Does anyone still know how much an F35 will cost?

This is another one of those ‘one from the archive’ posts.

In April 2009 I asked the question;

FireShot Screen Capture #003 - 'Does Anyone Know How Much a JCA Will Cost_ - Think Defence' - www_thinkdefence_co_uk_2009_04_does-anyone-know-how-much-a-jca-will-cost

 

The points I raised in this 2009 post were;

  • Complex major projects like the F35 have a tendency to be more expensive, arrive late and not fall short of the promised capability so unless the scale of these three factors becomes so overwhelming we should almost expect and not worry about them.
  • That the cost will dictate the final purchased quantities, obvious I know
  • The F35B was by far the most pragmatic choice for the UK
  • Industrial concerns will drive many decisions on equipment capabilities and quantities
  • The likely numbers will be in the 50 ballpark
  • For the stretched armed forces, it is not brilliant value for money

So looking back, were those points valid?

I think most of them still hold true although I think the value for money might be OK for the MoD, the bargain of the century for the nation and rather bad news for the the future of defence aerospace in the UK.

Unless we get onto the FCAS road with some vigour the strategically valuable defence aerospace industry in the UK will be under threat (the same defence aerospace industry that makes a fortune for the UK)

The programme continues to mature but the original goal of being low cost seems increasingly out of reach. As long as we maintain balance across all three services I don’t think the F35 is the disaster it is often claimed to be.

I was then, and remain, a cautious optimist.

To answer the main question, we don’t know and won’t know until the NAO updates its Major Projects report, and even then, expect the unit cost to be shrouded in ‘commercially sensitive’ caveats.

 

 

 

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Ian Hall
Ian Hall
August 8, 2014 7:00 am

I don’t know how much its going to cost, but I have to give it 10/10 for it’s stealth appearance at the Farnborough Airshow. I spent hours watching out for it and never saw it once.
Sneaky

Chuck
Chuck
August 8, 2014 7:35 am

I think we can all agree it’s going to be a bloody fortune. Should of gone with cat’s and traps.

Decent write up here; https://medium.com/war-is-boring/how-much-does-an-f-35-actually-cost-21f95d239398 Rather than listening to Lockheed just tallying up how much the USG has to give them before the bird shows up. Pretty grim reading.

TL:DR; prices are STILL climbing and the B with an engine could cost upwards of £155mil each. Joy of Joys.

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 8, 2014 7:52 am

Forecast costs depend on the production batch. Early batches = mountains of gold, declining steadily as production gets into swing.

The Other Chris
August 8, 2014 8:10 am

@Chuck

Please clarify your position on rising costs. Do you mean for the US or for the UK?

Keep in mind that from a US perspective LM/P&W are now covering 100% of program cost overruns and 50% of costs due to concurrency.

These rises will still be listed in the audit reports for F-35 opponents to tighten their tin foil hats about, however the US taxpayer is now only forking out for the other 50% of concurrency costs.

For the UK perspective we’re looking at the prospect of falling aircraft costs in each production batch with no (current) reports of UK program cost increases.

Chuck
Chuck
August 8, 2014 8:21 am

@TOC: The math is simply; money provided per batch divided by number delivered per batch. Simple as.

It’s the US price and I can’t see us getting it lower than that. Seeing as we’re now absolutely reliant on it and they know it. Our only other option is to spend a few billion cutting up our shiny new carrier.

monkey
monkey
August 8, 2014 8:47 am

From the BBC in Feb this year.
“There is concern in the MoD that observers will simply divide the approximate £2.5bn cost of this stage of the project by the 14 planes being ordered, whereas this price tag includes certain support costs for the entire, eventual UK fleet.” That would equate to £178.5m including the ‘support costs’ however not knowing what is being supplied means it cannot be stripped away. I think in some ways its a good thing we have opted for the F35B variant as this is the USMC’s choice and they want it in service by mid 2015 , and you do not want to annoy a Marine general.

Hohum
Hohum
August 8, 2014 8:54 am

People who say F-35 is not value for money for the UK are people who don’t know how much modern combat aircraft cost and people who don’t understand what and F-35 is and what it can do. It’s a tiresome debate and one that becomes ever less relevant as the programme reaches maturity.

The Other Chris
August 8, 2014 8:58 am

Had a long debate on the following TD thread about US vs UK airframe and program costs. Recommend reading through it as I don’t want to clog up this thread by repeating details.

