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Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 3, 2013 2:13 pm

The speaker said that the Type 45 had high end anti ship capabilities. Have I missed something? I thought the Type 45’s only surface to surface capability was a single 4.5″ gun?

He also seems unaware that Fireshadow was canned.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 3, 2013 2:22 pm

Yes, I cringed when he praised the LCS!

El Sid
El Sid
December 3, 2013 2:34 pm

The uncorrected transcript is at
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/6/

Not read it yet – but @CW, T45 are getting the old Harpoon launchers from the T22 FWIW. Whether you think a few Harpoon is a significant capability against the kinds of threats we are likely to face – is another matter.

Bob
Bob
December 3, 2013 2:36 pm

Four of the six T45s are getting Harpoon from the decommed T22s. I don’t know about high-end but it is certainly standard capability.

Aside from the odd VLS allowance forwards T26 seems almost flawless as a concept and as many as possible should be acquired.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 3, 2013 2:54 pm

Beginning to think there is already an article on every subject.

martin
Editor
December 3, 2013 3:04 pm

And we wonder why the armed forces are in such disarray. If only the top brass did a better job but I think they are just as bad too “well informed” (about their own agendas) is just as bad as not a f**king clue.

Anyone who thinks we should reduce T26 fro LCS should have their head (or lack of ) examined.

Even Bob thinks T26 is better and thats saying something :-)

martin
Editor
December 3, 2013 3:07 pm

“Beginning to think there is already an article on every subject.”

If only the all read Think Defence it would be containers and ruthless commonality right through the MOD before you could say (insert suitable metaphor)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
December 3, 2013 3:29 pm

USS Freedom is a catamaran apparently……

The moronitude is strong in these ones.

Bob
Bob
December 3, 2013 3:31 pm

TD,

They are not decision makers, they are MPs- they make very few decisions except how to steal yet more money from the taxpayer.

El Sid
El Sid
December 3, 2013 3:37 pm

Anyone who clicked through to the transcript when I first linked it may want to refresh, they only had half of it up at that stage.

First off – what is the point of a debate if the idiot MP for Lanark is incapable of basic timekeeping from the chair? Hood says that he will stop questions at 10.40 to let the PUSS respond, but he doesn’t call Dunne until 10.50 and so he has to cut him off before he’s answered most of the questions.

Werb
The LCS is what it is – a full-fat frigate would cost the USN $1000m, for <$500m the LCS gives them a full-fat helicopter and UxV capability in a hull with lo-fat fightiness. That's what the USN wants – and it's a fairly explicit calculation that they can better fulfil their requirements (currently fulfilled by patrol craft and minesweepers) with 52 LCS rather than 26 full-fat frigates. That's the kind of idea that Ellwood was talking about, along with its modularity. Anyone who thinks that he was saying "we should reduce T26 fro LCS" should have their head examined, because that's not what he said at all.

I cringed more at the fact that he called the Freedom a catamaran, when it’s a monohull and the Independence that is a trimaran. It’s easy to quibble over details, his basic thrust was that the RN needs modularity and commonality with other services, which is something that is very familiar to TD readers – and I guess it’s the first mention of the Black Swan concept inside Westminster?

OK, so the honourable members for Gosport and Devonport were a waste of space who were just wanting some pork thrown in their direction, but that’s kind of what backbench MPs are employed to do. The Westminster sausage machine is never a pretty sight close-up.

Transcript is now at
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/202/

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 3, 2013 3:48 pm

An opening speech that had some fatal errors.

A response that tried to turn it into a debate on Scottish independence.

A response that tried to turn it into a debate on Portsmouth shipbuilding shutting down.

A response that wants to move the subs to Devonport.

(Not much on the future ships)

A response that covers more of the past and a basic call for more hulls(getting better).

Next response is better still but still doesn’t really cover anything beyond T26 or really T26.

And finally the Closing speech vaguely answers some questions without any new information.

