II (AC) Sqn to become fifth Typhoon Squadron

It has been announced that the final Typhoon squadron will be II (AC) Squadron, which will begin transitioning to the Typhoon from the Tornado after it has completed its current OP Herrick rotation.

This will mean that this is the first time since the days of the Hawker Hunter that all three of the RAFs senior squadrons will be equipped with the same aircraft.

Read more:

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.raf.mod.uk/news/archive/minister-announces-new-typhoon-squadron-13122013″]

 

 

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Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 11:20 am

And there it is, 7 frontline fast jet squadrons.

Nos.12 and 617 disband in March 2014, No.II (AC) in March 2015 leaving a force of five Typhoon Squadrons and two Tornado Squadrons. 617 Squadron will reform as an F-35B squadron and will be supplemented with 809 NAS to produce the two F-35 squadrons replacing the two surviving Tornado Squadrons.

Forget fantasies about retaining Typhoon Batch 1 to get back to 8 or 9 Squadrons. This it, 6 RAF Squadrons and 1 FAA squadron- 9 in total down from the equivalent of 33 in 1990. Bagwell’s 2010 statement that the RAF would have just six fast jet squadrons was entirely correct and now the deniers and fantasists need to apologise and face reality.

TED
TED
December 17, 2013 11:40 am

@Bob Agreed.

But what about post SDSR 2015? Any more F35 or Typhoon?

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 11:42 am

Correction to an above typo:

That should be 7 front-line fast-jet squadrons down from an equivalent of 33 in 1990, for further context the fast-jet inventory will have fallen from a planned 800 (approximately) to just 155. In the same time-frame the MPA capability has vanished completely (four front-line squadrons in 1990), the RAF has lost it’s tactical nuclear weapons and the Transport fleet has been halved.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 11:43 am

@ Bob

Of course that is making the assumption that the F35 buy is capped at 48. Due to the timescale of airframe delivery. The lack of a credible conventional threat of a non expeditionary nature and the 2015 GE this puts the Government in a comfortable place whilst actually finalising nothing.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 11:47 am

Tom,

The second CVF would likely just provide greater availability of hulls. It is likely that the CVF will also be the Ocean replacement so a second hull is unlikely to provide sufficient demand for an additional F-35 squadron. In my opinion.

TED

SDSR15 will be about correcting the over-optimism of SDSR10 and excepting the reality that there is even less money available now than there was expected to be back in 2010. It is not likely to be a review that will spring many happy surprises. The fast-jet force structure cuts will largely have been completed by 2015 anyway.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 11:55 am

APATS,

That is completely wrong. The fast-jet force structure cuts will be complete by 2015- well before the F-35B actually enters service. As of March 2015 there will only be 7 UK fast jet squadrons. We already know which units will get the F-35 and roughly when they will get it- we also know that the Tornado will be gone by 2019 which means almost the only way this ends is with 7 squadrons- 6 badged as RAF, exactly as Bagwell said it would.

TED
TED
December 17, 2013 11:57 am

@ Bob as @APATS ststes this assumes F35 buy capped at 48.

However your statistics are shocking! :(

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 12:01 pm

TED,

It assumes no such thing. It actually assumes that the MoD’s public statements with regard to Sqaudron disbandment and aircraft retirement dates are accurate. The Number of F-35s is a side effect of that as the UK will be down to just 7 Squadrons of fast jets by March 2015, before the first F-35 squadron stands up in 2018.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 12:09 pm

@ Bob

No it is not, nothing exists in a permanent state. Yes we will have a 2 frame 7 squadron force for a time but look at my post again.
The CEO of LM has said that we have not altered our F35 order and the 48 was always tagged as an initial order. We have a GE in 2015 and an SDSR, the current state is one which is comfortable for the Government and as I said given the total lack of non expeditionary threat actually almost workable.
It is not by any means a final state.
As for SDSR 2010 being over optimistic, I can only assume that was a typically poor US attempt at humour.

TED
TED
December 17, 2013 12:20 pm

Ahh I see RTFQ! “It assumes no such thing. It actually assumes that the MoD’s public statements with regard to Sqaudron disbandment and aircraft retirement dates are accurate. The Number of F-35s is a side effect of that as the UK will be down to just 7 Squadrons of fast jets by March 2015, before the first F-35 squadron stands up in 2018.”

Right the so when we get F35 it could go up to any number.

Challenger
Challenger
December 17, 2013 12:22 pm

Disappointed that in about 18 months time the RAF will be down to 7 squadrons, with a force structure of just 6 RAF and 1 FAA looming (Bagwell was indeed horribly accurate).

