Fancy a Job Frank?

Taking the F35’s problems aside for a moment, have a look at this clip from the US Armed Forces Sub Committee during which Congressman Frank LoBiondo goes off script and switches RANT MODE on for a few minutes.

Compare and contrast to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee.

With the MoD currently living in denial about several major equipment programmes perhaps we need more of Frank and less of James.


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paul g
March 26, 2010 11:05 pm

now’s there’s a fella who could’ve been handy at the iraq inquiry, blair,brown and my personnal favourite (buff) hoon getting a grilling from him!
good to see someone growing a pair and challenging the “it’s a big firm they can afford it” attitude from defence contractors (not all of them i hasten to add)

J Waller
March 27, 2010 1:04 am

I guess that the F35 should be less hi-tech. I have been stating in some recent posts, that if the the new QE class aircraft carriers were smaller, the french may have already proceeded with their derivative, and maybe we could’ve have jointly built one with India instead of them currently creating their own 40,000 ton carrier indigenously. We could then buy some F35b this decade and some f35a next decade for the raf, as we don’t need loads of f35s this decade. Also we may not be getting a HMS Ocean direct replacement because of these oversized carriers. Maybe there could’ve been a class of 3 smaller QEs with the third commissioned in the 2020s with landing craft capacity as a replacement for Ocean.

March 27, 2010 2:52 am

I agree with Paul Nice to see someone growing a pair and challenging the pact of silence between the involved parties but he isn’t going to change anything alone and there are not many who matter saying the same thing. Until Sec Def Gates and other senior figures are out of the way the F-35 cannot be killed or anything done to improve the situation the death spiral has already begun only a major change can stop it.

The QE class carriers are not oversized they are the size they are for some very sound reasons and they cost so much thanks to stupid politics such as delaying the build and changing the design so many times. The French actually want a slightly larger ship than the QE design around 10k tons larger in displacement although this could be explained by a better equipment fit. If they really wanted a second carrier and could afford it they would have made a move by now either a CVF derivative or a CdG derivative. With the current state of the F-35B with smaller carriers we would either be having fixed wing naval aviation or we would not. If the F-35B works then yes the argument of smaller carriers such as the Spanish Juan Carlos design or the derivative Canberra class hold water but with a dead F-35B they are limited to rotary wing aviation.

J Waller
March 27, 2010 5:59 am

Euan, I wish you could read into my carrier comments more. I know the financial problems of the last 2 years have severely affected budgets, but I really really think that a smaller QE/PAV2 would have been more sensible from the outset.

Everyone says how procurement is a real mess, and I think that is very very true.
What do you think should be affected by budget cuts in the mod, from the sounds not the QEs at all? A procurement project has to be affected.

paul g
March 27, 2010 11:02 am

spot on about the CVF euan, any smaller and it would be just another open space for cocktail parties while we wait for our F35’s (a handful if the price keeps going up).
I believe the french went 10k tonnes higher as they want the catapult facility for the rafale (ie options) and need the extra space if the electric catapult system doesn’t come into fruition. Not an expert being a landlubber (tracks and rotors were my postings)!!

J Waller
March 27, 2010 11:59 am

More money should be spent on supporting Afghanistan to the detriment of high-end RN procurement and some RAF high-end procurement. If this was the plan a decade ago, Afghanistan and everything to do with it would be much better now. Many people agree with that sentiment.

Ultimately I believe we have to go green and sustainable asap. Stop this throwaway society. Let’s do the lifestyle things that we know are completely advantageous. Lets efficiently produce much more of our food in this country. Lets not be product and entertainment serivce, satisfaction led. Lets stop unrestrained growth. Lets have better family planning. Ultimately we need to eat good efficiently and sustainably Uk produced food. Stop growing and re-use our materials much more. Lets harvest the native organic world much more.

The most important concepts for our civilisation on this planet are sustainability and within this is over-population, massive population growth. Therefore not economic growth and GDP but gross domestic happiness. People will and are consequently suffering in huge amounts due to starvation, conflicts, environmental and mental hardship. Most problems on this planet are the consequences of sustainability not being understood by anyone (really).
Although many people are very aware of and understand how we can eventually assimilate ourselves into a sustainable natural world (planet Earth). There is an enormous wealth of knowledge of sustainable practices, technologies, retro-fitting of our built and completely human transformed world and healthier, happier lifestyles.
We can stop reducing the sustainability of human technological existence, by learning the enormous amount of information out there that can easily allow us to follow the sustainable and best way forward. The only ultimate goal being sustainability, to assimilate ourselves into the Earth system (the natural world), which is completely achievable eventually.