A debate on future RN vessels which barely touched the actual subject and when it did made some rather outlandish claims: LCS being a better option to get more hulls in the water for example. Trying to get Politicians to debate a military/engineering subject, hopeless.

martin
Editor
December 3, 2013 3:51 pm

@ El Sid

“It’s easy to quibble over details, his basic thrust was that the RN needs modularity and commonality with other services, which is something that is very familiar to TD readers – and I guess it’s the first mention of the Black Swan concept inside Westminster?”

But does the T26 not bring modularity in. Its not going to the extreme of the LCS but thats probably a good thing. Modularity will be great for our future MCM and Hydrographic replacement vessels but I think the swiss army knife concept of death rays in containers is too much even for the readers of TD.

T26 seems very much like the ship we need and I think the USN could benefit from it greatly as well to replace the Perry’s.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 3, 2013 3:59 pm

From everything I have read and heard T26 is the best design for our requirments, which when that was what it was designed for it should be. I just hope they don’t screw it up over some stupid political reason.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 3, 2013 4:19 pm

Unless they extended the life of some of the T23 hulls I very much doubt it, they have got to the bottom already and are only just making do.

Bob
Bob
December 3, 2013 4:30 pm

TD,

Assuming the Scots vote to maintain their current parasitic relationship with the rest of the UK the RN will probably get at least 10 boats- I am not convinced all 13 will make it over the line but 10-12 seems most likely. If the Scots leave then things get interesting.

Observer
Observer
December 3, 2013 4:45 pm

Can’t see a thing, both for the article and for the transcript. Must be using something I don’t have installed.

NaB, it’s a small mistake, especially if you remember that the LCS is actually TLCS (Two Little Combat Ships). It was probably the Independence that was referred to. Though it’s more proper to call it a Tri, not a Catamaran.

For the Harpoons, you can go to what we refer to as a peacetime loadout, instead of all 8 (2 racks of 4) on a ship, you can load just 4 on a 2×2 arrangement or even a 1×4. This would give you all 6 ships armed with Harpoons and 8 to spare which can be assigned to ships going to higher risk areas. This would give all of them a decent amount of firepower for self defence and a threat that others are forced to act more circumspectly around. Just don’t expect it to take on a fleet by itself.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 3, 2013 4:49 pm

I don’t recall saying he said reduce Type 26 for LCS – not sure if you were directing that at someone else El Sid. Correct me if I’m wrong, but at $770M a pop (if they build 52 and if it comes in on budget) the LCS so far lacks any operational modules. It’s fightiness is currently limited to a 57mm and two 30mm guns (both purely optically/TI directed) that can’t actually hit anything at anything approaching the 40kt speed that pushed the price of the design right up and compromised its abilities in other areas. It has no CIWS, SAM, long range land attack (or even NGFS) capability and no AShM. All of this to remain relevant in an area that is itself becoming increasingly irrelevant to US planners thanks to their country’s rapidly shifting to a net exporter of energy. I sincerely doubt they’ll be getting anything like 52 of these platforms. Hopefully common sense will prevail at some point, but precedent means I won’t be holding my breath.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 3, 2013 4:53 pm

I also noticed they actually top the current predicted unit price of T26.

x
x
December 3, 2013 4:54 pm

Modularity……………….good grief………………..

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 3, 2013 4:55 pm

On the Harpoon loadout front, I’m not sure it’s that we lack missiles, rather than we don’t want to have them sitting on ships getting buffetted about for no reason. I realise the air launched Harpoon was a somewhat different missile, but I wonder if anyone considered trading in our arsenal of those for more surface launched versions. Block II would also give a limited littoral land attack capability at little additional cost. No, I know that’s not how procurement is done, but I can’t help thinking out loud.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 3, 2013 5:00 pm

I believe it is actually the launch hardware we are missing rather than the missiles; we have decommissioned 4 T22’s so we have 4 sets.

Bob
Bob
December 3, 2013 5:11 pm

Chris Werb,

The UK did not have air launched Harpoons- it had Sea Eagle in that role. The RN used Harpoon and Sub-Harpoon.

