CVF Rumour and Sigh*

One might be forgiven if the latest in a long line of rumours about what seems to be the most important aspect of the SDSR, whether the Royal Navy retain the CVF programme, are simply ignored, but the latest batch of rumours really are worth commenting on.

Reported in various news sources is the confirmation of 2 CVF, with QE having an austere helicopter capability with PoW going the cats and traps route and QE coming up to the same specification at her first refit.

What is painfully evident is that the First Sea Lord and associated grown-ups in the Admiralty will sacrifice almost anything to keep CVF. I can see their logic, get the hulls in the water and worry about the other stuff later, after all this time and so much sacrificed it would be silly to think otherwise or so they think. By 2015 we will be largely out of Afghanistan and they are gambling that the 2015 SDSR will confirm the largely maritime strategic raiding concept, slash the Army and transfer funding to the Royal Navy to build up aircraft numbers on CVF and crucially bring the Type 26 into being in quantity.

It’s a big gamble.

We keep hearing about how they will allow us to punch above our weight but in sacrificing the rest of the fleet they turn into paper tigers. Specifically look at the escort fleet, destroyers and frigates.

If the rumours are true the Royal Navy will come out of the SDSR with 15 escorts, now depending on how this figure is viewed (if it is indeed true) that could mean a number of variations.

15 in the short term might just not include the 4 Type 45’s that will be entering service in the next few years, the last one being launched only last week) so 13 Type 23’s plus 6 Type 45’s equals 19 in total, down 5 from the 24 today. I have assumed the Batch 3 Type 22’s and Type 42’s will be cut immediately.

Another interpretation of 15 might be 15 including the 4 new Type 45’s, resulting in a medium term TOTAL of 15. This would mean the complete withdrawal of the Type 42’s, 22’s and 4 Type 23’s.

A total of 19 is a reduction of still in excess of 20% and if it is to be 15 then that is a reduction of well over a third and about 1,500 sailors.

So is 15 surface combatants such a bad thing, that would depend on what is around them and how they are deployed but another thing the pro CVF supporters often make is how it will keep us high in the world rankings of naval power, it’s a notion that I think is somewhat illogical because I don’t care what other forces have as long as ours meet our needs but it’s a useful yardstick.

Looking at other countries and ignoring Corvettes (which can in many ways equal the combat power of a frigate) the figure of 15 stacks up like this.

The figures are approximate and the definition of the vessel types can be contradictory in places but its a good approximation. It obviously takes no account of quality or effectiveness either but as Royal Navy supporters know, ships can’t be in two places at once.

What this shows is that the Royal Navy will become massively and dangerously unbalanced, slipping to joint 11th in our table on Total 1 and joint 15th on Total 2. If the outcome is 19 not 15 then things get better, but not by much, 10th on Total 1 and 14th on Total 2.

It might be argued that the smaller offshore patrol boats and corvettes are suitable only for second class forces but the importance of presence should not be underestimated.

How has it come to pass the Royal Navy might have fewer surface combatants than Turkey or South Korea?

The pro CVF lobby constantly talk about power projection, protecting vital sea lanes (we are an island you know) and overseas territories but how is it going to be possible to do any of this when we have such a paltry number of surface vessels, some of which will be in maintenance or other places i.e. of limited use when needed.

Compounding the reduction the surface fleet are the rumours of the CVF aircraft handling configuration and aircraft.

If Harrier is withdrawn before its Out of Service date of 2018 it will leave the existing CVS, Illustrious and Ark Royal, without any fixed wing aircraft, regardless of ownership.

Queen Elizabeth, again, according to the rumours, will be introduced in a cut down cut down configuration for helicopters only. This means she will be unable to operate the rumoured choice of F35C at all until her first refit, some years after Prince of Wales is introduced into service.

If we then go with either Rafale, F18 or F35C (preferred) then it will have to wait for the Prince of Wales to come into service. The additional design and construction costs of converting to catapults and traps will have to be borne relatively early, estimates vary but this does not seem likely to come in at any less than half a billion pounds. Additional crew will also be required to maintain the system and the training obligations for perishable conventional carrier operations. That might be OK if we had loads of crew and loads of aircraft but that doesn’t seem to be the case, with figures of 40 aircraft being bandied about. Of those 40 aircraft some will have to be allocated to training, thus compounding the training problem so it is unlikely that any CVF will ever go to see with any more than a squadrons worth, despite the capacity for much there.

The ownership of the 40 aircraft is also up for grabs; the plan of a joint force with F35B’s seemed a sensible approach as it allowed operations from ships, austere locations and conventional air bases in a very flexible manner, basing moving in line with the operational timeline. The Fleet Air Arm (despite their victimhood status) have been sustained by the good will of the RAF, an uncomfortable truth for many but a truth nevertheless. The current FAA pilots on exchange with the USN are being covered by what service I wonder, if the FAA have to go it alone with F35C the training and sustainment issues will be significant unless we have some serious sharing with the US and French Navies.

CVF and FJCA will continue to suck the funds out of the RN’s budget, important upgrades will be slipped, maintenance budgets cut, training curtailed and the prospect of C2/C3 seems to be but a distant pipedream. The Admirals dream of a temporary decrease in surface numbers in the short term followed by a new programme in the medium term to increase numbers in line with a maritime centric strategy will remain just that, a dream, in the absence of a major strategic threat, force levels will only decline.

We also have to address the de specification of CVF in order to ‘get them through’ such as a lack of adequate air defence missile system and a limited hangar height.

If these rumours are true, the Government have taken the easy decision by keeping going on a broadly similar path yet slicing all around, a bit here and a bit there. By pandering to the vanity and zipper measuring of the Admirals, successive governments have dodged tough decisions because it was on the path of least resistance.

I get the need for maritime fast air but I stand in amazement that the grown-ups have allowed these white elephants to proceed knowing full well it would cause massive damage to the wider navy and other capabilities, it really does beggar belief.

Let’s just hope the rumours aren’t true.

*Apologies to Richard Thompson for nicking the name of his best album

82 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
x
x
October 16, 2010 8:46 pm

Would you like me to write about my latest lets scrap the Army ideas? :)

IXION
IXION
October 16, 2010 9:02 pm

Hear F***ing hear!!

dominicj
dominicj
October 16, 2010 9:05 pm

i dont think just flat numbers is a reasonable comparison.
A cat trap carrier fleet would whack a destroyer fleet 10x its size before they knew it was there.
Its not an ideal solution, but its not the worst outcome.

