Why Type 45 Gold Plating Matters


It is fashionable to deride the ‘gold plating’ of defence equipment that inevitably leads to a spiral of increasing costs and decreasing quantities but we must not forget that sometimes that gold plating is there for a reason.

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 standstill.

When push comes to shove and the crew of 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 was 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.

Its 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!

This is a fundamental dilemma we face with defence equipment and there does not seem to be an easy answer, maintaining technology superiority is not cheap.

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114 Responses

  1. Effective AShM range differs a lot from theoretical AShM range.

    This is especially true for OTH range weapons.
    For one, there’s the targeting problem. Has (for example) Syria the sensors to spot a ship reliably beyond the horizon (and identify it, tell it apart from decoys)?
    The next issue is flight profile. Yakhont has 300 km range in hi-lo profile, but only 120 km in a lo-lo profile (publicly known figures).
    Then there’s the question about whether the Aster missile is effective against such a threat. The published SAM tests are without exception unimpressive in their setup.

  2. More importantly, if the Italian’s think the cost of fitting Cavour with Aster 15 (and EMPAR) was justified, how come we have not done the same with the CVF’s? To be honest most of the defence aids on Cavour seem to be exceeding what we will fit CVF with.

  3. SSN 26 is an interesting threat but it has been around since 1993 and has an export version. Combined with the fact that it goes active at 50km giving it 2 minutes still to fly and it being a group 1 missile i am fairly certain that we have well developed proceedures in place based on hard kill followed by soft kill measure.

  4. So the SS-N-26 can hit royal navy ships at Akrotiri.
    The MOD is always very carm about other contries exports.

  5. The problem with the Type 45 was that we decided to both buy a missile which, so far, has not even been tested against a supersonic SSM target, as well as developing our own radar and fire control instead of just using what came with it originally. This massively increased costs and delays, but doubtless made the French happy. Everyone else bought Aegis off the shelf, which is both proven and works….meantime, instead of a class of 8-12, we now have to make do with 6. The A400 will reduce the RAF air transport capacity by half, the Eurofighter has effectively reduced the RAF by half…please God stop parroting the utter crap that Euro projects “make sense to reduce costs” Mr Ashdown :-(

  6. Personal view but but looking at where surface to surface and air to surface weapons are now and where they will be next decade you either have warships that you fit with everything or you have vessels you can afford to lose.
    Where exactly does Type 26 like vessels fit in that equation? Point Defence is not going to be good enough.

  7. @RF: EMPAR I thought was designed for covering a carrier group, whereas SAMPSON has broader area defence capabilities. With this in mind as long as T26s are “escorted” by T45s then similar capabilities are not necessarily required. AEGIS is also a good system but also has it’s limitations in saturated attack due to the fact the arrays are fixed – when you say proven though what do you mean?

    I agree with Jed though, the T45 is half finished both in weapon / ASW capabilities and numbers.

    When the government / RN finally realizes / accepts that we should have a single general purpose high level class it will a happy day or too late.

  8. Jed,

    Daring has had a very fetching pair of Phalanx 1Bs since the summer, and should be getting Harpoon shortly.

  9. Have to agree with everyone so far.

    TD, I posted about this earlier, pointing to the danger of these things ending up in the Gulf (Syria paying its only remaining supporter…)

    RE Sven’s “Has (for example) Syria the sensors to spot a ship reliably beyond the horizon (and identify it, tell it apart from decoys)?”
    – I think not
    – but why not fit out a few fishing trawlers? They don’t have to cover the whole field to be effective

    RE “the Italian’s think the cost of fitting Cavour with Aster 15 (and EMPAR) was justified, how come we have not done the same with the CVF’s”
    – that’s a pure self-defence version
    – I believe that the T45s are not only more numerous but more capable than the Italian fit-out on their two AA FREMMs? But that’s not the whole point as Cavour is designed to be able to stay on station in expeditionary mode (marines, AFVs…)for up to 6 months. It could not have that kind of protection idling on its side at all times

  10. Does it actualy work though?

    I keep hearing all this talk about the fearsome Russian Military Technology, but I dont really recall ever seeing it in action.

    Russia itself had to resort to carpet bombing cities to force Georgia into a surrender, and virtualy flattened Grosney.
    Where else has Russian Tech surpassed NATO?

    Syrias supposedly unstoppable SAM network was turned off by the Israelis before they bombed the most heavily defended target in the country.

    Personaly, I dont think the T45s are gold plated, the costs are only so high because we bought so few, actual construction was only £650mn per ship.

    I’d argue US/Israeli concerns are far more likely to be that a couple of these missiles will find their way into Hamas/Hezbollah/Brotherhood of Nod hands and used against a civillian ferry, necessitating a “blood price” response.

    I agree with the genweral view that they arent gold plated, true, the radar and combat systems are very very good, but they dont have ASTER 45, they dont have any self defence capability, they dont have an ASW capability and they dont have a land attack capability.

    I’m sure we did look at fitting a SAMPSON/ASTER combo to CVF, but, as our very own Jed told me once, “if you emit, you die”.
    As expensive as the T45s are, if it protects the carrier, they are sacrifical.

  11. “I believe that the T45s are not only more numerous but more capable than the Italian fit-out on their two AA FREMMs?”

    Italy has two Horizon destroyers and 6 (had to be 10, but 4 are likely not to happen) FREMM frigates. Said frigates have the SAAM-ESD, which is self-defence only, but with the VLS Sylver A50 instead of the A43. This means that the launcher is deep enough to take on board and launch the longer-range Aster 30 if necessary.
    It is not as capable as the Horizon at all, but better than SAAM only with Aster 15.

    The Horizon itself is a bit weaker than Type 45 in AAW work. It also misses a gun suitable for naval gunfire support. (It has 3 76 mm Strales guns, but mainly they are CIWSs, not very suited for shore bombardment). They do have, however, ASW torpedoes and SSM missiles fitted. You could just fit them onto Type 45, however, as it is fit to receive them anytime. Personally, i had hoped that the Harpoons and torpedoes from the retired Type 22s would migrate onto the first four Type 45s, but for some reasons it does not seem to be happening.

    The 45s also have space for 16 more VLS cells, so tomorrow morning, given the funding, you could have a programme to fit MK41 Strike Lenght cells, opening the way to SM3, TLAM and even ASROC if you wanted.

    The two FREMM air-defence you mention are not italian, but French. They are called FREDA, frigates for air defence, and are modified FREMMs designs. They are a partial replacement for a planned second couple of Horizon destroyers that will not come.

    France and Italy have 2 Horizons each, integrated, in Italy’s case, by all FREMMs having SAAM-ESD, and in France’s case by 2 specially-modified frigates with Air Defence role.

  12. RE: Aster 15 and CVF

    ACC: “But that’s not the whole point as Cavour is designed to be able to stay on station in expeditionary mode (marines, AFVs…)for up to 6 months. It could not have that kind of protection idling on its side at all times”

    Surely given that we are now trying to use CVF in a very similar role now to Cavour (with a tailored air group likely to be heavy in helicopter’s and very likely with embarked marines) then we should equip for self defence in the same way as we are also unlikely to be able to have more than one frigate attached in sustained operation.

    Dominicj “I’m sure we did look at fitting a SAMPSON/ASTER combo to CVF, but, as our very own Jed told me once, “if you emit, you die”.”

    I have heard the same thing from Jonesy over on the Key Publishing Forum, when describing how a strike carrier works, but the point I am making is that CVF is not a strike carrier any more we have turned it to something very different, which can be used as a strike carrier but is much more likely to be used to support marine operations with a small number of F-35C’s and few escorts in low intensity conflicts. I bet money in the long term the RN will be much more interest in what rotary wing, UAV and manned fixed wing ISTAR/transport assets it can operate of the CVF.

