Car Crash Ahead

Coming as no surprise will be the news of rumours of yet more cuts, reductions in Army numbers post 2015 and Tornado’s being the headline grabbers this week. As the MoD wrestled with Planning Round 11 it became obvious that the SDSR announcements were not going to be enough and yet more reductions would be inevitable. Various leaks and titbits have been surfaced but the fat lady hasn’t started her solo yet and if there is anything certain, it is that there is more bad news to come.

The real bad news will surface when PR11 has been finalised, right now the MoD is looking down the back of the sofa for a few quid that might have been left over from the last diversity seminar.

The Guardian is reporting that options include yet more surface vessels to be withdrawn, Army personnel reduced, reduction in the mythical Chinook order and the early withdrawal of the entire Tornado fleet. There will be a range of options presented these might well be on that list.

The MoD responded

SDSR implementation work is ongoing and the MOD is also undertaking its annual planning round, which is used routinely to look forward over ten years and ensure the Department’s commitments are in line with available resources. We keep a range of options under consideration at all times regarding future capabilities. Premature speculation is not helpful to that process, to our Armed Forces or to industry.

So, let’s not speculate or discuss eviscerating the armed forces because it might be unhelpful to them.

In a world of hard choices I think withdrawing Tornado earlier might well be the lesser of several evils. It is currently the only aircraft cleared for RAPTOR which is providing a significant capability in Afghanistan but there is no reason why other coalition aircraft could not use the pod (the Polish and Greek Air Force use RAPTOR on their F16’s for example) and the small number in theatre would seem to make them vulnerable. Close Air Support and ISTAR could be provided by other coalition partners and there is no doubt that even after compensating BAe and Rolls Royce for early termination of aircraft and engine sustainment contracts there is soem serious potential for savings that would relieve pressure on other areas.

Withdrawing Tornado early might even allow some funding to be found to accelerate integration of systems like Paveway IV, Brimstone and RAPTOR onto Typhoon. Now that the deal to sell RAF Typhoon production slots to Oman looks a bit wobbly the need to keep Tornado because Typhoon would not be available in sufficient numbers might not be as acute.

Also in the news recently is Liam Fox planning to deliver a speech to the think tank Civitas in which he will address the issue of budget over runs in major projects.

For years successive defence secretaries have failed to get a grip on the equipment programme and failed to hold the department and industry to account for delays and poor cost-estimation

These practices in the MoD would simply not be tolerated in the private sector, and they will no longer be tolerated in the MoD

Whilst there is an obvious need for the relationship between industry and the MoD to change and for the MoD itself to change I think the elephant in the room for major projects is politics and politics, is something that politicians need to sort out. In various news reports that trail the speech some of these major projects that are over budget are highlighted, including Astute, CVF, Typhoon and A400.

Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with these projects will fully understand the political dimension is the source of the serious cost over runs so we can all witter on about BAe and DE&S all day long but it will not make one brass farthing of difference to major project costs.

Political interference is the biggest source of acquisition buffoonery so unless, Liam, you can sort that one out, I suspect in 5 or 10 years time we will be planning yet another reappraisal of our relationship with the defence industry and bemoaning ineptitude at the MoD.

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Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
February 21, 2011 11:24 pm

“Political interference is the biggest source of acquisition buffoonery so unless, Liam, you can sort that one out, I suspect in 5 or 10 years time we will be planning yet another reappraisal of our relationship with the defence industry and bemoaning ineptitude at the MoD.”

Very much agreed.

Fat Man
Fat Man
February 22, 2011 7:03 am

I agree with the political interference angle (= delays, ordering equipment for employment reasons, etc), but you can also add inter-service rivalries and trade-offs (‘I will support F-35 if you support FRES Scout’) and the arcane complexity of the decision making process in MOD Main Building, Abbey Wood and the Treasury. There are far too many senior officers and civil servants involved, each determined to get their fingers in the pie in order to justify their employment. Add to that the vastly disproportionate number of senior (and very expensive) officers and you have an organisation that seems more about the preservation of career structures and the pursuit of correct process than producing real defence outputs. Let’s have some fundamental reform, not tinkering around the edges.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 22, 2011 8:33 am

TSR2 and CVA01 all over again.

The RAF killed CVA01.
The government killed the TSR2.
And then the F111 too.
The UK, navy, Raf and industry all lose.

The RAF killed Ark Royal.
The government kills the Tornado.
The UK, Navy, RAF and industry all lose.

What amazes me, however, is the sheer amount of fucking-up. Nick Harvey, after the conclusion of the SDSR, announced IN PARLIAMENT that 96 Tornado GR4 were to be retained.
The SDSR itself promised 12 new Chinooks and a 2020 Army of 98.000 soldiers.
They also announced again and again the Merlin transfer to the Fleet Air Arm, and another rumour is that the transfer itself is increasingly at risk.
They announced a 40% cut in armour and we get rumors of retaining just 50 Challenger (!) while losing CVR(T) and FV430 fleets all in one go. A 90% cut, more than 40%.

They must believe people is blind, deaf and stupid. I’m amazed to see a government even worse than ours here in Italy, sincerely.
It almost makes me glad we have Berlusconi, and this tells you how high is my opinion of the Con-Dem…

A couple of months after the SDSR, merely weeks away from announcements in Parliament, they are going to shred their own very planning and promises and fuck it all up…? Gods, it takes AN AMAZING courage. Or an EPIC lack of any shame and common sense. Possibly both things.

The SDSR, as i’ve said so many times already, isn’t worth the PDF document it is. I would never waste precious paper to print such a collection of useless ramblings.
They wrote it, to betray it in two months time.

Labour took twelve years to betray its own review… And they still delivered a lot of stuff, at least: the UK power projection capability, included the whole amphibious fleet, is admittedly a labour thing.

Major threat to the UK’s survival: HM Government. This is what the SDSR should have had as Tier 1 menace.

The Oncoming Storm
The Oncoming Storm
February 22, 2011 9:02 am

This is all disheartening but it is the inevitable outcome of decades of stupid procurement decisions. I know people are rightly angry and there have been many good suggestions for how the Armed Forces should be restructured but sadly at the end of the day I’ve yet to hear a realistic alternative as to how the £36 billion black hole could have been closed without sacrificing any capability the cuts were inevitable.

The people who to my mind have emerged with the least credit from this debacle have been the service chiefs who instead of trying to work out a coherent strategy have behaved like a bunch of bitchy schoolgirls trying to put one over the other services.

The nation and our frontline personnel deserve so much better!

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
February 22, 2011 9:41 am

actually, the main document talks of reducing the army to 95,000 by 2015:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_191634.pdf?CID=PDF&PLA=furl&CRE=sdsr

The Future Force 2020 document only talks of numbers in relation to 2015:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Factsheet5-Future-Force-2020.pdf

As does the army document:

http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/Factsheet7-British-Army.pdf

anyone who did not realise that army numbers were being propped up by afganistan is crazy, at great expense we kept the carriers which should tell you something about the intended direction, as should the bald stated intention to only support one brigade on enduring operations, hardly a COIN doctrine!

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
February 22, 2011 9:46 am

“…the MOD is also undertaking its annual planning round, which is used routinely to look forward over ten years and ensure the Department’s commitments are in line with available resources.”

In terms of defence policy, surely that should be the other way round – the resources need to be in line with the commitments?

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 22, 2011 10:25 am

Gabriele
“Labour took twelve years to betray its own review… And they still delivered a lot of stuff, at least: the UK power projection capability, included the whole amphibious fleet, is admittedly a labour thing.”

Bollocks
Labour just didnt admit their Defence Review was a load of rubbish.
Labours Strategic Defence review is freely available on the internet, see what they promised, and what was actualy in service by 2010.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
February 22, 2011 12:02 pm

Labour’s 1998 SDR was actually a very good piece of work. The problem was that Gordon Brown refused point blank to fund it and therefore began the gap between funding and procurement that culminated in the £36Bn black hole. Yes they were major C@%& ups within the procurement process but as Jed said at the beginning, interference by politicians is also a major factor. It is very difficult to run a programme when you don’t know if the money for it will still be there tomorrow or the next day. This Government though is actually worse, as after all its statements about defending the Realm it has made and is still making decisions based purely on the grounds of cost cutting, with no regard to maintaining capabilities or balance within the Armed Forces.

The rank and file should down tools and stick two fingers up to the Generals and MPs until a proper strategy based review is carried out, with funding ring fenced for whatever the outcome so that it matches the committments laid down by the Government’s policy.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 22, 2011 1:01 pm

Lord Jim
Indeed, Labour gave a brilliant wish list, followed by defunding and denial.
The Tories offered a horrible truth.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m standing as a Tory in the next local elections, nor that I think Cameron is a Cock and Fox a Coward, the SDSR was shit, but it was a huge improvement on what preceeded it, if only in that there was some small chance of it actualy making it in to reality.

Would you like the truth or something beautiful?

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
February 22, 2011 1:03 pm

“make no secret of the fact that I’m standing as a Tory in the next local elections”

news to me!

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 22, 2011 1:45 pm

Well, I dont finish every post with it, but I have mentioned it.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
February 22, 2011 2:20 pm

Gabriele, I believe TSR was cancelled by the Government at the behest of the Americans who saw it as a direct threat to their troublesome F-111. I’ll have to check my facts but I’m sure it was because of our economic woes back in the 60’s. The Americans offered a bailout but at the cost of a number of projects including the TSR 2 and the Shorts Belfast, we bought the C-130 instead. In both cases we destroyed the jigs to prevent further manufacture.

One poignant thing I picked up last night on the news coverage of the Libyan crisis was the ex-Foreign Secretary Lord Owen saying that NATO should impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent its air force from bombing the civillian protesters and that those member states with aircraft carriers should send to the Mediterrainean to support it. Hmm….Harriers would be quite useful in this situation….DOH!

a
a
February 22, 2011 2:53 pm

the ex-Foreign Secretary Lord Owen saying that NATO should impose a no-fly zone over Libya

Good grief. Can we at least finish with one of our Middle East wars before we start another? (Yes, imposing a no-fly zone would be an act of war.)

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 22, 2011 3:47 pm

TD
I was thinking much the same, bases in Italy and Spain would be far more effective than CdG and PoW
The GR9’s would probably be outclassed by the Libyans, although the Sea Harriers should be winning BVR engagements.

Eurofighters should be picking up aces if anything contested.

Why exactly should NATO be pitching in on the side of the rebels anyway?

Mike2
Mike2
February 22, 2011 4:35 pm

DominicJ,
So you are standing in local elections,we are impressed.

Jed
Jed
February 22, 2011 4:44 pm

Mmmm Dom, I am starting to see the political spin already…. :-)

“the SDSR was shit, but it was a huge improvement on what preceeded it, if only in that there was some small chance of it actualy making it in to reality.”

Erm… how exactly was it better than what preceded it ? Not talking about the Iron Chancellors refusal to fund anything defence related, but exactly how was SDSR any better than any reviews which have preceded it.

Yes the SDSR was a load of BS, so we at least agree on that, but is not the small chance of actually making reality disappearing rapidly over the horizon already ?

Surely the current HMG being a coalition is even less likely (able) to make real tough decisions than a large single party majority ?

jim30
jim30
February 22, 2011 5:51 pm

You think SDSR was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

PR11 is going to be brutal. I will go so far as to say that I expect the cuts made (which I highly doubt will get any real publicity unless people do a lot of FOIing) will destroy the UKs ability to operate as a medium military power once HERRICK is over.

Its game over time gents, the chickens have come home to roost and we are about to cease to matter on the world stage. At its most simplest its because Gordon didnt fund it, and we also managed to spend 10 years refusing to accept the reality of our equipment programme train wreck, while simaltaneously being refused permission to cancel Cat A projects on doctrinal / electoral grounds.

You couldnt make it up if you tried!

DominicJ
February 22, 2011 5:54 pm

jed
precisely because the previous one was defunded.
A bad reality is better than a pleasant fantasy.

Thats what we’ve got.
I disagree with much of the sdsr, but we’ll get most it.
Compare that to the sdr that called for two super carriers, twelve cruisers, twenty four frigates, 250 typhoons, 160 f35’s, foas (remember that!).

