Thoughts on CVF

As we loom towards the SDSR publication with decisions possibly already made, Scottish politicians are uniting behind it, various English MP’s are uniting behind it, BAe are releasing stories about how much they have already spent and the mainstream media, it would seem, have a series of ‘senior sources in the MoD’ that have as many opinions on the decision as rounds of 5.56mm expended in Afghanistan on a daily basis.

The RN spin machine is being put into high gear, much like the other service spin machines, it must be said.

As soon as you question the CVF you are instantly labelled a Royal Air Force stooge because it’s taken as red that anything anti CVF is automatically a dastardly plot by the RAF to get rid of the Fleet Air Arm.

I hate inter service politics with a vengeance but I do sometimes wonder if it overplayed outside those that are serving, operations have a tendency to drive out politicking and we should give people more credit. It beggars belief to think that the RAF is basing its, and the nations, future plans on the degree by which those plans do in the RN/FAA. Despite this, there are a number of naval biased think tanks, web sites and others that continually make the case for their own service, funnily enough, CVF is always the answer; whatever the question and it is always ‘those other boys’ that should bear the brunt of any cuts, we are a bloody island you know!

To be a ‘CVF denier’ is to attract scorn, especially at Think Defence, given the many eloquent and knowledgeable Andrew that frequent the comments section!

I am going out on a limb here fellas, we have to continually ask; can we justify the expense such a capability. We must be rigorous in looking at everything in defence because however much we would want more money, it is not likely to appear. Wish lists of nice to have equipment that are incongruous with our foreign policy objectives/aspirations and size of the trouser must be eliminated if we are to have a military that is effective for the most likely roles we might ask them to carry out.

Wishing for more money is not a practical strategy, to steal a quotation from the film Bad Santa;

Wish in one hand and shit in the other, see which one fills up first

Before we get into question of aircraft the decision to proceed with CVF has to be justified.

Justifying CVF

The talk today is of small Scale Focussed Interventions and acting in coalition with others for anything else. This is nothing new and has actually been the case since the 1998 SDR.

Given that we have very few overseas territories and there are more economic means of protecting them the decision on CVF then rests on what those contributory capabilities need to look like. We might argue the nature of what a small scale focussed intervention is but what it doesn’t absolutely require is 2x 65k tonne CVF and 150 JCA, the capability is clearly in the optional column.

Therefore, if we proceed with CVF/JCA it is out of choice, not necessity.

If I could turn the clock back I would have selected a smaller scale naval expeditionary air capability more in line with the Spanish and Italian forces. This would still have provided a small scale capability for focussed interventions but would have allowed the allocated funds to be spread across a wider range of defence capabilities but with CVF and JCA so advanced it would be a wasteful decision to cancel now.

The penalty clause issue is often highlighted but this fails to recognise the commercial realities of the UK defence mono culture. It would be a brave politician to cancel the lot now but whilst we are still in the ‘blame it on Labour’ mode it remains a possibility. No matter how much it would waste now, that figure pales into insignificance when measured against the cost of CVF/JCA over the next 40 odd years.

In its favour, CVF will not be a one trick pony, the design is extremely versatile and its significant size increases that versatility to an even greater degree. It will be able to provide outer layer air defence, support embarked forces with close air support, carry out deep strike, ISR and a number of secondary roles such as a helicopter platform, non combatant evacuation and disaster support. Despite the acknowledged all round flexibility of a ship like CVF its supporters sometimes tend to over emphasise usefulness, making spurious claims and dubious comparisons with the RAF.

In seeking to justify CVF, the two fundamental mistakes are in comparing it with others and over stating the issue of host nation support.

‘CVF will put the RN into the first division, only behind the USN’ or other such comments are often heard. Frankly, I don’t care how we compare with anyone; this is not a competition in a pub toilet. We have to measure what capabilities it brings to UK defence.

The second mistake people often make is to confuse the utility of carrier borne air in general terms, usually framed by the USN, with that to be delivered by CVF. The USN and RN are not the same and as soon as we all recognise this, the better. The lynchpin on which the argument for carrier air rests is host nation support. Overfly rights may be denied so access from the sea enables an operation to proceed, fixed air bases are vulnerable to attack so an offshore floating base is the most survivable option.

This makes a number of assumptions, that the over water route will always have overfly rights or not need them and that host nation support is always not available. History tells us that host nation support has been generally available except for a very few instances. There are examples of operations where naval aviation was the only option but they are limited and this might be an inconvenient truth but it is a truth nevertheless.

What carrier delivered fast air provides is short duration, early entry air power and organic area air defence. As operations progress, land basing generally becomes more established and ground based aircraft closer to the area of operations become the most efficient means of delivering air power. Many operations have a deliberate build up phase as the necessary political pieces are slotted into position, this means time for land based air power to deploy and establish.

Many carrier operations will also require support from land based aircraft, ISR and AAR for example.

The RAF have shown they can deploy in numbers and sustain operations, we might seek to improve this of course but the facts remain, the RAF has a comprehensive expeditionary capability.

The reality is this…

Land and carrier based fast air is complimentary, it is not an either or argument and should not be presented as such.

I am a supporter of carrier aviation but I like to think I can view it dispassionately and without bias.

There is a strong case for CVF but I am concerned about its impact across the naval and wider defence budget and this leads me down the road of maximising capability whilst minimising cost.

One or Two

I have heard many people say they would rather have none than only 1 CVF but this seems to be an irrational argument given that the capability for force projection remains a discretionary one.

Yes, of course with only 1 we could not guarantee availability and whilst the one and only CVF was in refit a requirement might pop up, sods law comes into play. The argument in favour of 2 also rests on the number of contracts placed but this is a simple cost v risk scenario, can we hedge against the risk?

We should not look at CVF in isolation; they will always be operating in conjunction with other assets and a number of interesting options can be considered.

Option A is to simply plough ahead with 2, operate them with a full complement of JCA each and replace HMS Ocean with a new design. This is of course the favoured RN option but not supportable in terms of cost.

Option B is to still build the pair and put one into immediate reserve. This would save operating costs and reduce crewing requirements but with sufficient notice would still be able to provide some capacity in response to emerging strategic threats. Operating the ship with some elements of Royal Navy Reserve or Sponsored Reserves might also be worth investigation.

Option C is to link CVF with a replacement for HMS Ocean. Ocean has been excellent value for money but it has had more than its fair share of problems. By still putting 2 CVF’s into the water and operating them as flexible platforms, optimised for mixed loads of JCA, helicopters and soldiers/marines we could reduce overall crew and maintenance requirements. This is the most likely option given a reduced buy of JCA but operating a CVF in the role of LPH is not ideal because of its size and value.

Option D is to build one CVF but pair it with an early Ocean replacement, a design based on the Spanish Juan Carlos I and Australian Canberra, these are multi role LHD that still provide capacity for an STOVL JCA. Refits could be aligned so that at all times, for those non discretionary SSFI, we had a capability available for both helicopter and fast jet operations. There would not normally be interchangeable and if only one were available then the nature of operations that could be performed would be limited. A CVF and LHD pair provides some degree of hedging against the availability issue and whilst of course it is not ideal, in this financial environment we have to accept compromise. In due course, HMS Albion and Bulwark will need replacing and at this point we might also consider a follow on LHD order so the RN will eventually have 1 CVF, 3 LHD and the 4 Bays; still a formidable capability.

I think Option C is the most likely but D is also an interesting longer term option for maximum cost savings.

What Aircraft

With that in the bag we have to consider the aircraft, there is little point having an aircraft carrier with nothing to fly off them. The first aircraft onboard should be the Harrier’s, unless the SDSR retires them early, in which case there will be an embarrassing period where we have an aircraft carrier and no aircraft!

What aircraft to buy is the several billion pound question.

The first thing I would say on this is that bloggers and commenter’s are not in possession of the full facts and even those in a position of knowing everything aren’t actually in that position at all, especially because the actual final cost of any F35 variant is an unknown. The MoD has repeatedly carried out various studies and estimated that the F35B offers the most cost effective aircraft that meets requirements, over the total lifespan.

Considering other options though…

Switching to CTOL

Whilst it is true that the CVF is an adaptable design with allowance made for catapults etc at this stage the ‘drawings’ would have to be redrafted and appropriate changes made to the production schedules. The first of the class is well advanced so this would simply add extra cost and time delays. The last time we slowed down the build rate it cost a billion pounds.

If we did change to catapults we have three choices, go straight for steam, buy into the US EMALS or develop EMKIT/EMCAT into a useable system. In terms of risk, steam is probably the lowest but we would be buying into an obsolete technology that is incredibly maintenance intensive. The US EMALS is probably the most mature of the electromagnetic systems and will likely be production ready by the time we need it but the costs are not insignificant. The EMCAT from Converteam offers a sovereign solution at an unknown cost and risk. In addition, would be a deck landing and arrestor wire system.

All three options carry significant capital costs, x2

On top of the capital costs are the costs involved with operating CTOL aircraft and this is where they are likely to be significant. One of the overwhelming drivers of increasing costs in the defence sphere are people, armed forces across the western nations are facing increasingly high personnel costs and this is resulting in pressure to reduce crewing by the use of automation.

Each extra position on board needs more than one person to fill it and each person will need paying, have food and accommodation costs, pension, healthcare, training and many other costs that go with employing a military person. CTOL will require extra deck handling and engineering personnel. A whole rank structure will exist around these extra positions and each one will need training, training means course development, e-learning modules, simulators and trainers, who will of course, need paying etc etc.

Every single extra position on board and ashore will be sitting on top of a pyramid of other people.

Another point that people often ignore is the churn rate in personnel, individuals come and go and whilst we are only paying for one at a time whilst they are in service, over the life of the ships we will be paying many instances of pensions. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, pension costs accumulate, there is a reason we are sitting on a public sector pensions time bomb and this is it. CTOL operations require rapidly perishable skills and for safety reasons have to be maintained at a high level, even if operations are largely ground based, Afghanistan for example. This creates an additional burden and will mean greater numbers of aircraft and aircrew.

CTOL also adds significant weight to the deck and surrounding structure and lets not forget we would need to invest in a training aircraft just for deck operations, yet another type with all that this entails.

The big question is, do these additional capital and ongoing costs come in at a figure less than the capital and ongoing cost of the F35B. We cannot hope to know and there remains a degree of uncertainty in any calculations but several studies within the MoD have consistently shown the additional costs of CTOL to be significant enough to outweigh the relatively modest increase in capability that the F35C might offer or capital cost savings from something like the F18.

If we did opt for CTOL there are basically three choices, the F18, Rafale or F35C and each has a range of advantages, disadvantages and costs. The F35C would be the favourite in this group and might still be a long term option but the lure of cooperating and sharing costs of training and maintenance with France makes the Rafale a dark horse.

The F18 is certainly proven but is at the end of its development life and would likely to need replacing sooner rather than later.

Whatever the various performance, political issues or other advantages of these alternatives the cost, when measured as joint capability (not just to the RN) is less than F35B.

What about STOBAR

A intriguing possibility is short take off but arrested recovery with the proposed Sea Gripen giving everyone something to think about, but whilst we could reduce the capital and running costs associated with catapults it would still need a high degree of deck and aircrew training and questions remain on useable loads once the extra weight of a more robust undercarriage and tail hook is added. The Gripen is a much underrated and robust aircraft but the Sea Gripen is still at the drawing stage and costs are unknown, would it really be suitable and have any longevity in the JCA role?

The F35B

The STOVL is currently the preferred option to fulfil the Joint Combat Aircraft requirement; we have purchased 3 as part of the design and development phase and are currently heavily involved with the flight trials.

Let’s be frank, things aren’t going particularly well with the B variant, lagging behind in terms of development schedule with ongoing issues on component reliability, exhaust issues and weight. However, these problems are often over stated and show me any other advanced weapon system that has managed to avoid development problems.

I am sanguine about the development snags, for I think they are just that, snags. The swirling controversy on price estimates means that realistically, no one really knows exactly how much the things are and there is very little point trying to pin down a figure.

When ready for deployment we will be getting a system of systems that is a generation ahead of anything we have, an aircraft with masses of growth potential and a massive global supply chain and logistics capability. We need to step away from comparing it to others in pure kinematic performance terms because its sensor fusion, low observability and situational awareness will enable it to carry out its missions much better than the alternatives.

