The F35 Decision

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So, where to start?

No other issue, it seems, gets people so excised as aircraft carriers and their aircraft, they remain such an iconic capability and subject area huge volumes are written about them.

One thing is certain; those looking in from the outside are not in possession of all the facts so whatever I might think it is important to appreciate this.

The statement in full from the SoS Defence…

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the Carrier Strike programme.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review considered the carrier strike programme, put in place by the previous Government, as part of a wide ranging review of options for delivering effective future defence while dealing with the black-hole in Labour’s Defence budget and the unaffordable “fantasy” equipment plan bequeathed to us by the Party opposite. While the Review confirmed that carrier strike would be a key capability in delivering Future Force 2020, it also recognised the unsustainability as a whole of the Defence Equipment Plan we inherited.

The strategic decision on carrier strike which emerged from the SDSR process was to convert one carrier with catapults and arrestor gear to operate the Carrier Variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, facilitating greater interoperability with allies, with a decision on the future use or disposal of the second carrier to be taken at the 2015 SDSR. The decision was also taken routinely to embark 12 fast jets while retaining the ability to surge up to the previously planned level of 36 aircraft. As the House would expect for such a complex and high-value project, the strategic decision taken at SDSR was followed by the commissioning of a detailed programme of work to look at the costs, risks and technical feasibility of all aspects of the proposed solution. That study was expected to take eighteen months, completing by the end of 2012.

Since I took on the role of Defence Secretary in October last year, my overriding concern, after current operations and the welfare of our Armed Forces, has been to ensure the deliverability of the MOD’s Equipment Plan and the achievement of a balanced and sustainable budget. That will give our Armed Forces the assurance they need to carry out the massive transformation that will deliver Future Force 2020 – the concept for our Armed Forces set out in the SDSR. The Carrier project is a large element of the Equipment Programme and I have worked closely with the new Chief of Defence Materiel, Bernard Gray, to assess the technical and financial risks involved in it.

It quickly became clear to me that a number of the underlying facts on which the SDSR decision on carriers was based were changing:

First, as the programme to convert a carrier to operate with a catapult system has matured, and more detailed analysis has been carried out by suppliers, it has become clear that operational Carrier Strike capability, using the ‘cats and traps’ system, could not be delivered until late 2023 at the earliest, considerably later than the date envisaged at the time of the SDSR of “around 2020”. Because Britain’s carriers will have all electric propulsion, and therefore do not generate steam like nuclear powered vessels, the catapult system would need to be the innovative Electromagnetic version (EMALS), being developed for the US Navy. Fitting this new system to a UK carrier has presented greater design challenges than were anticipated.

Secondly, and partly as a result of the delayed timetable, the estimated cost of fitting this equipment to the Prince of Wales has more than doubled in the last 17 months, rising from an estimated £950M to around £2Bn, with no guarantee that it will not rise further.

Technical complexity and the cost of retrofitting cats and traps to the Queen Elizabeth, the first carrier, would be even higher, making it unlikely that she would ever, in practice, be converted in the future.

Thirdly, at the time of the SDSR, there was judged to be a very significant technical risk around the STOVL version of JSF and some commentators were speculating that it could even be cancelled. Indeed, the STOVL programme was subsequently placed on probation by the Pentagon However, over the last year, the STOVL programme has made excellent progress and in the last few months has been removed from probation. The aircraft has completed over 900 hours of flying, including flights from the USS Wasp and the US Marine Corp has a high degree of confidence in the in-service date for the aircraft. The balance of risk has changed and there is now judged to be no greater risk in STOVL than in other variants of JSF.

And fourthly, further work with our allies on the best approach to collaborative operation has satisfied us that joint maritime task groups involving our carriers, with co-ordinated scheduling of maintenance and refit periods, and an emphasis on carrier availability, rather than cross-deck operations, is the more appropriate route to optimising alliance capabilities.

Mr Speaker, when the facts change, the responsible thing to do is to examine the decisions you have made and to be willing to change your mind.

However inconvenient that may be. Doing what is right for Britain. Not burying your head in the sand and ploughing on regardless, as the last Government so often did. A persistent failure to observe this simple principle is at the root of many of the MOD budget problems that we inherited from the party opposite. I do not intend to repeat their mistakes.

The decision taken in the SDSR to proceed with a carrier strike capability, despite the massive challenges we faced with the MOD’s budget, was the right decision.

The decision to seek to contain costs, by going for “cats and traps”; on a single carrier with greater interoperability with allies, and the cheaper CV version of the JSF aircraft, was also the right decision, based on the information available at the time.

But the facts have changed. I am not prepared to accept a delay in regenerating Britain’s carrier strike capability beyond the timetable set out in the SDSR.

And I am not prepared to put the equipment plan, which will support Future Force 2020, at risk of a billion-pound plus increase in the carrier programme and unquantifiable risk of further cost rises.

So, I can announce today that the National Security Council has agreed not to proceed with the “cats and traps” conversion, but to complete both carriers in STOVL configuration. This will give us the ability to use both carriers to provide continuous carrier availability – at a net additional operating cost averaging about £60M per year. As we set out in the SDSR, a final decision on the use of the second carrier will be taken as part of SDSR 2015.

We will switch the order for JSF aircraft from CV to STOVL, which we can do without delaying delivery and, by making this announcement today, we can plan on the basis of the first operational aircraft being delivered with a UK weapons fit package.

We expect HMS Queen Elizabeth to be handed over to the Navy in early 2017 for sea trials.

We expect to take delivery of our first test aircraft in July of this year, and we expect the first production aircraft to be delivered to us in 2016, with flying from the Queen Elizabeth to begin in 2018, after her sea trials are complete.

We have discussed this decision with the French Government and with the United States. The French confirm that they are satisfied with our commitment to jointly planned carrier operations to enhance European-NATO capability.

The United States, on whose support we would rely in regenerating either type of carrier capability, has been highly supportive throughout this review and I would like to record my personal thanks to the Secretary of Defense, the Pentagon, the Navy and the Marine Corps for their high level of engagement with us. I spoke to Secretary Panetta last night and he confirmed the US willingness to support our decision and its view that UK carrier strike availability and our commitment to the JSF programme are the key factors.

The Chief of the Defence Staff and his fellow Chiefs of Staff – all of them – endorse this decision as the quickest and most assured way now to deliver carrier strike as part of an overall affordable equipment programme that will support Future Force 2020.

Mr Speaker, this was not an easy decision to take. But our responsibility is to make the right decision on the basis of the facts available to us. Neither I, nor any of my colleagues came into Government expecting decisions to be easy or pain-free.

I have a responsibility to clear up the financial mess we inherited in the MOD, just as we are clearing up the mess we inherited across Government as a whole. To set a balanced budget. And an affordable, deliverable Equipment Programme. With manageable and bounded risk.

This decision addresses one of the last impediments to me announcing the achievement of those objectives to the House, and I hope to be able to do so very soon.

But Mr Speaker, it isn’t just about balancing budgets, critical as that is. It is about the UK’s Defence – secured by having an appropriate and sustainable military capability. This announcement delivers an affordable solution to securing that capability and, with 2 useable carriers, gives us the option of continuous carrier availability. It confirms the expected delivery of the first test aircraft this summer; of the first production aircraft in 2016; of the first carrier into sea trials in 2017; and of the first flight of the JSF from the deck of the carrier in 2018, with an operational military capability in 2020. It confirms the support of our principal allies – the US and France. And that of the Defence Chiefs.

Mr Speaker, it shows that we, at least, are not afraid to take difficult decisions when they are right for Britain. I commend this statement to the House.

My opinion, as ill-informed as it might be, is that this is the correct decision and as evidenced by all posts on the subject I have consistently maintained the F35B was the most sensible choice throughout the debate.

The reason I thought and think the F35B represents a sensible, practical, pragmatic and reasonable choice is based on taking a wide angle view across all three services.

That the F35B is more expensive in isolation to buy and maintain, or that it has less range and payload than the F35C is no revelation but that is not the point.

Neither is the objective of the Joint Combat Aircraft and CVF to get aircraft and aircraft carriers into service as a means unto itself, neither is it important to discuss the legacy, tradition or heritage of British naval aviation innovation and development.

Talk of being second only to the USN, having so called ‘proper’ aircraft carriers is just nonsense, designed to obfuscate the real issue of delivering effects across multiple defence lines of development within, and this is the crucial part, a fixed budget.

We often hear comments like ‘if we are going to do it we should do it properly’ or this is a ‘short term financial decision’ but that sounds like business as usual and a very short cut to increasing the size of the budget black hole. The MoD has to live within its means; I am not sure why so many people have difficulty understanding this fundamental principle.

It is not an option to raid the other services future equipment programmes either, CVF/JCA should not be allowed to dominate the equipment programme and future operating budgets because it is one of many things we need to be spending money.

If only we could buy off the shelf people might argue but it is British wealth that pays the MoD’s bills so to try and divorce the industrial, foreign exchange and intellectual property benefits of F35 from other options is simply naive.

Everything is connected, everything is important.

So yes, I accept that it is a compromise in pure specification terms in comparison with the F35C but when taken in the round, a pragmatic decision based on the realism of operating carrier strike in British armed forces, not anyone else’s.

The MoD now needs to inject some stability into the programme and to be honest, get it off the front pages. Those involved need the space, support and funding to deliver the capability and anyone whinging needs to think twice.

It seems clear that neither the RAF or RN has covered themselves in glory with their leaky/briefy games, I hope that the guilty take the time to reflect on their actions.

I am going to have a look at some of these issues in more depth in a future post but for now, the choice has been made (again) and I think the current Secretary of State for Defence needs roundly congratulating for having the balls to take a tough decision with serious political consequences for the wider good of the MoD but make no mistake, there are many question about how exactly the comedic decision making process went from Plan A to Plan B and then back to Plan A, this has cost anywhere between £40 and £50 million PLUS any cancellation/exit costs with US suppliers.

