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: http://peacechild.org/youth-unemployment-in-argentina/ 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. :P

  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

    From Marinelink.com: http://www.marinelink.com/news/rollsroyce-develops363423.aspx

    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.” :P
    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: http://www.defencetalk.com/forums/army-security-forces/russianland-forces-thread-11742/#ixzz2y6p8NAM7

    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. :P 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. :P 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? :P

    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 thinkdefence.co.uk.

    “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. :lol:

  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


    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. :P

    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.

  165. x

    @ Obsvr

    I remember the first time I sat in a Hummer. The passenger seat was about two time zones away.

    Though I am not sure why me pointing out how the US complicated its by giving it unique tyres has got to do with anything. All I was doing simply shooting the breeze over a vehicle we will never buy fitting in one of our helicopters. I wasn’t even on about that vehicle in particular more its configuration.

    FWIW the XM is smaller than the bv206.


    and the cabin height of a Merlin is quite good.


    Sometimes this place is too much like hard work.

    @ Swimming Trunks

    The seats in a Hummer aren’t much too write home about. The cabin is a bit squashed. The seats remind me of the old spade seats from S1 LR updated with 70s style plastic covering.

    We had a Hummer engine in a Range Rover for a few years. You could drive around all day in third and it would accelerate in fifth. The RR is long gone, but we still have the engine.

  166. mike

    @ Swimming trunks and others

    Leads me to think, with the old land-rovers we could fit them in ok, but with our new range of Afghan-inspired vehicles that replaced it, have we lost that air-transportable capability with Chinook carrying vehicles internally? I dont think its much an issue, not used often and more usually under-slung carried anyway – was more a feature used for the Hereford bunch.

  167. The Other Chris

    Not munched, we’re just on the second page of comments. Hit the “Newer Comments” link above the comments box if you’re reading these in the Last 50 Comments list or similar.

  168. Red Trousers


    I can now see that.

    The TD threads that get long are a bit of a PITA. TD’s got this useful gizmo button that scrolls you up to the top, but not an equivalent for going to the bottom. Apparently he’s got a slidey bar on the left, but it’s cod all use on a handheld, being about one pixel wide. Then when you click on a comment, it takes you to the top of any thread, not to the actual comment, far less page 2 if there are that many comments.

    The Open Thread stops being user friendly after the 4th of each month, as a result.

  169. ArmChairCivvy

    Same problem here, the only thing that has saved my thumb joints from RMI is alternating the hands (my 7 inch display does not support the elevator feature) while getting to the bottom of longer threads
    ” TD’s got this useful gizmo button that scrolls you up to the top, but not an equivalent for going to the bottom. Apparently he’s got a slidey bar on the left, but it’s cod all use on a handheld, being about one pixel wide.”

  170. Red Trousers

    I don’t want to speak with a chuffing Indian, I don’t want to speak to a recorded Scotswoman, I don’t want to speak with an Irishwoman who hasn’t got a fucking Scooby as to why my broadband is not only down right now, but has being playing up for the last week. I want to speak to a proper engineer based in Cambridgeshire who actually knows why the cable between Wisbech and Peterborough has been playing up for the last 7 days, and what the fuck he’s going to do about it for my £21.99 a month.

    Am I being unreasonable?

  171. Chris

    RT – “Am I being unreasonable?” – very. If everyone with half a grip got through to the frazzled engineer interrupting him just at the point of joining the broken wire together, (“Oh not again!!!”) then it will never get fixed. A bit like all your Generals getting on the combat net to interrogate Gunner Scroggins about what *exactly* he can see in front of him and why he hadn’t moved as instructed four hours ago “Pssssht! Scroggins are you there? At last man. I want a full sitrep right now, now you’ve moved to Sector 4 Alpha like instructed. What do you mean you haven’t had a chance to move yet man?!?”

    Let’s here it for delegation and appropriate hierarchies then…

    Insert whatever smiley seems fitting here.

  172. Chris

    Should have been “half a gripe” – edit function vanished? Situation normal.

    Oh its arrived for this comment but not the last. Situation really is normal.

  173. Red Trousers

    Chris, that only makes sense for the 99
    .999% who are content to live life as it is.

    As it is, I’m doing a deal with BT at the mo. Nothing to do with BT, but based on my own domestic irritations with them, I think I’ll have another million out of them if I can.

  174. x

    @ RT re underslung loads

    Yes. A few months back I had a tiresome back and forth with Observer over that evolution.

    As I posited at the time all very well underslinging a load and yes the helicopter is even more stable in a way because its CoG has been moved. But it does little for a pilot at night flying low and indeed flying low at any other times. And though underslinging can be performed quickly I wonder if it is any quicker than landing and driving vehicles straight on board. The German Army seem to prefer to stuff their vehicles inside their Ch53. As they built a whole formation around moving armed vehicles by air I think we should defer to their expertise.

  175. Red Trousers


    I wouldn’t defer to the box heads too much. After, they’re 2:0 down in world wars, greatly scared of OPFOR now, and German to boot. Not very scary.

  176. Simon257

    @ RT
    If it helps, the next time you ring the Call Centre. Tell them you want to speak to someone in the UK. Do not take any crap of them. It is UK law that you must be put through to someone in the UK, If you so wish. If they try to be funny. Tell them that they and whoever your provider are breaking the Law if they do not do so. And you will take it further if they do not. (You have to ask about 3 times before they will cave in!)

  177. WiseApe

    @Simon257 – What law are you referring to? I once had a tedious chat with people on three continents about my credit card.

  178. x

    @ RT

    My point is simply that if underslung was the way to go every time why do we see anybody carrying vehicles inside helicopters? Why bother even try carrying vehicles inside? Surely it is safer for multiple helicopters to land to take on vehicles than have them hovering over a field why the RAF team on the ground prepare the lift? Um. How would the RAF get a team on the ground to prepare the load? There’s a thought. Further surely there are aerodynamic considerations too? If not why aren’t helicopters styled like double decker buses? It would be cheaper……

    As for Germany losing two world wars well that is what happens when a land power takes on a sea power. Nothing really to do with how proficient their army is actually. And it would be a little unfair to say that the German soldier was less proficient at the end of war than at the beginning

  179. Simon257

    @ Wiseape

    Part of the UK’s OFCOM legislation regarding overseas call centres. I found out about it on FaceBook about three weeks ago. You could also try pressing the # button a couple of times! When you get to options, this can confuse the operating system and will take you to an operator.

    And now I’m off to Tenerife for a week!

  180. Observer


    “Why bother even try carrying vehicles inside?”

    Because people do strange things? Think that line evolved from the glider carried cargo of WWII + the need for strategic lift to be carried inside C-130s. Dunno, seems like there is a reluctance West for underslung military, even though civilians have been using skycranes for decades.

    “How would the RAF get a team on the ground to prepare the load?”

    Usually the same way as how the load got there in the first place. Also you don’t have to be air force to prep a cargo sling. Just have to remember, package TIGHT and use a grounding rod BEFORE you touch the hull of the helicopter unless you admire Einstein’s hairstyle. If you’re really desperate and somehow the load got there through isolated methods (e.g air crash), you can simply zipline down a team first before coming back later for the cargo.


    Looks like lighter loads pose more of a problem than heavier ones as the net gets dragged further back and closer to the helicopter.

  181. Obsvr

    My understanding is that it’s too wide, this led to the US buying landrovers for some specialised units that needed internal carriage. Which always surprised me because I’d have thought internal carriage would have been part of the requirement.

  182. Observer

    Obsvr, there is even a question of WHY should there be internal carriage in the first place if you can under-sling. And with more to boot.

    Underslung, you can carry 2 Humvees, internal carriage you can only carry one.

    We under sling quite a few things, so we do know it is practical. LSVs, 155mm 39 cal, bikes, MAYBE a Warthog in the future (under consideration). You can triple pack LSVs, double pack 155mm artillery, 8 pack bikes. So why bother with internal carriage at all?

  183. ArmChairCivvy

    RT referenced an article that mentioned Alvis Shadow.

    Two were built, and the requirement was to get two of them into a Chinook!
    One was based on Humvee parts, the other on Merc G-wagen.

    Here are both kit model and exhibition stand piccies of what it (would have) looked like
    as HMG ran out of money (had other priorities) by the time the R&D had been done.

  184. Chris

    ACC – if I recall correctly the Shadow was Alvis’ bid for an MOD competition and lost. It was not an MOD funded development task. I met the HMMWV based version on a visit to the works; I got the impression the company disliked the inefficient packaging that left little room for occupants and mission kit, which is no doubt why the G-wagon version was made. Anyone who has looked inside the HMMWV and seen how much space is lost to the hump/high floor covering engine, transmission & driveline would not be surprised at that: http://armytrucksinc.com/wp-content/gallery/inventory/2.%20HMMWV/16-img_9208.gif

  185. ArmChairCivvy

    Was it Extenda that won the referred competition? At least we have seen piccies of them being inched in and out Chinooks; a very tight fit, I think the saving grace is the adjustable suspension.

    A fairly new (speculative) intro:
    “At DSEI 2013 Supacat unveiled its LRV 400 (Light Reconnaissance Vehicle) based on QT Services Wildcat’s race vehicle chassis. The military version is powered by a 236 hp 5-cylinder 3.2-litre turbodiesel (the race version has a 430 to 640 hp petrol V-8) driving a choice of automatic or manual gearbox. The LRV 400 features 2-wheel/4-wheel drive with central differential locking. Beam axles and 300 mm travel race-bred shock absorbers are used, while steering is power assisted. Its size – 1.8 metres wide and high – allows it to fit in a Chinook even under the stringent British limits. The 160-litre fuel tank allows for a 1,000 km range. A roll-over bar structure, which can receive a machine gun, protects the three occupants. With a 1.4-tonne payload gross weight reaches 3.5 tonnes allowing some form of ballistic protection to be mounted. Other options include a winch that can be easily transferred from front to rear by simply pulling a pin.”

    Picked that above text up from armada.ch
    – they also provide a good overview of vehicles fitting into an Osprey… if you need to start out further (or faster). So other than the USMC versions (recce/ fire support vehicle plus somethig to move their 120mm mortars), they tend to be for rescue missions, where the number of pax will go up from the initial crew

  186. ArmChairCivvy

    Most of these “thingies” are called Shadow, Phantom or Spectre. This is probs the same one (used by the USMC)?

    ” Osprey-compatible vehicle in its portfolio. It is already in service with the US Marine Corps and thus deserving description in this section: the Light Strike Vehicle. A Jeep-like 4×4, it is powered by a Navistar 2.8-litre four-cylinder SOHC turbodiesel developing 132 bhp and 312 Nm of torque coupled to a GM 4L70E four-speed automatic transmission and a Chrysler two-speed manual transfer case. It is equipped with Air Ride gas bladder suspension that allow adapt vehicle height to running surface. This, coupled to a foldable roll-over protection system, allows to reduce the LSV’s height to 1.19 metres when loaded into the V-22 while on road the fully rigged vehicle is 1.84 metres high (or 1.92 metres when suspension is trimmed to maximum setting). The LSV is also equipped with CTIS and four-wheel steering system. Its 900 kg payload capacity allows it to transport a crew of four on padded Kevlar fragment-resistant armoured seats, three-day supplies and a main weapon that can range from a 7.62 or 12.7 mm machine gun to a 40 mm AGL. Gross vehicle weight is just under three tonnes and maximum road speed is 105 km/h. The car has been adopted in two configurations by the US Marine Corps, the M1161 light strike vehicle and the M1163 prime mover, the latter being the tractor of the Expeditionary Fire Support System based on a 120 mm rifled mortar.”
    – again used armada.ch for the above snippet

  187. Chris

    ACC – I saw the Wildcat based – um – jeep? at DSEi – an interesting approach as in take something that was designed for the likes of the Paris-Dakar rally and strip it out for military use. The lower power engine will reduce effectiveness somewhat – the original Bowler used extreme power and speed to make up for any quirks of traction; this vehicle will need its suspension & driveline to do all the work on all terrain. What was surprising was just how little there was in terms of vehicle structure – obviously enough, but for those used to light armour or Supacat HMT or even humble LandRovers this looked scarily like the Motor Show Cut-Away model…

    ST – You have to look at all the origami systems on RST-V and wonder how reliable it would be through years of hard use. Especially the suspension which is designed to draw itself narrower to fit in the helo but needs to expand to full width for stability. It also raises some concern that under high side loadings the suspension might have more lateral deflection than desirable. Compare with the Supacat HMT400 that has a fixed narrow track needed for CH-47 internal carriage but still manages to be a stable rapid off-roader.

  188. x

    @ Observer

    Sky cranes are used to move out size large volume low weight items in short hops often to where a helicopter cannot land. Such as aircon units to the top of a high rise. Not really the same as moving a company’s worth of anti-tank vehicles 100km or so at speed.

    It is nice to know every infantryman in the Singaporean army is a trained rigger.

    Also carrying twice the weight impacts fuel use as does carrying stuff externally. As I said above helicopters are aerodynamic for a reason.

    Not saying underslung is wrong or a mistake. It is more you think that internal carriage is wrong despite a large amount of evidence suggesting other countries’ forces think it is a needed mode of operation.

  189. Observer

    x, I know most of our sergeant majors are, along with some of our officers and some entire companies. My company is 100% trained for rigging, and I know the Guards battalions are too. It’s not really difficult.

    So yes, there are a lot of riggers. Worst case, even an infantry company has a CSM that knows how to do it as they tend to rotate the “regular” career soldiers through the heli-borne courses. The normal infantryman just needs to provide the muscle.

    And I still have no idea why people insist on internal carriage despite your reply. Just because a lot of people do it that way, does it make the method automatically right? Or is it just a habit or holdover from the old days?

  190. ArmChairCivvy

    Most of these “thingies” are called Shadow, Phantom or Spectre. This is probs the same one (used by the USMC)?

    Thanks Chris, someone can tell these apart! I am limited to recognising what is next to me on the motorway.

    At least the name keeps to the pattern: Growler
    – one flies (for the USMC)
    – this one is a bloody jeep, shrunk sideways, and still has faults that leave the fleet “grounded”
    – just over a mln $ a piece… those were the days when the Marine Corps got what ever they said was needed for getting the job done

  191. Chris

    ACC – its amazing how many times various companies have tried to build a better jeep (as in the Willys MB/Ford GPW) of WW2 fame) and failed. What all the newer designs fail to recognize is that the key to the original jeep’s success was simplicity – a design focused on reliability and off-road performance with no bells or whistles. And it was so simple it was repairable by anyone with basic mechanical knowledge. No air suspension. No computerized traction control. No ECUs. Nothing but robust mechanicals on a robust chassis under a tough simple body. Genuinely simples.

    Sadly all the modern eco-laws mean such a useful machine could not legally be built any more. Completely stupid in my opinion considering how little mileage the average military vehicle covers in peacetime, but hey I’m not in the EU parliamentary gravy-train so what do I know? Come all out conflict you have to hope the military machines have total override over eco-functions or else your fighting might could be brought to an embarrassing standstill by slightly too much sulphur in the diesel. Even allowing for that, if military vehicles age like civilian ones do, then most vehicles will be rendered unserviceable in the end by ECU/sensor/wiring faults.

    There really is a lot to be said for simplicity.

  192. The Other Chris

    How not to launch a Drone… in front of the Portuguese Defence Minister… and National Media… at the grand unveiling of the new unmanned system… with a YouTube upload a screen-tap or two away…

  193. Mark

    Interesting for Australia to announce a 25% reduction to there original intention to purchase 100 aircraft must be keeping the super hornets for a while.

  194. ArmChairCivvy

    It is all a ploy
    … 100 minus 14 minus 58 = how many Growlers does that make

    One in three would be the conventional “wisdom”

    The USN is the owner, so they are all wired for “G” and should some be returned at the end of the ten-year lease— sequestration circumvented, and long forgotten! Long live Growler (even if the line, by then, would be closed).

    Anyone like conspiracy theories?

  195. ArmChairCivvy

    @TOC, isn’t it that the conformals can’t be jettisoned, like other additional fuel?