The performance difference between the C and B model is noted, in some respects the C might be a better solution but we have to balance a number of factors and the additional costs involved with the C, even considering a difference in capital costs, do not compensate. There are other advantages with STOVL like sortie rates, poor weather operations and the versatility of operating on constrained runways on land. These enable transition to ground locations before that location might be capable of fully operating conventional aircraft.

I don’t want to gloss over the historic and ongoing problems but cutting and running at this stage simply would not be sensible.

Plans seem to be for an initial purchase of between 40 and 50 which again, seems sensible.

What About UCAV’s

UCAV’s would favour a CTOL design but the path which UCAV’s are going down is not certain and any useable design is many years away. Ultra long range and optionally manned F35B’s might even be part of the future solution mix so as these uncertainties remain, trying to second guess them is not productive, it will simply lead to more delay and more cost.

AEW

One advantage of going CTOL is that it opens an opportunity to operate the E2 Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft but this would be an even greater cost and whilst it might be superior to a Merlin based solution, again, the increase in capability does not offer a clear enough advantage to justify the massive extra cost.

Sweating Ones Assets

Ignoring the emotions of what could have been and without going over old ground, if we accept that CVF and F35B is the sensible and likely way ahead from this point how can we maximise our investment.

It’s an obvious statement to make but we must make every penny count and be single minded.

Can we really afford two fast jet forces?

No.

This means that an F35B squadron must be self contained whether it is operating from a land base or CVF, the same aircrew, the same maintainers, armourers and others. The people go wherever the aircraft go. It is simply not true to say that RAF personnel do not want to go to sea and if it is in the interests of defence then, retention issues permitting, they must go where they are needed.

If that means a ship or an airbase then that is what it is. Operating in a larger pool of personnel means that harmony guidelines become more achievable, even on an enduring basis. Putting people into 2 smaller organisations reduces flexibility, career prospects and impacts retention. The aspiration of having a full compliment of strike aircraft is simply unaffordable and a waste of a very flexible resource, as I said above, we are not the USN.

This means the FAA completely lose the fast jet role to the organisation that is wholly concerned with operating aircraft, the RAF.

Another option we might explore is joint operational conversion training with the USMC or possible European operators like Spain and Italy. This reduces the requirement for training vessels and possibly aircraft, delivering obvious economies of scale.

Summary

CVF remains fully justified in whatever strategic stance we take.

The F35B would seem to provide the greatest flexibility and capability at the lowest cost.

Options still remain on numbers and how it is operated in a wider context, such as turning the CVF pair into a multi role air/amphib or disbanding the FJ element of the Fleet Air Arm

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Jaycee
Jaycee
September 16, 2010 12:00 am

seems to me that co-ordination is the key and the ability to work together – but as usual it is easy to say and much harder to achieve.. streamlining to the politicians means cuts and ‘economies of scale’ but that would not really suit the abilities of the Armed Forces to actually be able to perform in their no doubt many diverse future perceived roles. What does seem likely though is the focus’ switch for global defence policy to handle middle to far eastern issues – UK concerns possibly therefore focus on trade route protection as a general issue… alongside actual deployment.. of course alongside closer relations with the 5 treaty parties and possibly the Brazilians.. so will be interesting to know if the fudge farrago that comes out in a rush of knee jerk political reaction that will be the SDR will actually stand up at all…

Marcase
Marcase
September 16, 2010 12:19 am

Outstanding piece, this one’s a keeper.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that reason will be overruled by the (political) view that aircraft carriers are “by definition” a Cold War Relic – no matter the rationale and clear-headed facts so very well posted here.

“Something has got to give” is another comment often heard, where CVF and Trident are engaged in mortal combat where even the eventual winner isn’t sure of survival.

Again, and excellent piece. Well done.

Jed
Jed
September 16, 2010 2:30 am

I will echo Marcase by saying it is indeed a well written piece. And before it rip it to shreds, I would say although I am ex-Andrew, I am not overall a supporter of the CV programme. Personally I would have liked us to buy 2 or 3 Cavour class in a joint programme with our Italian allies, but hey, there you go……

So, firstly, although I applaud your budgetary gritty realism, your starting from the pessimistic point that we can’t afford this, and can’t afford that… As far as I am aware the UK is still one of the richest nations on earth, richer than Brazil and richer than India, which have carrier programmes. “Wishing for more money is not a practical strategy” is true, but justifying why more money from the finite pot should be spent on defence instead, say, international aid, is not the same thing.

Anyway, onto the detail:

Justifying CVF: “if we proceed with CVF/JCA it is out of choice, not necessity.” – of course ! All government expenditure is choice, but your point is well taken. However I think we are all pessimists when it comes to the SDSR, as the UK does not do “grand strategy” and all our politicians appear to be complete numpty’s :-(

“In seeking to justify CVF, the two fundamental mistakes are in comparing it with others and over stating the issue of host nation support.”

Well comparing our pathetic efforts, even if we get both ships and a full complement of aircraft, against the USN is of course plain stupid. Comparing what we could achieve against the yard stick of France, or Brazil would seem to be more realistic.

However I disagree with you on the subject of host nation support. Just because it has been available does not mean it will be in the future. The RAF has been reduced to tactical fighter aircraft, that need IFR to achieve any sort of strike range. How useful are these if we are facing decades of brush wars (which I dont believe we are, but many seem to think the “long war” is the new norm). This is why there is internecine warfare between the USAF fighter mafia and those who want a new long range strategic strike / ISR aircraft (for gods sake, dont call it a “bomber”).

So, no 2 carriers with less a 100 aircraft between are not a good argument for disbanding the RAF, but the no host nation argument is not as facile as you suggest, but this leads onto:

“The RAF have shown they can deploy in numbers and sustain operations, we might seek to improve this of course but the facts remain, the RAF has a comprehensive expeditionary capability.”

Erm, no – not really. Not their fault, not having a dig at the crabs, they have suffered stupid cuts too, since the days of constant deployments to norther and southern Iraq no fly zones, and to Italy to cover the Balkans. How many RAF fast jets are in Afghanistan ? What is the proportion against our ‘paper’ fleet ? Now, how many Belgium F16’s are in Afghanistan and what is that proportion of their total fleet ?

The RAF can certainly once again mount long term deployed and expeditionary operations, if it is funded properly in order to do so.

Onto your options:
Option A – 2CV, 1 LHA – the “preferred” or should that be the most expensive option, but no reason why we can’t have it if the Govt WANTS to fund it.

Option B – total non starter. Seriously, do you know the state of the RNR ? It would need a large cadre of regular sailors on shore bases who could be called upon to man the ship – which actually is common sense, but it won’t look good on the “bang for buck” balance sheet…..

Option C – You can spin a 65,000 LHA as “sweating your assets” or as a “frakkin waste of money” – just depends on how you want to look at it really.

Option D – The issue with having 1 of everything is that you just know its gonna be in dry dock when you actually need it…… :-(

What about Option E – complete them (or just the first one), to a bare minimum standard and then put them up for sale – India or Brazil might be interested.

Option F – Damn the penalty clauses – cancel them.

Aircraft.

As anyone who has read my previous comments knows, I am a proponent of the Rafale and a close operating / training / maintenance relationship with France.

If the SDSR can make an actual strategic rationale for a “first day of the war” semi-stealthy attack aircraft, then go with the F35C. Although personally I am of the opinion that we should never buy any version of the F35 and which should actually sue the U.S. government via whatever court / international trade organisation does such things, to get our development investment back, based on them reneging on their promises on intellectual property and sovereignty !

“We need to step away from comparing it to others in pure kinematic performance terms because its sensor fusion, low observability and situational awareness will enable it to carry out its missions much better than the alternatives.” – erm’ says who ? Not proven, and will not be a proven argument (one way or the other) for another ten years …….

“I don’t want to gloss over the historic and ongoing problems but cutting and running at this stage simply would not be sensible.” – actually it might be a very sensible thing that could in many ways save the programme, but seeing as no one can seem to provide true (well at least public, unclassified) potential through life operating costs for any F35 variant, how do you compare it ?

AEW – Hawkeye versus Merlin – extra capability not worth the cost. Well we can’t determine that yet surely, as we dont know what the SDSR will commit us to. How about retiring (selling) the E3 AWACS fleet and having a consolidated Hawkeye AEW fleet ? If tanks and frigates are cold war relics, then surely a large fleet of E3 to defend UK / NATO airspace against is a real relic ! Yes good enough is often just than, good enough, but sometimes better is best.

Ref: “Can we really afford two fast jet forces?” – Yes of course we can IF WE WANT TO ! Not long ago we could afford Tornado, Harrier, Jaguar, Tornado ADV and Sea Harrier – so your argument appears somewhat overly simplistic.

“It is simply not true to say that RAF personnel do not want to go to sea and if it is in the interests of defence then, retention issues permitting, they must go where they are needed.” – I don’t mean to sound snippy but I presume you are neither ex-RN or ex-RAF ? Because your glossing over this way to quickly. OK, get rid of the FAA, but then you have to advertise and make sure that anyone who joins knows the RAF knows they are going to sea. Or do you stream your staff, Typhoon versus F35. Typhoon people never go to sea, F35 people do, but they knew that when they joined so thats OK – but what about career paths ? There are going to be more billets for Typhoon people, so will they get promoted more quickly, in which case your penalizing the F35 people… blah, blah blah – just don’t gloss over the retention issues. I am sure it can be worked out in the end, but it will be difficult, and I say this having many, many good friends who are ex-RAF, it would be very difficult for their ‘corporate culture’ (can’t wait for all the fights between Matelots and Crabs on every run ashore…)

All in all great article, thanks :-)

Jim30
Jim30
September 16, 2010 6:44 am

Good piece, and I agree with many of your judgements – particularly on using the 2 CVF model as the replacement for CVS and LPH.

I still think CTOL remains an option, although this as much the RN wanting to get back into ‘proper aviation’ as it is anything else. CVF was seen as their way back into their normal means of doing naval aviation, and I think there is a desire to lose the F35B if possible.

I think you overstate the costs of CTOL from a personnel perspective. The RN is always establishing new trades and branches, and disestablishing older ones. I never fail to be amazed at the number of obscure sub branches lurking around still. The CTOL teams would be similar, it would be a sub set of the FAA, and need no more than a few hundred people tops. Bearing in mind the extant aircraft handler branch is massively oversubscribed for recruitment, and remains so for several years, there isn’t really a manpower problem here.

Finally, you said “Operating the ship with some elements of Royal Navy Reserve or Sponsored Reserves might also be worth investigation.”

The RNR is not a seagoing organisation anymore. Its only about 2500 strong all in, and is designed to provide a lot of very small branches of 20-30 people carrying out jobs that the RN needs done, but can’t afford to do on a full time basis. There is no chance at all that the RNR could run a CVF.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 16, 2010 8:53 am

“The RN spin machine is being put into high gear, much like the other service spin machines, it must be said.”

The RAF have excellent form as spin-masters worthy of the dark lord himself! :D
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/classicalmusic/8004828/RAFs-Central-Band-Reach-for-the-Skies.html
“As news reaches us of disreputable attempts by Army and Navy chiefs to fight off threatened budget cuts by dismembering the Royal Air Force, the RAF’s Central Band comes thundering low over the horizon with an immaculately timed riposte”

“There are examples of operations where naval aviation was the only option but they are limited and this might be an inconvenient truth but it is a truth nevertheless.”

These things do not exist in a vacuum, so we must always speculate; at what cost is this achieved? We can only speculate because this kind of negotiation will inevitably be subject to the 30 year rule.

“The talk today is of small Scale Focussed Interventions and acting in coalition with others for anything else. This is nothing new and has actually been the case since the 1998 SDR.”

It should be noted that it is usually mentioned in the same breath as the Joint Medium Weight Capability which is an idea that’s been knocking around for a few years, but as Peter Parkinson said on W1 there is no indication that any particular doctrine or force structure will survive as an input to the SDSR.
http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/UK_Rapid_Intervention_Options_45-47.pdf

“Option C is to link CVF with a replacement for HMS Ocean. Ocean has been excellent value for money but it has had more than its fair share of problems. By still putting 2 CVF’s into the water and operating them as flexible platforms, optimised for mixed loads of JCA, helicopters and soldiers/marines we could reduce overall crew and maintenance requirements. This is the most likely option given a reduced buy of JCA but operating a CVF in the role of LPH is not ideal because of its size and value.”