I still think the strategy should be to keep the Tranche 1 Typhoon’s around for a bit longer, just until 2022-2025, thus allowing the Lightning force to work-up in it’s own time and to keep fast-jet numbers at a decent level whilst we drip buy some more T3 Typhoon’s, I’d say 23-33 new air-frames so the total force stays at a respectable 130-40 jets in 6-7 squadrons, leaving us with 8-9 squadrons (including 1 FAA) without having to wait for a second Lightning purchase which may not happen until the late 2020’s or even 2030’s.

The British government and British industry are always banging on about how fantastic Typhoon is, and I agree it’s shaping up to be a very fine aircraft (despite the ridiculously slow pace and high cost), but if we want to keep pushing it for export then I think it’s about time we showed some confidence and faith in it ourselves. Shedding our numbers from 232-160-107 and publicly stating we may look to replace it altogether in 2030 doesn’t send the right message. How can we expect other nations to take an interest when quite often the vibe over Typhoon in British circles seems to suggest it’s an embarrassing mistake that we can’t wait to get rid of in favour of some sexier, pointier, shinier Lightnings!

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 12:32 pm

APATS,

Fantasy and denial I am afraid. Firstly the LM number, this is just a vague planning number dating back to the very beginning of the programme, it is NOT an “order”, it is utterly meaningless at this point (for all countries in the programme, not just the UK).

That SDSR10 was overly optimistic in its planning assumptions is a statement of fact. That entire comprehensive spending review was based on higher GDP growth rates than actually occurred. If you recall the original plan was to eradicate the fiscal deficit by 2015, that has now been pushed back to 2017/18 and that reality will have to be built into SDSR15.

TED,

Theoretically a lone scientist could accidentally create a species of invincible dinosaurs that destroy mankind. In reality the UK will have just 7 fast jet squadrons as of March 2015 of which Tornado will equip two. The Tornado will be retired in 2019 with the first of two announced F-35 squadrons standing up in the UK in 2018 as the Tornado’s replacement meaning there will still be just 7 squadrons in 2020 based on current plans (6 RAF and 1 FAA).

This should not be surprising to anyone as it is exactly what Air Vice Marshall Bagwell said would happen back in 2010.

TED
TED
December 17, 2013 12:37 pm

@Bob No i’m not surprised and I completely agree with you. But Post 2020 I can see at least one more F35 squadron. What about an OCU?

Rocket Banana
December 17, 2013 12:42 pm

If you look at the financial budget for F35 it implies (by dividing the total by the unit price) exactly 72 units.

I have no idea what the effect of recent price increases will have, but it’s certainly the number I’d procure to cover carrier strike and the existing two Tornado squadrons with.

Harbinger
Harbinger
December 17, 2013 12:46 pm

People assuming that F35B standing up over time will add to the 7 squadrons seem over-optimistic to me.

F35B will most likely first replace Tornado, and then as more are procured beyond the initial 48, start replacing Typhoon squadrons.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 12:53 pm

@ Bob

It must be wonderful to see the world in black and white but I bought a colour set years ago.
You ignore a whole host of issues.
1. We have been more succesful at driving down the MOD black hole than envisaged.
2. The economy is now growing faster than we expected.
3. No decision has to be made for some time.
4. Different Governments have different priorities.
5. The Geo Political situation may change.
6.Well ref the LM number I believe them and the statement of an initial order and my contacts before you I am afraid.

In short there are a lot of complex factors that have many people thinking, people who are intrinsically linked and connected with the UK MOD yet you jump in with your size 12 from across the pond and know best?

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 12:55 pm

TED

Gabrielle did an excellent analysis of this in which he demonstrated that the 48 aircraft (if all are actually ordered- this will be decided in SDSR15) will fill two Squadrons plus supporting functions (including an OCU).

What may happen after 2020 is pure speculation- what we know is that the UK will have seven fast jet squadrons in 2015 and it will still have seven in 2020.

Mark
Mark
December 17, 2013 1:00 pm

The raf goes to 7 fast jet Sqns in 3 months time not 18 months. On 1 April 2014, 4 typhoon and 3 tornado Sqn is all that’s left.

Lockheed still states the Dutch are buying 85 f35 were in reality that number is now 37. As they have refused to increase there original budget for jets

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 1:01 pm

APATS,

Those coloured lenses appear to be filtering out far too much light. The UK 2013 Autumn statement declared the UK would still be running a deficit in 2017/18 (even with the economy now growing) whereas when SDSR10 was produced the deficit was meant to have been gone by 2015.