  13. Thanks Gabby, I meant the Italian Horizons. How I hate acronyms (for getting them wrong every now and then)!

    About the SM3, doesn’t it need target illumination whereas the Asters are actively homing? So there’s more to it than just dropping them down to VL silos?
    – personally I think the active homing is a great asset in a saturation attack type of situation

  14. @AAC

    The SM3 is guided from the launching ship for most of the time, yes. The kinetic projectile homes on the target only very close to terminal engagement. Then again, even active-homing missiles such as Aster dialogue with the ship’s systems at least for a part of the engagement.

    The Sampson is said to be more than capable to direct exo-atmospheric engagements. Just like with the Aegis radar itself, it is more of a software issue than anything: the radar has to concentrate all its power of emission on a tiny ray some 2 degrees wide, and scan vertically to spot the ballistic missile from 1500 or more miles away.
    (such a concentrated emission also has potential, at some ranges, to work as electronic weapon, and eventual exposition to such emission power is said to give people what is cruelly but effectively termed FLK (Funny-Looking Kids)…!

    As for integration, of course it is not just a matter of VLS, some integration is required. But the Dutch and Raytheon are doing most of that themselves:


    The Dutch are going to use SM3 on their ships, with the SMART-L radar.
    The S1850 long-range radar on Type 45 is a variant of SMART-L, so there might be an off-the-shelf, ready solution soon enough, if the UK decides to have a part in the missile shield.

    SM3 on Type 45, with anti-ballistic and anti-satellite capability, isn’t impossible at all. Indeed, it shouldn’t even be that complex.

  15. Totally agree with TD on this.

    If the ships are gonna be put in harms way I would rather they have the gold plated than not. That’s presuming the gold plating actually works as advertised!

  16. @Repulse: SAMPSON does have better capabilities than EMPAR. But given that Hawkeye has better capabilities than either for the most likely targets, it could be considered a moot point. Aegis’s SPY-1A/D wholly electronically scanned arrays scan faster than SAMPSON, were designed from 30 years ago for saturation attacks by supersonic AS4, and have actually been tested against supersonic representative targets: the USN bought Russian KH-31’s, modified them to “MA-31’s” and used them for testing, and it developing a new drone.

  17. Sounds very good to me (from Gabby’s link):
    “Raytheon’s dual-band datalink will allow ships that use AEGIS and SMART-L/APAR variants to employ the full range of Standard Missiles. Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom operate more than 20 naval vessels that utilize a variant of the SMART-L/APAR radar system.

    … and Denmark will add three more by 2013 [these are probably in the total already, whereas the following are not]. Norway and Spain operate AEGIS frigates.”

  18. Other point of note on SSN 26 is that it has a minimum range of 50km so unless they are going to move them inland and have a clear area for them to fly out to sea they would be useless against a NATO task group imposing an embargo at 12-18NM from shore. these are a purely offensive weapon.
    @RF The way to attempt to defeat Aegis is the exact opposite of how you defeat a normal warship. You make all your missiles arrive from the same direction and overload 1 plate. sampson rotates and can be steered making this extremely difficult. it is also a generation ahead of SPy in terms of anti jamming agility.
    Much as I hate to pay 1BN a piece and wish they had everything they were meant to they will develop into decent platforms.
    The intro of CAMMS will allow quad packing of a missile with a range of 16NM for self defence and shorter range engagements allowing extra launchers for aster 30 and Mk 41 silo for TLAM plus CIWS and harpoon will see a mature 45 become an extremely capable combatant.
    Self Defence ASW torpedoes are really a last resort and it is unlikely a sub would ever get close enough for them to be effective.

  19. Hi APATS,

    I agree with “Much as I hate to pay 1BN a piece and wish they had everything they were meant to they will develop into decent platforms.
    The intro of CAMMS will allow quad packing of a missile with a range of 16NM for self defence and shorter range engagements allowing extra launchers for aster 30 and Mk 41 silo for TLAM plus CIWS and harpoon will see a mature 45 become an extremely capable combatant.”

    But the SSN 26s you exactly pull inland, behind the mountains (hi-lo mission profile), have target acquisition on the shore line or on the mountains (or up in the air, or in a fishing trawler)… so that it all becomes networked, and to weed it out you will have to take out every single launcher

  20. Warning Jed and others…. anti RN comment coming!!!

    According to the BAE t45 Website:

    “Right from the beginning of the Type 45 project the comfort of the crew and the standard of their accommodation has been of primary importance.”

    Maybe they have gold-plated taps? See what I did then?

    Seriously I do wonder how much effort they put in to the war-fighting aspects compared to the creature comforts?

    Does it have room for the Captains Range Rover for example?

    I hope there is enough room for a cocktail lounge, yes of course there is, that’s where the second 48 cell Sylver launcher was going?

    Sorry just couldn’t help myself ;-)

  21. @PD

    Actually it was a bit of commonsense, somebody worked out that having a maximum of 6 man cabins for junior rates didn’t take up anymore space than a huge 48 bed mess deck. Small ensuite technology as used in ferried is also utilised in more cabins and uses less space.

    As for the “cocktail lounge”, a wardroom without room for a proper game of mess rugby is not a proper wardroom.

  22. @Phil Darley

    “…comfort of the crew and the standard of their accommodation” regarded as important? Outrageous!

    When, many moons ago, the Royal Navy put a photo of a sailor on the first page of the Divisional Officer’s Handbook (BR 1992) with a caption underneath stating “THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR”, that should have been enough. No one actually believed he or she deserved such ‘treats’ as decent living quarters before being packed off to sea for seven or eight month at a time, often working in Defence Watches (interminable bouts of six hours on/six hours off as well as having to complete normal ‘day work’, personal admin, eat, sleep and, yes, enjoy some recreational activity such as keeping fit during one’s ‘off time’).

    I believe sailors even have their own bunks with bunk lights and privacy curtains nowadays instead of hammocks. They still live several together in a mess deck, the size of which which would contravene DEFRA regulations for keeping pigs, but as to having a separate eating/recreational space? Well, I ask you. They’ll be asking for TVs, internet connections and iPod docking stations next. What was wrong with sitting around an old gramophone in the middle of the mess deck (apart from the needle slipping on the record whenever it blew more than a Force 2 and keeping everyone awake before they went on watch)?

    The Navy’s going to the dogs, I tell you. Going to the dogs!

  23. On a serious note I have no problem of the need for good accommodation but I don’t think it should have been their PRIMARY concern! Secondary maybe, nice to have, aspiration etc.

    Primary concern should have been the ships war fighting capability?

    However, I could be totally wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time , just ask the wife!


  24. France in March 2007 acquired ONE Coyote supersonic target drone from the US at a cost of 9.2 USD millions… I think it was meant to be used against PAAMS for trialing the missile against a real supersonic threat (Coyote can run against you low on the water at mach 2.5 or dive from high above at over 3!).
    Launch was expected in 2009, but to this day, the trial still hasn’t happened. I’m not aware of what happened with the French effort.

    As for the RN, they have long wished to acquire such drone targets for high level training, but… Coyote costs over 3 million dollars apiece for the US Navy, and France had to pay it over 9 millions! And it is meant to be blown into bits!!!! The US Navy itself only buys a very handful now and then. How can the RN hope to fund such an acquisition…? At 9 million dollars, even a single target drone would mean sinking money that would be far better spent for buying some PACSCAT landing crafts for the RM, or other kit.


  25. Phil
    But people ARE the primary warfighting capability.
    As long as we need a person in the OODA (dont shout Sven) loop, we need a rested, happy, functional person.

    Admitadly, I very much doubt it was the “primary consideration”, the ships simply massive compared with the preevious one, and requires fewer crewmen.
    They had empty space, what else would they do with it?

    I muist admit, watching Albion on “Warship” made me wonder what the hell overload entailed, half the marines swimming behind?

