Type 45 and Harpoon

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There has been a great deal of speculation, many clues and heavy hints about Harpoon being fitted to the Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyers.

A recent released FOI request would seem to provide the definitive answer

Dear Sir/Madam,

Request for Information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Thank you for your email of 11 July 2013 requesting the following information:

Under the Freedom of information act can you tell me if some, or all of the type 45 Destroyers, now in service are to be fitted with weapons from recently retired type 22 block 3 hulls in the near future?   

Namely, Harpoon and anti-submarine torpedo tubes. 

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

I can confirm that the MOD does hold information within the scope of your request and a summary of this recorded information is provided below.

Harpoon will be fitted to four of the six Type 45 Destroyers.

The fit will utilise redundant equipment from the de-commissioned Type 22 Batch 3 Frigates and, in addition, new equipment has been procured to allow integration into the Type 45 vessels.

Currently there are no plans to fit anti-submarine torpedo tubes in the Type 45 Destroyer.

If you are not satisfied with this response or wish to complain about any aspect of the handling of your request, then you should contact me in the first instance.

If informal resolution is not possible and you are still dissatisfied then you may apply for an independent internal review by contacting the Deputy Chief Information Officer, 2nd Floor, MOD Main Building, Whitehall, SW1A 2HB (e-mail [email address]).

Please note that any request for an internal review must be made within 40 working days of the date on which the attempt to reach informal resolution has come to an end.

So there you have it.

Would now be an appropriate time to watch this, again

Hitler reaction to Type 45 destroyer at Falklands (Argentina)

No you say, OK, how about one of HMS Montrose firing one a few months ago

Royal Navy Type 23 Frigate HMS Montrose (F236) Fires Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles

 

 

 

 

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Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

Good news, if a little long in coming considering when the T22’s were decommissioned. Now for the gripe….what’s the effing point in having 2 of the class without the fitment? The RN should find the money from other areas.

George
George

About time too! Why only 4 of 6 though? Or are they going too move them around at refit?

WillS66

Ahh, I can hear the conversation now.

MoD: It’s really essential we fit Harpoon to all 6, we need to find another 2 sets.
Treasury: Happy to help, we’ve just sold another 2 T23s to Chile.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

The A&A for the ships has been extant but unfunded for some years now. The Capability managers (RN officers in town and now at Fleet) have continually decided that they have more pressing requirements to fund instead. That should tell people just how tight money is.

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

Harpoon fit for other 2 T45’s is probably a rounding error for the QE, F-35 or Successor programs…….or Phil could always dip into that contingency. We should have the missile inventory kicking around somewhere as we’re already supporting the T23 fit.

Could always kill the Fire Shadow program as ‘a solution without a problem’.

steve taylor
steve taylor

Not ideal. But at least one or two will be in big bits in a dry dock at some point. hardly the same worry as T26 without TAS.

Good news.

Observer
Observer

Harpoon “for but not with” is not as bad as other equipment, Harpoon is a bolt on system, to fit it on a ship which already has mounting points is a one day job, if not done in a few hours. All you need is the frame at hand and a supply of Harpoons. And a crane.

Bob
Bob

What observer said. Get the platforms and the key systems then bolt other stuff on afterwards.

a
a

Carrier related (sorry):

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/02/us-usa-defense-weapons-idUSBRE97104P20130802

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday that finding $500 billion in budget cuts required by law over the next decade, on top of $487 billion in cuts already being implemented, required tough trade-offs between the size of the military and high-end weapons programs.
Pentagon briefing slides shown to various groups mapped out those tradeoffs in stark terms, indicating that a decision to maintain a larger military could result in the cancellation of the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 program and a new stealthy, long-range bomber, according to several people who saw the slides.”

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

a

That might cause a few red faces in Whitehall.

a
a

Good job we changed to the F-35C. We wouldn’t want to be stuck with two aircraft carriers that could only accommodate one single type of fighter in the entire world, a type which subsequently got cancelled. Imagine that! Mortgaging the future of your entire navy to the budgetary acumen of the US Republican House delegation! I’d sooner smear my wedding tackle with cheese and sit in a room full of hungry mice with my trousers round my ankles.
Thank god we went for a CATOBAR carrier – if they cancel the F-35C, it’d still be a bit of a problem, but we could buy Rafales or F-18s instead.

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

Observer, Bob

Fully understood it’s essentially plug & play kit which makes it all the more perplexing why it’s taken so long to announce the 4.

Regarding the other 2…..2/3 of a job seems like 2 cans short of a six pack to me….given the trivial incremental cost…and as I said earlier the black holes that are F35, Successor etc…

Fedaykin

Well I think it is a happy solution, four out of six is pretty handy and as pointed out there is no reason why they can’t swapped around when T45 are in refit. If funding is available in the future then there is no reason why all six can have them fitted. The logical path would be when the T26 starts replacing the T23, the most recent studies show that they are not planning to install Harpoon mk141 launch tubes to the T26 going for a VLS solution instead. If that is the case they use the spare MK141 on the last two T45.