Bottom line is the UK costs are not the same as the US costs, and there’s a lot of FUD being spread:

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/07/f35-dogfight/

If we’re going to argue for or against the F-35 do it in the right context.

The Other Chris
August 8, 2014 9:06 am

@TD

You’re looking closer to your 50 units rather than 138 at the moment! I still think we’ll purchase closer to the 138 over the fleet lifetime ultimately.

If you support Zambellas’ position in his recent talk, there’s a stronger case for an all B model fleet rather than an A/B mix in order to maximise investment in the Carriers and supporting fleet.

A Bravo fleet doesn’t hamstring the RAF whereas an Alpha/Bravo split hamstrings the RN.

Steve
Steve
August 8, 2014 9:11 am

As I recall the Typhoon costs more than the F-35 and was delayed at least as long in coming into service, yet there has been much less hand-wringing about that aircraft.

Chuck
Chuck
August 8, 2014 9:53 am

Tranche 3A is £75mil off the production line. Closer to £115mil if you include all the sunk costs(total UK development and manufacture cost(18.1bn)/total UK order(160)).

Still less than F35 in cost per at the moment, but the programs are at very different stages so it’s hardly a fair comparison. Less hand wringing? Hardly, it was very nearly cancelled a couple of times. Just that we’re past it at this point.

Not really relevant as we can’t fly it off a QE.

WiseApe
August 8, 2014 4:09 pm

@Chuck – “Tranche 3A is £75mil off the production line” – I presume that’s “fitted for but not with” AESA, CFTs, Meteor, Storm Shadow, Brimstone…..

18 billion quid for 232 jets (originally planned) not one of which could fly off/on the planned new carriers. Jointiness at its best. Have we learned our lesson I wonder?

Mark
Mark
August 8, 2014 5:13 pm

Page 26 of the nao report should answer your questions on typhoon WiseApe.

http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/1011755.pdf

Can’t wait to see the f35 equivalent. On jointness can’t think that anyone in any of the three uk services saw the need for conventional fixed wing carrier operations in 1987 when typhoon development was conceived some will argue there need even today.

mrg
mrg
August 8, 2014 5:28 pm

@ hohum
Value for money is a concept that is difficult to apply to frontline jets. The plane was for a long time bring plugged as cheaper to operate than current gen.3 or 4 fighters. The general consensus is that it will cost more to operate than its contemporaries.
The design, of necessity, includes several compromises due to the importance of LO. Do you know how the LO will be after 10 years service? Will those compromises be seen to have been worth it?
Let’s ignore completely the advances that will surely be made in the areas of detection in all spectrums as well as missile development that may well render most LO attempts futile.
I’ll wager that if and when the poo hits the fan it’ll be Typhoons- launching Storm Shadow to knock out enemy AD- that will fire the first shots.
I remain to be convinced that the F-35 will usher in some transformational aerial doctrine.
That’ll be Son of Taranis launching Son of Storm Shadow.

PhilEeeeeee
PhilEeeeeee
August 8, 2014 5:42 pm

@Steve – I certainly recall quite a bit of media flurry around the Eurofighter being designed with Cold-War-era requirements in mind and not taking into account the modern demands.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2003/06_june/24/ou_eurofighter.shtml

I think the F-35 will be a revolution that the US military has needed for quite some time. The vast variety of air frames in operation in the US has been a growing problem for the last 3 decades, and whilst they are all capable aircraft they are all expensive to maintain as separate airframes. When you look at the long, long list of airframes it will replace (both in the US and globally) the cost is entirely justified IMO.

However, whilst I think the F-35 will bring the capability that the UK needs, I think we could have achieved it sooner and cheaper with a CATOBAR carrier and F/A-18 Super Hornets or a naval Typhoon. Yes I think Britain with our international interests needs a carrier-bourne fast-jet capability, but I don’t believe it needs to be at the capability of the F-35.

WiseApe
August 8, 2014 6:02 pm

@Mark – Thanks for that but does that 8 billion include the costs I mentioned (e.g. AESA upgrades)?

@PhilEetc – “…or a naval Typhoon” – There is one; unfortunately it’s called Rafale.

mrg
mrg
August 8, 2014 6:05 pm

@ PhilEeeeeee.
Is the list that long, long?
F16- USA, Europe, Turkey, Israel and Japanese equivalent
F/A18 USA, Canada, Australia and Europe (if Finland buys)
Harrier- USA, UK and perhaps Spain
F4- Japan, Turkey and Israel
So which types have I left out?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 8, 2014 6:36 pm

“The vast variety of air frames in operation in the US has been a growing problem for the last 3 decades, and whilst they are all capable aircraft they are all expensive to maintain as separate airframes.”