The good doctor reckons its frogphoons for the carriers, and i cant think of a time when he’s been wrong.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
October 16, 2010 9:07 pm

“Let’s just hope the rumours aren’t true.”

agreed, they should either be binned along with the amphibs, or both kept as fast-jet platforms, possibly with a swing LPH role.

Ashley
Ashley
October 16, 2010 9:07 pm

Frankly, I see why the navy will gamble everything for the carriers.

CVF came as a result of the 1998 SDR, it’s taken 12 years to get this far and it could take 17 or 18 to get the things into service. The moment the CVF contract is cancelled it’s back to square one, if they want carriers (and as a nation that wants to be able to attack across the seas then we do) then come 2015 they’ll have to start all over again.

On the other hand, the Type 22 frigates need to go soon anyway because they’re falling apart and the oldest type 23 is 20 years old and looking fowards to it’s retirement. So we’re going to need new ones soon, and that could easily take 6-7 years before we see them in service.

So if the navy keeps the carriers then it could be 10 years before we get a fleet with carriers and escorts, until then we won’t have the escort fleet we need and so can’t take on a well armed opponent.

On the other hand if we scrap the carriers then come 2015 we need to buy carriers and frigates, then it’ll be 20 years before we have a fleet with carriers and escorts, and we’ll need to build all of the escorts we would have if we had kept the carriers. In this 20 years we have no naval airpower, no helicopter amphibious ship unless ocean is replaced (along with the rest of the navy in 2015) and a fleet of steadily ageing escorts (with numbers declining, remember plenty of them will need to be retired in the 5-10 year time frame anyway) with nothing to escort.

It’s not a popular statement here, but I think the navy is making the right choice.

Anon
Anon
October 16, 2010 9:22 pm

Personally, I think this is it. I can not see Defence enjoying a national rebirth when (if) the economy recovers.

If “the grown ups” have determined that a sovereign capability (for all services) is not worth fighting for, all that is left is to determine who we conjoin with.

Perhaps dark blue people are thinking that joining the club with the flat tops will give them some weight. If we can not make an argument for a strong defence now, when will we ever be able to?

What is most upsetting about the whole thing is that the SDSR has taken place without any real national soul searching about our role in the world.

I just ask, has Defence “Defence as a whole must come out in a stronger position.”???? As Dr Fox offered the test at the outset.

To me, from what I have seen, Defence is coming out of it in a poor state, where people have almost deliberately taken positions to spite the each other’s services rather than stand united against an indefensible dilution of national capability.

If the new Government really believes that there is a silver bullet to solve the procurement issues it would save its money there. Make the changes to MoD’s back orifice functions, but not to capability.

The truth seems that the only Service they are interested in is lip service.

I ask again, has this process passed the test set by its instigator, “Defence as a whole must come out in a stronger position.”?

If not, then it is the time to act ruthlessly and without sentiment.

Anon
Anon
October 16, 2010 9:27 pm

I expect Britain and France to plant their standards in the next decade and wait for the rest of Europe to coagulate around them.

Whether that is right or not, I don’t know.

x
x
October 16, 2010 9:33 pm

Carriers are a once in a generation opportunity. We lost out in the 60s and paid for it. We can always order extra escorts; there are plenty of proven designs out there. Cancelling the carriers smacks of short sightedness. I would be interested to see any CVF-free orbats that you my learned friends draw up.

At least I have reason to turn up for Navy Days 2015 now.

Anon
Anon
October 16, 2010 9:38 pm

X forget once in a generation – you talk as if this can continue for another generation. It wont. This is it.

Fluffy Thoughts
Fluffy Thoughts
October 16, 2010 10:09 pm

Telegraph reporting Navy having as little as 20 vessels:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/spending-review/8068591/RAF-police-and-welfare-budgets-to-bear-brunt-of-83bn-cuts.html

So:

2xCVS
1xLPH
2xLPD
6xDDG
9xFFG

If the navy have to hand over 4 T23’s to BAe for resale then – maybe – they’ll pick-up the PoS vessels for APT(N). Not too bad a compromise?

x
x
October 16, 2010 10:09 pm

@ Anon

To be honest really I am past caring. All governments through out history have been flawed in one way or another. They are subject to the short comings of man’s intellect, vanity. and integrity.

So to me it is now simply a question of I like ships and it appears “we” are getting a nice big carrier or two. Whether they fit into a cohesive defence strategy which benefits the UK I don’t know, I don’t care.

x
x
October 16, 2010 10:12 pm

@ Fluffy

I have had a long week. What is PoS?

Andy
Andy
October 16, 2010 10:17 pm

Judging on numbers is a silly comparison, aside from the USA & France most of those mentioned are regional fleets and can’t sustain ops outside of their region.

So they’ll be bigger frigate navies, whilst the RN will remain a global naval force. Especially if the 3 Amphibs & the Bays don’t take a big hit.

Agree totally with you Ashley – without anything to escort the RN will become a European backwater navy within 20 years. They have no choice, CVF will force future governments to build the navy around them.

Long term thinking is required, too much financial crisis driven short termism in this article!

Andy
Andy
October 16, 2010 10:21 pm

@ fluffy ‘Telegraph reporting Navy having as little as 20 vessels’

They’re also reporting the Tornado as likely to be scrapped and haven’t been the most accurate on defence lately.

20 vessels excluding the Rivers?

Fluffy Thoughts
Fluffy Thoughts
October 16, 2010 10:29 pm

x, these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Spain_class_corvette

Andy,

Assume the twenty is major combatants. [Assumes journalists aren’t clued up.]

x
x
October 16, 2010 10:31 pm

Thanks Fluffy!!!

IXION
IXION
October 16, 2010 11:17 pm

DomminicJ and Andy

Re the larger navies being only regional powers.

I thought the whole point about being a world power was we could go and beat them up in Their back yard. not waiting for them to come to us.

I would not fancy a QE task force chances against south Korea for example of the coast of Korea. For example.