  26. @Sven, I am not discounting the difficulties of targeting and thanks for the clarification on stats but do you think the deployment or even threat of deployment of this system (and it’s like) has that final target identification as a high priority?

    @APATS, does everything we might need to protect have the right mix of hard and soft countermeasures?

    @Rupert, ah, you touch on the fundamental dilemma, does buying off the shelf actually end up cheaper overall and is its performance good enough?

    @Jed, fair one

    @AJ, does CAMM on T26 coupled with an outer layer(s) from T45 make a sensible mix?

    @Repulse, another interesting point, specialist v generalist

    @ACC, yes, as you close down the distance between launcher and target you of course have to shave time off response times, maybe this is where the 20% of performance but 80% of cost lies

    @Dom, it’s a good point but the system as a whole isn’t fully mature yet so I am sure confidence building testing will proceed, as will beefing up capabilities. For a given bundle of cash I would concentrate on AAW enhancements and training rather than making it into a more general purpose ship. T45 has to be absolutely on tip top form when push comes to shove.

    @Gabby, however anyone thinks BMD might be easy or not I do not think there is any chance of Mk41 and SM3 ever appearing on a UK surface vessel. Anything is possible of course but would be very surprised.

    @Phil, what can I say! In all fairness though, matelots today have different expectations (as do all service personnel) so on a retention tack, it’s important to make the ship a better place to be, you never know, it probably works out cheaper in the long run if it contributes to less crew churn. I don’t buy into ‘it was different in my day’ stuff even though I am as guilty as the next man, because the world changes and the services have to adapt. I think the accommodation was all modular by the way, have a look here for a spot of background


    The general point I am trying to make is that it is easy to deride gold plating and lament what it produces in terms of quantity reductions etc but there are no easy answers, going for the fashionable 80% might have not so pleasant consequences

  27. @TD

    The capital ships that require protection from this sort of threat should certainly be fitted with soft kill countermeasures. Hard kill other than CIWS would not be fitted generally as RN policy has always been one of layered air defence. Roughly something like(some orders and points vary dependent on threat) AEW and CAP(organic or not) followed by area air defence platforms(42/45) then PDMS/short range air defence systems either for self protection or by an FF in the babysitter position on the HVU and finally soft kill by all vessels fitted. it would be up to the AAWC to designate an ASMD course for the task force and the PWO/CO of any unit assigned to “babysit” the HVU to ensure they were in a position that allowed them not only to engage the incoming threat with hardkill but also ensure that there softkill did not interfere with any launched by the HVU.

  28. On accommodation for the crew, no problem until the Trafalgars are around. On them, you can still end up sleeping on a torpedo rack, with a TLAM on one side and a Spearfish on the other…!

    I’d love to see the inside of one of the US Navy SSGNs… how the hell did they find the space inside the sub for carrying “66 to 102 SEALS”, i’ll never know. After all, two Trident tubes now are pressure chambers for going in and out, and the others filled with TLAMs.
    There should not be any additional space inside than there was when the tubes contained Trident missiles… so, how is it even possible? I don’t think the Ohio had single-bed hotel rooms for each member of the crew….

  29. BAE systems will test a modified sampson radar for BMD tracking early next year. I would think this will probably be in the pipe line in the future probably on a aster missile. Also hasnt type 45 not recently got a intelligence gathering capability. I think there are some areas in each of the service were we just have to accept “gold plating”. Mainly fastjet a/c, surface to air missile capability (t45 being our only area defence missile system, submarines and MBTs.

  30. @ Rupert, I disagree with your statement concerning Aegis VS SAMPSON. Aegis was first developed in 1969 (13 years before the ZX spectrum). I think its shear American arrogance to asume that this is the be all and end all of AAW Radar. It does have its faults. It ain’t cheap and as far as I know the only time it has actually been tested in combat was against an Iranian Airliner. To my knowledge the only vessel to ever successfully engage a sea skiming missle in a combat situation is HMS Gloucester in 1991.

    While no one can deny that T45 was an uber cluster f**K in procurment terms I do feel the RN has got the right ship. I think the biggest issue was trying to build a 7000 tonne AAW destroyer and kiding ourselves the job could be done for £300 million a pop. The Flight III burkes are working out at £1.2 billion each with little in the way of R&D cost absorbed into that as the program is already mature. As for the extra bits. I want to see TLAM, SeaRAM, Torpedos and Phasers onboard as much as the next man. However if we are being brutally honnest other than TLAM none of these weapons systems would probably ever get used in the next 30 years. It was better to spend every last penny possible on the best Radar and AAW missle’s and add the rest later. I also feel that the ASTER missle has allot of legs in it and can be further developed. SM1 was first deployed in 1967 and SM2 which SM3 is based on was deployed in 1979. Do we really feel that technoligy is moving so slowly that we should opt for 30 year old missles on our new shinny ships.

  31. One thing people are forgetting about AEGIS vs Sampson is probably the most important radar lesson that was learnt from the Falklands; higher = better.

    The higher the radar, the further the horizon over which it can see low flying targets, something which Sampson has a huge advantage in. It also has a combo between the long range search radar for tracking multiple targets at range while the Sampson can deal with actual engagements.

  32. I was wondering if anyone knows if the two radar systems onboard the T45 gives it an improved ability to detect stealthed targets. I know NATO conducted a study which stated that the optimum layout for an AAW vessel was to have a wide area search radar combined with a phased array targetting radar. Do the different bands of these systems make it harder for an aircraft such as the T50 to get closer?

  33. Mark, I think you make a good point, there are some things where the very best is only just good enough and we just have to accept the cost, this of course produces pressure points elsewhere because the budget is of course finite. Maybe this is something we should arguably do more of, nominate those priority capabilities where cutting edge and paying for cutting edge is acceptable, conversely nominate things where good enough or the well worn phrase of 80% is acceptable.

    So its not gold plating that is the enemy, but gold plating in areas where silver plating will do

  34. I am sure someone here posted up a power point presentation not long ago that showed that there was going to be an interim development of Aster before Block 2 which would give limited ABM capability and which was already funded (if my memory serves me right as part of the complex weapons programme).

  35. Gabby

    regarding the Ohio SSGNs, I think they cut down the length of all the tubes so there is a lot of space underneath them.

  36. Perhaps as the BAe Hawks are retiring, we could make drones out of them? Just an idea, the Americans do it, and BAe is part of the team in developing the QF-16 drone…

    Would make FRADU a bit more interesting ;D

    I cant see how the cost was so high but these things having a lot of ‘fitted for but not with’ – I hope the ’22 and ’23 kit is eventually migrated across as they retire.

  37. @Rupert Fiennes,

    MA-31 flies fast, but (relatively) high, and in a straight line – as did Vandal before it. AEGIS has *never* been tested against a supersonic weaving threat either, at least in reality… the modelling and simulation, though, says you’d want T45 rather than AEGIS against something like SS-N-26.

    Also, E-2 radar isn’t well optimised for tracking low-RCS missiles right down on the deck – another significant driver for R1045 – and won’t provide sufficiently accurate data for engagement. Warning yes, firing no. (CEC is still a misnomer – it’s fantastic for picture, but you can’t acquire and engage tracks off it)

    AEGIS/SM-2 is good kit, but it is definitely showing its age and it’s the gold standard that the threat is designing to beat.


    Drone Hawks wouldn’t tell us a great deal – determinedly subsonic and relatively large RCS.

  38. @TD, I totally agree with your statement. If the country is only prepared to spend £6 billion for AAW and that buys 6 ships then we get 6 ships. I think silver plating is far more the RN’s problem. Ships to expensive to build in numbers but not really capable of doing the high end job. Better to go for a few gold and allot of brass.

  39. @Martin

    “I was wondering if anyone knows if the two radar systems onboard the T45 gives it an improved ability to detect stealthed targets…”

    – Isn’t this what PAAMS’ much-vaunted ability to detect, classify and destroy a low-flying supersonic object having the RCS (Radar Cross-Section) of a cricket ball – or indeed several at once – all about?