There are serious issues of competence to address but the two key issues that stand out for me are

  1. What and who prompted the change in the SDSR, how much have we wasted and exactly how this Fleet strength cockup actually happened, looking back
  2. Can we just get on with it, looking forward
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jedibeeftrix

“further work with our allies on the best approach to collaborative operation has satisfied us that joint maritime task groups involving our carriers, with co-ordinated scheduling of maintenance and refit periods, and an emphasis on carrier availability, rather than cross-deck operations, is the more appropriate route to optimising alliance capabilities”

ROFLMAO!

“So, I can announce today that the National Security Council has agreed not to proceed with the “cats and traps” conversion, but to complete both carriers in STOVL configuration. This will give us the ability to use both carriers to provide continuous carrier availability – at a net additional operating cost averaging about £60M per year.”

No really?

jedibeeftrix

“We have discussed this decision with the French Government and with the United States. The French confirm that they are satisfied with our commitment to jointly planned carrier operations to enhance European-NATO capability.”

Been making this very argument myself, and no surprise that america supports it as it forms the core of an independently capable europe on which america lean, rather than support.

“This announcement delivers an affordable solution to securing that capability and, with 2 useable carriers, gives us the option of continuous carrier availability.”

To conclude smugly if i may; “i told people so”.
Hoorah for common sense!

jedibeeftrix

hehe, fair enough.

so, that leaves us with:

2 carriers and most of the amphib fleet.
still two intervention brigades
and an army of 82,000 by 2020.
just five ‘proper’ brigades

anyone doubt that HMG did not make a fundamental choice, re: maritime-raiding vs land-stabilisation, eighteen months ago?

[smug mode still firmly “on”]

Rocket Banana

Excellent bit of “blame game” from Phil there.

If they decide against two carriers in 2015 there will be trouble ;-)

Now let’s just hope that clutch that sits between a massively powerful jet turbine and that lift fan actually holds up in real life use… it’s the only bit of the technical solution I have concerns with.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

TD

If PH had cojones he would re-activate a Harrier capability and he would get AR back into service.
The money is there to do it, we can find money at the drop of a hat to fund feasibility studies but we cannot find money to do real work.

As for the detail in the statement the lack of intellectual curiosity and rigour is shameful.
We were told that the CVF was designed with CATOBAR in mind, however it cannot do steam.
What rubbish, Maersk get steam from their diesels with no problems at all.
Look at the spec of any commercial ship with diesels and a steam output is part of the deal.

michael p
michael p

If I was the government I’d wonder why we are buying “adaptable” carriers which cost the same to convert as to build new ones we have been fleeced again by BAE systems and Thales we’ve paid vastly over the odds for a 65,000 ton stovl carrier when we could have built one the same size as Charles D’Gaulle it’s ok saying we’ll get 2 carriers now but they will wait till the next SDSR to make up there minds also the 1st Sea Lord has stated we won’t have the manpower to crew both ships or are they planning to remotely operate it ? this is nothing short of short-term politic’s something they swore they wouldn’t do

jedibeeftrix

@ Admin – “What and who prompted the change in the SDSR, how much have we wasted and exactly how this Fleet strength cockup actually happened, looking back”

If we look at what Con Coughlin writes, completely reverse the logic on the presumption that he’s got things ass backwards as usual, then we arrive at the following:

“Hammond’s carrier decision makes nonsense of scrapping the Harriers”
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/concoughlin/100157323/hammonds-carrier-decision-makes-nonsense-of-scrapping-the-harriers/

No Con,

Scrapping the harriers was precisely WHY the government was happy to change to the cats-n-traps F35c.

Cost savings in the short term.

As well as binning the harrier fleet, it allowed them to not need to find the cash to run both carriers, preferring to defer any final decision to a later date.

Well, now the Future army review has recommended further reducing the army from 95,000 to 82,000 and lo, we can now have both carriers.

Monty

This has to be the right decision.

As we all know, the principal reason to switch from the STOVL F-35B to the CATOBAR F-35C was because the former aircraft had not merely encountered serious technical issues but was ‘put on probation’ with a view to cancelling it altogether. Any government would have needed to reconsider their original choice. The mistake our unctuous PM made was not to fully evaluate the cost of switching before committing to it.

While there is an obvious cost penalty to this amateurish behaviour, the Coalition still has some way to go before matching the previous government’s over-expenditure and black hole of unfunded commitments (including £250 million on FRES without a single vehicle being fielded).

I don’t know whether blame should be attached to Cameron or Fox, but I think Philip Hammond has shown that he is a safe pair of hands.

As I said in a previous post, the F-35B is already a better aircraft than the Harrier (which you would hope after a gap of more than a decade since its technology was last upgraded).

– Longer range on internal fuel tanks than Harrier
– Greater weapons payload than Harrier
– Faster and more agile than the Harrier
– Easier to train pilots on than Harrier
– Easier to fly and therefore safer than Harrier
– More complex and expensive to service than F-35C but significantly less so than Harrier
– Superb on-board systems that give the pilot unprecedented situational awareness
– Stealth and Low Observability characteristics
– Easier deck recovery than F-35C and in sea states that would ground all CATOBAR types

In summary, the F-35B is undoubtedly a better combat aircraft than the Harrier it is intended to replace. Even so, the Harrier today still packs a punch, so all things considered, my F-35B cup is half full not half empty.

Will the F-35A and F-35C be better than the aircraft types they are intended to replace? Now that is an interesting question.

Peter Elliott

OK – so we wasted 2 years fannying about on one decision but now have a firm and affordable plan for the Carriers their Fast Jets. Good.

Still plenty of loose ends on the equipment programme and our ability to project power across the oceans. Unanswered questions for me include:

AEW&C to replace Sea King (presumably Merlin)
Maritime Patrol Aircraft (for both SAR and ASuW)
Ability to land and sustain a Medium Brigade across an undefended beach
Ocean replacement / Argus replacement / concurrent use of QEC #2.

Plus the 82,000 man Army’s actual structure and armour levels.
Plus Tornado replacement and should Typhoon be asked to do it all.

Hopefully the full gory horror of PR12 will reveal some of the answers but I suspect quite a bit be left to fester on until SDSR 2015.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

Month @ 12.26

No matter who is in power the MOD is there to muck it up.
However Dave the Rave has just upped the bar regarding equipment disasters.
Very noticeable how he – Dave … – was nowhere to be seen.
In fact he seems to be lying low today – A/stan tomorrow anyone?

However I cannot agree with your view on the F35B and the way it compares to the Harrier.

Harrier – light fighter.
F35B – heavy fighter
How much money are we spending to move from one to the other?
The Harrier force was around 80 airframes from memory.
We are going to aim for 50 F35Bs at a cost of £8-9bill or £10bill in reality just to procure the planes.
That is some amount of opportunity cost that we are putting on the table for a very limited fleet.

Harrier force + £10bill – What would that get you and how would it compare with 50 F35B’s?

ChrisW
ChrisW

At least the clutch is a bit of UK kit! What about the cracked bulkhead?
Why the reluctance to say that both carriers will enter service? To base the decision on saying that both could now be completed but not to confirm that both will enter service is perverse. More tortuous “logic” to justify another bout of short-termism.

What will it carry? What will it bring back? What will it bring back in tropical conditions? These are crucial considerations that did for Sea Harrier. Is it really going to only able to carry 2 x 500lb Paveway IV and 2 x AIM-120 internally? Why no JDAM? Why no consideration of completing F136 development? Sorry – short term money issues again. Hammond said that over 30 years he believed that F-35B would be cheaper – I’m assuming that’s the aircraft’s projected life not the carriers’. Are we to expect a split buy in 2015/16 or whenever they are forced to think about this again?

TD – I thought you wanted the carriers cancelled anyway. Apologies if I’ve remembered incorrectly – there have been so many different discussions on this subject.

Salvador

I will post a more measured response later, when I have caslmed down!!!

for now… I have heard so much bollocks in all my life!!

1. So the fuckwits admit that the SDSR was a load of bollocks.. NO shit sherlock.

2. They made a major decision to switch to the F35C A. to cover the sale of Harriers B. on a whim with no idea of the true costs!!! Sackable offence!!

3. We paid for an “ADAPTABLE” design that is not fcuking ADAPTABLE…
SUE the fuck out of the Carrier Alliance. NO really take them to court and bankrupt the fuckers!!!

4. what fucking differnce does an extra 3 years make, theu have already taken a lifetime to get this far

5.Its not just the fact that the F35B is a rather poor aircraft, compared to the other two which are not as good as LM would have us all believe, but going down the STOVL route fucks up our options for AEW/ISTAR in general, probably prevents the use of X47B/Tarannis, not too mention if the F35B fail (and I still think it might, you have no fall back position.

6. What a cluster fuck of all cluster fucks. We have a government, MoD and Military leadership who are simply not fit for purpose.

Going to gym to vent aggression!!!!

I am embarressed to be British we have become a country of clowns, well run by clowns anyway,

mikezeroone

Chris

“Why no consideration of completing F136 development? ”

It had no US support and also to reduce costs of the programe…however I do think the project could/is still going ahead, albiet slower and at the maunufacturers own cost.

TD

Well then, the smug-o-meter must be bursting!
“Talk of being second only to the USN, having so called ‘proper’ aircraft carriers is just nonsense,”
Amen to that.

We’ve done brilliantly with the STOVL idea for over 3 decades-ish and I see no need/nor funds for us to have a ‘proper’ carrier…I mean, outside the US no-one else has such systems in palce to sustain and truely work it right…the french only come close, but no dice.
I just hope now that both carriers can come into service…

Also, the Harrier Gr9 was not even a ‘light fighter’ really… they never performed CAP at sea, DACT yes…but them facing Su-33’s? Or MiG-29K’s? Or even SHAR51’s? I doubt it. Like the tonka and Jag, it was defensive capability. ‘Gr’ for a reason…it could do it, but not at a sustained rate.

