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repulse
June 6, 2011 7:29 pm

Interesting; looking at the video it looked like HMS Ocean was quite close to shore to see the flashes from the explosions.

Gabriele
Gabriele
June 6, 2011 8:12 pm

“Engage the targets more closely!”

I did read that Mighty O did really went close to shore for the raid indeed.
Advantages of mobile air bases, i guess.

IXION
IXION
June 6, 2011 11:08 pm

Gabes

This is actually quite an important point.

You would never take a ship that close if there was any danger of anyone shooting back!

A couple of well aimed (or just lucky 155mm rounds) never mind a heavy anti tank missile etc or one of those mines they dropped in Misrata harbour…..

The Mintcake Maker
The Mintcake Maker
June 6, 2011 11:45 pm

@ IXION

fully agree, which is why anybody who thinks the QEC should be used as giant LPH’s needs to serious have a rethink and if that means replacing the Albions with LHD’s in the future then C’est la vie.

navalgazer
navalgazer
June 7, 2011 9:15 am

Although the risks would have been carefully assessed, this is what’s known as ‘life in a blue suit’. HMS Brocklesby was only a few hundred yards outside Misrata when she helped clear the approaches of mines and HMS Liverpool was fairly close inshore when she silenced a coastal rocket battery with her 4.5. This is the sort of thing that breeds the special ‘all of one company’ whole-ship ethos, first coined by Drake in the 16th century, with everyone from the CO to the most junior cook or stores rating literally ‘in the same boat’ and facing the same dangers and privations. By the same token, it is part of the attraction.

El Sid
El Sid
June 7, 2011 11:18 am

Let’s not get too romantic about this. We’re doing as much as we can with the tools available to us. The reason O had to go in so close was that the Apaches were at the limits of their range/endurance. It’s not something that things with rotors are exactly known for. If you were flying things with wings, you don’t have to risk the ship in the same way – has the de Gaulle gone in so close? Of course not. Will the Tonerre have to go in close? Presumably.

Although this is being presented as getting eyeballs closer to the targets, that only the AAC can get close enough to satisfy the ROE, I think the real story here is NATO’s lack of strategic endurance. The dry-dock queen de Gaulle has to go home soon for maintenance, which leaves a big hole in the NATO air operation as she’s provided a quarter of all sorties. Hence the bodging around flying helicopters off LPH/LPDs, anything just to get missiles on pylons above Tripoli, despite the short endurance and vulnerability to ground fire. On a practical level, the de Gaulle will get replaced by CVN-77, fresh from Exercise Saxon Warrior in the Western Approaches, but that just looks so…bad, the USN coming to Europe’s aid again. We’re in an interesting time at the moment, during the changeover period – if you wanted to really go for it, then attacking with two proper carriers would be easier than one – if nothing else it gives you an emergency landing strip.

You could imagine that if we had the same situation in say 2019, this would provide a role for the “carrier without planes” – you could imagine that when de Gaulle first went to war, the first CVF could have started working up with French Rafales, as cover for de Gaulle when the latter had finished her tour. I know it’s not nearly enough time really, but it’s amazing what can be achieved when there’s a war on. Of course, this wouldn’t be an option if we went with TD’s preferred option of interoperability with the USMC rather than the French…. Which of course would fit in with TD’s take on the strategic picture, that the US is concentrating on the Pacific and is less interested in the Atlantic basin.

As an aside, that article seems to be pointing towards the second CVF being fitted out to a lower standard as a training carrier to be shared by us and the French, and a suggestion that we might supply the carrier and the French supply the expertise for training.

On a related note, presumably the light blue elements are due for rotation soon? We heard a lot about the Typhoon training squadrons being cleaned out to provide ground-attack-qualified pilots for Gioia del Colle – what happens next? Of course it doesn’t help that some have been sent home for overdoing the sherbets, but it seemed that just supplying a few FGR4’s was stretching the Typhoon fleet to near breaking point. If we were to do something major in Libya, it might make sense to do it with the current RAF rotation.

Mike
Mike
June 7, 2011 2:08 pm

People are a bit shakey about how close she is to the action, but wasn’t this exactly the sort of operations we expect from our Helo Carrier? Just add in a few Amphibs and it could be a beach assault….it wont do to have it too far out… as already said, the threats and risks have been assessed (the RN has a lot at stake if she is holed!) and the main ‘big’ threats were already taken care of by RAF and RN assets, meaning she could get closer in and deploy her assets… exactly what it says on the tin for Amphib ops of a Heli carrier.

