Fantasy Fleets – Chris B

Type 26

A guest post from Chris.B

It appears everyone has been pitching in to the war zone that is “fantasy fleets” and so I decided to have a crack myself. I and others have often been challenged with what I personally believe to be the very tenuous argument of “well at least I’ve made a suggestion, what’s yours?”, by which logic a suggestion to take a long bath in high concentration acid would immediately be validated if no alternative course of action could be suggested.

The goal of this article then is to try and find something of a middle ground between the recent series of posts by IXION and that of DomJ.

The framework then for this is to play a relatively boring game of fantasy fleets, being that it will attempt to meld current financial reality with the current defence situation that faces the UK, while keeping in mind (but certainly not strictly adhering to) the governments plans for the armed forces as laid out in the 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review, or as it’s otherwise known “that bodge job that was used as a cover for cutting spending”.

Just keep in mind that I openly admit now that I haven’t thought of every conceivable angle. There will almost certainly be holes that need to filled in here and there. It’s also possible that the numbers wont exactly add up, to the penny. The purpose of this is more to create a broad outline, into which others might colour in the details 9or I‘ll end up doing a second edition) and to promote a vigorous debate that potentially ends in plenty of well meaning swearing!

Overview

To suggest any sort of plan without first looking at the wider situation would be a waste of time. I’m sure we can all agree that cutting the Navy and Air Force down to one dinghy and one hot air balloon respectively in order to purchase an additional 3000 tanks would not be in the best interests of the nation. On the flip side, a 100 ship navy and a 1000 aircraft air force are of no real use if all we can send to seize and hold ground is a courageous and determined fellow with an ASP Baton and a dog handling team.

We must consider that money is tight (more on this in the conclusion), thanks to a combination of various politicians, American mortgage lenders and the major global credit rating agencies. In an ideal world I could take a scythe to the government budget overall, including the International Development Fund (overseas aid) which is projected by the treasury to top £9 billion by 2015. Unfortunately that’s not an option. We have to make the defence establishment fit the defence budget. We also have to consider that there are some tasks we must fulfil and others that we have a choice in, more or less.

The fairly obvious starting point is the protection of the British Isles, its dependencies, and its overseas territories, consisting of; England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands (Caribbean), the Turks and Caicos Islands (Caribbean), Bermuda (Caribbean), the British Virgin Islands (Caribbean), Anguilla (Caribbean), Montserrat (Caribbean), Gibraltar, Akrotiri & Dhekelia (Cyprus), the British Indian Ocean Territory (Diego Garcia), the Pitcairn Islands (South Pacific), the British Antarctic Territory, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (South Atlantic), Saint Helena (South Atlantic), Ascension Island and Tristan da Cuhna (South Atlantic).

In addition the UK is a member of many organisations that have treaty obligations, such as NATO and the United Nations, occasionally requiring the UK to contribute maritime, air and land forces as part of a multi-lateral coalition.

Now obviously all of these concerns are not equal in terms of how likely they are to require a UK military response. The Pitcairn Islands for example are considered sufficiently free from the threat of aggression to not warrant a strong, permanent Army/Royal Navy/Royal Air Force task force to be stationed there 365 days of the year. The Falkland Islands are another matter entirely.

I’m assuming that after 2015 the British Army will have withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving little but a token presence to help the Afghan government in its ongoing quest for peace and security. It’s from this point onward that we need to start considering our place in the world and how we will deal with various threats to our national security.

The long and short of it is that we should not try and match every foreign foe ship for ship, plane for plane, and tank for tank, but instead to forge alliances and understandings at every conceivable turn with everyone who will do business with us, such that any enemy can be countered by a combined effort of several nations, with the British featuring prominently no doubt.

The operations over Libya make a fine point. Excluding the US and UK forces, the other nations involved managed to bring together over one hundred aircraft of various types and roles, plus a significant naval task force. This would be the preferable model that the UK would seek to repeat in the future, while still retaining the ability to conduct limited operations on an individual basis.

This means we need to be able to contribute land, sea and air components to a multi-national task force, and in particular we need to get very good at providing a degree of leadership and organisation to these elements in the absence of heavy United States involvement, by drawing on our pool of potential allies across the globe, either as a whole or on a limited, regional basis.

That requires a reasonably balanced force, which is what I’m going to try and achieve over the course of this article; able to deploy land forces for large, one off scraps or limited interventions; that can deploy aircraft for strike or policing purposes; and that can control or deny maritime lines of communication. All of this either alone or with international assistance.

It also signifies the first big change of the “Chris.B. Reforms” – merging the Ministry of Defence with the Foreign and Commonwealth office. It simply doesn’t make sense to have the nations military arm separated from the body that so often decides where it will be employed. Foreign policy and Defence policy are not neighbours, they are bed fellows. One is integral to the other.

As for what to call this new department, by all means I’ll take suggestions because I’ve no idea. The Defence and Diplomacy Office? The Ministry of Defence and Diplomacy? Who knows, but I’m sure someone will conjure up a suitable idea.

The diplomatic angle should not be underestimated. In the absence of large defence spending (in the 1950’s defence spending was about 10% of GDP, now it is about 2.7%) we can longer sustain the ability to act unilaterally on anything but the smallest end of the scale. The forging of understandings and diplomatic ties (though not necessarily binding alliances and treaties) will provide the foundation for the defence of British global interests for years to come.

Army

We might as well start the main reforms here and this is where I have struggled the most. At one point – many weeks ago – I sent TD a draft in which I scythed the army down to just three regular and two commando brigades, the intention being to sweep the rug from under the politicians feet and effectively wrap them up in it, curtailing their ability to deploy large British ground forces abroad.

But then I sat and thought about it for a while.

It occurred to me that the net result of doing this would not be to stop politicians from deploying ground forces, merely it would invite them to do so anyway but without the necessary mass required to have any effect and in such a way as to potentially harm British reputation with its partners. The case in point was brought up by James – I believe – of the French deployment of the 6th Light Armoured Division to the 1991 Gulf War.

This paltry force (in size, not talent) consisted of effectively two infantry battalions, four wheeled reconnaissance regiments, one tank battalion and one artillery battalion. It found itself lined up on the Western most edge of the battle line, kept well away from the concentration of heavy fighting that took place around the Iraq/Kuwait border. The deployment of such a small force almost seemed unwanted and I feel it sends a poor message about the countries commitment.

And this is really the crux of the matter. The influence and “power projection” seemingly craved by us all comes from substantial action, from showing the people that matter that you are in for a penny, in for a pound. Just a few weeks ago I was re-reading a section from the book “Ghost Force; The Secret History Of The SAS – Ken Connor”* about the campaign in Oman, which contained an interesting story that relates to the idea of influence.

*(I highly recommend the book. Despite the sensational title, it’s actually more of the opposite. The book covers nothing really that you wont of heard/read of before, with the exception of the authors personal stories, but it does cast a different light on those events, cutting through some of the more rose tinted accounts to get to the practical heart of the matter, avoiding the hyperbole so often associated with “The Regiment” in favour of a much more calculated and honest view of things).

The story in question involved standing in the airport of an unnamed middle eastern state when a commercial airliner swoops in and with almost unseemly haste is greeted by a security detail and shuffled off to a quite corner of the airfield to be unloaded, before being turned around rapidly and sent on its way. An officer nearby commented to the author that while he and his people were grateful for the American supplies coming in, the fact that the Americans took great pains not to be overtly associated with them made them feel like the Americans were somehow ashamed. Contrast this with the British who openly walked around in uniforms, which gave the people confidence that the British were their true friends and would stand by them when needed.

That’s influence.

Real influence I mean. The sort of influence that comes from actually putting people on the ground and getting involved. Air show performances by the Red Arrows and gleaming vessels stopping off in ports is all very well, but it’s not real influence. It doesn’t fundamentally change the mindset of international partners, neutrals and enemies.

I’m often told that you can exert pressure on foreign governments using things like aircraft carriers and long range bombers. Unfortunately it would appear that people such as Colonel Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein did not get the memo’s in early 2011 and 1991 respectively, nor did the Serbian leadership in the mid to late 90’s. In 1982 someone forget to remind the Argentine military Junta that they were supposed to be influenced by our possession of considerable naval air power and nuclear weapons.

The simple fact is that having the tools is one thing, but it’s the ability to use them and the perceived will to use them that really matters. A good example of this effect can be found in crime statistics. Actual crime in the UK has broadly fallen on a consistent basis for years now, but the fear of crime has risen. People perceive themselves to be at much greater risk now, even though most people are actually safer than they’ve ever been in years.

So it is with defence and influence. It’s not the actual threat that matters, it’s the perceived threat. It’s not the actual level of assistance that can be offered to allies that matters, it’s the perceived level of assistance that counts. Stopping by for a bit of gunboat/fast jet diplomacy is not as effective or as impressive as a genuine commitment to provide training and assistance.

And so it is that if we seek to lead other nations in coalition operations, we cannot simply fall back on the excuse of “well, you’re the continental power, you provide the bodies and we’ll cover you!”. That does not inspire confidence in the likes of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and a whole host of other nations who we might one day call upon to aid us.

That type of approach smacks of expecting everyone else to do the hard grafting while we sit back in the relative comfort and safety of air bases and surface ships, giving orders from the rear. That will simply not suffice. When the next campaign comes around and we start asking the Danish army if it will provide some of its limited manpower to a big operation, they’re going to be rather inclined to say “no” if they believe that we too are not pitching in.

So although the British Army may not be as sexy as fast jets and sleek hulls, it is essential. It is the core around which everything else is built. It’s the job of the RAF to seize the aerial flank and to exploit it in support of the Army. It’s the job of the Navy to seize the Maritime flank and to exploit it, again in support of the Army. I think that’s the shift in thinking that we need to take.

On this note, the Army really needs to grow, not shrink. Five regiments of Challenger II is nothing to be sniffed at, but we can do better. The trouble is, as always, the budget. For that reason I’m going to lay out a slight re-organisation of the Army based on current(ish) manning, then plan for the future.

The starting point for me is the two commando brigades. Even thought strictly speaking the Royal Marines are Royal Navy, it is more appropriate to address them here. On that note I would retain both brigades, though with some changes that are relevant to the Army as a whole under these “reforms”; notably the shift toward brigades that contain three battalions/regiments of infantry/tanks, with their necessary support.

For that reason, 16 Air Assault Brigade would largely retain it’s current structure except that the two Parachute battalions (2nd and 3rd) would be permanently joined by the then current UK based battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, instead of having two infantry battalions attached on a rotation basis. All the other attachments, (Royal Horse Artillery, 16 Medical Regiment, etc) would remain.

In addition, the full Brigade of Gurkha’s (1x UK based battalion/1x Brunei based Battalion (rotating), plus engineers, signals and logistics) would be retained. 3 Commando Brigade would continue in its current structure, minus the 1st Battalion, The Rifles, who would be returned to the regular forces (other than that, the Royal Marines as a whole would be left untouched). The Royal Gibraltar Regiment would stay on it’s own for obvious reasons.

As for the regular army, the first thing to do is to hand back the CBRN role to the 1st Royal Tank Regiment, retrieving it from the grasp of the RAF Regiment (I have other plans for them…). 1st RTR would still be responsible for the Main Battle Tank training squadrons and the commitment to the Land Warfare Centre.

Next thing is to dish out the five Challenger regiments, split between 5 brigades. The first two of these Brigades would be classified “Armoured”, containing a formation reconnaissance regiment, a tank regiment and two armoured infantry battalions (Warrior).

The remaining three would be split between three brigades classified as “mechanised”, containing one each of; formation reconnaissance regiment, tank regiment, armoured infantry battalion (Warrior) and mechanised infantry battalion

(Bulldog). Obviously these brigades would need to be supplemented with engineers, signals, medical, artillery and logistic support as needed.

That leaves one armoured infantry battalion spare which would be assigned to the Land Warfare Centre (LWC) and filled on a rotational basis. I’m assuming there is a reason why the army wants Warriors at the LWC. If Bulldogs will suffice then my preferred option would be to swap a mechanised battalion for an armoured one, leaving us with three “armoured infantry” brigades and now two “mechanised infantry” brigades.

Next come the light infantry which – excluding the elements of 3 Commando, 16 Air Assault and the Special Forces Support Group – would leave us with (I think) 21 light infantry battalions. On that note, I’m going to split them nice and neatly into 7 infantry brigades, each containing 3 battalions of light infantry, plus required support.

That does pose me with one significant problem; I need two battalions for the Cyprus Garrison. Obviously that would mean that one brigade would be left with a spare battalion sitting on its hands. If anyone has any suggestions I’m more than open to them. The possibilities I’ve considered are 1) attach the spare battalion to LWC, 2) use them as a replacement for the RAF Regiment in base protection, 3) (and my preferred option) find somewhere abroad to post them, like a certain group of Islands in the South Atlantic that shall not be named…

Royal Artillery wise we have five AS90 regiments to share about, along with a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) regiment, a light gun equipped regiment, three Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) regiments, and two air defence regiments. My presumption at this point is that these assets would be distributed as needed to the various brigades. I would also like to stand up a regiment (and this will please Jed to no end) equipped with 120mm towed mortars, predominantly for use with the Light Brigades (stop dancing Jed mate, it’s unseemly).

Ideally each of the above brigades would be co-located together for home basing in order to reduce the number of bases needed.

On to the underwater knife fighters, or as they’re known outside of this website, the UK Special Forces Directorate. This group would be left mainly untouched, with the exception of disbanding the two SAS reserve regiments. One of the things that sets the special forces apart from the rest is the amount and quality of the training they conduct. I fail to see how you can be a part time soldier while still maintaining the very high standards demanded of such a regiment.

At this point you’d do well to bear in mind the story that I included earlier by Ken Connor. The Special Forces would be required to do plenty of work overseas as an effective extension of the diplomatic arm, to build relations. If all the story are true then this is roughly what happens anyway. In the age we live in now the need for high quality bodyguards and counter-terrorist teams has never been more acute.

Brazil is an excellent example. In the run up to the 2014 World Cup they’re on a mission to clear some of the major slums around many of the big cities, sending in highly trained police teams to deal with the armed gangs that make their homes in such places. Brazil is also preparing its counter-terrorist forces for their biggest operation to date in guarding the event.

Mexico is another example. The country has experienced quite significant economic growth in recent years and is gradually building a pretty sophisticated manufacturing base. But all of that work could eventually be undermined by the rampant violence and in-fighting that occurs between the various major drug gangs in the country. A well trained hostage rescue and intelligence gathering force would be a major boost.

Although both countries are not exactly on the top of the list of future British Allies, at least not from a military perspective, they do both provide interesting examples of how British Special Forces can be deployed in such a way as to win the ear of Foreign Heads of State, which can lead to future basing deals, military cooperation, diplomatic support and even economic/commercial gain. Indeed all the arms of the forces would be involved in such “diplomatic” training activities.

Next up we need to talk vehicles, and with Afghanistan winding down decisions would also have to be taken as to which vehicles are worth bringing back and which are probably better left with the Afghan security forces. Vehicles like the Foxhound, Husky, Mastiff and Jackal are a double edged sword as far as I can see.

On the one hand we have them now and there is the possibility of integrating them into the main army. On the other hand many are badly worn and some are considered of dubious utility outside of the Afghanistan theatre, and that’s before we get into the logistics or trying to support such a diverse range of vehicles (the anti-thesis of TD’s “ruthless commonality” mantra).

For me their use after the Afghanistan war basically would involve the Mastiff, Ridgeback, Wolfhound and Foxhound vehicles being assigned to the light infantry as in order to provide them with a degree of protected mobility, with the Jackal’s and Husky’s  being transferred to the reconnaissance regiments.

This decision basically stems from the fact that the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) has – to date – chewed up significant sums of cash with no discernable results, while among our commentators here at Think Defence we have James, who has experience with this kind of thing and has suggested the Jackal as a prospective scout vehicle.

Of course that still leaves us with the problematic situation of what to do about the Bulldog vehicle, which it was hoped FRES could one day replace.

The solution I’ve settled on is for a new vehicle, something under 20 tonnes. All I want is a vehicle that has good mobility, range and the ability to protect its crew from small arms fire and shell fragments, with the ability to be upgraded with armour packages in much the same way as our current Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) fleet can.

Variants would include infantry carrier, command, recce, light ambulance/medical evacuation, anti-tank and recovery. An air defence variant would be an absolute bonus. But recce, infantry carrier and anti-tank take priority.

I want to re-emphasise the point that I don’t want a tank. I don’t want a “medium weight” beast. This vehicle is designed to replace the Bulldog and the various FV432 variants, not the Challengers. For comparison purposes, the RG-35 by BAE Land Systems South Africa would be coming close to the heaviest end of the scale that I would except, at about 18 tonnes. Whatever it is, it also needs a tow hook for Jed’s mortars!

The full Warrior Capability Sustainment Program (WCSP) would go ahead as planned, including all the various Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicles (ABSV). I’d also want to have a closer look at the 155mm Archer artillery system for the Royal Artillery (already on order for Sweden and Norway) as a future replacement for the AS 90.

The Challenger tank would get it’s Challenger Lethality Improvement Program (CLIP) authorised, fitting a slightly modified version of the 120mm Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore gun (as used on the Leopard 2A6), plus a power pack upgrade in the form of the “EuroPowerPack” (made entirely in Germany…), which provides 1,500 hp in a smaller unit, with better fuel efficiency.

As for helicopters, the Army Air Corps would retain it‘s current and planned assets of Lynx and Apache. The Army would also get its full compliment of Watchkeeper drones that are on order.

Looking into the future of the army, perhaps 2020 and beyond, I’d be keen to take the opportunity to invest in three completely new tank regiments to supplement those already in existence. The idea would be to take one of the armoured infantry battalions out of one of the armoured infantry brigades listed above and just put it to one side for a second.

In it’s place I’d put one of my new tank regiments, creating a proper spearhead armoured brigade that had two tank regiments and one armoured infantry battalion. The spare infantry battalion that I put aside would now be put in a new armoured brigade with the other two new tank regiments. This brigade would also need its own formation reconnaissance regiment, so I suspect the 9th/12th Royal Lancers would be split back into the 9th Queens Royal Lancers and the 12th Royal Lancers to accommodate this.

I’d also like to see the light infantry expanded yet further, with another 9 battalions raised to help the formation of 3 new Light Brigades, taking the total number of light brigades to ten. Further, consideration would be given in consultation with the Army about reducing the length of operational tours from six to four months, in order to combat stress and fatigue in the service while hoping to improve retention rates.

Right, now if you’d kindly wipe that face paint off and stop hiding in that bush, we’re off to sea.

Royal Navy

We’ll start then right at the heart of the matter… the Type 26 Frigate.

Simply put, I think the Type 26 has the potential to be the F-16 of the naval world. Not quite as numerous, I’ll grant you, but if done right I believe Type 26 could be a big seller and would finally put a sock in BAE’s mouth about the demise of British ship building, a tenuous argument at best.

Anyway, Type 26.

Basically I would like to play this smart and if it was me pulling the strings and writing the checks then I would be very keen to achieve a balance between what is acceptable for UK defense and what is best for UK plc. That means working in partnership with the prime contractor to ensure that Type 26 is capable of properly fitting the needs of the Royal Navy without adding so much cost as to drive away other potential users.

The cornerstone of this is to ensure that the ship doesn’t get dragged off into being some kind of 21st century battleship. I greatly fear more than anything the tag that has been attached to Type 26 of being a “general combat ship” or “general purpose frigate”. That to me absolutely smells of the possibility of creep in the design.

Let’s be clear. It’s an Anti-Submarine Frigate first, after which it becomes just a general, run of the mill patrol frigate for basic tasking. That has to be the core of the design. For that reason I would – in my now quite literal fantasy fleet – seek to have Type 26 primarily built around three features; low acoustic signature, the Type 2087 towed sonar Array and the provision of torpedoes.

Now obviously an anti-submarine vessel such as this needs a decent attack sonar too, which is a given, plus room in the hanger for a Merlin helicopter to supplement the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role, but ideally – and given the breadth of potential customers – it should be capable of handling a Chinook helicopter on the flight deck, even if not being able to store it.

Radar would be provided by the BAE Artisan 3D radar, which I believe is being fitted gradually to a number of Type 23 frigates already. Missile wise I’d like to see Type 26 fitted with the Sylver A50 Vertical Launch System (VLS), which is the same missile cells currently used on Type 45. It can hold both the Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles (which share a common “dart”, just a different booster) as well as being able to take a quad pack of the planned Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) which is a radar guided derivative of the Advanced Short Range Air-Air Missile (ASRAAM) in service now with the RAF.

Notice here that I’ve deliberately avoided both the Sylver A70 launcher and the American Mk.41 VLS, precisely because I’m not interested in over burdening the design with land attack capabilities. I also quite fancy the internal volume that would be saved, which is why I’d like to see the next design choice incorporated, one that is likely to get some people hot under the collar.

See I’d quite like to see Type 26 sacrifice the traditional forward gun mount in favour of a Goalkeeper Close-In Weapons System (CIWS).

The reason for this is two fold. First, like I said, I want that premium internal space that would be saved from reduced deck penetration. Secondly, I just don’t think the Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) role justifies the expense of a large main gun, especially when the loss of space is factored in. The use of this feature has been somewhat limited in the past, and it’s arguable that the need for the ships to close with the shore for bombardment purposes puts them at an unacceptable disadvantage against air and land based attacks.

So why all the desire for free space? Well the more stuff that can be piled up down the front end of the vessel, the more room there is at the back for an empty mission deck, onto which could be loaded vehicles if a suitable ramp facility was provided, maybe ISO containerised systems (Rules of getting an article published on TD, #1; mention ISO containers!) or even just serve as a temporary accommodation space for embarked troops, supplies, or some kind of make shift casualty receiving area. The flexibility to various customers, including the Royal Navy, will be a great selling point.

I’d also like to see two ramps incorporated into the back of the vessel, likely behind or possibly underneath the flight deck, each capable of the rapid launch and recovery of small boats. For an example of what I‘m talking about, take a look at this YouTube video of the new Gowind Offshore Patrol Vessel.

Bad computer graphics aside, you can see that the back end of the finished vessel has a definitive split for the two ramps. This would permit a multi-mission capability, where on ASW missions a rig for the Type 2087 sonar could be installed on one side, while still allowing the other to be used for a small craft or indeed for a second sonar unit if you so desired. On general patrol missions, or for foreign customers, both ramps could be used for boats.

As for number of vessels, the Type 26 would be bought at the very least as like for like replacements of the Type 23, with the strong possibility of additional purchases if the costs could indeed be kept down. The Type 23 is not due out of service for many years yet, so there is plenty of time to get this relatively more simple vessel ready. In the meantime the Type 23’s would be supported and upgraded as needed, including the integration of the CAMM, which almost doubles the air defence range compared to Sea Wolf.

Now I guess we had better stop dodging the bullet and tackle the Carrier issue?

So we basically have one Carrier on the way, the Queen Elizabeth, and another which has had the steel cut and some work started. And unless someone else plans on stumping up the cash to buy it – in which case they’re more than welcome to support British industry – then work would be stopped and Prince Of Wales would be cancelled outright.

Queen Elizabeth would be taken into service, she‘s basically too far along now it would seem… and be plopped right into extended readiness. Unless of course someone wants to buy her, which again they are more than welcome to.

The argument that she could be used as an Landing Platform Helicopter (LPH) was one that sounded very appealing at first. I sat and thought about it; 40 helicopters! That’s enough space for an Apache Squadron, a Merlin Squadron, and two Squadrons of transport helicopters such as Puma. Quite a hefty capability.

But then it occurred to me, how many of those could be operated at any one time? What would they do all day? And could we find alternative platforms to operate helicopters from in the short term, knowing that Queen Elizabeth could be brought up to speed in emergency situations if needed?

The answer I think is; yes.

Take the two Albion Class Landing Pad Docks (LPD). They have no hangar, but do have plenty of space on deck for helicopter operations. Currently they are operating on the basis of one at sea, one in extended readiness. In 2014 HMS Bulwark is due to go in and HMS Albion will come out (HMS Bulwark is the current Flagship). This policy would be kept going for the foreseeable future.

HMS Illustrious, the former “through deck cruiser” turned LPH, is due to be decommissioned in 2014. This plan would be scrapped and she would be kept instead be put into a state of extended readiness, with a bit of servicing just to eek out a bit more life. The Amphibious Assault Ship/LPH HMS Ocean will have just come out of it’s planned refit in time to take over. These ships would be kept in service, providing the core of the deployable maritime helicopter force, until replaced by a new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessel. And as it just so happens, I know where we can find one.

Or two.

http://www.baesystems.com/Businesses/SurfaceShips/PlatformsandProgrammes/AmphibiousVessels/index.htm

Missile defense systems, guns for self protection, room for 250 tons of stores, can carry 800 troops, enhanced damage control features, an on board surgery, X-ray machine, intensive care unit, pharmacy and even a dentist, with thought given in the design for disaster relief operations from the start, along with a vehicle deck and facilities, plus a well deck and davits for landing craft.

We can even call them Ark Royal and Hermes if it makes people happy. Maybe Eagle?

This – in my opinion – is much more in keeping with the kind of operations that the UK actually conducts and is likely to conduct. In the future it’s also conceivable that they could carry the F-35B, once cost and risk has gone down. The above linked ship would provide the rough standard for the tender and the goal would be to bring the first vessel into service, at which point Illustrious would be sold off/broken up and Ocean would be taken out of service, but not completely dumped, not until the seconf LHD had arrived.

In addition, and especially in light of the recent TD article surrounding the plans of fitting the AN/APG-81 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar to Merlin helicopters in the form of the Lockheed Martin Vigilance Pod, the Navy would be tasked with leading the drive to introduce the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) which would eventually to span the entire British armed forces. This would permit CEC equipped helicopters like Merlin to monitor an air threat axis for targets, sharing targeting data with Type 45/Type 23/Type 26 combat vessels.

To accommodate this some Merlin helicopters would be set aside to fulfil the dedicated role of a Fleet Airborne Warning Squadron (FAWS). In addition to providing radar coverage for a task force, the FAWS would also be able to use the air to ground modes of their AN/APG-81’s to assist land based forces and to enhance the intelligence picture for ground commanders who are about to commit forces ashore.

The transfer of upgraded Merlin’s from the RAF to the RN would go ahead as is currently planned, with a goal to upgrading these helicopters a little further in order to integrate the Sea Skua anti-shipping missile.

Of course at this point and before I meander off too far, there are still two questions to be answered. One is what will be built in the place of the second carrier, because presumably British ship building will be threatened once again (despite the ongoing construction of the Astute-class submarines, the start of the Type 26 project and the plans for the LHD). The second is what becomes of the F-35?

The answers are 1) Type 45 and 2) dead.

Number two will be addressed in more detail later when we get round to the RAF. Suffice to say that the Royal Navy would now transfer its unneeded Hawk trainers to the RAF, retaining only those that they require for the training of crews in air defence and ground (fleet?) controlled intercepts. Number one however is something I’m fairly adamant about.

The Type 45 has turned out to be something of a success, despite the government cut backs which have seen program costs spread across half as many vessels as originally planned and bad press that doesn‘t reflect the progressive approach to fitting the ships out with various weapon systems.

The ship builds upon many of the lessons learned over the years and has apparently been doing rather well on exercises involving the United States, with Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope commenting just this October in an interview with Defense News that We still dine out on being told “could we please switch off our system because we were constraining the training.” We are proud of that, and that shows that we are playing in the right ballpark”. I’m sure the Admiral meant to say cricket ground, a temporary slip of the tongue.

(On a brief note, how much does that above quote suggest the Americans are still yet to learn the lessons of Millennium Challenge ‘02?)

I still think Type 45 has some growth to it and that comes predominantly from fitting the vessels with Harpoon launchers to give them a proper Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) capability, and in the case of my fantasy fleet building a Block II/Mark II/Flight II/Stand II/Timbuck II class of two more vessels, which apart from coming “fitted with from the start” with torpedoes and Harpoon, would also come with 16 shiny new Sylver A70 VLS cells, the space for which has been provisioned between the current VLS and the 4.5” gun.

The Sylver A70 is compatible with the Aster 30, but apparently not the Aster 15? Still, if an all Aster load were used then there would be room for 64 missiles. The A70 cell is also compatible with the CAMM quad pack, should you so chose to misuse these cells.

Of the course the main reason for fitting the A70 cells is to permit the use of future upgrades of the Aster family that are expected to introduce a dedicated Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) version, and for using the naval variant of the Storm Shadow Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) used by the RAF, that has now been tested in both a vertical launch cell and from the torpedo tube of a French attack submarine (SCALP-N).

And for similar reasons to the ones stated in the Type 26 section, the 4.5” main gun would be removed and replaced with a Goalkeeper CIWS, which combined with the aft CIWS should preclude the need to carry two on the sides. The original six Type 45’s would be refitted at the earliest opportunity to match this new batch/standard.

Moving on and the current fleet of Astute-class submarines is expected to end at 7 (Astute, Ambush, Artful, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon, Ajax). There is a problem though. Recently it was revealed that the government – in its infinite wisdom – has decided to slow down the pace of submarine production, incurring a cost that would be sufficient to buy an extra boat and still have some spare change. The reason for this is to avoid a gap in submarine construction between the Astute-class and the replacement vessels for Vanguard.

Thanks to that bit of budget fudging I’ve now got room to speed production back up again and essentially get an eighth boat for free. What’s more I’m going to order – at the very least – another four. This seems like an optimistic thing to suggest, given the state of the budget, but I’m going to pay for it by toying with the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent.

Simply put, the chances of the UK activating its Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD) in a unilateral manner are basically non-existent. The CASD is a true relic of the cold war and doesn’t properly reflect the position we find ourselves in now. That’s not to say that we don’t need nuclear weapons as the ultimate weapon of self defence, merely that they can be employed in a cheaper and more realistic manner.

That manner is a cruise missile derived system, designed not so much to seek retribution against an initial attack (though that is an option), but more along the lines of being able to light up any potential threat to our Sovereignty.

This new deterrent would take the dual form of submarine carried weapons and air launched weapons, similar to the French system. The air launched side of the issue will be handled later when I get round to the RAF but for now, suffice to say that the Astute class would become the bearers of this new weapon. It would naturally be made very clear to the world that these were weapons of self defense, not aggression, and that the then current at sea submarine tasked with carrying them would never be sent to a conventional theatre of operations, lest anyone start getting nervous.

This would basically remove the need for a Vanguard and Trident replacement, with a much lower cost alternative that would still be able to provide the ultimate deterrence against hostility towards our homeland.

Come 2020 a study would be kicked off (of course the basic work can begin now) regarding an Astute replacement. If it can vertically launch cruise missiles instead of having to shove them out of the torpedo tubes then mores the better.

Next up is the Type 42 Destroyers which are due out of service completely very soon, being replaced one for one by the Type 45. My line of thinking here is just out of pure curiosity surrounding how much life their hulls have left in them and whether they could be stripped of most of their fancy stuff and left with a very basic fit out of defences, allowing conversion into either Fast Armed Transports (that would spend a lot of their remaining life milling around at base until needed), Electronic and Signals Surveillance Vessels, or even conversion to small scale hospital/medical ships, for a bit of medical diplomacy around Africa and South East Asia.

The future of Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Survey would be pooled into one ship, which I believe is the current plan anyway. This vessel should be built to meet the Mine Hunting/Countermeasures role first, Hydrographic second, and a third minor capability for use in fisheries patrol etc, which should help to give it a boost on the international market. And when I say minor patrol role, I mean minor. A 20-30mm forward gun, plus some medium (7.62mm) machine guns for protection should suffice. A small sum would be spent on research into Laser Bathymetry and Synthetic Aperture Sonar, as highlighted in Article 10 of TD’s “Future of the Royal Navy” series. The total purchase would be on the order of 20-30 vessels, depending on the Navy’s requirements.

We near the end of the Royal Navy section by looking at the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), an organisation that continues to baffle me. I understand that the Auxiliary are civilians, but the organisation is beholden to the military? I will need an adequate explanation from someone with more knowledge on this matter as to why the RFA couldn’t just be merged into the Royal Navy, becoming the floating equivalent of the Royal Logistic Corps.

As for their vessels, the three Bay-class Landing Ship Dock (LSD), capable of deploying the Mexeflote,  would be reduced to one at sea, one kept in extended readiness, with a rotation taking place every few years (Rules for getting an article published on Think Defence, #2; mention Mexeflotes). The third vessel would be scrapped/sold. The RFA would also be provided with a two ship class to replace RFA Diligence, the fleets at sea repair vessel. Like Diligence, these would be required to meet the highest standards of ice breaking. A long term plan to replace the Navy’s sole casualty receiving ship RFA Argus (due out of service in 2020) would also be put in place.

The main decision however that will define the future of the RFA is that of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) program, to replace many of the RFA’s smaller and older vessels. My thinking on this is simple; the Wave-class Fast Fleet Tankers have proven to be very capable and versatile vessels so I would simply ask the makers – BAE (I thought British ship building was dying?) – to create a new class of six vessels based off the Wave-class, preferably ones that have a degree of flexibility in terms of the proportion of liquid versus solid goods that can be carried. Again, the details of this are something that would require an experienced hand to guide me.

Right. Take that cardigan off, leave your fisherman’s friends at check in and pull your goggles down, because things are about to take off!

Royal Air Force

We might as well attack the burning issue head on this time, that being the fate of the F-35 Lightning II and the wider question of Carrier strike. As mentioned earlier, under the “Chris.B. reforms” HMS Queen Elizabeth would be effectively laid up. Carrier Strike would continue to be absent as result from the Royal Navies arsenal. It would remain that way for the foreseeable future.

In short, in my estimate Carrier air is not essential to our defence, it’s a luxury. Our ability to deploy Harriers over the last 30 or so years has been greatly beneficial, as carrier based striking power always will be, but not essential. There was no mission that failed without the presence of a carrier. For all the talk of the Falklands War, Harriers contributed a little over one-third of all Argentine aviation losses. Given the budget situation then I do not believe the best way to spend that money is to purchase two carriers, spend what seems like a grossly over priced sum to fit them with Cats and Traps (see the recent Parliamentary Answers for details) and then equip them with F-35 fighters.

From the Royal Air Force’s perspective though that puts them in something of a quandary. Because while not doubt the officers mess is currently ringing to the sound of Champagne corks popping and cheers of “hurrah for the Chris.B. reforms!”, there will be a moment when one bright spark suddenly stops mid sip, calls for a hush and then points out that without the F-35 there may be no Fleet Air Arm… but there will also be no Tornado replacement for the RAF either.

Champagne down.

