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. The Other Chris

    Hmmm. Genuine breakthrough or a configuration that interferes with the measuring device?

    “Nasa validates ‘impossible’ space drive”:


    NASA’s paper:


    Skylon to launch a package, EMDrive to power it? Or, as the article suggests:

    In hindsight, it may turn out to be another great British invention that someone else turned into a success.

  2. WW

    As the header picture of this month’s Open Thread seems to indicate yet another air centric month :-) ….

    Another air force to select F35?

    The Belgian Ministry of Defense has formally launched its Air Combat Capability Program.
    This project will replace the remaining 54 F16 fighters (4 squadrons on 2 air bases) of the Air Component of the Belgain Armed Forces in the early twenties.

    As a first step an offcial Request for Information has been issued to 5 potential bidders. As Belgium apparently prefers a state-to-state buy, the RFI is adressed to State Agencies rather than manufacturers:
    the Joint Program Office (USA) for the Lockheed-Martin F35 LightningII
    the Navy Integrated Program Office (USA) for the Boeing F/A18-E/F Super Hornet
    the Direction Generale de l’Armement (France) for the Rafale from the Rafale International consortium (Dassault, Thales, Safran)
    the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (Sweden) for the Saab JAS-39 Gripen
    the MoD (UK) for the Eurofighter
    This is the start of a process that should produce an order for the first aircraft towards the end of 2018.

    Defence Minister Pieter De Crem earlier spoke about 40 or so new aircraft to replace the F16’s. That number must allow the Air Component to maintain its current ambition level: 2-4 aircraft for QRA and upto 10 aircraft on a more or less enduring foreign deployment.

    This whole project no doubt will be on the table when political parties currently trying to form a federal goverment after the June elections tackle defense related issues. Although all parties involved in principle would not be against such a buy, it will be extremely difficult to find the money for this project. Under EU scrutiny, Belgium has to make an important effort to balance the budget (currently deficit of around 3% of GDP) and to reduce its public debt (currently at >100% of GDP). The current level of the defence budget simply does not have the potential to absorb the 4B or so Euro for the F16 replacement over a 8 to 10 year period. To illustrate, the amount earmarked for investments in the 2014 budget is around 250M Euro. On top of that, other big defence projects are looming on the horizon (e.g. the replacement of the 2 frigates of the Naval Component, also in the early twenties).

    Within the Air Force the preferred choice apparently is for the F35. F35 also seems to be the favourite of the outgoing Minister of Defense. This would also allow for Belgium to co-operate with the Netherlands and to go for a closer integration of both air forces (similar to what is already done for the Navies of both countries). Holland plans to order 38 F35’s. That number sheds some doubt over the ambition of Belgium to purchase 40. Holland is about 50% bigger than Belgium in a number of areas (population, GDP, …). A Belgium buy of say 26 F35’s would make more sense for a total combined and integrated fleet of about 64 aircraft: e.g. one Dutch squadron, one Belgian squadron and one combined squadron/OCU/maintenance pool where both contribute pro-rata. A reduced project budget of about 2.5B Euro for those 26 aircraft also makes it a bit more feasible.

    There is another reason why the F35 may be the preferred choice and why other contenders do not make much chance getting the deal. Under NATO’s Nuclear Sharing Agreement the belgian F16’s are earmarked and fitted to deliver B61 tactical nuclear bombs, together with units in Holland, Germany, Italy and Turkey. In todays world, this is more of a political than a military statement, but still an important aspect of NATO policies. In the future, the F35A will be the only aircraft adapted to deliver the B61 bomb. Selecting another aircraft thus also means unilaterally ending the ¨solidarity¨ between NATO partners. That will not be appreciated. No wonder Holland selected the F35 after not much of a competition (Italy and Turkey also selected the F35 and Germany still has some time to decide until Tornado bows out).

    One can also wonder why yet another country has to select a first-day ¨kick the door¨ capability. Of course, solidarity and all that, but maybe NATO (or Europe for that matter) is better off with some countries opting for serious second-day capabilities (e.g. combat helicopters of more numerous cheapish figher bombers such as the Korean A50). Still burden sharing, but in different and complementary areas. A meaningfull contribution in a few areas instead of a small contribution in several areas.

  3. Chuck

    Pssh, crane centric I think you mean. They are brill those little things.

    Excalibur for the RN. Yes please. Apparently type 26 will have 127mm as opposed to the 113 on the T45. Increment III(the self guided one) could make a hell of an anti ship weapon if it ever happens. Shame the RN never got that 155mm. Always thought that was a very sensible idea and would of been in service this year without the SDSR. :(

    Can’t see us getting the Belgian deal. Think you’re right on that one WW. Unless their budget is really tight and we sell the older T1’s super cheap for some reason, but in that scenario I can’t see us beating out Gripen. I think they’ll eek out the F16’s until the F35 becomes tenable one way or another.

  4. The Other Chris

    At least there’s serious discussion. Would prefer a NATO role or a non-military EU role rather than the EDA get them.

  5. TED

    @WW I think this is a great time for NATO to have a very serious look at its structure. But I dont think anyone wants particuarly to be AH only or FJ only.

    But I think your sort of on the same wavelength as me… even if neither of us know it :D

    Never mind army 2020 lets have NATO 2020

  6. Repulse

    @WW: If Russia is the big “new” threat, would Belgium be better off with an order of Eurofighters for QRA and air superiority? Perhaps, if the Netherlands and Belgium continue with closer defence ties, a joint Eurofighter / F35A structure is also feasible.

  7. DavidNiven

    Thanks Obsvr,

    A very interesting read, this one in particular got me thinking especially with all the talk of resurgence in the maritime domain.

    No easy wars: future conflict at the world’s seams

    ‘Britain’s dilemma is that it is too powerful to hide from conflict but too weak to dominate. It can either engage or disengage, but it cannot occupy the kind of strategic no man’s land into which the government seems to want to withdraw – using the EU as an excuse for future British inaction’

    ‘In fact, the new Joint Forces Command must become far more than a mere proponent – it must drive change and become the core of a British strategic hub that can lead and support missions across a global mission spectrum that covers six domains vital to prevailing in future conflict: air, sea, land, cyber, space and knowledge. Fail, and sooner or later the big war will come and Britain will lose it.’

    I hope they are listening.

  8. Mark

    As so the old game begins again anyone for an sr71?


    The U.S. plane had been flying in international airspace, conducting an electronic eavesdropping mission on the Russian military, when the Russians took the unusual action of beginning to track it with land-based radar. The Russians then sent at least one fighter jet into the sky to intercept the aircraft, the U.S. official said Saturday.
    The spy plane crew felt so concerned about the radar tracking that it wanted to get out of the area as quickly as possible, the official said. The quickest route away from the Russians took them into Swedish airspace. The U.S. official acknowledged that was done without Swedish military approval.

  9. DavidNiven


    Those sound effects were bad, the missiles massive and the side door hangar an ergonomic nightmare, but the ice cream was shocking! that was definitely no ‘Mr Whippy’ thats for sure. ;-)

  10. Observer

    ToC don’t read too much into it, India is a place where such allegations are tossed about on a daily basis and treated as fact. By now, India has blacklisted most of the world’s weapons manufacturers without trial. I don’t think they are going to modernize any time soon at this rate.

  11. The Other Chris

    In this case RR admitted guilt back in December. Just disappointing to be honest.

    On the topic of Indian modernisation, the VVIP corruption issue is really a shame. They’re desperate for non-Russian maritime helicopters and the only real competitors to the Seahawk range are the AW lines (AW101, AW159 and NH90).

  12. monkey

    @Observer re Indian corruption , they are no worse or better than Anyone else
    India has some blossoming industries were projects seem to wither on the vine due to internal political decisions over budget allocation to which state etc. They build their own nukes , both kinds , launch their own home built satellites , build their own aircraft and ships . They could be a major arms supplier if they wanted it bad enough but don’t.
    It might seem a bit mad but only recently has money been made available to fund solar power to the long term burden of buying diesel for local domestic power generation for home and agricultural use.

  13. monkey

    Nice link on the solar power on top of existing irrigation canals, no valuable land covered over , , no forced land purchase , water retained , existing concrete channel to support the frame work , liner build distributes the power for you. Great piece of innovation which is a great example of what you can do if you have a leader like Modi in charge of a state.Gujarat is the most developed state in India ,all happening under his tenure , perhaps now it will spread to the rest of the country.

  14. The Other Chris

    Hybrid Air Vehicles news.

    HAV304 to start flight trials in May 2015, a little late. Certification to take two years. ITAR lifted on the HAV304 for Airlander 10 development to lead into Airlander 50. US Army being kept informed of developments.


    Earlier this year, prior to the round of fund raising being extended, HAV were talking about trials with the MOD before taking the vehicle on a commercial tour of America:


  15. James Bolivar DiGriz

    @TOC, @monkey,
    The problem is that PV power generation is (currently and certainly in the near future) of marginal utility and that this design makes it even more so.

    The price of PV panels has come down due to manufacturing in China (which has driven other manufacturers out of the business) but all the evidence that I have heard is that the quality of these panels is variable to say the least. Also the quoted efficiency of any PV is at optimal conditions, which includes being perfectly (i.e. laboratory) clean, being on or close to the equator and being oriented to get the most sun (typically a bit west of south).

    Rainfall (or dust) leaves material on the surface that had reduces the amount of light getting through a so has a measurable impact on the output. Panels that are tilted to face west of south have some chance of the rain and dust falling or blowing off, horizontal ones have a much reduced chance.

    Even if the surface is clear, being horizontal means that the impacting sunlight is spread out and so the efficiency drops again.

    Then of course you have the common PV problems (most of which also apply to wind power); the expense of building and subsequently maintaining something that is hundreds (thousands?) of time bigger than an equivalent power station; no generation at night and no or little generation when the weather is bad; the problems of connecting intermittent power generation to a distribution grid; the cost of the backup that has to be running but not generating; the environmental damage done in the associated refining & manufacturing processes.

  16. monkey

    With you on all your points but in terms of panel efficiency variance ,does it matter when you have such huge available surface area to play with , just buy what comes in cheapest ( I understand there is a trade off curve re installation/superstructure costs but bear with me) . The angle thing again for optimum but same again they are close to the equator, the canal goes where it needs to so live with it. In terms of output India is famous for intermittent supply and they alter their working patterns to suit. Regarding cleaning , labour is cheap and with a ready water supply , just look down

  17. monkey

    You have probably seen this but in your field of interest.
    The UHAC can move 3 times the mass of the existing LCAC and beach where they can’t including climbing 10′ high sea walls . The one in the video is a half scale technology demonstrator. It will have the same plan as the LCAC getting its extra lift from it foam filled tracks and hull.

  18. James Bolivar DiGriz

    I understand what you are saying and if the basic PV cells were efficient & reliable then the large area might work okay.

    My understanding is that commercial systems are less than 30% efficient and are only that good because they track the sun. Domestic, static, systems (which this essentially is) are less than 20% efficient. Also, from what I have read, cheap PV panels supposedly from the same manufacturer can be excellent (five years w/o a problem) or rubbish (lots failing within a year). So the output could be really quite low, even with a huge area.

    Gujarat is c. 20 degrees from the equator which, AFAIUI, is about the limit for system efficiency. I only mentioned that as emphasizing that the quoted efficiency is optimum conditions.

    I think that intermittency is a different sort of problem than you are allowing for. Because the grid is a distribution one then (for reasons that I don’t understand) it does not cope well with power flowing the ‘wrong’ way, and this is exacerbated by more power and by more intermittency.

    As for cleaning the panels, if there is a thick layer of dust then the canal water would help but will leave a thin layer of scale that impacts on the efficiency.

    Solar (& wind) generation are best used when the power is consumed at that location. I know of someone who is doing work in rural South Africa to develop small units with maximum efficiency for villages that won’t be on the grid for ages. One of the areas of study is how much efficiency gain can you get from the minimum of manual sun-tracking, and from what I have heard turning the units by hand (again cheap labour) five or six times a day can boost the efficiency from c. 15% to north of 20%.

  19. wf

    I have colleagues in Texas who love solar PV, since their biggest daytime use is due to aircon. Not sure we do quite so well, and fitting aircon to homes will make the average greenie puke since they think BO helps squirrels or something :-)

  20. The Other Chris

    URFC for the latest batch (FY2015 IIRC) of F-35B’s were $139. The Pentagon F-35 program office also confirmed that the URFC price includes engines as well as systems in that cost.

    That means we’re currently looking at £4.5b for 48 F-35B’s at the current price. Add UK (not USA!) Program costs to get an idea of UK Program Cost.

    If the project can achieve the $85m URFC target (almost certainly an A model price) that is discussed separately in the Australian order, Korean competition and the recent LM press releases, that would mean the F-35B is looking at around $95m-$100m (a guesstimate) or just over £3.2b of our British Pounds. Plus Program Costs.

    Maybe plus VAT… ;)

    Under the most recent production contract with Lockheed, the department in 2013 agreed to pay $112 million per F-35A, $139 million per F-35B and $130 million per F-35C, DellaVedova said. Those figures, known as unit recurring flyaway costs, include the airframe, engine, mission systems, profit and concurrency, [DellaVedova ] said.

    Interestingly, and this hasn’t been widely discussed in the media:

    The [US] government has also shifted from bearing all the financial risk in the program to sharing it with Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney, which makes the F135 engine for the single-engine fighter, DellaVedova said in an e-mail. The contractors now cover 100 percent of any cost overruns and 50 percent of concurrency costs, he said.

    All emphasis mine.


  21. Mark

    Toc if the cost of our 48 f35s is guarenteed at that price of 4.5b pounds I’d say buy now. But much more likely you’ll need to add a couple of billion to that price.

  22. monkey

    Regarding failure rates that’s is a contractual issue with the OEM, if they are guarantees of 5 years , for instance , and it fails before then over to them.
    Regarding cleaning I understand what your saying but inclined at 20deg for max fixed efficiency so run off will occur the rest is down to (very cheap ) elbow grease and whatever techniques that have been developed in the rest of the world. Good access seems to have been provided.
    Regarding distributing the power I was thinking more of the existing local grid feeding no more than a village or to nearby to the canal. Much of rural India has no electricity but what local diesel generators produce. Except for the larger towns and the cities there is no grid .Tapping off the local length of canal for your needs I would think is the way they go using their existing isolated grid with the existing generators coming on at night only. The next length of canal feeding the next nearby few villages grid etc. The canal network is for rural irrigation not to feed towns and cities their water.
    Again it is an interesting idea and if made to work could be expanded globally as a concept , say too California experiencing its worst drought in many years and farmers looking to a federal bailout and fines being imposed on domestic wastage .

  23. James Bolivar DiGriz

    “Regarding failure rates that’s is a contractual issue with the OEM”
    Well yes, but if there is one failed panel in the middle of a block of, say, 50 this week and you have to take the whole block offline to replace that one panel, then there is another failure somewhere else next week, and so on and so forth, then even if the maker replaces the panels the impact on the system is considerable.

    “but inclined at 20deg”
    Where do you get that from?

    “Regarding distributing the power I was thinking more of the existing local grid feeding no more than a village or to nearby to the canal”
    That would make sense to me but from the article:
    ‘Assuming a utilisation of only 10 per cent of the existing canal network of 19,000 km, it is estimated that 2,200 MW of solar power generating capacity’
    1,900km and 2,200 MW sounds more like industrial scale generation to me.

  24. monkey

    Re the failure rates again its contractual , punitive fees for down time ‘should ‘ be included but this being India ?
    Regarding the inclination from the images about that seems to be in place , you set the nominal angle of fixed panels at your latitude.
    On the projected output for Gujarat of 2.2Gw again its spread over a state of 200,000 sq km so distributed locally no need to feed into the main grid but could be achieved , on 9th June this year Germany generated over 50% of its power at one point via solar. This is causing them as you said earlier big problems distributing this and is requiring large investment in the grid to ‘balance ‘ this out. France is experiencing similar problems as is large parts of the US.
    (one of the reasons hybrid car prices are not coming down is the batteries suppliers competing for materials against vast battery energy storage systems sometimes using the same technology http://www.aegps.com/en/smart-grids/battery-energy-storage/).
    This is somewhere India need not visit as yet but hey if it comes up with a cheap solution to that to good for them.

  25. Simon

    Isn’t $139m actually £82m?

    Putting 48 of the blighters at just shy of £4b.

    What am I missing (apart from a pint of Doom Bar)?

  26. Chris.B.

    Just gonna chuck this down here again. Anyone know if this is correct, 5 years to get a pilot from Cranwell to a frontline squadron?

  27. WiseApe

    I’m all in favour of waiting for more mature software (and someone else to ante up for weapons integration!) but at £82 million per we should bite their hands off. What are we paying for tranche 3A Typhoons – which come without many of the integrated systems of an F35?

    I suspect though that some journo has got his sums wrong or gotten the wrong end of the stick.

    Edit – @Simon – while your at the bar, I’ll have a Speckled Hen. Cheers.

  28. Mark

    Chrisb 3-4 years is what I had heard in the past topman or mike may know better.

    WiseApe Saudi bought 72 typhoons for 4.5b pounds.f35 has less things integrated than on typhoon

  29. All Politicians are the Same


    That was the 2007 price, a lot went on after that. the UAE was quoted £6 billion for 60.

  30. Red Trousers

    While we are at Think Defence, I’m sure that we will all think on that ghastly centenary now only 3 hours away.

    I’m sure that we all have family who died in that dreadful conflict which so utterly changed the world. I have two particularly in mind: a great uncle killed commanding a company of the 26th Royal Fusiliers in the 3rd Ypres, and another from my mother’s side shot down over Arras. Their particular centenaries I will mark privately, but at 1100 tonight I will blow out my candle in memories of millions.

  31. The Other Chris

    Ooh count me in for a Doom Bar!

    I used a 1.5 exchange rate USD/GBP. I know it’s not the current rate, it’s just an easier value for ball-park figures.

    I’m still unsure about the URFC including engines, it’s not the norm for US reporting and this year’s SAR lists them separately:

    F-35A: $11.7m
    F-35B: $28.0m
    F-35C: $11.5m

    Although at these figures you’re close the $96m discussed for an A model in the LRIP 6.

    Definitely heartened by the cost overrun covering and concurrency cost sharing with the contractors. Biggest risk now is American cold feet towards their own Program Costs which are much higher than ours in amount terms. Ironically maybe not as high in Program Unit Cost terms!

  32. Chris.B.

    @ Mark,

    Seems like a bloody long time? Granted it’s a very complicated job, but even then.

  33. Mark


    UAE wanted some special things but yes Saudi have asked for a few add ons now and the price has changed.

    Korea are taking 40 f35a for 6.8billion dollars in 2018, the likely hood of us getting the b in the same time frame for less than the A they’ve been offered is remote at best.

    ChrisB yep it does.

  34. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Mark

    I never suggested we would or could but all the signs are encouraging that the prices are going in the right direction and at the 1.69 on offer today the Korean price is very encouraging.

  35. Mark


    Exchange rate moving in our direction is always a bonus. Ramp rate of the lrip will be buying into is very important in pricing terms (and on certain technical fixes) as were starting run out of time for ordering jets to meet declared IOCs. I find it odd our follow on order for f35 has so far not materialised.

  36. mickp

    @Challenger – I agree on the County class, a quantum leap in technology, even if it was rapidly overtaken

  37. topman

    sorry i missed it first time around. yes 4 years is about right. lots of gaps inbetween each part of training.

  38. Challenger

    @mickp & Wiseape

    Ah twin turrets, lovely stuff! Were they the last class to get built with them?

    The County class were lovely looking vessels but looking back via some internet surfing it’s amusing but impressive to see how Heath Robinson Sea Slug, then later Sea Cat and the associated Type 901/965 radars all were.

    Not that surprising most the systems and thus the County class themselves were very quickly overtaken by the pace of technological development. I’m sure you could argue that they had barely entered the water before the world moved on.

  39. John Hartley

    My 2 Grandfathers were in WW1. I am named after the Scottish one. He volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps. He lied about his age. His parents got him out. He later ended up as a machinegunner.
    The other was in the AustroHungarian Army. Became a prisoner of the Russians just as they had their revolution. So the prisoners were freed, as the Russians wanted to fight each other. Meant an epic walk back home through a lawless land full of bandits. Amazingly, he came across his brother also walking home & they looked after each other til they got home.

  40. Chris.B.

    @ Topman,

    Just seems like an awfully long time for someone to spend in training before reaching a frontline squadron. 4 years.

  41. Think Defence

    But think of the course modules

    Hotel booking advanced level
    White socks, for the wearing of
    Walking sideways
    Advanced moustache fettling
    Cinema Usher Skills

    Am surprised it only takes 4 years to be honest

  42. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Chris B

    I know there were choke points and hold overs affecting fast jet training a few years ago but when I joined the RN it took anywhere from 26 months to 32 months between Dartmouth and your first OOW job.
    Non grads did extra 3 months at Dartmouth and each class was split into 3 OOW courses starting a month apart which explains the range.

  43. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Thread – Modi; very good for the economy of Gujarat, and maybe for India as well… but I’m a touch concerned about the Hindu sectarianism; not likely to help the World’s largest democracy make their Centenary in my view.

    Not sure about solar panels…but if the price of photovoltaic tiles can be pushed down, I believe they offer great promise…and if I win the big one on the lottery I’m offering a big cash prize to the first team who come up with a financially viable plan to take a village of all the grids and turn it into an energy producer; and even bigger one in respect of pulling off the same trick in respect of Gloomyville…and personally I’d be happy to see a field or two full of nodding donkeys as part of the solution….

    Great War – had one Great Uncle who was in the Imperial Yeomanry in the South African War, and then rejoined and rode with Allenby…and another (estranged) who joined under a false name and disappeared in front of Serre on the first day of the Somme. I shall most certainly remember them regularly over the next four years…

    @Simon – I’ll have what you are having…do they do scratchings or warm pork pie?


  44. 40 deg south

    Just passing through!

    RNZAF’s first new trainers pass through Stanstead on their delivery trip. Anther nine to follow.


    And some trip it is – click on the linked map for a bigger picture. Any delivery run that takes in both Reykjavik and Honiara (Solomon Islands) is one to remember for the grandkids.

    Thy’ll arrive in a couple of weeks and ground crew traininjg will begin. Official handover to NZ isn’t until November, Beechcraft probably waiting to see if the NZ government’s cheque bounces.

    Good illustration of the benefits of buying off the shelf from an active production line. The contract was signed in late Jan this year. In about six months they’ve been built, given a snazzy black coat of paint and flown out the door. If only our gov’t can manage replacement of the maritime surveillance (P-3C) and transport (C130H) fleets in such an efficient manner. Slim hope, sadly.

  45. tweckyspat

    Any delivery run that takes in both Reykjavik and Honiara (Solomon Islands) is one to remember for the grandkids.

    Couldn’t anyone get them on a ship ? This is a mental way of using the first XXX hours of serviceable life. Not to mention the, fuel, landing fees and T&S bills for the crew. Just because it can fly doesn’t mean it has to !

  46. topman

    @ chris b yes it is a long time but its always been a long time. even going back to the war, heavy bomber crews would often spend lots of time inbetween phases of training, 2 + years was common then. Even with a war on, its a difficult training course to manage at the best of times. even when they get on a frontline sqn they still have even more training to get upto CR.

  47. Topman

    @ TD
    Aircrew booking their own hotels? Have you gone mad, the very thought of it!


    Still there’s a cost to stripping them down and boxing them up, sending them by sea. Then you have to have blokes sent down to NZ from the factory to rebuild and test them when they get there. Plus they are ready when they get there

  48. The Other Chris

    They conducted a test firing, destroying one of their own weather satellites, in 2007:


    It’s why projects such as the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node are gaining a lot of traction lately to expand the number and variety of aerial nodes beyond Sentry and similar:


    Northrop Grumman equip Global Hawk and the rest of the family (Triton, Euro Hawk) with the system by default:


    Although not BACN, the USMC use the Insitu Integrator (RQ-21A Blackjack) to carry communications relays:


    Reaper (General Atomics MQ-9) and Watchkeeper (Modified Hermes 450) also carry communications relays:



    RPAS seem natural platforms for relays due to their persistence and I can imagine the MOD interest in the likes of HAV304 as well, though going forward we’re going to find more ways of protecting these data links viciously.

  49. Slightly Agricultural

    @ TD
    Aircrew booking their own hotels? Have you gone mad, the very thought of it!

    Quite. One of course has a travel clerk for that. Who will promptly use the centrally-mandated travel contract with HRG and ask them to book it, at great cost to the tax payer.

    You also forgot “Flight Suits, appropriate wearing of” and “Nicknames, appropriate use of”. Which are admittedly very short classes, because the answer is “Constantly, regardless of circumstance”.

    @Chris B
    I can believe 4 years. You’ll spend most of the first one playing silly buggers at Cranwell I would imagine, before starting on your actual training. And having sat in a Typhoon cockpit, it could take you every bit that long to get up to speed with the sheer amount of stuff going on in there.

  50. Chris.B.

    @ TD,
    I hear the correct arrangement of a moustache is quite the task for a true artisan.

    @ APATS,
    It’s conceivable of course that when they said 4 years, they meant covering 4 different calendar years, while the training itself might have been less than the 48 months that such a phrasing suggests.

    @ Topman,
    I was reading a few months back some accounts of pilots during the second world war whose training was very extensive. Ground work, theory, navigation and some basic flying here in the UK for several months, before shipping off to Canada or the US to do the more advanced work, then coming back to do conversion. even in wartime like you say there was as much as two years. 4 years now just seems like a very long time (and bloody expensive). Is it beyond us to shortern this perhaps?

    @ Slighty Agri,
    I can well believe that a Typhoon conversion would take considerable time. I just wonder whether the course could be shortened safely?

  51. topman

    @ Chris B

    It is a long course it’s looked at all the time and no doubt many times in the past. Yet it’s still a long course. I know it’s being looked at again now. I doubt it will make a huge difference. The typhoon OCU courses are being looked at. More simulators I think will be the answer. For FJ crew I doubt it would be reduced by something dramatic, say a year, a moderate reduction in costs is more likely.

  52. wf

    @topman: why not do a Luftwaffe and do your training in the US, or Australia for that matter? Perfect flying weather more often, reduced training time.

  53. Topman

    I would think the cost of setting up overseas would be larger than the savings in time. There’s not that many days of flying lost at, say coningsby. It must cost the GAF a bob or to to have a tonka sqn overseas all the time. Not that I’d knock an overseas tour to the US :) I know about 18 months ago every single post overseas was looked at to reduce them to the very minimum.

  54. All Politicians are the Same


    ” I know about 18 months ago every single post overseas was looked at to reduce them to the very minimum”

    That coincided with the Single Service Chiefs being wheeled in and told that it was no longer acceptable to gap any NATO post.

  55. Topman

    Interesting, the review I should have said was only RAF wide (that I know of). No doubt a bit of robbing peter to pay paul with regard to NATO posts. Who wheeled them in, SoS?

