The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review

Stop your grinnin and drop your linen

How was it for you


From the dictionary

present or deal with (something) in a vague or inadequate way, especially so as to conceal the truth or mislead:the authorities have fudged the issue

Or to use another inappropriate food metaphor


Perhaps not so much salami slicing, more juggling whilst salami slicing

Read it yourself here



  • Smaller,smarter, higher prevention on prevention
  • 25,000 reduction in civil service numbers
  • Simplified allowance system but ‘tough decisions’ on other allowances (New Employment Model)
  • Contracts renegotiated (except CVF, obviously)
  • Estate reduced
  • Nimrod MRA4 cancelled
  • More aid for conflict prevention (one third of DFiD budget on conflict prevention)
  • £500m on cyber security programme
  • Army reduced by 7,000 (it’s not like there’s a war on or anything)
  • 40% reduction in Challenger
  • 35% reduction in AS90 but precision ammunition to compensate
  • Military Stablisation and Support Group confirmed
  • Multi role brigade structure confirmed, x5
  • Reduction in non deployable regional HQ’s
  • Wildcat confirmed for RN and Army (quelle surprise)
  • 12 new Chinooks (reduced from 22)
  • Reserves reviewed
  • 7 Astutes
  • 6 Type 45’s are multi role (ha ha)
  • 5,000 reduction in RN manpower
  • Ark Royal withdrawn
  • One of Albion/Bulwark to extended readiness
  • One Bay withdrawn
  • Ocean or Illustrious withdrawn depending on study
  • Surface combatant fleet down to 19 (4 frigates withdrawn)
  • Harrier withdrawn
  • 5,000 reduction on RAF manpower
  • CVF, 1 into extended readiness
  • F35C confirmed as FJCA
  • A400 confirmed
  • C130J withdrawn earlier than planned
  • Withdraw Sentinel
  • Trident delayed and only 8 tubes with reduced warheads/missiles
  • Underwater knife fighters, lots more kit
  • Withdraw from Germany by 2020
  • Formalise covenant
  • Extra £20m PA on mental health
  • New industrial strategy by the end of the year
  • Kinloss and one other RAF base closed
  • Greater cooperation with France
  • Jam tommorrow

Vent your spleen in comments

More analysis later (some of us have jobs you know!)

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
October 19, 2010 4:21 pm

So a non-state actor / terrorist orgnisation (AQ) and a previously rejected politico-paramilitary / terrorist organisation (Taliban) in a land locked country have managed to do what French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, German, Japanese and Revolutionary American admirals have all failed to do over the last 600 years or so – reduced the RN to a meaningless and reasonably ignorable force. Well at least those 6 “multi-role” T45’s can provide some SAM cover for the UK while steaming up and down the UK coast looking good :-(

October 19, 2010 4:23 pm

Ooops – forgot to mention that the above did of course do so in complete collusion with our duly elected officials. Can they all be impeached / hung for treason ?

I say military coupe and put Prince Charles in charge……..

October 19, 2010 4:28 pm

Could’ve been worse…
MRA4 is of course F-in stupid
One wonders what they think they can for “conflict prevention”. How can you be PM and an F-in Tory and still think if everyone were “reasonable” there would be no violence.
Army isnt a big deal, assuming the cuts come from the bits we dont and wont use.
Heavy Armour cuts, by my count that would still leave us with 200+ Chally2’s. Its not like we could deploy more than 50 overseas on our own anyway.
Chinooks, the extras wouldnt be ready before we’re out of ghanners anyway.
The 45’s depends how they define multirole, its shitty that we wont get 12, but that was never going to happen.
Harrier is a crying shame, thats carrier air gone for two generations of Officers.
CVF isnt a surprise, or a big deal I suppose.
Trident sounds like a mistake, it had 100 warheads for a reason.

October 19, 2010 4:35 pm

“5,000 reduction in RN manpower” – Hope these do not include the Royal Marines…

“Army reduced by 7,000” – I read that as 2 Arm Bdes; Germany withdrawal?

“12 new Chinooks” – But Merlin is still a go, right?

“Surface combatant fleet down to 19” – still allows a two battlegroup fleet (1 deploys with CVF) plus an amphib TF.
Not much, but better than nothing…

Special Forces are not supermen; more does not mean better. Training and support and SMART deployments trumps numbers. Attention must be given that SF doesn’t degenerate into common foot infantry. Ivan still has tanks…

October 19, 2010 4:38 pm

It’s the out right lies that get me: from the BBC

“He said the defence budget would fall by 8% over four years but will meet the Nato target of spending 2% of GDP on defence and would still leave Britain with the fourth largest military in the world.”

How on earth can we possibly have the fourth largest millitary in the world ? USA, China, Russia – but then France and Germany have bigger armies, bigger air forces and now probably bigger navies. India must have more people in uniform than the UK. Hell, isn’t the USMC bigger than all the UK forces put together ?

How do they get away with spouting such outright bollocks ?

October 19, 2010 4:42 pm

Evidence that we are certainly not the 4th biggest military in the world:

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
October 19, 2010 4:49 pm

Marcase, last I heard the Merlins were all due to be handed over to the Navy to replace the last of the Sea Kings.

October 19, 2010 4:49 pm

Some nice graphics on this BBC page:

Interesting how Japan spends soooo much less than we do, but has more active service troops, more ships, more aircraft and even more tanks (not like they were facing the North German Plain) !