ET,

Spot-on re hardware

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
December 3, 2013 5:22 pm

@ Bob

They can’t be that expensive so I don’t see why we shouldn’t pick up a couple of sets from somewhere secondhand. unless we are going to rotate the sets we have between ships so they are never on the ships in refit.

wf
wf
December 3, 2013 5:31 pm

@Bob: actually, the UK did have some air-launched Harpoon. They were a UOR at the time of the FI, bought for the Nimrod. No idea if we retained much after the conflict, but perhaps @Topman can tell us?

as
as
December 3, 2013 6:01 pm

Do we still have Sub-Harpoon UGM-84? or where they decommissioned with the Swiftsure class?

WiseApe
December 3, 2013 6:02 pm

He should either sack his speech writer, or hire one. No wonder the room was mostly empty. The longbow “appeared” at Agincourt? Pillock.

I wonder who he thinks his audience is? I’m afraid I gave up a few minutes in.

Werb – “…I can’t help thinking out loud.” – Keep it up, kind of what sites like this are for. Of course, there are always some irritants who will try to pour scorn or point score, but the great thing about t’internet is…..you can just ignore them :D

Chuck Hill
December 3, 2013 6:23 pm

Increasingly we see vessels with 16 anti-ship cruise missiles It is one way to make sure you get two salvos that are almost sure to get a hit.

Bob
Bob
December 3, 2013 6:24 pm

wf,

You are absolutely correct, I had forgotten about the 2P upgrade. They were still around in 1985 as one was fired at HMS Salisbury.

Challenger
Challenger
December 3, 2013 6:29 pm

Why did we get rid of Sea Eagle? An air-launched ship killer (even if it wasn’t as fast and large as some of the others out there) is a pretty decent capability that I wouldn’t want to lose in a hurry. Could it not have been cleared for use on the GR7/GR9 once the Sea Harriers had been retired? Guess it just comes down to cost and a culture of improvise and make do again.

I can’t see how the RN can keep up anything like the current tempo of ops with less than 18 escorts in service, so i’d expect something more than 8 ASW frigates to be ordered (not sure if it will be 4-5 of the GP variant though) or failing that then a substantial reappraisal of what the RN is expected to do with the resources it has.

I think the T26 design suits our needs well. Price is the big question mark though isn’t it. Export potential and the exact shape and form of what the RN ends up with will very much depend on how successful they are at keeping the costs in check. I have this nightmare vision of the unit price going up to the extent that a lot of the capabilities are either cut back or become ‘fitted for and not with’ as we saw with the T45, with a reduction in overall hull numbers only compounding the problem.

Although with the current design and the very sensible decision to phase in and cross-deck Artisan, CAMM and Type 2087 I’m reasonably optimistic.

Mark
Mark
December 3, 2013 6:39 pm

Rc135 will replaced nimrod 1 for 1

Chinook force is increasing in numbers.

Sir Humphrey
December 3, 2013 6:45 pm

Sea Eagle went due to it needed a very extensive mid life update to extend its lifespan at a point when deep ocean ASuW was going majorly out of fashion due to a lack of targets. Its deletion allowed more magazine space on the Invincibles for other munitions, and allowed the deletion of the RAF maritime attack community, thus freeing up GR4 airframes for other purposes. A great cold war missile made utterly obsolete by a lack of suitable targets!

IIRC the Sub Harpoon went some years ago due to issues over how useful it actually was, as firing it tended to give away ones position, while Torpedoes were less likely to be decoyed by surface ships. Firing at a distance required you to have accurate targeting information, and if you were firing that far, why not just use a surface ship instead of sacrificing torpedo stowage?

I’m pretty The RAF did use air launched harpoon, but I think it went out of use in the noughties as Nimrod went out of use in the maritime role and instead got used more for ISTAR etc.

The big issue with ASuW missiles like this is that when you fire them, you need to be absolutely sure you have the right target and that its not going to fly off and sink something else instead. Harpoon was brilliant in the cold war concept of firing at the Russians as they charged into the Atlantic. Its less helpful in the very cluttered environments we now work in where positive ID is a real necessity. It is perhaps telling that since the 1960s the RN has by my reckoning employed every single one of the surface weapon and gun systems its had procured for it with the exception of Strategic Missile Systems (thank god!) , Ikara, Sea Eagle and Harpoon. That should tell you something when you consider just how much the RN has been up to in the last 50 odd years!