  56. wf

    @Topman: I’m sure there’s not many flying days lost by trained pilots, but we are talking trainees here. I’m assuming that means visibility of 5-10km and winds of less than 10 knots, a combination you don’t see much outside of summer. Never done any flying outside of the UK, but I can confirm the weather in Arizona is insanely good 330-340 days per year (convenient for parachuting).

  57. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Topman

    I had heard it was the PM himself. NATO got a bit silly a few years ago, just before the “transformation” went through and all sorts of bids were placed for roles and responsibilities without proper thought as to who or even which service in some cases would take them on.

  58. mike

    With basing aircraft overseas for training/conversion… rememberer that you also lack immediate access to attrition replacements, both airframe and aircrew. Having them on home soil means we can surge, much like we did for Libya. Also a longer logistics trail for a type not used, nor any major parts produced, over there.

    Then again, would mean instant access to Red/Green/Maple flag and a whole heap for DAC and exercises. But costs would run up… unlike the GAF, we have plenty of sea to train over. Though imo our F-35B conversion unit should stay state-side, tied with the USMC’s Fleet replenishment squadron. Means aircrews will get the CAS and Carrier experience.

    We had Goose bay in Canada for N.American training, along with NATO, a mere shadow of its former self now.

  59. Topman


    What level of trainee did you mean, something like elementary training or like the GAF FJ training?


    Sounds like bitten off more than they can chew. I’ve only been on the fringes of NATO postings, seemed to me to be very ‘territorial’ and any perk/post rather (wierdly) guarded. Seemed very noticeable on exercises,a bit of a divide those from a NATO country and those in a NATO post. I thought it was strange, perhaps just me.

  60. wf

    @Topman: I’m referring to the Tucano phase rather than the Hawk phase. I assume once you’ve completed the former, UK weather is something you should be able to cope with, and indeed, coping with it is part of the training :-)

  61. Topman


    OK, I’m not sure how many days are lost at that level and if it would be worth upping sticks to sunny oz/arizona.

  62. Chris.B.

    @ Topman,

    If it’s been looked at many times with no significant shift then fair enough.

  63. Chris.B.

    Think I might have cracked the answer. From a piece last year about the new training stream on the Hawk T.2;

    “The four RAF students to graduate were the first to complete the challenging and rewarding new course that downloads many aspects of training from front line aircraft into the UKMFTS provided syllabus.

    This includes the teaching of air to air radar and beyond visual range air combat with simulations of advanced missile systems and radars. The students have also experienced realistic air and ground scenarios, simulating sophisticated surface to air missile threats and smart weapons. This training is completed in both flight simulator and live flying sorties.

    The combination of state of the art simulation and flying training ensures that trainee pilots will progress to the front line with a far greater degree of training than ever before.”

    So it seems they’re shifting some of the burden for advanced training from the frontline back to the training squadron, which would probably save money in the long run.

  64. Tom

    @ Chris.B – Re training time for FJ Pilots

    Also worth bearing in mind that there maybe limited flight hours per pilot for cost reasons.

  65. Mark

    Did they not talk about shifting the hawk training all to cyprus due to the better weather and hotel accommodation.

  66. mr.fred

    Probably worth dropping in here:
    40 percent reduction in weight over 15-20 years.
    I wonder how long it will take to fill the void thus created with additional systems and armour and other sorts of mass.
    It seems to me that the US want a one size fits all solution when it might be more sensible to have a number of different options. Light stuff for deployability and heavy stuff for real tough work. Maybe even some medium weight vehicles for robust but deployable, although in my mind medium weight is the result of a light vehicle gotten lazy and fat.

  67. Kent

    @mr.fred – Reading the article, it looks like they’re considering new materials as a way to save weight. Think aerogel only strong!

  68. mr.fred

    Yes, I got that.
    Suppose I can make a vehicle with the protection of the Abrams but weighing only 40 tonnes. What would stop me (or anyone else) adding 20 tonnes of appliqué armour to protect against side and top-attack weapons?

    I think even now one could get an appreciable increase in protection on most legacy vehicles simply by building them using modern materials and manufacturing techniques. However, even if you save weight it will be added back to the limits of the drivetrain.

  69. Chris

    mr.fred, Kent – ref US going lighter – its a sound move in my opinion (well it would be) but might be a case of ‘wait for weight’…

    In the early 90s I had the opportunity to watch the Lancers exercise around Imber village. I asked the weight of their Sultan command vehicle as it seemed low on its springs, 12t they said. Sultan Gross Vehicle Weight by design was 9t – the Army were cheerfully overloading the vehicle by 33%. I came to the conclusion that the only genuine weight limit was space – only when there was no more space left would the Army stop stuffing stuff in. Although there might be realisation too much stuff stuffing had occurred if the vehicle physically broke as in the case of the trials of full Bowman fit in LandRover.

  70. The Other Chris

    Think there’s problems with WordPress log in.

    If the comments box isn’t “logged in” try checking if you’re logged in at the top right and if so log out fully then back in again.

  71. monkey

    The Chinese have won the opening round of the World Tank Biathlon in Russia. Twelve nations are taking part using locally supplied T-72’s except for the Chinese who brought their own T98’s.Perhaps they did not like the colour option left to them as this is the first time they have attended , bright pink !
    This kind of ‘loading the dice’ is something to expect from the Chinese in any future conflict

  72. DavidNiven

    NATO fears ground invasion as Russia masses troops on Ukraine border


    Lights set to go out in Kandahar after U.S. aid winds down


    ‘When the United States stops funding power generation in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar next year, the lights are set to go out and factories will fall idle, playing into the hands of Taliban insurgents active in the area.’

  73. Observer

    DN, I find it a bit suspicious that power generation report. For one, are they talking about infrastructure or fuel, and for another, the Taliban owning a hard target? Shouldn’t that have been the target of an attack or a JDAM by now?

  74. DavidNiven


    Infrastructure mainly, the Kajaki damn was one of the major projects to get going so as to improve life and show the Afghans that their government could deliver something beneficial. We lost a few blokes defending it, and launched a major operation to deliver the turbines, but alas they are still not installed (from last reading).

    The Taliban do not own the Damn ( well I hope they don’t) they hold the ground from the damn and along the distribution route.

  75. Mark


    While Typhoon helped sustain BAE’s supersonic aerodynamics capability, a new challenge emerged in the early 2000s when the U.K. began looking toward a stealthy unmanned combat aircraft. The result was two small U.K.-funded demonstrator UAVs, Raven and Corax in 2003-05, that gave engineers their first taste of designing for low observability. “The U.K. put in place plans to mitigate the risks and collect data. With the flights of Raven and Corax, a large-scale mission-representative demonstrator became feasible,” Lee says.


    The current concept for the new mission system is called Overseer, and it is among the items that will dominate discussions between the contractor, the squadron and the defense ministry over where the new money will be spent. The squadron and Raytheon also have a prioritized “shopping list” of other work to carry out. This includes refinements to the radar and an evaluation of additional sensors.

    “We’re considering the implementation of a long-range optical sensor, which we can then integrate with the radar and provide a much better surveillance capability,” says Paul Francis, Raytheon U.K.’s business development director. “[We are also considering] the implementation of a signals-intelligence capability on the platform, to pick up and highlight some of those areas where, just with the radar, it’s difficult to form identification.”

  76. The Other Chris

    The continued development of Sentinel is very good news.

    Makes you wonder if it’s success means we’d sprinkle Boeing MSA into a P-8A order if that’s the direction we take or if we’d just stick with Sentinel. Hopefully bulk out the fleet of the latter should MSA/MRA be a genuinely desired task routinely.

  77. Hohum


    Nothing new about LO work as a concept. The British were testing radar absorbent materials in the 1950s and the original TSR-2 requirement contained a weight allowance for radar absorbent material. British designers produced low RCS versions of design studies in the 80s including a derivative of a pre-JSF British only STOVL design.

  78. Hohum

    As an idea, Sentinel might make an interesting platform for EO sensors, or bits of sensor, removed from the RAPTOR pods when tornado goes out of service.

  79. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @DN – “Hesco Bastion” – quite bright lads at Hesco – for Leeds… :-)


  80. DavidNiven


    Visited their factory a couple of times now, they are always very helpful and informative. They used to run a competition for the most intelligent/improvised use of Hesco for construction purposes out on tour, plus they employ a lot of ex service personnel too.

    A nice British success story, good to see they are not sitting on their laurels and finding other uses for their product.

    It’s obviously the national recruitment policy that is helping on the intelligent front ;-)

  81. The Other Chris

    Thanks Hohum. I meant it in the latest generational sense in contrast to the UAV work mentioned in the article but you’re quite right.

  82. Red Trousers


    You certainly can’t blame Raytheon for pushing for all sorts of upgrades, it is what Business Developers do and I know the people there reasonably well and have respect for them. They are not without precedent either, so the ideas have some reasonably well developed intellectual input; it was only 8 years ago that Raytheon put together a fairly coherent case to use the Bombardier GX in a SIGINT role during the early days of the R1 replacement process, bringing a fleet commonality approach to the emerging ISTAR Hub ideas at Waddington.

    But with a perspective from the other side of the fence, we looked at these concepts as part of the ASTOR programme back in the very early 2000s, and did lots of DSTL modelling. The conclusions were that so much else had to change to accommodate dual usage for role, or multi-sensor fits on a single platform, that the benefits began to be outweighed. Flight profiles, tasking, accompanying protection as you got closer to the FEBA, training needs, different personnel for different mission types, different response times, even a limit on the total number of electronic counter-measures programmed into on board systems….

    What we decided was better was to coordinate analysis capabilities, so that ASTOR ground stations could receive and work on raw WATCHKEEPER imagery, and vice versa. Same effect achieved (largely…. Some devil in that detail).

    Of course, that was all against hot war scenarios, preceding GW2 and Afghanistan. Different scenarios may come up with different results. I suspect the MoD will listen politely and say “let’s see what SDSR 2015 decides before committing any new money”.

  83. The Other Chris

    @Hohum and @RT

    Posted last month (by Mark IIRC) on the site but covers what you both describe regarding the DB-110 sensor from the RAPTOR and multi-roling (scroll down for EO bits):


    At the same time, UTC and Selex announced development of TacSAR which incorporates a Selex AESA based SAR on the UTC DB-110:


    A number of the smaller Selex AESA’s are boasting ISAR modes as well.

    Whether the UK would want the SAR features on the DB-110 turret or whether RAPTOR pods would be cannibalised and ASTOR provides similar cuing, the two stories haven’t been linked. Would TacSAR instead of a “vanilla” DB-110 be desirable in it’s own right? Would it free up ASTOR sufficiently for multi-roling or are the operation of each task sufficiently different?

  84. DavidNiven

    Russia bans all U.S. food, EU fruit and veg in sanctions response; NATO fears invasion


    ‘Russia imported $43 billion worth of food last year. According to the European Commission, Russia bought 28 percent of EU fruit exports and 21.5 percent of its vegetables in 2011.’

    Isn’t putting sanctions on food a bit like cutting your nose off to spite your face? and what are the Russian people going to do once the food prices rise and then shortages begin? Would that force Putin’s hand or is he going to invade Ukraine regardless?

  85. Repulse

    Picked this link up to a RN promo video on another blog: HMS Queen Elizabeth: How will she be used?: http://youtu.be/fEIH_2lEHCQ

    Nothing new of course, but I am interested that they are still using relatively old footage where the CVF is operating with 2 T45s, a SSN and what looks to be a tanker. I may be reading too much into it, but if the RN wanted to promote it beyond high end ops why are there not any pics / video of it operating with the Battlestar Galactica style ragtag RFTG? It would seem to be an easy way to enhance its cause with the liberals :)

    Apologies, i know im verging on fantasy fleets, but it then got me thinking about if the CVF were to operate in a standalone carrier battle group what would be the optimal surface escort structure in respect to the broader navy capability.

    I’ve always thought of 2 T45s and 2-3 TAS T26s operating from a pool of 6 T45s and 8 TAS T26s. However, with the 1SL confident that the politicians will be seduced by the carriers enough to promote the need for escorts, would an option be to assign the GP T26s to the carrier group instead? This would mean the CBG would need to run in an active ASW state using the 2050 bow sonars – however with the relatively noisey T45s and CVFs wouldn’t that be the best way anyway? This would leave the TAS T26s to operate independently hunting subs or act as escorts for RFAs etc. Would mean that the navy would need to get a pool of 6 T45s and 6 GP T26s.

  86. Nick


    If you can understand their strategy (and I cant) then there might be sense in there somewhere (perhaps).

    As it seems the Ukraine government is poised to defeat the separatists (perhaps) then it would seem the last few months of Russian support, imposition of sanctions etc will have been for nothing at all, unless Russia bails them out again now. I’s tend to expect more covert equipment and troops as this would have the least repercussions followed by “peace keepers” as a final resort. If Putin’s end game is to bring Ukraine back to his table (probably next spring after a cold winter driven by energy shortages and collapse of support for the government) then the current civil war needs to continue for a while yet. I’m not convinced the strategy is a good one.

    You might find this article interesting (there’s nothing in here that isn’t obvious if you’ve been following this from the start last autumn and understand what’s driving the Ukrainian people – as opposed to their politicians)



  87. Simon


    I would have thought you’d always need a couple of 2087s sprinting and drifting otherwise you won’t pick up anything below the thermocline.

    So an ideal escort force of two T45, two T26-ASW and a couple of additional T26 (either type) would be my favoured solution. However, I’d go for one of each for peacetime ops.

  88. Monty

    I have a very important contribution to make to this thread.

    I am currently on holiday and using my iPad to access Think Defence. When the site loads I find myself unable to make the text larger. The site refuses to scale. TD what can I do? I can barely read the text. Is it possible to load the full site on an iPad instead of the mobile version?

  89. Obsvr

    Re Hesco, IIRC it was originally conceived as a flood control tool. The inventor was a redundant mining engineer who got off his arsse instead of sitting around whinging about the sainted Maggie.

  90. Hohum


    Not really, Russia has been invading other peoples countries, fomenting civil wars and handing out heavy weapons like candy. Any exposure to the propaganda now being spewed by the Russian media will also demonstrate a level of hatred for “the west” (including the usual combination of zionists and masons etc) that would make your average Islamist blush. They have already shown a propensity to engage in cyber attacks.

  91. Not a Boffin

    Not an over-reaction. A welcome recognition that “That Nice Mr Putin” is not our friend and that we may actually have to plan on doing something other than make vacuous press statements.

    Most welcome of all (if actually adopted) is the hands-on involvement of pollies in crisis management rehearsals / CP exercises. Might actually make them think about strategy and real capability rather than reactive PR soundbites.

    Not holding my breath though……

  92. monkey

    Rory Stewart Chair of the Defence Select Committee said “Above all we need politicians to practise decision-making as they did in the past…”
    He mention senior level politicians used to be run through what if scenarios so they could practise under intense pressure , and then an analysis of the decsisions fed back to them base on the projected outcomes.We used to run these exercises (WINTEX) regularly it seems but why did we stop just because the wall came down and now we can relax and put our feet up?
    The world will always be a complex and dangerous place so our leaders need to be ready and informed to make those hard decision’s. Perhaps by running these exercises (starting now ) the scope of SDSR 2015 may be different if the politician’s were to experience the frustration of having to few and under equipped spread to thin . Or maybe that’s why they don’t , with an Ostrich mentality.

  93. Repulse

    @Simon: Agree with your comments on the Thermocline, what I am referring to is the core CBG. We are probably agreeing anyway, as I’d see the ASW T26s doing a broad ASW sweep with other assets (SSNs, UAVs, even MPAs) rather than being tied directly to the sailing close to the CVF.

  94. Nick


    I was also bemused by the Russian risk assessment moved from Tier 3 (2010 SDR ?) to Tier 1 (now), plus the statement that the MOD considered (my words) “UK forces could meet all contingencies had been brushed aside”.

    In any case, doesn’t this seem to negate the 2010 SDR assumptions and suggest that 2015 will need to be a much more significant exercise than previously thought and discussed here ? It is now a given (surely ?) that post Ukraine it would appear that NATO must actually be able to deploy significant forces into Poland and the Baltics to dissuade Russia from attempting another Ukraine like operation (or perhaps consider permanent basing). It seems to argue the UK thinks this is a serious game changer for NATO (plus with the US pivot, we can not expect as much assistance on the ground going forward).

  95. Hohum


    I would agree if SDSR10 had had any assumptions beyond “we now have less money so we can have less stuff….”

  96. Repulse

    @Nick: Yes, but… Recent interviews of relevant ministers have talked about other European nations manning up to the Russian challenge rather than the UK increasing defence spending.

    If I was of a suspicious mind part of this could be to prepare forva part reversal of the Army 2020 strategy as it’s proving too difficult to get enough TA volunteers.

  97. Jules

    A bit of manning up on both sides of the channel would be good, as most nations see countering the threat from the north as a job for the Scandinavian countries and us, with a little lift from the French, can’t see that changing really, a little uplift in Spend from those nations would be token as to deterrence at best I feel. We do need to step up a bit more if only to prove our worth to the rest of Europe and unfortunately the US. should we?
    Well that’s a debate in itself!
    As has been stated previously, there may be a little less help from over the pond than we are used to I feel.
    Given that the Government aren’t going to spend a lot more money any time soon, how can we get the best bang for what little we may be able to realistically put forward, be interested to hear your thoughts, on how we could try to re-shape the Navy/RAF Force structure…
    I totally agree, with your thoughts on Army recruitment, well they did give it to Capita!
    Seriously though I think it is a lot more difficult to engage the young of today into the possibility of fighting for something they know little about and care even less, I’m being a bit generalist, and maybe disparaging here, I know.
    If it doesn’t pick up soon, I too expect a re-think along the lines of Hoorah, we found some more money and we can now have 95,000 Soldiers, and don’t need nearly so many reservists! At the same time bang goes any chance of force multipliers for the Navy and the RAF I reckon…

  98. Peter Elliott

    Good to hear a Commons Select Committee actually up to speed and leading the debate. SDSR15 just got an awful lot more interesting.

    I can see the light rapid reaction brigades being bulked back up to fighting strength, rather than simply force generators for high readiness battlegroups, and maybe more investment in Atlas and Atlas transportable vehicles to get them depolyable into the Baltics fast. The line is open and there are slots up for grabs. Maybe add back a couple of FJ squadrons, go to 6 Typhoon and 3 F35B, and press the ‘go button’ on the Apache rebuild / upgrade.

    Its all going to cost. But the economy is now on the up and the political calculation has changed. UKIP is now the politicial threat to the Conservatives and there is now an existential threat from Russia. So suddenly there are votes in Defence. And that’s even before we look at what’s going on in the sandpit.

  99. Not a Boffin

    “We do need to step up a bit more if only to prove our worth to the rest of Europe and unfortunately the US. should we? Well that’s a debate in itself!”

    What. The. F8ck?

    One or two pertinent figures (regrettably from Wiki – short on time), bear in mind proposed 82000 regulars in Army 2020.

    Poland army 60000
    Boxhead army 65000
    Hungarian Army ~26000
    Czech Republic Army <20000
    Danish Army ~10000
    French Army 119000

    While noting that many of these countries have made significant contributions to Op Herrick, I'd suggest with the exception of "The Foul and Most Foreign", that it is the rest of Europe that should be proving their worth to us. Not least as they're closer to that nice Mr Putin geographically……

  100. monkey

    @Peter Elliot
    “there are votes in defence ”
    Could this be the big delay in FRES? In all likleyhood the number of UK jobs in the tracked and wheeled versions is likely to be minimal with the bulk of the work being overseas with the UK input being a few bits and bobs.

  101. Peter Elliott

    And no – I don’t see the Navy being cut either. Equipement and manpower for: Crowsnest, P8, 2 QEC and 13 Type 26. And Successor at 4 boats.

    Am I smoking something? No. I really do think the political, fiscal and strategic furniture has been re-arranged.

  102. Peter Elliott

    I don’t necessarily see the Army headcount increasing above 82,000.

    What we might see is the requirment for sustained Brigade Level stabilisation force quietly downgraded. So manpower and quipment spend switched from the Adaptable Force to bring 16x and 3x back up to high readiness fighting strength..

  103. The Other Chris


    Just emailed screenshot from Android mobile. Will be able to test an iPad at lunchtime.

  104. Nick

    Hohum and others

    I always thought the political logic behind SDSR 2010 to make reasonable political sense given the economic environment. Very simplistically, it seemed something like

    Q: What are we likely to be actually doing in the next 10 years ?
    A: Supporting the US (alongside some other allies) in low intensity operations like Afghanistan (etc)

    Why then do you need a big heavy army (Challenger 2, etc) – we need lighter, more mobile forces at smaller numbers plus Airforce/Navy to provide support [oh and we’re stuck with the carriers (plus we’ll fund the SSBM/SSN out of the same budget)].

    Right now the conclusion seems to have changed to all that plus we’ll need to support NATO in CEE to deter Russia. We haven’t quite (it seems) got to, but that needs a bigger heavy weight Army (I notice Cameron specifically said we didn’t need Tanks in Europe at Farnborough less than a month ago), a more effective Air Force (more Typhoon squadrons surely) and Navy.

    If we don’t strengthen our forces along these lines (and it does seem we can’t afford to right now and I expect that @NAB is completely right regarding European spending), aren’t we implicitly telling European NATO that we aren’t that interested in chipping in to support CEE Defence and that we’re all going to rely on German Army (sic) plus support the modernization of Poland (which is just about the only major CEE country that’s actually seen a strong economic renaissance post joining the EU). Somebody has to do something surely ? Especially given the other back drop is (it appears) we can’t expect more US forces than are deployed today, because the US isn’t going to prop-up under-spending European NATO members anymore.

    I might argue that that sort of fits in with the EU exit and the apparent reversion to the British political and economic policies of the 1820s to 1880s that it sometimes seems the UKIPer mindset wants. Sorry I fully expect to be told off about that comment.. and it is clear that they all – especially Germany – need to open their checkbooks. Where is our national defence in this newly emerging cold war if it isn’t with NATO in the East ?

  105. Peter Elliott

    The balance I see is that the manpower heavy European nations need to pick up the requirement for sustained operations. Whereas we need to strenghten our rapidly deployable light formations to get them to the point of a crisis fast, possibly followed up by a heavy armour formation for 6-9 months. After that if the crisis is still bubbling we expect our allies to take up the slack.

    So for me its the Adaptable Force that gets cut back. Capbadges can be moved into the Light Brigades. But the ability to do a Herrick style op might just be pushed down the capability list.

    We still need to keep the North Atlantic and have a strong Task Group. So ASW-MPA and Type 26 are as essential as ever. And the RAF will make a strong case to support the Light Brigades with incremental buys of Atlas, Typhoon and F35B.

  106. Nick

    Peter Elliott

    These are wiki numbers from different years (so big health warning), but I have to say, apart from Germany and (especially) Spain, we aren’t that far apart rally if you’re using the 2 % GDP bench mark.

    Population (Millions)
    Russia 143
    Germany 81
    France 66
    UK 66
    Italy 60
    Spain 47
    Ukraine 45
    Poland 39

    GDP/head ($000)
    Russia 12.5
    Germany 40.7
    France 45.5
    UK 45.7
    Italy 41.2
    Spain 41.5
    Ukraine 4.4
    Poland 12.2

    Defence spending (% GDP) 2012
    Russia 4.4%
    Germany 1.4%
    France 2.3%
    UK 2.5%
    Italy 1.7%
    Spain 0.9%
    Ukraine 2.7%
    Poland 1.9%

  107. Jules

    @Not A Boffin
    “We do need to step up a bit more if only to prove our worth to the rest of Europe and unfortunately the US. should we? Well that’s a debate in itself!”

    What. The. F8ck?

    New that would draw someone oot!
    Debate is good!

    New that would draw someone out!
    Debate is good!

  108. Jules

    “We do need to step up a bit more if only to prove our worth to the rest of Europe and unfortunately the US. should we? Well that’s a debate in itself!”

    What. The. F8ck?

    New that would draw someone oot!

  109. Gloomy Northern Boy

    For me, the lesson of the last year is that NATO is a spent force because most of the participants are unwilling to take it seriously…with the exception of the easternmost members, who must be uncomfortably aware that there is far less standing behind them than they ever imagined. In an increasingly dangerous world (Russia and China increasingly assertive, the Middle East a slow-motion train crash with a top-dressing of medieval religious lunacy) there is obviously a need for us to look to our own defences, which means securing the moat and the westward trade routes against the possibility of a slow but potentially very grave European Crisis moving form East to West…

    That suggests that the current balance of forces might be about right, but everything we have needs to be fully tooled-up…no more “for not with”, a rapid acceleration of the ship-building programmes and the planned purchase of F-35, making decisions on Army equipment, closing the capability gap in respect of MPA and possibly taking a look at the strength of the RAF in respect of both fighter and transport numbers.

    With a growing economy and an increasingly obvious need this is all perfectly achievable…most easily by shifting CASD out of the Defence Budget into a national-strategic one, allowing an only quite modest up-lift to the headline MoD figure to achieve quite a lot of growth.

    Given decent political leadership, these would all be priorities and might ideally be developed on a cross-party basis through the good offices of the Commons Defence Committee…not least because their last report touched on many of these very issues. :-)

    As it is, we are run by a worthless and historically illiterate set of self-serving snake oil merchants, whose only preoccupation is with getting or holding power by bribing the electorate with their own money and lying to them about the state of the world every time they open their mouths…so as usual absolutely nothing useful or coherent will be done at all! :-( :-(

    Deeply Gloomy

  110. Simon


    I’d put MPA with CASD in terms of budget.

    And before you all kick off, I know there is benefit in MPA for other things other than just the SSBN defence ;-)

    Oh, and in regard to “a worthless and historically illiterate set of self-serving snake oil merchants”, I think you need a revolution to change that, which is only possible with a useless and undermotivated armed force… :-)

    PS: Dear GCHQ, I use the word “revolution” only for a bit of fun ;-)

  111. Nick


    The thought did pass my mind. Makes you think doesn’t it. The props designers really do seem to make the right sort of deductions sometimes…

  112. Observer

    ToC, “page not found”.

    Besides, letting others see your tracer might be a good thing.

    “Squad, enemy behind tree! Watch my tracer!” :)

  113. Think Defence

    Posting has been slow this last week or so, busy on other stuff (mainly keeping the wife and kids in the manner to which they have become far too accustomed)

    RT, you should have a scroll up and scroll down button now, don’t say I don’t listen!