The decision has already been made; that is why the squadron disbandment dates and aircraft retirement dates have been announced.

The UK currently has the most pro-defence government it is likely to get.

The LM number is a vague planning number, the UK has only actually ordered 22 aircraft in total. The remaining 26 are unlikely to be ordered until after 2015.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 1:02 pm

Mark,

Excellent reply, spot-on.

x
x
December 17, 2013 1:03 pm

I would still like to know if a pilot once cleared for B is automatically (or as near as dam it) cleared for A too.

Rocket Banana
December 17, 2013 1:14 pm

The UK currently has the most pro-defence government it is likely to get.

Is that based on the fact that usually it is Conservative governments that cut defence spending or the fact that the “other” governments waiting in the wings can say anything until they’re actually in power?

Surely the UK’s most pro-defence government was the last labour one?

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 1:18 pm

Simon,

It is based on known realities of UK politics. The Lib Dems despise everything to do with defence and Labour has benefits to pay. The previous Labour government loved wars but did not like defence spending thus the defence budget barely grew in real terms at all and a series of swinging cuts were undertaken to the force structure.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 1:26 pm

@ Mark

The Dutch Government have however made this clear.

@ Bob

It is a fallacy that the Conservatives are the most pro Defence Government and if you think this one in coalition is the most pro, well illustrates something.

We will have 7 FJ Squadrons next year and if you read my posts I say that is enough currently. It is not however a guarantee of a permanent state. I will leave you to this and we will see what happens.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 1:34 pm

APATS,

Deliberate twisting of my words there. Based on the current political situation the conservatives are the most pro-defence party. Neither Milliband’s Labour party or the LDs have shown much love for the MoD.

The stated plan is 7 fast-jet squadrons, there is no other plan. Claiming that something might change in the future is just plain silly. Anything could change in the future but it is stated plans that we have to accept and deal with and that plan is for 7 squadrons only.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 1:43 pm

@ Bob

The current Government are in coalition and influenced by the Lib Dems, no twisting required.
No its not silly it is an acknowledgment that we approach a period of flux in UK Defence terms with a lot of major programs completing in next 5-10 years.
We also approach a referendum and a GE.

Apologies to all for typos, at home lap top died ( not being replaced to sales) so on tablet.

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 1:46 pm
Reply to  Mark

Mark, so on the 96th anniversary of its formation, the RAF will have how many aircraft, compared to the twenty odd thousand they had in 1918!

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 1:47 pm

APATs,

And it is common knowledge that aside from Trident the Lib Dems have largely stayed out of defence affairs. Stop clinging to fantasises and accept the stated plans- the UK is going down to just 7 fast jet squadrons with no plan to reverse that cut.

Rocket Banana
December 17, 2013 1:52 pm

TD,

96th anniversary! Just wait till it’s 100… It’ll get a telegram from the Queen saying the jet is dead, long live the missile.

Obviously things will change the following year when a trojan virus and built-in EM susceptibility in some if their chips renders them useless. ;-)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 1:57 pm

@ Bob
It is common knowlege the Lib Dems have largely stayed out of Defence?

The Minister for the Armed Forces was a Lib Dem until Sep 2012. They produced a Defence paper. They had a thing at their conference.
The view from inside is they have done anything but stay out.

I will concede the point that there are no definitive plans to increase beyond 7 FJ Squadrons if you promise not to try and lecture us on UK Politics again :)

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 2:00 pm

APATS,

I am astonished about how little you understand of the country you claim to live in. The Lib Dems got the trappings but aside from Trident have had practically no influence. White Paper or otherwise.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 2:02 pm

From 2010:

“We are heading for five Typhoon squadrons and one JSF [Joint Strike Fighter] squadron,” said Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell, who commands the RAF’s air combat group. “It will be a six-squadron world; that’s what’s on the books.”

Add in the one FAA badged F-35 squadron and he was spot on.

Rocket Banana
December 17, 2013 2:03 pm

As an aside…

How many jet squadrons do we actually need in peacetime (assuming this is peacetime)? Two? Plus dedicated flights for a few overseas territories, OCU and OEU? So 48 Typhoon?

Do we really need any expeditionary capability beyond what we’ll embark for fleet air defence? Say, 24 F35B?

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 2:08 pm
Reply to  Bob

Bob, you are wrong, they influenced a number of areas although most of them were out of the limelight and welfare related.