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 3, 2013 6:51 pm

Do not see how you do credible full spectrum defence on 2% GDP. OK, we cannot go back to 4% of the Cold War, but the 1998 SDR showed it could be done for 2.5% to 2.7%. There are plenty of diversity, management consultant, deputy director non-jobs in the public sector, that could be cut to free funds for defence.
The speech was rubbish, but did agree with making the T26 hangar a bit bigger for greater flexibility.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
December 3, 2013 8:16 pm

What about those three OPVs that suddenly appeared out of left field a week or two back?

GNB

Rocket Banana
December 3, 2013 8:45 pm

Why did we get rid of Sea Eagle? An air-launched ship killer (even if it wasn’t as fast and large as some of the others out there) is a pretty decent capability that I wouldn’t want to lose in a hurry. Could it not have been cleared for use on the GR7/GR9 once the Sea Harriers had been retired?

We lost just about all of our credible air and surface defence capability when SHAR was retired. Just think, if we still had SHAR we would currently be able to launch AMRAAM at aircraft and Sea Eagle at ships from 100km away after a positive id.

There must therefore be a very good reason for it. The only one I can come up with is that it simply doesn’t work, which if true begs a similar question about Harpoon, one I think Sir H (above) touches on. The question of identification and the ranges (or radar power) needed to achive this.

mike
mike
December 3, 2013 9:07 pm

@ Simon

Sea Eagle was cleared and used by Tornado, the Gr1b’s if I remember right – a mod was required for them to be carried.
Never really understood why we got ridd of Sea Eagle – yes another bespoke British missile, but from what I read, it provided a good capability and apparently was better than Exocet. Sir H of course explains it best.

SHAR when carrying Sea Eagle was very limited, maneuverability and range was the major trade off, they rarely carried it or even trained with it (indeed, it wasn’t actually in the main 899NAS syllabus), for the same reasons Sir H points out – would have bee better to upgrade and update Harpoon… and have a ASM for Merlin :/

Opinion3
Opinion3
December 3, 2013 9:25 pm

“we could use the additional funds to procure 10 cheaper, larger modular ships with the deck and mission space for a minimum of four rotor systems to effectively conduct counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations and defend home waters and to excel at upstream engagement, stabilisation and humanitarian tasks……”

So that’ll be X10 MARS SSS

I like this speaker :-)

Overseas
Overseas
December 3, 2013 10:37 pm

The TI report was published this week, food for thought…

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 3, 2013 11:19 pm

There was a proposal to fit Sea Eagle with the seeker from the Maverick missile to create a precision strike, stand off weapon. The diameter of the 2 missiles was the same, so it would have been reasonably easy.

Rocket Banana
December 4, 2013 7:58 am

Mike,

Does that then mean that our anti-surface capability was in tatters before SHAR was withdrawn?

Is it not true that the only way we could positively id the contact (at 200km range) would have been with SHAR?

As soon as you rely on ship launched Harpoon you bring the perimeter in to, say, 100km but you still need an airborne asset to id the contact. Are we saying that this is a very slow Lynx/Wildcat/Merlin?

Rocket Banana
December 4, 2013 9:36 am

…or, of course, a UAV :-)

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 4, 2013 11:14 am

Playing fantasy fleets, I do not see how 6 T45 + 13 T26 is enough. Warming to the 2nd tier, but still capable theme, I keep dreaming of a modernised Lekiu class the UK built for Malaysia. 2390 tons, 57mm gun, 8 Exocet, 2 triple torp tubes, 2 x 30 mm. Just need to swap the VL Seawolf for Aster 15. Copy the Amazon class & order 8. So 27 escorts, not 19.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
December 4, 2013 5:09 pm

It isn’t the question of positively ID’ng the target at range that is the major problem, there are ways and means of doing that without SHAR. What is more difficult is ensuring that all contacts in the waterspace between the launch platform and the target area are plotted and where possible classified.