    Still a few tweaks on formatting to do on that but it should do what you want

    The ongoing fight with spam continues, still trialling new systems in the engine room and later today there may be some down time as a few changes kick in (should not be for long though)

    Next and final FRES post nearly done, then Monty has a big article lined up, there are a handful of guest posts in the pipeline (some ready for publishing) and lots of other interesting stuff on the horizon

    Thanks for your patience chaps

  114. monkey

    Something else to think about regarding those figures Russia 4.4% GDP , when talking percentages one cannot just think about the amount of Rubles it would generate but what those Rubles can buy compared to the US $ , the € , or the GBP. 5.5 bn Rubles won’t be the cost of a PAK-50 but half that or less or put it another way 2 PAK-50 for every F35 ( 4 for every F22 ) .
    Another thing to consider is that at any one times Russia is not only building weapons for its own use but for its huge overseas customer base. Their production capabilities are very large and come a war can commander those customers weapons that have just been manufactured but not delivered as well as the material in process.


  115. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Simon – even I’m not that Gloomy – we have had much better leaders in the past, and given sufficient shocks…UKIP, a failure to make any sense of EU “re-negotiation”, the collapse of Iraq, much more trouble with the Cossacks…the system may yet throw up better; cometh the hour, cometh the men or indeed women…


  116. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Simon – even I’m not that Gloomy – given the possible shocks both foreign and domestic over the next few years (UKIP, EU, Ukraine, Caliph et al) – the system may yet throw up men and women capable of addressing them…my experience of contact with the political class (which is long, albeit local) is that there are better people within their ranks, but under circumstances of normal jogging the determination to conform to the party line is almost overwhelming…less so in a crisis…

    And there could be a fair few coming our way… :-)


  117. The Other Chris

    News and information on the BACN (Battlefield Airborne Communications Node) system:


    Note the choice of a Global Express aircraft for the manned platform! Global Hawk variant for the unmanned platform (EQ-4B).

    Also of note is the use of a WB-57F (Canberra’s) aircraft from the NASA inventory to develop the system. The two NASA aircraft were being used actively in Afghanistan at least until 2013:


    Great photo’s of a great aircraft :)

  118. DomS

    Just looking back at the Cold War Relics threads on TD from ~2010. Interesting reading considering the new political climate:

    There’s a historical quote I can’t quite place about soldiers being like children in that they will discard a coat because it is warm today, without thought for the cold of night, but the whole ‘cold war relic’ argument shows that short-sightedness pervades the whole political system. Why are people so keen to believe that ‘this time it’s different’? I think they should teach geopolitics in school.

    And breathe…

  119. DavidNiven

    Re Hesco, IIRC it was originally conceived as a flood control tool.

    I was always told it was designed as method of constructing a cheap retaining wall rather than using gabion baskets that require facing stone and fill material with specific qualities Usually single size stone that requires placing by hand). The material in the Hesco baskets is a geotextile, that is permeable so is not adequate for flood defence, it does however allow almost any fill to be used within the basket and provide structural strength without any form of mechanical compaction.


    If Russia is now a threat, does that mean all the ‘lighty, Fighty’ fantasies are obsolete? And do we need to concentrate on medium weight forces for the Army?

  120. IXION

    For all the “oh goody the cold war is back crowd”…

    Sorry no we won’t need to reactivate BAOR or perhaps British Army of the Donn. ..

    Russians ain’t gonna role tanks westward except over perhaps half of Ukraine.

    Not a NATO member.

    Even if they were the state of a Russian Armed forces remains very poor in terms of both numbers and Quality.

    They are not the third shock army reborn.

  121. Mark

    Was the last defence review that put the Russian threat front and centre not the Nott defence review?

  122. Mark


    The European Defence Agency is examining the feasibility of a multinational tanker purchase using a pooling and sharing model, which Blundell says could be supported via access to the Voyager fleet. Aircraft could be used to provide crew training services or an interim capability before a procurement can be completed, he says.

    “Voyager represents a highly plausible opportunity to meet the requirement for NATO tanking and air transport capacity through some form of pooling and sharing agreement,” Blundell says. A refuelling boom could potentially be added to an aircraft within a conversion period of roughly six months if requested, he adds.

    Meanwhile, the RAF on 30 July formally declared its core Voyager fleet fully operational. Marked during a ceremony at its Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire, the milestone represents “the transfer from programme delivery to service delivery, with all major clearances in place”, says Air Cdre David Lee, air officer air mobility.

  123. DomS

    I’m really interested to see how (or if) NATO responds (in terms of doctrine) to the threat of ambiguous warfare and sub-article-5 threats. Credible conventional deterrence is one thing but getting broad-based support for action is another (NATO response force requires a unanimous vote to deploy apparently).

  124. James Bolivar DiGriz

    Much as I think that defence spending has been cut to the bone and beyond and that increased capabilities are needed, I would urge anyone who makes ‘the economy is improving’ comments to look at this:

    The plan in 2010 was that this would stop counting up by May 2015. Currently, IIRC, the plan is for that point to be reached in FY2017/18. That is if and only if there is a Conservative led government after May 2015. Labour plans are, at least publicly, extremely ill-defined but they have made numerous statements about extra spending.

  125. El Sid

    The VTOL X-plane is geared towards the TERN requirement, for something that can take off from an LCS-2 and take a 600lb payload out to 600-900nm. It gets described as a “Predator on a frigate” – not an exact comparison, but it gives you an idea of the priorities. No doubt the USMC will want some for their LHAs but it’s debatable whether they would fit the plan for QEC. In any case it’s a long way off, it’s still at the DARPA-playing-about stage, so 10 years is probably optimistic, particularly in the USN’s current funding environment.

    PS @TD, the arrows are almost superimposed on each other in the bottom right corner on Firefox/Win8.1

  126. Rocco

    Just reading something on DefenceTalk that said the RNZAF is looking at replacing it’s Boeing 757s with A400s in the next few years. At last, an export order!

  127. Obsvr

    The only role for light forces is wearing light blue berets and I don’t mean AAC. A place called Arnhem in 1944 showed what happens when light forces try to take on heavish ones. The role of duty target is not a happy precedent, but learning from history is what it is all about. Convert RM back to a ‘maritime regiments of foot’ and re-role them as armoured infantry and abandon the AF nonsense. Just a sensible use of manpower.

    The Russian naval threat to the N Atlantic is a shadow of its former self. Russia is the power in the Eurasian landmass, and landmass is the key word.

  128. All Politicians are the Same

    854 Squadron leave Afghanistan, BZ guys last entire RN force gone my thoughts are with the families of the 62 RM Commandos who never came home.

  129. DavidNiven

    The British armed forces have only lost 62 casualties during Herrick so far!
    I wonder what all the fuss has been about?

    And once again the dark blue show their real colours.

  130. All Politicians are the Same

    @ DN

    I am going to let that one go as I am not certain I actually understand the level of venom i think it involves.

  131. DavidNiven


    We have lost over 400 personnel in Afghanistan from all three services, do you not think that as this site is called ‘Think Defence’ and not ‘Think Navy’ that your thoughts should be with the families of everyone who has lost a loved one, and not just your chosen few? or are they not worthy of a mention?

    I am in no way denigrating the loss of the RM but it’s a campaign that has been thought by all 3 services.

  132. All Politicians are the Same


    My thoughts are always with the people who lost loved ones, especially where I have served. In this case it is a poignant moment for the RN. You really need to get over yourself mate.

  133. DavidNiven

    ‘especially where I have served’

    Are you in danger of becoming that man at the end of the bar?

  134. All Politicians are the Same


    Do you have anything useful or relevant to say? 854 have done a great job, the RN leave a landlocked country and you bitch. Says more about you than anything else.

  135. DavidNiven


    All what I have said is relevant. 854 have done an excellent job and contributed to an all out effort, no doubt done in the great traditions of the Navy.

    ‘RN leave a landlocked country’

    I think that statements like that are more a reflection of your own deep down views. Do you believe that the Navy should never have been involved?

  136. Observer

    PE, I don’t see any major differences in Israeli citizenship laws with respect to most other nations save the bar on some other specific countries nationals which is a security issue, not a racial one. Once the security level ramps down over time, I suspect that the bar is going to be lifted. There really isn’t much difference in their laws vs other countries.

  137. All Politicians are the Same


    No, i beleive we should have and we have. I posted a congratulations and my thoughts, you posted a venom filled reply which ended with the words ” and once again the dark blue show their real colours”

    That and you are beneath my contempt.

  138. DavidNiven


    ‘and once again the dark blue show their real colours”’

    And that’s what I believe, lets face it for all the purple talk that comes out on this blog, cooperation is not really what people like your selves in the Navy really believe. What it really means deep down is that you want to fly all the jet’s and disband most of the Army, and that is why you could brush aside the contributions of the other two services without a second thought, as you said yourself they were your thoughts.

    ‘That and you are beneath my contempt.’

    Glad to see my day has not been a complete wash out! ;-)

  139. All Politicians are the Same

    “And that’s what I believe, lets face it for all the purple talk that comes out on this blog, cooperation is not really what people like your selves in the Navy really believe. What it really means deep down is that you want to fly all the jet’s and disband most of the Army, and that is why you could brush aside the contributions of the other two services without a second thought, as you said yourself they were your thoughts.”

    what a bitter and ignorant view.

  140. DavidNiven

    ‘what a bitter and ignorant view.’

    But not refuted by your good self, who has numerous occasions on this site (among with others) claimed to be doing the armies job etc as you have completed a few tours in the sand. I kicked tin for the JFH but I don’t ever recall saying that I was doing the RAF/FAA’s job.

    Perhaps you can explain to me how I got this bitter and ignorant view?

  141. All Politicians are the Same


    Lets start with facts. It tends to help. Show me one post where I have ever suggested getting rid of any of the Army? Go on please do. I have completed a tour as an MA that should have been done by an Army officer but life sucks and I volunteered.
    What you will see if you bother looking is that I am a huge proponent of all 3 services and even RT(despite our scuffles :( ) would agree.

  142. The Other Chris

    If we could get back to more interesting and constructive debate* that would be great. Looks like DN misconstrued APATS message and overreacted. Call it quits for the sake of the open thread, eh? Readers tend to skip past the “genuine” topics when comments start to get personal and there’s some good stuff been linked today.

    *what calibre bullet our next rifle should fire, just how paper thin the armour we need to apply to a vehicle that “protects” RT** should be, how many T26’s should be transferred to the RAF, dipping sonars on Wildcat and whether a Shorts Islander would do a better job than a Unic crane
    **I jest, I jest!

  143. DavidNiven


    Yes it did, apparently there are going to be less matelot’s for a while ;-)


    ‘I have completed a tour as an MA that should have been done by an Army officer but life sucks and I volunteered’

    Yes it should have, but lets not shy away from the fact that the Navy needed to regain some lost reputation after its less than perfect showing in Iraq and allowed such postings to happen, and yes I am well aware the Army did not perform as well as they should have either.

    You know yourself that I am not going to go trawling through the TD archives to find one comment, that’s why it’s an easy reposte to make in any argument on here. My cards are on the table now and I think it’s best to leave it at that, TOC may be right about me misconstruing your comment but for that to happen there needs to be a basis to begin with. So I will call it quits and save it for a more genuine topic.


    You’re right I apologise to you and the other readers.

  144. Observer

    DN, I don’t recall APATS being rabidly pro-Navy, you sure you shot the right guy?

    ToC, I’m all for transferring T-54s to the RAF. :P I’m exceedingly curious as to what use they would make of them.

  145. All Politicians are the Same


    Trawl away because you know you will find SFA. I find it sad that a simple post and had it been any other service the post would have reflected that caused such a reponse. So to all my UK army, RAF, RN and US CG, Navy and Marines i have served operationally wth my thoughts are with you.

  146. DavidNiven


    ‘So to all my UK army, RAF, RN and US CG, Navy and Marines i have served operationally wth my thoughts are with you.’

    Thats more like it, less dark blue more purple and who knows you might even start to believe what you apparently preach ;-)

    NB there’s no point dropping the word operationally into the equation we’ve all been busy the past twenty years.

  147. mr.fred

    David Niven,
    The most charitable view would that you massively overreacted.
    The way I read APATS post that you objected to is no different to an observation of a specific army unit leaving and counting the cost to that unit in particular.

  148. Jonathan

    Just a thought but does anyone know what happened to the 13 or so sea harriers stored at culdrose. I’m sure we could find someone to buy them for a a few million. Seems a sham just to leave them to rot.

  149. Challenger

    I thought those Sea Harriers at Culdrose had been de-weaponized and stripped of a lot of other systems. I don’t even think they fire up the engines, just use them as fixed or towed props for the flight-deck school.

    If they aren’t airworthy then who would want them?

  150. mike

    @ Challenger

    Just like the Jaguars, de-mobbed, stripped, left to some elements… just a dream, like the “strategic steam reserve”!
    Curious how the Indians turned down the offer to buy the fleet though… kinda got the impression there was problems with the sensitive tech transfer, especially re the AMRAAM/Radar combo.

  151. Challenger


    Hmm, yeah i can imagine us perhaps (for some reason) not wanting to sell Sea Harriers with Blue Vixen and AMRAAM integrated and the Indian’s in turn not showing much interest if it meant a lot of work and money to bring them up-to standard with their existing fleet.

    Although that’s merely a guess.

  152. Topman

    @ mike

    not all Jags stripped yet ;) they replaced the mighty JP in a training role. The last lot from 6 Sqn at Coningsby still taxi about in a training role.

  153. The Other Chris

    Digging through old Bristol Siddeley and RR papers to look at Plenum Chamber Burning designs. Reminded of the RB.428 variant Pegasus which was a look at the BS.100 approach for alternatives to reheat.

    Spotted mention of the 1187 aircraft designs, luckily there’s some sketches to be found online!

    The HS.1187-3 design in particularly is very familiar in form:


    These are circa 1970.

  154. mike

    @ Topman

    Oh yeah, the Land sharks :D

    Christ, those old JP’s… I joined wanting to work on Jags…. never got near them x)

  155. Topman

    @ mike

    Infact I saw them a few months ago, seemed strange to seem them taxiing about.

    ahh the mighty JP, they were only sold a few years ago (3 or 4 I think) lined them up at Cosford and flogged them off one by one. Can’t knock how much value for money we got from them, trained god knows how many pilots then about 20 years teaching groundcrew probably in the tens of thousands all told I bet.

  156. mike

    @ Topman

    It was strange…going to work on complex modern equipment, and training with what we jokingly refereed to as taking antiques out for walkies.

    Then again, the same would apply today with the Jags!
    I can imagine the Hawk T1A’s filling that need soon, then again with all this PFI stuff, who knows. Just like the Provo, we’ve got good mileage out of them.

  157. Mark


    Q: How long did it take to develop the Scorpion?

    BA: Starting from a clean sheet design on 9 January 2011 to the first flight took 23 months. I literally started with an empty building, nine people and a white board. On the commercial side, time is money. If it had taken ten years to build, then it would have cost you $40m. It took us less than two years and you can buy it for $20m. The airplane uses high but mature technology. For example, it’s fitted with Martin-Baker Mk 16 ejector seats which are very high tech, very good and very reliable. Martin-Baker saw the opportunity very quickly, so they came onto the programme as a commercial partner. They looked at our cockpit and said “Oh no – our seats won’t work in that design. We can modify our seats but it will cost tens of millions of dollars as well as about a year’s schedule. If you give us three more inches of the plane and two more inches of width, then our seats will work.” So the design team gave them those extra five inches.

    Q: How many existing systems were you able to incorporate into it?

    BA: The all-composite fuselage is new build. The hydraulics and electronics are mature technology and it’s fitted with Martin Baker ejection seats together with brakes and tyres from the Citation Sovereign. You can’t use business jet avionics in a tactical airplane, so it uses are military avionics. When we started the project these were sourced from Cobham but they’ve since been spun off and they’re now Genesys Aerosystems. You can spend a lot of money chasing that last 10% of technology and you quickly get a $50m jet.

  158. sea_eagle

    Air strikes need to support Iraqi refugees fleeing ISIS.

    The Prime Minister calls the Chief of the Defence Staff.
    “CDS tell me where are our carriers ?”

  159. DavidNiven


    I owe you a large apology for my comments on Friday, I wrongly attributed views and comments from ‘X’ as yours. It is commentators such as he who are rabidly Navy and as such display a very narrow and at times derogatory view of the other services, and rather than taking a moment the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and common sense slipped ( which happens to us pongo’s from time to time ;-)).

    Once again I apologise for the misunderstanding and to the other readers of this blog.

  160. DavidNiven


    ‘no offence caused’

    I have an inkling that is not the case. Your being very gracious I appreciate it.

  161. paul g

    @mark think these 2 answers raise an eyebrow as well;

    Q: Who supplies the engines?

    BA: On this model, the aircraft is fitted with two Honeywell TFE731 turbofans – an engine that has already been used to power a wide variety of business jets. . I know there’s at least one other engine that will fit in that same structure and that was by design not by accident. We’re not going to away from our basic principles of highly reliable, highly affordable, highly effective airplane

    Q: While you’re at Farnborough, have you been talking to the systems manufacturers?
    BA: We are. I already know that a sophisticated maritime surveillance and a counter narcotics package will work onboard. We have the science, we have the cooling, we have the power and we have the avionics to control it, so we’re well on our way

  162. Mark


    Yep shows what can happen if you design a new fuselage around tried and tested avionics and systems that can be upgraded as you go along. Seperate the technology of the sensors from that of the plane and don’t try and develop everything from new in one go. It made it across the Atlantic flew in uk and headed home and it hasn’t been flying for 8 years and had billions thrown at it. If it’s optionally manned in the future is it a better option than current uavs? It might be

    I would bet the other engine option is none american

  163. paul g

    @ mark,

    I did comment on the maritime thread that these could could cover the SSN’s when they come in/go out of faslane , at $1500 per flying hour that would save some serious cash, plus give 9 of them a a coat of red paint and a list of air shows!!

  164. The Other Chris

    They’d need to carry significant equipment to pick up a subsurface target. Not doubting a surface capability to some extent. MQ-9 already has a demonstrated MSA/MRA capability (Guardian and the Seaspray/Sovereignty demonstration).

    If you had the choice between this aircraft or developing the Reaper platform, which way would you go?

  165. Radish 293

    Can’t help but think that the Scorpion could be a more important Aircraft than the Lighting two.
    The concept is radical, design something that nobody has asked for but everyone needs.

    @paul g
    I total agree.
    start off by buying 9 and painting them red.

    Perhaps we could get Textron to loan us 9 and then watch the sales come rolling in.

  166. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Tom – great – a third CVF, more Astutes and a big early order for T26 then? :-)

    Nope, thought not. :-(


  167. The Other Chris


    Very impressive shot, especially when you take the capability of each into account.

    If only the opening line didn’t start with “Half the Royal Navy’s flotilla…”!

  168. Challenger

    Well if the PR boasting is correct then it’s the equivalent of taking on 15 Type 42’s!

    Will a T45 deploy with the Cougar 14 task group?

  169. 40 deg south

    A400 already has one export customer – Malayia. First of four aircraft being delivered next year. Other punters probably wise to take a ‘wait and see’ approach.

    As I understand it, the inclusion of A400 in a NZ document was as a hypothetical so they could attach a known cost to an air transport capability. Still, I think it gives a good hint of which way the wind is blowing in Wellington…

    With C17 going out of production, it will come to a choice between C130j and A400 (setting aside long-shots Embraer C390 and Kawasaki XC-2). I think the inability to transport NH90 helicopters in a C130 will steer the choice to A400.

    Depends on the government of the day, of course. And the global price of milk.

  170. Dunservin

    From Navy News 12 Aug 2014. I wonder who will buy our old ones?


    Work on three new patrol ships to begin in October

    Whitehall today signed a £348m deal with shipbuilding BAE to provide the Fleet with three new patrol ships. Work on the first of the trio, which will be similar to vessels built for the Brazilian Navy, will begin on the Clyde in October, with it in RN hands in 2017.

    Whitehall today signed a contract with BAE Systems to build three new patrol vessels for duties around the mother island – and beyond – from 2017.

    Just shy of £350m is being spent with the defence firm, which will construct the trio in its yards on the Clyde.

    The new vessels will be based on the Amazonas class of patrol ships BAE built for the Brazilian Navy in its Portsmouth yard – and which were on security duties during this summer’s World Cup.

    All three will be bigger than the existing River class ships, which are on duty around the UK for more than 300 days a year, largely focusing on fishery protection work, but also acting as the RN’s eyes and ears in home waters to stop smuggling and terrorism and to help out in emergencies.

    The ships in the as-yet-unnamed class will be 90 metres (295ft) long, reach at least 24kts, be able to host a Merlin helicopter and have a range of more than 6,300 miles – enough to take them from Portsmouth to South Africa or ‘Pirate Alley’ between Somalia and Yemen; the vessels are being designed to patrol the broader oceans as much as waters around the UK.

    Work on the first ship will begin in October and it is due to be handed over to the RN in three years’ time. BAE has already begun work acquiring engines and gearboxes.

    The £348m deal will sustain around 800 jobs in the shipbuilding industry and tide the BAE yards over between work ending on new carrier HMS Prince of Wales and construction beginning on the first Type 26 frigates later this decade.

    The next defence review will determine whether the three new ships will be replacements for the three River-class vessels (which have been in service since 2003) or will be in addition to them.

  171. Chris

    TOC – wave manipulation is a clever idea, but you have to consider against passive sonar it would be a huge “I’m over here!” beacon…

  172. Challenger

    £116 million a pop, not exactly the dirt cheap £60-70 million OPV’s that are often touted.

    ‘the vessels are being designed to patrol the broader oceans as much as waters around the UK’

    All well and good, but if they replace the River’s (which i really hope they don’t but probably will) then all 3 will be tied to the UK fisheries protection role 365 days a year.

  173. El Sid

    That £348m figure was set back in November, and explicitly includes spares & support :


    Also, that’s the gross figure, the net cost to the taxpayer would allow for the payments that would be made to BAE regardless of whether ships were being built.

    By way of comparison the first BAMs cost ~£100m, the new ones to be delivered in a similar timeframe to these new “Rivers” will be ~£135m. Obviously they have a NH-90 hangar and are a bit more MHPC-like, but have lower labour costs.

  174. The Other Chris

    Earlier this year there were several discussions on OPV’s in different comment sections (some, not all, linked below).

    Prominent were opinions that a hangar probably wasn’t needed. Also prominent was the feeling that the new OPV’s would certainly replace the Rivers (likely not HMS Clyde).

    Given more recent talk of “SDSR 2015” being the final decision, taking into account Zambellas’ approach (more, admittedly high-end, vessels) combined with actively securing arrangements to plug skills gaps and build for the future, do we still feel that the OPV’s are likely to replace the Rivers?





  175. Hohum


    Yes they will replace the River’s, or we have to find a bunch more lads and lasses from somewhere and some more operations money.

  176. WiseApe

    So in this case the O in OPV will stand for Ocean rather than Offshore. Certainly long-legged for fisheries protection – unless we’re returning to the whaling business :-)

  177. Peter Elliott

    Not according to what Zambellas said in his last speach.

    To me it makes sense to have a flight deck on the new OPV to facilitate all sorts of co-operative activity with other law enforcement bodies who operate round our coastline. As for the longer range and endurance it gives the option of throwing one out at range for a drugs bust or SAR operation. But I’m not expecting to see them pop up in the Indian Ocean or even the Eastern Med any time soon.

    And I have to agree with others that with the need to find crew for the second QEC and to support the readiness of the existing combat fleet generally I can’t these boats being anything but 1:1 replacements for the Rivers.

  178. Phil

    RAF Tornado’s are going back to their old mistress.

    Noted that RAF Hurc crews are wearing Osprey and carrying ammunition so they’re not fucking about. Imagine RAF Tornado aircraft will have some A2G weapons on board for self-defence or for the defence of life purposes.

  179. Simon

    The Scottish are going to need something when they get their independence.

    I make that three smart new OPVs plus three used old ones ;-)

  180. El Sid

    @WiseApe It says something when “they allow pilots to land an aircraft successfully” is considered worthy of mention….

  181. Simon

    Did anyone see the BBC documentary on Scottish independence last night?

    I missed the first half and was wondering if they ever mentioned the fact that an independent Scotland means we lose about £74b of revenue but get back £54b in not having to spend in Scotland.

    So amortised per unit of population we still need to find £20b from something that doesn’t get affected by the population count…. that’d be defence then…. in fact, that’d be Trident.

  182. Simon


    It’s simpler than that and should (by rights) include a proportion of everything…

    UK spending is £674b
    Scottish spending is £54b (8% of UK)
    UK GDP is about £2500b
    Scottish GDP is about £277b (11% of UK)

    If tex revenues are a proportion of GDP (which they are claimed to be) then UK spending will have to reduce by 11% (or £74b). We only get back what we don’t have to spend on Scotland (£54b). We have a £20b net loss.

    It assumes UK spending includes debt repayments which are severed proportionally between Scotland and the rest of the UK according to the overall GDP of Scotland.

  183. DavidNiven

    Rotorcraft heavyweights selected for JMR TD phase


    Is this a shot across the Scottish independence bow?

    ‘Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: ‘UK warships are only built in UK shipyards. This multi-million pound contract shows our commitment to investing in new ships for the Royal Navy and maintaining in the UK the expertise needed to build the warships of the future. It will benefit the dedicated workers of the Clyde, their families and the local economy in Glasgow.’

    UK MoD awards £348 million OPV contract

  184. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Simon – For the CND Nats that is the most important thing about the whole exercise. Now it might be that our political class would react to the humiliation of losing the referendum by adding the additional humiliation of being forced to fundamentally change our foreign and defence policies in a way that all parties have resisted for fifty years and allowing their recent antagonists to crow about it for decades afterwards…but I’m not so sure…

    Not least because if they were willing to consider the idea, they could already have posited it in order to undermine the SNP case, couldn’t they? As I say, for some of the SNP (and others) the CASD issue is central to the argument; if it matters so little this side of the border why not concede now?


  185. Simon


    It was an interesting documentary and worth picking out on iPlayer (if it’s there).

    It suggested that maybe Britain / the UK excluding Scotland / or whatever we decide to call it (my vote is London, ‘cos that’s the only place Westminster gives a hoot about)… where was I, oh yes… that maybe Britain should take a smaller role in world politics/affairs and become more insular.

    In other words become the nation that our size actually dictates.

  186. wf

    @Simon: we’re the world’s 7th largest economy, with the worlds largest financial centre, home of the world’s most commonly spoken and important language, and centre of the world’s most common legal system. Time for Empire mk2 :-)

  187. Simon

    7th largest economy for a couple more years perhaps. 9th when Russia and India get their act together.


    I think you’ll find American is the most important language. And that means… horror or horrors… that colour is spelt/spelled C-O-L-O-R. Argh!

    English Common Law (14%) doesn’t account for as much wealth (GDP) as American Common Law (26%).

    Empire Mk2 has already been done by the USA in the form of international commerce and takeover from within.

    Empire Mk3 is ready to be unleashed by China as they trump America by sneaking in below the radar and owning most of the USA’s gold reserves.

    Empire Mk4 is up for grabs :-)

  188. a

    Sixth largest actually – behind the US, China, Japan, Germany and France. Russia and India are well behind and I can’t see Russia getting its act together any time soon… we’ve been waiting for that to happen since the 50s!