This is what I would most favour at the moment; a buy of 60+ JCA would provide four squadrons of nine aircraft and two OCU’s of nine aircraft, as well as half a dozen as attrition reserve and deep maintenance rotation. A carrier would normally embark with two squadrons, which should allow the 65k tonne platform to flex into a limited LPH role, but it could obviously operate three or even four squadrons at need. This has the benefit of being a temporary solution if necessary, as five years down the line if we decide we need a dedicated LPH and another two dozen JCA then we can go out and order some.

“I have heard many people say they would rather have none than only 1 CVF but this seems to be an irrational argument given that the capability for force projection remains a discretionary one.”

I don’t believe it is irrational, because with two you have the flexibility to work it into your contributions to collective defence, without two it becomes a jealously husbanded harbour queen then can rarely be tasked to NATO duties and never without making it entirely unusable as a sovereign capability.

“In terms of risk, steam is probably the lowest but we would be buying into an obsolete technology that is incredibly maintenance intensive.”

It is also a problem for a non nuclear ship without resource for vast quantities of cheap steam on tap 24/7.

“the additional costs of CTOL to be significant enough to outweigh the relatively modest increase in capability that the F35C”

Cost is also a factor with F35C too, as the lower sortie rate would require a larger number of aircraft to achieve the same number or JCA’s in the air AFAIK.

“This means the FAA completely lose the fast jet role to the organisation that is wholly concerned with operating aircraft, the RAF.”

Obviously a suboptimal solution, but probably a necessary one, and we underestimate the utility of a “crisis being a good time to make progress”, in that we might finally make the services work together, or specifically make the RAF learn to love the carrier.

“CVF remains fully justified in whatever strategic stance we take. The F35B would seem to provide the greatest flexibility and capability at the lowest cost.”

Very much agreed.

Excellent article, my thanks.

Sven Ortmann
Sven Ortmann
September 16, 2010 9:24 am

The British (or just Think Defence) discussion about the cuts seems to revolve mostly about Trident and CVF – two RN big ticket items.

It’s generally not very smart to fix one’s attention on big ticket items, but doing so on two big ticket items of just a navy without paying as much attention on army and air force matters is even less advisable.

DominicJ
September 16, 2010 10:33 am

Sven
Thats a bit unfair, weve discussed cutting the RAFs JCA fleet entirely and the Army to less than half its current strength.

Paragon
Paragon
September 16, 2010 10:41 am

Nice piece. Just wondering what the problems are with HMS Ocean that you alluded to?
Thanks

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 16, 2010 10:48 am

“The British (or just Think Defence) discussion about the cuts seems to revolve mostly about Trident and CVF – two RN big ticket items.”

that might indicate a broad trend in the mindset of the british people, and its translation into the political ambitions of our ‘masters’.

Jim30
Jim30
September 16, 2010 10:57 am

Paragon

OCEAN was built to commercial standards as cheaply as possible to provide a ship which could do the job for 20 years. The main problem is linked to her sewage system which is simply not fit for purpose, and can only be fixed by taking the ship apart and starting all over again. She is generally a maintenance nightmare and has been worked hard for 10 years – she’ll be gone by 2018 and many in the RN will breathe a sigh of relief when that happy day comes!

Admin
I see your point on Sponsored Reserves, but ultimately their system works because you are running a simple vessel on routine work with very few complex sub systems to look after. Essentially the Points are merchant ships run on behalf of HM Government.
A vessel like CVF is going to be seriously complicated to run and maintain – which means industry would charge obscene amounts to provide the necessary skills to run a carrier. To justify sponsored reserves you need to have a civilian job for them to do, and a way for the company to make profit – I struggle to see how any company could make profit from CVF, except a manpower recruitment agency.
The other problem is that it takes a long time to work up a carrier – you cant just magic up the crew. If we wanted to run on CVF2 with a part time crew, you may as well park her permanently until CVF1 goes into refit – the time it would take to work up the ships company means the crisis is likely to be over by the time she’s ready!

13th spitfire
September 16, 2010 10:59 am

Does anyone remember the report that was done by either DSTL, DERA or DESG? Where they considered converting Typhoons so that they could be carrier based. I cannot seem to find it. Anyone have it?

13th spitfire
September 16, 2010 11:12 am

HMS Ocean is only 12 years old, what to do with it once retired early? The sale of early retirement naval vessels over the past years, have not exactly been handled graciously to say the least. Though granted New Labour were in power and that might have had something to do with it, but we still have the same MoD.

What to do with it, if we go for option C?

Richard W
Richard W
September 16, 2010 11:42 am

I commented on a previous post the view that we should build both carriers but immediately designate one as a reserve – option B in this post. For the one in reserve this means we don’t have to buy planes for it or incur operating costs, but at least it will be there when it is wanted. This conclusion is driven by the view that while the constrained economic times and this government persist, that the choice of anything – planes to fly from the carriers in this case – has to be driven down to the barest cost.

The good bloggers to Think Defence do tend to say okay we’ll opt for this moderately good basic item and then add this and tweak that so we end up with something that we don’t know the cost of but it obviously costs a bit more, and rationalise that with the argument that this is all a good investment. And that may all be true; but the Chancellor is out to save some money in a hurry and he knows that if he gave way to every suggestion to pay for something new on the basis it’s a good investment then he’s not going to save what he wants – which means he is not going to let that happen.

It’s not just carriers – defence has a long shopping list (an odd concept for an organisation facing cuts) including: FRES tanks and mine resistant vehicles for the army, more helicopters for everyone, frigates and submarines for the navy, more Typhoons, transports, air tankers and MR4s for the RAF, a nuclear deterrent (until it was realised it had to be paid for), Rivet, cyber warfare, drones, more front line troops, no doubt lots of other less exciting stuff, as well as funds to keep what already exists. The merit of each has to be balanced against the merit of everything else. Very little on this wish list is going to materialise and the best chance of getting any one item will be if not too much money has been spent on something else.

Once cancelled carriers will not come back on any governments’ agenda, so if the navy wants them they really had better make the choice of aircraft affordable.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 16, 2010 3:01 pm

the wise words of JimWH at W1:

——————————————-

“Jedibeeftrix wrote:quick question; i accept that 72 is the magic number (i even used in my BFSD10 article), in your opinion would it make more sense to have four squadrons of nine JCA, or three squadrons of 12 JCA, given that both result in 36 frontline aircraft?”

I tend to think that it would be better to go for 4 smaller squadrons rather than 3 larger squadrons, though this is the more costly of the two. Going for 4 squadrons allows for more flexibility in terms of what you have the force do, and it allows for more seamless augmentation of squadrons during emergencies (i.e. it’s a bit easier to increase a squadron by 25% than it is by 33%). However, it is a bit more expensive since it requires duplication of squadron staff four times rather than three times.
Of course, it is worth noting that until/unless SDSR say otherwise, the plan is for four squadrons which have for a long time been accepted to be 12 aircraft (FMC) squadrons (implying a buy of at least 96). This 4×12 structure gives a great deal of flexibility in terms of models of deployment and really very good bang-for-buck.

“Jedibeeftrix wrote:If we accept that that twelve might be a likely normal complement, how does this effect available deck-space and below-deck-space for LPH operations, as compared to an Ocean?”

Well, again I think it’s a little premature to be worrying about this until/unless SDSR says that Ocean is gone and the LPH(R)/LHD are sh!te canned.
However, the the aviation facilities aboard CVF are predicated on packing about 40 aircraft aboard, which means that even if you have 24 spots taken up by the ‘strike’ component of the airgroup (16 Lightning, 4 MASC, 4 Merlin HM.2), you still have 16 spots available for ‘amphibious’ aircraft. However, recall that the folded Merlin is actually fairly small, so that’s not going to be too much of a problem.
The big problems I envisage are actually people and vehicles. CVF has berthing for around 1850 (IIRC), which means that once you’ve got the reduced air group and a command staff aboard, you’re probably down to about a battalion’s worth of personnel. The bigger problem is that as compared to the dedicated ‘phibs, I’m not sure what the storage of military supplies is like aboard CVF. Certainly there won’t be a dedicated vehicle deck separate from the hanger, and that does pose potential problems.
In essance I can’t see CVF really being a replacement for Ocean as an amphibious ship, though they’ll easily be able to take on the aviation component of Ocean’s role. And if used in conjunction with an LPD/LSD it shouldn’t be too bad. And hopefully, it’d only ever be an interim arrangement[1], so it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

[1] The replacement for the LPD is pretty much going to have to be an LHD.

———————————-

which in my [personal] opinion makes option c the least terrible of the reductive options.

Steve Coltman
Steve Coltman
September 16, 2010 4:03 pm

The two carriers were 1st mooted in the 1998 SDR, it’s a bit late to start debating their design and desirability given we are already well into building them. The fact that £1.25bn has already been spent is not new news, it was true as of last December if not earlier.

Firstly, although I would normally be concerned about sacrificing the long-term needs for short-term expedients, given the circumstances I think the priority needs to be getting the armed forces through a short-term budget crisis with the minimum of permanent damage. There is a real risk important capabilities will be lost irrevocably.

Secondly, we need to be less insanely ambitious. Britain’s armed forces seem to be obsessed with always the best, be it destroyers, submarines, whatever. Don’t always get the best of course, only the most expensive. Other major powers make do with less but we, it seems, cannot.

Assuming we need an expeditionary capability (I think we do) we need sea-based air power. If the two CVFs were cancelled, the cost of even two smaller ships (Cavour and Canberra classes are both around the £1bn mark) plus the cancellation costs of CVF bring us back to near the figure we first thought of, but with much less ship to show for our money.

Do we need two? The Charles de Gaulle has just emerged from a 14-month refit; if you really need a capability you cannot be without it for 14 months. If you can be without it that long you don’t really need it. Yes, we need two, but only one need be in commission at a time.

The key question is what aircraft? I agree the interim is to keep the Harriers flying as long as possible. The ideal solution would have been a naval Typhoon, but this seems now too late, it should have been requirement from the outset but we are not as smart as the French. Even now the Sec of Def should not proceed without being completely convinced the Sea Typhoon is a non-starter. It is absolutely absurd for the RAF to have ordered more Typhoons than they can afford/justify but the FAA need to buy something else in a similar category.

The F-35B I would not touch with a bargepole, it looks like a technological nightmare with not just high procurement and operating costs but also highly uncertain costs. The F-22 precedent is not reassuring. We cannot afford any cost over-runs; we need to be financially & technically cautious so Rafale or the F-18 Super-Hornet are the obvious choices. I would cancel the F-35 completely.

Jim30
Jim30
September 16, 2010 5:22 pm

“The ideal solution would have been a naval Typhoon, but this seems now too late, it should have been requirement from the outset but we are not as smart as the French. Even now the Sec of Def should not proceed without being completely convinced the Sea Typhoon is a non-starter. It is absolutely absurd for the RAF to have ordered more Typhoons than they can afford/justify but the FAA need to buy something else in a similar category.”

I’d take strong issue with that. The Typhoon originated in 1980, just as the SHAR was entering service, and the Invincibles were still in build. At that time the RN existed to do ASW, and there was no one who seriously advocated building CTOL carriers back then as a credible option.

By the time the initial CVS(R) studies were done in the mid 1990s the Typhoon was too advanced to change, and JSF was on the horizon. It made no sense then to navalise the Typhoon.

The research into whether it could be navalised has been done repeatedly, and the answer is always the same. To navalise Typhoon would require major (i.e. almost complete) redesign of the airframe to adapt it to carrier landings. There are massive issues with visibility from the cockpit and it would require a specialist landing system fitted to be able to land on a carrier. The costs have been looked at regularly and it is far more expensive to navalise Typhoon than it would be to buy JSF.

This is a classic example of MOD being blamed for whichever course of action it took – had it gone for a navalised Typhoon in the 80s, it would have been deservedly criticised for wasting money on an asset not required, nor needed in the current environment. Now its being criticised for not investing in said asset!

x
x
September 16, 2010 6:49 pm

Off the top of my head…….

I would move Ocean over to RFA with a bit of automation for the engine spaces. She could replace Argus.