As for not fitting the STWS MK.2 torpedo launchers on four of the T45 personally I think that is a good idea, retaining STWS MK.2 in service for just four vessels seems a wasteful use of resources. The T45 can carry Lynx/Wildcat and Merlin both of which can drop torpedo.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

Two outputs from the SCMR are here :

http://www.csbaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/…/Comparison-to-SCMR.pdf

The output from a collaborative exercise from four similar think tanks is here

http://www.csbaonline.org/publications/2013/05/strategic-choices-exercise-outbrief/

Pretty much all of them suggested that the most sensible options would be to divest current TACAIR and invest in F35. The big bucks are to be made in losing bodies, so it doesn’t look too clever for the US army. USAF takes a bit of a kicking in all bar one set of conclusions as well.

Incidentally all ended up cutting some carriers, with the remaining force being heavily biased towards the Pacific, including some options that result in no carrier available for the Gulf . Sooner or later people in MoD are going to realise that Defence Planning Assumptions that include “someone else is going to bring capability x,y,z” are no longer tenable.

All the think tanks conclude that sequestration on the scale envisaged is taking major risk with US security goals. Seems the Democrats (as well as the GOP) may have to rebalance their ambitions. Looks like you can’t have Obamacare and remain a global security force……

mikezeroone

What Block are our Harpoons? The system is getting on a bit, cant seem to recall whether the RN invested in harpoon blocks, like TLAM.
Also, not quite bolt on and play, I imagine there would be software to update, trials and tests first… but its good news for once on the fitted-for-but-not-with type… and as others had said, at least one would be alongside/refit anyway. For now, its good.

As with F-35… I believe its actually the C that seems precarious. But that’s for another thread.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@Mike

RN Harpoon are block 1C. We did not order Block II. The system is pretty much stand alone, it has a separate console in the ops room for control.

Challenger
Challenger

Good news, now we just need to procure a couple more sets for the two other T45’s and then get Stingray installed as well for maximum return on the salvaged bits of T22 kit!

Jed

Private James Frazer – 4 out of 6 because:

1. Its actually most likely to be all six “fitted for”
2. Because there were only 4 x T22B3 which is where the kit came from, nothing new being procured here
3. Because all 6 T45 will never be operational at sea at the same time. So the 4 deployed on ops, or in advanced workup will be fitted with. Those in refit, deep maintenance wont.

mikezeroone

@ APATS

Thanks :) Indeed, do you envisage us updating? The 1C is fairly aged now… but still potent I imagine. Or will we wait for its replacement?

I’m all for T22 kit being cross-decked, it makes sense now. But the issue I feel is that its a little old, short term fix and potency, but in the longer term it could be viewed that the ship is ‘fitted’ and make the the case for funds for upgrading harder, until a major refit. Are we cool with one of the most advanced anti-air destroyers with previous gen kit for surface warfare? … Then again, I guess that’s fine as its only a secondary role for this type.

Sir Humphrey

Fitting to the other 2 T45s means that you’d need an extra 16 missiles in the active stockpile, which actually implies a far bigger buy to keep the missiles cycling through the maintenance and support cycle. This does actually cost quite a lot. Frankly, its common sense to put 4 hulls out to sea with the extant fit, but given the requirement for SSM is right now fairly low , and the circumstances in which Harpoon used in anger seem remote, spending scarce cash on a deeply theoretical requirement against other more pressing actual requirements seems foolish to me.

Fedaykin

I will say it again, there is no point fitting the torpedo launchers from the retired T22 to the T45. The T23 use a different system and as will presumably the T26. With the T22 retired you are left with a small number of a unique system. T42 used the slightly different STWS MK.1 or 3 so it isn’t even a simple case of using them to make up the numbers. The T45 only has a simple albeit capable hull sonar and no towed array, the vessel will carry a helicopter that can drop Stingray. The cost of adding ASW torpedos to the T45 seems pretty illogical to me.

WiseApe

“Harpoon will be fitted to four of the six Type 45 Destroyers.” – Note the lack of a timetable. Any way, seems sensible to me – 4 kits to be rotated between 6 ships as they deploy. I wonder if they’re actually doing this already with the Phalanx kits?

wf
wf

@Fedaykin: as I understand it, STWS is a short range point defence system. Unless the helicopter has launched and is nearby, it is no substitute. Of course, if there’s no submarine threat, we can cancel most of the T26’s and retire most of the T23’s…

Cat amongst pigeons time: I would retire the 13th T23 in order to get Harpoon / STWS on all T45 and 2087 on all T23’s. I’d aver it’s a better use of the money to have a slightly pool of usable standardized resources rather than something half standardized.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@WF

STWS is a different system to that fitted to the T23, they are fitted with MTLS magazine torpedo launch system.
I would hazard a guess that all the support, stores, training courses etc for STWS are history. There is also the issue of having to find somewhere to fit the launch tubes.