Anyway, sticking with what BB said yesterday, 2015 will be when its carved in stone, before that we have Pr12 to think and rant about.

Ichabod
Ichabod

Why does TD care who drove the change to F35C in Whitehall unless the ThinkRAF police are planning some midnight raids after their scare around another air force getting capable aircraft?

AAC beware, you are next.

Rocket Banana

FBOT,

I must admit that I’m with you regarding the Harrier/F35B comparison. They are different beasts and as you say, mainly in terms of size, weight or logistical footprint.

I think the fact that the USMC are having to lose a well deck on America demonstrates the aircraft size leap from Harrier –> F35B and Sea Knight –> V22.

I think (again, great with the benefit of hindsight) that there was a good opportunity for Harrier III for the UK, Italy, Spain, and of course the USMC. A low-observable, subsonic, STOVL jet.

If you can get the funding, I’ll design the beast!

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

Simon @ 13.27

I have tried to work a couple of numbers into a potential Harrier 3.

Looking at 15K lbs unladen.
Looking at 30K lbs thrust.
Consequently light fighter but chunky engine.
Same basic layout but stealthy, more robust and better servicing arrangements.
Looking at Typhoon cast offs / parts bin raid for sensors and information spine.
Not sure what weapon load could be carried internally but that would go with the F35 style fuselage.

Failing that there is always the Yak 41/43/45 …

Where would £100mill in development money get us plus half a dozen existing airframes to butcher?
One year fag packet design staff plus development with 200 designers for three years?
Run an engine programme at £50 mill with RR?
Joint venture with any interested outside parties?

Results – 4 engines and 2 flying prototypes?

Rocket Banana

FBOT,

I’m sure RR can provide the engine (it’s essentially the F136). I seem to remember the 3-bearing swivel nozzle is patented, which is amazing since it was nicked from the Yak. Perhaps we should build it in China where they don’t recognise patents?

Like the idea of using systems that are already available – just need flight control developing (I’ll do that on my iPhone ;-) ).

I reckon a design that can get two 1000lb Paveways inside would make LM nervous!

jedibeeftrix

i thought you didn’t believe in sunk costs? (cheeky grin) :D

Brian Black
Brian Black

I’m getting screen burn from all the smugness radiating from this post. However, no aircraft numbers and no firm commitment to utilizing both ships, so could well be a case of premature smugness. Also, Hammond says that the C decision was “based on the information available at the time. But the facts have changed”, so the present flip-flopped decision is probably not the best validation for the position that “I have consistently maintained the F35B was the most sensible choice throughout the debate”. Either the facts have changed – so supporting the F35B throughout was irrational and ill-considered, or the facts have never changed – and so Hammond’s current plan is just as likely to ignore those facts as with the different plans that have come before.

Brian Black
Brian Black

I’m getting screen burn from all the smugness radiating from this post. However, no aircraft numbers and no firm commitment to utilizing both ships, so could well be a case of premature smugness. Also, Hammond says that the C decision was “based on the information available at the time. But the facts have changed”, so the present flip-flopped decision is probably not the best validation for the position that “I have consistently maintained the F35B was the most sensible choice throughout the debate”. Either the facts have changed – so supporting the F35B throughout was irrational and ill-considered, or the facts have never changed – and so Hammond’s current plan is just as likely to ignore those facts as with the different plans that have come before.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

Simon @ 13.51

I would go for a Pegasus on steroids.
It is a Harrier 3 not an EU F35.

Just a case of listing the issues with the existing aircraft and trying to sort out the issues in a flexible and efficient manner.

Brian Black
Brian Black

I think one of the most interesting lines in the statement was “Fitting [EMALS] to a UK carrier has presented greater design challenges than were anticipated”.

I’d like to know why a ship apparently designed for the possible inclusion of this kit is suddenly unsuitable to be fitted with it. We were all aware there’d be costs associated with fitting the cats, but this seems like a new revelation.

Rocket Banana

Brian Black,

You tend to get the impression that “adaptable” really meant STOVL but we’ll cross the CATOBAR bridge when we come to it.

James
James

If we are saving £2Bn on not having an EMALS (just imagine – a solenoid on steroids with a bit of wire costing twenty F35Bs), can we reinvest that in cutting a large flap in the back of the ruddy boats so that we can make a proper well-dock? We don’t need so much hangar space as we’ll only ever be able to afford 12 aircraft on board, and the electric drive means you don’t need a long straight run for the propeller shafts.

Then the bloody things may actually be useful.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

BB @ 14.16

The design work for EMALS onto the CVF involved a BWoS functionary ticking a box after he had taken Sir Bufton Tufton – MOD 3rd Secretary (Acting) / Capital Ships / Aircraft Capable – out to a nice lunch and some cricket.

It tells you ll you need to know about the quality of the design team behind the CVF.
They have all the ability and delivery of the Fiesta team’s attempt to do a 44 ton truck.

Waddi
Waddi

http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.asp?id=19704

Interesting article, cost of converting both carriers would have been £5bn!!! Also EMALS would have huge running costs (assume generators running flat out thus burning fuel). Also interesting choice of whether one or two carriers and how many planes appears to have been deferred until 2015.

Rocket Banana

Waddi,

So that link states that converting both carriers would cost the same as building them in the first place! I’m sorry, but quite frankly I don’t believe it. Perhaps they should have gone somewhere other than BAe to get a quote… oh, of course, they couldn’t, it’s a monopoly.

Adun
Adun

In the abstract, the decision to procure 65,000 ton aircraft carriers to operate STOVL aircraft still baffles me. It seems like such a waste to me when a 40,000 ton vessel could probably accomplish the same mission (and at a lower cost). What a confusing program…

That said, given that the time to procure a smaller vessel has long since passed, the B procurement decision seems like a wise choice. If CATOBAR configuration can’t be achieved in an affordable fashion, then STOVL is the right (only?) choice.

Rocket Banana

Adun,

You needed 65kt to operate 36 jets + AEW, which is what they kept on going on about.

A 40kt ship will manage about 20 + AEW with a 10000nm range (~28 + AEW if you drop to a range of 7500-8000nm).

Waddi
Waddi

I agree completely daft, minor technical point its not BAE building the carriers, it worse. It is anyone that could have built the carriers on their own, thus taking out any competition i.e. BAE, Babcock and Thales plus any marine metal fabricator available such as Appledore, Camel Laird etc. It’s not a BAE monopoly it is total UK industry monopoly.

Rocket Banana

Waddi,

Silly me, getting carried away ;-)

martin

“As the House would expect for such a complex and high-value project, the strategic decision taken at SDSR was followed by the commissioning of a detailed programme of work to look at the costs, risks and technical feasibility of all aspects of the proposed solution. That study was expected to take eighteen months, completing by the end of 2012”.
Yet we have to pay a cancelation fee to the suppliers.
Ah so we under took a £50 million 18 month long review (surly a sensible strategy) However before that review was concluded we thought we may as well but the £400 million EMLAS system.
Either spread sheet Phil is lying about the detailed investigation program and misleading the house (entirely possible) or some numpty really needs to get fired. I can’t believe that even in the MOD someone can order such a thing as an EMLAS without prior consent from the minister.
I have to say that while I respect the balls to make the decision it really strikes me as sad that a secretary of state not least the defence minister would spend so much time trying to party politics and blame the last government for all his ills. However it is what I have come to expect from the present government.
The leaks are also becoming ridiculous. I think any reader of TD could have written that speech this morning based on the information available in the Telegraph. Every cost and aspect of the thing has been in the press for weeks with amazing accuracy.
The magic balck hole really is the gift that just keeps on giving and I suspect we will hear of it well past 2015. No one in government has yet pointed out that the vast majority of program over runs were from project’s started before Tony Blair even came in to power. Typhoon, T45, Astute, MRA4 all started and approved before 1997.

Phil

How has the government gone for maritime raiding when 66% of its rapid reaction land forces are more than likely to be delivered by air and there is a very clear commitment to enduring operations on land?

Anyway, hopefully that’s it now. Let’s just build the damn things and probably end up using them as commando carriers anyway. In the typical half arsed British fashion.

Constant carrier availability is not to be sniffed at.

The Other Chris
The Other Chris

The 64k ton vessel does have advantages over smaller alternatives such as a Mistral analog (aka Invincible-class Mk2).

Greater range, stores, stability, hospital, barracks and surge squadron capacity being not least among them.

Hindsight is all well and good, discussions should really now look at what we’re going to do about future equipment aspects such as AEW and the complexities involved in ski-jump launching a UCAV.

I look forward to TD writing articles along these lines or accepting Guest writers. Get scribbling!

:)

Aside: How is the ski-jump capable Sea Gripen coming along?

martin

“At the time of the 2010 review it was decided to conduct a two-year in-depth study of the conversion costs, as early £400m and £500m estimates had been based on the use of steam catapult technology, rather than EMALS”.
Not being funny hear but if it was going to be £400 million for steam and £2 billion for EMLAS did no one think of simply buying some diesel generators and a few boilers from B&Q to cram in the hull somewhere. I know we have talked about the cost of adding a steam system before but £ 2 billion buys a lot of piping.
PAS2 had a common design and used steam.

martin

@ The Other Chris

“ski-jump launching a UCAV”

You are right about this. If this carrier is going to operate for 50 years as it was envisaged and it can quite clearly never be operated in a CATOBAR configuration as it was suppose to later in life then we really have to ask how long it will be useful for if we can’t square that circle. I don’t see the Ski Jump launching as the issue. Lost of large fixed wings planes can already do that it’s the recovery that is the big question for me.

Peter Elliott

@Martin

Your suggestions of how we might have spent the £2bn differently misses the point. The reason why this decision has been taken is that there is no £2bn – so we can’t spend it on anything.