As i said, the sdsr isnt what any of us wanted, but we can expect most of whats in to progress beyond the power point stage.
Even if we’ll end up with a weird, broken force. we at least know what it will be, and have a fair guide of whats going to happen

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 22, 2011 6:18 pm

TD,
not the Harriers we had, remember GR9 had only the most basic of Air to Air capability. If NATO wants to interdict Libyan airspace then the best way to do it would be from established bases in Southern Europe, not aircraft carriers

Right on the Harriers. The GR9 would have not been much in air policing tasks.
But of course, the Sea Harrier was better than RAF’s contemporary fighters, and it had to vanish. “How come the FAA flies better stuff than us! Sacrilege!”

As to the bases factor, that is just because no one in Europe has got decent carrier-borne aviation, save for CdG and its Rafales that however are busy in the Indian Ocean already.
To fly long CAP patrol flights over a No Fly Zone extending well into Lybia from the “bases” in Sicily (not many left…) you’d need a relatively huge number of air tankers for AAR. Which would have to stay well over the sea for safety, possibly inside of “boxes” that surface warships could protect with their missiles.

And it might most likely still prove impossible to patrol all of Lybia’s sky without getting a base in Algery or Egypt… and that might prove more than a tad complex at the moment, for obvious reasons. Range and endurance of each patrol would be very serious issues: carriers sailing close to the coast of Libya would have a massive advantage.

You know how things could get really interesting, really fast…?
If Ghaddafi starts keeping western people as hostages. He did it more than once in the years, already, and in situations less desperate than the current one. Today several nations, from Portugal to Italy to Austria, have sent in C130 airplanes to start and pull out people. The Austrial C130 was left stranded on the ground by the denial of permission to take off for a few hours already. Now it seems flights continue… but what happens if the civilians are effectively taken as hostages?
I read that there are 3500 britons in Libya, and italians, french, lots of people. There’s ample room for serious trouble to happen. Bengasi’s airport is already off limits after being bombed no less. A couple of Mirage fighters landed in Malta after their pilots were ordered to bomb the rebels and escaped…

Can it get nasty? My answer is: it is already.

DominicJ
Why exactly should NATO be pitching in on the side of the rebels anyway?

For roughly the same reasons of the Kosovo UN intervention. Libya is bombing the rebels in a true civil war, killing hundreds. If it gets any nastier, intervention might be a real alternative, and Italy, being the closer one, is already in alert. The UN already talks about War Crimes and there might be a Joint Declaration in a matter of hours. Not a resolution yet, but things are already moving.

DominicJ
Bollocks
Labour just didnt admit their Defence Review was a load of rubbish.
Labours Strategic Defence review is freely available on the internet, see what they promised, and what was actualy in service by 2010.

You misunderstood me. I’ve been horrified by Labour on defence.
Fact is, the new government is scaring me even more than labour did. Their only answer to the budget crisis is “GUT THE ARMED FORCES, BUY CONDOMS FOR UGANDA! AND FUND RAF’s PROUD PROGRAMME TO SEND LESBIAN PILOTS ATTENDING TO THE NEXT GAY PRIDE TOO!”. Hardly what i expected, thank you.

But if you think that the answer to the Uk’s problem is scrap the whole Tornado fleet, retire most of the Army’s vehicles and cut some more ships out of the navy, well… Go right ahead.

What will the coalition procure for defence? The 7th C17? Oh, DOH! It came from earlier. The Armed Forces will never recover from the cuts it is suffering now. If even the targets sets barely months ago by this very government are betrayed already… by 2015 the UK will have armed forces consisting of one Rapier battery, one RHIB with 8 Marines and 12 soldiers with a Land Rover.


Not exactly. SDSR 2010, page 32, low left corner:

We will also, for now, assume that by 2020 we will require a Royal Navy of 29,000 personnel, an Army of 94,000 and an RAF of 31,500.

Now we already talk about 80.000. Gee, it truly was a “for now” load of bull then.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 22, 2011 6:25 pm

DominicJ
I disagree with much of the sdsr, but we’ll get most it.

Do we really?

12 new Chinooks — > likely not to be
40% reduction in Challenger II and 35% reduction in AS90 — > rumors tell another story
Merlin transfer to the Commandos — > reportedly already at risk even after Harvey promised it more than once in the last few weeks.
Ice Patrol Ship — > HMS Protector. If she does not get killed by the new cuts before even being leased.
96 Tornado — > (SDSR had no precise number but Harvey announced the 96 figure shortly after) down to 60, possibly just 18 not to look bad by leaving the guys in Stan without anything flying over them in cover, in the worse case none.

Should i continue…?
Because there’s not much left. Even the Warrior upgrade and even the FRES SV contracts reportedly hang in the balance. The only (for now) safe project seems to be the Type 26, that (thanks God!) seems to be gaining international interest from Brazil to Australia to Canada.

DominicJ
February 22, 2011 6:45 pm

you cant really be comparing 12 chinooks to a medium bomber fleet and 200 fighters?

The sdsr was honest.
The truth was horrific, but it told that horrific truth.

If the coalitiion has decided to cut the tornado fleet to fund typhoon upgrades, its finaly made a decision i can support.

Richard Stockley
Richard Stockley
February 22, 2011 6:56 pm

Accepted, the Harrier wouldn’t be the aircraft of choice for a CAP, but Gabriele got there before I did. Long range CAPs from Italy aren’t ideal either, and is there a gurantee that the Italians would co-operate anyway, as its not a direct threat to Europe, Italy or NATO? I’m sure the Italians wouldn’t say no, but you get my point. IMHO Harriers, despite their limitations, supported by E-3 Sentries and given the clear blue skies over the desert would be better than nothing.

Don’t forget that they would be up against Mirage F.1’s, Mig-23’s and Su-22’s, radar equipped but not state of the art.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
February 22, 2011 7:02 pm

Hi Gabriele,

Could you please link me to the correct document, my linked document has nothing in the lower left (or right) of page 34.

Thank you

JBT

Mark
Mark
February 22, 2011 7:08 pm

Well another project to add to the list those 8 “special chinooks we couldnt in cloud” which had a digital cockpit, ripped it out at several hundred million put analog one in and will as part of the fleet upgrade rip that one out and put another digit one in. How do we keep ending up with the most expensive things in the world I wonder!

I think now its about time to separate the procurement budget and operational budget and ensure you cant rob one to pay the other. Capability should not have to be removed to pay for procurement f**k ups its a scandal.

Without wishing to open up the harrier – tornado argument if the rumours are right and tornado is not needed in afghan then harrier should have been saved and the saving difference between the 2 should have covered the current black hole.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 22, 2011 8:20 pm

Page is 32, not 34. Point 2.D.8, Personnel Transition part of Point Two – Defence chapter. The document should be identical for everyone, i do not think there were successive versions at all, so you just need to go back two pages to find it.
Anyway you find the SDSR document here on the MOD website: http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_191634.pdf
And i checked. That phrase is still definitely present.

@DominicJ
you cant really be comparing 12 chinooks to a medium bomber fleet and 200 fighters?

As a matter of fact, i do. They are both lies (if the Chinook deal really gets cancelled), pure and simple. And pointing out which one is bigger does nothing good to anyone. Also, we do not get 200 Typhoons, but we still get them. As a matter of fact, none of the four countries will get as many Typhoons as originally planned.
As a matter of fact, the US themselves are not getting 780 F22, nor the later figure of 330, but 187.
Not to justify anything, but in a 20 billion fighter jet programme spanning over 20 years, changes are expected.

Cancellation of the buy of 12 helicopters for a (relative) handful of millions two months after promising them… well, it is worse in many ways.

Cameron himself promised those chopters more than once.
And that is both what shocks me… and supplies me hopes. Generally, i try and hope that the programmes on which politicians have exposed themselves so much will be relatively safe.

Unless they really know no shame at all.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 22, 2011 8:22 pm

@Mark

Without wishing to open up the harrier – tornado argument if the rumours are right and tornado is not needed in afghan then harrier should have been saved and the saving difference between the 2 should have covered the current black hole.

Ironically, that was (according to the press and some top brass in interviews) the plan that was going to be… Until the last moment scramble of RAF officers that somehow managed to turn Cameron on their side by axing the Harrier instead. The Navy was rightfully furious at that, if you remember.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
February 22, 2011 8:22 pm

thank you Gabriel.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 22, 2011 8:30 pm

My pleasure.

Well. Pleasure… it would be pleasure if we were talking of good news for once! Only thing that heartened me a little lately has been the chance of Ark Royal surviving as an Heliport in London.
Not what She should be doing… but hell, it totally, utterly beats seeing her wasted and scrapped.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 22, 2011 8:36 pm

Hi Gabriel @ 6:25,
RE “Should i continue…?
Because there’s not much left. Even the Warrior upgrade and even the FRES SV contracts reportedly hang in the balance. The only (for now) safe project seems to be the Type 26, that (thanks God!) seems to be gaining international interest from Brazil to Australia to Canada.”
– yes, you should have continued as the list has ‘this mercurial quality’ and anything that has been on this site (anywhere near the whole list) is totally out of date; but you are not the editor, so OK
– more importantly, both Australia and Canada have gone the refurb-way to keep the hull numbers up, and those programmes will be over a number of years, so it is Brazil to watch – and they are being induced by promises of sharing the design (requirements feeding into it) which is no bad thing!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 22, 2011 8:41 pm

RE ” the chance of Ark Royal surviving as an Heliport in London.
Not what She should be doing… but hell, it totally, utterly beats seeing her wasted and scrapped”
– there are Russian carriers (not the ex-Varyag) doing casino duty in China; so the that’s in-between heliport-duty and scrap (did the French carrier ever make it to the Indian beach, for the latter?)

DominicJ
February 22, 2011 8:45 pm

Gabriele
Buts thats not whats happened.

The SDSR has been updated as and when decisions were made, and those decisions were made on a relevent time scale.

The Coalition decided its probably going to cancel the 12 remaining chinooks. We found out, days after that decision was made.
When was the Typhoon order cut, officialy?
Or the JCA order?

The last government went into the election claiming it was still going to order 232 typhoons and 130 something F35B’s.

160/50 has been a pretty clear number for a long long time.

The only example I can find of the last shower being honest is the T45, which was cut in 2003, and again in 2006.

Everything else was just, “we’ll buy it next year”

DominicJ
February 22, 2011 8:52 pm

Adendum
Just to be clear, I have no tribal loyalty here.
Since I spend my saturday mornings trudging through snow, hail and rain delivering leaflets or reaching to those unfortunate enough to have opened the door, I think I have more right* to be pissed off when the higher up’s I’m in effect doing it for screw up.

The SDSR was woeful, that I’m making a stand on honesty ought to show just how woeful it really was, but my point remains, it was a vast improvement on what preceeded it.

*If you currently are being, have been, or will in the future be shot at or blown up in Afghanistan, you have more right to complain.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 22, 2011 9:11 pm

@DominicJ

The Coalition decided its probably going to cancel the 12 remaining chinooks. We found out, days after that decision was made.

We found out because of rumours on the press. The government (labour, con, libdem, whatever the hell) always says “we are reviewing a range of options. Nothing has yet been decided.”

Similarly, on JCA. Has the current government been any clearer than labour on numbers? No. We know we (should) expect (around) 40 planes in 2020, with a long-term target still touted at 80 or even as high as 100.
The navy is still expected to be “part of the JCA joint effort”, but that is all we know. Will 800° NAS survive? Will it have planes or just provide crews? What about 801°? Why the hell the RAF is trying to gobble up carrier aircrafts for itself? All questions without answers.

@ArmChairCivvy

As an update, even Turkey is interested in the Type 26 and expected to sign an agreement that will include collaboration on the new frigate.
As to Canada and Australia, by 2020s they will have to replace their ships, actually: their upgrades are aimed at a 2020/2025 life for their ships, but replacements will eventually have to come online by then and interest in the Type 26 seems real. (Canadian shipbuilders are already terrified that the future ships might be built in the UK, and have been making lots of noise along this week).

As to other cuts i can think of to add to the list:

-Even the recently ordered Reapers announced by Cameron for 124 millions have appeared between the investments at risk. Unlikely they get cancelled, but you never know. And anyway, the order is merely a follow up on the original Labour order (back in 2009 i think) that called for 10 drones. Only around 5 were actually acquired for lack of funding. Two were lost, and current numbers are not clear.
The new order has not been specified in terms of numbers, but it will be basically a purchase of the Reapers not acquired back then, so possibly other 5. (compatible with the 124 millions figure) Total RAF fleet might be around 7 if the order survives. (which also fits in the “we will double the RAF fleet of Reapers that, i think, numbers 3 or 4 right now)

-Another possible cut might come by 2015 is Devonport itself. If the 7 Type 23s left there get transferred to Portsmouth for real in 2014, the base will be ridiculously empty and left without a real reason to exist and probably will close. (submarines are already all moving to Faslane, after all)

So, yeah. Lots of bad news.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 22, 2011 9:30 pm

@ Dominicj – “Since I spend my saturday mornings trudging through snow, hail and rain delivering leaflets or reaching to those unfortunate enough to have opened the door, I think I have more right* to be pissed off when the higher up’s I’m in effect doing it for screw up.”

