the development costs in fuel savings.

  121. x

    @ TOC

    A 50MW thorium reactor is about the same size, give or take, as a marinised Oly. I am not sure about CVFN. Sometimes I think yes. Sometimes I think no. To be honest much beyond being interested in the class as a real thing, I am beginning to think the idea was a mistake, But as I have said lots of times I more interested in real sea power (killing ships and submarines), not me too land strike best done by missiles.

    Back in the 60s there was a lot of talk of nuclear powered merchantmen. Not sure about the maths, but I wonder if it would take that much out of the cost per ton for shipping costs? It must do.

    I only posted the other thing out of interest because it had surfaced again. It isn’t new. Actually I thought Toyota bringing back wetware metal bashers much more interesting.

  122. WiseApe

    @X – Toyota have just issued a recall on 6.4 million cars. It’s the firm’s third big recall in the last four years. Feck robots!

  123. monkey

    There would have been no need to develop a new Nuclear power plant, the Rolls Royce PWR2 used in the Vanguard and Astute Class would have provided about 40MW per reactor , so either two reactors or using a combined setup a single reactor for endurance sailing and gas turbine / diesels for high speed ‘dashes’ (QE CVF has 2x36MW gas turbine as its main propulsion with 40MW in diesel reserves and all driving a common electric grid) .
    With say only a reactor and all the other electrical use on board with the reactor running at 90( 36MW)_it would still push the ship along at about 18 knots or so, the cruising speed of its escorts. This would of freed up some of the existing fuel oil bunker age for more Jet Fuel storage. I guess the extra cost went against this or perhaps the French objected as originally it was to be a common design and even after their withdrawal any major redesign on all ready highly delayed / high cost overrun project was unacceptable.

  124. Mark

    Big Dave

    Not surprised really I had heard a while ago the fuel pipe system on these aircraft (other than the aar refuel line which is modern) is similar to the nimrod mr2 so if that is true maybe there is some chin stroking and sucking of teeth going on. It would not be the first aircraft purchased from the US that required modification to meet uk safety requirements.

  125. bigdave243


    As big a joke as this is with the MAA, I find it staggering that this wasn’t thought of earlier, like say during the procurement process.

    At this rate we’ll just end up with the worlds most expensive gate guards and airfield ornaments. The MAA are a pain.

  126. monkey

    Didn’t something like this happen with eight Chinook Mark 3’s we bought back in the early 2000’s?They promptly went into storage even though we desperately needed the airframes for Afghanistan.
    They didn’t enter service until after 2010 after extensive rework if I recall as they did not meet our air safety criteria.

  127. bigdave243


    Yep, I’d forgotten about that. Another equally embarrassing mistake. God help us if the RC-135 takes 5 or more years after delivery to come into service.

  128. Mark


    Well trying to prove a 1960s aircraft is “safe” in 2014 was never going to be a simple task.

    From the outside looking in maa is a very necessary and fundamental organisation given the number of fatal accidents due to negligent safety orders from on high all they way back to zd576 to the tornado crash in moray.

  129. bigdave243


    I get that there is a need to make sure the aircraft that we fly are safe, but it just seems barking that all this fuss is being caused for a aircraft that up until last year when the US starting to modify the aircraft to the RC-135 standard they were flying quite safely as tanker aircraft.

    This just seems another example of over assessing a risk. The Armed Forces as a whole seem scared of risk these days because of potential lawsuits that could be brought against them. I just think in this case a little pragmatism might go a long way.

    I understand that the government are looking into this issue of civil lawsuits being brought against the MOD though. The fact remains that being in the Armed Forces is dangerous, but personally I think most people accept this as it’s the nature of the business as it were. (or maybe it’s just me, haha)

  130. Gloomy Northern Boy

    I have just watched the last hour or so of “Shooting Dogs” about the Rwandan Genocide…I thought I was beyond feeling any greater level of contempt and disgust for both the UN and indeed the Governments that we elect to represent our interests at that organisation…but I was sadly mistaken.