Same comment applies to @James who wants to spend the £2bn we don’t have on butchering a stern ramp into the QEC. Sadly nothing much will be spent on the Amphib capability until Albion and Bulwark are literally falling to bits. Given how much use we managed to eke out of Fearless and Intrepid that could be a very long time coming.

James
James

Peter Elliott,

fully aware that the £2B isn’t there – I was getting carried away. Should have specced the well-dock to start with (or indeed gone for Wasp or JC).

Does make you wonder how the wonder-ARG is going to get ashore though, when there is not a port. Given the last usage in 1982, the carriers are likely to be hiding in the next ocean over when the boys need to disembark, and it’s going to be a slow process from the Albions and Bays.

jedibeeftrix

@ Adun – “In the abstract, the decision to procure 65,000 ton aircraft carriers to operate STOVL aircraft still baffles me. It seems like such a waste to me when a 40,000 ton vessel could probably accomplish the same mission (and at a lower cost). What a confusing program…”

As with Not A Boffin I am constantly amazed at how persistent this rabbit hole is proving.

Having spent the last eight years following the design evolution of the CVF on the Warships1 forum it comes as NO surprise that the carrier is 65k tonnes:

It is the size it is to generate the sortie rates, and thus the effect on target deemed necessary as per the scenario planning conducted by the MoD.

They tinkered around with 45k tonnes at the same time as 65k tonnes, then they tried a compromise of 55k tonnes. It didn’t work, so they went back to 65k tonnes.

Rocket Banana

I agree, unless things change on the money front we will be lucky to get two carriers and two LPDs working back-to-back providing 365 day a year availability between each pair.

Albion and Bulwark will probably be run into the ground – well that’s one way of doing an amphibious landing!

We now have our jet supported amphibious fleet for the next 10-20 years:

Q.E.
Albion
2 x Bay

Peter Elliott

@James

As I said over on the ‘spleen’ thread, in any serious duffy we will have little choice but to send both QEC: one in the FJ Carrier role and the other as the LPH.

We also have to hope T45 and Sea Viper will be on their game to protect such a big targets close to the shore.

martin

@ Peter Elliot

I realsie the £ 2 billion is not there. I was just curious when the article from defence talk mentioned that the £ 400 million conversion cost was based on steam why not on thought hang on we have been launching steam catapults for 67 years why not keep doing it and not bother with EMLAS.

The Other Chris
The Other Chris

@Peter Elliott

In a serious scuffle both QE and PoW will operate under the Power Projection doctrine, operating Fast Jets and Helicopters simultaneously and rotating as necessary.

martin

regarding james thoughts on ARG. I wonder if any one has any insite into navy plans for landing a force 1982 style when we can only generate a single task force.

It’s my understanding that lack of escorts has prompted the decision to move away from the two task force capability with an ARG and CBG combined in a single force. If we were in a San Carlos style situation would the navy allow the QEC class to come in close enough to shore to allow the Bay’s and Albion to offload while still using the same escorts to cover both. It would be one hell of a target.

The Other Chris
The Other Chris

@Martin

My understanding of the recent leaks and briefs is that the approach is to initially land on “undefended beaches” with helicopter transportation being the primary insertion method and superiority gained to secure the landing achieved through air power, primarily through FJ and Attack Helicopters (Maritime cleared AH1’s and Wildcats).

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi Mike, RE
“however I do think the project [F136] could/is still going ahead, albiet slower and at the maunufacturers own cost.”
– cancelled
– they offered to finish it for 2 bn, the rest covered by the manufacturers; the offer was not taken up

martin

@ The Other Chris

I understand the inital assault but follow on forces will have to come in with heavy equiptment. The Bay’s can’t use Mexi Floats well otu to sea (TD may have a heart attack in anything happended to them)

Ergo either the Bay’s have to come in to shore with out escorts on the carrier stays out to sea with little in the way of escort. Or the carrier comes in close to shore with the Bay’s

Henry
Henry

So just a few thoughts:

– I would imagine that this de-risks the whole carrier operations, it must be safer to do STOVL that catapults!

– If we are going to get carrier strike a few years earlier then it must be better than nothing, let’s not forget these ships are a STEP-CHANGE for the UK!

– Does this sea the merlin with Search water radar in teh Sea King as their replacement for ASaC?

– I know they say a lot of inflated conversion cost was due to EMLAS but I was always under the impression that since first concept they were partly designed to be easily (and cheaply!) converted to catapults, no?

– Surely the 2015 SDSR will say have both ships, the french have shown that having just one simply doesn’t work!

– Let’s hope the 2015 SDSR advocates a 2 ship replacement of Ocean! Take the olympics for example, doubt you could get a QE up the Thames.

Rocket Banana

Maybe I’m off the mark here but the carrier can easily sit 200nm away from the landing zone.

QE provides air cover whilst Merlin from QE land a couple of companies a little inland and Albion lands on the beach (again with air support).

Once the beach is safe Albion’s LCU will offload the heavy vehicles from Bay.

QE then moves in to increase sortie generation rates (less range) and deploys short-range copters (Apache and Chinook). These operate from the beachhead and support the front line moving forward.

Or… you do the Bold Alligator approach and risk QE early on by putting her 50nm off the coast and play chess with your platoons.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

Just to clarify the adaptable bit :

The “adaptable” design – not “for but not with” was always about :
1. Making sure that the flightdeck was large enough and configured correctly to allow an angled deck of the right dimensions to be marked out
2. Ensuring that there was sufficient unallocated space in the right places below decks to allow catapult troughs, catapult equipment rooms and arresting gear rooms.
3. Ensuring that there were adequate power and stability margins in the design to allow the ships to have cats n traps fitted
4. Making sure the flightdeck was designed to accept landing loads for a CTOL approach.

Without including those features, conversion would not have been feasible at all, full stop. What was not done was to do the detailed design of the catapult seatings, arrester gear seatings, electrical system detail etc, largely because ITAR restrictions prevented technology transfer to the UK, until an FMS case was in place and also because most of the detail design for the ships was done in 2007/8, when EMALS was not as mature as it is now. Without the detail design, you can’t issue the production drawings to actually build the modified ship.

So the design was adaptable, but was never and could not have been a case of “slotting the equipment in”. That doesn’t mean that £2bn to convert the PoW is a credible price though……..

It was always likely to be EMALS rather than steam – partly because EMALS represented a more supportable option long-term and partly because if you’ve ever seen a C13 cat installation up close, the amount of piping and fitting that need maintaining are horrific. It’s not like high-pressure steam is nice fluffy stuff to have aboard either.

To do steam would have required a dedicated boiler and feedwater in the machinery spaces with a significant capacity for generating steam. Commercial ships fitted with steam recuperators from the stack gases tend to use it for heating and water heating etc, rather than for charging a large capacity steam accumulator that loses a significant quantity of steam with every launch.

Peter Elliott

My working assumption is that for an operational deployment of this kind then every escort in the RN would be pulled in. Standing tasks and training would go to hell in a handcart (or be left to our EU allies).

For a real emergency we could perhaps muster 4 DD and 8 FF able to fight, which looks like enough to provide cover for two groups for a short period. Other tasks like ‘gun line’ and ‘supply escort’ might have to be prioritised while the insertion is on, but that’s life.

One thing I don’t think we have enough escorts for is detatching ships to sit on picket lines a long way out: hence the need for decent AEW&C and MPA capabilites to understand the theatre picture.

James
James

Simon,

lifting a couple of companies from a QEC and flying them in 200 nm in Merlins is a huge undertaking. Not easy at all. Plus, you’ll need 10 Merlin, and 3 hours per return trip, and presumably a second set of crews if you wish to repeat.

Albion’s 4 LCUs can land the 6 Challenger Albion can carry in 1.5 runs ashore, but cross-loading from Bay to LCU then running ashore and returning is going to take hours.

Hannay
Hannay

@TD

“1. What and who prompted the change in the SDSR, how much have we wasted and exactly how this Fleet strength cockup actually happened, looking back”

The more important question to ask is why on earth we chose STOVL F-35 and QEC to begin with? The cost problem that’s come about now is from converting the ships. The other leaked analysis suggests that F-35C is far more capable and about 25% cheaper through life. So why the hell did we start building STOVL carriers?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Why are these ships considered so wonderful, if the ship-to-shore connector part is half-baked?
“cross-loading from Bay to LCU then running ashore and returning is going to take hours”

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Tradition?
” why the hell did we start building STOVL carriers?”

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

NAB @ 16.32

The scenario you describe suggests that the design process behind the CVF being declared CATOBAR ready was not worth a bucket of warm spit.

The question has top be asked how much did BWoS charge for this piece of non design?

Then comes the issue of the catapult technology that the design exercise took into account – Trad or Mod?
If it was Mod what details were available from the US when the exercise was carried out – very little detail I would suggest?
If it was Trad then why is the production of steam such a big issue. It is not as if the basics including the steam required have only just become public knowledge?

The whole process brings UK ship design and MOD project management into disrepute, everybody claims things are hunky dory until real work has to be done and then everyone realises that they have been kidding themselves on as well as the MOD.

Are there anymore subjects where BWoS has carried out a fag packet analysis and charged a detail design price? Now just what are we getting for our £127mill design contact for the T26 programme?

Peter Elliott

Well at that time we had 2 valuable fleets of STOVL jets in service, which were presumably thought to be valueable assets we would rely on until F35 came into service. Sigh.

” why the hell did we start building STOVL carriers?”

James
James

ACC,

RFA Fergie* is your friend. Actually, for £5M, she’ll be anyone’s friend.

I’m rather expecting that when she is eventually commissioned, we’ll have a rough gang of FBOT’s welders sort her out for a Brigade to run through her Ro-Ro innards in quick time, and that the real Fergie will act as the ship’s figurehead, lashed to the pointy bit at the front, bare-breasted and red tresses flying, waving a union jack as she crashes ashore with an armoured Brigade up her chuff. Would terrify Carlos Fandango, and finally give the taxpayer some useful service.