    So, good for range, and bad for everything else

  196. The Other Chris

    I’m not aware of a Conformal Fuel Tank that can be jettisoned. When empty they still have a weight impact, can’t do much about that.

    The F-15 Silent Eagle program said that as there’s relatively small load, the tanks can be made lightweight despite the inclusion of additional sensors at the front of their tanks.

    According to the F-16 CFT program, their tanks don’t significantly affect handling of that aircraft and support the full range of 9G manoeuvring. Drag is supposedly 12% that of an equivalent external tank on that airframe.

    Boeing claim that the CFT’s for the Advanced Super Hornet actually reduce drag on their airframe thanks to superior design software compared to when the aircraft was originally conceived.

    Not sure what the impacts on the Typhoon would be. No reason to doubt performance along the lines of the F-16 and F-18 CFT programs.

  197. Chris

    TOC – I am no aerodynamicist. But looking at the Typhoon wearing two bulbous blisters on its flanks does not look like a slick solution. Sharp changes in profile and significant change in cross sectional area over a short distance do not to my simplistic mind sit well with transsonic or supersonic flight. Whatever happened to the area rule?

    Oh and they are ugly as sin.

  198. The Other Chris

    Regarding Australian purchases.

    They’re still committed to 100 aircraft. This purchase of 58 is Phase 2A/B (Stage 2) of their AIR 6000 Project. This purchase allows for operational squadrons.

    Final purchase of aircraft to top up to 100 is in Phase 2C which stands up a fourth operational squadron.

    Exactly as planned and as the Australian’s stated.

    At the moment, Australia are bringing in both modern MPA and Strike Fighter projects in and currently under their assigned budgets. Quite impressive and worth paying attention to how they are running their defence accounts.

    Note that their F-18 upgrade program is a separately funded project (AIR 5376) which is also running to schedule and under budget.

    Current status of Australian public projects: http://www.defence.gov.au/dmo/dmo/function.cfm?function_id=70

    Minister for Defence budget overview: http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2013/05/14/minister-for-defence-budget-2013-14-defence-budget-overview/

    Minister for Defence portfolio statements: http://www.defence.gov.au/budget/13-14/index.htm

  199. The Other Chris


    Agreed. Aesthetically the F-18 CFT’s are prettier.

    Final impact depends on the airflow from the front of the aircraft and any shockwave ahead of the aircraft at the cruising speed that the aircraft is intended to operate at for the majority of the time. The Typhoon also flies nose-up so that needs to be taken into account when looking at side elevations.

  200. The Other Chris

    Quick aside on aerodynamics, you can create some interesting effects with shapes.

    Nissan for example designed those oversized headlamps that started appearing on the Micra Mk3 (K12) and extended to the Leaf are there to collect and create an area of negative pressure in front of the windscreen.

    This has two effects:

    1) Reduced wind noise providing a more refined cabin for it’s class of car;
    2) Reduced drag as air is now moving across an air boundary rather than a body shell boundary.

    Nissan Note wind tunnel test. Not as extreme as the old Micra and current Leaf’s, but you can see the areas created by the shape.

  201. Mark


    Not as planned at all the final lot decision has been kicked into never never land of 10+ years down the line. When politicians moved equipment purchases that far down the line my default assumption is don’t count on that happening. There no better than us how’s there helicopter, sub and aew contracts working out?

    As for the typhoon conformals looks like what I remember seeing a while ago. Its drag impact will mainly depend on there effect in the overall aircraft cross section they may improve the cs given there location. They’ll add drag due to more surface area but the wing root area can be draggy anyway. Underwing fuel tanks can see as much as 30+ percent of there fuel used to overcome the drag of carrying them, but the benefit is you can jettison them in flight. You need a torque wrench to do that with conformals but then if you use them on a long range strike missions your gonna be pretty heavy anyway dogfighting will not be your primary concern.

  202. Chris

    TOC – very informative. I shall now be terrified as baby Nissans scream down the fast lane as fast as their sewing machines will push them because with all that induced low pressure over the bonnet the weight on their front wheels will be so low as to make them almost uncontrollable.

    I have mentioned once before (and was sworn at by RT for so doing) that my daily driver is a very rusty 911 of 1990 vintage. It has big bulbous bumpers and side-skirts as part of the design, which was specifically done to control aero lift at speed. Apparently in standard spec the car had zero lift front and rear (presumably induced downforce if splitter is fitted or suspension height reduced), the best aero figure of any production 911 as far as records go. I can report on a run on the autobahn at 240kph it was stable and completely unruffled, and remained entirely obedient to steering input. But the plastic bumpers are oversized and ugly. Maybe over the past 50 years physics has changed; where once if something was beautiful and streamlined it was aerodynamic, now aerodynamic perfection relies on pig-ugly bulges and blisters. How sad.

  203. Obsvr

    From a while back I’m fairly sure the fit was too tight and that the US acquired some Landrovers to enable internal carriage.

  204. Obsvr

    Australia hasn’t yet decided whether or not to replace Super Hornet with F35. It’s a decision fore the future.

  205. Chris

    Ted, x – I’m positive I said this before… I have a design for a Ferret-like vehicle, but its bigger. Its bigger because unlike the original (excellent) Ferret, new vehicles have to accommodate 97th percentile personnel, modern complex voice & data comms, data terminals, ECM systems, night vision systems, air con. They also need better protection than Ferret would provide against modern threats. So its too big to squash inside helicopters. If you want to fly vehicles inside current helicopters then some of the ‘mandated’ features of military vehicle requirements have to go.

    Or we buy bigger vertical lift aircraft. Now, about that Rotodyne…

  206. Oscar Zulu

    The Australian Government has today approved the acquisition of 58 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in addition to the 14 currently on order. It will provide the RAAF with a total of 72 aircraft to form three operational squadrons and one operational conversion squadron squadron.

    The total capital cost of $12.4 billion for this acquisition includes the cost of associated facilities, weapons and training. Around $1.6 billion in new facilities and infrastructure will be constructed, including at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales and RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory.

    Australian defence industry has been awarded over $355 million in work and stands to win in excess of $1.5 billion in JSF-related production and support work over the life of the programme.

    The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter RAAF service in 2020. The F-35 will replace the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornet aircraft will be withdrawn from service by 2022.

    The Government will consider the option of an additional squadron of F-35 aircraft to replace the Super Hornets in the future. In the interim the RAAF will retain on strength 24 Super Hornet FA18F and 12 FA18G Growlers for a total air combat fleet of 108 5th generation and 4.5 generation aircraft by 2023.

  207. Mark

    12.4b for 58 aircaft nice. No wonder were ordering the bumble bees in small lots. Any how hopefully it will live up to expectations.

  208. The Other Chris

    Those prices (AU$12.4b, $11.5b, £6.8b) less facilities and taking into account the other items mentioned can be seen as taking the unit price beneath the $100m mark.

    That tallies with the latest LRIP 7 comments from the JSFPO of $98m purchase price for an aircraft to be delivered in 2015 and reports coming out of Australia back in March that their price was going to be around the $85m mark. Likely plus engines.

    Wondering if the AU$12.4 amount is the Phase 2A/B budget, not the actual spend, as per the P-8A/MQ-4C budgets. No mention of that on the gov.au statements as it was for the MPA spend.

  209. The Other Chris

    Unsure what you mean.

    AIR 7000 (their MPA project) listed budgets as such:

    Phase 1B – $1000m to $1500m
    Phase 2B – $3500m to $4500m

    Some press reported their actual P-8A and MQ-4c as costing AU$4.5b-AU$6b, whereas this was the total budget plus contingency set aside.

    What I’m wondering is if the AU$12.4b reported is in fact the Phase 2A/B (Stage 2) budget. Not the actual spend.

  210. WiseApe

    Interesting that the Aussies are replacing their Hornets one-for-one with F35As. It’s almost as if they’ve said: “What do we need? Right now find the money to pay for it.” Bit of a contrast with the countries that have set a budget then looked at what they can get for the money. I name no names.

  211. ArmChairCivvy


    I think for catch up on a new thread (several) it works best when the comments are in time order.
    – whereas “Latest Comments” helps one to dive in from the newest, and quickly reach the point (across all threads) where one left off. Then start to work the threads in time order; what is being said can only be fully understood against the preceding commentary… or, maybe, one day, with a quote facility. That can quickly turn into a counterproductive feature, though, if people use it in a lazy fashion and keep quoting whole comment, rather than the relevant bits.

  212. Mark


    The 11.5b price for 58 f35 seems to be in the ball park for what was offered to Korea when they reduced numbers to 40 to fit with there budget. Unit price is therefore 198m each because that is what it costs defence to buy the aircraft so deleting this or that to get to a lower number is IMO pointless. The b version the uk is buying is about 20% more expansive than the A so its a guess but by the time we’ve order 48 I’m sure our bill will be around that which Australia has just forked out for 58.

  213. TED

    @TD Don’t know if its possible but can you make it possible to navigate to your last post. If you post and are then away for a while finding peoples replies is a bit of an issue.

  214. as

    RAF fighter jets scrambled to investigate Russian planes


    They have been scrambled 8 times in the last year.
    Ok its not every week and it is not the cold war.
    They have no excuse for doing it they have plenty of there own airspace to practice in.

  215. Obsvr

    “RAF Typhoon scrambled after two Russian planes stray into UK airspace today”

    Are they training their navigators at the same place as the RAN? who have had similar problems with Indonesian territorial waters on OP SOVEREIGN BORDERS.

  216. Observer

    I don’t blame the RAN, there is this thing called ocean currents that can really mess up your predicted course.

    And read carefully Obsvr, they did not ENTER UK waters, they just “approached” or came close to UK territory.

    It’s these little details that the news tend to gloss over for more sensationalism.

  217. monkey

    At least the Russians Strayed into our territory unlike the Crimea where they Stayed.
    Maybe they are investigating invading Berwick-upon-Tweed who I believe are still technically at war with Russia over coincidently the Crimea ! We declared war in 1854 ‘Britain declared war on Russia in the name of Britain, Ireland, Scotland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all British Dominions’ but Berwick-upon-Tweed was not included in the Paris Peace treaty of 1856.So watch out Berwick the Russians are coming.

  218. Gloomy Northern Boy

    I was assuming it was a Diplomatic Mission on the way to discuss Russian Military “protection” for a post-Independence Scotland; just as well we are bringing the Army back from Germany, as we will need them along the Marches in a few months time.

    I trust plans are well in hand to secure Faslane and other key military installations with loyal troops at Midnight on September 18th, and disarm the Scottish Regiments…

    “Vladimir” Gloomy :-)

  219. The Other Chris

    I have a personal affection for the A-10. As a concept it’s great. Pilots say it gets them home. Front line troops say a “show of force” flypast can be a lifesaver.

    The Air Force says grounding the A-10s will save $4.2 billion.


    This quote says more to me about whether to keep the A-10 than any financial or emotional reasons:

    “I think I had fourteen airplanes sitting on the ramp having battle damage repaired, and I lost two A-10s in one day [February 15], and I said, ‘I’ve had enough of this.'”
    – General Charles A. Horner, Commander US and Allies air operations for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm

  220. Observer

    monkey, read carefully, they never entered UK territory, strayed or otherwise. The headlines was a fake to suck you into reading. They just flew close, then turned back.

    Must have been some tricky flying though, to get from Russia to the UK, they must have had to skirt or overfly Sweden and Norway. Don’t think they’ll be very welcomed over Poland and Germany.

  221. monkey

    The Tupolev 95 as part of its patrol over the Artic Ocean some times comes south ,they don’t overfly Norway or Sweden but fly around the North Cape typically on a 12hr + mission . They probe the response times of the various air forces that border the Artic Ocean gathering EM data to see what is deployed and where as well as tracking NATO surface warships positions in their MPA role . They also look for SSN/SSBN heat blooms as well but how efficient they are this is still unknown, a very closely guarded secret as you would expect.

  222. TAS

    The beauty of the TU-95 as a long ranged MPA – fantastic aircraft and awesome capability. Be nice to have some.

  223. DavidNiven


    Which Baltic state just signed an agreement for CVRT to create a mech Bde? I know which I’d prefer to get cheap as chips and upgrade between the choice of the two.

  224. as

    The Marder is very large, in one of the photos in the article the is one sitting next to a leopard and the hulls are the same size. That could cause transport problems. Chile acquired some of the retirement stock.

    nice story

    It does sound like a story from the first world war.

  225. camill

    Prospects of Britain keeping its US relationship in Asia.

    “Britain not a strategic ally for US in Asia”

    … “if there is a conflict between China on one side, and the US and its Asian allies on the other, Britain will not be in a position to deploy sufficient military force in Asia to make any more than a marginal impact.

    … [UK] to significantly shape the way events unfold if things get out of hand. If it can’t reasonably expect to alter the course of a hot war, it will not be a strategic player in the absence of conflict either.”

  226. Observer

    Looks like my guess that the Russians skirted Norway, Sweden and Denmark was right if the Tu-s got handed over to Danish patrols.

    camill, I doubt the US would dump the UK if war broke out in Asia. It just means that the UK has to sit that one out or be limited to providing technical support, not a total break in relationship.

  227. The Other Monty

    camill, I suspect our support for a future US expedition in Asia could be to backfill. With the reduced availability of their carrier groups, they might wish to release one from the Indian Ocean and have us send in the RFTG to take its place (even with its obviously lesser capability).

  228. Chris

    ST – I think I heard once that when pushing through rolling seas the hull’s pitching tends to pivot around a point 2/3 along its waterline? Which would suggest the quarterdeck is a more ‘pitchy’ location for a flight deck than one further forward. Watching videos of RN helo landing in higher sea states, the flight deck looked like it was moving far faster than the aircraft trying to drop onto it. Maybe then the commercial shipping idea of a flight deck forward/slightly above the quarterdeck offers advantages. On this vessel the flight deck seems a bit high which might make roll a bit difficult. I can (just) remember RN County class destroyers – the flight deck on these wasn’t quite hanging over the blunt end: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/HMS_Antrim_D18_1976.jpeg (although I never got the point of a side entered hangar which required lots of matelots to push the aircraft around the side of the hangar to get to the doors: http://www.hazegray.org/navhist/rn/destroyers/county/county3.jpg)

  229. Obsvr

    Why internal carriage? Two reasons leap to mind OPSEC and range, although on the latter I’m happy to bow to an expert, but it would seem to me that underslung increases drag and hence reduces range or increases refuelling frequency which reduces assault momentum. On the former it’s useful to note that in the Balkans UK deployed arty in shipping containers on one occasion to conceal what they were doing. Of course there may not be much OPSEC benefit in internal carriage of Hummer, and Light Guns do fit inside Chinooks, although this is one of the reasons for being able to rotate the gun’s superstructure (muzzle hitting roof as gun goes up or down ramp).

    Also note that the original requirement for the Light Gun included internal carriage for gun and towing vehicle in Andover and Chinook, and this was written some years before Chinooks were even ordered.

  230. Mark

    Today is Anzac Day

    ” it is a legend not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity. It is a legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity.”

    We have some commentators from down under so hope you enjoyed the day.

  231. Think Defence

    Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours… you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

  232. Peter Elliott

    Ukraine has severely cut the supply of irrigation water to Crimea.


    According to the report basically this year’s crops will fail without it. The locals must be pretty worried.

    Its irrigation not drinking water but still: shades of Singapore.

    Also note the emphasis on the unpaid bills. Turning the Gazprom tactic back on the Russians.

  233. Chris

    Ref Ukraine – there is far more political bias in this than is either healthy of helpful. There was a deposing of the elected government by pro-western west-of-country pressure groups – Russia said that was illegal; the US/western states stated it was democracy. There was a separatist move by the regional government of Crimea which was popular with a large sector of the Crimean people, followed by a referendum of the Crimean people on whether to return to the earlier status of part of Russia – the US/western states said that was illegal; Russia stated it was democracy. The current Ukrainian government in Kiev – the one that protesters created and Russia does not recognize – is westward looking and anti-Russia which is causing unrest in the east of the Ukraine where the population has a much more pro-Russia mood. Its a mess and neither side seems much more legitimate than the other.