Challenger
Challenger

@wf

‘Cat amongst pigeons time’

I sympathize with the desire to not have fleets within fleets and go for standardization instead….but sacrificing yet another surface ship to pay for it? I’m not sure.

I can’t believe that forking out for another couple of Harpoon systems (if you wanted to go down that route) would break the bank, if not now then in a few years time.

As for 2087, as much as id love to see more T23’s and then T26’s carrying it it’s an expensive addition which isn’t necessarily imperative. Then again I really don’t like the wishy washy ‘general purpose’ variant of the T26 they have in mind, so from that point of view id rather see a direct high/low hull mix or just 12 fully kitted ships.

Fedaykin

@wf

“as I understand it, STWS is a short range point defence system. Unless the helicopter has launched and is nearby, it is no substitute. Of course, if there’s no submarine threat, we can cancel most of the T26′s and retire most of the T23′s…”

A silly argument to make not fitting a torpedo launcher to T45 does not preclude the need for T23 and T26. What do you think the Type 2170 SSTD active and passive towed torpedo decoy system is for? Retaining eight STWS launchers in service is not cost effective when there is a cab onboard, in an ideal world then yes an organic torpedo capability would be nice to have but arguing for STWS means retaining its maintenance, support and training stream.

“Cat amongst pigeons time: I would retire the 13th T23 in order to get Harpoon / STWS on all T45 and 2087 on all T23′s. I’d aver it’s a better use of the money to have a slightly pool of usable standardized resources rather than something half standardized.”

How would retiring the 13th T23 give an all 2087 fleet? Only eight of the T23 have 2087, or are you saying the money saved would be ploughed back into buying another four 2087 sets? Does that make sense when we are short on hulls just for regular patrol tasking and does it make economic sense when T26 is not that far away? Retiring a T23 wouldn’t be a way of getting STWS onto the other two two T45 for one very simple reason…T23 doesn’t use STWS! T23 uses MTLS which is an internal magazine loaded torpedo launch system.

I think you need to think things out a bit wf.

Simon

It’s very easy to “give up” the 13th frigate, but it seems to be there because of an 85-89% availability rate of the T23. Nothing is going to be 100% available – things break down.

If T26 ends up being only 80% available then we need 10 to field the required* 8 meaning only 2 can be in planned maintenance meaning the upkeep period will almost double over the current T23 schedule.

* required by me to keep four pairs working back-to-back ;-)

wf
wf

@Fedaykin: I should have made myself clearer. I’m not saying STWS should be fitted per se, just a torpedo system. As you say, whatever the T23 uses would be fine.

We are overcommitted on “patrol tasks”: we’re going to have economize on them if we want to retain the ability to surge any sort of task force. We could start by binning the Atlantic patrol ship: chasing drug dealers around the Caribbean needs a River class, not a frigate. We could also leave the Falklands to the Clyde and Protector: we aren’t helping in the defence of MPA unless we are 10k offshore and fixed in position. That’s 4-6 DD/FF slots I’ve saved already :-)

Fedaykin

It isn’t that simple wf, to install MTLS onto T45 would involve structural and internal reworking. MTLS is internally mounted and has two launch tubes that are fed by a magazine system.

Unfortunately I haven’t found an internal picture but this is one of a Torpedo being launched from a T23 which should give a better idea of the problems.
comment image

Is the reworking of the interior of a T45 worth the time, effort and money just to give it an organic torpedo capability? STWS is gone and installing MTLS would involve significant expenditure vs using the on-board helicopter.

JamesF

I might be a bit dim, but if you fitted vectoring nozzles to the ass end of an F-35C, F-18 or Rafale (like the SU-wotsit), couldn’t you get away with a ski ramp and arrester wires, and avoid the need for the problematic catapults?? Isn’t that what the Chinese are doing? Might cost the same, I guess.

Challenger
Challenger

@wf

‘We could start by binning the Atlantic patrol ship: chasing drug dealers around the Caribbean needs a River class, not a frigate. We could also leave the Falklands to the Clyde and Protector’

Id say the Caribbean needs a large, dedicated RFA (a commercial conversion would probably do) that can rotate it’s crews so as to remain on station for long periods of time, accommodate a couple of helicopters, a boarding team and small boats on davits for the anti-drug operation and have it’s internal space packed full of humanitarian aid which can be offloaded by the same people as and when it’s required. As many people have suggested before tapping the aid budget for some money to partially fund such a set-up is a pretty good idea.