* Old beater of a north sea Ro-Ro, equipped to crash onto a beach and provide a 200m pontoon to get the boys ashore once the Bays start offloading through her. £5M max.

steve taylor
steve taylor

Henry said “merlin with Search water radar in teh Sea King as their replacement for ASaC”

Probably. I suppose the RAF HCs will provide the airframes. How many are there now 28-ish? How many would ASaC Merlin? About 12? And that would leave the Junglies with 16…….

I can’t see HMG coughing up for 12 or so MV22 though I am warming to it I am not a fan. Can you imagine how much revenue it would generate, sorry how much it would cost for HMG for somebody to do the conversion? Eek.

There are left field out of the box solutions but the UK aircraft industry isn’t really up to those sort of ventures. They don’t do innovative and cheap only staid and expensive.

a
a

A Brief History Of British Naval Warfare

“Exocet inbound, sir!”
BANG
“Sheffield sunk, sir.”
“Damn! Why didn’t we see that coming?”
“No AEW aircraft, sir.”

“Air Red! Air Red!”
BANG
“Atlantic Conveyor sunk, sir.”
“Damn! Why didn’t we see that coming?”
“No AEW aircraft, sir.”

“Air Red! Air Red!”
BANG
“Ardent sunk, sir.”
“Damn! Why didn’t we see that coming?”
“No AEW aircraft, sir.”

“Air Red! Air Red!”
BANG
“Antelope sunk, sir.”
“Damn! Why didn’t we see that coming?”
“No AEW aircraft, sir.”

“Air Red! Air Red!”
BANG
“Sir Galahad hit, sir.”
“Damn! Why didn’t we see that coming?”
“No AEW aircraft, sir.”

“Air Red! Air Red!”
BANG
“Coventry sunk, sir.”
“Damn! Why didn’t we see that coming?”
“No AEW aircraft, sir.”

“Air Red! Air Red!”
BANG
“Sir Tristram hit, sir.”
“Damn! Why didn’t we see that coming?”
“No AEW aircraft, sir.”

“Right, now, these new carriers. Shall we build them with cats and traps so that they can operate the proven and highly effective E-2 AEW aircraft?”
“No, sod it. What would we want those for?”

JS123
JS123

Is there any word on how they will do AEW without a catapult?

Topman
Topman

@ x

I don’t think it’s 28 anymore I think 2 were written off.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

Badly?

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

Jedi @ 15.42

What are we actually getting from the CVF?

How big a flight deck – 15 / 18K m2?
How big a hangar – 3 / 4K m2?
How much Avgas capacity – 5 / 7K m3?
How much aircraft stores capacity – 1 / 2K tons?
How many sorties before resupply – 200 / 300 / 400?

All these numbers suggest that at 65K tons the CVF is a bit of a porker. I fear we have BWoS working the “it is big therefore it must be expensive” angle to the max.

Either that or they were using the Audacious class numbers and then going pro rata for the extra 30m length and the extra 6m beam.

As I have mentioned before the weight angle does not make sense to me, the 40K tons of steel that allegedly each ship needs looks very wasteful especially if we are paying BWoS by the ton.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi PE, here http://www.vectorsite.net/avav8_3.html is a good account of the issues with keeping the Harrier fleet going, in sufficient numbers
RE “at that time we had 2 valuable fleets of STOVL jets in service”

James
James

a,

you’ll have to ask yourself why the Sea Lords did not request AEW when the investment decisions were being made. Was it possibly that the arguments – as you outline – were so strong that they thought they would automatically top up on unrequested funding for AEW having successfully got the two spastic carriers approved? There was always the risk that would not work, however, leaving the situation as you describe it. They may not have factored in the total disgust felt by both other services and the MoD itself for the Andrew’s handling of this whole fiasco, and that the result may be a resounding “sod off” when they go back to ask for AEW.

Or to put it another way, there is no chance whatsoever that T26 will pass Main Gate, Dubious and Doubtful are not going to be built, and nothing else dark blue will get sanctioned for a decade.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

AEW

Tethered electro copter up to 500m altitude.
They can be the warload of any Colonial Sloop in the vicinity.
This would do the donkey work.

To this can be added the new upmarket Lynx that can use its radar to add detail where and when required.

Failing that there is always the concept of the small tethered airship.

Mark
Mark

And so a decision has been made a quite sensible one in my view. This really has got people going into overdrive.

I do find it odd that many who are jumping up and down in rage at this decision are the very same people who said we should keep harrier and bin tornado as it can offer the strike capability we need if we’d just spent the money to integrate the weapons ect. Role on 2 years and we order a jet with a night and day range and weapons carrying capacity over harrier and it now cant do the tornado mission strange that. F35B can carry up to 14K pound of ordnance I wager a small bet we never load it up anywhere near that as we never have with any other tactical jet yet.

As for aew surely a carriers aew is for local protection and enhancement of it low level over the horizon radar picture a merlin at 5-10K ft is more than capable of doing that. If you want to control a strike package I guess we’ll have to make do with E3D as has been the case in any op since they entered service in any air force in the world.

Repulse

Let’s face it finding an innovative solution to a Great British cock up is what we are good at… We just need to acknowledge it’s a cock up and move as quickly as we can to a plan B. Buy the 60 F35Bs to get a credible interim capability and then stop digging. Then put the boffins to work on finding another “ski jump” type solution… Perhaps we could make STOL a/c actually a decent capability for example…

James
James

Repulse,

60 x F35Bs is anywhere between £6B and £9B, depending on what they come in at. That’s quite an expensive “interim capability”, especially as we have used carrier aviation in the last 65 years on – wait – maybe three occasions.

Let’s not forget the other £2-3Bn of assets that the Sea lords conveniently forgot to order (AEW, MPA, AAR, etc), in the hope that MoD would roll over and say “yes” once the main spastic carrier battle had been won.

And all for what, precisely?

Jed

Some serious bollocks dropped in there somewhere – an “adaptable” design that can’t use gas turbine exhaust to generate steam OR fit EMALS….. ? Very fishy – no clause in the contract to penalize for lack o adaptability then ?

It’s a lot of money for a plane that can only fly 83nm further than a Harrier GR9 when on internal fuel, with just two bombs and two AAM’s, and with dubious “low observabtility” characteristics against the latest land based radars !

I really hope it eventually works as advertised, but really, Monty:

– Longer range on internal fuel tanks than Harrier – yep, but not much

– Greater weapons payload than Harrier – I would hope so, its twice the size

– Faster and more agile than the Harrier – faster for sure, more agile ? Well it can’t VIFF…..

– Easier to train pilots on than Harrier – according to the marketing dept, but we will see

– Easier to fly and therefore safer than Harrier – I’ll give you this oen

– More complex and expensive to service than F-35C but significantly less so than Harrier – actually, possibly not, Low Observable coatings and all that…. :-)

– Superb on-board systems that give the pilot unprecedented situational awareness – LOL, they are on the second manufacturer for helmet mounted site, which still cant be made to work, so lets see how the rest pans out

– Stealth and Low Observability characteristics – not “Stealth” but LO, only partial, mainly front aspect, and only in limited frequency ranges

– Easier deck recovery than F-35C and in sea states that would ground all CATOBAR types – maybe but maybe not, rolling vertical landing to improve bring back weight ???

Like I say, hopefully it finally does what it says on the tin, but right now we have committeed to an aircraft that could still fail spectacularily to meet it’s mission objectives, or even fly reliably and safely for the required number of hours / sortie rates.

Big gamble ?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Finally a decision has been made. I admit I was a fan of CATOBAR and the C variant but when it became clear that we would only get one conventional carrier with the inherent problems that brings (ask the French) and we would be unlikely to see any service from it until 2023 I changed my mind.
For me the most telling fact is that the end users have stated that the technical differences in range and payload between B and C make very little difference to Ops.

Repulse

@James: Nuclear weapons have never been used by the UK so let’s ditch them also… :)

We are trying to predict what we need for the next 65 years. Only time will tell who was right or wrong.

In terms of numbers, we are trying to get a 13 a/c squadron permanently afloat and a surge capability of 36 – that is the interim solution. If it can be done with less than 60 a/c the great.

AEW will be the Merlin there is no other obvious option. MPA was f*clef up by the RAF pure and simple. Is AAR really needed or a nice to have?

Topman
Topman

Topman

‘AEW will be the Merlin there is no other obvious option. MPA was f*clef up by the RAF pure and simple. Is AAR really needed or a nice to have?’

I would agree on the first I really can’t see any other option that’s realistic. It will a good asset I’m sure and for anything larger there is the E3 fleet. As to AAR it’s been vital on nearly all air ops, although there have been times without it. So I would say needed. Indeed one of the biggest user of RAF AAR on ops are the USN flying from their carriers, it’s needed without a doubt.

Mark
Mark

Jed yeah f35b has a combat radius in excess of 450nm so quite considerably more than harrier.

RW
RW

All this is very interesting and the conversion figures were jaw dropping, so forensic Phil did the right thing

But do we have to buy an all F35B fleet – since the B is now a very niche product for the UK forces (as the MOD admits, not foreseen to be used when Typhoon is available for given munitions)

Can’t we just do what the Italians are doing and buy the minimal number of B’s required for carrier work and give the RAF the option to choose A or B (based on their conops) for long range strike.

Why do we seem stuck with the wrong plane twice when the Italians only have to suffer it on their carriers??

As per the future – well simples- go back to Converteam and get an EMCAT (Based on the EMKIT work) designed to fit the CVF at reasonable price rather than adopting the EMALS system that’s designed for the Ford class. It’s classic current MOD to prefer something developed elsewhere at any cost than taking some time and patiently developing (within cost) its own solution.