    But. Let’s do a what-if. What if Mexico, after decades of looking towards the US as a cash-rich neighbour, decided there was a better future for its citizens under an open-border arrangement with Cuba (and through Cuba support from Moscow)? What if Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia etc voted to join this new very left wing super-state? All very democratic – except those in the north of Mexico wanted instead to break from the socialist America Centrale and become part of the US so what if there was an arbitrary regional council that organized a referendum which resulted in New New Mexico the 51st State?

    What would the view of the West be in such a situation? Would it applaud the democratic choice of the region to swing allegiance towards Russia? Would it denounce the regional referendum and declare the annexation of northern Mexico by the US as illegal?

    I can’t help thinking the big political powers have little concern for the citizens of Ukraine/Crimea. It is a chessboard the old cold war adversaries are using to play out the power games upon. Those citizens are being played for the benefit of the game. In my opinion.

    If the UN had power, and the will to use it, I suggest by now there would have been a stabilisation force in place. Better still if every deployed unit involved Russian & Western forces personnel in equal numbers, just to make sure neither force misbehaved or exerted undue pressure on behalf of their political leaders. Cooperation between Russia and the US/EU would also deflate polarization of the Ukrainian population. But this is never going to happen, is it.

  234. x

    ” is westward looking”

    with a nice slice of ultra-nationalism too.

    I note that VICE news chap has been freed. I have “enjoyed” his dispatches.

    My fear is that Barry O will use the situation as a distraction and/or an attempt at some sort of signature affair to shore up his at best lacklustre presidency.

    You have to laugh at them. You have Biden going around the world saying “give ’em guns” as a sort of panacea to address the democratic deficits in various countries While back home Barry O wants to disarm the American populace and rules by executive orders which have dubious legality under US Federal Law.

  235. ChrisM

    Re Britain having no strategic power in Asia

    Bar islands in immediate flying range of the Chinese mainland couldn’t we get more defensive military power into an Asian/Pacific ally than China could attack it with? Maybe not the Philippines, but probably Singapore and definitely Australia?
    If we sent a couple of subs, a couple of T45s and a couple of squadrons of Typhoons to Singapore/Brunei what could the Chinese deploy that would stand a chance of overwhelming that defence?

    PS – do journalists really get paid for this toss?

  236. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @ChrisM – All good points…I’d be interested to know what our man on the ground @Observer thinks?

    As to what journalists get paid for writing tripe, it’s best not to think about it as it will spoil your weekend! I might add that whenever the papers start on about what other people are paid I write to suggest that they shouldn’t comment unless willing to reveal their own salaries…oddly, I have never been published on that subject (I have on others)…and I have never seen such a letter published in any paper (although other people must have had the thought)….


  237. Think Defence

    Don’t usually comment as I fear I am but a bug among intellectual giants on TD,

    Ha ha, clearly you have never read anything I have written :)

    Steve, please, never be reticent about commenting, we are all (mostly) a friendly bunch

  238. Gloomy Northern Boy

    “…we are mostly a friendly bunch”…were the Carrier Flame Wars so distressing you have blocked them out, Boss?


  239. Observer


    If the reported RAN intrusion distances are anywhere near right then in the days of GPS ‘ocean currents’ don’t wash as an excuse. It’s either a flagrant breach of international law or incompetence.

  240. Observer

    Re ANZAC day, I have to report that while marching (sort of) down George St in Sydney the rain started and the band behind struck up ‘Sussex by the Sea’.

  241. Observer

    On a more serious note, Obsvr, you don’t get what GPS is do you?

    GPS tells you where you are. Ocean currents make you deviate from where you are going. One is a location, the other is a route or rather a route deviation.

    You can plot a straight line from point A to point B with GPS, but if you tried to take that route on the ocean, you’ll NOT get to where you want to be. GPS has nothing to do with it other than to tell you how badly you goofed on the route aim off.

  242. ArmChairCivvy

    @TOC, you can have one, as it is being retired as we speak.

    The other ship of the class (the namesake for it) will become a training ship in peace time, but that yawning mouth reminds us how good the throughput in laying mines can be… drive-in, drop-out… repeat.

  243. Challenger

    Seems it was a Lynx that crashed in Kandahar province killing 5 UK service-personnel.

    Despite them inevitably trying to take credit early signs are that it was an accident and the Taliban weren’t involved.


    Always sad, but this close to the UK withdrawal makes it even more tragic.

  244. Obsvr

    @ Observer

    I understand exactly what GPS does, and having done far too much survey I’m wedded to accuracy. That said I’ve also done a lot of footborne navigation (with the incentive that I didn’t want to be where my battery’s shells would land). If you a driving a ship then you should be periodically checking your actual position against your expected position. On the high seas you probably don’t do this excessively frequently. If you are in the vicinity of an international border with a sensitive neighbour then unless you are a complete class 1 dickhead you do it very frequently. Straying, reportedly 9 km over, indicates a class 1 dickhead in the decision loop.

  245. Red Trousers


    I’m with you on the importance on navigation. I’m a bit of a Nav enthusiast. My proudest moment was leading my Regiment on a complex track over 80 kilometres through a dozen minefields, which was 44 turns and 45 bearings, and there was a sandstorm going on, which meant that our rather crappy Trimble GPS could not hold a signal, you couldn’t see anything and it was nighttime anyway. The gaps between minefields was 10 metres, so it was a bit of a precision job. There wasn’t much pressure on me because if I cocked it up I wouldn’t have been around to face the Colonel’s wrath. We imposed a gap of 100 metres between my wagon and the second one just in case I did cock it up.

    We got 200 wagons 30 miles behind Iraqi lines in 9 hours, and they did not know we were there until we let rip at dawn with air strikes and MLRS.

    Actually, if I never ever do anything else again, that’s something I’ll never forget, and be proud of. And some kudos to the Andrew, who taught me lots when I did their Nav course in 1989.

  246. Anixtu


    “If you a driving a ship then you should be periodically checking your actual position against your expected position. On the high seas you probably don’t do this excessively frequently.”

    If you have an electronic chart system (as all RN units larger than a P2000 certainly do) it is constantly displaying your position. TTWs are not displayed on standard navigational charts (paper or electronic) but can easily be displayed as an overlay.

  247. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @ RT said something complimentary about the Andrew…more shocking than the catastrophe unfolding on the Archers Omnibus…


  248. DavidNiven

    UK MoD Might Accelerate Programs to Avoid Election-Related Delays
    (Mainly refers to Project Marshall)


    Are the moves by Russia into the Ukraine an own goal when it comes to reviving NATO?

    Baltics To Hike Budgets, Pursue Permanent NATO Troop Presence


  249. Chris.B.

    @ David Niven,

    I love the way the government is spinning it as “to avoid delays” as opposed to “it looks likely we’ll lose the next election, so lets get as much privatisation in as possible while we can”.

  250. Red Trousers

    GNB, steady on.

    I looked all of those Andrew instructors in the eyes, and not one of them had a killer instinct (which is not surprising, as they are in the Andrew, and not supposed to be part of the death dealing part of the MoD).

    Bottom line, you can take the primary school level of instruction the Andrew offer, and apply it to something real world. What you can’t do on current funding is to apply the Andrew to real practical problems the MoD has, because they’ve got useless outdated boats and because they are individually only trained to be useless.

  251. Peter Elliott

    Interesting. So what could or should we bring to the party. Either as part of SDSR15 or in and emergency SDSR14?

    Clearly there is scope to move exisitng programmes to the left. As Hammond is already talking fo doing with Crowsnest. Apache renewal should probably also be on that list. There is ASW-MPA which we should be doing anyway for our own national security. But in terms of supporting NATO specifically in Central Europe?

    I don’t see that its for us to commmit a permnant army deployment there. Its not our strength area numerically or technically. Anything less than a Brigade would be tokenism. And putting a Brigade at readiness out there indefinitely would severly restrict our ability to generate force elsewhere in the world.

    Transport is an area where we could invest. More Atlas and C17 to make our Airmobile Brigade more than just a convenient name. And significnt quantities of Fres UV to form of a high readiness 8×8 Brigade able to self deploy by road in a short period of time, with the heavy bigade configured to move forward in slower time by rail.

    If we are talking about upscaling anthing it should probably be Fast Air. Confirm an order to enough Tranche 3b Typoons to stand up 2 more deployable multi role squadrons. Gives us the ability to throw a 3 squadron airgoup forward in a hurry wothout hurting standing commitments. No sense in moving any more of the 138 F35 to the left until we have working examples in service to evaluate. The commitment to buy remains on file and the line will be open a long time.

    And for the RN the surface fleet looks in pretty good shape. Re-open the Merlin line possibly for a top-up order of HM2, with HC4 Puma replacemnts to follow. If anything’s needed on the ‘big ticket’ list its an increase in the Astute build tempo before Successor kicks in. Like the recent decision on patrol ships the retirement rate of the Trafalgars could be left unspecified, to allow us to build up crew numbers slow or quickly as unfolding circumstances dictate.

    And a to demonstrate real long term commitment and dent both Russsian confidence and budgets begin seious development on the next generation programmes: replacement Heavy Armour (replcing C2 and Warrior), Taranis based UCAV, Persus Missile, to name 3 contenders.

    Affordability? Well the good news is the economy is now on the up. And all of the long range investments can be joint with European NATO partners. Of course they have to come to the party too. But I am beginning to fear that events may take care of the motivation part of the equation sooner than we think.

  252. Simon

    Gents (and ladies),

    I am failing to find a list of military ship classes ordered by full-load displacement so I have to resort to asking you.

    I’ve been doing a spot of Excel level (very basic conceptual) designing of an exportable OPV design. Oddly (perhaps not for many of you) if fast becomes a 4,300 tonne platform, which if I’m not very much mistaken may as well be called a Type 23.

    I then went shopping to see what there is in the market to fill this gap. As far as I can see there is only the Al Riyadh class extended La Fayette. Does anyone know of anythings else (e.g. is there a larger BAM)?

    Bottom line is that we are about to build a 5400-6000 tonne (depending on which source you like to believe) Type 26 frigate when there is a gaping hole in the market for a 4000-4500 tonner. A refined, slopey-sided, T23 seems ideal which if fitted out with basic equipment becomes an OPV and if upgraded becomes a highly credible escort.

  253. El Sid

    T26 takes all the weapons of a 2018-vintage T23 and fits them into a refined slopy-sided hull with a bit more storage for small boats. A 10% increase in displacement over the T23 is down to modern habitability requirements, more HVAC etc, and some elements of MEKO-style modularity that presumably you’d want for your multi-purpose design. So I’m not sure that in the real world your “new T23” would look very much different to a T26…..

    There’s not much evidence for demand for a 4,300t OPV – most people seem to be buying something around half that displacement and ~90m (BAMs, L’Adroit, Sigmas etc). I suppose the Hollands and Malay Gowinds get closer (110m), but the only real equivalent are MEKOs and our Gucci-wearing friends at the USCG with their NSC, which has armed Patrol Frigate variants on Powerpoint. Only trouble is that 130m and 4,600t costs you US$735m in FY13. Good luck persuading anyone else to pay that kind of money for an OPV….

  254. Peter Elliott


    I agree there doesn’t seem to ne much in the 4,000T+ range. I expect there is a reason for this. You seem for instance to be able to get a MEKO in any size you like. The South African one quoted at 3,700 and the German ones at 3,600, 5,490 and 7,200. The French designs have the same gap. The lightest displacement full fat AAW ship seems to be the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen at 5,290.

    Have you considered that the displacement figure is not all about weapons fit? Its about endurance and range too. Fuel bunkers and stores. I suspect that’s why our T26 is coming out heavier than other comperably armed ships. The interplay of weapons, range and cost is what dtermines displacement. And I suspect that the 4-5,000T class would be seen as bringing cost without capability.

    My guess is the 4,000 – 5,000T zone is problematic for the combination of weapons and stores. In order to fit a full size gun and a significant VLS into 4,500T ship I would guess you get almost no fuel or stores. Or vice versa. A long range ship with a full size gun but not enough weight margin for for missile magazines or radars. And the presence or absence of a VLS would make the two versions significantly different shapes. So no economy of a common design.

    The 3,000 – 4,000T Patrol Frigates compromise both weapons and range and seem to find a happy medium. Considered good value becuase everyone knows they aren’t ‘first rate’.

    5,000T+ are fully armed but short legged. OK if like Norway you’re just looking after home waters.

    6,000T+ seems to buy you what might be called a ‘global combat ship’ ;)

  255. Simon

    El Sid, PE,

    I understand your point of view. However, I was designing (if you can call it that) an OPV that can be upgraded to a decent escort, rather than a frigate/escort that can be upgraded to a strike/AAW destroyer which it seems the T26 is.

    My spec was therefore much the same as the original T23 design. Basic but upgradable. It starts with no copter, a Scan Eagle for surface surveillance, a hull sonar and soft-kill anti-torp system, a Seahawk Sigma and 2D radar, 7500nm range at 15 knots, space for a VLS (Sea Ceptor), large enough (just) for a proper naval gun, hangar sized for a Wildcat and UAV, which might just stretch to an NH90/Blackhawk, and the ability to tow a tail if necessary.

    It would also be fitted with 6-8MW of diesel (20 knots) but be able to be retrofitted for a 30 knot boost gas turbine (single GE-LM2500 or RR equivalent).

    In other words the same hull can replace our T23s and form the basis of a more local OPV (anti-smuggle, anti-piracy, fishery protection, coast guard) ship.

    Economies of scale for a potential fleet of up to 20 x 4,500 tonne hulls plus exports for any other nation with local coastline to patrol and the need for long-range.

  256. Peter Elliott

    So you cancelled the T26 to pay for it then? And scrapped all those Merlin HM2 we just upgraded? And ordered another 4 MARS Tankers to keep them topped up on patrol?

    And anyway it sounds like a bit of a deathtrap for anyone with serious capital ships to protect.

  257. Simon


    Intellectual exercise. I just think we’re doing the wrong thing with T26 – it’s not what people need… in terms of exports. It’s neither a destroyer or a cheap-to-run frigate.

    Perhaps I’m suggesting these three new OPVs shouldn’t be River Class and should be something with wider appeal?

    Sorry about the T26 cancellation ;-) Don’t worry about the Merlin HM2 – they’ll go on the T45s, CVF and MARS. And they’d actually require less tankerage since they’re smaller than the proposed T26.

  258. Peter Elliott


    But its exacctly what _we_ need. Your little ships will have to be thrashed to keep up with the task group and will drink fuel. And if you rely on T45 to protect the carrier then the whole shebang risks getting sunk by a lurking sub.

    And there are plenty of European countries chasing the export market already who could knock out a ship the size you describe if anyone wanted. And wait and see before saying nobody will buy T26. Aegis is starting to look long in the tooth so we could yet get lucky with some of the more serious players.

    But in general terms hull exports are a bit of a mugs game anyway. Anyone who wants serious numbers of ships also wants a metal bashing industry of their own (or has unions who do). We are better off selling sysytems like Sea Ceptor and other clever gadgets that they can fit to their ‘home grown’ designs.

  259. Simon


    …We are better off selling sysytems like Sea Ceptor and other clever gadgets that they can fit to their ‘home grown’ designs.

    Perhaps you have a point with that.

  260. IXION

    (What follows does not refer to go only real naval power the USA)

    The RN is somewhat unusual in that whilst rapidly decreasing in size it trying to keep up a top end capability for long range war fighting.

    With perhaps the exception of the French we are unique in trying to go into an ocean that is not our back yard and fight battles when we get there. A lot of other front rank navies are in the ‘there’ we would be trying to get to. They can concentrate on dealing with anyone who turns up in their back yard spoiling for a fight.

    In our desire to keep the best of the best in reduced times we cut numbers. We build elephants in a desperate desire stay at the top table. We build 6 destroyers. Which may be the best in the world but we still only have 6 and the t26 will in reality struggle to break double figures. So all we will have is enough to look after 1 elephant. (When allowing for the inevitable weddings funerals and Bar Mitzvahs).