The reason Sea Eagle was withdrawn (as alluded to by Sir H) is that the perceived threat went away right about the same time that cuts were required in force structures and funding for capability upgrades. It’s just a subset of the “someone else will do it” mentality.

x
x
December 4, 2013 5:39 pm

@ John H

I wondered about Leku-esque ship for Scotland in the North Sea. But these days for the RN it is too small, too short legged.

Sir Humphrey
December 4, 2013 6:51 pm

@ John

Your proposal would incur incredible extra costs – why do you want to introduce a vast range of non standard MOD equipment into service with the training and support burden that comes with it? The MOD has intentionally reduced to two ship classes for a good reason – its much cheaper that way.

Introducing little classes sounds good right up until the point when you look at the training and support implications of doing so, when it suddenly gets VERY expensive.

John Hartley
John Hartley
December 4, 2013 7:02 pm

X Flicking through Janes for ship ranges, Lekiu is quoted as 5000 miles at 14 knots. By contrast a T21 was 4000 miles at 17 knots, a T42 was 4000 miles at 18 knots. So a Lekiu type ship would have range enough for the jobs done by T21/T42. Granted if you want “Great White Fleet” global cruising, a 7000 mile at 18 knots T45 is better, but much dearer.

as
as
December 4, 2013 7:17 pm

I know I asked yesterday but do we still have Sub-Harpoon UGM-84? or where they decommissioned with the Swiftsure class?

Why have they not cleared typhoon And F35 to launch ALARM so it can do SEAD?

Sir Humphrey
December 4, 2013 7:50 pm

Sub Harpoon went a few years ago.

Jackstaff
Jackstaff
December 4, 2013 8:03 pm

@Opinion3,

Don’t know that it would mean that many SSS, but certainly time (the “article on every subject” tie-in) is coming for the Boss to dust off his SIMSS series and start shopping it ’round Westminster.

@ NaB,

Yes, exactly — “someone else will do it,” either another service, an ally, a different subset of the same service, etc. The bane of British Armed Forces logic since forever. And particularly acute (among other places) in the RN’s surface fleet where there is still what I once described as the “country house mentality,” assuming the presence (extant or imminent in the next procurement round) of byzantine subcategories of ship all working together each doing their little bit to keep the great house running. When there was either a vibrant shipbuilding industry or seventy-odd frigates plus destroyers and a cruiser or two in the water, this was tolerable. In a fleet where two dozen combat-capable surface combatants seems like a pipe dream, it’s inexcusable. At best two classes: one big, all-round, blue water bar steward class, one nimble, smaller, patrol and green-water class (what “frigates” were back when they were frigates.) Each optimised in all the different areas necessary (ex. both top-flight air defence suite *and* Sonar 2087, not to mention long-reach cruise, in the big ships, both shipping channel-optimised radar *and* mission bay, not to mention lots of pointy small remote guns for swarm defence, on the littler ‘uns and plenty of Sea Skua/Brimstone/whathaveyou for the Lynx in that case too.)

@ John Hartley,

You’ve correctly spotted that it’s not. What will give, ultimately, is taskings. And if an air wing can be found for the QEs there’s some justice in that; they should start by going around the frigate navies of Europe saying, “right, lads, we supply the Atlantic carriers now the Yanks have pissed off to the eastern oceans, your turn to handle STANAVFORLANT yourselves — you’re big boys, after all.” And it comes back yet again — just as the Army is in mortal danger of having too few tanks and the crabs too few Tiffs (well, that they’ll let out to play) — to having two (not misspelled) few T45s, among other things. There’s no need for 700 Challys or fifteen squadrons of fighter jets, or even a dozen T45s (unless you follow the hi-lo model I mentioned above.) There is, however, a very real need for c. 240 Challys (all ready to serve, e.g. no “back fleet”), eight squadrons of Tiffs (even if Dave B ever comes on line for the carriers), and eight T45s. There’s a difference between foolish excess and critical mass that completely escapes the “accounting money”-driven planners.