Id plug the shipbuilding gap in Portsmouth with 2 refined River class boats to work as a pair in the South Atlantic, with Clyde coming home to join her sisters in UK waters and enough presence down south when coupled with other assets to remove the need for a constant high-end escort to be present.

18-19 surface ships just focusing on furnishing the annual major task-group deployment with 3 escorts, deploying 2-3 on permanent and rotational East of Suez operations and leaving a FRE at home for anything else that pops up sounds about right to me. Of course the fleet would still be stretched relatively thin, but it would at least be doable and tick most of the boxes in the process.

Repulse

Good news. A quick thought, if in the short term we needed all 6 to have Harpoon, could 4 of the T23s go down to 4 tubes? 8 are primarily ASW ships after all…

wf
wf

@Challenger: all good stuff methinks :-)

Yes, we’d all love more than 18-19 escorts. But if that’s all we’re going to get, lets make sure they are decent ones

Simon

Perhaps we should “down size” to a mini-navy with only 10 escorts which should be enough to field 3 pairs working back-to-back.

This is enough (not really) for a task force of 1 CVF, 1 LPD, 1 LSD and 1 MARS.

In peace time we will have 6 available escorts, 1 FRE, 1 TAPS and two pairs working back-to-back, one in the mid Atlantic and one EoS. The one working in the Atlantic would operate with an LSD (so we need three of them) and the one working EoS would operate with a tanker (so we need three of them). This leaves an LSD and MARS ready to go with the task force.

Radwulf
Radwulf

I would rather have more hulls fitted for but not with than fewer fully kitted out ships. It’s easier to scale up should there be a change of circumstances through an increase in the budget or an UOR. Fully kitted out ships are also an easy target for salami slicing once there’s a change in government and then you’ve sacrificed strategic commitments for nothing.

a
a

Id say the Caribbean needs a large, dedicated RFA (a commercial conversion would probably do) that can rotate it’s crews so as to remain on station for long periods of time, accommodate a couple of helicopters, a boarding team and small boats on davits for the anti-drug operation and have it’s internal space packed full of humanitarian aid which can be offloaded by the same people as and when it’s required

I’d say the Caribbean needs some of the Caribbean nations to step up and take more responsibility for their own defence. Some of these island nations (Bahamas, Antigua, Trinidad) are pretty wealthy if you look at GDP per capita – on a level with Portugal or Spain or New Zealand – and they are all spending tiny amounts on defence – 0.5% of GDP or less. If they were to bump up defence spending to the kind of levels that their peer nations in Europe manage – in other words, double it or more – maybe they could afford to patrol their own waters properly, instead of the current situation where it is apparently considered entirely logical and necessary for a UK submarine-hunter to be trying to stop Colombians in speedboats from selling drugs to Americans via the Caribbean.

Of course, they’ve tried – but the most recent time they tried, they made the fatal mistake of ordering the kit from BAE Systems, who cocked it up so badly that they cancelled the contract. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/defence/8016866/BAE-faces-150m-hit-as-Trinidad-and-Tobago-cancels-drug-busting-patrol-ship-deal.html

a
a

I missed that one, actually. Nice. A bit more of that kind of thing and they won’t need a RN patrol ship…

HurstLlama
HurstLlama

@a

Your idea that Caribbean nations should do their own work to combat drug smuggling etc. is a good one but it fails to take into account two major factors that apply in the area – massive corruption and institutional incompetence.

In the 1990s I was involved in several projects aimed at improving the flow of intelligence on the activities of drug smugglers and enabling the locals to be more effective at intercepting suspect craft.

In pursuit of the latter the UK taxpayer provided two territories with a suitable patrol boat each along with shore facilities and training for their crew. All running costs were to be paid by the local government. In addition the UK taxpayer purchased a spotter aircraft for each of them and provided an RAF crew for it, again, other than the crew’s wages, all running costs were to be borne locally. The idea was that the aeroplane and boat would work as a team, the former identifying suspect vessels and the latter making the intercept (all assisted by the improved intelligence which would flow from the first part of the project).

After eighteen months the first of the launches was tied up alongside covered in washing and hadn’t moved for 6 months. No routine maintenance had been carried out on the engines as a result they were fecked and the local government refused to pay for them to be put right. At the second site, the launch was still going but the local commanders only allowed it to go out for three hours (9 until 12) each morning whilst at the same time only allowing the aeroplane to fly in the afternoon, unless it was going up to Miami for routine servicing (they had also built a hanger for it which was six inches narrower than its wing span).

The flow of intelligence was also hampered. On one island I had to go and plead with Cable and Wireless (who had the Telecom monopoly) not to cut off the ‘phone lines to the drugs enforcement office, which was headed by a UK copper on secondment and thus outside the local corruption loop, because no bill for those lines had ever been paid. On another the Commissioner of Police had removed the UK-supplied, secure fax machines and locked them in his safe.