    The only the best will do in the time of reducing budget, in the end ends up with one supership tied up at dockside.

    Patrol ships are an attempt to return to the RN a global role.

    The current policy will disappear up it,so own arse hole taking the RN, s world role with it.


    In the absence of a world war despite the best efforts of people to paint the Chinese and the Russians as likely to rock up at calais. There ain’t gonna be any more cash.

  261. bigdave243

    @ PE, and Simon

    I was under the impression that maybe the Australians were interested in the T-26 design?

  262. IXION

    Peter Elliot

    Why would we want ships like that to keep up with a task group?

    Task groups do not smash through the sea at 30 knots..

    They themselves would rapidly run out of fuel and a bad sea would smash them up…..

    The ship we are talking about are singletons or part of an amphibious operation. And we having nothing fast in that field.

  263. IXION

    As for the export potential just wait a bit.

    Ships like Absalon are I suspect going to become more and more common.

  264. Peter Elliott


    If @simon has canecelled T26 then of course these ships will find themselves in a task group. And however fast they have to move their fuel bunkers will not be deep enough over the range and speed they need to travel. Or if they are built with big bunkers they will end up compromised on armament and on the bottom in a fight. Type 21 is not an encouraging precendent.

    I agree with you on wait and see for exports. T26 is a very promising, capable multi purpose design that can do all our major taskings. That’s why she’s specced the way she is. And you only get standardisation by having her built too fast or too big for some of the less arduous things she will get given from time to time.

  265. Simon


    …however fast they have to move their fuel bunkers will not be deep enough over the range and speed they need to travel…

    But the ships I’ve detailed are essentially a Type 23, not a Type 21… aren’t they?

  266. John Hartley

    I am looking at a Dec 1975 edition of Aviation & Marine, where Britain was trying to sell Argentina 8 enhanced T21 armed with Exocet, Seawolf & 2 twin BMARC 30mm turrets. If you want a light frigate then something T21 sized makes sense. Sadly the RN T21 were spoiled for a halfpenny of tar, by the Treasury as usual.

  267. ArmChairCivvy

    In a linked interview the chair of the Lithuanian Parliament’s dedence committee says”response is required,” he said in an interview. “What if Russia deploys Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad?”
    – that was announced two years ago and done a year later.

  268. All Politicians are the Same


    As they are only half way through the staff requirements process then the last thing they should be thinking about is what the displacement will be. They should be concentrating on the requirements it has to meet and the effects it has to produce.
    A model or a CGI is hugely premature.

  269. ArmChairCivvy

    @ Apats,
    I liked the look of the model. Then for Simon the musings about being both capable in the littorals and an open-seas escort cum patrol… Totally open ended there, but still having a definitive list of design features required…might be helpful? The drawing coming out of Excel won’t be as pretty, though.

    The Floreal class are by now old, but achieving 13.000 NM at 12 knots is not bad for a 93m/ 3.000 tonne (fully loaded) vessel. The fitted curve for OPVs only gives 5.000 NM for 70m size, but may need updating as newer, larger OPVs designed for cross-ocean journeys prior to deployment become more commonplace… Like the Holland class.
    – I guess the design trick with the Floreals was unconventional positioning for added fuel tanks?

  270. Peter Elliott

    @Simon & JH

    And the Type 23 are coming to the end of their lives in terms of habitability, equipment fit and growth margin as well as the actual age of the hulls. The world has moved on. Vertical Launch is now the main armament of any surface warship and needs to be prioritised in the design accordingly. Offboard systems need flexible space. As has been pointed out trying to build a ‘modern T23’ simply results in a T26 type design.

  271. Simon

    Thanks Gents,

    I also stumbled across the Thetis class whilst checking out the Absalon mentioned by IXION.


    “…the last thing they should be thinking about is what the displacement will be…”

    I’m no ship scientist but surely that’s one of the first questions (how big), not to the nearest tonne, but certainly in terms of orders of magnitude. It ultimately defines how much the thing will cost to own, which I thought was quite important nowadays?


    The picture from Excel is rubbish – it exists only as a rotating 3D rendering in my mind :-)


    Vertical Launch is now the main armament of any surface warship and needs to be prioritised in the design accordingly.

    Agreed. But if you draw the line at defensive rather than offensive then CAMM is all you need, leaving the supplemental Wildcat and/or bolted on Exocet/Harpoon launchers to do any surface attack.

    This is where I think the design of T26 is evidently for offensive action and why I moan that it might not have enough VLS to be worthwhile. You either do it properly or not at all.

    Don’t get me wrong T26 is a better design that the little ship I’m touting. But so is an Arleigh Burke or a 20,000 tonne through-deck cruiser. They just cost a lot to run and are not VFM it in the long-term.

  272. Peter Elliott


    Design size is an iteration, clearly. You start out with an idea of what capability you want. Work out how big that might be, decide you can’t afford it, and start trading down. Then you do detailed design, find you’ve gone overweight, trade back up some size, and so on. Compromise all the way. You only know tthe answer at the end.

    I’m not sure I’d want any combat ship with a solely defensive armament. Espcecially one that you say is designed for detatched service rather than escorting HVU. Warships are for war: doing damage; offending. Lots of these light OPV look to me like @RT’s mythical ‘floaty little boats’ or ‘self licking lollipops’. Designed to give the appearance of a large navy without either the cost or the effects.

    Remember T23 is effectively only an 8 cell boat in terms of strike length missiles. But by all acccounts we don’t routinely load all 8 Harpoon tubes either. So T26 could routinely carry 4 AShM and still have plenty of cells over for LAM (of whatever sort). How many LAM do you think we are going to keep in the UK inventory anyway? 8 Units firing 12 rounds each could seriously spoil someone’s Air Defence Network on night 1. And 8 units deployed from an eventual total of 26 enabled for Land Attack (T26+T45+SSN) is not fanciful.

    Besides we haven’t had T26 main gate yet. Ship size can still go up as well as down. And by all accounts you can get more Sylver cells into a given space than you can Mk 41 cells. And we don’t know if the LAM will be Tommahawk or MdeCN, either of which could be integrated into either launcher. Wait out.

  273. Simon


    …Warships are for war: doing damage; offending

    I think this must be where we differ. I accept the principle of your statement but there are more than one way to skin a cat and I believe the RN tend to do it a different way… they build defensive escorts for an offensive capability. This means the offensive capability does not need to worry too much about defence. This design doesn’t stop the defensive assets being used in peacetime for intelligence gathering, humanitarian missions and/or flying the flag.

    T45 is a good example, it literally has zero offensive capability.

    Perhaps I am wrong or just stuck in the dark ages?

  274. Peter Elliott

    T45 may yet get its strike length cells. But it is purpose built for escorting Task Groups, which is a critical wartime task which as you point out enables a major offensive capability. It also has peacetime utility. Win/win.

    But the small ships you are proposing won’t have the range, speed or endurance for Task Group Escorts. Or the ability to go out on their own and prosecute targets. Peacetime floating about is _all_ they will be good for. In wartime they will be a liability. And by depriving other programmes of funds (in your scenario T26) they actually damage our defence capability.

  275. Simon


    “…the small ships you are proposing won’t have the range, speed or endurance for Task Group Escorts. Or the ability to go out on their own and prosecute targets. Peacetime floating about is _all_ they will be good for. In wartime they will be a liability”

    But the 4300 tonne ships I am proposing are the same size as the Type 23 (as originally envisaged). Are these a liability in wartime?

    Maybe I wasn’t clear. I am suggesting a 4300 tonne hull that can be fitted with…

    6-8MW diesel
    2D radar (Scanter)
    2 x Seahawk SIGMA mounts with LMM
    Hull sonar and soft-kill anti-torp EADs
    Scan Eagle surface surveillance and main gun

    …and be upgraded to…

    An extra 20-25MW of gas turbine for a 30 knot sprint
    3D radar (Artisan)
    Sea Ceptor (CAMM)
    Towed array and Wildcat for sub threat prosecution
    Wildcat for surface surveillance and possible prosecution

    …the basic hull is the thing that is exportable. It is not exported as a strike/attack ship, it is exported as an escort/defensive ship.

    It is as small/efficient as it can be whilst still delivering a 7500nm range at 15 knots along with all the other paraphernalia listed above.

  276. Simon


    It seems that if you edit a comment it gets marked as spam.

    Okay… not all the time ;-)

  277. ArmChairCivvy

    The edit window does play tricks.. i’ll rather have a few typos than type it all again.

  278. El Sid

    On helicopters – why should they restrict themselves to a Wildcat? A country without voters in Yeovil can buy a MH-60 for similar or less money, or an NFH90 if the French bribe them sufficiently. The history of OPVs and FFLs is of increasing emphasis on helicopters, from the reconstruction of the Rothesays to take the Wasp through to the LCS which is effectively a small helicopter carrier with extra functions. The NSC, perhaps the closest OPV in size to what you’re proposing, carries two manned helicopters. The trend suggests that the next generation of OPVs will primarily be a lilypad for surveillance drones – err, RPAS.

    You think that requirement will be met by one Scan Eagle, I’d suggest that the kind of countries that can afford a >110m OPV are thinking more in terms of a 24/7 orbit of unmanned helicopters. One of the big questions is quite what form that will take, perhaps predictably the US is going for the fewer, “heavy”, multipurpose MQ-8C’s (14h endurance, 300kg payload) whereas it looks like the lightweight solution is more, smaller helicopters like the Camcopter with just 6h endurance and 1/6 of the payload, but it’s enough for a single-purpose system like an MX-10 or I-Master. I’d suggest that you should be thinking of an aviation capability of either a couple of Camcopters or (1xMH-60 + 1xCamcopter).

    It’s also a fact that small “boats” are increasingly being deployed from this kind of sub-fighty ship, whether it’s RIBs for boarding teams (proliferation of RPGs and short-range missiles make it less attractive to take your FFL/OPV alongside a suspect vessel) or UUVs for minesweeping, finding missing airliners etc. I know it’s all creep, but it’s relatively inexpensive to do and makes them a lot more useful, given that you’re already being a bit Gucci by going for a >110m design in the first place.

    You keep talking about it as an equivalent to a 1980s T23, but the growth enforced by greater habitability etc requirements means that it’s more of a spiritual successor to the Leanders. Nothing wrong with that – they were great ships that worked in the export market. But it does imply a hull that’s a bit more single-purpose but is relatively easy to switch roles. Leanders needed a trip to the refit yard, you could argue that LCS is a modern take on the same idea (if you ignore the 45kts requirement) but allowing the same hull to switch missions in 2-3 days.

    You seem to be getting hung up on a few strike-length VLS meaning that the T26 is somehow super-fighty in a way that distorts the whole cost structure of the ship. Sure you need a certain depth of hull (so eg it means that a multihull is probably out) but it’s not that hard to design in the space. But think of it as a the launcher for LRASM (with Tomahawk as a bonus) – that makes it the successor system to the 4x Exocet found on Leanders/T21/T22 and 8x Harpoon on T22/T23/T45 – each generation has a few more anti-surface missiles as target defences have improved. Plus the VLS tube is the true modern modular system, more so than Stanflex – you’ll see a VLS tube getting used for all sorts of things, like launching Scan Eagle-class drones. The US won’t be spending any more money on developing Harpoon, so if you want an anti-ship missile you have to think how you’re going to deliver it – LRASM needs a VLS, JSM will have the option of VLS or box launchers, SCALP is VLS only.

    It’s the combat system and Sampson-class radar that makes first-line fightiness expensive. If you’ve already got the logistics in place for Tomahawk/LRASM, the marginal cost of adding land attack isn’t huge. And looking at people’s thoughts on SIMSS, a common theme seems to be “skimp on anything but make sure it has a really good EO/radar electronics fit. From a logistics POV it’s probably sensible to have a common “second-class” electronics fit – as the RN is standardising on an Artisan solution for non-AAW vessels, and the US uses TRS-3D on both the NSC and monohull LCS. TRS-3D is probably a good baseline – it’s also found on the Malay Kedah (MEKO 100) OPVs and smaller fighty vessels like the Egyptian Ambassadors and German K130’s.

  279. Simon

    El Sid,

    Thanks for the response. My spec does actually stretch to a 10t copter. My main drive was to be able to squeeze two Wildcat in order to provide 24-7 surveillance if necessary. I’ve even figured out a flight profile for the two of them to maintain a 100km “radius of knowledge” (TM) of any ships movements in the immediate vicinity.

    I guess this also tends to push the hangar and flight deck to Merlin capable. I just didn’t want to offer that up as I was trying to “sell” the idea of a skinny frigate.

    The purpose of the “basic” design is to minimise manning and running costs. I’m not good at estimating this but my gut feel is about 60 men in the lean OPV fit-out and way more (100-120) when we embark copters, a towed array and the need to keep a gas turbine spinning.

    However, if what you say is true and the genuine marginal cost if strike-length VLS is relatively low then I’m fighting a losing battle trying to save 33% on running costs and 50% on initial build and manning costs of the ships we deploy for non-war activities.


  280. El Sid

    The tubes themselves cost buttons, Mk41 are around US$190k/tube (3×96 for DDG113-5 cost $54.6m in June 2011, 96 for DDG116 plus 24 for Romania’s Aegis Ashore cost $22.9m in April 2012 Sylver and Mk57 are quite a bit more but still not huge amounts in the global scope of things. Obviously there’s a further cost in building a ship around them, but the empty box can be used for a mission bay, gym, Powerpoint theatre etc etc if VLS isn’t fitted.

    What really costs you are the contents of the tubes and the combat system, radar, electronics, computers, cooling etc. An inventory of SM-3 gets expensive at $10m a pop, plus associated training, maintenance etc. But Tomahawks aren’t so bad at less than £1m each, particularly if you already have the logistics chain. But aside from setting aside hull space for the other hardware (which presumably you were intending to do?) it’s all pretty much optional, so can be customised to the requirement.

    You’re right that the requirement is tending towards a sensor in the air 24/7, but technology is pushing towards an orbit of unmanned for that job, for anyone other than the US (and maybe China/Japan), two manned helicopters for surveillance only will look a bit of a luxury, and is less resilient than 1 manned + 3 unmanned.

  281. Mike Wheatley

    I do not feel safe with the current level of defence capability.
    I get the impression that a lot of the costs are fixed, and that the cuts have had a disproportionate impact in capability. (30 squadrons down to 7, etc.)
    If the defence budget were increased to 2.3% of GDP, what would that buy us?
    What about 2.5% of GDP?

  282. Peter Elliott


    The good thing about the crash diet we just went on is that Hammond now has a really good grip on equipment costs and a lot of the ‘buggering about’ and political delays that were driving up costs in the 1998-2010 period now seem to be behind us.

    So I am optimistic that a modest increase in spend would actually buy us quite a lot of increased capability. A lot of it is costed on the whiteboard already. Production lines for Typhoon, F35, C17, A400, P8, Astute, T26, VBCI are now or will soon be open. MBDA are making some of the best missiles in the world: we just need to pay for integration. So there’s good kit available that we could add to what we’ve currently budgeted for at risk free unit cost.

    The real sticking point is the people cost. The unit cost of trained people isn’t coming down and probably isn’t going to. Its the biggest nasty in any rearmament business case. I therefore suspect that will need a political paradigm shift before we see substantial increases in the scale of our armed forces. But a significant de-hollowing is much more possible.

  283. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Simon

    In the “staff requirements” phase they should be talking requirements and in broad brush terms, e.g “act as a platform to facilitate surface surveillance 18 hours a day out to XNM” how that is best achieved comes later.
    The means by which it is decided to achieve requirements will begin to drive size and shape.
    So yes it is further down the line.