Growing problem my @rse. The number of types of airframe in US service has shrunk dramatically in the last 20 years. Only 15 years or so ago your average CVW had F14, F18, A6, S3, EA6, E2 and SH60. Now it’s essentially all F18 of various flavours, E2 and SH60.

USAF were running F15A-E, RF4, F4G, F16, F111, EF111, A10, A7 round about the mid90s. Since the turn of the century they’re down to an F15C/D, F15E, F16C/D and A10 mix.

F35 is removing different types all right, but that was an ongoing process, not a growing problem.

Mark
Mark
August 8, 2014 7:24 pm

WiseApe

It covers planned spending to its notional osd of 2030 on the capability to meet uk requirements.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
August 8, 2014 9:20 pm

@ The Other Chris

That is really good news, that the UK cost is not as exposed as the US cost, and certainly alleviates one of my main worries about it.

I am still a bit skeptical about the number of enemies we will have who (a) have a radar network that can threaten us at all, but who (b) lack anti-stealth capabilities able to minimise the stealth advantages of the F-35. That is, I doubt we would need stealth vs. generic African foe, and I doubt we would have stealth vs. China, Russia, France, etc. There is a sweet spot in between, but I’m not sure how big it is.
But at least it will be on our carrier aircraft, which is the one place where we are most constrained by the number of aircraft, and where each aircraft needs to get every advantage it can get.

138 required, divided by 2, gives 69, so I guess that is how many we will actually get. (Speak loudly and carry a small stick, and all that.)

Opinion3
Opinion3
August 8, 2014 10:49 pm

Lockmart Inc no doubt thinks the F35 is the best thing this side of a ARC-170 Starfighter and it’s sales bumf will say so. It does have the right to use the word ‘Integrated’ IMHO, as so much of our scarce budget has been spent on platforms that have very little integrated. It makes comparisons difficult to work with.

I am grateful ‘we fit for ….’ but the MOD has placed the frontline RAF/RN fleet at some significant risk with the “but not with”. To me the Typhoon upgrades seem expensive but worse still, to progress at a snails pace.

If the F35 is more expensive then a good chunk of the premium is for integration already provided and the comparative speed of development compared to Bae’s / HMG’s offerings. Which are frankly woeful.

caveer
caveer
August 9, 2014 5:29 am

All the alternatives to the F-35 cost as much as the F-35. No way around it.

mrg
mrg
August 9, 2014 10:16 am

@ caveer
We know pretty much down to the last £, $ or € how much the competitors cost- all costs included. We know very little about the all-up cost of the F-35.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
August 9, 2014 11:06 am

@ caveer
The alternatives to the F-35 are:
A: f-16 f-18 f-15 typhoon rafale grippen
B: none
C: f-18 rafale

The USN specifically is now planning on a mix of super hornet and F-35 *as an alternative to an all F-35 fleet* specifically because it is a cheaper alternative.

The Other Chris
August 9, 2014 11:14 am

Growler’s are being purchased in very small numbers by the USN who are purchasing them as an interim while F-35C is rolled out.

They’d be foolish not to use the threat of further purchase to pressure the F-35 program however the volumes aren’t sufficient at present. You’d need a further order beyond those approved to start thinking the USN are ditching the C model.

Note that EW information is not detailed in the commonly available F-35 Block details other than the hardware is in place as the capability is largely classified.

El Sid
El Sid
August 9, 2014 2:28 pm

@Mike Wheatley
The USN never intended to replace F/A-18E/F with F-35C – they work on replacing half their fleet at a time.

So the Tomcats were replaced by F/A-18E/F, and the F/A-18C/D are getting replaced by F-35C. In turn the F/A-18E/F will get replaced by NGAD (formerly F/A-XX). NGAD could be a F-35 derivative but it looks like it will have more in common with the USAF’s F-X Raptor replacement – subject to budget anyway. That makes sense given that air-to-air is more of a priority now that the USN has a credible peer enemy again, and reflects the heritage of that “Tomcat” half of the USN fleet.

Although the general public get carried away by the “stealth fighter” marketing, it’s worth noting that insiders get far more excited about the avionics/EW/EA/sensor capabilities of the F-35 than its LO-ness. But that’s the stuff that is most classified and hardest to explain.