I can relate, active for a party here in Swansea; not impressed with the UK leadership. In fact, when it comes to defence I’m not impressed with any party.

Jed
Jed
February 22, 2011 9:47 pm

Dom – good on you for taking your stand, and yes you are being very honest about it, and your political activities.

My point, which seems to be the same as Gabrielle, is that SDSR is no better than what preceded it, and Cameron and his Govt are not better than what preceded them. All current politicians of whatever persuasion are middle of the road toaddies, “yes men” who rule by opinion pole and have no long range goals other than the next general election. OK, maybe not all, because maybe your not like that Dom, and maybe, eventually you could be an MP, and then PM !!

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 22, 2011 9:52 pm

Our political elite think television is only for appearing on. They think only “little” people watch it.
Shame they are not watching what is happening in the Middle East.
Lucky the 2 Libyan Mirages that landed in Malta were not hostile. Malta has no fighter jets. If Malta was attacked , would Britain, that gave Malta the George Cross, stand by & do nothing?
Egypt has over 200 F-16/Mirage 2000. Well within range of British bases in Cyprus.
If there is trouble in Algeria/Morocco/Tunisia, then it is not impossible that Gibraltar could be threatened.
Given these new threats, was it wise to scrap HMS Ark Royal,her Harriers, the Nimrod & Sentinel?
Cutting numbers of Tornados & Typhoons, could leave us exposed.
I thought Gordon Brown was bad, but the coalition is a huge let down.
They need to cut EU contributions, DfID & PC non jobs. Then spend the money on defence & energy security(nuclear power stations).

DominicJ
February 22, 2011 10:01 pm

Jed
Again, I see two parts to this.

The first, is our wish list
The SDSR was a big let down to anyone who held out a faint hope that the Tories were going ride in a Chellenger 3 and save the day.

But from a reality check point of view, its been a good thing.
Ok, we wont get MPA, but we now know that, we wont get MPA.

“OK, maybe not all, because maybe your not like that Dom, and maybe, eventually you could be an MP, and then PM !!”

You may remember I’ve mentioned that I have friends who are Candidates, aquaintances who are MP’s, and even phone numbers for whips. But I’ve never divulged names.
Gordon Brown will be Prime Minister of the UK again before I make it past the selection board.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
February 23, 2011 4:46 am

This Government has made cuts in the Defence Budget it didn’t have to, as money could have come form elsewhere. In addition they seem to be able to find the odd £1Bn here and there when they need too.

Right up until the election they were rubishing the previous Governments record on Defence and saying the country would be safe in their hands. The excuse that they didn’t know how bad the books were until in office doesn’t hold up either.

At least the previous SDSR has a basis in strategy and foreign policy, the 2015 SDSR was purely a cost cutting measure with additional cuts being made under the public radar. Instead a spin smokescreen is being laid repeating the rightly claimed errors made in the MoD concerning procurement but no mention is made of Government instigated delays of funding changes.

As has often been said the money is there but not the political will to use it. Instead they are wearing blinkers composed of Afghanistan and the deficit with no consideration of anything else.

The Armed Forces suffered year of starvation, gradually being worn down by the previous Government. This Government has decided to put a bullet in the Head of the Armed OFrces and kill them off as quickly as possible as an effective force of teh size and composition needed by this country to meet its needs and comittments.

Jennings
Jennings
February 23, 2011 9:28 am

ITS ALL ABOUT EUROPE

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
February 23, 2011 10:47 am
a
a
February 23, 2011 12:37 pm

Lucky the 2 Libyan Mirages that landed in Malta were not hostile. Malta has no fighter jets. If Malta was attacked , would Britain, that gave Malta the George Cross, stand by & do nothing?

Malta’s an independent country. It’s not part of NATO – it actually kicked out NATO and the British Army in the seventies. It’s part of the Commonwealth, but that doesn’t involve any defence agreement. It declared itself a republic and got rid of the Queen as head of state.
Basically, Malta doesn’t want us to defend it. Why should we?

I have similar sentiments on the piracy issue; we’re supposed to be spending millions to protect ships that are registered in Panama? Registered there specifically to avoid UK taxes and safety regulations? Your ship gets into trouble, call the Panamanian Navy. This is freeloading.

Jed
Jed
February 23, 2011 2:41 pm

Dom – apologies for really drawing this out…..

Ref: “But from a reality check point of view, its been a good thing. Ok, we wont get MPA, but we now know that, we wont get MPA.”

Firstly, I don’t see the positive aspect of this. OK, so we know we have lost a capability – so we are no longer hanging on the edge of our seat fretting about what we don’t know. Hardly a silver lining is it ! As my mother would say “two wrongs don’t make a right”…..

Secondly, and more importantly the reason HMG has lost all credibility is that they are engaging in very dangerous double speak and spin. To use your example cutting a single platform that provided a number or capabilities (and potential additional capabilities) and then peddling complete BS about how certain gaps would be filled in the light of the cut DOES not mesh in anyway whatsoever with the strategic rhetoric of the SDSR and the claims it makes as to what the Government wants the forces to be able to do.

That is not excused by saying “this next five year period is all about balancing the books and then we will have another SDSR in 2015” (….and everything will get better, honest….).

Labour SDR = good, but Labour Treasury = bad for not funding the strategy / vision. We can clearly see the problem and who to blame.

Con /Lib SDSR = bad, full stop. It now appears that either the whole cabinet is complicit in perpetrating a big lie (sorry “perception management initiative”) OR that there are real splits within the coalition and even with the Conservative party (i.e. between Fox and Cameron ?).

Either way, to my mind that is worse than the Iron Chancellor flatly refusing to fund anything other than his socialist dream; at least he had principles and he stuck to them !

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 23, 2011 3:24 pm

Jed/TD
But the SDR was NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN
It was written to look good and sound good. It was not a road map for the future of the armed forces.
It was political point scoring bullshit.

If you think the UK would have been better served if the SDSR had said “we’re going to build 6 nuclear powered super carriers and a base on the moon”, and in reality, we got what we got, well, we’re just going to have to disagree.

“Hardly a silver lining is it ! As my mother would say “two wrongs don’t make a right”…..”
Not much of one no. We’ve moved up from woeful to bad.

“Either way, to my mind that is worse than the Iron Chancellor flatly refusing to fund anything other than his socialist dream; at least he had principles and he stuck to them !”
I’m afraid I cant praise a man who sent soldiers to die and refused them equipment.
I’m rather surprised you can.

“It seems to have passed a lot of people by that most of the real acquisition cock ups are projects from the last conservative era.”
The Labour government had 13 years to fix things. I remember once hearing a tale, a gentleman had landed in Kenya, got in a taxi and was being driven to his hotel. He remarked to the driver the road was looking rather worn.
The Driver remarked that it was the fault of the English, they had built it abnd built it badly, some 30 years previously….

If in 15 years time, the Conservative Government is complaining its labours fault, I’ll make exactly the same case, you’ve been in charge long enough to clean up any mess from the last lot.

“It comes to something when we look back at the Gordon and Tony show with fond memories”
The whore might tell you your the biggest she’s ever had, but your still waking up with the clap.

Again, I dont think the SDSR was perfect, I dont even think it was good.
It was however, the truth.
And the truth is always better than a lie.
The SDR and its children were not the truth, they were lies, lies are not better than the truth, no matter how nice they are to hear.

Jed
Jed
February 23, 2011 3:50 pm

OK, absolutely my last comment on this Dom, as I am sure the other children in our school yard are getting bored… :-)

1. When did Brown ever deny a piece of kit which would have saved lives ? Brown, himself, actually stop or veto a programme ? I seem to remember a bunch of idiots in last Gov thinking we were going to be doing Balkan peace keeping in Helmand. I also remember stupid Generals at various points saying we did not need MRAP’s or we did not need more Helo’s.

I am not blindly supporting Labour versus Conservative with that argument, just saying, if you have facts to back your assertion please point me to them.

However, your last paragraph is where we really fall out as its probably the biggest load of tosh you have ever written. I don’t mean that as personal insult, your probably a very nice guy I would buy a pint for (even though I will never be a Tory supporter).

“It was however, the truth.
And the truth is always better than a lie.”

That was the whole point of my last post – I don’t think there is an iota of truth in the SDSR ! I don’t know if it was planned as pure spin from the start, or if the incumbent regime really was surprised by the truth when it got its hands on “the books” – mind you even if it was, there are choices to be made and other things can be cut. So the cynic in me suspects SDSR was a white wash from the beginning. If you think because it says there are tough times ahead and there are going to be cuts, then its being truthful, then we must agree to differ. There is no black and white , no Jedi versus Sith, no truth versus lie, there are only shades of grey, interpretations of fact – and to me SDSR was murky, mucky grey from the very beginning. Now unfortunately it seems to be further along the spectrum towards BS / spin (i.e. Lies) than it was towards reality (i.e. truth).

Just my opinion, I don’t expect you to subscribe to it :-)

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 23, 2011 5:52 pm

@DominicJ

But the SDR was NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN

Not really true. Said this way, it is a bit excessive.
The SDR would have happened (mostly, at least) if the government hadn’t sent the armed forces in not one but TWO major conflicts abroad and decided to fund both wars from the core budget.
Had the two wars funded separately, by the Treasury “Contingency” voice like in any normal nation and any “normal” war situation (as normal as a war can be) and not from the MOD’s core budget, we probably would have gotten all what the SDR promised.

As to the SDSR2010, my point is: if it was TRUE, it wouldn’t even be that bad. Considering the objective crisis moment, the budget, the overspend and everything… The force structure in the SDSR 2010 was not bad.

Point is, we are not getting what the SDSR announced. More cuts are already on the way, and devastating ones very possibly. This is what really sounds wrong.

And don’t tell me “but there’s a one billion overspend to tackle in the next year’s budget”, because if the country can give away 8 billions in aid, of which one to India, and spend on countless other things that will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER match Defence in the order of importance, it means that a billion for the MOD could be found at any time… IF THERE WAS THE WILL TO DO IT.

By the way, HMS Cumberland gained a life-extension: she was steaming back home to be decommissioned, but events in Libya spurred her redeployment in the area.
First creaks in the “strategy”.
Just hope nothing else happens that requires digging the Ark Royal and a bunch of Harriers out in a hurry next!

Or maybe hope it is necessary…?

I’ll admit: such a contingency would mean some serious trouble, danger and probably people dying, so i can’t exactly say i hope for it… but on the other hand, having the Ark Royal back while there’s still a chance for it might save the country from even worse trouble later on.

1981 teaches.

x
x
February 23, 2011 6:53 pm

@ Gabby

You are right about finding money if it is needed. I also see it on more simplistic level. I see an Astute, I see a billion pounds. I see the International Development fund and I see what? (And yes I know what HMG says the money goes on.) I see our EU contributions and what do we get? Them giving us a tiny portion our money back, while the likes of Spain build roads with the remainder, and then spend their own taxes on LHDs, Aegis frigates, etc. etc. UK is the fifth biggest economy we should be able to fund our armed forces.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 23, 2011 7:09 pm

If both political parties had not indulged in the expensive fantasy that is PFI, then we could fund defence properly at no extra cost to the taxpayer.
Yes we were thrown out of Malta in the early 70s, but recent visits by RN ships had the locals cheering & clapping. Have we really become so selfish that we will not help our friends?
However the coalition has been feeble in helping New Zealand so far , with the rescue in Christchurch. I would want C-17s filled with Royal Engineeers & their equipment to be on their way. Also RFA Argus.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 23, 2011 7:31 pm

@X

Astute is a billion, yes… But you seem to suggest cutting them to six…? Don’t give the bad guys ideas!
They had to be 10, then 8… let’s please keep them at 7. Also because, with the Trident replacement so long delayed, if we let years pass by between Astute and Successor programmes, you can bet we’ll have more cost-overruns and failures as with Astute.

The RN needs 7 submarines (actually, it almost cried to get 8, or at least obtain a reduction in the tasks for the fleet since the boats are simply not enough, but got none of the above). HMS Ajax will better be!