If, however, you had that (bear with me here), then I could see something like this actually working out:

– All Rivers in home waters (incl. Clyde), making the Fisheries Squadron live again

– The three new OPVs (Lochs? I hope so, following on to Rivers as they do, and it’s either a compliment or an insult to the Scots depending on next year’s votes) doing thus: one in rest/refit, one tooling little circles round the EEZ boundary off Gibraltar, one on heavy duty in Those Islands

– Eight 2087-equipped Type 26, running two out to the Fleet Carrier (I hope) Task Group (ex-RFTG), with a third ready enough that it can clean up the roads from Falsane when needed

– Four vanilla T26, with one parked in the western Indian Ocean and a second ready-ish if FRE is required somewhere

– Eight (again, bear with me for the example) T45 with two to the Task Group and a third that could be worked up to join the Indian Ocean frigate or Armilla, if needed (Armilla would be frigate-less under this model, waiting for development of C3 to beef up the scale of the very useful MCMs)

– APT(South) done by an SSN

– Most months a Task Group afloat covered by 2 T45, 2 T26, and an SSN so that it’s actually “ready to go” if called upon, because one of these days someone is going to cotton on to the fact that speed is their best ally against the intentions of Western militaries…

That would just about work, cutting back taskings to the bone and making the adult decision that anything east of a longitudinal line drawn just west of Masirah Island is someone else’s business unless it involves Brunei or the Anzacs.

But it is, however, pushing it. And it points to the other flaw in the T26s — besides sticking strike VLS on a mid-sized, closer-to-shore vessel vulnerable to saturation attack, which is just idiotic when you have six big hulls with the space already accounted for. Sonar 2087 is a brilliant system, and the RN is world-beating at still giving a damn about ASW. But are they (given some comments I’ve heard round here from serving or recently-retired personnel about how 2087 handles shallower, high-traffic waters) actually equipped to do the other crucial ASW mission — ferreting out SSKs hiding to f**k up amphibious landings and the seizure/control of offloading/port facilities? That’s a very big question to which I haven’t heard an effective answer yet.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
December 5, 2013 12:08 pm
Brian Black
Brian Black
December 5, 2013 9:16 pm

Wouldn’t the MHPC concept, if realised, provide the Royal Navy with its own LCS – or at least it has the potential to.

It wouldn’t be introducing an extra type if it replaced a couple of MCM types and the survey ships. And it could potentially give the Navy more vessels than spunking the budget on those five GP Type26 (General purpose = gun up front, Lynx at the back, SeaCeptor in the middle. There are cheaper ways of doing that than with a T26).

x
x
December 5, 2013 11:06 pm

And what if want or need to buy more or move TAS sets between hulls?

All RN frigates have been GP ships since Leander.

Different jobs at sea require different hulls; the electronics and weapons are only part of the system. MHPC/Black Swan are flights of fancy.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
December 5, 2013 11:21 pm

@BB

AS far as the details have come out. GP simply means that it will not be fitted initially with a Towed Array LFAS. It will still have the same quiet long range propulsion system. The same Mission bay capabilities. Sea Ceptor, aviation facilities. Main Gun. EW fit. Strike Length capabilities. MF Hull Sonar and skilled Ships Company.

Waylander
Waylander
December 5, 2013 11:26 pm

RE RN escort fleet of only 6 T45s & 13 T23/26s, plus hopefully three larger OPVs that are able to be forward deployed.

It still compares quite well with the Marine Nationale, both now and in the future:

“First Rank” frigates
2 modern Horizon class AAW
2 old Cassards AAW
1 FREMM inservice ASW
6 Georges Leygues ASW

“Second Rank”
5 La Fayette class light frigates
6 La Floreal class corvettes

And in the future

2 Horizon
8 FREMMs
5 La Fayettes (upgraded as First Rank frigates to keep the numbers up)
6 La Foreal corvettes

Challenger
Challenger
December 6, 2013 12:15 pm

I think about this quite a lot and for my money I just can’t see the RN getting away with less than 18 escorts (of the real, high-end caliber). Drop down to 16, 14 or lower and we would seriously need to start remodeling what it is the RN is for and what it can achieve with the resources available. In practice that would probably mean abandoning several longstanding commitments in favour of providing a half decent carrier group and little else.