    And China doesn’t own most of the US’ gold reserves – you may be getting confused with gilts (government debt) but China doesn’t own most of that either. The US has about eight times as much gold as China. Not that that counts, really, in the modern world.

  189. Simon


    Whoops! Well spotted. GDPs were in USD not GBP :-)


    Gold. Debt. It’s all the same. Just virtual wealth. I just took $1.3t and divided it by the current spot price of gold ($42000 per kg) and came to the conclusion that it represents 31,000 tonnes of gold. More than all of Fort Knox.

  190. Simon

    Alternatively China own 1/4 of the USA by land area (Alaska + Texas + Delaware + Rhode Island) if you are happy with an average land value of $2140 per acre – which was admittedly plucked from the Interweb ;-)

  191. monkey

    Must watch that programme on Scotland tonite (Colonist spelling ☺) .
    If they separate from the UK ,I have no real problem with that. What I think will be interesting is how the EU handle it. If they quickly reintergrate Scotland into the EU fold , this may be seen as signal to other regions of the EU that want to split from their present ‘nationality’ ,many Countries in Europe are made from smaller areas with strong local identity and see themselves as a separate people , the Basques in the northern part of the Peninsular for one. They could point at the Scottish Nation , raising their own taxes,issuing their own passports, etc and demand the same. Some in Northern Italy have for a long time wanted to split from the south , the walloons of Wallonia may wish to split from Belgium, the Flemish link up their disparate parts in France ,Holland and Belgium etc.

  192. Simon


    They covered that (the example was Wales). The final 10 minutes was all about the fact that even a “no” vote will have serious repercussions as we’ll have to devolve more power to Edinburgh which in turn will create a demand from Cardiff… probably with Cornwall and Devon getting in on the act too.

    Basically it ends up with London being the only part of the UK left and everyone else wanting local powers to fix their own back yards as Westminster continues to concentrate on London and not give two camel snorts for anywhere else in the UK.

  193. The Other Chris

    Re: Economies

    Britain is overtaking countries above it in economic turns in the 2020-2030 time-frame (namely France and Germany), it’s not a downward slide. Russia’s growth has slammed to a halt in the last two months, figures haven’t reflected a potential recession there as we’re not into full quarters yet.

    Re: JMR TD

    Shame that AVX miss out at this stage, however they were always up against it. Hopefully they can keep developing their concept. Not necessarily out of the competition entirely as de-selecting for the TD phase is not supposed to be a down-select.

  194. James Bolivar DiGriz

    Not been here for a few days so a bit late with this.

    Mark (in http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/08/open-thread-august-2014/#comment-302125) linked to this

    If you go to
    you can pay for a poppy. £25 (+ £5.95 p&P) each, with all net proceeds plus a guaranteed 10% from every poppy sold to be shared equally amongst six service charities:
    Combat Stress
    Coming Home
    Help for Heroes
    The Royal British Legion
    Details of those, if needed, at https://poppies.hrp.org.uk/about-the-charities.

    We have bought one. My wife’s firm is involved in providing volunteers to “plant” them so she has put her name forward.

  195. DavidNiven


    ‘Shame that AVX miss out at this stage’

    Yeah it looked as if it had a bit of potential. Am I right in thinking that the JMR is a programme to replace Blackhawk, Apache and Chinook? If that is the case I can see the Valor, Chinook equivalent being very expensive, would a rotordyme have been a cheaper engineering solution for the heavy lift requirement from Boeing?

  196. The Other Chris

    Originally a Utility and Attack helicopter replacement for the US Army i.e. UH-60 and AH-64 but would have developed into a heavy lift program(s) later on.

    Armed Aerial Scout was the Light helicopter replacement program. Again for the US Army i.e. Kiowa’s.

  197. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @ Simon…I’ll go with the majority…we will still be within the top ten places on Earth, by most measures (out of about 200 in all), with or without Scotland. Personally, I hope they stay but I suspect that rumours of our becoming Belgium if they don’t may prove to be exaggerated…not least because there is often an element of Guardianista wishful-thinking on the part of those who say it. Furthermore, in an increasingly fractured world I would still sooner buy shares in the UK than either Russia or China…there is something fundamentally problematic about countries whose elites keep (some of) their money and educate their children somewhere else to my way of thinking…something not quite solid, and perhaps not long-lasting.

    @Monkey – Salmond is keen to talk up their being welcomed into the EU and NATO, just as he insists they will keep the Pound whatever the rest of us say, and keep on building RN Warships forever…me, I’m not so sure…too many fragile Countries in Europe whose richest bits want to secede…too much investment in NATO as a first-strike Nuclear Alliance to ignore the possible impact on our defence posture…too many potential English votes in Portsmouth, and political colours nailed to the “No Pound for Scotland” Mast. I just hope we don’t find out…


  198. monkey

    It was more out of interest of the EU’s stance that posted that , make Scotland jump through the normal hoops to get admission ,several years or more and keep a lid on Europe fragmenting or make it easy and risk various bit breaking off demanding the same. Europe fracturing itself from within will cause National governments to focus inwards on internal divisions when I think they need to focus on the good of Europe . To paraphrase JFK ‘ Ask not what Europe can do for you but what you can do for Europe’ and ‘….we live in interesting times’ ,a vast understatement considering what is going on in the world.
    Do you think Russia and China are happy they have made and sold to anyone who wanted one 100 mn AK’s? Or are they possibly thinking it was not such a good idea.

  199. Chris

    DN – I remain a huge fan (no pun intended) of the original Fairey Rotodyne. The one that flew was a prototype not intended for production, the bigger sibling (Rotodyne Z, I believe) was about 20% bigger. But for the diameter of the rotor disc their lift capability wasn’t all that impressive; 6.7t in the prototype and just over 8t in the intended production standard. Volume was no problem, 70 pax in the bigger of the two, and it had a fair turn of speed (175kt or so). Should Westlands (the owners of the IP) decide to design one using their much higher loaded composite rotors with the club BERP tips, with more powerful engines and better aerodynamics, the result might be quite impressive. Although I would be surprised if the lift capability doubled…

    Maybe it needs to be bigger…

    Cartercopter state their gyrodyne/helidyne would “cruise at 500 MPH at 30,000 ft altitude and carry a 140,000 lb payload for over 1000 miles” – 60t at speed to theatre and no need for an airfield when it arrives. If the concept is that good, wouldn’t you think Westlands should be working seriously at it?

  200. mickp

    @TOC, loose wording I assume but aside from that what’s the betting that once we’ve fiddled with the Amazonas design we come up with something less capable? Suspect we’ll just have 1 30mm and miniguns which is ok for UK waters but if its intended to go further afield even it should at least have comfortable overmatch for your typical current and future pirate threat say. Give it a 57mm/76mm main gun and a couple of 30mm on the wings (seahawk sigmas ideally) and the usual range of 0.50s / miniguns and GPMGs. I’m happy with no full size hanger but would hope it can store and operate something like a schiebel camcopter for wider area surveillance

  201. Think Defence

    How is everyone finding the new maths SPAM system.

    Seems good from this end, very rare to have a false positive now and not seen any leakers getting through with their adverts for handbags and mens health products!

  202. Observer

    TD, it’s wonderful. Great way to sort the bots from the posters. It’s literally a Turing test.

  203. The Other Chris

    TD, doesn’t kick in for me so I’ve been spared middle of the night maths when settling toddlers back to bed, but I have noticed more reliability in editing comments again. Thank you for the work you put in :)

  204. The Other Chris


    30mm would be nice, similar to Clyde I think. Do we need to go the full LMM route with a Seahawk Sigma mount?

    Would FASGW(L) be overkill for the OPV’s?

    What do people think?

  205. monkey

    Looks like HMS Oceans days are numbered.

    The order for three of the new version of the original River class is £348m inc spares and support.
    The Brazilians including surrendering IP rights picked up their three for £133m.
    The T&T government originally ordered the same three for £155m.
    (Please note dollars quoted are T&T dollars)
    Aren’t spares and support expensive ☺

  206. rec

    I would have preferred an Ocean replacement to the 3 OPVs, the challenge for all 3 armed services is that we now have more capability gaps and holidays than a sieve has holes. I do wonder seriously, we do need an LPH replacement even if is from a ‘stuft’ source in reality no one is going to want to stick a QE class close in for an assault, they would present a big and high propaganda target, so surely there si a need for 2 ships one to replace ocean and 1 to replace Argus. I fear the new OPVs will cost more and be less capable then an Amazonia.

  207. monkey

    My above post was a bit sarcastic , but in the space of 4 years the cost going up 125% (£348m v £155m) is a bit stiff , I bet the T&T Coast Guard were getting ‘initial spares and support’ too.
    Part of that cost increase is we are getting a bigger boat , a stretched River if you will to enable Merlin helicopter operations (inc hangar?) while still embarking mission pods.
    Mr Hammond said:
    “This deal will provide the Royal Navy with 3 brand new maritime patrol vessels with a wide range of capabilities which will support our national interests and those of our overseas territories.”
    I think this statement implies these OPV’s will be deployed overseas perhaps replacing the present anti-piracy/smuggling patrol duties (hence the Merlin) being carried out by T23’s but at a reduced cost (down from 185 crew to 60+a detachment of marines) From that I think we will keep the existing Rivers for home waters/FI as they were only built in the early naughties with the T23’s starting to be mothballed/sold off ( a disaster if they are sold ,please,please,please keep them for the RN Reserve Your Lordship Sir Zambella☺)

  208. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Boss – the anti-spam brain gym is a great improvement on the random appearance of the Spam Monster; but just to really test our mettle you could put in a random “Grammar Day” “Spelling Day” or “Quadratic Equation Day”. :-)

    @IXION – Cool paint job old chap…I’ll bet it really livens things up at the Carlisle Crown Court when you land it in the car park…

    @Monkey – I too would like to see an RNVR manning a mixture of Frigates and Mine-hunters in UK/European Waters…we need to keep these assets, but won’t use them short of a serious war…why not man them with reservists?


  209. Not a Boffin

    The article should have said “Ocean-capable” not “Ocean class”. WTF are we going to call them? HMS Atlantic, HMS Pacific?

    The cost isn’t for the ships themselves it’s an amalgam of what the TOBA (now temporarily suspended) would have required HMG to pay BAES, because they’ve been unable to supply the contracted work agreed in the TOBA in the timescale required. Major steelwork on PoW is almost finished on the Clyde and in Portsmouth, which means there’s an awful lot of platers, welders and shipwrights going to be spending the day “tidying up” if they didn’t do something. That price reflects the cost of supporting the BAES overhead – the workforce that includes designers, IT support, draughtsmen, purchasers, project managers etc etc. The reason we’re getting Amazonas is because it’s the most recent thing in the BAES information banks (ie recent contracts with suppliers) and after some RN and Class Soc tweaks, off they go.

    Meanwhile, T26, the ship that was supposed to be ready for steel cutting next year is conspicuous by its absence. I can’t imagine why……..

  210. The Other Chris

    Stop being a party pooper NaB ;)

    Was hoping that some lax journalism was in fact a lax PR chap leaking that Ocean was about to be replaced with a certain pair of ice strengthened vessels being built somewhere close by on the continent…

    Heh heh :)

  211. Observer

    monkey, I’d love to see those things in operational usage lol. I wonder if the designers ever thought that with the pedestrian detection system, a single protester or unarmed insurgent can cut the supply line just by standing in front of the convoy. :)

  212. monkey

    @Not a Boffin
    For this additional 125% do you know how much extra boat are we getting , a hangar and the facilties to service an embarked helicopter which can’t be cheap certainly , will there be a stern access ramp for a RIB or RPV?

  213. The Other Chris


    Think of it as though we’d have to pay BAE £350m anyway, so we might as well get some boats out of it.

    Lowest risk boats they can churn out without delaying a T26 build significantly (assuming a “No” vote) are the three OPV’s they built recently with some alterations.

  214. Peter Elliott

    Go on then NAB, I’ll bite.

    Tell us the latest horror story from the Type 26 Design. Do we have a seaworthy ship design yet that fits in all the toys we think we’re getting? Or are they still trading capability against dimensions? Or has something else gone horribly wrong since last itme we asked?

  215. Simon

    “Meanwhile, T26, the ship that was supposed to be ready for steel cutting next year is conspicuous by its absence. I can’t imagine why…”

    Australia’s SEA 5000 future frigate program? Mast design issues???

  216. John Hartley

    If the MoD had to pay out £350m to keep shipbuilding going, would the RN been better off with a modernised Lekiu-esque pair of light frigates rather than 3 poorly armed OPVs?

  217. monkey

    Then they should supply 6 ( 225% x 3) and a shed load of those spares and we can sell 3 and recoup some of my money . I see two problems with that , the retards in the MoD have been bamboozled into this contract and it never occurred to them or BAE, if someone had mentioned it , probably the new boy from the MoD who now looking for another job for his impertinance, glanced around and slowly shook their head giving the explanation that if we try to build six 90m 1800t vessels in 3 years we can’t possibly start those as yet unspecified T26’s when you’ve made up your mind what Gucci kit you want on it.

  218. All Politicians are the Same


    For starters i doubt you would get them for this sort of money. They would have to be designed from scratch. Two of them would require around 2.5 times the manpower of 3 OPvs and some of that would be expensive manpower, Charge Qualified ME and WE Officers, SO1 CO and probably 2 PWOs, far more Engineering Senior Rates. through life running costs would be expensive.
    These OPVs are going to replace the River Class probably have a Ships Company in the low 40s with far less expensive positions and with running costs mainly paid for by DEFRA.
    So in a word No.

  219. Simon

    A quick stupid question but would £350m go some way to building another T45 hull*? I’ve never liked only 6 and 7 would help keep two deployed… and yes, I know 8 would be better still ;-)

    * By hull I mean everything other than Sea Viper on the premise that it could (if needed) be transferred from a knackered hull to a fresh one in the space of a coupld of months ?!?!??!?!?!

  220. Peter Elliott

    Stupid question for sure. The WR21 Gas Turbines are out of production. (It will be interesting to see if the existing 6 boats get re-worked later in life to use MT30 which will become the RN standard unit.)

    If we could ever justify capital and crew for extra Combat Ships surely better value to order more Type 26? By all accounts Artisan + Seaceptor is none too shabby. And with a full size in the design an upgrade to optimise the AAW capability would not be out of the question.

  221. Simon


    Oh, didn’t realise WR21 wasn’t available any more. Fair enough.

    I was just thinking of something that would alleviate the burden on an already pressed escort fleet.

    I guess (as APATS said) that there would also be a crewing issue.

  222. Not a Boffin

    Monkey – you’re hardly getting any extra ship. The additional money has very little to do with the ship and everything to do with paying the wages of those BAES employees identified as being essential to maintaining complex naval ship design and build capability under the TOBA. That TOBA was the brainchild of MoD and UK industry, actually with the advice of RAND Europe, a fellow by the name of Hans Pung to be precise. They identified that UK shipbuilding would need a significant amount of additional capability during the build of QE/PoW, but that this would rapidly dimish thereafter, to a level commensurate with producing one T26 pa. That was the preferred solution. You should be able to get all those papers off the RE website. MoD basically bullied UK industry into part of that consolidation, with the carrier order being contingent on the formation of BVT. The flip side to that consolidation was that MoD was to agree to provide a defined amount of work across shipyard areas (design, steelwork, outfit, commissioning etc) to maintain a minimum core capability in each – the TOBA.

    T26 was supposed to be the vehicle for that and it has happily kept several hundred people in Bristol and the Clyde turning and burning for about three years. Unfortunately, that hasn’t yet resulted in a design suitable for contract award as yet, which means that the steel trades and detailed design staff on the Clyde are without much visible means of support, which would make MoD liable to pay BAE their employment costs. Someone has had the “bright” idea that it’s probably better to have them exercise their skills by detail designing and building “something” than being paid for doing “nothing”. Hence the OPV contract.

    In terms of building upgraded Leiku’s, you’d have to ask for what purpose? As APATS points out, the manning on them is demanding and just as importantly, have you checked Malaysian design standards (stability, strength, accommodation, fire protection, DC&FF etc, etc) against what we use? Apart from the other slight issue that the last time BAES modified the Leiku’s we called them the Brunei OPVs – and that went extraordinarily well, didn’t it? Just because they’ve got some shiny weapons systems on them doesn’t necessarily make them more useful than an OPV.

    Quite why anyone would want to build a T45 hull without just about the only major bit of kit you can still (mostly) get off the shelf, I don’t know. Let’s have a quick check – WR21, 2 off – not in production, 20MW electric motors, 2 off – not in production, SAMPSON , 1 off – not in production, Mk8Mod1, 1 off – not in production, converters, 2 off – not in production. Production of any of these items is unlikley to resume (if ever) without an eye-watering amount of money.

    I gather you can still get Sylver launchers from our friends over the channel though. And Mk41 from those nice people at LM.

  223. Simon

    Are the 20MW motors not the same that are going on CVF? Converteam?

    Not that it helps my case at all ;-)

  224. Think Defence

    NaB, if you had a bit pot of cash and carte blanche, how would you make T45 more supportable in the medium to long term?

    Am wondering if there is an invest to save argument

  225. Not a Boffin

    Yep the same motors that have been in QE and POW for some time. Last one finished some years back now 2011/2012?

    Single biggest supportability improvement for T45 would be rip out the Great White Turbine and put in another one, without all the complex cycle nonsense and use bigger donks for low power load.

    But NCHQ may already be ahead of me on that one.

  226. Simon

    I presume when you say “not in production” you mean they are produced to order otherwise how would we replace defective units?

    Didn’t we have a small spare pool of Olympus engines for CVS and T42?

  227. Peter Elliott

    No Simon – I think there are literally 12 units in existance and they sit inside the 6 existing ships. If one blows up then the ship will have to go alongside until that unit is stripped and rebuilt. Hence the enthusiasm for ripping them out and replacing them with something more widely available.

    NAB – on Type 45 would a pair of MT30 be overkill? Or would you go for just one MT30 + bigger diesels? Or a pair of some smaller turbine?

  228. Simon

    …or some LM2500?


    That’s terrible.

    How different are the guts of them from the industrial RB211?

  229. DavidNiven

    MUOS connects Manpack radios 2,000 miles apart


    ‘The demonstration also successfully showed how dismounted Soldiers, separated by thousands of miles, can use the PRC-154A Rifleman handheld radios and connect through PRC-155 Manpack radios at the platoon level and below. The soldiers can talk to another and share data with the ease of civilians who enjoy using their cell phones to call friends and family anywhere in the world.’

    I wonder if the military will introduce text and emoticons at platoon and section level?

    Where R U?
    Contact w8 out :-s

  230. monkey

    Thanks for the heads up , I am all for keeping these skills and facilities in place.
    Re the WR21 gen sets perhaps we could use the as part of shore based CHP or back ups.

  231. DavidNiven


    ‘so basically, a sat phone painted green’

    Basically yes, but it has the advantage of just being an add on for the service radio and could you not link more than 1 radio to both ends of the network? I didn’t think the hand held sat phones were very reliable when I used them so maybe this is more reliable?
    What we really need is a military mobile network using the old Nokia 6110 series, those things were indestructible with about a weeks worth of battery life! :-)

  232. Allan

    *NaB; if I may be so bold – great analysis of why some of the BAES / MoD costs mount up.

    May I just point out that the supply chain goes right back though – way back beyond the Class Soc’s right to the original steelmakers….and new steel grades for the Royal Navy / MoD can’t be developed in a week or two (even if LR was willing ever to a punt that it might be okay – and we all know they never do and nor do the very bright ‘scientific types’ within MoD)……

    …..thus if HMG wants a proper ‘RN’ shipbuilding capability, I agree, the taxpayers have to pay for it but it would be nice if BAES didn’t expect us to pay prices that cover the most expensive trainers in the shop.

    (PS: ‘Side thought’ – just why are trainers so expensive? Does the ‘swoosh’ etc. on the side really make you faster?

  233. John Hartley

    Well if not Lekiu, why not look to Brazil & the Barroso? Quite like the 4.5″ gun which could probably be recycled from T42s, Forget the Exocet, perhaps have remote 30mm in their place, swap the 40mm Sea Trinity for a recycled 20mm Phallanx. Keep the Torpedo tubes, but use Stingray.

  234. Hohum

    Did anyone ever get to the bottom of the T45 additional VLS allowance mystery? I still meet people who swear blind there is enough room for another 24 cells in the existing space and that that was an initial requirement.

  235. The Other Chris

    x linked to some cutaways a while back which illustrated the space below deck behind the existing silos.

  236. Simon

    From this pic you can see the blocks used to build T45. I can’t see how there’s space behind the existing VLS in block E without knocking through to block D, which I can’t imagine is sensible.

    Is it possible that the two rows of 24 VLS can actually be separated and a whole 24 more can be added leading to the other speculated total of 72 x Mk41 silos?

    Anyway I think we’re more likely to see the Aster15s removed and CAMM put in their place quad-packed. So a nice round 64 CAMM (in 16 silos) + 32 x Aster30, which effectively doubles the existing numbers.

  237. Challenger

    Won’t the fitting of Harpoon on 4 ships impact the available space for additional VLS as well?

    I agree with Simon that it would be better to quad-pack CAMM into existing silo’s to increase the total missile load that way.

    I seriously doubt every silo is utilized outside of a full-on war scenario anyway. Didn’t a Type 23 deploy for ops off Libya in 2011 with something like 4 or 6 Seawolf silo’s full out of 32, which the RN said in response to media mutterings wasn’t actually that unusual an amount for it’s frigates and destroyers to deploy with during peacetime.

  238. Challenger


    What’s wrong with T26, i agree it’s development seems to be taking an age but specifically what’s the issue?

  239. Repulse

    I would hope that the RN is looking at all options to keep the 3 new OPVs without jeopardising the 2nd CVF. I am wondering the RN are looking at a cut in the Sandown class and stepping up the distribution of remote MCM capabilities to non MCMVs.

  240. The Other Chris

    Don’t think this will affect numbers at all. Just a straight 1:1 replacement of the Rivers.

  241. Chuck

    I think the only problem/delay in T26 is the referendum personally. They aren’t going to sign a contract to build on the Clyde when that will be a powerful bargaining chip soon, if Scotland votes Yes.

    I suspect it’s going to be a case of if you want RN ships built on the Clyde we want RN subs based at Faslane for however many years; I imagine they’ll move south eventually, but RUSI reckons 10 years to sort that out, which of course means it’ll be 15 minimum because, politics.

    RE: Sea wolf numbers, if that’s true, disgraceful IMO. Doubly so admitting it. Do we even own enough to fill all our ships up?

    Wonder how many missiles ‘the worlds best AAW destroyer’ deploys with. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was a similar number.

    I’m getting the impression more and more lately the RN is in a old right state. Most weapons are ‘for not with’, the weapons that are fitted are generally older designs(our weapons are the very best 70’s technology) and limited number, the people to use them are in short supply and of course the actual ship numbers have never been so low. Bloody mess.

    Waiting for it to turn out the QE will be equipped for but not with planes.

  242. Challenger


    The SDSR requirement was for 14 mine-hunters so i expected 1 Sandown to go (the Hunt’s being the older but far more capable class) but it never materialized.

    I would really love to see the 3 new OPV’s in service alongside the River’s. They may not be as good as other platforms for low-intensity ops but they are clearly being built to be ‘good enough’. However sadly i can’t see it happening under the current climate and we all know that if they replace the River’s then they won’t be leaving UK waters for most or all of their service life’s, thus defeating the point.

    I don’t even think it’s the money that’s the big problem, after all if £70 million a year for PoW is correct then they would cost peanuts to run. I just can’t see where the manpower would come from, their seems to be zero give left in the system. PoW will only get crewed if they manage to scrape together enough from what would have been on Ocean and slight reductions as T23’s give way to T26’s.

  243. Challenger


    Fair point about the T26. The stated initial order for the first 8 ships being placed at the end of 2014 fits well with wanting to wait for the Scottish referendums outcome.

  244. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Chuck/Challenger – not sure about the shipbuilding/CASD idea, for three reasons:

    > EU rules allow us to build warships in the UK for strategic reasons, but not to make a sweetheart deal with another EU country without offering the contract more generally…I doubt if BAE on the Clyde could rely on seeing off other EU competitors, or that we would risk the long-term onshore future of an industry that we have deemed to be of strategic importance since the Mary Rose sank in the Solent…
    >…even if an overwhelmingly English Parliament could resist the temptation to win English votes by re-instating RN shipbuilding in Portsmouth, whilst giving Mr Salmond a sharp poke in the eye and wiping the smug smile of his face…
    >…and finally Salmond’s new found desire to sign up with NATO seems to be a much more pertinent bargaining chip in respect of delaying the CASD move, and Obama’s comments on Scottish Independence suggest to me that the NATO prime mover might be inclined to line up with the UK when the bargaining starts. Scotland did itself no favours in the USA with the Lockerbie business…and it doesn’t take a CIA analyst to spot the fact that one interpretation of the proposed SNP Defence Policy is “We in Scotland will in future tell the US to fuck off if they look to us for any support for an out-of-area mission, but fully intend to reduce our own defence expenditure to the bare minimum, confident in the knowledge that they will continue to do all the heavy lifting”…


  245. Not a Boffin

    The T45 IPMD is for two 8-cell blocks of Mk41 Strike between the existing silo and the Mk8. It’s an either / or. You can have a bigger gun or you can have 16 strike-length tubes. The number 24 has been made up probably by someone in fantasy fleet mode.

    Quad-packed CAMM is a similar fantasy as far as the RN is concerned irrespective of what MBDA may have in their brochures.

    Can’t think of many 70s era weapons in the RN at the minute. Early 90s are by and large, the oldest.

    As noted before, T26 has issues which need resolving and are unrelated to whether the builder wears skirts or not. There is a giant game of chicken being played out basically around which organisation is responsible for a design that is unsound in terms of its basic naval architecture. Nothing to do with kit and systems. Wee Eck’s little vote is mostly a sideshow. Purdah prior to GE 2015, less so. Neither side wishes to acknowledge that it’s f8cked up, only one cares whether the ship is safe or not.

  246. El Sid

    EU rules allow us to build warships in the UK for strategic reasons, but not to make a sweetheart deal with another EU country without offering the contract more generally…

    You sort that for T26 by signing the contract in the “18 months” between a Yes vote and actual independence, the EU can’t complain about any contract signed before independence in “March 2016” even if it is mostly fulfilled in the years after the shipyard has passed into foreign territory.

    Agree the NATO stick is the best one to beat with for CASD, but if the Nats insist then one wonders if the politicians might do a deal whereby Coulport gets moved south by 2020 but the subs wait until Successor. I know that it would be a mess operationally but it would only be for a few years, would spread out the capex demands and most importantly, it allows both sets of politicians to claim a victory. When operational practicality comes up against finance and politics, you know what’s going to win….

  247. Chuck

    RE: EU rules, Scotland would still be in the UK when the deal is signed. Won’t become independent the morning of Sept 19th. There’ll be months(minimum) of wrangling and pissing contests. I doubt they’d get the whole build no matter what happens.