And, sincerely… it is more than time for getting back a proper Ajax in the Navy. A glorious name for a mighty ship.

DominicJ
February 23, 2011 7:31 pm

Jed/TD
I accept we havent gotten rid of all the “punching above our weight” bollocks, but, and this is key, it hasnt gotten worse.

Both underfunded the armed forces
Both gave them a load of twaddle for a strategy
Only one of them gave them a fantasy wish list.

As I said, from woeful, to bad…

Gabriele
I agree that the SDSR equipment list was woeful, leaving huge gaping holes in our defence.
I just dont see how thats any different to previous years, except now its being said honestly.

Monty
February 23, 2011 7:49 pm

It is very important that everyone here understands what the SDSR is.

It was never intended to define a coherent set of military capabilities. Defence was simply seen as a quick and easy target for cost reductions that would help reduce the deficit. It was all about saving money. Period.

Historically, UK defence expenditure was consistently above 4% of GDP until 1997 when Tony Blair and New Labour took office. The ConLibDem Coalition now plans to reduce it further to 2% of GDP. This is likely to result a serious reduction in our capacity to maintain existing capabilities or to develop new ones.

Instead of weighing up the relative significance of threats against the UK, so that the right military choices could be made, David Cameron and George Osborne seem to have arbitrarily decided on a level of defence cuts required to achieve cost reduction targets. The Government has failed to provide any degree of strategic analysis of current threats to justify the cuts. Instead, it has postponed the acquisition of important new equipment simply on the basis that we cannot afford it. In other words, Britain really doesn’t have a defence strategy.

That worries me greatly.

If we have underestimated the threats we face, we could be extremely vulnerable. Historically, there have been two consistent truths. One is that UK forces have had travel beyond these shores to protect interests within these shores. Two is that the next war has never been like the last one. In defending yourself adequately against the unknown, you need a range of flexible assets. Prior to WW2, we invested in new technology, particularly aircraft technology (think Spitfire and Hurricane) but we also relied on existing technology (think sea power). Indeed, during the Battle of Britain it was the size of the Royal Navy in 1940 that discouraged Hitler from invading the UK as much as the success of the Royal Air Force in defeating the Luftwaffe.

So, while I am sympathetic to the need to cut the deficit, we have to avoid the potential dangers of reducing too much too quickly. For example, the increase in VAT at this time could well force the UK back into recession. In other words, the Government could be hamstringing its own ability to raise tax revenues. If it makes the same mistake with defence, we may not have the resources to protect British interests should they be attacked.

I don’t know what the true picture is. What worries me even more is that Government doesn’t know either.

Finally, what the Government failed to understand before initiating the SDSR was the full scope of unfunded defence commitments beyond the headline defence budget. So while various cuts have been made to frontline assets, it remains to be seen whether the promised cost savings will actually materialise.

x
x
February 23, 2011 7:50 pm

@ Gabby

No I wasn’t talking numbers as such. More I can see what “we” are getting for our money.

But as you mention numbers I will comment! :) Submarines are complex devices and for that reason best bought in multiples of 4. (Read Brassey’s Sea Power volume on submarines.) Nuclear submarines are more complex than the space shuttle. And it says a lot for the health of the UK’s industrial base that we can still build these machines. As much as I envy the Spanish’s AEGIS destroyers or French Mistrals the true measure of our sea power (with reference to every country but the US) are our SSNs. (Which is odd really as the submarine is traditionally the weapon of the lesser naval power as it is a platform for sea denial and not one of sea control. We don’t live beneath the waves in the same way we don’t live in the clouds!) As for numbers we need 12. One to keep the deterrent safe. And two more to do what ever they do……

As for names I would have liked to see an HMS Ardent, the poor forgotten sacrificial lamb expended to keep to San Carlos Water safe.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
February 23, 2011 8:30 pm

“Historically, UK defence expenditure was consistently above 4% of GDP until 1997 when Tony Blair and New Labour took office. The ConLibDem Coalition now plans to reduce it further to 2% of GDP.”

as far as i know defence was 2.7% of GDP when labour entered government, and while it will decrease from 2.2% of GDP to 2.0% of GDP (in core spending terms), it has actually increased from 8% to 9% of government spending, so it has increased as a government priority.

on a separate note, we cannot buy just six astute if we wish to keep a nuclear submarine industry, ass the minimum mandated by the DIS was 11 boats on a 22 month drumbeat, least we end up with the cost overruns of the early astute years when we realised we no longer had an ‘industry’ with which to build them.

x
x
February 23, 2011 8:38 pm

@ Jedi

We have “discussed” this before re Astute numbers haven’t we?

Didn’t I say we should buy Astute 8 just to keep Barrow in work because it would be cheaper than having a gap?

And I am sure I posted link here during the last day or so saying that HMG had already placed long lead time orders for parts for the Vanguard replacement.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
February 23, 2011 8:49 pm

“Didn’t I say we should buy Astute 8 just to keep Barrow in work because it would be cheaper than having a gap?”

You probably did, and i am not disagreed, apologies for forgetting. :)

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 23, 2011 9:11 pm

@X

Totally agree on the submarine account. But since 7 is not the best number of SSNs we can hope for… 7 must remain! We can’t have it dropping any further. That’s what i’m saying.
7 + 4 successor SSBN, that’s it.

And i will say i had half-expected to see an HMS Ardent myself. Or even an HMS Antrim, or Antelope…

Names for the RN of my dreams, with 12 Astute SSNs, a proper carrier aviation group for the CVFs (Only one, to move from a carrier to the other as they go in and out of availability, and with no RAF greedy hands on it!), 8 Type 45 and 20 Type 26…
One can at least dream, can’t we…?

x
x
February 23, 2011 9:17 pm

@ Jedi

I was just saying that we had said it before not picking up. I keep forgetting this isn’t a forum.

@ Gabby

Yes we can dream. :)

x
x
February 23, 2011 9:23 pm

In case any of you ‘orrid lot missed it,

http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.asp?id=15550

Jennings
Jennings
February 23, 2011 9:38 pm

TD,

“It is the fundamental dishonesty that I find hardest to swallow”

Yes. What would you say to a person who declares with a straight face that “Defence as a whole must come out in a stronger position….” and then delivers the turd degree of an SDSR (Slash Defence Sod Reality)

It appears increasingly clear that Dr Fox is playing up the idea of a basket case MOD in crisis in order to sell the DRUIDS work Levene is going to propose to the structure of defence – doubtless those long enough in the tooth will be surprised there is a problem in procurement after Levene sorted it out in the 80s, by creating a runaway bureaucracy to deliver value for defence.

Sod the MOD, are the Ministers fit for purpose?

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
February 23, 2011 10:06 pm

With regards to SSNs I wish we could just keep producing Astutes at say one every 3 years adding new capabilities as we go. The lengthened build time might increase costs slightly but the ability to programme long lead items should counter this. It would also allow an Astute with a missile compartment “Plug” to be slotted into the programme as a Vanguard replacement rather than a totally new design.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 12:22 am

Hi LJ.

RE ” It would also allow an Astute with a missile compartment “Plug” to be slotted into the programme as a Vanguard replacement rather than a totally new design.”
– the dimensions for the new compartment are known, how much longer (if at all) would the Astute+ Class have to be?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 24, 2011 1:58 am

Regarding the SSN/SSBN question, I favour 7 SSN, 5 SSBN – development of Astute with “swing silos” with either Trident or 7 (?) cruise missiles, 4 for strategic duties, 1 available for theatre power projection duties.

Actually, not entirely true. Personally I’m against renewing the nuclear deterrent but I recognise this is not everyone’s view; I believe we should hedge our bets with the replacement boats. If the deterrent were not renewed we would still have 5 SSGN’s for some serious power projection!
However, we need to debate this properly and openly, not try and sneak it in via the back door.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
February 24, 2011 2:49 am

I’m not sure that length is the problem in converting the Astute design to a boomer (length is easily added – well, relatively). The key question is: what kind of hull diameter do the launch tubes need? If a fatter hull is required, that effectively means a new design.

Remember also that the US is working on a long-term Trident replacement which may well be bigger; I vaguely recall reading somewhere that their new subs are going to be sized to take it, although they would only be carrying Trident initially.

Michael (Civ.)
Michael (Civ.)
February 24, 2011 2:51 am

Can i suggest everybody re-reads jim30’s comment at February 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm.

The real outcome of the SDSR has been to strip the UK of the tools & people that would be needed to mount an independent expiditionary force, either land or sea based.

Now there is also talk of getting rid of the Tornado’s too as it looks like they didn’t get their sum’s right the first time round.

Think about it, Harrier II gone, MRA4 gone, Sentinal gone & soon the Tornado’s will also be gone, as well as the carrier’s that the Harrier’s can fly from.

All of these things & the people who fly/operate/maintain them are mainly for power projection beyond our borders.

Within 10 or so years we will probably also give up our UN Veto, not the SC seat itself, just the power of the Veto.

Why have a Veto if you haven’t got the military power/force with which to back it up?

I don’t really miind if we are going to emulate Belgium or Norway……that’s fine by me. Especially if that means i don’t have to listen to the cretin’s in the Gov. of the day or the MoD talking about Britian punching above it’s weight in international affairs while pretending to fund the military properly.

Gabriele
Gabriele
February 24, 2011 7:12 am

The new missile-launcher tubes in the Common Missile Compartment that the UK is co-developing with the US from as far back as december 2008 are more than 3 meters in diameter each. Much larger than the current Trident tubes:

they will use Trident IID5 up to 2040 at least, and then should come the Trident II E6, so it seems it will be called, with less warheads but even more range to give better global answer capability.

And they will come by default capable to take also “All-Up Round Canisters” for 6 or 7 Tomahawk missiles each, or drones, or special forces gear.

The new compartment apparently is being designed for 12 tubes. The UK with the SDSR wants only 8. Don’t know if it will be possible to have a shorter “UK” module (which will not be so common anymore at that point), but i’m pretty damn sure the US aren’t going to drop to 8 tubes no matter what.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
February 24, 2011 8:50 am

The crucial dimension of the SLBM compartment is not the length, but the hull diameter required to enclose the width and height of the side-by-side tube assembly. If the new tubes are substantially bigger, this may require a fatter hull than current boomers.

I’d be very surprised if the Astute class has a hull diameter big enough to take the SLBM module.

Repulse
February 24, 2011 9:25 am

Stupid question: putting aside the additional size / structure for the SLBM module; what is approximate % increase in cost for making a SSN into a SSBN?

The reason I’m asking is would it be a goer to stop the Astute batch 1 at 6 boats and go for an batch 2 of 6 boats with an extended length; this latter batch having 6 SLBM compartments in a row (rather than side by side)? Would this avoid a significant redesign of the Astute hull?

If it is possible, it would provide better continuous cover, slightly more punching power than 4 boats (with 8 tubes) and save on design costs. It would also significantly upgrade the RN Tomahawk missile capabilities.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 24, 2011 10:12 am

Monty
http://ukpublicspending.co.uk/downchart_ukgs.php?year=1900_2014&state=UK&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=2010&chart=30-total&bar=1&stack=1&size=m&color=c&title=

UK defence spending has never been consistantly anything.
Well, its been consistantly falling since the second world war, whereas the first had a “fast crash”

Jim
An enlarged Astute, carrying either 4-6 Trident Replacement Missiles or 28-42 Tomahawk missiles, eventualy becoming a single class Nuclear Deterant / Hunter-Killer / Bombardment platform was pretty much agreed on here as the best outcome.
Both for Capability and Cost.

Michael
Realisticaly, of the 5 Veto Powers, only one has world wide Power Projection Capability.
The US.
France and the UK can a bit.
China and Russia cant.

G/TW
Would it really be that big a deal turning a 2×6 into a 1×4?

Repulse
Its possible that “son of Astute” will be a combined Vanguard/Astute Replacement rather than current Astute being a Vanguard repalcement.

And yes, you save design and build costs, you get more nuclear capable platforms, 12 instead of 4, and you get a phenominal guided missile capacity.

We sent half the submarine fleet to the Falklands, possibly more.
Even if we use a 1×4 module, 6 astutes would carry 168 guided missiles in launch tubes and another 36 in torpedo tubes that can be launched in under ten minutes.
They can carry an additional 200 or so for the torpedo tubes.