    When in the name of God did we – we who sacrificed so so much over so many generations in an effort to make a better world – become the good men who do nothing and allow evil to prevail?

    I feel sick with shame, and wholly beyond any effort at levity…


  131. John Hartley

    GNB Then “call me Dave” gave tens of millions of UK taxpayer cash to the murderous Rwandan regime to de-toxify the Conservative party image!? Then people wonder why I am against giving 0.7% GDP to dodgy African dictators.

  132. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @JH – I am now entertaining megalomaniac fantasies of side-lining a hefty chunk of said budget to fund an airborne task force based “somewhere in Africa” to visit immediate and merciless retribution on the vile degenerates who perpetrate these horrors…I don’t doubt there are enough professional soldiers out there who have had to stand by and watch once too often who would sign up given the chance…”The Wild Geese” meets “Tears of the Sun” on steroids with integrated air cover and very different ROE…

    Perhaps I should have a word with Bill Gates? More glamorous than vaccination programmes, and at least as necessary…


  133. Chris.B.

    @ GNB,

    Ever since the public became queasy at the idea of foreign interventions you can kiss good bye to any hope of stopping the next Rwanda, not unless someone else leads the way. There was public outcry just at the prospect that we might help the French in Mali. And although Syria isn’t quite the same thing, the death toll is still high and only rising.

    Never underestimate the ability of people to put self interest first.

  134. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Chris B – I know – I just sometimes give way to a black mood way beyond my normal Gloomy…I’ll go and look for some warship pictures to lift my mood…


  135. James Bolivar DiGriz

    @TD How does this highlighting of new comments manifest itself?

    The idea is excellent. However nothing seems marked on this page even though it new comments. In case the ‘tracking’ only started after you added the change I closed this page and then opened it again and it still looks the same.

  136. Think Defence

    Its works by setting a cookie when you visit

    When you visit a thread it shows the unread comments in a background grey colour, if you refresh, the grey disappears, it assuming you have read the comments.

  137. Tubby

    Not sure if this was posted in an earlier open thread, but in light of TED’s post about Argentina and sabre rattling, then I thought it was worth re-posting:

    Essentially IAI have zero houred 24 Kfir and equipped them with all new avionics and integrated a wide range of Israeli weapons onto them. The last thing I read suggested that Argentina will only get 12, but that IAI had the capacity to re-open the production line (though presumably they would need a massive order for that to make sense). Looking at videos on youtube of the Kfir the cockpit looks crowed and likely gives poor visibility, and for some reason the camera angle used in all of the videos seems to block out the HUD so it is hard to see how good the view out of the cockpit is looking straight ahead.

  138. ChrisM

    @ChrisB re stopping the next Rwanda
    I think it really depends where it is.
    If it is in the Middle East/anywhere Muslim then it will be a no-go. The public vibe is that there are no good guys, the people we try to help will end up hating/fighting us, and AQ will turn up and create an insurgency backed financially by our Gulf “allies”.
    However non-muslim Africa is a different kettle of fish. More welcome, easier to defeat opposition, not dusty, more reasonable locals (non fundamental and much more likely to give up/change sides). A much better method seems to be developing too – the Europeans rock up, smash the bad guys, hold key points with vastly superior firepower, and then African troops become the long term.
    I still believe we should be heavily investing in Sierra Leone. Build a model state where we have friends, and use it for basing rights and training.

    PS tend to think in a year or so the forces will be well up for a nice African adventure to keep the operational tours coming and show their worth post Afghanistan

  139. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Chris M – Was it your article on that idea a year or two back? If so you were right then and are now…but I would also add Northern Somaliland to the mix – big, well educated Diaspora in the UK (including that humongously rich “Guy called Mo” who runs the phone business and gives out Good Governance prizes) – useful harbour facilities in a strategic spot – just starting a UK based campaign to go it alone from the shambles further south…

    Plenty of DfID aid intelligently invested to build capacity…military advice and assistance…including a battalion strength battle group…development of RN/RAF facilities…

    Ideal way forward in two places close to where trouble is brewing…in my view.