Good stuff, though rather limited with 4 Apaches; but the Army AC is already making sure the gov can see its uses post Afghan.

paul g
June 7, 2011 3:39 pm

anyone read the comments on youtube under the 2nd video, £12billion in aid and they all still hate us,might as well spend it on other stuff (ie NHS and MOD)

Andy
Andy
June 7, 2011 3:40 pm

Re, the ‘sharing’ of carriers. Would make more sense for the MN to be sold PoW and for the then 25yr old cost inefficient CdG to become ‘training’ carrier.

The Mintcake Maker
The Mintcake Maker
June 7, 2011 4:34 pm

@ Andy

I see your point, however I would much sooner have both QEC and use our second carrier as the training carrier, even if that means that its not fully kitted out i.e. just enough systems to launch/recover aircraft, etc (im not entirely sure what we could leave off). That way, at least if things do go pear-shaped, we can rapidly integrate the remaining systems and therefore have a second carrier at our disposal.

As a slight deviation off topic, I would also like us (if and when we have some money) to buy 5 E-2c and have them refurbished and upgraded to the E-2c Hawkey2000 (same version as france) like UAE have/plan too for around $400m/£250m. We could then set up a joint E-2c Wing/Squadron/call it what you like and share maintenance and training costs; however the actual a/c would still belong to their respective countries.

navalgazer
navalgazer
June 7, 2011 6:49 pm

@ El Sid

Don’t be too hard on the “dry-dock queen” Charles de Gaulle. While her maintenance record may not be exemplary, she was deployed from Oct 2010 to mid Feb 2011 providing CAS for ground forces in Afghanistan (mainly Brit troops in Helmand), her fifth such mission since Dec 2001. She deployed again in mid March for operations off Libya.

Bar what must have been an extremely busy four week period in Toulon, her ship’s company (and presumably her air group) have been performing combat air operations for almost eight months now. The tragedy is that we are still ten years from having a carrier to relieve her on station although this situation could have been mitigated if Ark Royal and a dozen or more GR9s had still been available.

x
x
June 7, 2011 8:45 pm

El Sid said “Let’s not get too romantic about this.”

As I keep saying “we” over look the cultural aspects of how the services go to war at “our” peril.

@ TD

With reference to one of my earlier comments in another thread which you picked on.

@ Andy

How much would you sell the PoW for?

I have just thought if we could guarantee the money would go into the RN budget what would we spend the money on? Another Daring? Another Astute? A couple of fleet tankers? An Ocean replacement? Um. Perhaps we should sell both CVF to the French? The French have the advantage of being big thinkers and would happily through the accounts ledgers to one side to buy two carriers. All we do is quibble over which version of an expensive American aeroplane to buy and throw yet more money at BAE to develop electric catapults.

Can I safely say Ocean is operating tens of miles off the coast of Libya?

x
x
June 7, 2011 8:46 pm

Can I safely say Ocean is operating tens of miles off the coast of Libya?

Should before the stuff I said to Andy. Damn these small boxes.

Andy
Andy
June 7, 2011 9:55 pm

Once complete PoW is sunk money. If its sale enabled purchase of a few hawkeye and being able to properly finance the one carrier i’d be all for it x!

x
x
June 7, 2011 10:19 pm

I will go for that then! :)

Mark
Mark
June 7, 2011 10:35 pm

And how much money has the navy seen from all the other Ships they’ve been forced to sell early? 1 carrier is simply not a capapabilty it’s window dressing both need to be built and fitted out and alternate in service so 1 is always available that is the minimum requirement

IXION
IXION
June 8, 2011 1:07 am

Mark

What if we don’t build and fit out 2, would you as so many do want to keep the one to keep us in the carrier club?

Chris in Virginia
Chris in Virginia
June 8, 2011 3:45 am

I am amazed for all the politicians in your Parliament not one has stood up and asked, well what if we actually had to fight a real opponent, What then? Where are your Defense Hawks?

Let me give you a scenario. The greedy Virginia politicians maneuver to keep all the CVN’s in Norfolk, VA, and not let one homeport in Mayport Florida… and they have… and God Forbid Norfolk gets radiated with a nuke… catching at least two CVN’s, and some LHD’s.