    All that aside there’s plenty of ways around the EU rules, just like every other set of rules. Not least it wouldn’t be the first time a competition was re-run until the government got the winner it wanted.

    @NAB, Got a link about those problems? Never heard anything about it. Seems odd in what’s ultimately an evolutionary not revolutionary design.

    Weapons: Updated in/since the 90’s sure, but SeaWolf; ’67 4.5inch gun; ’72 Sea Skua; ’72 Bushmaster II; ’72 Stingray; ’76 Harpoon; ’77 Phalanx; ’73

  248. Gloomy Northern Boy

    I agree we could get round EU Rules…I can’t see why we would want to if it would cost us an industry that we deem to be of strategic importance, in order to help out a small and rather unfriendly neighbour whose political leaders would just have done us a major disservice…


  249. All Politicians are the Same


    Why on earth would an I Scotland be unfriendly? Is the ROI unfriendly? They left, are the Scandinavian countries unfriendly as they have very different social priorities?
    Do not confuse the rhetoric of s campaign with the normality of being international neighbours, especially ones with so many friends and family on both sides of any border.
    In any case the chances of a Yes vote grow less every day.

  250. Observer

    GL on the referendum, I don’t think Scotland will go on their own way though. There is a question on what is the SNP going to do post voting if the results don’t go their way. They seem to have staked a fair chunk of their reputation on this gambit, and if it fails, I can see some repercussions, like a loss of their majority as people will get the impression that they are out of touch with what the man in the street wants, along with the loss of reputation that their party lead has already suffered after being made to look short sighted and working on wishful thinking.

  251. The Other Chris

    Thanks for the clarification on the VLS NaB.

    What’s the score with the quad packing? Is it a sticking with Aster 15 thing, a technical thing or a will thing?

  252. Observer

    mr fred, I’m not sure if I’m rooting for the program’s resuscitation or to club it a few more times to put it down for good! :)

    I really don’t see a need for a new armoured vehicle. Think it could be a handout to make sure GD’s design team stays afloat?

  253. DavidNiven

    ‘Coulport gets moved south by 2020’

    Didn’t Coulport take over a decade to complete? I think the easiest solution would be to talk to the US and store our weapons at their facility. It would take years to find somewhere south of the border to relocate to let alone constructing it, look at the nimbyism that is going on with HS2 let alone a nuclear weapons storage facility that most of the middle class guardian readers do not want any way.

    Maybe we could buy some time with locating our CASD with the US until a new base is constructed. We could keep the SSN’s in Scotland for a while until we can relocate them, as they are not nuclear armed.

  254. mickp

    @NAB, that sounds great re T26. Perhaps another batch of OPVs as gap fillers until they get it right then? Or a third CVF….

  255. Peter Elliott

    Question with Type 26 is do the naval architects have the ‘design fix’ in their back pocket?

    By which I mean is it just an argument about who pays for the ‘fix’?

    Or will they really have to rip it up and start again?

  256. Chris

    mr.fred, Obs – the report states both BAE and GD get the same cash sum* to work on technology integration stuff – presumably that work if successful would be applicable to other programmes not just GCV? The company sites are within a couple of miles of each other in the northern suburbs of Detroit – you’d have thought with a country the size of the US the competitors would have chosen not to set up next to each other where the opposition can look over the garden wall to see what the neighbour has made?

    *Described as a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract – presumably the quoted value is then the maximum in the pot and not the fixed fee? So maybe $1m fee and the equivalent of a $7m (ish) expenses budget?

  257. monkey

    “The TOBA can be cancelled at anytime. Cancellation crystallises the extant rationalisation costs, leaving MOD liable for remaining industry closure costs and compensation to BAE Systems for their lost investment. During the SDSR[2010] cancellation of the TOBA would have been expected to cost in the order of £630 million. A key element of the TOBA is that it ensures that this figure reduces year on year against an agreed formula and bounds MOD’s liabilities”
    The Portsmouth facilities and some shipbuilding employees are still in place (along side the BAE RN maintenance facilities and their 3200 staff) so in exchange for a big Golden goodbye to the Scottish yards and the cost of moving BAE’s equipment located in Scotland at present south we could secure the ability of the UK to launch its own warships and not be put in the position of Russia with the Mistral’s being released or not. Digging behind the sofa to find a few £100 m ( its like it hasn’t happened before) to secure British jobs and a core industry should be possible especially in a conservative constituency.
    Let the one of the additional OPV’s be finished there for continuity’s and wait to see how belligerent the gloating pack of wolves in Salmond’s party behave at the negotiating table. A few leaks to the press from the Navy grumbling about their dissatisfaction of the ships being built in foreign yards and the security implications etc ,how would the OSA apply?

  258. Observer

    Chris, have you ever heard of 2 different projects by 2 totally different companies having the exact same budget? :) All the more reason to suspect a handout.

  259. Gloomy Northern Boy

    1. The deterrent has been at the centre of our foreign and defence policy since the post-war Labour Government decided we needed one…and only one party has ever run for office proposing to get rid of it, and they lost so spectacularly that they were out of office for 14 years, and the party bearing their name was all but unrecognisable when it was finally elected again. Having it might reasonably be described as the “Settled will of the British People”…the SNP describe it as “an affront to human decency”. I’d call that unfriendly myself.

    2. The ROI was so unfriendly to us for the first thirty years of it’s existence that the Taoiseach signed the condolence book for Adolf Hitler, and those Irishmen who did volunteer to fight on our side were subjected to systematic discrimination until just a few years ago. The Republic tolerated and romanticised the activities of “the Boys” until well into the 1960s, and only started to take PIRA seriously when they began to pose a threat on their side of the border…they dropped their claim to Northern Ireland only in 1998, and only then De Facto…I’m not sure that they have amended the constitution even now…again, not exactly friendly in my view…

    So by that reckoning, we might be friendly in forty or fifty years…the day after Independence, not so much…in my view…and why would telling the rest of us to fuck off at great cost and some difficulty engender warm fuzzy feelings anyhow?

    A genuine question…why are people so certain we won’t be really, really pissed off if it actually happens…beyond wishful thinking?


  260. The Other Chris

    States nuclear weapons are “an affront to human decency” yet at the same time is unhappy that NATO would apply Article 10 to force Scotland to reapply to NATO in order to regain the protection of the “nuclear umbrella”.

    Strikes me as the attitude of a hypocrite and a scrounger.

  261. mickp

    @PE, bad thought it is, I hope its just a ‘who pays’ problem. Should have gone on to build 6 batch 2 T45s, and let 8-12 upgraded T23s soldier on a bit longer to be replaced down the line by a similar GP / ASW frigate design

  262. Chuck

    @GNB: I think there’s a very good chance of England getting annoyed if Salmond continues on his we want all the benefits of the full union with the UK and full Independence, malarkey. He already gets right up my nose. I hope he loses just so he gets laughed off the public stage and I never have to hear from him again.

  263. Observer

    Chuck, my crystal ball read on it, which is admittedly a guessimate, is that Scotland won’t go independent, it doesn’t have the public support for independence. This will cause a fair bit of loss for the SNP prestige and reliability, since they were the ones who pushed for an unpopular move, which might make their next election a hairy issue. Doubt Salmond will lose his party seat though, so you’ll probably have to listen to him for a while more, but the ability of the SNP to push agendas will probably be severely curtailed.

  264. monkey

    From Janes:-
    “The MoD refused to speculate on what impact a ‘yes’ vote would have on the Type 26 build strategy, but observed: “If Scotland decided to separate from the UK, Scottish companies would continue to make strong bids for defence contracts; but they would be doing so as foreign companies.”

    “Other than during the world wars, the UK has not had a complex warship built outside the UK since the start of the 20th century at least. All the UK’s new complex warships are being built in UK shipyards and we remain committed to utilising UK industry in this area.”
    In terms of losing Portsmouth’s manufacturing ability there is also the repair capabilities in the event of war damage to our ships. BAE are planning on spending £200m on improving Scotstoun by build a 320m long hall and accompanying fabrication shops , more money going to Scottish firms . There is also the tax implications , not only of the jobs lost but in regards to BAES. In the event of Independence they will be liable to pay local corporation tax on profits earned from the UK purse not to the UK exchequer ,which how UK gov recovers some of its money. How big will the order be for the proposed 12 or so T26’s , £6bn ? How much would be recouped as tax ( granted a large part of that is not BAES money but subcontractors ) but the point can still be made.

  265. All Politicians are the Same


    1. Holyrood has voted against the deterrent, every poll of the Scottish public is against the deterrent. The value of even renewing it has been widely questioned both by Politicians and by Military figures. The party that ran with unilateral disarmament as part of its manifesto did so during the cold war and had several other issues. It may be less popular down south if it was parked 30 miles away from London instead of Glasgow. what you have to get your head around is that if Scots vote yes they would no longer be part of the UK and would have the right to make their own decisions on nuclear weapons, that is very likely to be no thanks but like numerous other countries throughout the world who have the same stance this does not make them unfriendly.

    2. Ok you consider the ROI an unfriendly country. Says a fair bit about you.

    Nobody would be telling anybody to fuck off, one of the oldest countries in Europe would be choosing to leave a Political Union that many in Scotland see as no longer fit for purpose. They would instead become a small Independent English speaking member of the Commonwealth and NATO.

    That is called Democracy and the vast majority of Scots and English who realise we live in the 21st Century and the Empire is no more would get along splendidly from day one. Those who do not realise this would be a bitter and twisted ageing minority harping back to the “good old days”.

    Luckily the Political views of many on here are not particularly indicative of the UK in general.

  266. Challenger


    ‘Should have gone on to build 6 batch 2 T45s, and let 8-12 upgraded T23s soldier on a bit longer to be replaced down the line by a similar GP / ASW frigate design’

    Nice thought in theory, but i believe even after all the R&D costs had been dealt with and 6 ships had been built BAE were claiming a 7th T45 would still have been £7-750 million in 2009. So yes the price was going down, but additional ships would hardly have been cheap.

  267. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey

    I do not think anyone seriously expects T26 to built North of the Border in the unlikely event of a yes vote. The standard MOD line is zero contingency planning on anything.

  268. Martin

    @ GNB

    You being the history buff and all I would think you could see a few difference’s between Scotland and Ireland and the process of Independence.

    with such attitudes from our friends south of the boarder is it any wonder Scotland is having a referendum.

    @ APATS

    I think its only ignorance of the UK’s nuclear deterrent that keeps people in the M25 corridor in favour of it. Aldermaston is as close to London as Faslane is to Glasgow and I would guess there is more risk from a research and manufacture facility than a naval base and storage facility in a mountain.

    Reminds me of the Bond film when Sean Connery talks about the Polaris Pens in London :-)

  269. Observer

    Pax, pax APATs, he has the right to an opinion, even if it is one that sounds like it is coming from a grumpy old cuss. :) No need to be personal about it.

    To be really fair, the SNP really does believe that Scotland might be better off going their own way. It may not be a correct belief, but at least it is a sincere one. Not that sincerity is going to absolve them of the consequences of their decisions.

    New money, new passport, new military, new economic division etc etc, huge amount of stuff to rebuild.

  270. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Observer

    I have a vote as I own a place “N of the Border” and will be voting No but what winds even me up is the “too wee too small too stupid, how dare you” sort of argument put forwards by a few people South of the Border. It winds me up almost as much as everything is Westminsters fault nonsense from Salmond.
    What amuses me the most though is that they are opposite sides of the same coin yet cannot see it. Even if there was a yes vote it would be the moderate 80% on both sides who would ensure that we remained good neighbours, it would be in no ones interest to start cutting noses off to spite faces.
    TBH I am going to restrict myself to purely military matters as I find the Political attitudes of some on here to the EU or indeed anywhere not “Englands green and pleasant land” quite sickening.

  271. mickp

    @Challenger fair points, but the dev costs on T26 could have been avoided or at least substantially deferred. T45 was expensive per hull but it is very capable as a CVF escort with potential to be more so if it gets the 16 strike cells at refit. Anyway, it did not happen so no point me dwelling on it. The key now is to make absolutely sure the core hull structure and powertain of T26 is ‘spot on’ as its the only combat ship in town for the next 30 years I guess

  272. monkey

    With regards to the MoD and lack of contingency plans ,with you all the way. My concern is as I said BAE blustering them into building in Scotland as on the QT they have got wind of corporation tax being as low or lower than the RoI come independence to attract overseas investors , top rate income tax too .
    Its looks like the majority of our Defence spending is going to go overseas F35 (USA) ,100 aircraft at £150m each ,£15 bn , 12 T26 (Scotland)at £500m , £6bn , 4000 FRES (Spain & ?) at £2m , £8bn , 24 A400M (Europe) at £150m , £3.6bn. As I said above we have a share of components/assembly supply in all of these but we need to draw a line under our last indigenous major weapons manufacturing facility being overseas with BAE handcuffing us to them and Scotland with another version of ToBA which benefits Scottish workers whether they are wielding a hammer ( of the Scots) or not.

  273. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey

    I really would not spend too much time worrying about a yes vote, polls only going in one direction and the gap is large. i would also not want to be the RUK PM who announced that T26 was going to be built in our newly foreign (however friendly :) ) neighbour.

    There seems to be a general feeling on here it is going to happen which is simply not what is being felt in Scotland despite the yes campaigns bluster.

  274. wf

    @APATS: yes, I think the “Scotland is too small” argument is bollocks. That being said, the current political climate in Scotland would make the changes required to be another Celtic Tiger (without the Euro bollocks one hopes!) very hard to implement. I think I lots of the angry Englishmen are motivated by Salmond’s sly blaming of the English for all Scottish woes, and independence on SNP terms *would* be a disaster. Please don’t assume we’re all like that :-)

  275. mickp

    @APATS I agree will be a clear no and govt are right to plan on that basis. After the vote, Salmond and co should keep a very low profile, they’ve had their moment and its gone. It allows us to pull together hopefully as a stronger UK working for the benefit of us all and without the distraction of focus north of the border on this one issue. They already have ‘special powers’ disproportionate to other areas of the Uk. Let’s move on together and get the steel cut on correctly designed T26s in Scotland but at the same time for longer term benefit to us all, reconsider having some grey shipbuilding facilites south of the border. Contingencies / skill base and all that. My 10 year old listened to all of the referendum stuff on the news last week and asked if they voted no, would England then have a vote to decide if we wanted to keep them!

  276. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @apats – no need to get bad-tempered about it, and don’t leap to conclusions about all my political opinions on the basis that I believe the relationship between Scotland and the UK would deteriorate post-independence…all past experience suggests that these events can end well, or very badly…I am Gloomy, and thus inclined to take a pessimistic view; you are not, and thus inclined to sunny optimism…it’s a difference in temperament probably influenced by age and experience, rather than of politics. Not least because on the big question we are actually on the same side.

    On the nukes, I am aware that views vary…my point is that the whole UK has never voted for a Government planning to disarm, and nobody is planning on running on that ticket next time…as I say, “settled will of the British People” to keep a set-up the SNP call “an affront to human decency”…I’m sorry, but that is not friendly; it’s like calling your neighbour “an affront to human decency” because of something he does that you don’t like, and doing so down the pub…

    On the ROI I was describing the past not the present…we are on good terms now…it took fifty years, not fifteen minutes. Scotland won’t be the same, but you have no more basis for your certainty that all will be well than I have for my concern that it might end badly…

    If you choose not to argue politics here, that’s up to you…but then you won’t change any of our dinosaur minds about anything, will you? :-)


  277. jedibeeftrix

    Are you my family, willing to look to the welfare and consider the wellbeing of me and mine, as I would for you and yours?

    That is what the referendum boils down to; a political question.

    The economics of the matter are neither here nor there, just as they are between the UK and the EU.

  278. All Politicians are the Same


    The ROI had to fight to gain her Independence, the time and the circumstances are totally different. Nobody has lost their life in the spirited (often mean) debates going on around the Scottish referendum. as for ROI romantising and tolerating Irish Republican Terrorism, i suppose you made the US and unfriendly nation as well up until the turn of the century?

    You want to guess where Trident figures in the top 5 reasons to vote Yes or No in Scotland? It does not. Do not confuse the rhetoric of the Yes campaign as Scotland but every poll and every vote in Holyrood has shown Scotland opposes Trident, including votes by member of parties who officially back it.
    A UK wide poll in Apr 2014 found over 70% of those polled believe we should not renew it. The simple fact is that politicians believe and I almost agree with them that we should so there is no other option but it is so low down the list of priorities among manifesto pledges that were its potions to be reversed you would barely notice any difference in the voting.

  279. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @apats – I was in the States in 1980/81 and some Irish/Americans…including politicians….were definitely unfriendly; furthermore, because of the localised nature of law enforcement so were some cities (Boston) and parts of others (New York Irish bars). However it was not a matter of general government policy to turn a blind eye to some activities and behaviours…and they were not living next door to us…

    @Jedi – I agree, it is a family row akin to a divorce…how well do they normally go I ask? :-(


  280. All Politicians are the Same


    They were still openly passing buckets around bars in NY and Boston in 1998. The only reason the Government did not have to officially turn a blind eye to it was due to the federal nature of the system.

    Plenty of divorces go very well actually. As do Political ones where they are decided through the ballot box without any religious or racial issues. The breakup of Czechoslovakia is far and away the most comparable one.
    We would have interconnected families, military personnel who had served together and now cooperating, the same Head of State, membership of the same “clubs” speak the same language, Politicians who know each other , the same values of law, democracy and human rights. The fact we already share all these things is why the majority will vote No.

    What reason would there be for any nastiness at all beyond the wishes of an extreme minority on both sides?

  281. TAS

    It’s not a vote for independence. It’s a vote on a principle.

    “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

    If the answer is YES then independence doesn’t have to happen. When the vote comes back as Yes, just watch Salmond wriggle his way out of actually having to do anything. This is a vote for devolution-max and is a total waste of taxpayers money.

  282. All Politicians are the Same

    @ TAS

    Unfortunately the SNP stood on a platform of having a referendum in 2011 and won a majority. Westminster then fell over themselves to facilitate it. Both sides could have put ” Devo Max” on the ballot paper but did not. Democracy sucks some times.
    You are totally wrong on Salmond, I have met the man on a few occasions and his ego is far too big for him not follow through, he would be the man who led Scotland to Independence and unfortunately the consequences would be secondary to him. :(

  283. Observer

    Thought the polls are leaning something like 60-20 for no, with +/- 10% undecided? With an edge like that, a Yes vote is going to be hard to pull off.

  284. wf

    @APATS: this would be a nasty divorce I’m afraid. Scotland using the pound without Bank of England backing will cause a run on deposits and the likes of RBS leaving. Salmond will, of course, blame the “english”, which will cause a lot of ill feeling to the south. Certainly, for me, having a currency under joint control but without merged tax and spending has proved disastrous in practice. Moreover, it just sets up rUK in the role that Germany is playing right now for the Euro. No thanks, get it over and done with.

  285. All Politicians are the Same


    Your whole post makes a massive assumption in both what the set up and what the result would be. Considering the number of Nobel Prize Winning economists who disagree both on the best way ahead and the results forgive me if I treat any economic “assumptions” with a huge pinch of salt.

  286. The Other Chris

    There’s also a link to vote for your favourite contestant for Bake Off on that page as well…

  287. Challenger

    Very sad news about Ferguson’s seen as it’s the last shipyard on the lower Clyde, isn’t part of the BAE behemoth and is part of a long and proud tradition that’s still continually ebbing away.

    However from the BBC article ‘The Scottish government is to set up a task force to help workers’ i find a little puzzling. I wonder whether governments set up task forces for other companies that employ 80 workers? Somehow i doubt it.

  288. Red Trousers


    I have heard it said that Cameron took a gamble that the Scots would not vote for independence, but that they would go for Devo Max, which he didn’t want to offer, hence him refusing to allow that third option on the ballot paper. That sounds like a possibility. However, more recently the 3 main parties have all said additional (unspecified) devolution will be offered in the event of a No vote. I suspect that for the Conservatives that might be very minor further devolution, and for Labour much more extensive.

  289. wf

    @APATS: we have current examples in Europe and elsewhere of both currency unions that span nations and nations that use other nations currencies. Most of them are in dire straits: not much supposition about it, even amongst those Nobel prizewinners who declared the Euro a fantastic idea to begin with have rapidly rowed it back.

    If an independent Scotland wants to be a success, it will need it’s own currency (perfectly fine, plenty of countries this size do the same), an open attitude to business (not sure that’s popular right now) and a reduced state sector (really not popular at all). Reality would eventually intrude, but to begin with I see a decade or two when a putative “Venezuela on the Clyde” Scottish government blames the shortages of toilet paper on the evil English to cover for it’s inability to produce on it’s promises.

  290. All Politicians are the Same


    Very possibly, assuming there is a No vote (finger crossed but very likely) then all three main parties have promised to publish full details ahead of the 2015 GE. Now political strategy is a minor hobby of mine and I see this as fascinating. Electoral calculus currently predicts a 61% chance of a Labour majority.

    The Conservatives have the issue of UKIP still polling persistently above 10% and a manifesto that includes a lot of further powers for Scotland is unlikely to endear them to current UKIP voters. they pretty much know they will be lucky to get a single seat in Scotland so yes I would expect a bare minimum.

    Labour on the other hand know they need to win a vast majority of Scottish seats to guarantee a majority and the best way to keep the SNP out is to propose extensive powers. this will also appeal to Lib Dem voters who have switched.

    Lib Dems will propose the most powers as part of some federal idea as they need to do something radical.

    The SNP will latch onto the Conservatives lack of powers as a means to try and rebound after a No vote.

    All interesting stuff (though obviously not as interesting as containers TD)

  291. All Politicians are the Same


    I stopped reading when you said “Venezuela on the Clyde” and talked about lack of toilet roll sand then clueless assertions about business and public sector. The size of the public sector does not seem to have an adverse affect on Norway, swede, Denmark or Finland.
    Only one of those countries has more natural resources than Scotland does. You make the archetypal arrogant mistake of assuming an I Scotland would want to follow the bonus driven, service sector housing bubble boom and boost economic model the UK seems wedded to. Most countries in Europe Scotlands size have higher GDP per capita and far more equal societies than we have.
    Even Cameron has given up on trying to tell a country blessed with huge natural resources, massive fishing grounds, a great food and drinks industry, huge amounts of tourism, a thriving financial sector and a well educated and innovative work force they are too wee, too poor, or too stupid.
    Why you think Scots would uniquely fail to utilise these i do not know and frankly do not care.

  292. Observer

    wf, dunno, Brunei seems to be happy with us managing their currency since 1967. They don’t seem to think it’s a disaster considering the basic stability of the policies and the fact that usually post financial crisis, the dollar seems to increase in relative value each time.

    Policies determine success, not objects.

  293. monkey

    Re your last comment on the potential future of an independent Scotland , why shouldn’t there be a yes vote? The polls day different , I don’t think it is inertia, or fear of change , I think usually people want to be part of a greater whole ,a Great Britain if you will and still be proud of their Nation and heritage.

  294. The Other Chris

    Thought Brunei linked with Singapore?

    EDIT: Apologies Observer, you *are* Singapore! ;)

  295. wf

    @APATS: well, if you read that far down, you read most of it. BTW, I didn’t declare the Scottish “would uniquely fail to utilise” it’s resources long term, or even suggest what sort of society an independent Scotland would like to build, merely that the SNP clearly has no idea how to carry out it’s stated promises, and as they currently run the Scottish government, that would seem to be a problem.

  296. All Politicians are the Same


    I talk about potential but there would be ups and downs along the way and at the end of the day things would be a bit different but would they be noticeably better or worse? I think there is a certain amount of fear of the unknown as well. Also both sides have presented extreme view backed up by “tame experts” which tend to cancel each other out and leave people without the confidence to make a “changing decision”.
    When push comes to shove unless there is a clear and undeniable case you would be better to leave, most people will stay with what they know. The case made has been neither clear nor undeniable.

    however being told they are too stupid to ensure they have enough toilet rolls by Wf would be worth a few thousand yes votes :)


    have you bothered to actually read the white paper and the SNP would only be part of a cross party negotiating team that would encompass Scots from different areas and parties not all would be Politicians. One thing they would already do differently. then there would be a GE in scotland as well which would benefit from new parties.
    P.S. You are another that sees SNP and thinks Scotland.

    @ Observer

    He would probably have sneered at you guys as well.

  297. Observer

    ToC :P

    But it does prove the point that not all currency unions are disasters. If the EU was to promote a ruling to save 1% of annual income to a maximum of 100% into either a sovereign wealth fund for funds generation or a warchest savings to back up the Euro, it would become a fairly stable and valued currency. In the end, the currency is an object. What you do with it or how you support it determines the success or failure. Right now, the savings vs debt ratios of the countries involved in the Euro is not in a very good shape, so it isn’t totally stable though it is still valued. Once savings rates climb, the currency should stabilize, but the reality is that a fair chunk of European countries are still living hand to mouth in terms of financing.

  298. The Other Chris

    Time Zones are a relic. UTC to be enforced globally please.

    We’ll work something else out when we settle interplanetary on a permanent basis.

  299. Observer

    Ok ToC, I recommend Beijing mean time, which would mean you would be having lunch at 4am in the afternoon. :P

  300. wf

    @APATS: Scotland has very much voted either Labour or SNP for a generation. Any committee set up to negotiate independence will be mostly made up of politicians from this background. Given that politicians are elected, quite rightly non-political figures will not have much impact.

    Salmond is not Scotland, but he *is* the First Minister. I may not have the highest opinon of Cameron, but he *is* the Prime Minister and as such represents the country, and the same goes for the former.

    @Observer: being a “chang bizi”, I’m having difficulty looking down on you, since my nose keeps getting in the way. Nevertheless, I shall keep trying, while pointing out that Brunei pumps so much oil, most of it’s trade is in dollars anyway. The problem with the most European governments is that they cannot raise enough via taxation to fund themselves, but are in a state of denial about it. Hence frantic cuts in defence for example, however foolish. Definitely no money left for wealth funds!

    The Euro’s problems are more to do with monetary policy being set for it’s centre of gravity in Germany, while it’s politics and spending are still very much local. Currency unions can work fine if the countries merge too….

  301. Observer

    “Brunei pumps so much oil, most of it’s trade is in dollars anyway.”

    So Brunei is in a de facto currency union with the States? Still makes it hard to call it a failure either way right? Think you mistake the object for the policies. You don’t like the EU/Euro so much that it made you make blanket statements about currency unions that put you in awkward positions.

    So is BoT’s dependence on the UK’s pound is a disaster? British Overseas Territories and their link to the UK pound is a currency union too you know.

    “Currency unions can work fine if the countries merge too….”

    I must have missed the part where we invaded Brunei. Or the US invaded them according to your theory.

  302. wf

    @Observer: the Eurozone population is something like 330 million plus spread over 18 countries. Brunei’s population is less than half a million. They may not be directly comparable.