  40. Think the RAF has a few GR4’s going spare that we could use for target practice. We could save a fortune on the future upgrade program.

  41. @Dunservin I take your point about PAMS. However stealth aircraft or missles are generally optomised to defeat certain types of Radar. I am unclear if having both D and S band systems gives any additional advantage in how early certain targets can be detected. Personally I would not like to fly even a stealthy aircraft like T50 any where near an s band phased array but as the Argintines pointed out in 1982 if you know enough about a single radar there is always a way to trick or defeat it upto a certain point. Having two surley makes such tactics more difficult.

  42. Most “stealth” planes are designed to beat X-band radars, but there’s a good reason why X-band radars are used for targetting which, to the best of my knowledge, is because they provide the optimal mix between detection ranges, classification ability and targetting. The Type 45 may be able to detect stealth targets at long range, without neccessarily improving its ability to target them.

    But I still think Type 45 is better than an aegis equipped cruiser.

  43. “@Sven, I am not discounting the difficulties of targeting and thanks for the clarification on stats but do you think the deployment or even threat of deployment of this system (and it’s like) has that final target identification as a high priority?”

    ID is important in order to avoid wasting ammo on decoys.

    The coastal defence role is least relevant, though – so I’d like to object to the example. Coastal defence threats are no threats. You cannot be attacked by Syrian SSMs if you stay away from their region. I don’t see Turkey feeling threatened, nor Cyprus – so the West can be fine with those missiles. They are no threat.

    AShMs fired from mobile platforms don’t put such a premium on long range. In fact, long range is often detrimental. You cannot combine normal ARMs for a combined arms attack on a ship from 100 km, for example. You need to close in somewhat, and as naval pilots (Tornado IDS, for example) claim, you need now a combination of ARM, AShM and bombs to succeed against a capable opponent.

    Even a beyond the horizon missile such as Aster 30 coupled with targeting data from an aerial radar (AEW) would not push the desirable attack distance beyond 60-80 km.

  44. TD

    Yes I would agree with that we also need to ensure these high end assets are cost controlled as best we can. This in my view is were co-operation with the US or France (keeping this group as small as possible would be of benefit) will be important in terms of joint procurement of platforms bringing some benefits of economy of scale and through joint supply chains for thru life support. The number of these gold plated assets must be scaled for a UK only operational requirement eg most likely up to a single medium scale op.

    A high low mix for sure is the way forward but the politicians must be warned exactly what the low end of that mix cant do.

  45. chris b
    sometimes detection is enough.
    Lob a missile, you can always update later, and a launch might be plenty to scupper an attack.

    france and the us are the last people we should be cooperating with on procurement.
    We offer each other nothing.
    We can drop out of something and buy it in, the frogs can drop out of something else and buy from us.
    But theres no such thing as half a design team and the eurofighters shown you cant have half a production facility.

  46. @Mark, I agree with the sentiment of your comment, but wasn’t the reason why the Horizon project split was that the RN was looking for something different and the French / Italians were being too greedy on what share of the construction contacts they got vs planned numbers. The USN, RN and MN are still quite different in how they view the world and their needs.

    I really wish the RN / MOD would get the hi-low bit, twice the number of T45s (with the additional bits) with equal numbers of dumbed down global patrol T26s plus helicopter carrying EEZ patrol Rivers is exactly what we need in my view…

  47. Aren’t BAe involved in refitting mothballed F4’s as remote-controlled target drones for missile trials in the US? Maybe they could do us a few on the side…

  48. DomJ/Repluse

    Things like nuclear sub design very advanced radar, missile technology should not be shared around multiple countries or we could end up facing the very high tech stuff we developed. You also have to look at people who have not only access to and capability to build a similar capability. Just look how long it took the US to sell Aegis the F22 or indeed sub design. Your right there is no such thing as half a design team but thats not what I mean. You have one company as design authority and one production line the other countries can be a major component supplier in a way how f35 is being built. One country can take the lead in one area one in another and both can come together in a over all design. It will require common interface documents in air sea and land systems. Im not for one minute suggesting this is an easy task and one of the reasons the group should be small 2-3 countries max but more modularity in systems and tight finances may result sense prevailing.

  49. mark
    but the uks fighter design team is gone.
    It died when we bought f35.
    It appears to have come back as a taranis zombie, but in other fields we werent so lucky.

  50. DomJ

    No it isnt quite a few helped design a significant part of the f35 in the UK. And a number work for civil aerospace companies. The skill being lost in the UK is final assembly, flight test and the avionics skills.

  51. I think anyone that dumbs down the capabilities of the T45’s weapons systems is ill informed and probably biased. The capability of the radar alone (SAMPSON) is a generational leap forwards – it is impossible to jam, almost impossible to TI and we barely understand what it is capable of – and are learning fast. The AEGIS system isn’t half way as able – it is a non-agile, passively scanned array that simply cannot multitask as SAMPSON can. And the US doesn’t understand the principles of radar as we do – there are secrets in SAMPSON which the US would kill to get their hands on. It’s not just about how much power you can blat out.

    Sadly if the Russians and others publish the capabilities of their latest weapons, we have to accept that they’re probably right and build defenses accordingly AND extrapolate likely threats in the lifetime of the system. That isn’t cheap. Either deal with the threat or withdraw from the global stage. Look at the design assumptions made with T45 – it isn’t designed to ward off the Russian hordes storming over the horizon, otherwise it WOULD have four fixed arrays with double the power and a shedload more missiles. T45 is designed to spot the (already mentioned) fast moving, agile, stealthy and seaskimming threats in busy, cluttered littoral waters, so we see two smaller fast-scanning arrays mounted twice as high as the AEGIS radar. Unleash a YAKHONT or BRAHMOS against a T45 and an Arleigh Burke – I’ll be on the T45, thanks.

    BTW Theatre ABM by T45 would be done by the S1850 LRR and not SAMPSON; the latter isn’t powerful enough to conduct exo-atmospheric tracking. LRR will do the tracking, SAMPSON would provide the uplink and the ASTER dart would self-guide in the final phase.

  52. All this pre supposes that as Syria now has some mighty missiles thay we could only deploy t45/ t45 defended assets near the syrian coast…

    We are not going to need a biiger boat just lots more t45’s

    I accept the gold plated argument but is it being stated T45 will stop one or two of these and Arliegh Burke will not?

  53. Going to play devil’s advocate = The problem with the T-45 is its too expensive to be an escort type vessel (Cheap=Many=can’t fight hurt) and not capable/survivable enough to be a “Battleship” (Expensive=Few=can fight hurt); Going back to DK Brown again (I know, i know…) he suggests “major” escorts like frigates and destroyers should be “double ended” with weapons/sensors/CIC /engines divided and separated as much as is feasible. One hit should then not cripple the ship. Could the T-45’s still operate, let alone fight, after a single hit?

  54. @Ixion,

    The US answer is “no”, an AEGIS ship should be able to cope with SS-N-26. I wouldn’t disagree too strongly, but I’d still rather be on a “Defended Asset” for a T45 against that threat (or the 45 itself) than an AEGIS asset or one protected by it. Once you’re beyond “you’re experiencing a flythrough hazard from bad targeting” and into “you have been specifically engaged” then Type 45 reassures in a way that many other platforms do not.


    Yes, to an extent. There’s a second command station (three consoles) well away from the Ops Room; you can fight and fire Sea Viper in secondary and degraded modes using R1046, the EO sighting systems, and other means to cue; the propulsion, being IFEP, can keep the screws turning as long as there’s enough amps and volts from somewhere (and the secondary generation is well distributed).

    The main single point of complete failure is the Viper silo, and taking out *all* of that in one hit is likely to leave the ship in bits and sinking.