  284. John Hartley

    PE Its about the size of the RN, At the end of the cold war it had 50 escorts. Defence cuts assumed we would still keep 30, yet now we are looking at 19. No matter how big, fighty & global cruiser your ship is, it cannot be in 2 places at once. So to get back to 30 escorts, I would like to see 19-20 heavy escorts of T45+T26 and 10-11 T21 size light escorts, but built to 2020s stealth/weapons standards. Yes modern sailors expect more personal space, but modern automation means a smaller crew, so the 2 should balance.

  285. Peter Elliott

    Hear what you are saying JH – and its a better idea than Simon’s of scrapping T26 and only building smaller ships.

    But if I had 20 Combat Ships in the bank the budget for 10 Light Frigates and their crews I ‘d probably spend it on any one of the following first:

    5 more SSN
    5 more Combat ships
    2 more squarons of F35B
    20 more Merlins

    All of which would be of more use to me in a serious duffy.

  286. The Other Chris

    This “80% Capability” meme is popping up a lot at the moment.

    Pareto has his place, but what happens when an 80% capable asset comes up against a 98% or 100% capable asset? Are two or, even three, 80% assets a match for a One Hundred Percenter?

    Were two or three 64 gun Third Raters up for tackling Old Ironsides?

    Isn’t the point of the MoD “High-End” approach to build ’em at 100% and if they come up against anything they’re in with a shout?

  287. The Other Chris

    One Hundred Percenter

    You read about the term on Think Defence, home of “Fightiness”, first ;)

  288. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @TOC – I favour the sort of paradigm shift achieved by HMS Warrior in 1860, HMS Dreadnought in 1906, or HMS Hermes in 1924 – the One Hundred and Ten Percenter? Sadly, however, not now likely to come from us…might be an interesting topic for an article though…


  289. Peter Elliott

    My bid for a 110%er would be a top notch AAW destroyer with 3 embarked rotary UAS able to keep the ship’s primary radar 10,000m in the air indefinitely.

    Some issues with bandwidth, altitude, power consumption etc. But not beyond the realms of the possible to sort out with a focussed R&D programme.

    Is hummingbird still moribund by the way? Last I hear the Americans cancelled it in 2012 becuase it kept crashing.

  290. John Hartley

    Look, I quite fancy the Flight III Arleigh Burkes, but even playing fantasy fleet, I cannot see how the RN could afford more than 3 of them (licence built).
    The role of a light escort. Look at Trafalgar. Nelson had his light frigates stretched out in a line so they could spot the enemy. Then the big ships went in & did the pounding. Without the line of frigates, the French/Spanish could have slipped past our big ships.
    Even in 1982, the light T21/Leanders, made up the numbers, teamed up with the T22, T42 & County destroyers. A future Task Force will not have the numbers for everything. If you have an elephant guarded by T45/T26 , it is still handy to have a light frigate to detach to ward off an enemy spy/fishing trawler, or fend off politely a neutral cargo ship, or drop off a small, special forces unit, or go pick up some vital parts or people.

  291. x

    @ GNB re paradigm shift

    Um. Yes and no. In 1860 thanks to Pax Britannica we had both naval and industrial supremacy. We could afford for the French to experiment (in a way for us) and then pass them. In 1905/6 with Dreadnought we were losing both naval and industrial supremacy and had to force the pace of change. Dreadnought was our last great naval technical feat. But it wasn’t the apogee of power that had already gone sometime after the start of Second Industrial Revolution.

  292. Repulse

    Latest unsubstantiated rumour is the 4 T45s getting Harpoon are Duncan, Daring, Diamond and Dragon.

  293. Chris

    x, GNB – an interesting perspective. I would suggest naval supremacy was a result of British industrial supremacy, not entirely coincidental? Which highlights a factor I have regularly touched upon, that it has been British industry – chiefly British engineering & manufacturing capability – that provided the platform upon which both economic and military power was founded.

    Indeed, looking around the world over the past 200 years shows the countries doing really well are those that at the time hold engineering as a key sector and engineers as highly valuable assets – Britain in the Victorian age, the USA from 1900 to 1960 or so, Germany after the economy was restored post war – France a slight aberration in that while engineers rank as highly as doctors or lawyers, nothing ranks so high as the smallholding farmer…

    Unfortunately (for us engineers) in the UK now anyone in engineering is instantly dismissed as a repairman of anything technical. Electronic engineer? Fix my toaster. Mechanical engineer? Repair the dent in my car. Sadly the establishment, authorities and legislators can’t be fussed to prevent every tinker technician mechanic & bin man from elevating their standing by use of the description ‘engineer’. Could you imagine the establishment accepting anyone vaguely Christian calling themselves Bishop? Or anyone vaguely military elevating themselves to General/Vice-Admiral/Air-Vice-Marshall? Or anyone with a political opinion declaring themselves to be an MP? Grrrr!

    Equally frustrating is the cart-before-horse approach of modern government with respect to what makes the economy grow. In Victorian times when industrialists were ascendant the need to move raw materials in and product out of factories caused the industrialists to fund and/or build railways so that their works were on the rail network. The need to employ masses of labour caused the building of accommodation. The housing and the railways were a result of direct business need. This though has been completely misconstrued by the latest breed of professional politicians who reason ‘The last really big rail construction boom was when the British economy was at its peak, therefore if we build a railway the economy will miraculously recover and prosper.’ The same reasoning applies to building sprawling ticky-tacky housing estates. It is clear none of the parliamentarians has worked in the real world; plainly they understand very little (although believe they are super-beings).

    So. You want a vibrant powerful Great Britain? Better start valuing all those engineers that create the stuff you all use desire and depend upon. Engineers can do great things – to name a few British creations: agricultural seed drill, caterpillar track (Hornsby & Sons), static steam engine, steam locomotive, radar, jet engine (only just as Hans von Ohain working with Ernst Heinkel was really close too), programmable digital computing (Tommy Flowers at Bletchley Park), Penicillin, electrical generation and motors (Faraday), steam turbine (Sir Charles Parsons), the tank, pneumatic tyres (Dunlop), medical X-ray tubes (William Crookes), diving suits (Deane brothers) and and and – but while the current fashion persists for dismissing all engineers as grubby oil-stained spanner-monkeys there really isn’t much incentive, is there?

    Since this is a defence website, while not in any way taking anything from the resolve, steadfastness, level of training, and outright professional capability of our fighting personnel, it might be contentious but I might suggest that British military supremacy has been directly enabled by British engineering capability – that it might have been the ingenuity and speed of development and production of the right equipment that made the difference when push came to shove? Hence our military supremacy and industrial engineering supremacy waxing & waning as one.

    I have put on the tin hat (one-piece tin helmet invented by John Brodie 1915) and taken cover in the bunker…

  294. Tom

    Chris – As one professional engineer to another: Here, here!

    I don’t whether you read Professional Engineer (IMechE Magazine) but its clear that the IMechE have given up trying to protect the title of Engineer, instead pushing for increased professional registration of professional engineers as Incorporated/Chartered. The best solution? Probably given that the is zero political interest in properly developing Engineering at the root and branch level in the UK.

  295. Chris

    Tom – I just slid under the barriers into Chartered status when the criteria threshold was raised. But Chartered Engineer means nothing outside UK; certainly when working for an American organization it was clear they were underwhelmed by C.Eng professional status.

    Looking forward to the time when Engineers not only hold the status of barristers GPs surgeons footballers but also get paid as much…

  296. The Other Chris

    Having a two-year-old means I get to legitimately watch kids TV again.

    One of the TV series on CBeebies is called Nina and the Neurons. It’s a science show aimed at 4-6 year-old’s (though my lad likes watching the experiment sections) that “bigs up” engineers.

    Hoping that this kind of promotion continues past the 6 year-old level.

    It even features a “Go Engineering!” song:


  297. Peter Elliott

    Next suggested 110%ers:

    Skylon ISTAR and missile bomber (For top trumps value if nothing else)
    Diesel electric drive armoured vehicles (its the logistic saving on fuel that would be game changing)
    Under water networking that actually works (How do whales and hippos do it?)
    A transportable ro-ro pier head that can deploy and operate in a just a couple of days
    Utility VTOL cab that can get to and operate at 12,000m (probably a rotorcraft but who knows)

  298. Mark

    There was a large online petition on the Downing Street website to protect the qualification of engineer. As usual nothing happened, as a member of the raes neither them or imeche do enough in this regard especially as they expect a nice cheque every year. On the other hand titles matter little if you can’t do the job and usually after a couple of hours working a realistic issue will find that out. They certainly have less sway with North American companies.

  299. Obsvr

    @ RT

    But were you using a sun compass (which can be used in night and day) or were you cheating with GPS? That’s what I used the last time I trained in a desert, but I don’t do deserts, I like jungle, jungle is for proper soldiers.

    The most important device for jungle navigation is the man behind you with the sheep counter (its difficult to carry a map, rifle and compass, keeping the last two as far apart as possible, while using a sheep counter).

  300. Simon


    Hear, hear!

    I would also like to add that Engineers are a by-product of applied science and philosphy.

    Without the Universities there would be no mathematicians or scientists.

    So this country not only needs to value engineers, it also needs to value the concept of elite education to breed the visionaries.

    The Other Chris,

    Nina (from Nina and the Neurons) is a gem (as is Gem from Swashbuckle).

  301. Jonesy


    A160 Hummingbird is long gone. The US Army has lost interest and the fundamental technology is considered shaky. External funding has dried up so if there are any efforts to get the rotor technology sorted out they are very low key. Huge shame as it had massive potential as a deployable ISTAR platform if it had worked.

    Whales and Hippos do not support ‘high datarate over H2O’ capability. Limited messages like ‘where fish?’ ‘need a hump…back’ and ‘oh my god its a Japanese whaler’ work quite well over acoustic transmission.

    Sending imaging sonar rasters take a bit more though!. Last I heard were attempts to get blue-green lasers involved and were scaling it up to about 1Mbps over 100yds with acceptable error rates. Clearly there are issues with siltation and the odd school of fish interrupting the beam so a considerable amount of error-checking and retransmission has to be built into the supporting comms protocol but there is progress.

  302. Peter Elliott


    That’s a shame. But its actually an opportunity for a savvy UK company (Not Westland or BAe then. Maybe Quinetiq…?) to buy the bones of the US project and re-engineer it into a world beater.

  303. Topman

    I see the arguement brought up quite a bit. I don’t think it really matters if it is protected, it won’t make any great difference in most people. In common day useage it is widely applied, no amount of laws will change that. I wonder sometimes if it’s navel gazing, a good example would be some (I believe the IMechE) trying to use the term ingenieur instead.

  304. x

    Simon said “Without the Universities there would be no mathematicians or scientists.”

    Let’s not forget that the many of those who drove the industrial came from below. Engineering back then was a product of trial and error.

    In a way we are seeing that happening again with the maker/hacker movement. Amateurs who build and innovate first.

    We should be careful not to do an HS2. That is apply 19th century methods and frameworks to solve 21st century problems. We should remember we were the country that industrialised first and that meant paradoxically there were no industrial methods to solve problems.

    We need to look at Taiwan where mega corporations are started in living rooms off the back of a few good ideas.

    Lastly I think all the innovative (chartered) qualified engineers doing worthwhile work are in employment. Instead of throwing £50 billion at a train set to save 20 minutes off a journey between two cities (ha! the city another idea that has probably seen its day) we should be unbundling, laying fibre, and giving free tuition and accommodation to those who want to teach ICT at secondary level.

    Imagine a scheme where 12 years in the forces gives you a guaranteed uni’ place to study a STEM subject and gain a PGCE. I don’t think the housing estates of Great Britain are full of potential Einsteins. But if we are going to incarcerate the nation’s youth at great cost they might as well as learn something useful. If we double the number of technical entrepreneurs in the country it would be worth it.

  305. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Chris – I’m Gloomy and Northern – so need no convincing of the importance of making things. However, vision and a determination to expand boundaries and make step changes to render current problems irrelevant is also important, and I would suggest that although we had lost ground in the Edwardian Age the spark was still there…as demonstrated by the fact that although a sea power we won the Great War by developing a completely new approach to land warfare which brought us a clear military victory in 1918. However that war also cost us the best men of that generation, and caused a failure of vision and self confidence amongst the survivors…the key political consequences of which were the failure to deal effectively with the challenge of first the Irish and then the Indian Home Rule Movements. Had those challenges been dealt with better, we might have evolved into the World’s first multi-national representative/democratic federation…the sort of English-Speaking Union of which Churchill dreamed (I am taking more water with it, although I think it is a Counter-Factual worth considering :-) )

    I should add that is for that reason that I think we need to do much more with the BOT EEZs – we need a big national project, and are at our best “going about our business in the great waters”; also a terrific opportunity for ground-breaking engineering…although a modernisation and re-armament programme for HMAF would also give that benefit. And having just popped back up the thread, very keen on rebuilding the Universities as independent drivers of knowledge and progress not a civil service department as well…float a bond to give big endowments to the Ancient Universities and the Russell Group and let them get on with it…leave the newer ones to teaching…a similar split to the US Ivy League/and similar…and their State teaching universities.


  306. Topman


    We’d only need a tweeking of the current scheme to get there. 6 years service gets your tuition fees paid.

  307. Jonesy


    Its a nice idea….my discipline is comms these days and not structures, but, my understanding is that the Hummingbird banked on a stiff slowed rotor design for its flight characteristics. This, while perfectly feasible, leaves the air vehicle operating on the edges of a rotor stall in normal service with the offset being low drag and increased efficiency.

    One piece I read stated that the only recovery from a rotor stall is when they scrape the wreckage into a truck. It being notable that they have scraped the wreckage of a couple of A160’s into trucks along its development path.

    The Advancing Blade Concept that Sikorsky have trialled uses a similar blade technology, I believe, but in a coaxial configuration which is proven to offer the some of the performance advantages as Hummingbird and, as mentioned in another thread, Cartercopters have trialled a slowed-rotor compound airframe that does similar. Both appear to be very close to offering mature service-entry ready solutions to the expanded envelope rotary vtol requirements that are out there. Have a feeling it would require quite some faith, on someones part, that they could really knock the socks off ABC and SR/C technology to take over the Boeing effort here.

  308. Ant

    Re: Engineering affection

    100 Greatest Britons
    It’s not bad that Isambard Kingdom Brunel came second, only after Winston Churchill.

    Looking back its not a bad list, though I doubt Diana will last.

  309. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Simon – Government backed bond to give the Ancient Universities and the Russell Group the scale of endowment the US world-beaters have, and take them out of the Civil Service? Been in my manifesto for years…

    @x – Ex-Service Personnel in the classroom – absolutely – after all the men and women who made the 1945 Education Act a practical reality and created a world-beating system for social mobility thereby were for the most part exactly that…and it worked like a dream until that obnoxious public-school arse Crossman trashed it in the pursuit of his socialist ideology.

    On that front as a School Governor I make the argument to support those sorts of initiatives whenever I can, and as I now have a Gloomyville-wide role in that line hope to do more in future…but it’s an uphill struggle against the Guardianistas who infest Education at every level…like all politicians, Gove is a reptile but on this he has a point…


  310. Peter Elliott


    And I suppose we should also mention AW609, which still appears to be a live programme, under commercial development, and with its pressureised cabin might just be of more interest to us than V-22. 25,000 ft rather than 40,000 but still a lot higher than most rotorcraft will ever go.

    I don’t suppose the ro-ro spec for Crowsnest would be compatible with AW609’s cabin…?

  311. x

    @ Topman

    Thanks. Not long after I posted I started to half-remember something.

    Thanks for the link too.

    On a tangent I always thought that UK medical students should be paid and receive free accommodation. What is that awful word? Incentivisation….

  312. The Other Chris

    AW609 is mentioned often, both here and on Sol’s blog. It can’t be armed in any way as part of the transfer agreement between Bell and AgustaWestland.

    Uncertain what “armed” covers (sensors, defensive aids, door gunners. offensive kit, etc), but up to you if that affects your thoughts on applicability or not though you’re right to mention it.

    The arrangement is likely in place to limit competition for Bell’s V-280 Valor development.

  313. El Sid

    @Peter Elliott

    Skylon – the USAF High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) is a Mach 5+ derivative of the X-51 with an IOC within the next 10 years or so. Lockheed have been working on a Mach 6 SR-72 recce plane, but we’ll see if the US wants to fund it.

