Defence for 2015 and Beyond – Part 10 Conclusion

UK

A series of guest posts from AndyC

The UK’s armed forces have shrunk considerably since the end of the Cold War and this sometimes leads to criticism.  However, the nature and strength of the threat to the UK has also declined, by an even greater degree.

This paper argues for a sequential strategy for our defence posture.  First, we must prioritise the defence of the UK itself.  Second, is the security of our remaining sovereign territories.  Third, are our regional international obligations to NATO which also makes the UK itself more secure.  Fourth, is our desire to participate in global intervention in partnership with our allies and only finally comes global intervention by the UK acting alone.

When deciding on our defence posture and capabilities and managing a limited budget this sequential approach should determine where scarce resources are allocated in the 2015 SDSR.

Generally the current defence strategy meets the UK’s aspirations with the exception of a notable gap in anti-shipping and anti-submarine air power needed to protect our shipping lanes.  As this is a necessary part of the defence of the UK itself it should therefore warrant the highest priority.  It would also increase the security of any carrier group operating within 2,500 miles (and further with refuelling) of an RAF air base.

In conclusion, this report recommends the SDSR consider a number of changes to enhance our current defence capabilities, confirm current orders for procurement, propose areas for future development and outlines six major Options based on alternative financial scenarios.

1. Enhancing Our Current Defence Capability.

  • The Army should develop plans to maintain currently surplus Challenger 2 main battle tanks in storage for use by four Cavalry Regiments in the Adaptable Force
  • upgrade the Apache attack helicopter, potentially with the Brimstone 2 anti-armour missile
  • update the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle and
  • maintain any surplus Jackal, Mastiff, Foxhound and Husky vehicles in storage.
  • The Royal Navy should ensure that Merlin and Wildcat maritime helicopters can operate effectively in both an anti-submarine and anti-shipping role with dipping sonar, sonobuoys, torpedoes, FASGW/ANL and LMM.
  • The RAF should upgrade its Hawk T2s to operate Meteor BVRAAMs
  • store remaining Tornado GR4s at the USAF’s boneyard Air Force Base
  • merge smaller squadrons to save on management costs and
  • centralise its helicopter transport fleet.

2. Procurement Orders.

  • The Army should equip its Wildcat helicopters with LMM or Brimstone 2
  • introduce the Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to improve battlefield ISTAR and
  • the CAMM-L short-range SAM.
  • The Royal Navy will introduce two QE class aircraft carriers
  • fit the Sea Ceptor short-range SAM to frigates and destroyers
  • order three new patrol ships capable of operating helicopters and
  • receive its remaining Astute class attack submarines.
  • The RAF will receive its final tranche of Eurofighter Typhoons
  • 48 F-35B Lightning IIs
  • order a new long-range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, probably the P-8 Poseidon or Kawasaki P1
  • replace its remaining Hawk T1s with Meteor capable T2s
  • introduce the Meteor Beyond Visual Range AAM for the Typhoon, F-35B and Hawk T2
  • Brimstone 2 anti-armour missile for the Typhoon and Reaper UCAV
  • SPEAR medium-range cruise missile for the F-35B and
  • Joint Strike Missile for the F-35B, Typhoon and Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

3. Development Projects.

  • The Army will assess the effectiveness of the Fire Shadow loitering missile.
  • The Royal Navy will continue development of the Type 26 frigate and investigate the possibility of replacing its gun with Aster 30 SAMs to create a dedicated escort frigate
  • upgrade the Aster 30 long-range SAM for an ABM role and
  • start development of a replacement for the 15 Hunt and Sandown class minehunters.
  • The RAF will develop an Extended Range version of Storm Shadow
  • a more manoeuvrable version of ASRAAM to help with intercepting air-to-air missiles
  • evaluate the effectiveness of the Triton UAV and
  • continue development of a long-range stealth Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle.

 

Six Options

SDSR Option 1
British Army Maintain 24 Lynx AH9 or order 20 Reaper UCAV or 18 Apache AH and fully deploy the Scout SV and an infantry Utility Vehicle
Royal Navy Actively operate 2 QE class aircraft carriers
RAF Operate 15.66 combat squadrons at maximum operational effectiveness

Additional procurement includes 20 Reaper UCAVs or 18 Apache attack helicopters plus 600 Scout SVs, 1,700 UVs, 54 F-35Bs, 36 F-35As and 8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.  This Option would require either an increase in the defence budget, the Trident successor programme to be directly funded by the Treasury or for the future nuclear deterrent to be scaled down from its current level.

 

SDSR Option 2
British Army Fully deploy the Scout SV and an infantry UV
Royal Navy Actively operate 1 QE carrier and 1 helicopter carrier.  Mothball 2nd QE carrier
RAF Operate 15.66 combat squadrons with less spent on procurement

Additional procurement totals 600 Scout SVs, 1,700 UVs, 54 F-35Bs and 8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.  This Option provides the most capable combination of naval and air assets that are likely to be affordable within something similar to the current defence budget.

 

SDSR Option 3
British Army Fully deploy the Scout SV but only partially deploy the UV
Royal Navy Actively operate 1 QE carrier and 1 helicopter carrier.  Sell 2nd QE carrier.
RAF Operate 14.66 combat squadrons

Additional procurement totals 600 Scout SVs, 1,000 UVs, 35 F-35Bs and 8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.  This Option assumes that a buyer can be found for the 2nd QE class aircraft carrier.

 

SDSR Option 4
British Army Partially deploy both the Scout SV and UV
Royal Navy Actively operate 1 QE carrier.  Mothball 2nd QE carrier
RAF Operate 14.66 combat squadrons

Additional procurement totals 250 Scout SVs, 1,000 UVs, 54 F-35Bs and 8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.  This Option is the cheapest way of operating without selling the 2nd QE class aircraft carrier.

 

SDSR Option 5
British Army Retire 3 Infantry Battalions and partially deploy the Scout SV and UV
Royal Navy Actively operate 1 QE carrier.  Sell 2nd QE carrier
RAF Operate 13.66 combat squadrons

Additional procurement totals 250 Scout SVs, 850 UVs, 35 F-35Bs and 8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.  This Option assumes a small further cut in the defence budget.

 

SDSR Option 6
British Army Retire total of 6 Infantry Battalions and partially deploy the Scout SV and UV
Royal Navy Actively operate 1 QE carrier.  Sell 2nd QE carrier and 3 destroyers/frigates
RAF Operate 13.66 combat squadrons

Additional procurement totals 250 Scout SVs, 700 UVs and 16 Maritime Patrol Aircraft.  This Option assumes a larger cut in the defence budget.

 

The rest of the series

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Defence of the United Kingdom

Part 3 – Other Sovereign Territories

Part 4 – NATO

Part 5 – A Southern or Middle Eastern Threat

Part 6 – An Eastern and Northern Threat

Part 7 – Global Intervention

Part 8 – British Army 2025

Part 9 – Royal Navy 2025

Part 10 – Royal Air Force 2025

Part 11 – Conclusion

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