War has broken out in China, and the Pacific fleet is unavailable to lend a carrier. The CDG is undergoing repairs… during the next ten years, exactly what will you do? Because you have probably sold the HMS Ark Royal to a South American Nation.

You would have to depend on Israel to hold off most of the Middle East, a little more problematic with Turkey becoming more belligerent. I would think you would like to have the old navy back… like during that time?

Topman
Topman
June 8, 2011 7:01 am

Chris, right or wrong, should a politician stand in Parliament and ask for for more money for a similar scenario, they would be laughed out of the house.
Defence in the UK isn’t anywhere as big an issue as it is in the US, there are quite a few people how would quite happily cut the MoD budget by 25% or 50%. They see it as money wasted and that we already spend far too much on defence as it is.
At the moment the game in town is to keep the cuts as low as possible. Any big budget increases for such scenerios are totally off the political radar, it’s just not realistic.

repulse
June 8, 2011 7:18 am

I’ll also add that it is widely perceived that the MOD waste vast amounts of the budget they already have. And to be fair they have a bloody good point too.

Mark
Mark
June 8, 2011 7:49 am

Ixion for me it’s 2 or none. It is a mute point because 2 are being built. However if it’s none then we abandon any pretence of independant expeditionary capability and reduce the army and air force to home defence only.

RW
RW
June 8, 2011 9:01 am

I agree the changes at the MOD currently underway will lead to more oversight and less waste, we do not fully know the amount of savings this will bring, when linked to realistic budgets. But there does seem to be confidence that the MOD project management is now being allowed to work and with the competence built through UORs there is a possibility that we move from under achieving to “over achieving “.

What I mean is that as projects come in under budget and ahead of time, (which, believe it or not, is possible), there is also the possibility for opportunistic procurements, the MOD has recently acquired an old NATO communications satellite at no (direct) cost but which still delivers capability.

So I don’t think we should be continuously down about the future, we currently are looking at soon having too much aerial refuelling capability!!, linked with passenger and cargo capacity that we have never imagined through MRTT. Further improvements with LMM continue to show the quality of our existing stocks of missiles (how impressive has dual mode Brimstone been, plus we have storm shadow, as well as paveway IV with programmable fuse, CAMM to come etc.. complex weapons, etc..).

There is a lot of capability that we demonstrably have, or will have that contributes to our ability to win the campaign in Libya, the doom mongers could have painted it as an impossible ask with the reduction in the US contribution. All those SAM sites have, in reality, ended up as scrap metal.

I think we are too often comparing our forces with “conventional force” paper tigers that look good on paper but have little endurance or adaptability. Surely in Libya there is a remarkable experiment in the use of force, without making a land commitment. If it works, the end game is secured before the conflict has ended and then on to the next problem.

All this while still doing Astan and the falklands, Yemen, west indies patrol etc.., our forces are being stretched and the timing is poor for retirements and loss of capabilities. But I wonder how many other countries forces could manage such a workload. Also, logically, it’s going to take 10 years to develop our conventional carrier capabilities and if we had an ongoing VSTOL capability wouldn’t that be diverting resources from the CVF development.

I think we are at the lowest point in an investment cycle, and we should balance future gains against the many losses, but the idea that the MOD will stop wasting 2 or 3 billion per year (and delaying introductions) gives me hope that the future can be a significantly different one, where intelligent decisions open up opportunities rather than just avoiding the worst of losses.

I think Libya will encourage some fine tuning of the SDRS, notably through Sentinel and I also expect a replacement for MRA4 will come into the mix, but in general I expect it will be seen in the future as a time when future UK capabilities were ensured (at the risk of outgoing ones) and that the relationship with the US will be closer in terms of material, but more separate in terms of responsibilities.

Maybe the most telling part of Libya is that Europe, (with Sweden and Norway also to the fore) is learning to stand on its own feet, even if with a wobble or two, and that may well encourage the US to support our capabilities (such as with Rivet joint, ?Poseidon P8) rather than provide those capabilities directly.

Mark
Mark
June 8, 2011 9:51 am

Absolutely TD I’m taking everyones bat and ball and going home!!

No more seriously I totally agree carrier and land air are complementary and a carrier remains the only guaranteed way to have air assets over head initially. It is becoming more and more difficult to get countries to accept strike a/c on there soil and those that do end up with very over crowded air bases. On top of that our lack of aar assets mean flying from further away is also getting more difficult and it a unique asset to offer to a coalition that’s my reasons but I know you don’t agree.

