Open Thread – May 2014

This months open thread, the we innovation in military vehicles edition.

Sika TRACER (before FRES)

Sika TRACER (before FRES)

Multidrive Future Cargo Vehicle (FCV)

Multidrive Future Cargo Vehicle (FCV)

Roush LAS 100 RE Balter

Roush LAS 100 RE Balter

Pearson PEROCC

Pearson PEROCC

QinetiQ High Mobility Demonstrator (HMD) and Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) vehicles

QinetiQ High Mobility Demonstrator (HMD) and Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) vehicles

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. Repulse

    There is a comment in Warship World magazine that suggests that the Astute class will need to be refueled during their operational life – anyone know anything more on this?

  2. Jeremy M H

    It would be a major engineering failure if the Astute types end up having to be refueled during their planned life. Depending on how confident one was when building the thing it may or may not be all that easy to refuel them to begin with. I also would have to think that the rumored top speed issues don’t mix particularly well with a reactor you might be trying to not push too hard to extend its service life since you presumably need to use a higher percentage of your power across the spectrum to achieve certain speeds than you were planning on to begin with.

  3. x

    One of things that seems to have gone by or to be not understood by many here in the West during the Ukraine Crisis (ho hum) is that being Russian is important to many Russians. To the EU nationalism is an anathema, a thought crime; unless of course it is patriotic acts in support of the “project”. Have a think about it while watching this video…………

  4. Peter Elliott

    @Jeremy MH

    I thought I read somewhere that the top speed issue was down to the gearbox fitted and applied only to HMS Astute itself. Subsequent versions had had better gearbox installed. But its bl**dy hard to change the gearbox on a sub once the pressure hull has been welded together. So the first in class itself struggles., bu tthe rest will (allegedly) be fine.

    All this might explain why (a) HMS Astute hasn’t beein noted on an operational patrol yet and (b) why this isn’t a crisis. If its the only one unit then it could carve out a career on Perisher and other home waters stuff. If they were all duff then we would have a megbucks issue and something would have come out in the wsh by now.

  5. Martin

    @ Peter Eliott

    the reactor on the astute class is big enough to drive a vanguard class at 25 knots so I don’t believe Astute has a power issue. My understanding is that it’s the gear box she is loosing power in but the MOD is quite rightly very tight lipped on it all. It may be that she can do 32 knots but they were hoping for 35 knots for all we really know. Anyone in the know leaking accurate info on the matter should quite rightly be taken outside and put against a wall.

  6. jedibeeftrix

    maybe the reason we opted for PWR3 in the successor program, rather than the PWR2+ evolution of the existing reactor design…

  7. Mark

    I thought astute was photographed a while back in gib on her first operational patrol?

  8. Simon

    Might also explain why we’re ordering seven boats. Perhaps the first of class (£1b+ of British tax payers money) is not expected to work or be fixable?

    At least one can’t blame BAe alone.

    Just goes to prove that Rolls-Royce’s TQM (Total Quality Management) is utter bollocks and counts for nothing.

  9. Challenger

    @Peter Elliot

    ‘If its the only one unit then it could carve out a career on Perisher and other home waters stuff’

    With just 7 SSN’s i really don’t think it’s acceptable to say it’s OK if 1 of them takes it easy doing perisher and other home waters stuff. It’s going to be hard enough as it is with 7 to generate a proper deployment cycle, let alone 6!


    You may be correct about Astute calling at Gib, but i don’t personally recall any operational deployment as of yet. Even if she has popped down to Gib if it was just there and back i’d hardly call that a real ‘overseas’ deployment!

  10. Chris

    Simon – I thought everyone knew the whole point of TQM/Lean/ZeroDefect/RightFirstTime/SickSigma was cost-cutting? True quality is assured when the workforce feel valued, feel pride in their work, feel fully empowered to highlight quality problems without the fear of being censured or disadvantaged for raising a problem requiring extra cost and time to rectify. As soon as the cost-cutting job-cutting axe is wielded people clam up and pass problems down the line so some other poor sop carries the can – why be branded a troublemaker for something you didn’t cause, right? As for TQM itself, the clue is in the name; its not assured quality, its ‘managed’ quality, as in just enough to sell to a customer…

  11. monkey

    On the subject of submarines I have just finished the book Iron coffins by Herbert Werner who served with u-boat command from 39 thro to 45, i had read Das Boot before but this was his story throughout the war from ensign to captain. One fact he mention of the 842 u-boats launched 779 were sunk by the Allies ! ( a dozen after the war had actually ended) We will get by with 7 boats?

  12. Mark

    Thanks simon257

    Challenger I’m sure reports at the time of docking at gib had her stopping there on her way EoS but well prob never know for sure.

  13. Simon


    Too true.

    I must admit however that I thought the idea of TQM was to “manage” continuous quality improvement.

    This is one of the areas I must admit I feel we’re not good at in that we tend to re-invent the wheel all the time. We never seem to reap the rewards of a rising star within the defence industry. So just as we’ve got the Type 23’s working nicely we design a T26 with its own series of teething problems, same for Astute, same for T45, same for the Albion class (although the latter seem mostly due to IEP).

    I accept certain things have to be newer and better but if you look at ships and their propulsion there’s nothing particularly new. IEP is what the UK has been running in the form of the national grid for decades.

    We should do what the US do and have a base design that is allowed to morph as it goes rather than go back to the drawing board each time. It might be necessary to do this to provide continuation of the design process “minds” within the UK, but if we’re no good at it (and I’m sorry but we simply do not seem to be as good as it as even the French, Spanish or South Koreans) then perhaps we should just bite the bullet, shut up all heavy engineering and import.

    If we’re not yet at this point then from my experience of this country we are certainly drifting towards it.

    We need the DRA back.

  14. Chris

    Simon – welcome to the wonderful world of competitive tendering and industry-owned IPR. No company is going to hand its tested proven designs over to a competitor in the interests of MOD continuity. Under the Peter Levene structure of defence procurement the keystone for MOD was for industry to own all risk, therefore MOD supplies no design input itself. Guaranteed that every time a widget is procured the design, the underlying rationale, the manufacturer and the support will all be different because MOD cannot any more demand what design they will buy.

    I too think the demise of the Establishments was idiotic. Over the years a huge amount of experience and domain knowledge is gained but without the Gov’t owned Establishments that knowledge goes to industrial concerns who might or might not win another contract in the same domain. Or they might win contracts for other nations in which case the taxpayer funded expertise benefits the other nations instead. Which wouldn’t be a problem if we here got the majority of the benefit but with tiny contracts for onesy-twosy platforms, each being competed, that’s unlikely. So with the disbanding of the Establishments we binned the repositories of domain knowledge. Now we buy off the shelf from any Tom Dieter or Harshad and then spend a fortune modifying the hell out of whatever we bought learning all the hard lessons each time as we go along. Smart procurement, it has been called.

  15. dave haine

    I’m with you Chris….

    The current bag of w**k that is our defence, IMO was caused by the closure, selling off or otherwise disposing of the defence research establishments.

    These establishments gave scientists and engineers access to operational personnel, and vice versa, making a fertile breeding ground for ideas, and gave industry a lead.

    The list of successful stuff that these research facilities have come up over the years is endless.

    …..mind you the list of WTF?’s have been pretty impressive too :-)

  16. El Sid

    The official line on Astute is that “having recently become an operational submarine [she] will complete the final stage of operational training in early 2014….On completion of the remainder of her operational training she will conduct the first ever ‘A boat’ operational deployment over the course of the spring and summer to Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal.”

    One might speculate how a late-March visit to Gib could fit with that timetable.

  17. El Sid

    The Spanish greens have been upping the volume recently about the Z berth, so they might be tempted to try a stunt. In other words, the waters off Gib are hostile…

  18. Repulse

    @Simon: “Might also explain why we’re ordering seven boats” – actually the basis for 7 SSNs was I believe the 1 SSN on station to every 3.5 SSNs in total ratio, meaning on average 2 are deployed. If each SSN is going to be out of service approx. 12-18 months of it’s planned 25 year life, then I’d argue we’d better go back and re-evaluate the case for 8 SSNs.

  19. El Sid

    I’d suggest that the T23 is actually a good example of progressive, spiral development “working”. Considering it started as a sonar tug to counter Russian SSBNs in the North Atlantic, it’s evolved into a pretty decent GP frigate for the 21st century, it’s stood the test of time pretty well compared to some of its sisters like the Perrys which were so hard to upgrade the US was retiring some of them within 15 years or so of commissioning. Even compared to the Halifaxes and Bremens the T23 has fared pretty well. But the fact is that no matter how much you upgrade the internals, you end up being limited by the “box” and given that hulls only physically last 25-30 years, once in a generation you have to design a new box to cope with changes in habitability standards (women didn’t go to sea when the T23 was designed), improvements in drive trains, requirements for eg more accommodation for SBS visits and bigger helicopters and all the other technological changes since the days of the ZX Spectrum.

    The T26 is taking as much as possible from the T23 – SeaCeptor, Artisan, 2087 etc – and putting them in a new box – along with kit that’s new-to-RN-frigates but already proven elsewhere like MT30. It’s not like the T45 using a one-off engine that’s a technological marvel but a nightmare to support. So there’s as little new as one can get away with. I’d disagree that the USN is some kind of role model – every USN warship design since the Cold War, has puts lots of new internals into a radical new hull design and ended up in all sorts of trouble as a result. The Zumwalt tumblehome is perhaps the poster child for that, but it’s also true of both LCS designs. In the 1950s or 1980s they would have just thrown money at them until they worked, but that’s no longer an option.

    Which is the only reason that they’re still building the Burke, putting amazing new technology into an obsolescent hull that needs too many crew (nearly twice as many as a T45), has no room for the new radars they want to put on it, and no electrical capacity for them or any of the other new toys like lasers and railguns. The contortions they’ve gone through fitting everything onto the Flight III’s is doesn’t represent commendable continuity, it’s a condemnation of the big-leap mentality that led to the relative failure of the Zumwalt hull which is what they had intended to be using by now.

  20. El Sid

    Nice vid of Neuron flying in formation avec ses amis – some nice shots of the Rafale in particular. Bit worried that it’s taking the lead – is this the first evidence of Skynet in action?

  21. Observer

    El Sid, this was posted before. And my comment was to try the shoot again with the Neuron following behind. If they dared. :)

    The reason why it was in the lead was because on site humans can follow and adapt much faster and more appropriately than someone flying by remote control. Situational awareness for UAVs is terrible so if they had it following, the chances of it sticking its nose up someone’s tailpipe goes up much, much higher.

    And you can’t park and get out to check your fender after a bump in mid air.

  22. Simon

    El Sid,

    I’d disagree that the USN is some kind of role model

    I’d have thought Arleigh Burke (1990 onwards), Wasp/America (1990 onwards) and Nimitz (1975 onwards) were case and point.

    Where exactly do we build the same base hull for similar durations and gain similar economies of scale. It’s not like we can’t do it. We could have built 20 x 6000 tonners to fulfill the T23 and T42 replacements and fitted them out differently. We could have built 8 x Bay/Albion hybrids to replace Fearless and the Round Table class and had a hull design that could replace Argus with ease. We could also have a single class of tanker/supply ship instead of Wave, Tide and MARS SSS. But no. We need to design a new ship with plenty of new things to go wrong to be bent over a barrel by BAe and get shafted because we simply have to pay them. Jobs for the boys. Jobs for the boys!

  23. TAS


    What point are you making? GPMG’s are bog standard for any warship entering or leaving a foreign harbour. Would you rather they were undefended, or are you asking if they are somehow supplementing surface warfighting efforts? Either way it’s a pretty pointless point.

  24. Red Trousers

    ToC, x,

    You may laugh, but thinking sideways is a big part of British recce. Anyone who cannot is forced to join the Guards or the RTR. Anyone who thinks in a linear manner has to join the Andrew and to try to become a PWO, anyone who can’t think at all gets to join the Kevins.

    Anyway, re bikes. There seem to me to be 2 solutions. A folded Brompton with Scwalbe cross country tyres, carried in a bespoke case, or something old and knackered knicked from the outskirts of town***. Either way, you want some generic civvy kit to wear and blend in.

    *** this is in no way analogous to the utter fucking scrote who nicked my pristine yellow Desmo last month.

  25. All Politicians are the Same


    You examine then threat level and then decide what Force Protection Measures to put in place taking into account restrictions and non organic escort provision, e.g Gib squad or the “scruffy” call signs in Bahrain.
    During Bulwarks 2006 deployment “Op Bristle” used to see the 2 50 Cals in each LCVP manned in their davits for a total of 8, a Milan launcher on the flyco roof, the 2 20MMs on the bridge roof manned and up to 6 GPMGs and 4 Mini guns manned around the upper deck.

  26. Observer

    Hmm it might Chris. Wear something inconspicuous and no one would believe the person using that is anything but a civilian at a distance. Or at least they’ll never believe that a soldier would be caught dead riding on a “unicycle”. :)

  27. Challenger


    ‘actually the basis for 7 SSNs was I believe the 1 SSN on station to every 3.5 SSNs in total ratio, meaning on average 2 are deployed’

    If the RN has identified a need to have 2 SSN’s operationally deployed and requires a total of 7 to do so then i agree with you that actually we should have at least 8, maybe even 9. Otherwise ANY unexpected maintenance problems, lengthier deployments, collisions with islands/sandbars/submerged rocks or heaven forbid something worse will cause major problems with the operational cycle and overall effectiveness of the fleet as a whole.

    Having a bit of give, some elasticity to cope with the unexpected is something we have gradually and quietly allowed to wither away in a number of areas.

    @El Sid & Simon

    When it comes to the idea of common hulls and rolling, evolutionary warship production i think you both make some good points.

    The USN has to some extent done well out of designing basic hulls and maximizing their potential over a number of years with sub-classes and incremental updates. I don’t think the Arleigh Burkes are a fabulous example of the trend though considering, as El Sid pointed out, they have largely stayed in production because of the hideously expensive Zumwalts and the lack of a Ticonderoga replacement on the horizon.

    The RN can certainly get far better at using common hulls and not trying to reinvent the nautical equivalent of the wheel every few years. However id say the T23 was (although somewhat by accident) a good example of an evolving class of general purpose ships and the T26, whilst a new hull, will very sensibly both inherit newish kit from their predecessors and build on a lot of the technology first introduced with the T45. However the RN could certainly head further in that direction with common RFA hulls, an anti-air variant of the T26 eventually replacing the T45 and a single class of new amphibians to super-cede the current mix of LPD’s/LSD’s when they wear out.

    Although to be fair whilst you can certainly attempt to use one basic design for multiple roles over many years their is of course only so far you can take it. I would for instance love to see the first T26’s replaced by newer ones in a continual rolling production lasting decades, and Jedibeeftrix’s old idea of a fleet of 12 SSN/SSBN hybrids being broken into 3 sub-classes of 4 boats with each batch being an incremental update on the last always sounded great, but their will always come a point where technology and crew habitability needs/trends have moved on to such an extent that it’s better to start from scratch.

    I guess it’s a balance, as much use out designs as possible before it’s becomes counterproductive both operationally and financially at which point you need to go back to the drawing board.

  28. Observer

    as, be wary of media BS. F-35 was never “invisible”, it was just hard to get a track and lock on.

  29. Repulse

    Whilst I agree the Daily Flail is showing its normal ignorance and poor journalism, I do think we are quickly reaching crunch point as part of the SDSR on deciding our short and medium term plans. The UK is fast approaching having a carrier in the water and no planes to fly off them – what’s the hold up on ordering the first 14?

    In my view, we should go for 60 to fly from the carriers then sit tight and flog the Tiffies to death as we decide the next move in the 2030s.

  30. Simon

    …what’s the hold up on ordering the first 14?

    They don’t work and are obsolete against anything other than the same enemies that Harrier and F18 is still effective against?

    However, what else is there? Typhoon and the worlds biggest waste of money LPH?

  31. Mark

    Repulse there maybe a coincidence in timing between the recent tornado support contract announcement, the waiting to receive and analyse the full engineering understanding of the unexpected fatigue failure of f35b primary structure members at Christmas and the slight delay on the order confirmation of the next batch of uk f35s and form which lrips they may come from. (which maybe announced now at farnbourgh).

  32. Repulse

    @Simon: “They don’t work and are obsolete against anything other than the same enemies that Harrier and F18 is still effective against?”, maybe the F18 would as good, though you comparing apples and pears. Are you seriously suggesting the F35B will be no better than the Harrier?

    I agree the F35B is not a wonder weapon, but it is a good match for our maritime needs, hence my opinion to order 60 and move on.

  33. Simon

    I must admit that although I tend to have a go at the F35 it will indeed be okay for our maritime needs.

    I think my main problem is that we no longer seem to have the design/manufacturing edge which means these projects take so long to design and then get right that they’re obsolete by the time they come to fruition. If you look at F35 its starting to look like it needs to go back to the drawing board as it has a fairly pitiful internal payload for the kinds of penetration sorties that may be asked of it. It may also have to fly in formations to provide effective EW against recently deployed AA systems.

    I think therefore we should generally aim lower and achieve quicker. This will obviously mean larger production quantities, less multi-role assets and more money, but will ultimately reignite the UK’s Engineering with successful projects.

    Either that or re-open the DRA and do it secretly behind closed doors ;-)

  34. Chris

    Repulse, Simon – ref F35B/Harrier capability – maybe if the aircraft are broadly equivalent in capability its not because F35B is a poor effort but because Harrier was (and would still be) a stonking good aircraft ahead of its time? I still rate the vectored thrust Pegasus as a better solution than the gearbox driven vertical fan and donkey donger jetpipe. That materials technology has moved on and CAD/simulation tools have aided designers is beyond doubt, so you’d hope F35B would be better in many respects than Harrier, but it seems to have become much bigger, more complicated, more difficult to manufacture and in some respects more fragile than its predecessor. And wildly more expensive. A demanding child.

  35. Mark

    It has the same internal payload as the f117 and from the very beginning was stated that optimal use was in a 4 ship formation.

    Low observable aircraft will always be more difficult and more expensive to manufacture than those that arent.

  36. Repulse

    Been reading up on the recent Exercise Joint Warrior –

    Whilst the RFTG model was the best model from 2010-2020 given the available kit and resources, I can’t help think it’s starting to look more like the rag tail / mismatch fleet of BattleStar Galatica. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the SDSR 2015 really needs to take a bold view at the UKs amphibious capability.

    To me we have two options:
    – Keep with the RFTG approach, but realise that against anyone with more than a sharpened mango, any amphibious assault will need to come OTH, probably tens if not a hundred+ miles away. Whilst the helicopter capability from the CVF probably adds up, the LPD/LSD in my view doesn’t. To get to the shore quickly by sea and in enough strength requires either Large Hovercraft or similarly Large LST type craft coupled with faster LCVPs. If this is the case we should take bold steps quickly to get in place larger RFA “Motherships” capable of carrying these large assets.
    – Or, go back to the good old CBG and ARG model. Having the CVF at the centre of a CBG may make people smile, but with say 24 F35Bs, 6 ASW Merlins and 6 Wildcats, it would be enough to ruin most people’s day. Also, as there would be only 2 HVUs in the CBG (CVF and SSS) then perhaps 4 DD/FF Escorts would be enough even against a peer foe. In this model I would then go for 3 modest ARGs, each based around a small 9,000t LHD (like the Algerian one), and a RFA LSD which would be enough to carry a RM Cdo. As the LHD would also come armed with AAW missiles etc then an escort fleet of say 2 DDs/FFs would probably be enough.

    Happy to hear alternatives, but I do fear that post 2020 in it’s current projected state the RFTG will not be fit for purpose.

  37. Mark

    “Multinational defense programs in the West have become “a horror” for industry, and Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders said April 30 that he will not allow his company to repeat the experience of the beleaguered A400M in his tenure.

    “I am determined, at least for my company, not to ever again walk into such a program, and rather to resist [that kind of] contracting and say, ‘no, we’re not going there,’” Enders said as part of a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “That hardly ever works. Industry has a lot of egg on the face, we’re losing lots of money and that should not happen again.”

  38. Simon


    It has the same internal payload as the f117 and from the very beginning was stated that optimal use was in a 4 ship formation.

    Can you elaborate on this 4-ship formation at all?

    By the way, I don’t think F35 can take a 2000lb Paveway internally. I thought all variants were limited to a 500lb Paveway?

  39. Mark

    F35a and c can take up to the 2000lb jdam internal . All variant the 1000lb jdam internal. The uk uses the paveway 4 internal because it sees that weapon as the best mix between blowing stuff up that it need to and collateral damage.

    “The company has also developed a penetrator warhead for the Paveway IV, through which the company is aiming to provide roughly the same level of capability as a 2,000 lb penetrator in a 500 lb package. To achieve this, the warhead incorporates an inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud, operating on the same principle as a sabot round to provide a higher sectional density and reduced impact area to improve penetration, while maintaining the same form and fit as with the standard Mk 83 warhead.”

  40. Derek


    F-35, in any of its variants, DOES NOT have the same internal payload as the F-117, that aircraft had significantly larger weapons bays that resulted in form fitting tests with a JASSM as well as the regular carriage of GBU-24/27- the F-35 can not carry any of these weapons internally.

  41. Mark

    Derek your talking about bay size not payload both aircraft operate with up to 2 x 2000lb weapons. In today’s world weapons now operate with similar effect in smaller sizes.

  42. x

    @ Chally re USN basic ships

    I like(d) the Spruance class. Not saying they are perfect. The variants built, proposed, and theorised showed it as basic ship(hull) it had great potential. Responsible for me believing when it comes to ships bigger is always better; if you can afford and there is a genuine person

    Often over the years if I am reading a lot about the Falklands the idea pops into mind of the RN receiving post war 4 new build Sea Dart equipped Kidd class………

  43. Observer

    Derek, bombs are rated according to weight not size, a 2000 Ib bomb in the old days is much larger than a 2000 Ib today.

    x, for every person there is a season. :P

  44. Derek


    As per usual you are wrong. The ability to carry ordnance is defined by both the weight and volume of the weapon, always has been and always will be be. It’s actually even more important to today given the proliferation of different guidance kits for identical warheads.

  45. Derek


    Wrong, payload is defined by both weight and volume- not just weight. And F-35A/C have less payload volume than the F-117.

  46. Observer

    Derek, my unit is based next to an airfield. I see those damn things every day for a month annually…

    And I believe Mark designs aircraft for a living?

    Might want to tone down with the absolutist statements. Less chance of putting your foot in it. Gives you maneuver room.

  47. Observer

    Pretty nice pictures here.

    Pic 14 (5th row, middle pic) shows 3x 500Ib bombs on a TER
    Pic 22 (8th row, left pic) shows 1x 2,000 Ib on a pylon.

    Not really much length difference between the 2, it’s more a matter of girth and weight, where a larger radii increases the internal volume exponentially [(pi x r (squared)] so to gain a lot of weight in a relatively small increase isn’t too hard.

    Use the droptank to compare the length increase.

  48. Derek


    It does not matter where your unit is based you can not re-write the laws of physics. The ability of an aircraft to carry ordnance is based on both weight and volume, if you can’t fit something inside a weapons bay it does not matter how much it weighs and the F-35 has smaller bays than the F-117. The F-117 was form fitted with JASSM, try doing that with an F-35.

  49. Derek


    Nothing to rethink, the bays on an F-117 are larger than those on an F-35 and can therefore carry larger weapons than the F-35. You can post all the pictures you like but it’s not going to change the fact that once again you are completely wrong. Finally, as stated before, F-117 was form fitted with a JASSM- can’t do that in an F-35 bay.

  50. Derek


    Nothing to rethink, you can post all the pictures you like, but it won’t change the fact that the F-117 had larger weapons bays than the F-35 thus allowing that aircraft to carry larger weapons- as demonstrated JASSM.

  51. Observer

    I see the problem. Derek, you missed the goalpost totally. Simon specifically stated 2,000 Ib bomb capability, not some unidentified “big bomb”, and the F-35 IS 2,000 Ib JDAM capable. You gave the example as the GBU-24, a 2,000 Ib bomb, but use that as your only metric. Why not the GBU-31 which is smaller and still retain the 2,000 Ib weight? The 10s-20s series are old and large by current modern day standards.

  52. Observer

    And BTW Derek, as a warning, any more ad hominem attacks like this


    As per usual you are wrong.”

    from you again and I’m going to report you. Argue facts, turn it into a personal grudge fight and I will not stand for it.

  53. ArmChairCivvy

    What is betterthanthe open thread while operatingthebarbie… Observer, pls note, with a small b.

    @Mark, I thought there was something like what you described as the Tornado retirement was brought fwrd from 2024 to 2018, and now a year has been added back.

    @derek, I trust that you can find the contract where RAAF paid Lockheedgood money to form fit (including launch considerations) JASSM with their planned F35s’ weapon bay?
    – in my books JASSM and F117 are sort of different generations? JASSM of course is the primary air defences suppression weapon of the US Navy… Are the USAF folks waking up to it ?

  54. Observer

    ACC, do you per chance remember a certain song by the amusing but short lived music group Aqua?

    And a real man should be able to operate both the barbie and the Barbie simultaneously.

    Or at least give a good go of it. Worth the 1st degree burns IMO. :P

  55. ArmChairCivvy

    Now I am not sure myself anymore… Was it jassm or nsm?

    Can’t leave the food to turn to cinders, but I am sure Dered will rise to the challenge?

  56. Observer

    JASSM. NSM was the Penguin related development one from the Northern European countries.

  57. ArmChairCivvy

    Yeah, but the Australians nEver got anything effective anti-ship onto their well- ranged F111s so this time they would like to get it right and are interested in the NSM as well (JASSM in the inventory already).

  58. Derek


    I actually got it square between the goal posts, but now you are trying (and failing) to move them. The facts, that I have argued and you have ignored have not changed and nor can they be. The F-117 has larger weapons bays than the F-35A/C and can therefore carry larger munitions including having been form fitted with JASSM.

    Now you have been proved wrong you are getting all whiny.

  59. Observer

    Derek, I think you’re on the wrong site. You’re probably looking for Solomon’s SNAFU. He, like you, complains about everything too. You two would get along.

    And if you insist that the F-35 is not 2,000 Ib capable even with the testimony of people who have seen JDAMs, an aircraft designer and with photographic evidence to boot, nothing is going to convince you it seems, not even God, so continuing on this line is fruitless and wasteful.

    Have you even seen a JDAM before? Or have any form of information that is not 3rd hand?

    And go check out Solomon’s site. Think you’ll fit better there than here. Though what it will do for you mentally to lock into a specific mindset is probably not going to be good in the long run, but that’s your choice and your problem.

  60. monkey

    Hi Simon I have watched the vid, no USAF presence but I guess if the get they B & and C operational the less complex A will be fine. On the panel all were experienced aviators them selves with 4 out of 5 the actual F35 test pilots.
    They made big about its low speed/hover flight handling characteristics in that they are excellent and pretty much will be an automated landing and take off .No mention of high speed performance other than similar to the Super Hornet , so dog fighting not mentioned (that old debate, does it matter or not?) .The USMC colonel was confident the B2B software will be ready for sign off of all their weapons package requirements ready for deployment in July 2015 (the USN guy said they will be ready in 2017 so lucky we opted for the B -fingers in ears for loud shouting generated by that comment) .The USMC guy very complementary about the RN/RAF personnel training with them now both air and ground crew. The night vision cameras that feed the helmet displays don’t work yet but the Marines still fly them at night anyway.
    They mentioned the issues of keeping up the LO feature essential to its operation at sea,a very harsh and dirty environment but feel they have mastered the problems , mentioning some issue with cure times for the LO coatings (the F117/B2/F22 are high maintenance b4 flight, performed in highly controlled sealed hangers )
    Really good link in all to have it from the horses mouth as it were. Do watch it all. Don’t skim.
    PS the Lockheed guy as an aside mentioned that the AIM120 AMRAAM does not have the range to use the F35 effectively , is that a hint at the fabled range and accuracy of the sensor suite (also not mentioned).

  61. Red Trousers

    Baffled by the bombs, but intrigued by operating Barbie. Is she American?

    I’m of the old school with barbecues: proper brick built thing and coals. A neighbour has something quite high tech with a gas cylinder and lots of electronics, but I don’t think I’d be qualified to cook on that. It apparently cost about as much as a small car. Seems overkill to me.