The SDSR debate does seem to be concentrating on the RN. I would really like to know if there are any light-blue-blogs out there advocating something. I would like to know how “they” see what is needed. Even something simple like how many Typhoons (and AWACS) we need to “defend” in peace time UK airspace. One squadron north and one south? Or what?
And what exactly do the Army need that they haven’t got now?
We blame MoD for the FRES cock up what about the generals, the defence professionals? Is it really beyond their collective ken to select a ruddy vehicle to transport a section and decide the level of firepower and protection it needs? It seems so. Remember some general signed of SA80…

Giving an average defence spend of 300billion a decade 5billion for CVF isn’t that much. Just as 20billion replacement cost for Trident or 1billion pa to sustain the deterrent (250 million for Vanguard, 750million for Aldermaston which last time I look wasn’t a MoD(N) facility.)

I think by discussing “host nation” support ThinkDefence is implying that not only the RAF can move about unmolested but so to can the Army. Or am I wrong?

Apart from me I don’t know if anybody else here has spent any time studying International Relations at a tertiary level. It appears not. So it may come as a bit of a shock to find that in the anarchic nation state system symbolism is surprisingly important. There is value in deploying large prestige platforms. I don’t see CVF just pounding tribesmen wielding AK47 into the sand; I don’t think these new wars amongst the people will be the only ones we will fight. There is a good chance that the next conflict may be at some crisis point where a collection of armed forces from differing groups will gather. Intel and posturing will probably more important than firepower. If it comes to shooting there will be a controlled rapid de-escalation as politicians and diplomats pull back from the brink. We are returning to a pre-Napoleonic era where exquisite expensive armed forces are to precious to commit for to long. And we also moving back towards a balance of power scenario where the world’s powers will come together in temporary alliances as dictated by their needs. In this scenario does UK Plc benefit from turning up with a few frigates and the promise of air support if the PFI tanker providers will let their birds fly in a warzone? Yes I have over egged the pudding a bit but I hope you get my drift. And lastly the next war probably won’t happen in a land locked stated. As said here early this week if A-stan had been Somalia would we be debating this? No.

Cap badge politics not important? I don’t see the generals, admirals, or air marshals asking David Cameron to wide up their service or cut their budget in favour of the other two. And I know on the ground it doesn’t impact. The soldier doesn’t care that the pilot of the Chinook is RAF or the nurse who tends his broke limb is RN. But to say it doesn’t matter at all is I feel a bit simplistic. Humanity is tribable, humans identify with one group or a number of groups. On the ground the soldier knows who gets the better deal when he is at patrol base shitting in a hole while some RAF clerk is in Bastion with three square meals a day and showers. And these difference do take on a broader tribable dimension tribe. I still maintain that there is no logic in there being a separate air service.

Come October we are all screwed. It doesn’t matter how much we play fantasy navy.

For my money we should have built two Makin Island’s and made sure we had enough fully armoured Darings to defend them.

x
x
September 16, 2010 8:00 pm

I said armoured I meant armed. And I said 2 Makins, I meant 3. Um 3 x 40k ton ship = 120k tons of ship = 2 x CVF. Not that simple I know…….

Um. I am just a bit angry about it all. Sorry.

George
George
September 16, 2010 10:18 pm

Slight side issue on the aircraft side. Someone on a different topic cited 2015 as a date for GR9 out of service due to fatigue issues but I’ve just been doing a quick google and it appears that 11 SHARS were put in storage at Shawbury and 9 used at Culdrose SFDO. Could these be returned to service as an interim whilst waiting for the F35B?

x
x
September 16, 2010 11:07 pm

@ George

What sane administration would spend good money on refitting a handful of elderly airframes to fit a niche need?

Oh yes we would! Perhaps SDSR will see Nimrod finally retired…

(Sorry couldn’t resist it…)

Marcase
Marcase
September 17, 2010 7:35 am

Personally I’m not a big fan, just wondering how you Brits look at it (or shoot it down immediately).

What about following the Canadian MoD model; a hypothetical UK Air Command which would include RAF, FAA and Army aviation assets. Think expanded and higher integrated Joint Harrier Force type, or better yet, the USMC model.

In theorly this could rotate Air Command personnel aboard CVF, UK air defence and Army support roles. With a flexible enough training/deployment program this could solve “carrier deployment fatigue”.

It would free up the RN from a very expensive and niche fighter requirement (which is still a valid requirement imho) and allows them to focus on the carrier and (strike) naval escorts.

I’m the first to admit that it would be a (cross) training and logistics mess, but still.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
September 17, 2010 8:37 am

Marcase, I think there’s a strong case of going for a combined defence force similar to the Canadian model, albiet with seperate arms for a strategic air and naval force.

Would you advocate going down the ‘Defence Force’ route for the UK?

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 10:40 am

“Would you advocate going down the ‘Defence Force’ route for the UK?”

I was under the impression that the Canadian’s thought it to be a less than successful move……..?

George
George
September 17, 2010 12:31 pm

Hi X

Yes, I agree it is far from ideal, but if we continue down the F35B route, we may have carriers but no fast jets for a while, if the fatigue life does mean 2015 Out Of Service. Someone mentioned manufacturing new airframe for the GR9s and putting the engines/avionics etc into them but that is probably more expensive than recommissioning stored SHARs – the youngest of which was only in service for about 10 years. I suppose the other thing we could do would see if the USMC had any spares AV8BPluses in storage?

Another possibility would be to go down the CTOL route with the carriers (If We Choose To Afford them, as Jed said) is to lease stored F18Cs whilst waiting for the F35C to become available.

That being said, I think I would still prefer CTOL Carriers, Rafael and Hawkeye. Someone said we could use Hawkeyes to replace the E3s too – that may be a good idea.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
September 17, 2010 12:49 pm

Jedibeeftrix, it may be less than successful in reality due to the differing ‘corporate identities’ being squeezed together, as the same appears to happen with large company take-overs and mergers. I was thinking something along the lines of the USMC in force organisation, with a strategic RN and RAF, something that I advocated in a post earlier quite a while ago.

George, I mentioned the manufacturing of new airframes for the GR.9’s. One of the reasons I didn’t mention the SHAR was the difference in capability, radar aside of course. If we had to go down this route, although not cheap, I’d consider putting an APG-79 or the Blue Vixen on the front. Although leasing a few AV-8B+’s with APG-65 radars off the UMC would be a great idea in the short term.

With regard to the E-3, given the size difference, speed, range, crew stations, how can the two compare. If we need an E-3 in Saudi Arabia at short notice it wouldn’t be a problem. Trying to get a E-2 Hawkeye there in the same scenario would be very different matter. Ok, we can’t land an E-3 on a carrier, but it is a fantastic strategic asset…..don’t throw it away! :-D

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 1:13 pm

“Marcase, I think there’s a strong case of going for a combined defence force similar to the Canadian model, albiet with seperate arms for a strategic air and naval force.”

What does this mean in practice?

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 1:46 pm

OT – Anglo French Defence Cooperation from Chatham House:

http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/publications/papers/view/-/id/936/

Michael
Michael
September 17, 2010 3:11 pm

Admin, very nice piece.

However i think we will get nothing but a huge fudge.

The Navy will be lucky to end up with one ship & the Raf-Navy will get 30’ish JSF’s to squabble over. Ocean will be got rid of & Ark Royal will be pressed into service in it’s place. I do not think the Navy will not get any new large ships (LPH or LPA), for quite some time.

I think this for these reasons.

Nobody wants to even think about a future where such ships will be used or even needed. Those whose job’s involve peering into the future seem to be unable to articulate convincing, reasoned arguments as to the need for them.

The public, who cannot get their heads around the idea of spending a lot of money on weapons while being told that there is a massive financial crisis and that there are going to be cuts in service’s because of it.

The public, also (imho), no longer trust or even want to listen to any government on military matters at all. Also i think that generaly people are angry that so many from the force’s are being daily shot at & blown up.
They questioned the reasons for going to war in the first place (quite rightly), but then the answers they got do not make any sense to them. Therefore, now, they do not believe what they are told & think there are other motive’s.

The current government, who are looking with dis-belief at having to borrow £150 Billion next year, £40+ Billion being to cover interest payments on what we have already borrowed. (Not totaly sure if the interest payments are right!)

The admin people at the MoD who seem unable & uninterested in explaining in a calm reasoned manner to the public their reasons for wanting extra troops, planes or ships etc etc. All i see are near hysterical, contradictory claims in the press & far too many arguments between the service’s.

Finaly, the special brew drinkers at the MoD who came up with a long term plan that included an unfunded requirement for £36-7 Billion in equipment and are now having to sober up & face the real world.

I think many people here are far better at fantasy fleet or raf than the experts who work for the MoD.
At least here people come up with idea’s that do not always cost the absolute maximum & take the longest possible time to complete before some bloke at the Treasury gets out his big red pen.

Which is really what i think will happen to PoW, i just hope that we don’t have cause to regret it.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
September 17, 2010 3:17 pm

Jedibeeftrix, essentially it would mean a the reorganisation of the forces into a singular defence force, such like those of Canada and Israel. Organisationally, I was considering the USMC as a basis. However, looking at past lessons of WW2 whereby air force assets were misused by being given to ground commanders, I had the idea of maintaining a strategic air force to maintain such things as long range supply and bombing missions. All other aircraft such as rotary assets, Harriers and the like would be part of a tactical airforce. For the navy, all shipping would be centred around the amphibious landing and support, with a separate strategic navy for the subs and others. Being something of a landlubber, others meaning anything else that didn’t fulfil the amphibious support role.

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/04/disjointed-command-the-future-of-warfare/

Your thoughts/general opinions on this model would be greatly appreciated.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 3:36 pm

“(Not totaly sure if the interest payments are right!)”

it’s about right. same size as overall defence spending.

Jasons
Jasons
September 17, 2010 3:37 pm

Regarding going to the Canadian Armed Forces model. Isn’t this really just changing the name? I remain far from convinced this would solve any problems and fairly certain it would create a few new ones!

Regarding the “Big Ticket Items” Sven is right. It is bad enough the Media fixating on these without this forum following suit. Admin has shown very well in a series of excellent posts (logistics, “ruthless commonality etc) where there is potential for significant long term savings.

Of course, this is only happening because there is a news vacuum. We have literally no idea what is really happening in the SDSR itself. The thing I find most disturbing is the lack of serious engagement by the armed forces themselves – witness inter-service rivalry.

We know that much of the Army’s focus is in Afghanistan right now and perhaps they are looking to reshape themselves somewhat beyond that.

It does appear to me that the RN have born the brunt of cutbacks during the last decade and they are hurting! and are making a case for recaptalization (and a very modest one at that).

X makes a very good point about hearing the RAF’s perspective. I would be interested to know how they see their role in the future.

Jim30
Jim30
September 17, 2010 3:40 pm

“Finaly, the special brew drinkers at the MoD who came up with a long term plan that included an unfunded requirement for £36-7 Billion in equipment and are now having to sober up & face the real world.”

Slightly harsh comment! The reality of this ‘unfunded EP’ is more a direct result of two things happening. Firstly, a lot of kit is ending its life in the next few years, and had to be programmed in for replacement, as the Department was obliged to maintain its force levels as set out in the SDR of 98.

Secondly, kit from previous years which needed replacing years ago, and for which the replacement capability had been deferred to due a certain Mr G Brown imposing spending cuts in the department, still needs replacing and now is in direct competition for resources with the new list of kit that needs replacing.

The department is left in the position of having to programme funding to buy kit to meet mandated planning assumptions, while simaltaneously not being allowed to cancel any major projects (again at the insistence of Mr G Brown) to find the funding to pay for it.

The end result is a long ‘wish list’ of capabilities that need replacing, and which there is no funding for. The existing kit is expiring and needs to either go with no replacement, or be extended at some cost to wait for the new kit to arrive. At the same time the Department is being asked to make major in year savings cuts, and as such constantly defers or delays equipment to save money in year, but only making the long term problem worse.

What was needed to resolve this was an SDR or at least some now strategic guidance 4 or 5 years ago, and a willingness on the part of the last Government to allow MOD to cancel major projects, (which didnt exist due to a dual fear of being seen to be weak on defence, and concern over jobs in labour safe seats). Neither of these things happened, and the MOD was forced to carry on in this insane position.

Thankfully the new Govt will allow MOD to cancel projects and the SDSR will hopefully remove some planning assumptions, freeing up funding for other projects.

To say this is a nightmare is an understatement of epic proportions…

IXION
IXION
September 17, 2010 3:46 pm

I really cannot see this post as anything other than wishful thinking, of the: –

“we are just going to Have to afford them” Variety

It’s not just the Carriers or even what goes on them that is the problem.

Their escort and support structure / force has to be considered.