Was it not the pm’s decision on nimrod he could say he was badly advised bu the last cds or make the cast that taking account of thru like costs p8 is significantly cheaper than nimrod a tough sell but they have changed there mind on a number of things recently

RW
RW
June 8, 2011 9:55 am

TD

I don’t agree, I think you’re seeing it as an SDSR cock up being reversed via a political u turn, I think it would be presented as a Labour/BAE cock up which has then been saved, after much effort and planning (and with the support of the US) by the incoming coalition. No one is going to stand up and say MRA4 was a success, since it hadn’t really done anything before it was stuck on the ground waiting for we know not what.

In other words the SDSR cut was not of a extant capability but of a bungled project and through good management Liam Fox will be able to “add value” in the shape of a recovered capability that the previous administration had lost.

There would also be presentational aspects of a new relationship with the US, the value of fleet commonality with Sentry and rivet joint. So P8/Rivet joint would be the choice that Labour “should have made” but were too blinkered and financially incompetent to see. The problems with nimrod will all have occurred under the labour administration and will be used to show that using a comet aircraft to generate a modern aircraft was part of their outdated thinking.

RW
RW
June 8, 2011 10:47 am

TD

I know they are different, but the public don’t need all the details they only need to get a gist, (nb you can still get some benefits from a combined Boeing fleet, which is why airlines tend to be all one supplier or all the other)

But MRA4 was not in service !!, despite £4 billion and I’m sure it was grounded (temporarily) for a nimrod fleet reason before being trashed, there is no proof that the issues were solved, it would be trying to prove a negative- all was well… despite the fact that all had so far been decidedly all wrong.

SoS Def didn’t cancel a workable system, the £4Bn spent is the only proof, nothing else of any value remains and there is no evidence of any in service capability, after £4bn “all spent under labour “ all that was shown on TV was planes without wings (obviously of enormous embarrassment to MOD) being disposed of behind curtains.

BAE is therefore a bogeyman, there is no current labour defence minister with any clout and all that anyone remembers about them (labour)re defence is that they got us into Iraq without any idea about getting us out.

From the public’s point of view the only criticism of the current SoS Def is from retired generals etc with service axes to grind, getting into the detail of MRA4 will not happen and if it could, would not benefit anyone. I just don’t see it as a political problem, if it had flown even one mission than maybe, if the fleet had all got wings on and were posing on runways maybe, but a bunch of wingless wonders after £4BN. If you can sell that as problem for the coalition or Liam Fox then you should go into politics right now you will be unstoppable.

Chris.B.
June 8, 2011 10:53 am

I think there were still safety concerns regarding MR4A.

RW
RW
June 8, 2011 11:51 am

TD

We’re at cross purposes

I’m not saying I agree it was all labours fault or that the MRA4 was unsalvageable or that it wasn’t worth even making some sacrifices for, I’ve been trying to give a political spin that I think would be used to bring in P8 and dump on labour at the same time.

I do think labour was pretty useless with the MOD, being unwilling to challenge the top brass, and I do think Bernard Gary is delivering change in the right direction, that is not based on political correctness but fiscal correctness (which I acknowledge may still have long term problems which are not clear when all we see is botched budgets)

What I have been portraying is a realistic view of how it plays out the politically if Liam Fox wants to introduce P8, what I don’t accept is that he is put at risk by so doing. I think you must also factor in his very strong historical links to the US when discounting a possible P8,and look how easily he has continued to fund the Vanguard successor.

What I would love is for someone to explain to me is how we owned an approximate 50% of 12 unfinished MRA4 airframes after £4bn spent and what in God’s name was the cost to completion? logic (must be falsely !!) suggests that another £4bn would have allowed us to own 12 aircraft that might have worked (been finished etc..) that must have been some contract.

McZ
McZ
June 8, 2011 11:53 am

The MRA4 was started in 1996 under a fixed-price contract by the Tories. Labour just failed by not having the nuts to cancel the project as soon the wing-problems became apparent, which btw blew the fixed price.

The P-8 would be a fine aircraft, the USN desperately needs them. It would make us compatible to Canada, Australia, maybe New Zealand, India and the US. It would re-add a core capability which should under no review have been axed. I further think, we would be set to once replace E-3 with RAAF-style Wedgetail-aircraft in a decade.