On checking the document again what they’d see is that in fact the Tornado will be replaced, just not with the F-35 and not in similar numbers. See I’ve been doing some numbers and based on the available data, there is simply no point in replacing Tornado with the F-35, be it the A, B or C version. When overall performance is combined with the future weapons load out of Typhoon and compared against initial purchasing, training and long term maintenance costs, it makes just as much sense to stick with Typhoon.

Simply put, the Typhoon is better. The F-35 will still be a very capable aircraft, I even wrote an article to that effect a while back. But with the need to operate from Carriers removed an enlarged Typhoon buy makes a lot of sense for the RAF, as well as the heavy involvement of British industry. It’s win-win in my eyes. There fore a Tranche 3 Typhoon purchase would be made to replace the Tornadoes, with the purchase of around 72 aircraft to provide (on paper at least) six squadrons, down from the estimated original F-35 purchase of 150 airframes.

But with great (combat) power comes great responsibility and that means a few things need to be addressed.

The hotels situation for a start. Suffice to say that if accommodation cannot be found on base or next to it, then the two factors of location and minimal cost to the taxpayer should converge beautifully to divert personnel away from anything with more than two stars above the door. I’m also yet to see a satisfactory explanation as to why Group Captains command wings, Wing Commanders are put in charge of Squadrons and Squadron Leaders command flights (what are all the Flight Lieutenants doing?).

Getting into the more serious business, there needs to be a fundamental shift in priority at the highest levels towards the various roles that the RAF performs outside of interceptions. As I said earlier the RAF should be considered doctrinally as an organisation that seizes and then exploits the aerial flank in support of operations on the ground.

To this end I’m planning something a little nefarious and involves a stalwart of the RAF and an export success story; the BAE Hawk.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Oman have all purchased a version of the Hawk known as Hawk 200. This is a single seat variant, with greater range owing to slightly higher fuel capacity and a slightly modified wing. It’s capable of carrying short range air to air missiles, Maverick air to ground missiles and even a Sea Eagle anti-shipping missile on the central pylon. Radar wise it’s fitted with a modified APG-66, similar to the one fitted onto Argentine Skyhawks. It can also fitted with a refuelling probe.

Personally I think a batch of these would go down nicely for some Quick Reaction Alert duties. It’s cheaper to fly, cheaper to maintain, and frees up the Typhoon fleet for more pressing matters such as training alongside the army and navy. I understand that its climb rate isn’t what you’d expect out of an interceptor, mainly because an interceptor it is not.

But I personally believe that for shadowing Russian airborne patrols and acting as a squadron of air support for the Falklands (as opposed to a flight) it is more than adequate, and in the case of the Falklands may bizarrely be more capable on account of its ability to carry an anti-shipping missile.

Now, while the ability to obtain air superiority/supremacy is important, it also needs to be acknowledged that Close Air Support (CAS) for the army, transport and ISTAR are all of equal importance.

That starts with the RAF needing to properly fund the ability of Typhoon to use the full gamut of air-to-ground munitions, including Brimstone, all marks of the Paveway bombs that are kept in the inventory, Storm Shadow cruise missiles, the development of a comparable sensor pod to the Tornadoes RAPTOR, and the funding of a replacement for the Air Launched Anti-Radiation Missile (ALARM) which would equal that missile in terms of operating modes (such as the “loiter” capability) while also improving on range. The RAF would also need to dig out the gunnery manuals and get cracking on some air-to-ground gunfire support.

It also means taking greater strides to increase cooperation with the little green and dark blue men who march or sail beneath them as they whiz through the skies. One of the complaints for example that seems to repeatedly come up is the time lag between the collection of data by RAPTOR in Afghanistan and its arrival at the those places where the information is most desperately needed. This fundamentally has to change. The RAF needs to get deadly serious about how it interacts with and supports the Army and Navy.

I’m reminded of the story of Elwood Quesada, who retired from the USAF in 1951 as a Lieutenant-General. During World War Two the then Lieutenant-Colonel Quesada (who would go on to reach the rank of Major-General before the end of the war) became a champion of tactical air support for ground forces, including the conversion of anti-air radars for use by ground controllers to better organise waiting attack aircraft, as well as being the first to institute a policy of using actual trained fighter pilots as forward air controllers in order to improve the coordination and effectiveness of air attacks against ground targets.

While these tactics are common place now, this is the kind of thinking that needs to permeate all levels of the RAF. It needs to be considered a core mission of the RAF, up there with protecting UK airspace. Being directed in against ground targets under the control of a ground director should be as second nature to a pilot, if not more so, as his air-to-air combat skills.

I would also require as part of the “Chris.B. Reforms” that the RAF keep a squadron of Typhoons at permanent readiness, with the ability to deploy at 24 hours notice to a foreign base in support of operations overseas, with the ability to deploy two further squadrons in the following 48 hours if needed. They’ll need tanking support and armaments, with a plan in place to provide rapid resupply as well. In short, if I’m going to take away the Carriers from the Navy then the RAF had better bloody well get very good at replacing them.

The Typhoon would also find itself in the odd situation, something it certainly wasn’t designed for initially, of becoming part of the countries nuclear deterrent. The Typhoon would be required to carry and launch an Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), probably of new design, which would carry part of the UK deterrent, either at targets approaching through or fixed to mainland Europe, or potentially at a seaborne enemy task force, as part of the organised defence against serious aggression.

Lastly before we leave the land of fighter jets and move on to slower, less sexy machines, we need to address the Tornado again. As I said, I’d like the Tornadoes to be replaced by Typhoons in the long term, but I’d also investigate the possibility of keeping a small compliment of one squadrons worth of Tornadoes (using the out of service machines for spares) for their ability to carry two Storm Shadow missiles, as well the continued use of RAPTOR pods. This is not a high priority though. If it were to go ahead, the option of swapping out the engines for something with a higher by-pass ratio and no afterburner (I’m thinking fuel efficiency here) would be looked at.

Ok, on to the slower and less sexy, less pointy stuff.

The first thing that should leap out here is air to air refuelling and through a cack handed, bodged piece of financial hooliganism the RAF will indeed field 14 Voyager aircraft based on the Airbus A330. My desired plan would be to speak to the group involved with the Private Finance Initiative and see if some accommodation could not be made to allow the RAF to incrementally buy the aircraft over a number of years. It’s perhaps at this point that I should mention that I would permanently ban the MoD from ever again authorising any PFI contract.

To supplement the Voyagers we have the Atlas transport aircraft, more commonly known as the A400M (although “Grizzly” also seems to be gaining traction?). Although these will spend the bulk of their life doing transport work, they can be set up to perform aerial refuelling, a capability which I think would be a huge bonus for them to have, not least in the context of coalition operations. I would also look to extend the Atlas buy, possibly nicking some of the slots that the Germans are trying to sell off to reach a total buy of around 30 aircraft, replacing the venerable Hercules as these aircraft are retired (again, some might be able to be kept to perform AAR).

Continuing the theme of air transport, and in light of the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it might be worth considering the purchase of 3-5 Antonov An-124’s. Hiring them out only when you need them is one strategy and certainly that’s worked ok for us, but the trouble comes that when you urgently need them, often so do other people.

Having a small squadron (flight?) in our back pocket could come in very handy, not least because it’s immense carrying capacity (as much as 150 tons) could realise some long term savings by cutting down the number of flights needed to a given operational theatre, allowing other transport squadrons to ease off the pace and save some of their airframe hours.

For those wagging their fingers and bemoaning the An-124 being out of service, it actually appears that Russia is committed to a purchase of up to 20 new build (An-124-150) aircraft. There was even a proposal put forward a few years ago now to build versions of the aircraft with Rolls-Royce RB-211-524 engines. Perhaps a revival could be on the cards?

For reference, the An 124-150 version has an expected life of around 50,000 flying hours and to give you a few payload over range figures, we’ll use some example ranges that people are likely to be familiar with; roughly 90 tons payload from Ascension Island to the Falklands, or about 130 tons from the UK to Cyprus. Not bad says I.

The biggest gap that currently exists however is the Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) capability now that Nimrod MRA4 has been binned. Most suggestions to replace this aircraft point to the P-8 Poseidon, based on the Boeing 737-800 which has been developed for the US. This also creates an unexpected opportunity because the 737 is also the basis for an Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft (AEW&C, or AWAC‘s in older parlance), in service now with the Royal Australian Air Force (“Wedgetail”), Turkish Air Force and the Republic of Korea Air Force, whilst also purportedly being evaluated by the Italian and United Arab Emirate air forces.

This would allow one aircraft type to replace two as not only could Nimrod be replaced, but also the aging Sentry AEW&C aircraft could be replaced. I’m intrigued by this, but even more so by the EADS/CASA (Airbus) C-295 aircraft, a twin turbo prop powered light transport aircraft that comes in both MPA and AEW&C versions. The MPA version is in service with Chile and Portugal while the AEW&C version is a recent development incorporating a radar built by Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMFQH1tVv-A).

The things that interests me about the C-295 are;

  • likely lower running costs for a turbo prop aircraft vs. full turbine,
  • reported 11 hour loiter time,
  • can purchase base transport variants (71 troops/20,000 lbs payload) as a supplement to lift fleet while still retaining a degree of commonality,
  • unlike the Boeing offering, C-295 has a probe for in-flight refuelling allowing its range to be extended by RAF tankers

Likely purchase numbers would be 5 AEW&C and 10 MPA.

Sticking with aircraft of an electronic nature, Sentinel would be kept in service, as would the Shadow (Beechcraft Super King Air), both of which provide valuable ISTAR services. The planned purchase of 5 additional Reaper unmanned observation/strike drones, to go with original 5, would also go ahead.

The RAF would retain its current fleet of Puma and Chinook helicopters, and would also take delivery of a small batch of new Merlin helicopters, enough to replace the old Sea Kings in the Search and Rescue role. Which is where I’m going next with this.

With the RAF operation of the MPA, the RAF would remain partially on the hook for providing the domestic Search and Rescue capability, which would absolutely not be leased out on a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). I say “partially” because the Navy would also need a search and rescue capability for it’s LPH/Future LHD, and because the RAF would also be required to develop a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) component for the recovery of downed pilots.

This would entail the formation of a Joint Search and Rescue (JSAR) team, that would need to field a single class of helicopter (Merlin) suitable for both domestic duties in support of the Coast Guard, military operations from a RN vessel and travelling from a fixed base and penetrating into hostile territory. The frontline military squadrons would regularly rotate through the civilian assistance role.

This is where the RAF Regiment come in, who would retain their role in the protection of UK air bases here and abroad, but would also provide the ground security element to CSAR operations. They’d need to get used to operating off of Navy vessels as part of their role (imagine if a Tornado had gone down over Libya for example).

As for the future of the RAF fast jets, what will happen now that I’ve robbed the UK of its planned stealth aircraft? My preferred option would be to give BAE a call and see if they cant make that rather attractive “Replica” test mock up they have fly…

Space

Not a separate command I know, but I think the MoD should press for extra funding for the UK Space Agency and work with them to develop our satellite communications ability and also to build imaging satellites; some which would point out at the stars so that we might learn more about the universe, and some that will point in at the Earth, so that we might learn more about those that wish us harm.

This has been a reported issue for a while now and though Skynet 5 is supposedly a big improvement on the previous Skynet, you can never have too much bandwidth, especially as the world of the military shifts towards greater numbers of unmanned vehicles.

Industrial

Alright, so again not technically a military issue but the impact of projects for the MoD has a knock on effect, as we’ve seen several times now. Bad projects that over run can slurp up money from the budget that should be spent on getting the correct equipment to the front line.

I think the first that needs to be instituted would be to put the Kybosh of future partnerships with foreign nations on defence projects. The list of problems caused by such collaborations is almost endless. Typhoon took nearly ten years just to get a final agreement done. The Horizon project dragged out many years before we finally left. There are concerns that if the UK buys F-35 then we won’t get software codes vital to ongoing maintenance and upgrades.

The problem is we just can’t agree with the rest of the world on anything. We don’t want gun ports in Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) because we consider such vehicles to be battle taxi’s, not battle stations. We wanted the higher powered radar for the Type 45 because we anticipated situations were we would use it away from carrier support and where it would need to throw up a much wider anti-air umbrella than our Italian or French counterparts needed. We insist on putting Boiling Vessels inside just about anything that moves.

The whole point of these partnerships was to reduce costs by spreading out the load. The end result has been the reverse, with costs spiralling at every turn as projects get endlessly delayed while countries fight over the details. That has to stop.

As does the delays part. This is a government failing and I accept that the MoD has little sway over this, but the endless stream of delaying projects and extending out the builds in order to shave off chunks of money in each individual fiscal year, while piling up the costs in the long run, has to stop.

In addition, the way we put together contracts has to change, accepting realistic cost estimates from industry in exchange for full auditing of their spending and sub contracting on MoD work, to the last man hour.

Retention

We need to make the British armed forces the employer of choice for bright young people in the UK, which means emphasising the various skills they can earn and promoting a better understanding of how valuable those skills are to civilian employers, especially some of the higher paid, more technical jobs. One impression that I’m always left with after watching any recruitment advert (for any service) on the telly is how little attention is given to the range of qualifications that can be earned by armed services personnel. I think if more young people understood the advantages that they would have post-service, then they would be more inclined to sign up.

Conclusions

The purpose of all this has been to develop a military fit for the 21st century, capable on land, sea and in the air, able to deploy a division sized force of either a light or heavy nature, with special forces support, strike aircraft and ISTAR assets attached, with the way being prepared by Naval TLAM strikes

In addition to the military side though I think the senior officers should be pushing the government actively to look at things like energy security in a more – and I hate this word – “holistic” manner. That means, for example, giving the guys at Green-Tide Turbines in Cambridgeshire a call and asking them what they mean when they say they’ve developed a 5Kw tidal turbine that can be laid safely on the bottom of most river beds (like the Thames for example) and can generate electricity much cheaper and more reliably than wind turbines.

Or they could just ask the government to fund defence properly.

The current funding situation faced by the armed forces is shocking. This is not a nation at peace, this is a nation at war. Coupled with how keen politicians seem to be to throw our military weight around at any and all opportunities, it is bordering on the criminal that they are so poorly funded.

At a time when foreign aid money has pushed over £6 billion and is projected to rise to over £9 billion by 2015, along with contributions to the EU (post rebate) of about the same figure, I find it hard to believe that “we are all in this together”. The country knew from the start that wasn’t the case, but now it’s frankly taking the piss.

This government, like governments before it, likes to act is if we are a mini-USA. If that is the case and indeed to the government truly wants to flex it’s military might at will across the globe, then may I suggest increasing funding to around 4% of GDP, as our American cousins do, which would put defence spending back up closer to £50-60 billion per year.

I’ll finish with another quote from that Ken Connor book I was talking about earlier, something that we’ve all become accustomed to by now.

“The amount of in-fighting that goes on between the different branches of the forces, even in the face of a campaign like the Falklands War, would shock the British public.”

You can buy Ken Connor’s book “Ghost Force – the secret history of the SAS” from Amazon, at this link;

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367 Responses

  1. Very good, not had chance yet to digest it all yet, so I’ll come back when I have. No doubt it’ll get everyone on here talking.

  2. I wonder about your belief that the point of the army to to gain influence with allies, not to win wars, which will have to be done in coalitions. The British army is having difficulty providing security in just one part of a province of Afghanistan. Having a large army highlights the UKs weakness, its size. But having a large navy would highlight its strength, its technology. I’d opt for an unbalanced, naval-centric armed forces along the lines of the one proposed over at the Fantasy Fleet blog some time ago.

  3. “well at least I’ve made a suggestion, what’s yours?”,

    Now you have made a suggestion. And may I say an interesting one…. Left me thinking.

    Still not sure about the larger Army, nor am I sure the costings would work for the Army.

    But I would applaud you for putting forward a positive logical well argued rounded piece.

  4. Awesome post Chris
    I don’t entirely agree about Type 26. You’re trying to set this up for export but giving potential customers restrictive choices. e.g. Shouldn’t there be a choice between vls launchers. the main gun should probably be fitted for not with, as others might want a 127mm.

    For future proofing, the hangar should also be sized as large as possible, as most seem to be heading in the direction of 2 medium helicopters (or 1 plus 2/3 vtuav). And no stupid little kennels with ciws placed on top with small firing arcs like the current designs.

  5. 2.7% GDP defence spending? Wish it was. Think it barely makes 2%
    I think the 1998 SDR is what we should be aiming for. That was a pretty good attempt to balance capability with affordability. Shame Gordon never funded it.
    We could afford it, if we cut foreign aid from 0.7% GDP to 0.5% like other similar nations. That frees up £ 3.45 billion.
    As Cameron has used the veto, we might as well take Mrs Thatchers EU rebate back in full.
    Then we could cut back on the management consultants, diversity & multi culti workers. Then not pay failed bankers.
    The RN needs QE & POW. One fully armed & equipped. The other either in refit, or acting as a training carrier with a skeleton crew.
    A 3rd carrier should be an affordable HMS Ocean replacement.
    30 escorts. So 12 T45, plus 18 T23/T26.
    To keep a UK submarine industry the RN needs 15 submarines. 4 SSBN, 8 SSN, 3 SSK.
    RFA needs 2 Rover replacements, perhaps based on RR fast, green , wave piercing cargo design.
    RAF needs an 8th C-17. A330 PFI is an expensive, under equipped abomination. We could have bought outright to the higher RAAF standard for less.
    If we cannot afford to run enough Typhoon/F-35, the the surplus early SAAB Gripens, could provide a 50 strong Jaguar replacement quite cheaply.
    It is a huge mistake to drop the Army below 100,000 strong.
    Global economic chaos, could lead to trouble. Strong armed forces are a wise precaution.

  6. scrap f-35, maybe. scrap the carriers, could work. stop putting BV’s in all vehicles how very dare you sir, i won’t have that talk on here!!

    However, just reading john’s comment about the griphen, in keeping with the TD commonality theme,
    compare the the EJ200 (ie typhoon engine) with the current engine in the griphen the F414 they are same size (almost) seeing as saab has a design centre in the UK, why not pop along and suggest it, can’t hurt!!!

  7. should’ve been more specific there, power output and diameter as well (all on wiki) plus it take advantage of the new upgrades EJ220 (20% more power) and obviously thrust vectoring which can only enhance the STOL. There is a photo somewhere of all the weapon systems cleared for griphen, it’s awesome!

  8. @Chris.B: thanks for the post. Thoughts as of now on the post:-

    – it’s a bit of a potpurri of stuff, more defined by what we have now rather than what we might need. I like the emphasis on our minimum roles, but we might want to define expanded roles. For example, if we are worried about nuclear threats from the middle east, what should we regard as the minimum target set to hold at risk to attempt deterrence, plus defensive options

    – Sorry, carriers just cannot be done without. Stuff the strike, we cannot deploy the Army in any significant numbers without the sea, and cannot defend said sea routes from air and missile attack past the horizon without fast air based at sea. Attempting to base fast air at bases you beg off others puts tremendous political restrictions, and buying the additional fighters and tankers that would be required to sustain said defences would cost far more than the carriers, even at relatively short distances. The F35 is an uneasy compromise aircraft that will be available too late, so just buy 70 F18E/F for the carriers off the shelf

    – sensible idea re the Typhoon, especially since we save bugger all money canceling the last 40 Tranche 3. Ideally refit the entire fleet to the same standard. Bin all the Tornado’s once we have them.

    – what exactly are all these light brigades going to do? We’ve got effectively 4 mechanised bn’s worth of Mastiff and Ridgeback in Afghan right now operating , supporting 4 “light” bn’s, in a war where the enemy think a Landcruiser is pukka kit. Any deployment to anything other than deep jungle is going to be the same: a couple of light brigades should be just fine.

    – I’m not a fan of the RAF being a separate service, I think it will become increasingly irrelevant as the numbers of fast jets and the pilots who comprise them run down. And…this would save a lot of money we could redeploy elsewhere. But this is an aside :-)

    – The industrial part I thought was very good. It makes good points on the issues we always have with cooperative programs. They usually end up costing more than if we had just done it ourselves. I’d suggest we define military equipment into a) stuff we require a design and manufacture capability in because there could be unacceptable restrictions on their use without at least some design authority within the UK b) stuff we need a manufacturing capability and c) everything else. If something is desired to fit into a), we need to commit to making enough of them and having no gaps between generations of design activity, or the expertise will die. For b), there has to be minimal gaps in production for the same reason. For c) buy off the shelf, from whereever. Examples:-

    a) Nuclear subs, generic combat aircraft (not necessarily manned), generic armoured vehicles, generic missiles, warships, electronic warfare equipment sufficient for terminal , nuclear weapons, NBC equipment

    b) ammunition, logistic vehicles, helicopters, radar, sonar, torpedo’s, spare parts and software support sufficient for a time horizon of 3 years

    c) everything else

    Hope that wasn’t too much :-)

    R

  9. @ Chris B,

    much to read, and I’m sure much of it of great sense. I’ve got a 24 hour journey to the Phillipines in the next few days so will download to read and think during that.

    Just a quick thought: while you are careful to note (and I’m glad) the need for balance between forces, we also need to consider the balance between power projection and the tyranny of time. There’s a sweet spot at about 2-3 weeks, I feel before the world gets bored and moves on, and short of major outrages coalition-needed type interventions, we’d be on the back foot if we were slower.

    Plus, no mention of bands or Pipes and Drums. Major failing. ;)

    On a serious note, your early point about merging MoD and FCO is a very good one. I’d add in DFID as well. Tories had a section in the 2010 manifesto called “Britain in the Wider World” drawing together all three strands – that’s not a bad concept. If I were a rich man on the lines of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet I’d bankroll the construction of a 500 bed / 1500 outpatient “white” hospital ship / clinic that we could equally use for DFID and humanitarian intervention and as a military hospital ship, and gift it the UK Government. RN could man it. I’d die a happy man if we as a nation had such a vessel to use as part of our foreign policy.

  10. Chris B

    Magnificent – truly magnificent ! Don’t agree with a word of it, as you might expect, but well written and well argued points sir :-)

    Army – why so much Light Infantry ? Are you taking the position (which is being rapidly discredited in the USA) that the future is COIN ? You say the vehicle fleets have been influenced by the conflict we are in, but surely the one lesson is that even “light infantry” needs “protected patrol” vehicles, in other words they are not light infantry of ye olde style at all, but “light mechanised” ??

    Navy – believe me the T42 is so old we are not going to use them for anything else ! I have read, and re-read, so excuse me but did you say how many T26 you wanted ??? Only 2 more T45 – BUT – 20 to 30 MCMV/Patrol vessels ? “RN World Police” but with a vessel too small to achieve anything ???

    Which is a nice segway into guns (“Guns, we need more guns” Neo, The Matrix)……. Goalkeeper – now pointless, not as pointless as Phalanx, but pretty pointless against many threat missile systems. Useful against Boghammers, I will give you that much. CIWS requires a missile, e.g. US/German RAM. On to the medium calibre, or lack of in your case. We have used NGS quite a bit, FI, ex-Yugoslavia, Gulf, Libya, but I digress. The modern 5 inch / 127mm with precision guided munitions like the Italian Vulcano with it’s IR guided anti-ship version, and it’s laser guided version, is an incredibly flexible weapons system. With the rate of fire of the Italian OTO 127mm Compact, you could probably do something like the DART beam riding sub-munition they developed for their 76mm, giving you a guided, long(ish) range anti-missile round too. In fact, if you dont want 127mm, then at least go for 76mm instead of Goalkeeper, far more flexible :-)

    By the way, the Admiral can blow smoke up our arses about the performance of the T45 as much as he likes, but until one fires two Asters in quick succession, against two maneuvering supersonic target drones, then it is literally smoke…….

    Can’t be arsed to comment on the Crabs, so I will finish by doing a Homer J Simpson:

    “Mmmmm’ RG35 with 120mm mortars……mmmmmmmm”

  11. Ooops, forgot, why on earth scrap/sell the 3rd Bay, they are sooooo cheap to run, and you remove any “reserve” capability at all……

  12. Mmmm, 3am coffee… I’ll try and run down the reply’s so far because some excellent points were brought up.

    @ X
    “BZ Chris for length” — ??? BZ? I’m not quite down with the kids, shizzle? ;)

    @ Topman
    “Chris B just to clarify, did you mean 6 Sqn of Typhoon extra or in total?” — Extra. As in we have an (expected) order of Tranche 3 Typhoon to rbing us up to full numbers, and then F-35 was supposed to replace Tornado. That F-35 buy would be replaced with 6 sqn worth of Typhoon, to account for the loss of Tornado (it would actually fall short of current Tornado numbers, but that’s why you buy multi-role!)

    @ JS123
    “I wonder about your belief that the point of the army to to gain influence with allies, not to win wars,” — I think you misunderstand me JS. That’s not the sole over riding mission of the Army. Their job is indeed to fight and win wars primarily. However in a coalition operation, if you’re calling on people to unite against a common threat, you’ll struggle to find partners willing to put men on the ground if you yourself don’t.

    @ IXION
    “But I would applaud you for putting forward a positive, logical, well argued, rounded piece” — Tenners in the post mate. Just keep it hush, hush.

    @ AndyW
    “Awesome post Chris” — This is going to get f**king expensive…
    “I don’t entirely agree about Type 26. You’re trying to set this up for export but giving potential customers restrictive choices. e.g. Shouldn’t there be a choice between vls launchers. the main gun should probably be fitted for not with, as others might want a 127mm,” — Trouble is by leaving room for MK.41 VlS, you rob yourself of some much needed room. I just don’t think future customers of the Type 26 would be overly bothered with weapons choices, as most countries that import heavy military goods except that their choices are fairly limited from the start anyway.
    “And no stupid little kennels with ciws placed on top with small firing arcs like the current designs” — Surely the CIWS on the back would cover a fairly decent arc, including inbound path of a missile to the person behind you!

    @ JohnHartley
    “Shame Gordon never funded it” — None of them ever do, that’s the crux of the problem.

    @ PaulG
    “Stop putting BV’s in all vehicles, how very dare you sir, i won’t have that talk on here!!” — I wouldn’t dream of it! I was stating the case that no other nation on Earth understands the value to the British spirit of a good cup of tea, hence we should go it alone so we can be assured that our forces will always have ready access to a brew. Hmmm, EJ200 powered Gripens you say….

    @ Rupert F
    “Sorry, carriers just cannot be done without” — I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.
    “what exactly are all these light brigades going to do?” — This an excellent point and one that I didn’t explain fully. So you have 7 Light Brigades, 2 commando Brigades and enough men in the 5 Armoured/Mechanised Birgades that you could fill out at least one more brigade on infantry. On the principle of “5 units to fill one role” on a 24 month off/6 month on basis, that would permit you to send two brigades at a time to somewhere like Afghanistan on an enduring basis.

    @ James
    “I’ve got a 24 hour journey to the Phillipines in the next few days” — Tuck in fella.
    “Plus, no mention of bands or Pipes and Drums. Major failing. ;)” — I knew I’d missed something!

    @ Jed
    “Magnificent – truly magnificent!” — Jesus, there goes another tenner… I hope you’ve got change.
    “Don’t agree with a word of it” — And to think I point 120mm Mortars in there just for you dude.
    “why so much Light Infantry?” — See above about double brigades.
    “You say the vehicle fleets have been influenced by the conflict we are in, but surely the one lesson is that even “light infantry” needs “protected patrol” vehicles” — Hence why they get the Lions share of what comes back from Afghanistan.
    “I have read, and re-read, so excuse me but did you say how many T26 you wanted?” — Yes. At least as a like for like for Type 23 (thirteen), plus more if the costs could be kept down, with the cost + needs deciding how many are needed.
    “20 to 30 MCMV/Patrol vessels?” — The Royal Navy currently has 15 Mine Counter Measures vessls, four River-Class patrol vessels, 2 boats of the Gibraltar squadron, and four survey vessels, all of which are expected to be replaced by this one clasee. So 20-30, depending on needs.
    “Goalkeeper – now pointless” — Gasp! Sacrilege! What with its dual radars, I was rather led to believe that Goalkeeper was a bit handy.
    “why on earth scrap/sell the 3rd Bay?” — Not exactly doing a lot, are they. I suppose we could just lay the third up, maybe do a three ship rotation.

  13. Hi Chris, A very interesting article. I have a few points to pick at in your overall strategy. I am guestimating that your increase in the Army will bring us up to around 120,000. What exactly does that allow us to do that we can’t do today? Is there any value for the tax payer in having these extra forces? Is it really worth our while to provide yet more ground forces to US operations?
    The legality of sending in SAS units to help in Mexico’s drug wars or Brazil’s slum clearance also strikes me as something we do not want to venture into. Would this type of operation really give us much in the way of diplomatic influence with these countries or any one else?
    With the cancelation of the F35 what do you expect the knock on effect to the British Aviation industry to be? We are building 15% of this aircraft. That does not sound like much but when we are talking about 3000 aircraft it is. Would the USA still let BAE and RR be involved? Would we lose much of our manufacturing capability as a result of the USA pulling production contracts? Would we save any money? I am not sure but I think we must have some production contract in place as a Tier I partner. Also with China, India and Russia already on the way to developing a 5th generation capability how will we look if we don’t have one. Even Belgium is likely to have F35’s along with such mighty world powers as Singapore and Norway.
    While I support the call for reform of the deterrent I don’t think Astute’s and Typhoons launching tactical nukes can really provide this. How do we maintain our position on the Security Council if we are the only nation without SSBN’s?

  14. @ Martin

    — The expansion of the army ensures that we can provide the needed ground forces to future opertaions. One of the problems that we face is the US turning away from Europe. If Europe had to act somewhere (let’s just say Greece for arguments sake) without US ground support, that means someone else would have to fill the void and take the lead. There are not many countries that would be willing or able to do this. Our expanded ground forces could.

    — The SAS would not be expected to fight the Mexican drug war or clear Brazilian slums! Merely provide small training teams, who then then train (either in country or here in the UK) the forces of the nation in question. For example preparing Brazilian military/paramilitary units for counter surveillance and hostage rescue scenarios ahead of the World Cup (it was the capture and then botched rescue attempt of Israeli olympic atheletes in Germany that basically sparked the creation of the UK’s counter revolutionary warfare wing). In the case of Mexico, kidnappings related to gang violence are fairly common (people have been kidnapped for starting Facebook pages denouncing gang violence) so again, the training of high quality paramilitary units would be of great benefit to these countries. This proxy-training model has proved its worth over time.

    — BAE does have a heavy stake in the manufacture of F-35, but a lot of that is to do with the money we invested initially, along with the fact that BAE simply has certain skills that are attractive to the program. Rolls-Royce have effectively been shut out of the program already, with their alternative engine for the B version dropped. I’m also not sure I would qualify F-35 as a true 5th generation fighter, more like 4.75. (See the comments about building BAE Replica in the RAF section)

    — The Permanent membership of the Security Council is not dependent on the possession of Nuclear weapons, let along SSBN’s. A myriad of factors put us there and it would be very difficult to remove us. Cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads still make domestic invasion almost impossible, while providing a degree of “return fire” flexibility, without most of the cost associated with something like an SSBN.

  15. @ Chris B

    I do not really see the ability to provide substantial ground elements as the most important coalition enabler. Europe alone has more than 2 million men in its armies and while most of these are short service conscripts many are not. I do take on your point that if we want to go we have to provide a substantial part of the ground force but what constitutes substantial. Would a British deployment of say 15,000 to a European operation of 50,000 not constitute a substantial presence? Also we have to really ask the question I think of whether or not having the ability to sustain two brigades is an ability we really want or need. As you say given the option politicians are always going to end up sending in our forces. While I commend the idea of giving those forces and adequate weight to do the job I would question the desire to commit to such deployments. If Afghanistan has taught us anything surely it is that large scale ground forces even ones as capable and professional as ours cannot win a protracted COIN war through force of arms. If we are to commit to such operations surely it should be on a smaller level more in line with our population size. Perhaps 5000 troops.
    The two things Europe and everyone else has in spades are ground forces and fast pointy things. However no one other than the USA has the ability to deploy and control them. Surely this is where we should concentrate the bulk of our tight budget.
    I take your point about SAS training foreign forces however as far as I know this is something we already commit too. I think as you say it’s something we really need to focus on doing more of. However I am not sure if the SAS are the bets guys for the job of defence diplomacy. Give the small size of this force would it not be better to have a second special force purely dedicated to the task something along the lines of the US Green Berries.
    We can agree to disagree on the 5th Generation capability of F35. However turning Replica into an aircraft is exactly what the F35 is. It was the major reason for Lockheed partnering with BAE. While I don’t doubt there are some key skills that will keep BAE in the loop I doubt we can expect anything like as much if we pull out of purchasing any. The knock on effects to our relations with the US could also be devastating if our withdrawal gives other partner nations the excuse to pull out leaving the US to either cancel its most important military project or foot the bill itself.
    I realise there is no formal requirement to have SSBN’s to be on the Security Council. However it’s the one weapon system that all members have and it’s the one weapon system no one else has. We should not underestimate the importance of symbols when it comes to defence diplomacy. We do not have these weapons to defend against invasion of our homeland in a tactical sense. Rather it gives us the ability to devastate an enemy’s home land. How effective would Astute and Typhoon be at achieving this goal against say China? I agree that SSBN’s are expensive and they are something I would love to cut but surely having an SSN with 4 or 6 tubes for trident that could also be backed to carry 7 Tomahawks for conventional assault would be better. We have already paid for Trident 5D and developing a nuclear capable cruise missile is not likely going to be cheap.

  16. @ChrisB, fantastic article i’ve read it three times and still don’t think i’ve absorbed it all… I’ve tried starting my own amateurish post and appreciate how hard and time consuming it is… Well done.

    Though like Jed I don’t agree with much of it… My main sticking points is the size of the army you propose and the culling of carrier air. Will write more detailed points when I think i’ve understood the whole package.

  17. “I and others have often been challenged with what I personally believe to be the very tenuous argument of “well at least I’ve made a suggestion, what’s yours?”, by which logic a suggestion to take a long bath in high concentration acid would immediately be validated if no alternative course of action could be suggested.”

    Not had chance to read it all yet (busy today) but thought this needed replying too.
    I ask that querstion (well, what would you do) for several reasons.
    Firstly, because I am genuinely interested.

    But Secondly, to actualy put some thought in.
    What I suggested wasnt my ideal force structure. I’d love a 250,000 strong army and a half a million strong militia to back them up.
    I’m still working on my third SRPD post.

  18. ‘This brigade would also need its own formation reconnaissance regiment, so I suspect the 9th/12th Royal Lancers would be split back into the 9th Queens Royal Lancers and the 12th Royal Lancers to accommodate this.’