If it is

1 2 x Type 45
2 1 X underway replenishment vessel (Fort class?)
3 1 X CVF
4 30 x F35
5 2 x awacs Helicopter
6 3 (ish ordinary copters)
7 1 X SSN

The kind of “back of the fag packet” calculation you hate = Circa £8-9 billion pounds of assets purchase price. An entire years procurement budget at current rates parked in harms way. The loss of which would be the biggest single loss of maritime prestige and authority since the IJN carriers went down at Midway.

It will be too vulnerable to deploy in any contested situation with Rusia, China, US Japan,(and a few others), and massive overkill for many other situations.

They will destort the size and functions of the RN for half a century reducing it’s combat surface fleet to a 1 trick pony dedicated to 2 (almost literaly) “Hanger Gueens”. Which will have to be cosseted, protected; (and if the history of ARK Royal / Eagle is anything to go by), frequently lacking effective capabilty thru shortages of spares, manpower etc etc.

STOVL aircraft are much more function/ limitation critical that conventional aircraft. the F35B is far from out of the woods(If published data is to be believed), and several expensive years from being a usable system. One example is the aircraft is largely composite – being a few 100 kilos overweight is going to be hard to cure when you are already at the edge of current technology. Bear in mind USAF already talking about cutting back on it’s order of “Normal” F35s what is that going to do to unit cost?

This is why the “Scrap them now” option is probably nowhere near as wasteful as it sounds, and if the real costs for them; (and in particular the
F35B) Come in at anything like that currently projected in reality I will eat one; catapults or not as well.

Jasons
Jasons
September 17, 2010 3:51 pm

Realistically how much are we looking to save/cut here – £4 to £ 7 billion per year over the next 5 years??

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 4:02 pm

“They will destort the size and functions of the RN for half a century reducing it’s combat surface fleet to a 1 trick pony dedicated to 2 (almost literaly)Hanger Queens.”

otherwise known is doing the RN’s most important job – strategic power projection.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 4:10 pm

“Your thoughts/general opinions on this model would be greatly appreciated.”

Sounds perfectly plausible, but having not been on the ‘inside’ i am utterly unqualified on matters like this or the specific technical merits of equipment.

I try not to dig down in the ‘weeds’ for precisely this reason. :)

i am very sympathetic to splitting helis between the RN and the Army whilst giving the FAA to the RAF.

more jointery is needed, especially [real] jointery.

George
George
September 17, 2010 4:12 pm

Hi Richard – sorry I couldn’t immediately give credit to the idea!

IXION
IXION
September 17, 2010 4:17 pm

If by “strategic power protection” You mean: –

1. Against anyone who is not too “hard”
2. Sustainable only for a period of weeks
3. Supplies of spares and stores permitting
4. Sometime in the unspecified future when/if it all works
5. Meanwhile not being able to say ” Bo to Goose” (in maritime terms), anywhere else at the same time.
6. At the risk of a loss form which it is unlikely the RN would recover.

Then yea I mean strategic power protection”

Rupert Fiennes
Rupert Fiennes
September 17, 2010 4:22 pm

jedibeeftrix

Handing over the FAA to the RAF has been tried several times, in 1939 and with the advent of joint force harrier. In both these cases, we rapidly ended up with the RAF doing their best to destroy the FAA in favour of land based assets, and with the FAA being handed back to the RN in due course (during WW2 and hopefully shortly). The RAF is effectively a one trick pony: it’s existence can only be justified by assuming that airpower can win wars by itself. Integrating the RAF into the Army and Navy would save some money, but also improve some of the strategic thinking….

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 4:44 pm

1. Against anyone who is not too “hard”
> Yup – already defined as medium scale and under
2. Sustainable only for a period of weeks
> Yup – no ten year wars, marvellous!
3. Supplies of spares and stores permitting
> Yup – as always
4. Sometime in the unspecified future when/if it all works
Yup – just as it has ever been
5. Meanwhile not being able to say ” Bo to Goose” (in maritime terms), anywhere else at the same time.
> the choice is navy + carrier/arg [or] big army [not] japan style destroyer armada
6. At the risk of a loss form which it is unlikely the RN would recover.
> as opposed to how well the RN will do in a COIN dominated doctrine?

Michael
Michael
September 17, 2010 4:47 pm

Jim30, thanks for that, you’ve given me a lot to think about. I am willing to be educated :)

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 4:50 pm

@ Rupert – If better jointery cannot emerge from from the SDSR then i want the command structures of all the services smashed up, even if the amlagam afterwards looks a little rickety, the alternative might be no JCA if cost savings cannot be made on the FAA.

but i’m not committed to this position, merely sympathetic to it.

Mike W
September 17, 2010 5:07 pm

One question that does not appear to have been discussed very much in connection with this topic is just how many ‘escorts’ will be tied up to protect one CVF carrier and how many needed to guard two (or is that simply a matter of doubling the figure?).

You see, I, like some other contributors, am a landlubber and do not know much about these matters. However, it strikes me that at the very least one air defence destroyer (Type 45) and one anti-sub frigate will be needed for each carrier. And then there are the supply ships (oilers etc. – I know they are not techically escorts). Could anyone inform an ignoramus like myself how many more escorts will be needed. Given the limited number of escorts we possess, I think that this will be an important element in deciding whether we can procure two or just one CVF, or whether we shall have to make do with none.

Will you pardon me if this subject has been dealt with in the welter of material on this topic. I just have not had time to read it all.

IXION
IXION
September 17, 2010 5:20 pm

This is going to get silly but i couldn’t resist: –

Against anyone who is not too “hard”
> Yup – already defined as medium scale and under
> so thats £10 billion for what massive usable capapbilty extention exactly?
2. Sustainable only for a period of weeks
> Yup – no ten year wars, marvellous!
> or 2 month deployments sorting out another Falklands.
3. Supplies of spares and stores permitting
> Yup – as always
> You got me! And as always there won’t be any (remind me how much we were paying for this)?
4. Sometime in the unspecified future when/if it all works
Yup – just as it has ever been.
> OR we could (revolutionary approach) buy stuff that already works.
5. Meanwhile not being able to say ” Bo to Goose” (in maritime terms), anywhere else at the same time.
> the choice is navy + carrier/arg [or] big army [not] japan style destroyer armada
> So that’s let’s buy GBFO White elephant x 2 because we can, rather than try and think/pursuade paymasters of an alternative that is cheaper.
6. At the risk of a loss form which it is unlikely the RN would recover.
> as opposed to how well the RN will do in a COIN dominated doctrine?
> Yep as you would only be risking parts of it at a time.

Cannot recall where but I recently read a memoire of the Falkalnds; which pointed out just how much agro a handful of Exocets caused to the Entire RN. When the the then current red airforce Northern aviation stratagy was to sweep the RN from GUIK by firing Hundreds of Antiship missiles at once.

I know according to the scuttlebutt the Type 45’s radar can identify the species and sex of seagull at 40 miles (apparantly). it will be really impresive when they get it to rotate.

But can it realy cope with 40 silkworms fired from the Iranian coast off the backs of trucks?

Sven Ortmann
Sven Ortmann
September 17, 2010 5:37 pm

Integrating a steam catapult in an existing CV design is impractical, EMALS is still a huge modification, STOBAR does likely limit the Take-off weight too much, even with ski ramp.

Single use RATO engines (there are even patents for RATO-based catapults) are probably too expensive.

So what’s about a simple motor-driven catapult?
A Rafale has a thrust of at most 151 kN. Electric or piston engines can add very much to this.

Back in WW2 the Luftwaffe had a piston-engine-based catapult prototype that worked well (RATO was still preferred).
It accelerated 14,000 kg aircraft to 200 km/h on 100m – the aircraft of that time had a thrust comparable to about 3 kN only. The piston engine of the catapult was rated at only 320 hp.
“FIST Landflugzeugschleuder Kl 12”

A modern super sports car engine + a 10° ski ramp should be able to replace steam catapults and EMALS.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 5:42 pm

Mike W – “I think that this will be an important element in deciding whether we can procure two or just one CVF, or whether we shall have to make do with none.”

The Carriers would in any eventuality outside of the Falklands never operationally deploy together, they would in effect leap-frog each other as the ready group, and while there is some overlap where both will be roaming the seas this will mostly be covered by training and transit.

So, only one escort group which will probably be 1x AAW and 1x ASW (possibly two ASW depending on the deployment).

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 17, 2010 5:50 pm

1. Against anyone who is not too “hard”
> Yup – already defined as medium scale and under
>> so thats £10 billion for what massive usable capapbilty extention exactly?
>>> the ability to to deploy and sustain up to three strike squadrons anywhere in the world in a matter of weeks regardless of basing rights, and within range of ninety percent of humanity.
2. Sustainable only for a period of weeks
> Yup – no ten year wars, marvellous!
>> or 2 month deployments sorting out another Falklands.
>>> lol, do you want to tell me how we would do the falklands without carriers?
3. Supplies of spares and stores permitting
> Yup – as always
>> You got me! And as always there won’t be any (remind me how much we were paying for this)?
>>> but every other capability will have magical fairy spares, right?
4. Sometime in the unspecified future when/if it all works
> Yup – just as it has ever been.
>> OR we could (revolutionary approach) buy stuff that already works.
>>> are we arguing about capabilities or specific platforms, cos i’m fairly sure that carriers have been demonstrated to work for some years now.
5. Meanwhile not being able to say ” Bo to Goose” (in maritime terms), anywhere else at the same time.
> the choice is navy + carrier/arg [or] big army [not] japan style destroyer armada
>> So that’s let’s buy GBFO White elephant x 2 because we can, rather than try and think/pursuade paymasters of an alternative that is cheaper.
>>> it isn’t a white elephant, it is that simple.
6. At the risk of a loss form which it is unlikely the RN would recover.
> as opposed to how well the RN will do in a COIN dominated doctrine?
>> Yep as you would only be risking parts of it at a time.
>>> no, the RN is staying more or less the same on the matter of escorts, its merely a matter of whether the arg/carriers are kept.

Michael
Michael
September 17, 2010 5:50 pm

IXION

Why would you want to send a CVF into such restricted waters?

If you mean a suprise attack, then they (RN) would have T45 closest to the threat axis, then an Oiler/Replenisment ship, then a Frigate or 2 & then the CVF. This means that T45 gets a chance to shoot down as many missiles as possible, while CVF gets to run away from the target area leaving the Oiler/Replenishment ship & Frigate’s to look after themselves. As long as the CVF survives that’s all that really counts.

If you mean we are already in a shooting war, then i guess you’d use JSF to smash the silkworm sites with the CVF safely hundreds of miles away.

x
x
September 17, 2010 5:54 pm

@ George

As I said it was a back handed side swipe at Nimord not SHAR. All those electronic goodies in the later marks of Nimrod should have been shoved into a newer airframe years and years and years and years ago.

It seems there has been further discussions on giving fast jets to the RAF. To me it seems reading the ongoing narrative that if the RN is asked to surrender some capability and the anchor-faced defend the senior service there are cries of cap-badge politics. Yet if there are discussions about scrapping the RAF there are cries about the need to continue tradition, accusations of pettiness, the danger of losing personnel, and the need for more jointary etc. etc.

A couple of things,

1) People don’t join the RAF to go to sea. There is a difference between a tour for GRx squadron on an Invincible Class and spending you whole service career at sea. SHOCK! HORROR! BUT YOUNG PEOPLE DO ACTUALLY JOIN THE RN TO GO TO SEA. YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE BEING AT SEA. But not all. Saying you go where you sent doesn’t really work even in the services. All that happens is people do re-enlist. Perhaps some of you need to look beyond the kit and look at the most important of the element of the services the SERVICE PEOPLE.

2) The RAF organisational structure is top heavy considering that service is actually at the beck and call of its main customer Army. It is the land war that dictates where the RAF goes. Look at the RN structure. A naval task force commander doesn’t have to deal with another organisation who’s structure mirrors his own to control his air power. He turns to his staff officer air who deals with the commander airs who in turn deal with the various squadron leaders. Why can’t an army divisional commander turn to a brigadier (air) for his air support needs. Why does air power have to be outsourced? Why should a general have to deal with an air marhsall and his staff when the Navy deals with all this internally. Surely if the calls for jointary are genuine you would really be clamouring for the Army to take on a USMC type structure. But as I said calls for jointary here seem to be out the RN giving stuff, not going the extra mile.