I think, the government would have good arguments on their side to propose the measure. Politically, who should blame them? Labour? Would be a £4 billion boomerang. The public? Which is either uninterested in defence or – if interested – pro-MPA? The press?

As I read the rumours, the P-8 buy is being done by the RN. Don’t want to open the interservice thing again, but that would be a slap into the face of the RAF.

Wstr
Wstr
June 8, 2011 12:04 pm

TD
Gabriele had a nice post over at his place suggesting a shared support structure (a la Rivet Joint). There’s even some MRA4a donor equipment that could feed into the US programme, assuming we paying the integration costs as a deal sweetener.
That with a lease (and later quiet buy out) scheme would be the best bet because you want to keep the initial costs as low as possible; but I agree the probability is low as U-turns are often political suicide.
More likely the next Labour govt will be the one to resurrect the capability so they can play the same old politics game of: ‘look what a mess the last govt made of ‘. Given that the Tories -are- committed to the indept nuclear deterrent, maybe a RN admiral should send a case of the best Scotch to his Russian counterpart and ask that they get a little frisky around the N. Atlantic & approaches to Faslane again.

x
x
June 8, 2011 12:24 pm

I am firm believer that when we loose a defence capability we never get it back.

McZ
McZ
June 8, 2011 8:22 pm

@TD
Agreed on procurement. But the rumors in the press are telling the RN would operate these babies. Which in my world would be a slap.

The first open procurement slots would be in 2016, so this is also no hotfix.

RW
RW
June 11, 2011 8:13 am

The stinging comments from Robert Gates on NATO and those of Congressmen about Libya seem to suggest this is a real time of change for the US attitude on use of force and spending on non core activities.

Heard one worrying comment that for many US personnel, leaving Afghanistan, ISAF stands for….
I Saw Americans Fight, the problem for the UK is that while they use Europeans as an increasingly term they also still recognise the UK contribution.

We’re going to get into a tricky position , are we Europeans in US eyes, or not, and if they are fed up with NATO what do they see as the relationship they want with ourselves.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 11, 2011 8:29 am

Quite a balanced concluding note in yesterday’s Washington Post re: Gates in Brussels
“But the overall tone of his address was that of a dire warning from a long time friend of the alliance.

“I am not sure I would agree with his last message to NATO being a complaint,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Given the decade long contributions from Germany, France and the United Kingdom in Afghanistan, O’Hanlon said the Europeans deserve a bit more credit.

“It strikes me as a little bit of an unwise choice for what could be his last big speech of all time,” O’Hanlon said.”

RW
RW
June 11, 2011 9:02 am

I think Gates is reflecting a feeling among younger officers, that does not need to be reverential to the past, it’s also a warning that the funding for future US forces is not as stable as we may think and many of the personnel costs that are going to impact their budgets in the future are not understood abroad.

Evidence of some support from those elements in the US who appreciate European positions is not enough in my opinion to balance the increasing change in the US appreciation of their own security, the lack of any real support in Congress for more involvement in Libya has been characterised as the new bench mark level for US involvement .

If that is the case, then NATOs current weakness (running low on munitions for Libya etc..) is of great import to the UK- a central plank of the SDRS was – we will mostly fight in coalitions (led by the US) and mostly with NATO allies. If that now means NATO mostly without the US and increasingly with less support from Germany Spain Italy Turkey etc.. then we have to re-examine what we spend and with whom we are allied.

It is still also the truth that as Gates lamented that 28 voted for Libya but far fewer have acted not because they don’t want to but because they can’t, with Germany ending conscription and shrinking their forces their role as a provisioner and logistics support for NATO is even less plausible than it is now (given their reluctance to deploy Sentry etc..).

Many of the assumptions that we inherit about the roles of NATO allies have to be questioned as well as what we can expect politically from NATO members, as I’ve felt for a while there may be more sense in the UK building it’s key alliances around the Commonwealth and it’s Anglo Saxon roots while changing the European focus towards the Nordic countries and a sole “mainland alliance” with France.

Our military relations are now arguably closer with Estonia and Denmark than those with Spain and Southern Europe, maybe the new reality is not such a bad thing for us to build on, we have tried the experiment of a European military force and it hasn’t worked so let’s get on with other things.