October 19, 2010 4:50 pm

Actually, I don’t think this is as bad as it first appeared. (Phew!) Comments:

– Nimrod was always a compromise; it is an old airframe and its job can be done by newer cheaper aircraft in the future should the capability it provides ever become a priority
– We remain committed to C17 and Airbus A400 for increased strategic airlift capability
– Upgrading Typhoon so that it can conduct ground attack missions doesn’t make sense; it was designed as a fighter, to be small and agile, not to carry bombs and rockets
– The loss of Harrier is no big deal, it was long in the tooth, less capable than the Tornado fleet, and was on its way out anyway
(Question: Is Tornado more capable than Typhoon in ground attack role?)
– JSF: F-35C is a better choice than the F-35B at this stage, and will give us next generation combat aircraft sooner. (We could still buy the F-35B later if it can be perfected)
– The news on helicopters is less good: fewer Chinooks and refurbished Pumas. No thing said about Lynx Wildcat or other airframes so far.
– Not clear what is meant by 40% cut of armour. Does this mean that FRES SV will be cancelled?
– He mentioned that artillery would be cut. This is very bad news.
– If we’re bringing Cold War forces back from Germany, then it is right to cut manpower – where the heck would we put everyone?
– Good that commitment to SF means increased investment
– Commitment to Royal Marines as a separate force is great news
– Commitment to ability to deploy Brigade anywhere in the world and sustain it indefinitely is excellent
– Commitment to ability to deploy 30,000 troops for short campaign is excellent
– Like the idea of more less expensive frigates, but short-term reduction of surface fleet to 19 is pathetic
– The commitment to submarine fleet is nothing less than expected
– Carriers without planes remains daft. Don’t understand this at all.
– Trident is the major fudge.
– Manpower reductions seem sensible given the objectives to cut cost
– Like cutting the MoD by 25,000

Biggest disappointment is that with the retirement of Harrier and cancellation of F-35B, we will no longer have a STOVL capability. Question: Is the Apache AH-64 today’s new Harrier? Can a fleet of F-35Cs and Apaches compensate for the loss of Harrier?

I wonder if the F-35B will now be cancelled by the USA?

I like the idea of increased cooperation with France. last time we got into bed with our Gallic friends, we gave birth to Concorde and a whole bunch of very good helicopters that served us well.

Best news is that after 2015, defence spending will rise again as new capabilities are added.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 19, 2010 4:56 pm

Did I hear right, number of F-35C’s reduced to 12?

October 19, 2010 5:01 pm

No, I heard it as 40.

October 19, 2010 5:01 pm

In fairness I think he said 4th biggest budget. Onbviously USA, China who’s next France? Japan? Both of these countries are likley to cut military expenditure than us.

Think he said 6 astutes in the announcmnet. Don’t understand whats going to happen with MRA4. I can’t see MR2’s staying in the air for much longer. Are we not going to have any maratime air patrol. It hardly seems like a strategy. There was no mention that submarines are no longer a concern.

The announcment of a new smaller cheaper frigate program seems to say C1 is gone. Does that mean no ASW capability for the UK.

October 19, 2010 5:06 pm

has anyone heard about the size of the Typhoon fleet i thought I heard Cameron say it would be 110, but that would mean selling off 50 airframes can anyone confirm this, and is there any news on Tranch 3b.

October 19, 2010 5:08 pm

Did we get numbers for F35 C? 40 would be a disaster I thought 70.

October 19, 2010 5:11 pm

I thought we are getting the full 160 on Typhoon. He seemed to announce that they would all be upgraded to tranche 3 standard. Not sure though. Doubt if he knows. He confused Typhoon and Tornado the other day.

October 19, 2010 5:11 pm

What I don’t get is the focus on ISTAR and the apparent withdrawl of Sentinel after its job is done in Afghansitan.

October 19, 2010 5:11 pm

I take some consolation in the following statement:

“To provide further insurance against unpredictable changes in that strategic environment, our current plan is to hold one of the two new carriers at extended readiness. That leaves open options to rotate them, to ensure a continuous UK carrier-strike capability; or to re-generate more quickly a two-carrier strike capability. Alternatively, we might sell one of the carriers, relying on cooperation with a close ally to provide continuous carrier-strike capability. The next strategic defence and security review in 2015 will provide an
opportunity to review these options as the future strategic environment develops.”

But it is deeply disappointing that 3 Commando will only be expected to deploy on a battle-group level, rather than a brigade level.

October 19, 2010 5:16 pm

I do not see how Dr Fox’s test for the review has been met:

“Defence as a whole must come out in a stronger position.”

October 19, 2010 5:34 pm

I don’t understand. The RAF is to have full ISTAR capability but they are pulling Sentinel and MRA4. Whats going to provide the ISTAR picture then. There are only 3 Sentinels and it’s hardly a big aircraft. I can’t imagine pulling it will save much but it will put a hudge gap in our ISTAR as well as C4 capability. I did not realise MR2 was already gone. I thought maratime patrol was a major contribution by the UK to NATO. The US can’t do it nor can any of the European’s. Still no numbers on JCA

October 19, 2010 5:35 pm

This is not a strategic defence review.

This is a fudge salami sandwich, which works abut as well as such a sandwich would.

We keep Tornados, when strategically scrapping them and continuing development of Typhoon would make more sense.

We do nothing to address inter theatre air transport or Helicopters (except to carry on as before).

The Rn becomes a hopelessly unbalanced cling to one carrier (will RAF get F35C?)

The Army gets to keep the ability to deploy small packets of heavy Armour. Why?

No chance of ;looking at thehuge admin tail of all the armed forces, no consideration of whether we ned the airforce any more. IN Fact it is not Strategic, It has crippled our defence, and it has reviewed nothing (except to cut RN seemingly with senior RN support)!

I am depressed. (As I think the Slim Pickens character in blazing saddles opined).

October 19, 2010 5:36 pm

Does France have a budget to buy QE, Could India afford it? Or want it now they are building there own.