Andy
Andy
October 16, 2010 11:29 pm

Ixion, i’m a believer in CVF because

1. The Navy is the one arm of our armed forces that has any real power in comparison worldwide.
2. It allows us to ‘smack-down’ below peer adversaries on our own
3. It brings an attractive capability to the table for any partner looking for an ally. And means we can deploy worldwide a useful asset in an alliance.

A non-CVF armed forces relegates us to ALWAYS acting in concert with others and potentially fighting their wars rather than ours.

A non blue water navy brings the UK an army which is replicated many times over by other countries, an airforce smaller than most and a navy unable to operate out of Europe on its own.

I’n not a CVF junkie, i’d settle in hindsight for a 25,000t replacement CVS but we are where we are and i’m a naval air hawk ;)

Euan
Euan
October 16, 2010 11:33 pm

X, Perhaps a suitable quote for you “Men must be governed! Often not wisely, but governed nonetheless” from Master and Commander which was on tele.

x
x
October 16, 2010 11:42 pm

I suppose Euan that’s the lesser of two weevils………

dominicj
dominicj
October 17, 2010 12:18 am

i really like that film

IXION
IXION
October 17, 2010 12:23 am

Andy

I too am a believer in navel air power.

I too would like to see the RN as a major player.

The trouble is that the Carrier junkies constantly talk about being a world power yada yada.

However when you look at it the list of countries that have (or are getting) modern powerful (If reagonal or even greenwater navies). Which when combined with airforces of Mig 29’s or su33, or F16/F18 or few other types; and A/S missiles – sunburn brahmos etc are frankly quite capable (if they get lucky, of smashing up and sinking a QE carrier and much of it’s group. If the battle is in their back yard.

The answer from the carrier junkies is that we will of course be acting with others against such enemies. The list of Non Peer enimies we can ‘smack down’ grows shorter in particular as the capabilities of the carrier (now in the singular) grows weaker. Effectivly turning our navy into a single carrier battle group around a carrier with at best 36 aircraft on it, makes us weaker not stronger why would the US be interrested in a UK Carrier group when one of its own 9 LHD will have as much strike power and one of it’s carriers infinantly more?

So we do not have any real capability increase. The idea that with this ship Britania will rule much of the waves is fantasy, unfortunalty it is a fantasy the RN senior figures have bought hook line and sinker.

Euan
Euan
October 17, 2010 12:37 am

Erm Dominic that is no surprise at all i would be surprised if you didn’t like it.

Martin
Editor
October 17, 2010 1:48 am

I think the Navy’s strategy is spot on. They are following the Army doctrine of defence reviews. Spend all your allocated money on cool toys that you don’t need. Then when the Muppet politicians send you to war (which they always will) you tell them of your “urgent operational requirements” which should really be know as thing we forgot to buy. Once the Navy is stripped of its escorts and we see a dramatic increase in piracy with no way to respond to it the Navy will be able to get it’s “urgent operational requirements” met.

The POS are the Port of Spain Class(River Class) OPV’s built by BAE for Trinidad and Tobago. TaT has cancelled the boast and BAE is looking for a replacement. The Navy could easily replace many of it’s ASW frigates with OPV’s and Corvettes. I have written about it here.

http://fantasyfleet.blogspot.com/2010/10/responding-to-piracy-opvs-to-supplement.html

http://fantasyfleet.blogspot.com/2010/10/future-frigates-absalon-alternative-for.html

GrandLogistics
GrandLogistics
October 17, 2010 3:17 am

Hello,

I don’t agree about the need for large numbers of corvettes but if we did need such ships there is a far easier way to find funding for them.

It has been said that cutting the Tornado fleet will save £7,500 Million over the next 5 years.

That is far more than we would save by scrapping the half built carriers so we could build far more corvettes.

We have 191 Tornados and only 10 of them are in Afghanistan,those can easily be replaced by Harriers.

By cutting the Tornados we get a balanced navy without losing any close air support in Afghanistan or any domestic air defence which is done by Typhoons now.

GrandLogistics.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
October 17, 2010 4:43 am

I wince when I hear politicians boasting about “punching above our weight”. That normally translates to: “delusions of grandeur, usually expensive”.

Like others here, I’m deeply disappointed that the government is deciding what to cut without first determining (after careful review and debate) what our foreign policy should be, how that affects our defence requirements – and only then, what impact this has on equipment and force numbers. If there was ever a case for an all-party approach, this is it.

I have no axe to grind between the services (I’ve never served in any of them) but I’m inclined to regard the RN as still being the “senior service” in terms of its importance to national security. I can see the logic of pushing carrier size up to the PoW and QE, but I’m uncomfortable about putting all of our eggs into so few baskets.

I’m also puzzled about the reported sudden switch from the F-35B STOVL to the F-35C CATOBAR (apparently an RAF proposal). This has all sorts of major implications which don’t seem to have been considered. To mention just one, the RN is about to select a new AEW helo to replace the radar-toting Sea Kings. But with a conventional carrier, it would make more sense to buy the US Grumman Hawkeye, which has far superior capabilities. It is also no simple matter to mix conventional and VTOL operations from the same deck. Then there’s the fact that the F-35C can’t make emergency use of helo carriers like Ocean, or rough strips ashore. I’m not saying that going for the F-35C would necessarily be the wrong decision, just that it doesn’t seem to have been thought through.

The RN is arguably at fault in going all-out for world-class quality (in submarines as well as surface ships) and ignoring the fact that the vast majority of actual missions today could be carried out with much simpler, less-capable ships for a small fraction of the acquisition and running costs of a modern frigate. I think we need a balance of capabilities in all of our services, but as it is we seem to be getting lop-sided – especially in the Navy.

paul g
October 17, 2010 12:05 pm

tony, by the time f-35c comes online you’ll be using parts of ocean to eat your tea/supper (tea=north, supper=south delete as required)