    Diesel-electric – the Qinetiq E-X-Drive diesel hybrid system is at the heart of BAE’s offering in the GCV contest (TD phase coming to an end, IOC 2018 or so), claims it will use 40% less fuel over a 6-month campaign although the big savings are when it is idling.

    If whales and hippos make loud noises, noone torpedoes them….

    DARPA are throwing a lot of resources at novel VTOL aircraft. Northrop Grumman, Aurora, AeroVironment, Carter Aviation Technologies and Maritime Applied Physics have contracts under the TERN programme, which aims for a UAV that can take a 600lb payload up to 25,000ft and out to 900nm and operate from a trimaran LCS in SS5. First flights in 2016 – would make a heck of a capability for a 3000t “frigate”.

    Aurora, Boeing, Karem and Sikorsky have contracts under the VTOL X-plane competition, for something that can carry 4000+lb at speeds up to 400kt and a hover efficiency of 75%. So a Seahawk-sized next-generation V-22 in other words, some of the concepts look fun. First flights won’t be for 3-4 years though.

  314. Peter Elliott

    The point aboout REL’s Sabre engine is that it looks like it might actually work – whereas the American ultra high speed tests so far have tended to end up in a big ball of flame…

  315. Peter Elliott

    The BAe diesel electric drive train works really well in buses. Its in service in numerous UK cities and is on the ‘Boris Bus’ New Bus For London. The fuel savings are real.

  316. ArmChairCivvy

    President Budget (FY 14) brings the ultimate CAS machine:

    ” datalink to significantly enhance close air support (CAS) missions. This integrated suite, when produced and installed, will provide the B-52 fleet with a machine-to-machine capability supporting aircraft re-tasking and re-targeting of Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) and J-series weapons across the range of military operations the B-52 is assigned.”

    Whatever you have for sniffing out the targets (SF, Kiowas, drones, the sensor wonder called F35) will have plenty of ordnance in tow.

  317. Allan

    “Ex-Service Personnel in the classroom – absolutely – after all the men and women who made the 1945 Education Act a practical reality and created a world-beating system for social mobility thereby were for the most part exactly that….”

    Which was only true of course if you could get into Grammar School and were not binned by the system into a Sec. Mod.

    Respectfully, where your point rings truest is in fact in relation to Germany not the UK – after the war the German education system was set up in exactly the fully funded, tripartite manner, that was envisaged by the ’44 Act. For one reason or another, HMGs of all colours chose not to implement that in act in full in the UK.

    In fact most HMGs / Councils / LEAs seemed to take the view that technical schools were in the main ideal dumping grounds so the children that really did want a trade / technical education had their education ruined by having to put up with children who should (for what ever reason) never have been in mainstream education.

    The best technical schools were actually in areas where there was a substantial industrial presence and the firms wanted the TS’s to work and very intolerant of any sort of policy of ‘dumping’ – which is perhaps why there were so few of them (plus of course they were eye wateringly expensive in comparison to ‘academic’ schools).

    As to the closure of Grammar Schools, I seem to recall a Blue Mob HMG closed more of them and of course we all know that no version of HMG is ever bound by the actions of predecessor HMGs so I wonder why a Blue Mob HMG continued with that policy.

    It was also of course, the Blue Mob that introduced the GCSE…….

  318. Allan

    “Government backed bond to give the Ancient Universities and the Russell Group the scale of endowment the US world-beaters have, and take them out of the Civil Service? Been in my manifesto for years…”

    You want my taxes to underwrite the Russell Group of Universities….what return do I get on that? Do I get to go? :)

    PS: I did my degree part time after my apprenticeship. I got sponsorship.

    PPS: The Ancient Universities….do you mean ones that do really ‘useful’ courses like the History of Art and other nonsense like Sociology.

    Perhaps if we chopped the numbers going to Uni., chopped the dross courses like Underwater Yoghurt Knitting, Drama, French and the like, there would be no need for tuition fees……as we could then afford to fund proper courses.

  319. Allan

    “Tommy Flowers at Bletchley Park….”

    A truly great man and sadly hardly ever mentioned when it comes to BP and what was achieved there.

  320. Chris

    Allan – ref Really Useful uni courses – I have posed the question before – just how many Media Studies graduates are necessary for UK PLC to function? I didn’t get an answer.

    Ref Tommy Flowers – its a bit of a sore point; the US Army Intel staff seconded to Bletchley Park were not banned from talking about what went on there to anything like the degree the UK operatives were. I believe it was the 1980s when the British were finally given permission to explain their wartime activities (with some aspects still out of bounds). Had the hyper-ban not been in place perhaps Colossus would have started a UK digital computing industry on a directly competitive basis with the US developments (which I strongly suspect had design influences from the machines at Bletchley). But hey; the Government knows best. Or believes it does.

    Another engineering star was Tommy Sopwith, whose companies provided capable and robust airpower not only to the 14-18 war, but also to WW2 (Hurricane, Tempest, Typhoon), the RAF’s post war fighter (Hunter), the RN fighters (Sea Fury & Seahawk) and the Falklands conflict (Harrier). He was once asked what he thought was his greatest achievement; he responded “When I saw the Harrier, a jet aircraft, standing still in mid air. A fantastic machine.”

  321. Peter Elliott

    Graphene looks great – but I think we need to float the idea of what some miliarty applications might be to qualify as a 110%er

  322. IXION

    Its a national shame that kids are taught to the point of being sick about Bloody Henry 8th and Adolf Hitler:- in the words of my daughter ‘ I got it when I was twelve Hitler sucked ‘

    But Mention; Brindley, Smeaton, Telford, Watt, Stephenson (father and son) and Tryvithi.. Trefy… that cornish bloke with the steam engines, and they look at you like you dropped to earth from another planet.

    BTW Brunel gets hyped a lot.

  323. DavidNiven

    ‘but I think we need to float the idea of what some miliarty applications might be to qualify as a 110%er’

    Off the top of my head, lightweight electric armour.

  324. The Other Chris

    Hmm. So when did HMS Dreadnought depreciate from a One Hundred and Ten Percenter into a One Hundred Percenter? And by extension render existing One Hundred Percenter Battleships into… less than One Hundred Percenter’s?

    Conception? Design? Build? Launch? Fitting? Sea Trials? Acceptance?

    Did all pre-Dreadnoughts depreciate by the same amount? At the same time?

    Did Dreadnought force more depreciation on capability for some vessels that were previously considered “One Hundred Percenter’s” compared to others?

  325. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Allan – I was in one of those Great Northern Cities, and my experience was that 1 in 5 of us…boys and girls…from every possible background, got Grammar School places; others went to two or three excellent Technical Schools; others again to Secondary Modern Schools that were actually pretty good in some places…the only really bad ones being in very challenging areas where the problems were really economic and social rather than educational. And at least that system gave a decent number of the children trapped there an opportunity to change their lives at eleven…or by subsequent transfer, which was pretty common as nearly as I can recall. For us, the system worked both to encourage excellence and facilitate social mobility…and it did both in spades. Furthermore, the Private Sector was a tiny number of small Prep Schools setting up mostly boys for the Public Schools.

    Forty years on, the private sector is much bigger, the middle class have an inexorable grip on the “Posh Comps” in the leafy suburbs…and the working class kids from the tough Council Estates have no really effective ladder out of their current circumstances. We sacrificed excellence on the altar of equality…and actually succeeded in undermining the first and also making the other much, much worse…how did that help?

    Turning to the Ancient/Russell Group Universities we pay for them already…I would just like to use that money in a different way to facilitate a shift to an endowments based model (which over time would mean we got them for free)…so that they, like Harvard and Yale, can offer full scholarships and a bursary to anybody smart enough to benefit from them…but do so as independent centres of academic excellence able to offer a counterpoint to our over-mighty and over-centralised government…not as a slightly quirky civil service department subject to ministerial fiat. Furthermore, I would expect them to deliver brilliant insights into basic science and engineering as well as history and literature…and drive innovation and prosperity thereby. And before anyone starts on the Gradgrind trope about the uselessness of the humanities could I remind them that the creative industries from film to games mine these every day…and make us an absolute shed-load of money in invisible earnings.

    Media Studies is not one of the humanities by any coherent definition of the term…any more than Golf Course Design is a variety of Civil Engineering.


    PS – I forgot “can I go”- under my system yes – if you are smart enough – and eventually at no cost. And never because you are from this demographic or that which the Minister needs to favour for electoral as opposed to academic reasons…because that way lies the ruin of excellence… :-)

  326. Tubby

    Personally I am against any mechanism that gives additional research funding to the Russell Group at the cost of funding to the other UK universities, as it is complete and utter tripe propagated by the Russell Group universities (which include Oxford and Cambridge,) that only good world leading research occurs at Russell Group universities.

    For example I work in a research office at Birkbeck College, and we have an excellent Biological Sciences and Psychological Sciences departments attracting significant amounts of research funding, with experts recognised as world class experts, and as result we for example have had a number of large donations from funders to pay for buildings to house the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development.

    At my previous institution, Kent, there was individuals who where acknowledge as leaders in their field in receipt of millions pounds worth of external research funding who would loose out under any scheme that sought to force all of the non-Russell group universities into teaching only institutions. In addition there where individuals whose collaborative work on body worn antennas and light weight batteries was of serious interest to DSTL.

    These of both example of reasonably ranked universities who are not as research intensive as the Russell Group yet still deliver excellent research, you can even find examples of this in the post-92 institutions, where there will be pockets of world class expertise in a subject area.

    Finally presumably you are all aware that Cranfield University is not part of the Russell Group yet carries out significant research into defence, and aerospace engineering, and therefore if we concentrated funding in the Russell Group we would jeopardise the research excellence of Cranfield?

    Sorry for the long post, but this is a topic that I actually know something about (which makes a change from most of my posts on Think Defence!)

  327. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Tubby – no desire to see any good research cut…my underlying point is a desire to see our great universities funded in a way that gives them freedom to teach, to learn and to innovate…free from the interference of Whitehall…and rich enough on their own account to encourage and support the best and brightest to aspire to attending them…which is to me the great merit of places like Harvard…who dish out vast numbers of scholarships and bursaries to those who deserve them on academic grounds.

    I use Ancient Universities/Russell Group as a shorthand for the group who might flourish if funding was re-directed to achieve that objective over time…certainly not to exclude Birkbeck College, or indeed anywhere else… :-)


  328. Red Trousers


    From a position of some ignorance***, I think I’m in both agreement and disagreement with you.

    My company does a reasonable amount of work with both Cranfield (on advanced codecs) and Middlesex (on visual analytics), and both are cutting edge, world leading in many respects. Not being part of the Russell Group is neither here nor there to us in making business decisions.

    And yet we deal with the Professors, not the undergraduate students. Not interested in them. We do sponsor some MScs, but are more interested in KTPs for PhDs.

    As a father of 2 children who I hope will attend University, I want them to go to Russell Group Universities, as they are just better in general terms at getting a decent job (possibly, some really exotic courses might not fit that thought).

    As a taxpayer, I think it all went horribly wrong when Tony Blair unaccountably decided for purely political purposes that 50% of 18 year olds should get a degree? Why? 50% of our 18 year olds is about 30% more than have the capacity to gain a proper rigorous degree. So degrees have dumbed down to allow greater numbers. Meaningless courses, derided by employers, landing the unfortunate suckers students with £27,000 in debt. I don’t want my children in that position.

    *** At the time I joined the Army in 1984, all of the Army advertising was “don’t do a degree in underwater basket weaving, join the Army on a Short Service Commission, learn to lead soldiers in interesting places and deliver HMtQ’s bayonet directly into the gut of HMtQ’s enemy, and you’ll be a better man for it”. So I did. I gave up my offers from Durham and Exeter to study Modern History and Politics. Fast forward 10 years to when trying to get selected for the Joint Services Staff Course (which I did), and all of a sudden not having a Bachelor’s degree was somehow counting against me. Bastards. I therefore did extra classes at JSCSC to gain a Masters in Defence Policy from KCL. Am I the only person in the UK with a Masters from a Russell Group University with no Bachelor’s from anywhere? Probably not, but it’s not common.

  329. All Politicians are the Same


    Most of the non grad attendees on ACSC opt to complete the masters degree these days. Though with places like Portsmouth offering a Masters in leadership for relevant experience and a single submission (even without a bachelors) detailing a “leadership project” you have worked on masters are becoming the norm.

  330. x

    “50% of our 18 year olds is about 30% more than have the capacity to gain a proper rigorous degree.”

    No. You are bit off there. It was 5% who went on to university. When I was at the Kremlin one of the brighter kids noticed that all our tutorials in a certain part of campus took place in rooms that looked odd. When pressed he said that there appeared to be walls missing. He was slightly bemused when I told him the campus was designed to service a lot fewer students with a larger academic staff. I went on to say that back in the day (ha!) there would only be about a half dozen or less students in tutorial, students would always attend prepared, tutorials were weekly affairs, and a student would have a closer working relationship with their tutor who would expect results. That day only 6 students out of our group of 15 or so turned up and young lecturer/tutor gave up 10 minutes because the experience was like flogging a dead horse as per normal; at least the poor dead equine was only flogged every other week.

  331. Observer

    Just to throw a weather anchor windward on the virtues of graphene, you are limited into how much you can scale it up. Remember, large(r) scale carbon structures already exist naturally, and graphene, when upscaled, would simply be these material again. Multiple layers of graphene? It’s called graphite. Multiple interlocked sheets of graphene? It’s called diamond.

    Not everything can retain its value scaling up.

    And your “lightweight armour” would simply be someone wearing a lot of pencil lead. :)

  332. wf

    When I went to college, engineering degrees basically didn’t bother with tutorials. First year, it was an hour every two weeks, then nothing. We were fairly busy, so…

  333. Red Trousers


    Obllocks. There was me thinking that it was a bit rare and special. I was the only non Grad among the 20 or so of us who did the course that year (of about 200 JSCSC students).

    I set myself a significant challenge, in that the senior Trouserette was about 3 months old when I started, and had extravagant colic, and Mrs RT was knackered, hormonal, and therefore hated me. So I wrote my dissertation on the international finance aspects of the Spanish Civil War between 2am and 5am over about 4 months, after having discovered that the only way to get Madamette to sleep was to carry her up and down the upstairs landing about 10,000 times while crooning the Skye Boat Song quietly into her ear on auto-repeat from 10pm to 2am.

    I also wrote some essays about the oil industry in Turkmenistan and the tactics employed by the Rhodesians in their civil war. Can’t recall anything at all about either now.

    Still, at least I didn’t have to pay for the MA. And I got a slow dance with my academic supervisor at the end of course Ball, in which she appeared quite interested.

    How things turn. Mrs RT is now absolutely bloody blooming, and the senior Trouserette is 14 and massively hormonal. She hates the world, absolutely including me, and wants a puppy.

    All I want is a holiday, preferably alone, and a replacement for my Ducati Desmo which some utter fucking scrote has nicked. The MA was just qualifying material for a decent job and some blobs of ink on my business card.


  334. mr.fred

    Out of curiosity, when people refer to Cranfield University, do they mean Cranfield Unversity, in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, or Cranfield University (and definitely not RMCS), in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire?

  335. Tubby


    Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick, but there is an ongoing debate about bringing back teaching only institutions which generally focuses on the Russell group getting all of the research funding which is currently split between institutions based on there research excellence (QR block funding) and via Research Council funded grant, and making every other institution teaching only, which totally ignores why the polytechnics where phased out in the first place – they no longer offered degrees that where noticeably any different to what universities offered. Universities saw that polytechnics where getting significant amounts of industrial funding for consultancy, from offering tailored courses, by increasing the practical aspects of their science and engineering degrees and by offering sandwich courses. As way of illustration it was apparently true that in the 1960s and 70s, chemistry degrees from Oxford, Cambridge and Durham had little or no practical courses and where very strong on the theoretical aspects as it was assumed that a graduate from Oxford or Cambridge would be in charge of a team of technicians with HNDs from a polytechnic who would do the actual lab work, by the late 80’s the only real difference between a chemistry degree from Oxford and a poly was the grades needed to get in and the quality of the teaching.