    Wow. Just wow. I suspect the HCav (or any regiment in existence) would be a more likely candidate for a split than 9/12. I’m afraid I stopped reading at this point, as anyone who knows anything about the army/recce would have been too busy choking on their cornflakes to continue.

  19. Ed – the 9th/12th Lancers are a formation recce unit formed in the 1960’s. They’re a pretty good candidate. Notice as well the use of the word “suspect”, as in, it would be down to the army to decide. Frankly I’m not that bothered who the army decides to use, but on the face it of it they seem the most logical choice.

  20. ‘the 9th/12th Lancers are a formation recce unit formed in the 1960′s’. Really? I had no idea.

    Formation recce is actually now called Brigade Recce, but never mind that. It’s just that 9/12 are not a ‘pretty good candidate’.

  21. And Jackal is not an acceptable Recce vehicle in anything other than a COIN environment. Firepower – Mobility – Protection? No. No. No.

  22. I am not sure if the premise was to better allocate the current budget (or the smaller one in the future); perhaps it was said, but I overlooked it?

    If that was the angle, I can’t agree (in the Jed and Repulse camp, then).I’ve read Martin’s original post about an unbalanced force and if he is going to improve on that (as hinted?), this thread is going to evolve into a nice menu from which everyone will find something to like.

    Just a small detail about “Rolls-Royce have effectively been shut out of the program already, with their alternative engine for the B version dropped.”
    – yes, they and their partner offered to finish the development with $2bn and the rest coming out of their own funds, but dropping “B” meant that a lot of “friends” dropped us in return, and that offer was not good enough
    – they do make the lift fans in Indianapolis (final assembly, so in reality they are made over here; so it is not only BAE who are getting the industrial benefits of the global programme)

  23. Re: Joint Combat SAR, i’ve read that there was a plan, i think in 2006, to prepare E Flight, 28 RAF Sqn, and a Flight of 4 Sea King HC4 from CHF, for CSAR role.

    One would be manned by the RAF, with RAF regiment personnel for the fighting bit, and one would be Navy, with Marines, for operating in CSAR role in amphibious areas.

    The programme was never officially cancelled, but effectively died on its own due to the pressure that the helicopter personnel and fleets have been facing all this time on operation.

    Perhaps, when Afghanistan is over, an effort for resurrecting the concept will be made. However the original plan involved experienced SAR crews coming from the national service and rotating in and out of the CSAR role.

    If military SAR crews cease to be, it’ll automatically become harder to provide the service.

  24. Hi Ed,

    Even in a COIN environment (mines and IEDs), isn’t the verdict “Protection? No. No. No.” on this alone for Jackal
    – I was voted down when we were speculating about the two Scout (equipped) and one wheeled Squadron make up, at the time when that intention was announced

  25. Hi Chris, had time to chew over. Here are some of my thoughts.

    Personally I think a batch of these would go down nicely for some Quick Reaction Alert duties. It’s cheaper to fly, cheaper to maintain, and frees up the Typhoon fleet for more pressing matters such as training alongside the army and navy. I understand that its climb rate isn’t what you’d expect out of an interceptor, mainly because an interceptor it is not.

    At the moment (as you no doubt know) the reverse is true. I’m not sure using an aircraft designed capable of QRA to a very high standard would be best used in a training role it’s a waste. And likewise using something that is designed as a trainer in QRA is a waste. You’re getting no savings just using a/c in a role they aren’t designed to do. Training can easily be done be the hawk in FAC role leaving typhoon to perform one of it’s key roles. You should look to get the strengths out of each a/c. A small amount of training is still done with front line a/c for fam training. But isn’t that key, many UK facs use foriegn a/c having never worked with them before.

    ‘The RAF would also need to dig out the gunnery manuals and get cracking on some air-to-ground gunfire support.’

    Do you mean in general or specifically towards Typhoon? Generally speaking it already happens. I can’t swear that it happens on Typhoon but (second hand) the gun bay at Coningsby is pretty busy for an aircraft that does no guning!

    ‘One of the complaints for example that seems to repeatedly come up is the time lag between the collection of data by RAPTOR in Afghanistan and its arrival at the those places where the information is most desperately needed. This fundamentally has to change. The RAF needs to get deadly serious about how it interacts with and supports the Army and Navy.’

    That is a network problem IIRC. The system in afghan can’t handle the amount of data that is needed. The problem is further down the line than TIW.

    ‘It needs to be considered a core mission of the RAF, up there with protecting UK airspace. Being directed in against ground targets under the control of a ground director should be as second nature to a pilot, if not more so, as his air-to-air combat skills.’

    Would already be so on say the GR4 fleet, they’ve being doing it for years. Their air-air skills very much take a back seat.

    ‘I would also require as part of the “Chris.B. Reforms” that the RAF keep a squadron of Typhoons at permanent readiness, with the ability to deploy at 24 hours notice to a foreign base in support of operations overseas, with the ability to deploy two further squadrons in the following 48 hours if needed.’

    Wow! That would eat up a very large % of your fleet, (3 out of 11?) it would have an enormous impact on training, you’re tying down a lot of people. To support something like that we would have to have a supply chain, like we’ve never seen on Typhoon ever (and will never) and across the RAF not seen in decades (if ever!).

    This is not a high priority though. If it were to go ahead, the option of swapping out the engines for something with a higher by-pass ratio and no afterburner (I’m thinking fuel efficiency here) would be looked at.

    It wouldn’t really be possible, the RB199 is quite a small engine something with a higher bypass ratio would take up too much space. Reheat would still be needed to get off the ground with safety. On SS missions you generally as close to the max weight as a GR4 has been. You need that extra thrust. The costs of redesign would dwarf any fuel savings especially on a one sqn fleet.

    ‘Continuing the theme of air transport, and in light of the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, it might be worth considering the purchase of 3-5 Antonov An-124’s’

    This was looked at in the late 90’s pre C17. There is a copy of it on Hansards as to why they didn’t go down the russian route. The idea against it was, a lot of it would be redesigned in the cockpit, ie it’s in russian and metres. They was also a concern about safety. The rest was political, our heavy lift would be depended on russian support, the engineering authority all the major servicing, parts, repair etc all in russia. It was something they didn’t want to expose themselves to.

    ‘Although these will spend the bulk of their life doing transport work, they can be set up to perform aerial refuelling,’

    Not sure if it’s an urban myth but I think it’s expensive or undoable under the PFI for the A330s.

    ‘This is where the RAF Regiment come in, who would retain their role in the protection of UK air bases here and abroad, but would also provide the ground security element to CSAR operations.’

    They already do that to a lesser extent, in E flight on 28 Sqn. Although if you wanted to do it more like the US system I think that would be a good idea. Although some cap badges in the army might have a collective seizure!

  26. “The Permanent membership of the Security Council is not dependent on the possession of Nuclear weapons, let along SSBN’s.”

    Agreed ChrisB,

    An interesting article with a lot of detail, I particularly like the idea of making greater use of the Hawk (but perhaps for forward presence / conflict prevention), but I do totally disagree with the main thrust of the article (i.e. ditch carriers and expand army).

  27. To weigh in on my specialist subject:

    “I will need an adequate explanation from someone with more knowledge on this matter as to why the RFA couldn’t just be merged into the Royal Navy, becoming the floating equivalent of the Royal Logistic Corps.”

    It already is, just with a civvy cap badge: 1) You can’t really conscript 2000 civil servants, 2) Civvies are cheaper. Point 2) is why the Bays are still RFA manned despite an RN grab for them a few years ago.

    Diligence is not an icebreaker and why do you want two?

    Waves have minimal dry stores capability: a hold the size of your garage and space for a few fridgecons on deck. A repeat Wave – which is roughly what the MARS Fleet Tanker is, but with corners cut for cost-saving – would be fine for the tanker element, but no good for dry stores or munitions. Mixing significant dry stores and liquid cargo capacity on one ship leads to either major compromises or a huge, expensive vessel.

    Bays “not doing a lot”?!!! You didn’t notice Cardigan sat up the NAG for years? Lyme out there now doing MCMV support? Largs on APT(N) (and even APT(S)!)? Without even mentioning the regular support to amphibious and land exercises? The Bays are worked hard.

  28. With my earlier caveat of not having read it all.

    Just a thought regarding “interceptions”
    Does the UK make a habit of parking bombers 11 miles out to sea?
    If not, what realisticaly could someone “do” if we said “we will consider all military aircraft without permission a threat” and proceded to shoot them down rather than follow them around in a very expensive fighter?

  29. Regarding the RAF – as Chris B suggests but for entirely different reasons – it’s hard to see the argument for the RAF to buy the F35 whichever way you look at it.

    As it stands the SDSR proposes the RAF retire 50 Typhoons and the entire Tornado fleet prematurely, to create space on the organisational chart to replace those with an unspecified number of F35. This strategy, if you can call it that, is probably a hangover from the notion pre the SDSR that the RAF would gain the F35A as a new long range strike capability and incidentally replacing the Tornado in the general ground attack role. Typhoon by default would remain for air defence which is probably why the RAF didn’t pursue the Typhoon’s swing role capability with any great vigour.

    However, with the SDSR now giving the navy the F35C, the role of long range strike is now in the navy’s camp unless the government wants to pay for it twice, and the RAF is left to argue that it needs the F35 anyway to replace the Typhoon as a general ground attack aircraft. Which it doesn’t need to do at all.

  30. I still cant take these things seriously…

    Also, Typhoon’scannon is cleared for A2G work, and was carried out stateside, though training may not be priority atm

  31. The RFA is in a constant stage of metamorphasis. To carry out military duties the Merchant Shipping Act was adapted and amended to allow certain military duties to be performed and keep things lawful. When in ‘harms way’ however their legal standing changes to that of retained/reserve forces and the Naval Dis Act applied to all crew members at which time they ‘cease’ to be civilians as such. Senior officers go on the various warfare and command courses offered by the MOD (N)and the civilian crew members train on the self defence weaponry fitted to the vessels, much the same as the RNR would do, as of course they are in normal times civilians as well.

  32. @ Ed

    You haven’t provided a reason why 9th/12th are not a good candidate. Until you do, it can only be assumed that perhaps you were an ex-member and don’t want to see the unit split? Provide a good reason and it’ll be considered. As for the Jackal, we have an ex-recce chap who recommended the vehicle. That’s a fairly good starting point I’d say.

    @ Topman
    The Typhoons training is more for their own benefit, as in the fact that we currently have so few pilots qualified air to ground in the Typhoon. The other issue that has come up has been the low availability of Typhoon. Taking it away from the QRA frees up squadrons who are otherwise tied to this role.

    Per Gunnery, I was under the assumption that the gun was installed but was simply not used. If that is not the case then disregard that comment.

    Per RAPTOR and the problems, there is a problem which needs solving. We need solutions and they need to be prioritised.

    Per air to ground, their is a perception, either warranted or unwarranted, that the RAF is not as interested as it needs to be in providing CAS to the army, particularly with the Typhoon. And where there is smoke, there is often fire (or a smoke machine).

    Per squadrons and expeditionary air, the current Typhoon batch will – after the retirement of the Tranche 1’s sit at over 100. On paper that’s at least 8 squadrons, plus the further six outlined which brings the tally to 14. Only one of these would be on the 24 hour notice. The remaining two would plucked from other duties.

    Per Tornadoes, that was – as mentioned – not a high priority and like the Type 42 section in the Navy, more of a speculative “if it could be done then fine, if not then F**k it” type thing.

    Per AN-124, we hire them out anyway for major operations. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to do the needed deal to get the support UK based, especially as the Russians could use the cash to get that project off the ground.

    Per A330 PFI, I believe that is a myth.

    Per CSAR, yes, it would be more along the US system.

    @ Anixtu
    Per Diligence, I was lead to believe that while not an icebreaker, that she was at least built to a certain standard for operations in icy areas? Not true? If so disregard, the intention was just to find a replacement that could match her, it need not exceed her.

    Per RFA, point taken. That was what I was looking for, an adequate explanation.

    Per Waves, would it not be possible to build a ship from the start that could “swing” effectively, and go heavy dry or heavy wet? I’ll freely admit that the RFA is a huge gap in my knowledge.

    Per Bays, the patrols could really be done by ships a little more suited to that task. You’d still have one Bay active and one rested up. It seems the Bay’s are drawing a lot of attention and on reflection there’s probably room to downsize the RAF AWACS replacement to four instead of five, and the MPA replacement to 8 instead of 10, which would provide the needed breathing room for two active Bays and a third rested up.

    @ DomJ
    What – dare I ask – do you think would happen if we simply shot down a Russian MPA?

    @ Mike
    The cannon may be cleared, but unless it’s trained with it’s of no use. The general purpose of this article, as mentioned at the top is to provoke debate more anything and outline the alternatives to the “Navy Heavy” and give a flavour of what an “Army Heavy” would look like, even though the Army outlined above is, at least currently, simply the existing force slightly restructred, which brings me to ACC

    @ ACC
    This is intended as a reshuffling of the existing force with an eye on the future. I could easily post up an “if I had the money this is what I would do” type post, but where does that kind of thing stop? Where do you set your limits? 3% of GDP? 5%? 10%?

    @ JDBFRTX
    Cheers.

    @ LouisB,
    Cheers, and reference you back to my comments moments ago to Anixtu.

    @ All
    Ref; Carriers. If we were deleting a major carrier arm, like chopping multiple Nimitz class ships off, then I could see the argument. We’re not. Our Carrier force for years has consisted of little more than a limited number of Harriers that don’t come close to the “Power Projection” standards of Charles de Gaulle for example. Yet we’ve got by quite well. Looking forward, we already know that we are only likely to get one cats and traps carrier, with a very limited air arm. I don’t think this will have the impact that some think. and in the context of a tight budgetary situation with lots of committments to be met (none of which need a carrier) I just think it’s a waste of scarce resources.

    This is also probably a good time to point out that my piss poor memory has lead to an error with regards the Type 45. Having double checked, there’s is probably room funding wise – based on the plan in the article going ahead – to build four “Batch 2” Type 45, not just two. That would leave a total fleet of ten vessels, not eight.

    Now, if nothing else then this exercise has been – for me at least – very eye opening as to just how difficult it is to find ways to squeeze the MoD for all it’s worth in order to meet all our current and likely future committments. I frankly don’t envy the Minister for Defence.

    And as I said in the article, we all know the real solution, and that’s to understand that defence capabilities take a long time to generate and thus defence really needs to be funded properly, or else the number of committments needs to be contracted.

  33. Jackal. It has it’s uses certainly. But there’s barely any armour on the thing. No way I’d want to use it in a conventional fight. It’s useful for light forces and COIN.

  34. So one ‘ex recce chap’ thinks they are suitable? Right. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be rolling into Iran 24 hours ahead of the armour in one! I just find your hypothesis that the 9/12 would be split ludicrous. Why not HCav into Blues and Royals and Life Guards, QRL into 17/21 and 16/5, QDG into….etc etc. It is simply so unlikely that it is mind boggling!

  35. Well one thing occured to me is with the Warriors being extended out, how much of an arse ache would it be to do a life extension on the FV432 fleet? Possibly the 40mm CTA on Scimitar etc?

    And although this probably isn’t the place for this, there’s news coming through of a grenade attack in Liege, Belgium. Possibly with gunfire associated. It currently appears to fit the profile of how Al-Qaeda has been urging “grass roots” attackers to conduct low level, solo operations.

  36. “I just find your hypothesis that the 9/12 would be split ludicrous. Why not HCav into Blues and Royals and Life Guards, QRL into 17/21 and 16/5, QDG into….etc etc. It is simply so unlikely that it is mind boggling!”

    — Mind boggling. That in order to find a new recce regiment the army would split a current regiment that is an amalgamation of two previous regiments? They may well have a preference for splitting another regiment, but to call the split of the 9th/12th Lancers “mind boggling” says more about your mind that it does about the suggestion.

  37. ‘Well one thing occured to me is with the Warriors being extended out, how much of an arse ache would it be to do a life extension on the FV432 fleet? Possibly the 40mm CTA on Scimitar etc?’

    If your area of expertise is the Navy, stick to that. A life extension of the FV432 fleet? More bolted on, bodged Scimitar upgrades? And this is your ‘fantasy fleet’? You MUST work in the MOD procurement business (and probably in the armoured vehicles department). Seriously, I am a believer in the view that, when it comes to the Army, if enough people talk about something then it generally happens; which is why these sort of suggestions need to be squashed at the point of conception.
    I am sure it wouldn’t be an arse ache, other than for the poor souls asked to live and fight in the damn things. Still more money left over to spend on boats or something. Cue anger….

  38. Ed,

    Trying being less of a toss pot and maybe people will open their ears to your infinite wisdom.

  39. ‘Trying being less of a toss pot and maybe people will open their ears to your infinite wisdom.’

    Oooooooh!

  40. Fella your contribution has been basically “rah, rah, that’s impossible”. I feel like you’ve really contributed to the debate.

  41. The Typhoons training is more for their own benefit, as in the fact that we currently have so few pilots qualified air to ground in the Typhoon. The other issue that has come up has been the low availability of Typhoon. Taking it away from the QRA frees up squadrons who are otherwise tied to this role.

    Not really I priority at the moment with the GR4 fleet. I’ve no doubt you could, but to me QRA is the Typhoon’s number one role and in the defence of the UK, the RAF. Using Hawks for something like QRA when we have better a/c is something I don’t get. Most of the availability issues are spares, moving roles won’t change that.

    Per RAPTOR and the problems, there is a problem which needs solving. We need solutions and they need to be prioritised.

    I agree, however pointing the finger at the RAF, as if it were hanging about with finger in proverbial isn’t really accurate. The problem is further down the line.

    ‘Per air to ground, their is a perception, either warranted or unwarranted, that the RAF is not as interested as it needs to be in providing CAS to the army, particularly with the Typhoon.’

    I’d rather people deal with the reality rather than the perceptions. There’s already too much of it happening in this country.

    ‘Per squadrons and expeditionary air, the current Typhoon batch will – after the retirement of the Tranche 1′s sit at over 100. On paper that’s at least 8 squadrons, plus the further six outlined which brings the tally to 14. Only one of these would be on the 24 hour notice. The remaining two would plucked from other duties.’

    100 would get you 5 sqns not 8, the extra ones would give you a total of about 9 sqns(+ocu & oeu) not 14. It’s very diificult to place a unit on 48 hours to move then have them do ‘other duties’ to any real extent. They are either on stand by or not. Along with the Nuclear role you would want them to take, it would be streched force. Away from the sqns you would also have a massively increased RAF. The supply side would have to increase hugely and the security and all aspects of nuclear weapons is large and expensive,(and long gone in the raf).

    ‘Per Tornadoes, that was – as mentioned – not a high priority and like the Type 42 section in the Navy, more of a speculative “if it could be done then fine, if not then F**k it” type thing.’

    Fair enough.

    ‘Per AN-124, we hire them out anyway for major operations. I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to do the needed deal to get the support UK based, especially as the Russians could use the cash to get that project off the ground.’

    I see, putting them under some sort of permanant lease would make more sense.

    ‘Per A330 PFI, I believe that is a myth.’

    I thought it might be.

    ‘Per CSAR, yes, it would be more along the US system.’

    Expensive but worth it, we’ve got away with it for years with large gaps in that area.

  42. I just don’t think that you should be making comments on subjects that you clearly have little or no knowledge of. I don’t know one end of a ISO container or bridging asset from another, so don’t comment on those posts. Recce/CVRt/Armoured vehicle are things that I am pretty well versed in, so if you don’t like what I have to say then boo hoo. I just abhor idiots talking about extending the life of 40 year old vehicles and advocating Jackal as a recce car, whilst demonstrating a five year old’s view of the regimental system: ie. That regiment is made of two numbers, so we could split it!

  43. @ Topman

    “Not really I priority at the moment with the GR4 fleet.” — GR4 fleet wouldn’t just be dropped immediately, but gradually phased out.

    “I’d rather people deal with the reality rather than the perceptions. There’s already too much of it happening in this country.” — Lot of Army bods who would argue the reality.

    “100 would get you 5 sqns not 8, the extra ones would give you a total of about 9 sqns(+ocu & oeu) not 14.” — If an RAF squadron is 12 aircraft, with 4 dedicated to OCU/OEU and 8 for duties, then 100 aircraft should give you more than 5 squadrons. Unless Sqaudron strength has risen to 20 since I last checked?

    “It’s very diificult to place a unit on 48 hours to move then have them do ‘other duties’ to any real extent. They are either on stand by or not.” – If they truly can’t react with 48 hours notice to move then the people calling for the disbandment of RAF might well be on to something.

  44. @Chris.B.

    What an outstanding post, Chris. I think andyw’s word “awesome” describes it fittingly.

    It therefore seems carping to point to omissions or rather to points only touched on. However, I thought I would mention one point concerning the Army that occurs to me. At least two recent conflicts which we have taken part in have involved COIN warfare rather than high intensity, conventional combat. In those conflicts mine and IED detection and clearance have been of the highest importance. I notice that you do not give much prominence to capabilities such as Talisman.

    I’m not sure exactly how to express this because I haven’t formulated the idea fully in my own mind. However, would it not perhaps be a good idea if at least one of your brigades were to specialize in COIN capabilities e.g. heavily protected vehicles (Mastiffs, Ridgbacks, Wolfhounds, etc.), with the Engineers’ component having state-of-the-art anti-mine and IED systems, etc. etc. The brigade could also be well equipped with drones and other capabilities essential in COIN warfare.

    That brigade would then be the one of the earliest (although not the first, which is more likely to be a rapid deployment formation) to be deployed to any trouble spot which turns out to involve COIN warfare. If you like, the unit could be smaller than a Brigade. I don’t know whether there is any mileage in the idea of a specialist COIN formation as one of the five brigades.

    Buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle and the High Mobility Engineer Excavator (HMEE).

    For me their use after the Afghanistan war basically would involve the Mastiff, Ridgeback, Wolfhound and Foxhound vehicles being assigned to the light infantry as in order to provide them with a degree of protected mobility, with the Jackal’s and Husky’s being transferred to the reconnaissance regiments.

  45. @ Ed

    “Recce/CVRt/Armoured vehicle are things that I am pretty well versed in, so if you don’t like what I have to say then boo hoo.”

    — You’ve yet to prove anything approximating that.

    “whilst demonstrating a five year old’s view of the regimental system: ie. That regiment is made of two numbers, so we could split it!”

    — Funny, considering one of your counter proposal was simply to break up another regiment into two, because it it has four numbered squadrons in it?

    Whatever Ed. I’ve no idea who you are, or what your intentions are, but I’ll leave you to your peace. Entertain yourself mate.

  46. ‘Lot of Army bods who would argue the reality. ‘

    I’m sure they would, but it doesn’t make it so.

    ‘If an RAF squadron is 12 aircraft, with 4 dedicated to OCU/OEU and 8 for duties, then 100 aircraft should give you more than 5 squadrons. Unless Sqaudron strength has risen to 20 since I last checked?’

    No it doesn’t work like that, there would 12 on each sqn. But some are away on maintaince in TMU, there’s about 20 aircraft at any one point, some are at warton the OEU has 5, the OCU has about 17 a/c. Add in attritional spares and that’s how many sqns you would get.

    ‘If they truly can’t react with 48 hours notice to move then the people calling for the disbandment of RAF might well be on to something.’

    ‘Reacting’ isn’t the issue, it’s being able to do something useful like deploy in 48 hrs whilst your putting them on other duties. Not only that having the support such as supply how are you goint to fill out that many PEPs?

  47. Sorry, should have added at the end.

    Shortage of spares is an issue, I’m not saying you can’t do it, you would have to bulk out the tail end of the RAF. You just didn’t mention it that’s all, if that’s the case I would support it. [can you tell what service I’m in :-)] For examples of rapid deployment look at 5 AC Sqn in GW1 or 41(F) Sqn in SL.

  48. Funny, considering one of your counter proposal was simply to break up another regiment into two, because it it has four numbered squadrons in it?

    That was a clearly failed attempt to highlight the absurdity of your suggestion. And if you have no expertise in an area I wouldn’t expect you to recognise another’s. I eagerly anticipate you next article on putting an AS90 turret on a Spartan or something.

  49. @Topman, the assumption was made (perhaps should have detailed it) that with the Typhoon fleet expanding then spares availability would reach the required standard. The RAF would need to do whatever had to be done to meet the requirements. The specific details of it can still be jigged out, as the article itself is designed as a basic template, which requires the detail being filled in (I think I wrote “coloured in” in the document).

    @ Mike W
    As posted, the Light Brigades would receive the bulk of the returned PPV’s, assuming they did come back. If they get left there then that throws a spanner in the works somewhat.

  50. I might as well entertain this.

    So you’re telling me Ed that with warning notice the Army couldn’t say;

    “Right, in x years time we’re due to take on an additional recce regiment. Given the long lead we have, we need to find crews for a full replacement regiment. It’s probably best if we split personnel from a current regiment between the two. Now which one?”

    “Err… what about the 9th/12th Lancers Boss?”

    “That’ll do. Now let’s figure out the plan of how we’re going to do this…”

    Still impossible Ed? Mind Boggling even?

  51. Ed Z

    WTF ? Give the man a break ! If TD lets him make a guest post with Fantasy in the tittle what exactly do you expect for the level of detailed content ? I presume your serving or ex-Squaddie with armoured recce experience, so to you it may well be blindingly obvious to split the HCar back into its recently amalgamated Blues & Royals and the Lifeguards; that is specific domain knowledge you have, and indeed I am some awareness of having a Dad who was the old Blues, and having worked with the modern Blues and Royals.

    So, rather than just making snotty short comments, why not take some time, and use your domain expertise to point out the fallacies, mistakes etc as presented by Chris’ approach ? Educate your reader as to why constantly “upgrading” (picture the massive air qoutes around that one) crappy old kit like FV432/Bulldog or CVR(T) is a bad idea – it would be far more useful to the rest of us, and the debate in general than your just diving in and berating Chris for being an idiot because he is not ex-Recce !

  52. Chris you can’t split an amalgamated Cavalry Regiment. There’d be set piece battles and advances to contact over the Regimental silver and plate and all the other random stuff they’ve nicked over the years from friend and foe. Everyone would have to learn new old toasts and idiosyncrasies all over again and OPTEMPO is too high for those sort of shenanigans. Plus new mess dress, ruinous man!

  53. Fair enough if money is no object then yes it could be done, but do you still feel it meets ‘being that it will attempt to meld current financial reality with the current defence situation that faces the UK’ ?

  54. Time to wade in…

    Chris has taken the time to create a very thought provoking and broad brush document that sets out similarly broad choices on equipment, as per the title.

    Lets not get too bogged down in the detail but it seems to be that 4WD open top vehicles have always been part of the recce mix so why would Jackal not continue in that vein?

    We have discussed everything from using CR2 in the recce role to the role of Facebook in the same role, we can be constructive and make an effort to educate each other.

    On the regimental issue, I despair, I really do.

    As soon as the Regimental systems historical and completey anachronistic and counter productive baggage is kicked into touch the better we will be

  55. @ Jed
    Errr, thanks? ;)

    @ Phil
    Fair point. New cap badges would also have to be acquired.

    @ Topman
    Given the removal of the GR4 fleet then over time you would have cash otherwise diverted to supporting them that would now shift to the Typhoon fleet.

    Just as a note of interest. Presuming you had a nine sqaudron fleet, and assuming that I’ve freed them of QRA, what would you expect them to be able to do, expeditionary wise. I’m talking how many aircraft, with how much notice?

  56. Diligence – may have an ice class hull, especially as she was built in Sweden for Stena, but that just means she can operate in areas where she may encounter ice up to a certain thickness, either free floating or when following an actual icebreaker through a lead in pack ice, but she cannot icebreak on her own. Ice class hulls are quite common, the Bays have them for example.

    Swing-role replenishment is +/- impossible. Your hull spaces must be either tanks for liquid cargo with pumps and pipes or holds for solid cargo equipped with MHE, lifts and cranes. Combining them in multirole leads to large, expensive ships like the newer Fort class. The expense and disproportionately low performance of such is why Fort George was disposed of in the SDSR rather than the much older solid-only Fort Austin or Fort Rosalie.

    Ref Bays… If there were ships available suited to the task! APT(N) is actually quite appropriate, given the Bay’s capacity for disaster relief – look at Largs performance in Haiti. ISTR the figure of £5-10million per year to run a Bay. Peanuts!

  57. @ Anixtu

    Right, we can work your Bays into the mix then. MARS would have to then be split into a kind of dual class Tanker and dry versions. And Diligence replacement would then just be built to the same Ice class as Diligence is.

  58. chris b assuming budgets at the level you have implied with your choices. I would say somewhere in the mid 40s for a one off then high 20s on a more long term basis. Assuming 172 ac in the fleet.

  59. just a note fleet planners now think in terms of ac deployed rather than sqns. How quickly could they deploy if they had the kit and tanked then fast. 5 sqn deployed and started flying over saudi in 48 hours. I’m not saying your plan to have large numbers on stand by couldn’t be done just that it would eat up a lot me logs and cost a lot.

  60. Let’s try something a little less ambitious then and go the numbers route instead of the squadron route.

    In fact no, let me explain the thought process and then we’ll work back from there.

    So, per the document, Carrier air is gone. Carriers were pegged to carry at least 12 aircraft on a routine basis and 36 on a surge. Without Carriers that means that if something goes awry somewhere then we need to deploy RAF aircraft instead.

    So you’ve got a limited time frame, measured at most (in general) as 14 days. How many aircraft can you get to somewhere (let’s just say Kenya) in that time frame? How many can you realistically operate, given a fleet of around 172 (I think it actually totes up just a little more than that)?

    Could you put down 12 aircraft in that time and then surge another 24 to support them, plus weapons (they might be required to start off air-to-air and pull some SEAD duty, then switch air-to-ground and CAS, possibly some Storm Shadow use chucked in there as well).

  61. like i said with enough spares, cash, logs support, AT etc and nothing else is ‘on the board’ then yes.

  62. Chris B – just to be clear, I am not calling you and idiot, I enjoyed your piece, and I take it at face value as response to other such peices, and way to perpetuate / push the debate.

    Like I said, apart from the appeal of Rg35’s and 120mm mortars, I don’t personally agree with much of it, especially the large number of light infantry brigades, but I value your time and effort in writing it, and feel that getting into stupid squabbles over which regiments should / could be split is frakkin ridiculous :-)

    I bet the Cylons don’t even give their base ships names, and they’re gonna find us, eventually…..

  63. @ Topman – “just a note fleet planners now think in terms of ac deployed rather than sqns.”

    This is the FEAR acronym; Force Elements at Readiness?

    What FEaR is tornado fleet expected to provide, that may well prove a useful benchmark for RAF power-projection in future.

  64. @ Topman
    Right, we’ve got that sorted then! That was part of the intention of all this hoo hah, to bring out these details.

    @ Jed
    No worries! I knew you’d like the 120mm’s. With the infantry brigades, don’t forget that one would basically be locked up serving Cyprus/Falklands, and all of them are only 3-btns strong. For something like Afghanistan etc, you’d be looking at two deployed at a time, with the two commando brigades and a composite chaffed from the armoured/mechanised brigades providing the full needed numbers to rotate 5 “double brigades” or even the dreaded “pocket division” through theatre.

  65. @jedi yes that’s the new phrase. When the fleet is reduced to 96 i think it around 18 sorry can’t remember the exact figure off the top of my head. @ chris b no problem :-)

  66. @ topman, couldn’t find a link to the EJ220, or the EJ2x0. A bit on wikki, which i know doesn’t really count, however whilst searching there was a forum blog thingy, where they were discussing supercruise without afterburner. In amongst the squabbling some swedish came up and said the gripen had been designed to take the EJ200 as well as the F414, reason it wasn’t in was no-one had asked for it.
    So there must be some designs, paperwork etc etc on this, so CAS for RAF and sea G for navy (unless chris gets to FSL)!! and with the typhoon it’s all one engine for spares, publications etc.

    bit of copy and paste ref An-124, it has passed euro certification and obviously points to note 2012 sees the assembly line reopening, with western engines back in the frame for the chinese. They do like to say they are ukranian not russian on their website!!

    The An-124-100-150 “Ruslan” passed certificate testing on 25 April 2007. At the final stage of the trial, a piloting-and-navigation system (PNS) was put on the test. The purpose was to make sure it meets the requirements of basic and accurate zonal navigation (B-RNAV and P-RNAV) when performing terminal taking-off and arrival procedures to European airports, where these procedures are certified and should be performed by means of zonal navigation method.

    The An-124-100M aircraft, with western avionics and a payload of 150 tons, was to be the initial product of renewed assembly by the Antonov Design Bureau and Volga-Dnipro group of companies, which had signed a contract in 2003 to resume production of the An-124 Ruslan aircraft. The An-124-100M variant complies with chapter 4 ICAO and other new technical requirements.

    The An-124-100M-150, a modernized Ruslan with a cargo capacity of 150 tons, is planned for series production starting in 2012 in a broad Russian-Ukrainian cooperation. The new version of the airplane certified by the interstate aviation committee in June of 2007 complies with requirements of European control of zonal navigation P-RNAV, as well as accuracy requirements of piloting airplanes ?-RNP-1. Preparation for the validation of certificate of type by the EASA was already started in 2008. Ruslan International Ltd (UK) established by the partners in 2006 acts as the marketing agent of the Ukrainian and Russian operators. Volga-Dnepr and ANTK Antonov intend to renew the production of the transport airplanes, placing an order on 17 aircraft. Motor Sich will design a modified D-18T engine of 4th series especially for these aircraft.

    The proposed An-124-210, with 264-kN Rolls-Royce RB.211-524H-T engines in lieu of the 229-kN ZMKB Progress D-18T offers better field performance, requiring a 2,300m strip for takeoff instead of 2,800 m for the current An-124-100 model.

    The An-124-300 is a new version Antonov would like to produce which would use more powerful Western turbofan engines and be able to carry an increased load of 150 tons. Design work is underway to create a supersized An-124-300 designed for nonstop transcontinental flights. The Chinese PLA would ostensibly purchase this freighter to become more competitive in commercial outsized cargo transport.

  67. oh yes forgot RG-35’s all the way, 4×4 version for light gun tractor, 6×6 for command of light gun batteries and flat bed version for resupply. see 6×6 for everything else!!!