OK, they didn’t reverse any major equipment/numbers policy decisions but to say they had ‘no influence’ flies in the face of reality.

In any case, was influencing yet another delay in Trident not enough?

Think we are into arguing about what we can fit on the head of a pin and hardly relevant to Typhoon

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 2:13 pm

@ TD

You cannot debate with Bob, rule 101, what do we know living here? I mean as an Officer in the Armed Forces with a keen interest in how the Politicians affect my job what am I supposed to know?
I also love the way he insinuates I do not even live here.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 2:15 pm

TD,

That’s wrong. LD influence on defence was minuscule and only really amounted to things the Conservatives would have done anyway. Delaying Trident was significant for Trident- not much else.

Anyway. That is irrelevant to this thread. The important point is that the UK is going down to just 7 fast jet squadrons and all the deniers and fantasists that claimed it would never happenj now need to admit their obvious mistake in ignoring the clear statement from an Air Vice Marshall.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 2:16 pm

APATS,

You can debate with me when you bring evidence to the table, you have brought none. Either give some facts or stop waffling on about things you want to happen but for which you have no evidence because they are not happening.

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 2:19 pm
Reply to  Bob

I think you are missing the point of influence, they clearly influenced, degrees, that is a fair discussion, although not in this thread anymore please, not relevant

You can debate with me when you bring evidence to the table

Cuts both ways Bob

Brian Black
Brian Black
December 17, 2013 2:20 pm

Come 2020 and we might have some idea how unmanned fits in.

If toying around with Taranis paves the way for some kind of surveillance and strike platform, then that could well end the wishful dreams of more Typhoon and Lighting, even if a bit more cash was sloshing about.

In particular, the fairly low number of 48 Lighting was excused by ministers stating their intent to explore other fixed-wing options for the big fat Queens, both manned and unmanned.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 2:22 pm

TD,

Let me see. Above I presented the disbandment dates for three squadrons, the activation dates for two squadrons, the retirement date for one aircraft type, a quote from Air Vice Marshall Bagwell and the exact number of F-35s currently ordered by the UK.

Perhaps you could point to any evidence that APATS has provided?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 2:28 pm

So having the Minister for Armed Forces as a Lib Dem for 2 years responsible for.

1. Armed Forces Operations.
2. Armed Forces personnel and policy issues.
3. Force Generation.

Who sits on the Defence Board. Of course they also have the Deputy PM. This amounts to no influence?

You can go back to being smug when you admit that you should really not try and lecture an informed audience on the Politics of their own country. Sorry forgot you were American :)

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 2:29 pm
Reply to  Bob

Was talking about Lib Dem influence Bob

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 2:29 pm

APATS,

And? As I said, they got the trappings but have had very little policy influence.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 2:32 pm

@ Bob
You base this on?

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 2:36 pm

APATS,

On their lack of policy influence. Ironically best summed up by Trident which they described as a “red line” issue in the coalition negotiations but have managed to do nothing more than delay. In fact if anything defence as influenced them as their policy has now shifted from scrapping Trident to reducing the number of submarines.

Perhaps you could show a major area of influence? It would be the first piece of evidence you have given in this thread.

Rocket Banana
December 17, 2013 2:53 pm

This beer/latte voting system is interesting.

It takes a certain level of arrogance to vote one’s own comments “up” and everyone else’s “down”.

Brian Black
Brian Black
December 17, 2013 2:56 pm

Lib Dem defence priorities seem to be primarily about changing nuclear posture to something that is neither a credible defence or disarmament.

Then it’s be nice to squadies and their families – pay & conditions, housing, equal rights for Gurkhas.

Then finally that the Army was not properly equipped going into recent conflicts, but it ought to be.

Does anyone actually know what the Lib Dems defence policies are, in terms of what capabilities the armed forces should have and at what scale? What is it that the Lib Dems want the armed forces to be able to do, either alone or with coalition partners?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 3:00 pm

@ Bob

The Lib Dems played a full part in the 2010 SDSR and the implementation. The minister for armed forces led a lot of the process for the redundacy packages as that was in his bailwick. The cuts would probably have been worse but they played their joker to ensure Trident main gate would not happen with a Lib Dem presence in number 10.
Numerous cabinet meetings on Defence issues were chaired by the DPM in the PMs absence and decisions taken.
Now as for policy influence, I will make a few points.
1. How much more drastic can things get in one term than what came out of the SDSR and they were fully involved in that.
2. Do not conflate conflict with influence. Throughout the coalition time in Government the Lib Dems have acted as a balance vs the more gung ho and right wing of the Conservative Party, exerting influence in all sorts of ways, including Defence.
Policy influence does not always come out of a drone or a project canvellation.

mickp
mickp
December 17, 2013 3:12 pm

So 5 front line Typhoon squadrons of 12 aircraft each and one FI flight of 4 aircraft, 64 operational assigned and the remaining 43 cover OCU, attrition etc? Is that right and a normal ratio?