    Despite your comment, I don’t hate the EU. I just want the UK not to be a member :-)

  303. jedibeeftrix

    @ TOC – “55% – NO, 35% – YES, 11% – Undecided [Sic]”

    Will be broadly 2:1 against when the dust settles.

    More generally – while i am happy agree that scotland could a successful wee nation, i agree with Lilico that that it won’t be the anti-tory social-democratic paradise that the Nats like to pretend:


  304. jedibeeftrix

    Re: the EU as a parallel with the scottish referendum.

    It comes back to this question:

    “Are you my family, willing to look to the welfare and consider the wellbeing of me and mine, as I would for you and yours? ”

    The answer is; no, the EUro nations are not.

    Germany benefits from the single currency by having its natural foriegn exchange rate suppressed by the wider currency region. Its goods are cheaper, but by the same token it raises the exchange rate for the wider currency region. Making their goods more expensive.

    And do so whilst engaging in none of the normal solidarity acts that nation states engage in to normalise wealth potential within regions:

    Federal US taxation is ~25% of GDP and the variation in spending levels between rich and poor states is ~5% of GDP, so a variation of roughly 20% of federal spending.

    How big a budget would the EU need to be able to slosh around 5% of combined GDP into the poor regions (bearing in mind the current budget is only 1% (and heavily constrained by CAP payments)?

    The other point is that americans accept this, they are all american, whereas we are rapidly finding out just how german the germans are, and finnish the finns are, when it comes to firehosing cash at nations they consider to be essentially delinquent! In the UK this ‘sloshing’ occurs in the form of:

    a) National pay-bargaining which benefits poorer regions (teachers, nurses, etc)

    b) National social benefits more generous than poorer regions could afford alone (eg.housing benefit in glasgow)

    c) Targeted regional development grants/discounts to encourage business growth (objective 1 EU/WEFO funds)

    d) Additional infrastructure spending to support the local economy (the mainland-skye bridge)

    e) Operating national services hubs from depressed regions to boost wages (DVLA in swansea, etc)

    Unless Germany recognises the ‘familial’ relationship, and the obligation that goes along with that, then it needs to leave for the good of its neighbours.

    This principal applies equally to the netherlands and finland, but since it is Germany that is the driving economic power for the euro’s sake the answer must be ‘right’.

    One mechanism to equalise this foriegn exchange disparity would be eurobonds. To compensate for a higher than natural foriegn exchange rate the wider currency union would borrow collectively, and thus lower their borrowing costs on the back of Germany’s strength.

    The quid-pro-quo would be that Germany’s cost of borrowing would rise, as it too would be borrowing through the wider currency union and would see its strength diluted in consequence.

    What is happening right now is commonly termed “wanting to have your cake, and eat it too“, an attitude considered ugly by weaker members of the polity who consider that cake to be shared treat.

  305. Think Defence

    Am on a dirty weekend with the wife

    Whitby harbour swing bridge and the Humber suspension bridge today

    Teeside transporter bridge and the Newcastle millennium bridge tomorrow then the Forth bridges on Sunday

    Who says romance is dead :-)

  306. The Other Chris

    Whatever mexeflotes your boat TD. ISO hope you don’t get too excited and are able to Container yourself when out in public!

  307. Simon

    Does anyone know what HMS Victorious’ final air group was?

    How many Buccaneer, Sea Vixen, Wessex and Gannet could she carry?

  308. Repulse

    Ok , one for the weekend, for a reasonable cost what would people’s top 5 enhancements be for the new RN OPVs over the base Amazonas specification.

    I’m thinking some thing like:
    – Upgrade the Scanter 4100 to the 6000 version.
    – Replace the bow, port and starboard guns with Seahawk Sigma mounts with LMM
    – Add a lightweight bow sonar (http://www.janes.com/article/35971/thales-unveils-new-hull-mounted-and-towed-sonar-systems-for-opvs) with an anti torpedo system.
    – Add a UAV dog house
    – Add a Phalanx CIWS and Seagnat launchers

  309. Peter Elliott

    I would’t spend a penny on them. These ships aren’t for fighting. Every system we add adds more cost more crew and more risk of the ship being sent into harm’s way.

    And if we make them look like frigates we will just end up with fewer Combat Ships. And those are what a fighting navy really needs.

  310. Red Trousers


    The above water Royal Navy is not for fighting***, it is largely a surveillance and diplomatic WASAWPYK asset. Spend less money on unused offensive systems, because they never use them, less money on adding yet another layer of air defence, and more money on ISTAR systems and the ability to host, deploy and support land based operations.

    *** who are we going to fight at sea? I cannot think of a single maritime threat to the UK or UK interests. Not one.

  311. Peter Elliott

    I can think of plenty of people who would want to sink our Capital Ships when we park them off their coasts with aggressive intent. That’s when we need Combat Ships to protect them. And to pop off a few TLAM in support of the big purple mission. I agree about more ISTAR though. No point having lots of things that go bang if you don’t know where to point them.

    Going back to the OPV these are law enforcement taxis. If you can fly a scan eagle or an Integrator off the back fine but no missiles or fancy sonar are required. Just men with various acronyms on their chests and scary facial hair.

  312. IXION


    Is it getting close to the time when I hail you as a brother. I know like me you are pacidermsceptic. But (and I know you will deeply uneasy about this). We have been agreeing a lot lately!

    Perversly I think your wrong about this. A lot of what our ships do during time of crises is ‘snooping’. But it does put them in danger. Not of a full blown Alpha strike, but of a pot shot by those famous ‘rogue elements in the (insert third world toilet of a country name here), millitary. Not wanting to start a war, just get a free shot to tell us to keep of the grass. Mos likely Launch of a single Soviet era anti ship missile or a single plane. Or some yahoos in speed boats.

    I famously believe a lot of our ships are over specced for what we need. But everything that floats in the RN or the RFA. And calls itself a. Ship. Should have effective 360 degree CIWS antI missile and small boat capabillity. And in the RNs case a couple of bolt on anti ship missiles.

  313. IXION


    I believe in penton in Cumbria ther May be aBailey style bridege if Mrs TD can stand the excitement.

    BTW she must be saint. After all she is maried to a guy who probably shouts TFEU! at the point of orgasm:)

  314. wf


    -Iran decides to close the Persian Gulf to our LNG tankers from Qatar. The US decides it doesn’t care since fracking is getting them all they want

    – A Russian task force occupies bases in Cyprus and declares a blockade of the SBA’s

    – Russia blockades the Baltics and threatens artillery fire from Kalingrad onto traffic moving from Poland

    Well, that’s for starters. Not one?

    Subs are great for sinking stuff, but utterly useless for the positive side of things, eg getting merchant ships or amphibs somewhere against opposition.

  315. Peter Elliott

    Ixion you are right. But I would never send a police taxi anywhere it might have to to do a warship’s job. Clarity of doctrine leads to clarity of specification and efficient use of budget.

  316. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @IXION – have you told him you want to replace the Army with a Crown Militia and make moules’frites the national dish yet? :-)


  317. Mickp

    If we are truly expecting to use these outside the EEZ then they must have a decent degree of self defence to avoid embarrassing pot shots getting lucky. I’m not talking about taking on a peer fleet but we really need to avoid headlines on the lines of our OPV being put out of action by a skiff with an ATGW or an RPG. So I am in broad agreement with Repulse. Upgraded radar, hull sonar and UAV, eg Camcopter are consistent with giving it a first rate surveillance capability and are not suggesting we are turning it into an AAW or ASW killing machine. In terms of guns it should have a krabi type fit, a 76mm and 2 30mm to give overmatch v any pirate type threat. I wouldn’t go for the sigma or any missiles though. Decoy system yes. The krabi fit has been done so the design work shouldn’t cost. 76mm v 57mm is a decision that should be taken having regard to future vessels and a standard secondary gun but I’d go for former. A current base model for reliability but I suppose it could go strales in future. CIWS, on balance yes over the UAV garage, but accept it may be FFBNW. IXION makes a valid point re RN base defensive kit.

  318. Mark

    Having read the countless threads on opvs here using the radar from Clyde with 3 of the 30mm seahawk sigma guns and perhaps 2 of those centurion decoy launchers you don’t need anything else or your crew demands will start to go thru the roof for an opv. Making sure it has good communication gear so it can talk to everyone it needs to talk to with perhaps a scan eagle module I cant see it need anything else.

  319. Red Trousers


    – “Iran decides to close the Persian Gulf to our LNG tankers from Qatar. The US decides it doesn’t care since fracking is getting them all they want”

    In which case, you must concentrate on the mission, protecting tankers in transit. Protect them from what? Missiles, mines, swarm attack, aircraft I would suggest. Only the first is a threat best dealt with by a warship. Mine hunters are already deployed in the Gulf area, swarm attack is a job for attack helicopters, which are best land based but if not can operate from a LHD. Aircraft are best dealt with by other aircraft. If you contend that there would be no land basing available for what would be a multinational threat, I think you’ve had too much caffeine this morning. :). China gets vastly more oil and gas from the Gulf than we do, so Iran would be massively leant on.

    – “Russian task force occupies bases in Cyprus and declares a blockade of the SBA’s

    Come on, be serious. With what amphibious force? They’ve got to get through a minimum of two NATO controlled choke points. And why? Mind boggled.

    – “Russia blockades the Baltics and threatens artillery fire from Kalingrad onto traffic moving from Poland”

    Warships are not the solution. A NATO land and air force in Poland poised to take Kaliningrad hostage is a far better way to squeeze their balls. Two NATO submarines off the Baltics would help them come to reason. Putting above water assets off the Baltics is risking inadvertent confrontation. Frigates are protective, not coercive assets. So are T45s. There would be no need to put a carriers off the Baltics, what with Poland right there, so no need for frigates or destroyers. They would just be targets.

  320. monkey

    Re weapons in the new OPV , what happened to the Goalkeeper CIWS from the Invincibles? One of those on the bow should cover a lot bases . 30mm Gatlin automatic or manually trained should cover most issues that could a arise

  321. monkey

    re submarines it reminds me of some signals between the flagship and his escorts guarding WWII Artic convoy. On receipt of a report of a surface raider fleet in their area the accompanying submarine lamped over ‘I propose to remain on the surface'(showing himself as the highest threat to the raiders) the flagship lamped back ‘ So do I’

  322. The Other Chris

    I wouldn’t spend a fortune on the new OPV’s either.

    Suspect we’ll move the 20mm’s over from the Rivers, or possibly add 30mm DS30M with Bushmasters for commonality with T26 (enough left over from T23?).

    The Amazonas already rock the DS30M. Why alter the existing plans significantly?

    At most, a single Seahawk Sigma style mount* but only if you think LMM/FASGW(L) is required in the longer term and man portable systems can’t do the job (e.g. HVM/LMM).

    *can DS30M mount LMM?

  323. WiseApe

    Steel not cut yet and already we’re gold-plating the OPVs. 30mm main gun up front, couple of 20mm on either wing, and a Centurion launcher should suffice. If I was to go for a touch of gold leaf, then perhaps a telescopic hangar for rotary UAV, ScanEagle-type. If things get hotter than that will cope with, the boat should scarper.

    Edit: Sorry TOC, you’re comment only appeared after I posted. I agree with you.

  324. GNB


    Sorry thats not true!

    I am a former member of the Invade and conquer France society, who has UKIP tendancies and is for the compulsory serving of roast beef at least once a day!!!!!

  325. IXIO


    Sorry that last post was me my fx xxing computer is at it again putting stuff in boxes it should not!

  326. John Hartley

    The 1900 ton, Royal Thai Navy Frigate Markut Rajakumarn had 2 x Mk 8 guns on it, circa 1973. The 1800 ton Libyan Navy Dat Assawari had a single Mk 8, again circa 1973.

  327. Challenger

    I’d go for a single Seahawk Sigma mount with a few GPMG’s and miniguns thrown in. Whether these River/Amazonas variant vessels stay in UK or go off chasing pirates that a good enough load-out. 57mm or 75mm mounts would be lovely but excessive and costly if you were introducing a whole new weapon system, ammunition, support structure etc for just 3 ships.

    Definitely look into a telescopic hangar for small UAV’s as well. Would be a bit concerned about a lack of a proper hangar for Lynx though, can’t really carry a helicopter for long periods overseas without one surely.

  328. The Other Chris

    @John Hartley

    Sincere apologies, I had to run off to handle a toddler situation and accidentally posted an incomplete message with my phone. It was meant to read:

    Rivers/Amazonas do not have a lot of space forward. There is a platform above deck that supports the remote weapon mounts. e.g. the Amazonas 30mm looks like this:


    HTMS Krabi which is also based on the BAE 90m OPV has a larger 76mm Oto Melara, however this required significant changes to the accommodation areas below the deck:


    This is to accommodate the deck penetrating equipment of the 76mm:


    A Mk 8 Mod 1 from T23/T42 etc has more severe deck penetration and would unlikely be supported by the current design platform. I do not see much advantage in altering the designs given they’re a stop-gap build that happens to be resulting in improved Rivers.

    Once again, apologies for the premature posting above.

  329. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @IXION – thank goodness for that – I thought you might be feverish! :-) . Very good BBC R4 play about the Glencoe Massacre just finished…a useful corrective to the idea that everything is the fault of the wicked and perfidious English. We might be celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the ’45 by providing peacekeepers along the Highland Line if things go badly…

    I will now retire to my bunker before @apats starts shouting at me again. :-(


  330. Mickp

    @TOC, thanks sounds like compromises rule out 76mm really. Taking a broader future picture, do we need a gun that fits between the well established 30mm and the 5″ for T26 etc? For amphibs, future patrol etc a gun that fires a range of shells would give a degree of CIWS type capability v air/ swarm boats and more hitting power/effective than a 30mm? I don ‘t think the BAE 57mm has much deck penetration. Or the bae bofors 40mm mark 4 only weights 2t and can fit on boats as small as 25m. One of them and a couple of 30mm. If all else fails as I think it will, then I think these boats should have a minimum fit of 3 standard 30mm

  331. Jonathan

    I’m not sure I agree with the whole idea of buying a completely new medium gun, supply chain, train and support. Just for a handful of pratol vessels. We have a great weapon system in the DS30M mk2, so why use anything else, add in a couple of 20mm mounts and and GPMGs job done.

    I’m not sure what pirate or drug dealer is going to out match that ?.

    What I’m not sure about is the aviation aspect. If it was just for home waters the large open helo pad for a medium helicopter is great, extending the range of rotor assets for all sorts of jobs. But if it’s going futher afield I would think a hanger for a wildcat would be better, after all you need permantant ( during deployment) attached rotor for most activity outside of home waters such as chasing pirates, drug dealers, Argentinian fishing vessels and disaster aid. For these a wildcat is perfect.

  332. wf

    @RT: small delay, day out.

    Well, you’ve justified the use of warships in Persian Gulf then for me. I actually suspect the Boghammer type threat is probably best countered by a few UAV’s and a plentiful number of NLOS silos

    The Russian’s aren’t going to fight their way in. No need!


    Assuming Assad loses Syria, they’ll want a replacement for Tartus.

    The Russians know perfectly well we’re not going to threaten Kalingrad, because that says “nuclear exchange”. But without the ability to stage and sustain forces in the Baltics, we cannot support them. I call that a problem.

  333. John Hartley

    Crikey TD, even I had to reach for the calculator for this bit of maths.
    Anyway. Any bit of kit leads to changes in the design, so it depends on your outlook, whether you think they are worth it. If you think an OPV is just for fisheries & perhaps a pirate with an AKM then 30mm is fine. If you want to stop a kidnapped freighter with a Mumbai style attack squad on board, then your little 30mm shells, won’t stop a 20,000+ ton freighter at full chat. Hence my desire for a recycled 114mm. There were a lot of proposals for stretched/upgunned Rivers/Clydes, a couple of years ago. Some were semi official, others fantasy fleets. Some had 76 or 114 guns, but I cannot remember which camp they fell into.

  334. Red Trousers

    Wf, when I originally said that I could not think of a single maritime threat to the UK or UK interests, I think you must have read that as me saying that we did not need warships. It is not the same.

    Can you think of a credible scenario? Clearly, no one can predict the future, but with things as they are right now, I cannot. If the situation changes, like all reasonable people I will be open to changing my mind, and being reasonable, I’m not about to forget that combat effectiveness takes decades to achieve, so let’s not throw away what we already have. It’s an insurance.

    However, I am right royally pissed off with the MoD for continually chucking money at the Navy in upgrading existing capabilities when the other two services are shafted by decades of deployments to operational areas, and in my judgement that pattern is more likely to continue than not. The Army’s kit is knackered and no longer relevant. Less the Typhoon, ditto for the Air Force.

    Admiral Zambellas seemed quite eased that his service would consume over 50% of the equipment budget. It is a small, modestly capable enabling force (less the deterrent) and does not need gold plating any further.

  335. The Other Chris

    The OPV’s will be busy dealing with underground SNP Separatists post ‘No’ vote as well as Anti-Offshore-Fracking-Eco-Terrorist groups and Counter-Near-Shore-Windfarm splinter cells dedicated to ridding their sea view of the only-when-it’s-windy power sources.

  336. wf

    @RT, then we’re largely in agreement. We don’t need ABM capable destroyers and frigates, just reasonable ones with decent radar and VLS silo room to cover future problems. I’d replace helicopters with UAV’s too, which should save more.

    Lets face it, all the services have made terrible screw ups, politicians even more by mandating Euro projects. There was the money to ensure the Army and RAF had what they needed, but no one making the right decisions.

  337. Simon

    We don’t need ABM capable destroyers and frigates, just reasonable ones with decent radar and VLS silo room to cover future problems

    Yes we do.

    We need anti-satellite, anti-AWACS and anti-ballistic missile defence otherwise we’re sitting ducks in the modern world. Not fussed if the ABM capability is in the back of an A400M or in the pocket of some Army bod but I’d guess that the reality is that the only thing that can carry them is a destroyer.

  338. Mike W

    RT and others

    “However, I am right royally pissed off with the MoD for continually chucking money at the Navy in upgrading existing capabilities when the other two services are shafted by decades of deployments to operational areas, and in my judgement that pattern is more likely to continue than not. The Army’s kit is knackered and no longer relevant. Less the Typhoon, ditto for the Air Force.”

    I am not usually a fan of inter-service strife but surely RT has more than something of a case here. Here we have the Navy (and the RFA), who have over the past few years won funding for two giant aircraft carriers, new Astute submarines, new Type 45 destroyers, new Type 26s, the new MARS tankers, its share of the new F35s and new Wildcat helicopters, while the Bay-class LSDs, the Wave tankers and the the Point ROROs are not that old –certainly all entered service within the last decade.). Moreover, just recently there has been an order for 3 new OPVs.

    And while this big spending has been taking place, what precisely has the Army received? It has not even received the funding to satisfactorily upgrade its MBTs (now nearly twenty years old). That vehicle needs a new turret, a new engine and other major improvements. The replacement for the CVR(T)s is not yet in service and not likely to be for a few years (but I won’t go into the whole FRES fiasco). The Warrior will get its upgrade and not before time. Most of the Warriors have been in service for 25 years or more and the FV432 for nearly fifty!) There is yet no sign of the FRES UV wheeled armoured vehicle appearing. Our artillery is ageing (AS90 twenty years old and the Light Gun has now been in service for nearly forty years). In fact, the only major new vehicle to enter service recently, to my recollection, has been the Terrier. I suppose some would argue that the UORs purchased for Afghanistan are now entering the core but many not really in the roles they were designed for e.g. Mastiff does not fit the FRES UV role.

    Is it not the case that it is much easier for the Government/MOD to cut Army vehicles than ships? The latter are huge in terms of capital expenditure and therefore not easily cancelled, whereas it is relatively easy to cut smaller items, such as armoured vehicles costing only a million or two each.

    I am not anti-Navy and I believe that it is a good thing that the Royal Navy is receiving modern vessels. I am not arguing for a re-distribution of resources within the defence budget but for a bigger pot of defence money all round.

  339. mike

    @ Mike W

    Perhaps that’s why we’ve been hearing the RN mention ‘joint’ more and more ;)

    But we need to remember, the Army and to a lesser extent, the RAF, have been getting funds for fighting (ops and UOR’s et al) in Afghanistan and on going operations, although the funds have not gone to new big-ticket expenditure, it has been rather a big and consistent demand on funding that may have otherwise gone directly to those services. Where-as the RN has largely only been involved with in the RMC and FAA side, the latter which is assisted by JHC.

    That’s not to say I disagree, but we need to remember the context – the RN certainly can’t complain about not getting attention. Whether or not its attention in the right areas, is another case of discussion.

  340. Simon257

    @ Mike W

    How long does it take to build a production AFV, compared to a Production Warship or Auxilary. If it takes Daewoo 6 months build a Tide Class Tanker, how many Terriers could BAE build in the same time.

    We could easily build hundreds of AFV, if we found ourselves with the need to do so. if you were to use say the facilities of JCB. Now Daewoo will build all four Tides in two years. Hypothetically, how many AFV’s could JCB alone, build you in that time?

  341. All Politicians are the Same

    If people are struggling to think of a Maritime Threat then one thing is absolutely certain, I guarantee you there is no chance of thinking of a credible land threat as long as we live on an Island and have a Navy and an Air Force.
    Do not confuse the recent “electives” with an actual threat to UK interests.

    Should also not forget the RN has over 10 vessels on Operational Feployments 365/24/7 war or no war.

  342. Red Trousers


    Re ABM. What do you suppose the typical target of an ABM is? Is it something floaty that moves about quite a lot, or something with a fixed position, such as land? Would you like to have your ABM defence permanently at sea, where it might not be in the right place to intercept a threat, or on land, where it can, either in the late stages from the UK, or in earlier stages?

    Re anti AWACS. Apart from the fact that AWACS aircraft are owned and operated by Allies, who else owns such aircraft that are even possibly going to deploy them against us?

    Re anti-satellite, you have options. Each one passes over the UK EEZ 4.3 times a day, and the UK itself 1.2 times a day. Even in a polar orbit, they pass over the UK 3 times a week. Why is it that you want a floaty little boat to sail off somewhere perhaps two oceans and three weeks travel time away that you think is better than shooting it down from a land-based site dug into a disused Doncaster coal mine?

  343. All Politicians are the Same

    Actually given where you have to intercept an ABM to be succesful and the likely firing positions as well as their ability to move, at sea makes an awful lot of sense. You can also park an ABM ship in a port you could not float a battery into the middle of the Med.
    That is why there is a balance, people did not just guess at the best mix.

    Ref satellites what happens if you want to shoot one down that goes nowhere near Doncaster but affects events in another AOR? Personally I would go air launched but an ABM DD can cover the UK and foreign AORs.

  344. Red Trousers


    You had me there right up until “interests”. There are threats to UK interests all over the globe, it’s just they are not maritime ones. The UK itself is under no maritime threat at present, but if we were we’ll be looking for a Navy.

    Also, I would disagree with your characterisation of “operational” deployments. Many of them are merely exercises in friendly waters with Allies. It is a naval oddity that you think that is operational. The Army does not declare Brigade training in Canada as an operational deployment. I also take issue with the gin palace cruises to the Caribbean as being operational. It’s diplomacy, with zero threat.

  345. Red Trousers

    APATS, do your physics. Any satellite not in a polar orbit will go within a circular radius of 200 miles of Doncaster 1.2 times a day at an orbiting altitude of 140 miles. It will go within a circular radius of 200 miles of anywhere on the planet between 57 degrees north and south 1.2 times a day. No need to send a boat somewhere inaccessible.

    The shoot-down decision would take Whitehall a week.

  346. All Politicians are the Same


    What about a geo stationary orbit?

    You may disagree with my definition of operational tasking but you do not decide, HMG does. Brigade level training, woo hoo, by that standard we would declare Neptune Warrior and Thursday Wars operational deployments.
    We still have 10 vesels on ops 365/24/7 without anyone in the Caribbean which I admit has its high points but for those that have been there in huricane season also its low points.

    I enjoy winding you up:) but I spoke to a pretty Senior Army friend of mine last week and his biggest worry was wtf the Army would do after Afghanistan to demonstrate relevance in the cuthroat run up to SDSR 2015 :(

    Fow what its worth I think the RN is looking good out to 2025 and my concerns would be MPA/ISTAR CH2 and Typhoon upgrades/integration.

    Assuming T26 and FRES a given.

  347. Red Trousers


    Good luck trying to shoot something down from geostationary orbit. 22,250 miles up, you need a launch station in tropical latitudes, so Doncaster is out, and you need a moonshot type of rocket, which is going to sink the average Andrew boat with the reciprocal forces of launch. Working it out in my head (caution, late night maths…) I think you’d also need 3 earth orbits to get there, which is giving the bird a hell of a lead.

  348. ArmChairCivvy

    @TOC, in another source the text under the picture you linked to starts with “The 62-calibre 76-mm OTO Melara Compact gun is now the most famous lightweight dual-purpose naval gun in the world. Developed from the 76-mm (3-in) OTO Melara MMI mount in the mid-1960s the gun first entered service in 1969 as a system intended for installation in ships of any size and class down to motor gunboats and hydrofoils.”
    – it is possible the version without the integrated magazine has been discontinued (the max rate of fire eats rounds as if they were popcorn… not that an OPV would be very likely to use the gun in such a fashion).


  349. All Politicians are the Same


    I was being pedantic:) My point does stand though about the added flexibility, especially if the OPFR decide to move the orbit. Also the command systems, launch silos etc already exist. The US used a modified SM3 from a Tico in 2008.

  350. DavidNiven

    ‘wtf the Army would do after Afghanistan to demonstrate relevance in the cuthroat run up to SDSR 2015’

    It will be nice to have a break after over forty years of operations. ;-)

  351. All Politicians are the Same


    Do not shoot the messanger, what he was talking about was the feeling he was getting that the appetite for another Iraq or Afghanistan is not there and for the first time almost ever the Army will have to come up with a plan as to what it does in “peace time”.

  352. DavidNiven


    Just a joke, I’m in full control today ;-)

    I would have thought that events in Iraq in the last few weeks would have reminded the politicians that a land component is still required, after all the briefs they would have got about the need for a corridor etc if the numbers were in the tens of thousands.

    Tell him not to worry something always turns up and world events tend to create need outside of parliament. i would also say that at the moment any military action is something the politicians are not too keen on regardless of domain.

  353. Craig

    @John Hartley
    “If you want to stop a kidnapped freighter with a Mumbai style attack squad on board, then your little 30mm shells, won’t stop a 20,000+ ton freighter at full chat. Hence my desire for a recycled 114mm.”

    That isn’t a job for a OPV. It’s a job for intelligence, Special Forces and the Police as demonstrated with the MV Nisha incident in 2001.

    If you’re a situation where you need to sink a freighter with 4.5″, you may as well go the hog and have the Fleet Ready Escort put some Harpoons in it or call up some Typhoons to drop some 500lb bombs on it.