  68. Chris B,
    That’s an awesome post. Well done. Like you say, you have to put your ideas out there!
    Firstly, in my humble opinion, it’s unaffordable and not sustainable.
    The 1% increase in defence spending post 2015 is looking dodgy in my view.
    Royal Navy; I think we are stuck with 2 carriers, when really we could have managed with one as the French do. I watched Mr Hammond interviewed by the Defence select committee; I was interested to hear him say the best deal for the MoD on the fast jet for the carriers had not been decided. I wouldn’t rule out the F18 or Rafale just yet. I think 19 destroyer/frigates are simple not enough. If there is any spare money, it must go towards increasing that number. (And that’s coming from an ex pongo!).
    The permanent at sea nuclear deterrent is a political decision, and not one I support just on cost.
    I would prefer 3 more Astute’s with some sort of nuclear capability instead.
    The Army; The pour cousin, I would love to have a blank cheque book and buy the army the new vehicles it badly needs. However, its has been leaked that the army will be cut to 25 infantry battalions and 6 Royal Armoured Corps Regiments. It’s stuck with vehicles most of which will be in storage, some salvaged from Afghanistan, some over 60 years old, most unsuitable for its current role.
    RAF; Yes, Typhoons are what the RAF will be left with, but as I understand it only 60 are operational at any one time. I can’t see them getting any F35s, or whatever the RN get. I would like another C17 also.
    We desperately need maritime patrol aircraft, 8 off the self Orion’s seems the best deal, but I would give them to the RN, for safe keeping, (no offence).
    But, well done on your post, well expressed and written.
    Regards
    Phil Z

  69. Nice info PaulG,

    Now let’s talk Scout! So Jackal was proposed because we have them and they’re likely to be brought back (there’s a reasonable chance at least). If not, then someone needs to come up with an alternative. With RG35 proposed in the documents to replace Bulldog in time, the question becomes whether it could fit out the Recce units?

  70. Cheers Phil Z. I’m not sure I’ve seen you post before, in which case welcome to Think Defence.

  71. Jed said “I bet the Cylons don’t even give their base ships names, and they’re gonna find us, eventually…..”

    The French name the mounts on their ships.

    Do the RAF C-17s have names? I note that the Belfasts all had name……

  72. @Chris B, sorry if I have missed it but were does the TA and other reserve forces fit into your plan? I think fundamentally increasing the size of the regular army for COIN or other land campaigns is wrong and a waste of resources. As I said before, being able to deploy a brigade sized commando unit anywhere in the world within weeks is a very strong message in it self which only the US can do currently. Being able to scale overtime with a 50/50 split of regular to reserves would be possible with a bit of thought and could support Divisional sized commitments if given enough warning.

    I would go for following highlevel structure:
    – One expeditionary division made up of 4 brigades of 4 battalions / commandos – RMs, 16 Airbourne + 2 brigades of mixed light infantry / mechanised / armoured units. Would also include special forces.
    – Two homeland security divisions (north and south) – each with 50 / 50 regular to reserve ratios. Each would have 5 brigades – 2 infantry, 2 mechanised and one armoured. Also would include reserve special forces units.

    The northern division would be based in the north of England, Scotland and NI and also be responsible for the defence of UK dependencies / commitments in the northern hemisphere (e.g. Gibraltar, Cyprus etc). The southern division would be based in the south of England and Wales and be responsible for southern hemisphere commitments (Falklands, Brunei etc).

  73. Great post Chris B, a lot of stuff in there I agree with. Hawk 2000 is a good example of that, is it possible to stick in CAPTOR and PIRATE in the nose cone (anyone guess where I’m going with this)? It makes sense for one aircraft type to be used for as many roles as we can. Has anyone mentioned Goshawk yet? If not they should have. The Hawks should be carrier capable. I’m all for the two big flat tops and we should have more than just one type capable of being flown off them.

    The C-295 is another one. As you pointed out it can fill many roles, so we should let it. AEW, MPA, Medic-vac, tactical lift, running personnel from one end of the UK to the other and dare I say it; ELINT, ISTAR and EW. Stick some common as muck Rolls-Royce engines on and an off-the-shelf DAS unit to keep costs down. Leave the A400m and the C17’s for the important stuff and save their flying hours by using C-295’s.

    I don’t agree with keeping Typhoon on. F-35 is here to stay and with the US behind it, it will be upgraded and adapted throughout its service life. We’d do well to buy into the money that could save us. We should sell/scrap as many as we can, whilst keeping a fleet of FGR4’s for Quick Reaction Alert duties.

    On the Type 26 again I agree, but I would keep a (smaller) big gun around the 105mm range. They still have uses. A Type 45 batch 2 makes sense, but I would keep the batch 1’s as is. Save money. More Astute’s would be nice, some decent SSK’s more so. Four Astute Mark 2’s for the SSBN role (stretched to fit 6 ICBM’s) and four Astute-Light for the SSK role (smaller, but same technology).

    Overall we should look at what we’ve got and either build more of it or develop it. That would/should save money and give us more of it.

  74. Thanks Chris B.
    I have posted before, but not often.
    Topman, Is that something Matlo’s do after 6 weeks at sea? I joke!
    Regards
    Phil Z29

  75. @ Chris B,

    just a passing comment of detail, re Jackal as a recce wagon.

    There used to be (84-2003, my years in green) a fundamental argument about how best to do formation recce. There were 4 recce Regts: 16/5L who I was with from 83-93, QDG, 9/12L and 13/18H. Plus the Tins in Windsor, but they didn’t count. 16/5L and 13/18H always went for “light/agile” as a style of recce, QDG and 9/12L for “fight from the wagon”. There were merits to both, but in truth it depends on the nature of the terrain and the distances you expect to be from the enemy.

    Light/agile = get out of the wagon, use your feet, carry a rifle, climb a tree, use a man pack radio, keep the wagon in dead ground. Fight from the wagon = sights up to crestlines, enhanced comms, very quick reaction, fight for information when necessary using vehicle weapons.

    Jackal lends itself to light/agile, FRES SV to fight from the wagon. I like Jackal, but there’s a perfectly respectable argument for FRES SV. The cost is however radically different.

    Ed Zeppelin seems to have a view as well.

  76. @ Topman

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1a/HMAS-Vampire-D11-01_crop%28113mmL45aag%29.jpg

    Here you have two Mk6 mounts (in A and B positions) with twin 4.5 semi-automatic guns.

    From Wikipedia,

    “During the 1950s, a change was made in designating the weapons systems which focussed on the gun mount rather than the gun itself. Together with a change from Roman numerals, the Gun QF Mark V on mounting BD Mark VI became simply the Mark 6.”

    Shame about the C17s. Odd for the RAF to miss PR opportunity.

  77. To expand; I’d sell/scrap/put into reserve 50% of them and keep the rest going to their out of service date, but I would be very unwilling to spend any money on upgrades. All the while I’d be ramping up the number of F-35’s.

  78. DMN
    as an alternative, what about completely replacing Hawk with Gripen? BAE is a major shareholder and they have a development centre in the UK, there’s also some commonality with Eurofighter (helmet HMDS is a derivative, same cannon, meteor and pave way will be integrated), and as mentioned above ej200 can be fitted.

  79. ‘Purely on cost terms I see F-35 working out cheaper in the long run.’

    Hard to say at the moment, we really don’t how much it will cost. Although keeping a small number of Typhoons going won’t be cheap just for QRA.

  80. Odd for the RAF to miss PR opportunity.

    @ X Not sure there is one to miss out on.

    @ DMN and in the mean time do what, use the gr4 fleet as is?

  81. ‘Light/agile = get out of the wagon, use your feet, carry a rifle, climb a tree, use a man pack radio, keep the wagon in dead ground. Fight from the wagon = sights up to crestlines, enhanced comms, very quick reaction, fight for information when necessary using vehicle weapons.

    Jackal lends itself to light/agile, FRES SV to fight from the wagon. I like Jackal, but there’s a perfectly respectable argument for FRES SV. The cost is however radically different.’

    Couldn’t agree more with what you are saying. However, one can easily dismount with a manpack from a FRES SV and go down the light/agile route. You cannot easily fight from the wagon in a Jackal. A half way house could be 5 vehicle toops: 3 FRES SV, 2 Jackals.

  82. @andyw that would work, but we use Hawk as a trainer anyway. Why bring in another supply chain?

    @Topman; yep bring 50% of the current fleet up to full FGR4 standard. Keep those that can’t be sold as spares until their scrapped. I like Typhoon, but ultimately its not carrier capable. I’m not Navy-centric, but given we’re an Island it seems silly we have so many non-marinised aircraft.

  83. “A repeat Wave – which is roughly what the MARS Fleet Tanker is, but with corners cut for cost-saving – would be fine for the tanker element, but no good for dry stores or munitions. Mixing significant dry stores and liquid cargo capacity on one ship leads to either major compromises or a huge, expensive vessel.”

    Not sure MARS FT is much of a “corner-cut” Wave.
    Its original budget was 800 million per 6 ships, and judging from requirements (of course the details aren’t known) the 4 desired vessels could still be very capable, possibly more than the Wave, in anything but speed. (Waves being Fast Fleet Tankers).

    Fincantieri, one of the bidders still running for MARS FT, recently built two very capable replenishers for India:

    the Deepak cost just 160 million euro, of which 20.81 million are spares and support for service. She can do 20 knots (the RN would be happy with 15, and this already pushes down costs a lot), can operate a Merlin, carry 510 tonnes of dry stores and 15250 tonnes of fuels.

    MARS FT should deliver ships with a 18.000 cubic meters fuels capacity, of sizes roughly comparable with the Deepak, but possibly with a greater focus on aviation fuel, and possibly more dry stores.
    In addition it will almost certainly get the new Rolls Royce RAS stations that move 5 tons pallets instead of 2 tons ones, like the one that has been ordered already for the new on-shore training facility. (an important improvement, also because F35 engine pallets are too big and heavy for current RAS cranes)

    With some wisdom, MARS FT can still deliver very good and very useful vessels.

    By the way, one of the main things i just cannot agree in this article is Naval Gunfire Support.

    We’ve just seen it used multiple times in Libya, France fired thousands of shells. It was used in Iraq 2003 too.
    A french gunship was firing recently on Somalia as well to support Kenyan ops in there, reportedly.

    NGS is definitely not vanishing anytime soon, and the requirement has not at all diminished.

  84. @ Ed Z,

    fully agree with you as well, cost being not considered. I’d also prefer to keep types of wagons separate in Squadrons. You can’t send B Squadron to an emergency flank guard 60 clicks away if 3 troops do 30 kih average and 2 troops 60 kih average. But all of that is really in the weeds (where a proper recce soldier lives, muddy and happy and unseen).

  85. DMN, your thinking seems to be a in a bit of a muddle, on one hand you say you don’t want to spend any money on upgrades then on another you say you want to upgrade 50% of them?

  86. @ DMN, er ok unwilling but would have to do it anyway. Would you keep any to deploy overseas as AS or not or leave it to F-35?

  87. @Topman, that would depend mainly on the number of FGR4’s we’d have and how many are taken up with QRA duties?

  88. right, let’s try and wade through some of these,

    @ Repulse
    The reserves were left out of the discussion for now. Personally I don’t consider the land forces a waste of resources. They’ve been a key element in our deployments since 1945. I also find your brigade structure a little odd in that light, because on the face of it you’ll end up with even more battalions than my force, not less.

    @ DMN
    Thanks.

    @ James
    Jackal was suggested in the document along the lines you suggested (recce taxi, perhaps the best way of describing it?) and also because it’s available. Your thoughts perhaps on the RG35 as an alternative or even a partnership.

    @ Gabriele
    My question around NGS is not so much it’s utility but the danger that it puts vessels in, forcing them towards the coast line.

  89. RE “Your thoughts perhaps on the RG35 as an alternative”
    – for recce, would it be more like RG32, RG35 being more of a troop transport?

  90. wow…where do i start? lets see the development of a rather large army that can’t go anywhere except friendly country that allow landing rights, which are in your scenario right next to the country that you want to put down the ‘trouble’ in…a RAF that hasn’t shown much in the sorts of wanting to provide CAS in the manner that the ground forces want and is definitely biased toward air superiority and quick reaction exercises and a Navy that is much more akin to a coast guard rather than a proper fighting force…and might i add the idea to turn the Type 23 into an Absalon or LCS is pure fantasy.

    bad idea all around Chris but to each his own. i can imagine that if this were to become the standard on which UK forces are built, that they will find themselves quickly irrelevant in almost every major campaign that the west is involved in…be it humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping in third world countries etc.

    notice in Haiti and Japan it was naval forces that were needed.

    notice in Libya that it was naval forces that formed the vanguard of that action…if it were a few hundred miles further away then they would have been the only force available…land based air would have been hard pressed (it was already hard pressed as it was) to provide the limited strikes they did perform.

  91. I think its an interesting idea to develop the Hawk for QRA. At the end of the day unless our security situation deteriates all its likley to ever be assked to do is shoot down an airliner or escort a Russian Bear. Eurofighter is over kill to the nth degree for such missions. What about using a US system where reservists units provide this allowing the full time RAF to concnentrate on deployment. Would there be any issue in this. The original Hawk was actually designed to provide point air defence for the RAF. With its slower speed we would probably have to deploy a wider geographical force with a force of two ready in Northern Scotland, Southern England, North East England or Southern Scotland and Western England but the likley savings would still be massive not to mention we might end up with a better force for airliner interception.

  92. really Martin? do you know the cruise speed for the 787 or the 350xwb?

    i don’t know the exact stats on the BAE Hawk but it might be hard pressed to do anything but a point interception on those airliners…additionally you’re going to have to have some outstanding vectors to get it in position to intercept a Bear if its going full tilt boogie.

  93. Interesting coment about the Hawk of the carrier. I think we quite often forget the Hawk when talking about alternatives but its a British built aircraft that all ready comes in a carrier variant T45. Might be possible given the delays of the F35 to purchase a navala varinat of the HAwk to be used on the carriers while waiting for F35 then transfer them to RAF to replace Typhoon on QRA then allowing for all Typhoons to be upgraded to Tranche 3 for CAS and Deep Strike Missions.

  94. Hi Solomon, That is an interesting point. 787’s speed is 0.89 Mach about the same as a Hawk. How well would a Eurofighter be able to intercept an airliner over London flying from Coningsby in comparison to a Hawk flying from nearer the city . Whats the Interception speed of the Meteor Mach 4 +. I am not aware of anything that would stop a Hawk carrying a single Meteor.

  95. besides the drag penalty you’re talking about it having to close on a target that’s flying as fast as it is from a chase position.

    yeah you can load up darn near any capable air to air missile to shoot a plane down but that kinda negates the escort part of the equation.

    my only point was as desirable as the Hawk might be as a replacement for the air sovereignty mission, it just isn’t up to the job.

  96. oh and as far as the Hawks operating off the carriers then what’s the point? you already had a carrier capable airplane in the form of the Harrier (remember the one’s you just sold the USMC…thanks guys! you’re great!) why would you re-invent the wheel if that was a capability that you actually wanted to preserve?

    oh and the idea that you can use EMALS with the Hawk but not the Harrier is little consolation. i’ve heard everything from these carriers being helo-carriers to sold off to being full up carriers again. nope the dye is cast with that…either you go with F-35, Rafale or F-18 or even Gripen but anything else will blow out your cost curve…and that includes helo-carriers–you could have gone smaller and cheaper and either used Harriers or stuck with the B model.

    that’s another point on all this. make bad decisions now and it’ll cost money and national pride later.

    in my opinion a fabulously large but land locked Army is duplicating a Germany. the UK should be following the Japanese or S. Korean or Dutch model…capable naval forces and technologically advanced, capable but medium sized armies.

  97. Qra can involve 4-6 hours shadowing a/c to use a hawk for this roles would require a significant increase in aar assets assigned to the qra roles which you then can’t use to deploy and at least a doubling of qra stations to provide minimum cover. In short save this money and increase typhoon spares and a/c personnel numbers to an appropriate level

  98. @ Martin
    ‘What about using a US system where reservists units provide this allowing the full time RAF to concnentrate on deployment. Would there be any issue in this.’

    Money being the main problem and staying current. The RAF did the same up until the 50s, but then binned it. The USAF do it because they can afford, we can’t.

    ‘The original Hawk was actually designed to provide point air defence for the RAF.’

    No it’s original design brief was to produce a trainer. I believe you’re thinking of the Hawks that were at Chivenor in the 80s. They were fitted with 2xAIM-9. The idea was two of them would be guided by an F3. How effective they would have been is unknown.

    @ Solomon

    ‘RAF that hasn’t shown much in the sorts of wanting to provide CAS in the manner that the ground forces want and is definitely biased toward air superiority and quick reaction exercises’

    Such as?

    I still don’t get the need to use them for QRA, it’s one of Typhoons primary roles and one that it’s good at. Why would you want to reduce the capability to that of a modified trainer?

  99. “in my opinion a fabulously large but land locked Army is duplicating a Germany. the UK should be following the Japanese or S. Korean or Dutch model…capable naval forces and technologically advanced, capable but medium sized armies.”

    Agreed Solomon.

    Re Hawk: i rather like it having a secondary combat role, perhaps in an RAF version of the forward presence / defence diplomacy role.

  100. Re Hawk: i rather like it having a secondary combat role, perhaps in an RAF version of the forward presence / defence diplomacy role.

    You mean have the RAF man QRA stations overseas?

  101. I have a very relevant question to make. I don’t know if it has already been posed, apologizes if it has.

    What kind of planning assumption are you assuming for your larger army?
    Would there be a significant uplift in the number of men that can be deployed and sustained long-term abroad, compared to a 6500-strong brigade plus support that is indicated for FF2020?

    Because this is really important to know. I admire, on human terms, the aim of lowering deployment time from six to four months, but it kind of feels, to me at least, an improvement paid dearly in money (you are still arguining for a very significant increase in the budget if i understood correctly) and in capabilities lost elsewhere.

  102. @ Topman – “Hawk: i rather like it having a secondary combat role, perhaps in an RAF version of the forward presence / defence diplomacy role.”

    Leaning more to the training role as an embedded unit in the local force, as envisaged with the army in its new conflict prevention focus, but also acting as a forward-presence capability and tripwire, like the USMC MEU in Oz.

  103. Gabriele: “Not sure MARS FT is much of a “corner-cut” Wave.”

    The main corner cut between Waves and MARS FT is the speed, but I’ve either seen project documentation online (there was a good Powerpoint that I can’t find any more) or talked to people involved in the project who have said “like a Wave, but simplified and cheaper”. There are slides from the presentation at Richard Beedall’s Navy Matters site, but not the cost one that I’m thinking of.

    FT is unlikely to be fitted with HRAS issuing gear, it’s a tanker not a stores ship. HRAS is for the Fort replacements.

  104. @gabby don’t forget 4 monthers has a saving on the AT fleet. What do you mean loss me skills? @ jedi interesting idea. Could we have one in hawaii, with lots of raf posts? Just asking :-)

  105. @ Gabby re MARS

    Yes I would go with the Deepaks. Though there was some concern about steel the Italians used.

    My main problem with MARS is once again MoD(N) are messing about re-inventing the wheel. There is an awful lot of innovative work going on within shipping at the moment with regards to fuel efficiency (and environmental considerations.) And again the civilian sector seems to work that much more quickly and more efficiently. Take this design which would be a good starting point for a dry stores ship.

    http://articles.maritimepropulsion.com/?tag=/2000-Blue

    That’s be designed and tank tested in about the third of the time the MARS programme has been afloat, or not as the case may be.

  106. On the main article

    “On the flip side, a 100 ship navy and a 1000 aircraft air force are of no real use if all we can send to seize and hold ground is a courageous and determined fellow with an ASP Baton and a dog handling team.”

    See, I’m deeply deeply unsure as to the truthfulness of that statement.

    People are, for the most part, rational. They do things, because they think they will gain from them, and they don’t do things, because they think they will lose from them.

    The Japanese Empires High Command kept fighting once it was clear Japan was beaten because they hoped it could extract better peace terms (hint, asking for unconditional surrender is a bad idea) from increasingly war weary Americans, which they actually did in a rather roundabout way.

    It really does depend what you expect.
    If you want Afghanistan to stop supporting terrorists dead set against you, then a few punitive bombings are likely to be more than enough. If you want to impose decadent westernism, then its not.
    I’ve repeatedly said, the way to stop piracy against British flagged vessels off the coast of Somalia, is to blow u[p a few of many mansions built with the proceeds, and make it known that we will repeat said destruction every time a British flagged vessel is harassed

    Argentina isn’t going to invade the Falklands if our response is, “ok, have them, but I’m going to blow up every power station in your country”. Its madness, any political gain from liberating their brothers, would last a few days in the face of people who are cold and hungry and bored because the heating doesn’t work, the cooker doesn’t work, and their Xbox doesn’t work.

    “This means we need to be able to contribute land, sea and air components to a multi-national task force, and in particular we need to get very good at providing a degree of leadership and organisation to these elements in the absence of heavy United States involvement, by drawing on our pool of potential allies across the globe, either as a whole or on a limited, regional basis.”
    I fully agree, but I’m not sure you do.
    The Gambia is the world’s 167th richest country.
    It has an air force, with a single operable SU25
    Djibouti, is the worlds 166th richest country, it has 42 T72 tanks
    Kyrgyzstan is the worlds 146th richest country, and has semi functional 100 Mig 21s and 150 T72s, along with tanks, towed and self propelled artillery.

    So I think it’s fair to say, 100+ nations have a functional fighter force and 150 have functional tanks.
    20 have AWACS.

    “Real influence I mean. The sort of influence that comes from actually putting people on the ground and getting involved. Air show performances by the Red Arrows and gleaming vessels stopping off in ports is all very well, but it’s not real influence. It doesn’t fundamentally change the mindset of international partners, neutrals and enemies.”

    But does Pakistan, with 1600 Tanks and 600,000 infantrymen, care whether a UK Task force contains 40 or 80 Tanks?
    Would they prefer 80 Tanks, or 36 Seaphoon/F35/Rafale?
    Which would have a bigger effect in an Iran/Pak war?
    Thinking about it, The Indo-Pak wars and Arab-Israeli wars tend to end when everyone depletes their ammunition and no one will resupply them until a peace is agreed.
    From Wiki, a Chally 2 weighs 62.5 tonnes, which is 140,000 pounds.
    The Armor-Piercing, Fin-Stabilized, Discarding Sabot anti tank round weighs about 50lbs. Which means we could deploy 1 tank, or 2800 tank rounds as a “weight for weight” measure, although I assume there will be a volume issue (I have no idea how big a tank round is).

    “I’m often told that you can exert pressure on foreign governments using things like aircraft carriers and long range bombers. Unfortunately it would appear that people such as Colonel Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein did not get the memo’s in early 2011 and 1991”

    Saddam was wrong and right on several counts, he did not believe the US had the will to bomb him sufficiently to drive him from power, he believed his ground forces could inflict politically intolerable losses on the Americans to force them to the negotiating table and he believed America would get bored and go home, and that the riches of Kuwait were more than enough compensation for whatever pain the US inflicted.
    Gaddafi had no choice but to resist, the only options we gave him were surrender and be executed, or fight to the death, is anyone really going to say fighting to the death and hoping “something” came up was irrational?

    “Actual crime in the UK has broadly fallen on a consistent basis for years now, but the fear of crime has risen. People perceive themselves to be at much greater risk now, even though most people are actually safer than they’ve ever been in years.”

    No it hasn’t, crime is worse than its been for generations, the crime statistics are simply massaged to say otherwise, and of course most crime goes unreported.
    Google David Askew, all that’s unusual is that he died.

    Retention
    I’m not retention is ever going to be “changeable”.
    From my understanding, and this is very weakly evidenced, most people join the army to “be the best” or because they cant think of anything else to do.
    But after 5 years, you have been the best, and its time to grow up and start a family, or you’ve found a proper job.
    Some obviously make it work, but I’d be interested to see how many career officers are sons of career officers, and how many career officers wives are daughters of career officers.

  107. @Topman

    Not sure i understood your question and point.

    “gabby don’t forget 4 monthers has a saving on the AT fleet. What do you mean loss me skills?”

    How can 4 months tour generate savings? If the mission lasts 4 months and then you go home and it ends, yes.

    But in an enduring mission, to sustain tours that last only 4 months instead of six while retaining the 24 months break (Army, as it is the army i was talking about right now) takes more personnel and more units and more stuff and more costs and bigger budget.

    AT i’m guessing means Air Transport?
    If it does, i couldn’t disagree more than i already do. In an enduring operation, flying people in and out every 4 months definitely generates higher costs, not savings for the AT fleet.
    In 12 months, instead of a sole rotation after six months, you get 3.
    Same number of men in theatre, but rotated 3 times instead of one.
    You’ve just tripled the cost, flying hours needed to transport them in and out, and everything.

    My last point on Capability losses was mainly referred at Chris having removed several capabilities, mainly from the Navy, in exchange for this development.
    For me, it really doesn’t feel at all like a bargain.

    “FT is unlikely to be fitted with HRAS issuing gear, it’s a tanker not a stores ship. HRAS is for the Fort replacements.”

    Ideally, yes. But if i was in the Navy chiefs, i’d keep in consideration that the two Fort store ships are likely to wait for replacement much longer than planned (in the 2020s they are due for replacing, in theory) and that the future is uncertain.
    So i’d want some more stores capacity on the FTs, and the kit needed to give them an as good all-round capability as possible within a realistic budget.

    Talk about mitigating present and future risks, if you want.

    As an OT and addition to the above, if she’s not come out of dock already, RFA Fort Austin is being re-activated now as we speak.
    Would be good to future-proof it with the new HRAS kit during the refit, if possible.

  108. @Gabriele: reduction from 6 months to 4 would have no impact on air transport, because at present we fly ppl back for a 2 week break sometime during the tour. Given the amount of disruption this produces with units being understrength the majority of the time, I suspect we would come out ahead. It was noticeable that some of EOD casualties that we had were very shortly before their 2 week break. The downsides would include the additional training cost, particularly for TA bods (this is irrelevant IMHO), and the reduced awareness, particularly for troops doing mentoring. Nevertheless, I don’t think we can carry on as is: either use a 4 month tour, or a 6 month, but having breaks half way through is probably not operationally efficient, and potentially dangerous

  109. “My question around NGS is not so much it’s utility but the danger that it puts vessels in, forcing them towards the coast line.”

    Yes, of course there are risks, but i still think i must disagree, because operating near the coast line, as dangerous as it is, is definitely a necessity anyway.

    You adopt longer-range guns and point-defence on the ship, to mitigate the risks, you do not drop out of the task entirely.

    The same reasoning, per absurd, you could do about parachute battalions.
    A parachute insertion is incredibly risky, and it has been used by the army, on a sizeable scale (SF excluded of course, that’s a different story), the last time in 1956, Suez.

    Before dropping out of NGS support, frankly, i renounce to the dream of inserting an artillery regiment, a RE regiment and an infantry battalion by parachute, which is a risky and never used operation, which also happens to be severely constrained by lack of sufficient cargo aircrafts to ever happen in other than many subsequent waves over several days, making it even less realistic.

    But this, of course, is my opinion.

  110. “eduction from 6 months to 4 would have no impact on air transport, because at present we fly ppl back for a 2 week break sometime during the tour.”

    Still i don’t think the impact would have the same scale. I think there is some real difference between giving a taxi flight to groups of people going back for the 2-weeks break and and rotating a whole battalion every 4 months instead of 6.

    If you reduce the tour to 4 months, you can’t keep the break at 24 without expanding the army ridiculously or reduce the deployed force level. There is no escaping the additional costs if you move from 1 in 5 to 1 in 7. It’s an increase of 2 battalions to still deploy only 1.

    More comfortable for the troops, sure, but it just can’t do.

    Similarly, i’m always wary of “increases” to the Army, and that’s why i asked Chris for indications about his planning assumptions and tour guidelines.

    Increasing the army of course increases the number of people you can deploy, but to increase the capability of sustaining an enduring ops of 1 battalion to 2 battalions, it takes a quite damn big increase.

    We have to see if we achieve an effect that is worth the effort and expense, otherwise it’s better to achieve influence with other means.

  111. 4 monthers are probably a no no. By the time your unit was complete in theatre you’d have two months before you started handing over to the next. Tours are pushing seven months on average now. I’d see the RnR flight binned. I think they are horrendous things, on a psychological level and in an OPTEMPO context. They’re incredibly disruptive. They are like a marathon runner, being slower at the start means you use up the saved energy going faster at the end. Get in, smash out six months, come home.

  112. @Chris.B: I think you missed my point about the light infantry brigades. My point was that a true “light” brigade, with transport via 4 tonners, doesn’t exist anymore, even in Afghan. It requires armoured transport, and has a far larger signature and cost. Given that true light infantry could only be used in the jungle or Arctic these days, there is probably a case for reducing the numbers of light brigades to say 2, with say 4 “mechanised” instead

  113. Gabriele: “So i’d want some more stores capacity on the FTs, and the kit needed to give them an as good all-round capability as possible within a realistic budget.”

    I can think of no better way to ensure that the stores ships never get built.

  114. gabby in terms of NFU in any given 12 month period 4 month tours need 6 flights. 6 month tours need 8. That’s the maths, there’s pros and cons to both but in terms of seats needed there is a higher requirement for 6 months purely in terms of AT. Whether it is worth it overall is another question.

  115. current system is 24 months between tours with a six month tour, so 30 months total. requires five brigades operating at 20% efficiency along with a very inefficient mid-tour break.

    how about 24 months between tours with a eight month tour, so 32 months total. requires four brigades operating at 25% efficiency along with a less inefficient mid-tour break.

  116. Because its inefficient, stressful and from a very personal point of view, fucking horrendous. Having to go back after a short break, I swear I feel nauseous just remembering that day in Brize. An awful lot of mental energy is spent looking forward to RnR and people tend to become less effective and inclined to risk the closer thru get to it. Then they have to work twice as hard to cover folk already on RnR. If I had known, I’d never have taken it. Not that you have a choice.

  117. Less inclined to take risks that should say, so paradoxically things get riskier as people can become less aggressive.

  118. @Gabriele: re parachute assault. I would agree that a wholly light infantry parachute assault can be safely restricted to special operations. A parachute desant with a mixture of armoured and softskin vehicles, whether to effect a theatre entry or operational manoeuvre, is anything but. Once you tot up the costs of shifting a significant air delivered force, with firepower, mobility and a measure of protection, delivery by air transport costs less than half what the delivery via helicopter would be.

  119. well i guess it’s different for you. I found it as something to look forward to something to break up the tour. It’s never great going through brize but it wasn’t that bad.

  120. “I can think of no better way to ensure that the stores ships never get built.”

    That, with all due respect, is sign of planning being done with the ass and not with the brain.
    It is the first problem that needs solving in the defence matters of the UK, where requirements too often take a back seat to perceptions of the treasury about them.

  121. And now Comments

    Chris B
    “(let’s just say Greece for arguments sake) without US ground support, that means someone else would have to fill the void and take the lead. There are not many countries that would be willing or able to do this. Our expanded ground forces could.”

    Could we BALLS! Greece still has conscription!
    Anyone trying to support the Greek Government against the Greek people will face Afghanistan on a larger scale, because in Afghanistan, the towns are scared of not supporting the Taliban, in Greece, they’d be genuine “freedom fighters”.

    Martin
    “The two things Europe and everyone else has in spades are ground forces and fast pointy things. However no one other than the USA has the ability to deploy and control them. Surely this is where we should concentrate the bulk of our tight budget.”

    I’d argue you could replace Europe with “The World”, oh, you say Europe and everyone else 

    “Give the small size of this force would it not be better to have a second special force purely dedicated to the task something along the lines of the US Green Berries.”
    Didn’t someone suggest providing everything except the privates, and slowly withdrawing the lances, then the corporals, as the local recruits improved?

    ACC
    Jackal is a conundrum.
    It’s a great long range patrol vehicle.
    Its not a good tank locator, which is Eds complaint, Nor is it a good IED proof convoy escort, which is why at one point it was responsible for 8.6% of all UK deaths in Afghanistan, despite only being in theatre for 20% of the war.

    Chris/Topman
    “‘One of the complaints for example that seems to repeatedly come up is the time lag between the collection of data by RAPTOR in Afghanistan and its arrival at the those places where the information is most desperately needed. This fundamentally has to change. The RAF needs to get deadly serious about how it interacts with and supports the Army and Navy.’“
    The amount of times the MoD says “we cant do that, that’s impossible” when being asked if it can do things my NokiaBerry and Facebook do is just unbelievable.
    With COTS, I could set up video cameras in and around my house, and control their movements over the internet, wirelessly, using my phone, from the other side of the world
    If a bloke in a FoB cant open his laptop, type in the name of the aircraft operating overhead (or even select it from a drop down menu), see and control the raptor pod and mark targets, its because the people in charge at the MoD are dinosaurs who need to put out to pasture. Not because its impossible, or even difficult.

    Topman
    “To support something like that we would have to have a supply chain, like we’ve never seen on Typhoon ever (and will never) and across the RAF not seen in decades (if ever!).”
    We need more spares. Its on of the “quiet reforms” I suggested.

    Chris B
    “@ DomJ
    What – dare I ask – do you think would happen if we simply shot down a Russian MPA?“
    Exactly my question.
    If we drew a line from North Iceland to Norway and said “Any armed Russian aircraft travelling south of this line will be deemed hostile and may be destroyed”. What would their response be?
    It requires an 800km exclusion zone from Orkney. Would the same from Murmansk bother us? Doesn’t look like it would (Free Map Tools is ace).
    There MPAs are all unarmed, do we care if they play silly buggers off the coast?
    It just seems bizarre to me that we spend half a million quid chasing a Russian nuclear bomber 11 miles from the coast, especially when it had missiles that can hit London from Moscow anyway.

    “I could easily post up an “if I had the money this is what I would do” type post, but where does that kind of thing stop? Where do you set your limits? 3% of GDP? 5%? 10%?”
    Mine worked at 3%, the NATO peacetime target, and as low as 2%, what we are likely to end up with.

    Regarding carriers, I kept them, merely because it appeared they cannot be economically gotten rid of, but I fully agree, its just as valid to win the air war by cruise missiling runways as dog fighting.

    Phil
    “Jackal. It has it’s uses certainly. But there’s barely any armour on the thing. No way I’d want to use it in a conventional fight. It’s useful for light forces and COIN.“
    I was thinking it would be useful for Israel if they drove Egypt out of Suez, but didn’t wish to occupy it themselves, kind of operating like the Long Range Desert Companies, or the RAF Regiment when it still had armoured cars.
    Germany, not so much.
    Falklands, to the outside fool, it seems an interesting proposition?

    Ed
    “I just don’t think that you should be making comments on subjects that you clearly have little or no knowledge of.”
    The Website you are making an arse of yourself on, is called Think Defence. Its stated purpose, is to get everyone, thinking about defence. It is not the officers club for the Bewildifershire Dragoons, nor is it a NATO planning committee. The Door is, I’m told, always open for guest contributions.
    Despite your extremely poor attitude thus far, I personally would love to hear your suggestions to improve the article.