October 19, 2010 5:38 pm

its possible.


my response:

5x Mutlirole Brigades
1x Air Assault Brigade
1x Marine Brigade

1x CVF (second only in extended readiness)
1x LPH (if only we had two)
1x LPD (second only in extended readiness)
3x LSD (real shame they are decommissioning a Bay)

19x Destroyer/Frigates (could have been a lot worse)
XXx C3 (no, i don’t believe the program has disappeared)

all in all, its not a million miles away from what i would have wanted anyway, and a lot of the deficit is only moth-balled (and brand new) rather than turned into razor-blades.

not totally unhappy, and impressed with Fox for keeping the cuts to ~8%, this could have been a LOT worse!

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 19, 2010 5:38 pm

My bad, the reporter must have been talking out of his ar*e and mis-read the report, only 12 to be deployed at a time. Although scanning through it I can’t find any actual figures. Wildcats here to stay, but nothing on numbers.

October 19, 2010 5:39 pm

Sir Jock Stirip’s great quote on BBC. “We don’t need carriers for the near term because we KNOW what our tasks are going to be”. They must have signed an agreement with Argentina then.

Mike W
October 19, 2010 5:41 pm


Yes, there seems to be a real contradiction there (not unusual in this masterpiece of a “Defence Review”! Sentinel is fairly new aircraft, isn’t it? Do we or do we not need all the ISTAR we can get?

And what about the decion to withdraw all Hercules transports?
Will what remains, the C-17 and the A400M, be able to do all the smaller, tactical insertions of troops and equipment that will be needed where there are no airstrips, etc.? It wasn’t so long ago that the Hercules was being suggested by Government spokesmen as a posible temporary replacement for the Nimrod MR Mk2 when that was withdrawn.

October 19, 2010 5:43 pm

maybe David Cameron has got mistic meg and paul the octopus on the National Security Council see he KNOWS what is going to happen for the next 10 years.

Phil Darley
October 19, 2010 5:45 pm

How the fcuk can they justify the withdrawal of sentinel. They have just got it working for Christ sake. The fixed costs are sunk Nd with only 5 the running costs cannot be that high. This seems madness!

Monty the typhoon was designed from the outset as s multirole/swingrole fighter. It is not a one-trick pony. Once the weapons have been fully integrated (raptor, stormshadow and brimstone) have yet to be added to it’s capability. When done it will out perform the tornado in just about every way. If ex are getting 160 that is all of tranche 3. As the 72 sold to Saudi count as ours

October 19, 2010 5:47 pm

I have only seen a bit of coverage I find it all depressing. But what coverage I have seen has been all RAF. They are losing 2 (two!) stations……..

October 19, 2010 5:50 pm

Martin said: “n fairness I think he said 4th biggest budget” – nope, read the qoute again. He may of meant budget, but that’s not what he said :-)

Still the point would be how come Japan spends less in real terms, has no expeditionary illusions (at least not publicly announced ones) but has more of everything (and generally of good quality) to defend its homeland ?

Why aren’t we commissioning and independent panel made up of experts from the Japanese MoD ???

October 19, 2010 5:54 pm

Its been said already but little strategy and a whole lot of cutting. A very sad day for our armed forces and our nation as a whole. Lets hope the USA and Nato agree with all our international issues…..

October 19, 2010 5:57 pm

Monty said:

– Commitment to ability to deploy Brigade anywhere in the world and sustain it indefinitely is excellent
– Commitment to ability to deploy 30,000 troops for short campaign is excellent

Bullshit – how do they get that brigade anywhere in the world exactly ? With 1 x Albion, 3 x Bay and 1 x Worlds Largest Helo carrier ? How many C17’s and A400 will be there to run the logistics train, depending on host nation support of course ??

Again how are they going to get 30,000 troops for a short term op actually deployed ? Oh, well if the threat zone is connected to the western european high speed train network, they can always ride there on the German trains…….

Strategic no – fudge, entirely :-(

October 19, 2010 6:00 pm

I Jed I was only going of memory from watching Cameron on the TV. Presuming he did mean budget who is the third if it’s not Japan. It’s not Russia or India and I think they are commited to retaining the EU’s biggest budget so can it be France.

October 19, 2010 6:05 pm

“Again how are they going to get 30,000 troops for a short term op actually deployed ?”

They won’t, even with the six point-class a mission of that size requires US assistance for theatre entry.

October 19, 2010 6:18 pm

Has anybody seen anything about the Alsations?

I can’t believe the Crabs have f*cked us over again.

And to top it all its Trafalgar Day on Thursday………

(I want to say something but I am actually lost for words……)

October 19, 2010 6:19 pm

Did I read the MCMV are being left alone?

October 19, 2010 6:24 pm

Yes my “BS” was not directed at Monty, but at the politicians – sorry Monty !

October 19, 2010 6:33 pm

I loved Cameron’s quotes about the T45 beging the best general purpose destroyer in the world. He could not even bring himslef to say general, No ASW, No TLAM, No CIWS and a pissy little main gun. Hardly general purpose.

In his speech he mentioned a new cheaper frigate program however in the released documents it still mentions the T26 but no mention of the C2 T27 medium Vessel.

Also loved his opening statement that every time the military brass told him they need something in Afghanistan he decided to keep it. Sorry Navy no luck, If Afghanistan had a port you might have been able to keep the T22’s. Hardly strategic thinking. Afghanistan could end next year one way or another. The Iraq insurgency ended pretty quickly following the surge. The cracks may already be appearing in the taliban. Alternativley if it gets worse the US could pull out next year. Then we will have butchered our amred forces for a war we are no longer fighting and a type of war we will avoid getting into for a generation or more.

October 19, 2010 6:36 pm

From the BBC: “The UK has traditionally punched above its weight and must continue to do so. This will require a more co-ordinated approach, he argues.” He being Cameron.

If I ever meet the guy in public, he will find out that I can punch above my weight too !