    Oxford and Cambridge already have lots of endowments and offer fair number of scholarships, most of the universities in the upper third of the league tables have no issue recruiting students to their courses and therefore changing the rules on how they can fund themselves would offer few benefits. In addition there is risk funding available via the EU Horizon 2020 programme which is also open to universities, if they want to make large capital investments.


    Totally agree that there is a kudos of sending your children to a Russell Group university particularly as the cost of degree is unlikely to be much different to them studying a mid-range university. However I would recommend that you look at the information on the courses and the universities closely as student satisfaction tends to be worse at Russell Group universities as they tend to employ academics who main focus is their research not teaching and you may find that the teaching is not as good as say one of the universities who used to be what was known as the 94 Group (which has now dissolved).

  336. Tubby


    The answer is both, Cranfield University has campuses at Shrivenham and Cranfield. At least they have the decency to keep them in the UK, UCL has campuses in Australia and Qatar :-)

  337. Red Trousers

    APATS, and mine was yellow as well, not originally the popular choice, but now sought after and worth more. Try telling the insurance company that…

    Am thinking of a VFR with the insurance money. I’m 10 years older than when I got it, TBH the Desmo is a younger man’s bike. But you can’t forget the screaming acceleration you can get on a Desmo on the short on ramp to the A1 at Sawtry going south, and know that you’ll be in town in an hour, 65 miles away.

    My mistake, according to the coppers, was to park up in a loading zone just off Russell Square not covered by CCTV. They think it probably went off in the back of a Transit. The locks were cut with bolt cutters.

  338. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – Could probably rustle up a whippet, although you’ll need your own string…or a ferret; it would give her great cachet if she rocked up to school with one of those in her satchel…and it would probably have a similarly challenging disposition, so they’d get on like a house on fire…

    Sorry to hear about your pride and joy… :-(

    @Tubby – for me it’s not so much the funding as the difference between a fully independent institution that can make its own fate, and one that because of the funding model has external paymasters…however light their touch…Whitehall needs to give away power so that it can do what it must much better, and this looks to me like a good place to start. If a University can’t run itself well and in the pursuit of the greater good, who could?

  339. Chris

    RT – the stats were when last I looked that motorbike riders form 3% of road traffic but are 30% of seriously injured – you should thank the gutless amoeba that stole your shiny bike for extending your life expectancy…

  340. All Politicians are the Same

    MM a sports tourer, never owned a bike of the motor variety, do not trust myself.

    My down stairs neighbor in Italy had a limited edition MV Augusta F4 Senna, gorgeous bike until taking it to a track day the trailer flipped. Spare parts cost about 4K and took us the entire weekend to strip and fix the thing.

  341. Red Trousers

    Thanks for the Whippet idea GNB, although I’m not quite convinced a whippet is actually a viable dog. They always shiver and look scared of life to me. If I get another dog (having previously had Labs and Spaniels for shooting), it will be another game dog. Although I did slightly fall in love with a mucker’s dogs that we looked after for a few months when he went away: a collie and a big crinkle haired lurcher that was more deerhound than anything else. Although by Christ they needed proper exercise, the collie especially going mental unless it had serious exercise daily.

    Madamette is not getting anything, on current behaviour. Not even a ferret.

  342. x

    GNB said “If a University can’t run itself well and in the pursuit of the greater good, who could?”

    Would I be right in thinking you have no first hand experience of campus politics? I don’t mean students protesting ( a la GayWhalesAgainstTheBomb) but inter school/department wrangling? It is like the Borgias-meets-Lords-of-the-Flies all played out like a Punch & Judy skit. I sat on an adult and continuing educations committee for a while in the 1990s, went to senate a couple of times, and it made the machinations of the borough’s finance committee (we are Labour here) look sane and reasonable. It was truly like………


    without the nuns. I wouldn’t trust a British university below 10th at best 20th place to run itself. Our local has dropped 15 places since it started all this commercial nonsense. Lord only knows where it would be without the fairly recently established medical school and Chinese students bringing in the wonga.

  343. Red Trousers

    Bad x.


    You happen to have fixed on my favourite piece of utterly crap British Engineering, only does 100 miles on a tankful, rubbish suspension, etc. although I was issued one for 9 months at BATUS in 1987 and I absolutely loved that little wagon. Never broke down on me, and I had the best Driver in the Range Safety and Control Group, a young Northern Irish Sapper from 32 Armd Engr Regt who could have been a rally champion.

    God I loved that wagon. To my total shame, I managed to rip off the entire front left wheel while crossing a hill top at about 35 mph, looking backwards to keep eyes on a troop of Chieftain behind me manoeuvring in dead ground while trying to keep tabs on the Battlegroup recce half a mile ahead. Paddy and I hit the only boulder at BATUS at speed and rolled the wagon. We had 57 stitches between us, and a competition to see who could chat up the nurse in CFB Suffield who was doing the pre-meds before we went into minor surgery. He won, but only because she was of Irish extraction (so I like to think).

    “Beyond Economic Repair” the REME said, and so it was towed out for use as a target. :(

  344. DavidNiven


    “lightweight armour”
    Light weight electric armour, Currently their are two metal plates used spaced within the armour to carry the current, and in a your average armoured vehicle of 3m width and between 6-7m long with a 2m height that will add to some weight. One of graphine’s properties is that it is a very good conductor, coupled with the fact that a single layer is 1 atom thick. So the thickness of graphine to carry the required current would be rather thinner than the current metals. It is also 200 times stronger than steel and is already being added to carbon fibre to increase the tensile strength, oh and not to forget that its also highly flexible and for that reason has been considered for body armour already.

    But your probably right ;-)

  345. Gloomy Northern Boy

    x – I take the surprisingly optimistic view that if you give intelligent and essentially serious people a proper job to do they are by and large apt to rise to it…the converse being that if there is little real independent authority (viz your Town Hall Finance Committee) the necessary and inevitable politics of the business will be inflated out of all recognition to occupy the space that should be filled by solid work and real common-sense negotiation…resulting in the sort of antics to be seen at a Town Hall or University Senate near you…or indeed me. Shifting responsibility out of Whitehall and back to Town Halls, Hospital Boards or University Senates would be a risk but one worth taking in my view…if we get any more centralised the only person in the Country actually allowed to take a decision will be the PM’s Senior Spin Doctor! :-(

    RT – Chap just over the hill from Gloomy Court has a couple of those, although he mostly drives the pinzgauer down to the shops…its in some sort of nifty snow camouflage…


  346. Peter Elliott


    A diamond encrusted tank. Imagine the swagger. The King of Saudi Arabia would buy a squaron for sure.

  347. mr.fred


    I know the difference, having studied at both, but in most aspects they are completely different places and referring to both as a single entity is somewhat confusing.

  348. Chris

    Many interesting comments about education and the institutions in place to provide it. But formal education in high academia is not the only way.

    I was never that good a pupil. I didn’t like schooldays; I thoroughly enjoyed Uni (but not necessarily for the lectures or tutorials…) and have avoided where possible classroom style training courses. The reason in my case is simple – I do not learn well by being told by teachers. I learn by curiosity; if I find something I want or need to know more about I scour whatever resources I can find to build a conceptual model of how it all works. I have never had a day’s training on CAD or MS Office but by needing to find out how to do useful things with them I have become reasonably productive, and in certain aspects infamous for what I can make the applications do. An enquiring mind is in my view much more valuable than one that is passively retentive, and an enquiring mind does not engage well with typical teaching methods.

    I am a strong believer in the value of apprenticeships – again, learning by wanting to be competent at the trade in hand, by wanting to be skilled. For many people I suspect following the apprentice’s way would provide a better level of education than having teachers & lecturers talk loftily at uninterested pupils.

    To my mind academia has too great a hold on the routes to higher levels within professions – you can’t have this job without a Masters degree. You can’t retain this qualification without X hours of formal academic instruction per year. You must attend the Ethics training to be instructed how to be a considerate human being; failure to attend is not an option and may put your job at risk. And yet, spending time investigating how to do something new as an individually created task is in most companies branded as ‘timewasting’…

    I meet many individuals who have learnt their trade by experience and curiosity and the majority have been extremely capable. And generally much more enthusiastic about their trade than those who have arrived in post through years of generic teaching. It seems a somewhat shallow sniffy approach to dismiss the eager experienced enthusiasts as inferior to those that took an academic path. In my opinion.

  349. monkey

    My other half would agree with you “I would recommend that you look at the information on the courses and the universities closely as student satisfaction tends to be worse at Russell Group universities as they tend to employ academics who main focus is their research not teaching and you may find that the teaching is not as good as say one of the universities who used to be what was known as the 94 Group” She is on her post grad at Durham having gained a 1st at De Montfort (her second she has one from Beijing University too) .She informs me that the level of tutorial support is much reduced at Durham compared to De Montfort. I pointed out that perhaps undergraduate courses may be run differently to postgraduate courses but she knew that the postgraduates at De Montfort also received the same level of support as the undergraduates.

  350. dave haine


    Triumph Speed Triple, or if a little big for you a Daytona 675….

    I love dukes but can’t stand the eternal f**king around with them, whereas the triumph have character, reliability, performance and real world useability.

    ….Mind you I still regret getting rid of my Moto Guzzi Le Mans- no air box, the only air filter were chrome grills to stop small furry animals getting sucked in and an inlet roar that rivalled the exhaust note…..

    I’m getting very deaf in my old age, wonder why?

    Get her a jack russell (nee rascal) full of character, stubborn as f**k and bloody good ratters, mine had the enviable reputation of being banned from the rec field, due to her habit of getting involved in the football matches, with brilliant dribbling skills and astonishing turn of speed. Somewhat better than most of the sweaty, fat blokes pretending to be Ronaldo.

  351. dave haine

    As for universities?

    I regret the passing of proper apprenticeships and tech colleges. My home town, Luton used to be a car town with two car makers and three truck makers all building vehicles there, as well as Hunting Aircraft, and four airline maintenance bases.
    Consequently, all the secondary schools had car mechanics, design and technology and fabrication departments (I started using Lathes at 13, and casting in aluminium at 14, injection and vacuum moulding at 12, wood machinery at 14). The practical guys went on to take up apprenticeships at the myriad of engineering concerns that having major manufacturing plants in your town leads to.
    The clever ones went on to Luton Tech, to qualify in various engineering disciplines.

    Roll on twenty years, the tech has gone, and Luton university doesn’t do any engineering courses, having become a renowned centre for media courses, attracting students worldwide.

    Meanwhile, the engineering firms are struggling to find enough talent to keep going…….

    The men in sheds may be a dying breed….

  352. dave haine

    Those traditional experts and innovators, the shed and backyard engineers may be a dying breed….

  353. The Other Chris

    Conservative former Defence Secretary Liam Fox raises Russia’s actions involving Ukraine. He calls for targeted EU sanctions on military sales to Russia.
    – BBC Live Text coverage of Prime Minister’s Questions

    Mistral sales to Russia?

  354. Peter Elliott

    There will have to be a dirty EU trade-off before they can ban the Mistral sales.

    Germany will have to give up some of their Russian exports and and City of London some of their Russian wealth management to balance the deal.

    Sharing the pain around.

    But I believe it will come.

  355. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Peter Elliott – perhaps we could factor in our purchasing the Mistrals…at a very competitive price…and reduce the hit on ourselves and the Frogs…make Merkel cross as well, which is always a bonus… :-)


  356. Peter Elliott

    We did that on an earlier thread. Much as I like the Mistrals we’d end up having to give the Albions away. And while they’re not perfect by any means there’s nothing actually wrong with the Albions in the LPD role.

    So unless the Mistrals come at absolute fire sale prices we really can’t justify the capital spend right now, with so many essential things like Crowsnest, ASW-MPA and Type 26 still either unconfirmed or ‘on the whiteboard’.

    And that’s just the RN wishlist. Somehow can’t imagine the Army or RAF volunteering to give up capital projects for this one…

  357. Peter Elliott

    Amongst other things we have to consider is what the UK complex warship designers are going to work on from 2020-2030 once Type 26 goes into production. Desining a RN LHD is about the only thing we will be able to give them to keep their skills going at that point. But not if we already bought a French (or Spanish!) design in 2015.

    My gut feeling is also that the Mistrals are a bit small for what we want in terms of carrying capacity. We would end up having to operate both of them whereas our crew plan is set up only to operate 1 from 2 currrently.

  358. x

    @ GNB

    There are lots of committees in government, local government, and QUANGOs with lay members. Let us not forget the cornerstone of British justice is the lay magistrate,

    How much of an impact they have I don’t know. It must vary a lot. How many in the general population know of these things, care about them, or what to get involved I don’t know but it can only be a few.

    The only way I think the growing sense of disenfranchisement can be tackled is by communities wresting control of their MP from the three supposed main parties. Parties whose membership is falling year and year yet; never mind population growth diluting their representation further . Parties who collective active membership is less than entire CofE configuration on any given Sunday; let’s not forget many in the Labour and LibDems would have us believe that the established church is dying and an anachronism, what then of their parties? Never mind the congregations of our Catholic and Non-Conformists friends and those of other faiths. If religion is dying politics has already shuffled off……….

  359. Chris

    x – maybe we should democratically transfer governance of the state to the Church of England then? More in touch with ordinary folk, a greater participating congregation, still under the same Monarchic leadership, dedicated to ‘doing the right thing’ not ‘feathering the nest’. Although the CofE’s defence policy might be a bit light…

  360. x

    @ Chris

    I mentioned religion as a measure of supposed relevance to modern society. The Lib Dems (sorry Swimming Trunks ;) ) would have you believe that the C of E is dying on its feet. Given that many congregation have few young members they may have a point. But over 2,000,000 or so attend CofE on a regular basis compare with an active Liberal Democrat membership of just over 40,000. How do they reconcile “undue influence” of a few bishops in a second chamber that just rubber stamps legislation with them having some oik as Deputy PM?

    @ david haine

    I would say that the man in shed is very much alive and with the modern hacker/maker movement going from strength to strength there may be more of them out there than ever.

  361. Derek

    Finally? This is common knowledge, the RAF had a hissy fit at the thought of the Army operating helicopters and basically tried to run their own separate procurement programme. It’s how the UK ended up with such an eclectic collection of platform types.

  362. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Peter Elliott – an imaginative Secretary of State for Defence would make a deal for the Mistrals, and then re-task the Albions to spearhead our disaster relief/hearts and minds/floating rozzer activities…all revenue costs to be met by the DfID (including depreciation). One operating WI, Gib, Freetown…the other Berbera, Gulf,Singapore…both with an OPV in company… :-)

    We have a book-keeper. :-(


  363. paul g

    probably get a better deal for the Korean dokdo class. If not on price could get the licence to build in UK, our chums across the channel are very protective of their defence jobs. (and I like it better than than mistral anyway)!!

  364. ArmChairCivvy

    US army got a free hand with helos yonks ago, but at a price that us still being debated today. From wiki
    ” November 1952, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between United States Air Force Secretary Thomas K. Finletter and United States Army Secretary Frank Pace that removed the weight restrictions on helicopters that the U.S. Army could use. It also widened the range of tasks the Army’s helicopters could be used for. However, it also created an arbitrary 5,000 pounds weight restriction that limits the Army’s ability to fly fixed-wing aircraft. As a result, the U.S. Army today is dependent upon the U.S. Air Force to purchase and man fixed-wing ground-attack aircraft to fulfill close air support mission”

  365. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @paul g – Dodko might be a better ship, but the Mistrals are a possible opportunity purchase if the Frogs aren’t allowed to deliver them to the Russians…I’d take what we can get cheap!

    I note that Willets wants the Space Port open by 2019…the Skylon Deep Strike Squadron moves a little nearer. :-)


  366. paul g

    GNB (I’m a happy northerner mainly because it’s north wales and I like it) Thought the deal was French only built one and the Russians the other, they’ve already got one of them. and according wiki mistral is approx. $600 million and dokdo is $289 million. that’s quite literally 2 dokdos for 1 mistral.