Joint
Joint
October 17, 2010 12:24 pm

Seems to me that a lot of people, including the author, need to give more consideration to history. It has been proven since Narvik that a fleet needs organic air support and, as a well known defence commenter from Vancouver often says at length, good air defence weapons. It is obvious that an Army or Land Force needs Air Support too.
Successive politicians and sorrowful British Admirals have never learned the lessons of history or allowed themselves to be out-manouvered by the other services. Principally the RAF; (with TASMO) which was an abject failure and in my mind was never meant to work anyway. The RAF needed the Buccaneers with the Phantoms as a bonus for Germany!
The Navy has, since the 70’s and 80’s, had to try and keep afloat by getting hulls first and try to get the equipment fit later ….. all to sustain the Army and RAF in Germany. The Navy has become very adept at bobbing and weaving!
Believe me I would rather have FAA than RAF … we learned in the Far East that the FAA would do things that the RAF would deem impossible!
My guess is that the cheapest way over the next ten to 15 years is for the FAA to be equipped with a suitable number of F18E/F and delay the F35. This would probable throw up the money for the EMCAT to be fitted into the space that has been ‘designed in’ anyway.
If the Army is going to be anything more than a Home Guard then they need the Carriers, the aircraft and the Destroyer/Frigate/Corvette/SSN escorts as much as the Navy does. For those that don’t, perhaps, know …. there have always been a number of RAF pilots flying off carriers anyway. As, also, there were Fleet Air Arm pilots flying in the Battle of Britain too!

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
October 17, 2010 12:47 pm

“without anything to escort the RN will become a European backwater navy within 20 years. They have no choice, CVF will force future governments to build the navy around them.”

very much agreed.

IXION
IXION
October 17, 2010 12:49 pm

Joint

The need for organic air cover for a fleet is not in dispute.

But you do need a fleet to be organically air covered.

We have signed away that fleet (if the rumours are true). we now have one weak carrier battle group.

Mike
Mike
October 17, 2010 1:35 pm

This morning on the Andrew Marr show,Osborne was repeatedly pressed on the carriers. In particular Marr was pushing the point of ‘what is the use of carriers withouth aircraft to fly off them’ and in the end when Marr suggested that they would be only flying helicopters Osborne categoracly stated ‘No, No they will have aircraft on them they will do as the name suggests’
Whether this is as suggested that POW will be completed as a cat and trap and QE built as VTOL and then converted at first refit is up for grabs.
Though Liam Fox suggested the other day in an article that ordering the carriers with aircraft that would be unable to cross operate with our major allies the USA and France was a gross mistake,does lend some credence to cat and trap.
I’m sure that the delay in build due to this turnaround would be acceptable to all concerned,government,BAE and the RN alike and we might get a carrier fit for purpose.

Andy
Andy
October 17, 2010 3:01 pm

William Hague was on the AM show saying the problem they had with the carriers is they weren’t inter-operable with the French/US navies. Another sign the RN is about to return to CATOBAR ops.

Pongoglo
Pongoglo
October 17, 2010 4:03 pm

IMHO the much slated Admirals are right. In 1998 they made a sensible, balanced and professional decision to replace our three, later four, light carriers with two much larger and much more capable ships, able to provide proper carrier strike. I was involved (in a very minor role) at the time and it really troubles me that many now seem to have selective memories on this issue. All the computer modelling, wargaming and analysis supported this and the provision of carrier strike, together with the modernisation of our amphibious force was THE major cornerstone of SDR. There was no way the RN made this decision on there own, and at the time they had much support from many wearing light blue and khaki, whatever Col Richard Kemp may wish to recall. Whilst it will be sad to see the loss of capable and effective escorts, many recently upgraded at considerable cost; with a projected lifespan of 40 – 50 years CVF is a once in a generation opportunity and once lost would have been a capability never regained. Two weeks ago this seemed a real possibility, and there would have been no coming back. IMHO both Dr Fox and the Admirals have played a very good game – oh Im Army by the way…

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
October 17, 2010 6:35 pm

“‘No, No they will have aircraft on them they will do as the name suggests’”

^ best news i’ve heard all day ^

the very worst option would be to have one carrier for it does not represent a permanent capability.

x
x
October 17, 2010 6:56 pm

@ Pongolo

We had guessed at linage Percy. ;)

(BTW I am only jokin’ about scrapping the Army. I am trying to make light of a situation that as we all know is very serious. And I couldn’t think up anything to say about RAF Alsations…..)

x
x
October 17, 2010 7:35 pm

Joint said “there have always been a number of RAF pilots flying off carriers anyway.”

True. To reinforce your comment SHAR/Navy GRx squadrons became dependent on extra RAF numbers purely because FAA fast air disappeared from the public consciousness once the Ark Royal was decommissioned. Youngsters can’t aspired to join an organisation that they don’t know exists. (Actually I am always by the numbers of the office class who joined on whim or knew nothing much about who or what they were joining. Just an observation.) And as I have said here before there is a difference between pilot exchanges, excellent opportunities
for both communities, and having a career that takes you to sea full time.

Jed
Jed
October 18, 2010 1:53 am

The carrier is exactly that – a “carrier” of aircraft of various sorts. Even CV(F) is actually relatively cheap (read all the stuff out of the U.S. which paints it as a marvellous design, so much cheaper to build and economical to run than their latest design).

Without an appropriate air group, the carrier is basically pointless, whether you have 2 or 8 of them.

So what do surface ships (please stop calling them “escorts” – the Battle of the Altantic was a long time ago !) to support the carrier or amphibs ?

1. Air defence or Anti-Air Warfare in RN parlance (AAW)
2. Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
3. Anti-Surface Unit Warfare (ASuW)
4. Support of land forces

Due to the lack of investment in the surface fleet our current capabilities all these respects are often lacking i.e. T45 does not appear to have torpedo tubes for Stingray but can carry an ASW focused Merlin helicopter, nor do they carry Harpoon missiles for the ASuW role. But anyway I digress, what do the carriers need to undertake the same roles:

1. AAW = A “fighter” jet, complete with radar and modern missiles. Any of the often discussed candidates meet this requirement to one extent or the other. Airborne Early Warning – a surveillance radar carried aloft by an aircraft. We can consider this to be the kit taken off the current Sea Kings and fitted to Merlins, but if we go CATOBAR obviously the HawkEye would be even better. However AAW requires a “layered” approach, where your fighter aircraft constitute the “outer zone”, the T45 with its Aster 30 are the next zone, Frigates equipped with CAMM would be the inner zone, and every ship should have close in weapons system for local self defence. So having carrier borne jets does NOT replace the need for other surface ships with AAW sensors and weapons.