Those few extra Growlers are really little more than some corporate welfare/porkbarreling by a Pentagon that’s suddenly realised that it might be quite a good idea to keep LM on their toes and that things are looking rather bleak for the ex-MD fighter business unless they get F-X or NGAD.

nick
nick
August 9, 2014 4:01 pm

The actual per unit cost the US Gov’t is paying for a 2015 F-35B is $251 million / 1.65 =£152 million (The 2015 Congressional Defence Committee and DOD Recommendation for F-35 Procurement). No support, spares etc., and excludes research, development & test.

Assuming 33.3% cost per aircraft (realistic ?) for support equipment and spares would give $335 million / 1.65 = £203 million per each aircraft. If we procured the original number of 138, total £28 billion plus the ongoing R&D plus mods.

The higher production numbers in future might reduce the overheads / price, but past experience does not make one optimistic.

Source
https://medium.com/war-is-boring/how-much-does-an-f-35-actually-cost-21f95d239398

The Other Chris
August 9, 2014 4:03 pm

@nick

Please see the link in my comment above.

Nick
Nick
August 10, 2014 6:20 am

TOC

How interesting someone used the same name as me, bar the Capital N. Perhaps I should become TON now…

The Other Chris
August 10, 2014 6:51 am

Heh heh, i’m sure we can handle case sensitivity :)

Nick
Nick
August 10, 2014 7:57 am

The question on how much each F35 B will cost us remains completely open I think. I think the absolute minimum cost per aircraft will be LM and P&W actual build cost plus whatever margin per aircraft they are allowed. Although its shrouded in fog right now, it does seem that both lead manufacturers are assuming that considerable savings can be made on current actual cost due to mass production. I don’t think anyone, including LM and P&W actually know just how much saving can be achieved just yet.

I can’t see why the US should subsidise the UK or other exporter by agreeing to a fixed unit price based on LM/P&W cost projections, which might not be realized UNLESS LM/P&W agree to take any loss between the fixed future price and actual manufacturing cost. Given the nature of the industry and technology I doubt LM or P&W would want to bet the Company by committing to a fixed manufacturing cost number in 2018 (say) today, especially since today’s cost seems to by at least 30 % higher than it needs to be to hit $80 million fly away cost implicit in their project cost forecast.

Naturally this is not the total project cost ….

Give or take post 2020, it seems the F35 is going to be the only game in town unless you want to buy Russian/Indian/Chinese unless the Typhoon/Rafale and F16/F18 get considerable new sales. Keeping the French Rafale and a European Typhoon line open past 2020 without new orders is going to require a significant political subsidy. Given recent history, I doubt we’ll see much of the F22 replacement this side of 2030.

Peter Elliott
August 12, 2014 8:17 pm

Thinking obliquely about the question of range enhancements for F35B it looks like whoever wants addtional fuel tanks will have to pay for them. But with that comes the opportunity to influence the design.

Clean configuration will be most important in the CAP mission, so the aim will be to carry as many munitions as possible internally. Extended range isn’t so critical for this mission so you probably don’t want to spoil your stealth with external drop tanks.

For the Strike mission you are talking about large missiles like Storm Shadow or maybe JSM. But our model of F35 has the reduced size internal bomb bay and we will have to carry such big misiles externally. For this mission the extended range brought by auxiliary fuel stores could come in very handy. But the best external hardpoints are probably already taken. So why not design the auviliary fuel tank to fit inside the otherwise empty bomb bay?

[Waiting to be shot down by aerospace professionals. Maybe there’s no plumbing. Or no route for the plumbing. Or it would be bound to explode. Or something….]

Mark
Mark
August 12, 2014 8:39 pm

Storm shadow is an external carriage what ever variant you buy, question would be why would you carry such weapons on a low observable platform. You buy these things to fly a f117 type sortie with 2 pave way 4 internal or multiple smaller munitions. I wouldn’t want to be seeing an f35 flying anything other than clean wing 90+ percent of the time. Storm shadow on f35 is a decade away so not much of a concern at present.

Only 2 external plumbed pylons on the wings but no one requested tanks because if range benefits are as has been quoted then there prob more trouble than there worth. These aircraft are pretty long ranged anyway. Proper AAR is and will always be vital enablers for tactical aircraft.

Peter Elliott
August 12, 2014 8:54 pm

Thanks Mark

Do you know if JSM is going to be internal carriage for the B? I’m not so sure it is.