October 19, 2010 6:37 pm

Projection: we are now primed for the eventual sale/cutting of both carriers by reason of the additional cost of standing up both air wing, airborne early warning, and support after the Harrier hiatus, the need for larger fleet tankers and fleet solid support to make even one carrier work, the expense of catapults and arrestor gear, and the RAF having the chance to get the long range attack plane it wanted all along ala’ acquiring the Buccaneer.

The first thing to go in future cuts will be the remaining carrier and what is left of the amphibious capability. Be ready for a CV or F-35 choice being presented. F-35 brings value without the CV, CV and its necessary fleet train and escort is nothing without the F-35. Without any air cover, the argument for amphib capability is gone, same as when Fearless and Intrepid were to be cut after Ark Royal and Eagle went.

The Royal Navy just became an expensive corpse for the Air Force to feed upon while providing cover for politicians who do not want to pay the price for substansial blue water capability.

This is a set up for worse to come, and I beieve the other services, Osborne, and Cameron see that path forward, also. To deal successive cuts through atrophy of starved capabilities and the smokescreen of never-to be-realized promised restoration in future better times is just a continuation of the pattern of long term decline. Consider the completion of the carriers to be the economically insane political sacrificial lamb, ala’ the newly refurbised Victorious in the sixties and seventies.

Watch if BAE disinvests or fails to upgrade Portsmouth or Scotstoun. That will tell you whether they see things generally as I do.




October 19, 2010 6:44 pm

Some possible implications :-

5 x Multi- Role Brigades
The reduction from 6 previously planned
1) removes the need to stand up an extra armoured regiment
2)Will require operational deployments to be increased from the current 6 months to 7 or 8 months.

Sentinel will be retained until withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. This might allow time for the development of a UAV to carry the Synthetic Aperture Radar and Moving Target Indicator sensors.

On the face of it the Puma upgrade programme is a waste of money.However, extending the life of the aircraft may allow a replacement to be ordered once the order for the 12 new Chinooks has been completed.

13th spitfire
October 19, 2010 6:52 pm

Chaps don’t worry here’s what will happen:

The Argies will attack again now that they have a proper navy and we are decommissioning ours. Cameron and Co. will realise that their cushy lives mean fuck all in their real along with their ability to make “strategic” decision – they will be kicked out of office and that will be that.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
October 19, 2010 7:32 pm

I have to agree with what some commentators have said regarding the Review in that at best it should be seen as interim because of the imbalance caused by ongoing operations in Afghanistan and the deficit. Hopefully the review in 2015, post Afghanistan will being some logic back into the porcess

However there are a number of decisions that I simply do not understand. The main one is the future of the carriers. If one is going to be up for sale I sincererly hope that it is sold at FULL market price and not palmed off. The second is the withdral of the Sentinal. This has only just begun to prove its worth in Afghanistan. ISTAR was supposed to be the RAFs forte for the future and one of its main contributions to operations. I seems to be a case of least worst option to me. Why is the Tornado fleet being retained? It is too big for our current needs and should have been reduced by at least 3 squadrons. The Helicopter programme is still a mess and an opportunity has been missed, so we will have to wait until 2015 to sort this out. I have a feeling FRS SV will survive as this is going to be the core platform for the Multi-role brigades to replace legecy vehicles well past their sell by date, though major decisions will be made post 2015. Nimrod was an obvious choice as there would hace been too few airframes to meed its mission objectives effectively.

There is some good news and for me the future of the Typhoon is top. The RAF has needed a “Swing Role” platform for decades and IF the Typhoons is going to be fully funded and brought up to a common T3 standard then the RAF had gain a big plus. The mention of “Cheaper Frigates”, seems to indicate that the C2 programme will be first of the building blocks with the T-26 moving forward at a slower pace until after 2015. This is the right decision in my book and I wounder if come of the capabilities listed under C3 could be cover by using a common hull to build a modular support vessel class? With regards to special forces, I do not see and expansion of the SAS/SBS but more an increase in the “Ranger” style infantry units to suppliment them meaning units like the Paras and RM may get more specialist equipment and additional training.

I think we will have to simply say that this review was not what was advertised and has had too many restrictions placed on it that haven’t had much to actually do with strategic thinksing and wait a further 5 year and hope the Government’s gamble doesn’t come back to bite our service men and women.

Mike W
October 19, 2010 7:42 pm

After my rant, I looked at the Cabinet Office fact sheets that Admin recommended. Are there one or two small but hopeful signs here that at least Army equipment might be improved? The fact sheet mentioned the following three items:

“Loitering Munitions able to circle over a battlefield for many hours ready for fleeting or opportunity targets.”

“A new range of medium weight armoured vehicles will be purchased,including the Terrier engineer vehicle and Future Rapid Effects System reconnaissance and UTILITY (my capitals) vehicles.”

“A force protection system to protect
against indirect fire such as artillery and mortars.”

Could the first refer to the fact that Fire Shadow will enter service?

The second seems to suggest, despite all the comments in the press, that FRES UTILITY will be procured.

And the third perhaps suggests a C-RAM system. Am I wrong?

October 19, 2010 7:49 pm

“If one is going to be up for sale I sincererly hope that it is sold at FULL market price and not palmed off.”

That is yet to be seen.

“Why is the Tornado fleet being retained?”

I thought it was some of the tornado fleet, in which case it is to continue the afghanistan mission and then to become F35c drivers later on.

October 19, 2010 7:50 pm


I realized you were venting at Cameron not me, so no offence taken. I had assumed (wrongly) that if Cameron says we will have the capability to deploy 30,000 troops, it would be backed up with the means to make sure it is feasible. There may be some behind the scenes deals with the USA, but we really ought to be able to do this independently.

Thanks for info on Typhoon, Phil D.