2. ASW. This is a weakness for the carrier. The only ASW aircraft that can be shipped are Merlin HM2 helicopters. Apparently the number of HM1’s to be upgraded to HM2 could be as low as 28. Say a carrier has 8 embarked – that is not a large number to have just one permanently on station. Frigates or destroyers can also carry this size helicopter, even 2 of them, but they win out by also carrying multiple sonar (hull mounted and towed array) and even carry their own torpedo tubes (and torpedo decoy systems). If our air group had an aircraft similar to the S3 Viking or older S2 Tracker, then the carrier would bring more to this party. However, as most of my old BubbleHead matey’s would say, without sufficient ASW assets, the carrier (and amphibs)= target.

3. ASuW. Will the fighter aircraft procured be fitted with an appropriate Anti-ship missile ? If not then they are a bit pointless, although they could provide targeting data to surface ships that are equipped. Similarly the surveillance capability of a Hawkeye or Merlin AWaC could be helpful. But if the jets are not armed appropriately, strike up another win for Frigates and Destroyers with 8 x Harpoon (not saying 16 x NSM3 would not be better… !)

4. Support of land forces. Of course all the supporters of expeditionary ops will point out that this is the main role of the “strike carrier” – they are right of course. However the capability of say 36 aircraft flying from a single deck, to undertake deep strike, close air support, air defence of the troops over land, and of the “fleet” at sea, ISTAR/Recce, and maybe even buddy tanker duties… phew, well thats a lot of tasking, which means when the poo hits the fan, some of it is going by the wayside ! Of course our surface fleet with poxy 4.5 and currently no useful missile is not much use in this tasking either.

I have not mentioned the Sub Fleet, well we might only have 7 of them, and they can’t be in more than one place at one time either, so the carrier task group might not have the luxury of an SSN in support for ASW and / or Tomahawk strike.

I guess my point about all of this is, its not an either / or situation. If we want carriers, fine, however you still need a minimum number of AAW / ASW / ASuW capable surface ships of one size or another to support, screen, and yes to “escort” them.

Some commenters have taken the pragmatic / prosaic stance, that we need to pay for the carrier now when we have the chance, and rebuilt the surface fleet later.

Remember – its not either / or. Anyone arguing for CV(F) at the demise of other surface units or vice versa, is doing exactly what Treasury, Army and Airforce want them to do.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 18, 2010 5:12 am

I do take issue that we will only be able to deploy 1 “Weak” carrier group. A CVF escorted by a T-45, 2 Frigates and a SSN is as powerful a force as any nation bar the US will be able to deploy. No nation that can be reasonably assessed as a future threat has or will have the capability to harm such a group. This is especially so for the scale of operation the UK would be able to undertake on its own. Large operations would be inpartnership with other nations further reducing the threat level. However if someone can suggest a realistic short to medium term senario where a CVT Taskforce would under serious threat I wellcome the suggestion.

I do see the number of major surface vessels the RN is be reduced to as a problem if the RN has to maintain its current committments but is these are reduced then less so. However if the C2 Patrol Frigate is not being classed as a major surface combatant then the picture is very different. Whist the T-26 is tied in closely with the retiremetn dates of the existing T-23, the C2 programme can set its own timetable, and if an existing design is used as a whole or as the basis for the platform, the first units could be operational around 2015.

Looking at the RNs capabilites, ASW is going to become the domain of rotary assets. Whether ships actually need torpedo tubes is a matter for debate, but I personally do not feel they are essential. Turning to ASuW, it has been pointed out before that Harpoon is not the ideal weapon for littorial theatres. I think there will be a review of ASuW needs prior to the entry of the T-26 and a more suitable system maybe adopted and back fitted to the T-45 and available for the C2. The Key ASuW platform is going to be the Naval Wildcat.

I would like RN not to get hung up on the need for Naval Gunfire Support when it looks at what system to install on future platforms. Contrary to previous post my favorite the Bofors 57mm in its current guise is an exceedingly flexible and capable system that is self contained and does not require a multitude of expensive additional systems to alloit to perform effectively in roles such a AAW, CIWS, ASuW etc. With its 3P ammunition and very high rate for fire. Yes there is the arguement that the UK is indefinitely wedded to the Mk8 mod1 but just because we have it doesn’t mean it is the best equipment for the job. I belive we should follow the path of many nation and fit guns of the size of the Mk8 to command vessels whist fitting a smaller calibre to other units. Many navies such as Italy, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Russia etc are all following this path, replacing their 100mm or greater weapons for smaller ones that offer greater flexibility.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
October 18, 2010 8:59 am

Lord Jim, there have been several occasions in NATO exercises on which even a US carrier group has been severely embarrassed by conventional submarines. Modern U-boats are very hard to detect, especially in the littoral, and have scored significant “successes” against powerful surface groups.

I also like the 57mm Bofors as a general-purpose weapon, especially for low-cost patrol “sloops” which the RN could certainly use for economical policing/anti-piracy duties but doesn’t actually have. For the bigger ships, I’d like to see BAE’s TMF gun adopted: basically a 4.5 inch Mk 8 with a surplus 155mm army artillery barrel fitted. Much more effective than 4.5 inch, and cheaper in the long run than having to keep developing and making new shells for a gun which is only fitted to a handful of ships.

Phil Darley
October 18, 2010 10:08 am

Lord Jim,

I am with you on the Bofors 57mm gun. It is a superb weapon, able tyo provide anti-surface, anti-air and land attack. I think we should adopt it as a standard weapon immidiately. If we want long range land attacj then we should be looking at weapons like MLRS or its big brother ATAC and the Konsberg NSM.

Surely it would be possible to containerise these and have them deployed on relative simple hulls, like the bay class.

I am in favour of the Global Corvette size vessel. Maybe based on the RV Triton hull form!!!

IXION
IXION
October 18, 2010 10:43 am

Since it appears the Lunatics have taken over the asylum and it is being reported that the harriers are to go years before their replacement (whatever it will now be) is in service then we appear to have aircraft carriers without aircraft for the foreseeable future.

Chocolate Teapot time!

Like I said to the carrier junkies be careful what you wish for you might get it.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 18, 2010 11:46 am

IXION, is it time to start spraying the Apaches medium sea grey?