    Chris B
    “If they truly can’t react with 48 hours notice to move then the people calling for the disbandment of RAF might well be on to something.“
    How Many British Army Regiments could get from being “dug in” Germany to being “dug in” Afghanistan in 48 hours?
    Being ready to deploy is, in its own way, just as demanding as providing QRA on the Falklands.

    Jedi
    “This is the FEAR acronym; Force Elements at Readiness?“
    Not First Encounter Assault Recon? A specialist paranormal strike team?

    Phil Z
    “The permanent at sea nuclear deterrent is a political decision, and not one I support just on cost.
    I would prefer 3 more Astute’s with some sort of nuclear capability instead.”
    The Poles leaked the USSRs war plans (google seven days to the river rhine) If you personaly did not have nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons were used on you. Russia intended to nuke Denmark.
    I think in future a single sub fleet, with a 4/6/8 Ballistic missile pack, which can instead carry cruise missiles is an idea to look into, but giving up nuclear weapons is a bad idea, and having none CASD is just bonkers.

    James
    “just a passing comment of detail, re Jackal as a recce wagon.“
    How far wrong would I be if I said, *generally*, if you are retreating, you can “stealth” for information, but if you are attacking, you *generally* will “fight” for it?

    Martin
    “I think its an interesting idea to develop the Hawk for QRA”
    Back when I was a lad, in an RAF recruiting blurb, the recruiter was saying that, in the event of a general war, the Hawks WOULD be used. Seems mad not to use them now as well…..

    Phil
    “Because its inefficient, stressful and from a very personal point of view, fucking horrendous”
    Somewhere else we agree, to me, its just sounds like deliberate torture, reminding you off all the things you’ve missed just long enough so that when they drag you away, its all the more depressing. Not to mention what it must do the families of those who go back and don’t come home again.
    I can kinda see the point of pulling units out of FoBs, apparently in the first world war, we did 8 days in the front line, 4 days in reserve, 4 days in rest.
    Not sure if/how something similar would work in reality.

  122. Topman.

    My opinion is partly based on my personal experiences so I freely admit they might not be shared. People would get tense as RnR approached, less inclined to go on patrol, minds would start wandering. And then I remember the 2 on 4 off stags whilst still patrolling and keeping a med centre running. I admit we were ass end of nowhere and probably the least supported company in TFH but RnR does put pressure on the individual’s, the OPTEMPO and on movement assets.

  123. ChrisB.

    That was my experience. Going back knowing what I was going back to still makes me feel sick when I think about it. I don’t know how I did it. It’s an horrendous and toxic mix of wanting to get back and get the job done and just wanting to stay home. And the extra workload because blokes were on RnR quickly undoes the rest part of it all. I was hanging out in 72 hours and I was never quite the same after RnR and neither were a lot of the blokes. Partly that was probably because the tour dragged and partly from the stupid mental adjustment from operations to pub back to operations.

  124. @ Dom – “Not First Encounter Assault Recon? A specialist paranormal strike team?”

    Lol. Thank you Dom, right first time, I’d rather have RAF Hawk’s haunting my dreams than spooky little girls who wonder down blood drenched corridors! :D

  125. @ Dominic J, Yes we could use the world instead of Europe. TD wrote an interesting article at the start of the Libyan Campaign about how many modern fighter bombers the Arab leauge alone had. More than enough to conduct operations. It would be nice if the rest of the world that we sold those nice shinny pointy things to occasionally got of their arses and used them.

    I still think there is possibly some legs in the Hawk for QRA. Given the emence cost of Eurofighter and that fact we have so few of them. Does anyone know how many typhoons we have to have just to provide the two QRA stations.

  126. re Hawk with a combat role:

    what is the difference between hawk and eurofighter in;
    1. maintenance cost per unit / per year
    2. personnel numbers per unit
    3. ease of maintenance in austere conditions

    For instance a four jet training/support cadre in Afghanistan post 2015……….

  127. martin not all typhoons in the fleet are there to do qra. But if you wanted that you could get away with 20. @jedi per hour costs about 1/3 roughly. Not sure how much 4 would be out there. And what no hawaii !? Think of the goodwill ;-)

  128. Domj

    You simple can’t do that they are in uk airspace per say there in the uk NATO control airspace Legally 2 very different things bit like national and international waters. Also what if it’s hijacked airliners?

    Martin similar to Falklands 4 jet officially.

    Jedi what capability is left on hawk when you add full das targeting or recon pods and fuel when operating hot and high. Is the endurance 30 mins longer? What effect would this have on basing locations Numbers and aar requirements.

    Just because maximum are quoted on the net and in the blurb doesn’t mean that is what actually they can do in a combat config

  129. Mark
    Laws are words on a page, what would there response be.
    Telling the thug trying to take your wallet its illegal isnt going to do you much good.

    Off hand, I can think of three responses.

    Firstly, and perhaps best, they back off, and we no longer spend a fortune shadowing russian bombers.
    Secondly, they send fighter escorts with their bombers, although we cant shoot down their bombers, it makes their station keeping on the borders of our airspace an extremely expensive proposition. A TU-95 Turbo Prop costs what per hour to run? Half what a Typhoon costs? A quarter? Add in Two ASFs and suddenly that changes a lot.
    I suppose thirdly, they call our bluff, but then, they are screwed if we actualy shoot it down and hide behind NATOs skirts, what if it was all an American plan to force Russia to attack NATO….

  130. @ Topman – “@jedi per hour costs about 1/3 roughly. Not sure how much 4 would be out there. And what no hawaii !?”

    So, for the price of one RAF Falklands establishment we could have three RAF ‘support’ stations in potential conflict zones providing Defence diplomacy and doing double duty as a salesman for HMG Ltd?

  131. Hawk for QRA – air defence: sorry, but its complete bollocks, it doesn’t matter if its cheap if it cant do the job. It’s a two seat trainer with no radar, not enough legs, and carrying external jugs it probably is not fast enough. The Cold War plan was to use them with SideWinders and Gun pods as POINT DEFENCE for RAF bases, to try to tackle any WarPac leakers that made it through, and thank goodness we never had to find out whether that would work or not……

    El cheapo ground attack in the sandpit – maybe, but hot and high performance is probably not good enough.

    Hawk on carriers – well Goshawk is NOT a British aircraft, it was made in the US by a US company on licence from the UK / BAe.

    …….

    Fighty recon versus stealthy recon – we have done this one a lot, but what the hey: if you can’t squeeze two “cavalry scounts” in the back of a FRES SV Scout to dismount and sneak forward, then attach a FRES SV “Protected Mobility” carrying two x 4 man teams. Put all Jackal 2(aka IED Death Traps) into storage so that FRES SV Scout equipped regiments can train on them, and use them on suitable ops as required ??? (Then replace them in that role with Foxhound WMIK – at least the crew don’t sit over the axles !)

    ——-
    R n R – only time I ever got flown home for a “rest” was during the middle of a 9 month deployment on active minesweeping ops in the Gulf in 87/88 – yes NINE months, mostly on “Combat” ops (six on six off, sleeping in anti-flash etc) might not be “combat” compared to a FOB in stan, but a 1950’s North Korea mine would have killed me (and everyone else) just as dead as an RPG…..
    ——-

    Light Infantry – I am with Rupert, Infantry should be “light” for a very good reason, Commando, Airborne, Jungle etc not because we can’t afford “protected mobility” for them.

  132. Martin – “Jedi what capability is left on hawk when you add full das targeting or recon pods and fuel when operating hot and high. Is the endurance 30 mins longer? What effect would this have on basing locations Numbers and aar requirements.”

    I have absolutely no idea, but I be pleased to hear the thoughts of the more knowledgeable regarding my notion for a forward-presence-flight?

    :)

  133. 2 typhoon and 6 hawks for the falkies?
    Hawks provide general cover, both typhoons are kept to bounce an incoming strike, but needs radar….

  134. @ Jed & Rupert
    “Light Infantry – I am with Rupert, Infantry should be “light” for a very good reason, Commando, Airborne, Jungle etc not because we can’t afford “protected mobility” for them.”
    – yes, I agree
    – but what is the reality vs. “romantic” nostalgia to past campaigns
    1. Commando, as in the quoted “arctic”: one or three bns?
    2. Airborne: 2+1 (+1 reserve) bns?
    3. Jungle: the acclimatised Far East reserve (1 bn)+ what?

    Call it 7 bns, these being small (in line strength) makes it, all counted in – not that you would normally add jungle and arctic together, a topped-up bde

    So, that’s the first bde – and the others then in the future OrBat?

  135. DominicJ

    I respect anyone’s right to have an opinion on the nuclear deterrent. However bonkers.
    But, I would point out I was not suggesting giving it up.
    Like Chris B, I would prefer a cheaper option.
    I worry that the cost of the replacement will, as every defence project since Noah’s ark has done, spiral out of control, and we will end up cutting our conventional forces even further.
    (Please don’t tell me the money is coming out of the NHS budget!)
    In my view, having a nuclear capability buys a place at the UN security top table.
    Personally I would prefer a better conventional capability, with a less capable nuclear one.
    We are part of NATO after all, which is protected by a more than capable US nuclear umbrella.
    But at the end of the day, you pay your money and takes your choice.
    Regards
    Phil Z29

  136. @jedi. That’s cost per hour how much you could read across to supporting some of overseas deployment. Say it could you’d have to use a diff mark of hawk. Even then like others have said it’s use is limited. Something like you suggest has already happened. F3s used to deploy to the baltic in rotation with other nato forces. If you want to stay in afghan what would you want it to do?

  137. phil z
    sorry i was throwing out examples to better understand your views.

    As for nuclear umbrella, soviet plans were that a russian nuclear attack on a none nuclear nato member, would lead to nuclear retaliation against a none nuclear warsaw pact member.
    The US wouldnt nuke moscow in retaliation for a strike on rome, because that would demand a counter against washington and new york.
    If they hit london, we’d hit moscow, and theres not much they do to that, hit london again?

  138. My opposition to a cruise missile based deterrent is that it is “minimum” but not realistic.
    And the point of Trident is to have a “minimum realistic deterrent”.

    The longest-range cruise missile we have around is the TLAM, and that’s 2000 km.
    Even without venturing in the world of air defences shooting down cruise missiles and all that, a nuclear deterrent with a range of 2000 km who will deter?

    France?

    Where will the submarine be stationed on its deterrence cruises? Close to shore like an SSN? And who will it deter, since most targets will be far beyond its reach? We will keep simultaneously a SSN in the Barents sea with cruise nukes, one in the gulf outside Iran, one outside Pakistan and one outside China, or what?

    I don’t see it credible nor realistic. Not to consider that said cruise missile would have to be developed by the UK on its own.

    It would have roughly the same deterrence effectiveness of 20 warheads stored in an underground bunker in Marham.
    Before they could be pulled out and brought to the target, it would all be over already.

  139. gabriele
    to be honest, i figure shooting down cruise missiles is easier than keeping several astutes out for 60 days.

  140. But I thought 90% of the worlds population was within 50 miles of a coastline and therefore easy to coerce with our uber carriers, oops, wrong thread :)

  141. A nuclear deterrent MUST be credible. There is no point in having one at all if it is not credible. It first and foremost must be so, if it cannot be so, it should be immediately relinquished as a waste of money that can be better spent elsewhere.

  142. This ” shooting down cruise missiles is easier than …”
    is where the discussion at the political & general public level goes wrong
    – they can be shot down with a good % prediction
    – if you don’t have enough (within range), then there goes the credibility (and going from SSBN to cruise is likely to seriously erode this equation):
    at sea at any time X within range x how many on one boat

    The stealthiness and the ground-hugging are the remedies (does it start to sound like the V-force, save for the stealth)

  143. @ TD

    As it’s Christmas you can tell us why the recruiting chief said you weren’t up to joining the Andrew and suggested you pop next door to see id the Army would take you. :)

    It seems you have so much angst towards the Senior Serive. Better get it off your chest before the New Year. ;)

  144. td
    but the bloody russians are thick and live in moscow not st petersburg!

    Acc
    could a typhoon pilot ram a tomahawk?
    Would he, knowing it had a nuclear payload, going for his family?
    Sod shooting them down with sams, just ram the bloody things.

  145. “but the bloody russians are thick and live in moscow not st petersburg!”

    Interestingly the Russians / Soviets played up the importance of Moscow to the integrity of the country.

    It worked brilliantly to the point where almost all our nuclear deterrent, including all our SLBMs, were targeted at a city that had minimal value to the leadership and minimal military and political value. This was also true in WWII and the city served as a tempting distraction for the German Army which ultimately never fell for it.

    It was not until spy satellites started to over fly Moscow that the west realised that it was actually much, much smaller a city than we had been led to believe.

    The real nodes of power and military effectiveness were dispersed beyond the Urals and in the far east.

    We built Chevaline specifically to kill Moscow, which was just a great big missile sponge intended to absorb a large portion of the western nuclear strike.

    Clever bastards the Russians. Very, very clever indeed. Still are. Watch out!

  146. DominicJ

    No worries, I didn’t express myself correctly.
    We can have 8 brand new SSBNs each with 16 missiles and over 300 warheads, and a part time soldier with a bicycle and a pointed stick.
    As I said, you pays your money, you takes your choice.
    I would prefer a better conventional forces, and a less capable nuclear.
    That can’t mean we couldn’t have a credible nuclear deterrent.
    Can’t we get away from having the bells and whistles on everything?

    Chris B, sorry, I have moved away from your fantasy fleet.

    Regards
    Phil Z29

  147. Nuclear Vs conventional forces budget choices is not new.
    1950s austerity Britain had to pay for BAOR, a global retreat from empire “policing” capability & a credible nuclear deterrent. They thought the smallest credible nuclear deterrent was 200 warheads. I think they got it right & 200 warheads remains the minimum credible deterrent.

  148. @DJ RE “live in moscow not st petersburg”
    – yeah, Putin, Medjedev & Co, they all have to for the ceremonial duties (they all come from St. Petersburg)

    @DJ Boys’ Own lives on, the Typhoons tipping the V1s over?
    – true story, but nevertheless “could a typhoon pilot ram…”

    @Phil
    The rest of your post could be accurate, but with this “minimal military and political value. This was also true in WWII ” you go totally wrong with the economic geography of Russia. Both the river and the rail transportation systems converge in Moscow, so in those days severing that system would have finished Russia (the political leadership had the train already packed and ready, but decided to stay… that is another story; maybe TD will gift us the history thread for Christmas?)

  149. Hi JH,

    If you put your post and mine together, it is exactly the picture: should we , and will we be forced to (because of ABM), calculate in probabilities again vs. the near certainty
    – in the end it was not the 600 ship navy, nor the microchip revolution that made better use of military hardware and procurement dollars; it was the fact that (deriving from the microchip part of it) at the time Russia had no counter to effective ABM … and we got peace “for our time”
    – one generation is what, 35 years?
    – the time is up, and it is not the Russians to worry about

  150. Ahhh, the joy of not checking up on the comments until they’ve piled up! This is likely to end up as a mish mash of specific responses to specific points and general statements. I suspect a “Chris.B. Reforms v2.0” will be needed to clarify and clear up all the loose ends.

    On the issue of the Army being land locked —
    Really? We’re deploying our “land locked” army to Afghanistan as we speak. It was previously deployed to Iraq. The force structure in the document accommodates air lift and sea lift, in addition to the traditional approach of using civilian assets to supplement military capabilities.

    There are complaints that the army would be beholden to host nation support for deployment. Well yes, as it has been for years. Both Iraq Wars followed this approach. I’m not sure what people expect? For the UK to build 10 amphibious assault ships and vomit a full armoured division into enemy territory under fire? Even the most powerful military nation on the Earth, the US, is reliant on host nation support for its major land forces. I feel the UK attempting to top this would be silly.

    @ Gabriele
    “What kind of planning assumption are you assuming for your larger army?” — Yes, this was rather a significant oversight on my part not to include more detail on this matter. So the current “5-1” ratio assumes that it takes 5 brigades to sustain one in the field. The force in the document above has 7 infantry brigades (smaller than current UK brigades), 2 commando brigades, and then 10 further infantry Btns split between 5 armoured/mechanised brigades.

    This represents the pre-SDSR infantry force, just reorganised in smaller briagdes. With the numbers and structure above you could easily put together 5 rouletments of 2 infantry brigades, plus support, to an enduring operation. Or it could be one of the armoured/mechanised brigades, plus a light brigade, plus an attached Commando battalion… and the list goes on, depending on what commanders on the ground needed.

    For a one off fight? Again it would depend on what the commanders on the ground needed. It wouldn’t be inconceivable to see the two proposed armoured brigades deploy, with two mechanised brigades and two light infantry brigades, split into two armoured/mech/light combined battle groups etc.

    @ Anixtu
    So in general what you’re saying is it would be cheaper in the long run to have a split class of two vessel designs for resupply; one liquid, one solids, perhaps with just a common base design? If so, what speed requirements are we looking at and what numbers of each?

    @ DomJ
    Instead of quoting you I’ll pick up your general points, and because of the way comments work I’ll have to address your comments and concerns in several sections later on.

    The idea that you can essentially bomb someone into submission by attacking their infrastructure is completely without support. It has been tried, repeatedly, and failed multiple times. Far from prompting the general populace to rise up against the crimes and indiscretions of their government, it tends to do the opposite, providing them with a reason to back their government against the enemy who has elected to avoid overt military targets in favour of bombing the electricity supply and sewage treatment plants. To exercise any real degree of control you need to put boots on the ground.

    Observe the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. The Israeli war plan was based on air attacks alone and centred on creating a “cognisance of defeat” among Hezbollah and a “cognisance of victory” among the Israeli’s. It failed miserably and required the introduction of ground forces, which for a combination of factors also failed. Ground forces are the heart and soul of warfare.

    As for countries like Dijibouti having 42 T72 tanks, that’s great. But how many of them actually work? And how long could they keep them working? Moreover, if we had a set piece battle between 42 of those tanks versus 42 Challenger 2, who would win that fight, and more importantly, why?

    All tanks are not made equal and neither are their crews. What do British tanks bring that others don’t? Highly skilled drivers able to use the folds of the terrain for cover, gunners who are well versed in using their day/night sights to accurately identify and engage targets at long range with high quality anti-armour ammunition, commanders well versed in armour maneouvres and tactics etc.

    Heck of a difference between a functional tank and a fighting tank.

    Further, if the UK had a carrier do you think it would hold any more sway over Pakistan? I don’t believe so. Nor do I believe that they are swayed by tanks. But I think if you want to get someone like Pakistan on side diplomatically then offering them skilled training teams that can help them solve the problems that matter to them (like fighting the insurgency inside their own borders) would go a long way.

    And no Dom, crime is not worse in the UK. If you don’t meet certain criteria (age, skin colour, local economic conditions, geopgraphy) then your chances of encountering crime drop off dramatically.

    @ The subject in general of Hawks and QRA
    Don’t forget that we’re not talking about the T.1 here, we’re talking about the Hawk 200, a single seat fighter version in service with a number of air forces. It has greater range, an F-16 derived radar and the option of fitting a fuel probe, as I believe the Malaysian Air Force requested for it’s batch (I also believe we currently launch AAR assets in support of QRA launches).

    As for air liners, whatever top speed they may be capable of is fine, but they cruise at slightly lower speeds to conserve fuel, coupled with certain restrictions that apply to flying in UK airspace.

    And just generally, the going rate based on known details for the latest mark of Gripen (pre-NG however) with spares and support for around two decades is about 50 million Euros a pop. Not bad.

    @ Gabriele
    I don’t believe there is a requirement for the Parachute regiment to para drop its entire strength in one go, more just to deploy elements if needed. I question the value of exposing half billion pound escorts to a dramatically increased risk of successful air attack for the sake of NGS.

    @ Anyone interested in tour lengths,
    Note the document said “consideration would be given in consultation with the Army about reducing the length of operational tours”. As in, it wasn’t a hard and fast change that would be made and Phil has identified a number of problems with it, so that’s an issue that’s very much up in the air at the minute.

    @ Rupert Fiennes,
    The Light infantry brigades would be equipped with the Protected Patrol Vehicles returned from Afghanistan, or alternatively new purchases, whichever pans out cheaper in the long run. So they would be mobile and protected, just not to an armoured or mechanised degree. The possibility is also still open of basing one brigade in Scotland with regular exercises in Norway/Sweden to take on the Mountain Warfare role, allowing the Marines to concentrate on their amphibious role.

    @ DomJ (again),
    Something tells me that if you shot down a Russian MPA just for “straying into UK airspace” (which would be the cover used, if it wasn’t indeed the truth of the situation) then the ramifications would be quite serious.

    @ The question of Nuclear Deterrence,
    I think people are confusing the words “credible” and “instantaneous”. A credible nuclear deterrent does not have to be able to hit back the second it detects a strike, merely it has to be able to launch a counter strike at some point.

    This is reflected in that fact that previous government white papers have clearly identified that the CASD need not be ready to respond at a minutes notice, but indeed a delay between a fire command and a launch is acceptable.

    That provides time for an Astute for example to sail within range to hit a target, which in the case of Moscow for example could be conducted from the eastern edge of the North Sea. The air lauched component could do it, though probably we would need to build our own air launched weapon, unless we chaff the French or American versions.

    There also seems to be a confusion about what we would fire at. I believe the idea of retaliating with shots against large civilian population centres has been generally discredited. Shots would likely be fired at targets of more military value.

    And finally, be honest. Who here thinks we would actually fire any aggressive shots without the full cooperation of the entire nuclear armed world?

    Our weapons (even now) are nothing more than the ultimate tools against a full scale invasion, which is likely how are weapons would be deployed.

    Price wise? Who knows. We likely would have to build a domestic air launched weapon and a submarine launched weapon. But even that has to be cheaper than building a whole new class of SSBN plus replacing Trident, for which conservative (optimistic) estimates place the cost at £15 billion total.

    This system would require much less expenditure and effort, integrating with our current systems. It also allows us to buy additional Astute submarines that can then serve in more than just the one role.

    As for the vulnerability of cruise missiles, they’ve done pretty well for themselves so far. New developments could increase speed and reduce signature even further.

  151. ACC

    I don’t have my sources (posh talk for books) around me at the moment but that assertion regarding Moscow being relatively unimportant was one I have read somewhere. I shall have a look around.

    The Soviets were perfectly willing to sacrifice it in a nuclear exchange, the ABM shield they erected around it served to concentrate the minds of western nuclear planner and diverted resources into tackling the ABM shield when really it was nothing but a red rag. Chevaline was specifically and completely designed to target Moscow and penetrate the ABM shield. So in the 1960s the British nuclear target set went from a relatively large number of targets to one, Moscow.

    So by building the ABM shield, whether or not it ever worked, effectively reduced the British nuclear deterrents effectiveness by several magnitudes.

    This is an example of the sort of strange thinking that comes into play when one starts to discuss nuclear weapons.

  152. “I think they got it right & 200 warheads remains the minimum credible deterrent.”

    I think that the number of warheads needed is the minimum number that ensures that each Trident IID5 on the SSBN out in patrol is fitted with warheads.
    4 missiles with 32 or 40 warheads is more than enough for the SSBN out at sea and is a more than realistic armageddon as it is.

    Even less than that would probably still be enough, but let’s take that as minimum, to properly scare even a nation huge and highly populated which could be mad enough to survive the counterstrike and take the risk. Just to be sure.

    The number of warheads is not so important as it is the capability of delivering them on target timely and certainly.
    Which means the deterrent must be survivable, so submarine based.
    Global-ranged and credible, so Trident.

    I really don’t see a realistic alternative that meets the “credibility” requirement.

    Retain less missiles, but fit them will all the warheads they can carry.

    And the remaining 8 tubes of the CMC, fill them with TLAMs and use the SSBN as dual role platform.

    If we can think about delivering nuclear weapons with cruise missiles from a SSN close to shore, or even just send SSNs around with nuclear cruise missiles on board, we can certainly think about delivering conventional TLAMs and torpedoes from a SSBN. Most of the likely enemies, such as Libya, do not have a realistic chance to hit a nuclear submarine unless it surfaces in front of them, frankly, so a SSBN acting as SSGN wouldn’t really be an issue.
    Some more risk can be taken with reasonable chances of success.

    This would push up the usefulness of the 4 SSBNs while retaining the credible capability of retaliating timely against pretty much any enemy in the world, regardless of the relative position of the submarine, be it deep under the Atlantic or in the Med or East of Suez.

    That’s what i think.

  153. Am I alone in thinking that mixing Trident and TLAM on the same platform is the most insane suggestion ever made?

  154. Gabby said “4 missiles with 32 or 40 warheads is more than enough for the SSBN out at sea and is a more than realistic armageddon as it is. ”

    Whoa there sailor! Fewer warheads means more missiles. What about graduated response? What about decoys; not everything that sits on top a Trident is live ordnance? Though you can get mired in the Kafkaesque blind allies of game theory and other whackdoodle crap when looking at nuclear weapons at the end of the day you have to look at them as real weapons. Better sixteen tubes with a mix of warhead only, warhead plus decoys, plus multiple warhead and multiple decoys.

  155. @Think Defence: nope, you’re not alone. One has the range to hide anywhere, the other requires you to sneak up on the coastline. Those SSGN’s are causing some confusion :-)

  156. “Am I alone in thinking that mixing Trident and TLAM on the same platform is the most insane suggestion ever made”

    You’d be wrong. If I recall a comment I made on a forgotten subject about a week or two ago was labelled by Gabby as being the dumbest thing ever uttered in the history of mankind.

    I win.

    PS: TD, emailed you that piece on the Danish Army I babbled about a few months ago.

  157. Phil, tis in the publish queue!

    There is another guest series in the pipeline as well, seems like fantasy fleets is a contagious ailment :)

  158. “Better sixteen tubes with a mix of warhead only, warhead plus decoys, plus multiple warhead and multiple decoys.”

    Most you’ll get will be 12 in the CMC, and the SDSR already reduced the “nuclear” tubes to 8.
    So at most i’d let you have 8 to play gradual response.
    I’m just a bit skeptical of the sense in a “gradual response”, sincerely. You can’t be “a little bit nuked”.

    The very concept of the nuclear deterrence is not having to actually fire the nukes.
    If we are down to firing them, the mission has already gone wrong somehow.
    And at that point a “gradual response” is likely to have not much sense.

    “Trident and TLAM on the same platform is the most insane suggestion ever made?”

    It would be if the submarine delivered nukes on a cruise missile, so that any missile could be mistaken for a nuke. THAT would be insane.

    No one could mistake a TLAM for a Trident, instead, so the fact that they are on the same platform, while of course more sensitive than normal practice, is nothing weird.

    What is your alternate proposal, build SSNs, fit them with a modified weapons compartment allowing the carriage of nuclear cruise missiles, develop a cruise missile constrained by the 533 mm torpedo sizes and task one of said SSNs on rotation to go hide in the deep armed solely with torpedoes and nukes that it can’t deliver on target without first knowing where the target is and consequently steaming to the closer launch point from which it can reach it…?

    That would completely erase any operational advantage of having “more” SSNs, as a share of them would still end up working like SSBNs, just less efficient and capable.

  159. That must be Martin, then?

    Lord Jim has provided an alternative army structure, I believe, but we haven’t got back to the army thread yet
    – by the time the new equipment plan comes out, I’m sure there will be lots to talk about (not just kit, but what it means for organisation and to what is achievable)

  160. td/rupert
    an astute plus would carry either ballistic or cruise missiles, not both at the same time.
    I get your concerns, but we’d go apeshit (i assume) if someone blew up a river class, why would we accept a hit against an ssn?

    Some carry nukes and sleep west of ireland, some carry cruise missiles and send emails to president johny foreigner saying ‘your in range’, others carry sbs who leave hand written notes on the pillow, and of course, some with empty missile packs follow russians.

    X
    the soviet abm could stop 100 warheads, so we carried 128 warheads and decoys.
    At 4 missiles, we’d only have 32 warheads, so could be unable to reliably hit moscow, but we could hit 32 major population centres.

    You cant be a little bit pregnant, lobbing a bm with one warhead is bizare. if your hitting with nukes, you cant ‘hold back’

  161. My previous was @TD (some one is always faster and gets in-between)

    @ Phil
    RE Phil
    December 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm
    – please note that I only refuted the WW2 part of your argument; if the books come up with something on that account, I’ll be most interested

  162. “One has the range to hide anywhere, the other requires you to sneak up on the coastline. Those SSGN’s are causing some confusion :-)”

    One needs to be at sea, ready for launch, but never be effectively launched unless doomsday comes. And it supposed not to come exactly because there are Tridents out at sea.

    One is used all the time.

    I say the risk is more than acceptable. When the world will be filled with people able to detect and sink a british SSN, and we will be at war with said enemies, we will talk about it again.

    It now isn’t the case.
    Or are you telling me that an SSBN loaded with TLAMs couldn’t have participated to Libya ops?

    According to Nick Clegg, the review into Trident replacement includes this very option, and i happen to think that it is probably the most attractive.
    http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.asp?id=17502

  163. “At 4 missiles, we’d only have 32 warheads, so could be unable to reliably hit moscow, but we could hit 32 major population centres”

    Not necessarily. That missile will have a ballistic “footprint” into which those 8 warheads have to fall. Which means in simple terms that each missile can only scatter its warheads so far and in such a direction. Maneouvrable warheads can increase this footprint but they are also heavier (meaning less can be thrown aloft per missile) and less resilient because they are more complex.

    It’s all a subtle balancing act…

  164. TD

    Re astute carry nuclear missiles.

    Did not The US and USSR agree not to keep Nuclear tipped Cruise missiles on Subs because the USSr said in effect

    ‘First cruise missile launched at us we will assume is nuclear and react accordingly’

    Mixing them on at the same boat very bad idea

    ‘Whoops skipper, you know that missile you just launched we put the wrong one in the tube…’

  165. It should be pointed out that an Astute carrying Nuclear tipped cruise missiles would have to be exempted from other duties and that point would have to be clearly made to avoid any confusion.

    You cannot use a nuclear armed submarine for anything else while it’s carrying the warheads. The risks of a misinterpretation are too high.

  166. you Brits are madmen!~

    i thought we Americans were crazy but you guys are full bore wild men.

    TLAMS and Ballistic Missiles!

    wow!

  167. I still think a stretched version of Astute with 4 Trident Tubes that could also carry up to 7 cruis missles is the best option. We could easily get 8 boats for the price of the new SSBN fleet of 4. At any one time we would make sure 1 boat with 4 missles and 32 warheads was on patrol but this would be the total peace time deployment. If Tensions began to rise we could add a second or even thrid boat to the patrol. I still believe that a credable deterent means SLBM’s and TLAMS should never be armed with Nuclear warheads. Its just too risky.

  168. if you don’t arm your SLBM’s with nuclear weapons then how is that a deterrent? how do you launch an SLBM without a nuclear warhead and assure the nation that you’re launching against that its not a nuclear weapon?

    and the idea that nuclear tipped TLAMS could make it to the target without being intercepted is fantasy land…too many anti-missile systems are on the market…even an SLBM has decoys now to help it evade destruction before it reaches the target.

    to be honest i think the only way our tomahawks will be viable is in saturation attacks … at least when it comes to sophisticated enemies.

  169. @ Solomon

    I think what Martin was saying should be broken into two, as in; “I still believe that a credable deterent means SLBM’s…

    … and TLAMS should never be armed with Nuclear warheads. Its just too risky.”

    To respond to you;

    “and the idea that nuclear tipped TLAMS could make it to the target without being intercepted is fantasy land”

    TLAM’s have been blowing the s**t out of targets in various countries for a while now, some of which have fairly handy air defence networks. Newer Cruise Missiles (note my proposal was cruise missile based, not specifically TLAM based) are only getting faster and more stealthy as the years pass.

    And ultimately the thread that’s getting lost among the rest of the tapestry is this; the threat/likelyhood of ever having to use Nuclear weapons on a large scale to attack someone like Russia is extremely remote. It would basically represent a doomsday scenario anyway, so I think cutting costs while providing us with a better conventional capability (more Astutes) at the expense of limiting our role in the unlikely event that Armageddon takes place is a price worth paying (ironically).

  170. If we are looking to save on costs and stiil maintain credible dooms day machine then it might be better to look at using an SSK with AIP to do the role. Modern AIP’s are far quieter than Nuclear Reactors and can let a boat go down for upto a month. Cutting the length of patrols down to 1 month and rotating the boast more often might help improve renttion rates. They estimate the Trident replacment system will cost some £100 billion over its life time. How much would this type of system cost through life. Deffinatley allot less.

  171. A very good post but I do have a few issues:
    ARMY:
    If we are to live within our means for the forseeable future we will not be conducting a brigade strength persistant deployment, in fact I doubt we will do so electively until 2015 at the earliest as the Army needs to hunker down and rebuild post Afghanistan and the feed in of new equipment is going to be very slow. I do not like the MRB concept as we are not going to have 5 equal brigades for a long time, so the roulement arguement is a bit mute. The idea I prefer is one put forward in other posts about basing our Army’s organisation around a balance Division. This would include 3 to 5 permenent battlegroup HQs able to control taylored formations up to an enlarged Brigade. three of these would also have a speciality such as Amphibious, Arctic/Mountain, Airmobile operations, being up to speed to allow rapid deployment but all will have a grounding in all diciplines.

    I see the need for only 2 to 3 Armoured Regiments which like Chris B I would like to see equipped with upgrades Challenger II or failing that Surplus M1A2s which are bound to become available as the US reduces its force structure. With the Warriors basically come out of the upgrade programme as new vehicles having been stripped down and rebuilt as I repeatedly stated these should be issues to the 2 to 3 Formation Recce Regiments with FRES SV cancelled. The money saved would be used to purchase a FRES UV platform to equip between 4 and 6 Infantry battalions currently roles as either Armoured Infantry or Mechanised Infantry. These are NOT light tanks with large calibre autocannons but would carry sufficient firepower to supress and engage targets out to around 1500m. These would be supported by variants equipped with ATGW and 81mm Mortars as well as MBTs or Recce Warriors in the field.

    For artillery support both the AS90 and 105mm LG would be replaced by the M777 lightweight 155mm. Ideally half of these would be a portee SP variant similar to the Swedish Archer but initally just the towed version would be purchased. The current heavy MLRS launchers would be replace by a resurected Lightweight launcher.