Your list of what we get for our £33 billion is deeply shocking. Not a lot of stuff is it? I think the Navy has come of worst out of this. 19 ships is pathetic. How do you defend British waters with 19 ships? We need a fleet of at least 20 frigates, 15 destroyers, 3 carriers, 3 commando carriers, 15 attack submarines, 4 missile submarines, 20 minesweepers / GP vessels and 20 fast patrol boats. Look at the Navy we had in the 1960s and that tells you a lot about what it takes to defend our shores. However good any individual vessel is, it can only be in one place at a time.

October 19, 2010 8:27 pm

Interesting that in questions after the statement Cameron mentioned that HMS QE would be converted to take cats, not PoW as mentioned in the press. What was the original launch date 2014? with ISD 2016 – conversion to CATOBAR & retraining CTOL ops could add to that so 2019/2020 sounds about right.

Overall could’ve been a lot worse. Hate to think what a 15-20% cut would have done.

As for Japan, well they don’t operate out of region, don’t deploy and fight wars and don’t have SSBN’s!

October 19, 2010 8:28 pm

Well I feel a bit sick all told.

I was initially hopeful that the Tories would be a bit more pro-defence (despite providing us with John Knott AND Duncan Sandys) might actually do it properly though it has become apparent in recent months that this would not be the case.

Sick and embarrassed, actually. We really do look pathetic and it did not have to be like this.

Maybe the MOD could ask the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington for its 2 Buccanneers back to fly off the CVFs while waiting for the F35C. I mean seriously, could we not have leased a squadron or two of stored F18As or F18Cs from the yanks whilst we were waiting??? Could we seriously not have sustained 20 or so Harriers, at least as a fig leaf????

Sorry Phil, still not sure about the Typhoon. How many frontline squadrons will the RAF end up with, with how many aircraft? All Tranche 3b?

I know it has been said before but we are all doomed…

October 19, 2010 8:31 pm

I think it was very difficult NOT to salami slice given the adaptive posture which required generic capabilities on land, sea & air given the whole SDSR was skewed by being at war.

I can almost excuse the fudge. But won’t in 2015 – at least by then we’ll be out of dust wars and the senior service will still be in decent shape to undertake a new maritime strategy required by the new government! ;)

October 19, 2010 8:50 pm


I wasn’t trying to list what we get for our money, just trying to draw out some implications from what appear to be some strange decisions.

Lord Jim

Excellent points in your post.

Phil Darley
October 19, 2010 8:56 pm

Typhoon orders were 232


If RAF are to keep 160 then we are about done I.e.

55+(88-72)+24 = 95 which means Tranche 3b will be ordered and will consist of about 65. The problem is T1 cannot be upgraded to T2/T3 so how we get 160 T3 types is unclear. It would be excellent news but I can’t see it without the 55 T1s being replaced with new builds!!!!

Phil Darley
October 19, 2010 9:07 pm

Sorry monty you asked how many squadrons would 160 give us. I am not too sure as the RAF have changed the numbers per squadron but its somewhere around 12-16 which makes about 10

October 19, 2010 9:12 pm

Thanks Phil, appreciate the clarifications!

October 19, 2010 9:17 pm

Phil Darley

According to an aviation journalist posting on Pprune, UK orders for Typhoon were as follows:

53 Tranche 1, (including 4 development airframes – so 49 for the RAF),
67 Tranche 2 (91 minus the 24 Saudi diverts),
40 more to follow in Tranche 3A.

The 24 sold to the Saudis are in Tranche 2, and are not being replaced as planned. All 40 T3A jets will go to the RAF.

And officially, T3B for 48 further aircraft has not been cancelled.

October 19, 2010 9:20 pm

On those figures it looks like the T1s will be withdrawn if we are looking at 160ish front line aircraft?

October 19, 2010 9:27 pm

“no grand strategy then, no making a choice between a continental or maritime model”

I’m not so sure, with the exception of a mothballed carrier and LPD, and a decommissioned LSD it pretty much is SR.

As much as could be given that the Forces now have to live within their budget rather than beyond it.

They chopped just enough out the amphib fleet to prevent brigade ops, so now presumably the idea is that 16AAB and Marines each supply a battlegroup at any one time, rather than swap as the ready brigade. They never had enough airlift & heli’s for 16AAB anyway.

October 19, 2010 9:37 pm


From the same source:

The original 232 would have supported 7 front-line squadrons with the aircraft allocated as follows:

Squadrons: 105 aircraft (15 each)
OCU: 24 aircraft
OEU: 4 aircraft
Falklands: 4 aircraft

In-use reserves: 9 aircraft
(one per squadron and two with the OCU)

The remaining 84 would have been rotated in and out of service to balance flying hours across the whole fleet and thus enable the aircraft to meet its scheduled out-of-service date. They would also have covered attrition losses.

(the above seems to equal 230, even experts make mistakes)

Using the same basis as above, 160 aircraft will furnish 5 front-line squadrons.

October 19, 2010 9:40 pm

Jedi – I have to disagree with you and agree with “no grand strategy” comment.

Current UK “strategy” = carry on regardless in Afghanistan.

What are we frightened of if we leave earlier ? Pissing off Kharzai and Obama does not really seem that bad – the US would complain about us quitting, but come running back next time (all their whinging did not deter Canada sticking to its withdrawal time table).

So short termism does not qualify as a strategy. Strategy suggests thinking long term, looking to the future i.e. you have sunk most of the costs in Nimrod already, so why not build them and KEEP the skill sets in the RAF sensor operator cohort. Similar with Harriers in that even if the new carriers were delayed to have cats and traps, still flying them from Ark keeps a broad skill set alive.

Similarly piecemeal cuts like putting 1 RN and 1 RFA amphib asset into “extended readiness” do not really achieve any great savings, but do cut deeply into the capability – don’t forget either type of vessel can do CTF151 anti-piracy ops, or Caribbean guard ship duties.