Jed
Jed
October 18, 2010 2:32 pm

Lord Jim said: “I do take issue that we will only be able to deploy 1 “Weak” carrier group. A CVF escorted by a T-45, 2 Frigates and a SSN is as powerful a force as any nation bar the US will be able to deploy”

I think your missing my point sir – its a “weak” carrier group due to the paucity of aircraft on the carriers deck, and the lack of multi-role ability of those aircraft.

As for Harpoon not being ideal for the littoral – depends what version of Harpoon your shipping actually, and not everything is about the littoral. No use in having ships that cant sink other ships, and their certainly not doing that with your 57mm pop gun :-)

Yes ASW Helo’s are a major asset, but their sensors are not on a par with low frequency, active / passive, variable depth towed arrays ! As for not having shipboard tubes – they dont cost much in the big scheme of things, and it means a sub skipper always has to pay attention to the Frigate bearing down on him at 30 kts – this is a threat to a conventionally powered SSK.

As for: “The Key ASuW platform is going to be the Naval Wildcat.” – really ? Armed with what ? Son-of-SeaSkua in not in service yet, and while Hellfire, 70mm rockets and MG’s are appropriate for some targets, they are not appropriate for all. Yes, Wildcat can act as Over-the-horizon-targetting for your ship launched missiles true, but then you already pooh-poohed them earlier in your comment.

As for guns, actually the Neatherlands, Japan and Germany all fit NATO standard 5 inch / 127mm guns, usually either the BAe owned U.S. built or the Italian OTO-Melara. 57mm is a “close in weapons system” but even 76mm Super Rapid is better at that with its radar guided sub-calibre anti-missile rounds. Sure stick a 57mm in the port and starboard waists of the T45, but don’t stick one in the bows, even 4.5 is better than that !

Alan
Alan
October 18, 2010 2:56 pm

With regard to AEW, could an unmanned platform not be used for this? Have a drone rigged with the appropriate sensor pod/s and then stream the data back to the “mother ship.”

Also I think that Apaches would look really good in medium sea grey. ;-)

Steve Coltman
Steve Coltman
October 18, 2010 3:20 pm

Tony Williams queried the switch from F-35B STOVL to F-35C and catobar. While it would be nice to have something definite from the MoD about this, the most likely answer seems to be that the F-35B doesn’t work. Whereas the Harrier can land anywhere, the F-35B sounds like it will damage anything it lands on, steel deck, concrete runway and I guess grass is out of the question. I have also read reports of excessive internal heat (again, it would be nice to have something official and definitive rather than unconfirmed reports on the internet). Which ever way you look at it, F-35B is ambitious – bigger than the Harrier, supersonic and stealthy as well as STOVL, apparently over-ambitious. At least we have a Plan B, which is more than the Italian Navy seems to have.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 18, 2010 4:02 pm

Yes I understand that submarines are a threat to a Carrier Group but which nations that are a realistic threat have an effective submarine force.

As for the “Weak” Carrier Group arguement, IF and it is and if enough airframes are purchased whether it is the F-35C, F-18E or Rafale. 30-40 of these on a flat top is a significant force, backed up by advance early warning and command and control and suppliments by a possible Naval UCAV after 2020 you have a force that is far from “Weak” AS for ASW well I did state that a Carrier group would have 2 T-26 as well as the Helicopters but it is the latter that would carry out any actiona against a hostile SS/SSN hence stating that torpedo tubes were not essential to surface vessels

Returning to the Gun topic, most nations now have large 5″ ordonnance only on their Command and or Air Defence vessels. The majority of frigates in the navies I listed are actually armed with a 76mm, especially new classes like the FREMM. Yes the USN is an exception but they are a unique case with regards to size and capability. The 57mm is far from being a “Pop” gun, remember it is already the primary gun on the Halifax class, the LCS and numerous other medium sized vessels. AS I stated with its 3P ammunition it is incredible effective in numerous roles especially many of those envisioned for the C2. The Mk8 has a role but its flexibility is limited. A 57mm Provides Air Defence, CIWS, ASuW amongst others so the one systems provides the C2 many capabilities that would require additional systems if a Mk8 were fitted adding cost and taking up space

I stated that the naval Wildcat would be the Navy’s primary ASuW platform. Yes the Sea Skua 2 is not in service yet but neither is the Wildcat. If people actually read what I had read I also stated that I believed that a review of shipborne ASuW systems should be under taken as part of the T-26 programme to see what would be the best system for the then percieived threats. It could be decided that the latest version of Harpoon is the right tool or it could be the lates Exocet or the NSM or another.

Jed
Jed
October 18, 2010 5:02 pm

Lord Jim

I am speaking from experience ref the 57mm. I was not a gunner, but when I was RN I trained with the Royal Marines to do the ship board side of Naval Gunnery Support. MK8 is not perfect, not saying it is, but 57mm is “whites of their eyes” stuff against surface threats bigger than Somali fishing boats. I have seen a Halifax class pull out of a gunnex with a solidly jammed 57mm, and finally, even the venerable 4.5 MK8 managed to shoot down an Exocet 30 years ago, I am not sure a 57mm has achieved this even against a target drone ??

jasons
jasons
October 18, 2010 6:59 pm

I believe the BAE Mk110 57mm with airburst ammo would indeed make the ideal principle weapon for a new class of Sloops that it seems will need to be put in production pdq.

I’m afraid it is the T22s and Sandowns that have rather unbalanced the surface fleet. A single class of Sloop is surely the best outcome as a solution to the RN’s standing tasks. Leaving the relatively fewer escorts to, well, escort.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 18, 2010 7:03 pm

The key to the effectiveness and flexibility of the current 57mm is its 3P ammunitions which is sensor fused linked to the built in ranging radar in the turret. With its various modes it has proven, especially with its rate of fire up to 200rpm, to be an effective AA, CIWS and against surface targets on land and in coastal senarios. The 57mm on the Halifax is an earlier model without this capability. I agree that the Mk8 does have a role but on a vessel built to a budgte and where space is needed for other capabilities I strongly believe the 57mm is a good choice for a C2 platfrom. Fitting a 4.5″ or 5″ to the C2 means that additional wsytems must be fitted to achieve the same level of capability both increasing cost and taking up space.