    The role of these 3 OPV is very simple:

    * Be an off-the-shelf UK design with minimal modification, able to enter production immediately
    * Be compatible with existing systems and supply chains as far as possible
    * Use as little manpower as possible.

    In other words, to minimise not only in the short term but throughout their lifetime given the requirements of the TOBA.

    Anything else, even another GPMG if it needs an extra hand to man it, is gold-plating.

  354. ArmChairCivvy

    RE “If you’re a situation where you need to sink a freighter with 4.5″, you may as well go the hog and have the Fleet Ready Escort put some Harpoons in it or call up some Typhoons to drop some 500lb bombs on it.”
    a case has been made that the 76mm is just right:
    armour-piercing rounds into the machine room will stop, not sink the ship. Then call the police/ RM/ SBS for a boarding party…

    The mentioned Nisha incident is not known to me, but even a specialist team boarding with a limited ROE can get problems with fanatics, evidenced by the Israeli boarding of the “peace armada” that had set sail from Turkey

  355. ArmChairCivvy

    heh-heh, just realised that was the narrative for one chapter in the book soon to be outed by our GNB

  356. Observer

    Craig, those are specifications, not roles. Roles are “what is the ship used for”. Since they are going to be used for low intensity or even no intensity fisheries protection and EEZ patrolling, I’m also inclined to agree that simpler is better.

    If they are going to be on anti-piracy patrol, a helicopter and boarding party is essential. Radar for tracking and 1-2 self defence guns and that is pretty much it. The helicopter can also double duty as SAR.

    Unfortunately some people see “ships” and automatically try to arm it to fight the Red Banner Fleet.

  357. monkey

    @RT & APATS
    Looks like your looking for Thor’s Hammer Kinetic Energy system envisaged by Jerry Pournelle when he worked for Boeing in the 50’s. Basicly Tungsten arrows a foot in diameter and twenty foot long in multiple LEO’s guided to target like a non nuclear MIRV , it would renter and hit its/near its target at 10’000 m/s or so delivering in excess of 800Gj of energy ( a 120 mm APFSDS delivers 25Mj as a comparison ) a direct hit is not nessacary as the hyper sonic shock wave would destroy ANYTHING within a kilometre on the surface as it approaches its target and impact would send out sesmic shock waves out kilometres capable of collapsing most bunkers which is what it was envisaged being used against , Soviet ICBM silos.. I guess smaller versions are an option

  358. Observer

    monkey, you familiar with the very old Renegade Legions boardgame?

    They got the inspiration for “Thor orbital artillery satellites” from Pournelle. Wonderfully complex and intricate game. Pity there wasn’t much of a following.

  359. Repulse

    i think that everytime we look at “basic” ways to modify the OPVs, the usual “gold-plating”, “turning them into battleships” and “losing frigates” arguements come out. It does amuse me, as everyone seems to be onboard with sweating maximum value out of every platform we have, be it sea, air or land. The idea that we are wanting to take on the Red Fleet with an “enhanced” OPV is not worth comment.

    Operating an OPV outside of the relatively safe UK EEZ has increased risk. In peacetime it is very small, but it is significant enough to warrant more self-defence / counter measures than you get on the River class. Also, one of the key roles of the OPVs must be ISR, hence it would only make sense to make modest enhancements in this area also.

    Upgrading the gun mounts already incorporated in the design to be of the SIGMA type would allow for close range anti-ship (LMM) and perhaps with the RN looking at Mistral Missiles, a basic anti-air / missile capability also. Additional Decoy system would also be prudent (and would hardly break the bank).

    I was purposely stirring the pot on the Thales sonar link, but surely the OPV should have a basic bow sonar capable of a level of anti-mine detection? Hardly gold-plating.

    The idea of upgrading the Radar and adding a UAV dog-house would give improved (but modest) ISR capabilities. A retractable hanger would be good, but actually I see it as a significant deviation from the current Amazonas design whereas the other bits suggested should be bolt-ons.

  360. WiseApe

    If someone is laying mines in our waters I think something more than an OPV is called for. But I do wonder if these new OPVs might form the basis for our future mine warfare platform, given that future anti-mine is expected to be remote and unmanned?

    Edit: Machines always need fettling, and fettling is best done under cover. A telescopic hangar which could double as a workshop would seem to me a sensible addition.

  361. monkey

    Re the OPV original weapons fit out keep it nice and simple if that is what its is for , that way some dunderhead of an MP cannot start drawing up lists of ‘ big gun – tick, missels – tick , big helicopter – tick etc ) but by all means design in the space or spaces that could be sacrificed in time of war such RM accommodation spaces, ‘storage space’ etc to take the weight/forces/power supply etc in time of need . But don’t fit it or we will get less T26.

  362. ArmChairCivvy

    Overmatch is seen in a fairly one-dimensional way. Let’s restrict the scenario to within the fairly safe UK EEZ (no AK touting pirates, or state-to-state actors).

    The proverbial freighter (as per above) has been taken over by terrorists. With the 76 mm immobilising the ship is feasible without collateral damage. Shall we say there is the normal crew (12?) onboard as innocents.

    You can’t start to hammer the ship with your gun, but you can call for a boarding party and a helo. But these guys are not dum-dums: they have smuggled a small ATGW onboard in several suite cases, an addition they have bought a few surplus bazookas cum flechete rounds.
    – OK, the missile or two are not the 80 kg Spike ERs or new Kornets, but the OPV will need to stand off by a couple of km
    – the helo might stay up after taking the flechete hits, but some casualties would result. So they will have to stand off by, say, 400-500m as well. Far enough to reduce the GPMG to a deck clearing use, nothing more

    Hmm.. what next?

  363. A Different Gareth

    Once Type 26 is arriving could the Type 23 be refurbished into OPVs? With Type 26 taking over responsibility for anti-submarine warfare and carrying anti-ship missiles these could be removed from Type 23 which might reduce crew requirements.

    For example, if the missile tubes were removed you might be able to operate a VTOL UAV from there without interrupting helicopter operations.

  364. All Politicians are the Same


    30MM HE through the rudder and engine spaces is next. In the meantime anyone sticking their head up to fire finds out just how good SF snipers are even from a helicopter. The SF then do their thing prob from rhibs but maybe simultaneously from another helo.

    As an earlier poster commented the MV Nisha incident with Sutherland and the SBS was textbook.

  365. Observer

    ACC, you know they don’t simply throw an assault first thing, the jaw-jaw goes on for quite a while. After you wear them down with all the talking, then you start thinking about alternative methods.

    If all goes badly and shit hits the fan, there are 2 methods of entry. 1) Boarding ladders from zodiacs/RHIBs/frogmen and 2) zipline/rappel from a helicopter. Depending on your resources and the enemy’s, one or a combination could work.

    Your example is extremely heavily armed terrorists, ATGMs, possible MANPADs, (you would rather the AK toting pirates actually). My call would be a night insertion from the water, see how far that gets you before throwing in air support and insertion. Think this is called “non-compliant boarding”. TD had a few pics a while back for an exercise in it, should be interesting to dig it up.

  366. ArmChairCivvy

    ADG, there are only one of each, and in front of the bridge tends to be a windy place (for the much lighter a/c), RE “For example, if the missile tubes were removed you might be able to operate a VTOL UAV from there without interrupting helicopter operations.”
    – how is the RN VTOL UAV coming?
    – no more fishing nets for the recovery stage?

  367. ArmChairCivvy

    RE ” the jaw-jaw goes on for quite a while. After you wear them down with all the talking”
    – these guys were Bombay-style fanatics

    RE “2 methods of entry. 1) Boarding ladders from zodiacs/RHIBs/frogmen and 2) zipline/rappel from a helicopter. Depending on your resources and the enemy’s, one or a combination could work.”
    – I think the peace armada boarding I was referencing was over-reliant on helicopters (not wanting to give the surprise element away?)

    Must have missed that one “TD had a few pics a while back for an exercise in it, should be interesting to dig it up.”
    – about two years back, there was a big pan-European exercise in the Azores
    – skills sharing for those nations who were only building the capacity… and a bit of sun for those who were not in turn

  368. John Hartley

    Those against putting a recycled 4.5″ gun on an OPV say that we will have frigates, destroyers, intel, fast jets & Police that could do the job better. Good luck with that. The RN has gone from 50 escorts to only 19. The chances of having one to hand in a crisis has therefore gone down. The days of the RAF having Sea Eagle armed Buccs & Tornados is long gone. Likewise Harpoon armed Nimrods. The police would only be interested if the BBC will give them helicopter cover. Frankly, I think there is too much complacency in all defence & security issues, & think we are going to end up with some avoidable disaster somewhere. A Qatar gas supertanker hijacked & crashed into a UK coastal city by a well armed Islamist suicide squad for example.

  369. Simon


    I see you’ve had a nice chat with APATS ;-) Here’s my two-penneth…

    Any credible threat will want ISTAR assets. When push comes to shove these are our enemy’s eyes and ears… and need to be taken out. I couldn’t care less if Angola or Zambia (silly examples to demonstrate my grasp of the alphabet) don’t have any, what I’d want to mitigate against is Russia or China lending them one or two.

    I do understand what you mean about the idea of them being on a “floaty little boat”, but looking at the capabilities offered by TLAM and Storm Shadow the worst place to have them is at a static site (you’re into the same argument regarding ICBM launch sites). So the only other option is on a mobile land platform, which when undertaking expeditionary warfare will need to be carried to theatre on a ship. May as well leave it there!

    There are definitely exceptions to the above, mid Africa springs to mind, but since the British Army are more interested in £16b tin boxes than the threat from ballistic launched cluster warheads, and see the likes of SAMP-T as unimportant we’ll have to leave it to the Royal Navy to protect the skies above your heads.

    “The shoot-down decision would take Whitehall a week.” – can’t change politics ;-)

    Here’s a picture of what I mean :-)

  370. All Politicians are the Same


    Those oppossed to putting a 4.5 on an OPV realise it does not fit. We do have a dedicated FF/DD in UK waters to deal with such an incident, it is called the FRE. Not to mention the numerous other vessels in Port or training on the South Coast.
    There is also a dedicted on call SF AT team, so none of this is anything to do with luck at all.

    As i highlighted earlier, nothing heavier than 30MM is required to take out the rudder and leave it doing circles or even disable the engines. Why on Earth you would want to fire a 4.5 brick or a missile into an LPG tanker I do not know.

  371. John Hartley

    APATS. Well the Mk8 was fitted to 1800 & 1900 ton frigates in 1973. Has naval shipbuilding gone backwards since then?

  372. Mickp

    @JH, I am totally with you on the ‘threat’ and the risk of complacency in homeland security for all sorts of eventualities. Our PM highlighted the threat yesterday. Yes we do have a FRE, but what if our CVF and fleet is deployed on a real op and the FRE has to go. As you say we only have 19 escorts. I advocate a clearer delineation of our armed forces, homeland first, then deployable or expeditionary capability. When the latter is away, the former stays put and the asymmetric threats are still covered. This may result in reduced high end gold plating and increased low end, and less one size fits all

  373. All Politicians are the Same

    @ JH

    The space beneath is put to different use, it will not fit on the current BAE OPV design and that is what we are going to get. Of course we could design an 1800 ton Ship that could take it but that is not what we are doing here.

    @Mick P

    Unless you are suggesting a svenario where every sea worthy escort is deoloyed we will have an FRE. Often we will have an FRE and Duty TAPS.

  374. Mickp

    @APATS, with 19 escorts I accept there is only one possible scenario where all serviceable ones may need to be deployed, a 2 CVF FI scenario. I the absence of that I’m comforted that we will generally have 1 or 2 Escorts standing ready in home waters. These new OPVs I accept are just gap fillers and despite all the PR will probably spend 90% or their time in home waters on fisheries or possibly in the FI. In the longer term we could have home waters ( FRE and TAPs) covered permanently by something much simpler than a T26, a helo a decent ship stopping gun, and a tail for TAS. That in turn, and it pains me to say, could mean less gold plated high end escorts and some spare funds to help with MPA and other gaps

  375. All Politicians are the Same


    I do not understand your reasoning, you accept that it is astronomically unlikely we would ever not have an FF available in home waters and then invent a new unrequired class of vessel to do their job.

  376. Simon

    Just thought I’d shove this here for a sort of basic escort tasking reference.

    It’s definitely not correct (APATS posted finer details earlier this month) but serves to illustrate the possible availability of our escorts based on six-month deployments at an OTT 10,000nm.

    It shows 5 tasks covered at range and 4 tasks in UK waters (FRE, TAPS, training, exercises).

    I’m happy to modify it and do a TD post with it if people would rather it reflected the “perfect” scenario better, but I have a feeling that others are better placed to do it ;-)

  377. Craig


    I think in the case of these OPV, the specification and role are indistinguishable.

    The driver for this is the TOBA, nothing else. Given a choice of paying £350m for nothing and hoping BAE come up with a way of maintaining the skillbase or £350m to actually use some of the skillbase, all things being equal, the latter would be a less risky choice for the government.

    I think the RN/BAE marketing bumf about using these overseas on anti-piracy patrols is just that – bumf. What happens once they’re completed is entirely secondary to the immediate concern of having something in the yards now.

    In all probability the government don’t give a damn what happens once they’re in the water. The realistic options are:

    * Replace the 3 River class in which case they will be busy enough in the EEZ/Western Europe waters (visits to Germany, France etc)
    * Find a willing buyer
    * Leave them behind in Scotland on independence day to get rid of the maintenance costs
    * Leave them tied up alongside in Portsmouth unused

    Despite the talk of running them alongside the River class, I can’t see the Navy sacrificing another frigate to do so. There is no money now, in the next 5 years or the 10 years after that.

    Hence I think the answer to “what the ship is used for” in this case will forever be “make work scheme”.

  378. Observer

    Craig, that is so messed up…

    Doesn’t mean it can’t be true, but still messed up.

    The yards might have been better off diversifying and taking up some civilian work though the last time I had a discussion with APATS or NaB on it, apparently there are some problems with that approach, not the least of which is cheaper foreign competition. I’m sure there is still a niche that they can fill. Maybe not ship building but upgrading or servicing?

    Water under the bridge unfortunately.

    And for the love of God, the UK needs a sovereign wealth fund for more $$ generation. Taxation can only go so far.

  379. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Observer

    Craig exaggerates quite a bit, the Government does care what happens to them. The most likely and safe option is that they will replace the current Rivers in their current role.
    yes it makes more financial sense to build them than not build them but once built they are an asset regardless of the reasons for their building.

  380. monkey

    On the new OPV are theY going to be clones of the HMS Clyde , 2000t , 25knt , 11,000hp , Merlin Helipad , etc or an enhanced version more like the Black Swan Proposal a few years back. The fit out need not be any different to the River Class in terms of sensors/weapons but could provide a proof of concept if we ever needed to build/order a lot of small hulls quickly. As some one pointed out above Daewoo are producing 4 RFA Tankers in two years in their extensive facilities and there are many small yards throughout the ‘friendly’ world that could knock out local copies such as per the original Black Swans or Flower class for instance in WWII.

  381. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Monkey

    They will look very very similar to the BAE 90M OPV design you can find online.

  382. John Hartley

    Just been over to defense news to read the item on the new USCG cutters with a 57mm gun on the bow. When we (the UK taxpayer)are paying over the odds just to keep the yard alive, why do we not have more ambition for our new RN OPV? On a previous thread some years ago, I rambled about a fantasy fleet, stretched HMS Clyde follow on, with a hangar for a Wildcat & a recycled 114 mm gun on the bow. Chances are it would be no dearer than the lightly armed vessels the “Complacency” wants us to have. A stretched gun Clyde, could do the Caribbean guard ship role & chase pirates off Somalia, freeing the fighty ships for the more high end roles. Have we cut steel yet? If not, lets have some more ambition.

  383. All Politicians are the Same

    @ JH

    “Just been over to defense news to read the item on the new USCG cutters with a 57mm gun on the bow. When we (the UK taxpayer)are paying over the odds just to keep the yard alive, why do we not have more ambition for our new RN OPV?”

    Oh you mean the new NSC? Lets have 10 they only cost £420 million each after all.

    “Chances are it would be no dearer than the lightly armed vessels the “Complacency” wants us to have.”

    Really, so who is paying for the design phase because T26 is illustrating how cheap and easy that is.

    If we really wanted to upgun the OPVs then lets simply swap out the ASCG for SeaHawk Sigma mounts, we are not going to be doing NGS and I would rather have the ability to put a LMM exactly where I want out to 5 miles than far around with an old unreliable gun that requires deck penetration on a huge scale, a big magazine, requires about 6 extra bodies and is not fantastically accurate in an anti surface role anyway.

  384. John Hartley

    Lets hope World peace breaks out, otherwise these OPVs will follow the standard MoD/Treasury procurement arc, i.e. kit ordered to save jobs because of looming election/referendum. A that will do mentality. Task turns out to be more dangerous than first thought, so either kit sold off cheaply, while new more capable kit ordered, or existing kit goes for major upgrade. Either way, it is more expensive to the taxpayer than doing it right in the first place.

  385. Observer

    It’s hard to screw up a patrol boat. If you sent that into a war zone, it’s not your mentality at fault. It’s your expectations.

  386. Simon

    I do sort of get where JH is coming from.

    We have £341m to give BAE so why spend it on ships we don’t need? The answers might be…

    a) We do actually need them to replace the existing Rivers or to give to Scotland following an accidental “yes” vote (really don’t want them to go).

    b) If we’re sustaining the “design team” then why on Earth build something so mundane and dull as the Rivers.

    c) If we’re sustaining the “steel bashers” then isn’t it more sensible to build some more practical hulls such as a couple of T23s or T45s? Even if we simply sell them afterwards!

    d) Can’t we get them to design something radical to showcase British ingenuity. Such as a stealth corvette with modern materials. Or even a plastic coast guard cutter that can double up as MCMV and/or SF insertion through the mine fields that stopped us assaulting in GW1?

  387. The Other Chris

    The challenge is to squeeze them in between PoW and T26. Anything too ambitious is a risk.

    I’d hope that the £350m covers triple-checked screw and bolt fittings as well as a healthy dose of spares, etc!

  388. Mickp

    @Apats, the reasoning was to try and save money to fill gaps elsewhere. As much as I would like 13 fully loaded t26s, just wondering about options to restructure that. It’s assumed the GP version will only differ in lack of TAS but should we look at tasking to decide what fit out we need. Those allocated to FRE or TAPs don’t need TLM, CAMM and phalanx, but you’ d need a couple with TAS possibly. So my simpler ship could be a bare bones T26, that could really cover things like, FRE, apt (n), Taps.

    Alternatively Could FRE be covered by an enhanced OPV? Could TAPs?

    Both these are possible options without designing a new ship

  389. Mickp

    @apats, it doesn’t have to be a newly invented vessel. FRE and Taps could possibly be done by a bare bones T26 or possibly a modestly enhanced OPV of the type BAE are building. Apt n and apt s may both also be taskings that could be covered by those. The heavy weight tasking is really CVF escort, which assuming coalition based ops would require 2 to 4 escorts. So do we really need more than 8 or 9 full T26s? In peacetime that would still allow 3 with CVF and 2 elsewhere. I just think there is mileage in thinking how these new OPVs can really be used I the fleet structure rather than just as River replacements/ gap fillers and then whether modest upspeccing on the line repulse started with may have some merit.

    On a related thought process, could Albion and Bulkwark be modestly adapted with enhanced self defence, eg CAMM, and a hanger for say a couple of merlins or a merlin and 2 lynx so they could both be in operation to either operate with CVF or indecently say for evacuation, disaster relief or support of special ops?

  390. Mickp

    @ APATS and others, Sorry for duplicate but slightly different posts as thought iPad crashed on first one. Second one is possibly clearer, but broadly same point.

  391. The Other Chris

    It’s the High-Low vs High-only argument. First Sea Lord Zambellas is very convincing on the RN’s reasons for pursuing the latter course:

    …the Royal Navy has retired large numbers of smaller vessels, ships arguably inadequate for a war with Russia or China, but perfectly serviceable for showing the flag, chasing Somali pirates, and building relationships with partners around the world…

    …“You aim for high end and you accept the risk your footprint’s reduced globally… I absolutely reject the idea of an ostensibly [larger] number of smaller platforms that might have a wider footprint.”

    “The danger with that is when you are needed to perform a high end — and therefore a strategically valuable — task alongside a partner, you find that your low-end capability doesn’t get through the gate,” Zambellas said. “You lose out on the flexibility and authority associated with credible platforms.”

    Source: http://breakingdefense.com/2014/08/sunk-costs-new-carriers-commit-uk-to-buy-escorts-f-35bs-says-1st-sea-lord/

    Even the smaller craft in the RN are High-end, the upcoming OPV(H) class are no exception. For a class that will spend most of its time in home waters the vessels have a lot of capability on paper already and presumably will be well supported given the size of the contract to supply them.

    BAE’s 90m OPV class is starting to prove quite a prolific design: Three Rivers, one Clyde, three Amazonas, three OPV(H)’s, one Krabi…

    Black Swan was mentioned above and arguably the UK is already implementing the lessons from that study. The Type 26 has a sizeable Mission Deck, these new OPV(H)’s also have capacity for mission equipment and the Hunt’s/Sandown’s are already being used to carry remote mission equipment.

  392. Simon


    I’m not sure FRE and TAPS can be done by anything other than a high-end escort, which is fortunate because it would be mad to build separate ships for something that can be undertaken by the same ships that go out on deployments.

    4 ships: generally 1 in refit, 1 on task, 1 transit/leave/maint, 1 in UK waters.

    It looks like you can ditch the one in UK waters, but then you’re asking the crew to do 6 months on station, come back for a short break and then go straight back out again. So not only can the FRE and TAPS tasks not sensibly be undertaken by low-end escorts it also means you have to press the RN crews even harder and ask them to rarely see their families.

    The lowest number of high-end escorts I can see as sensible is 12-13 with 9 available for tasking. This allows us to service 3 long-range tasks, keep 3 ships in UK waters ready to sail with the RFTG if necessary and have the remaining 3 in transit, leave, maintenance, etc. This means the RFTG can be supplemented by the three on-task ships in 1-2 months and leaves the other three to sustain a supply line to the fleet.

    This has the effect of providing NOTHING to defend the UK or the SSBNs if we’re called down south or into the Indian Ocean :-(

    It also means that T26 needs to have 32 x VLS :-)

  393. mickp

    @Simon, fair analysis, the lowest number of high end escorts I would have envisaged was 15 anyway so I was not proposing anything too drastic

    It seems the consensus is that 19 high end escorts is a good (and sufficient) number to support a 2 CVF fleet going forward – a few more would be nice to have, but there are either more pressing claims for funds across all the services. Personally I’d rather have 2 more Astute than more DD/FFs to get the line really slick before we cut steel for successor and they are a very effective (albeit not visible) power projection tool.

    So i come full circle in my thinking, and back to Repulses original ‘top 5 list’ that irrespective of why these OPV(H) are being built it seems we end up with three ships that are too good for fisheries work but not quite good enough for much else. I come down to two questions:

    Is there anything that reasonably could or should be done in terms of enhanced kit to allow them to be used as originally alluded to in the PR, ie outside EEZ work, as an addition to the 19 DDs / FFs, and retaining the existing Rivers / Clyde. Or should we just leave them as they are, get them built, replace the Rivers and move onto T26?

    Putting this batch of three aside, does the BAE 90m OPV provide a decent basis to develop as a platform for future remote systems / UAVs, in essence meeting the MHPC concept, rather than some of the more exotic Black Swan ideas or Venators – its tried and tested so its just kit to develop rather than platform

  394. The Other Chris

    Leave them as they are, replace the Rivers and move onto T26 I think.

    They probably are more capable than needed for the purely fisheries protection style role, however the commonality of systems with T23, HMS Clyde and the upcoming T26 has advantages of their own beyond ease of logistics and training (e.g. more RN personnel with exposure to these systems). As APATS and others are pointing out, capability can still be added with relatively small changes such as LMM/FASG(W) mounts.

    The capability does mean that we can be more confident of deploying the OPV(H) for a variety of tasks both locally, remote and relatively rapidly. Note the vessels are on a par with most nations vessels in the Caribbean, and we use them for fisheries! We must be seen in a similar light to the UK using perfectly safe drinking water to bathe in!

    I also think the River-class have quite handsome lines about them. Good-looks are important :)

    Longer term, the lack of a covered work area (“hangar/mission deck” for want of a better description) is a weakness for me, however if you compare and contrast the larger Khareef-class you can see the shared design heritage. I’m not advocating Khareef, only that the BAE 90m OPV isn’t a million miles away from a covered working area.

    I quite like the idea of fewer, larger vessels for an MHC program (note the loss of the ‘P’ with these River replacements) similar to TD’s SIMMS series of articles when the Hunts, Sandowns and Echo’s are up for replacement, though I think selecting a full ice-breaker or even just a high-rated ice-strengthened platform should be considered with the Arctic opening up and the Antarctic increasingly on the agenda over the coming years.

    The vision is: The UK may no longer be everywhere at once, but if we are there we’re highly effective. “Authoritative” and “Credible” wherever we are, to quote Zambellas’.

    Here’s a link to Beedall’s official OPV(H) page which was the HMS Clyde program for background reading:


  395. Red Trousers

    Did we actually need that £350m spending on boats that no one really knows what to do with, or was the TOBA a really shite deal negotiated by myopic civil servants?

    I’d take the cost out of their pensions, remove their citizenship and tell them to knob off somewhere foreign.

  396. mickp

    @TOC, I agree, they all look good

    Let’s optimistically hope they can be retained alongside the Rivers and use the hulls at least as contingency when we are stretched.

    A question I asked yesterday was on the Albions. Assuming Ocean goes when we get the two CVFs and assuming we keep Albions to end of life, replaced in the future by two more flexible LHDs (which seems to be the consensus and with with I agree), is there anything we could or should be doing to make the Albions more useful. When operating with CVF, they are probably fine, but could for example they have a beefed up defensive armament (CAAM) and a modest Hanger modification to allow say 3 merlins (or a combo of merlins and lynx / apache) to be housed which would allow them to be more utility independent of CVF and possibly a first response platform to mini military and humanitarian crises (looking for a bit of DFID funding in there!) .

  397. The Other Chris


    It’s definitely a make-work in the absence of planned work, yes.

    I’ll leave others to argue if it’s necessary/cash-neutral/waste, though you can almost view the TOBA as a Retainer over a multi-year relationship.

    They’re coming, we may as well make the most of them and see what we can get out of the whole design process as well.

  398. Challenger


    I personally think that if MARS SSS gets what has been claimed (large flight-deck, hangar for 3 Merlin’s, boat davits and a rear ramp) when it finally arrives then it will be perfect for humanitarian relief and the sort of ‘mini military’ stuff you have in mind.

    If we accept that Albion/Bulwark are going to spend the vast majority of their time in company with QE/PoW then i don’t think adding a hangar is the best use of resources. Same goes for CAMM if we assume that a T45 will be thrown into the mix.

