It is fashionable to deride the ‘gold plating’ of defence equipment that inevitably leads a spiral of increasing costs and decreasing quantities but we must not forget that sometimes that gold plating is there for a reason.
The Type 45 is the poster child of the gold plating tendency; everyone (me included) cites the project as a typical example, pointing to the billion pound plus cost and ever decreasing numbers but let’s not forget, the enemy has a vote and opposing defence technology does not stand still.
When push comes to shove and the crew of a Type 45 plus whatever she is protecting are looking down the barrel of a salvo of supersonic anti-ship missiles I want them to have the gold plating needed to come out the other side.
It is also worth noting that the specification for Type 45 and its weapon systems were ultimately derived from experience in the Falklands conflict, harsh and expensively won experience.
Just to reinforce the point, have a read of this story from RIANOVOSTI
A contract on the supply of advanced Russian anti-ship missiles to Syria is being implemented, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Mikhail Dmitriyev said on Wednesday.
Russia has repeatedly said it would honor a 2007 contract on the delivery of several Bastion anti-ship missile systems armed with SS-N-26 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles to Syria, despite efforts by Israel and the United States to stop the deal.
“This contract is under implementation,” Dmitriyev told reporters in Moscow but declined to elaborate.
The SS-N-26 Yakhont/Onyx is a 3 tonne missile with a maximum range of 300km and has a warhead weighing 250kg. The coastal defence version is called the SSC-5 Bastion and is launched from a modified Scud Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL), each one having 3 rounds.
It’s performance is reportedly ‘fearsome’ with a top speed in excess of Mach 2.5 any of its targets are going to need every last drop of performance, or gold plating depending on whether you are a sailor or accountant!
Just in case there is any doubt, have a look at a map of what 300km looks like off the coast of Syria.
This is a fundamental dilemma we face with defence equipment and there does not seem to be any easy answer, maintaining technology superiority is not cheap.