  62. Simon


    Things drifted a little sideways… can you elaborate on the 4-ship formation at all?

    As an aside it’s great that we can get the same effect of an older 2000lb-er from a 500lb-er. Just think what could be done with a 2000lb-er with these “inner hardened-steel penetrator surrounded by a frangible peeling shroud”. I guess they’ll still need a penetrator/guidance “nose”, which would still fit into an F117, but not into any of the F35s.

    If internal payload truly meant weight and had nothing to with size I could sell Harrier with 4000lb of internal payload by saying you simply have to carry a ball of uranium with a radius of 28cm. Not that it will hold together particularly well :-)

  63. Mark


    You’ll need to talk to operators to elebrate of why they use it that way.

    As I said they have the 2000lb jdam with the penetrator warhead which they can use in all weathers not just clear weather (same 2000lb one used on f117). F117 had 2 hard point Derek’s jassm was never used and jdam wasn’t around when f117 was designed for a 2000lb weapon hence things move on with both able to take the b61 The uk don’t have those weapons so I guess that’s why they hope to use paveway 4.

  64. Derek


    Whine, whine whine, its very tiresome so please find another track.

    In the mean time, F-117 had bays large enough for JASSM, F-35A/C do not. Therefore you are completely wrong and F-117 had a superior internal payload carrying ability to the F-35A/C.

    Also, you are a liar. I never said that F-35 was not 2,000lb capable, I said it’s internal bays have less volume than an F-117. Stop trying to hide your lack of knowledge and understanding behind dishonesty.

  65. Observer

    Actually Simon, ultimate top of the line bunker busters would be the GBU-28, short of going nuclear. 5,000 Ibs, wing carried.

  66. Derek


    Wrong yet again. GBU-57A/B is the ultimate conventional penetrator. GBU-28 is small fry by comparison.

  67. Observer

    Derek, read more carefully. Simon SPECIFICALLY stated 2,000 Ib capability, and the F-35 IS 2,000 Ib capable.

    The specific sentence was, and I quote: “By the way, I don’t think F35 can take a 2000lb Paveway internally. I thought all variants were limited to a 500lb Paveway?”

    You went all on your own down a space constraint platform route when all the rest of us were talking about weight and capability.

    And consider this a demand from someone you insulted. What is your CV that you can talk over professionals who have seen the equipment, an aircraft designer AND photographic evidence? You better bloody well be part of the F-35 design crew or oversight committee and not an armchair warrior whose sole source of info comes from Business Times (who know nuts about weapons) and online pictures. Hell, I’ll even settle for someone with service history.

    Edit: GBU-57, forgot that one. That was my bad. Now Derek, justify the rest of your behaviour.

  68. Observer

    ACC, I re-read your post and realised I got your question slightly off. The JASSM and the F-117 are of different generations, that was what I thought you asked but it was the NSM that the Aussies are planning to use.

    Really got to stop letting bratty kids get to me…

  69. Derek


    More lies I see. You claimed that I said the F-35A/C is not 2,000lb capable. That is a lie, I said no such thing.

    I simply pointed out, with evidence, that you were completely wrong to suggest that the F-35A/C had the same internal payload capacity as the F-117.

  70. Simon

    My notes on Simon257s one-hour long vid…

    Easier to fly
    Deploy to short runways
    Automated landing will reduce cycle fatigue therefore improving availability
    Scare the “bad guys” across the pond
    SEAD seems to be the new mission that F35 will undertake than F18 didn’t – I assume they’re excluding Growler from the F18 equation.
    F35 is central info collector/distributor
    —-Anti-Access Area-Denial
    They sell 5th-gen jet against 4th-gen jet rather than 5th-gen against enemy SAM/AESA!
    Can operate in non-permissive to create a permissive env. Unlikely.
    Focus is integration of multiple platforms not F35-only ops.
    Maintainability and Supportability
    —-Needs paradigm shift
    —-Needs massive effort to maintain the LO capability
    —-Only tested in sterile env currently
    ——–Cure times seem okay in this env
    —-Noisy jet
    —-Easier modular swap-outs
    —-Still a long way to go as they still haven’t deployed to CV yet
    ——–Cure times seem long at the mo. They’re hoping for improvements
    Marines IOC 2015
    —-Software 2B-S4
    ——–Still has bugs
    —-Mods to jets
    ——–Robust schedule (this means there’s not enough time)
    —-Weapons cert
    ——–GBU-12 for marines
    —-1st squadron will replace F18s in Japan???
    Need a new AIM-120
    Advertising CEC
    —-Pull the trigger and another aircraft/vessel releases weapon.
    —-Shame we’re not on this bandwagon!
    Eurofighter never got to the capability wanted
    —-Same thing about Jaguar
    Seems amazing that they’re essentially advertising the idea of a NETWORK!
    1/2 way through software development – this is just another Eurofighter! Slow progress to final capability? Not a big issue.
    Tail Hook
    —-Has been a major issue (found 2011)
    —-Trouble catching the wire
    —-Structural load on catch
    —-Still not even tested on a CV
    —-6 successful catches! Is that all?
    —-This is a long way off sorted
    Helmet Mounted Display (HMD)
    —-Jitter/judder of imagery
    —-“Arms around the issue” – does not mean it is sorted.
    ——–American colloquialisms are great for reading between the lines ;-)
    —-Light Leakage
    F35-C is already called “The Reaper”
    —-F35-C locks onto the glide slope.
    —-Basically auto-pilot for the landing approach.
    ——–Does trim and throttle control leaving the pilot to do lateral control only
    —-Makes it easier to fly.
    —-Reduces training time/cost for the most difficult thing a pilot has to do (land on a carrier)

  71. Observer

    For God’s sake Derek, you’re all over the bloody place on your own thread. Go read up on what Simon and the rest of us were talking about before you cut in again will you? The quote I made should help you find the right thread to get your head straight.

    Anyway this is the last time I’m talking to a piece of shit like you. Go to SNAFU, you’ll fit in better there.

    You’ve accused everyone that disagreed with you of lying. Guess you’re the only honest man on the planet.


  72. Red Trousers

    Just some thoughts.

    500lb delivered in the right place is better than 2000lbs delivered about 50 yards away. Inverse square law?

    You need a particularly good Kevin.

    Only the USA has both F117 and F35s. For any other nation, the whole debate above is meaningless.

  73. Derek


    There is no need for rudeness or poor language. No need for me to do any reading, you claimed something that was wrong to be true, I pointed out that you were wrong then rather than admit you were wrong you chose to lie about what I said. I very simple but poor show and all rather unnecessary. But now you have been called out its best to just calm down and relax.

  74. Observer

    RT, true.

    There was a little rumble in the pipelines about Korea having a breakthrough in active stealth technology with powered cancellation and a combination of the current LO material, but that line of approach seems to have gone quiet. Not sure if it was a false positive or if it was viable but died due to lack of interest.

  75. monkey

    A good summation of the points brought up .
    re the helmet problems with the Vision Systems International design , could the Americans back track and ask BAE to restart/continue with their parallel design? Its less than a year since they had funding stopped Oct last year I think. Perhaps BAE did not stop, seeing a future sales opportunity when bidding for upgrading of avionics suites (the Israeli’s excel at this type of sales , everything from US kit , to French ,to Russian etc giving poorer countries an cost effect opportunity to keep pace with their neighbours who can afford new kit). Getting one of these things to work well would give a Pilot of any aircraft a great tactical awareness/control.
    At present Pilots sit were they do primarily for visual reasons but a functioning helmet of this type would give designers of the next gen of optionally manned/unmanned aircraft more flexibility. Would locating the pilot to the centre of rotation of an airframe reduce the affect of gee forces for instance?

  76. Observer

    TED, not much. It’ll be roughly similar to the F-16. The more interesting question would be “How much better it could be program wise if it was not VTOL.” But then they had to have one plane to do them all.. On the bright side, this means that the UK can have carriers again. Without the B, who knows if the UK might have a carrier at all. But both questions are just speculation since it’s all past history with no way to test the answers.

    Simon, the timing does fit. By the time the carrier finishes testing, the first batch of F-35s would be ready in a year or less. One thing I do have to wonder about the article though. Thought the British did not name ships after surviving monarchs, or leave it one removed at naming by title. So doesn’t that mean that the ship was not named after the current Queen Elizabeth but the previous one? Then it really can’t be said that this ship bears the name of the current Queen can it?

  77. monkey

    On your link at note about the T23 Iron Duke getting a up grade to Type 997 Artisan 3D last year giving Sea Wolf the ability :-
    “It can now track – and destroy – a target the size of a cricket ball travelling at 3 times the speed of sound”
    WTF !
    (Will CAMM be as good as the venerable Sea Wolf?)
    Also shock horror this is a fleet wide upgrade for this radar system ,T23’s , HMS Albion & HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean and the new QE CVF’s also , commonality? What kind of nonsense is this? Find immediately who approved this and have them hung ,drawn and quartered on Tower Hill and their head displayed on a spike on Admiralty Arch as a lesson to all who would dare such a preposterous thing .Lets hope this kind of thing doesn’t spread to the Army or RAF or their will be the Devil to pay back with large brown paper envelopes stuffed with cash we have received for services rendered or not as in this case.

  78. mike

    @ Monkey

    The Navy funded it by selling T45 radar components to the Chinese ;)

    That is good to read c:

  79. Think Defence

    Just so you chaps know, haven’t deserted the place.

    Am balls deep in going through just under 2,500 posts to retag, check authors, refresh video and image content.

    All the blog pots are done and working back to front on the longer and more media heavy journal posts.

    Only 230 posts to go!

    Expect light posting for this week as I get it completed, it is a bit of a mammoth job and have been putting it off but there are very good reasons, which I will explain when complete!

    I have to say there is a bloody load of great stuff from guest authors (and the odd one from me) in the archives

  80. Lord Jim

    Both the weight and size of a weapon are relevant to where and how many a platform can carry. The A and C variants of the F-35 can carry a 2000lb JDAM or similar sized dumb ordinance in each bay, but cannot carry a 2000lb Paveway III because the latter is far larger due to the guidance kit on the front, where as the JDAMs replacement tail section is similar in size to the dumb variety. The F-35B though can only carry a 1000lb JDAM in each bay due to the reduced size asa result of the lift fan etc. This is one of the reasons the RAF will be phasing out both the Paveway II and Paveway III, with the Paveway IV becoming the RAFs sole LGB, but with the advantage that the bays of the F-35B can carry two each. Mind you it is a bit irrelevant as for the majority of missions the F-35 will use underwing hardpoints.

    LO is going to help against top tier opposition, but the chances of the UK going up against such an opponent especially by itself are very low to non existant. Against tier two or lower, air dominance is likely and the GBAD, likely to comprise of single digit SAMS, MANPADS and AAA are easily countered by active and passive means or simply flying at altitude.

    So is the extra we and others are paying to have LO bling on our next generation platforms worth it or have our military leader and politicians gone all google eyed and the shiny new technology? Yes the F-35 is faster than a Harrier but with upgrades to avionics and a HMD that works, the Harrier would be able to do most of what the F-35 can in most possible future conflicts.

    However the F-35C is the only game in town for the RN and RAF. I just hope we are willing to invest sufficent funding to ensure we get the most out of it as we have a terrible history of not developing our platforms to their full potential. Just look at the Buccaneer, Jaguar as examples, though the latter did get a boost post GW1 through UORs and in house incremetnal improvements, not counting the disaster that was the Adour Mk106!

  81. The Other Chris

    Good stuff TD. Will make cross referencing easier than a Google “” search :)

  82. Simon


    SEAD – External Storm shadow from 400km
    CAS – External Paveway IV and external Brimstone
    Interdiction – External JDAM/PIV


    SEAD – External storm shadow from 400km
    CAS – External Paveway IV (plus internal Brimstone?)
    Interdiction – Internal JDAM/PIV

    So F35B only really gets the edge with interdiction missions because it’s going to be crap A2A once it is illuminated by a large AWACS or ground based radar or simply “seen” using IR/EO technology.

  83. Obsvr

    IIRC some years ago Roke Manor discovered they could detect stealth a/c by using multiple transmitters, mobile phone towers to be precise. Obviously some fairly fancy signal processing is required.

  84. The Other Chris

    Aye, that’s widely believed to be how an F-117 was detected and shot down in the Balkans, hence “all aspect” LO designs such as the B-2, F-22 and F-35.

    Also worth noting the thermal properties of the F-35 surface materials and that the engine exhaust is mixed as well as sheathed in cold air from the intakes.

  85. Chris

    Obsvr – sort of multistatic array processing. The same was investigated in the US but I don’t know if any product resulted. Its no real surprise though – it doesn’t matter how stealthy a flying object is in terms of emissions and reflectivity, it still blocks light & RF. The object might be hard to see but it still throws a shadow…

  86. Jonesy

    Yep Passive Coherent Locator Systems. LockMart put their PCLS ‘Silent Sentry’ on the market back in the mid 90’s from memory. Originally, so the story goes, it was intended to be a civvy surveillance/ATC system for regions where the local primary radar net was a bit thin on the ground but there were civvy FM transmission stations etc.

    Only useful for basic localisation under the right background conditions, significant false alarm rates, vulnerable to broadband jamming and, obviously, no value at all for weapon employment. If interleaved with a conventional air search set it can tell you when you have a stealthy aircraft inbound though.

  87. Mark

    an aircraft which a massive plumb of afterburner sticking out the back is stretching the bounds of being called low observable IMO.

  88. The Other Chris

    They work very hard to reduce the IR signature. Long exhaust prior to exiting the vehicle, fuel cooling throughout, heat transferred from the long pipe to the previously mentioned surfaces to distribute evenly, mixed in air from the fan bypass, geometric shaping of the exhaust, aerodynamic mixing of external air, that specially designed tail structure to shield the nozzle, other LOAN system developments, -50C air temperatures not unexpected when running in it’s normal high bypass mode at altitude.

    Imagine once that afterburner is lit it becomes much easier to spot, as Mark says.

  89. Observer

    Think people misunderstand LO. All these talk about detecting the plane is very common. Even the F-117 had the radar signature of a bird and was not totally invisible. Detection is easy. Identification and tracking is what gives LO aircraft their edge.

    LO aircraft are almost always detectable, but they are more difficult to track. In the past, high altitude SAMs were almost always useless because they chased a target’s last know position and ended up in a tail chase. This all ended in the 60s when the programming for SAMs changed from a tail chase to a predicted forward interception where the missile is directed to where the plane *is going to be* this drove up their efficiency tremendously, resulting in the famous Gary Powers incident and caused the death of many high altitude-high speed bomber programs (I personally loved the idea of the Valkyrie bomber, impractical as it was). LO hinders this by giving out less “known location” points to track, so it is much harder to predict where the plane is going to be and hence makes it harder to send something explosive ahead to meet up with the plane.

    So next time someone goes “plane ABC was detected by method DEF by nefarious country XYZ”, it really doesn’t mean anything. Most stealth aircraft are detected, especially at longer wavelengths. Tracking is a different story, hence all these new multi-radar techniques of gathering much more detection points to track the target.

  90. El Sid

    All those measures do is smear out the signature, you still have the basic problem of engines kicking out 30MW or so of energy (ultimately all heat) in a relatively small volume. Draw an imaginary box around an F-22 and it has a surface area of about 850m2, so the surface of that box is pumping out ~35kW/m2 at full chat if you have perfect heat redistribution. Which obviously you don’t, but if your sensor can detect 35kW/m2 then no amount of IR signature reduction will make a difference.

    The first of these vids shows an F-22 in IR at Farnborough, the second is a fanboi trying to “prove” that a cruising Rafale has a lower signature than a F-22 on afterburner, but has a number of other aircraft along the way – the B-2 is impressively uniform from below.

  91. The Other Chris

    Well aware, but thank you.

    As you point out, it’s all about the gradients. Smooth out the heat to avoid hot spots.

  92. mr.fred

    El Sid,
    I think that you have a flawed assumption in there. Namely that all the heat generated has to be output through the airframe. If you can put it out through the exhaust then you have a much larger volume and apparent surface area to put it out from.

    The comparison video is fairly meaningless unless all videos were taken at about the same range with the same sensor with the same settings applied while the aircraft is doing the same thing at the same time in the same place with the same ambient conditions. It’s pretty easy to set the range on the camera so one thing looks uniform while another doesn’t . For example, comparing an F22 when it is doing it’s display routine (i.e. roaring around on maximum afterburner) at a land-based airshow to a Rafale as it coasts in to catch an arrestor wire at sea is disingenuous at best, even if the same cameras were used in each case (which they weren’t)

  93. Simon

    LO should stand for Less Observable

    It’s like the difference between someone wearing a T-shirt and jeans or wearing camouflage gear.

    And in the immortal words of the low-quality supermarket giant “every little helps”.

    The trouble with F35 is that it only gives a little but costs a hell of a lot.

  94. Observer

    No worries Simon, we got nothing else to spend it on. lol

    LM seems to have the future light aircraft market boxed into a monopoly. For now.

  95. The Other Chris

    Someone needed to crack the Boeing monopoly and mix things up a bit ;)

  96. Simon


    If you value F35 as a networked sensor platform and LO strike fighter then it only gives “LO” over anything else that would be built nowadays (if LM didn’t have all the momentum at the moment).

    I’m sure you’ll be unhappy with my use of the word “only” too ;-)

    I just wonder if our money is better spent on things like SM3, mega-radars (both ground based and airborne) along with low-level strike aircraft and decent air-superiority jets augmented with CEC?

  97. Mark


    I’m not sure boeing had a monopoly anywhere except the us navy. The f18 superhornet or f15 has never really sold well outside of the US as there high cost high end aircraft. General dynamics f16 has been the star in the western world in terms of the performance/cost/ build development. Part of the problem has been there was a lot of buy in to the idea of a 21st century f16. Unfortunately it’s turned into a 21st century f15 which means while a very capable aircraft will eventually appear its costs have had owners taking a sharp intake of breath as to what there going to have to give up to buy it.

  98. ArmChairCivvy

    Mark, F15 started selling when a strike version became available. Sure, only the ones with a real need would dig into their wallets.

    Conversely, the rest of the world noticed the economics of operating multirole a/c (notably the F16) decades before the RAF… Which has paid with a huge dip in front line niumbers.

  99. All Politicians are the Same

    “LO should stand for Less Observable

    It’s like the difference between someone wearing a T-shirt and jeans or wearing camouflage gear.””

    The issue is that the people wearing camo gear who know what they are doing and can communicate with each other will massacre the punter running around the woods in jeans and a t shirt the vast majority of the time :)


    There seems to be an assumption that something is either detected or not detected, nothing could be further from the truth. It is vastly more complex than that, range of any detection, strength of contact, is it intermittent, can it see you and respond to it? How does a possible intermittent contact delay ROE progression and even response and launch of a CAP etc (especially if you have cried wolf a few times before and have spooked operators). Will the determination to nail down this “intermittent” contact lead to “target focus” and allow an attack from another direction to slip through.

    All these good things and more are advantages that the tactical operators of LO platforms can exploit :)

  100. Mark

    Acc yep only 5 f15 operators outside the US and only japan and Saudi buying more than about 50-70 aircraft. Conversely there’s 25 operators of the f16. I know there was a cold war but the Dutch bought nearly 200 f16s they will buy just 37 f35s at some point numbers matter.

  101. The Other Chris

    I apologise for not having a lot of spare time tonight to chat, I’d love to, especially now RAF F-16’s have been mentioned! Sure beats working ;)

    Couple of things I was looking into earlier of a bank holiday Monday before the call into the office:

    Program costs for individual F-16, F-18 and Harrier replacements. Lot of money projected for each at the outset that adds up to an awful lot. Especially when doubled. This put me in mind of, think it was TD who said, the UK scored a complete bargain with the £2b plus technology sharing for F-35 access and work shares.

    Also, came across a couple of my old RIAT photo’s and the name on the side of one of the Nighthawk’s over for the display (maybe the year it joined the Red Arrows flypast?) was an RAF Squadron Leader. Anyone know if our ongoing officer exchange has stretched to the F-22?

  102. monkey

    @All Politicians are the Same

    The soon to be wide spread ability to field LO aircraft , Brazil (PAK-FA) ,Russia (PAK-FA),India (PAK-FA) , China (J-20), the BRIC countries all will have some form of LO available about the time the F35 is deployed in large numbers i.e. 10 years.
    How are we coming along with a counter to this problem, its alright slipping a knife in on an concealed thrust as long as your opponent doesn’t all ready have one 1mm from your balls.

  103. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey

    Look at the issues that the US is having with the vast amours of money, expertise and experience with F117, F22 and B2. yet you blithely state that your named designs will be in service at thee same time as the F35 and Brazil who can just about afford some Gripens will buy PAK-FA?
    Of course they will right :)

  104. Chris

    Ref radar stealth and F117 – in the 90s a fellow called Jim Router made a car based on F117 intended to be radar speed-trap immune. It had an XR3i motor/gearbox/subframe at the back, a single central driver seat and by all accounts an instrument panel styled on the fighter plane’s (although no idea how he had details of that at the time)

    Funnily enough, it had slipped the designer’s mind that the car looked very unusual, literally unique, so had it been seen speeding there was no room for the lame excuse “you must be mistaken; it must have been someone else’s car”.

  105. ArmChairCivvy

    There have been murmurings about India withdrawing from PAK FA and spending the money on modernisation of the existing fleets… Exactly for keeping the numbers up.

    Theirs would not have been the std plane, anyway, but a two-seater.

  106. monkey

    @All Politicians are the Same and ArmChairCivvy
    Perhaps you are right that neither Brazil or India will buy the PAK FA but we would not be really factoring them as to potential opponents as being long term allies but Russia and China will make it happen as they have the money and technological resources to come up with a workable design. The Have Blue prototypes flew first in 1977 based on a mathematical model found by a Lockheed employee in an obscure Russian Mathematical research paper that had escaped the importance of its nature from the KGB censors (there’s irony for you , the Russians invented the algorithms that ended their own Empire and their own secret police let it out into the world!) .I think in the intervening 35+ years they Russians and Chinese have played catch up seeing the worth of LO demonstrated in GW1.
    “Although the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing Provisional and its 42 stealth fighters represented just 2 1/2 percent of all allied fighter and attack aircraft in the Gulf, the F-117As were assigned against more than 31 percent of the strategic Iraqi military targets attacked during the first 24 hours of the air campaign.” They kept up this pace throughout Desert Storm the F-117A logged nearly 1,300 combat sorties while flying 6,905 combat flying hours. During their mission, the F-117A pilots delivered over 2,000 tons of precision-guided ordnance. They flew alone just using tankers for top ups well within our controlled airspace but after that no fighter escorts or EW aircraft needed to make their runs making them very cost effective when you compare the total cost of a 2000LB JDAM on target on a similar mission flow by conventional aircraft dropping the same bomb by the USN/USMC/USAF.
    Still the point is out there, can we detect the PAK FA/J-20?

  107. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey
    “Still the point is out there, can we detect the PAK FA/J-20?”

    The question surely is how LO are they, how close to being operational are they and what issues do they have? Only then can you answer your question and it is not about detecting or not, as I pointed out earlier it is far more complex than that. it is about exploiting strengths and weaknesses.

    LO aircraft did not end the Soviet Empire. That was ended by increased military spending whilst freezing civil spending and the people seeing what life in the West was like.

  108. monkey

    @All Politicians are the Same
    The abilities of the B2 leaked to the free press (you could buy an accurate plastic model in a department store before its ‘official’ unveiling and with the all ready operational F117A being unveiled shortly before did have an impact. The cost of counter acting such a threat was unthinkable as you say “was ended by increased military spending whilst freezing civil spending and the people seeing what life in the West was like.” and that along with the ‘Star Wars’ programme launched by Reagan put them off balance long enough for Gorbechev and his allies to step in.
    Back on point the mission profiles of an attacking F117A and B2 take very careful considerations to their weaknesses , IR (those jets dump huge amounts of heat) and problems with radar reflections from certain aspects as well as sound of those jets (we all remember all the AAA losing off randomly over Baghdad in GW1 at the sound of an ‘invisible’ jet) meant very careful route planning for an attack and escape. LO has its issues as you say which we need to exploit but what are we going to have in place to foil their dastardly attack plans?

  109. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey
    I have read many opinions on the end of the Cold war but you are the first to say it was down to LO aircraft. They simply could not afford to spend 25% of GDP on the military whilst freezing non military spending at 1980s levels.
    Not an alleged western Wonder weapon which we had in pretty small numbers and were in no way a decisive weapon given the huge Warsaw pact Superiority in conventional land forces and their Nuclear weapons. The B2 did not fly until 1989 by which time the foundations had long since started to crumble.

    ” LO has its issues as you say which we need to exploit but what are we going to have in place to foil their dastardly attack plans?”

    Whose dastardly attack plans, nobody outside the West has in service Lo aircraft and is unlikely to have for some time. The Russians and Chinese have flown something that looks like it may be LO but that is it.

    Now I am not an engineer but if I was the US and had the advantage of operating LO aircraft for decades i am pretty certain that I would have worked out the best means of combating them as both a means to maximise their operational effectiveness and for the inevitable day somebody else gets one. hat day is still over a decade away in all probability but the US has had decades of real aircraft to practice with and against.

  110. Observer

    Monkey, I was pretty sure the Berlin wall was not brought down by LO bombing but by civilians with crowbars. And that it was Russian tanks that rolled into Moscow, not US F-117s.

  111. Mark

    You know the way the us defence is shown as bigger than the next multiple countries well there about that far ahead in complexities of these very high end tech. There’s also a reason why we tend to get in on the act too. We don’t even have to look at military side the problems the Russians Chinese Japanese Indians have doing there civil aircraft program’s and the vast western help they’ve had just to get to this point.

    What ended the Cold War probably economics and the fact people want to buy things and better themselves which soviet communism didn’t allow, backed up with a western armed force and the resolve to use it.

  112. Observer

    Another possible facet is the fact that the Western system allows for dissent to bleed off in protests that let off steam before blowing up, as opposed to the Soviet system that once you blew, you’re committed to a do or die path. The anti-war movement was very strong near the end of the Cold War.

    Loved the music in those days, despite the philosophical differences.

    This was one of the ones I remembered.

  113. Observer

    Chris, if we were to rock or breakdance now, it’ll probably be accompanied by rather loud cracking noises from our backs and joints. :)

    ToC, definitely. If not in the UK or US, then in some country where they absolutely have to use the F-35 in CAS. Not everyone is flushed in cash that they can have specialized aircraft for specific jobs, which means a lot of shoehorn. In the F-35 case though, it would be a rather small shoehorn as it was designed for strike. If the designers have their head on right. Which isn’t a small worry come to think of it.

  114. monkey

    The Los Angeles Class SSN was regularly tracking soviet SSBN during the 80’s eliminating them from the equation combined with the in service F117A Nighthawk and the B2 Spirit are/were nuclear capable with their at that time ‘Full Stealth’ abilities had drastically shifted the first strike balance , very expensive ‘crowbars’ they were but helped bring the Wall down non the less. Would the Soviets consider the 1956 style repression of a uprising at that point when as that point to quote TDR “speak softly and carry a very big stick” the potential threat was unstoppable.
    Remember teenager Mathias Rust landed next to the Kremlin in a CESSNA with only 50hrs flying time only shortly before, he passed through the heaviest air defences in the world. All in all I think the contribution of the F117A/B2 is much underestimated , put yourself in an Air Marshal Alexander Yefimov shoes being asked can we stop them? Star Wars was many years away but the Night Hawk and the Spirit were real and in their face only they couldn’t see it before they disappeared in a blinding flash.

  115. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Monkey & Observer – You are both right…the USSR were forced into an unaffordable technological arms race by seeing items like the LA Class Subs, and the F117A and B2 in use and knowing they couldn’t match them – but it also required Reagan (with Thatcher immediately behind to stiffen the sinews) to show real resolve…and the poor sods behind the Iron Curtain to announce loudly (and very bravely) that they had taken as much marxist bollocks as they were willing to put up with.

    Our outing to all points south might have helped persuade the Commissars that we could and would still fight as well…

    As somebody inclined to be on the West is Best side of the argument on this issue, I am still waiting for the Trade Unions, Labour Party and CND to apologise for having mis-called the Cold War so badly…and in some cases taken blood soaked Moscow Gold as well…but they won’t… :-(

    Another good reason to be Gloomy.