F35B – 2 front line squadrons 1 FAA one RAF – 24 planes, 24 for OCU, attrition etc? Again is that how it will work?

Presumably if that’s how it works we could generate another 3 squadrons (2 Typhoon, 1 F35) in a real crisis or is that unrealistic? Is there a ‘reserve squadron’ structure to cover that?

If we wanted another new build Typhoon squadron or an extra FAA F35 squadron, would we only have to buy an extra 12 aircraft or would we have to factor additional attrition etc into that purchase, say buy 15/16 airframes?

Thanks

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 3:18 pm

APATS,

That is a list of meetings a lib dem has attended or titles they have held. It in no way describes their policy influence. Now try again.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 3:20 pm

mickp,

Generally there is a reserve squadron associated with each OCU as a continuation of the Cold War Shadow Squadron model.

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 3:24 pm
Reply to  Bob

Bob, we all know such evidence is not possible because it would require access to government and ministerial papers to prove or disprove the general position. I think we can assume though, that being a minister of the crown, sitting in cabinet meetings and horse trading in terms of policy decisions does infer influence is there.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 3:36 pm

TD,

Actually it does not infer that. Titles and meeting attendance do not automatically mean influence. If there was a substantial Lib Dem policy influence on defence we would hear them crowing about one of their policies being implemented. Have I missed a major Lib Dem 2010 defence policy being implemented?

Martin
Editor
December 17, 2013 3:38 pm

@ Bob – when did the UK ever not operate at a deficit? does it matter to anyone other than George Osbourne who is highly unlikley to be in number 11 in 2015. I can only think of a handful of years in the late 90,s early 2000’s under the Blair Brown years when we ran a fiscal surplus. The UK along with virtually every other country operates at a permanent deficit. what matters is if the deficit is above inflation and we are a pretty inflation prone economy.

I think priority number one for the RAF is keeping the tranche 1 typhoons in SDSR 2015. This may not be as outlandish as its sounds given the delays in getting the AESA radar ( the only real issue for T1) and the number of upgrades the T1’s seem to be getting. I know some of them will be knackered but with a decent midlife refit I can’t see why it would not be possible to stand up 2 more squadrons with 2 in T1 for QRA a and 5 in T2/3 for Expeditionary warfare and the two F35B for carrier. This is hardly fantasy fleet stuff.

I seem to remember a figure of having to find £2 billion more down the back of the MOD couch to keep the T1’s in service until the mid to late 2020s which is no inconceivable if the economy keeps growing.

48 F35B’s gives us a decent capability for the carriers in the interim and as the aircraft is likely to be in production for decades there is plenty of time for us to eventually make good on our obligation to by an amount north of 100 which I can bet LM will hold us to if we want to keep our uber 15% work share. With the USMC desperate to get the thing I can’t see much scope anyway for getting too many production slots before 2025. especially if the like of Singapore, Japan and South Korea start to order b versions.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 17, 2013 3:39 pm

There is no way of knowing what influence the Lib Dems have on defence, though I believe they do influence it, because the whole point of the UK system is that the government provides a united front. Yes this doesn’t always happen, but you wouldn’t last long in the cabinet if you started openly opposing the Government decision in public. How many arguments and there following compromises happen behind closed doors, we will just have to wait the 30 years to find out the truth.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
December 17, 2013 3:39 pm

Moving away from the politics, if the RAF is to have a combat force of half a dozen squadrons what possible reason can there be for all the brass? Group Commanders, Air Vice Marshals, Air Marshals, Air Chief Marshals, Marshal of the RAF. What nonsense. In WW2 terms the whole thing barely makes a couple of wings and that’s including all the helicopters and trainers. Just abolish the thing before it becomes terminally embarrassing.

Helicopters can go to the army, fast jets to the navy and transports to Richard Branson. The RAF Regiment should become part of the cavalry, because it would upset Mr. Trousers of this Parish and because the two arms deserve each other.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 3:48 pm

ET,

Not disagreeing with something does not mean you influence it. Cabinet collective responsibility means you have to publicly support something even if you rigorously oppose it. The fact is the Lib dems have not demonstrated any influence of defence aside from a minor delay to Trident.

mike
mike
December 17, 2013 3:55 pm

@HurstLlama

Re senior staff, same can be said about the RN – a subject several authors here have tackled.