2) Without wishing to sound like that Lewis Page person but the RAF does seem to me (and if you know better please point me to a source so I can adjust my view) to be personnel heavy. How many maintainers/support staff per aircraft does the RAF have compared with FAA/AAC. The FAA fast jet community may have been small but it terms of professionalism and technical ability it has punched well above its weight.

3) I will leave the RAF’s less than sparkling post-war record for another time. That the general public seem to think everything military that flies in the UK speaks more of their ignorance and the ability of the RAF PR/spin machine.

PS: When above I address “you” I don’t mean anybody in particular. No offence intended.

PPS: As I have said come October we are all stuffed whatever we type here.

PPPS: If MoD were to give Typhoon a gun, double the RAF’s tanker buy, and give what ever else the light blue people want I will be as happy as anyone. I am not really anti-RAF, honest.

IXION
IXION
September 17, 2010 6:53 pm

Like I said this is getting silly….

I think we’ve done this part of this thread..

No its no good I can’t stop myself…

So that’s no restricted waters. OK so that is most of the Med.Gulf of Aden/ Arabia /Red sea/Carribian. Even north Indian ocean if the Indians don’t like it.

Where were all the likely trouble spots we need all this air power again oh Yea…..

By the way at roughly £1 bilion for the type 45, and £1.5 bill for the Frigates and replenishment vessel. so thats £2.5 billion plus 500 or so lives

Even IF the CFV performs as advertised, and does everything perfectly we will still only have two – one deployable at the time. If we put it i harms way then we had better wrap it with every available asset.

Some Q

What is the strike radius of a 35B?
Now many smart bombs can it carry?
Naturally 30 isd will be able to rain down fire on every posible misile containing container truck within range, outside the range of a Brahmos, ss24 etc etc. with their inexhaustable supply of said smart bombs?

I am not saying they cannot do anything, it is however at least arguable that they will be white elephants.

IXION
IXION
September 17, 2010 7:15 pm

Jedibeftrix

I have played devils advocate.

Carriers will not me useless, they will carry usefull assets, they will have capabilities.

what I am arguing about is whether those

Actual
Real world sustainable
Usable
Capabilities

Are worth the huge sums of money, involved set against the genuine vulnerabilities, and the potential cost of its lost.

The turning of the RN into a Two carier potection supply force.

I said this was going to get silly, and it has e.g LOL on the end of one comment and magical fairy spares.

In part it is the only having two that is the problem if we had 4 they could be deployed willi nilli.

BTW
Try retaking the Falklands with 1 carrier in re-fit and the other has a fire on th way to Gib, (The US has had several carrier fires in the post war era. Never mind what an Argie SSK might do.

Andy
Andy
September 17, 2010 7:47 pm

Are we ignoring the effects of CVF as a force multiplier here or as the UK’s conventional deterrent?

COIN army + coast guard means we’ll end up fighting medium or major scale wars only if its in someone elses interest also.

x
x
September 17, 2010 7:52 pm

I meant to say “people don’t re-enlist”…….

Michael
Michael
September 17, 2010 8:05 pm

Jim30

Have read & thought about your post a lot.
You may be completely right & i apologise, from what you say it sounds like the MoD were asked (yet again), to do to many things without getting the money & political support or backing that it needed.

Maybe what i said was harsh….but i’ve never heard anyone from the MoD say that the Gov. are wrong about something or that they think this or that is a bad idea for these reasons. They may say this in private, for all i know there have been raging arguments, with phones & books bouncing off of heads & shoulder’s.

I know that the New York attacks skewed everything and that once again they (the MoD), had to scramble to deal with something that came out of the blue (yet again). They did so very, very well, but i think that is mainly due to the people making the best of what they have & i don’t just mean the soldiers at the pointy part.

I suppose what i really question is what is actually built as opposed to what is needed.
I know i’m putting this badly…..i do know how long it takes to design things & then iron out the inevitable bugs that come with hi-tech equipment.

I think that the MoD, be it the Navy, Raf or Army try to reach too far when they are looking for new equipment to replace a piece of equipment for a specific task or job.

I’ll think some more about what you’ve said, again, thanks for that :)

Michael
Michael
September 17, 2010 8:49 pm

Ixion, i’ve never been a supporter of CVF & you’ve no idea how much i’m resisting the urge to play fantasy fleet. If you could see my face right now you’d laugh :)

I just meant, if you were to send a CVF through the Strait of Hormuz & Iran started shooting from out of the blue then that would be the probable result.

If we were going to do a deliberate attack, then i’ve no idea what part something like CVF/JSF would play. Generaly, in the past, US/Uk tries to go after the oppo’s air defence first.

Not something i really want to contemplate with Iran.

Jim30
Jim30
September 18, 2010 8:38 am

“Maybe what i said was harsh….but i’ve never heard anyone from the MoD say that the Gov. are wrong about something or that they think this or that is a bad idea for these reasons. They may say this in private, for all i know there have been raging arguments, with phones & books bouncing off of heads & shoulder’s.”

Michael – the reason MOD don’t do that is because the MOD, like all Govt departments is a tool of the democratically elected Government, and as such is bound to carry out its wishes. I would be very worried if the MOD were to start openly criticisng aspects of Govt policy so publicly.

There are plenty of private arguments, but loyalty to the chain of command is paramount – anything else raises unpleasant questions about where the departments loyalties lie.

Fluffy Thoughts
Fluffy Thoughts
September 18, 2010 9:25 am

Someone upthread posted about the implications of PFI. Being a liberal I am loathed to see the MoD take part in private enterprise (a’la the PLA) but I have the suspicion that a large number of such finance initiatives are anchored by the Royal Bank of Scorched-earth. Maybe some transfer of assets/contractual-obligations could mitigate future defence liabilities?

Regrading a hypothetical naval-force I would question anyone who fails to supply sufficient frigates within such a task-group. A few days ago I asked a similar question at defence talk. Even in that scenario I fear I am ASW-lite [sic].

As for CVF, and in light of rumours of the PM ‘going-army’, if we are going to go one carrier then we should call the whole thing off. It appears our fondness for Portsmouth is encouraging us to act like their football team (in terms of financing)…. :(

TREVOR
TREVOR
September 18, 2010 5:12 pm

I have been reading on the site for quite a while,which i think is a top site!

The cvf to me look great to have 65000ton,jsfs,but as always there is a but!,we dont have enough t45s to protect them 6,at 1 billion ago,ut seems to me we just cannot seem to really develop a proper building programme,we end up with some of this and some of that,nothing really thought through.in 1998 it was said we needed 32 hulls to defend our interests, now we down to 23,so we the cvf were thought of, the navy was forseen to be much bigger.

in my opion, the cvfs should be cancelled,and a lph class like the new us navy america class should be built,jsfs.marines,helicopters,or in the secondary role a mini carrier flying jsfs.i think it would be more relevent the cvf,albion class.

x
x
September 18, 2010 6:13 pm

Exactly what did the Army have to do in A-stan it hadn’t done in the last three hundred years? That is put men into the field with rifles back up with some big guns to stonk the enemy en masse. We shouldn’t fall into the politicians’ trap of “re-shaping our armed forces to meet emerging threats.” That is HMG double speak.

As for carrier numbers though we have had 3 hulls in the water for the majority of the Invincible Class era we have also for the majority of that time only ever operated two carriers. The third hull has been in virtual suspended animation, any refitting work that was go on was done so at a snails pace. We haven’t had a rolling three ship programme as the USN would recognise for Invincible Class for a long, long time. Therefore if MoD(n) takes advantage of new techniques in ship building and ship management we won’t be any worse off with just 2 CVF. Yes three would be better but….

Further if we are to share capabilities with our allies let them provide the large standing armies and land based air. While we continue to provide the continent’s major navy. And a restructured British Army becomes the continent’s primary large land force a la USMC.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 18, 2010 8:08 pm

“We shouldn’t fall into the politicians’ trap of re-shaping our armed forces to meet emerging threats. That is HMG double speak.”

To be fair, the Armed Forces have always adapted to meet the threats of the day.

In the eighteenth century we effectively acted the spine for colonial forces, in the nineteenth century we went for naval dominance, the twentieth was characterised by massed land power.

In the 21st we will have to change again.

x
x
September 18, 2010 8:46 pm

Jedibeeftrix said “To be fair, the Armed Forces have always adapted to meet the threats of the day.”

I know our armed forces are “flexible.” I know how the British army was traditionally used both in the colonies and on the Continent. {And therefore on balance our garrisoning of Germany for the last 65 years went against the flow of the previous 300 years or so. }

But has the British army really done much more than turned out well trained (often poorly equipped!) soldiers and sent them out into the world. Yes the technology of the weapons has changed and so have the combat drills, but has the role changed? For example if you read some of the more thoughtful papers on peace keeping there is a train of thought that thinks that soldiers are poorly equipped in their training and levels of education for peace keeping. An 18 year old off a council estate with a rifle has seen little of the world and will probably little understanding of it. His recently graduate platoon OIC may be slightly better educated but is still very young. Both these examples are probably excellent soldiers, but they are hardly 21st century “zen” warriors trained in conflict resolution with a tool kit of techniques for dealing with divers groups (and personalities.) Why do you think the UN likes to establish police missions? Are these policing missions any better? Soldiers are still soldiers; flexible, but only in a very limited way. There role is to provide “muscle” while others provide the necessary skills.

But when HMG uses words and phrases like “re-shaping” and “emerging threats” and “slicing” it is working around the word cuts. And it was that of which I was talking.

Michael
Michael
September 18, 2010 8:53 pm

Admin, i hope your making note of the fact that i’m not indulging in “Fantasy Fleet”.

The position seems to be, the Navy might get one ship or two depending on the mood of the damm politicions at the time. Remember, they are only thinking as far as the next election. Their kid’s will never be at the pointy part of the stick. They will be safe at some over-priced university doing a course in something that is irrelivent somewhere in europe!

The Navy clearly isn’t very good at chess, or very good at getting it’s arguments across.

This isn’t what i want to see at all but with the CSR dressed up as a for real SDR due to the financial mess we are in, then i see no real outcome other than a single ship (a harbour queen) and due to the insane cost, 30’ish JSF’s to be fought over by the Raf & Navy.

Also, many here & in the press seem to be focused only on the Navy’s two current big ticket items…
I think that the cut’s that are coming will emasculate the forces for years to come.

I just hope that we don’t come to regret such a stupid short term fix!

It seems that the best the Navy can hope for is two ships with 60’ish JSF’s in a joint-force arrangment with the Raf.

PFI.

What made anyone think that a DFS style agreement would cost less ?

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
September 19, 2010 12:01 am

One thing the press needs to be educated on is the fixation on “Cold War Relics”. In reality these are few and far between now wiht the Armed Forces being reduced year on year for the past two decades. Neither the Carriers, the Typhoon or the Army’s remaining heavy units fall into this catagory. Yes the Armed Forces need to get leaner but the areas to be looked at are personnel, real estate and committemnts. In the current climate Afghanisatn is unaffordabe and is actually building up a future bill the MoD cannot afford now let alone in the future.

But back to the CVFs. If the MoD has any sense it will move funding to ensure both are builts and sufficient assets are bought to allow them to operate effectively. These are the big ticket item at present and should have precidence over everything else. The F-35B should be forgotten with the RAF concentrating on getting the Typhoon up to speed and the RN should look seriously at all three contenders for the platform to operate of the carriers with a clean sheet of paper.

My preference is for the F-18, Rafale and lastly F-35C. I am pretty sure the UK could get a good deal on the F-18 from Boeing and the Pentagon including training, ordonnance and support. In fact given the predicted shortage of planes in the USN, there could be the possibility of a FAA squadron deplying on a cruise of a USN CVN. WIth the Rafale I think the French would be very keen on this and again a good deal could be offered including training etc.

IF the UK goes down the latter path it could restart the French programme for PA2 with it being build to the same design as the UK version allowing the UK to stagger the programme so that QE is followed by PA2 and then PoW easing the burden on the MoDs finances. Then all we would need to do is build 12 FREMM in batches with the first 6 occupying UK shipyards whilst PA2 is in production and the next 6 after PoW with production or 12 C3s starting in 2015 and 2 more Astutes (7 and 8) being built before 2020. Then I need to win the lottery followed by marrying a Playboy Bunny …….

Phil Darley
September 19, 2010 10:12 am

I’ve read these comments with interest and was just about to chuck in my five-pennyworth, when the thought accured to me that the whole thing does not make any sense.