    It’s never good to be hit, but I wouldn’t want to rely on a single missile hit being able to stop Daring from fighting, let alone moving and floating. Degrade her capability, most certainly, but she’s not badly designed and she’s got the size to survive hits in a way that more compactly designed vessels might struggle with. (Though the layout of a Type 23 is also remarkably good for keeping vital systems and crew away from likely impact points, at least at Action Stations – the Falklands lessons learned are still apparent)

  55. Recently I went on a harbour tour in Portsmouth; when passing HMS Dauntless the guide stated that the VLS upfront was for Aster 15 missiles and the Aster 30 missiles were spread throughout the vessel. Never heard that before and have never seen anything to suggest it in pictures, but an interesting thing to get wrong…

  56. Cutting T45 from 12 to 6, doubled the R&D cost of each ship. I would like to see the original plan for T45, as that was rumoured to be a proper battleship. The Treasury panicked & started cutting capability. I wonder how much it cost to redesign as a less able ship? I doubt the Treasury saved much in the end.
    If Cameron did not give whats left of our money to the IMF,EU,DfID, etc then we could afford 6 batch 2 T45.
    Playing fantasy fleet, my dream batch 2, would copy QM2 & have a 50% thicker hull, plus extra reinforcement to cope with light ice like the latest NZ patrolships. I suspect polar resource wars/incidents may happen over the next 40 years & its handy to have a few ships that can be sent to the Baltic/Canada in winter. A thicker hull should give an extra decade of service life.
    I would stretch by 20ft so T45b2 is the same length as the old County class. So room for a 2nd Merlin, this one to be CSAR.
    Swap the 114mm gun for 155mm, the A50 Sylver for the A70, & 20mm Phallanx for 35mm Millenium. Harpoon was good 20 years ago, but a supersonic missile is needed now, so Brahmos or Hsiung Feng III now, with Perseus later.

  57. If the will was there, even with the T26 / MHPC current monies mentioned (just over 7bn), the RN could easily get a second batch of T45s – though probably four not six.

    This would still allow for a budget of 200-250mn per T26 lite vessel for a total of 12 Global Patrol Ships. This could have Artisan radar (already paid for), mission bay (for MCM / Survey / amphibious operations), space for 60 marines, medium caliber gun and hanger. However the VLS etc would be scaled back – e.g. would only be a utility vessel with T45 escort in a hot war. They could also still pull a TAS…

    Additionally, would allow a further 8 Clydes to be built (@ 50mn a pop) with limited mission bays. These would be for EEZ patrolling and coastal MCM / survey ops.

    Fantasy fleet stuff maybe, but it would give a well balanced fleet with gold plating in the right places!

  58. Forgive me for intruding, and I’m not a defence expert. I’m an engineer with a lighter than air company (dirigibles, satellite replacements, etc). Has there ever been any consideration of a warship towing a helium balloon which has a radar incorporated? A balloon at a height of 800 metres will see about 110 kilometres, and four times that at a height of 1600 metres. Some commercial balloons can lift about 5 tonnes, but I think that airborne radars need not be so heavy? I have seen a photograph of a Sea King helicopter with a dustbin size radar on the right hand side – that would not appear to be so very heavy. Tether cables are now getting quite sophisticated with integrated power, HUMS circuits and ethernet, and winding drums for a typical 1500 metre deployment are about 3 metres cubed (car size), which I think the should be room for on a ship. Winding drums and deployment rigs are also now remotely operable.

    Just a thought. I wonder if anyone has any views?

  59. Hi James

    Can the balloons operate in the same weather conditions as airplanes, especially smaller ones like Hawkeye? (I’m no defence expert either btw)

  60. 2Jk

    Fascinating idea, reminds me of a story from a friend of mine that when wargaming the war of the (islands that must not be mentioned) he had his flotilla stream barrage balloons in san carlos water making it really difficult for attack aircraft to overfly.

    My only questions would be.
    1. how fast could they be towed/what effect on mvrbility
    2. would it also work the other way round so that if you can detect the balloon from ages away you know that there is a warship underneath it.

    Maybe use them in a similar way to the US towed array tuna boats?

  61. Hello Andyw,

    yes, by and large. Clearly there are some limits, but I think that if the weather was that bad then helicopters and probably also fixed wing aircraft would not be flying either. We can operate in force 7 winds, but there is some degradation in station keeping and data accuracy (GPS moves from 10 metres to around 60 metres at a standard 1500 metre deployment in force 7, but normally we can work around that as the offset caused by wind is in one direction and not random – I’m confident in around 20-25 metres). Launch and recovery imposes more limits, but that is mostly for ground handling staff safety. If it’s that windy, we normally keep the balloon aloft until things have calmed down. Being unmanned, the balloon does not mind.

    I have not yet put an air surveillance radar onto a balloon. 90% of our work is comms and imagery, but the “weave” (i.e. balloon wobbling about through turbulence) is never fast enough to defeat bi-directional comms, which in our system has a latency of of about 20 ms. Desktop calculations suggests that radar returns from objects 100 or more kms away would also not be affected even under severe weave (which I define as 24 mils per second in both roll and yaw – pitch is normally unchanged due to tethering), but I would need to do some proper tests.

  62. Hello All Politicians are the Same,

    you ask me some questions that I probably cannot definitively answer. It’s an idea of mine. I work for a smallish company, and neither I nor my company have any experience of defence. At the moment, I’m working on a concept of attaching monitoring and comms relay balloons to offshore wind turbines to provide HUMS and effectiveness data back to an onshore monitoring centre.

    I know very little about boats, except taking the odd ferry. So I can’t address your question on manoeuvrability. We fly balloons from a two truck setup: one is for launch and recovery, one is for tether. We have a 4 five tonne concrete ballast modules on the tether truck, and spreaders, but that is about twice what we need and allows us to scale up payloads beyond where we are now. I think that a 6,000 tonne destroyer should be able to cope…

    To be honest, I think that the biggest issue would not be with manoeuvrability for a ship, but a permanent degree of roll if the ship is moving square on to the prevailing wind, and increased fuel consumption through drag. Roll would progressively disappear as the ships either into wind or downwind, drag would slightly increase if sailing into wind, but decrease when sailing downwind. What the degree of roll would be would depend on the mass of the ship, angle of the prevailing wind, mass of the balloon and payload, and length of tether. My instinct suggests that all combined would not be critical, but I don’t know how roll affects other ship systems.

    On the detectability front, our balloon envelopes are made from something very similar to parachute material (but a bit thicker). There’s about 20 kgs of wire in our largest balloon that can lift 3.2 tonnes, and I may also use wire in the next generation for an anti-icing system a bit like your car’s rear window probably has. The 3 shackles are probably the largest metal item – a bit like a car tow-hitch. I don’t know how all of that would appear on a radar screen, as it is not something we ever looked at. There’s also the payload itself that could be detected, and the radar return from about a mile of tether. Probably noticeable!

  63. Thank you Think Defence for the BMT study. I have only skim read it at present, but they appear to be thinking very sensibly.

  64. James

    Welcome – the idea of dirigible deployed radar (and men as visual lookouts) towed by ships goes back to WWII (or even before). Germans tested a towed auto-gyro to get eyes in the sky.

    Your modern take on this is very interesting though :-)

  65. Thank you Jed. I’m certainly not claiming any intellectual ownership of the idea. Just looking at some engineering principles, starting from the fact that the Type 45 mast arrangement is not particularly high, and that putting some form of aircraft into the sky to perform airborne surveillance is always going to be expensive and impose all sorts of extra design and logistic constraints on a modern navy task groups.

    If you were to ask me how difficult it would be to hoist aloft a 12-shot box of AMRAAM missiles under a balloon and control them from a remote PC on a ship, as opposed to launching 3 or 4 aircraft, I’d say “much easier”. I only know that from some digging around that I did a couple of years ago. The thread above is full of acronyms and other missile types I know nothing about, so I’m probably out of date.