An opening salvo of over 200, and more on the way…

Repulse
February 24, 2011 10:33 am

The other interesting point of going with the extended Astute batch is that we can start to do this now. The reason being is that the design can equally meet the Lib Dem desires to have a cheaper deterrent possibly based on cruise missiles.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
February 24, 2011 10:41 am

The reason being is that the design can equally meet the Lib Dem desires to have a cheaper deterrent possibly based on cruise missiles.

There is a word missing there between “cheaper” and “deterrent” and i think it is; “strategic”

Cruise would provide nukes-for-fun and general willy waving, it is not a credible strategic deterrent.

Repulse
February 24, 2011 10:55 am

“Cruise would provide nukes-for-fun and general willy waving, it is not a credible strategic deterrent.”

I agree, but the point still remains that longer term plans can be put in place that all parties can agree to. Thus, it would hopefully avoid the additional costs to delaying and / or redesigning / scrapping the project at a later date.

By going down this route we do nothing to diminish our aim to get a fully functional Trident replacement. In fact it would be better and boost our conventional capabilities also.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 24, 2011 11:02 am

Indeed, cruise missiles can be easily intercepted, even if by kamakazi pilots (In the unlikely event I’m PM and the UK is under attack by nuclear tipped cruise missiles, I will order pilots to ram the things, and those that refuse can expect to hang after watching their families whipped thropugh the streets), most would be shot down by strategic SAM systems*.

A single class of submarine carrying a Ballistic missile would be cheaper than the current two class system.

*I’m aware ballistic missiles can be shot down, but current interceptors have a projected 80% success rate and have an all in cost of more than the incoming warhead.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
February 24, 2011 11:12 am

“A single class of submarine carrying a Ballistic missile would be cheaper than the current two class system.”

Agreed, and i do wonder if a single row of six running centre-line down the hull could fit in an astute hull, where two parallel lines of tubes would not……..?

Michael (ex-DIS)
Michael (ex-DIS)
February 24, 2011 12:38 pm

Did anyone watch the TV programme about the building of the Astute subs? I thought it was quite impressive (I know little about building ships of any kind) The sub consists of about six modules. Surely it would be possible to insert different modules?

PS. They also seemed to be hand built! Not at all like my Mondeo.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 24, 2011 1:09 pm

Michael
Yeah you cant really production line a battleship.

Rather more epxensive than a mondeao though…

RW
RW
February 24, 2011 1:36 pm

@Michael
I did see the program and gained the same impression which means that despite the design of Astute being larger to make working (during manufacture) easier there is still a very large amount of wielding etc.. in very hard to work places.

This idea of dual use SS(?)Ns seems to allow de risking of the vanguard successor but from some BAe material the idea of additional non pressurised modules has also been floated, these are then part of a much larger (and much easier to construct) type of submarine ( given that resisting pressure is not needed by much of the structure).

How the two ideas could be combined I’ve no idea (although this has been proposed in previous TD posts) but it does make one wonder if moving the module around as part of the structure is the way forward.

What if the SS(?)N carried (non pressurised) modules of various types ( nucs or tomahawks or ISTAR or( pressurised) long stay, special forces, home away from homes) to destinations (by depth and strategic position) and dropped them off and then returned to collect them for re-deploy or maintenance.

I expect one could bobby trap these to render them tamper proof and by dropping a load (of dummy types) off from surface vessels one could make it pretty difficult to sort the bad from the dud.

I’m wondering if the standard nuke against silo response works against targets on the sea floor – not only do you risk tsunamis and unfortunate collateral damage but also the depth of water would protect an installation even if it was correctly detected.

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 24, 2011 2:09 pm

RW
I’m fairly sure the americans and Russians both intend to nuke each others SSBN’s as they are spotted. You can fire trident underwater, but not from the seabed.
Once the launch is detected, a nuclear missile is launched at the submarine and thr water provides little defence from the blast, I think it actualy makes it worse.

FRME
FRME
February 24, 2011 2:14 pm

Well, well. It seems that the events in North Africa have finally conspired to force the UK government to commit demonstrable resources in an attempt to recover and repatriate Britons and other Europeans unable to flee the death throes of Gaddafi’s regime. Of real significance is the activation of HMS Cumberland – a Type 22 FF – for non-combatant evacuation tasking, not the first, and surely not the last time we will see maritime forces placed on standby for such tasks in the event that the aviation options are not viable. The meagre addition of a few C-17’s to augment the solitary charter flight booked by the FCO seems not to have painted the UK Govt in a particularly compassionate or dynamic light, and also prompts deeper analysis of the UK’s ability to react flexibly to future ‘low end’ crisis management.
HMS Cumberland (with, I believe HMS York on standby near Malta) are both platforms destined very soon for the great shipyard in the sky (Type 22 still the best of class in the world?) with others soon to join them. The short notice LPD capability is also soon to be cut in half. A brief glance around the remaining order of battle reveals a startling shortfall in the ability to ensure secure access to destabilised countries (a Type 45 risked going inshore – I think not). Set against this is the fact that a future cornerstone of UK rapid reaction policy in the decades to come will be Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) and disaster relief, and we see this capability used by our partner nations – and ourselves – all the time (Haiti, Australia, the Lebanon, the Caribbean etc etc). One can only imagine the embarrassing (and shameful, if not dangerous) scenario of asking partner nations to bear the burden of providing secure evacuation options to UK nationals elsewhere. A car crash future…Indeed.
In other news, it seems that the MPA question simply will not go away for the Government and rumours are spreading of a joint RN/RAF analysis team looking into a £1 bn answer. The answer to where the money is coming from is vague at best. We shall wait with baited breath for another car crash acquisition programme…

IXION
IXION
February 24, 2011 3:04 pm

Nearly died last Friday night.

As in, intensive care, emerganc surgery, last words i can remember ‘there’ no bp or pulse; CLEAR!’

Still the morphine makes all the nurses looks like 6ft rabbits

From what I can see this is the post review review, you can expect more. News managment is clearly allready underway for loosing challanger, and carriers (and f35).

Perhaps just perhaps MOD and defence chiefs will get the point this time, and drop the world power fantasy.

ps millitary secrecy is frequently a cover for incompetance and impotence; but announcing the sas are on stand by for libya has got to be really stupid

RW
RW
February 24, 2011 3:35 pm

@DJ

float the tube to depth then fire

plasma doesn’t behave like a shock wave, and there is no submarine!! – just a container under water

a
a
February 24, 2011 4:17 pm

In other news, it seems that the MPA question simply will not go away for the Government and rumours are spreading of a joint RN/RAF analysis team looking into a £1 bn answer

Libya: yet another example of a situation where a £4 billion fleet of nine anti-submarine patrol aircraft would have been completely useless.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 24, 2011 4:26 pm

@ FRME – Have posted the capabilities other European countries are providing elsewhere; Spanish government also getting stick.

I know its turning into a hobby-horse but wouldn’t something like a San Giorgio be better at NEO than a frigate?

http://www.naval-technology.com/projects/san_giorgio/

The Italians did design a enlarged version with full flight deck, davits below flight deck and 76mm in front of “Island”; about 11,000 tons full displacement.

FRME
FRME
February 24, 2011 4:40 pm

@ Gareth Jones
I completely agree – a much larger platform would do the job admirably. Unfortunately we don’t have many of those at short notice. An FF can take a hundred or so people off at a time (as proved in the Lebanon in 2006) which is something. I would suggest that a pair of San Giorgio (or similar) would do us very nicely in place of the financial death star of CVF. Flexible, deployable and much cheaper to maintain.
@ a
Not suggesting we use an MPA for Libyan evacuation! Just linking it into the main blog of defence acquisition. Also I entirely agree that we don’t need to spend £4 bn! Outrageous sum on an airframe. We must get better at this procurement thing or else risk spending our way into a black hole of obscurity.

Michael (ex-DIS)
Michael (ex-DIS)
February 24, 2011 4:58 pm

Surely there is no much worry about a counterstrike against a SLBM sub? You aren’t going to launch just one, you are going to fire off the lot. I seem to remember reading there was a 2 minute interval. The counterstrike has got to redo the targeting etc.

Mark
Mark
February 24, 2011 6:13 pm

A ballistic missile is only needed if we attack russia or china. Why should spend so much money on the ultimate weapon comparable to a superpower when are conventional forces equate to a country like Spain/Italy. Order 4 more astutes as is and fit a nuclear warhead to storm shadow or tomahawk accept the reduced capability and stop pretending were still in the coldwar.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 24, 2011 7:04 pm

a
A Nimrod flying ahead of RN ships, would give intel of the safety or otherwise, of approaching Libyan ports. The EO turret could also keep an eye on Brits trapped in desert compounds.
My fantasy of a batch 2 T45 with 3 or 4 Merlins, would be handy for helicoptering out Brits from the desert.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 24, 2011 7:06 pm

@ FRME – I was thinking more towards a alternate C2 rather than a second rate frigate. Instead of the CVF I would have liked to have seen 3-4 Italian or Spanish 30000 multirole ships.

@ Mark – Good point. The IR reason for having SSBN’s does tend to be as a status symbol; “mines bigger than yours!”

RE: floating missile capsules, I vaguely remember reading a US concept for something like that. It used harpoon, standard, and such, linked to remote sensors it was essentially a multi-domain mine field. I will see if I can find it again.

x
x
February 24, 2011 7:09 pm

@ Mark

Even at the height of the Cold War the UKs (well Western Europe’s) armies would have been little more than speed bumps for the Soviet hordes. In “practical” terms there is little difference between a British Army of 170,000 or 100,000.

Nuclear weapons are cheap. The West made a choice either a capitalist economy or enough conventional forces to hold the Soviets. The West went with the former. The Soviets went for both. During the Cold War what used to disturb the Warsaw Pact wasn’t our super tanks and missiles, but the lack of war stores. They expended a considerable amount of intelligence effort looking for our stocks of ammunition, etc. and found only enough to keep fighting for a week or so. And they knew what would happen when the West ran out of ammunition…..

The Vanguard system compared to say Eurofighter was well a run project. The Vanguards cost about £250million a year to run; not far of the cost of a Eurofighter squadron for a year (using TDs figures of a Eurofighter costing £50k per hour, 250 hours, 16 or so airframes.)

When I was at uni a year or two back all the Middle Class would trot out the anti-nuclear line and then after tutorial disappear off to the SU or to town or to do spot. Not once did any of them say but with out nuclear weapons I wouldn’t have my privileged upbring and because of nuclear weapons I haven’t had to spend 2 years in uniform putting my life risk. Compare that with the kids off council estates running A-stan.

Nuclear weapons won the Cold War. Not because they deterred war. But because they kept money in the economy allowing the West to out produce the East that then allowed Westerners to enjoy a life style envied by the Easteners.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 7:34 pm

Hi DominicJ,

Not sure what you meant by this: “intend to nuke each others SSBN’s as they are spotted. You can fire trident underwater, but not from the seabed”
– just before the end of the Cold war the French idea for saving on the nuclear subs was to position some launch tubes on the edge of the continental shelf… they even built one ship to do it, before the whole concept was discarded

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 7:41 pm

Hi FRME,

RE ” Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) and disaster relief, and we see this capability used by”
– my wife just said: the Turks did it, and we can’t!

What more is there to say (nothing against the Turks, they were a superpower for centuries…)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 7:53 pm

Hi x,

A bit different now, RE ” little more than speed bumps for the Soviet hordes. In “practical” terms there is little difference between a British Army of 170,000 or 100,000.”
-there were a few standing armies in the West (of Europe)
-the BAOR and re-enforcements of it were absolutely vital, as for getting the greater strength of, say, Bundeswehr, to battle stations… not to mention any more divisions across the Atlantic

Funny though, the US doctrine from those days (two and a half wars) was first slimmed down to one and a half. Now it is two and a half again, just smaller ones

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
February 24, 2011 7:55 pm

cheers X, never heard that perspective before.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 24, 2011 7:58 pm

@ X – I believe you have a good point. I also believe Mark has a point. From what I can see the key is the changing International environment; getting rid of the Deterrent during the Cold-War would have been a mistake but who do we deter nowadays? Their was a belief in some quarters during the Cold-War that the US might leave Europe to its fate in a hot war, which is why we and the French had our own SSBN’s (as well as Great Power status)and why we insisted on a large US army in Europe – essentially nuclear hostages.