I would sacrifice the slated 13th T26 to use the money and more importantly the manpower on building 4 of these new OPV’s and keeping them in service alongside the Rivers. I’d put Clyde as head of the Fisheries squadron, 2 of the new ones would work as a pair around ‘those islands’ and the S. Atlantic in general and free up a major fleet escort from that commitment, 1 would be based in the West Indies and the last would for now conduct anti piracy ops in the Indian Ocean and then when that eventually drops off (or all of the shipping lines pay for their own security teams) it could be a spare to potter around the Med and regularly call at Gibraltar when it wasn’t needed elsewhere.

With 18 high-end surface ships free from some of the lower intensity ops I would have a Fleet Ready Escort, furnish the Response Force Task Group with 3 ships (1 T45 and 2 T26) and provide one of each for the Gulf seen as I think it’s important in lieu of any carrier/amphibious forces cruising into the region that we continue to provide a show of strength (especially as the USN pivots Eastwards) and keep high-end ASW and AA platforms working with our allies, ready for action.

MHPC or whatever we want to call it may well act as a force multiplier and re-balance the fleet some-what when we eventually get it, but it won’t be until 2028 at the earliest and is still an unknown quantity. We can’t place any real faith in it at present, hence why I’d look for a bit of insurance and force multiplication with these cheap and cheerful OPV’s.

Mickp
Mickp
December 7, 2013 9:51 am

@challenger. I think that would provide a fair and balanced fleet within our budgetary constraints. However, in the worst case I fear T26 could be capped at 8 or 9 which with your analysis would only allow for one solus deployable to the Middle East.

I agree on mhpc it’s one for the future and I remain to be convinced that mcm doesn’t need a dedicated class.

Looking forward I would look to replace the fisheries squadron and customs boats with a single class of rn core manned Offshore patrol cutters, in essence a coast guard in all but name. These may also replace the archers though not one for one to give RNR some proper ships.

That is essentially a plan that preserves and slightly enhances current capabilities. For additional capability I would look to a few small off the shelf buys: interdiction type fast attack craft with guns and ashms to provide aggressive UK coastal patrol options in uncertain future times, a few SSKs for Uk waters as ‘insurance’ against a resurgent Russia and some ice strengthened patrol vessels for extended patrol both north and south. Plenty of options out there.

No Lhds, replace Albion And Bulwark in due course with 4 of something smaller that supports strategic raiding rather than full beach assault. Something that can run with the carriers and mix it a bit better. 3 large bay replacements in the RFA would serve as back up for the once in a generation large assault and be more mulitipurpose mother ship types when not needed for assault.

monkey
monkey
December 7, 2013 7:20 pm

I suspect jackstaff is bang on with his fleet size estimation and I think the sea lords have the same opinion but are using the buget as it is to get the big stuff first and remainder @ a later date with any shortfall on a proper task force deployment being fullfilled by an ally in the meantime .I doubt we will ever have to goit ‘alone’ like we did for retaking the Falkland islands .(the ANZACS helped out i believe by letting us keep the flattop we sold them and the use of a brand new frigate we working up for them) . A big target like one of the new QE carriers is going to atttact an awful amount of attention and a T45 & two T26 as escorts will not cut it without a full complement of F35’s to provide CAP.

Challenger
Challenger
December 8, 2013 10:16 am

@mickp & monkey

I think the kind of force levels jackstaff and myself talked about are what the RN could reasonable expect from the budget to adequately perform the tempo of operations they are currently undertaking.

If we see the T26 cut down to 8 ships in 2015 then that will be a substantial problem and I’m sure force the RN and higher decision makers into reevaluating what the services role is and what it can be expected to achieve.

I think the admirals know what they need to protect, essentially the political and financial game they need to play. I am cautiously optimistic that whatever cuts come the armed forces way during the 2015 SDSR they will predominately fall on the Army by cutting back on the equipment budget and basing (dare I say more manpower as well?) and more behind the scenes MOD stuff, hopefully ring-fencing the RN and RAF to some extent. At arms length, low intensity, small footprint, expeditionary and rapid reaction are all concepts that require prioritized naval and air-forces in my view.