  66. Thank you Gareth for the link.

    I’m delighted that my original comment has attracted a few responses, even on a Sunday afternoon. I’d like to reiterate that these care just some thoughts of mine, not fully developed and certainly not original as others’ have had them before. They are fuelled by my experience and knowledge of developing aerostat balloons for commercial purposes only, and by no more than degree level knowledge of physics for things like radar. I am very sure that there would be some significant, and possibly even terminal engineering challenges to put these thoughts into military production. Nevertheless…

    It is a fundamental principle in aerostat design that cost and time on station are the major factors. Almost everything is more efficiently done by using a mobile platform such as an aircraft or satellite, yet they cost a lot of money per hour. Aerostats have the virtues of being reasonably cheap, simple to maintain, to launch and recover, and in most cases, are safe to operate and have graceful degradation due to internal baffles. Our largest balloon has a packed volume of 3.8 cubic metres (and needs 16 standard helium cylinders for inflation sufficient to hoist 3.2 tonnes). Given that we can launch and recover from 2 trucks, I think that it is reasonable to think that we could perform the same from something about the size of a fishing trawler, and very easily from something like a destroyer.

    A commenter above mentioned the Falklands. Having very briefly done some Sunday afternoon research, I don’t see why 2 balloons at 120 miles separation from positions 60 miles north and south of a point 20 miles west of West Falkland could not have provided around 30 minutes of early warning to the Task Force in San Carlos, assuming incoming aircraft or missiles at Mach 1 at sea level. Of course, I am not a defence specialist, and do not know if there are other systems that can also do this.

    It has been very nice and informative to make all of your acquaintance.

  67. If someone can give me a rough volume and weight for an airborne surveillance radar, and an idea of the power requirements (like the one I saw in a photograph of a Sea King helicopter), I could come back with some indicative operating costs for a constant 7 days of surveillance.

    I’m not trying to sell anything, by the way. Just an engineer thinking!

  68. @ James Kennedy – Difficult getting details about the size/weight rather than capabilities for the searchwater 2000 but it would appear to be 100kg and upwards, depending on exact version.

  69. “Searchwater 2000MR is one of three variants to suit specific airborne surveillance needs, the others being Searchwater 2000AEW (in production for the UK RN Sea King AEW Mk7 program, featuring a different transmitter and antenna combination optimised for Pulse Doppler MTD modes to achieve long range detection of stealthy aircraft against a high sea clutter background) and Searchwater 2000MS, according to the joint DERA/Racal presentation at the DSEi exhibition in September. The last is a lighter weight (100kg) variant of Searchwater 2000MR with many of the same features. It is intended for lightweight MPA and ASW/ASuW helicopters and benefits from experience with lightweight technology from the Supersearcher radar family”.


  70. Thank you Gareth,

    just some initial thoughts, based on your Searchwater example.

    Weight of radar: assumed 125kg.

    Weight of geodesic radar support structure: assumed 40kg, based on carbon latticing with metal fastenings and internal cable routing.

    Weight of solar cap for auxiliary power (that’s icing, but as this article is talking about gold-plating, why not?): 5kg including inverter and cabling.

    Weight of tether: assumed 500kg for 1500m deployment, including power, ethernet and HUMS circuits (that assumption is pessimistic, but there may be some cable armouring requirements that push up the overall weight for military usage).

    All up weight at 1500m deployment: 670kg. Allow 20% for barometric variation, and a further 10% for future payload growth, and we’re still at around the 1 tonne mark.

    Cost of 1.5 tonne payload envelope: about £50,000 including minor servicing for 3 years with delivery to/from a UK location.

    Cost of 1500m tether: about £20,000

    Cost of launch / recovery drum and generator: about £50,000. (Other costs such as integration to a platform and remote operation are additional).

    Hourly operating cost of launch / recovery around £1000, based on machine operating costs and 6 man launch / recovery team.

    Cost of helium for flight with a 1.5 tonne payload about £450. This enables multiple launches, but is unrecoverable when envelope deflation is required.

    Cost of payload operation: assumed £200 / hour, based on two operators.

    So for a week of providing airborne surveillance at 1500m altitude while being dragged around by a ship:

    Sunk costs:

    £120,000 purchase costs (plus the costs of platform integration, which could be large)
    (Plus cost of radar. Not considered further)

    Operating costs:

    One launch and one recovery: £2,000
    Helium: £450
    Operators @ 2 per hour, for 168 hours: £33,600

    Let’s say £40,000 for one week of cover. Not as flexible as a helicopter, but I think a lot cheaper, and it may free up the really expensive assets to do other tasks.

  71. @ TD: Going back to the original article, I think you are confusing Gold-Plating, with over-specification, with capability growth.

    Gold Plating is always the addition of un-needed functions with the intent to inflate “value” & thus price. A commercial example is the “design ethos” of Apple Mac computers, which allow the over-pricing of otherwise very ordinary PCs. A Naval example would be the addition of Towed Array Sonar on an AAW destroyer. While we all would like to do a little sub-hunting, such rigs need to be on dedicated assets.

    Over-specifying, or mission-creep, is the deliberate mis-match of sophistication level to the intended use, so that a device can be (theoretically) used in a more difficult environment than planned. A military example of such is the fitting of NBC capability to a MPPV, allowing to be used for other than Policing actions. Over-specifying generally fails because over-specified systems are placed in a sub-optimal device, compared to a device specifically designed for the purpose.

    Finally, capability growth is the designing of extra auxilliary factilities (power, space, comms, computing etc.) into a device allowing it to be fitted with added capabilities at a later date, in a managed way. A crude version of this is “fitted for but not with”, which has been much derided here (even by me), but which is looking at least half-way sane. A more sophisticated version is FBOT’s constant policy of of warship designs incorporating “steel is cheap, air is free” philosophy, where there is dedicated space set aside for future requirements in the existing hull.

    On a different tack, what saeems to have gone wrong with the AIM-132/ASRAAM/CAMM project? I have read that the Taildog/SRAMM AAM developed by Hawker Siddeley in the 70’s had TVC, was tube launched from the rail (easier handling and less drag) and had the IR illuminator on the pylon, allowing fittment to the widest range of a/c. Trials were conducted during the 70’s and were very impressive, the missiles being able to engage at 90-110 degrees off-rail, once targetting was done. In fact, SRAAM was so manoevrable that the Hunter launch aircraft nearly got hit itself in early tests! HSD even asserted in the late 70’s that the missile was “production-ready”! Despite that, we go with a joint-effort with the Americans and Germans which saw TVC and tube launching ditched in favour of less-agile fins, and the whole thing putting on weight. Then our partners ditch the project and se *still* carry on???

  72. @ James Kennedy
    But the real way gnarly question for TD: can it all be fitted in an ISO container?

  73. Good point Dangerous Dave but I think the general understanding is ‘over specification’ or reaching too far into the technological unknown.

    In the past it seems that over specification was the norm and the IPT’s didn’t have a mechanism for trading spec against time or cost.

    The latest FRES and PPV especially seem to have discovered the magic formula that allows these sensible trades to be made.

    However, does that mean that vital capability will be traded away to the detriment of users?

    These are really tough questions, not sure any of us have the answers

  74. TD, this doesn’t sound like you “The latest FRES and PPV especially seem to have discovered the magic formula that allows these sensible trades to be made” about FRES
    – and what is PPV?

  75. Dangerous,

    I agree – it’s nice to see that British engineering from the 70’s (Taildog) is still valid today – I believe in CAAMM it’s the seeker that is new and rather funky. Have you seen something to suggest CAAMM/FLAADS(M) is in trouble?

  76. @ Ant,

    ISO container? The whole system, certainly, but normally the launch / recovery drum and ground / sea control PCs are permanently fitted to a platform. But yes, all together would fit in.