Now a days the major threat appears to be rouge states and terrorists; not easy to retaliate against with nuclear armed ballistic missiles. Do you wipe out an entire city because of the actions of a few insane/evil men? Would we wipe out Tripoli for the last desperate act of Gadaffi?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 8:05 pm

Hi Gabriele @ 7:12 am,

RE ” the Common Missile Compartment that the UK is co-developing with the US from as far back as december 2008 are more than 3 meters in diameter each. Much larger than the current Trident tubes:

they will use Trident IID5 up to 2040 at least, and then should come the Trident II E6, so it seems it will be called, with less warheads but even more range to give better global answer capability.

And they will come by default capable to take also “All-Up Round Canisters” for 6 or 7 Tomahawk missiles each, or drones, or special forces gear.

The new compartment apparently is being designed for 12 tubes”

– I think the conversion factor in this newer set-up is 4:1 tactical strike (if the miles in reach can be construed as making it tactical) to strategic (which will not need to be assumed to be a nuke!)

As for the past, though, the converted USN (4) Ohio-class SOF subs have an impressive number of Tomahawks, I believe it is down to the fact that because of SALT they cannot carry anything more potent

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 24, 2011 8:10 pm

@ ACC at 7.34 – interesting; do you have any links/sources for this concept?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 8:11 pm

Sorry x,

I had an “a” too much in the “a few standing armies” in my initial response

Phil Darley
February 24, 2011 8:16 pm

Whow what a topic! I have tried twice to comment on this, writing two long posts only to have my iPhone or TD crash!! So I will keep this post short and try a longer post when I can get on the PC.

I fully agree with Jed in his argument with DomJ. The fact that DomJ admits that the SDSR was load of BS, says it all this lot are no better than liarbor.

The MoD never benefited from tge boom years at la Education and NHS etc and as such should have been spaired any cuts. We are chucking out the baby with the bath water ir us it cutting off our nose to spite our face! Either way we are cutting too much and far too fast, with littke ir no thought if tge true consequences. Thus is not the sign of good government in my view,

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 8:25 pm

HI GJ,

RE “any links/sources for this concept?”
– I think if you search with my “name” for the contributions, you’ll find a fairly comprehensive link. That will cover it to about October of last year, haven’t had time to read up on it since
– early on, when I came onto this site, I volunteered that the “extra” Astute order was simply down to the timing of when this compartment would be ready
– hence, I got quite excited that the sub (design) and the compartment might be compatible, without further (major) modifications
– probably not true??

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 8:35 pm

Hi Phil Darley,

RE ” only to have my iPhone or TD crash!! ”

It is neither, the Java as released (in so many flavours) and what is on the site DO NOT mix.

Happens to me all the time:
-copy your comment window (then local to the device)
-open up a new TD session, and go to where you were
– a new comment-paste-enter-DONE!

I was furious when I had spent an hour to get all the detail right, and it all went up in a smoke

Mark
Mark
February 24, 2011 9:02 pm

x

You shoot down your own argument in that post. I agree nuclear weapons kept the cold war cold and had a hand in winning it no doubt about it but the cold war ended 2 decades ago.

Our conventional forces are a shadow of there former selves but the nuclear ones are not. These weapons are only useful against countries in the final end game they have not stopped British or any other countries territories being invaded by none nuclear powers but strong conventional forces do.
It is no longer a country with 100 nukes we worry about its the man with 1.

Im not anti nuclear just dont think we need a like for like system any more. The new system will cost 12.5b to build the boats say instead we bought 4-5 more astutes and gave the Type 45s TBMD and developed a nuclear warhead for storm shadow (not such a different level of weapon to the we177) I would think we could do that for around 10b would we be less safe today I dont think we would but it give us more flexible assets than another 4 ssbns and some spare change left over.

On the SSBN compartment the amerians state their new ssbn will be 12 boats with a 16 tube compartment not 12 is that compartment scalable downwards or will we have to buy the same one.

x
x
February 24, 2011 9:04 pm

I had just replied to young Gareth and it failed on me too. :(

I will have go at responding tomorrow.

x
x
February 24, 2011 9:10 pm

@ Mark

I can’t respond now. Yes I was a bit Cold War centric.

But the deterrent doesn’t deter terrorists argument is empty rhetoric…..

And though it is hard to shoot down cruise missiles comparing them with ballistic missile is like comparing a 40mm grenade to a 155mm shell.

I will throw something together tomorrow night in Word to save me from losing another long post.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 24, 2011 10:03 pm

@ Phil and X – I have encountered similar problems. Either the post is too long or I take too long writing it. I think it has something to do with cookies… I usually have to copy, reload the page then paste. Takes forever on my phone :(

@ TD – Considering that both this thread and others have recently gone waaaay of topic have you ever thought about a forum…?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 24, 2011 10:41 pm

What is a forum?
– sorry, now I feel very stupid

x
x
February 24, 2011 10:58 pm

@ Gareth Jones

Tis the Interwebs!! In my reply to you I rambled on and on. And then when it all went Pete Tong I couldn’t remember what I said. And then I need to respond to Mark………

I will try again tomorrow.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 24, 2011 11:54 pm

@ X – I look forward to it. Debates on this site are usually spirited but civil :)

jackstaff
jackstaff
February 25, 2011 12:41 am

Corker of a thread. Also, who knew a nervy old laptop was the safe play on commenting? (I play the piano, but still can’t work the keypad feature on my wife’s iPhone worth a damn….)

Subs: yup, SSGN still makes sense, especially as a main punch for conventional warfare (and that’s as ironic as x pointed out quite some ways upthread.) How about six Astute as-is to heft conventional patrol duty (APT-N, APT-S, plus the other four in reserve for high risk convoys in company with a frigate or two or quickie bollocking of Third World warlords with a brace of Tomahawks, etc. If you’re serious about APT-N outside the Caribbean, or about APT-S, there is no reason to use a surface ship when you’ve the Astutes. They’re an actual deterrent.) Then eight multi-rolers in two batches of four. There’s your weight in the big-war punch. The surface ships are about presence in the low key and targeted interventions or sea/air control of said intervention zones in the high. You want to fight at sea, and somebody might down the line may because who thought the Argies would invade or the Berlin Wall would fall or Libya would be the new Yugoslavia, what comes out of Barrow will do the grunt work. Keeps all parties on-side as well since what goes in flex tubes is up for debate. (Was it Mark or ACC who pointed that out? Either way good call.)

x, I’d debate one point about Cold War days, and that is that past about 1979-80 or so, front-line NATO forces would have shot front-line Pact forces into bloody ribbons. The West’s larger problem was twofold, one of which you mentioned: not much war stocks, so in about 7-10 days at the outside you’re running on nuclear. The other is that the “air” in AirLand Battle was a pipe dream, at least on the scale of “we’ll interdict the second- and third-layer Pact forces.” Against dumb numbers of enemy aircraft, good SAMs, camouflage, etc., no chance. Those poor dumb bastards in their 1960s armour would have sat on the NATO survivors’ heads like that kid at school who ended up a prop for some grammar school’s First XV because he had a perfectly square head and no actual neck, just something they chipped out of the Pennines. Gets us to the same place, just slightly different, and you’re ahead of most of IR’s curve (some historians are catching up) with the political economy of it.

I’ll say it here as in the “Future Of” thread: we need an NEO thread. Partly how that’s “back to the future,” partly how it really is the future as North Africa shows. Big points to TD and a number of commenters for the focus on Africa — any chance of a strategy article on that one? (My own view of proper strategy/posture for the UK is concentrate on the length of the Atlantic from pole to pole and on the Red Sea, get the hell out of the oil game in the Gulf b/c its a graveyard of present-day empires, and partner “soft power” with friends elsewhere for commerce and interest protection.)
And it’s a good chance to look at what does and doesn’t work. Especially how Turkey, with plenty of guest-workers as always and just about the most powerful navy in the Med that’s not the French nuclear sub squadron handled their situation. Also how the Italians are now quietly suiting up for the job. Get to see Cavour put through its paces, plus Garibaldi in the Lusty-like LPH swing role. (They have the San Marco marines and their solid combat divers available, shame after all those littoral articles that the Lagunari — essentially the Italian Army’s coastal/littoral Ranger outfit, and God I’m an anorak — are in the Stan right now. A test case missed.) Which actually, maybe, gets back to the whole point of this post and thread: what do you intend to pay for, and what actual capability do you get in the end, and what happens when you’re pantsed on a cold day by events? Reality is making it harder to carry on with modern HMG practice, or with a political economy run for rentiers at the expense of any concept of the nation or its security.

Guess I still know how to ramble :) Love to read that big post when it comes, x, and also Mark’s cogent reply.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 25, 2011 12:42 am

@ ACC – I believe its essentially what we do now but instead of an article/thread its a question/idea followed by a thread. Just an idea to keep article threads more on track while letting people discuss recent developments, etc.

However, it may well be too much of a hassle/time consuming for TD to alter the Website and moderate the comments…

jackstaff
jackstaff
February 25, 2011 12:45 am

PS: And Gabriele, thanks for the depth and cogency of your comments. While we have some real political breadth here it does get a bit close to a lads’ shop at times (by population, not rudeness, I hope.) The geographical breadth counts too — can you keep us up on the Italian-language play by play if the NEO gears start rolling there? Both an asset and a pleasure, and definitely well appreciated.

jackstaff
jackstaff
February 25, 2011 12:48 am

Gareth,

Maybe we could have a bit of both? Or a kind of modified forum that gives the boss a “sense of the House” about article types we’d like to see or — like NEOs viz. Libya and similar collapses — that seem to have some urgency in the moment. Seems like that was part of the gist in that latest “Future Of…” thread and your thought’s a good starting point.

Oh, and on behalf of many friends and a few relations, Cymru Am Byth :)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 25, 2011 1:06 am

@ jackstaff – First off, congratulations!

Second, Welsh relatives/friends? Navy guy? Into airships? Likes Rotodynes? Pretty damn good so far… ;p

jackstaff
jackstaff
February 25, 2011 1:46 am

This was my defence-blog local months past, dropped off the radar for various reasons mentioned in the other thread (also, get well soon IXION!) Not Navy by service though I’ve spent some time on the water when I was younger and love it — the RN focus was some years of affection and study in coming, partly by way of my old dad, but it stuck. Into airships and Rotodynes? Is the Pope a crochety old German geezer and does Britain need a working industrial base? Yes on the friends/relations (hope being a Llanelli supporter doesn’t grind your gears :) and I can pass for local there on the street I suppose (dark complexion, facial hair, and enough allergies to pronounce a “Ll” like I mean it ….)

El Sid
El Sid
February 25, 2011 2:40 am

For the record, I’ve also lost two longish posts on this thread but not on others – using Firefox on Windows.

Mark – I think you’ve got your threat levels all wrong. Don’t forget we’re designing MUFC (the boomer replacement) for the world of 2030 and beyond. But even today, if you believe the specs of S-400 then the likes of Moscow are already not that scared by ballistic missiles. Certainly by 2030 you’d expect them to have quite good ABM. You could still drop a nuke on the Russian or Chinese equivalent of Inverness, but there’s plenty more where that came from – and for MAD to work, you’ve got to make the guys in charge afraid. There’s some interesting implications for what happens when people start to think that MAD is not inevitable. Whether it is or not is beside the point, it’s what people think they can get away with that matters.

Cruise missiles aren’t that scary for any nation with half-decent AEW and fighters/SAMs. So nuclear Tomahawks/Storm Shadow would not be too scary for the Iran and Pakistan of today, or the Venezuela/Nigeria/Ghana/Libya/Angola/Indonesia/Argentina of tomorrow. I guess it’s up to you whether you want countries like that to be scared of you – but I’d feel a lot safer with ICBMs.

Personally I think that it’s more or less inevitable that
MUFC will end up going the “fighter-bomber” route, and it seems that the same thought has at least crossed the minds of the USN.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix
February 25, 2011 10:03 am

those pesky admirals are at it again, lol!

DominicJ
DominicJ
February 25, 2011 10:29 am

“But even today, if you believe the specs of S-400 then the likes of Moscow are already not that scared by ballistic missiles. Certainly by 2030 you’d expect them to have quite good ABM.”

I dont know what the Specs of the S400 are, but, briefly, the current problem with intercepting nuclear weapons is three fold.
All in, MIRVd Nuclear Warheads are cheaper than interceptors, its cheaper to build and maintian the 4 Vanguards than to build and maintain a system to shoot down the 100 and something warheads one can let off. And 8 Vanguards can operate more than 2 submarines CASD…
That does change dramaticaly if you can hit the Missile before it releases its independant warheads, but thats the exact reason independant warheads were designed.
The American Interceptor system really is aimed at “low” powers, who have nuclear weapons, but cant MIRV them.