  116. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey

    We in no way ever tracked enough Soviet SSBNs to eliminate them from any equation, that is a myth. An SS-N_20 could hit every city in N America submerged 200 metres from its pen in the inner Barents Sea. There were a lot of factors including spending in Afghanistan but exposure to Western values overshadowed any single military contribution.

  117. Observer

    monkey, you were born in the 90s+? One thing Vietnam taught us very very well is that you can bomb someone back into the stone age, but you can never make a pissed off guy surrender by bombing. Unless you blew him into small small pieces, then his whole family gets pissed off.

    Tech toys are very pretty, but the real thing that brought the Soviets down were the values system that people mentioned before and the fact that the West could militarily stalemate them, not eliminate them. They were contained till they self destructed, not awed by toys into giving up. Worst case, they’ll just finish you with ground based ICBMs. You overestimate military ability and capability.

  118. Observer

    As a funny aside, monkey, did you know that Rust was later tossed into the slammer in West Germany for assaulting a nurse in hospital? Remembered that from the papers.

    And it was a myth that he flew in undetected. He was tracked but no one had the balls to give the order to fire on an unarmed civilian plane.

  119. ArmChairCivvy

    Interesting that the Airbus a/c came to be kitted out in the US (by ATK). I think EADS acquired the rights to Viper Strike to give their gunships real teeth (but so far they only exist as paper designs).
    – the low recoil Apache gun is a natural choice over what has been fitted to the much sturdier Herc airframes in gunship conversions

  120. monkey

    @ Jim and ACC
    That gunship adaptation of the C-295 shows what good all rounder it can be from basic transport to MPA/AEW/SIGINT , its size gives it a niche where deploying a A400M would be not be cost effective (a $25m aircraft v a $150m+ aircraft)
    On an aside the Americans have tested a ‘derringer door’ for their KC-130J which can deploy the MBDA Viper Strike (and other munitions) without depressurising the Aircraft. Perhaps the C-295 could use this idea.

  121. ArmChairCivvy

    That derringer arrangement is a v good solution for situations when there is enough of a threat to make flying high preferable and there are targets bigger than a force on foot.

  122. Obsvr

    @ Observer

    I didn’t see any stone-age people when I was there. Bombing was notably ineffective, didn’t provide adequate suppression because of the safety distance and didn’t hit point targets such as bunkers. All a B-52 strike did was give you ‘good vibrations’ several km away, and the targeting was based mainly of faith, hope and bullshit.

  123. monkey

    These along with China’s Z-X Experimental Compound Helicopter, Russia’s Kamov’s Ka-92, Eurocopter’s X3 are going to revolutionise the versatility , range and speed of the VTOL world presently dominated by conventional helicopters adding a new scale to military operations. One of these types operating in say the ASW role be able to cover much greater areas (twice the range gives four times greater area) and 50%+ faster speed giving the ability to reach a potential target much faster before contact is lost with a greater payload of sonar buoys and weapons to prosecute the target harder. All in all who deploys one these first will have a game changer over all the Arms Land, Sea and Air. Lets see if we adopt one type or shall we have three very different versions because we save a kilo or two here ,marinized or not , it last longer on land if you do , folding rotors or not, much easier to hide on land if the rotors fold :-) or ‘but we don’t quite need that but this would be nice’ .

  124. Observer


    That was a quote from Curtis LeMay, the USAF Chief of Staff. I believe there was significant damage to Hanoi in Linebacker 2, but there seems to be a basic complacency that any damage is permanent and that people can’t do repairs or rebuild, and eventually, despite all the bombing, the North Vietnamese remained stubborn, endured and finally won. Which partially proves your point. Though there can be significant damage, it is useless at forcing an end to a war where people are emotionally committed to.

  125. monkey

    The same happened for the Russians in Afghanistan , even without the self imposed limitations the Americans and their allies put upon themselves in Vietnam they too lost to a determined people. I read somewhere before the American intervention in Afghanistan at a news conference an American Military person quoted the same thing as Curtis Lemay , a reporter stood up and quoted a few figures back about the percentages of people in Afghanistan who access to running water, sewage systems, electricity , telephones , TV and car ownership etc. The American Military person then handed the rest of the conference over to a junior and said not another word.

  126. Observer

    monkey, sometimes you have to be careful with “humiliation” articles like that. Very often, it is written by someone with an axe to grind and a political agenda. Face it, would someone without an agenda play up the humiliation aspects of the conference if he was not biased? And I know about having to research material.

    Can you, off the top of your head, remember how many people % in your country (UK? US? God knows where?) have access to electricity or car ownership or housing? You got to go research it right? I can’t, off the top of MY head remember things like that. So what does it mean? That the “reporter” did a pre-search and came ready to set the guy up.

    Cloak and dagger. Always fun. And even paranoids have enemies.

  127. jules

    Well it would make a great COD and CROWSNEST and maybe ASW Sometime in the future, post Merlin I guess, Range is good, not so much new tech as and amalgam of existing, a Lot to like.
    Though four ducted fans (Front and back) off a Ski Jump, who knows…
    He He He…

  128. monkey

    Very true re that reporter being prepared to shoot down the Military , I guess someone leaked his statement to the press so the reporter had prepped up a crash and burn question. A good few of the ‘self imposed limitations’ I mentioned re the Vietnam war was because of the presence of the press on the ground (few such restrictions in their two previous major conflicts WW2 and Korea )

  129. Chris

    Monkey – fun, but now pile 30mm armour all round and send them up the hill again…

  130. monkey

    I guess not very well if it was 30mm RHA but using Dyneema and Armor Line Corporation products like in the new experiment ULV. TARDEC have built three and tested them extensively and now are at the final stage they will keep one to go for pizza (very cool) and the other two are to be blown up in survivability tests.

    Or without the armour maybe an adaptation for the US Army new Ultra Light Combat Vehicle RFI.
    p.s. I still think the dump truck with 8 Leopards on the back has a place somewhere even if only last round of a video game:-)

  131. x

    @ TD re

    Before here when I have mentioned LASH I have spoken of “folding” tugs/workboats using the LASH barge hull.

    I do hope this container tug idea is a success. Shame “we” didn’t come up with it. Hopefully the MoD trial an example.

  132. monkey

    There does not seem to be any skid marks on the road behind them (at least not from before the shot then an awful lot where their standing) so I guess no practice runs?
    You can just see those dutch boys (and girl) pacing it out from out from the little track that runs across the road ‘ its says in the manual fifty meters so we stop here ,at least I think it says fifty meters , its in german , WTF more beers on me afterwards ‘

  133. Observer

    Never did like Solomon, the only thing he seems to do is rip a piece of meat out of everything. Rather rabid chap, fear for the people around him TBH, someone like that is very unstable, you’re not for him, you’re against him and evil and everything. Won’t be surprised if he pops someone off one day just because the guy stared at him funny.

    As for the US army’s Ultra Light, the first thing that came to some of our minds, especially Swimming Trunks and I, when the RFI came out was “Technical”. Seriously. Some of the technicals in those 3rd world hotspots fit that requirement to a T, minus some roll bars and seat belts.

  134. WiseApe

    Re Solomon – I don’t waste my precious typing time commenting there anymore, but there’s no disputing the interesting range of all things military he posts on. Great pictures too.

    How about this for a genuine tri-service multipurpose vehicle:

    BTW, the death spiral is here. Again.

  135. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @WiseApe – seen something very like that before…my boy’s HALO UNSC Marines are equipped with them to take the battle to the Covenant…available from Mega blocs at a toy store near you; some great recce vehicles in the range as well… :-)


  136. TED

    @wise ape
    What if? What if? What if?

    What if, we refit refuel probes to our helicopters (thus negating the range increase) and buy more of them with the money we would save through not buying AVX?

    Lovely video, get 100 of them flying and in service and then they are worth looking at.

  137. Swimming Trunks

    “The virtual-reality Oculus Rift headset has been put to a novel use by the Norwegian army – helping soldiers to drive tanks.By mounting cameras on the outside of the tank, soldiers were able to create a 360-degree feed to the Oculus headset, worn by the driver.The device – still just a prototype – is much cheaper than conventional military camera systems.But the picture quality is not yet good enough for operational use.”

  138. Obsvr

    @ Observer

    It’s useful to remember that the VC were defeated in 1968, but they were mere proxies for NVN. The NVA army also took a hammering in the South until the FWMAF departed. But short of a ground invasion of the North all Hanoi basically had to do was wait. They then launched a conventional war against the South, whose army was totally incapable of ‘conventional’ warfare. The NVA tank driving thru the gates of the US embassy in Saigon says it all (for old Vietniks tanks are not an insurgent weapon). I don’t think we’ll see a Paki tank doing the same to the US Embassy in Kabul (Delhi would have major sense of humour failure), some I’m not among the doom and gloomists on Afg.

  139. Observer

    I’m seeing a continuity failure here Obsvr.

    The reference to bombing in Vietnam was in response to monkey’s claim that the Soviet Union collapsed due to their inability to stop LO aircraft. My rebuttal was that bombing, even with LO has never caused enough damage to cause angry people to back down, so no matter how hard you bombed the Soviet Union, you’ll never get them to cry uncle. The example was Vietnam/Hanoi and Operation Rolling Thunder and the Linebacker bombings. They flattened 80%(?) of Hanoi, but that didn’t make the Vietnamese give up Communism. The only way the USSR could be brought down was from the inside when their forced austerity makes them believe in a better life with a western system and go “Screw Communism, go starve yourself.”

    Nothing to do with current day Afghanistan. Other than the fact that all the bombing there still didn’t stop the IED attacks and suicide bombings, but the factors for that are also a bit different. Afghanistan is so fragmented that everyone and their dog is a faction.

    Do you believe the USSR collapsed because of the F-117 and the B-2?

  140. Chris

    This in answer to Dean’s post on the FRES thread which refuses all attempts to post there – spammonster at it again.

    Dean’s comment:

    Dean – whether the VBCI product is good or not that would be a completely inappropriate way to select it. If indeed MPs have mandated the purchase I shall expect their names to be gouged into the contract as the ones to take personal responsibility for any issues arising with the imposed vehicle fleet, especially if the issues were already noted as part of the FRES-UV trials of truth. So the MPs would be on the hook for everything from paying for addition of UK standard cupholders to being tried for corporate manslaughter if the vehicles are not up to the Army’s baseline protection level for the role. That sounds fair…

  141. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris

    For gods sake it is not as if it is a complex thing like a ship :) It is an armoured box on wheels with a gun on top that carries x people.
    They are virtually all the same, just buy one.

    I also tried to post in the appropriate thread but spammed out :(

  142. ArmChairCivvy

    ME, TOO!
    DN, an excellent read.

    Digitisation of the infantryman is overlooked, as only when that (at least down to squad leader and his deputy) has been achieved, can the heavy (take ground), medium (stay on top of the fluid situation, fill the gaps and exploit opportunities) and the light (make sure that none of the terrain theOpFor has, or has taken, counts as a secure zone for further ops) forces be fully utilised together, while being independent at the BG level, or for light forces often at a much lower level.

    What is the Felin equivalent of the British Army… And how good is the integration with the vehicle system architectures? The individual systems will keep changing, anyway, so where is the guiding script?

  143. x

    Yes that RUSI article is interesting. But it could have been any First World nation’s army with any one of about 12 different models of 8×8. The only nation it couldn’t have been is the UK who despite being able to build nuclear submarines and super FJ can’t buy a simple wagon.

  144. Simon

    The FRES project is an epic failure.

    I think it should be used to make an example of MoD procurement process. We need heads to roll. We need people (not companies, not committees, but real human people) to be held fully accountable and utterly shafted (if not executed) for gross negligence and incompetence.

    It should NOT be possible to get into this mess.

    How many have died due to the cretins that think they’re in charge and adept?

    What exactly has changed since 1940 that has caused the entire civil sector management layer to be crap at absolutely everything they do?

    I’ll answer the last question: a total lack of quality education, a belief that the “world owes us” and the lie that we all have equal opportunities, so that someone with an IQ of ten should be allowed to design road and rail networks and organise the procurement of a steel box on wheels.

    It’s going to take a couple of generations to educate the apathy out of this country. How many grandfathers would turn in their graves at what their beloved country has become?

    PS: TD must have set “FRES” as a spam word :-)

  145. Think Defence

    Simon, try and post your comment to the FRES thread again. Strange that it allows it on one but not another although I did see a number of \ characters in the error log

  146. Chris

    APATS – there’s a principle at stake here – the UK has an organization in place to determine what meets requirements, and I trust it also has mechanisms for taking responsibility for issues with kit that they should have noted but didn’t. It is absurd for equipment selection to be imposed by uninterested inexperienced career politicos ignorant of the good or bad aspects of that which they impose; the selection being made on what deals offer the MPs most brownie points with voter or other governments in order to promote their own career prospects.

    As an aside, in this particular case the French Gov’t must have laughed themselves hoarse that they are making a deal to sell French built equipment in exchange for equipment made by a French Gov’t owned company. OK so Thales is only 31% or so owned by the French Gov’t but clearly they profit from the sale of all Thales products. I doubt the deal would have gone through if instead of Watchkeeper the French had been offered BAE equipment.

    Maybe I’m naive, maybe I see the world in too simple a light, but I expect politicians to limit themselves to shouting across the Commons like kids in a playground, with occasional forays into lawmaking taxation and electioneering. I do not expect them to assume they have authority to personally unilaterally make any decision on any subject at any cost in any aspect of UK business – that’s beyond the mandate the election to the Commons gave any of them. Grrrr!

  147. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris

    What is wrong with VBCI though, we need to stop dithering and choose something. It is a bx with wheels and a gun, almost every country in the world has a version and the differences appear to be minimal so if we get soemthing out of buying this box lets bloody buy it.

  148. Chris

    TD – FRES thread open again for business – pasted comments previously bounced now acceptable.

  149. Chris

    APATS – nothing to do with specific issues the imposed solution may or may not have. But if MPs ignorant of the domain can pick APCs on the grounds of what’s best advantage for their personal careers, why shouldn’t they assume that authority for any other acquisition? I hear there are some moderately recent Project 971 SSNs that the nice Mr Putin might sell – the politicians could double the UKs submarine fleet at the cost of one Barrow built Astute – what’s wrong with that?

  150. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris

    Apples and pears and unlike the FRES fiasco we have no issue deciding what type of SSN we want. How did a bloody armoured wheeled box get so difficult?
    TBH it is time somebody made a decision and yes maybe it could be a Politician this time.

  151. Chris

    APATS – on the ‘how can it be so hard?’ point we are in full unequivocal agreement. Its beyond belief that we should need to spend 25 years and to sink billions of taxpayers’ pound notes into not deciding what needs to be bought.

    Personally I think the process has skewed way off course and as a result expect that another procurement (hopefully fewer years and much cheaper) will quietly be set up to buy a set of vehicles pretty much in line with the original FRES requirement of 2001.

  152. bigdave243

    I see the Americans are continuing the long and proud history allied forces have of arming and training a force that we’ll no doubt end up fighting again in another 10 years.

    I know the F-16 isn’t exactly the last word in fighter tech anymore, however it’s still a pretty decent capability with some pretty advanced sounding features.

    (this post is very much putting the cat amongst the pigeons) You’re welcome. ;-)

  153. DavidNiven

    ‘What is wrong with VBCI though’

    There are only two operational versions in production due to it only replacing the AMX 10 IFV and we require a full family of vehicles. If we adopt VBCI we will still need to have the other versions designed (more money) the Boxer is ready to go now in Ambulance, Armoured Engineer, APC, Battle Damage Repair, Cargo, Cargo/C2, Command Post and IFV
    Plus the engine has commonality with FRES SV and its variants. As it’s modular it would not take a lot to design just a rear module to suite any other role we will require.

  154. All Politicians are the Same


    Well buy boxer then, just buy bloody well something and stop mincing around.

  155. DavidNiven


    Agreed x 100, Boxer it is. They should have ordered it as soon as the requirement for C130 lift was dropped after we realised you could not get the protection in that light a vehicle.

  156. Frenchie

    I don’t know if you’re interested, but here’s a documentary of our intervention in Mali, this lasts 45 minutes.

  157. x

    David Niven said “. They should have ordered it as soon as the requirement for C130 lift was dropped after we realised you could not get the protection in that light a vehicle.”

    It isn’t the protection, surely it is a matter of scale? It would be nice if the Army’s main vehicle fitted in A400 to move the occasional one about. But that an occasional need should be promoted to major driver that says a lot to me. How many A400 are we buying? How many vehicles are there in an infantry battalion? Much the same can be said about trying to fit vehicles into ISO containers; nice for niche but why limit yourself? What should drive the vehicle’s characteristics is its main purpose, not how it reaches theatre.

  158. bigdave243


    The fact remains that the UK Armed Forces are expeditionary in nature so having as many things as possible within our inventory being air deployable is a no brainer.

    We’d look a lot more stpuid if we bought a whole load of new vehicles and they didn’t fit into an A400M or the very least a C-17.

  159. x

    @ bigdave243

    Not sure how to answer that because surely that is the very thinking that ballsed up the FRES programme from the very start?

    Moving thing by air isn’t about mass, it is about small niche loads. Very nice if you can get a spare whatever vehicle flown into theatre, not particular the avenue of approach if you wanted a battlegroup flown in. An armoured infantry battalion has upwards of 75 large vehicle we are going to buy how many A400m again? If the situation required us to move so much kit we would have lots of notice, our overall logistics would be greater, and the last thing we would be doing is tying up precious cargo planes moving solitary vehicles about.

    This is all very well and good,

    but this is really how vehicles get moved,

    Wars are fought on bulk. Lots of kit is outsize.

    Planes have got bigger because technology allows us to build them bigger. But the reason why need them bigger is because useful kit doesn’t fit in smaller planes. The user requirements is for a vehicle of such and such a size and that has to be moved. Not we have 20 or so planes so you can build vehicle inside them just in case you want to move one of the one thousand vehicles you bought.

    “The fact remains that the UK Armed Forces are expeditionary in nature”

    Lummy really? Is that why Army’s big re-org is just in reality moving 1 Div’s kit to 3 Div all based on heavy high end armoured warfare? Most of that kit is only transportable in the meagre handful of C17 that we possess. Again the Army have wasted 1000’s of millions on not buying an 8×8 that would have allowed it to undertake a true re-organisation aimed at delivering expeditionary warfare. But they pissed it up the wall trying to get the blasted vehicle to fly in an intra-theatre transport aeroplane.

    The fact remains……….give me strength………..

    ………..I am off to hit myself about the head with a book on the USMC.

  160. Frenchie

    I think that If you’re going to get vehicles over 30 tonnes it is a reason to protection, not a military objective. It is a question of whether we are prepared to sacrifice soldiers or if you abandon some military operations. I think you have need to intermediate size vehicles for accomplish some missions, in addition to heavy vehicles such as FRES SV and WARRIOR.

  161. x

    @ Frenchie

    True. But in this day and age the public’s concerns are the military’s concerns. Protection means weight means size. Volume gets overlooked. Cargo weights effects range that gets forgotten often too. As I said it is nice if something fits in aeroplane, but that shouldn’t be a main driver. As I said that is why FRES unravelled.

  162. WiseApe

    Apologies to The Other Chris who had already posted that link to the AVK rotor/coptor/thingy – guilty of skimming again.

    @Ted – I was looking at them long term. If the cousins choose the AVK – I’m going to call it a rotorcoptor until they come up with a proper name for it – then might we look at it – Merlin replacement for all three forces. Imagine these on a future LHD. Even a gunship version. Conveyance of choice for SFs?

  163. monkey

    So all this has been going on for 15 years , we have been through Kosovo, GW2 ,Sierra Leon, Iraq (‘stabilization’), Afghanistan(‘stabilization’) basically at war somewhere in the world continuously in varying theatres from deserts ,to mountains, to jungle, to the forests of Europe. We have had to make emergency purchases of various off the shelf MRAP vehicles as well as up armouring others as best we could. During this time the Boxer, VBCI, Piranha, LAV, Pandur , VBTP-MR, Freccia, Stryker (and many others no doubt) have all entered service, combat tested, upgrades proposed and implemented, etc , all finished and put back in service . We on the other hand have what to say for our £100m’s spent on talking for f**ks sake. That my money that is , and yours for that matter as UK tax payers its a shambles. I going to have a drink now and calm down.

  164. The Other Chris


    No offence taken. Reposts quite often let you see if there’s something new or you missed!

    It’s a Compound Helicopter, just implements this with a Coaxial rotor and ducted fans.

  165. The Other Chris

    Agree with APATS on the “just buy one” stance. Publicly, there really is hardly anything to choose between the choices, if you go 8×8:

    Boxer – If you want immediate access to the existing variants.

    VBCI – If you want to really show the French we’re committed to Lancaster House and Beyond.

    SuperAV – If you can see Royal Marines in it as well.

    Others – If you can show a significant USP beyond the above.

  166. Chris

    Monkey – the CVR(T) replacement studies (plural, consecutive) have been running for 25 years not 15, and the cost so far to not buy anything is just over £3bn, not a £100m or so. £3,000,000,000. Three Thousand Million Pounds.

    Another drink necessary?

    Through the course of the study many designs would have been proffered by the engaged teams, compliant to the requirement as stated. The requirement however changed fundamentally on a cycle of two to three years so that the compliant designs so carefully crafted and costed were by the time they were ready for review compliant to an obsolete specification. Ultimately the studies were in such a mess that Atkins was hired; they chopped FRES into dozens of totally separate studies completely isolated from each other and which produced at the end whitepapers worthy of DSTL for the high science and experimentation documented, but had absolutely nothing to do with buying nut & bolt mechanical vehicles. The studies had gone off like wildly impressive fireworks, all ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’, but by the time Atkins was done the bright interesting exciting fireworks had all but fizzled out and the smouldering remnants could be seen fizzing off in twizzly erratic paths into the dark. Nothing to see here. Move along now.

    By the by, interesting the list of wheeled utility vehicles. CDP having stated most firmly to the defence committee that the FRES team in conjunction with the great and the good from the Army had reviewed every single off-the-shelf vehicle available and concluded that none of the extant vehicles could meet the needs embodied in the FRES requirement. Not one. Bear in mind this was not a rogue study group of scientists and civil servants; the Army itself (according to CDP) had dismissed all existing vehicles as inadequate. Considering the discussions the likes of which can be found in TD’s archives, its somewhat unnerving the Army was so hooked on an impossibly optimistic requirement it chose not to buy any CVR(T) replacements of any capability even as stop-gaps.

    FRES (originally) was meant to be a family. Big & little. Utility and specialist. Wheeled and tracked. But a family. Common support, common training, reduced logistic tail. What it has become is the world’s most expensive upgrade on a 20 year old IFV, allied (if reports prove correct) to a wheeled platform chosen by MPs because their re-election prospects will be bolstered by the high profile trade deal. So not a family. And not designed from first principles defined by the hugely expensive FRES TRACER FFLAV studies as we were constantly promised.

    Time for another drink.

  167. bigdave243

    Yes ultimately a huge portion of kit we have and use is moved by sea, however we need stuff that’s airportable too.

    Our experience in Afghanistan proves that. Although i’ll grant you we probably won’t go to war with that many land locked countries. However the C-17 (and the A400M if we had them in time) have proved thier worth in Afghanistan with the rapid deployment and re-deployment of vehicles.

    We ARE expeditionary. That is a fact…’s written all over the place in military publications.

    I do agree that we have faffed and fannied around when it comes to FRES. We need to just get on and buy the damn Boxer/Piranha/VBCI already. I don’t really care which. Then we really can take the fight to the enemy quickly and efficiently. (regardless of the means used to transport them there)

  168. Peter Elliott

    Over on Military Photos’ QEC thread they are saying that some of the ASAC Seakings will now be extended past 2016 to close the gap with Crowsnest.

    Good news if true.

  169. Tubby

    While I echo the sentiment of wishing that they just get on purchase something to fullfil the FRES UV role, I am not sure I see a way for them to buy VBCI without going for another open competition as if they just went out an ordered the VBCI they would be in breach of EU rules. Also if I was a betting man I would be betting that none of the contenders from the Trial of Truth would meet the GVA standards and that we will have to pay for further development work and then end up spending money certifying the UK specific variants we do order. I suspect that we will end up spending at least £500 million on a demonstration phase contract to design a UK specific version of which everyone 8×8 we do order, only to see us order only a couple of hundred of them.

  170. x

    @ bigdave243

    How much stuff do you think was flown into Afghanistan? And how much stuff was carted in over land?

    An infantry company will need 12 vehicles , even if you 4 per load those 3 loads are still taking up airframe hours. It is useful. It is done. But should it be a major driver for a design no? What if in the next decade’s wars we require 40 ton vehicles. Bradleys are already topping off over 30 tons. Lastly there is a difference between shipping in an extra vehicle and expeditionary warfare. And I don’t think Afghanistan for the last few years has been expeditionary; unless that now is decided by how many varieties of fast food can be purchased on base.

    We are expeditionary are we? Good for us. I think you will find the US are expeditionary we go along for the ride. It is the difference between going to Everest, and climbing Everest.

  171. Simon


    What should drive the vehicle’s characteristics is its main purpose, not how it reaches theatre.

    I would have thought that one of its main purposes is to reach theater. Pretty pointless having a 200t armoured car if there’s nothing that can transport it.

    If I were spec’ing this FRES thing a maximum weight of 30t would be part of it as would certain restrictions on width, height and length.

    The Mini was spec’ed to fit in a 10x4x4 foot box. Look how successful that was :-)

    I make no apology for the fact that the BMC design staff’s rulers were not to the same scale as yours!

  172. x

    @ Simon

    Everything is a compromise. I will confess I think our main scout vehicle should be internally transportable within CH47. But I am not sure that we should stay below what 37 tonnes for the infantry’s main vehicle just so it can be move occasionally in A400m if 40 tonnes is what is needed. Let’s hope in the next war nobody advances the design of IEDs or RPG tandem warheads further.

  173. monkey

    Another drink necessary?
    £3000000000 WTF
    That’s 150,000+ Unibuffels ,assume all the members of the Army+RAF+RN +cab drivers+ white van man (all ways a dangerous dude) can drive we have’d swamp ANY peer opponents forces by our BLUE wave of forces manned by the boys from the local pubs armed with pitch forks, sharp fruit etc and now we have occupied their rear as they have run out of things to shoot at us and General RT can redress the gene pool imbalance that brought on our necessary actions.
    Tomorrow I have to deal with a simpler problem so good night.

  174. Observer

    Might I suggest a simple solution to your “expeditionary” problem?

    Use infantry. Need more punch? Add airpower. Wait for the big stuff to be shipped in normally before breaking into other people’s homes. Only the first 2 could be time dependent, the last, you got time to do it right.

    I fail to see what scenario would account for anyone needing to immediately assault an objective the instant you stepped off a plane, and I suspect we’re sometimes talking about different things when we say “expeditionary”. Some means deploying far from home. Others mean amphibious assault. There are also those that use it as a synonym for “invasion force”, while yet other see “intervention forces” as the prime role of any expeditions.

    monkey, welcome to the wonderful world of job security via research.

  175. bigdave243


    I know that a huge portion of what we have used in Afghanistan has come by sea. However there will always be a need to get several vehicles into theatre quickly, which means airlift. So the need for vehicles to be airportable increases their usefulness and allows us to quickly get stuff on the ground to get our foot in the door while we wait the extra weeks for a more substantial number to be moved by SLOC.

    To take away airportablity of these vehicles to me sounds short sighted. In any case there would be no point in having something that weighed 100T or more because even after you got into a theatre of war it couldn’t go anywhere without huge support and would be an entirely compromised vehicle.

    Likewise if it’s too light then it’ll get blown to hell by the first RPG fired at it. So you need a middle ground. Within that middle ground you have a weight that can be moved by A400 and C-17.

    In saying that airportability shouldn’t be a factor in vehicle design then i’m not really sure what you’re advocating??

    Also why are you so resistant to the idea that we are an expeditionary force? Afghanistan is perhaps a bad example…. Op Ellamy might be a better example of how we quickly deployed a force.