  367. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @x – Quite right on Committees – the Magistrates Bench, School Governing Bodies, Hospital Trusts and many others are supervised by groups of volunteers…mostly pretty well, and without much rancour or political grandstanding (The North Staffs Hospital and those Birmingham Schools notwithstanding). The difficulty is how to hold them together in modern economic and social conditions. My understanding is that the Grandees, Squires and Gentleman-Farmers of the Shires are a dying breed, and their urban equivalents certainly are. Great Britain now throws up self-important corporate bureaucrats who call themselves “entrepreneurs” and award each other unconscionable salaries on the basis of the “risks” they pretend they take; more modest operators on a merry-go-round of paid non-executive directorships; and rent-takers getting pissed by the beach in Benidorm. Their one unifying characteristic being the certainty that anyone who does something for nothing for other people is a twat.

    Meanwhile, we twats mostly cajole one another into holding stuff together because we are retired public servants, university lecturers or whatever…and we do reasonably well (mostly)…but nobody needs to tell us we are a narrow field because we know…but it’s bloody hard to get anyone else to do it, believe me!

    As to the Lords, I’d have some geographical seats from which members of political parties would be barred…but mostly a system based on the registered supporters of membership organisations…everything from the C of E to the RSPB, but trade unions, political parties, the professions would all be eligible…maximum two registrations per elector…with the organisations deciding how to fill their own allocations. If we got enough people organised we could nominate Lord Think Defence…and there would be many more Bishops than political hacks…no bad thing in my view.

    The MPs, the political parties could sort…nobody to stand who is under thirty; or who has not lived in their proposed constituency for at least half their life; or who has worked for their party for more than three years in the last ten…but they won’t, so it will need legislation.

    Sorted. :-)


  368. El Sid

    Helicopter costs come up periodically – Mexico are buying 18 UH-60M Black Hawks via FMS for use against the drug cartels. Cost is US$680m, or $37.8m/unit, including training and associated gubbins. For comparison we’re paying £454m ($766m) or $30.6m/unit to upgrade 25 RAF Merlin to HC4 standard under the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme, including £120m on training and infrastructure.


  369. Obsvr

    @ x

    re AAC, very, very old news. RA had enough problems getting the AOP sqns formed in WW2, that’s why they were ‘RAF’ despite all pilots being RA, and RAF officers limited to admin, but of course easier to use RAF maintainers. I guess the first AAC heli, the Skeeter, was under 4000 lbs. Sioux may have been as well, which takes us to unit air troops/platoons, which lasted until teeny weeny airways got into empire building.

    Incidentally in WW2 the Parachute Regiment was also part of the AAC, not just the Glider Pilots.

  370. Tom

    @ Obsvr – Is the fact that the RA formed UAV Btys a sign that they had problems getting the AAC to provide suitable spotting units?

  371. x

    @ obsvr

    Ever since I have been posting here the mythical weight limit (not so mythical now) for service helicopters has been mentioned. And though I have asked for a source for this supposed limit no one has been able to point to me to something in print. The term I have seen used more than once is “gentlemen’s agreement!”. Don’t care if it is old news. It is proof. Not bothered about interservice politics surrounding the issue. Just that there is proof. The FAA fly all sizes of helicopters and that is really all I am truly interested in.

  372. Simon

    This is how it should be…

    AAC operate Chinook and Apache (plus a light scout copter if needed)
    FAA operate Merlin and Wildcat
    RAF operate all large fixed wing and only copters that are necessary for their own logistics requirements.

    801 and 809 to be operated (no name/insignia change) under the logistics management control of the RAF with F35B but work operationally deployed under command of the RN. This maintains the FAA identify and still provides sensible economies of both scale and knowledge.

  373. TED

    @Simon Broadly agree but RAF should operate Chinook. Army should operate puma or puma replacement.

  374. The Other Chris

    Cross cutting concerns that results in duplication in each of the three silo’s.

  375. Derek

    In the JFH world there is not really much point in fighting over who wears which uniform as long as the capability that is being required is being provided in a suitably cost effective way- and now it seems to be. This may have been an interesting squabble 60 years ago but not now.

    More interestingly, a bunch of contracts were announced yesterday:

    Tornado Support through to 2019 (OSD now even more confirmed- sorry fantasists): http://www.janes.com/article/37218/uk-awards-final-tornado-support-contract

    GDUK Bowman 5-year Support Contract (interestingly this is sustainment only, nothing about system improvement, I wonder what’s going on there- perhaps a 2019/20 replacement is being considered…?): http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140430/DEFREG01/304300041/GD-UK-Wins-Design-Support-Deals-Bowman

    And FLAADS assessment phase to MBDA, note that no service entry is being talked about until 2020 and even that comes with a caveat: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20140430/DEFREG01/304300040/Assessment-Phase-Work-Begin-New-UK-Army-Air-Defense-System

    Takeaway, confirmation of what we already knew for Tornado but the Army stuff seems to be a holding pattern with major expenditure on new toys kicked out until 2020.

  376. The Other Chris


    Wonder if we’re looking at the French FÉLIN system (or jointly at a replacement system for parts of FÉLIN and Bowman).

    The suite in the VBCI integrates as well.

  377. All Politicians are the Same

    The beauty of the FLAADs contract is that so much of the data will come from Sea Ceptor which will be able to provide massive amounts of performance and test data as well as a working model for radar and link integration.

  378. Derek


    Indeed. In fact as Sea Ceptor is now so advanced a lot of the work should already be done, that combined with the 5 year study period seems quite telling.

  379. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Dereek

    It is only an 18 month assessment period. An educated guess would see a viable system emerge from that period but then comes the decision whether or not to spend the money. The army has had the luxury of operating under total air supremacy in the vast majority of conflicts since WW2. Rapier as a short range PDMS system has been sufficient, it is going to require a bit of a step change to integrate a system with 7 times the range and the ability to do more than local area air defence.
    They are going to need some encouragement to spend the money and a lot of hand holding as they learn how to integrate into a an IAD where their responsibilities stretch to further than point defence of their unit/position.

  380. TED


    RAF are most likely to use chinook for its own needs anyway.

    No they aren’t a taxi service, in the passenger world they are the double decker bus and mini van. I agree completely that things like Puma should be under the command of those that know how to use them. I don’t mean pilots I mean the commanders that have experience in assault operations.

    Chinook has been used in assault but it is more of a utility aircraft and they don’t just work for the infantry, they work for all sorts of units that need moving around.

    Besides, what would they use Odiham for otherwise?

  381. Derek


    Excuses excuses. Using an off the shelf missile (and probably radars) this is a simple capability to generate- the 2020 date screams of can kicking for financial reasons.

  382. All Politicians are the Same


    Try and read my post before you jump up and down screaming :) Try this line to start with “They are going to need some encouragement to spend the money “.
    Do not confuse reasoning with excuses.

  383. ArmChairCivvy

    Bigdave’s link gives the short version. There is a task added to what LCSs do: air defence. Let’s see what happens to the size of the hull.

  384. bigdave243


    Are they after Local Area Defence or Fleet Defence? (i think those are the right terms??)

    Stating the obvious, but if the US Navy went for the T-26 that would probably be a huge help to us in terms of bringing the unit cost per hull down.

  385. Chris

    TOC – vaguely underwhelmed by voiture volant. After all parascending fan buggies were movie fodder in Bond’s 1999 The World is Not Enough http://www.tubechop.com/watch/2725510

    This seems a better machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CajAq6ndJYE – nicely engineered, all the flying gear stowed neatly ready to be reused when necessary (I imagine the ram chutes on parascenders would be diched on landing, not neatly repacked ready for another flight). And for good measure the machine seems moderately quick & agile on the ground too.

  386. Brian Black

    The French flying car seems a bit of a niche capability to have. The kind of thing that’s needed so rarely that there’s no one trained to use it when you do. And if it’s to be used for difficult, night-time, sneaky combat missions, then it would need very well trained people available to avoid killing the driver.

  387. x

    TED aid “RAF are most likely to use chinook for its own needs anyway.”

    Do tell, what they be then?

  388. wf

    @x: the RAF need Chinook for their support of remote JFH Harrier bases, obviously!

  389. Chris.B.

    @ Simon,
    “AAC operate Chinook and Apache (plus a light scout copter if needed)” – I’m interested to know what tangible benefit you think would be derived from handing Chinook to the AAC? How would that improve the quality of Chinook operations?

    @ Derek,
    “Tornado Support through to 2019 (OSD now even more confirmed- sorry fantasists)” – I seem to remember everyone agreeing that they would go till 2019 and you telling everyone that they were idiots for thinking this and that Tornado would be gone after SDSR 2015. Still a chance that could happen, but the signs seem promising that most people were right and you were wrong ;)

  390. TED

    @wf No silly boy joint force lightning…. duh

    @x Don’t know was referring to whatever Simon was talking about “own logistic requirements”. I would presume moving stores around…

    I don’t think there are any cost savings to be had by handing them over to the Army, except maybe in pilots :P

    This is what the army need instead of Wildcat http://player.vimeo.com/video/93428825
    Can we fit hellfire to that? In all seriousness, why not?

  391. Derek

    Chris B,

    You are deeply confused. I never said that Tornado would be gone after SDSR15. You should see a doctor about your memory problems. Or may be you are just a liar?

  392. 40 deg south



    Interesting news re the prospective SeaCeptor sale to NZ. NZ has just signed Lockheed Martin Canada to do the weapons and sensors upgrade, on the back of the package developed for the RCN Halifax class. Assuming SeaCeptor still included (no mention in presser), this means Lockheed Martin will be responsible for bolting the MBDA bits to the boat. Interesting – having a major North American defence contractor getting some experience with the system.

    2016 timeframe suggests NZ’s modest order will piggyback on a much larger order for the RN, much as we did with the recent MAN truck purchase.

  393. ArmChairCivvy

    @ wirralpete:

    A 40% share in early orders would point it to happening, we had a 5+% share in CEC orders and they faded away (USN got theirs faster than otherwise?).

    Even the longer version does not give enough detail to answer your question

  394. x

    @ wf

    The 1970s are calling……….

    When I was young I must admit I bought into the Harrier in the forest clearing thing. But then I learned the awful truth. Unlike cartoons and Santa Harriers working from forest clearings holding back the red tide is just make believe…..

    @ TED

    MoD buys Chinook to move stuff about belonging to all three services. In total the RAF’s and RN’s need for CH47 probably only makes up a small percentage of its workload.

    Now I tend to think of Chinook as just planes that just happen to be helicopters.

  395. El Sid

    At the moment the USN is still trying to work out what it wants – that’s why it’s issued these RFIs, Requests for Information, just to see what’s out there for what cost. Whilst they’re playing lip service to foreign yards, it’s really more about using them to frighten the US yards into being a bit more realistic about price – arguably the Korean KDX-IIA would be an even better fit than the GCS (note, not T26), but I just can’t see it happening.

    There’s a lot of politics involved, with Randy Forbes, Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee being passionately opposed to the LCS in principle, whilst Bob Work, the new DEPSECDEF, is probably its most prominent fan. The reality is that There Is No Money – the USN has the same problem as the RN, how to buy a new fleet of SSBNs out of a shipbuilding budget that is already under pressure. So whilst there will be a lot of wailing about how they want A Proper Frigate™, they’ll probably end up with a LCS with some VLS tubes – both LCS builders seem to be proposing one of the export versions with 16x Mk41, so they could have SM-2 (for area defence) even if they’ll have quad-packed ESSM in reality.

  396. bigdave243

    @EL Sid @ACC

    Thanks for getting back to me guys. I suppose it probably is wishful thinking, they’d more than likely want to keep the ship building work in American yards anyway for the same reason we’d try and keep that kind of work within UK yards.

    Thinking even further, i’m not sure our yards would have the capacity to meet a build schedule for the USN as well as the RN.

  397. El Sid

    @bigdave243 That possibility doesn’t even come into it – the USN are legally obliged to build their ships in US yards.

  398. ArmChairCivvy

    Is it known what the modifications were as to the LCS proposals for Israel and Saudi?

    In the end the former bought a smaller platform and the latter a bigger one.

  399. Peter Elliott

    More likely we sell them SeaCeptor, either for LCS or for the follow on.

  400. Obsvr

    @ Tom

    No, AAC is sensible enough not to want to overfly enemy held territory. Goes back to the AOP sqns. UAV role is sustained flying over hostile areas. UAVs are expendable, it seems that AAC pilots are not (which seems fair enough, they cost lots to train). If anything (my favourite theory) it originated in the failure or impractical continuation of Arty/R by the RAF, Arty/R was not the same as AOP. Arty/R was not used as much as it should have been in WW2 and afterwards lapsed, and it wasn’t because the army didn’t want it.

    @ x

    I don’t think its mythical, my memory is of coming across this in the 1960s. Of course whether it was a formal MoU signed by CIGS and CAS is another matter. Probably not.

    Re AAC/RAF, about a decade ago it will be remembered that this was a topic in which Parliament took an interest in the form of the elitist RAF not having NCO pilots (the official RAF response was ‘nuclear weapons’, about which I still laugh). However, at the time there was an article in the RUSI Journal by a recent Director AAC (who I first knew as an Air Pl Comd in Borneo, shameless name dropping, but he was an Irish infantryman). His point was that in NI the AAC and RAF operated about the same number of heli. The RAF heli force was a Gp Capt comd, about 5 Wing Comds and Sqn Ldrs beyond count. The AAC effort was a Lt Col and 5 Majors. Ie the RAF was grossly over-ranked, with all the associated costs. This goes back a long way, in WW1 each Army had an RFC Bde, with a Brigadier-General (1 *) in command. In 1944 2 Army in NW Europe was supported by a Group, the equivalent of a Brigade, perhaps a Div if you want to accept a Sqn = Battalion. But with a 3* commander. Inflated ranks are an RAF problem.

    Re VBCI

    Isn’t it almost antique? Assuming the hull is an acceptable design, it with need a completely gutting, new engine and drive train, fitting of GVA (oops Generic Vehicle Architecture), and now doubt lots of other things.

  401. x

    @ Obsvr

    The point was there was a page I could see from the MoD with stuff about helicopter weights, Gentleman’s’ agreement or MoU or whatever. I admit I hadn’t gone out to really search for such ever as I said I have no interest in the matter really.

  402. El Sid

    Exact specs will be confidential, but you can get an idea from the open-source marketing materials produced around that time (and eg some of the trade show coverage at Navy Recognition etc). Lockheed have sketched versions of the monohull from 67m to 140m. The Israelis were less worried about seakeeping and endurance, but just wanted as many weapons as possible, whereas the Saudis were offered something closer to the Nansen fit – SPY-1F, Mk41 permanently installed in some of the mission space etc, along the lines of this (118m, 3600t) :

    The USN can’t afford Aegis for these things, the smaller Lockheed designs have CEAFAR, which obviously has nothing to do with any attempts to sell to Australia. Both LCS variants are likely to offer a 76mm gun and permanent sonar installation.

  403. Simon

    Chris B,

    I’m interested to know what tangible benefit you think would be derived from handing Chinook to the AAC? How would that improve the quality of Chinook operations?

    I would have thought a copter than can shift 33-55 men is a bit pointless for a force that flies jets and has no requirement to move people or equipment. It would allow more cohesive operation/training of tactical transport and AH escorts if operated by the AAC. I listen to the ramblings of various individuals on this site who seem to imply a lack of joined-up-thinking in terms of CAS so am making a rather small leap in assuming that the same would be true for RAF operated lift.

    I was under the impression the Royal Air Force operated from air bases which cannot be moved. The army on the other hand are by definition mobile. Never really understood why the RAF operates the Chinooks.

    Who would operate Chinook on board CVF? The RAF? So that’s the RAF operating a copter on a Royal Navy vessel to service the British Army or Royal Marines. Jobs for the boys. Jobs for the boys!

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