    If you stick the rest of the system into an ISO container, you would still have room to have a party. The container would be about 1/3 full (approx 1/9th full with a packaged 1.5 tonne envelope, and 2/9ths for helium canisters).

  77. james
    the site admin team have a weird iso box fetish, so we tend to joke about iso boxes.
    Although, perverted sex acts aside, iso boxes are useful, so we tend to consider systems built in or around them to be very nifty.


  78. @James Kennedy
    Sorry its a bit of an in-joke on this blog.
    The point being that standard fitting containerised bits of kit lend themselves to being easily transported and exchanged between platforms. For example there are containerised mine hunting autonomous-vehicle-and-control-systems which can be loaded onto any old ship’s deck to turn it into a mine hunter. It just needs a plug-in power supply. A recent post here covered it.
    Similarly there has been much discussion about flexible mission modules to place on, or slot in, ships. See the discussion here on SIMMS, for example. The USA has built a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) on the principle of exchangeable mission modules (although the modules are a work in progress), but the principle was established earlier in a Scandinavian Navy (Swedish somebody correct me?) to great interest.
    I was being tongue-in-cheek, but really I was wondering if a dirigible-radar-in-a-box which could be hot-shipped as required was a very useful idea.

  79. @ Ant,

    thank you for the explanation. To address your more fundamental point, we could certainly put together a complete system that deployed from an ISO container. I would probably look to re-engineer the ISO container to have folding sides and roof, and we would certainly need 4 or so lashings on the floor that could attach to a deck at maybe 10 tonnes breaking strain (I’d need to do a few tests before confirming that). I think we could devote the forward half of the ISO container to the radar, but I don’t know how bulky radar spares are or if there are any particular proximity issues with powered up equipment. The optimum design for the ISO would probably be a little eccentric in weight distribution if the launch / recovery drum is at the rear, which may prove to be an issue for loading onto a ship. I don’t have that issue on the flatbed truck. Also I would need to do some thinking or more probably take advice about a slab sided container being hit by large waves and the resulting effect upon stability and electrical integrity. I’m not a naval engineer, so this is all a bit esoteric.

    But in principle, yes.

  80. @DD – ASRAAM has been in service since what, 1998? I think it’s a bit unfair to characterise it as partners “ditching” ASRAAM – it was more like T45/Horizon or Typhoon/Rafale, the British and Germans fell out over the philosophy of the thing. It had already stalled by the late 1980s over funding and technical problems, but when the Germans got their hands on the AA-11 Archers from the East German Mig-29’s, they became obsessed with manoeuvrability whereas we preferred to trade that for speed and range. To some extent that was because we wanted to shoot down bombers over the Norwegian Sea and they were facing Mig-29’s over Poland. Meanwhile the Yanks got bored of waiting for us to get our act together and started working on the AIM-9X.

    CAMM is a distant cousin of ASRAAM rather than the same programme, but it seems to be on track, at least from the technical point of view. It launched successfully from a truck back in ?May and is now just waiting for the green light from Whitehall for CAMM-M, MBDA are still expecting it to enter service on T23 in 2016 but obviously it’s not easy getting the MoD to commit to anything right now.

    @James Kennedy – good stuff, what we like to see. If you’d be rattling round an ISO container and the weight distribution would be funny, then you might want to look at smaller intermodal containers, I’m sure admin could show you posters of some on his bedroom walls!

  81. ” Meanwhile the Yanks got bored of waiting for us to get our act together and started working on the AIM-9X”
    … and delivered their side of the bargain, the missile for BVR without a hitch

  82. @El Sid: I admit to only having published materials to go on (and I don’t obsessively buy those . . .).
    My understanding was that ASRAAM was the highly manoeuvrable “knife-fighting” missile that the Germans lusted after once they saw the AA-11, so it seems that it was RAF requirements that resulted in a faster, but more ballistic, flight profile.

    Quite why this was I don’t know – surely you attack bombers using medium range missiles like SkyFlash, and save the short ranged missiles for more nimble targets like su-24, su-34 and mig-29 on strike packages. Trying to dog-fight one of the latter in a Tornado ADV with aim-132 was surely a mismatch.

  83. DD
    My understanding was the UK would never have to dog fight.
    Our AWACS spotted incoming Soviets a TADV was lofted, chucked half a dozen BVRS at them at extreme range they either drove into them and exploded, drove around them and then lacked fuel to reach the uk and return home, so went home, or out manouvered them and, well, lacked fuel to bomb us and get home, so went home.
    If the enemy can mount a three hour CAP over your capital, dog fighting matters, if they can only just reach your shores with a good wind, its less important

  84. DomJ
    Grand plans & assumptions made in peacetime, usually fall apart after the first few weeks of war.

  85. DJ

    Years ago, like 25-30 years ago, I remember watching an Horizon TV program about Vietnam air war, and the development of the F16 and 18 as result.

    Air force Colonel was recounting how the F4 was developed to fight high altitude guided weapon war v Soviet Bombers etc. And how the experts said it would all be about guided precision air to air and air to ground weapons.

    He also recounted how as he was flying down the Gulf of Tonkin to drop unguided iron bombs on VC positions,at low level: He was explaining to the rear seat operator, why he should not worry, and how he had it on the highest technical, and highest ranking authority, that what they were doing was not happening because the experts said so.

  86. Dont get me wrong, not saying it was a great idea, for anyone except us it was madness, and even for us, if/when france fell, it would be as big a disaster as the turret fighter (defiants?)

  87. I suspect that the keen bloggers have long since moved off this topic, but being one of the people who has frequently criticised the cost of the T45 it would be cowardly not to front up here to be counted.

    I would not dispute, on account of having no data to do so, the performance of the SSN26, or the supposed relative performances of the T45 and Aegis.

    Nor would I disagree that sometimes you just have to have the right quality kit to stand any sort of show, even at cost.

    However, none of that is to say that the billion pounds spent on a T45 has suddenly become virtuous. Consider:

    – The T45 may be better than the Aegis, but do we have any idea that a billion pounds is a fair price? Do we know for certain that an equivalent to the T45 couldn’t have been procured from someone else (other than a BAE built/MoD managed, contract) at a cheaper price?

    – As someone else said, a T45 at one billion pounds out of a fixed budget is a billion pounds that will not be spent on something else.

    – I do not know how much Aegis would cost, but if say it were half a billion pounds per vessel that would mean for the same money you could have twice as many Aegis as T45s. So the question is not is the T45 better than Aegis, but rather is a T45 better than two Aegis?

    – Taking that a step further, might you not want more ships in your navy anyway for other reasons even if you had less certainty about your ability to take out an SSN26?

    – The scenario of building better weapons to counter your enemies weapons is hardly new. But it doesn’t always follow that the solution is the next step up the same ladder. For example a century ago navies built battleships with bigger guns to gain advantage. Their adversary then built ships with more armour and still bigger guns, and so it kept on going until it wasn’t possible to put any more armour or guns on a ship at which point everyone gave up and naval warfare changed direction. Similarly strike aircraft have developed hugely so that a single aircraft with a single weapon now has a greater chance of destroying its target than a whole air force of world war two bombers. But for all that progress, no one would now risk their aircraft in an air campaign without first taking out the enemies ground to air defences with standoff weapons because the effectiveness of ground to air defence has developed even more than aircraft capabilities have.

    The point is, as you spend more and more money on a single weapon system you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it? A billion pounds for one destroyer surely fairly asks that question?

  88. If I may Richard, I see where you’re coming from, but the trouble is this; the Type 45 order was supposed to be double the size it ended up being. If the full 12 had been taken (which is what BAE budgeted and bid for) then the cost per ship would have been much lower than it ended up being. The political decision to axe half the number of that much needed and superb asset has been the main driver for the costs increase.

    If we had been buying AEGIS ships, we would have only bought 6 as well in line with government plans, and they probably would have come at a similar cost (we don’t get American hardware at USN prices!)