Mickp
Mickp
December 8, 2013 5:26 pm

@challenger, I hope so re 2015

Tim Callaghan
Tim Callaghan
January 14, 2014 10:55 pm

Ever since Thatcher, the government’s shocking distaste for the armed forces, and their sweeping cuts has been a disgustingly realised pacifism. There is far too much dependence on the nuclear deterrent to protect us from a big country, and on the soft and invisible powers of diplomacy, intelligence and security.
I agree with this minister that there is a huge need for oceangoing patrol vessels, and littoral combat ships or corvette size or smaller, but certainly not at the expense of crippling the bluewater fleet! They call it rationalising the estate – I don’t know what to call it, but these lawyers and graduate political theorists ought to be kicked out of office immediately. By this I mean the whole current political bunch, I certainly do not want to see a smug toff and smug wet replaced by a smug semi-toffee adenoidal wet!
The need for an OceanPV/LCS is clear. High end destroyers and frigates, trained and capable of fighting a war against Russia or China, are being wasted on sea lane patrol and escort duties, counter-drugs and counter-piracy, and having to be outfitted to counter swarms of small, fast attack craft. These are all roles that can and should be fulfilled by a class of fast, maneuverable, optimally crewed cutters. This is one time to fight fire with a somewhat bigger fire.

Royal Navy LCS/OPV/sea-spec-ops-vessel
Speed: upto 40 knots
Armour: Kevlar/M5 splinter, liquid hardening armour for small arms fire, active armour (both laser and projectile) for RPG’s and guided rockets/missiles – which are becoming more widely available to more deadly and well organised militias. All non-ferrous hull, preferably non-metal such as carbon fibre or glass reinforced plastic.
Propulsion: waterjets, 2 azimuth forward and aft, 2 fixed reversible for quick braking and all this for speed and agility.
Low draft and wide beam with stabilisers and lateral rudders so can operate near shore to support shore and inland operations with VULCANO rounds from the main gun
Armament: 1/2 x 76mm OTO Super Rapid (DART munition is effective anti-air 1-6km range, VULCANO round is highly accurate guided munition with ~40km range), 1 x HEL (anti-air laser, powered by rapid discharge capacitors/batteries for quick bursts of fire), 1/2 x CIWS, up to 7 20/25/30mm guns (put in a mix: 2 aft corners, 2 port midships, 2 aft midships, 1 forward below or on top of the Bridge) with anti-air function as well as surface, 2 Merlin/Lynx/Wildcat OR 1 Seahawk OR 1 Chinook, RORO ramp on aft wall into sea for amphibious ops launch and recovery AND 2 rolling doors port and starboard in the heli hangar with RHIB cranes for rougher sea states, 2 RHIB’s ready to launch, 2-6 kept rolled up with hard parts detached (armed with small calibre GPMG with self-firing capability, 2-4 shot active armour and laser system against guided projectiles, able to submerge up to ~20m for concealed approach, propelled by H-fuel cell for silence with hose snorkel to surface for oxygen, and has relatively zero heat signature, hull material is same as ship’s armour – soft Kevlar pouches of liquid armour so it is deflatable but still useful as small arms fire armour for infil and exfil protection, SBS or Royal M arines would have a similar armour and weapons that, like the super simple AK47, can fire after having been underwater). Numerous UAirV’s, UAmphibiousV’s for shore assault, and UUV’s for torpedoes, mines and spec ops support, especially quads and a smaller sea version of the Predator for aerial overwatch. The forecastle should include a gyromechanically stabilised crow’s nest for RM snipers with anti-material .50cal/20mm rifles, and anti-personnel snipers. Also include self-firing and manual miniguns and GPMG’s about the deck for use against personnel if you don’t want to sink their boat for some spec ops related reason. VLS unnecessary but optional, likely a very small compliment of ASW rocket or missile launched torpedoes as surface missiles or all but unnecessary, as would be Aster’s.
Because the Americans have already taken the first step with the Independence and Freedom classes of LCS, and Scandinavian and Baltic navies have already been using similar ships such as the ; The Royal Navy and their shipbuilders already have a lot of accessibly knowledge and sea trial data about this sort of thing, which saves us R & D money.