Possibly we can restore the aqtmospheric oxygen production and consumption imbalance in 100 years. In the current trend, we will eventually run out of atmospheric oxygen in a few thousand years or inevitably longer. There is only one way forward to best prevent and stop suffering now and in the future.
Please become aware of these most and the only underlying important issues.

March 27, 2010 1:00 pm

I believe you are veering off-base there JW.

Re: the carriers –

From reading Richard Beedal’s site for many years i am quite confident making the following statements:

1) the carrier was endlessly re-designed, both because of political pressure to keep the size-down, and from the desire to maintain three platforms, and every time the study came saying that ~65k tonnes was the sweet spot. the carrier design is the best it can be.

2) at the time, given the stated ambitions of SDR98 it was absolutely correct that carriers were deemed necessary, just as was the strategic deterrent, and just as was the ability to stage theatre level operations out of area. if the army hass suffered in afghanistan it is not because the airforce or the navy have been hogging the funds, it is because labour never funded SDR98. it is that simple.

now we come to today, talking about what we should do tomorrow, and this is done in the knowledge of a huge deficit, a recession, and ten years of chronically underfunding the strategic ambition of the armed forces, and i am equally confident in saying:

3) a budget of %2.1 of GDP, as a fixed sum that is unlikely to grow for the next decade makes SDR98 utterly untenable, worse, pretending to keep SDR98 or even a ‘lite’ version of it will ensure that britain loses any ability to project power in advance of strategic goals. it cannot be afforded.

4. if britain wishes to remain a ‘playa’ then it will have to massively focus its energies to maintain a particular kind of strategic force projection, being a broad spectrum great power is not achievable on 2.1% of GDP, and if you cannot achieve strategic effect in any way then you are no-longer a great power.

5. it is fine for britain not to be a great power, if that is what we want, and under that circumstance keeping a relatively balanced armed force is an option, just so long as you do not believe for a second that it is capable of strategic effect.

6. there are two viable ways in which we can focus the defence budget to keep britain capable of strategic power projection on the current budget; Global Guardian and Strategic Raiding, and there is one further way which preserves major influence at the top table which is the Contributory doctrine.

7. All three of the above are viable, none is the ‘wrong’ choice insomuch as it would relegate britain to a third-rate power, it is merely a question of which of the above you believe is most achievable.


my own personal bias says that:
a) Great Power status is useful, therefore Contributory is less desirable than the other two.
b) State-on-state war is not a thing of the past, therefore Contributory is less desirable than the other two.
c) The public ultimately have to be ok with a war for it to be repeated, and i don’t see any public appetite for more COIN wars after afghanistan peters out, therefore Global Guardian is less desirable than the other two.
d) Strategic Raiding is a capability that no-one else other than France and the US can provide, therefore it is a valuable card-hand in top-table poker stakes.

but that is just my personal bias.

March 27, 2010 1:08 pm

for a more thorough explanation of my views:

Richard Stockley
March 27, 2010 6:24 pm

Frank’s rant may attract a lot of media attention and may cause defence contractors to sit up and listen, but will it make a difference?

Unfortunately not, we hear a lot about changes being made and goal posts moved but its the people who cause them and move them that cause the problems.

The F-35 is a grandiose project, and a lot is expected of it. Unfortunately too much has been committed to it already, like the banks has it become too big to fail?

A lot of the aircraft’s systems are brand new and with that comes a high risk factor. With hindsight perhaps trying to use the same airframe for three different aircraft was asking way too much and now we are suffering the consequences.

What would’ve been so wrong with an F-15 or F-16 rebuilt with a new stealthy fuselage but with all the existing systems? Not perfect, but with a lower risk of failure and the newer systems integrated with successive production blocks.

March 27, 2010 8:41 pm

“What would’ve been so wrong with an F-15 or F-16 rebuilt with a new stealthy fuselage but with all the existing systems? Not perfect, but with a lower risk of failure and the newer systems integrated with successive production blocks.”

Sounds like a naval’ised Gripen NG, which is exactly what has been offered to india.