Peter Elliott
August 12, 2014 9:03 pm

Also I suppose that if our Surface Combat Ships all end up with strike length VLS for TLAM the need for Carrier launched F35B to carry Storm Shadow becomes much less pressing. As you say they can follow the missiles in clean with Paveway.

Putting 50 or so TLAM down range from a Task Group is a significantly different prosposition to the slack handful we can currently manage from a single deployed SSN.

Mark
Mark
August 12, 2014 9:06 pm

Sorry peter I don’t know if it can or not.

The Other Chris
August 12, 2014 9:10 pm

JSM will be external carriage if the integration work is carried out for pylons, Kongsberg have only announced internal carriage on the A and C.

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 6:54 am

Can someone explain how we would combat an enemy ship please.

A mock situation is that we’re floated out fleet up to Mr Baddie and he has a single Tico type destroyer 50% full of SM2 equivalent and 50% full of Harpoon equivalent. He launches all the Harpoon (60 or so) in a single salvo at our carrier group.

Can Storm Shadow target moving vessels?

Observer
Observer
August 13, 2014 8:17 am

Simon, maybe NaB/APATs can shed more light on this, but I severely doubt anyone can control 60 weapons at once. Think you only got 1 or 2 weapons officers for that particular board. More often you get double taps or quad shots and repeat if necessary. There is also the fact that you are firing at long range at moving targets, so unless you correct the missile flight path, there is a high chance you’ll end up shooting empty air.

For example, and this is super simplistic as NaB and APATs will tell you, you shoot a target 80km away. Using a very generous Mach 1 for the missile, that is about 1km every 3 seconds. Which means that the weapon will reach the target in 4 minutes. Assuming a modest 20 knots, the target will be about 2.5 km from when you fired the shot. This can be corrected by aiming at where the ship is going to be, but the target is going to have 4 minutes to react and move away, assuming that the weapon is detected at launch. Basically, this means that any accurate weapon needs to be guided in flight to correct for where the target is going to be, and to set up for the kill. IIRC, the “book” calls for 2 rounds coming in at 90 degrees to each other so that the target can’t turn to set up a minimum profile for the attack. There used to be something called a “pop-up” attack too but that has been out of favour in recent years.

The experts should be able to tell you more, my info was from one of my Sunday School teachers who was the captain of a missile gunboat, and that was in the 1980s.

The Other Chris
August 13, 2014 8:24 am

Interesting to note Kongsberg beliefs on subsonic vs supersonic anti-ship missiles.

They believe in “smart” rather than “fast” with the bullet points in the pro-subsonic missile column being:

# Allows passive sensors to be used
# The missile can perform more severe manoeuvres on terminal approach
# Enables missile to skim lower, reducing detection time

They also discuss air breathing engines typically providing greater range in a smaller package as well as allowing power to be applied throughout flight rather than a boost and glide concept.

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 8:41 am

Observer,

Thanks. I was rather hoping for an answer on how to kill the ship rather than the fact that my situation was as unrealistic as ever ;-)

Perhaps I should have an AWACS at 400km too which can update the missile courses. Alternatively I’ll write some code for the missile to go ballistic and hunt the target within a particular “box”.

The point in the situation is/was to make the enemy ship a true threat.

Observer
Observer
August 13, 2014 9:45 am

Simon, I can think of a few, and not much to do with tech! :)

Hit them at 0600 hours when they are half asleep and near the end of their shift, or at 1800, when they might be going off shift for dinner.
Hit them in a crowded sea lane while the radar is seriously cluttered with returns.
Hit them in narrow straits where their room to maneuver is limited.

I’m not sure about sea state, I wonder if high waves can interfere with missile detection via increased “ground” clutter. You’ll have to ask the other 2 on that.

Random
Random
August 13, 2014 10:07 am

@Observer I think he means what weapon

Observer
Observer
August 13, 2014 10:53 am

Random, that is what I mean when I say “not much to do with tech”!

There is no wunder weapon that can give you a sure kill, most of this kind of warfare is a sparring match where skill and luck counts for a lot and setting up the stage makes a lot of difference.

El Sid
El Sid
August 13, 2014 11:20 am

@Simon
The main “heavy” anti-ship weapon of any serious navy is the submarine. Just look at recent history – what sank the Cheonan and the Belgrano? Mines/swarms etc are also good albeit in coastal waters – Samuel B. Roberts and Cole. Missiles really haven’t achieved much against proper warships since the Cold War – the only example that comes to mind is Hamas bending a crane on the Hanit when its systems were turned off. Lynx and Sea Skua are great for clearing out FACs though, and of course Exocet works against non-sea-skimmer-capable SAMs (Stark, Falklands).