Two carriers are NOT enough to ever be able to guarantee that we have one available when needed. Six T45 (even if the get Sea Viper/ PAAMS) working and give the rest of the weapons it needs (Inner-layer missile and CIWS)is NOT enough to defend them and as they have cut cornes in the design/production the carriers will be VERY VERY vulnerable as they do not have any missile defences themselves and do not have armoured hulls are bulkheads.

The thought that we can re-delpoy these vessels as helicopters carriers is rediculous. They were designed to be aircraft carriers. If we cannot afford aircraft to put on them or ships to defend them then the answer is SIMPLE!!!! GET RID….

Jasons
Jasons
September 19, 2010 10:43 am

Conflating Carrier with LPH is really not a good idea.

How can a small multirole Carrier/LPH deploy both fast jets and transport helicopters in sufficient numbers? I really don’t understand the obsession with smaller carriers. We have operated the “invincibles” and know their limitations.

If we were to lose the LPH capability, hopefully temporarily, by retiring Ocean without replacement we could at least do so in the knowledge that partner countries; France, Italy, Spain are able to deploy LPHs in joint tasks. We will still have two powerful LPDs and the Bays.

It would seem to me that the QE Carriers have developed a “totemic” status not amongst their supporters or the RN but amongst their detractors. Getting rid of the carriers is seen as some sort of ridiculous “cure-all”.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 19, 2010 1:24 pm

“Conflating Carrier with LPH is really not a good idea. How can a small multirole Carrier/LPH deploy both fast jets and transport helicopters in sufficient numbers?”

How does conflating carriers with LPH result in small carriers?

The carriers remain 65,000 tonnes, and will likely only embark with 12-24 JCA despite being built to accommodate up to 36, there will be room to operate helicopters, and the hotel facilities are allegedly capable of managing 1600, so a battalion ‘could’ be deployed from CVF in much the same way they can from ocean.

It is not an ideal solution, but neither is it a permanent one, in 2020 if its no longer desirable build another cheap ocean.

IXION
IXION
September 19, 2010 1:29 pm

Jasons

Scrapping Carriers is not seen as cure all by me.

I start from a position of being, (subject to a real heavy consideration of the realities of it), initialy attracted to the “Scrap the RAF” Scenario.

I would like to see a strong Fleet Air Arm, and the rebirth of the RN as the true Senior service.

Scrapping the carriers (without replacement with something else), would be a major financial disaster, and blow to the prestige and power of the RN.

Almost as serious a blow as Reducing the RN to a one trick pony, dedicated to coseting and supplying the damn things. Quite probably with inadiquate forces to do so.

I am not playing fantasy fleet but could suggest alternatives.

But I would also remind people of the problems the F35B is having and would ask, what if it never flies as a production aircraft or does so at £120 mil a pop? are we “just going to have to afford it”
In the real world are we then going to spend hundreds of miilions rebuilding them to take conventional aircraft?

It is not just their detractors to whom they have become totemic, to be anti CVF is now seen as being anti navy, or anti navy airpower.

I am not either of the above.

Michael
Michael
September 19, 2010 1:32 pm

Something else if you don’t mind.

We seem to be repeating a historical situation.

In the mid 60’s the Navy wanted new carriers, aircraft & escorts. This was then cancelled to save money.

Right now, we are building new subs, carriers, escorts, helicopters & new missile’s (Aster).
A £127 million contract has also been issued for a design study for the C1.

There is also a lot of discussion about the proposed C2 & C3. We may also need to design a new ship to replace Ocean. (I read that is was supposed to last 20 years or so). Add to that the need to revamp trident & building 4 new subs for it.

I know we have been fighting mainly land based wars for the past 10 years & that that is where the focus & priority has been. I think that people are going to take aim at that list of stuff the Navy wants, mainly as it’s such a long shopping list.

One more thing about CVF, if we went to cats & traps (with whatever aircraft), do you also see a need or a desire for a fixed wing anti-sub aircraft?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 19, 2010 1:35 pm

more rumour-mongering, or close to the truth?

From the Sunday Times:

“The incoming head of the armed forces, General Sir David Richards, has persuaded David Cameron to spare 20,000 soldiers from the Treasury axe after convincing him they are vital for the Afghan war.

He told the prime minister that the army needs to maintain its strength of about 100,000 troops for it to support nearly 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for the next five years.

The Royal Navy and the RAF will bear the brunt of the cuts imposed under the Strategic Defence Review.

It is a victory for Richards, who has outmanoeuvred Ministry of Defence officials. Cameron has accepted that it would be politically damaging to slash the army at a time when it is fighting alongside America and other Nato allies and when casualties are at their highest level since the start of the war in 2001.

The forthcoming cuts will be the deepest for nearly 20 years, when the armed forces were slashed by a third.

Other service chiefs are furious. Nearly half of Britain’s fighter jets and more than a third of the navy’s frigates and destroyers will go. Plans for two new aircraft carriers will still go ahead at a cost of £5 billion. But there will be a sharp reduction in the number of jets operating from them.

Richards has spent the summer making the case for protecting the army from cuts, insisting that it needs to retain its seven combat brigades to provide enough units for six-month tours of duty. In an unusual move, Richards was appointed directly by the prime minister after he interviewed candidates.

A senior army officer said: “This deal is a realisation that we can only succeed in Afghanistan if we back the army to the hilt and concentrate resources where they are needed.”

Senior government sources say the first key decision on the future of Britain’s armed forces was made early last week, and that cuts to Britain’s £38 billion military budget will now be limited to just over 10%.

Despite Richards’s success in protecting troop numbers, he has had to agree to “brutal” cuts of £5 billion a year to the parts of the military not directly involved in Afghanistan.

Defence sources say the RAF and the Royal Navy will each have to save £1.5 billion a year, and to cut 10,000 jobs. There will be further savings of £2 billion a year from cancelling procurement projects, closing military bases and making 10,000 civil servants redundant.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, told The Sunday Times that the proposed deal would allow Britain’s armed forces “to maintain their national stance” and he described it as “not a complete show-stopper”.

However, the deal could still be blown apart depending on the outcome of heated arguments about the replacement for Trident.

Dannatt described the Trident issue as a “political game changer” and said it would not be manageable for the MoD to have to find the money for Trident from within its budget. “If you delay Trident and look at alternatives it would be adequate,” he said.

Sources say Richards would accept a trade-off whereby conventional forces are spared deeper cuts if there is a delay until after 2015 in ramping up spending on Trident. Under existing plans it would cost £5 billion to fund the first phase of the replacement for Trident over the next five years. Pleas by Liam Fox, the defence secretary, for the Treasury to pay for the new nuclear deterrent separately from the MoD budget are likely to fall on deaf ears.

Fierce arguments are expected within the national security council over where the axe will fall in the RAF and Royal Navy.

However, The Sunday Times has established that plans to buy 22 new Chinook heavy-lift helicopters — pledged by Gordon Brown to help troops avoid Taliban roadside bombs — are to be scaled back to only 12. Most of them would not have been ready for six years, after Cameron’s deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Upgrades to keep 35 Puma helicopters in service for another decade are to be scrapped and their base at RAF Benson closed.

The RAF is expected to confirm that it will retire at least half of its 160 old Tornado and Harrier fighter jets early, leaving the future of RAF Marham, Wittering and Lossiemouth in doubt.

The Royal Navy will go ahead with plans to close its Devonport dockyard and nine older frigates and destroyers are to be retired.

Although the navy’s two new aircraft carriers now seem safe, the air group to operate on them will be significantly reduced to fewer than 40 aircraft. A £700m replacement for the amphibious carrier HMS Ocean will now not be built and one of the new carriers will have to act as a floating base for the Royal Marines.

A £300m upgrade of the Royal Navy’s 35 Sea King amphibious assault helicopters is to be scrapped, and they will all be retired within five years.

Richards, formerly head of the army, left behind detailed plans for efficiency savings across the army when he handed over to his successor, General Sir Peter Wall last week.

Army savings will be measured in “low hundreds” of millions and much of this will be ploughed back into the Afghan war chest.

The vast majority of the 20,000 British troops currently based in Germany will be found new homes in redundant RAF bases in Britain by the middle of the decade.”

Phil Darley
September 19, 2010 2:10 pm

The phrase cut of nose to spite face springs to mind. The MoD has been cut in real terms whilst other departments NHS to name one have enjoyed massive increases in spending. This was at the same time as fighting two wars!!!!

I think the axe should fall on those deparfments who have enjoyed the good times and we should look for savings in the welfare budget,which quite frankly is a joke!

Defence as this blog knows better than most should be a countries prority. The armed forces need to be re-equipped and fully able to support our foreign policy and defend our interest. They cannot do that now. How the fcuking are they going to do it if these cuts are even half true???

UK people wake-up and smell the roses

x
x
September 19, 2010 3:44 pm

@ Phil Darley

The true is we haven’t really been able to defend ourselves conventionally from about 1965 onwards. The West’s defence had been built around nuclear weapons. The conventional forces were just speed bumps on the road to Armageddon.

Andy
Andy
September 19, 2010 5:57 pm

No mention of cutting Amphibs, bar no Ocean replacement in that article?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 19, 2010 6:14 pm

indeed not, and i’m tempted to write it off as partisan leaking to generate a week of “save the navy” headlines from the press, because if true it represents exactly the kind of ridiculous fudge that RUSI warned against, is there any point in having the carriers and ARG if there aren’t the escorts to take them anywhere, because the alternative is to give up 2/3 of our standing tasks.

x
x
September 19, 2010 8:50 pm

@ Jedibeeftrix

Perhaps the standing tasks are the problem, not CVF. I have been thinking about these since your wonderful post on your blog a week or so ago. At the moment my thinking is this,

1) Atlantic Patrol North. Though I have never read anything official that’s says this but APN must be “top cover” for the deterrent patrol. So we need to do this. And it needs to be a frigate. I assume that there must be an SSN further up threat (ie somewhere towards Russia) running interference too. To maintain this then 3 x frigates and 4 x SSN. One further thought regarding the old WIGS function. This needs to be scratched as well. Tying up a tanker to chase drug dealers around the Caribbean is just as bad as using a frigate. And neither of these vessels are really much use for disaster recovery. Perhaps some of that 9/10billion of overseas development fund could be used to purchase and man a more suitable civilian vessel?

2) Falklands Guard Ship (or whatever its called now) both for the high ideal of protecting the islanders but also more cynically to protect the potential wealth of the Falkland Island’s EEZ. So that will be 3 x frigates. A destroyer would be better but….. As for security in Southern Africa well surely that is South Africa’s problem?

3) Armilla Patrol. The Gulf Navies are better funded and quite competent. The USN is still huge. Not our problem. No need for us to walk the beat. Even though there has been some resurgence in British Merchant Ship registrations I am leaning towards this still not being a reason to have a permanent presence East of Suez. Norway, Japan, Germany and Greece with much larger merchant fleets don’t prowl the world’s oceans. (That irks me to say that…..)

4) Fleet Ready Escort (?) Could be rotated through whatever T23’s is alongside in Portsmouth. There is pool of T23 spare personnel in Nelson; they even have natty cap tallies. This then could be a ship working up or just returned from another task. Therefore it doesn’t to have 3 hull count; it isn’t a real task.

Just with those for 4 tasks I have only accounted for 6 frigates. Therefore if CVF escort takes 3 x Daring and 3 x frigates we are still left with 3 x Daring and 3 x frigates for a grand total of 18 escorts. And this spare group could be our reserve or ARG escort. I would prefer an extra pair (or three) of Darings, but that is beyond the realms of possibility now.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
September 19, 2010 9:37 pm

@ Sven (17/09)
A sports car engine and a 10 deg. ramp taking the place of cats & traps! I take my hat off to you sir, Mr H. Robinson would be proud! No, really, I’m not taking the mick, a truly blue sky solution to the problem – deeply impressed.

@X (17/09)
The reason we can’t make the RAF subordinate to the Army is that, if the situation existed in 1940, most of the RAF would have been chewed up supporting the BEF in France, instead of being kept back for homeland defnece. There is a basic Homeland defence requiredment that the RAF meets that wouldn’t be cherished/understood by the Army.