  176. Observer

    Dave, to make a 30 ton vehicle air portable is usually more trouble than it is worth, the 30 ton limit is usually more as an infrastructure limit than an air portability limit. And I really can’t see what scenario requires armour in the field within 48 hours save for an old one. REFORGER. Anything else, you can either make do with infantry/light vehicles or you got the time to do it right.

    And if time’s a limiting factor, then the equipment limit I’d recommend is not A400 capable. It’s anything that can’t fit on a 747 gets tossed. You move more men and equipment in civilian aircraft than military aircraft. Which means MRAPs, Light Strike Vehicles, bikes and ATTCs, not 8x8s and IFVs.

  177. ArmChairCivvy

    You wanted differentiators. Here are two generations intended for service in the same country so artificial differences, like weapon options, don’t have the dazzle effect, skewing the ciomparison
    – I am not aware how much better the Piranha V is over the in-service Stryker
    – the latter are going to be double- bottomed,but will go into that process heàvy and lumbering to begin with.

  178. mr.fred

    That link goes to a Sparky video, so I wouldn’t put too much credence in anything it contains.

  179. Observer

    mr fred, my apologies, I wanted to tell him something similar but chickened out and you ended up with that duty.

    mr fred and I have our difference when it comes to equipment fits, I prefer a more belt and suspenders approach while he prefers to go lean and mean, which is also a doctrinal option. That does not mean I can’t see the value in his approach and shipping is one of the advantages of his method. Without big guns and having most of the unit’s striking power in the infantry plays well to the strategic airlift possibility. The minimalist approach to vehicles means that any of his designs would be a lot easier to lift than any of mine, including supplies, which leads to the whole unit being easier to transport.

    Which might lead to an interesting speculation. If you really need fast airlift intervention, couldn’t you fly in the RM and their Vikings?

  180. Chris

    Obs – in UK parlance the term is “belt & braces”, the latter being the over-shoulder webbing often brightly coloured so beloved by people who consider themselves ‘something big in the city’. Suspenders on the other hand are an altogether more feminine and – um – exciting item of clothing…

    I really do hope you were using American terms Obs, really I do.

  181. Simon

    I agree with Observer in that there should be a split between fast (infantry + air power) and heavy. However, there is a bit of a crossover as soon as you introduce an LCU/LCAC into the equation. The rapid reaction force can suddenly become heavy(ish).

    I do really agree with x in that if it takes 40t to provide the level of protection needed then there’s little point in a 30t vehicle, however, we now use a 500lb PavewayIV because of improvements in explosive yields. What on Earth is stopping the same concept being used back at us pretty quickly. Why is 40t of armour going to make any difference against the future enemy in the next war?

    You have to go back to basics and look at the fundamental requirements. This is lifted from wiki…

    The vehicles were to be rapidly deployable, network-enabled, capable of operating across the spectrum of operations, and protected against current threats.

    …how true it is I don’t know but a 40t vehicle cannot be “rapidly deployed” and a 30t vehicle probably struggles to protect against “current threats”. Catch 22. Split the requirement.

    1. Rapidly deployable = VBCI or just live with Viking/Warthog.
    2. Current threats = ASCOD with CT40.

  182. Observer

    Simon, LCUs are not “fast deploying” or “rapid reaction” :)

    Unless the amphib they are being carried on is already in the area by chance or that the situation took a long time to develop. If you can deploy the RMs from the UK to your trouble spot, you could have deployed your heavies at the same time. And arrive at about the same time too.

    If you need boots on the ground in 48 hours from a cold start, aircraft is the only way to do it unless you got very lucky and have an RM “expeditionary” force in the area. And that means lots of infantry and light equipment only.

    As for the 30 ton/40 ton debate, I’ve to clarify that the 30 tons or 40 tons isn’t really about rapid deployability. 30 tons is usually the bridge or road limit in less developed countries, and I’ve no idea how the 40 tons came to represent “more protection from threats” considering that the 40 ton weight was the weight of some old Warsaw Pact MBTs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember any of the proposed vehicles save the US’s GCV breaking 40 tons.

  183. Chris

    Obs – FRES/SCOUT-SV is 32t with growth capacity to 42t. In all other armour programmes where better protection in the form of appliqué has been developed – certainly in UK – the MOD has been too scared to field vehicles without the full set of appliqué for fear of the media storm and subsequent litigation should a serviceman be injured in the less well protected vehicle. As an example, once Warrior had appliqué developed for the Balkan deployment it stopped looking like this and instead looked like this, then like this and no doubt will soon only be seen looking like this – it is unthinkable to those who fear the legal storm to send a 24t Warrior anywhere outside the UK; the risk assessors will have seen to that. According to our very own TD Warrior is already in the 40t class

    So while the marketing flyer lists the base vehicle dimensions & weight, the deployed vehicles go big and go heavy…

  184. x

    @ Chris

    The kits like Chobham for Warrior we couldn’t afford. :)

    Even if the armour can be screwed on/off it still has to be moved into theatre,

  185. Observer

    Chris, in that case, god help you if you have to deploy into a country with a lot of bridges….

    PE :P

  186. El Sid

    Harpoon fans might note that the Brazil deal mentioned by Mike above is US$169m for 16x AGM-84L Block II for their P-3’s, including training, spares etc. Original press release is here

    For comparison, a 2009 website lists the cost of just the missiles to the USN as $1.2m per Block II :

    It’s always the “other stuff” that gets you – but you do wonder what else is being covered by this deal.

  187. Simon


    Ooo DARPA. If only we had something similar. If only we had a Defence Research Agency. Perhaps we could do some Evaluation within it too.

    Bring back RAE, ARE, A&AEE, RARDE, and RSRE.

    Does DSTL actually do anything?

  188. Simon


    Simon, LCUs are not “fast deploying” or “rapid reaction”

    I figured that our Response Force Task Group was mid way between the supa-fast 16AAB and the supa-slow conveyor of ships necessary to bring large quantities of heavy armour.

    It’s within the RFTG that too heavy is pointless and not enough protection is rather wasteful too.

    I’ve been doing some thinking and have now come to the conclusion that our LPH approach is somewhat flawed. Better to stick with jets and amphibs. Not a particularly surprising conclusion I suppose but it all came about watching an Apache fly over the dual carriageway the other day and thinking that I could build something to shoot that down with relative ease (optical tracking). However, as soon as I start buying the bits I need I figured some alarm would go off somewhere and I’d be taken away to have “a chat” with some mean looking chaps :-(

  189. x

    @ Simon

    google, 5000 dollar cruise missile

    As for 16AAB being supa-fast surely you just mean 2/3 Para and some kit, not 16AAB proper which is the biggest brigade in the Army. To do that properly we would need about a pool of C17 big enough to gives us 12 or so pretty easily. You would need a vehicle that is stuffable into C17 in 4s and do 3 lifts pretty sharpish. Even then you could only move about a battalion plus and stores; they would be a speed bump for a peer. Against a band of Third World ragamuffins it would be a different story………. Of course the obvious answer is for the Uk to have a modest ARG in the Med / Gulf full time-ish. The number of II’s crossing the Med mean we will soon be tasked by some supranational organisation to provide hulls to help protect the soft under belly. It is a bigger threat to European stability than some pirates off Somalia…….

  190. Simon


    Googled it. Got arrested. Got interrogated. Cried like a girl. Escaped. Had a beer. Happy again. :-)

  191. Red Trousers


    “Does DSTL actually do anything?”

    Yes. They are paying my company a shed load of money for Concept phase studies into an advanced new technology in big data analytics, visualisation and human cognition. Leave them alone, there’s proper big money in this in 3 years, and it’s not going to IBM.


  192. mr.fred

    Going back up the thread a bit, I’d like to point out that I am not averse to heavy armour, I just feel that you are going to go one way or another, it should be done properly. If you want a lighter vehicle, go for it. If you want a heavier, more protected vehicle, do that. I dislike the wishy-washy, half-arsed, indecisive medium-weight wibble that most of the 8x8s and IFVs seem to end up as.
    Putting it in comparison to other AFVs, a T55 weighs 36t. I strongly doubt that any of the IFVs are as well protected at the same weight, and that’s comparing modern composites with old fashioned cast steel.
    The 8x8s in particular seem to suffer from trying to fit a full section in behind a manned turret. I say, if you want a light protected vehicle, make it for a full section in APC mode. If you want an IFV, either have an overhead weapon system that does not intrude into your crew space, or sacrifice some of your dismount seats. Protection should be realistic, not optimistic. Ultimately, these are going to be light vehicles, so don’t pretend that they can replace the heavy vehicles (which often happens with the medium weight vehicles)

    If you wan’t something well protected, go for broke, make it using the same technology as your MBTs, Namer-style. Again, either an OWS or fewer dismounts.

  193. Repulse

    @Simon: “I figured that our Response Force Task Group was mid way between the supa-fast 16AAB and the supa-slow conveyor of ships necessary to bring large quantities of heavy armour.

    It’s within the RFTG that too heavy is pointless and not enough protection is rather wasteful too.

    I’ve been doing some thinking and have now come to the conclusion that our LPH approach is somewhat flawed.”

    Agreed – I’ve come to the conclusion that the SDSR should replace the RFTG with separate CBG and ARG capabilities (again). Longer term for the ARG, I would go for something like the Kalaat Béni Abbès Class or even the Osumi Class (actually prefer the latter). Smaller and more versatile than larger LHDs, buy say four and allow for the ARG to grow / shrink as needed. Would like the LCAC also :)

  194. Chris

    MrFred – you speak sense. I’m sure there is a role for you in my company (if it ever gets off the ground) [insert smiley here]

  195. Observer

    A 30mm RWS still needs an ammo feed into the main cabin though.

    We did have a M-113 variant that acted as a test bed of sorts way back in the 90s, they called it the OWS (Overhead Weapon System), a low tech attempt at the modern RWS system. Still had a turret basket, so some dismounts still got axed but the general direction was there.

    With more modern electronics, I think they could do a better job of it today, but now it seems like the trend is all enclosed turret or pure small scale RWS. Makes sense. All enclosed is better for ammo feeding if you have a larger calibre while the small 40mm/7.62s can carry decent amounts of ammo externally that they don’t need to reload that often.

  196. ArmChairCivvy

    Each triple launcher only had one missile… Wonder if that was just for the tests, or is there a weight limitation?

  197. The Other Chris

    Imagine just for tests. Stated intention is for six across two launchers.

  198. All Politicians are the Same


    Just the tests 3 Brimstone and a triple launcher weigh just under 250kg, the 2 inboard reaper hard points have a limit of 880kg and the 2 middle hard points a limit of 340kg. With an external payload limit of 1400kg it could in theory and obviously size may be an issue carry 12 Brimstone with triple launchers on 4 hard points.

  199. mr.fred

    Observer – there are a couple of OWS that can be accessed from under armour while keeping the main ammunition feed above the deck. Intrusion below the deck should be minimal – just enough to permit high elevation.

    ACC – How close is close enough? If it’s a troop carrier then there are half a dozen or more angry men ready to deal with people close to the vehicle. If you want to shoot at very close range you will need a very tall turret. On a 2m high vehicle, 10 degree depression will allow the turret to hit the ground a shade over 10m away. If you have a cannon armament then you will, of course, have a coaxial machine gun. If you want an IFV version though. You could always run a mix, provided you could avoid the temptation to make the platoon leader the IFV, or target.

  200. Observer

    ACC probably just for the tests. One test that I would have liked to see included is a target moving towards the firing platform. See if a vehicle can generate enough overshoot to avoid getting hit.

    And I’m the kind of person that pokes a bench with a “Wet Paint” sign. :)

    mr fred, now there is. Remember, this was done 20 years ago.

  201. ArmChairCivvy

    Mr. Fred,
    Youmaybe wanting to take those angry men back in, and reposition them not to be too close up to superior numbers of OpFor. For shooting down or across the street, to the roof top, this should do (relates to the picture I linked to):
    ” urban settings and high-off-the-ground threat response scenarios, the basic gun elevation/depression of +60° to -20°, has been upgraded in the New Samson 30mm to +70° gun elevation. The Samson RWS systems have first-hit accuracy for high battlefield lethality and auto tracking capability for accurate shooting-on-the-move”

    I wasn’t suggesting doing away with the co-ax, justmixing canon and HMG equipped vehicles (of the same type) to haveyour cake and eat it too:
    – each vehile carrying a full squad
    – no intrusion, but carrying a suuficient ammo load and under-armour reloading for sustained combat and fire-on-the-move caoability

  202. mr.fred

    20 degree depression is all very well, but it does make the turret rather high profile, which is not desirable for a tactical vehicle. In addition, if you have it as an overhead, remotely operated turret with internal access, for loading under armour, then the taller structure requires more protection, therefore more weight.
    If 10 degrees gives a 1 in 6 slope, 20 degrees is 1 in 3 so off a two metre tall vehicle, you can hit things 1m off the ground at 3 or 6 metres from the gun pivot at -20 or-10 degrees respectively. Since the gun pivot will be roughly at the middle, 3 m would be right on the nose of most vehicles.
    The question becomes; How important is the need to hit things that close and what are you willing to sacrifice to obtain it?
    Bearing in mind that you can always add defensive grenade launchers for extracting yourself from tight spots, or open top hatches and have your infantry engage them, or have one of your buddy vehicles pitch in to cover your blind spots as you cover theirs. No vehicle operates in isolation.

  203. Obsvr

    @ x

    16 may have been the biggest bde once, although never the only one with 4 manoeuvre arm units. The fact that the arty regt was under command and hence adding numbers is being cute. All manoeuvre bdes have an arty regt in DS but under div comd, same with the RE regt IIRC. If 16 were under comd of a div then 7RHA would be under the CRA’s command.

    As I understand it 16 is now or soon will be the smallest bde, only two manoeuvre units. The armd bdes will have 5.

  204. Observer

    Isn’t talking about turret depression rather like splitting hairs? I don’t recall any tank gunner or commander taking out a protractor and measuring. To people like them, there is only one criteria. Can the gun be brought to bear? And if the answer was no, how do you move such that the gun CAN be brought to bear. -10 degrees, -20 degrees, all this did not matter to them. Just “reverse” “forward” or “turn left/right”.

    From an engineering perspective, if you want good depression and a short turret, move the turret to the front.

  205. mr.fred

    The gunner will attempt to bring his gun to bear and he will succeed or he won’t, depending on what decisions were made during the design stage. Depending on whether he can bring the gun to bear will then determine whether the vehicle needs to be able to move to bring the gun to bear, and that will determine what happens to the vehicle. It might reverse out of cover and consequently be hit.
    The Russians certainly felt the need to increase the elevation capability of some of their vehicles following experience in Afghanistan as they were unable to manoeuvre to bring their guns to bear.

    The extent of your elevation and depression will affect your ammunition feed, your turret height, both from having the pivot high enough to see over the edge and the breach coming up as the barrel depresses, your turret width, so you can see over the edge along with others, all of which affect the whole.

  206. The Other Chris

    Sapphire Crystal for the new iPhone 6 screens are being manufactured in Mesa, Arizona.

  207. Mike Wheatley

    …Okay, so compromises in vehicle design, mobility vs. protection, expected needs, etc.

    There is a lot of talk about modular designs, in which you can add additional protection as needed for a given theatre / stage of conflict. But speaking as an engineer, I find a lot of people miss-understand what modularity is.

    So I was thinking, rather than have a modular chassis – that then has to be designed to cope with the worst load, and limits future load designs by that initial design – instead, treat the crew interface as the module socket, and the entire chassis as one of the modules.

    So, you would have two vehicles assigned to each crew: a “lighter” and “heavier” one; with a common driving and common maintenance interface, so that a single set of soldiers (both operators and maintainers) can apply their training to either vehicle, as needed at any given time.

    (The heavier one might have 3 prime movers sending power to 8 electric motors, turning tracks, whilst the lighter one has 2 of the same prime movers sending power to 6 motors of the same motors on wheels – common spares and common training between the two chassis. You probably wouldn’t buy enough motors and engines to power all the vehicles at once – no point since you can’t crew them anyway.)

    My theory being (possibly mistakenly) that the chassis is the cheapest part of the vehicle, and the key to successful modularity is: build more of the cheap parts in order to get away with building less of the expensive parts. (Manpower being the most expensive part of all.)

  208. Observer

    mr fred, the gunner usually will succeed unless the infantryman is kissing his tank…

  209. Not a Boffin

    Outbreak of common sense.

    ASaC7 OSD put out till Q3 2018. Reduced AE, but ensures continuity of expertise.


  210. The Other Chris

    I think that’s why I like the Ocelot/Foxhound. It truly is the right “kind” of modular in its approach.

    It’s not to be intended to be a patrol vehicle one day, a WMIK(!) the next and an ambulance or flatbed by the end of the week.

    The fleet composition is intended to be established prior to a deployment, can be rebalanced en masse if necessary and there’s the obvious benefits for in-theatre mechanics.

  211. Peter Elliott

    How many cabs?

    Presumably this now matches with the Crowsnest IOC?

    Any sign of an increase in Merlin HM2 numbers to complete the good news?

  212. mr.fred

    Yes, hence why I think that 10 degrees is probably sufficient. At such small angles and large distances the difference is pretty much linear, so if you could only depress 5 degrees you would be only be able to hit the ground over twenty metres away. Anyone closer than ten metres could crouch and be invulnerable (to the turret weapons). If your vehicle is in a hull down position, your depression needs to at least equal the slope that you are on to shoot flat over the other side. In truth it’s the terrain that would drive it as much as anything else.
    Also you need enough elevation range to allow you to stabilise the gun as the hull pitches as it crosses rough terrain. Not enough and you gun will be hitting the end stops.

  213. The Other Chris

    US Army grounding and selling its Kiowa’s:

    Remember the US Armed Aerial Scout competition completed at the end of 2013 but US defence cuts meant no money to proceed with a selection.

    AVX Aircraft have a wonderful design for converting the D and F models into coaxial compound versions if it floats your boat:

    How would you use them (stock or modified) if you could secure funds to procure a modest fleet?

    A few thinking points:

    – Gazelles
    – Army Wildcat
    – Other spend to benefit the Army (primarily)

  214. mr.fred

    Mike Wheatley,

    I think I prefer you version of modularity to some concepts proposed – for example I think that the Boxer probably makes its interface in the wrong place, but I don’t think that a light and heavy vehicle with identical controls and the same crew is necessarily a good idea. For a start the concept of heavy and light vehicles is quite different and you wouldn’t want the occasional brain fart that has the crews operating as one while in the other.
    Likewise for maintenance, a crew might try lifting something by hand that can be done on a light vehicle, but not on a heavy and if they get it wrong you end up losing the crew through injury.
    You could take a light vehicle and make it heavier, longer ranged or more powerful, but you would not make it a heavy.
    You could use the same technology , maybe even some of the same components, on both fleets, but I wouldn’t want to go too far for fear of badly compromising both.

    The other risk of going to ruthless commonality is you get stuck in a rut. You can’t bring anything else in unless it has the same restrictive interfaces or, worse, is the same as what it replaces. Over the course of your thirty-plus year service life, all your parts suppliers fail to develop new parts or new technologies, or worse, go out of business because there is no money in it. You either end up subsidising the local firms with make-work or buy foreign at greater cost to your own economy.

  215. Not a Boffin

    As Mark says, Jane’s suggests seven cabs, all in 849. Meets Crowsnest IOC in all but name and I’d be very surprised if 849 (or even one of 854/857) did not tranisition into the IFTU for Crowsnest, “just about” avoiding a capability gap.

    I’d be frankly astonished if we got any more HM2 – forget “the eight” they’re donating their rotorheads and other foldy bits to the HC4/4a programme.

    Little point building new cabs when the “replacement” may be arriving around 2030. I give you Maritime Organic Versatile ISTAR Capability………”I like to MOVIC, MOVIC, I like to MOVIC, MOVIC etc” ad nauseum…….

  216. x

    @ Obsvr

    Yes I keep forgetting some of the changes in the Army’s orbat. 16AAB had at one stage 8690-ish on ration. Even with just 2/3 Para and everything stripped away it still doesn’t make “speed bump light infantry by air” any better as a form of rapid response without investment in more lift. Perhaps by 2020 the Army could keep a single FRES SV in a garage at Brize with a full fuel tank and one of those little solar panel battery trickle chargers you see in the Sunday papers just so they can deliver something quickly to a crisis? :)

  217. The Other Chris

    I will forever watch future UK military helicopter promotional videos with a Reel 2 Real soundtrack in my head now. Thanks NaB.

    Are you the Mad Stuntman by any chance? Still, there are worse tracks…

  218. TED

    Spam monster evidently not hungry… Looking forward to an F35 future someone is trying to sell shoes

  219. DavidNiven

    ‘This is going to be all over the newspapers tomorrow.’

    You’re telling me! actual proof the RAF Regt have seen combat ;-)

  220. Challenger

    Fantastic news about Crowsnest, even a residual capability with 7 cabs is a huge improvement and keeps those crucial skills alive.

    Still not convinced 30 Merlin HM2’s can adequately perform all ASW/AEW ops whilst keeping an acceptable cycle of maintenance and training going. Even if they can just about manage it we are still left in a situation where each individual air-frame is going to be worked far harder than originally envisioned and without any give or elasticity in the fleet as a whole to deal with the unexpected.

    Any though of additional Merlin’s sounds too pricey (unless we could find a clutch of second hand ones going cheap?) Are their any other smaller/cheaper alternatives out there which would suit a bolt on solution? As has already been mentioned those 8 spare Merlin HM1’s are sadly being stripped of everything useful to help update the rest of the fleet, I don’t think an extra 8 helicopters off the shelf for dedicated AEW is asking the world though.

  221. TED

    @TOC I would love to buy them in place of Wildcat. Those are real recce helis.

    On another note, have i got news for you said we had announced the buy of 48 F35. When did that happen?

  222. Peter Elliott

    Maybe the answer is to put dipping sonar on the Wildcats? If the 30 HM2 were concentrated on generating an airwing for RTFG (both Carrier TAG and escorts) while wildcat took up all the single ship taskings that might help eke out the Merlin numbers?

    And depending on what happens with the Apache upgrade/replacement we may yet find the Army offering up some of their Wildcats to protect Apache?? That could turn out to be the cheapest way for the RN to collect a few extra cabs overall.

  223. ArmChairCivvy

    The number, 30, does not sound too bad looking at it this way
    – 13 frigates minus 1 on average in refit = 12
    -AAW optimised vessels have lacking sub-hunting capabilities and would (?’) Nomally operate a Widcat instead
    – was it 8 for Crows Nest?
    – normal CVF load, in addition to AEW helos, 4 ASW?
    – leaves 6 for training and in maintenance

    Wear and tear of the fleet over the longer term? Is the T26 plan still for 8 ASW + 5 GP?
    – with the latter, a Wildcat is a better fit
    – so any number of accidents and other write-offsno more than 5… Reasonable?

    Noiw, the Wildcat numbers, working with the original allocations, are that tight that the conversions to light attack role came from both pools (6 + 2, was it)

  224. ArmChairCivvy

    Today’s DID makes an interesting comparison about BVR missile development: Meteor adding a hand-off capability between engaged fighters (which AMRAAM already has) to its range and end-manoeuvrability advantage:
    “the Europeans chose a combination of less stealthy and maneuverable 4th generation aircraft with long-range missiles carried externally, in order to defeat foes at the outer edge of the engagement range. Hence the Meteor BVRAAM and its design characteristics, including 100 km est. maximum range which is roughly double that of the AIM-120C AMRAAM. There are also reports that the Meteor missile will include “hand-off” capability to other aircraft, which could further improve fighter survivability in head-on closing engagements by avoiding situations in which the enemy can get close enough for a return shot with today’s increasingly accurate 5th generation short-range missiles.”

  225. Simon

    I have a question that needs clearing up a little from the 19th March 2012 Hansard which says…

    HMS Ocean is capable of stowing six Apache aircraft on the flight deck and a further 14 in the hangar. HMS Illustrious is capable of stowing eight Apache aircraft on the flight deck and a further seven in the hangar. HMS Queen Elizabeth will be capable of stowing up to 20 Apache aircraft on the flight deck and approximately 20 in the hangar.

    Can someone please explain how if you can get 14 Apache into the hangar of HMS Ocean you can only get 7 Apache into the hangar of HMS Illustrious. Surely it’s way more? They should be able to get 6 between the lifts plus another 2-3 forward of the front lift and 3-4 rear of the rear lift and one to its side = 12-14?


  226. WiseApe

    A question for you: Many of you will have come across this story by now:

    My question is: Which is more harmful to UK armed forces (or UK interests in general) – pictures of our boys posing over the corpses of our enemies, or pictures of our boys posing over floral tributes to their loved ones?

    Some in the media are already linking this with the marine who shot dead a wounded Taliban, which I think is ridiculous.

  227. Observer

    Simon, the hanger deck may not simply be a big empty space. There could be obstructions.

    As for the Ocean, who knows, maybe the hanger deck can be connected to the storage decks which will cause the potential carrying capacity to shoot sky high. They just don’t tell you they took out everything else for the helicopters. :)

    But without access to their deck plans, I can’t really say. Those are the most likely explanations though.

  228. Observer

    Wise, just saw your post.

    I say the posing with Taliban is worse. Floral tributes, while gay and cringe worthy, do not violate security, just decency and encourages a large chunk of the “alternate lifestyle” crowd to sign up. Posting ops photos IS a breech of security and discipline and a risk in itself. There is a reason why anti-terrorist forces hide their faces in ops.

    I won’t mind if the idiot and his friend in the photos get wacked in a revenge attack, stupidity does deserve punishment, but I will pity anyone else in his unit that got killed in the process of just deserts, or any unit near them if the revenge attacks was indiscriminate. Idiots. Last session in Afghanistan and they just have to up the risk of not getting home.

  229. Simon257


    I see the Amnesty International are banging the Geneva Convention drum. When did the Taliban or other Terrorist organisations sign it. Theses Rockapes weren’t desecrating the bodies. There are plenty of images of Terrorist’s desecrating the Dead.

    The BBC could not stop showing the aftermath videos of the murder of Fusilier Rigby or for that matter the murder of the two sappers killed in Iraq:

    Arrse have a good take on it:

  230. Simon257

    Interesting piece from the Norfolk Evening News via The Fifth Column on the UK becoming an International Maintenance Hub for the F-35. (I was going to post the link directly to the Paper directly, but it is asking you to fill out a survey.)

    The Fifth Column’s Editor has a view that the UK should grab as much work as possible, seeing as the Italians are thinking on cutting there order for the F-35. Something I heartily agree with!

  231. Mark


    My question would be why take the photo in the first place? What were they gonna do with it frame it and put it on the mantel piece for prosperity. Even if it was done in the moment why not delete the bloody thing in the cold light of day it’s not like there so stupid not to have seen similar incidents played out the last decade.

    They’ll now get what’s coming to them and only have themselves to blame for it. And on there heads any reprisals done using this as an excuse.

  232. Steve C

    Surprisingly good reporting from the Daily Mail (#2 in Phrases I never thought I’d say!).

    Never even thought about the loss of ground crew and experienced pilots when the Harriers were cut, inherent problem when you view defence cuts in terms of equipment and numbers of people alone, rather than exactly what those people do and how experience is never quickly or simply replaced.

  233. Phil

    Anyone who hasn’t by now got the memo that anything other than photos of you standing there against a clear background are fucking stoooooopid.

    Don’t fucking take photos of it. Full stop. Ever. It is I am sure the subtext of 16X banning helmet cams on H13 – no camera’s, no incriminating stupidity like this.

  234. Simon257

    @ Mark
    Soldiers have been taking photos of enemy dead since the Camera was invented. Nothing new in that. That is what servicemen due. In fact, these images have been on the net, since 2012. So what’s the big deal.

    Amnesty are banging on about Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

    Where does it say, that you can’t take pictures of Dead Combatants. It doesn’t. If it did every News Journalist would be guilty of committing a war crime. Google Iraq Road of Death or Taliban atrocities images, and you will see worse.