One Christmas, on the Turks and Caicos, I was at the Governor’s carol service and cocktail party and fell into conversation with a local politician. He had formerly been the Territory’s First Minister – until he got caught up in a FBI sting in Miami, and had recently been released from a seven year sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine. He told me that as far as he and his people were concerned the anti-drugs laws were “White man’s rules”; to the North, in the USA, there were people who wanted to buy cocaine to the South there were people who wanted to sell it, his country was fortunate that being in the middle it could make money from both ends. As he put it , “If we were talking about fridges, you would be cheering us on. But because we are talking about a powder you have decided is evil, you want us to stay poor”. He was re-elected to the local parliament at the next elections.

Expecting Caribbean countries to patrol their own waters, let alone combine to provide and ocean wide capability, is a forlorn hope. Whether the UK should do anything about this, let alone provide an MoD funded guardship, is another matter.

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

@ Jed

Understood that nothing incremental is being procured here….and that all 6 are already ‘fitted for not with’ – i.e. have the space for them. But if there are only 4 ex T22B3 Harpoon control systems / consoles migrating then the 2 T45s without these systems won’t be able to receive the missiles quickly under UOR or when the 2 ships with them are in maintenance / refit – unless the T45’s CMS doesn’t need these. Does anybody know?

As I said at the top of the thread the announcement is good news….a ‘manageable compromise’ as with Phalanx – it appears. Hopefully just an interim solution until a long term SSM replacement is procured…..but there’s no visibility on that.

@ Sir Humphrey

16 extra missiles for 2 ships would equal an incremental 11.7% of the planned at sea inventory of 136 across 17 ships. I’d imagine we have enough in the replacement inventory but at US$1.2m per missile (Block II – Wiki) then £25m buys 32….might also need a couple of control system consoles as above.

It just irks me that this is penny pinching gone mad….. for what is a relatively trivial incremental cost….as I said earlier rounding errors on some other program budgets. Common sense that we’re putting the system on 4 ships rather than none…but not common sense that we don’t finish the job.

“……and the circumstances in which Harpoon used in anger seem remote, spending scarce cash on a deeply theoretical requirement against other more pressing actual requirements seems foolish to me.”

There are many examples, often discussed on this site, of squandering scarce cash on stillborn projects, studies for projects, reversing decisions or spec creep. This however would be a pretty efficient way to provide tangible (if a little long in the tooth) incremental capability.

Most of our allies and potential adversaries think a SSM capability is core…particularly on a light cruiser sized ship. OK, so we haven’t had any blue water ship on ship engagements for a long time. but I think that argument is a slippery slope….you could make the same argument about many other weapon systems e.g. Typhoons without AMRAAM / Meteor? Most defence procurement falls in to the contingency planning box and would fail a strict value (usage) for money test.

a
a

He told me that as far as he and his people were concerned the anti-drugs laws were “White man’s rules”; to the North, in the USA, there were people who wanted to buy cocaine to the South there were people who wanted to sell it, his country was fortunate that being in the middle it could make money from both ends. As he put it , “If we were talking about fridges, you would be cheering us on. But because we are talking about a powder you have decided is evil, you want us to stay poor”.

Well, he sounds like a very sensible fellow. I’d vote for him.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama

@a

“Well, he sounds like a very sensible fellow. I’d vote for him.”

He was also charming, personable and had a lovely baritone voice which really contributed the success of of our rendering of “Oh, little town of Bethlehem” – widely regarded as the highlight of that carol service. However, in terms of the policy of HMG towards the Caribbean (largely dictated by the USA, at least then) his policies were/are anathema.

@Pt. James Frazer

“Most of our allies and potential adversaries think a SSM capability is core …”

This is the essential mystery I alluded to at the start of this thread. The RN surface fleet has become a vehicle for defending itself with some limited shore-bombardment ability tacked on. Largely concerned with defeating the threat, it seems to have forgotten the need to threaten the enemy. Offensive surface to surface warfare is an combat possibility the RN don’t want to talk about. Of course, after the F35s get in service it will all be different, just have to hope that all stays peaceful until then.

wf
wf

@Sir Humphrey: perhaps the reason why “circumstances in which Harpoon used in anger seem remote” is because it’s very existence deters the sort of surface action to which a T45 might otherwise be subject to?

Since we’re swanning down the FI in T45’s, leaking stories to the tabloids about how our Windows 2000 based air defence solution can wipe out the AR airforce in 5 minutes, we might want to consider whether their Navy could whistle up a few MEKO’s to loft good old fashioned MM38 our way, nicely out of range of Mk8. With Harpoon on board, no one would even consider this option. Ditto the Iranian’s when the same T45 is escorting some minesweepers in the Gulf. The fact it’s onboard instantly removes some options from the opposing forces. Quite a good return for sod all cash.

Simon

Who here thinks a T45 goes around without an SSN below the waves?