    All of the above units would have their 3rd Squadron/Company/Battery manned by Reserve/TA personnel, as would half the support units.

    the Division would contain sufficient formations to also form 2 to 3 Brigade sized “Light” Role Battlegroups. This would contain the 3 Commando battalions, the 2 Parachute Battalions, the Gurkha Battalions and the Rifles. These formation would retain their specialisations but would also cross train to allow each to be able to operate together on combined operations be they amphibious, Arctic, Mountain, Airmobile etc. These formations would have integral protected maneover capability provided by Bv210 type platforms.

    At Divisional level it would be tied in closely with Air and naval assets such as Rotary and fixed wing transport, with high readiness assets in these areas permenently allocated to the Divisional HQ which would be manned by all three services with the most appropriate service commanding individual operations.

    Without being able to show full organisational charts it is difficult to show the true potential of these ideas but it does allow great flexibility in both the size and composition of any formation being deployed on operations. This is a rough idea but I have fleshed it out but cannot seem to find a way to post charts etc as I have already mentioned, and is far from perfect.

    Finally, brifly looking at the discussions regarding the deterent. I strongly believe Trident should be retained. We have the missiles already and current planning regarding its replacement is really about replacing the Vanguard boats. We need to piggy back the US on this. I would like to see a follow class of 8 modified Astute hulls each with 6 to 8 launch tubes. This would allow them to be used either as an SSBNM or SSGN, but not at the same time. WE would have enough hulls to always have a SSBN on patrol and 1 or 2 SSGNs also available. The latter would provide great flexibility, also being able to carry out the SSN and SF support roles.

  172. Lord Jim,
    Cheers for taking the time to read an reply.

    The argument about enduring operations comes up a lot, but it occured to me the other day that if you combine Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia, Borneo, Malaysia, Aden, Oman etc, we’ve been doing COIN/peace keeping work for the best part of the last 50 years.

    The future is likely to yield more such campaigns.

    And I believe the CASD replacement will involve new missiles as well, not just new boats.

  173. @ Topman – “If you want to stay in afghan what would you want it to do?”

    Afghanistan is just an example; does the idea of a forward presence RAF flight, for the purposes of defence-diplomacy (tripwire) and training collaboration (hello sales), serve any real and useful purpose?

  174. @ Chris B,
    No doubt we have been fighting COIN for the last 50 years. The question is should we continue for the next 50 years? These are expensive and difficult wars of choice. While we could say that conflicts such as Malaya and Oman were part of our colonial obligations and NI was obviously inside our own country is there any value to the British tax payer in operations like Afghanistan.Is keeping the capability to perform these operations independantly really worth the investment of blood and treasure. The British empire finished a long time ago and I now believe we have no moral reason to participate at a level beyond what the rest of the world dose.

  175. the last 50 years of peacekeeping were fought by a quarter of a million man army (excluding the disasters in iraq and ghanners).

    If you want repeat that (to what end?) you need to more than double the size of the army, to do that, you need to get rid of fast jets, escorts submarines and carriers.

    A royal marine costs £80k per year, a soldier £90k (i assume the differene is air/tank corp). (army/rm budget divided by manpower)
    A one in six deployment ratio means every soldier overseas costs just shy of half a million quid a year.

  176. @jedi as defence possibly it’s been done before. As a tripwire if i get your meaning i think the f and c office would be a better bet

  177. People are mixing up two things. The choice of what war we are to fight is ENTIRELY political. Force follows on from purpose and there is no sign of the appetite for wars of choice to be reducing if you analyse the rhetoric of the politicians. Therefore our structure MUST reflect this. As its more than likely that we will fight COIN wars most of the time with occasional larger efforts our forces must be structured thusly. You CANNOT try and structure an armed force to try and influence political decision, not only is it unconstitutional it simply does not work. The future is COIN at the moment like it or not. So that means enduring operations. Like it or not. Trying to undermine elected members of parliament by hobbling our forces would be downright criminal, I don’t recall voting for the Chief of Staff.

    So it’s COIN folks. Until the politicians decide otherwise. We’ve done COIN type operations for two hundred years continuously, that’s not going to suddenly change.

  178. I would this is the crux of the issue. After the scenes in afghan and Iraq do countries want overt western ground forces in there country? And under what political circumstance will we allow such an action to occur? Things have changed in the last decade and no matter how useful they maybe ground forces will be the very last resort and possibly not even then certainly for the next decade prob longer.

  179. “The choice of what war we are to fight is ENTIRELY political. Therefore our structure MUST reflect this.”

    Agreed.

    “Force follows on from purpose and there is no sign of the appetite for wars of choice to be reducing if you analyse the rhetoric of the politicians.”

    Also agreed.

    “As its more than likely that we will fight COIN wars most of the time with occasional larger efforts our forces must be structured thusly.”

    Disagreed, we won’t be fighting elective wars that look like Iraq or Afghanistan for a long-time to come, and when it does arrive it will be because its verging from elective into obligatory.

    Our ability to get all warry on johnny foreigner depends on public acquiescence, and that is a degradable commodity as is evidenced by public opposition to our adventures in Afghanistan, and Iraq in particular.

    If we end up with a population that views elective-war through the same lens as Germany then politicians will not be engaging in ANY foreign adventures that don’t involve blue-berets and handing out condoms from the back of white-painted land-rovers.

    The future is not COIN at the moment like it or not.

  180. “It also signifies the first big change of the “Chris.B. Reforms” – merging the Ministry of Defence with the Foreign and Commonwealth office.”

    Excellent. And DFID should be included in this mix as well, as part of what I seem to remember calling the Department of Doing Things To Foreigners. Had enough of DFID refusing to play with the army in Afghanistan…

  181. jedi i think you underestimate how quickly people will forget. Like someone else said we’ve been doing this for years, i really can’t see that changing. People will take time a little longer to forget but i really can’t see it being a big shift. The uk population hasn’t enough interest in defence for that to happen.

  182. Hi ChrisB,

    RE “And I believe the CASD replacement will involve new missiles as well, not just new boats.”
    – I don’t think so
    – it is a different matter that the launch silos have been designed for the (bigger) replacement of the current missile.As we are piggy-bagging on the Americans to get these things cheaper, at some stage that change will happen. There is no reason why it shouldn’t happen after the conversion of the whole US SSBN fleet (would that be a decade, or two, from the start of the process). As we plan to burn peanuts (only £7bn) by 2021 and then big money all through that decade, a respite before more spending would be most welcome.

    As someone pointed out, the warheads that can manoeuvre are bigger than otherwise. If defences improve drastically, we may have to do the upgrade (earlier than that not being the case).

  183. Topman

    But we were Withdrawing from empire which is we’re the majority of these coin wars occurred that’s effectively done. And I would say 1m people were on the streets to protest against Iraq so people are interested. If in 5 years time a pm goes to parliament and say I’m committing 10k uk ground forces to war overseas without a un resolution for an elective war do you thing the government will stand. And if there is a un resolution for allowing ground troops I can only see it along the lines of Iraq the first time and even then they we didn’t stay on the ground for years

  184. 1m people yes, but they didn’t really achieve anything. We still went. As to whether a gov would stand in 5 years possibly. In 10 years yes i really believe too many people would have long forgotton about it by then.

  185. The expectations of the people are rapidly evolving however, less accepting of national interest, less tolerant of jingoism, demanding ever greater bars to legitimacy.

    And this at a time when westphalian sovereignty, if not being replaced wholesale, is being eroded by contingent sovereignty, which again encourages the population to further narrow their expectations of what constitutes legitimate cause.

    To say that we are not the nation we were ten years ago may seem trite, but its true, and that evolution away from the acceptance of state violence on the part of both Demos and Kratos is only set to continue.

    So when war is deemed necessary it will be packaged in as consumer friendly version as possible, and that is unlikely to be protracted and nasty COIN wars.

    I would also dispute that COIN is the future, lots of literature seems to indicate it won’t be, not least from the DoD and our own DCDC!

    This is not to say COIN is dead, far from it, but guess what; we have five MRB’s for this very purpose, but what is interesting is the increasing (relative) importance of our rapid-intervention forces.

  186. @Chris.B and others

    I was fascinated to read Lord Jim’s idea on possible future British Army structures and equipment. He seems opposed to the MRB concept but has some very interesting ideas about the formation of “a balanced Division that would include 3 to 5 permanent battlegroup HQs able to control tailored formations up to an enlarged Brigade.”

    Although I am personally in favour of Multi-Role Brigades, I wonder whether the idea of creating five of them will now be quietly junked in favour of “tailoring the force for the challenge” around two light and two heavy brigades which will draw on other resources as needed. If you read some reports, this would appear to be the gist of ideas being developed by General Sir Nick Carter (a former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan and the director-general of land warfare). The idea would seem to be the Army must move to a “contingency” posture rather than a campaigning one, putting the onus on adaptability.

    I would have thought that that idea of adaptability was pretty near to what the MRB concept was all about. However, the thread so far, although excellent, does not seem to have involved much discussion of the two heavy/two light brigades idea or of putting the onus on adaptability.

    Have you, Chris, or anyone else come to that, any thoughts on the matter?

  187. Jedi

    Afghan was never meant to be like this. Remember they hoped we wouldn’t fire a shot? Iraq was never meant to be like it was either. Nothing at all has changed in the last decade. We still got stuck into Libya and you can bet that if there was still fighting we’d be edging toward ground forces. Who is to say that there won’t yet be a UN force there? Listen to speeches by ministers, I listened to one made by the shadow defence minister at RUSI. There’s no intention of changing tacts. We might be more shy of chucking in ground troops but the two most recent stabilisation operations took on a life of their own. Events dictated our course, our government dictated our involvement and this will continue to happen. We will intervene, things will escalate, events spiral, then we are there for the duration.

  188. The media amplifies certain juicier aspects of a campaign. There was overwhelming support to figh in Afghan in 2001. Nothing has changed except media attitudes and the impatience of the chattering classes that it wasn’t all done yesterday. There were no mass protests when we ramped up ELLAMY and none in March 2006. I think we should not mistake media amplification as being public opinion in general.

  189. I had not read jedibeeftrix’s post when sending my previous one. He puts some very perceptive points about the kind of future war that we shall be fighting. I would agree with him wholeheartedly when he says, “I would also dispute that COIN is the future, lots of literature seems to indicate it won’t be, not least from the DoD and our own DCDC!”

    I certainly won’t be the only kind of war that we shall be fighting but I would take issue with him when he says,”we have five MRB’s for this very purpose” (COIN, that is). I would have thought that the very purpose of the MRB’s was to provide the necessary flexibility so that we could fight more kinds of war than just COIN!

    I would also very much agree with him about the
    the increasing (relative) importance of our rapid-intervention forces.

  190. Jedi.

    Nobody planned a protracted and nasty operation in Iraq or Helmand. That’s part of the problem.

    Government needs to latch onto explicit interests and then reveal the campaign for what it is, defence of an interest and it’s all or nothing. The public were perfectly willing to accept this in 2001 and barely a murmur on ELLAMY. For more subtle interests we need to leverage allies that are closer to the problem and to do the dirty work, with our money.

  191. It’s not the DOD or MOD who decides what the forces will do. They can bang on all they want but it doesn’t matter a jot if ministers and administrations fancy doing otherwise. Neither do those that churn out literature. And there’s as many COIN will be the future as otherwise. Government has showed no inclination to alter our pattern of elective interventions. None at all. This they occur, thus to organise our forces in any other manner is denying reality and history shows it doesn’t work. Listen to how our ministers talk. Read between the lines. There is no appetite to relinquish liberal interventionism.

  192. The protests achieved little with respect to Iraq itself but I think it dictated how quick we were forced to deploy. It also change the nature of how we decide on military action.

    I disagree Phil with your comments on afghan after been fighting a war for over 10 years I think in a democracy it’s entirely acceptable to be asking why it’s not going well. And I would say in 2006 the reasons very much changed. From one of removing the Taliban and hunting down bin Ladin to nation building and I think letting girls go to school was trotted out. But I don’t expect you to agree.
    I would also add I’m not against a 120k strong army I would want 50%+ plus to be TA but there you go. I see coin as also impossible without the us and for the uk the worst option possible

  193. No nation building is merely a tactic in a wider strategy of stabilisation. It is not the strategy. It never has been. Read ISAFs objective statement. The Gov does itself no favours by emphasising this tactic and it is ultimately self defeating.

    I dont disagree people should question but too often the opinion of the media becomes the opinion of the public.

  194. Hi Jedi,

    RE “we have five MRB’s for this very purpose”
    – well, we don’t. And even if the garrisons for them have been named, my bet is that we won’t, either

    RE ” but what is interesting is the increasing (relative) importance of our rapid-intervention forces”
    – they haven’t been touched, but by definition the importance is going up when everything else is sinking
    – it is a long time since the SFSG was set up and the recce element of SF enhanced. I can’t remember anything else significant since (except the rumoured recruitment crisis, because of the pressures on those units where the applicants originate from)

  195. British politicians will always send the maximum force available to them to these types of operations. However they can’t send what they don’t have. While I have no doubt we will contribute to many more COIN operations in years to come what is the value to us of contributing such a large force (3 times Germany contribution on a per capita basis).
    Even in the wettest dreams of the Army with 250,000 based on toadies Afghan deployments that’s 25,000 troops. Nowhere near enough to take the lead from the USA. If we can’t take the lead in the operation it’s much better just to play the same sized role as Germany and France.

  196. @ Phil

    We are quite simply disagreed then, for I see the change coming from both directions; the tolerance of the people for elective force, and the tolerance of the international system for elective force, which will again narrow the horizons of those same people.

    Of course our politicians wish to continue their military adventuring, I broadly support them in that ambition, but they will do so in future only with an increasing amount of thought being given to public toleration of elective warfare.

    This is a trend that is happening in the world anyway, but it is a trend that we are following behind our continental neighbours, and it is a trend that iraq did no more than accelerate a little.

    Governments will always look for easy campaigns like Libya, and no they won’t always be available, and yes they will always more into more challenging events, but they absolutely will fight shy of the kind of commitment that is required from anything that resembles iraq or afghanistan.

    Maintaining theatre level forces in the field for such operations would necessitate a deeply unbalanced force – aka the above – in these straitened economic times. The government would be lunatics to configure their force for exactly the kind of conflict they wish to avoid.

    @ MikeW & AAC – re MRB’s

    I’m sure they are very flexible, and I’m sure they have other justifications, but we have exactly five of them to meet the harmony guidelines and they have a similar make-up which means roulement should be less onerous. Maybe not wholly, but they are there to provide persistent effect.

  197. My point is Jedi, is that in our case Afghan and Iraq ran away with us. Nobody intended a ten thousand man 8 year campaign. Nor did we anticipate Iraq going tits up. The poor planning assumptions are another thread but we got sucked in. I don’t deny politicians will tread more carefully but the proverbial tie will always be dangling over the shredder in such situations. Until we stop elective interventionism, not that I think Afghan was elective, an armed force must be structured to represent the likely mission. If one wants to call time on elective campaigns fine, but that’s a political decision it will not be achieved by trying to make it impossible through structuring the armed forces a certain way. There is plenty of historical evidence to show this.

  198. I have to agree with Phil,

    For the first 5 years our Afghanistan contribution was kept by a battalion. Nobody anticipated that it would expand. This is how most COIN wars start, with a small campaign that gets wildly out of hand.

    If the Libyan rebels hadn’t been able to hold off the advance of Gaddafi’s forces, you can bet your bottom dollar we’d have ended up sending in the troops.

    On the Nuclear deterrent.
    There is an alternative. Many leading Nuclear experts believe that with a change of boilers and some other maintenance that the Vanguards could be kept running for another 15 years at least past their expected expiry dates (starting in 2017).

    Trident still needs an update, pegged at about £0.5 billion plus another £2 billion to overhaul the warheads. Either way it’s going to cost money.

  199. In that case, much as you may mislike the label, i’d say you were both arguing for the something approximating the global guardian doctrine, because £34b doesn’t build you an army capable of sustaining significant forces in theatre without gutting the other two arms.

  200. In this case I’m not arguing any particular doctrine. I’m staying that our government has shown no reduced appetite for interventionism. I’m also stating that trying to wag the dog by manipulating force structure has proven to be pointless and high risk. Is there a disconnect between political rhetoric and resources? Almost certainly. But that is problem which has a political source.

  201. “Is there a disconnect between political rhetoric and resources? Almost certainly. But that is problem which has a political source.”

    Happy to agree, but if resources cannot realise strategy then strategy needs to change.

    There is plenty of evidence that people do not believe that COIN style conflicts will not dominate the future, which is a happy coincidence given that the public don’t like fighting these (elective) wars anyway.

    This would all be fine if the government didn’t need the forces to act as real strategic leverage, rather than just do’in-the-right-thing, as we could all kick back and relax while the Gov’t made itself a nice balanced force that fit within the means it was willing to spend.

    But………. that is not the way things are, the forces are expected to be a tool for HMG so HMG needed to make an unbalanced force.

    Would it choose to do so in a direction revilved by the public, why yes it could, and it would achieve the stated aims quite nicely, but it probably would diminish re-election chances.

  202. But strategy is more than a question of matching resources. We both know it’s far more complex than that. But my point remains, Government rhetoric shows no sign of change and I’m not convinced the public opinion is what the media construct it as being. There’s a big gulf between an opinion in a poll and doing something about it.

  203. “I’m not convinced the public opinion is what the media construct it as being. There’s a big gulf between an opinion in a poll and doing something about it.”

    I think that is the crux the disagreement, and not a very resolvable one at that given the intangibles involved. :)

  204. @Chris B and Phil

    I get your point about Afghan not starting as COIN and on developing that way after 5 years but this is not our war. We are there in support of a US objective. What difference does it make if we have 5,000 on the ground or 10,000 or even 20,000. The war would still go on, America would supply the bulk of the forces but we would save half the current cost in blood and treasure. I suppose you could argue the case that we buy diplomatic leverage with the USA but when they won’t even give us access to the software for an aircraft we are suppose to be developing jointly and when the US state department talks of the Malvinas and when a British Prime minister has to jump the president in the kitchen of a hotel do we really believe we are gaining political influence? Is this value for money for the tax payer? Is this really worth the anguish we put our service personel through? Would Afghanistan be any worse if we pulled out in 2005 when it became clear the mission was a failure and we were getting involved in a civil war?

  205. Well we could go into amplification theory, social construction of reality, media agenda theory etc etc ;)

    I don’t think our opinions are polls apart forgive the pun. I simply see no change in the sort of talk that gets us into these messes on behalf of ministers and shadow ministers even. I agree I don’t see another Iraq happening. But I can easily see another Bosnia, Afghan or Kosovo happening.

    We could be here all day about this. There’s the risk communication aspect too in that Government is terrible at communicating what is at stake in these operations. One could go on and on.

  206. Just a few info re: Trident

    The warheads are being life-extended. They won’t be replaced before 2030, and that might be extended further, looking at how things usually go.

    Trident 2 D5 is expected to live at least out to 2040 before being replaced.

    The UK has access to 58 Trident II D5 missiles, but a small number of those has been expended in tests.
    The 4 Vanguards could carry 64 in total.

    The UK’s Trident missiles are taken up from the US Navy Atlantic Fleet reserve of missiles. They undergo maintenance in Norfolk, US, along with US ones.

    By 2020 the UK will reduce its stocks from 225 to 160 warheads, meaning a drop from 160 to 120 warheads available for use at sea

    Each sub will carry 40 warheads in 8 missiles

    The fantastic amounts for “Trident replacement”, which are put at the most amazing of amounts depending on who you listen at, include wild speculation of costs of replacing missiles and warheads and upgrade infrastructure, but avoid, very smartly, to say that such expenditure will be spread over at least 30 years, and possibly 40.

    The replacement SSBNs are indicated at costs varying from 11 to 14 billions. At least one billion in design work, CMC participation etc has already been expended since 2007. A further 531 millions have been committed in long-lead items orders for the first three boats.

    By 2015/16, when Main Gate is expected, at least 70% of the design work will be completed, and significant amount of money expended, in the order of 3.9 billions according to plans, some 15% of the total cost of the sub-replacement procurement according to government figures.

    UK and US have been jointly expending hundred millions of dollars on CMC, freezing a 12-tubes design, with each tube enlarged to over 3 meters of diameter and 36-foot depth to provide room for future weapons and uses.
    Integration of current Trident II funded, some material testing ongoing.

    The first new SSBN would enter service in 2028 at the earliest and the last will enter service well into the 2030s.

    “There is an alternative. Many leading Nuclear experts believe that with a change of boilers and some other maintenance that the Vanguards could be kept running for another 15 years at least past their expected expiry dates (starting in 2017).”

    Many more experts doubt of it.
    All agree that it would take billions of investment, and they are not really clear about how many.

    And anyway the Vanguard is already being life-extended. Vanguard will be going on until 2028, despite having been built with a 25-years design life which will be well over by 2020.

    That’s a 10-years of life extension already over the original OSD, despite the sub being every bit as hard worked as it was planned when they were built.

    You can’t life-extend forever.

  207. Hi Gabby,

    Good to see those figures, I wonder what the source is as the programme would seem to be running somewhat faster than what RUSI indicated in their briefing paper, only in September (p.11):
    ” …successor to the Trident
    nuclear deterrent submarines. The MoD is due to spend £7 billion over the
    decade to 2020 on the initial concept, design and development phases of
    this project, equivalent to around 11 per cent of the new equipment budget
    over the decade from 2011/12 to 2020/21.
    [ Note14, see further below]
    But the bulk of spending on
    the successor submarines, total costs of which are projected at £25 billion,
    is due to occur during the decade after 2020/21. The Main Gate decision,
    which gives permission for the Demonstration and Manufacture phase to
    begin, is due to be made in 2016.
    Note 14. This assumes that: (a) as a result of the SDSR, spending on the successor submarine is
    reduced to £7 billion over the next decade, of which £3 billion is pre-Main Gate;

    The 3 bn vs 3.9 bn is no big deal, but how does your stated 11 to 14 bn sit with this; it would seem to be contradicted already within your own text?

  208. @ACC

    Trident figures are full of contradictions, unfortunately. Moreover, often it is hard to know what costs and what items are included in the estimates.

    For example, 14 billions might include design and manufacture of new subs, but not life-extension and additional running expenses for Vanguards, that are likely part of the 20/25 billion figures. The recent investments at AWE and the life-extension of the warheads are also indicated in Trident costs, but sometimes included all the way into the cost of the new subs.
    It also very much depend on inflation and outturn terms: some cost figures date to 2007, other ones to 2010 and 2011, other ones look at the future and make a guess of what the cost will be like by year 2020.

    Somewhere i read that the 14 billions figure is a 2007 estimate, and they expect inflation to make that into 25 billions by the time the programme delivers.

    There’s no realm on earth that has been plagued by creative accounting as Trident. Depending on what you include and what you leave out, you come up with figures very, very different.

    I don’t think anyone has actually a real clear idea yet. I’ve put up what i know. Better i can’t do, at the moment.

  209. Phil and Chris B – I generally agreww with your points, but “not our war” – sure it is, plenty of UK citizens died on 9/11, however I would say it’s not our “nation building effort”, just to be pedantic, and thus I am pretty much with the DomJ theory of modern warfare, we should have crushed the training camps, maybe deposed the Taliban, and then left them to it; cheap, and wrong on many levels, but hey, there you go……

  210. Re nuclear warhead numbers.
    You will only be able to use a quarter to a third of the warheads you have. So if you need fifty warheads on target to deter an enemy, you need to start with 150-200. Depends on the delivery system & warhead yield. When we had megaton warheads, you could get away with fewer warheads. Small 100kt warheads need to be 4x to have the same result.
    Skybolt with todays guidance system, might be a better choice for Britain than Trident. Even more so, if it was built here & genuinely independent.

  211. @JH I think they got smaller because they are more accurate and therefore fewer needed. 100kt is still plenty, and I’m not an expert but I think they have a higher throw weight?

  212. Topman
    You can flatten a large city with one megaton warhead or 4/5 smaller 100kt warheads. One 100kt warhead will wipe out a suburb or CBT, but not the city. Trident went down to 100kt warheads as the original plan was to carry 8 per missile.

  213. Topman
    Depends.
    When you have 16 missiles on a boat, you can have a range of options, i.e some with one warhead, others with many warheads.
    If, in future we have only 8 missiles per boat, then each missile needs 5 warheads per missile. 5 x 8 x 4 = 160. Say 20 air launched 10kt + 20 1 megaton air launched, = 200 flexible, all situations, deterrence warheads. The last 40 are not in any plans, but as we are playing fantasy fleets…..

  214. COIN will probably be the type of future operation we will eventually be involved in on the ground, but the fact is it is going to take at least a decade but probably more for the Army to recover from Afghanistan and Iraq and be in a position to mount an operation. To this you have to add the planned reshaping, the results of which are far from assured and the need to re-equip the Army in a fair number of key areas and medium sized persistent operation are a no go.

    Libya will hopefully form a template for elective interventions for the next decade or so, enabling politicians to beat their chests on the world stage, but the key is going to be how the US changes its stance on the world stage. They have painted Iran as the next bogeyman but land combat against this country is not a strong possibility. I can see action being taken against Iran under certain circumstances but believe this would involve mainly Air and Naval assets with ground forces used to protect “Friendly” states bordering Iran if their presence is requested. Besides Iran I cannot see any other adventures the US may conduct in areas where we would feel obliged to tag along if only for political reasons.

    Regarding warheads, Trident was designed as a counterstrike weapon, being the forst SLBM able to engage an enemies military infrastructure and own nuclear weaons by the virtue of its amazing accuracy. It was not a City Buster and therefore did not need a large warhead which also allowed more to be carried per missile, up to 10 I believe. A trident warhead will still inflict horrendous damage on civilian targets but its ability to target and destroy bunkers used by the enemy military and powers that be adds to its deterence factor.

    An Air Launched Ballistic weapn like the cancelled US Skybolt has few advantages over a SLBM or a land based ICBM but both it and the ICBM have major drawbacks, namely they are fixed. Control treaties stipulate that aircraft carrying air launched cruise missiles mut be ablt to be differenciated form those carrying convention loads and this must be identifiable by another party. Also unless you want to return to the 50s and 60s and have aircraft airborne 24/7 you are vulnerable.

    Now all of the above is reference to a major power with a credible first strike capability. Smaller countries such as Pakistan, North Korea and possibly Iran in the future would not directly attack a Weatern power with its nuclear weapons no matter how insane they may appear. The danger in my mind is one of these nations poviding a nuclear weapon to a third party without a nation. If this group is successful who do you retaliate against and with what? Regardless of the NATO Treaty or similar the US, UK and France are not going to launch a nuclear strike on behalf of another nation hit by a terrorist nuke. Isreal is the wildcard here. It has sufficient Jericho missiles in the Negev to turn any nation foolish enough to attack it with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons into a glass lake. To make matters worse they probably would even need definite proof of the perpetrators but would launch against Iran and probably Pakistan if that county continues down the path it is currenty doing. In a book I red this year this is exactly what happens and the US has to use Trident missiles to neutralise the Isreali silos in the Negev to stop them atking out most of teh major Arab cities in the middle east.

    SO returning to the UK, I believe we need to retain a small deterent but it needs to be based around SLBMs, but I believe the platforms should be multirole allowing greater flexiblity such as carrying out SSN and SSGN roles when not carrying Trident, resulting in an order for more hulls to suppliment the Astute class and giving the UK a force of between 12 and 16 nuclear powered undersea platforms.

  215. mission creep can be military led as well as political.
    Sierra leon was rather, colonial, in the approach the general took.

    Not to mention, troop increases in afghanistan were ‘use them or lose them’ lead, even if there scattering was entirely political

  216. @ Jed,
    I agree that the we were also attacked in 9/11 and we needed to respond with the inital effort made in Afghanistan. However that part of the war finished a long time ago. The nation building exercise we are now involved in is what I was refering to as not our war. I am still very unclear what we hope to gain from this. An Afghanistan that does not grow poppies where all the little girls get to go to school (no chance) One where Al Qaeda can’t train people(possibly) but there are a hell of allot of other palces that Al Qaeda can and do train and we don’t have 100,000 + troops based there. The only reason I can see that we are still there for is to try and make it seem like all the investment we ahve made was worth it. That we can turn Afganistan into Surrey. We are ike a drunk cambler doubling up in a bid to try and recoup our loses. I am not saying we should pull out. If NATO is there we need to stay but why do we have to shoulder a more of the burden than our compatriates. What benefit is there o me as a tax payer of doing this?

  217. @jh re range of nuclear options. How realistic is it to nuke someone ‘a bit’? Surely it’s either all or nothing?

  218. @ COIN wars in general,
    The trouble with predicting COIN wars is that you’re entirely dependent on the various small factions to decide whether a COIN war begins or not.

    Take Egypt. At the minute that is actually quite a stable country, despite the ongoing protests. There is a potential there, albeit remote however, for a COIN campaign to develop over the years. Libya has the same dynamic (fine now, but let’s wait 5-10 years before we crack out the bubbly).

    Afghanistan probably provides the most interesting take though. Many people have called the initial stage a “Strategic Raid”. So by definition then, your strategic raid caused a major COIN war.

    If we built a strategic raiding force, how many future COIN wars would it trigger? Everytime you knock a ruling party from power you create a political vaccum.

    To use a purely hypothetical and frankly quite bizarre and arbitrary example, what would happen if the UK conducted a “Strategic Raid” against Argentina in response to various escalation events? Let’s say we destabilised the government and toppled it? Now have you a vaccum. How many years before that turns sour and an insurgency develops. Now you have unrest brewing on the borders of a rising world economy, you have Chile begging us to come and help them stop cross border infrigements of their homeland etc.

    This is the major problem with COIN wars. Nobody goes into a situation hoping that a COIN war will start. They just happen. They evolve, because one or more parties with whatever affiliations, decide to use terror and aggression against another party. If that causes disruption that threatens your interest then you have no choice but to intervene.

    Unless of course you want Iraqi oil to stop flowing to the west, or you want Al-Qaeda to return and just set up more camps in the middle of Afghanistan? COIN wars are something that we’re unlikely to get away from fighting.

    @ Jed,
    Let’s talk Naval Gunfire Support for a second. What I was thinking with the Type 26 was a) keep them away from a incredibly dangerous task that could probably be handled in other ways, and b) critically, save room.

    The gun above deck is not so much the issue, it’s the room beneath deck that is swiped by the ready magazine and main magazine, which if removed could be used for other purposes, freeing up space at the arse end for a vehicle deck/flex deck/troop area/etc you get the picture.

    Just give me your general thoughts on the two (NGS and the value of the deck space). Everyone has been crying out for mission decks etc, how much value to they actually have.

  219. Topman.

    The Clinton Tomahawk Diplomacy model. Worked a charm!

    Wasting soldiers lives and treasure on a half arsed effort isn’t defensible. Once Iraq wound down we’ve done the right thing and we’re getting on with this campaign properly.

  220. We are not in a nation building exercise. We are in a stabilisation exercise. The evidence is black and white and in the ISAF mission statement. It even uses the word stabilisation. Nation building efforts are a tactic. They are a means to an end. The government bangs on about it because it thinks it will please the chattering classes over their rustic, organic muesli with soya milk in the morning. It is an important and pragmatic part of the effort to stabilise and impose central authority on Afghanistan.

  221. @Chris B

    COIN can only follow a strategic raid if you actually care what happens in the country afterwards. The problem with any political will to keep sending home a body bag every 2 days is that all the opposition have to do is say we will withdraw and they will win over massive public support. The mission and casualty creep in Iraq and Afghanistan will take a long time for people to forget.

  222. @ APATS

    If you’re willing to conduct a strategic raid somewhere, then the chances are you have a vested interest in what’s going on in the country, thus any counter insurgency campaign that kicks off will also be of interest to you.

  223. @ Chris B

    No a strategic raid may be to destroy assets or decapitate current leadership and allow regime change. It may be simply to prevent training opportunities by destroying infrastructure and camps/assets. In none of those situations would you want to engage in a COIN op as repeating the raid in 10 years time if really required would cost less treasure and blood than a costly COIN op even if one was required.
    We are forgetting that we didnt like Saddam but he had no WMDs and he hated AQ, so Iraq was a massive success. Afghanistan i will give a dubious pass mark too as it could be argued as an article 5 mission.

  224. Topman. You are right to be confused! I should have typed Jed in reply to his Domj theory of modern warfare! Xmas party last night you see.

  225. @Phil

    Like the succesful COIN Op that does not suffer from mission creep, massive civilian and military casualties has a clealy achieved end state and leaves a stable country behind it with no chance of having to repeat the whole painful process.

  226. Phil
    But whos suggesting the Clinton Model?

    Hold the paymaster responsible for the actions of his subordinates, and the paymaster suddenly has a mortal interest in controlling them.

    Bombing “training camps” is a displacement activity that accomplishes nothing but looks like progress.
    Go for the people who pay the wages, or do nothing.

  227. @ APATS

    “No a strategic raid may be to destroy assets or decapitate current leadership and allow regime change. It may be simply to prevent training opportunities by destroying infrastructure and camps/assets. In none of those situations would you want to engage in a COIN op as repeating the raid in 10 years time if really required would cost less treasure and blood than a costly COIN op even if one was required.”

    — A strategic raid that induces regime change is likely to induce a COIN war under certain conditions. Blowing up a few camps is a start, but 10 years to reconstitute that ability is wishful thinking. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were removed from Afghanistan and returned within 5 years.

    A single air raid can do some things, like putting back a countries nuclear program by several years, but you cannot expect to induce a stable and secure environment with a few bombing runs.

  228. @ Chris B

    You cannot seem to induce a stable and secure environment with trooops on the ground fighting a COIN op for a decade. I am not arguing that we should even try simply use maximum concentrated force to prevent the capability of them harming us. So we do it every 5 years instaed of 10, better than the casualties we are taking in a war that will see the Taleban ruling Afghanistan 6 months after we leave anyway.

  229. @ ChrisB – “The trouble with predicting COIN wars is that you’re entirely dependent on the various small factions to decide whether a COIN war begins or not. If we built a strategic raiding force, how many future COIN wars would it trigger?”

    The trouble with fighting COIN wars on a £34b budget is that said budget would need to be 75% spent on the army to ensure two brigades + division level support assets (lets say ~13,000 total). You would lose any ability for sea-control and power-projection from your navy, and would have an RAF capable of providing QRA above Britain and that is all.

    Logistics and air-cover would be entirely dependent on the US in reality, therefore what remains is not sovereign.
    Power projection would be geared entirely to theatre-level pacification of insurgent populations, and would therefore cease to be strategic.

    But what is funny is that as far as i am concerned, the only thing that separates the SDSR from Strategic Raiding is the commitment to:
    1. Keep both carriers as carriers (roll on 2015)
    2. Keep sufficient amphibious assets to move a spearhead brigade, (and sea-lift to land a follow-on force).
    3. Keep 16AAB and 3Cdo as Brigade level intervention forces, rather than providing two battlegroups on a rolling basis.