I am of the pessimistic group that believes there is no such thing as a “capability holiday” – use it or loose it! Now we will have lost important, maritime focused, but tri-service and multi-role capabilities (remember Nimrod MR2 was doing overland ISR in support of the Army !).

Mental Crumble
Mental Crumble
October 19, 2010 9:49 pm

It’s a funny old world….. that’ll make the Army about 50% of the size it was when I joined. Whatever the airframe, munitions, orbat changes the one absolute certainty is that this review will result in more deaths. At best they’ll just be servicemen, at worst civilians too.

There is no mitigation here, if he’d waved a piece of paper in the air declaring, “Peace in our time,” it couldn’t be any less sincere.

I’ve spent my adult life listening to declarations from Westminster of, “our brave boys; the best we have; the best in the world.” Well we’re not. Basra is proof of how low we’ve sunk and what is worse, we don’t now have the stones to admit it. Carriers are an absolute farce. Yes, with an Army of 160,000 and a Navy with 40 ships we might be able to leverage the carriers but 2 carriers…… sorry, make that 1 carrier sailing around… well, where exactly and once they hit trouble, then what?

The plan is to rely on our allies? When exactly have they turned out to support us……. when? The only countries that turn out time after time are Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If anyone in Westminster is suggesting that anyone in Europe would risk lives and political capital to support the UK it would be a historical first.

The Americans? Here’s a newsflash… there’s no Cap Weinberger in Washington now.

The whole thing is a weapons grade clusterfvck, eerily reminiscent of of the last time the Tories knifed defence.. remember, we had medical services before then.

Frankly, discussion about this aircraft or that is just geekspeak. The truth is, from a macro perspective we have just massively downgraded ourselves and the outlook is decidedly bleak.

I wish I could live in the sanitised world that Cameron and his new fluffy friends inhabit. I modest kick of in NI, an escalation in Afghanistan and, oh lets see, the Straits of Hormuz mined and we’ll all be getting an invitation to join the party.

Right, I’ll see myself out then…..

October 19, 2010 9:55 pm

Can anybody confirm that Ocean is in a poor state? And if so what is up with her?

October 19, 2010 10:00 pm

One more thing. Al Beeb had the OC RAF Kinloss for interview. He was asked what Nimrod did. Second task out of his month anti-maritime-terrorism, second one out of his mouth. Cranwell must do courses on positive spin.

October 19, 2010 10:03 pm

“Jedi – I have to disagree with you and agree with “no grand strategy” comment.”

Jed, that was always going to be the case, what matters is what happens post 2015.

it is not necessarily all roses, but it could have been less focussed and more of a disaster.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
October 19, 2010 10:40 pm

Listened to Cameron’s speech in parliament. Twice, just to realise I heard it straight. If we’re getting F-35c than fitting cat & traps to PoW makes sense, but does that mean that the RAF will also be flying the naval variant? If all 40 go to the FAA, then that would fill a carrier a bit more. I understand that all the T1 typhoons are block5, so fully A2A developed and with “austere” A2G capable, the only difference between T2 and T3a Typhoons is that the data-bus allows better upgrades on the latter. Both of them are fully multi-role. Incidentally Cameron said that Typhoon was already operating in Afganistan?

Since there is going to be another “strategic” review in 5 years, if the deficit has been reduced, we *could* see QE and PoW being put into service together – personally I can’t see them being sold-on to anyone.

Having A400m as our tactical transport was always on the cards C-130’s simply can’t carry the overweight cuckoo that is FRES-SV!

October 20, 2010 12:18 am

I am p***ed off that the Nimrod has been cancelled, a fine aircraft and all that money for nought. Hopefully somebody might plan for a replacement based on the Airbus A321 which can be used as a common platform ASW(ala P-8 Poseidon), AEW( 737 wedgetail) and the ELINT (RC-135 Rivet Joint)

El Sid
El Sid
October 20, 2010 12:21 am

I’ve not seen the detail, but I get the impression that they seem to have dropped FSC C2, with an implication that T26 will cover both C1 and C2. The way they emphasise flexibility on the T26 and in particular on the minesweepers/patrol class makes me think that some kind of Stanflex modular system is a done deal for those.

The reduction in tubes on the next SSBNs we already knew about, since the Yanks decided to make the tubes much bigger. Arguably we’d be better off with more thinner tubes, and drop the need for MIRV. It would also make it easier for MUFC to be an Astute variant that merged the roles of SSN and SSBN, at the rate we’re going we’ll have 4 SSN’s protecting 4 SSBN’s, better to have 8 SSN/SSBN’s with a couple of tubes each. Interesting that no Astutes were cut.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I think the carriers is a pragmatic decision in the circumstances, that retains maximum flexibility whilst hiding the fact from the sandal-wearers that we could divert some US F-35B orders onto the first CVF in 2016 if circumstances required (like the Saudis “taking” some of our Typhoons) and/or keeping her in service after 2019. If there was a smidge of extra cash going, I think I’d rather keep the extra Bay going rather than keeping the Harriers.

I think they’ve done OK, given the awful inheritance they were given. If you accept the need to cut 8% _and_ pay the £38bn that some incompetent idiots put on the credit cards, then I’m not sure what you could do that looks much different to where they’ve ended up. If you want to get angry with anyone, it should be with the people who gave us feast and famine in the first place – treason is not too strong a word for it.

October 20, 2010 1:38 am

Thought I would chip in but I have nothing really to say apart from this is not really as bad as it could have been although it is still bad and with many stupid things going to happen in the next wee while. I do worry however that the idiots that are the electorate might be voting back into power in a few years more morons like that last labour government for this to repeat itself in another 20 or so years. However as predicted the Army gets away relatively lightly although in fairness that I can see the reasons for that clearly although we should get out of dodge now and fast. I still think the Royal Navy yet again get shafted or the maritime domain in the round gets shafted with the loss of Nimrod and more hulls.