Otherwise – yes, a Tico-type ship is a horrible thing to have to attack – good job there aren’t many of them outside the US. Yes there’s an element of the AESA/VLS combo being like the machine gun in WWI, it tilts the balance in favour of the defence even if it’s not invulnerable, making war more of a stalemate. If you were attacking it by air, the emphasis would be on all forms of electronic warfare – MALD-type decoys, jamming, electronic attack – and getting lots of small, fast missiles to mission kill the radar/comms rather than trying to sink it outright from the start. Without a radar and CEC/Link receivers they are stuffed, it’s a lot easier to kill those than a whole ship. Hence SPEAR 3 and Bright Adder and the EA capabilities of the F-35.

But the costs of the UK seriously gearing itself up for that kind of attack on Russia or China are probably not worth it given the likelihood of it being necessary, it’ll be Astutes or nothing.

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 11:40 am

El Sid,

Thanks. I had a feeling the answer would be an SSN. Shame we have so few.

Where I was really going with this is that any nation that wants to create that stalemate/blockade can do so with only a smallish investment, say $3-4b. The daft thing is that we don’t. We have no ability to cause concern with anything other than an entire CBG… and only really that if Storm Shadow can target a moving ship.

Simply put, we have a single tooth (one SSN) that can’t be in more than one place at a time.

I can see RT’s angle in that perhaps the carriers aren’t such a good idea and we should invest heavier in subs… at least they can do some damage and scare the bejesus out of any wouldbe attacker.

The Other Chris
August 13, 2014 11:41 am

Bright Adder still progressing?

Observer
Observer
August 13, 2014 11:54 am

Think either APATs or NaB once described “coursing” tactics in anti-ship operations, where a group of ships rotate in keeping pressure on the enemy until fatigue sets in and people start making mistakes and the constant fire lets some lucky shots in and degrades the enemy’s capabilities until the coup de grace.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 13, 2014 12:02 pm

The thing I love most about scenarios like simon are that they make the assumption that we would simply ignore such a threat. Also that a simple investment of $3-4 billion is easy for most countries. They would have to design and build the Ship, or get an established builder to do it for them and then they would have to train the ships company to operate it.

El Sid is correct we are not gearing up to attack russia and china and no potentially hostile nation possesses the sort of capability you describe. if they did and presented a threat then we would have to honour that threat but that would not be particularly difficult given he only has one vessel.
For starters he has to find you and get within range of his missiles, he has 1 ship and a helo you have a CBG, you dominate out past 200Nm he has an RMP out to 40Nm if he is very very good. So quite simply you locate him, track him and using either something like JSM from an F35 or torp from an SSN you kill him before he has even tracked you never mind got anywhere close to his kill line.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 13, 2014 12:05 pm

You are assuming your red DD/FF can detect, ID and target your carrier group, presumably from OTH. That’s not easy, even from your pretend AWACS, which can be harassed, jammed, spoofed or just killed depending on your RoE.

In terms of killing the ship, we used to have a policy of marking the Kynda or Kresta and depending on the RoE it all gets a bit hairy quite quickly. Of course you can mark with a sub as well, but that ties up that asset.

If we’re attacking from elsewhere there are a number of missiles I can think of that might do, particularly with the right EW support. SPY1/SM2 is very good, but doesn’t necessarily cover every threat in the envelope. Designed to kill clouds of SSN12, SSN19, AS4 and AS6 in a co-ordinated attack, which are all big, launched from a long way away, generally radar guided, supersonic and mostly high flying.

You’re also making the erroneous assumption that if someone we were at all likely to slap decided to invest $3-4B in the capability you describe, we wouldn’t necessarily add to our own capabilities.