Martin
Martin
December 17, 2013 4:01 pm

sorry Bob to infer the lib Dems had no political impact on defence decisions would infer that the other two party’s did have. There are no politics in UK defence because the majority of British politicians along with people don’t give a f**k about defence. other than playing a game of who can cut the budget faster I can’t think of a single political party in the UK ever standing on a defence issue in their manifesto other than labour in 1983 and that was a nuclear issue rather than pure defence issue.

This differs from US politics where the republicans talk a good game but also don’t give a f**k and the only real defence issue revolves around how many jobs can be kept in their home state.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 4:07 pm

Martin,

You forgot the big defence spending increases undertaken by the Thatcher government through the mid-late 80s.

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 4:13 pm
Reply to  Bob

The minor delay to Trident will have cost x Pounds, that x Pounds comes from a finite budget so something will have to have been deferred, deleted or delayed = Influence

We all understand how cabinet works Bob but we all understand there is also ‘deals to be done’ in a coalition government. Deals, as above = Influence

Reinvigorate Franco-British and wider European defence co-operation to ensure procurement costs are kept low
We will not purchase tranche 3B of the Eurofighter
Give a pay rise to the lower ranks
We will reduce the number of civilian staff in the Ministry of Defence and reduce numbers of top brass officers

Now admittedly, these are pretty high level but still followed through

They also proposed others that did not happen but such is the nature of coalition government

There is a spectrum of influence

None and lots

I suspect the Liberal Democrats sit somewhere in the middle of the left half, certainly not a huge influence but equally certainly, not none either

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 4:18 pm

TD,

None of those are examples of Lib Dem influence. Tranche 3b was already dead. Franco-British arrangement was pushed by the Conservatives, as was the lower ranks pay rise and cutting civilian staff and brass was a Liam Fox obsession.

None of those are influence, just converging desires that would have happened anyway. Any influence the Lib Dems have on defence is minuscule. I suspect deliberately so in order to give them negotiating powers in other areas of government.

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 4:26 pm
Reply to  Think Defence
HurstLlama
HurstLlama
December 17, 2013 4:29 pm

@Mike

True, but unless one wants to repeat the not altogether succesful Canadian experiment there has to be a line between the ground and the sea.

The third service was introduced for particular circumstances and military concepts that no longer hold, not that they ever did but no one knew it at the time. Now that the RAF as a whole is planned to have rather fewer combat aeroplanes than Douglas Bader had under his command as a wing commander in 1940 , surely the time has come to put it to bed. 31st March 2018, a nice service in St. Clement Danes, and let us have done with a branch that has become an anachronism.

Phil
December 17, 2013 4:30 pm

Bob says

“The stated plan is 7 fast-jet squadrons, there is no other plan. Claiming that something might change in the future is just plain silly. ”

but then says

“What may happen after 2020 is pure speculation”

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 4:46 pm

TD,

I said real terms increases, not increases as a % of GDP.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 4:47 pm

Phil,

Surely even you can see the difference between stated plans and wishy washy hopes that something might be different in the future without any presentation of evidence?

This habit of trying to deny stated reality by claiming that “but one day something might change” is very tiresome.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
December 17, 2013 4:51 pm

“I can’t think of a single political party in the UK ever standing on a defence issue in their manifesto other than labour in 1983 and that was a nuclear issue rather than pure defence issue. ”

This lot had a (somehwat amusing) go……

http://www.natural-law-party.org.uk/UKmanifesto/defence2.htm

Phil
December 17, 2013 4:53 pm

“Surely even you can see the difference between stated plans and wishy washy hopes that something might be different in the future without any presentation of evidence?”

I see a future that is uncertain.

I see a past where re-armament on a global scale has been accomplished in less than 5 years ie by 2019.

Stated plans always give way to events dear boy, events.

30 squadrons (not 33) down to 7 in 15 years, why couldn’t ever go the other way Bob?

This habit of trying to deny stated reality by claiming that “but one day something might change” is very tiresome.

You should realise how myopic that statement sounds! What happened between 1989-1991 Bob? Stasis? What happened in 1973? Time froze?

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 4:55 pm
Reply to  Bob

But cash increases have to take into account inflation, buying power and many other factors to demonstrate actual increases or at least the intent to better fund defence.