I agree though, that of the three services the RAF still has the “in depth” cold-war staffing and command structure hanging over from the 1980’s. There are a lot of staff-grades that wouldn’t be missed if the RAFgot rid of them today . . .

x
x
September 19, 2010 10:23 pm

@ Dangerous Dave

I understand what you are saying, but RAF and “air-power” aren’t synonymous. And I think the Army is well aware of the need for homeland defence. (Actually there is some history here going back to Lord Roberts vs the need for a strong navy……)

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 19, 2010 10:58 pm

hmmmm, if this is true i rather suspect that the early loss will of the 42’s and 22’s will be matched by an acceleration of the the C2 program, so while there may be a ‘dip’ as low as 14 frigates it would swiftly climb again.

Part of this depends on how much of the ARG survives, and it all depends on whether this is yet more poking-the-media-ants-nest, but a 14 escort navy with carriers really is unsupportable, and i just don’t believe it.

As an aside, i am coming to the opinion that C2 will be a specialised ship rather than merely a choke-point frigate. One of the warships 1 crowd coined the term; littoral control ship a few years back, the idea being a ship designed to deploy multiple small craft to control the littoral environment.

His idea was a bay class derivative, but given the ‘load’ was CB90’s and griffin small hovercraft i think an absalon style ship with four davits and and a stern ramp would do the job nicely, and if left with a artisan/camm and limited ASW would still be very cheap.

The GP frigate just doesn’t make much sense in the RN……….

Marcase
Marcase
September 19, 2010 11:11 pm

X – among your list are missing some NATO contributions.
At least one, but preferably both SNMG 1&2 would like to see a UK flagged frigate. This is not just for showing the flag, but joint international training is core to NATO and what makes it so effective (and especially NATO’s navy certainly is).

Besides NATO, the UKRN would like to commit ships for further joint training with non-NATO friends (such as Australia and New Zealand, but also Egypt, India, South American and Asian navies) to strengthen international friendships and allow future passage of UKRN assets when they need to. And to promote British industrial prowess so ships can be sold to earn some cash; promoting UK industry is another unofficial navy role.

x
x
September 19, 2010 11:41 pm

@ Jedibeeftrix

I don’t think the frigate figures will recover as with some exceptions the collective appreciation and understanding of defence matters degrades with each Parliament. Our current parliamentarians think we will only go to war with help from our Europeans friends or hanging on the coat tails of the US. The former think though we will save them as “we” are the squaddies of Europe. While I suspect the latter will only become isolationist if there is right wing shift in their politics.

I think that 126million on T26 is wasted money. “We” (um, BAE!) should buy the IP rights to FREMM. If I were to go a step sillier I would even suggest that a small class of Horizon would make better a bet as a dedicated second rate destroyer escorts for CVF. This would free Daring for more arduous tasks. I have also thought that T26 money would have been spent giving Daring the weapons they are “fitted for, but not with.” How much of submarine threat do we actually face? Buying a submarine is one thing, being competent in their use an entirely different matter. Perhaps more Darings (plus Merlin) would be more cost effective than T26? Being an “electric” ship Daring must be quite quiet already. And with the move to littoral warfare and quieter submarines means there will be greater use of active sonar; is there space for T45 to have a bow sonar fitted? Does she have the surplus power for a bow sonar? There are lots and lots and lots of options……

I suppose it all depends on how you see conflict in the coming of the decades of the 21st century. If you think we are going to be chasing pirates around the Indian ocean then CB90s, hover craft, and guns will be OK. If you think armed forces will come into contact at crisis points, exchange limited fire in crisis that rapidly de-escalated by politicians we would be better served by an impressive carrier and some shiny supa-dupa escorts.

My main concern is what happens if there is a “sea grab” for resources. That is why I think the Falklands is a higher priority than a few matelots repairing a hurricane damaged school in the Caribbean. What if the EU fractures or the US tired of being kicked for being the world’s policeman brings up her drawbridge?

x
x
September 20, 2010 12:07 am

@ Marcase

Sorry yes I got called away……….

Well as for NATO standing forces these would have go too. Take the Mediterranean. France, Italy, and Spain all have nice new ships. France and Spain haven’t really pulled their weight NATO. France has only just opted back into the military structure now the threat in the East has disappeared. Spain hasn’t really had the equipment to do anything useful. These three nations are best placed to look after that area. We must follow the mantra from our politicians, “we can’t do everything, we have allies.”, etc. etc.

As for the Atlantic well we will have CVF and her escort as our contribution. If there is a national emergency we do what every other nation on the planet does and put ourselves first.

Remember also I said we would have 3 Darings and 3 frigates over. And I never said we couldn’t have more than the number of the escorts I sketched out. What I think I was trying to show was that perhaps things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Yes bad, but not very, very bad.

You mention supporting the Commonwealth nations. I think if India needed to call on our help in defence the crap would have well and truly hit the fan. You don’t seem to have an appreciation of Indian foreign or defence policy. Hint, go and look who they buy kit off. The answer is well everybody. The Indian republic is proudly ploughing its own furrow. As for helping the White Commonwealth I think many Brits would see a security threat to say Oz and NZ as a threat to us, it would be personal. And I hope we would deploy every asset we could. But would our leaders see it that way? Who knows? A Eurocentric government may make nice noises and turn its back. There are some very odd people in the political classes; just think what would happen to the Falklands if Labour had been in power in 82,

Marcase
Marcase
September 20, 2010 12:45 am

I guess the point I was trying to make is that only a navy, and the RN in particular, has a unique capability that her sister services lack, and that is the ability to “show the flag”.

Literally being able to show a sovereign presence in whatever backwater gives a clear political signal (and thus an exercise of foreign policy) while not necessarily engaging in an armed conflict or actively interfering on land.

Armilla Patrol is a good example. Not necessarily a true fighting fleet, its mere presence assured allies and puts potential troublemakers on notice. The sheer deterrence of a single navy ship lies in the fact that if sunk, it would be a clear aggressive signal (how politicians respond to that is a bit ambiguous, of course, see Cheonan).

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 20, 2010 8:46 am

“I suppose it all depends on how you see conflict in the coming of the decades of the 21st century. If you think we are going to be chasing pirates around the Indian ocean then CB90s, hover craft, and guns will be OK. If you think armed forces will come into contact at crisis points, exchange limited fire in crisis that rapidly de-escalated by politicians we would be better served by an impressive carrier and some shiny supa-dupa escorts.”

At no point am i suggesting that we become an enormous coastguard, or that we would not have carriers, nor even that C2 would be anything other than a cheap choke-point frigate.

All i am suggesting is that MOD strategy documents talk of the need to dominate the littoral in the next 20 years, and seeing as you don’t do this with an expensive T45/T26 the obvious candidate is C2, and all that it requires are a bunch of cheap CB90’s and marine style griffin or two.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
September 20, 2010 8:49 am

“fudge ahoy, I think as I predicted!!”

indeed you did admin.

———————————————–

Marcase, agreed on the armilla patrol, the oil in the mid east hasn’t got any less important, and the region is only getting more jumpy as iran begins to flex its muscles.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
September 20, 2010 10:09 am

Jedibeeftrix,

‘The region is only getting more jumpy as iran begins to flex its muscles.’

I would add, ‘and as the oil supply in the region begins to dry up.’

x
x
September 20, 2010 12:32 pm

@ Jedibeefrix said “At no point am i suggesting that we become an enormous coastguard, or that we would not have carriers, nor even that C2 would be anything other than a cheap choke-point frigate.”

Oh no of course not friend. I started off responding to you then I let my mind ramble. When I post here as on your site I am just exploring, Nothing was meant.

Andy
Andy
September 21, 2010 4:47 pm

So it seem we were trying to offload a CVF to India. Or at the very least exploring it as an option
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/ajai-shukla-making-warships-happen/408614/

MjH
MjH
September 21, 2010 11:26 pm

X – Standing Naval tasks MUST be force drivers, they are not, as you suggest, discretionary, and you do not paint an accurate picture of what they do:

1) Atlantic Patrol North. Counter to what you suggest, APT(N) (and tanker) are not support to deterrent. They are required for support to overseas Territories (primarily Disaster Relief, with security and EEZ work) and with spare capacity, contribute to Counter-Narcotics operations. Catching drugs in big bundles ‘up-stream’ is extremely cost effective. 1 Type 23, last year, seized more drugs in one patrol than was impounded by the Boarders & Customs agency within the UK in an entire year. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8277483.stm Could customs or another agency do this? It needs to be a Frigate / Destroyer sized ship to provide the sustainability, reach, C4ISTAR and enablers to deliver this sort of effect at long range. The people onboard, all with a wide variety of training, are as comfortable fixing up an overseas territory after a hurricane as they are catching smugglers. Can you suggest a more cost effective means to deliver the same range of effects?

2) Falklands Guard Ship (Actually APT(S), with associated tanker and HMS CLYDE, the on station Patrol Ship). Conducts EEZ patrol and deterrence in the South Atlantic, as well as a great deal of capacity building and WRE in West Africa and South America when en-route on and off station, providing the UK with a presence in an area where we are otherwise sparsely represented. Whilst doing this, routine counter-narcotics continue: http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/MilitaryOperations/HmsGloucesterFoilsDrugSmugglers.htm
Try telling a conservative government that we should take risk on FI deterrence!

3) Armilla Patrol. Not called this since 2003. We are there because the Gulf navies are not competent, the USN is over-stretched and if oil and gas stops flowing through the Straits of Hormuz OUR lights go out VERY quickly. Why should the USN safeguard our energy supply? Only about 7% of US oil comes from the Gulf, a large proportion of our LPG and oil, however, comes from the region. This also goes for the 4 MCMs, Bay Class, a submarine, and 2 or 3 Frigates, and an engineering ship. Fundamentally it is about 17% of world oil, figure for yourself the impact on world prices.

4) Fleet Ready Escort & Duty TAPS (Towed Array Patrol Ship) FRE is ALREADY taken up by ships having returned from a task or before they deploy for one. Since when is defence of the UK ‘Not a real task?’. Would you like to rely on a scratch crew to deal with any one of a number of contingencies that having a warship available to defend the house & kids sorts out? Hi-jacked chemical tanker steaming up the channel anyone? Search & rescue?
TAPS – Required for the deterrent, and since we now have no operational MPA, really quite important.

The Navy is very bad at articulating the importance of many of these tasks, but they ARE force driving, and alongside contingency stuff (ie what you wrap around a carrier or Amphib group) are not very discretionary.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
September 27, 2010 3:16 pm

thank you MjH, very insightful breakdown.

El Sid
El Sid
November 4, 2010 2:33 pm

I’ve had a half-written reply to this thread sitting in my browser for weeks now, interesting coming back to it now we know what happened in the SDSR. Anyway, it wasn’t really about the CVF :

Just as a small correction to MjH – “a large proportion of our LPG and oil, however, comes from the region” is not true. At present a negligible proportion of our oil comes from anywhere in the Arab world, it’s about 90kbpd or 1 supertanker every 3 weeks. Of that about half comes from Libya, so we’re really talking no more than a couple of tankers a year from the Gulf, and in their absence, at present we would just export a little less refined product to Europe. However with North Sea oil declining, we’re going to need about 90 tankers/year of oil coming in. Quite a few of those “tanker” loads will come in by pipeline, some will not be needed as rising prices cut demand, but yes we will need more tankers coming in from the Middle East – and elsewhere, such as West Africa (whose recent increase in importance arguably deserves a bigger RN presence these days).

I suspect MjH meant LNG rather than LPG – liquefied natural gas. The big story in energy security is UK gas rather than oil, we were still exporting both in 2004 but by 2015 we’ll be importing about a third of our oil but potentially 80-90% of our gas.

A lot of that will come by pipeline from the Norwegian side of the North Sea, but since last year about 20% of our natural gas is coming from just three platforms a few miles outside Iranian territorial waters. Protecting the chain of 14 LNG ships is a significant new mission for the RN that they haven’t had before. LNG ships can’t hang about for long, as about 1% of the LNG boils off every day, so you can’t really form them into convoys to get the most from a limited number of escorts. Aside from the obvious implications for our presence in the Gulf, it also makes Suez even more important.

It’s not just about the oil that comes directly through Hormuz though. If the Iranians were to close Hormuz, then everyone would be paying $200+/barrel for their oil, whether they buy it from Mexico, Venezuela or Canada. That’s a pretty good strategic reason for the global community to keep the straits clear, even if the likes of Saudi, Germany, Japan and Korea have in effect outsourced that requirement to the USN as part of deals done over the last 70 years.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
November 4, 2010 3:09 pm

good argument, glad you posted it. :D