The problem with SSN is that they can’t defend other ships well and they don’t actually do much for you beyond the shoreline.

monkey
monkey
August 13, 2014 12:08 pm

@Simon
Grand Admiral Karl Donitz wanted a fleet of 300 Type VII U-boats ready before a war began with which to launch a campaign against the British Empires Merchant fleet. His plan was to ignore the RN as targets and focus on starving us of material. In the end he lost out to the Kreigsmarine building prewar for a Grand Fleet ,the Scharnhorst, Graf Spee,Deutschland,Bismarck,Gneisenau,Tirpitz even an aircraft carrier the Graf Zeppelin( never completed and towed to Russia at the wars end but subsequently sunk unfished as a target ship)and even attempts to convert large merchant men to that role. He started the war with around 50 ocean and littoral capable U-boats which had extra ordinary success to start with but if had 300 , well the rest is history. The big ships did cause a big headache and some considerable losses on our attempts to destroy these large surface raiders but not in the same league if Donitz had 300 sub’s to start with and the yards committed to churning many more.

monkey
monkey
August 13, 2014 12:22 pm

@NaB
In terms of a potential peer enemy ( or one with access to friendly nations intelligence for whatever reason ) how much do satellite’s come into play in spotting ships. Obviously data from the satellite’s has to processed ,analysed and passed on to the nearest forces who could press home an attack could slow (hours old?) .That’s if said satellite flight even passes of the area the CBG is in.

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 12:58 pm

As APATS points out. My scenarios are pretty basic. However, the question still reamins…

How does the Royal Navy defend against an AShM saturation attack?

Turns out that the only common answer provided so far that has any credibility is our sub which makes me wonder how we’d deal with more than one “threat” ship.

I’m also rather concerned that Russia and China are continually ignored. “We wouldn’t be alone” springs to mind and makes me wonder just how many extra destroyers the USA are willing to loan our CBG, our ARG, Italy’s task force, the Dutch task force, etc, etc, etc.

Who’s to say that Russia’s first move wouldn’t be to take the UK? It’s what I’d do if I were Putin, especially after a Scotish divorce. I’d do it at the same time as a land offensive through Georgia and Turkey. Isolate the USA’s strategic base (the UK) and starve Europe by blocking the Suez canal all after making the West look the other way by funding an organisation called ISIS (or just IS).

Hopefully Mr Clancy is reading this ;-)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 13, 2014 1:02 pm

Sensor package? Resolution? Comms method (and vulnerability)? Weather?

You can use overheads for all sorts. Real-time targetting (or even cueing) is very racy unless you are specifically set up to do that.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 13, 2014 1:10 pm

” However, the question still reamins…

How does the Royal Navy defend against an AShM saturation attack?”

That’s not the question you asked. the question you asked was how do we kill a well-defended DD/FF?

There’s a reason we have T45, assuming we haven’t been allowed to kill the ship and by some miracle he’s reached a targetting solution unmolested.

Lots of people have answered your original question in general terms. No-one is going to tell you in specifics.

You are aware Tom Clancy carked it nearly a year ago now? I don’t believe there’s a vacancy for a replacement.

Random
Random
August 13, 2014 1:18 pm

@monkey Presumably If the germans had built 300 u boats we would have built a few more black swans and a few less battleships.

@simon
If a CBG was desprate the f35s could just bomb the ship. Sure they might loose a few but the cost hardley compares to that of the frigate.

Observer
Observer
August 13, 2014 1:38 pm

NaB, I beg to differ, there is no vacancy, there are heaps of author want to be’s lining up for his job.

Simon, there is also the question if a “saturation attack” is even viable. I pointed out previously that if the missiles are not fairly constantly controlled, they’re more likely to fly off into the wild blue yonder, and there is only so many missiles a single man or two can manage.

NaB/APATs, how many people man the weapons board on a ship? I’m thinking only 1-2 people?

ALL Politicians are the Same
ALL Politicians are the Same
August 13, 2014 1:39 pm

How does the Royal Navy defend against an AShM saturation attack?”

By whom, against what and where? Who has that sort of capabiity and we do have t45.

I’m also rather concerned that Russia and China are continually ignored. “We wouldn’t be alone” springs to mind and makes me wonder just how many extra destroyers the USA are willing to loan our CBG, our ARG, Italy’s task force, the Dutch task force, etc, etc, etc.”

Again what are we using all these thing separately for? be realistic for a minute. We would have one CBG which could easily be escorted by 4 T26 and 2 T45 without even asking for any support. Any ARG would be a combined Anglo/Dutch ARG at the sort of level you are talking about which could be escorted by 2 T26/2 de Zeven De Provincien and as it is undoubtedly going to Norway 2 of their Nansen class.

The French and the Italians practice joint Ops in the med and between CDG/Cavour and Mistrals have a powerful CBG/ARG force able to operate independnetly, ogh and they have plenty of escorts but they could always ask the Spanish for a couple of f100s or the Greeks and turks for Frigates.