% of GDP is a good indicator of this intent, and as the graphic shows, no party can lay claim to spending more national treasure on defence. There are slight changes here and there, post 82 is a good example, but in general, the trend line is down, no matter the colour of the party logo

mike
mike
December 17, 2013 4:56 pm

@ HurstLlama

Do remember one tornado can deliver a blow that a whole squadrons worth of Lancaster’s could do.
Also remember that the RAF is more about combat types but also support types and roles.Its not just the pointy and shiny jets…. like the Navy…and Army, its way more.

Particular reasons and concepts that have evolved as equipment and thinking and usage has evolved. Trying to compare any of the services to WW2 or even their creation is…dumb…sorry but it is. Because a lot of what we have now and the kind of threats and challenges and needs did not exist then… for example ISTAR and transport (a core part of RAF responsibility) and also Submarines (which if the old navy had its way, would have reminded a backwater of naval tech…. the Germans made sure that changed…). I can’t believe I have to mention that… I thought it was blindingly obvious. But then some seem to think the number of frigates and submarines is also the sole part of the Navy,.. its way way more.

Anyway, I was talking about Officers – the level of officers is a contentious subject the papers love to have a go on… and THE service that has more officers than actual combat equipment is the Navy.

I was talking about the number of staff. Why more captains than ships…

The Royal Navy has a – seemingly – ridiculous number of senior officer staff compared to their (compared to the RAF) even fewer combat units.
There is of course a reason. Bigger and deeper reason than simply headline numbers…

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 5:01 pm

TD,

That’s wrong. % of GDP is only useful if you know what GDP is doing. For instance defence spending could theoretically grow as a percentage of GDP but still shrink overall if nominal GDP is falling.

If you want to show real terms changes in defence spending you need to show defence spending at a constant value- that is currency normalised to its value in a single year.

Phil,

There is not uncertainty, there is a series of already announced target dates for aircraft retirements, squadron disbandments and squadron stand-ups. In fact things are very clear. The Cold War only ended once.

Rocket Banana
December 17, 2013 5:07 pm
Phil
December 17, 2013 5:11 pm

There is not uncertainty

So you foresaw the Falklands? That changed force structure. You foresaw Gulf War? That changed force structure. You saw 9/11 coming? That changed force structure.

There is nothing but uncertainty in the future.

The Cold War only ended once.

But I guess you cleared your diary for 9 Nov 1989 back in 1983?

Your entire argument is predicated on a static view of the future and some pretty blatant political biases. APATs argument is based on the very verifiable fact that the future is uncertain and verifiable and historical fact that force structures flex to events.

Think Defence
Admin
December 17, 2013 5:19 pm
Reply to  Rocket Banana

Thanks Simon, so not much of a sustained increase ever then, two phases, cold war then post cold war

I still think % of GDP is a good indicator because it frames ‘intent’

colky7
colky7
December 17, 2013 5:26 pm

Bob scores his own posts. Lol

Phil
December 17, 2013 5:28 pm

It’s odd TD.

There appears to have been some real term increases in the defence budget.

They seem to correlate with a couple of little scraps we have gotten into.

One which changed the planned structure of the Navy. Another which changed the planned equipment and structure of the Army.

But they couldn’t have happened because nothing untoward ever happens.

And nothing ever changes as long as its a negative trend.

The future is certain.

I think I’ve solved where Bob resides.

I believe he resides in the Shire.

Cosy and comforting.

Mark
Mark
December 17, 2013 5:45 pm

IMO the real intent on fastjet numbers is not just that fact the fastjet force is at 7 now it’s the number of bases. There at 3 bases now leuchars has been handed to the army and they’re is only a finite number of sqns that can be based at them. Marham and the f35 looks like it will bare an uncanny resemblance to conningsby and typhoon. If there’s any increase in size it will be either squeeze another f35 unit into marham if the ocu stays states side or another typhoon into Lossiemouth I really can’t see funds being spent turning one of the other bases (leeming being the only likely candidate) into a fastjet base considered they haven’t operated front line types for rather a long time.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
December 17, 2013 5:46 pm

Bob is correct in that the near-term force structure & equipment plan (5-10 year horizon) is pretty certain and covered by a number of announcements. The danger is (as Phil & APATS point out) believing that those structures and equipments are set in stone beyond that horizon, they’re not.

Or at least, they shouldn’t be, but there is a tendency to “groupthink” within MoD & Defence circles that thse things are immutable facts, rather than tbudgets and planning assumptions with a temporal limit.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
December 17, 2013 5:57 pm

@Mike

“Do remember one tornado can deliver a blow that a whole squadrons worth of Lancaster’s could do.”