    There is really not much in it. Only my opinion, but i doubt the authors at RUSI would disagree very much with me.

  230. The strategic raid is a Clancyesque abomination based on wishful thinking and technocratic masturbatory literature. Raiding has a place in the tool box but strategic raiding is a bankrupt concept. Nobody here yet has convinced me otherwise. At best it’s a post hoc label of an action, it should not be a driver behind structure or strategic thinking.

  231. Re – what are strategic raids for?

    Here is what the US Army War College thinks:

    “The limited stabilization mission anticipates opposed, minimum essential pacification of a state, territory, or region — friendly or hostile — where central authority has failed and disorder itself threatens core U.S. Interests. Likeliest use of the limited stabilization option is in the establishment of functional security in the most important areas of a crippled state or region. By definition then, limited stabilization is not optimized for bottom-up, long-duration nation-building but instead focuses on establishing and maintaining those minimum essential security conditions necessary for the local reconstitution of effective political authority.”

    “Rapid entry/punitive campaigns are also predicated on forcible entry into and operation in high-threat environments also boasting hostile populations, albeit with a more modest U.S. land contingent. Rapid entry campaigns also focus on achieving a limited set of very specific security objectives over a relatively short period of time (i.e., no more than 12 months).”

    Rapid entry/punitive campaigns might be necessary to:

    • Defeat hybrid military threats or hostile irregular groups;

    • Neutralize violent threats to friendly governments or unimpeded use of the global commons;

    • Protect U.S. citizens and property abroad;

    • Establish short-term control over un-, under-, or irresponsibly-governed territory;

    • Destroy or dismantle criminal or terrorist sanctuary and support networks;

    • Reverse illegitimate seizures of political power;

    • Underwrite the extraterritorial exercise of U.S. law; or

    • Seize and exercise temporary control over WMD, critical foreign infrastructure and resources, or foreign territory that may be essential to local restoration of order, authority, and the protection of wider international security.

    “HEAT challenges will increasingly become the objects of dissuasion, deterrence, and, at their most intense level, coercive campaigns — certainly not regime change. Whereas, small wars of disorder need to increasingly be seen as management challenges where intervention seeks to drive active threats to levels senior decision makers find manageable. To the inevitable retort that failure to go ‘all in’ in any small war only guarantees U.S. forces will have to return, the best answer is “perhaps”; as the absolute cost of one, two, or more future wars like Iraq and Afghanistan become increasingly unthinkable.”

  232. Chris B
    “Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were removed from Afghanistan and returned within 5 years.”

    But that was our fault, because the goal shifted from slapping akmed to educating akmedena.
    Following the removal of the Taliban, the country came under the sway of local tribal warlords.
    What we should have done, is impressed upon those warlords, that the Taliban were persona none grata, and that the warlords would held accountable for any Taliban actions.
    Instead, we blundered into countless wars with petty warlords, who then looked to the Taliban as unifier and protector.

    All
    “A single air raid can do some things, like putting back a countries nuclear program by several years, but you cannot expect to induce a stable and secure environment with a few bombing runs.”

    Ok, we are going to do an experiment.
    We are all now Citizens of The Republic of Silverland. The Government of Silverland has just liberated the Cary islands from The Dominion, much cheering and street parties, we all love and support our government, right?
    Ok, when you get home tonight, or now, if you are already at home, you need to switch off your gas supply (there should be a lever at the meter) and your electricity (just trip the circuit breakers).
    Also, you cant buy anymore petrol, because the refineries and terminals have all been hit, and whats left has been rationed.

    When the Mrs asks why its ****ing cold, just explain, you are aware, but we must pull together and resist opression.

    Lets assume it would take the UN a month to intervene and prevent the UK maintaining this blockade.

    Who here thinks they would be able to go until the 15th of Jan without demanding the government surrender Carey Island (flicking those switches to on).
    Me? Well, the other half is away this weekend, so I could probably last until sunday afternoon without being thrown out.
    But I wont last 5 minutes.

    Let me know how the rest of you do.
    If I dont hear from you till mid january, and you dont freeze to death, I’ll accept, strategic raiding might not work.

  233. I am not even thinking in terms as big as strategic raiding, more a return to the days off if you harm our interests we will destroy those assets you used to do so and if neccessary remove you and then we will leave you to sort it out. If you do it again we will repeat the process.
    @Phil So should monumental cock ups like Iraq and Afghanistan”we wont fire a shot” be drovers behind strategic thinking and force structures?

  234. For what i know, Trident’s best point was its stealth and its accuracy: it was not conceived to “flatten Moscow” (for that the US had and have, at least for now, hundreds of Minuteman ICBMs) but to target the bases of the russians ICBMs and destroy as many of them as possible before they could launch, the accuracy being fundamental to hope to deliver real damage to well protected underground silos.

    As an interesting side-news, looks like Australia chose to go Multi Role Brigade as well:
    http://defense-update.com/20111216_australian_reserve-under-_plan_beersheba.html

    Structure is pretty much the same expected for the UK MRB: armoured Recce regiment, Tank regiment, 2 infantry battalions (the Uk brigade would have two more, one armoured and one mechanized), an artillery regiment with Tac Groups, towed guns and self-propelled guns, plus support.

  235. So that’s what strategic raiding is supposed to be. Where is the evidence it works and has teeth as a concept? We have the theory, so now it needs to be proven to work.

    APATS

    For the sake of this one post I’ll agree that Iraq and afghan are total disasters, but two wrongs don’t make a right. Replacing one duff strategy with another duff one is just as bad. And to honest Iraq sounds like a strategic raid according to the definition above, same with Afghan 2001. If anything they prove it doesn’t bloody well work.

  236. My question is of more humble nature.
    Even assuming we want to plan strategy out with COIN in mind, and even spending 70% of the money on the army and turning the RAF into “drones and cargos” to support them…

    What do we get?
    7 brigades? 10?
    So, what? We gain the capability to sustain a long term 2-brigades effort, with 10. Is it an improvement that pays back?

    No, i do not believe it does.

    What will we have made the Uk into?
    A tank of men that will be insufficient to do COIN, on anything bigger than… not even Helmand, because Helmand still has lots and lots of US stuff involved and it would be an effort the UK still wouldn’t be able to replicate on its own.
    We will also likely have infantry-heavy brigades kitted in a way good for COIN, and greatly reduced value in high end, conventional fights.

    So what does remain in our hands? 2 “brigade combat teams” to supply in addition to tens of US ones for a big COIN campaign that the US do not want to face again and are excluding from their plans and force restructuring?

    It does not feel like a smart thing to do to me.
    The UK can’t fund a COIN strategy, even wanting to. It would be a “COIN-contributory” posture, a condemn to be a reserve of men to add to someone else’s effort. A contribute that would prove appreciated if another operation started, but that during peacetime will buy, like, zero influence for the country as it does appear to me that the perception of a country’s value as ally is still very much determined by big old hardware such as MBTs and destroyers and aircraft carriers, and then (finally, a much needed injection of realism) by its possession of specific capabilities (AA refueling, strategic mobility, ISTAR, satellites etc) useful within NATO or in any alliance.

    If the UK has to contribute, be it by more strategic mobility on sea and in the air, which remains in extremely high demand, ISTAR and specialized assets and capabilities, and the ability to sustain a brigade long-term, with its support.

    Would 2 be better? Of course. But to deploy 2 it takes far too much investment, paying back far too little. And the more boots you want, the worst it gets.

    @TD

    Think that you could put up my own “fantasy fleet” approach, if i ever get around to write it out decently?

  237. Gabrile,
    What the US designed Trident for, and what we use it for, are not the same.
    For us, it promises an unacceptable counter strike for any potential aggressor.

    Phil
    Your powers still on then?

    “Where is the evidence it works and has teeth as a concept?”
    Afghanistan 2001.

    “And to honest Iraq sounds like a strategic raid according to the definition above, same with Afghan 2001”
    A Strategic Raid should last no longer than 90 days (new rule I just made up)

    Its not about “winning”, its simply about extracting an uneconomic price in blood and treasure.
    Decry all you want, but it works.

    Israeli Retribution Operations
    Rhodesian Raids into Zambia

    For all Hezbollahs claims of victory in 2006, they were remarkably quiet as Israel set about bombing the shit out of Gaza two years later.

    Do we have any more Silverland surrenderees?

  238. @ Gabbie – “Even assuming we want to plan strategy out with COIN in mind, and even spending 70% of the money on the army and turning the RAF into “drones and cargos” to support them… What do we get? 7 brigades? 10? So, what? We gain the capability to sustain a long term 2-brigades effort, with 10. Is it an improvement that pays back? No, i do not believe it does.”

    Precisely my concern.

    It gives you a force that will perhaps give the the 2IC slot in a yank operation.
    It removes funding for all other expeditionary military capability due to the need to support a eight-ten brigade COIN force.
    It would pin all our military capability in one theatre for extended periods of time, leaving zero flexibility to respond to new events.

    In short, your entire military capability is pinned on one task, and its a task that the public does not like.

    Once the public get sick of the second or third COIN war in a row they refuse to allow the next, at which point you have a one-trick pony that is not even allowed to perform that trick.

    Then you have a military that is useless insofar as acting as a tool to leverage british diplomacy.

    It is a losing proposition, all round, every time!

  239. I fail to see how a 13 year campaign can be considered evidence that strategic raiding or anything like it works Dom!!

  240. Phil
    Powerplants cost considerably more than cruise missiles.

    What the Americans wish to do, and what I believe the UK should do, are unlikely to be the same.
    But even so, 12 months is both a very short time frame compared with the enduring operations trhat have prevailed recently, and achievable with my force.

    What 13 year war?

    My Retribution examples were “proof of concept” rather than actual examples.
    Rhodesia held on so long, partly because no one was prepared to transit Soviet or Chinese supplies to ZANU or ZAPU, because the reward for shipping supplies was frequently Rhodesian Light Infantry blowing up all your bridges, which caused massive damage to your economy.

    Israels retribution operations werent quickly effective, but they ground down popular support, where fedayeen once crossed the border with parades and flowers, by the end they were smuggled across without the locals consent, because the locals new they were going to pay the price for it in the end.
    More than a few very large very oppulant houses have popped in Somali, inhabited by those who are in charge of the pirates.
    Blow up a few of those houses, and like the Dey before them, they will quickly curtail and piracy against our ships. Or they will die, and the next pirate king will control them, or die, and eventualy, quickly I’d guess, we’d find a guy we could work with.

    I notice you have electricity, have you surrendered or just not started yet?

    With heating my office is freezing, I’ll consider a pre-emptive surrender if it gets any worse. :)

  241. @Phil, I think the point is not total capitulation but the ability to influence either through attitude or by simply removing there ability to damage our interests.

  242. Phil
    And yet you havent turned yours off.
    All you have to do to prove me wrong is go without gas and electric till 15th Jan….

    APATS
    Exactly, its not about forcing unconditional surrender, its about enforcing good behaviour.

    I wont put my hand in a freshly boiled kettle, because it will hurt.
    I might do it for a million quid. I wont do it for a fiver.

    People are rational.
    If you back them into a corner, they will fight to the death, because its their best option.
    If you give them a choice between a generous peace and a brutal, barbaric and vindictive punishment, they will choose the generous peace.

    Sometimes, they will be backed into a corner before we get involved, Galitari and Gadaffi spring to mind. Since they have already lost control of the country, the strategic raid then becomes about speeding up their departure. And the way to do that, is to defeat the loyalist military force, which is likely to be small, in concert with the rebels.

  243. @ DominicJ,

    you forget that the most difficult part about transitioning a country from a dictatorship and enduring and effective peace is the transition, which may last years. viz. Rwanda, Bosnia, Palestine (if we ever get there), etc.

    It’s about an Army, to take, seize, assault, fight and hold terrain for years. To provide a framework for NGOs and the UN to go in and do their stuff. To create conditions of adequate stability so that goods flow along transport infrastructures, the police can enforce the rule of law, etc.

    While I’m delighted to have stumbled across Think Defence, after a month of reading various threads I am profoundly dejected that a majority of commenters only seem to consider the sharp and sexy end of air and navy, and appear to pay no attention at all to what actually makes a long term difference.

  244. @James Why should we sacrifice British men and money in these countries for litlle to no reward? If they are not directly vital to UK national security i say let them get on with it. if they harm our interests hammer them and leave them. We can no longer afford to sort out other countries messes.

  245. “If you back them into a corner, they will fight to the death, because its their best option.
    If you give them a choice between a generous peace and a brutal, barbaric and vindictive punishment, they will choose the generous peace”

    Just Like Sadaam, and Gaddafi and the Taliban. They all took the peace option over being bombe… oh wait.

    Why do people think that supporting a decent army involves bankrupting the rest of the forces? We have a decent(ish) sized army now, and yet the Navy still has 19 escorts, it has amphibious assault ships, helicopter carriers. The RAF has strike aircraft, AWACs, AAR etc.

    Why the panic?

    Dom, if you cut off peoples power and gas because of a blockade, on what planet do those people not blame those who are enforcing the blockade?

    A force that has plenty of strike assets of all kinds, but very little ability to send men on shore is nothing but an observer.

  246. James
    “you forget that the most difficult part about transitioning a country from a dictatorship and enduring and effective peace is the transition”

    Without sounding calous or cruel, not my problem.
    I’m not overly bothered about genocide in Rwanda, as long as they arent killing British Citizens, its not really our bag.
    That said, we can moderate the worst excesses, by punishing the worst leaders and arming the weak.

    One of the biggest disaster of the Balkans was when we cut off arms supplies, the Serbs had 90% of the arms stockpiled in the country, so set about using that advantage.

    What would be a bigger worry to the next genocidal regime? A UN pledge of “Never Again”, or a UK task force that methodicaly killed every menmber of The Akazu and every one of their families?

    “It’s about an Army, to take, seize, assault, fight and hold terrain for years. ”
    I’m not sure it is.
    Because that sounds like we wouldnt have popular support. If we cant land a few hundred men, who can arm and lead tends of thousands of local militia, you’ve gotta wonder what we are doing there.
    If theres a rebellion, fine, I can see the advantage of deploying ground troops to support it, but they should be completely capable of maintaining the peace afterwards.
    If they cant, perhaps we are backing the wrong side? And should be looking at disciplining the dictator.

    “To provide a framework for NGOs and the UN to go in and do their stuff. To create conditions of adequate stability so that goods flow along transport infrastructures, the police can enforce the rule of law, etc.”

    For Nation Building, thats very true, but this is the big question, do we want a stable Afghanistan, or a none hostile Afghanistan?
    At the end of the day, the armed forces exist to create none hostility amongst our enemies.
    It might not be pretty, but there are ways to do that that dont involve building womens schools.

    But, even if you disagree, and believe Nation Building is the way forward, are British Infantrymen the way to do it?

    Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts
    Volume Two 2008-09

    Royal Marines £620,710 £(21,201) £599,509
    Army
    Field units £8,488,350 £(291,215) £8,197,135
    Other units £1,750,526 £(151,500) £1,599,026
    Total £10,238,876 £(442,715) £9,796,161

    Those are Total Costs, Total Earnings and so net cost, in thousands.
    Each Royal Marine (assuming 8,000) costs £75,000 per year, and each soldier (assuming 110,000) costs £89,000

    If we allow for a 1 in 6 deployment, that gives us a cost of £450,000 and £540,000 per deployed soldier.
    To say it’d be cheaper dropping $50 notes with “England is your friend” written on them out of the back of C130’s is wrong only because it would be cheaper to drop Euro500 notes!

    The ANA soldier receives a wage of $250 per month for deployment in Hemland.
    $3000 per year, say £2400?
    A one in four deployment ratio pushes that up to £10,000 per soldier per year.

    45:1 against Royal Marines.

    IF, and thats a big IF, there has to be a land stabilisation effort, we are the last people in the world who should try and provide it.
    I wonder how much Bangladesh would have wanted to deploy 25,000 peace keepers?

    “While I’m delighted to have stumbled across Think Defence, after a month of reading various threads I am profoundly dejected that a majority of commenters only seem to consider the sharp and sexy end of air and navy, and appear to pay no attention at all to what actually makes a long term difference.”

    I think thats a bit unfair, were else would you find a thread dedicated to water purification ISO boxes?

  247. Indeed. When coming up with an idea it’s good sense to play the substitution game. Let’s say we upset Russia. Perhaps we place some of Chris’s Hawks inside their sphere of influence. Russia decides to ‘influence’ our behaviour and launches a strike package that takes out our five biggest power plants and warns more will come if the Hawks don’t go. Do we now mind our Ps and Qs and do as we’re told? Of course not! What happens then is termed war. And one of us influences the behaviour of the other by winning said war.

    Thinking you can bitch slap a state actor, get them to do what we want just by bombing them, and then just walk away is from a different planet.

  248. Oh and Dom. Your opinions on air power come right from the 20s and 30s. And were proved completely unfounded.

  249. Stable Afghan or a non hostile? You can’t have the latter without the former. It’s so simple! The Taliban harboured Al Qaeda. We want a stable country with a friendly government that can impose its will on the country which never harbours terrorists again. It’s achievable. It has Roman ambitions that were achievable in 80AD and its achievable now.

  250. “Why do people think that supporting a decent army involves bankrupting the rest of the forces? We have a decent(ish) sized army now, and yet the Navy still has 19 escorts, it has amphibious assault ships, helicopter carriers. The RAF has strike aircraft, AWACs, AAR etc.”

    Because there are better ways to spend that meagre £34b in order to project-power in elective wars to achieve political aims.

  251. @Chris B Saddam should have been left where he was, he vehemently opposed AQ terrorism and had no WMDs. or if we wnet in we should have left the exsisting security aparatus in place and withdrawn instead of dying in our droves fighting a COIN Op we created. Libya was achieved with 0 boots on the ground and no losses and so far no insurgency. The Taliban were beaten in weeks in 2001 but we insisted on hanging around, again dying in droves and it will take them no longer tp come back post 2015 than it would have post 2001, the only difference is the bodycount.
    Get in achieve the objective and get out. if we have to go back in and do it again, do it even harder. Do not go in, achieve an objective then leave tens of thousands of troops on the ground as ready made targets for an insurgency. Waste billions lose thousands then announce we have won and pull out.

  252. Phil, No one tells the Afghans how to Govern themselves not from Kabul, Moscow, london or Washington. The best you can hop for is to put a tribal group in charge that doesnt hate you enough to act against you and knows you will level the place if they do. People have tried for hundreds of years. They will have an extremist Govt in place within 2 years of a pull out. We should have left at the end of 2001 beginning of 2002 and left the NA tribes to it, telling the Taleban we can always come back.

  253. I find it amazing that people advocate spending 34 Bn on a force that can’t finish the job. May as well spend it all on giving us a rebate.

  254. Chris B
    Again, your missing the point.

    How was Sadam offered a generous peace?
    Surrender your none existant WMD’s or we’ll kill you?
    He didnt have any WMDs to surrender, so that left, “we’re going to kill you, die surrender and die quietly, or make a fight if it, and die anyway”.

    Gadaffi
    Again, what generous peace was left open to Gadaffi?
    Peaceful Exile was ruled out. His Choice was to fight on, or surrender and face a show trial and execution (or as actualy happened, to be sodomised with a bayonet taken out back and shot).

    “Why do people think that supporting a decent army involves bankrupting the rest of the forces?”
    Because it does.
    The entire defence budget would still net a small army in the grand scheme of things

    “Dom, if you cut off peoples power and gas because of a blockade, on what planet do those people not blame those who are enforcing the blockade?”
    Who cares who they blame?
    Again, your confusing several scenarios.
    If a popular elected government of Silverland, with public support, invades The Carey Islands, the public of Silverland are a valid target.
    Cut off their gas and electric, and they will quickly decide that the Carey Islands arent worth it. They may hate us, but Not Activly Hostile is the status we are going for, and they would quickly surrender the islands rather than live without electicity.
    Anyone who disagrees need only cut themselves off for a month to prove it.

    Now, if there is an unpopular dictator, and the military action wasnt popular, then targetting the populace is likely to create a unity that was lacking, and a “Blitz Spirit” (which was a bit of a myth really).
    In that case, its best to target the Regimes support elements (and of course the leadership itself), its no good capturing worthless islands if you lose the security forces that protect you from a coup in response.

  255. Phil
    I’m not quite sure “substitution” applies when you have completely changed every detail of the scenario….

    “Stable Afghan or a non hostile? You can’t have the latter without the former. It’s so simple! ”
    So all unstable states are always hostile?
    Sri Lanka spent 50 years in a brutal civil war, I dont remember them blowing up British passenger trains….

    “I find it amazing that people advocate spending 34 Bn on a force that can’t finish the job. May as well spend it all on giving us a rebate.”
    Phil Phil Phil Phil,
    That £34bn could provide 381,000 Soldiers, give or take, if you abolished the airforce and the Navy.
    Using the 6:1 ratio the army is married too, that means we could deploy 63,630 soldiers and be entirely comitted.

    The US has 90,000 men in Afghanistan.

    And you say I live in a fantasy land?

  256. Yes they do tell them how to govern themselves when the regime is totally dependent on western money. Our demands are very simple, do not harbour terrorists. In return we give you money. Harbour terrorists and we pull the plug and you’ll be swinging from lamp posts in Kabul in 12 months. Nobody really cares how the Afghans live or govern as long as the regime does not allow history to repeat itself. To do this they have a strong centralised military.

  257. I am a long way behind on keeping up with things, but Phil said:

    “Nation building efforts are a tactic. They are a means to an end”

    Sorry Phil, but with all due respect, what a load of bollocks. How can “Nation Building” be a tactic ? It is about as strategic as you can get. Bush and his numpty-neo con mateys decided they could depose an unfriendly “government” in the form of the Taliban and then “make a nation” – the new Afghanistan with a friendly, western oriented government. That is “Nation Building” and it is what seperates the success or failure of COIN doctrine in Afghanistan, when looked at in comparison to previous successes (like Oman). COIN might work if your supporting the legitimate power, with local support against extremist insurgents, who may have broad but shallow popular support, or full support in a particular region. The local power provides the majority of the troops / police etc.

    This is different from invading, occupying, “stabilising” a territory, whether the new government is chosen democratically by popular demand of the people or not. I am not sayiing it is impossible to achieve, but that it has to be a well planned long term operation and it will suffer different issues with respect to “insurgents” than simply helping a friendly nation state deal with “rebels”.

    In the end my simple point is, “Nation Building” is a strategy not a tactic, and as with all strategies (and I am a strategy consultant) you better have a clear vision, mission, aims, goals and objectives, and plans and contingency plans. Because as all of us Squaddies / ex-Squaddies know: “Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance” BUT “No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy” !

  258. What are going to spend £34b on then? 30 escorts? 250 strike aircraft? And then what? Who’s going to go in and finish the job once you’ve run out of targets to bomb?

    Sadaam was given the opportunity to pull his forces out of Kuwait in 1991. He refused and his army was crushed. He then spent the next 12 years playing silly buggers with the UN. No amount of bombing of his facilities and occassional strikes on certain assets made him suddenly rethink his approach.

    Gaddafi was given an opportunity to run for it. Negotiations were ongoing for a while. He had the chance to leave and refused. As a result we had to resort to bombing, while we sent people in on the ground to organise and guide the resistance.

    The Taliban were given an easy choice pre-invasion; give up Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, and that’s that. They refused and war followed.

    In zero of those situations did “power projection” convince them to give it all up and go home.

    And as Phil pointed out, the idea that if you bomb people into submission, they will eventually turn on their leaders is completely bankrupt as a strategy. It was the underpinning assumption behind terror bombing in WW2, a strategy that killed hundreds of thousands and left many more in misery, and achieved nothing. Not a damn thing.

  259. @ Phil – “I find it amazing that people advocate spending 34 Bn on a force that can’t finish the job. May as well spend it all on giving us a rebate.”

    I find it amazing that people advocate spending 34 Bn on a force that won’t even be allowed to perform the job it is notionally configured to perform.

  260. Jed
    I actualy agree with Phil there, the terminology is iffy at best.
    Nation building is a method (tactic) we use to reach a destination (strategy)

  261. “What are going to spend £34b on then? 30 escorts? 250 strike aircraft? And then what? Who’s going to go in and finish the job once you’ve run out of targets to bomb?”

    I’m going to spend it on the SDSR, and in 2015 i will announce the fitting of cats-n-traps to the second CVF in the 2020 timeframe, to be paid for by drawing down the regular army to 82,000.

    Sound familiar?

  262. Dom my point was we would not be cowed by bombing (someone’s already had a crack at that) so why would anyone else. The scenario was irrelevant.

  263. Chris
    “And then what? Who’s going to go in and finish the job once you’ve run out of targets to bomb?”

    If we’ve ran out of targets, the enemy is obviously not longer a threat.

    “Gaddafi was given an opportunity to run for it.”
    When?
    And of course, before we started bombing, he was winning, why should he run? Who actualy believed Europe would get involved?

    “The Taliban were given an easy choice pre-invasion; give up Bin Laden and other terrorist leaders, and that’s that. They refused and war followed.”
    The demands were a little more stringent than that, and its questionable if the Taliban COULD have physicaly dragged Bin Laden from his compound and handed him over.

    “It was the underpinning assumption behind terror bombing in WW2, a strategy that killed hundreds of thousands and left many more in misery, and achieved nothing. Not a damn thing.”
    Two Thirds of German Ammunition production during the second world was for anti aircraft guns. For every shell they threw at Russia, they fired one at RAF Bomber Command and USAAF Bomber Command.
    True, war production went up almost every year, but that misses the dirty little secret, that we entered a war economy in 1939, Germany didnt until 1944. We’d rationed clothes 4 years before they stoped producing make up.

    Phil
    “Yes they do tell them how to govern themselves when the regime is totally dependent on western money. Our demands are very simple, do not harbour terrorists. In return we give you money. Harbour terrorists and we pull the plug and you’ll be swinging from lamp posts in Kabul in 12 months. Nobody really cares how the Afghans live or govern as long as the regime does not allow history to repeat itself. To do this they have a strong centralised military.”
    But that doesnt require a Strong Mayor of Kabul who can control the provinces.
    Its exactly what I suggest, except I suggested it in 2002. Find out who is strongest where.
    Break up Afghanistan along those lines. Provide arms and money to those leaders, and if they fail to keep out the Taliban, kill them and their families via missile strike, and find a new Leader. Supply him with arms and money, and explain to him the benefits and the risks of Anti/Pro Taliban stances.

  264. Phil
    Course we would.
    If Argentina knocked out my heating today, and had the capability to keep it knocked out, I’d be leading the charge to surrender the Falklands tomorrow.

    Maybe thats just me?

  265. The strategy is stabilisation. One of the means of doing that is conducting elements of nation building. Nation building is not the main effort. It might have strategic effects but it’s is a sub strand of a wider goal and path. Nation building is simply NOT ISAFs objective. The objectives are in black and white in their webpage.

  266. Guys nobody is advocating getting rid of the army simply using them differently.
    Phil, Karzai has about $100Million of the money we have given them in a swiss bank account and will be long gone before he swings from a lamp post. The tribesmen do not care about money and describing the Afghan military as strong is a joke. the best that can be said is that none of them have lilled any coalition forces this week. they will stop getting paid by the corrupt Government not long after we pull out, many will desert to the rebels taking there weapons with them and the end result will be a new Govt who we will hopefully be able to deal with.
    @Chris B Saddam was no threat to the West his removal was a US foreign policy disaster regardless of how it was achieved. A conventionally brilliant lightning campaign was spoilt by dismantling the exsisting Iraqi security forces and creating the vacumn that allowed the insurgency to happen in the first place. We could have left the surviving police and army in place installed another head of govt and got the hell out of there instead we stayed and bled and bled and bled.
    Libya is not a COIN op but a great advert for strateig power projection in support of an internal faction.
    We should have left Afghanistan in 2001 or 2002 after a military sucess.
    the problem we seem to have is an almost schoolboy attitude towards doing the right thing, nation building and creating democracies where they are neither wanted, suited or needed. What actually happens is hundreds of UK and thousands of US Soldiers and marines die.

  267. Dom history shows that doesn’t happen. Your theories have long been discredited. They belong to the 20s and 30s. They especially don’t happen in country’s where the leaders have to look up words like democracy, freedom and public opinion in a dictionary.

  268. 100m in a Swiss bank account? Guess we will have to bomb switzerlands power stations to influence them into freezing his assets.

  269. Phil
    Your confusing “attempt” and “achieve”.
    In 1940, Germany “attempted” to starve/freeze the UK out of the war.
    But it didnt achieve that.
    It forced rationing, but that would likely have occured anyway (and was maintain for a decade after the war)

    Today, it would be very easy to turn off the UK’s gas and electricity grids.
    There are maybe a dozen points gas can be imported into the nation, hit them, and even with rationing we have a few days gas at most (most of our gas storage is old fields in the North Sea, which can be cut off quickly and easy).

    Thats it, gas gone, heating gone, I suppose I could turn my oven on and leave the oven door open, but thats not going to warm my house, its about 1/6th of the heating requirement.
    And if everyone did that, the electricity grid would fail.

    The second world war bombing tried to cut off these things.
    In 2012, we’d achieve it, easily.

  270. Dom,
    It’s fairly widely acknowledged that the Foreign Office was holding talks in the quiet with Gaddafi and his senior aides about them possibly getting out of dodge before it all kicked off.

    And while the unintended consequence of the bombing campaign against Germany was the amount of resources they devoted to anti-air, the underlying assumption on this side of the channel was the same as it was on the other side; that bombing would cause popular revolt. It didn’t.

    @ APATS
    In 1991 Sadaam had a choice. All he had to do was remove his forces from Kuwait and that was that. It would have been difficult to justify an invasion had he complied. He did not. He was not influenced by “power projection” or the risk of “punitive intervention”. It had zero coercive effect on him.

    “We should have left Afghanistan in 2001 or 2002 after a military sucess.”
    — And then what? Within 12 months the Taliban and its supporters would have been back, with a renewed vigour to eventually bring death to the Westerners that had pushed them out of power. The training camps would have been up and running again within months, except this time they’d be built with an eye on resistance to air attack.

    Incidentally this is what Hezbollah did. The reason Israel struggled in the 2006 campaign is because Hezbollah had correctly predicted that Israel would attempt to use air power alone to bring them down. So they built their entire network, including their rocket launch procedures, to resist/minimise the effectiveness of, air attack.

    @ JDBFTRX
    Exactly, you’d buy aircraft carriers and significantly reduce the army, bearing in mind the army has been the key, versatile tool of our military forces for a long time now.

  271. People arent cowed by ground troops either or the resistance movement wouldnt have happen in any of the counrties ever invaded or uprising wouldnt happen eg no IEDs. People want to live there own lives without being told what to do by johnny foreigner.

    We pick a side and use whatever assets to help him out generally speaking that doesnt require lots of group troops but istar and use of an airforce if its a uprising with sf organisation on the ground.

    We contained saddam for 10 years with out putting 2 brigades in kuwait permanently. he was a treat to no one and the cost of the iraq war probably meant we could have contained him for another 30 years.

    We had less than 50 people on the ground in libya excellent result. If coins the answer why arent we invading every country in the horn of africa instead of having navy patrols sf and uav/gunship strikes in support of the local governments and there own troops. Or invading syria they killed lots of there own people too its a political decision is it not for elective wars and the current mode is NO ground troops.

    I dont see how ground troops finish the job in anything other that restoring the government of a country thats been invaded by another and that doesnt require a massive army. If you occupy a country you will invariably become the problem and usually pretty quickly reverting to my first comment.

    Vietnam was the ultimate coin war and as we had a peace accord and all I should be able to visit the peaceful sovereign state of South Vietnam no wait instead it was overrun a mere 2 years after the US left.

    I would add this what sort of coin war could the uk do on its own? Because if the US president wakes up tomorrow and say right boys ive had enough everyone out of afghan by january pakistans the problem will we hold the line ourself or suddenly decide that thats tactic/strategy this month.

  272. @Chris B In 1991 a superbly effective conventional but limited campaign neutralised yet Bush had to go back in 2003 to finish what his daddy started and then compounded it by dismantling the security forces.
    So instead of maybe just maybe having to bomb and use SF and Northern Allinace to drive the Taleban out we stayed for 10 years and lost thousands of men and spent billions of pounds with no guarantee they wont be back within a year of us leaving anyway, genuis!
    Israel used land forces and air power in 2006, hezbollahs lack of initiative since then shows who really came out on top.
    I am no advocate of air power or naval power alone. I believe in teh maximum use of western military might utilising all 3 environments, short sharp and completely overwhelming. I am not an advocate of then hanging around for a decade and getting blown up. instead leave with a short sharp message if that if whoever takes cahrge next acts against us we will come back and do it to them.

  273. chris b
    true, germany didnt buckle, but we failed to elimate their ability to hear there homes.
    I’m not suggesting simply trying to blow up random civillians!

    Sadam believed he could ‘win’ by inflicting more losses than the us was willing to bare.
    He was wrong, we convinced him of this by engaging and annihilating his elite troops, the same troops he relied on to maintain power.
    Thats exactly what i suggest we do in future.

    The taliban only got back in because we waged war on the warlords who rebelled against them in an effort to make them accept rule by the mayor of kabul.

    If we’d ignored democracy and wimmins rights the warlords could’ve been bought, and the taliban resisted.

    Hezbollah did ok in 06, but they have no wish to repeat the experience. Its a great example, israel couldnt occupy, but it has imposed its will. we dont want to occupy, but we do want to impose.

    As for the army.
    What can 60,000 brits do that 90,000 yanks cant?

  274. It’s pretty well acknowledged that Hezbollah won a significant victory over Israel. Hezbollah is now the leading party in the Lebanese government.

    In Afghanistan there is the opportunity to build a large security force that can contain future attempts to build terrorist camps in that country.

    You’re also forgetting that the 2003 “strategic Raid” of Iraq prompted the ensuing COIN campaign, because there was no possibility of leaving Iraq’s oil infastructure to it’s own fate.

  275. chris
    if i got knocked out in the 4th round against mike tyson, i’d consider that a significant victory.
    I’d still be unconcious on the floor though….

    They survived, but they have taken great pains to avoid a rematch.
    Israels aim was to remove hezbollah as a threat, they achieved that, we dont want to occupy anyone, we want to remove them as a threat. They can remain in power, as long as they learn to behave

  276. Phil

    Your thinking on a military level, nothing wrong with that of coure, the ISAF strategy might be stabilisation, the political / forgien policy strategy if you will is Nation Building.