This morning there was a priority arrival at RAF Kinloss a business jet with big wigs on board so it was obvious what was going to happen, how about that for saving some money why don’t they just stay in London??

October 20, 2010 7:54 am

“Dom, it is a big deal if you are going to be getting a brown envelope as you get back from theatre.”

The Armed forces recruit about 10,000 people a year.
Phased “Cuts” of 17,000 will be met by a recruitment freeze far more than by redundancy.
Or at least should be, my employer met a far steeper target without making anyone redundant, although to be fair, they changed the target and are sacking my department.

October 20, 2010 8:54 am

“Incidentally Cameron said that Typhoon was already operating in Afganistan?”
I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of it, but they could have been photoshop.

“Arguably we’d be better off with more thinner tubes, and drop the need for MIRV”
Nope, for reasons to do with the cost of SLBMs (and platforms) and the cost of Interceptors to shoot down SLBM’s, MIRV’s are seriously needed.
An enlarged Astute with 4 Tubes, some carrying nuclear SLBMs others carrying large numbers of cruise missiles is my personal preference, but we need 100 deployable warheads (including dummy waheads) at sea and they need to be cheaper than than any weapon that can intercept them.
The only way to do that is MIRVs.

“If you want to get angry with anyone, it should be with the people who gave us feast and famine in the first place – treason is not too strong a word for it.”
But Dave promised us a strategic review. This is a fudge.
Thats what everyone (I assume) is most angry about.
You mention the £38bn.
42% of that black hole could be filled by just the procurement costs saved by cancelling FRES.
You can save 157% of that that black hole by cancelling all the life time support costs.
There, not only have we cured Labours unfunded promises, but we’ve freed up enough money to buy 12 more T45’s.
What did Dave do instead?
Well, he cut a little bit of thias, a little bit of that, leaving us with losts of little bits, that are all still very expensive and completely fucking useless.

Quick bit from the good doctor at EURef
“Anyhow, it was entertaining enough, and the dinner afterwards more so. But it was Chatham House rules, so I cannot repeat what any one person said. Nevertheless, the discussion confirms my many impressions of certain high personages. Surprising accord on Afghanistan. There has been something of a learning curve and the original paradigms have been thrown out of the window. We are simply looking for a credible – or any – exit plan.”

Phil Darley
October 20, 2010 9:09 am

Percontator, thanks fore that. Its not easy to work out exactly what the split is between tranches. The order for T1 and T2 were 55and 88 but then the saudi order messed all that up. The table below is from wiki which seems to indicate that with the T3a order we will have our magical 160 figure. As I said earlier that does not make sense as I understand that (for some obscure reason its not possible to update T1 to T2 or T3)!!! Dont understand that, it was always designed to be upgradable, some major change must have happened (perhaps the central wiring that connects the weapons to the computers changed from T2???

Country Tranche 1 Tranche 2 Tranche 3A[48] Total
Austria 15 0 0 15
Germany 33 79 31 143
Italy 28 47 21 96
Saudi Arabia 1 48 24 72
Spain 19 34 20 73
United Kingdom 53 67 40[49] 160
TOTAL 148 299 112[48] 559

October 20, 2010 9:28 am

Re Nimrod: RAF capabilities will include: “strategic surveillance and intelligence platforms capable of providing wide-area coverage as part of our broader combat ISTAR capability. These include the E3D Sentry AWACS to provide airborne command, control and surveillance; Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft to provide global independent strategic intelligence gathering; and a range of unmanned air systems to complement our strategic ISTAR assets and reduce the risk to our forces of operating over hostile territory”

October 20, 2010 10:35 am

Re, the Typhoon numbers – Cameron mentioned in the questions after his statement a number of 110.

Suggests 3b is dead, no?

October 20, 2010 10:48 am


Thanks for the info.

But we end up with 5 front line Typhoon squadrons? That is surely not enough to provide UK Air Defence AND expeditionary CAS? Especially if we need to back fill both the Harrier AND some/all the Tornado force eventually?

40 F35Cs is not even enough for the FAA let alone the RAF as well. Will we get an order for more do you think in 2015 to replace the Tornados? Or is an additional Tranche 3b on the cards? Hope they get the thrust vectoring but wouldn’t bet on it.

Cancelling the Nimrod MRA4 is stupid as mentioned earlier as most of the costs are already accounted for.

I guess there is an outside chance of both CVFs being operational after 2015 when the deficit is reduced? Doesn’t alter the lack of aircraft to fly off them though.

In the clear light of morning I guess it could have been worse but again as mentioned by more informed commentators than I, it ended up as a salami sliced Fudge Sandwich rather than a proper Strategic Defence Review.

Oh and to second X – what is up with Ocean?

October 20, 2010 10:51 am

Did anyone get what was happening with helicopters? The review states that the RN will be based on a fleet of Wildcat and Merlin, the RAF will get 12 Chinooks and upgraded Pumas. Does this mean transferal of Merlins from RAF to RN service as proposed by the previous government? What news of the SAR Force?

paul g
October 20, 2010 11:10 am

My first comment for ages, y’know it could’ve been worse, sure there were some strange decisions a la harrier but we don’t know what happened behind the closed doors. 7000 over 5 years is, as said above quite easy, a drop in recruiting, not dramatic and the natural wastage will sort that, the main problem will be the shifting of the guys in the middle, i can see another amalgamation somewhere in the tankie world. Arty guys will just merge 2 regiments into 1 and reduce in the 5 year timezone (IMO). Maybe the RTR that are part of the joint NBC regt will be quietly fizzled out,also super garrisons will be the norm, places like newbury and other small dets will be gathered in, lynham perhaps who knows?
In my fantasy world, where unicorns run through the enchanted forest (hopefully with brown,harmann and blair impaled on their horns) in 2015 when the bean counters see the savings the defence budget will be restored to it’s former glory, yeah right!!!