I have seen an exercise where the RCN sank a DDG with gunfire from a 57mm. Yes the range was line of sight but the effectiveness was obvious. As far as jamming is concerned , there were a few occasions in the Falklands where NGS became unavailable due to weapons jamming. Finally the Mk8 is no longer in production with existing weapons being refurbished under the Mod1 programme where as both the 76mm and 57mm are still evolving and to go to an alternative 5″ weapon negates the srguement for having an existing support infrastructue in place.

So I agree the T-45 and T-26 should be fitted with the Mk8 mod1 or even better the proposed mod2(155mm) but for other vessels I believe looking at both cost and effectiveness the 57mm would be ideal.

But my great worry is that the RN will become fixated on the T-26 now they have won the battle for their Carriers, and push the C2 programme to the back burner, when in reality it should be th emaxt programme off the starting blocks, and would possibly be a export success especially if it can be taylors to countries individual needs in a similar vein to the Meko series.

Jed
Jed
October 18, 2010 8:56 pm

Alan – no not really, there is currently no Unmanned helo capable of lifting the radar of the Sea king

Alan
Alan
October 18, 2010 9:32 pm

Thanks for setting me straight there Jed.
Do you forsee a role for UAVs in naval aviation in the future?

x
x
October 18, 2010 10:52 pm

@ Lord Jim

Don’t you find it odd that “we” can’t build a big gun today? Surely all the possible problems with shell handling have been solved. “Up gunning” surely is just a mathematical exercise; what do “we” have all these computers for?

How many rounds of 57mm did it take to sink that Canuck destroyer?

@ ThinkDefence

Actually I think UCAVs are one of the reasons why the decision to go CATOBAR was taken. As I have said before here a navalised Taranis would be a thing to be hold.

IXION
IXION
October 18, 2010 11:54 pm

Its being reported that we will be without fixed wing RN aviation for the next 9 years.

What will carrier junkies do for their “world power fantasy” now that all those countries that were going to be scared of us when we had some now know we won’t have any for a decade.

How is the re running the Falklands scenario oft trotted out as a reson for having them going to play out?

“Just you wait Argentine we will be back in 9 years time and kick your butt”???

IXION
IXION
October 19, 2010 12:11 am

Its apparrantly also reported we get 1 carrier.

Effectivly now a paper tiger, and we get a total of 19 destroyers/frigates.

How much further down the world navy league to we slip now

Michael
Michael
October 19, 2010 12:22 am

According to the BBC, The Times, The Telegraph & Sky the Gov. intends to decommision Ark Royal as soon as possible, retire the Harriers & (if you can believe this) that the first of the new CVF’s will have no fixed wing aviation but will anyway be either mothballed or sold after only 3 years.

Also that PoW will have cats & traps, the surface fleet will be cut to 19 ships soon & that only 6 of the 18 propsed new build C1/C2 ships will be built.

I do not get the point of spending lots of time & money to design & then build a ship only to put it into storage somewhere after 3 years at sea (best case).

Have to agree with IXION on this….i do not see any point in gutting the surface fleet to get, eventually, a single carrier that no Admiral would dare put at risk.

Michael
Michael
October 19, 2010 12:29 am

Sorry i should say the report doesn’t actualy say C1/C2, it just said, “that the Navy will lose 12 of the 18 expected new ships”.

I think this is C1/C2 but am not really sure.

Andy
Andy
October 19, 2010 12:33 am

Type 26 is so far into the future in a program that nobody has any idea of definitive numbers anyway to me that’s just pointless speculation – as is ‘selling off the first carrier’

x
x
October 19, 2010 12:35 am

I wonder if they dare name CVF 1 if it will just sit in Fareham Creek.

The C1/C2/C3 business was a load of cobblers from day one.

Michael
Michael
October 19, 2010 2:46 am

Couldn’t sleep…..started think about the longer term consequences of these cuts.

It seems to force any furure Gov. from only getting involved in anything as long as it’s part of a wider coalition.

Also, it looks to me, as though it actualy makes the possible failure of conventional deterrence more likely.

If country has a problem with us (UK on it’s own), in the future & noone else is involved, then they (whoever it is), may take the view that the risk is worth it as they only have to get lucky once, in other words sink that ship at all costs.

If a future Gov. is forced to send a fleet somewhere on it’s own, isn’t that putting them at much more risk with 1 carrier ?

X

I thought that was the way they were going to go…..!

Admin, my post at 12:22 took me ages to type, i didn’t mean to just repeat what IXION posted at 12:11.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
October 19, 2010 3:19 am

Clearly, the two carriers are only being completed because at this stage the contractual penalties for cancellation would make that uneconomic.

I thought at the time that announcing that they would be called Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales was a nice attempt to make it politically more difficult to cancel them!

Probably India would be interested if we wanted to sell one of them. I think we should keep both, even if one is only in helo form and at the cost of losing some of the amphibs, as having just one carrier seems rather pointless. It would be like having one ballistic missile submarine.

DominicJ
October 19, 2010 8:12 am

“How is the re running the Falklands scenario oft trotted out as a reson for having them going to play out?
“Just you wait Argentine we will be back in 9 years time and kick your butt”???”

Any (Sensible) campaign against Argentina would rely heavily on the SSN fleet, a weapon against which they simply have no counter, and which can hit any target in Argentina at will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_Argentina
The Submarine version of Storm Shadow is in service with the French now, one assumes half a dozen of those could break any dam in Argentina.

Phil Darley
October 19, 2010 8:39 am

I have not read anywhere about QE being sold. The latest rumour was that it would remain a helo platform intil the first refit when it woulf be converted to the same spec as PoW. They have not said that the JSF will definately be the C version. I assume it must be if we are going Cats and Traps????

Although I welcome the CVF going ahead, without more Frigates the Navy is going to be totally unbalanced. I assume that Albion and Bay class are secure as well. In which case a load of cheapie C2/C3 types are needed ASAP (when we have some dosh of course).

They had to keep the tornadoes going as the Typhoons are currently not able to use Raptor/Storm Shadow or brimstone (and that integration is going to cost time and lots of Wonga!!!)

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 19, 2010 9:40 am

DominicJ, “one assumes half a dozen of those could break any dam in Argentina.”

I’m sure that ‘dambusting’ has been outlawed under the Geneva Convention, you’ll have to choose another target!