    Just like in business, the business unit strategy SHOULD drive the IT strategy – similarly the “Foreign Policy” (or Grand) strategy drives the military strategy, which in turn drives downwards…….

    I think you know this very well, and your being pedantic, because I don’t believe for a minute that your blinkered by the published ISAF military strategy.

  277. The Israeli’s were forced to withdraw in defeat. A UN imposed ceasefire has kept the peace since. Israel agreed to a prisoner exachange, in which 2 Israeli’s were returned in return for scores of Hezbollah prisoners. Israel has conducted no military action inside Lebanon’s borders since. Hezbollah has now achieved power in Lebanon and has a platform to put pressure on Israel diplomatically.

    Under no circumstances did the Israeli’s achieve anything close to what could be described as a good outcome.

  278. @Chris

    The only reason we could not leave the oil infrastructure was that we insisted upon disbanding the exsisting military and police paratus creating the vacumn for the insurgency to happen.

    If you really believ that this large security force in afghanistan will do any better than they have in the past at controlling the country then you are naive.

    Hezbollah are indeed now the leading party in the govt as from july 2011, 5 years after the conflict and the this is a reaction of lebanon to the Arab spring. if in 2006, simply surviving whilst your countries infrastructure is destroyed at will by the enemy is a victory then yes I guess they did win.

  279. Chris B – Iraq 2003 can’t be characterised as a strategic raid, as it’s objective was enforced regime change; thus requiring “nation building” in order to have a friendly regime as a counter to Iran and as a way to guarantee access to oil. Thus not a raid, strategic or otherwise, followed by COIN, but an invasion to enact regime change, followed by all the crap you need to do afterwards, which was always going to take years.

  280. @Chris B, Hezbollah pressured the UN into making a peace deal. The Israelis have not operated inside lebanon but Hezbollah have not operated inside Israel. Considering the Israleis suffered numerous attacks and no longer have to retaliate against these attcks who got the better deal?

  281. chris
    i agree with apats here, israel wanted to end attacks from lebanon, that they have achieved

  282. @ Jed
    So why do all the “Strategic Raiding” supporters use Iraq-2003 as an example (along with most campaigns since 1939)? P.S. I’m not sure if you saw this earlier so let me rewrite it;

    “@ Jed,
    Let’s talk Naval Gunfire Support for a second. What I was thinking with the Type 26 was a) keep them away from a incredibly dangerous task that could probably be handled in other ways, and b) critically, save room.

    The gun above deck is not so much the issue, it’s the room beneath deck that is swiped by the ready magazine and main magazine, which if removed could be used for other purposes, freeing up space at the arse end for a vehicle deck/flex deck/troop area/etc you get the picture.

    Just give me your general thoughts on the two (NGS and the value of the deck space). Everyone has been crying out for mission decks etc, how much value to they actually have.”

    @ APATS and DomJ
    Hezbollah had been trying for a while to capture Israeli troops as leverage for a prisoner deal. In 2006 they succeeded, sparking the war.

    Throughout the entire campaign, including just after the cease fire, they launched rockets into Israel at will. Israeli attempts to stop them almost completely failed.

    Hezbollah did not beg the UN for a deal, one was enforced with the agreement of both parties. In 2008 Hezbollah traded the bodies of the two dead soldiers they had kidknapped in exchange for over 200 bodies of Hezbollah prisoners plus a number of live prisoners.

    Since then Lebanon has grown at a very healthy rate under the protection of a UN peace keeping force. Israel was defeated militarily and strategically. Hezbollah achieved all of its stated war aims and more.

  283. “I would guess if we had gone in there, we would still have forces in Baghdad today. We’d be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home. And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don’t think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties, and while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the (1991) conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn’t a cheap war. And the question in my mind is, how many additional American casualties is Saddam (Hussein) worth? And the answer is, not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the President made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.”

    Dick Cheney, speaking in 1992 about the decision of the Coalition to end the first Gulf War without getting involved in the uprisings that had started against Saddam.

    He should have said it again in 2003, and said it out loud.

    And the US should have pulled out entirely in the 90s, instead of keeping 5000 men in Saudi Arabia, that have only gained them hostility in all the area.

    The very presence of US troops in the holy muslin land of Arabia has been the main argument used by Bin Laden and his friends ever since.
    It was very much a bad choice to stay.

  284. Just to make it clear, since it is not in the above: in 2003 there was no real reason to go into Iraq. We would all have been better off staying outside. That’s what i meant.

    The Iraq that is emerging from bloody years of efforts might soon prove even more of an issue than Saddam’s iraq was.

  285. @Chris B Since then Lebanon has grown at a very healthy rate under the protection of a UN peace keeping force. Israel was defeated militarily and strategically. Hezbollah achieved all of its stated war aims and more.
    You assume that Israels wanted or wants the destruction of lebanon which it does not. They no longer suffer attacks or terrorist incidents from Hezbollah on there Northern Border. Why do you describe that as a military or strategic defeat?

  286. The problem with strategic raiding is that it is without definition so can be used to define almost anything except Afghanistan and even then it is used to define the initial elements of OEF.

    What I distincitively dislike about is that it is usually preceeded by never will we do COIN again so lets slash the Army and buy more toys, I honestly sense the hand of the defence industry guiding much of the background thinking especially in the States where the force is strong with the son of RMA/FCS, or the Air Sea Battle Concept as it is commonly known.

    The thing with these concepts, much like Effects Based Operations, Revolution in Military Affairs and indeed COIN is that they come from a band of think tanks and intellectuals who have to be working on the next big thing or their funding dries up. The vested interests in the defence industry and beneficial services then line up behind the new garments of the emperor and they become self sustaining until people have died.

    These are tactical or operational concepts that have no place in strategy but unfortunately thats where they end up

    Preserve us from military fashion

  287. chris
    superficialy, it is.
    The problem is was never meant to be.
    Occupation was always the goal.
    If sadam had wmd’s, i bet seizing basra would have convinced him to give them up….

  288. td
    to a point you are right, but thats no bad thing.

    As i’ve said, a few times, the entire defence budget would get us 380,000 men.
    Of whom 63,000 could be deployed on an enduring basis.
    The yanks have 90,000 in ghanners.

    I dont see how that can be ignored.

  289. @ APATS

    Israel was suffering rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but the Lebanon border was relatively quiet except for Hezbollah attempts to seize prisoners.

    Eventually Hezbollah succeeded.

    At then end of the war, Israel was forced to withdraw its forces behind the blue line and can no longer operate into Southern Lebanon. Israel then gave up prisoners in an exchange and now Hezbollah has been given political legitimacy, all behind the protection of the UN, while still able to channel funds, fighters and equipment to forces in the west bank.

    Hezbollah also demonstrated that if it chooses to it can bombard Israel with rockets almost at will, with little the Israeli’s could do about it.

    The situation has resulted in a containment of Israeli influence on the border while giving Hezbollah everything it desired, short of the destruction of Israel.

  290. @Chris B

    Hezbollah operate in Lebanon, Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Hamas are a Sunni group and Hezbollah a shiite group Chris. They do not cooperate. UN peacekeepers have been present in Southern lebanon since 1978 so absoloutely nothing has changed other than both sides actually seem interested in keeping the peace. If Hezbollah fired rockets into Israel the Israelis would operate again in Southern lebanon and the UN would get out of the middle as they have done on every occasions since 78. The only thing that has come out of the 2006 conflict has been that both sides seem genuinely interested in keeping the peace.

  291. @ DomincJ, re your thoughts about the biggest disaster in Bosnia was cutting off the arms supplies.

    with very great respect, and from the perspective of someone who served three tours in Bosnia, total Obllocks. A shortage of weaponry was not a problem for any of the warring factions. What was a problem was a shortage of effective diplomacy and some stupid UN ROE in the years from 92-95. Even when the US did covertly arm the Bosnians with black flights into Tuzla, the weapons mostly disappeared onto the black market, and occasionally to the other side. We discovered several hundred new and crated M16s in Sicice in July 1995, a village in a Serbian enclave in Croatia abandoned to advancing Croats. Anecdotally, the M16s were not as popular as AK-47s due to ammunition resupply.

    Robust UN ROE and a robust international diplomacy could have stopped the war in 1992, along pretty much the boundary lines that came about after Dayton in 1995. And should have done. Germany was the biggest force arguing for a “pure” Bosnia along the boundaries it recognised, and blocked several attempts in the UN to consider realpolitik.

  292. You’re forgetting that they all have one common ground; Israel. Hezbollah was popping rockets into Israel all throughout the campaign, and even past the cease fire. The peacekeeping operations in Southern Lebanon have never been as strong as they have been post 2006. Israel held positions in southern Lebanon that they no longer hold.

    I don’t even remember how we got onto this subject but it is largely pointless and not exactly relevant to thrust of the general debate.

  293. james
    i was thinking croatia mostly.
    My understanding was they were holding their own, and then we shut down their supply lines.

    But i could be wrong.

  294. @ DominicJ,

    you clearly don’t know much about the war in Croatia between 92-95. It’s not entirely clear whose supply lines you think we shut down, so I’ll answer from both perspectives / possibilities.

    {Assuming we shut down the Croat supply lines}. No one shut them down. The HV (Croat national army) took control of the equipment of 4 Brigades of the JNA in late 1991, including one armoured Brigade. Police armouries were also taken. The HV were fully armed as a light mechanised force. Their problem was that they were thinly spread to surround 4 Serb enclaves in the Krajina, of which two were contiguous over the Sava with Bosnian Serb areas, and which benefitted from interior lines for reinforcement. The other two backed onto Bosnia as well, but one onto Abdic’s APWB with whom they negotiated a truce of convenience, and the final one onto a muslim-held sector in western Bosnia which again they chose not to fight. The HVO in Bosnia were thus unable to reinforce their HV cousins.

    {Assuming we shut down Serb supply lines} We didn’t. Sectors East and West in Croatia were routinely resupplied with weapons and ammunition across the Sava. Sector East held two further advantages: it was supported by indirect fire onto Vukovar and the hinterland by the JNA in early 92, and later the UN forces were Russian, who had affinity with the Serbs. A Russian UN Commander (General Perelyakin) was sacked by the French Force Commander for being too close to the Serbs and turning a blind eye to weapon trafficking to the Serbs. I know as I was the Military Assistant to the Force Commander and drafted the rather strange speech Gen Janvier gave to Gen Perelyakin. Janvier spoke directly to Perelyakin in French, I translated into English, a UN translator converted my English to Russian, and the response was by the reverse chain. All rather surreal on a sunny Zagreb afternoon.

  295. my understanding was we implemented an arms embargo, which, due to the relative supply situation, harmed our allies more then the enemy.

    But its been a while, so i may be misremembering

  296. @ DominicJ,

    Who were our allies (among the protagonists) in the former Yugoslavia? We were entirely neutral from early 92 to mid-95 at a national level, on the ground we had difficulty with the HVO in central western Bosnia and with the Serbs in Dobrinja on the outskirts of Sarajevo, but supported no one faction against the other. The detailed and one on one briefing I got from Pauline Neville-Jones in the FCO prior to my deployment for my 3rd tour in January 95, as the Force Commander’s MA made no mention of a strategic alliance with any faction.

  297. Flexible deterrent.
    The threat will vary, so we need an appropriate response.
    Say Saddam wanted to use chemical weapons on our troops. Difficult to justify launching a boatload of Trident on Iraq in response. A single low kiloton WE177 against his favourite desert palace or republican guards, would be more justifiable.
    On the other hand, if you are eyeball to eyeball with a major nuclear power, than that is not the time to discover you have too small a deterrent. You need to be ghastly enough for both sides to back away, without a shot being fired.

    Changing to strategic raiding. It is not the holy grail, neither is it always wrong. In certain circumstances it is a viable option. In other circumstances it is dangerous posturing.

  298. your critique of air-sea battle misses the point. while Europe might not see China as a threat, i know for a fact that S. Korea, Japan, the Philipines, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and a host of other asian countries do.

    air-sea battle simply seeks to address the tyranny of distance that is to be found in the Pacific. if Europe were geographically faced with an opponent across an ocean then you could see the same type preps playing out. as it is, this has nothing to do with the defense industrial complex and is more the result of thinking done in military publications that are looking at the issue.

  299. Sol, my point about air sea battle is that whilst it may be a sensible look at how to counter the proliferation of anti access weapons and the Pacific distanaces it has rapidly turned into a strategy, a fashion, a new buzzword coming from the beltway along with its band of merry travellers in the defence industry and service leaders who stand to gain. No one seems to have asked what happens when one overcomes those barriers, what next.

    Its tactics turning into strategy all over again

  300. @ ChrisB – “So why do all the “Strategic Raiding” supporters use Iraq-2003 as an example (along with most campaigns since 1939)? P.S. I’m not sure if you saw this earlier so let me rewrite it;”

    They do! Surely not I?

    @ Admin – “What I distincitively dislike about is that it is usually preceeded by never will we do COIN again so lets slash the Army and buy more toys,”

    By way of contrast; what i cannot understand with the big-army boys is what kind of a tool they think they are providing for our politicians, who want a Forces that can be used as geopolitical leverage.

    I want command input into Afghan, what level of commitment buys me that?
    Is this sustainable from the domestic political level?

    That worked fine in 2001, would the same answers be given in the next elective war?

  301. ChrisB – very very late in spotting this even though you wrote it twice ! Sorry….

    “Just give me your general thoughts on the two (NGS and the value of the deck space)”

    Easy, steel is cheap, air is free – build the damn ship big enough to have a medium calibre gun with a BIG magazine up front and build yer flexi-deck back aft – where’s the problem ?

    Danish Absalon – cheap as chips relatively speaking, bigger ‘flex’ deck than we would ever really need, and 127mm up front. The modern gun is returning to being a highly versatile weapons system with long range land attack and anti-ship roles, and even the MSO “shot across the bows” role (because if anyone thinks the Coast Guard cutter, or Naval Patrol boat with a 57mm pop gun can stop a modern buklk freighter, VLCC etc, they’re on drugs).

    Having lived under the 4.5 and above the 4.5 and Sea Dart mags on a T42, I would just note that 114mm/ 127mm shells are not that big really, and that the move to VLS is for the missiles is already changing the way we organize the internal and upper deck layouts of our ships.

    In summary, your right to think of every angle, but don’t worry about it from a “space” usage point of view (only my personal opinion, obviously…)

  302. Right then, next question(s)!

    You have the standard 4.5″ gun which is common to our own vessels and then you have alternatives like the 76mm Otobreda Super Rapid which has been very successful on the export market (30km range, 120/rpm in short burst).

    So if you could pick one for a ship that you knew the government was going to try and flog widely on the export market, which would you take and why?

    Also, I noticed a subtle hint of distaste for CIWS (you kept it very well hidden), so what’s the story? You mentioned SeaRam, but my thinking is that Type 26 would be sporting CAMM anyway which is vaguely along the same lines, albeit CAMM will have better range while SeaRam has a more versatile set of guidance possibilites.

    So why SeaRam and not CIWS?

    Cheers for taking the time (eventually) to answer my pestering questions.

  303. Okey dokey then:

    Equipping for exportability – build the ship big enough to accept OTO 127mm Compact, and offer it with that or 76mm super rapid, as desired by the export customer in question.

    I don’t feel gun CIWS cut the mustard any more, not at any calibre below the above mentioned 76mm which can fire a sub-calibre guided projectile.

    The wall of lead approach of the 20mm Vulcan gun of the Phalanx was invalidated in testing by the USN in the early 80’s when the depleted uranium rou DS ripped apart an incoming Harpoon, but momentum keeps all the ‘bits going until the hit the test barge, causing considerable damage – try tbat a approach against a modern Russian supersonic, manouvering ASM …?

    Layered defence is appropriate, a last ditch system, which can be aimed and fired quickly is a good capability, if it can be used against surface targets to, then fine. Personnaly I would like to see ships with their own multisensor capability carry 2 x mk49 RAM launchers, and those without carry at least 2 x SeaRam systems, regardless of what their main AAW weapon system is.

  304. Hmm, fair enough. The trouble with the CIWS is the only test footage ever released is the clips where the target’s fuel tank gets clipped and the missile disappears in a cloud of smoke.

    Anyway, cheers for answering stupid questions.

  305. Chris, questions are never stupid, stupid people don’t ask questions, they just think they know it all :-)

  306. just thought I’d mention that the Danes use a containerised 76mm Super Rapid on their Flyvefisken vessels

  307. Jed,

    You’ve opened yourself up to a can of worms there mate. Now where did I put that list of questions…

    AndyW
    I think you’ve just made TD’s day. Guns in containers? Don’t get him started.

  308. Just a thought,

    a medium performance air-launched sea skimming missile (Exocet? or similar) that has enough brains to think “I’m 5 kms from target, out of CIWS range, now pull up vertical, pop a drogue chute, velocity to zero, ditch air-breathing motor section, now I’m a wake homing torpedo, splash, turn on torpedo motor, in my watery element and only 5 kms from target, banzai!!! is hardly the world’s most complex programming task, even for the Chinese.

    Easier said than done, of course, but aside from some physical challenges on abrupt velocity changes, which have been previously solved (and electronics are much more durable than people realise), err? Modular air-launched missiles are nothing new. Probably not cheap, but even a $1M missile looks cheap against a carrier.

  309. Andy W and Chris B – google for the StanFlex system, that’s what the Danes call it. I think the 76mm is the biggest piece of kit to fit the standard module.

    James – if it was that easy it would have been done – actually it would be quite expensive to build an airframe, including radar, that then dropped a torpedo. ASW torp’s as dropped from ship / MPA / Helo are light weight, small in diameter and shorter in range.

    Anti-ship torpedos, as fired at “skimmers” by “bubbleheads” are firkkin great things, normally 21 inch or more in diameter, weighing tonnes – so all in all, not cheap, not easy, and if a the targt drops of your radar at 5km out, you fire your off board active sonar decoys, stream your noise makers and take all other anti-torpedo countermeasures – so cost and complexity probably not worth the effort :-)

  310. @James: missile/torpedo hybrids would be a tad inefficient weight-wise since torpedo engines are heavy. That being said, it’s another argument for defense in depth, and our quaint desire to avoid hard-kill solutions for torpedo’s looks ever more silly, despite it being real easy to do. A spread of Shemel’s can ruin anyone’s day…

  311. No you want Otomat MILAS…….

    Thus, Milas entered service in 2002 with the Italian Navy only, after almost 20 years of development.[8] Milas is an all weather day/night system with a maximum range of 55 km. It can put a torpedo in the water at 35 km of its launch platform within three minutes and, if required, change its impact point while flying. – Wiki

  312. I’ve been wondering lately, dangerous as that is, what use something like ALARM would be against a surface vessel specifically the loiter mode, whereby it travels up, dumps the first stage and deploys a chute. I think it can reach something like 16km?

    Then you press the second wave with anti-ship weapons and now you have a dilemma. Turn on the radar and the ALARM comes whizzing down. Would certainly be an interesting test of the AA system!

    Which reminds me, anyone know just how much testing is done by the MoD in terms of “I wonder what happens when we do xyz” etc, excluding the proving trials for weapon systems. I probably could have saved myself a lot of time by just saying “anyone know how much experimental testing the MoD does?”.

    Jed,
    I’d heard about the StanFlex, didn’t realise they’d integrated a gun into it though. And I’ve just though of another general stupid question to ask you; you disagree with the thrust of the article, so could you perhaps break down some of the more specific main points that are of issue, both positive and negative?

    James,
    I now you responded over recce vehicles, can’t remember if you gave your general thoughts? If you have the time then fire away fella, I’d love to hear what you think.

    Phil,
    I was going to ask you something but I got distratced and now can’t remember what it was.

  313. @ Jed / Rupert / Phil / X

    I can talk about tanks, recce, C4ISTAR and land forces with 20 years experience long into the night. Not so with torpedoes / missiles. So my thoughts are only those of the average person. But, big torpedoes, coming out of the back of a C-130 or off the side of an MTB (or bigger vessel, or fishing trawler)? Gets around Jed’s concerns re size / weight. Could be 300 kms out from the target. Phil and X indicate that at least others have also thought about this. As for a coordinated attack on a carrier from all around the clock face, maybe integrating torpedoes and normal missiles, shudder….. I read the report by the USMC Maj Gen Paul van Riper on Millennium Challenge 02, and it is not a good read for conventional Task Forces.

  314. Ikara is an old system, fielded in the 60s I believe. Basically a missile delivered torpedo but intended for anti-submarine use not anti-surface use. Have a Google. Similar to the US ASROC which was retired some time ago. Both Cold War weapons.

  315. Torpedoes are an interesting area, we have read lots about super cavitating torpedos etc but the technology is quite challenging. (Kursk anyone. Attacking a Carrier from all around with multiple methods is the way to go but you have to eb able to do it. The easiest way to take out a carrier is when it is on its own doing a peace time transit. When thet thethreat level increases and it has a BG things get more difficult. The CVN is capable of enforcing a no fly zone 200Nm arounf the carrier and maintaing a full surface plot out to in excess of 100NM. you dont know where the 1 or 2 SSNs are operating that support the group either.
    James on your missile to torpedo thing, I like it the issue is you would have to do the transformation further out. if it went vertical at 5KM and stationary then even SWMLU could get engage it. Never mind Aster 15 or 30 and CAMMS is going to be good out to approx 18NM.

  316. Ah, just remembered what I was going to ask Phil,

    Phil (and James)
    What is the lowest level at which Tanks and armoured infantry can practically integrate? On paper at least it would currently be the Brigade/Battlegroup level, but how low could you conceivably go? For example, could you build a combined arms battalion with a Challenger and two Warrior companies (or vice versa numbers wise)? Could you go lower, and build a Company which combined platoons of Challenger with Warriors? Just a random thought.

    @ James specifically
    I’ve heard and read a lot about Millennium Challenge ’02, even mentioned it in the article. Never read Van Riper’s report because I don’t believe it is in the public domain. Do you know if it exists anywhere freely available?

  317. “What is the lowest level at which Tanks and armoured infantry can practically integrate? On paper at least it would currently be the Brigade/Battlegroup level, but how low could you conceivably go? For example, could you build a combined arms battalion with a Challenger and two Warrior companies (or vice versa numbers wise)? Could you go lower, and build a Company which combined platoons of Challenger with Warriors?”

    James probably knows more but I do believe that squadron and company groups were in use from at least the 70s in the British Army, the emphasis being on tailoring the force to the intended mission.

    No Army I know of has permanently integrated tanks and infantry at company level (its simpler just to pool them in peacetime) but the Germans did have mixed Panzergrenadier Battalions with 2 infantry and one panzer company permanently established in their Heerstrukture 4.

  318. But, as an amendment. The German reconnaissance battalions of Heerstruktur 4 in the Cold War did have one integrated tank / Luchs company.

  319. @ Chris B I have never read the raw report but there are several good websites that dissect what happened. The lessons learnt fell out very quicly especially in terms of thing like exclusions zones for small craft and aircraft. The simulation made the US forces switch of there Aegis systems as they were operating in an area of civilian shipping density and SPY can seriously trip diesle gennys. The Blue force neglected to establish an exclusion zone for small craft around the fleet and did not change screen positions reguarly. They also did not exclude civilian air trafiic which they struggled to track due to systems being shut down. red forces set up a brilliant simultaneous attack utilising SSM from pleasure craft and suicide attacks by light aircarft etc which sank vast majority of blue forces.
    lessons identified, do not use shipping lanes in a shooting war and if you do get in and out under cover of darkness. Keep small vessels well away from the HVU and shift screen sectors to prevent low tech RMP. Keep your systems turned on! Establish a no fly zone and enforce it.

  320. @ APATS, re van Riper,

    I recall reading it in 2002 a few weeks post event. It was then classified, but since then I think it has leaked onto t’internet. The report itself was about 50 pages, and there were already several hundred pages of “ah but” type reports stuck onto the front of it.

    @ Chris B,

    let me give you a practical example. Gulf 1, an Iraqi trench system, and in particular a forward outpost with ATGM. Smoke and HE onto forward outpost, one x Challenger troop, one x Warrior platoon on the left flank of a traditional attack. One of the Challengers parks on top of outpost, a bit of left / right with the tillers for 30 seconds or so, then moves on ten yards. Warrior pulls up 20 yards back, and gives it max into the crumbled outpost with the chain gun at maximum depression. Red soggy sand, and no effective response,

    That’s combined arms working at the vehicle level, not the Battle Group level. Endlessly repeated, not a one off.

    (What isn’t so nice is the vehicle first parade at the next short halt, removing a squashed hand and wrist from your tracks)

  321. @James As there shoudl have been. The sad thing is the reaction, instead of suspending the exercise and then reseting it again from square 1 with no restrictions on red force but blue force allowed to adapat to there first sinking they wasted 10 days on scripted rubbish.

  322. @ APATS,

    that the brass for you. Inconvenient results are just not allowed to happen. Until realtime results force a change of thinking (and sometimes, the brass).

  323. @ James and Phil

    Lovely. So that’s where B&Q have been getting all their red sand from.

    I was just curious, wondering how the army would respond if its battalions were formed and trained from day one in such a low level combined arms style. I guess that would cause issues when you only wanted to deploy the infantry for example for a peace keeping job.

    I’m also guessing from the feedback that the army has little trouble in tasking tanks and infantry at the lowest levels when needed, with little notice? In which case, ignore me.

    Per the MC’02
    I’ve read a fair amount of articles and the such on it, but they all seem to possess just snippets of the details, like Van Riper shutting down hims communications and using motorcycle messengers and calls to prayer to transmit orders, then later being forced to switch on his radars against his wishes, and even later on finding that his commands were being disobeyed and countermanded by the training staff.

    Would be nice to hear it all from the horses mouth.

  324. @ Chris B,

    re recce vehicles,

    sorry pal, must have missed your question. Not intentional at any rate. Err…what was it?

    @ APATS, re torpedo / missile thingy transformation, distance from target might not be 5 km (being a mucky mud-covered ex recce man I’m not an expert), but a couple of quick Wikis tell me that some modern torpedoes have a range of 50 nm (criminy! that’s a lot), that wake homing is jolly difficult to defend against for the floaty little boats, and that cruise missile engines are more than man enough to power a biggish missile several hundred miles, before the vertical pop up / drogue chute / conversion to torpedo routine. Let’s call the conversion at a distance of 15 nm?

    Now, I’m not claiming that any of this is easy, but imagine if the Chinese actually did it. A bit like Prince of Wales and Repulse in 1942. Oh, bug*er. The rules just changed….

  325. @ James

    Actually the question wasn’t about recce vehicles, it was “other than recce vehicles” what was your general take on the article?

  326. @James It doesnt change the rules, it adds an extra bit of interest, these are the sort of things that have been bounced back and forth at Dryad and then Collingwood for years. The missile carrying the torpedo still has to penetrate the screen if it is going after a carrier, so when it pops up it is still a sitting duck. Against a solo Frigate it is a good option but wake Homing torpedoes have been around since 1965 and there have been various defences against them. Today in the Rn that involves a mvre (updated 5 years ago) the ship carries out, the use of a towed torpedeo decoy (new in service) and the firing of active defence tablets at various points of the mvre. It works in trials. The beauty of trials against torpedoes is as you can set the depth to run under the Ship you can actually play against them for real, they go straight under you then you have lost.

  327. “It works in trials”…

    So did my ruddy mini-CVR(T) mine/IED clearer that was bolted onto the front of my Scimitar in Bosnia, except that in reality the first Russian designed PMN blew the spastic device off the vehicle, causing my driver to nearly sh*t himself, the front sprockets to be blown off, my commander’s periscope to be shattered by over-pressure, and me to have an enduring downer on those f*ckwits in DERA (now DSTL and Qinetiq).

  328. James sorry mate that made me chuckle. That si the beauty of trials against torpedoes, as i said you can actually let them behave exactly as they would in real life set the depth to 30M and just dont fit a warhead. Much easier than replicating a mach 2.5 ASM engagement.

  329. @ Chris B,

    general take on article, still reading / digesting. You’ve put more than enough effort in to deserve a proper response.

    current comments are quick fires in response to others, not reflective of your main article.

    However, if you do want a quick comment:

    “Two up, and bags of smoke”. It works for 98.2389% of land tactical engagements. Phil G will confirm. ;)

  330. “general take on article, still reading / digesting. You’ve put more than enough effort in to deserve a proper response. Current comments are quick fires in response to others, not reflective of your main article.”

    Okey dokey.

  331. A few quick comments.

    Grizzly was the name used by the A400 test pilots and seems to be the semi-official marketing name used by Airbus, but the Chief of the Air Staff hates it : “It’s absolutely appalling…It has no provenance, no acceptance and it will enter RAF service with that name over my dead body.”

    Personally I prefer it to Atlas – I get the mythological reference but Atlas just doesn’t quite do it as a name for me. Mind you, I think Nimrod was the last really good RAF plane name….

    I wouldn’t call Harpoon a “proper Anti-Surface Warfare capability” these days. 8 subsonic missiles is pretty much militarily irrelevant when even corvettes on the red team carry 16 cells quad-packed with VL SAMs. Yes the West has been lucky with its choice of enemies in the last 30 years, but every SAM designed in that time has had subsonic cruise missiles like Tomahawk/Harpoon/Exocet as their main target. Iraq didn’t really have them by the time of GW1 – they were still relying on the equivalent of Sea Dart – and even contemporary Libya was still dependent on similar missiles. But things would look rather different if we wanted to take on Iran, or eg one of the ships being exported by Russia that are covered in Kashtans and SA-N-9’s or better. You’ve got a chance if you have enough subsonic missiles to overwhelm the defences, but that’s a job for a squadron of jets rather than a lone destroyer or submarine.

    So recycle the Harpoons off the T42s if you want, but from memory they haven’t got many years of service life left in them (2018 rings a bell??). For the same reason, replacing Trident with cruise missiles seems a waste of time to me – cruise missiles just aren’t very scary these days. Hell, even (clipped wing) Spitfires killed a good number of them. You could argue that ballistic missiles are starting to look a bit less scary as frontline nations gain BMD capability but even the SM-3 is still pretty hit and miss, and countering ICBMs will always be a lot harder than the modern descendants of the doodlebug. Incidentally, the basic “anti-Scud” Aster will fit in an A50.

    If you must have something along those lines on a T45, then an A50 version of the Scalp Naval could at least be fired in quantity from a T45 in a Libya-type situation – and quantity rather than range would be important, so I’d prefer an A50 version to the A70 version given where we are with SYLVER tubes. Incidentally, the Scalp Naval isn’t really a variant of the Storm Shadow/Scalp EG, more a distant cousin in a similar way to Hellfire versus Brimstone. >1000km range, new airframe, warhead and motor, they really are quite different, although they’ve reused a lot of the software from the air-launched version. I guess we’ll have to see what the MoD can afford to fund out of the MBDA toybox, my Scalp A50 may end up drawing heavily from the later versions of SPEAR with modules that ultimately derive from the clever bits of Brimstone. Also don’t forget that Fireshadow was mooted for the T45, but that seems to have been quietly dropped in the SDSR. It’s no substitute for a proper SSM, but it would have been a cute capability to have.

    Same with 324mm torpedo mounts – by the time a submarine is within range of ship-launched Stingray, it’s time to launch the lifeboats. I’d love to see a SYLVER version of ASROC, but I can see how that’s strictly at the “nice to have” end of the current prorities.

    I’d be another one to retain the main gun – it’s just too useful. Yes there’s all sorts of arguments about exposing your ship to risk, but Liverpool turned hers on Libya, and allegedly both the French and a Burke have used theirs off Somalia. That’s just this year.

    That’s not to say CIWS aren’t useful, the RN has always skimped on them, but…what Jed said, almost word for word, they’re a useful layer in the defence but are not some superweapon. The advantage of Phalanx aside from the low footprint is that it has the upgrade path through RAM and future death rays. 30mm are certainly useful for anti-swarming, but the DS30M might be a more appropriate solution there. @Jed – actually you’re better off against a manouevring missile, as they won’t be heading towards you until the last moment, they may be harder to hit but at least the fragments will probably fly over your head.

    Ditto about the T42s being clapped out, they’ve already been sailing with most of the fancy stuff deactivcated!! If you want that kind of thing, just use some second-hand commercial hulls, they’ll be cheapp as chips once China and the Eurozone go pop.

    I’m keeping out of the carrier stuff, but you come across as a bit silly in dismissing the contribution of the Harrier – it was closer to half the kills, and more to the point they were the vital kills. It was nice of the ninjas to blow up some Pucaras and a Sea Dart to take out a Puma, but the Skyhawks were the real ship killers and in such a close-run thing, the 8 killed by Sea Harriers were probably decisive. You also can’t dismiss the effect on tactics of facing an enemy with aircraft, nor the extended radius of action (like that Herc killed by Sharkey as it was trying to bomb our supply ships north of the islands). Others have commented on the F-35 thing – we really have too good a deal on the F-35 to dump it.

    I’m probably the biggest fan here of playing with the Hawk parts bin, but interceptors they are not. Certainly they are badly suited to peacetime QRA – as has been said, subsonic doesn’t really work for interception. I don’t know if you could put the Jaguar’s (afterburning) Adour 106 in a Hawk, but that would be a bare minimum, and I suspect you’re getting into too big a redesign to be worth it. A fancy Hawk would be great for COIN though.

    Sea Eagle is no longer with us, and see above for the effectiveness of just one or two subsonic AShM’s. Roll on SPEAR Block 3 or whatever it is this week. Also you’d really want better sensors than the APG-66.

    I agree ALARM is a big loss, their Airships seem to be taking the view that they will rely on electronic attack, although I suspect that Meteor will gain an ARM role at some point.

    I’d suggest that IFR on a 737-based aircraft is not a dealbreaker. The P-8 has the same boom system as the Wedgetail so either we’d join other nations in putting ARBS on our Voyagers or it would hardly be rocket science to adapt the system used on our AWACS. The other thing is that turbo-props are easier for subs to hear.

    Green-Tide Turbines have some cool tech but you’re way out on their costs. They’re currently quoting £120-180/MWh, and are hoping to get it down to £60-80/MWh at some unspecified point in the future. That’s about the current cost for new onshore wind installations, now that we’ve used up many of the best locations already – onshore wind can break even below £30/MWh. The current UK wholesale price is around £50/MWh for comparison. Obviously it looks a bit different if that’s powering a base that would otherwise be powered by generators supplied by fuel tankers coming through the Khyber Pass, but rest assured that people are thinking about these things….

  332. @ El Sid,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.

    About the Harriers, I wasn’t dismissing them, but the claim that without them it would have/would be mission impossible. If anything I think you went a little silly in your response, as I should point out that missile and cannon fire from surface vessels shot down more Skyhawks than the Sea Harriers did.

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