Interceptors arent a sure thing.
An 80% success rate is pretty pants if its lets 20 nuclear weapons strike a city. The effectiveness of nuclear weapons is criminaly overstated, but 20 aint gonna leave much of moscow inhabitable.
You either need to intercept in two stages, so you can pick up misses, or throw two interceptors at each incoming missile.
However a second missile still only gives a 96% success rate, allowing 4 weapons through. Massivly destructive, if not an extermination event.

And Thirdly, you dont know what I’m going to target.
The USSR probably would have beaten the UK and France in an interceptor race, we were never going to spend 5% of GDP on Vanguards, If Russia was prepared to build enough interceptors to beat that, we’d probably give up. Targeting Moscow.
Because Interceptors can only defend a limited area.
The Soviets could have defended Moscow against 400 incoming warheads, but they couldnt defend all of Russia, or the USSR against that incoming storm.
You eventualy reach a point it makes sense to avoid the protected area, because you can simply destroy everything that isnt Moscow.
The Soviet Masters might survive the attack, but they’d be masters of a city, imprisoned with a radioactive wasteland and bereft of sources of food, water and other such nessesities.

Its possible of course, that S400 could be as effective against incoming nuclear weapons as a T45 is against incoming passenger jets, but I’d be surprised if thats the case, and its as affordable as T45.

Richard W
Richard W
February 25, 2011 10:42 am

“I think the elephant in the room for major projects is politics and politics, is something that politicians need to sort out. In various news reports that trail the speech some of these major projects that are over budget are highlighted, including Astute, CVF, Typhoon and A400”

“Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with these projects will fully understand the political dimension is the source of the serious cost over runs”

Yes there is a political dimension, but the underlying problem is the common aspect of all these – that is that they are all development projects and the lesson to be learned is that we should stay out of development projects. By their nature they entail risk – that the new technology will actually work, that they can be delivered for a fixed amount of money and that they will be available when you want them to be. If the govt believed all these would come to pass in one big happy result it was probably because a service chief assured them it would be okay.

a
a
February 25, 2011 11:08 am

Fact is, the new government is scaring me even more than labour did. Their only answer to the budget crisis is “GUT THE ARMED FORCES, BUY CONDOMS FOR UGANDA! AND FUND RAF’s PROUD PROGRAMME TO SEND LESBIAN PILOTS ATTENDING TO THE NEXT GAY PRIDE TOO!”. Hardly what i expected, thank you.

Gabriele, you horrible bigot, please try to be less of a horrible bigot. Thank you.

IXION
IXION
February 25, 2011 11:52 am

Thanks for the goog wishes. Apears I am now out of the woods.

Can I add my voice to the idea of half a dozen 2nd hand BA jets on some sort of Point class contract, exactly for this Libya stile ‘get our citizens home’ type /deploy FO emergancy teams.

A someone observed this is starting to get a common occourance. Getting civilian aircraft in, particularly a scheduled flights (by upping the capacity for 767-747) has got to be less difficult than treading on already sensitive toes by ‘sending in the RAF’.

Also is this not proo positive for need for local ‘influence squadron’ or for large long endurance bay class type ships on long deployment.

RE DETERRENT

Are we really gong to face a

Multi Nuclear waponed state
with delivery systems,
With high end air defence grid, capable of detecting, and shooting down cruise missiles
Willing to take the risk / consiquences of even a few getting
though
who willwant to nuke us specifically rather han US

Because if we are the ssbn with best missile avaiable has to be way to go.

Otherwise surely Astute with cruise missile plug is going to be way cheaper and more usable -and all built in UK.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 25, 2011 12:06 pm

@ IXION – Sorry, I meant to ask how you were doing last night. Hope you are doing well.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 25, 2011 12:28 pm

@ TD – Sorry. I don’t mean to cause trouble; honest!

Somewhat Removed
February 25, 2011 2:55 pm

Afternoon all,

Can I just say that after skimming down the list of posts, that everyone has rather missed the point?

Strategic Defence and Spending Review. Two clues in the title. Strategic and Spending. What use is an Armed Force when our credit rating gets knocked down from AAA and we suddenly start paying out double the interest on the national debt? The National Debt is the Government’s most severe strategic threat at present; cutting down everywhere, hard, is critical.

And please remember that the MOD only gets a headline cut of 7.5%(ish). Yes it’s painful and as a serving dark blue chap it’s thoroughly unpleasant, but it is necessary. And there are other Government departments that will be hacked by 20, 30% or more.

Someone above commented that our standing commitments should be driving the size of the MOD budget. Wrong – everything is about money, and everything is about politics. The commitments need to line up with our budget. It’s about time we realised that.

Repulse
February 25, 2011 3:12 pm

@Somewhat Removed

“Someone above commented that our standing commitments should be driving the size of the MOD budget. Wrong – everything is about money, and everything is about politics. The commitments need to line up with our budget. It’s about time we realised that.”

I can see your point, but I think the crux of the problem is that our procurement policy needs to match our budget. I’m sure we could meet our current commitments with even the reduced MOD budget we have if the politians had not decided to use the defence budget to prop up UK industry / win local votes and had enforced proper financial controls.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 25, 2011 3:30 pm

Hi S. R.,
RE “The commitments need to line up with our budget. It’s about time we realised that”
– I second the motion
– a lot of the commitments are actually (in my view) about freeloading, rather than commitments per se.

Should we have a thread to discuss which to intensify, which to keep and which (in 5-10 years’ time which is the timescale to which these kinds of changes work to) to off-load? Or would it be too political?

x
x
February 25, 2011 7:59 pm

@ Gareth Jones

I shall try again………………

Who does the deterrent deter? Oddly enough the same peoples it did during the Cold War, the Russians and the Chinese! Why does Europe pay attention to Russia. The answer is two fold. Firstly because of her natural resources. And secondly because after the US Russia is the next biggest nuclear power. Russia’s conventional forces are in a dire state; in conventional terms she would be hard pressed to fight Western Europe on equal terms let alone the US But her ICBMs mean she does not have to. It is realism in action. And yes you might say we leave in globalised interdependent world and so it isn’t in the Russian interest to fight the West. That is true. But the world is a complex place and both realism and liberalism are equally in play. Just because Apple has its computers built in China it doesn’t the Chinese government are going to want to build aircraft carriers and tell the US to back away from Taiwan. On the subject of China is she a military super power? Yes because of her nuclear weapons. Though she is building ships and ‘planes hand over fist she still can only project power regionally. Many of her soldiers have more in common with 1950s soldiers than 21st century Western soldiers. Things will be different in a decade or two but for now China primary military threat is it nuclear capability. So nuclear weapons of one state deter the nuclear weapons of other states……….

As for the argument that nuclear weapons don’t deter terrorist that is an empty argument. When has military might ever deterred committed terrorists? In the 1970s did the IRA say well the British have more guns and bigger guns than us so the war is off lads? No. And then there is the other non-issue that of terrorist use of WMD. It has been 20 years or so since the end of the Cold War and the Russians have supposedly lost tons of nuclear material and even the odd warhead. Why hasn’t somewhere been nuked by now? The world is more fractured than in 1990, so why hasn’t some group flattened the capital city of their oppressors. Every hospital in the West is full of radioactive sources, where are the dirty bombs? You can buy electronics off the shelf that Robert Oppenheimer’s people would have struggled to imagine let alone build? So surely there must be somebody in the Arab world knocking an a-bomb up in their garage? Actually forget the WMDs. Where are all the Islamic terror attacks in the UK? I don’t mean plots I mean attacks. In the 1970s the IRA was blowing up pubs, shooting people left right and centre. And if failed states are such a threat why aren’t we ashore in Somalia hanging pirates from a convenient yard arm? So the argument we should scrap the deterrent because it doesn’t deter terrorists is a bit empty. Unless we nuke those factories producing 7.62×39 ammo. Does the deterrent deter mad men? No. But it may deter the not so mad men that the mad depends on. Deterrence is more about perception than reality. Do you think if Iran explodes the bomb one day and shows off a working ballistic missile the next the man in the street will say “well on balance developing a nuclear bomb is one thing, but weaponising so that the warhead has an acceptable CEP and placing it on a working missile is entirely another matter?” No he will want to know that the UK can flatten Tehran. I think there is a lot of validity in the argument that we don’t know what the future will bring. In a world that still has a growing population, naturally resources that are starting to run out, that is facing unknown consequences from climate, and whose security picture is ever changing the UK should throw away SSBNs to save a few billion?

Is then cost of the deterrent high? Is it a bad thing that all it does is buy us a seat at the top table in the UN? It might not be a usable weapon but it does buy us influence.Trident cost us £15billion. Yet we spend approximately £10billion every year on international aid. Why? Because we are good people? Yes partly. But we spend that £10billion pounds to gain us influence. Some figures suggest that we contribute some £15billion to the EU. Why? We belong to the EU partly to gain influence. We have an army that costs us £15billion per year a small percentage of which is currently deployed in Afghanistan. Why? As an instrument of international influence; are we getting value for that? I would suggest no not really. We spend another £15billion on two services that supposedly give us strategic reach. Yet we seem unable to retrieve a few thousand of our nationals from a few thousand miles away; how much influence then if they had to deliver ordnance at that distance; how much influence can they really deliver? So is spending £15billion pounds every two decades on 4 submarines and system that can drop a nuclear weapon into a circle 150m in diameter up to 7,500nm such bad value? Cruise missiles are entirely seperate class of weapon; comparing one with the other is like comparing a 40mm grenade with 155mm arty shell. The deterrent costs £1billion year to operate. The 4 V-boats cost £250million a year to run, about a 25% more than a Eurofighter squadron. The balance is spent on Aldermaston; big physics costs big money. The GDP of the UK is approximately £1,723,402,775,759. If you think the UK isn’t worthy of sitting at the top table perhaps it isn’t worthy of being defended at all? And Trident puts GB on the top table.

x
x
February 25, 2011 8:05 pm

I would still like to know if the RAF have practiced chasing cruise missiles. And I would still like to know how many it would take to swamp UK air defences…….

That isn’t me saying that cruise missiles are a replacement for ballistic missiles.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 25, 2011 8:15 pm

Pakistan will soon have more nuclear warheads than Britain.
If that does not cause a sharp intake of breath…..

Mark
Mark
February 25, 2011 9:56 pm

x
In order for deterrence to work the person we have to deter needs to know if push came to shove we would push the button. So today under what circumstances would that occur? To me this could only happen if a nuclear weapon was detonated on UK soil. So who would fire it with the capability to reach the UK the only conceivable answer at present is Russia. Think of the number of Americans or Chinese or French living in the UK for example if they fired on London the casualties would be such it would without doubt require a response by any of those countries.

The question is why any of them would want to. In today’s world they have much easier ways to completely incapacitate the UK without recourse to nuclear weapon. They could simply turn the gas and oil off or use a cyber attack to render the country’s infrastructure destroyed. Neither of which would warrant a nuclear response.

N Korea probably has only 10 warheads and if ever Iran or any other country got the bomb they would probably be in the similar number. So why do we need something as sophisticated and powerful as trident to deter them. Indeed this is where proliferation terrorism and nuclear deterrence converge. If for example Iran got the bomb how would it threaten the west its main way would be to sell a warhead to a terrorist or use its knowledge to help a terrorist develop a dirty bomb to explode in Washington or London. Why plausible deniability. Again a fragile government could be over thrown by extremists and steal the weapon.

These situations could not warrant a nuclear response from the UK as it would prove mightily difficult to link the regime. Indeed during desert storm even if Iraq had used weapons of mass destruction against US forces the plan was not to strike back but to destroy the dams of the Tigris and flood Baghdad.

I agree trident and cruise missiles are chalk and cheese but the level of sophistication in enemy air defences would need to be high to destroy cruise. Iraq could not stop them and they had a more dense air defence system that Russia ever did during the cold war. The we177 I compared cruise nukes too was a freefall nuclear bomb carried by tornado in the cold war was it not a credible capability? France and supposedly Israel use cruise weapons supersonic granted but they consider them adequate.

Fitting Type 45 with TBMD should be capable of shooting down the smaller numbers of missiles most non superpower countries have. If building 4-5 astutes also happens we have a number of both submarine and air launched options to overwhelm a nations defences because let’s face it if we got to the point of launching these weapons we would be firing more than one.