    That dead Terrorist made a choice, he decided to part in the attack on Camp Bastion. And got himself killed. He got what he deserved. I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

  235. monkey

    Its a pity we did not by the 9 VH-71 air frames from the USMC when the VXX project was cancelled. As a variant of the Merlin we could of run them as a sub-type or reworked them. Instead Canada bought them for $164m (that $18m each when at the time a new Merlin was $21m).
    Sikorsky has won the new VXX completion.
    Lets hope they keep the cost this side of $500m each (the VH-71’s cost them $600m each !!!!!) I guess a lot of the avionics suite and defence systems originally fitted in the completed VH-71’s will find their way over to Sikorsky. The VH-71’s were gutted of the ultra secret EM/Active defences used on the Presidential flight.

  236. Observer

    Simon257, it’s not about the body, or at least not directly related to the body, but the unanticipated side effects of unlimited information on the net. For one, you might encourage revenge attacks on your unit, for another, even “background photos” that Phil mentioned can give away too much information. Wasn’t there a case of accidental online geo-tagging inviting a mortar attack on a base that led to the loss of several Apaches? Do you want Bastion Round 2, this time with the enemy having pieced together a more detailed base plan from online photos?

  237. Frenchie

    We have respected the Geneva Convention in Mali. We really looked so prisoners were in good health, and then we given to the Malian authorities.
    Regarding the photos of corpses, the French army has does the cleaning before journalists come, there were 700 Islamists killed but we have not seen anything on TV.

  238. The Other Chris

    How much weight can the helipad on a Type 45 handle? Can it land an MV-22 for example?

    How about a CH-53K?

    The Department of Defense (with an ‘s’) Inspector General has been looking at the USMC plans for up to 200 of the recently named ‘King Stallion’.

    The conclusion is that the USMC has overstated their need and that 156 is closer to the requirement. That leaves an excess of 44.

    44 Happens to be around the size of most discussed upcoming UK aircraft fleets. No orders made. No suggestion that the USMC needs to offload 44 orders. It’s purely the number that resonates.

    So, given they are a very heavy aircraft, are they landable on anything other than a QEC? Albions? Illustrious? Ocean? MARS? T45? Even T26?

  239. All Politicians are the Same


    Have seen CH53E on an Albion and know they have landed on Ocean.

  240. x

    Apparently it costs the US between $50 million to $100 million to kill a “terrorist”, or whatever one of those is………..

    @ TOC re MV22

    For the love of gurkin, no. ;)

  241. The Other Chris


    We’ll be seeing AW609’s in the Offshore market soon…

    Would you object to a CH-53K?

  242. x

    @ TOC

    I like the Kilo.

    MV22 is too expensive for us and is just, well, odd. It would be nice to have a new ASaC airframe yes, but more helicopters would do or something “innovative” for lofting sensors. Or more CH47 and perhaps a gentle marinisation programme I often mention for them. I think we all agree that the UK needs more rotorcraft, even if we can’t agree on what needs replacing or changing or buying.

  243. ArmChairCivvy

    From DN’s linked article:
    “The investigation will examine nine core areas for closer collaboration, including common equipment procurement and joint multibranch exercises. The study also will examine creating joint air and naval units, as well as jointly purchasing corvettes or frigates.


    Finland’s deepening defense pact with Sweden, which will be run under bilateral agreements and the general platform of Nordic defense cooperation, will not automatically boost interest in buying Saab Gripen-E combat jets, Haglund said.”

    Finland’s army on mobilisation is 250-300 000 and Sweden went pro plus territorial volunteers and can mobilise a fifth of that. [their army chief stated at the time: well, we will have to have the line of defence just North of Stockholm now]
    – Luckily they did not do away with the navy nor air force… joint units, easily deployable across the geography. And the shipping lanes to protect against any blockade are the same, anyway.

    Some home work needs doing when the Finnish minister goes on to state that they could buy F35s for the same money as Gripen E’s (yes, true, like one …)

  244. TED


    For the the answer is simple. But OH58s or UH72s for the Army. Revert their Wildcat to navy standard and fit light dipping sonar to the whole fleet.

    Maybe a few extra green merlins, but not priority


  245. The Other Chris

    Crikey, Wildcat dipping sonars mentioned twice in 24 hours!

    On the topic of Lakota’s, a variant of the UH-72 called the AAS-72X was an entrant in the US Armed Aerial Scout program.

  246. Not a Boffin

    We won’t be getting 53K’s ever. There are 60 Wokkas in the RAF to handle UK heavy lift, there is (and will be) no requirement for a 53K cab beyond that.

    The 53E was looked at some years back for FASH/SABR, but cannot use MTOW or recover at high weights on LPH/LPD. Doubt they’d have a problem on QEC, but they won’t be ours.

  247. Chris

    Ref the May Day Parade video posted by x above – as far as I could tell there were no significantly different new design helicopters or aircraft (although the cameraman was presumably under instruction to fluff close-ups of the more sensitive machines – I think a set of Hokum AH went by but never quite in frame). Interestingly though, with the exception of the BTR80 (Marines at the front of the vehicle parade, army near the back) and T90, the rest of the vehicles seem new designs. No evidence of previous standards like BMD, BMP, MTLB variants, MAZ 8×8 trucks etc? Looks like Vlad’s been finding Roubles down the back of the Kremlin’s sofas and spent them on the army?

  248. Simon257

    @ NAB
    Out of those 60 Wokkas, Nearly half of the Fleet will be 35 years old next year. Boeing still plan to build the CH-47 until at least 2040. So plenty of time to replace the original initial buy, with extra Chinook’s. Post 2040 it’s anyone guess.

    Germany and France have been talking about a European Heavy lift Helicopter for a few years now. Whether that is a new design or a licensed built Ch-53K. So time is on our hands for once. I’m with X on a gentle marinisation programme for the Wooka’s though.

    I have read that the CH-53K may be to tall to fit in the hanger of CVF.

  249. Red Trousers

    Any opinions on .243 versus .308 for both deer and targets up to 600 yards? I’m mulling over both. I’ve got .223 on my FAC, but never bought one. Thinking of asking for a change of calibre, got a couple of longstanding stalking invitations open, and my local rifle club is big into 600 yard shooting.

    Am leaning towards a Mannlicher Classic Mountain, available in either calibre. With a Zeiss scope.

  250. John Hartley

    RT, I have an old family friend who swears by his .243 for stalking, but those rounds seem a bit small to me. I have liked the .270 Winchester for decades, but am coming round to the 7mm Remington magnum. The yanks call it the best round for the one gun shooter. The US Secret Service use it for urban counter sniping. It is flat shooting, & probably the most powerful round that is just below the Bisley 4500 Joule limit.

  251. x

    @ TED

    Um. No the answer isn’t simple. :)

    The question is in two parts really. Will the RAF get a Puma replacement? And what can one Puma (or replacement do) that two Wildcat can’t?

    I have kept quite about all this silly silly talk about Wildcat not being suitable for the Army because patently it is the sensible option given the RN buy. Blackhawks are too big and expensive. The role carried out by Gazelle is going because of new tech and whatever is left can be handled by Wildcat. Something cheaper and more innovative like an autogyro will never ever fly, both literally and figuratively, with the establishment. For once one of the services has got a more capable platform than it needs and all you ‘orrid lot do is moan. Heck it is already navalised. Let’s not forget that the Army is actually buying more of them than the RN :)

    @ NaB

    Just because somebody expresses a liking of or interest in a platform doesn’t mean they are advocating for its purchase. I am very keen for the RAF to get enough CH47 to operate an RN Cooperation Squadron off CVF and even the UK working towards a pragmatic marinisation programme. Off course one the RAF personnel have smelled the sea air, felt the deck plates vibrate under the feet, and realised that dark blue is a becoming shade than crab fat for a uniform they will probably be transferring in droves, and who could blame them? :)

  252. Red Trousers

    Dangerously, I am going to agree with x. ;) .The Wildcat/Lynx is basically a Transit van as far as troops are concerned, and Transit vans are good. It is a useful space to be filled with whatever shit you need to be moved from A to B. People, stuff, whatever.

    JH, thanks for the suggestion, another to add into the mix. My heart is with .308, because that is basically 7.62 and I know I can shot like a demon with that. It’s also a bit better on barrel life than other calibres, but that’s slightly marginal. But I will investigate further, because winning competitions for 8 years at 50 rounds a month is going to be more fun than coming second for ten years at 50 rounds a month.

    (Our company graphics artist had me down to a T when she told me that I was the most competitive person she had ever known. I thought that a compliment, but I don’t think she meant it that way)

  253. Red Trousers

    I will agree with x. Lynxes (or modern Wildcats) are basically Transit vans, and Transit vans are good. Shove whatever you need into the back. People get all excited by the high end stuff, but as far as the Army is concerned, the only metric to worry about is what you can shove into it.

    JH, thanks for the extra knowledge re 700 Rem Mag. TBH, my main concern is barrel wear, and .308 ticks most boxes there being cool and requiring fewer twists. But it is marginal. I will certainly give it a good thinking about.

  254. DavidNiven

    ‘silly silly talk about Wildcat not being suitable for the Army’

    It’s expensive, lifts nothing and is driven by the maritime design that much that they could not even be bothered to rotate the front 180 degrees so the EO turret hangs down. It brings nothing more than the Lynx 9 which we upgraded 20 of to mk9a standard (same engines etc as Wildcat), and we are only purchasing 30ish Wildcat.


    We will need a Puma replacement as the Navy couldn’t get its act together and plan to replace the CHF Seakings with Merlins, which the nice taxpayer is paying through the nose to modify the RAF Merlins for the Dark Blue, who will no doubt whine when the Merlins are used for transporting pongo’s and not left to sit on the Carriers looking pretty.

  255. The Other Chris

    I thought the EO turret was positioned such for the Army’s scouting requirement? ;)

  256. DavidNiven


    You’re right my mistake, I was forgetting the operational experience we had learned in Afghan where we need to look up to the top of mountains, and in the Iraqi desert we just needed to scan the horizon ;-)

  257. Tubby


    I think you will find that prior to 2004 the the RN did have a plan to replace the Sea King – it was going to buy either NH90 or new Merlin’s. However the £1.4 billion cut to the helicopter budget scuppered it mid-2004 and even before the last SDSR there was talk of using the RAF Merlin’s to replace the Sea King’s. The main change is that the number of Chinook’s that the RAF was going to purchase was drastically cut in the SDSR.

    Personally I would like to see a 55 Green Merlin purchase, split 25 in a configuration similar to the Italian CSAR/special forces variant and 30 in a baseline configuration, plus another 30 odd wildcat’s for the Army, as what ever there limitations once the Lynx retires later this decade we are going to have a massive reduction of cabs for the Army. Radically, I would even revisit the original Army spec of the Wildcat with .50 cal/20mm cannon under the nose and a mast mounted OE turret, as long as any such purchase was in addition to upgrading 55 or so the Apache to AH-64E, did not reduce the base number of Army Wildcat’s, and a flight or two was available for FAA use in support of the RM.

  258. x

    @ David Niven

    Why should WIldcat be lifting anything? That isn’t AAC work that is RAF work. The AAC need a scout, a casualty evacuation, some fire support, liaison, etc. The Wildcat will be doing what Gazelle did mostly. Especially now we live in age of Apache and UAV. I could see an argument for something smaller but not for something larger. Lynx was always impressive, Wildcat just more of the same.

    I would hope the Army had some input into the spec’s seeing as they are buying more than the RN. Perhaps the sensor fit of the latter model equals out the cost of 6 or so difference in airframes?

    As for,

    “We will need a Puma replacement as the Navy couldn’t get its act together and plan to replace the CHF Seakings with Merlins, which the nice taxpayer is paying through the nose to modify the RAF Merlins for the Dark Blue, who will no doubt whine when the Merlins are used for transporting pongo’s and not left to sit on the Carriers looking pretty.”

    You are going to have to explain that to me. How does the RN not replacing Sea King impact on the RAF’s not being able to replace an aircraft a class down? Do you know which aircraft the Merlin was brought to directly replace? The humble Wessex. The RAF acquired 22 airframes What we see in the 90s through to 2000s is the RAF operating Chinook, Merlin, Puma, and Sea King. If we chop Chinook off that list and see it more as a replacement for the smaller cargo aeroplanes the RAF used to operate and we chop the Sea King off the list too as it was a niche fleet the RAF shouldn’t have operated SAR (post Wessex) should have just be left to the RN but that is a dead argument, we are left with Merlin and Puma. You argue above that Wildcat is too small and yet to go any bigger and you impinge on Puma. There is no replacement in sight for RAF Merlin or Puma. And even if all battlefield helicopters (that is land, not amphibious. and not CH47) were given to the AAC there would be still need for a helicopter smaller than Puma/Merlin but not as small as Gazelle. You could argue that Wildcat is too big for what Gazelle did. But most of what Gazelle did will soon disappear thanks to UAV and what is left is best rolled up into Wildcat with its larger task portfolio. Further as I said above what can one Puma do that two Wildcat can’t. especially when it comes to troop insertion in urban environments? Perhaps this mess has come about not because of the RN but because the RAF were allowed to operate helicopters for the Army. Perhaps if the Army had control over their own resource there would have been more thought and logic to the range of airframes available.

    Now you are going to have to point me to sources that show where 1SL went to meetings and said they wouldn’t have had Merlin to replace Sea King if they could have. Perhaps a decade or so of war in the Sandbox let the RN off buying a navalised trooper? Perhaps HMG spending money hand over fist in the war meant funds were not available? Perhaps even saving money for future F35b even (though surely at the end of the day that impacts on the RAF more)? I just can’t see the professional head of the naval service not saying or not knowing there was a need to replace Sea King it is beyond the bounds of improbability.

  259. DavidNiven


    In the link provided it states that they had to bring caution to the heart of their decisions to recapitilise the rotor fleet. It suggests that mature designs need to be considered rather than new on the drawing board designs. A reduction in budget does not mean do not plan.

    I said it ‘It brings nothing more than the Lynx 9a’
    Therefore I would not buy it full stop. We have 20 Mk9a we could use for the role after all 4 of the Wildcat are going to Hereford so we will only be 8ish cabs down. we could use the older Lynx for training and liaison in the UK.

    ‘I just can’t see the professional head of the naval service not saying or not knowing there was a need to replace Sea King it is beyond the bounds of improbability’
    I did not say they did not see a need I said they did not plan for it.

    ‘Further as I said above what can one Puma do that two Wildcat can’t.’
    Lift a 105? insert two sections?

    Perhaps HMG spending money hand over fist in the war meant funds were not available?
    Or perhaps every major Navy warship project in the last few decades has been late and over budget?

    ‘they are buying more than the RN’
    Jealous? ;-)

  260. x

    @ David Niven

    It may not bring much more than 9a but surely you can’t be arguing against new kit?

    I was just banging on about 1SL more for me thinking through what you said than me saying you said it. I think.

    HMG cocking up CVF is nothing to do with the RN. It doesn’t become a RN ship until it is signed for until then it is at first instance an MoD problem.

    As there are only two regiments of 105 both supposedly for out area of use and one of which belongs to an organisation that has helicopters that can lift it that isn’t much of an argument. As for lifting a multiple I grant that there would be two bodies down. That the MoD thinks £230 million for 7 years to occasionally lift 16 bods is good value doesn’t surprise me.

    As for being jealous well I have been in contact with the company doing the paint work for the Puma refit. I passed myself off as Air Marshmellow Think Defence and I changed the order a bit. Don’t be surprised if the new Puma come back looking a bit grey-ish………

    Thinking a bit more about it is obvious really that only the Royal Navy understand helicopters, and the other two services just play at it……………… :)

  261. DavidNiven


    ‘It may not bring much more than 9a but surely you can’t be arguing against new kit?’

    This may come as a shock, but yes I am against buying new Wildcats fro the army. £27m a pop for a capability we have shown we can use other airframes for, or even buy a cheaper more suitable airframe. As for the Puma upgrade, be honest what could we have bought for £230m that would bring us the same capability as the fleet of Pumas?. I would have preferred to not buy the Puma upgrade or Wildcat and used the money to buy an airframe that could replace both for the army, but politics had a hand to play with the Puma upgrade.

    CVF is just an example of the massive miss management within the MOD by all 3 services, I could have said Nimrod, FRES, Type 45, Typhoon and Astute all poorly performing as projects that have sucked money away from other bits of kit needed by all 3 services.

    At least that Puma has got the EO turret the right way round :-)

  262. The Other Chris

    I’ll raise a glass in the hope that Fox/Hammond’s budget reforms lead to better managed projects in the future delivering the right kit.

    Re: Wildcat EO mast.

    Think that was meant to be the Bowman system, if not the full mast head. Wiring and structure largely there IIRC.

  263. mike


    They do it all the time :)

    The pilots cleared for SF ops do the same but in the water, for SAS/SBS ops :)

    Then there was the time one carried a mini-sub around Gibraltar… hmm should have another go with that Gib ex ;)

  264. Not a Boffin

    David niven

    Look up FASH (Future Amphibious Support Helicopter), which then became SABR (Support & Amphibious Battlefield Rotorcraft) and then look up FRC (Future Rotorcraft Coherence) which is the bit where a certain Scottish One-Eyed Great Financial Genius took £1Bn out of the EP.

    For reference, FASH dates from the late 90s, SABR from after the formation of JHC when the CHF capability fell under JHC (army) control.

    The navy had little say in allocation of EP funding for SH post JHC.

  265. Tubby


    RE: QUOTE “I just can’t see the professional head of the naval service not saying or not knowing there was a need to replace Sea King it is beyond the bounds of improbability’
    I did not say they did not see a need I said they did not plan for it. END QUOTE

    Except I think your interpretation is wrong they did plan for the replacement of the Sea King, it is just that their budget was cut, then they planned on handing over the Merlin’s to CHF but with an adequate number of new Chinook’s added to the RAF to pretty much mean that there was no reduction in lift, and that there where no reduction in posts in the RAF, but then the budget was cut again – so we really are in this situation because politicians have screwed the armed services so that they cannot sensible replace the equipment they actually need. Plus I believe Not a Boffin has a posted before that the budget for CHF is actually with the Army not the RN, so it may not have been anything to do with the RN in the first place.

    EDIT: Beaten to it by NAB

  266. DavidNiven

    As stated in the Flightglobal article, the programmes were told to bring caution to the heart of their decisions and to go for less technical risk, therefore mature solutions.
    ‘FASH (Future Amphibious Support Helicopter), which then became SABR (Support & Amphibious Battlefield Rotorcraft) and then look up FRC (Future Rotorcraft Coherence)’

    That’s 3 programmes that produced nothing at the cost of how much? In the article from Tubby they said that they might have to buy AW101 or NH90 as a strong near term possibility as a replacement for Seaking in the CHF, so what were they looking at, Osprey or something else that was on the drawing board at the time?

    The budget being cut is immaterial, you adjust your plans accordingly it’s not like we have gone for the cheap option in Wildcat as it is. And like I said earlier if projects throughout the MOD were running on time and budget the cut may not have come in the first place. We now have the situation where we are spending an enormous amount of money to convert helicopters and no replacement for the Puma in sight.

  267. DavidNiven

    As an aside was not the RAF Merlins ordered in 1995, and what was the date the Navy selected Merlin to replace Seaking? FASH was a 90’s project was it not?

  268. ArmChairCivvy

    I am sure DN has a point (I did not follow up with these things in the 90’s), but the quote below made me think of the current command structure. 16X is commanded by JHC? First line unit is commanded by a supporting capability??
    ” look up FRC (Future Rotorcraft Coherence) which is the bit where a certain Scottish One-Eyed Great Financial Genius took £1Bn out of the EP.

    For reference, FASH dates from the late 90s, SABR from after the formation of JHC when the CHF capability fell under JHC (army) control.

    The navy had little say in allocation of EP funding for SH post JHC.”

  269. Not a Boffin


    The navy chose the Merlin to replace the ASW SK in the late 80s. At that point, Westlands had just built another batch of SK HC4 to replace the Wessex HU5 and Falklands losses, so the FASH issue was not relevant then.

    Not sure what your reference to the 1995 RAF Merlin choice refers to – at the time the RAF were buying their own SH nominally to replace the Wessex HC2. They were apparently told the answer was Merlin…..

    As for money sunk in FASH/SABR – it’s chump change in the context of the overall programme. None of those projects ever proceeded into assessment phase and so the cost incurred was in single millions. In concept phase they are mandated to look at a range of options, so I’m fairly sure everything from remanufactured SK, CH53E/K, marinised Wokka, NH90, CV22 were all assessed (hence the LPH/LPD flight deck strength reports). However, at no point were the projects allowed to go into assessment phase because the money kept getting reprogrammed / deferred. FRC was the programme devised to try and co-ordinate (jointly) the BLUH/SCMR, SABR procurements and ongoing Herrick lift issues.

    Can’t quite see what your issue is, unless it’s that the RAF is losing Merlins to CHF without replacement? that’s called capability management – JHC has made the call that an amphibious capability is needed, whereas there is sufficient lift with Wokka and Puma 2 fleets to support pure land-based requirements, that’s what you get with “joint” commands.

  270. ArmChairCivvy

    NAB’s last paragraph, in my mind, nicely puts to bed the criticism that Puma life extension has attracted.

    Herrick lift issues probably explain why the medium utility will only get a look-in when the Pumas bow out. I.e why such a skew in the fleet towards heavy lift.

  271. DavidNiven

    ‘The navy chose the Merlin to replace the ASW SK in the late 80s. At that point, Westlands had just built another batch of SK HC4 to replace the Wessex HU5 and Falklands losses, so the FASH issue was not relevant then.’

    Of course it was relevent. They chose to replace ASW Seaking with Merlin it should have been a no brainer to replace all Seaking, as and when with Merlin. Instead they decided to run a few programmes to decide the replacement, that means the Merlin was not the immediate choice, as both you and Tubby’s article alludes to they were looking at CH53 etc although any one with common sense would have chosen Merlin. They should have had a replacement plan in the pipeline for at least a decade before Gordon Brown.

    JHC was formed in 1999 after the Merlin had been chosen by both the Navy and the RAF so it is not all the fault of the Army either, it’s at least a 50/50 split between both the Army and Navy with maybe a leaning towards the Navy.

    My issue is paying over £400m in a time when money is tight to convert helicopters due to poor planning of a replacement that was known to be required about 2 decades ago. And then the finger pointing and blaming every other department for the botch.

  272. Observer

    400 million? That’s pretty cheap when you consider the scale of military purchases.

  273. Not a Boffin

    It is a MANDATED requirement of concept phase that a range of options are looked at – however no-brainer the solution appears. The navy couldn’t buy new cabs in the mid 90s as we’d just bought a whole raft of SK4 post-falklands. Can just see the outrage at discarding brand-new cabs after ten-fifteen years use. There was a replacement plan in the programme from the late 90s and through into the noughties, to deliver at end of SK4 life. Unfortunately, no-one in the RN controlled the purse strings – and if we’re all honest there were higher priorities at the time.

    As for converting helicopters, perhaps the original specification should have considered retaining the folding features and tie down points to allow for flexible use, instead of zealously removing all such features from the cab.

  274. DavidNiven

    We would not have needed a MANDATED concept phase if the decision taken at the time of replacing the ASW Seakings was combined to replace the CHF Seakings as well. Like I said, a no Brainer, you did not have to buy them immediately.

    ‘Unfortunately, no-one in the RN controlled the purse strings’
    Someone else’s fault again?

  275. Not a Boffin

    I can just see you cheerleading “the RN has just bought a load of new cabs (SK4) that it’s now going to discard for another cab after about ten years service” outrage bus. Look up the date of the SK4 buy and then look up the date of the Merlin HM1 buy – and importantly, the Merlin ISD. If it helps, Op Corporate was in 1982. That was probably the RNs fault as well.

    You probably also need a refresher on how the MoD bought kit in the 80s and 90s (Staff Target, Staff Reqt) and how it’s done now (AMS). You don’t just rock up to Mr Westland and ask for another 20-odd cabs – although it would be nice if you could! You tend to need to get funding approved.

  276. The Other Chris

    Absolute no-brainer to consider the likes of Super Stallion for the requirements that Merlin was selected for, you’d be foolish not to take a look. The two aircraft are very similar in ethos, bar the size difference. Not surprised that Merlin was selected either.

    On a different note:

    Reviewing the public materials on the AVX JMR-TD concept, although the compact design provides an awful lot of lift for the footprint, the cabin for the current design doesn’t accommodate the number of passengers as Merlin due to that same compactness.

    How much of a requirement for the RN is 21 passenger lift? Is that a requirement for the Army?

    Would a 14 passenger lift suffice, for RN, if the cab can lift heavier equipment for longer and further while reaching station faster?

  277. ArmChairCivvy

    400m for the conversion, 300+ for Puma life extension (more than that was done, e.g defensive aids), somethin g for Crows Nest (onto existing airframes)… Does that add to a bn?
    – wait for it, when the AH upgrade bill is totted up, the above will look like small change. And nokit has been prematurely disposed of (are we going to see that with 9As, though?)

  278. DavidNiven

    First HC 4, delivered 1979. Merlin entered service 1999.
    Your right it would have been impossible to be able to plan for the replacement of the Junglies with a follow on build after the RAF Merlin’s (ordered 1995).

    ‘Op Corporate was in 1982. That was probably the RNs fault as well.’

    Personally I don’t agree, but if you say so then who am I to argue?

  279. x

    @ TOC

    I can’t see the MoD buying a new trooper that can’t move a multiple, that is 16 equipped troops. Remember Wildcat isn’t about moving troops en masse. Remember when reading spec’s there is a difference between passenger numbers and troops numbers. Further I understand it isn’t good practice to assume that a helicopter will be stuffed to the gunwales with its maximum number of pax in a combat zone. Not saying it doesn’t happen just that it is not preferred. Shades of Wessex on the South Georgia glacier in 82. Another reason why perhaps 2 Wildcat are better than one Puma.

    There are no cheap options and government will only add costs. Our best bet would be to get onto somebody else’s bulk buy like this,

    Imagine an extra 40 airframes on top of that order. Puma beats it on range but…….

    Of course it won’t happen. HMG and the EU would rather pump more millions to AugustaWestland; that isn’t always the best option even with me acknowledging my belief that Wildcat isn’t bad as some here think.

    Smaller forces need to be leveraged by technology. Cutting personnel to save pension costs needs to be balanced against the need for new equipment. And perhaps somebody in HMG actually picking an overall strategy and “going for it”. The annoying thing is in terms of overall spending what is needed is very little indeed. Still £50 million to Brussels per day and nearly £10 billion to Third World per year must reap us some benefits I am sure…….

  280. Simon257

    @ DN

    Only 846 SQD had converted to the HC4 by the time of the Falkands War. 845 SQD went south with Wessex HU.5’s. (They only converted to the HC4 after the conflict.) 825 SQD was formed for the duration of the war with Sea King HAS.2s modified with their ASW equipment removed and the helicopters were fitted with troop seats.

  281. The Other Chris


    Thanks and apologies. The 21 and 12 (not 14) figures are indeed troop counts. Both platforms (existing and as currently proposed) can support more passengers sans kit.

    As an aside, an MoD report identifies around 90% of helicopter missions fly up to 100nm with 80% of SAR recoveries picking up 1-2 people.

    This, on the surface, implies that current helicopter technology is sufficient.

    Is it?

  282. Simon

    Perhaps it is better to think about copter transit distances in the form of time rather than miles.

    1 hour (100-150nm).

    The same hour can be spent in a V-22 going 200+nm.

  283. mike

    “Of course it won’t happen. HMG and the EU would rather pump more millions to AugustaWestland”
    Or Eurocopter? Who are partners with KAI. And are now called Airbus Helicopters….

    Who build numerous cougar/super puma types… and would rather offer those to Europe than be undercut by the Korean offering. And then there is AW with its Merlin and they already have a stake in the NH90.
    What a mess.

    Shame really, the Surion would be a good choice for CHF, it was developed with the ROK Marines use in mind.

  284. x

    @ Mike

    I just get the feeling that UK / EU trade is all about others buying from us and not us buying from them. I don’t think HMG would buy Puma for a maritime role after the accidents over the North Sea.

    @ Simon re MV22

    Navies are supposed to go into harm’s way, how far away do you want the mothership to be? Remember landings won’t happen until the aeroplanes, submarines, missiles, and escorts have cleared a path. You have to be able to follow up troops with material to sustain them. SF ops are are all very exciting but support aircraft are bought just to do that support. We need something relatively cheap to run that can move pax and pallets. There is nothing that MV22 does that we can’t do with CH-47. What I would like to see is CH47 with AAR.