  140. derek


    Nope. that is just a rehash of the seed corn stories that have been doing the rounds for the past week. There is no indication that any money has been found to support a Nimrod replacement.

  141. James Bolivar DiGriz

    @TD “Its works by setting a cookie when you visit”

    I assumed that was the case and I have 16 cookies from

    “When you visit a thread it shows the unread comments in a background grey colour, if you refresh, the grey disappears”

    The grey background seemed new so I wondered if that was what was supposed to happen. However it is not happening. Any idea what the cookie is supposed to be called?

  142. Observer

    Looks like Neuron is maturing nicely.

    Now let’s see if anyone dares to try it the other way round with the UAV following the manned vehicles instead of the manned vehicles following the UAV. 😆

  143. The Other Chris

    Couldn’t decide where to pop this story, “Beating the Cousins”, “Rivet Joint Certification Warning”, here, etc.

    Anyway, AAS finally pictured on a P-8:

    Blossoming solution to Rivet Joint certification problems? Another tick in the P-8* column for MPA?

    Still concerned about range, payload and endurance on the P-8 platform (due to the long MRA4 shadow that’s cast), though accompanying MQ-4C Triton’s would mitigate this, to an extent.

    EDIT: Aware of what AAS and Rivet Joint roles are. Thrust being this indicates P-8 platform growth.

  144. DavidNiven

    It did not look like it posed a threat, what a pointless thing to do ……………………….. unless you want an escalation in the situation.

  145. Red Trousers

    Feeling rather despondent about Ukraine, current developments not promising. Feels a bit like the the breakup of Yugoslavia. I don’t doubt that either the Ukrainians can retake the police posts if Russia stays put, or that the Russians could take Eastern Ukraine if they chose to. It’s the proxy confrontations between the partisan civilians that seem most likely to become uncontrollable.

  146. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – I felt much the same from the outset, although I think the position will only really deteriorate if the Russians start arsing about in the Polish speaking part of Western Ukraine – where some of the proxy militias might link directly back to a NATO ally…in which case, I have no idea if the worst outcome would be NATO getting drawn in; or – more likely in my view – it will become apparent that we have neither the means nor the will to do anything, and the cornerstone of our security for the last sixty-odd years will be exposed as a paper tiger…

    A quite remarkably gloomy Gloomy

  147. x

    @ David Niven

    For a while now here I have been talking off and on Orkadian and Shetland independence as a separate issue to Scottish independence. I have an interest in the politics of Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Dependencies.

    As I have said before Scottish independence to me sounds like England pressing for independence whilst brandishing Welshness as our identity, whilst ignoring Englishness, and hoping to fund it all off somebody else’s resources (ie the islands off the north coast.) Here I was once accused of xenophobia because I simply asked for somebody to define exactly what is a Scotsman. Forgive me I am English, we have basically been one country speaking roughly the same language within the same borders since 927AD so I don’t understand what it is to have a national identity crisis Of course voting for independence and then wanting to automatically join the EU is a bit contrary. Go ask the Irish how independence within the EU is going for them (and ask them for our £7 billion back please.)

    First thing we should do is retain Rockall and forget any administrative labelling exercise undertaken in the past. (Shades of Crimea!) To be honest if we don’t do that and I was Eire I would be ready with some OPVs and other ships to take the rock the day Scotland goes independent…….