October 20, 2010 11:44 am

No mention of the Red Arrows either, let alone Alsatians!

If the Tranche 1 Typhoons can’t be upgraded to Tranche 3b maybe the Reds can use them instead of their clapped out clockwork Hawks. :-)

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
October 20, 2010 11:59 am

George, re: the red arrows using Typhoon, given the difference in operating costs, the team would probably become the Red Arrow!

El Sid
El Sid
October 20, 2010 12:09 pm

Peston :

“In the run-up to the publication of today’s defence review, David Cameron was asked by the chiefs to consider negotiating the substitution of frigates for the second carrier. However, when the PM consulted the navy on this apparently sensible option, the navy told him that the available frigate wouldn’t do everything it would want it to do.”

The blogpost after that one talks a bit about BAe and the MRA4.

October 20, 2010 12:44 pm

Stupid question: why does it take 4 (!!!) years to integrate cats and traps into CVF?

1) CATOBAR is an excuse to slip PoW four years
2) CVF is not as flexible as it was intended to be
3) BAe wants to get maximum money out of the deal for minor effort (and have btw mastered an economical paradox)
4) a combination of 1) to 3)

My bet goes on 4).

I admit they support my ideas of a smaller modular frigate and modular minesweepers/patrol ships. This makes sense, if only the numbers weren’t that pathetic. The latter is made worse by having no more “air frigates”, as one RN-officer called the Nimrod.

Cancelling Sentinel, the only program providing state-of-the-art high tech for the money intended (and even less), is a shocking and ignorant deal. Bad sign to the defence industry.

Why they scratch one Bay-class with it’s rather cheap operating cost is also beyond me.

October 20, 2010 1:08 pm

No mention of the Plum.

October 20, 2010 1:18 pm

El Sid said “Interesting that no Astutes were cut.”

Not really. I am going to sound a bit contrary now, but Their Lordships aren’t totally foolish. They appreciate that our SSNs are why “we” could just about, with a real squeeze, claim to be, with a good following wind, to have the world’s second best navy.

I am glad you are concerned about protecting the SSBNs too. I don’t see many people here and at other places showing too much concern about this.

October 20, 2010 1:46 pm

@ Richard Stockley LOL – my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I said that! I did wonder if they would do something to the team though – I guess the public outcry would be greater than losing the Ark and the Harriers. I even thought they might end up with Tucanos….

October 20, 2010 2:05 pm

Can anyone explain to me what:
“As the Army is withdrawn from Germany, we will reduce its heavy armour and artillery, although we will retain the ability to regenerate those capabilities if need be.”

(from the forward) and

“…the ability to regenerate capabilities given sufficient strategic notice.” ( 1.5.ii)

actually mean?

I don’t have any idea how long it would take to regenerate our heavy armour and artillery capabilities, but put together with the second quote (there’s probably more but my lunchtime’s over – must do some work) sounds awfully like we’re expecting any agressor to send us a memo several years before opening an offensive. (Maybe they could work on a handy 5 year cycle too?)

I’m guessing the key part is those words in 1.5.ii “in partnership with allies” (read: the US)…

October 20, 2010 2:37 pm

Although Admin made a post on “too expensive to cancel” – there is one case here where the inability to take a bold decision has back fired – the Nimrod MR4.

Yep, its been a nightmare programme. Over cost, over schedule. Has the issue been fixed – yes, they know now the effort required to fix the “individuality” of the wing – fuselage interface. Would it be 3Bn wasted – well it certainly was not well spent, but hindsight is wonderful thing, however it is not 3Bn wasted until you cancel the programme and right-off the investment. For modest ongoing costs you would have had the single most flexible airframe in the UK inventory. Capable of both maritime and over land surveillance (read that as “non-traditional” ISTAR)as well as full on ASW, and even at a stretch long range strike with a couple of Tomahawk’s in that enormous weapons bay. A bold decision would have been to up the number back to 21, the decision to cancel what has been an historic clusterfrack at the point it all comes good was the easy decision – and capabilities wise the wrong one.

3 Nimrods flying out of Oman or Djibouti – the commander of any Anti-Piracy task force off Somali would give his right hand for that capability !

Oh be we will have 3 exquisitely equipped Rivet Joints to ensure we retain a ‘strategic sovereign intelligence gathering capability” – oh yeah, right…. yawn……

Admin, Jedibeeftrix and Jackstaff, you all write nicely, I think you should all send letters to the editor of the Times :-)

October 20, 2010 4:10 pm

@ Jed – thanks, i may.

@ El Sid – “Interesting that no Astutes were cut.”

they simply cannot. there isn’t a viable submarine skills-base or industry without a drumbeat of orders every 22 months. if vanguard +1 is being deferred then that guarenteed the order for the seventh Astute.

October 20, 2010 10:21 pm

A plague on all their houses! It’s time to go purple!

“an extra £20m on mental health” – they need it!

October 21, 2010 9:01 am

Thats a good question.
My understanding was that if we keep 200 Heavy tanks, we can quickly (laugh) build another 800 tanks and train extra crews and officers.
If we dont keep any heavy tanks, we can quickly (laugh) build 1000 of them, but training the crews is much slower and the officers nigh on impossible.
200 Tanks is more than enough to pretend we have an armoured Corps and train staff officers to think like they are in command of an armoured Corps, in case one day we have to put them in charge of said Corps.

October 21, 2010 12:07 pm

I think I’ve just spotted something

Page 28
“reduce our planned number of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Installing a catapult on the new aircraft carrier will allow us to switch to the more capable carrier variant”

Has the JSF for the RAF been cut completely?
That would save (with the smaller Navy Fleet) procurement of 100 airframes, at a cost of some £6bn and running costs of £20bn over the next 25 years.

Did the RAF get knifed and no one noticed?