Light Duties

Things have been a slow going around here lately but I have not been slacking, honest.

Have decided to wade into the Think Defence Archive and tag, add images and generally clean up the 2,435 posts and articles that reside there.

At about the halfway point now.

Tags are an invaluable means of collecting articles together with a common theme, you can view them on the Site Hub, click here

The end result will be a more logical and cleaner set of tags that can be used for accessing archive content, built up since February 2009.

Also, whilst having this blogging pause I will also be sorting out all my research notes, books, links and images so I can get on top of the more in depth articles that are currently blocking the pipeline.

The list is as follows;

SDSR 2015

Although I and other contributors have written a handful of articles this will be a multi part series that looks at the (admittedly limited) options and possible decisions in the forthcoming post election SDSR in 2015/6

The Urbanised Battle Space

Increasing urbanisation is an obvious future trend and whilst the ‘dark spaces’ will still be a common operational environment there is no doubt that urban and littoral environments present a number of extremely difficult challenges for dismounted combat operations, communications, logistics, intelligence and vehicle design.

Security, Interdiction and Maritime Support System

SIMSS was a look at a way of leveraging the offshore hydrocarbon market design and manufacturing capabilities to create a class of vessels that can carry out numerous non warlike requirements and support a forward engagement strategy for UK naval forces. This series will be a revisit, updating the concept and design proposals.

Expeditionary Airfields and Airdrop Logistics

Much like the ship to shore logistics series, this will look at requirements, historical examples and future options for expeditionary air operations into existing and austere locations, airborne logistics and airborne forces.

Complex Weapons – SPEAR 3, Meteor and Paveway IV

Finishing off the series that has already looked at Sea Skua/FASGW(H), FASGW(L), Brimstone and CAMM.

Long Range Rockets and Missiles

GMLRS, Tomahawk and Storm Shadow are in service rockets and missiles whose future development poses some challenging questions for all three services where an improvement in one might negate the need for spending in other areas. We have recently discussed the impact of precision guided munitions on traditional artillery and this series will explore launch platform diversity and a few off the wall concepts like the much fabled ‘transport bomber’

Pallets, Boxes and Containers

It is about time I gathered the numerous posts on containers, pallets and boxes into a single series, the very essence of logistics!


From carrier pigeons in the trenches of France, camels in the desert to military working dogs in Afghanistan, a look at the role of animals in military operations.

Satellites and High Altitude Platforms

Whether for communications, navigation or intelligence gathering, satellites have transformed modern military operations and developments in semi disposable micro satellites and ultra long endurance high altitude platforms will deliver another step change in capability.

Upstream Engagement in the Air

SDSR 2010 signalled a shift to a greater focus on conflict prevention, the Army and Royal Navy have started (even though they have been doing it for decades) shifting to this position but the Royal Air Force are structurally hampered by the current air environment that means ‘cheap and simple’ for local forces is not available by adapting existing equipment. This will examine the options for the RAF to play a greater role in conflict prevention and building partnerships with local forces where the obvious ‘lets sell typhoons’ agenda is not present.

Unmanned Logistics

In all three environments, the promise of reducing manpower through the use of unmanned systems is currently in the early stages, not fully realised but showing promise. Can the UK afford to jump on the unmanned logistics band wagon, can it not?

Sensor Pods and the Aircraft – Sensor Divorce

Although the F35 will feature a highly integrated sensor system other manned and unmanned aircraft will be able to utilise increasingly flexible, open architecture and low cost podded systems than can develop at a much faster pace than the aircraft that carry the, payloads not platforms in the airborne environment.

Optionally Manned, and Manned ISTAR

Whilst the world has gone unmanned crazy the idea that they should be low cost seems to have got lost somewhere on the journey. Manned systems still have a part to play and in many circumstances can operate at lower costs, optionally manned aircraft also offer an interesting approach to airspace restriction issues.

Stealth, Deception or Brute Force

Attack aircraft need to be stealthier to avoid detection and attack by low cost surface to air missiles but this means in the economic battle of increasingly expensive aircraft versus increasingly cheap anti aircraft missiles there comes a point where the numbers start to look crazy. Is there another option that tries to reverse the economic argument or simply overwhelm defending forces with swarms of cheap unmanned decoys?


Building fortifications is as old a concept as war, from Roman forts, to Marshal Vauban to Hesco, a look at field fortification.


I know I wrote a 20 part series on UK military bridging but I have loads more material I want to expand on. I might also include non UK military bridging.

Geo Intelligence and Massive Data

Massive data sets are everywhere, collecting and generating more is easy. The real challenge is turning data into intelligence that supports decision making. We are all increasingly connected, the levels of mobile data penetration in developing nations is staggering and getting a grip of data, putting it into a geospatial context (did I really just say that!) will be a vital future capability.

Poop and Power

Expeditionary operations face big problems with fuel consumption and getting rid of waste, perhaps the two challenges are related.

Submarine Rescue

A look at what happens if you are stranded in a tin fish.

European Defence

Will Europe ever reduce duplication or will the combined budgets of European nations continue to be wasted. or, is increasing integration a fast track to military irrelevance and increasing Russian aggression?

The MoD’s Research Projects

The research focus a few years ago was heavily focussed towards dismounted close combat and operations in Afghanistan, that has now changed, what is the MoD spendings its very scarce, and decreasing, funding budget on.


Maybe not fully detailed journal posts but still interesting subjects; Overseas Regiments, Alliances and Partnerships, Electronic Warfare, The Rise of the Mini Frigate, Supporting our Allies in Africa, especially France, Data links, Why the US Navy Should Buy Type 26 Frigates, What Capabilities does France Have we don’t (and vice versa), The Five Powers, Lasers in the Land Battlespace, 100 Group Bomber Command, Whatever happened to…, St Helena and the Atlantic Region, Camouflage, Arctic and Antarctic UK Defence Issues, The UK’s Helicopter Fleet in 2020 and beyond and Changing Public Perceptions of the Armed Forces

As ever, volunteers always welcome :)



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Chris Werb
Chris Werb
March 28, 2014 9:37 pm

It’s an excellent list of subjects/discussions. My only tiny nitpick is that I wasn’t aware that surface to air missiles were getting cheaper. The latest US Standard Missile variant, the SM-6, comes in at $4.6M a pop IIRC. I would assume that less capable missiles are also increasing in price as presumably they’re not exempt from the usual defence inflation.

James Bolivar DiGriz
James Bolivar DiGriz
March 29, 2014 3:17 pm
Reply to  Chris Werb

In the context, I took cheaper to be relative to aircraft rather than an absolute reduction in cost.

USD4.6 million is for a very modern long range (130nm) missile. For the SM-2 (
RIM-156) with a 100nm range Wikipedia lists a price of USD409,000 and there may be Russian / Chinese / Indian / etc missiles that a cheaper still.

Compare that to an F-22 (USD250 million?), F-35 (USD200 million?), Typhoon (GBP65 million?) and the missiles do not seem too expensive.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
March 29, 2014 4:24 pm

Boss – busy in April then – planning a spring break in May I take it? :-)

The Other Chris
March 29, 2014 7:37 pm

Looking forward to these :)

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
March 30, 2014 3:26 pm

No, not at all, but where is the evidence that missiles are bucking the trend and getting cheaper – even relative to the price of the likes of the three aircraft you listed? For example, back in 1982, Sea Darts cost around £40K a pop and Rapiers £25K (this was from the answer to a commons question at the time). that strikes me as insanely cheap by today’s standards, but then I would guess that combat aircraft were back then too.