  285. The Other Chris

    The point on North Sea accidents is spot on. Been talking to Riggers as well as Wind Turbine Crewboat crew working in the Atlantic, North and Irish Sea’s.

    Consensus is worried currently about crew transfer. They say similar concerns to those raised about SAR around the time of outsourcing from the RAF was announced, but a lot faith in the record of the S-92 once they heard Bristow was to continue to operate.

    Uncertainty over the AW189 as it’s such a new platform, but heartened by the AW101 heritage. Norwegian purchase of the latter was noted for their SAR.

  286. x

    You would think with Black/Sea Hawk being everywhere that S-92 would be everywhere too.

    £20 million-ish a copy according to the Interweb.

    I forget about it when we deliberate helicopters.

    EDIT: There are some customers for it but not many.

    EDIT 2: Even when it comes to grief it seems the crew and passengers walk away. Only one bad loss over the sea.

  287. Simon


    There is nothing that MV22 does that we can’t do with CH-47. What I would like to see is CH47 with AAR.

    Well other than go 250 knots and go above 3000m. But other than that what exactly has the Osprey done for us ;-)

  288. Simon


    Just to ellaborate a little…

    I’d like to sit 200nm away (out of their AWACS horizon) launch wave after wave of F35 strikes armed with Storm Shadow and during the attack launch a large scale verical assault from just about every copter spot in the fleet. Landing the chaps at pre-designated LZs controlled and policed by pre-inserted SF (who came in with SCUBA gear from the SSN).

    I’d then launch a full set of LCU each armed with an MBT and backed up with 1-2 platoons of troops per LCU.

    THEN, I’d move in and unload lots and lots of other stuff and supplies and push my supply line forward to the beach and onward into enemy territory.

  289. The Other Chris

    UK S-92 Maintenance and Training facilities at Stansted, Luton and Farnborough…

  290. x

    @ Simon

    All you are doing is delivering an unsupported force from further out at greater speed. It is lot of money to get your chaps killed more quickly.

  291. Red Trousers


    Very interesting, nice to see the old FN living on in the FAL.

    I have to think however “why?” the conversion. Do the rearward parts/lower receiver add so much to the cost that makes modularity a worthwhile option? Rifles cost less than £1000 in the volumes Governments buy them in, so how much money is actually being saved? There must be some engineering constraints and compromise going on, and a weapon with working parts able to take the firing stress of .50 must be overkill and heavier than one that is firing 7.62 or even 5.56.

    Firing .50 from the shoulder, especially from a rifle half the weight of the Barratt is going to be an interesting experience….

  292. Simon


    I see your book is 24 years old and extremely dated ;-)

    Perhaps you haven’t been told about the fact that once their AWACS is destroyed and you have air superiority an assault from 200nm is much the same as an assault from 20nm (i.e. they can’t see you coming). The only benefit from 200nm distance is the fact that it’s only 254nm to move 180nm down the coast and totally tip their pitifully slow, land-based defence off balance.

    I will of course attempt to locate the book you so kindly suggest, read it and change my mind :-)

  293. x

    RT asked “why?”

    Because .50 Beowulf. If they Army had that round in Ulster there would have been no driving through checkpoints.

    Seriously this is more for American gun enthusiasts to buy. Normally for PMC/LE .50 Beowulf is seen in replacement AR uppers or ready built AR’s.

    The Americans go a bit ga-ga over THAT rifle. There are quite a few specialist suppliers over there servicing the FAL market producing all sorts of accessories like quad rail etc.

    They are very fond of G3’s too. I think the 5.56mm makes them feel somewhat inadequate. If the Russians ever switched back to 7.62x54r for their IW the Yanks would go to DefCon 1 in fright. :)

  294. Red Trousers

    Interesting point x re checkpoints.

    It’s years back, but I recall discussions as to how we would handle an attempted drive through. All within the rules of the Yellow Card, of course. Most of us thought that aimed shots at the wetware driving the car would be more effective than going for the engine block with 7.62. This Beowolf thing might have changed that. But I doubt it.

    Sadly the Paddies on my tours failed to offer us the chance to test theory. Not bloody one. Three tours of NI and the buggers failed to offer me a single bloody chance to legally empty my magazine at them. :( . Quite different in Iraq though.

  295. Red Trousers

    X, sod the Yanks, I go a bit gaga about “THAT” rifle. ;) . I am certain that I still have the muscle memory to strip and assemble it in total darkness, and the most brilliant design feature of it is that if you loop the sling from the butt end directly around your wrist, not to the sling point at the forend you have enough leverage to yank it away from someone in a crowd trying to take it off you, and as a bonus, end up holding it as a club with which you can then beat them around the head with, without invoking Yellow Card restrictions. You cannot do that with a piece of plastic 5.56 mm shit, the balance is all wrong.

    Plus, I never believed the “shoot a man with 5.56mm, you take 3 men off the battlefield as he is wounded and needs medical assistance” Obllocks. I’d rather take one man off the battlefield with certainty, then go for his nearest muckers and take them out of the equation as well. It’s a pound a round for 7.62, versus 50 pence for 5.56. Chump change for certainty.

  296. Mark

    S92 is about the same size as a merlin and the Canadian program to militarise it has made uk procurement look positively fantastic. Puma has supposedly been retained for confined urban operations and ease of deployment. It would be interesting to know if the South Korean puma copy retains the pumas fondness for a high c of g. The requirement for puma seems to be around a 12 troop load out in hot and high or 8 troops plus a few specialists tagged on.

    I’m a fan of the wildcat so using them in pairs to mitigate the gap at the lower end of lift requirements appeals but I know there not particularly popular in certain quarters.

  297. x

    @ RT

    I was 5 when first held an example of THAT rifle. It had wood furniture. And I was amazed that soldiers could carry it all day.

    Without being too political, and speaking purely from a defence of the Realm not a personal liberty perspective (well tonight at least), it says a lot about our society that we aren’t allowed to keep the country’s service rifle in our own homes (after receiving proper training and if we have behaved ourselves in other spheres.) :(

    I found out tonight that Finns only set up their home guard in 2007……

  298. John Hartley

    On there is an item on the US military experimenting with sea water. They extract Carbon Dioxide & Hydrogen, then recombine them to make jet fuel. Sounds far fetched, but if it works on a big scale, the free West is saved from Putin & the Middle East.
    Re American FALs. DSA bought Austrias tooling of their version when they changed to the 5.56 bullpup. So most American FALs are Austrian Pattern or variations thereof.
    Re hunting calibre. 7.62 has myriad loadings, but if you plan to hunt abroad, remember that many countries ban civilians from owning guns in military calibres. Many 7.62 rifles are also made in 7-08 for the French market. The 7-08 is the .308/7.62 necked down to a 7mm bullet.
    If you want the maximum power while staying under the Bisley high muzzle energy rule, then either the 7mm Remington Magnum or the .338 Federal are the best choices. Similar muzzle energy, but the 7 Rem Mag is a smaller faster bullet, while the .338 Federal is a big low velocity bullet. The .338 Federal is a max pressure 7.62×51 necked up to a bigger bullet. If you are planning to shoot 300m or less, the .338 Federal is a good choice, but for 600m+ the 7mm Rem Mag is a good choice.

  299. The Other Chris

    The fuel production is a reality. Trick was to replace platinum and other catiloids with cheaper materials.

    Cost is down to $6 gallon compared to $3 for stuff made by the earth.

    First stage is to build a land facility. Next step is to put the plant on a ship.

    Nuclear may spring to mind as well as thoughts of unlimited fuel but you still need the catalyst material in large quantities

  300. Mark

    Europe has 17 production lines for tanks, armored vehicles and artillery, compared to two in the U.S. There are 16 different naval frigates in Europe versus a single class in the U.S., 89 active weapons programs in the EU versus 27 in the U.S. Those are 2009 numbers, but it is not any better now. By one account, 20% of all development costs in Europe are just for certification, because we have national certification. We have seen some consolidation in the industry in areas such as space, missiles and electronics. But there has been almost none in military aircraft, ships or ground systems. The reasons are quite clear: too many national interests, too much overlap and too much waste.

  301. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Mark

    Europe will never achieve US standards of commonality for the very simple reason that there are national interests and so there should be. For starters different countries have different requirements and what the US may be prepared to compromise on as it affects a certain theatre a nation will not as many have interest in only one theatre.
    I also include spending a fortune to make it all singing and all dancing and keep down variants as a compromise of sorts.
    There is room for improvement but the horrible fact is that things tend to work worse when we try and design a one solution fits all bit of kit.

  302. Mark


    That’s true but there is trend happening with the bosses of the big company’s they are firing warning shots across the bows of the respective national government they’ve simply had enough of the way government are doing business. There will be merger activity or they’ll simply start closing the non profitable divisions.

  303. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Mark

    I wonder how well that will work when Governments decode that if their multi nationals show no loyalty to them then they may start to look for value for money even if that occurs in S Korea for instance?
    Aircraft are so expensive these days, choice has already been cut, a lot of ship builders only survive because of their respective Governments, biting the only hand that feeds them springs to mind.

  304. Chris

    Mark, APATS – looking forward to it already – with the big bruisers out of the way 1) there will be opportunities for the hungry SME/local big companies, and 2) the gov’t purchasers will need to come back down to the real world and do business in ways that do not require teams of thousands writing tomes no-one will read but which must be delivered to get ticks in boxes. Imagine that? A procurement process that only demands delivery of documentation that’s necessary to achieve successful delivery & support.

  305. Mark


    I don’t think they’ll worry to be honest certainly not in aerospace the defence market is a small percentage of there business now the civil side is much larger. The likes of airbus, Boeing have major manufacturing and assembly sites now in India and china and that along with the US that is where they see there business.

  306. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Mark

    The aerospace industry is already pretty centralised but in other areas, it could get messy.

  307. All Politicians are the Same


    Germany would have to buy some kit first of course, from a maritime perspective they make BAE look like value for money. Their F125 Class frigates at £550 million a pop do not even come with a Sonar and despite fitting a phased array radar AAW capability is limited to 2 RAM launchers, giving a purely self defence capability.

  308. Gloomy Northern Boy

    I note from tonight’s news that Mr Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers is continuing his one-firm crusade to discredit HMAF and try to get some soldiers locked up…all at the taxpayers expense…

    It’s a mad world, my masters! :-)


  309. wf

    @GNB: how about a three strikes and out policy for legal aid for barristers that bring spurious prosecutions?

  310. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @wf – Not certain about that in respect of cases originating at home…but I firmly oppose it’s being available at all for individuals not normally resident in the UK…or with organisational support of any sort…thus avoiding politically motivated ambulance chasing in war-zones.

    Perfectly happy for IXION to make a living defending the scrotes and low-lifes of Carlisle…I did after all spend thirty years trying to fix the social and economic conditions they emerge from, albeit in my own neck of the woods…but that seems to me to be a far cry from trawling Iraq or Afghanistan for clients, and then cobbling together an agit-prop “Support Group” to help publicise the case…


  311. monkey

    Re European integration on defence manufacture/design.
    Remember Europanzer, MRCA (Tornado), Typhoon, Puma etc.
    We bicker to much over national shares of the work involved (yes it happens in the US each senator fighting their states corner I know) but mostly we all have separate armed forces which have different doctrines over what ‘it’ needs to be capable of.
    A unified doctrine , maybe through perhaps a multinational Europe wide even over the pond organization could be built ,ratified by a treaty of common defence ,say as it would straddle the North Atlantic be called the North Atlantic Treaty Defence Force (no the politicians wouldn’t go for that) say North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO for short. 65 years on and we have no commonality.
    In the end it will be big business that will sort it out ,BAE ,Boeing, LM, EADS , Raytheon, GD etc will buy up the small players then start to merge like BAE and EADS almost did. They will then dictate what projects they will go ahead with.
    I agree with Chris that SME’s / Local big business will come up with innovations but I suspect they will have their innovations bought off them for a price the would be stupid to turn down such as GSK do in the pharmaceutical industry when a small player gets something almost ready for market they get bought up. This is a good thing in some ways it spawns innovaion ‘if I get this working who knows what they will offer to buy me out’ mentality ,driving left field thinking and venture capitalism from financial sources alien to defence. Government can do its bit by deliberately excluding big players on RFI/Prototypes like the US did with the ULV.

  312. Darned Consultant


    As an Alumnus of one of them there Establishments – I’d be delighted if they would come back.. Sadly, it’s difficult to get the genie back into the bottle, extract the eggs from the omelet (pick a metaphor). I think that the country is worse off by delegating the thinking and evaluation to industry (even if my current life is actually facilitated by this delegation)

    In terms of development of fighting vehicles… it reminded me of the following vid (hopefully):

    Not sure which would work :(

  313. Red Trousers

    Re Mr Phil Shiner, Barrister Scrote.

    I can clearly remember taking a call from the Adjutant of the RHF in EffingBostel when I was Adjutant of my Regiment in the next door Barracks. Would we host the Scrote while he was out in Germany on a mission to defend some of the RHF from charges of violence and thuggery?

    I debated internally, sought advice from the Colonel and the RSM, and the 2IC’s wife who normally made sense. And we came up with a plan. The Giardroom stopped his taxi at the Barrack Gate, welcomed him, directed him to the otherwise empty Officer’s Mess overflow accommodation that was nearly a mile away from both Barrack Gate and the Mess itself, which he had to walk. The 2IC’s wife put on a big supper party to which all officers less me were invited, I dined alone with the Scrote and told him that he was a fucking Scrote, but nicely, and he removed himself the next day to some Boxhead Travelodge in Hanover.

    Mag to Grid.

  314. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – Have a large one on me at the TD Virtual Bar…the good whiskey that they keep behind the spare ice buckets on the top shelf…


  315. x

    Companies meet customer expectations, even if the customer is wrong, and not the other way around. If companies fail because they don’t have customers that is the market. Governments bending to keep companies going at any cost is corporatism which is a form of fascism. All those billions don’t go to a few individual, but a small percentage of a lot is still a lot, and that acquisition of millions by a few is what drives business. Unfortunately nobody has a right to a job. In nature if there isn’t enough resource to sustain a population then it dies back until there is enough resource or perishes in it’s entirety. I think society and big business needs a shift in expectations.

  316. Red Trousers


    I hope that you understand that we merely facilitated justice, and that low level intimidatory behaviour such as faxing his Chambers about 3 hours before his flight with helpful information such as White Tie for civilians being required for Dinner was merely additive to his visit, not designed to put him off. And not intimidatory at all.

    And there is absolutely no truth at all in the vicious slur that firstly, I three line whipped all young single officers into breakfasting in the Cookhouse the next day, where we could eat beans and fried bread that in the Mess I banned as being very Chav food, and that secondly that when he gave his breakfast order sitting alone in the Mess the next morning, that Cpl Moor* in Regimental Full Dress told him that beans and fried bread had been banned by the Adjutant as unOfficer-like and not to be served in the Mess for breakfast. No truth in that at all, do you hear?

  317. Gloomy Northern Boy

    RT – No such wicked thought crossed my mind…got to disagree with you about fried bread and baked beans at breakfast though…food of the gods in my view, especially with a fried egg…but I will avoid ordering them if I ever find myself breakfasting in the Officer’s Mess; unless it’s with the Kevins, of course. :-)


  318. Red Trousers

    GNB, au contraire, I disagree with myself about standards. Fried bread and beans are merely examples. I’m quite happy to nosh down on them at some ghastly motorway caff at O’My God It’s Early on a business day, and to take the Trouserettes to an All Day Breakfast gaff somewhere cheap at the weekend when SWMBO is getting some lie in.

    What I am not going to do is to take Mrs RT or my Mother to such an establishment, and that tells you why I had such a hypocritical rule (as indeed my predecessors and successors did). Look, if you allow that sort of stuff, you might as well be In the Andrew.

  319. Red Trousers

    … Or even “In the Navy”, as I believe the popular recruiting song goes by those nice young men from America..

  320. Gloomy Northern Boy

    RT – Curious meal, breakfast…there are those moments when absolutely nothing will do but a really good greasy spoon, ideally with nothing but a stack of tabloids for company…

    Guilty pleasures are sometimes the only option :-)


  321. The Other Chris


    EDIT: Not read the entire document yet, just skipped to “Future Direction” ref your question.

    It is left very vague, isn’t it? Do not drop below current levels (Rivers plus incoming Class) or below planned levels (just the incoming craft).

  322. The Other Chris

    You may want to pop the link on Martin’s A400M MPA thread. Answers a number of requirement questions.

  323. Not a Boffin

    “It is left very vague, isn’t it? Do not drop below current levels (Rivers plus incoming Class) or below planned levels (just the incoming craft).”

    Current levels are those in service, not Rivers plus Brazil knock-offs. Planned levels are (one would assume) the same.

  324. x

    Just in case your 3d printed gun experiments aren’t working out and you wished you had access to something like well metal as a starting point for your frame……….

    Of course aluminum is a bit soft but you could use large complicated chunks to hold simpler chunks of harder metals. Just sayin’…………

  325. IXION

    GNB and RT.

    To your great surprise I suspect, I sort of agree with you!

    I say sort of.

    I have long thought that random acts by damaged soldiers in the heat of battle or ‘whilst the balance of their mind is disturbed’ should be treated with understanding and a deal of forgiveness and compassion.

    However if we have, organised – semi official or ‘blind eye being turned to’ general maltreatment, then proper investigation needs to be made and if established heads need to role and yes compensation be sought and paid.

    What is alleged (and I think at the moment very much alleged) is illegal under UK law and international treaty. if you don’t like it don’t pass the laws or sign the treaties. Or and here is a typical wet scrotey lawyers opinion:

    STOP BEATING PRISONERS TO DEATH FOR SHITS AND GIGGLES. Radical I know, but go with me on this,,,


    I know your mum, (or at least your bank balance) seems to have been frightened by a lawyer) but you need to chill a little about lawyers. You should hear some of the stories about some of the con men losers walts and wife beaters I have acted for; that at one time or another have held the Queens commission. Some of them in very good regiments indeed.

    I have dealt with people with the nominal rank of major I would not issue with anything sharp, trust with my kids piggy bank put in charge of my cat.

    And as a question: -do you really think playing silly buggers like you have explained, enhances the dignity of Your regiment or yourself as a professional and an Officer and a Gentleman? Or perhaps it gives weight to the idea that the armed forces have to kept firmly in check by law and supervision by third parties if they are not to become preening self important overmighty subjects?

    Oh and it is commonly said that sarcasm is the lowest form of whit. It isn’t!

    There is an 8th circle of hell reserved for the lame practical joke.

    And beans have no place in an English breakfast.

  326. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @IXION – not terribly keen on “Preening, self-important, over-mighty” public interest lawyers myself, which I think is where I came in; and bearing in mind the numbers of those that there are either in public office, aspiring to public office, or being paid by the public purse one way or another…often to grind an axe of their own as far as I can see…I can’t help feeling that they represent a greater threat to the will of the people democratically expressed than a Military Coup undertaken by our pal RT and his old muckers…

    Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes ? one inevitably asks. :-)


  327. Observer


    “Chile is going to buy the ACE; that’s one heavy rifle. Props to Chile, as the kids say.”

    Were you referring to the picture? That’s not a Galil, Galils are 5.56 and 7.62, that one looks like a 0.5 cal Barrett anti-material rifle. Huge magazine, interestingly destructive.

  328. IXION


    No group is perfect and contains people it shouldnt doing things they shouldnt., local govt and civil services having more than its fair share. For example,

    Actualy as a breed it is lawyers who tend to guard the guards. Or the marines or the paras etc.

    Which is why we get up peoples noses. We ask awkward questions about stuff a lot of people would rather not have dragged into the sunlight.

    I dont happen to think the chatacter we are talking about, is doing something I would do or want to see done but we live in a free country governed by laws. And a surprising number of those freedoms were gained by lawyers as opposed to soldiers, and where you have those freedoms you need guards ,,,,,,,,,and lawyers.

  329. mr.fred

    If the lawyers watch the watchmen, who watches the lawyers?
    It’s one thing to ask awkward questions, quite another to go around trying to dig up something that may not (or almost certainly does not) exist, particularly if you get rich at public expense in the process.
    That there is a whole bunch of lawyers who spend their time convoluting the existing laws and generally defrauding the country to their own benefit doesn’t really help the reputation of the profession either.

  330. Nick


    In my personal opinion, I very much doubt anything has happened in Iraq/Afghanistan that hasn’t happened to a much larger extent in the past and I have no doubt that we should collectively be pretty understanding of the persons involved as IXION suggests.

    The problem is that mixed in with this, there does seem to have been a small amount of disturbing behavior which can’t be accepted, even if the enemy does the same and worse. In my opinion, rather like the police investigating their own alleged failings, you are always going to have a problem when the MoD/Army investigates themselves given the nature of the claims and the very slow progress that has been made (at least publically). I doubt many of the lawyers outside any official investigations will be paid by the Government unless the claims are upheld.

    With small digital cameras and social media, we live in a different age now. This issue isn’t going to go away. It wouldn’t surprise me if military personnel in the field don’t end up having to wear micro-cameras to protect themselves as I think we’ll see the Police being issued with over the next few years.


    Oh and other lawyers watch the lawyers, politicians watch them and us mere mortals oversee them. Its a long way from perfect, but its better than anything else out there.

  331. wf

    @IXION: err, actually I think you’ll find no lawyers at the signing of the Magna Carta, just a bunch of lords who’s military power allowed them to set terms to a king. I think you may also care to re-phrase the “government by laws” bit, since much of the trouble we are discussing is generated by rather vague “yuman rites” law proposed by lawyers. I should be careful of course, since “xenophobia” is apparently enough to get me extradited these days :-)

    I’m not a massive fan of politicians, but I’d rather my law came via their democratic mandate rather than via a European Commission on one hand and the Law Society on the other….

  332. John Hartley

    Yes its about time lawyers & judges were held accountable for their actions. There are quite a few of them that should be in prison for the rest of their lives with their property forfeit to the state for the amount of harm they have caused.

  333. Chris

    Hmmm. Annoyed with myself for this but… I have to agree (surely not) with IXION’s position. If there are laws then they should be enforced, and if the laws are open to interpretation or there are sets of laws that contradict then lawyers are inevitable and necessary.

    Essentially if you do really bad things you should expect the consequences.

    Where I diverge from the lawyers’ case is where the lawyers become promoters of legal action, either by unilaterally selecting those they believe can be prosecuted and acting as detective prosecutor judge and jury because of their ‘unique insight’, or by conducting mass trawling exercises by media (“Our records show your recent accident entitles you to £XXXX compensation…” etc). Can you imagine GPs sending out untargeted texts telling people “Records show you have cancer. Contact this surgery now to start your necessary expensive treatment”? Do you think that would be legal?

    And as MrFred states, once lawyers misuse their familiarity of law and the legal system to defraud then any justification for ‘no higher authority in the land’ is lost. These are criminals hiding (literally) behind a cloak of justice. Foul fiends indeed.

    On a related subject, I have watched over the decades the powerplays between Parliament and the Justice Chiefs (whatever they call themselves) where each demands authority over the other. Clearly neither is beyond criticism (MPs for being self-serving self-promoting ne’r-do-wells and senior judges for applying their spin on law and sentences that the famous Man On The Clapham Omnibus would never agree was justice fair & true). It gets much worse once the various Eurocourts assume themselves to be higher authorities still. Surely after 800years+ of the same legal system and 400years+ of the same parliamentary system we should have decided exactly what the hierarchy of authority is?

  334. wf

    @Chris: actually, it was clear until relatively recently that Parliament had precedence. Unfortunately, the lawyers (via have now arranged it to be co-equal :-(

  335. wf

    Not likely to @x, since Tony passed a lot of the legislation that allowed Cherie to become a millionaire….

  336. Nick


    I’m not sure I understand you here. The Eurocourts (and various other international courts and bodies that serve much the same function) as you call them have to have a different position that that of UK courts/parliament as they are there to administer how a trans-national agreement (that we negotiated and accepted into UK law). This doesn’t make them a high authority than UK courts, just different as they deal with implementing and interpreting trans-national agreements, under which various nations have given them delegated authority. International agreements involving more than 2 or 3 parties would be impossible if it didn’t work this way.


  337. Chris

    Nick – I’m no legal expert so operate on thin & untested observation, but I’m sure there have been cases where the UK courts at all levels up to whichever is the highest in the UK have made judgements on a case against one of the parties, who then states “I’ll take it to the European Court!” – which sort of suggests that UK law as administered by UK courts can be overridden by Eurocourts applying perhaps different sets of law? If the transnational agreements are part of UK law then the Eurolaw ought to be serviced by the UK court system with no court outside UK taking precedence? Or doesn’t it work that way? Why does an organization from a more remote less accountable administration have the power to overturn our own system’s rulings? Just because that administration covers more territory?

  338. IXION

    Actually I am fully in favour of parliamentary supremacy. I have come over all a bit UKIP’y lately.

    And as I say I will categorically state there are shysters in my profession who do us no credit and much harm generally! However there are shysters doing that in every walk of life (and some of them wear uniforms of various hues). there are probably even shysters blogging about defence!

    Without getting to far away from what is a defence venue I would like to ask you to think on this…

    The overriding benefits of liberal democracy has been (note the past tense) the separation of powers.

    The executive proposes laws to parliament it wants passed. Parliament passes them if the majority of elected MP’s agree, the executive seeks to enforce them and those laws are interpreted and enforced by an independent judiciary by what use to be the best legal system in the world; (rapidly, shamefully and secretly being dismantled very quickly by an executive who has finally discovered how to do it and has set about it with a will. in 10 years time or so fair trial in this country will be a memory).

    Now however:- The executive (and this is not a party political point a lot of this kicked off under Thatcher and was turbocharged by Blair); have got their fingers into everything and are trying to control it, for example (and this comes form my sphere but there are lots of others). I am increasingly in the courts facing courts that are doing things because the current Minister of Justice says so… no law has been passed but new ‘guidelines are issued’.

    Parliament is a talking shop for toadys, the days when an MP was a representative of his constituents in parliament are long gone, they are now his or hers party representative in the constituency. And that is going to get worse.

    There were no lawyers at the signing of Magna Carta perhaps that is why virtually everything in it has now been over-ridden.. Born any arms lately anyone? Want rial by a jury of your peers for criminal damage, common assault, a little altercation with a police officer at no 10’s gate?

    Try looking up Bate’s case or Wilkes case(s). Slavery abolished in UK not by Parliament but by a judge years before our representatives got round to it.

    ‘The air of England is to pure for a slave to breath’

    If you want to get rid of the human rights legislation, it’s simple lobby your MP and parliament and if the will of the people is that it be abolished or changed it will happen. Lawyers work with what parliament gives us. Only of course whilst busy slagging of lawyers and judges, the people who can actually do something about it, the politicians won’t. Parliament could repeal the relevant legislation tomorrow if it wanted… Next time an MP appears on telly shouting about human rights lawyers just ask him why he is not repealing the laws…

    If the steering wheel of your car comes of in your hand and you take it to the garage and the mechanic fixes it but it comes off again because the manufacturers parts are made of chocolate, take it up with the manufacturer not the mechanic.

    It was in part lawyers that forced the govt to do something about snatch Landrovers for example, and exploding aircraft.

    I am not saying we are all wonderful but we are necessary, like doctors, dentists, vets, road crossing sweepers and painters and decorators, and even people who wear rouge hued pantaloons.

    It is a country made up of free people that we are defending.

    Do I agree with the chap trawling for cases against the army? – no. Do I think he should have the right to – yes.

    BTW Army coup jibe. There remains a rumour that in the early mid 70’s armed forces chiefs approached Mountbatten about a coup……

  339. IXION


    Yep but good barristers do not necessarily make good mp’s or vis versa.


    No we didn’t Parliament did.—- probably without realising it.

    If the deputy speaker can vote for cuts to legal aid then moan about how it cost him £130,000 to be found not guilty and state that:-

    I would not have voted for it if I had known it meant that….

    What hope is there for any of us

  340. IXION


    It has the powers because parliament gave it to them. parliament can take it back any time it wants. If it wants to bad enough. It just doesn’t want to because it makes for convenient get out.

    “Of course we want this to happen….. but those bloody (insert scapegoat here).. Won’t let us.”