The lack of confidence in the MOD at the moment must be a real problem, they can only function as a competent financial organisation when a minister takes over and micromanages, witness the permanent secretary trying not to answer any public accounts committee questions

James
James

Repulse / Topman,

Realistically, nothing more is going to be bought. No AAR, MPA or new AEW platforms. So the Andrew will have to make do with what they’ve already got (are those Sea Kings with dustbins on the side still in service? Or is Merlin AEW funded?) Don’t know, but whatever is funded will be bought, nothing else will be.

It is probably a more productive discussion as to how to make do with what we will have, rather than design and argue about all sorts of new stuff that we should have. And for that, you can cheerfully blame about 6 specifically and personably identifiable (and now all but one retired) Admirals. Frankly, I’d like to take every single penny of cost overrun on CVF and JCA out of their pensions, and put them in jail until they die for the damage they have done.

James
James

…as an equal opportunity blame-sharing game, I’d make the same point about FRES as well. I can think of three individuals at one star or higher, 2 service, one civvy.

And Gordon Brown, as well for the CVF fiasco (AKA “Jobs for Fife, an’ I dinna’e care the cost”).

Topman
Topman

@ James don’t worry we’ve got plenty of AAR cover from FTSA (shortly). So it’s one thing the admirals can tick off their list.

East_Anglian
East_Anglian

TD,
To answer your two points, namely:

“There are serious issues of competence to address but the two key issues that stand out for me are

1. What and who prompted the change in the SDSR, how much have we wasted and exactly how this Fleet strength cockup actually happened, looking back

2. Can we just get on with it, looking forward”

My reply:

1. Don’t know, but whoever it was, I hope they are fired (really I do).

2) Yep – decision made – lets stop carping and get on with it. The F-35B is still a very capable aircraft.

steve taylor
steve taylor

Lack of ASaC/AEW was the major capability flaw in 82. For me CVF should have been built around E2 (or another fixed wing platform) from the get go not the FJ.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

James, The SKasac goes out of service in 2016. They are old airframes. Considering the fact that since 2009 they have been invaluable in Afghanistan die to their ability to track record and replay ground movement of enemy forces (the level of detail needs to be seen to be believed) and also act as C3 nodes for SF Ops I would ask the army to help fund them! Only joking but they will be replaced and we should look at them as a very useful multi role capability. T26 has long been factored into the procurement budget.

James
James

APATS,

1. No issues on principle as you suggest with Land forces sponsorship (there are no such things as service budgets, not for kit anyway), but are they actually funded for replacement?

2. T26 is going to get sunk. It may well be past IG (I was tipped off on TD a few weeks ago, checked with a mate, pukka gen), but MG is unlikely to get passed. Just too expensive, as the Andrew have been loading it up with requirements, assisted by QinetiQ, and it’s all looking a bit pricey. It has also been identified as a ship (are therefore very special to the Andrew), and thus symbolic for the Army and the RAF to say “fuck off, you are not having it”.

On point 2, all very childish, but the mood is apparently that the Andrew have brought it on themselves. And it is not without some reason, there are all sorts of other capabilities that could get funded ahead of T26 that would be really useful as well.

Don’t shoot the messenger…!

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ FBOT re AEW alternative platforms

There could be a fixed wing alternative that could generate exports but BAE isn’t Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or Embraer and the words cheap, cheerful, and innovative aren’t in their vocabulary.

I can’t believe that BAE can’t build a fixed wing aircraft capable of carrying 3 tons that can work in 260m x 30m space with a stall speed of less 40kts.

Fatman
Fatman

I fear the wrong decision was not about which version of F-35 to order, but actually ordering these superfluous carriers in the first place. Despite the wishful thinking of some contributors there is no longer a capability to build an updated Harrier (oh and hasn’t the RAF just been making a lot of experienced jet pilots redundant…?). Nor is there the money to produce any kind of AEW solution, be it attached to Merlin or Osprey. So we are stuck with two giant, highly vulnerable ships capable of carrying helicopters and perhaps F-35B. If Congress goes ahead with the budget cuts linked to sequestration in January 2013 there is also a very good chance that the ‘B will be cancelled too, which will leave us with the option of fitting an angled deck or having no jets at all. So at that point we will be out of the naval fast jet business.

And for this the Royal Navy accepted the loss of 6 Type 45s, the 4 Type 22s, a reduced SSN programme, etc. The bottom line is that the Royal Navy are intellectual pygmies, obsessed with the idea that if they have two big toys this will make them the premiere European navy, as in ‘We will provide the flagships, the rest of you provide the escorts’. It should now be clear that the French Navy has effectively overtaken the RN and that outside Europe we will soon be eclipsed by rising naval powers such as Brazil and South Korea. For example, consider the Marinha do Brasil’s current acquisition plan (look up Prosuper on Google):

6 x SSN
15 x SSK
2 x aircraft carriers (and we can guess where they will look for these)
4 x LPH
30 x escorts

The Royal Navy and the RAF have played silly buggers for too long and here on TD we have debated all the issues ad infinitum. As both forces dwindle I would like to suggest they are merged into a single Royal Naval Air Force, the top brass of each is seriously reduced, their roles restricted to the North Atlantic and European theatres, and these two white elephants sold to a nation that knows the value of airpower or, failing that, simply scrapped. By doing so we can make the reductions in expenditure necessary to maintain modern and properly equipped, albeit smaller armed forces.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

James, I am quite prepared to bet anything you like about T26 not getting sunk. No matter how much the Army and RAF want to squeal about it.
1. Stupid deal with BAE.
2. The job losses involved in cancellation especially in Scotland in run up to referendum.
3. We have got Carriers to protect.
4. The T23 cannot simply go on forever, cancelling T26 is the equivalent of withdrawing every MBT and artillery piece in the army. It means that we cannot escort any sort of group at all so unless you want to ask the French or US the Army doesn’t deploy.
5. I have quite a few contacts as well and current security clearances.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

James is right, even though a bit extreme:
-being past IG is not the same as funded

Duke class kit upgrades must be funded? They make up a big part of the T26 budget (or take away from it, depends on the angle)
– why did we not start to push the Dukes through the refits plenty quick and keep the T22s to hold the fort for a while?
– the whole T26 build could then be tackled at a leisurely pace, saving the ASW versions to be last (first half of 2030s for the 8 of them)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Fatman, I did look at the programme, they are looking at precisely 5 extra Frigates and 5 Corvettes the rest are small patrol vessels. 1 very possibly 2 Carriers with not even a decision made yet alone steel cut. Interestingly enough they talk about 5 large, well 10k plus amphibs. A quantum leap for the Brazilian navy but hardly the force you posted.

Gremlin
Gremlin

@x
Fairey Swordfish…?
Radar-equipped…low stall speed, great endurance, carrier-capable…RATO if necessary…what’s not to like..?
And the Andrew still have one available…

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi APATS,

The Brazilian Marines are a well equipped force that totals the same as RM and 16X put together, just that they have kept [until now]buying their ships second hand (from the US and e.g. Sir Galahad)
– if Canada and Australia have said ‘no’ to T26 co-operation, what do we have left? Brazil? Turkey?

Rocket Banana

James,

Two companies from QE at 200nm on Merlin… easy. You need 8-10 copters – perhaps we need inflight magazines for the transit ;-) Four assaults in the first 24 hours would put 800 men in from QE. They’d be happy to get off the ship since they’ll have been squeezed in a touch.

Albion carries 4 LCU. There would be one more in each Bay. I’d land a 6+ platoons behind 6 Challenger on the first wave to the beach. In addition another 4 platoons would be landed from LCVP.

Each Bay then carriers another 24 Challenger each (48 total) which, as you say, would take a while to offload once the beach and perimeter have been secured.

Not that we would take that many tanks anyway.

Rocket Banana

I see no issue with Merlin AEW if we’re confined to a 200nm radius of operation (24-7 cover obviously). The F35’s situational awareness will provide battlespace intelligence over the beachhead/landing zone. Merlin is only needed for fleet AEW (nice if we can forward deploy a flight though).

And finally, wasn’t it Lian Fox’s Ozzy mate who told him what to do about everything?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Without wanting to divert the thread. I was wondering what extra things the RN were attempting to load onto T26. Funded or already in service and coming from the T23s as they come out of service will be.
1. Artisan Radar.
2. 2087 Sonar.
3. Merlin Helicopters.
4. Sea Ceptor.
5. DNA Command System.
The mission bay has already been sacrificed to save money with boats now going to be launched from coverable bays in the superstructure.
Unless the argument is that the hull, propulsion and accommodation are loading up requirements the only things left fo discussion are.
1. Comms Fit, same as T23?
2. Main Gun, would like to see the new Otobreda Lightweight 5 inch with capacity to fire Vulcano ammo giving an NGS capability up to 70km unguided or 120km guided. Surely a useful asset but to save money we may go cheaper.
3. Nav radars and systems, off the shelf or from T23.
4. Anti ship Missile, an interesting one, with JSM going to be integrated with F35 maybe the NSM variant.
5. Land Attack capability may be sacrificed for cost, leave space for future.
6. CWIS, off the shelf plenty in service elsewhere.
I am struggling to see where all these mysterious recent additions spring from? In short the T26 could at its most basic go to sea with the only non structural items not coming from a T23 being an anti ship missile and CWIS.

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ ACC

I think Turkey aren’t too concerned about T26. They are boasting at the moment that their indigenous ship building industry can meet all their defence needs.

@ Gremlin

You may well snigger at the humble Stringbag but it did its job.

Fat Bloke on Tour
Fat Bloke on Tour

T26 Progress

No-one has yet put forward a case as to why we are going ahead with this class while at the same time upgrading the T23 fleet in various stages over the next 4-6 years.

Fair enough to upgrade the 8 youngest hulls to get them up to speed on the ASW / point defence AAW front but why waste money on the 5 “Patrol” spec versions when we are supposed to start getting new T26 hulls into the water in the next decade starting in 2020.

Surely given our lack of funds we could run the 5 oldest T23s into the ground, no new kit just use what we have as they would be useable flag waivers till 2020/2024.