I just can’t compute it not being the case :-(

WiseApe

@HurstLlama August 8, 2013 at 11:36 am – Thanks for your very illuminating comment regarding the political situation in the Carib. About a year ago I posted a comment on here asking why the local Carib. nations couldn’t fund their own anti-drugs/hurricane chasing platform – or indeed the UN. The responses I got back were along the lines of “It’s good training for the RN” and “What would the ships be doing otherwise anyway?” Complete rot IMHO. Your comment sounds very much more plausible to me.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

Whilst acknowledging @HurstLlamas comments on corruption, I note HMG have exerted sufficient influence on the BOT’s to start getting their approach to offshore taxation in order…one assumes the lessons of the experience he describes have been learned…and 2013 may well feel less benign to a small and vulnerable Island state than the later years of the twentieth century did.

That being the case perhaps an approach using locally funded and crewed patrol assets, underpinned by an RN/RM/RFA presence on merchant standard “Mother Ships” (with relief and civil contingency supplies embarked)…and by some thought about Caribbean-based ISTAR, even in some instances the odd “Rapid Re-inforcement” exercise…might now be deliverable.

With a DfID contribution…

GNB

Stewart Hitchen
Stewart Hitchen

This should had been done from the start . The kit for all six to be fitted sould be a U.O.R

El Sid
El Sid

@Pt. James Frazer “Most of our allies and potential adversaries think a SSM capability is core
One notable exception is the USN – the Burkes haven’t carried Harpoon since DDG-79, the first of the Flight IIA’s ordered in 1994. That’s because, in the words of the former Undersecretary of the Navy “the US Navy no longer worries about fighting a decisive engagement with an opposing battle fleet”.

Even if they were to do so, fighting ships with ships is the very last thing they would do. The primary anti-ship weapon is the submarine (qv Belgrano), followed by FJ’s (qv 1980s Tanker War), followed by helicopters (Lynx in GW1). That’s how ships are sunk in the real world these days – can anyone come up with an unequivocal example of a NATO ship sinking anything with Harpoon? There are none – it really is the blogosphere’s most overrated weapon.

A 500lb warhead implies you’re looking to take on “proper” warships, but such targets will have a SAM system these days and a mere eight overgrown V-1 doodlebugs are little more than SAM sponges against that kind of target. Look at the Steregushchy-class corvettes which the Russians are trying to proliferate around the world – the standard ones have 12 quad-packable VLS tubes, the ones under construction have 16 tubes plus CIWS. If the odds favour a 2000t corvette against your 8-pack of Harpoon, then what exactly are you going to attack with it? The requirement is for greater numbers of smaller missiles – it’s bonkers to spend a single penny on more Harpoon, if we’ve got a few £10m’s to spare then it should be thrown at R&D on Sea Spear. Not only is it more relevant to the threat, it could earn a few quid for UK plc. Saying a few £10m’s is a rounding error on other programmes is not the point – the reality is that it is several year’s running costs for Largs Bay or Albion, and we know what happened to them.

There’s an inventory problem – from memory our stocks of 1C will be life-expired within 3-5 years?

Another problem with Harpoon is the fetish with deconfliction – your ROE will be so tight in somewhere like the Gulf that you will hardly ever be able to use Harpoon for fear of “doing an Atlantic Conveyor”. In the Gulf you’d have so many land-based FJ’s overhead in the kind of conflict where Harpoons might be fired, that you would always use them first – as happened during the Tanker War.

wf’s Falklands scenario brings up the questions of a)how many Argentine ships could physically sail as far as the Falklands even if unopposed (see here) b)how much of their ordnance still works (ditto) c)how many would avoid the Belgrano’s fate d)how many would find Sea Skua ruining their day and e)how they would get targeting information. Don’t get me wrong, we might as well recycle the T22 Harpoons since we’ve got them, but we don’t need them on every T45 and it would be nuts to spend any more money that could be spent on Sea Spear or something like CEC.

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

Hi El Sid

USN has more numbers of everything so Burkes without SSN don’t represent an obvious capability hole.

OK in a Task Group there’ll be other vessels with such capability, but if T45 also has such capability it brings more…..especially when your SSN is on the defensive and your frigate’s engaged elsewhere…..or shot it’s bolt.

Agreed that primary ASuW is SSN followed by FJ in a Task Group (when we get them back). However, Wildcat and the range limited FASGW (L) and (H) will only be able to effectively take-on on corvette sized vessels (would the helo be risked against a larger vessel with sophisticated longer range SAM’s?). Without SSM, once the helo’s gone then the mothership has no capability in this regard.

As other commentators have said Harpoon (with all it’s RoE limitations) allows T45 to threaten well armed smaller vessels rather than be threatened by them and have to rely on its hard and soft kill defensive systems to protect itself or embarrassingly run away.