I agree nuclear weapons mean smaller conventional forces but we still need conventional forces. Thats the problem indeed Russia is desperate to reduce its nuclear forces to better equip its conventional ones. Same with the other countries you only need a few weapons not hundreds to be a deterrent so why gut our conventional forces to pay for uber high end capability to kill the enemy several times over when surely once is enough.
Rather than comparing the cost of trident to eurofighter we have to have platforms that can do more than one mission type 45, astute fits that bill better than a ssbn and in my view is an acceptable risk to take as opposed to further reductions in our conventional forces.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 25, 2011 10:29 pm

Mark,

Good point ” indeed Russia is desperate to reduce its nuclear forces to better equip its conventional ones. ”

Indeed, until they manage that (the arsenal is left from a period when a much bigger country put 40% of its GDP into the war machinery, directly or indirectly), they can only afford new planes in quantities of 50 or only a few hundred.

They also pretend to be an (ex-)superpower, like we have this complex about the Empire (that once was).

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 25, 2011 10:46 pm

@ X – I have read your argument and will respond when I have more time; relatives have descended and I must be “sociable” :(. However, I will say it is a good one.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
February 26, 2011 3:06 am

Either the Treasury says how much we can afford to spend on defence and the rest of the Government works out what our defence policy and committemtns can be within that budget or the Government decides our defence policy and committments and the Treasury funds this.

At the moment the Treasury decides what we spend on defence and separately the Governemnt decides what our Defence Policy and committmeents are, with little linking them.

This has to change. Curretnly their seems to be a belief in Government that Capabilities and equipmetn lost and cancelled can magically reappear post 2015 when the deficit is under control. They do not seem to realise that whist these can be done away with with a simple signiature it takes years to get them back if at all. It is like killing 25% of the Doctors and Nurses in the NHS and expecting replacements to be appear the next week. This must be verging on criminal negligence!

jackstaff
jackstaff
February 26, 2011 4:43 am

Lord Jim just above,

Yes, it does more than verge. And that’s a wonderful last graf. At some point we could get Sven to mention that wonderful German term “schwerpunkt,” the focal point where you hit and achieve a kind of operational fulcrum for defeating your foe. At some point down the line when he does those posts I’m going to suggest to TD (probably after a few pints of Dog) that abolishing the MoD and going back to service departments would actually improve functional jointness and the leverage of the services to produce specific results for their own needs, because HMT borrowed from the old imperial hands and played divide-and-conquer brilliantly with the Ministry (stick the rivals all in the same colonial borders, let your political control take care of itself.)

But that’s off topic. The schwerpunkt here, which no one with any authority is willing to see, *is* the Treasury itself. Inside HMG it has two parts which are both bad. One is acting as a bureau within a state within a state (“inside men” for the UK’s financial/rentier school-tie elites, just as it has done except in periods of national crisis since around the rise to Atlantic power in the late 1600s.) There they protect the value of sterling as an instrument of political leverage at home and abroad, over and above anything that could be considered in the interests of Britain’s politics, or economy, or security. (When the new Charlemagnes of the Euro came along, they stayed aloof but knew the game well, they’d been playing it for centuries except when interrupted by, you know, broader British national interests.) The other is that HMT functions inside the government as a profoundly disfunctional parent, holding up and then passing out vast sums for vanity favour projects or actual capital improvements, without following them up with anything to maintain the running of same. That way you create not just financial dependency, but dependency inside the bureaucracy’s politics. And it’s got to stop. Treasuries, when they work well, are the money managers for other people who take the decisions and carry through the funded projects. They don’t make the decisions in order to protect the money. They make sure the choices and operations don’t go haywire, which is nearly the opposite of HMT practice. So really, for the benefit of not just MoD but NHS and whatever the Board of Trade’s called this week and all the rest, no faffing about will ever solve the problem. Got to take off the dragon’s head.
/rant off

That middle graf’s good too, LJ, even at just a sentence. Get that at the head of a White Paper section and we might get somewhere :)

Michael (ex-DIS)
Michael (ex-DIS)
February 26, 2011 7:30 am

“I would still like to know if the RAF have practiced chasing cruise missiles. And I would still like to know how many it would take to swamp UK air defences…….”

I doubt if any airforce has seriously tried to pursue and shoot down cruise missiles. And in any event, such abilities would soon be overwhelmed by increasing the number of cruise missiles and by incorporating the ability to carry out evasive manoeuvres.

IXION
IXION
February 26, 2011 8:23 am

LJ

I dont contend the need for ND just the type and cost.

Phil Darley
February 26, 2011 2:51 pm

Seem to have had one go missing when I published?

thanks for the advice. Never though of doing that, makes perfect sense

This has happened afew times and always when I have written a long and decent comment ( yes I know that’s rare). Bloody annoying though.

x
x
February 26, 2011 7:06 pm

@ Gareth Jones

Thank you. Though I have been thinking more and more about nuclear cruise as Mark and many here have suggested; I am still undecided. And I just hope somewhere in the system Sea Viper’s anti-ballistic capability is being at least thought about. It doesn’t matter how advanced your AAW system is if can’t cope with the oncoming future threat.

Further I hope my argument about WMD terrorism holds up. Though the essay I wrote incorporating it (one on SALW proliferation) only earned me a goodish 2.1.

@ Mike (ex-DIS)

I am just idly shooting the breeze.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 26, 2011 7:16 pm

@ X – In response (sorry for delay!); I have to agree with you concerning WMD and terrorists; Unlikely due to efforts of security/intelligence agencies and the complex nature of manufacture. Rouge states will not give away any they develop due to the cost and the risk they will be traced back. I realise the difference between ballistic and cruise missiles; when I advocate SSGN’s its for their conventional theatre power projection. Which is where I feel Britain can excel; rather than trying to be a old style Great power we need to accept that we are a regional power with residual global commitments. Only acting with others in Europe (France and Germany) or with the US are we going to be a true global force. In which case, the Deterrent is provided by either the US or France, both NATO members. We should provide something else to the party. The UNSC seat is problematic; if they ever get around to reform, Europe may end up with only one seat and is membership dependent upon SSBN’s/Nuclear weapons?

x
x
February 26, 2011 7:38 pm

@ Mark

I said Iran or North Korea aren’t the primary targets for the deterrent. It is still the old “enemies” of China and Russia. But if Iran or North Korea were responsible for a nuclear attack on the UK the people would without doubt demand expect a response in kind.

Plausible deniability and the nation state. As I said during the collapse of the East nuclear material and supposedly warheads went missing. That was 20 years ago. And as I said every hospital in the West, and include in that every hospital used by the elites of these states that may sponsor terrorism, have nuclear sources. Where are the terrorist nuclear bombs? Where are the dirty bombs? Surely by now somebody with enough drive and technical ability has had the chance to build and use such a device. Nuclear material is severely policed world wide. Isotopes can be identified. And lastly people aren’t very good at keeping their mouths shut. The risks for a state sponsoring terrorists with WMD would be far, far to great. Yes extremists could steal a weapon and then is fear that this might happen in Pakistan. If this were to happen you can bet the West, India, and China would hunt the weapon down; there are ways and means. It is in no government’s interest for these things to fall into the wrong hands. But saying that nuclear weapons aren’t normal ordnance; it isn’t a question of pull pin and throw.

Perhaps a comparison could be drawn with how many MANPADs are in terrorist hands. Compare to nuclear weapons these are down right ubiquitous and are technically simple. Now occasionally these have fallen into the hands of terror groups. But considering the number of MANPADs produced surely every second terrorist should have and airliners should be dropping out of the sky all over the West? Are they? No. MANPAD units and sales are tracked worldwide. It just isn’t in the interest of any government that some terror group could take out a plane over a city.

x
x
February 26, 2011 7:56 pm

@ Gareth who said “The UNSC seat is problematic; if they ever get around to reform, Europe may end up with only one seat and is membership dependent upon SSBN’s/Nuclear weapons?”

French nuclear submarine technology is inferior to ours, though better than the Chinese. Their SLBM current system is about as potent as Polaris.

Why should we default to the French?

As for the UNSC seat that is interesting. Germany and Japan have had the industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons since the 1960s. But because of their histories and external pressures have put their efforts into their economies. And it could be argued that immediate post war years Canada probably had more of a right to the seat than France.

Who should have Europe’s seat? Well the state in Europe that can deliver the most military effect across the broadest range of capabilities. That is the UK. Um. Some conspiracy theorists think that paring back the UK armed forces to a similar size as the other major European powers is an EU plot to undermine the UK’s world standing and make us less of a threat to EU stability. And on occasion I think there may be a little truth in that……….

Mark
Mark
February 26, 2011 8:14 pm

x

Granted you did say china and Russia but the only way china gets nukes to UK is by SSBN but than can be countered buy LRMPA if we had any. The point I was making is n korea, iran cant get nukes to the UK soil and they only will ever have a handful that bmd could counter.

If the deterrent only is to deter Russia and china then it out lived it usefulness because as I pointed out they can well and truly mess us up without recourse to nuclear weapons thru energy,cyber and monetary power. Do we really need a full SSBN mirv warhead capable nuclear capability to deter Russia now. Surely the idea we could get any type of nuclear warhead thru to there cities would be deterrence enough.

I do see your argument on nuclear terrorism but surely the same can be said about nuclear weapons in general.

x
x
February 26, 2011 8:55 pm

@ Mark

As I said that who the deterrent deters now. Russia is a dangerous state. And China is an unknown quantity. In a world of diminishing resources it is these states who the West will come into competition. The future is uncertain. Who knows what systems we will need? But I do know purely because of physics the ballistic missile will still be relevant.

I don’t think you understand the nature of deterrents. It is counter intuitive but the fact that nuclear weapons haven’t been used means they are successful. There are many academics in the field of Security Studies who do nothing but write and think about deterrence. Some of the papers on the topic (which often include a lot on game theory) are mind bending.

I assume you are English and therefore know of children’s programme called Bagpus. The creator of Bagpus Oliver Postgate was an anti-nuclear campaigner. He came up with a rather novel idea that nuclear devices should be classed as something other than weapons because they could never be used! I think Mr Postgate was a very wise man for coming up with that idea. Nuclear devices are super weapons, and man has always had trouble knowing what to do with his super weapons. In the early 20th century Europe’s admirals wanted bigger and bigger dreadnoughts with bigger and bigger guns even though they the current ships were at the edge of technology and usability. In the Medieval period kings and dukes built castles next to each other to oppose each other because that was the military doctrine of the day. Yet a castle only works as base for cavalry; so the proximity of the buildings canceled out their usefulness. But the castle was the super weapon of its day. (A good example of this can be seen at Orford, where the UK tested its nuclear triggers and other exciting tech…..)

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 26, 2011 9:02 pm

@ X – I won’t lie; I am generally a Europhile and believe in Defence/Security cooperation with the neighbours. However, I strongly believe that a military strong UK is key to not only our future but Europe’s. We have (or till recently did :() have the best expeditionary capability, the best ASW, etc, in Europe. Other European nations aren’t exactly lacking in capabilities but lack the ability to go “out of theatre”. During the Cold War, many nations experienced NATOisation – focusing on a certain capability, possibly to the detriment of others (the 1981 cuts to the RN being an example). As one of Europe’s big 3/5 then we need to retain a better mix of capabilities (as proven by the Falklands, GW 1 and 2, etc). I just don’t see SSBN as part of that broad capabilities; Conventional SSGN’s are a different matter! However, as HMG are unlikely to fund a new type of sub then a swing role SSB/GN becomes appealing…

IXION
IXION
February 26, 2011 9:18 pm

x

I have never considered that our wmd were any deterent to terrorist wmd.

If alkahida set of nuke nicked from pakistan in london which bit of pakistan do we nuke back?

Deterence is for state actors.

x
x
February 26, 2011 9:27 pm

@ Gareth Jones

I wouldn’t expect somebody who has a Masters in IR to be anything but a Europhile! (Given your name I am guessing you were at Aberystwyth?) But I am sorry to say I am more an Atlanticist. I would prefer a strong UK to be working with a strong France and Germany and not a dependent UK. History shows that France has gained much from the EU, while the UK has lost a lot. Anyway that is politics.

Yes I know our European allies have significant capabilities too. But it seems while they are investing in new capabilities (for example the Spanish and their AEGIS frigates and super LHDs) we seem to be divesting ourselves of those capabilities.

I would like to see an SSGN too. And I can’t believe the Astute design got signed off without 12 or so VLS tubes for cruise missiles.