That would allow use to focus the T26 as a low cost patrol frigate / colonial sloop and gain vital experience at building low cost / high utility platforms which would have a customer base beyond the RN.

Even better if we used the cash saved from the Patrol T23s upgrades to bring forward the build of the first ships.

BWoS Glesga aka UCS – Naval could be transformed into a stand alone business divorced from the waste and game playing of Head Office to build a niche doing lots of low cost shipping.

Portsmouth would then be free to do the MHPC mission modules / naval payloads / specialised boats to be carried in the Colonial Sloops well deck. Or they could move into FMCs or corvettes and build another stand alone business.

If that was to happen then the efficiencies could be used to provide much better value to the RN / MOD. Then with a track record of innovation, cost leadership and vision the task of building a proper Tier / Level 1 ASW platform would not be the shot in the dark that the T26 looks to be at the moment.

The future looks bleak with PH in full spreadsheet mode, a MOD / RN past caring about local ship building, a diminishing workload and a crest fallen waste of space PM who will never want to get involved in anything military ever, ever again.

Add in the Whitehall r*t f*ck that would be the threat of closing YSL / GS in the run up to a Scottish referendum, it would all come too easy to the desk warriors in Whitehall.

Consequently train wreck on the agenda.

Rocket Banana

Shame there isn’t a bigger version of this for AEW

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell/Agusta_BA609

320km radar horizon!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

x, I’ve been wondering where all the mentions of Turkey originate from; would be very different from what they have now
– but aren’t all that they build licensed designs (MEKOs etc) anyway?

Brazil even more would want to build locally – maybe buy the first two or so to get a handle on all aspects

Fatman
Fatman

@All Politicians are the Same
I suggest you do some proper research from Portuguese and Brazilian sources rather than just English ones if you wish to understand the magnitude of the Brazilian Navy’s aspirations. Some of their official documents actually show the PA2 (French variant of the CVF) as a model of their planned carrier acquisition. A brief summary of numbers will be found at:

http://www.camaras.org.br/Arquivos/Download/Upload/442.pdf

Yes, the plan is spread into the 2040s, but that is the whole point of building a navy – you do it in stages, not create something overnight that you cannot operate. On the other hand it does not seem to be taking the UK very long to dismantle the Royal Navy.

James
James

Simon, re your beach assault.

I can only think that you have not read Clausewitz’s dictum “clout, don’t dribble” (“klotzern, nicht kleckern”), and have certainly not watched Apocalypse Now.

You don’t do beach assaults over 24 hours to get 800 men ashore in penny packets. You do a beach assault in 5 minutes to get 800 men ashore, preferably by both air and sea, and the air element at maximum mutually supporting range from the sea element. You do it with maximum aggression, or at least potential aggression if it is undefended.

This is what a proper all-air assault looks like:

SF pre-deployed
NGS (on call)
CAS on call
AH 2 minutes before assault wave, then circling overhead and neutralising threats to 4 kms.
Assault wave 1: 2 x companies
Assault wave 2: 2 x companies plus C2
Assault wave 3: organic indirect fire assets, NGSFOs, engineers, rear link detachment.
Support wave 1: medics, ammunition.
Support wave 2: ammunition, water, light vehicles underslung.

Now, you want all three assault waves coming ashore within 5 minutes. By my reckoning, that is something like 30 Merlins. The two support waves need to be there within one hour, so that is another 10 Merlins.

Can you get 40 Merlins into the air from a QEC 200 nm out, plus 8 AH, plus a couple of CAS pairs, and airborne C2, and is it easy?

That’s only one Commando. You need to do all of that three times more in the next 4 hours to get the whole Brigade ashore.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi FBOT,

RE “upgrading the T23 fleet in various stages over the next 4-6 years”

I have (only) read between the lines that to even it out in expenditure terms, the deliveries will stretch out to 2035, also dictated by when even the youngest current hull will “die”.

So take the difference between (2012+6) and 2035 and divide that by 8 or 13…one and half years a ship, and it is not a big ship. You would ideally probably want 35-50% concurrency in construction (I don’t know if there any benefits from that when in the fitting-out phase)
– over to the shipwrights for comment

Jed

James

ref: “but the mood is apparently that the Andrew have brought it on themselves.”

Definately not shooting you as the messenger (my Father was Cavalry, he wouldn’t let me) but that kind of shit really, really pisses me off !

The frakkin 1st Sea Lord did not get out of bed one morning pior to 98 SDR and say “bugger me, I think I will mortgage the future of the RN for the sake of 2 carriers, yep, grand idea…..” and then bimble off and frakking make it so.

Carriers were a government forgein policy and defence policy ‘decision’. Various flavours of HMG wanted to do “expeditionary warfare” and thought carriers would be a good idea. Not the RN, not the MoD per se, but the Cabinet.

Now I am not saying the Admirals are completely blameless for not getting them made into Cavours, or cancelled out right when the chances presented themselves, but the RN top brass of the mid-90’s did not invent the aircraft carrier or the concept of expeditionary warfare, because they thought it would get them one up on the Air Vice Marshalls ! Similarlry how many Generals jumped up and down in outrage at the whole “we will go into Helmand and come out without firing a shot” bollocks ? (and lets not even get into Iraq and “Snatch LR”).

Topman
Topman

Genuine question, have we ever put that amount of people, that quickly ashore before?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

I prefer to look at research that is realistic rather than aspirational. They are really going to introduce 15 Frigates in 7 years, at 2 a year? Sea trials teams, work ups, engineering trials, personnel to cover all these? I also like to take into account things such as training requirements and manning. There is a fair amount of South American, mines is bigger than yours involved in the extremely aspirational plans of the Brazilian Navy. A bit like the Argentinean nuclear Submarine. Nothing wrong with being optimistic though.

Simon257
Simon257

@ Simon Well Augusta -Westland, have certainly kept that quiet!

@ F35B Whether we like the decision or not! We have made our bed, and now we must live with it.

Time to crack on with it, and make the best out of it.

James
James

Topman,

yes, with some regularity. D Day (possibly not a representative example ;) ) 6 Divisions in 4 hours. More recently, on various AMF exercises, an entire Commando including supporting arms and first line support in less than 4 minutes, by both RIB / LC and air. 24 Airmobile Brigade could put an anti-tank Battlegroup onto something beach sized (although typically onto 3-4 areas) in under 2 minutes, when the Chinooks were available, and with supporting Lynx flying ahead.

Jed

Mark at May 10, 2012 at 18:54

Wikipedia (and it’s all I have to go on) says F35B “combat radius” on internal fuel, with itnernal weapons is 383nm – so were does the 450nm come from ? not disputing – just asking ?

Is it with external tanks ? If so then all that money to buy a so called “stealth” aircraft was wasted was it not ?

Topman
Topman

@ James

I thought someone might say D Day! :)

Interesting I didn’t know it happened so often.

‘an entire Commando including supporting arms and first line support in less than 4 minutes, by both RIB / LC and air.’

How many is that about 600? What was the split air/sea and how far out did the troops start when they went to their ribs and chinooks?

Also has that sized and time wise assault happened in an operation, possibly suez?

Observer
Observer

AH to 8km. The newer “man portable” motars have ranges to 8km, any less and they can still pop a few rounds on your beachhead to ruin your day.

5 min for 3 waves with only Merlins is a bit unrealistic, and 30 of them is stretching it, even without the need to generate AH support. A lot of the assault, especially Wave 1 would be using landing craft, not heliborne, though it really helps a lot if your light armour could swim too. I’m guessing 1 company by air ~ 12 Merlins, assuming 1 squad per helo, and the rest by sea.

That is, assuming you can find an LZ for the helis that someone hasn’t mined 8 ways to Sunday. Fast rope/Heli rappel?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Topman, Even Royal doesn’t have that as doctrine. For starters they would land on top of each other or you would need a bigger beach!
We do not have the capability to make an opposed beach landing. So generally SF are ashore and themselves and ISTAR push inland to provide recon. The beach is run by the beach recce team from the amphibs. You take the LPDs close inshore under cover of darkness first light and offload utilising the flight deck, dock and LCVPs simultaneously. Each LPD can operate 2 Merlin/Junglies at the same time when you are 2NM offshore it is amazing how quickly you can shuttle Royal ashore especially utilisng the Bays flight decks as well. Thye first load can fly from the LPH or CVF drop on the beach and then the helos make the short shuttle hops.
4 LCVPs will also be making runs first load from the davits but after that the docks on the Bays and Albions.
Hopefully a faster LCU will speed things up.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

I wonder if anyone has looked at QE/PoW to see if they could operate Russian style i.e ski ramp + arrester wires?
That could be cheap & flexible.
At least French/USN aircraft could make emergency landings on RN carriers even if they had to be landed at port.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Not easy “Can you get 40 Merlins into the air from a QEC 200 nm out, plus 8 AH, plus a couple of CAS pairs, and airborne C2, and is it easy?”

That is why I raised the Chinooks: take them on QEC, then prepare by flying them out to Albions/ Bays, so their larger capacity is used while not denying most of the 9carrier’s] deck for other uses
– also, to avoid the “repeat 3 times” was the reason why I mentioned C-17s for a drop (of one bn)…2 Commandos, the initial tank squadron and a parachuted bn is a good start to mustering a brigade?

Rocket Banana

James,

Hang on…

8-10 Merlin on QE – lands 2 companies.
8-10 Merlin on Albion and 2 Bay – lands 2 companies.
6 LCU + 4 LCVP from Albion and two Bays land another 2 companies behind 6 tanks.

The vertical assault can now be done four times in 24-hours landing a total of sixteen companies – a total of 18 companies (~1800 men) landed.

The first wave delivers one Commando battalion, the remaining troops come in a little bit less well organised as three copter waves of 400.