  148. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @DN & x – Much amusement can be derived from pursuing this line of thinking in any on-line discussion featuring SNP trolls…who can often be reduced to a state of incoherent rage by the suggestion that the ultimate logic of their position is a vote for the Highlands, and each of the offshore archipelagos as well…throw in the Danish claim to Orkney and Shetland as well and you can hear gaskets blowing all over Edinburgh New Town from as far south Gloomy Court…and I’m sure I recall at least one barmpot muttering about MI5 being at the bottom of any such seditious proposal…priceless! :-)

    Alarmingly, of course, the Scotland of the Covenant was much more obviously a prototype Police State than the Protectorate…and the SNP seem to be characterised by the same self-righteous self-regard – and enjoy the same malevolent and vindictive streak – as their seventeenth century predecessors.


  149. Gloomy Northern Boy

    &DN & x – try that idea on any on-line discussion featuring SNP trolls…the reaction is priceless…the one thing Salmond won’t lack is volunteers for the McGeheimestaatspolizei to root out sedition and deal with the culprits. :-) Historically of course Covenant Scotland was much more of a viciously intolerant police state than Cromwell’s England.


    (a longer version of this might pop up but was spammed)

  150. Mark’s-curved?_afrLoop=93661678176000

    Using a concept known as transformation optics combined with this new artificially engineered composite material known as a metamaterial, the electromagnetic properties of a curved lens have been emulated in a flat panel whilst retaining the same broadband performance. The new composite metamaterials flat antenna lens could be embedded into the skin of an aircraft without compromising aerodynamic performance, representing a major leap forward from current airborne antennas.

  151. x

    @ GNB

    Don’t care what they do as long as we don’t end up paying for it. The SNP’s plans to me boil down to cherry picking what they from want the UK and us happily footing the bill and/or handing over assets. They want navy they can build one not take ours. I wasn’t joking about Rockall. And I hope the islanders do go their own way. If they are that brilliant they won’t be handicapped too long now will they free from the anchor which the rump UK is apparently?

    Another thing I see happening is a similar arrangement to citizenship that the UK has with the Irish where it appears Irish citizens nearly have as many rights as we native Brits yet the same isn’t reciprocated. I can see that happening. That would be annoying.

  152. DavidNiven

    GNB & X

    Forget the Scots they have never gotten over being defeated by the English and blame every social ill on the next door neighbours. You should concentrate on your friends to the West, we have renewable resources an excess of rain water coupled with the geography for reservoirs and Hydro power.

    Plus we are not as hell bent on blaming the English for everything that has gone wrong since our defeat and occupation, in fact we have learned to carve out a living in letting you English pay to visit the castles you financed to construct to begin with 😉

    On another note:

    NATO agrees steps to bolster security of eastern allies

    About time.

  153. The Other Chris

    Oooh, combing recent developments and we have a surface wide lensed phase scanned array with photonic wave generation…

    – Ted “Theodore” Logan

    (Thanks Mark)

  154. Red Trousers

    Just a thought on Ukraine.

    We consistently see images of ex-Soviet BMPs , BTRs, MTLBsand so on with 8-10 militia sitting on the top, and we know that in theory a BMP or the other wagons can have up to 8 infantrymen sitting inside.

    I’ll bet my bollocks that there are not 18 Sovs per wagon. As a recce Troop Leader, I had to become expert in assessment of what I saw, and part of that involved becoming familiar with the ex-Soviet wagons, which “somehow” the Brits acquired examples of. Mostly Egyptian, or Syrian. God knows how, MI6 magic at work, but we had a few working copies in BAOR.

    The back of a BMP is like the boot of an original 1960s Mini. No way would you get 18 tooled up soldiers and even a day pack each both in and on top of one. Far more likely that they’d stuffed the back with the kits, and were sitting on top as there is no room inside. None of them wear more than very lightweight Assault rig webbing.

    And then there is ex-Soviet doctrine going all of the way back to T-34s and the advance to Berlin. Infantry hang on to the outside of wagons and jump off close to the objectives. The wagons are all only 5 foot high to facilitate this. It’s still the same today.

    This is not an important point. Just musing. Difference between doctrines.