    In fact speeding up MARS SSS and getting at least 3 of them into the water would be near the top of my list of priorities.

  399. Red Trousers


    If it boils down to HMG needs to give BAE £350m (which it does), then it should have spent the £350m on something useful, not boats as written in the TOBA. Basically, a contract is something that both parties can agree to renegotiate. If HMG had said something like “we want Hawks, or wagons, or ISTAR kit, not boats” BAE would not say no.

  400. The Other Chris

    Ahh, I see what you’re getting at. Impression given is MOD and BAE need to preserve the ship building skills specifically.

  401. All Politicians are the Same


    Actually they would ask you who is going to pay their workforce until T26 comes online because that is what they are using this money for. we are simply employing them usefully. your idea only works if BAE can stop paying their shipbuilding division until T26 work and still have them available.
    Think about it.

    As for those who do not think they are useful, probably the most neglected area of UK Defence is our own back yard, we have a pretty poor excuse for a customs force and really rely upon tasking of RN vessels in home waters. If we use these 3 OPVs to replace the rivers and give the Rivers to the CG/Customs then they get a major step up in capability as does the RN.

  402. IXION

    Are the rivers warn out?

    They are simple ships, built ruggedly i understand.

    They are not that old either.

    Does this represent an increase in capability by expanding the fleet by 3 or are the rivers bound for, say, Bangladesh?

  403. Red Trousers


    for a start, I don’t think we need any more boats at all, whether OPVs or T26s. Make do with what you have got, because the Andrew is pretty irrelevant at best and not worth spending money upon. Secondly, it matters cock all to me whether any boats are built in the UK by BAE, or somewhere abroad by a different company.

  404. mickp

    @challenger – fair point but only IF we get the SSSs, and I agree should get a move on. The DFID could fund a 4th to replace Argus as a PCRS / humanitarian ship!

    @APATs – great suggestion re Customs and the Rivers. They have a few cutters but as you say they are beneath the radar in spend and focus. In fact I had wondered if fisheries / customs / borders should all come under one ‘border’ remit, with the Rivers and customs cutters combined

  405. Simon

    I would have thought that we’d only deploy Albion/Bulwark as part of the RFTG or just for training. As part of the RFTG we do not need more hangar space (there’s a fair bit int CVF). For training operations then I would have expected other vessels to contribute air assets. These might be Bay, Rotterdam, or some frigates.

    If I were the MoD I’d turn one of the Bays into a PCRS leaving two untouched to supplement the active LPD when needed. The modified bay then only needs a hangar (like the one on HMAS Choules) for a single medicopter. It could use vessels in the dock to move more patients a little slower.

    I’ve also been thinking about crewing and was wondering what people think to the idea of having two crews of around 600 but cycle them such that they spend some of their time on the active carrier and some of their time on the active LPD. That way they’d get better all-round training and understanding of relevant operations, we keep a core dual-carrier crew and could then deliver 600 on CVF + 2 x 300 on both LPDs when the proverbial hits the fan?

  406. Observer

    Ouch RT, that’s really going to set the meows among the pigeons.

    I can see someone asking for the army to be cut soon because the UK are islands. :)

  407. All Politicians are the Same

    @ Observer

    Naghh the best way to deal with a childish tantrum is to ignore them.

  408. The Other Chris

    USAF modifying their RQ-4 Global Hawk contract with Northrop Grumman.

    They’re adding three Block 30M aircraft to be fitted with the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) and an additional two ASIP packages to be retrofitted to existing aircraft:


    ASIP is the same equipment fitted to the U-2S which replaced the Senior Glass SIGINT/ELINT packages.



  409. Not a Boffin

    Those agitating for a hangar on the LPD have clearly never been near one. There is no room. Anywhere. UNless you fancy going to a single spot with limited SHOL.

    While SSS is beginning to stir again, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for all the bells and whistles, because there is very little money. It’s highly unlikely to have any of the JSBL features (ramps / docks etc) because it’s been decided that Perce is ” pretty irrelevant at best and not worth spending money upon”.

    On crew rotation, what you really need is people who’ve firstly been on the relevant courses for the bits of kit and / or departments they’ll be working on/in, so the only bits it might ever work between LPD and QE are where kit and / or departmental function are common (probably WE and CIS branches and some of the onboard logs). However, that doesn’t allow for shore tours (let alone base port!), career progression and won’t fix the likely major shortfalls which are stokers and (later on), air engineers and handlers. LPD has no real AE department and very limited Air department. Literally a handful of billets as opposed to the low hundreds you need for QE.

    In any case, it isn’t a pure numbers game, it’s a retention in the right trades and career zones game, which is why all varieties of engineer (WE, CIS, Air and stoker) are in increasingly short supply.

  410. Simon


    Is there a rough breakdown of per-department/branch crewing numbers for the LPD and CVF?

    …basically only for my own sanity because I don’t know what many of the TLAs you used mean and would have expected the main guts of ship engineering, general life support, maintenance and management to be similar.

    Is it not a reasonable assumption that the 325 or so LPD crew are not similar to 325 of the ones on CVF? Leaving a further 354 on CVF to represent the carrier-only requirements and to boost the “service” branches to cater for double the total berths and double the engineering requirement?

    I suppose the above is based on my assumption that it is the EMF that do all the LCVP/LCU movements.

  411. monkey

    @C Fawthrop
    “How did RT get above Private?”
    He didn’t need too, he went to Sandhurst straight away ,from there on in plain sailing , scratch that , driving :-)

  412. Not a Boffin

    Of course there’s a breakdown, but you can’t get your hands on it – sanity or not!

    Here’s a little clue. Have a look at the ME on LPD. Some nice Wartsila diesels of a similar type, a PMS made by L3, some electric motors of a different type to those on QE, an electrical dist system that works at 4.2kV, whereas QE works at 11kV. There are also GTs to deal with on QE and a different PMS. We haven’t even dealt with the other system yet. You can’t just swap folk between those seamlessly, particularly in the mid-career levels.

    Same goes for the WE. Yes, they’ll both eventually have 997, but QE has S1850M as well. The comms systems will tend to be similar, but the CMS may not.

    And most importantly, your idea that you can just send someone gangplank to gangplank is one reason why retention is a major issue for the RN today.

  413. Simon


    “…your idea that you can just send someone gangplank to gangplank is one reason why retention is a major issue for the RN today.”

    Are you saying that from the perspective of retention it is a bad idea to give people the opportunity to “flit” from ship-to-ship? I’d have thought that was something many would like the idea of – even if it is potentially bad for the RN as a whole.

    Are RN crew therefore “honed” to a ship, rather than a system (997, S1850M, 16V 32E, MT30) or concept (radar, diesel, GT)?

  414. Red Trousers

    C Fawthrop,

    No Privates in the Cavalry. Troopers. I was one for about 4 months, on something called an O Type engagement. Still recall my Troop Corporal inspecting me one morning on parade, plucking a hair from his moustache, putting it up to my nose and saying “Morning Red Trousers, met the wife?”. Then jailing me for laughing. ;)

    APATS, are we on the first or second phase of windup?

  415. All Politicians are the Same


    Unsure; I just have not the time for any phase :) Trying to get ready for my NFL Fantasy League Draft (far too much time working with Americans) apparently it is an honour to be asked but hell it is bloody complex. Watched Kevin Costner in draft day last night but still well short of inspiration.

  416. Not a Boffin


    I’m not going to explain the branch and manning structure to you (nor am I qualified to do so in detail). Suffice to say you haven’t understood what I meant by gangplank to gangplank drafts or what effect it has on retention. Or being qualified to operate or maintain naval equipment.

    The manning issues in the RN are serious and unlikely to be ameliorated by “flitting” between anything.

  417. Foolish dreamer

    A couple of points… First post as well…

    Please excuse my ignorance but do you think the RN will look at the BAE rail gun developed for the USN for any of its new ships. Looks impressive and appears to be low cost.

    My other point is to Chris about the Fairy Rotordyne, I agree what a great design. No place in civil aircraft market but surely has great military potential. If you consider advances in turbo prop engines, propeller design and rotors surely this could be something worth looking at…

    Chinook though brilliant will need to be replaced sometime…

  418. WiseApe

    Perhaps we could spend the £350 million getting our ship designers to design FRES. At least it might be amphibious!

    Welcome aboard Foolish dreamer – the rail guns will have to wait on our new cruisers.

  419. DavidNiven

    Considering we have to pay Raytheon over £200 million in compensation for a failed IT project, I don’t see a problem in paying to keep some skills going. I’m sure the Navy or other government department will find use for the OPV’s.


    Home Office ordered to pay £224m to e-Borders firm

  420. Jonathan


    Not putting words in some else’s mouth but I think NaB is suggesting the RN would have the same problem moving/rotating staff around as the health service or any other knowledge based organisation. It’s fine rotate junior/new staff to give them a taster experience of other areas and some of the basic qualifications. But when you get to your core experienced staff and experts it becomes problematic. Academic studies would suggest that in most demanding technical and professional disciplines it takes a basic practitioner 5 years to become an expert at their job, if you move them away to a different area or even promote them they become a novice again and take another five years to become an expert. This is why an expert consultant knee surgeon will only ever be that, and and expert A+E charge nurse is unlikely to move to ITU. Its a principle that works for all professions including navel engineers.

    So all you do by rotating experienced/ expert staff to other areas is murder your expert skill base and upset your experts who have now become novices.

  421. ArmChairCivvy

    Is that what has been done… To create the crisis? There has been no extractive industriies boom here (that incentivised engineers to move, and left the RAN in a position where they had to head hunt from the RN)

    Or what isgoing on here? You have service that provides both training and relative job security, in an envijronment where most other emloyers have been hard pressed to do anyhting of the kind?

  422. James Bolivar DiGriz

    “ain’t the US Coast Guard’s cutters frigate weight in displacement?”
    The National Security Cutter is (according to Wikipedia) 4,500 long tons (4,600 t) and 418 feet (127 m) in length.

    Numerous mentions of FRE, TAPS (or TAPs) and Black Swan.

    I tracked down two of them but failed with TAPS (or TAPs). Can someone enlighten me?

  423. Peter Elliott

    Few organisations react well to being downsized. The pressure is always on to take the financial savings as quickly as possible and often too little attention is paid to the recruitment and skills pipeline.

    It is notoriously difficult to hit staffing targets spot on. People are individuals and just don’t react in predictable ways. The only way to ensure not being understaffed is to shoot for being slightly overstaffed. And however many people you need to reduce by never ever turn off the pipeline: it takes far longer than you ever think to get it flowing freely again. Look at how the USCG is dealing with a downsizing issue: they are hiring some of their surplus engineers to the RN. If it turns out they got their staffing forecast wrong and more people leave than they expected they will be glad they did. Next time we have a surplus of skilled people maybe we could hire them to the US, Australian and Canadian navies to help them through their skills pinch points? Then if it goes tits up at home becuase more people walked than we expected at least we still have a contingency to fall back on.

    Allowing a modest short term overspend or looking creatively at how to run numbers down gently can save you much bigger costs in the future in terms of retention bonuses, expensive performance failures, increased training and advertising spends etc. But depending on where power lies on the organisation the decision makers may not allow this degree of common sense to prevail. Especially when there are short term savings targets to be hit. Back to the old chestnut of MoD budgets: flexibility and contingency. Lets hope the lesson has been learned.

  424. Peter Elliott

    Not an expert but I understand the following meanings:

    FRE = Fleet Ready Escort

    A fully worked up ship that is kept in home waters in case the Russians come calling or something else urgent happens.

    TAPS = Towed Array Patrol Ship

    Bimbles around the North Atlantic keeping an eye on what various peoples submarines are up to.

    Black Swan Sloop = a concept for a RN surface ship that is less well armed than a Frigate but is able to do presence and humanitarian type tasks and host mission specific off board systems. The present 1SL seems not to be a fan. The downside always is the budget for such a ship and its crew would have to come from cutting existing budget lines.

  425. Simon


    Towed Array Patrol Ship


    I appreciate what you’re saying but your knee surgeon can work in multiple hospitals (ships), but would struggle if people had different knees (MT30, WR21) – so best to keep the knees the same and create component level commonality within the system (ship).

    The other point is something fundamental about human nature and that is the natural monotony of doing what you’re great at all the time: The phrase “a change is as good as a break” doesn’t exist for nothing. If you want to keep a fine mind in tune you have to challenge it.

    PE et al,

    If the RN are having to offer £8000 a year to keep their engineers from slipping off into the land of the civvies then I’d suggest they are guilty of seeing the position at threat through remuneration. I think that this goes back to another fundamental thing about human nature and the idea of pride (national prowess), which we are forever losing. I can’t possibly list the reasons why someone might join the Navy, Air Force or Army (because I didn’t) but I would suggest that a desire to do something greater than the average man might be some of it… playing with cool toys and not having to do a 9-5 job are others ;-)

    I’ve always felt uneasy about the change in crew quarters on T45 and CVF. They’re having to attract people by changing the whole ethos of everyone “mucking in” to make Britain great. I put this down to the fact that people simply are not interested in seeing the World (they can do that with a bit of money nowadays), they’re not interested in making Britain great (they are mostly ignorant, lazy or more interested in sending money home to sunnier climes).

    Add to this the fact that the UK has less weight/momentum in the World therefore has to learn to “change” quickly as it no longer calls the shots. Process, politics, rules and bullheaded stubbornness make this a problem. The UK will be left behind until it “crashes” and has to reinvent itself.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all doom and gloom, but without going back to basic moral education I think we’re heading down the swanny.

  426. Peter Elliott

    Adventure and seeing the world is well and good in your 20s. But once past 30 and especially if acquiring family people do need more work/life balance. So if it isn’t a cultural cataclysm (sorry Simon) what has changed?

    Maybe with lean manned ships we have a narrower skills pyramid these days? Comparatively fewer junior seamen now compared to the number of critical expert roles? So the proportion of juniors needed to stay on and grow into the future experts becomes much higher than in days of yore. What in former years would have been an acceptble ‘natural’ wastage rate would now be serious problem?

  427. El Sid

    Couple of significant changes – the rise of the two-income family makes it harder for people to move around, and harder for WAGs to run a family on their own for six months, so there’s pressure for RN personnel to get a proper job where they’re at home occasionally. Also parents are having babies much later, when they are further into their careers and so harder to replace.

    There’s also been a big change in the average skill level of the RN’s employees. If you’re a minimum wage-type unskilled worker, then shovelling coal on a battleship was a better bet than many of the alternatives so you put up with 6 month trips away from home. The RN is now much more white-collar than it was 20 years ago, and electronic engineers and software people have many more options that don’t involve 6 months away, and often better paid. Plus we’re generally short of those kinds of people in the first place, see how the likes of RR have put engineering centres overseas citing a skills shortage in the UK. We were never short of people who could shovel coal. Even the more blue-collar people are in demand from oil rigs where you’re only away for a month, and these days they will think it’s no big deal to go to the Gulf or West Africa in a way that happened far less in the past, partly thanks to Skype/iPlayer etc making it easier to stay in touch with home.

  428. Simon

    There is only one reason there is an engineering skill shortage in the UK.

    HMG did not value technical engineers in the 80s. They wanted financial wizz-kids to line their pockets.

    They’re now paying the price.

    Stupid thing is that they’re not even agile enough to realise how to fix the problem and since they can only fix it for our children they couldn’t give a monkey’s because they are short-term-ist, money-grabbing, career politicians.

  429. monkey

    @El Sid
    Perhaps recruiting has become problematic due to the length of our recent history, we are on 10years plus now for each operation. Yes NI had gone on for far longer but that was defending UK citizens from the local over sponsored nutters be they from what ever side they came. We used to have the Big Red Menace to scare our children with but no longer the threat of impending Red Hordes sweeping over the South Downs. Things have changed we have become detached from events , take the intransigence of some on this site regarding putting boots on ground to escort innocents from murder , rape , forced marriages , child …. need I spell it out . The armed forces perhaps need to change they way they recruit in terms of what they can offer to a recruit , free university after your spell of duty then back in with an incentive to return on completion. Do the forces still subsidize private education for forces offspring? We need to draw in career people knowing at the end of their 22 they will have a hefty pension and a skill set second to none with the UK gov giving preference to exiting service personnel to posts in the police, border force, coast guard , NHS etc.

  430. mike wheatley

    @ Simon,
    not just HMG – the corporate structure does not value engineers either.

    There are two big problems:
    (1) Performance Metrics. These only capture what you were smart enough to think of when you designed them. The managers who design them don’t really understand the engineering jobs, so the metrics are always slightly faulty. Since time is finite, an engineer who does what the company needs, as opposed to that the metrics specify, ends up being penalised, and eventually gives up and stops doing it. So the skill of the engineer to serve the company ends up being capped by the engineering skill of whoever wrote the metrics.

    (2) Globalisation. Especially in software, someone in India (etc) can transmit their engineering over here, and those engineers only have to meet the living expenses and education expenses of India (etc.) which are way less than in the UK.

  431. wf

    @Simon: HMG had precious little to do with shortages or otherwise of engineers. Speaking as a 90’s engineering graduate, the money on offer from the City compared to engineering companies, you would have to be nuts to choose the latter. Engineering jobs relied on supposed “prestige” while treating engineers like shit. Two friends of mine went to Rolls Royce: one with a 2:1 in Engineering Maths, one with a 2:2 in English to work in HR. Both were paid the same, despite a shortage of engineers and a surplus or admin staff: apparently RR wanted to run a fucking hippy commune :-(

    Our failure is to assume the “government” is to blame for this, thereby absolving the companies of the responsibility. Next time you hear whining about how they can’t recruit, suggest they pay their engineers more. If they won’t, there’s plenty of City firms and IT consultancies that will.

  432. mike wheatley

    @ El-Sid

    That reminds me of the fall of the Venetian navy.
    Often this is miss-attributed to deforestation, but they loved portraits of their country homes, and those show that the region was still fully forested.
    Actually, the fall of Venice was because its navy was based on professional oarsmen in its galleys – as opposed to slaves. These guys could fight, and that significantly increased the number of soldiers on their ships.
    But with the Renaissance, the classes that would previously have considered a career in the navy, now had much better jobs available elsewhere. (Also, the development of larger galleys made the advantage of combattant oarsmen steadily less.)
    So a skills shortage coupled with new technologies that allowed its slave-rich and money-rich neighbours to overcome the skills advantage that Venice relied upon.

  433. wf

    @mike wheatley: performance metrics are indeed an issue with older companies. Stack racking was brought in my company a few months ago, and it’s poison to engineer recruitment and retention. However, people like me can always move :-)

    People talk about globalisation a lot, but it’s surprising how little it works in practice: the number of firms I know who “outsourced to India” and then found themselves bringing it all back a year later is quite remarkable. Now that Chinese and Indian wages are rapidly getting higher, the incentives are getting smaller too

  434. Chris

    Simon – I think the problem predates the yuppie bubble, but certainly the various governments have not helped engineering. This evening there was a repeat of the Jet! TV documentary, in which it followed the cliff-edge decline from the worlds most advanced civilian airliner producer at the beginning of the 60s to a dumb purchaser of Boeing jets by the mid 70s. Fifteen years to go from absolute leader to nothing. Think what income a sound aviation sector would have brought in from exports – and yet the Gov’t sat back and watched as it all fell to bits, no doubt muttering between gulps of fine brandy that “someone ought to have done something”.

    Even now though engineers are treated as lesser professionals. My brother in law is a chartered surveyor, I am a chartered engineer; in his profession those at chartered level expect and get paid approximately 2.5x that of the highest rates an equivalent engineer could get. He can’t believe how little companies are prepared to pay for engineering expertise. Similarly several engineers I worked with in the past moved over to programme management because a) the work is nowhere near as taxing and b) companies pay the programme managers much more than the engineers. How strange that companies should be moaning that there’s a shortage of engineers then – serves the skinflints right that their product development is falling behind that of competitors abroad who value and reward their engineers better.

    So its not all down to government. Look around Europe and you see the professional engineers respected and paid at similar levels to doctors and barristers, over here engineers are sneered at as spanner-wielding grease-monkeys and paid accordingly.

  435. Simon

    Doesn’t help that many people think a “mechanic” is an “engineer”.

    Go fix that engine with that spanner and that book of instructions Mr Mechanic…

    Go make physics a reality and design/construct me a 5,00kg jet fighter Mr Engineer…

  436. jim

    I agree almost entirely with Chris. I hold a degree in Electronic Engineering, but after leaving the Infantry as a Captain (yes, I know, interesting career choice) I became a Programme Manager at RR. My salary was equivalent to that of a lead engineer. Now, 5 years further into my career I happily out earn all the engineers I work with, but whilst working just as hard, I don’t believe my work is as skilled – more about ‘encouragement’ and Gantt Charts.

    In contrast, I have a close friend who works in retail, and his Salary is not far off £1/4 ofa Million, and he admits it’s all down to chat.

  437. IXION

    It is cultural.

    The UK has been THE home of academic snobbery for centuries.

    We have university system (at Oxbridge) that values English History Languages yada yada, over mechanical and civil engineering. our public schools are the same. They may teach excellent science and maths, but I wonder how many of the pupils at Eaton, Rugby, Winchester etc go to the careers master and say “I want to be an engineer”?

    Our leaders (and not just the political ones) go to Oxbridge all other universities are for Greasy Oiks.

    IT has ever been thus and will ever be thus.

    ALL the great engineering giants of the industrial revolution were self taught or provincially schooled. There is reason why the great engineering schools of the later revolution were in the north.

    Its got bugger all to do with Tory and labour, Tony Benn or Tony Blair. It is the massive cultural snobbery of the English.

  438. Chris

    I have in the past just for fun designed a building or two; sort of what-if projects. Even if I were to find out all there is to know on the subject, to teach myself everything the modern profession understands and expects, I could not be called an Architect because the law stipulates only those that have been educated, mentored and qualified in accordance with RIBA rules may be an architect.* I believe there are similar restrictions on the use of Doctor, Professor, Judge etc. Not sure about military titles. But it is entirely possible my rubbish is collected by a Refuse Disposal Engineer. Certainly anyone doing anything vaguely repair oriented will proclaim themselves engineers.

    There is of course a broad spectrum of capabilities; I have two old cars, one simple 60s machine, one complicated 90s one. I use different garages if work is needed beyond that which I’m prepared to do at home, and in each case the owners of the garages are hands-on mechanics but have learned a great deal about the engineering involved, and understand what modifications are possible, which would work well, which would cause problems and so on. Their diagnosis capabilities are sharp too. So while these individuals have learned by experience they approach their work with the same sort of mindset as would a career engineer. If the Institutions declared the title Engineer to be reserved only for those who followed the academic route in accordance with their rules then the ability to use experience and curiosity as tools to become a highly skilled engineer would be destroyed. This may not be a good idea; many of the best engineers I have worked with have followed this more practical career route and their talents often outshine those that had many formal academic qualifications. Curiously of all professions, engineering is the one least suited to an education based on learning in depth what was known to be true 20 years before – it needs people that think of different ways to do things; ways not tried before; ways that are not part of any syllabus. Engineers do need a sound foundation of domain knowledge (from teaching or experience) but mostly they need to imagine better ways of using the available technology.

    Look at the stars in engineering advances – Watt was an instrument maker, George Stevenson illiterate until the age of 18 but had an inventing streak – his miner’s lamp caused an IP battle with Davy who had designed a similar device, with the Davy camp dismissing Stevenson’s invention as a fraudulent copy because he wasn’t educated enough thus not adequately intelligent to design such a thing. Stevenson went on to create railways despite being viewed by the establishment as incapable and his son Robert went on to dramatically improve steam engine design. Brunel was taught basic engineering by his father and apprenticed as a clockmaker, subsequently leaning engineering by experience. After a few inventors had tried and failed, the first practical refrigeration system as used in domestic and commercial refrigerators was built by James Harrison, a British journalist who had emigrated to Australia – so says Wiki so it must be true. The inventor of the Stirling Engine was a minister of the church. Formally educated engineers have also made good – Whittle with the Jet engine, Watson-Watt with radar, Tommy Flowers with digital computing as examples, but engineering advances are by no means solely the preserve of academia qualified professional engineers.

    A difficult nut to crack then – left to institutions only those that have lots of academic qualifications would be allowed to be called engineers. I dare say someone with no imagination whatsoever could pass enough tests to qualify, but would never make a ground-breaking engineer. So legal protection of the term may not be in the best interests of the country. Filed patents to their name? Patents are very expensive and often submitted by companies under whichever employees name they feel appropriate. Maybe not. Papers published? A bit rubbish for those in the classified defence arena, and more companies these days worry about security of IP so that may not be a good measure either. Public awareness? Useless – I would expect the average citizen to be able to name four engineers at most, the likes of Watt Brunel and Issigonis?

    Is it any wonder that Engineering is not a high status profession in the UK?

    *Interesting to note most of the designers of buildings lauded as wonderful architecture by RIBA would not have been allowed to call themselves Architects in the UK. A fact RIBA does not dwell upon.

  439. The Other Chris

    Solution is to define an “Engineer” with the consortium of appropriate, preferably chartered, bodies and then ePetition to force a parliamentary debate with the support of the bodies members.

  440. Not a Boffin

    “Shame. I’d suggest that, as ever, the RN (by courtesy of HMG) has made a rod for its own back. But hey, let’s not do anything radical to fix it. Just bury our head in the sand and hope the problem sorts itself.”

    People far more conversant with the issue than you or I will ever be are currently trying (hard) to address it. It won’t be solved by petulance when a proposal initially aimed at running an LPD and a carrier turn and turn about and nothing to do with retention is exposed to practical realities. Even less so when that initial proposal is then suddenly presented as some sort of miracle cure for skills shortage and retention, based on a self-confessed lack of knowledge.

    Same issues apply to crab air as well.

  441. Topman

    This has been going around for years, for all sorts of reasons this particular job title isn’t and in all likelyhood will never be protected. I think the energy spent in going round and round in circles would perhaps best spent elsewhere.

  442. All Politicians are the Same

    Retention is an issue at certain levels and in certain areas across all three services. I would love to see the figures of people who applied for redundancy but were knocked back during the cuts.
    A very good friend of mine is leading up a new Submarine manpower retention study beginning next week.

  443. Topman

    ‘Same issues apply to crab air as well.’

    Yep, most of the issues you’ve covered would be mirrored in my mob. Likewise people are slowly turning it around, although some it is tied in with NEM.

  444. All Politicians are the Same


    They may have been somewhere but cannot find it. Not that those figures are relevant as I know several (so there must be many more) who were told by their Career Managers to forget about applying as they would be wasting their time,

  445. DavidNiven

    Interesting little article

    Chinese military’s ability to wage war eroded by graft, its generals warn


    RE Retention,

    It’s been happening for decades, the Army had a big problem with retention in the mid 90’s and I recall the Light Blue did as well, with specific trades being worked harder than others. Don’t know what the Dark Blue situation was like at the time, was it similar? some of the trades in the service were worked hard as well specifically Sea King crews in the Balkans etc.