Observer
Observer

James, you cheated :)

Chooks drop 30 people per load, though it loses the ability to fast rope. Merlins don’t have that kind of capacity.

I’m really of 2 minds with the rope. Having to stick to known LZs makes me nervous, though the extra space and capacity is nice, but not worth taking an area defence mine in the rotor IMO.

Fatman
Fatman

@All Politicians are the Same
Go and do the research properly and open your eyes to the speed with which Brazil is developing in all kinds of ways – you are making some very patronising assumptions about the (in)ability of the Brazilians to make the transition into great power status. Their long term goals may be aspirational, but they are real targets and have been discussed at international conferences. They have built their first submarine and have signed agreements with the French on acquiring nuclear reactors for nuclear boats. The UK has just sold three OPVs and a license for 5 more. BAE is targeting Brazil as a prime customer for Type 26/Global Combat Ship with building to take place there. The country is deciding between ordering Rafale and F-18 which will give them a potential carrier capability. And so on. All this is linked to major economic growth and a desire to secure a permanent place on the UN Security Council. Your ‘realistic’ thinking is the same sort of complacency that prevented many observers imagining the rise of the Chinese and Indian Navies.

James
James

Topman’s initial default position was that the assault was all-air from 200 nm out, with a declaration of “easy”.

We tend not to have enough support helos to do all-air, hence the mix. And to generate the mix, you need the boats close inshore.

So the question is how much risk are we prepared to take with our QEC, when the only amphibious ships we have cannot offload very quickly?

Topman
Topman

@ APATS the entire commando was from James not me. I was just thinking out loud how much of the beach assualt talk that was going on up thread was realistic. How often have we used it and have we all the right kit to do the numbers we would like and so. Thanks for the info.

Simon257
Simon257

A serious question. What would be better for the Army or the Marines. The Merlin or the Chinook as a Main Assault Helicopter, flying of CVF.

Would 8 Navalised Chinooks be better than 10 Navaliised Commando Merlins?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

Fatman, I have exercised with the Brazilian Navy and generally they are pretty good but they are not trying to evolve they are trying to move from jet flight to moon landing in 2 decades! Good luck to them but I also know how difficult it is to expand at the rate they are trying to and keep up existing skill levels never mind develop the required skill set to operate Carriers, SSNs and modern escorts. There is a difference between being able to afford to nuy or build something and running and manning it.

Topman
Topman

@ James

‘Topman’s initial default position was that the assault was all-air from 200 nm out, with a declaration of “easy”.’

Not me gov.

Mark
Mark

Jed

The jroc sar document delivered from the pentagon to congress in april estimates the f35b mission radius kpp currently at 469nm this required a takeoff distance of 568ft without a ski jump an increase of 22ft.

James
James

Topman,

there’s no point in putting an entire Commando ashore in blobs and blobs over 24 hours for anything less than an entirely benign environment. British tourists arrive more rapidly in Malaga airport than that at the height of the season – this is not Butlins!

Observer
Observer

Hmm good question James. And I suspect the answer is “not very”. So my guess is that the RM are going to have to sneak on shore. At least some of their light armour swims, so that should help a bit.

Topman
Topman

@ James

I’m slightly confused (easily done) to which comment of mine is your post @ 20.48 replying to?

The Other Chris
The Other Chris

Regarding AEW options, transferring the Searchwater’s over to the Merlin platform is almost a given.

IIRC plans call for the equipment to be palletised. This implies little alterations to the aircraft itself under the MASC (now Crows Nest?) project.

Interestingly if the equipment is indeed palletised, then carriage in the rear of a V-22 (unfortunately named TOSS proposal) might be a relatively rapid transition, with the Merlin as an interim step:

1) Remove Serachwater equipment from the retired Sea Kings;
2) Convert Searchwater kit to self contained pallets;
3) Slide them into the back of an appropriate Merlin;
4) Wait for the inevitable V-22 purchases (Rolls Royce Allison engines as political sweetener);
5) Slide some pallets into the back of a few appropriate tiltrotors.

James
James

TD,

JC x 3, 1 @ CVF with some small affordable number of F35B aboard and the rest of the space taken up with ISOs, 2 @ LPH/D positively bulging with helicopters.

£3B, airwing = £2B.

Cash left over. In fact, enough for son of FRES!

Topman,

sorry to misquote you (the original text is too difficult to find), but I recall you thought it was less than complex.

The Other Chris
The Other Chris

@TD

Would you consider a Pallet similar to a Container?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Observer, others will know better, but isn’t this
“At least some of their light armour swims”
just the Vikings
– v useful, but have no utility in armour role

Topman
Topman

@ James

‘sorry to misquote you (the original text is too difficult to find), but I recall you thought it was less than complex.’

No problem. Whoever it was it wasn’t me.

Observer
Observer

Simon RE: Merlin or Chook

Both. I mentioned that the Chinook can’t drop infantry very well, no bar to hook up + the back ramp door, but its capacity and loadcarrying is wonderful. OTOH, having to put infantry in hard to reach places, you need the Merlin. I suspect the loss of one SF Chinook in Afganistan just after OBL was killed was due to a pre-placed ambush at an LZ. So they each have their strengths and limitations and are best used together rather than an all or nothing approach.

Observer
Observer

@ACC

“Observer, others will know better, but isn’t this
“At least some of their light armour swims”
just the Vikings

You rather swim ashore in nothing but a “bullet-proof” vest? At least the Bvs are proof up to 7.62. I’ve always wondered 7.62 NATO or 7.62-S lol. Got to put that to one of their sales rep one of these days.

BTW, swimming in vests is a serious “not recommended”. You might not come back up.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

On Amphibious offload. (remember we only do unopposed landings) A Chinook can carry 50 booties? So even if we keep the Carrier 50Nm offshore. Let’s say it launches 4 Chinooks, so we have 200 Royals enroute, the LPD and 2 Bays have detached and with escorts proceeded inshore, docked down and at 6Nm launched their LCUs and LCVPs to arrive at the beach at the same time. They have continued to close to 4Nm. The 2 LCUs from the Bays bring 1 Ch2 each. The 4 from the LPD are 1 x beach recovery vehicle and 3 x 50 RM (round figures so i can count). Now before the LPD and Bays closed the coast they embarked 2 Merlin on the LPD and 1 each on the Bays from the AOR. So let’s say each Merlin also launches with 20 Royal onboard. The 4 LCVPs from the LPD are also launched with 30 royals in them. So we have utilised 6 LCU, 4 LCVP, 4 Chinook and 4 Merlin to put 570 RM and 2 CH2 plus the beach recovery vehicle. The helos can then do short hops backwards and forwards between the Bays, LPD and shore as required moving under slung loads, personnel as required whilst the 6 LCUs move heavy equipment and 4 LCVPs light equipment. The LPD and Bays have the ability to refuel Merlin and Chinook.

Observer
Observer

@APATS

50… maybe, but that’s a bit overload. There are only 4 banks of 8 seats with belts.

Observer
Observer

@TD

Less beans for dinner in the future? :P

Though you do have a point that a lot of the world can be covered by land based air.

OTOH, in the defence of carrier air, there is also the problem of people unhappy with you dropping an arifield in the middle of their backyard.

Pros and Cons.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

obs, RAF website claims 55!

James
James

APATS,

50 seems a bit ambitious for Chinook. Remember the boys are going to be carrying shedloads of kit for 3-5 days, batteries, ammo, etc. I think 30 is more like it (each man at 90 kilos plus 70 kilos of kit, but it is the bulk not weight that cuts down on passenger space). Call it a Troop or Platoon per Chinook. That’s therefore 10 Chinooks for two companies each of 120 men ashore, not your four.

(edited: that was in response to your earlier comment. 55 on the RAF website is ridiculous, but what you’d expect from the RAF. 55 Fray Bentos pies, or 5.5 loadmasters in their grow bags, maybe, but not tooled up troops. No way)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Why did we ever rotate the Gurkhas away from the air-assault bn role!
“RAF website claims 55”

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

James, It was an estimate but we still have the capability without increasing chinook numbers to put 400 plus ashore and I was not overly generous with numbers on an LCU Mk 10. It is rated for 100 so lets say 70 and we are back to my 570 on the beach at once.

Simon257
Simon257

@ Observor. Thank you

A couple of weeks ago I did come across a report on the web, stating, that the American Company that makes the gearboxes to power fold the rotor blades for the Ch-47. Had been approached by an unnamed foreign CH-47 operator. Asking for information and prices for converting some of their CH-47’s.

Barring the USN, we are the only country that could (eventually) deck down, a Chinook. As neither the Mistral or Juna Carlos Class LPH’s Hangers can hold a Chinook. Although I’m not holding my breath, that it is us.

The Other Chris
The Other Chris

There’s such an aura around Bravo November that I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually carried out the Black Buck raids and not the Vulcans!

Anixtu
Anixtu

There are photos readily Googleable of a Chinook struck below decks on Juan Carlos I.

Simon257
Simon257

I think everyone should turn on news night right now.

Observer
Observer

@The Other Chris

SHH!!!…

They’re not supposed to know that. :)

@TD

If it did, good for it, but the pilot had better be very careful of what he’s doing or he’s going to get a lot of angry marines in the cargo hold. And the hold is directly connected to the cockpit. lol

55 is possible standing in the cargo hold, (32 seated, 18 standing) but if you have seen how these things fly normally, with 60 degree bank turns and all (I swear they always choose FJ rejects to fly those things), you.. might not want to stand. Straight line flight though, might be tolerable.

@ACC

32 seated. I counted the seats 1st time I flew on one.

James
James

Observer. “FJ” is redundant. All Kevins are rejects. If you want to be flown in a support helicopter, arrive alive, where you are meant to be and not in the next door field, pointing toward the enemy, and on time, fly CHF.

steve taylor
steve taylor

18 Chinook loads to move 1 light battalion
34 Puma loads to move 1 light battalion

Extrapolate Merlin lifts from those figures.

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