Completely agree that the the solution is to overload the defensive systems with missile numbers so I think a salvo of Harpoons fired at a major adversary would still test the defensive capabilities of that vessel’s modern CIWS and cause some heart palpitations onboard.

imo RN needs to maximise the core multi-role capability of all its escorts now it’s down to 19. Roll-on Artisan / CAMM refit for T23’s etc. And here’s looking forward to Sea Spear (or Sea Shadow or whatever) and UK plc’s commercial success with them.

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

Sorry type…meant Burkes without SSM.

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

Hi El Sid

USN has more numbers of everything so Burkes without SSM don’t represent an obvious capability hole.

OK in a Task Group there’ll be other vessels with such capability, but if T45 also has such capability it brings more…..especially when your SSN is on the defensive and your frigate’s engaged elsewhere…..or shot it’s bolt.

Agreed that primary ASuW is SSN followed by FJ in a Task Group (when we get them back). However, Wildcat and the range limited FASGW (L) and (H) will only be able to effectively take-on on corvette sized vessels (would the helo be risked against a larger vessel with sophisticated longer range SAM’s?). Without SSM, once the helo’s gone then the mothership has no capability in this regard.

As other commentators have said Harpoon (with all it’s RoE limitations) allows T45 to threaten well armed smaller vessels rather than be threatened by them and have to rely on its hard and soft kill defensive systems to protect itself or embarrassingly run away.

Completely agree that the the solution is to overload the defensive systems with missile numbers so I think a salvo of Harpoons fired at a major adversary would still test the defensive capabilities of that vessel’s modern CIWS and cause some heart palpitations onboard.

imo RN needs to maximise the core multi-role capability of all its escorts now it’s down to 19. Roll-on Artisan / CAMM refit for T23’s etc. And here’s looking forward to Sea Spear (or Sea Shadow or whatever) and UK plc’s commercial success with them.

Challenger
Challenger

@Pt. James Frazer

‘As other commentators have said Harpoon (with all it’s RoE limitations) allows T45 to threaten well armed smaller vessels rather than be threatened by them’

Completely agree! Even if the RN never fires a Harpoon in anger it’s still a useful capability to have. It’s worth isn’t just in what it enables the RN to do, it’s in what it prevents an adversary from doing to the RN as well.

Although I also concur with the view that a ship launched AShM is behind SSN’s and FJ’S in the pecking order of anti-ship platforms and capabilities (not sure about helicopters, better than ship launched stuff in the offensive role, but not necessarily fast, powerful or long-ranged enough for certain scenario’s).

Makes sense to use recycled equipment from the T22’s now and then when it comes to the T26 (and possibly for future refits of the T45 as well) they can get something vertically launched and dual-role….as in land attack first and ship attack second!

Simon

Regarding the Harpoon on T45… How would we “target” the enemy ship?

My logic goes along the lines of a requirement for OTHT from Wildcat/Merlin, which would put it within enemy SAM range. So on the offchance that you’ve got your single cab in the air doing what is essentially AEW with a useless little radar you could fire your Harpoon from the ship and hope the enemy ship doesn’t take out your designator.

Isn’t it better to fire the missile from the copter? It’s already higher (energy) and closer? It probably stands more chance of success too (assuming the missile has the legs).

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

Your logic is flawed young jedi. The cab doesn’t designate the target in the same sense as a tracker or an LGB. The most crucial part is compiling and maintaining surpic using a number of sensors / means, some of which may be organic, some not. From that you can work out your attack plan and targeting strategy. Unless you’re up against a very sophisticated threat, you shouldn’t be anywhere near his MEZ.

The trouble with firing missiles (and it probably would be missiles plural) from the cab is that hauling them up there can take 500kg from your fuel load for each one you have. That means that your ability to do the surpic compilation is degraded, which would inhibit you from using them in the first place.

wf
wf

@Simon: Harpoon has a range in excess of 120km, so a helicopter doing over the horizon targeting would have to be at an altitude of 900m or thereabouts to see that far. The chances of a successful SAM engagement at that range are very low since the helicopter could rapidly drop down and motor off in another direction before the SAM arrives.

Harpoon’s would weigh 700kg including their booster, since like the Sea Eagle helicopter launched variant, we would have to retain the booster as helicopters don’t fly fast enough to launch a missile without them. Not much KE gain. I think you might have been studying high energy air to air engagements recently, but I suspect they are not applicable here unless our target ship is capable of 9G turns :-)

Pt. James Frazer
Pt. James Frazer

@Simon

I think the new Selex Seaspray on Wildcat isn’t that useless…..has up to 200nm range (presumably depends on helo altitude, resolution required, weather and sea state etc) and has an ISAR identification mode. Blue Kestrel on Merlin 2 probably similar. This should allow the helo to provide target coordinates for OTH ship launches from beyond the reach of all but the largest most sophisticated vessel defences. Satellite, sonar, ESM data would also be correlated presumably by the ship’s CMS.