I am not sure that is actually true but even if it is, given that the Tornadoes are soon to be withdrawn the point is moot. The fact remains that the RAF is due to sink to below below the point where it is viable as a third service and a few ISTAR aeroplanes don’t change that.

As for the number of senior officers , I agree that the RN is ludicrously top heavy and so is the army where we have had Brigadiers doing jobs that once would have been the responsibilities of majors.

Phil
December 17, 2013 6:06 pm

Or at least, they shouldn’t be, but there is a tendency to “groupthink” within MoD & Defence circles that thse things are immutable facts

Groupthink is something more attributable to small groups. What goes on in the Mod is probably more akin to structural secrecy where discord and disagreement and complexity gets distilled at each level into something approaching consensus. You might still have different opinions at a high level but they will often be distillations of far more complex arguments. Add a good dose of personal agenda and a good dose of politics and it’s a wonder we have a single soldier with a shirt on his back.

Bob is right, the plan is pretty certain (although I’d argue as above it is not as certain as all that) but the world in which it will unfold is anything but.

Mark
Mark
December 17, 2013 6:12 pm

Hurstllama

The RAF in Force 2020 is larger than the royal naval should it be merged with the coast guard then?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 17, 2013 6:34 pm

@ Mark

We could if we had a Coast Guard worthy of the name :(

dave haine
dave haine
December 17, 2013 8:17 pm

S’funny people think all the RAF do is operate aircraft… There is also the Air Defence Ground Enviroment, air traffic services, both in the UK and deployed overseas, airfield operations, both in the UK and deployed overseas.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 8:19 pm

If anybody here knew what they were talking about they would have seen the actually reliable Defence Statistics Agency chart that shows a sustained real terms rise between 1978/9 and 1984/5- under Thatcher and obviously had very little to do with the Falklands. In fact that was a cumulative rise of approximately 30% and the budget has never again reached that level.

But hey, fact’s aren’t important. Much more important is comforting ourselves that although the RAF badged fast jet force is now to officially sink to the size of a single US Tactical Air Wing something may change in the future….

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
December 17, 2013 8:27 pm

@Mark

The RN became a coastal defence force (albeit with some submarines) in 2006 so that merger could be said to already have happened. The recent draw down of what was once HM Coastguard is just a recognition of reality. The 2015 defence cuts will likely make the position clearer.

Phil
December 17, 2013 8:32 pm

something may change in the future….

Unlikely to be your stinking attitude and patronising demeanour.

Who do we need more than 7 squadrons of aircraft to fight against Bob? Without even going on about how useless a squadron is as a unit of measurement anyway.

Bob
Bob
December 17, 2013 8:42 pm

Phil.

Nice insult.

Need? Well that depends on ambition.

The squadron, especially now standardised at a UE of 12, is actually an excellent comparative measure of capability,

Rocket Banana
December 17, 2013 8:46 pm

It is certainly interesting to see that real-term defence spending hasn’t moved much (we can quibble here and there but generally it goes down, we have a problem, it goes up, peace dividend, repeat).

What I find concerning is the use of these financial terms to befuddle the population. Real-term spending means diddly squat. Defence has its own inflation rate that bears no relation to CPI or RPI. Just like the recently hyped 2.1% inflation rate bears absolutely no resemblance to those on the bread line or anyone that spends a lot of time in a car and buying the associated fuel.

If I am a company that makes £100m a year and spends £5m on R&D and then I see some good times and my revenues go up to £200m but I still spend £5m on R&D… Well that is a recipe for a failure. Your investment in the future is amortised over ever greater and greater revenues until it represents practically nothing. A competitor that sticks to a 5% R&D budget will likely win in the long term.

The other thing that makes by blood boil is the lack of understanding of the economies of scale that come from 100 expensive aircraft versus 200 cheaper ones. That, along with development costs being a huge percentage of the final bill make almost all defence procurement a recipe for disaster.

The problem we have with (essentially) a constant (real-term) defence budget is that we become an ever smaller slice of the International cake which will drive costs upwards (due to lack of EoS) and control of requirements ever further out of our reach.

Phil
December 17, 2013 8:50 pm

The squadron, especially now standardised at a UE of 12, is actually an excellent comparative measure of capability,

It might be an excellent measure of comparability with other similar units (squadrons) but it tends to have a less reliable relationship with how many aircraft are available for doing what and when.

Need? Well that depends on ambition.

Please, go on.

Bob