  341. Nick


    Hi there. I’m no lawyer either (although I spent a good time learning a number of the key laws and cases as part of my professional qualification), so we should defer to IXION. The European Court of Justice doesn’t deal with the interpretation of UK laws, just European Law and has no ability to overturn UK law. However, if the matter relates to a European law (which are incorporated into UK law) then they can act to a degree in sanctioning the UK.

    This doesn’t mean they can overturn UK judgments (the UK Supreme Court is the top dog) unless they find that the UK has misinterpreted European law. I can’t find any clear reference to how many times that’s happened over the last 25 years, but I think that pretty much tells you just how common it is. Anything major affecting a UK issue is pretty much national media coverage (eg the Google case from this week or a couple of years ago when the ECJ found the Home Office’s indefinite detention on untried “terrorists” to be illegal).

    From what I recall, most threats to take a matter to Europe are just that and the ECJ itself kicks out a very high % of matters brought before it anyway. The real world impact of the ECJ on day to day legal matters is pretty minimal in practice. To put things in context (thank you internet) the ECJ had an annual budget in 2013 of Euro354 million compared to the Ministry of Justice, which spends GBP8,200 million pa on administering justice in England & Wales (Scotland and NI have their own budgets).

    Case close M’Lord !



  342. Chris

    IXION – yet again I think I agree, which is unravelling decades of prejudice (oh no!) What I do think is a good idea, and it applies equally to tax rules as to laws, is to simplify brutally. If for example every single person in the land had income tax of (example here) 20% on everything earned over £15k, while at the same time all the rebates handouts exclusions loopholes and allowances were scrapped – every one of them – would the average person be less well off or not? Without the legally permitted tax evasion (called avoidance) would the really rich pay more or less? Without the hypercomplicated tax rules would revenue administration and enforcement cost as much? Would the calculation of tax owed take so many staff? The probability is that very simple rules could be put in place that didn’t disadvantage the average person nor the honourable rich ones who paid their dues without clever avoidance tactics, which closed the loopholes that the very rich delight in using, and which in totality increased the income from taxation (both by closure of loopholes and by reducing costs of collection). The same simplification would work for business taxation too. But why not law? It ought to be clear to each of us what is legal and what breaks the law. There should not be room for doubt or confusion. That way we are clearly responsible for our behaviour. As soon as it gets to citing the case of Frobisher vs. Harcourt of 1846 to work out if a law has been broken or not then the law itself is a broken thing. Simplicate! Its the only rational way!

    TOC – a defence issue! Sharkskin submarines would seem to be a sound idea (pun!) providing the surface of the cladding remains robust – if the striations make the resilient material fragile such that it peels away leaving a hard substrate exposed then its no use at all. I recall a few years back airliner manufacturers were investigating microgrooved outer skins for their aircraft which stopped the lowest level of lamina flow from sticking to the surface, making the machine much more slippery. I don’t know if this was taken to production; maybe the cost of the surface treatment was too high.

  343. Nick


    I’m up for reshaping our democracy back to what is supposed to be (although I don’t actually think it has ever quite worked that way in reality) and for redesigning the whole administration of Justice in the UK while we’re at it. We do need a more US like situation, where the legal system sits outside the government and the ministry of justice is abolished and replaced with an independent set up complete with proper legal aid for all criminal cases and most serious civil cases (but there has to be a way of cutting through the crap) with proper reform of Tort Law (I think you call it that any way the whole I’ve slipped on a puddle and want damages malarkey), libel/deformation and privacy law.

    Not hopeful though :).


  344. Nick

    Chris and TOC

    How about a living self repairing shark skin cover ? Coming soon I think (well 20 years).

    I rather think the problem wouldn’t be creating it (we’ve grown skin and ears in labs already), but scaling it up to a commercially possible scale is the issue (nano-technology has the same issue).


  345. The Limey

    @Chris – tax is my area (at last something on TD where I can comment usefully!).

    The biggest problem in tax is not about rates, it is about how to define what the earnings are. Almost all of the exclusions are in there for very good reasons (e.g. to stop somebody being taxed twice on the same earnings, to encourage small businesses or to allow people to offset their losses in one business against the profits in another). It’s not as simple as saying ‘anything over £15k’ – you first have to define earnings.

    I am not going to defend some of the more stupid bits of UK tax law though (and lawyers do not make accountants’ lives easier)…

  346. Observer

    Could we be looking at the past with a bit more of a rose tinted viewpoint than it should rightfully warrant? No human government system has, to butcher a phrase, “pleased everyone all the time”. Even in the past when “Parliament” had its’ “full powers”, people still complained about it.

    And I’m not so sure the US justice system is all that separate from politics either with all the rulings of “unconstitutional” laws being overturned.

    Chris, not to mention if the cladding can keep the sound profile for a sub low. Not good if all the pebbling on the skin makes it act like a Prairie Masker white noise system by trapping air in them/

  347. wf

    @Nick: you’re a tad confused there. First of all, European law has primacy over UK law: it’s practically clause 1 in European treaties. However, the EU does not have “competence” in every area of law, although it’s scope has been rapidly expanding over the last 30 years. The ECJ handles disputes with regard to such European laws, with an in-built bias to find in favour of European law.

    The ECHR is *not* part of the EU, although the latter requires members to be signed up to the relevant treaty. The ECHR is the main offender when it comes to the “yuman rites” areas.

  348. Observer

    Nick, you know what immortal (biological term, it means able to replicate indefinitely) cell growth is usually called? Cancer.

    I do get the allure of immune matched body parts for transplant and even blood for transfusion, but an uncontrolled self replicating immortal cell line disgusts the geneticist/oncologist in me. It’s a cancer. Literally.

  349. Chris

    Limey – Sort of understood, but I’m pretty sure a simple blanket tax system would a) be seen as fairer as everyone pays the same proportion of earnings to everyone else with the same initial tax free sum of earnings, b) would remove most of the loopholes if not all which are hidden in the current system, c) net more tax for the nation because it would be much harder to avoid paying up and because the collection system would be so much simpler. Simple is good. And as I said earlier the simple rule – um – rule should extend to business taxation too. I’m sure I heard at some time that a certain G Brown increased complexity of tax & benefit rules by an unprecedented degree (including taxing the accruing pension pots thus inventing the future pensions crisis) so presumably it could not be argued ‘impossible’ to return complexity to the level of complexity in the mid 90s, at least as a start?

  350. Nick


    I wasn’t envisaging the shark skin sub being any more immortal than your or my skin is, but if you were to do it for real then you’d need to be very very careful. Actually I think you’d want to design your sub based a whale and cut out the use of steel/titanium for your pressure hull. I don’t know how whales actually do cope with the pressure change, but since the deepest recorded whale dive is 2,900 meters, they do seem to know what they’re doing.

    Joking apart, I actually do think this sort of engineering is coming down the line, but I wouldn’t like to guess when though.



  351. The Limey

    @Chris – while it may be simpler it does not help with defining what earnings are. For example – you sell your house and get more for it than you paid. Is that earnings? If not, why not? If it is not, you have just introduced an exception into your taxation model…
    GB did not help but a lot of what is said about the pensions stuff is just rubbish and a lack of understanding of how corporate tax works (or didn’t work back in the day). The changes were needed to avoid tax avoidance while still allowing freedom of movement of capital. If the changes had not been made any non-UK owner of a company would have been able to get the profit without paying any tax.

    As to ECJ – IANAL but the Supreme Court judgement on HS2 is very interesting reading on the interaction between Parliamentary Sovereignty, the UK courts and the European Courts. The UK judges seem to be a bit annoyed about European Courts and there could be some interesting things to come on that soon.

  352. x

    @ IXION

    Never said they did.

    I think too that we are on a slippery slope. My fear is a real push to lock the internet down will happen.

  353. Observer

    Nick, are you thinking of “immortal” as in unable to die? That is not the biological meaning. Immortal cell lines are cells capable of reproducing forever and ever and never stop. If your “self replicating” skin were not, it would stop replacing itself after a few generations. Skin doesn’t “heal” itself with skin, not totally. Like all things biological, it’s a bit nebulous, but cuts are healed by mylofibroblast pulling the wound closed and collagen depositing. That is why sometimes you get a keloid scar from the collagen.

  354. Nick


    I’m not sure I didn’t say the same thing as you have.

    Let’s say the 26 member states negotiate and agree a new EU piece of law. By definition, that law has to be applied equally and the same way across the entire EU (for example the single market wouldn’t work otherwise), which means it has to have “supremacy” in the basic sense of the word. The way this is done is by each EU member incorporating the EU law into there own national laws (by act of parliament or by a new parliamentary regulation), whereby it becomes English and Wales law (Scotland does the same thing separately).

    The ECJ can only overrule UK law if the ECJ believes that the way the European law has been put in place in the UK differs from what the court considers the piece of EU law to mean. This is no different than the UK courts do anyway for UK only laws surely ? Given that the court has many judges sitting to decide the case and they are from multiple jurisdictions you’re going to get instances when the ECJ decides the UK interpretation is wrong in some way, but this is true for all EU members (and the UK record is rather good on this).

    With any international treaty/EU law you’re not going to end up with everything exactly the way you want it to be, but the assumption has to be that having the treaty across the EU is better than having 26 different pieces of law. That’s certainly what the single market concept (Maggie’s big idea) requires to work.

    On the ECHR, the same principle applies. We help write the European Convention on Human Rights, which we agreed would apply across Europe. I don’t think we can really cry now, if occasionally we want to do something that is outlawed by the ECHR. I would say that we really ought to be ashamed if we did.

    In fact a lot of the media crap regarding Human Rights (like Health and Safety) really has nothing to do with Human rights at all. Give you an example, France doesn’t make it difficult for themselves to expel undesirables, but we seem to have made a meal out of doing just that. Is that the ECHR’s fault or ours ?


  355. The Limey

    @Nick – on the ECHR I think there are some appropriate criticisms of the way it has been extended beyond its plain meaning. I think this is very dangerous for constitutional documents. Similarly, under the US Constitution the federal government has the right to regulate inter-state commerce. The US Courts has read that to mean anything that could possibly impact on inter-state commerce (e.g. the federal government has the power to ban narcotics because if they were legal in one state they may possibly be sold to another). I find that very dangerous.
    On ECHR let’s take Protocol 13 as an example – I think that it’s probably reached the stage that, even without that Protocol, no state could have a death penalty – it would be deemed to not be within the margin of appreciation. This despite the death penalty having been discussed during the drafting and specifically left out.

    While it is true that rights (as granted by society) expand – I think those are and should be political judgements and therefore best left in the hands of politicians.

  356. Nick


    I was thinking of continually growing and repairing minor bits and pieces of damage itself just like real skin does. Whether you’d want to replace scar tissue style damage or not would depend on the seriousness I guess. Shark skin (Keratin based I think or would you prefer a Chitin based structure instead ?) is quite durable I think, so whether there’d be the need to replace the skin more than a few times during the operational life of the sub would depend on avoiding accidents.



  357. Nick


    The problem with politicians is that they’re too busy worrying about their image, PR, special interest groups. lobbyists, big business, and their personal/political agendas and pet projects etc etc to try and do anything controversial on the whole. Courts and judges have all too often chosen to step into the gas they’ve left helping to create the problems you highlight.

    Taking your US Federal government point, what you’re really saying is that the US Supreme Court has in effect supported the Federal Government’s view on how it chooses to regulate inter-state commerce. This means that the system is working as designed surely ? You may think its the wrong outcome, but then that’s what politics is (should be) there to do – change the outcome by amending the law. They haven’t managed to stop Colorado (yet ?) though.

    We can all agree that no system is perfect, but do we have a better one ?


  358. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Re Phil Shiner and PIL – my concern in this particular instance is that as I understand it the International Criminal Court “may only exercise it’s jurisdiction when national authorities are unable or unwilling to investigate…crimes”… which seems to me as a laymen to be not only false, but also insulting bearing in mind that Soldiers here have been prosecuted and convicted, and the number of public inquiries into events in Iraq and Afghanistan proliferates with the day.

    More widely, the tendency of grandstanding lawyers who don’t win here to find another jurisdiction seems to me deliberately intended to undermine national sovereignty, and seeks to replace a national democratic process which I do support with an international judicial one which I do not…not least because I have no vote in who those judges are and where they come from…and I have a strong sense that some of them will be appointed by Governments whose conduct appals me and who will expect their nominees to pursue their interests, not any wider nation of justice. There are very few states in the world who do not control their own judges, practically all of them in the West. :-(

    Very uneasy about the UN for the same reason…as far as I can see the bad guys outnumber the good guys in that august institution as well, and without our veto would take every possible opportunity to use it to do us harm…


  359. IXION

    Its actually good to see some intelligent points being made about Europe for a change.

    Always remember there are forces at work here. Bone idle secretive incompetent Govt being the main reason.

    “We would love to tell you about x or help you about y but ‘Data protection’ Human Rights’ or Euro regulations mean we can’t” so not our fault at all.

    Lovely example of that was Norwich Council wanting to chop down rows of magnificent horse chestnuts due to ‘elf an safety mate’. Transpired after a few questions were asked as to why other councils the length and breadth of the land were not deafening their citizens with the sound of chainsaws; that they just did not want to pay for the regular checks by tree surgeons

    This reached it’s nadir under Blunket who deliberately breached European law knowing it would be chucked out of court and appealed when he lost so he could point to the judges and say ‘bastards’. the fact that as home secretary in the Blair govt and that govt could have started a repeal process any time it liked, was quietly forgotten…………..

    Just be aware that those that bleat about ‘euman rites’ and Europe etc can speak with forked tounge.

    To return to the defence issues, are we really claiming a right to torture for the British Army?

  360. IXION

    This does not mean by the way that the original idea of the ECHR and its younger cousin the ICC are bad ideas.

    But let’s stop committing genocide and wiring protesters balls to the mains, has rather become: – let’s not look at that person ‘in a funny way’ Or not allowing him to stop an entire street 3 times a day to pray to Nog Slumpy the custard god.

  361. wf

    @Nick: agreed with most of that, but my beef with the ECHR is more that it has the temerity to assign nebulous rights to citizens as bounty from a generous government, rather than a carefully circumscribed restriction of our inalienable rights for specific purposes. As we have seen, the said “rights” can then be arbitrarily removed and can be used as a lever against free speech, for example.

    @IXION: au contraire, this is why I think the ECHR *was* a terrible idea. The abuses you mention were inevitable, given the way it was designed.

  362. The Limey

    @Nick –
    It’s still illegal in Colorado under federal law. The federal government has just said that it will limited in enforcement.

    My wider point was that there was no inter-state commerce – just the slightest possibility of such was sufficient for a centralising government to take the powers, enabled by a court that used more than clear language in a constitutional document.

  363. Nick


    Clearly I’m not up to date with this, but since there are ongoing enquiries, I doubt there are any legal grounds for taking this to the ICC as yet. So long as the report is actually published (and not hidden a la Chilcot) and the evidence to support whatever the conclusion is clearly supports the conclusion reached, then the ICC would not be able to act. The problem is I think, the MOD appears to be covering this up (even if they’re not really) if only by being so slow. By ignoring the PR side of this, the government seems to be playing into the hands of guys like Shiner.

    Out other problem is we supported creating the ICC and the whole international apparatus around this for very good reasons and as IXION suggests, how can we possibly support any individual or unit which has undertaken actions in Iraq or Afghanistan which would be a criminal offence in the UK ?



  364. Chris

    IXION – thou shouldst not take the name of Nog Slumpy in vain! But there is a serious point in the arguments which is essentially balance. Agreed there are proper hideous acts against which the full force of law should fight – you might consider murder an extreme case of human rights violation as an example. But when the human rights laws provide considerable protection of liberties to those that have already demonstrated their complete contempt for the most basic rights of others (murderers, terrorists etc) they essentially ignore, hence dismiss, the human rights of the victims. And that can’t be right.

  365. Nick


    I stand corrected. However if there’s a lack of clarity, Colorado state would be able to bring an action in Federal Court (right up to the Supreme Court) which would clarify Federal Law and justify or not whether the Federal Government’s action were legal. Governments are free to imply they can take powers, but the rule of law is there is keep them honest. Its not so different in the UK (Judicial Reviews etc) followed by elections. This isn’t perfect, but is there a fairer system anywhere else ?



  366. Nick


    So far as I’m concerned, a just society protects the basic rights of the criminal just as much as anyone else. There is a conflict between the rights of the victim and those of the criminal, but a just society (acting in the form of its legal system) redresses the victim’s rights through punishing the guilty.

    Your conundrum works where the victims or torture are terrorists, but fails completely when they turn out to be civilians mixed up in error or hangers on or supporters who haven’t personally committed a terrorist act. Even with terrorists, what gives an individual or state the right to torture them before putting them on trial for their crimes or punishing them when there is no evidence that they are actually a terrorist at all. Its not nice and easy at all, but your conundrum can only lead us to become the very thing we are supposedly fighting against.


  367. The Limey

    US Supreme Court already decided – see Gonzales v Raich.

    I also get your points about the venality of the executive and courts are vitally important in restricting their power However I think that there is a proper limit on the exercise of that power by the courts.

    Let’s take a coming example on free trade – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. No matter whether we think that the TTIP is a good idea or not, I think we can all agree that it would not be appropriate for a court to impose free trade across borders on the EU and USA. Entering into the TTIP is a decision for politicians, not judges.

  368. Nick


    Thanks for that. Presumably Colorado is storing a problem for itself down the line with a different White House?

    Yes I would agree with you 100 % on the proposed Treaty. I believe there are clauses in the proposed, which could effectively by pass EU or US law, by making dispute resolution an arbitration process. For example US data protection law is pretty non-existent compared to Europe. How do you resolve this sort of mismatch before hand and if a dispute was taken to arbitration later, how do you ensure that Citizens rights are properly protected in accordance with your own domestic law ? I assume you end up using an existing International Court or creating a new one. It doesn’t seem ideal to me either way,.


  369. DavidNiven

    Public Accounts Committee – Fifty-Seventh Report
    The Ministry of Defence Equipment Plan 2013-23 and Major Projects Report 2013

    (The published report was ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 7 May 2014)


    The Ministry of Defence (the Department) has made progress this year in improving its control over the costs of its largest projects and its financial management of major equipment procurement. But against a long history of escalating costs on its major projects, the affordability of the overall Equipment Plan is still uncertain.

    The Department still has work to do to properly understand the support costs which account for over half of the annual spend on the Equipment Plan. It underspent on the Equipment Plan by £1.2 billion in 2012-13, but does not know the reasons for the underspend and so cannot be certain that it is not storing up costs for future years. Project and cost control of individual projects is still too often not well managed. Project teams do not yet have enough staff with the right skills to employ proper cost and risk management techniques, good practice in cost and risk modelling is not consistently applied. The Department does not have the robust measures of outturn against forecasts it needs to fully understand the variations in spending against plan, but is moving forward in this area. Any further increases in costs on major projects, such as those which affected the Carriers project in 2012-13, could also put the overall affordability of the Equipment Plan at risk. The Department needs to do further work to develop its overall understanding of the risks to the Equipment Plan, and whether its contingency of £4.7 billion is set at the right amount. It is relying on achieving over £2 billion of savings in two of its major programmes, but achieving these savings will be a challenge. Its plans are based on the assumption of a 1% real terms increase in the Equipment Budget from 2015 until 2023. Given the state of the public finances, the Department should plan how it would manage on a reduced budget. It also needs to resolve its skill shortages in areas of expertise that will be vital to managing its major projects and keeping its spending plans on track.

  370. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @IXION and Nick – I think we may more or less be in agreement – I have no problem with International Courts that deal with rotten-dog regimes who have committed genocide (or the like) as a matter of deliberate policy…I am concerned about grand-standers using them to have a politically motivated pop at stable western democracies that have an independent judiciary of their own…and who are willing to investigate and if necessary prosecute crimes committed by their own servants, and at least publicly inquire into their own or some previous governments misdeeds.

    We are not perfect, but not Rwanda much less Nazi Germany…although easier, safer and more profitable to drag through the courts…not brave, not clever…just pompous, self interested and ultimately destructive misuse of process to grind a private axe with no risk and considerable profit…


  371. Mark

    It has been a long time coming. Initially due for entry into service three years ago, Watchkeeper has not had an easy introduction, facing extra scrutiny as the first UAS to be certified by the U.K.’s new military air safety body, the Military Aviation Authority (MAA). Meanwhile, the loss of one of its precursors in Afghanistan, a leased-in Hermes 450, has resulted in a radical change in the configuration of the army’s UAS operations, to those more closely matching that of a typical flying squadron in the Army Air Corps or the Royal Air Force.

    One wonders why it wasn’t with the AAC all along.

  372. x

    This interested me not so much for the politics or economics but a bit of wider concern. We don’t do coups or change our political system here too much (EU to one side) but other countries aren’t so stable. Indeed other countries weren’t countries not so long ago. I wonder if or when some patriots in the governments of these countries will say enough is enough and start to plan premature sticky ends for some of these EU apparatchiks. And I wonder how that would play out in a broader security context.

  373. The Other Chris


    Ahhh, bifurcated exhausts :)


    Shame the Army Reserve don’t get a chance to operate them. Plenty of civilian skill-sets could input into the what can be described as a capability that still needs plenty of TLC to help it mature.

  374. Chris

    Wiseape – several years ago I was surprised and pleased to find a very smart example of a Sea Vixen tucked in the corner of one of Brooklands Museum’s hangars. When I quized the member of staff with us about it, he said it did not belong to the museum, they just let the owner use their shed for its rebuild. The owner apparently had the necessary permissions to fly the thing as a private plane, on a PPL??? Beats the heck out of a plastic Cessna… Googlespace provides more of the story:

  375. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @x – The thought of a re-emergence of the euro-crisis as one of legal and constitutional legitimacy for the ECB has quite cheered me up…might just bring the whole sorry business to ruin…a mixed blessing, as in my view it might well do for NATO (in Europe) as well…

    I wonder if Scotland will have packed their bags by the time it all goes crash? :-)


  376. x

    @ ACC

    mmmmmmm Valmet……..

    There is just something about the AK respins that appeals to me. I like the piston system. You may be just moving/dispersing the effects of the cartridge going off but anything that helps prolong the life of the lubrication has to be good. I believe German engineers have a saying, runs well if oiled well.

    This is what I would buy if it were up to me for the infantry and RM………..

  377. x

    @ GNB

    Sometimes i wonder if as a young teen I spend too much time in Smiley’s world. Imagine a populist PM in a Italy that was undergoing the same strife as Greece has suffered. The EU is a paper tiger. It takes only one courtier has to point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

    I am no fan of the EU but it’s collapse would be a threat to the UK’s overall security. Always amazed how quickly the eastern Europe rejuvenated itself after the Cold War. The difference of course was that there was a vibrant economy in the west of Europe (and the US, and first world nations of Asia) to fill the void left by the USSR. The economy now is on a knife edge in the West and if you believe what is being said about the Chinese Bubble in Asia too.

  378. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @x – Agree on the risk posed by the collapse of the EU, but it’s my belief that the democratic deficit and bureaucratic hubris within the EU are both now so great that it cannot end well…and the longer the final crisis is staved off the greater the damage and destruction that will ensue when it finally arises. WW2 would have been much shorter if it had started in March 1936…

    As you rightly say, pluralistic ignorance on a quite staggering scale…eventually somebody is bound to mention the absence of clothes…


  379. All Politicians are the Same

    The Eu is not working well but to suggest it will end in a conflict is pure nonsense, we work far too closely together as do our militaries and it is 2014 not 1939.

  380. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @apats – Not conflict – just disintegration, and the emergence of some sort of new settlement…no predictions at all as to what that will be or how we will get there…might be a whimper, might be a bang…

    My reference to 1936 was a suggestion that it is better to sort things out sooner than later, not that we are on the edge of war…

    I’m Gloomy, not dystopian (well, not always!) :-)

  381. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Not suggesting conflict so much as disintegration and a new and as yet unknown settlement…which might come with a whimper, or might come with a bang…but will in my view come Better dealt with sooner than later…


  382. Chris

    x, GNB – ref the fall of the Wall vs. now – up until 1989 Western Europe was the front line in the nearly-war stand off; all nations this side of the Iron Curtain had significant defence investment and as a consequence modern equipment; under the authority of NATO the US was a presence here and in close collaboration with Western Europe’s defence forces. As a group these nations prospered. Behind the wall there was even greater military spending and a similar military focus on the Eastern European territories facing NATO across the Iron Curtain. The USSR and its Warsaw Pact cohorts did not prosper; the military expense drained the coffers dry. It was hugely probable that the draw of the comfortable affluent West would trigger popular uprisings on the borders among the comparatively poverty-struck Ostis. That the Warsaw Pact states and the USSR toppled quite so fast probably shows just how bad the finances were.

    So Western Europe was besieged by one time communist states eager to prosper like the neighbours to the west clearly had done. But. And this is one huge But. Wealth is not created out of political will or diplomatic treaty. It is earned. The Western European states had marshalled their reserves and crafted their trade carefully as they had done for countless generations before, where the communist collective had abandoned such foul capitalism in favour of blanket ambitionless state control of everything. The Eastern European states had almost nothing to build on other than a willingness to work. The rich neighbour was on the hook to provide the means of regeneration. And while the Eurocrats were ready to turn on the taps for the Eastern Bloc, the EEC states struggling to make ends meet took the opportunity to invest in a bit of ‘me too’ diplomacy so Spain and Greece and to a lesser extent Italy and Ireland also took in regeneration funding. This was money for nothing, right? Cue Dire Straits.

    It wasn’t free cash. Cash never is. It was Western Europe’s wealth being spread in all directions without the political will to impose caution or restraint. I recall a German friend grumbling at the rise in income tax specifically added to fund some of the costs of regeneration of the ex-DDR. Most of the wealth spreading from wealthy states was not so blatant, not so obvious. This is where the vibrancy of Western European economies went.

    You can’t blame the benefiting states for wanting to improve their lot. You can’t blame the Western states for wanting to help. You can however criticise the lack of measured control, the seeming lack of foresight of what funding such a huge regeneration project would do to the EEC bank balance. Indeed some states would seem to have bought the notion that the gravy-train was free and for ever, and their economics almost broke Europe.

    The question that needs to be put is when the investment in regeneration starts paying back? If the likes of Poland and Slovakia and the Czech Republik and Hungary are now approaching the living standards of Germany, how long before their industrial base starts shovelling revenue back into the EU coffers? And Spain and Ireland and Italy – net contributors when? I wouldn’t embarrass Greece by asking the same question of them.

    Perhaps its time to declare the honeymoon over; time for those states that wilfully accepted massive injections of what was in essence foreign aid to start paying back some of their debts? Probably a bit difficult when the EU cash has funded lavish governmental offices and beautified previously dowdy city centres and built beautiful new roads for roads sake – maybe the money would have been better spent on proper investment projects. Fortunately in some cases – the likes of the Škoda and Leica works spring to mind – it seems money has been well spent.

    Time for a return on investment?

  383. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @apats I’m expecting disintegration and a new settlement rather than war…but I hesitate to guess what post-EU Europe will look like, or if it will arrive with a whimper or a bang…I just think the failure of legitimacy within the current arrangements is too great to be ignored in perpetuity, and institutional break-down on a large scale can be a nasty business…

    I’m Gloomy, not dystopian (well, not always!) :-)

  384. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Chris – A compelling argument, but unlikely in my view to convince the current net recipients of EU largesse that being redirected towards the net contributor queue is a highly desirable sign of progress and achievement…


  385. Observer

    Ow. I really mean ow on the Vietnam thingy x. I can just facepalm looking at the sources. A Russian news piece taken from an Israeli TV news report over Vietnamese weapons production. Convoluted much? :)

    As for the EU, I don’t see it collapsing any time soon, organizations, once they get going, have an inertia on their own and most would see it as easier to just stay the course rather than tear it all down and restart on something totally new. Too much work, and people tend to be lazy.

  386. Andy

    Thanks Simon 257 for posting this link. Page 9 under Combat Aircraft lists 3 Harriers and 4 Phantoms which I guess might be a few left lying around in a reasonable condition in someone’s private collection but most surprisingly lists 68 Jaguar aircraft. Anybody know where they are and what condition they are in? Also lists 140 Tornados but I think recent parliamentary answer had 102 in the combined Forward and Depth Fleets. Might the difference be aircraft in storage?