  155. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – the tactic seems to have been formalised by the Red Army Volunteers on the Ebro in 1937, and was greatly used by both sides on the Eastern Front…along with a whole Red Cavalry Army :-) …and I’m sure I’ve seen the translated biography of a Soviet Tank Rider, but I’m damned If I can remember where…

    Found it – Tank Rider:into the Reich with the Red Army – Evgeni Bessonov – a tenner on Amazon.


  156. ArmChairCivvy

    Amphibs, SSKs and OPVs are the few growth markets, as this story (from today’s DID) might indicate:

    ” Sweden’s FMV effectively raided TKMS’ offices in Malmo “to take sensitive technological equipment,” but FMV says that since “…it was a transfer of defence material, belonging to FMV, all information regarding the transfer is classified as secret”. It’s generally believed that they came and took the A26 submarine’s plans, among others, which are technically owned by the Swedish state”
    – TKMS being the German sub builder the Swedes foolishly thought would promote their know-how and products in the intl market
    – and now havbing to buy back the sub-scale operation just to make sure they get their own built and maintained in Sweden

  157. Think Defence

    Just been reminiscing with old mates at a BBQ about the most expensive bit of kit we destroyed, my paltry efforts were comprehensively top trumped by a mate that managed to sink an M2 rig, they are of course supposed to float!

  158. Red Trousers

    TD, Sappers are second only in Godliness to Cavalrymen. Although, given how unGodly cavalrymen can be, there’s quite a lot of headroom…

    I did the assault demolitions course at Hameln that 35 Engrs put on. Huge fun. Not quite on a par with sinking an M2, but I forgot to bring back my Gripswitch after setting a charge. The Sapper SSgt thought he had me, and told me I had to go back out from the bunker to retrieve the Gripswitch. Cheap piece of plastic shit, I thought, then ordered him to accompany me, which I don’t imagine he’d thought of. We went over and he was a bit horrified when I sat down next to the Gripswitch and got out a pack of du Maurier and offered him one, before lighting up my own. I think we had 30 second det cord on that, but he was rather frazzled.

    I told him not to try to fuck me about after that, and he didn’t.

  159. Observer

    Happy Easter Kent. Today we celebrate the resurrection of the Easter Bunny.

    Oh wait……


  160. x

    @ Kent

    Happy Easter.

    @ Observer

    Not clever. How would you like it if we made light of say Hari Merdeka?

  161. x

    @ Swimming Trunks

    I think the US wants wheels these days. they see tracks as complicated, and so ULCV will be wheeled.

    The US fielded the XM. Tracks aren’t complicated. The US built the Hummer with a unique tyre size to stop the tyres getting knicked. If having unique tyres isn’t a real complication I don’t know what is.

    I have been wondering if the XM could be slotted into the Merlin with the two hulls decoupled and the hulls “shoved in” on an incline. The XM isn’t “mine proof” and that is what would kill it as a vehicle for today’s Army. The Germans fielded the 206 to complement the Wiesel. I think for the personnel carrier role twin hulls are a better configuration for “micro-vehicles”.

  162. The Other Chris

    Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) Request for Proposal (RFP) issued:

    Unless one of them is STOVL/SRVL/Innovative the UK’s closest equivalent is the Rotary-Wing Unmanned Air System (RWUAS) Concept Capability Demonstrator (CCD) which will lead into the Tactical Maritime Unmanned Air System (TMUAS) program:

  163. Observer

    x, what the hell is “Hari Merdeka”? Sounds like Mata Hari’s little sister. You can make fun of her all you want, no skin off my back. I’ll start. She looks like she put on a few pounds there. And not on the upper chest. 😛

    Personally, I think this U-craze is starting to get a little out of hand…

  164. Obsvr

    @ x

    There is also the issue of width, eg Hummer is too wide for a Chinook. Then there is height, including the front ‘uplift’ when a tracked vehicle reaches the top of the ramp and rear uplift going down the ramp. Loadmasters tend to get agitated if you knock holes in their roof.

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