  89. Don’t know if this has been said already but the RN and USN go about things in a very different way.

    If you compaire T45 V Aegis then yes the T45 looks to have the more capable package against airbourne threats but this is an unlikely scenario. The USN since WWII focuses on carriers and aircraft for a layered defense and strike package. The RN doesn’t have this capability anymore so has to make it’s AAW destroyers more capable. The T45 was born out of the Falklands war, had we had a proper carrier air wing or two, would we have the T45 as it is today? I doubt it.

    The Aegis is “good enough” for the USN and a more rounded destroyer compared to the T45 in almost every way. I have no doubt that if the USN thought it needed a more advanced AAW destroyer then it would have one at sea already.

    It comes down to doctrine and budget.

  90. The main problem with the T45 was deisnging the thing.
    We can build them at £650mn, just over budget.
    The problem was the spec was outragous in the first place, and then timelines were stretched to meet short term cash requirements, and finaly numbers were slashed to try and save money over all.
    Ok nothing can be done about spec, but had the money been available on time, and the full fleet procured, we wouldnt be in such a problem.

  91. RichardW and Pab to a lesser extent – your oversimplifying the issues, and conflating different issues:

    “I do not know how much Aegis would cost, but if say it were half a billion pounds per vessel that would mean for the same money you could have twice as many Aegis as T45s. So the question is not is the T45 better than Aegis, but rather is a T45 better than two Aegis?”

    This is so far out of Apples to Oranges, as to be non-sensical.

    The T45 is a ship – a large complex weapons system. It’s major sub-system (if we a take the “system of systems approach) is its air defence capability, of which the SAMPSON is the main sensor.

    AEGIS is a sensor, processing and display elements of a weapons system. It’s radar can be various versions of the SPY1 family.

    So, what you really mean is; is a single T45 better than 2 AEGIS equipped ships ?

    That depends, is the AEGIS equipped ship an USN Arliegh Burke, a Spanish ship, an Australian ship, or a Japanese ship ?

    Or you talking just about it’s AAW functionality ? Are you comparing the SAMPSON / Aster weapons system agains the AEGIS / Standard SM2 / SM3 / NSSM weapons system ?

    Pab – if you ask any one non-RN, they will tell you that AEGIS equipped vessels, particularly Arleigh Burke Flight IIB / IIIA ARE the most advanced AAW ships in the world, with a proven BMD capability …… :-)

  92. Ref my last above – very timely artilce on Information Dissemination today about the Flight III Burke, how much it will cost, and mostly because it will NOT be an SPY1-D ship but will be fitted with the AMDR (Advanced Missile Defence Radar ?) sensor, originally designed for the CG(X) program.

    It notes that they may cost between U.S.$3 to $4 Billion each (thats 1.89 billion Pounds Sterling at the low end) – now which ship is a bargain ?

    Of course, as the article notes, this is because these ships will have added combating low orbit space threats to above water, underwater and airborne threats !

    Direct qoute from the article when discussing the costs of such multi-purpose ships: “You know, the Brits might be a lot smarter than we think for building so much empty space into the Type-45s to keep costs down.”


  93. Damn! Jed beat me to the ID story.

    I just have to tell you about the magnificent sight I saw this morning – HMS Diamond in Swansea Bay being “escorted” by two tugs towards King’s Dock :)

    She’ll be open to the public 2-5 Saturday.

  94. Jed

    As I understand it the new American ships are to be fitted with the zumwalt radar system. And are armed in effect to exceed the sampson capabilities.

    Their radars power consumption certainly implies a huge increase in radiated energy…

    In other words the the world moves on as it always does with weapons design.

    It is not the capabilities of t45 that have caused me to doubt it. I agree that for the sake of a thousands tons of steel and some longer cable runs we lost the extra silo of missiles. (The procurement or rather non procurement of the european system is another story).

    It is, that as other have pointed out, if we had doen it in any way right we could have had 8-12 for near the same money.

    And IF (the IF being the difficulty in comparative costing) we could have had 12 f100’s for the same price as the 6 T45; would that have been a better buy?

    In short the old ‘The best is the enemy of the good enough’ arguement. I do not care how good the t45 is or isn’t, I care that we are at best, and for a short period at that; only going to be able to have 3- 4 at sea at any one time.

    Put 2 round nellie or dumbo; (and having built the things it would be dumb not to; and that means 1 at best 2 for other duties.

    Is that enough?

  95. It is all to be judged in the context of primary (perceived) threats ” And are armed in effect to exceed the sampson capabilities.

    Their radars power consumption certainly implies a huge increase in radiated energy…”
    – the main emphasis (as in what is upgraded from previous batch) is on ABM-capability

    I saw a figure of 13bn for European missile defence, but that is probably just putting the radars and comms in place (as launch platforms will, at least initially, be dominated by ships… that can sail to or from a different ocean)
    – btw, that 13bn was on Panetta’s list of what could be cut ($260 bn in all)

  96. DJ

    Like I have been saying for 10 years.

    Since I first saw the proposed public Specs for our four legged 1 trunked friends; and that we were only going to have 2: –

    The Surface RN is being reduced to a single, weak carrier group.

    Able to carry out the roles of a single weak carrier group and bugger all else.

  97. @ Ixion, a single carrier group when required. Weak compared to, the US maybe but if a QE class carrier with up to 36 F35C AEW and 4 merlin ASW helos escorted by 2/3 T45 and 2/3 t23/26 with quad pack CAMMS and 2087 plus another Merlin andthe whole group acompanied by an asture or 2 is weak then we have different definitions.

  98. – one SSN Astute class.
    – two T-26 anti-submarine.
    – two T-45 anti-aircraft.
    – one T-26 on patrol.
    – one tanker.

    – two squadrons of twelve F-35C.
    – one squadron of twelve Super Hornet.
    – two Hawkeyes.
    – one Seahawk for Search and Rescue.

    And I don’t know what you want to do with that.

  99. frenchie
    according to the f35 literature i have, 24 will knock out 100 plus high spec f16s
    since most f16 operators bought dumbed down versions, and the russians never made a decent radar, the single carrier should have little trouble against most enemy airforces.

  100. I totally agree, the “and I don’t know what you want to do with that” means, I don’t know what you can to put in more, I read Chinook, Wildcat, Apache somewhere.

  101. re; Arleigh Burke vs Type 45

    The thing to bare in mind is how the navies use these assets. The Burke’s (hehe) are used as part of a large carrier group and are considered land attack and counter ballistic missile weapons as much as they are air defence assets. There’s a reason those high powered radars point upwards..

    Type 45 is more of a stand alone asset, incorportaing lessons learnt from the Falklands, with a wide area search radar and then Sampson for more focused work, plus the height of the radar. The future AEGIS system may have a greater power for longer range, but against low flying targets Sampson has the advantage due to it’s placement, which is the result of hard won lessons.

  102. APATS and DJ

    Yes I mean weak in comparison with USN.

    I also mean weak in that we will have 12 fighters at best most of the time. Assuming that all 12 are working (see Td’s post about squadron servicability).

    And of course we have whole 1 of them.

    Just think for a minute… if some of those f16’s get lucky.. and then goodbye RN.

    Of course the square jawed sons of Nelson never get caught with their pants down:- (see Gulf boarding parties on google).

    All of its equipment works as advertised:- (see HMS Sheffield).

    The enemy will of course behave as predicited and will not get all ingenious like wielding exocets to trucks etc..

    So there is no risk of loosing the entire functioning surface fleet in one action.

  103. @James Kennedy

    You’re aware that the US Army have put out a request for a small ISR aerostat that will fit on a trailer? :-)) I’d guess they’re looking to fit something like Argus-IS on it – the Army equivalent of Gorgon Stare.

    There’s a nice pic been released of the M1400/Blue Devil 2, the USAF’s equivalent of LEMV.

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