  387. dave haine

    @ Chris
    Airbus did indeed look at micro grooves for aircraft skinning- It was felt unwise to use a grooved skin, because of the risk of creating a crack-propagation weak-point and the difficulty of machining. So they created a self-adhesive grooved plastic film (yes! ‘Sticky-backed, plastic’!).
    Unfortunately, the difficulty of getting the film on some very complicated curves, at the appropriate angles to be effective (because the grooves are only effective at roughly 90 degrees to the airflow) meant that it, generally, would have to be a factory applied finish, and would have to go over the existing paint (because one hit from a spanner handlers paintbrush and the grooves aren’t effective anymore).
    Keeping the bloody stuff on was just as much of a sod as well- getting something to stay adhered in an airflow of 300-400mph, or possibly, a water spray at 300-400mph, in a temperature range of -30 to +32 degree Celsius over possibly a 6hr cycle.

    As with so many things- theory was correct, and the tests proved the effectiveness, it’s just the practicalities that were the problem. However, Airbus made a mint out of selling the technology for other uses, not least the use of superthin vinyl for custom cars.

    Airbus are still researching the adhesive technology and are playing now with vinyls that are less than 200 microns thick (roughly the thickness of the paint on your car). I can see a time where we won’t paint cars- the panels will be moulded in plastic and coated in a ultra-thin vinyl film, using a cold laminate process. Aeroplanes will be carbon fibre with a vinyl film applied in a hot laminate process.

    And someone has developed a paint that contracts, as it dries, into grooves. There’s a thought for you…..

  388. dave haine

    Oh…and a fiercely , independent judiciary who ultimately are the servants of impartial justice should be the cornerstone of democracy….

  389. The Other Chris


    Private collections are just that, won’t be listed there.

    As per the footnotes they are:

    Obsolete non-operational equipment used as training aids, gate guardians and museum pieces on CFE declared sites.

    Think the difference in Tornado numbers are predominantly made up of the remaining F3’s in storage.

    I note 1 Canberra listed but not flagged as a Gate Guardian or similar. I take it that’s one of the last three PR9’s (retired in 2006) that didn’t find a buyer?

  390. The Limey

    @Andy –
    The (current holdings of) Harriers and Phantoms are footnoted as ‘training aids, gate guardians and museum pieces on CFE declared sites’, so presumably not airworthy. It seems silly to include them at all…

  391. Obsvr

    @ Mark

    How accurate the Aviation Week article is of course an open question. The Royal Regt has been flying UAS for over 50 years, they started about 5 yrs after the AAC in its current incarnation was created. It seems that 50 yrs ago only the Gunners had the prescience to see that UAS might have some military value.

    Primarily (and recognising that current ops are more interested in surveillance), UAS are in the target acquisition business for targets beyond the range of normal ground observers, the attacks on the targets acquired are also primarily undertaken by artillery, as are those depth targets acquired by other technologies, eg MAMBA and ASP (which are almost certainly used for some cueing of UAS). The big change with Watchkeeper is the capability to deploy imagery detachments to wherever required (in Viking BVS10). Doing this also fits in well with arty command and control arrangements, basically there are RA officers at every cbt HQ from coy to corps level. It’s also useful to note the UAS are not always ‘flown’ by a pilot in the conventional sense, in army use the operator, a JNCO (eg bombardier) merely positions the a/c where its sensors are needed. The a/c actually flies itself. The exception with Wkpr and Hermes seems to be during takeoff and landing where the operator is fully in charge. Command of the a/c, the ‘pilot’ and the image analyst is by the Ground Station commander, typically a SNCO.

    What seems to have been added is a person qualified in operating in controlled airspace and able to deal with ATC matters. Given the UAS spend most of their time in uncontrolled airspace I assume this person has a quiet life (except during training in UK).

  392. Chris

    DH – one of my colleagues many years ago was a keen follower of aerodynamic developments. He had heard of the theory relating to lamina flow drag (the effort moving bodies have in unsticking smooth controlled lamina flow at the rear of the moving body) and the new work in deliberate disruption of streamlined surfaces. He was already aware that there were gains in drag terms with an abrupt rear surface – bullet shapes with flat backsides being less draggy than teardrop shapes. He therefore decided the ultimate sportscar would be a highly tuned BL Mini (smallest frontal area), more than that a highly tuned Mini van (abrupt rear end), more yet than that a highly tuned Mini van which had had the rear third of its flanks and roof liberally pummelled by sledgehammer (to break away lamina flow). I wonder sometimes if he ever built it.

  393. Andy

    @ The Other Chris

    Point taken about Phantoms, Harriers and Canberras – does seem daft to include them.

    A lot of Tornados are listed on as ‘RTP’ at Leeming – might this be Reduced to Parts?

    Still 68 Jaguars seems a lot – wonder what they’re being used for in such large numbers?

    Also, not included are about a dozen Sea Harriers which the School of Flight Deck Operations used to maintain at Culdrose. Does anyone know if they’re still there?

  394. Chris

    Obsvr – according to the MOD vehicles holding document referenced above by Simon257 there are just 2 Viking left in service: ” The number of Viking armoured combat vehicles held by the UK in Europe decreased from 131 in 2013 to 2 in 2014. This is because they are being withdrawn from service.” How does this gel with Watchkeeper GCS? Are there just two high mobility GCS with the rest in boxes on trucks, or is the forward GCS being redesigned to suit another platform ? Note that the obvious step over to Warthog seems by the ongoing reduction in their numbers to be ruled out.

    TOC – ref Canberra on the books – doesn’t Boscombe Down keep a Canberra for system test purposes?

  395. dave haine

    On the EU question:

    I rather think that the EU may well be forced to reform into a looser confederation, more akin to the trading bloc it used to be. It seems that there is a substantial groundswell in the northern countries for reform. German public opinion seems to be turning against them, as they see it, ‘bailing out’ the the southern european nations.
    The Danish and the Dutch want reform because they see the EU as a vast money pit, with little effect on their lives. The French ignore the EU when it suits them, so I suspect they don’t care too much (although the french government is much more interested, seeing as it pays for some of the programmes they laud as being french to help the french)

    ….Much as it pains me to say it, ‘Call me Dave’ might be more on the button than I give him credit for.

    GNB is right- ‘If it is to be done, best it were done quickly’…If the EU is going to survive, it will have to reform, and before the net payers have had enough of bailing out the net recipients.

  396. Obsvr

    @ Nick

    Committing a civil offence is and has been for a long time (back to the 19th C) is an offence under UK military law (the Army Act and now the Armed Forces Act), but only when outside UK, status of forces agreements deal with the matter of has jurisdiction (hence the current impasse between the current regime in Kabul and the US over a new SOFA) but when there is no SOFA, eg when fighting or occupying a country then the court martial handles the matter. Each session of the court comprises a Judge Advocate (a civilian Queens Court judge IIRC) who gives legal advice to the court and ensures the proceedings are conducted properly.

    There is never any excuse for illegal behaviour on the battlefield, but it can be a very tricky line (notably whether or not an enemy is actually surrendering). There is no excuse or valid reason for the criminal behaviour of the QLR. One question is which officers knew of it and condoned it.

    That said wave the prospect of wads of money at very poor people, with perhaps their local god botherer saying it is rightous to tell porkers to separate the infidel from their money, then no doubt there will be volunteers.

  397. Not a Boffin

    Suspect the Canberra is the one at RAF Manston Fire School.

    The Jags are (I believe) used for AE training at Cosford/Shawbury.

    The SHAR are still at HMS Siskin, but were not declared against CFE totals because they’re naval aircraft.

    This site

    usually contains most of the answers…..

  398. Topman

    I’m a bit late, seems to have been covered above but yes there are lots of Jaguars at RAF Cosford as instructional airframes. Mainly GR1 that have been there a long time when surplus airframes were knocking about as not all were upgraded to GR3 and were moved there in the 90s. The last Jaguars from 6 Sqn landed there and are still in taxiable condition and are used for flight line training, they replaced the JPs which were all sold off.

  399. Brian Black

    RTP, “Reduce to Produce”

    There used to be a Phantom kept in a HAS at Wattisham, Andy, long after the airfield had been turned over to the Army. Don’t know if it’s still there. I don’t think the RAF flew it anymore, but I did see it in the Army’s hangar once for maintenance. It was complete and had runable engines, so could theoretically have been returned to full airworthiness and put into use.

    Don’t know about the other three Phantoms.

  400. Obsvr

    @ Chris

    It’s not entirely clear when the Army took delivery of Viking for Wkpr, IIRC the total was 20ish. Its possible that Viking were not deemed to be ‘in service’ until Wkpr was operational, ie the vehicles had not been formally handed over to the Army before this point.

    Another option is that it was decided that the UOR Broncos could do the job and the Viking order was either cancelled of the vehs transferred to RM. There’s a photo in todays MOD website from 1 ISTAR Bde (which commands the UAS regts), but my recognition training is way out of date as to whether it in Bronco or Viking or just the plain BV206.

  401. DavidNiven

    Does anyone know why the Jaguars were never sent to Afghan?
    I know they were retired in 2007, had this moved too far for them to be used on ops, I would have thought that we could have run the Jag fleet into the ground in Afghan (by cannibalizing the rest to keep a Sqn going and using the operational funds) and maybe saving some Harriers, by putting into reserve some Tornado’s.

  402. x

    @ Observer re the EU collapse

    I take it you think Singapore should join back up with Malaysia then? No? But you are right next to each other and you are too small to go it alone surely? No….

    @ GNB

    I don’t think I was talking about war, just low level stuff on a largish scale. I think national protests ( a la Greece), shortages, riots, up to possibly Cod/Turbot War or Gib style encounters, protectionism and embargoes, perhaps in some places things like we are seeing in the Ukraine , perhaps how Switzerland is being treated by the EU, perhaps the fracturing of states (Spain, Belgium, northern Italy) etc. We may all happily get along supposedly now, but also looks what goes on now between states and within states. The trouble is a supposed vehicle for European security has proven to be anything but.

  403. The Other Chris


    Problems with hot and high operations (especially in summer) due to the Adour engine not having enough power in those conditions.

  404. The Other Chris


    It is definitely the spiritual successor.

    Keen to hear more from the Sea Gripen development team based in the UK…

  405. Obsvr

    @ Mark

    there’s one or two other dubious assertions in the AW article that don’t exactly add to its credibility. Its not obvious why the GCS are at Boscombe, these are vehicle mounted and designed to be mobile. The radars are a peacetime safety control measure. The reference to 5 flights in each regt is also nonsense. There are 5 flying batteries between the 2 regts plus one or two support btys which include non-RA specialists, including AAC, presumably being the ATC experts. Obviously total fleet mgmt principles mean the air vehicles will operate in peacetime as a pool. These btys also operate Desert Hawk so that the DH and Wkpr assigned to a bde have a single battery comd.

    @ Chris

    Previous reply seems to be AWOL. It referred to a MOD website, this is wrong it was an article on Forces Comd forming incl 1 ISR Bde having 11 reg and 9 res units, and included a BV206 MAMBA pic.

    Viking may not be in the ‘in service’ count because until Wkpr is cleared for service the system including in ground elements are not technically ‘in service’. IIRC there are supposed to be 20ish Vikings between the 2 UAV regts, it’s possible they’ve decided to use the UOR Warthogs instead and either cancel the Vikings or transfer them to RM.

  406. The Other Chris

    Seawork 2014 details have landed on my desk:

    The brochure says that CTruk will be parking their THOR at berth V10.

    Quick google returns a confirmation video and an invitation from Amanda Cetin to contact her for a demonstration:

    Unable to attend myself, any TD contributor in the area/interested/attending open to talking to Amanda for a TD article?

    The photographs and information that RT was able to provide on T26 at DSEI 2013 were very well received.

    Anyone know the latest on the Force Protection Craft program? How was/is the CB90 loan?

  407. The Other Chris

    If you do speak to CTruk, they discuss their 50T MPC for use as a THOR mothership [1][2][3]. Not a huge stretch of the imagination to see this approach of vessel or one based on their SWATH hull [4] using their patented deck pod system as an MHC (formerly MHPC) vessel.


    [1] Seen at 1:38 onwards in the above video




  408. DavidNiven

    I know the Jaguar suffered in hot and high, but does anyone know if they considered using them for 7-8 months a year and the Harriers in the peak summer months?

  409. The Other Chris

    Almost certainly considered, but then it was much cheaper to task Harrier all year round if you accepted a carrier gap. Afghanistan deployment didn’t preclude Harrier reassignment to the carriers in an emergency.

    There is also a less known advantage for the presence of Harrier year-round: even Tornado had issues in taking off.

    Turbofan based F-135 and the EJ200’s aren’t as affected. They can suck in a huge amount of air for operation compared to older engine designs. Not quite on the scale of ADVENT for variability but you can see the genesis of the idea.

    One more application for Reaction Engine Ltd’s pre-cooler patents in future aircraft. There was even a comment in one of the AETD talks with the “Serpentine” being discussed a potentially large enough volume to hold a unit depending on feasibility.

    Hot and High air compressed and chilled into a lovely dense medium for combustion :)

  410. dave haine


    Ermm….Tornado also has turbofan, in fact same core as the RB211 (757/767 engine) and one of the few turbofan equipped aircraft that has a successful afterburner, another notable example being the Viggen.

    I suspect the Tornado issues are more to do with being old and knackered, than engine type. After all they did seem to manage in GW1, on days when we had to ground our wally birds because the temp exceeded 40 degrees C (max take-off temp). The RAF seemed to trundle off as normal.

    The RB211 is one of the worlds most reliable aircraft engines.

  411. The Other Chris

    Correct and apologies for confusion with leaving “turbofan” in the sentence. No idea why I left the word there as although it *is* a turbofan it’s not the sole reason why the F-135 (and EJ200) maintain their comparatively excellent temperature margins.

    Incidentally my grandfather was involved in the RB199 and 593 reheat developments amongst his many adventures, when he wasn’t setting fire to himself… not through reheat experimentation mind. Proximity to hydrogen peroxide I believe, with conveniently placed plunge pools to save him and others.

    (GW1 operations were at comparatively low altitudes to Afghanistan)

  412. Mark


    I can’t speak for the credibility of the article but
    I think we both know that this Uav is an order of magnitude in its difference to what went before in terms of its capability and flight envelope. The requirement to operate with pilots isn’t going to go away and I can see them being required once deployed as well. If wildcat is in the AAC for recon tasks there’s no reason other than empire building why Uavs requiring pilots shouldn’t be either.

    On jaguar and afghan a problem would have been what it could have carried. Harrier and tornado operating as a pair offer significantly more in terms of variety of weapons, targeting and recon pods carried compaired to a jaguar pair.

  413. The Other Chris



    Watchkeeper communicates with its GCS (local or remote) which feeds into the Bowman network from there.

    Apache (full Bowman suite) and Wildcat (just the comms card I believe) operated by AAC feed in that way too.

    I don’t see why technically the RA needs to operate Watchkeeper, unless it’s to ensure priority of tasking? Maybe its for logistical ease? The Ground Control Stations being easier for RA to position and supply?

  414. Fedaykin

    @dave haine

    If you are going to correct somebody at least get your facts straight:

    Firstly, the RB199 does not share the same core as the RB211, they are different engines albeit the former does utilise technology in its development derived from the latter. You are indeed right that the Viggen uses a Volvo RM8 that was derived from the PW JT8D. Where you might have got confused on this matter is the CFM56 that uses a core derived from the GE-F-101 that was also used as the basis for the GE-F-110 and paradoxically the Shenyang WS-10.

    The issues in Afghanistan that required a runway extension were nothing to do with the engines being knackered. A rather absurd idea actually, performance was limited in the Gulf as well due to the high temperature but they had access to long runways to mitigate the issue. The RB199 was designed to operate in the cooler air of Northern Europe and at low altitude. Kandahar airport is 3337 feet above sea level so the Tornado is served with a double whammy of not only high temperatures but also higher altitude thinner air.

  415. Observer

    Fedaykin, think he meant the planes being knackered, not the engines. Got to parse his post a bit because he has quite a few topics in there.

  416. The Limey

    @as – my guess is more that the congressman has had a lovely comprehensive ‘briefing’ (possibly supplemented by some campaign contributions) from somebody with an interest in selling Brimstone…

  417. Red Trousers

    IXION, re Lawyer Scrotes, a couple of days back.

    You appear to have completely misread the basis of estimate. The start point was the Army trying to charge some RHF soldiers with violence and thuggery, and their chosen lawyer trying to get them off. That’s normal.

    What is not normal is their chosen lawyer choosing to never contest the facts, but instead try to argue on utterly minor points of paperwork filling. The utter Scrote I refer to quite cheerfully admitted such. It is not justice when his ideas win.

    And I challenge you back, with your accusations of non Gentlemanly conduct point at me. I wod equally vehemently argue back that lawyerly arguments of technicalities are in principle as childish as what you accuse me of.

    Anyway, big boy rules. He lost. Result, and one for Justice, given the original charges of violence and thuggery. And if he felt that he’d been put upon, I could not care.

    I have always felt contempt and respect for Lawyers. But mostly contempt. Then I got fleeced in a divorce, and I feel worse about them. My divorce settlement cost both of us less than half of the legal fees, the Judge castigated both sets of Lawyers, and the Ex and I coordinated our cessation of Legal action with a joint statement that we were sacking both sets of lawyers at the same moment, with a wish that we had never sought an outcome.

  418. Lord Jim

    Ref; Jaguars to Afghanistan.

    There were major attempts to get the Jaguar to Afghanistan. Historically it was partnered with the Harrier in persistent deployments as it had a much smaller footprint than the Tornado and the Coltishall wing trained for such deployments. there was one major sticking point however which was its engine. In GW1, an in theatre fix allowed the pilots to redline the engines but this dramatically reduced the engine life so was in no way a long term fix. In operation over Northern Iraq, the Jaguar was limited severely in what it could carry and often restricted mission to early morning and late afternoon when things were cooler. It was said at time that its effective warload in htese condition was a maximum of a single 1000lb dumb bomb or equivilent.

    The obvious solution to many was to replace the Adour 104 with the Adour 811 as used on versions of the Jaguar International. However high level interference put a moritorium on performance enhancements so in order to move forward, what was to become the Adour Mk106 was put forward as a cost saving programme, where the operating costs due to better materials and digital control would be less than the existing version. This meant that although the new engine had the potential to provide much needed additional thrust, it was detuned to increase engine life.

    Unofficially, the RAF still wanted the extra power for hot high deployments so a study was conducted to install a “Turbo” switch was installed in the cockpit to allow the engine management system to be chipped and change its setting to allow the extra power to be utilised.

    Problem was everything had to be done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Developement and production were done similtantiously for the most part and it was never able to show the reliability needed for full in service clearance due to things like the engine catching fire in flight. As stated earlier major efforts were made to gain limited clearance to allow the Jaguar to deploy to Afghanistan, but the withdrawl of the whole fleet overtook this programme.

    It was a great shame as at the time the Jaguar was by far the best fixed with close air support platform we had, with its avionics, HMS, and wide range of ordinance. It did everything it said on the tin, except in the engine department.

    On a final note a reletive of mine was a senior Test Pilot as Boscombe Down and took part in the in service trails etc when the Jaguar was initially brought into service. He said he was glad it airfield was on top of a hill as taking off inthe Jaguar was more a case of the ground falling away rather than the plane gaining altitude.

  419. fillert

    The RAAF has signed up for AIM-9X Block 2 Sidewinders (and longer ranged Block 3 thereafter) for their future fleet of Super Hornets and F-35s. ASRAAM will probably be retired with the legacy Hornets.

  420. dave haine


    Oh dear how silly of me- fancy me believing my Rolls-Royce engine rep (Ex-RAF Chiefy Tech), in the hanger engine bay, full of Rolls Royce turbofan engines.

    Now Is the RB199 a turbofan engine? Oh yes I do believe it is.

    And the ‘RB’ bit is a clue too- Rolls-royce Bristol, same team that designed both, using common core components to a common core design.

    TBH, though I’d forgotten about the altitude issue…
    And I wasn’t talking about the engine I was talking about the aeroplane as a whole

    Please commence neck winding-in operations.

  421. dave haine

    When is this thread going to be subverted to the ‘why the navy needs carriers at the expense of everything else’ topic?

  422. Chris

    DH – those fine chaps who worry deeply about the huge and very necessary carriers (Flat-Top-Freddies?) are temporarily distracted by which sort of airyplane the MPA electronics should be bolted into. Normal service will be resumed presently. The *real* UK defence question needing answers is which sort of tank is best…

  423. Chris

    Repulse – looks like the Carrier Alliance has finally found a worthy machine! How many JSF can be fitted on deck?

  424. The Other Chris


    Dipping sonars on Wildcat were mentioned twice in 24 hours so anything’s possible :)

  425. WiseApe

    That’s interesting about Mexico, they have an eclectic collection of transport types. Another interesting thing about Mexico is that they are one of two teams I’ve drawn in the works World Cup sweep. Of more interest is the fact that my second team is ….. Iran. So, if there is an Allah, the western world may be screwed but I stand to win thirty-one quid.

  426. DavidNiven

    Thanks Lord Jim,

    Very informative, it was a shame like you said that we could not have used the Jags in Afghanistan. A nice final swan song to have given them, and maybe (a big Maybe) saved some Harriers.

    ‘However high level interference put a moritorium on performance enhancements’
    Could you add a bit more meat to the bones regarding that comment?

  427. John Hartley

    I am rationed on how many times I am allowed to say” the country has gone to the dogs”, so I will just point out in the 1980s, we were building/buying Challenger tanks, Warrior armoured vehicles, AS90, MLRS, Tornado IDS/ADV, HarrierII, Sea Harrier, Invincible class CVS, T22/23 frigates, Trafalgar & Trident subs, SeaKings,etc. Now we no longer have a tank factory or an operational carrier. It should not be Army Vs RN. Instead we should see how the pols have raided the defence budget for their pet projects.
    I think one of the problems with the Jaguar upgrade, was that the Gov had an advisor who was keen to scrap them in favour of new/2nd hand F-16 after the Kuwait liberation of 1991.

  428. Chris

    JH, LordJim – ref clampdown on Jaguar mods – intriguing! But name names! Was this not-very-unbiased advisor an elected official or industry sponsored? Was the high level interference that put a moratorium on performance enhancements an official government policy, at the behest of the RAF, or another case of Politicians Knowing Best as they all think they do?

    I have always liked Jaguar – it seemed a simple straightforward robust combat aircraft. Once the teething issues were fixed, that was.

  429. Topman

    Re Jaguar, there was at least one with the uprated engine fitted in late on in the Jags life. It was on the FJOEU trials were ongoing. I think one area was excessive oil consumption, not sure if they ever got sorted.

  430. John Hartley

    Chris, cannot remember the name of the guy, but the debate was in the papers circa 1992-95. You could probably google it. He was a political advisor ie not civil service, but a Conservative friend of the Minister.
    I think after Kuwait, there was concern over the number of types the RAF had to send & their limitations. We sent Tornado IDS & ADV, plus Jaguar & Buccaneer. The advisor just looked at USAF F-16 & thought they could do everything. After the end of the Cold War, the USAF had a few hundred surplus F-16A. They offered them free to Allies as long as they paid for any upgrades. So the idea was to take 50 to replace the Jaguar fleet. However, there was a wobble over the EFA/Typhoon project at the time. The alternative idea was to scrap Jaguar & EFA, then buy 150 or so, new F-16C. Obviously this did not happen, but it does explain the dither & delay over the Jaguar upgrade.

  431. x

    And of course the real shame was that the Jaguar upgrade was really well managed and good value for money only for them to get the heave ho.

  432. Red Trousers

    I appear to have incensed IXION into silence by comments on lawyer Scrotes, which was not my intention. So for the avoidance of doubt, might I say that not all lawyers are necessarily Scrotes? Granted, the vast majority are, but it remains possible for a lawyer to look a normal person in the eye and not have to explain their past behaviour.

  433. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @RT – IXION is a lawyer…he will take his revenge so cold that it is colder than a cold thing resident only in liquid nitrogen…

    But he will take it…

    My guess being the rediscovery of an ancient Sumptuary Law, allowing him to obtain the post of Debagger in Ordinary and sequestrate all red trousering, even if it is still occupied by its rightful owner… :-)

    Be afraid, be very afraid…


  434. Obsvr

    @ Mark

    After Gen 1 UAS in the ’60s Brit Army UAS have never had ‘pilots’ in the normal sense of the word, ie a person who directly flies the a/c using flying controls. And even with Gen 1 it was like flying a radio controlled model a/c, and this is the more accurate analogy for UAS. Brit Army UAS are designed to be operated by Junior NCO non-pilots. Their job is to position the UAS footprint to undertake the STA task, the a/c flies itself automatically in response to positioning commands. These operators are not even the ‘captain’ of the a/c. Human pilots have been introduced for ATC reasons when in controlled airspace, eg outside training area boundaries in UK and perhaps airfields in operational theatres, its probably best to think of them as ‘safety officers’. UAS are supposed to be low observable, so I assume a transponder is used in controlled airspace.

    Of course the only thing that makes Wkpr complex is the sensor load, this has nothing to do with the air vehicle operator (or any ‘real’ pilot), it is the province of the mission controller, a Senior NCO, and the image analyst.

    I’m not sure that AAC pilots are keen on suicide missions. Stooging around in a heli at about 10,000 ft about 20+ km in front to own troops when the en has a vaguely competent AD capability is not a good idea, although you could get away with it in WW1. One of the reasons for UAS was the very limited capabilities of the AAC to observe at any useful depth into en held areas, plus the RAF loosing whatever residual enthusiasm they had for the type of task UAS are required for, ie a somewhat persistent presence over the enemy.

    The idea behind UAS was a lower cost platform and taking greater risks. Of course it’s an interesting question as too whether or not Wkpr might be on the large size and expensive side for this type of task. However, it’s a complex decision, the heart of the problem being ‘zero-length’ recovery and the amount of maintenance work needed to ready the a/c for its next flight in a few hours time. Avoiding this means some sort of runway, means further to the rear, means greater endurance, etc, etc. Presumably Wkpr is considered better value for money than something like Scan Eagle because fewer detachments are needed (reducing manpower costs) and greater sensor capability. Of course these figures can be tricky, with USD 501 UK used a troop of about 70 men with 2 launchers, the German army had about 130 men for the same capability, and USD 501 was a real ‘drone’, fully automatic and no human in the loop.

    The idea that because it flies it belongs to the AAC is truly quaint, a bit like saying M3 Rigs should be operated by the navy because they float.

  435. Nick

    Dave Haine

    Without wanting to create another EU disagreement thread in this world, I think that you’re most likely going to be proved wrong there. Whilst a break-up into a looser arrangement, might make the most sense, the cost of exiting the current arrangements (specifically the Euro) are much too large for any of the major players to take the chance of break-up (just look at Greece, which absolutely should have exited, but still struggles along inside). There may not be an ever closer political union inside the Euro17, but economically/financially a closer union is the only affordable solution. What we in the UK choose to do is a different matter though.



  436. John Hartley

    Nick, I must admit I am torn over the EU. On the one hand a tear comes to my eye when I watch “Ode to Joy” on Youtube, while I launch into a hate filled rant when I read of Eurocrat perks, corruption & incompetence. The romantic in me loves the idea of European Nations working in harmony, but I did not sign up to the EU turning into a copy of the USSR.
    During the Napoleonic wars, there were 2 visions for Europe. The “Elephant” championed by France (& later Hitler), was a single European superstate, controlled rigidly from a single capitol (Paris, or for Hitler, Berlin). It would have been a single European market, but would have largely ignored the wider World.
    Britain championed the “Whale”. Individual European states would come together when it was in their mutual interest. It was a looser arrangement than the “Elephant”. The “Whale” still looked & traded with the wider World. Most European countries first backed the “Elephant” , but later switched to the advantages of the “Whale”.
    I will vote UKIP as a protest, but really I want a modern version of the “Whale”, or in other words , still part of the EU, but semi-detached.

  437. Nick

    @John Hartley

    I’m not sure this is actually the place, but…

    Well, nailing my colours, I can see the many advantages for European countries of the EU, but certainly not the EU of today. I actually think a federal EU, with the centre having quite limited powers and the national states (and regions within states) being much more autonomous and having wide ranging responsibilities would work well, but I don’t