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
October 19, 2010 10:11 am

One issue with CATOBAR is the nature of the catapult: the traditional steam catapult makes no sense in a gas-turbine powered ship. The alternative is an electro-magnetic one, like a rail gun, which I believe that the USA and UK are both working on. But as far as I know there isn’t one in service yet. So more risk, delay and cost…

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 19, 2010 11:07 am

Tony, sense or not, tried and tested technology has the distinct advantage of reliability. I believe the French use a shortened version of the American system on their carrier. I guess we’ll end up with the same.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
October 19, 2010 12:50 pm

But the nuclear powerplants in the French and US carriers produce steam for their turbines, so it’s simply a matter of tapping from that supply. With a gas turbine, there’s no supply of steam so a special steam generator would have to be designed, built and installed.

Phil Darley
October 19, 2010 1:51 pm

Surely it WILL be a EMCAT. I understand the design is almost complete. With the delay of 9 years that would seem to be about right. Perhaps whilst they are being built they could add all the other bits that were supposedly left out viz:

Armoured hull and bulkheads
PAAMS or at leat CAMM
an up-to-date CIWS
a command and control centre

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 19, 2010 2:08 pm

Tony, you’ll have to excuse my lack of knowledge of things that float.

The only thing I can think of is they will have to utilise the heat from the gas turbines, utilising some kind of heat exchanger and storage tanks to build up a head of pressure. But this too would require quite a significant redesign and add to time and cost, as you suggested with the electro-magnetic catapult.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
October 19, 2010 2:13 pm

on a turbine powered CVF coming into service in the late teens the only sensible solution is EMALS/EMCAT.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 19, 2010 2:25 pm

Jedibeeftrix,

I’m with you on that one, but how close are we to having a working EMALS/EMCAT system? The way I see it we need something at the latest in the next couple of years, otherwise the project managers at BAE will have no choice but to go with what ever is available.

Having had a quick look at Wikipedia (ok, not the best font of knowledge to use) it stated that:

“BAE made a submission of hybrid configuration, featuring a STOVL ski-jump and an angled flight deck, catapults and arrestor cables.”

If this is correct, they’ve probably thought of a possible solution to the problem, although it would be interesting to know what it actually is.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 19, 2010 2:33 pm

Interesting article on the matter…..

http://navy-matters.beedall.com/cvf1-25.htm

x
x
October 19, 2010 2:44 pm

Rich said “If this is correct, they’ve probably thought of a possible solution to the problem, although it would be interesting to know what it actually is.”

Bless, so young, so naive…..

The probably got an engineer to spend a day reading journals and text books, pushing some figures around on a spreadsheet, and doing a concept drawing on AutoCad. BAE saw a few years of healthy development funding. Can you imagine the test rig?

Pongoglo
Pongoglo
October 19, 2010 2:56 pm

Latest from the beeb, looks like Nimrods gone too :-(

DominicJ
October 19, 2010 3:37 pm

RS
Anyone who’s signed onto the Geneva convention has also signed onto the UN law book, part of which includes not invading other countries.
You cant hide behind one international law whilst flouting others.

Not that I would advise them as primary targets, but I think they would be useful to focus peoples minds on exactly how badly they could lose any war.

Why cant we have steam on gas?
Even if Gas cant burn hot enough to create enough steam pressure, we can always just generate electricity and heat steam that way.
Not cheap of course.

I’d advise retrofitting a nuclear reactor, as they become available (once we dont have new subs to put them in).

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
October 19, 2010 4:45 pm

Dominic – for high-intensity operations, with frequent launches, a significant quantity of high-pressure steam would need to be on tap, and topped up at a high rate. Easy enough for a steamship, but definitely a non-trivial problem for a gas-turbine ship to incorporate, even if designed in from the start (which it probably won’t have been).

The ships were designed around their gas-turbine powerplant, slotting in a nuclear reactor would be…..well, just forget it!

GrandLogistics
GrandLogistics
October 19, 2010 6:48 pm

Hello DominicJ,

why would you want steam catapults?:

http://grandlogistics.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-catapults-are-cheaper.html

GrandLogistics

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 20, 2010 11:54 pm

IF we are going with EMALS we are going to have to be very closely tied into the US programme. I believe that they are about to start testing with a full sized prototype in the near future but what is the programmes timescale?

I am starting to think I should bury my head in the sand for the next 5 years until the next review or 10 years so we hopefully see the carrier(s) built and operational as alot can still happen over the next decade especially if we do not get a government that actually understands defence needs and strategic thinking.

GrandLogistics
GrandLogistics
October 21, 2010 4:59 am

Hello Lord Jim,

U.S.S. Gerald R.Ford is due to commission with E.M.A.L.S. in 2015.
Britain already has it’s own government funded electromagnetic catapult under development.

GrandLogistics

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 21, 2010 5:53 am

Is the UK’s electromagnetic Catapult designed for full sized, fully loaded aircraft? I was under the impression it was ona smaller scale for UAVs etc.

Mind you given the numerous posts about why the UK keeps buy home grown bespoke equipment, why doesn’t the UK simply purchase the US system? Is the UK system Government funded or a purely private initiative? I mean France purchased US Steam Catapults for the CdG.

paul g
October 21, 2010 12:11 pm

i was under the impression that we were slightly ahead in the development of the eleccy catapult (much to the annoyance of our friends across the pond)

Compared to steam catapults, EMALS can control the launch performance with greater precision, allowing it to launch more kinds of aircraft, from heavy fighter jets to light unmanned aircraft.[5] EMALS can also deliver 122 megajoules of energy, 29 percent more than steam’s approximately 95 megajoules.[4] The EMALS will be more efficient than the 5-percent efficient steam catapults.[2]

[edit] EMCAT
Converteam UK is working on a electro-magnetic catapult (EMCAT) system for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier.[6] In August 2009, speculation mounted that the UK may drop the STOVL F-35B for the CTOL F-35C model, which would mean the carriers being built to operate conventional (CV) take off and landing aircraft utilizing the US-designed non-steam EMALS catapults.[7][8] In June 2010, it was reported that the land-based prototype of the system had passed initial tests with the first aircraft launch from the system expected by the end of 2010.[9
so 8 weeks to launch!! I did read (can’t find) that have built a full size version to start testing, didn’t realise it could go on up the ramp, nice one!