Although helo has height and energy advantage, it’s compromised by lifting capability vs range / loitering trade off. Problem is that in the RN’s case Wildcat will carry probably up to 4 FASGW (H) with a likely range that would put the helo in harm’s way of a major vessel’s AAW defences. The (H) is actually a misnomer as it’s the heavy end of light. No planned ASM capability on Merlin 2.

I’d have thought the best bet for OTHT would be a small, stealthy (if need be, sacrificial) UAV with ISAR or EO turret such as my current fixation – Camcopter S-100 with Thales I-Master or Wescam MX-10.

Simon

Oh wise one(s)…

I thought we were talking about Harpoon on a solitary T45, not one that’s working within a task group? And how T45 would be threatened by well-armed smaller vessels?

Is the MFS7000 good enough to detect a contact over the horizon (well… under ;-))? I understand the SAMPSON can “bounce” it’s signal off low cloud so can probably do something clever, but I doubt either of these could identify the target well enough to engage it?

Surely that then means you dispatch the copter to “go and have a look”. Endurance at this point is not essential. Range would be, granted, and if Wildcat can’t do 200nm (100nm radius) with a couple of 25km Sea Skua then we have a basic problem.

It would be great if we can launch a couple of Harpoon in the general direction of a 120km contact but I don’t think it is essential as I really can’t see a T45 being engaged in anything other that a war situation where there would be plenty of other assets around (most notibly the SSN under the waves).

El Sid
El Sid

@PJF
SSN followed by FJ in a Task Group (when we get them back).
Land-based FJ also feature in most of the probable scenarios – certainly in the Gulf and the Med you have friendly full-service airbases nearby.

Wildcat and the range limited FASGW (L) and (H) will only be able to effectively take-on on corvette sized vessels (would the helo be risked against a larger vessel with sophisticated longer range SAM’s?)

Harpoon faces the same problem though. If it’s a larger vessel with longer-ranged SAMs, it will have enough SAMs to brush off a mere eight missiles with no reloads. About the only opposition where the Harpoon has an advantage over Sea Skua/FASGW(H) are Cold War-era non-VLS medium-range SAMs, things like SM-1MR and Sea Dart. I guess we might run a second-hand Perry somewhere (although I suspect all the SM-1MR missiles are now beyond end of life), and the only red-team Sea Darts are now underwater. The only such missiles I can think of that are still properly operational are the SA-N-7/12 Gadfly/Grizzly on the Sovremennys. Even then I wouldn’t fancy the Harpoon’s chances. Hmm – I guess there’s still some SA-N-1’s kicking about, they might get a helicopter but they’re pretty outclassed these days.

As I say, the commander of the bog-standard Russian corvette would definitely back himself against eight Harpoon. To be honest in this company a Steregushchy with 12 VLS quad-packed with 9M96 starts looking like it needs a major air assault to sink it – hence why first choice is a submarine. But if you think about most “well armed smaller vessels” they will have at least 2 SAMs per incoming Harpoon. So what’s the scariest opposition that will actually be afraid of eight Harpoon? Talk specifics, let’s hear it. We’re not going to be sending a lone T45 against a Slava or Type 054C.

In comparison a Sea Skua will outrange all the typical point-defence SAMs – the most important opposition being the Russian ones, SA-N-4 Gecko on things like the later Nanuchkas, and SA-N-9 on the Neustrashimys and Udaloys – so from that point of view they’re equally as scary as Harpoon. They will struggle to empty the magazine of a Udaloy, but that’s true of eight Harpoon as well. At least a small, lightweight missile means you’re more likely to have reloads, and they’re a cheaper way to soak up their SAMs.

That big warhead means that Harpoon has a role in delivering a coup de grace to a ship that’s been mission-killed by other means (as attempted in the Tanker War), and in the unlikely event we want to sink an unescorted merchant ship, but otherwise there seems to be very little pressing need for it. Reuse them by all means, but let’s not waste money buying more of the things.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@ El Sid

12 M 96 does not quad pack on the small Corvettes. The secret to an ASuW engagement is picture compilation and detection ranges. Having x number of SAM missiles is useless if you only have y number of target designators and a detection range that does not allow for you to reengage.
It is not a game of top trumps.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

12 M 96 does not quad pack on Small Covette. The secret to an ASUW engagement is rage and picture compilation. Followed by surprise and determined by detection range. It’s not top trumps

steve taylor
steve taylor

@ APATS re rage

Just how angry do you have to be?

I know one or three gunners with anger management issues.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@x
depends whether I am on a typo or not!
48SAMS capability even with a false quad pack matter f all. It is to do with aspect presentation, target designator ability and soft kill integration not I have more missiles than you

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