So we now have 2 CBGS and 2 ARGS without using any Portuguese, Danish, German or belgium assets at all. Never mind the 8 DDs and 1 CC based at ROTA. The Med becomes a NATO lake without any need for carrier air due to the amount of land based air available and the 25 plus SSKs and 30 odd missile boats that prevent the excuse of a Russian Black Sea Fleet even getting into the Med.
This allows the CDG/Cavour CBG to exit the med escorted by 8 or 10 Franco/Italian/Spanish FFs. US 6th fleet provides 2 DDs to the QE BG taking her escorts up to 4 t26 and 2 T45/2 Arleigh Burke.
Meanwhile the US Atlantic Fleet surges just some of the 23 SSNs has under COMSUBLANT. French and RN SSNs also deploy.
German Missile boats and SSks supported by Norwegian missile boats and SSKs close the Baltic.
German, danish, Norwegian,Belgium,Portuguese and 6th fleet units form SAGs an deploy.

So we have dominated the med, deployed 2 well escorted CBGs into the Atlantic, closed the Baltic and formed numerous SAGs as well as deploying a massive SSN force and we have not used a single US based carrier or escort.

To oppose this the russian Northern fleet can muster 10 SSNs and 7SSks as well as the Kuzentoz, 1 Kirov, 1 Slava, 2 Sovermennys and 5 Udaloys. Even if they managed to get every single unit active we would still possess Naval supremacy without a single US CVN getting involved.

Take the UK :)

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 2:01 pm

“You are aware Tom Clancy carked it nearly a year ago now? I don’t believe there’s a vacancy for a replacement.”

Err, no. I don’t read fiction.

El Sid
El Sid
August 13, 2014 2:16 pm

@Simon
It’s a basic principle of combined arms that you make it unfair, you don’t fight like with like. So you fight ships with submarines, subs from the air and so on. Also remember how we stopped the Tirpitz with the raid on St Nazaire destroying its dock, and stopped the French in Canada by effectively cutting their supply chain at Quiberon Bay. You don’t have to sink something to take it out of the equation.

If you’re seriously into this kind of thing you might want to have a play around with this :
http://www.matrixgames.com/products/483/details/Command:.Modern.Air.Naval.Operations

(copy and paste, the automatic link generator doesn’t like the URL)

I’ve not got any experience of it myself but the reviews seem universally gushing. These things are never perfect – I don’t know how well it deals with RAS for instance, which is a critical Achilles heel for sustained naval operations – but it should give you an instinctive feel for the kind of things that work and what doesn’t. It should also help give a feel for the merits of SAMs vs carrier air – broadly SAMs kill arrows, aircraft kill archers (and give you better situational awareness to work out what’s going on). If the enemy has Exocets or Kingfish then the archer:arrow ratio might be 1/2/3:1 and SAMs may be the cost-effective option, if your enemy has SDB or SPEAR3 or rotary launchers full of Kh-15 then you’ll be facing repeat attacks from planes launching 10+ missiles each and it looks a lot more attractive to take out those launch platforms rather than have cruisers carrying hundreds of SAMs.

On the Russia thing – what amphibious lift do they have? How many “Ticos” does the Northern Fleet have? Do they have warships to protect their supply convoys? Do their fighters have the range to do CAP over the North Sea? To give you an idea, it’s about 1200km from Murmansk to Trondheim. They can fly a few planes off the Kuznetsov if it’s working, otherwise their bombers would be hugely vulnerable to Norwegian and RAF fighters. They can’t generate fighter cover without seizing the Norwegian airbases, so they need to invade Norway first. So we’re back to the classic Cold War invasion plans – and I think NATO might notice the invasion of Norway.

El Sid
El Sid
August 13, 2014 2:44 pm

Just going back to this idea that “any nation that wants to create that stalemate/blockade can do so with only a smallish investment, say $3-4b“.

That’s still a huge amount, it’s nearly the annual procurement budget of the 7th biggest economy in the world, Brazil. And you’ve just spent your budget without buying any of the other toys needed to protect it or make it work. For instance, unless you spend a few $100m on minesweepers, I will just lay mines costing a few grand each. And so on, it all adds up.

You also have to think about the strategic thing – why are you doing this? If it’s just to protect your homeland then you pay a huge premium to put those systems on the briny. You’re better off buying land-based missiles – which leads to the classic A2/AD scenario. If I had a couple of billion to defend an emerging power from naval attack I wouldn’t buy a “Tico”, I’d do something like Vietnam – SSK’s and decent fourth-gen land aircraft ($500m Improved Kilos with Klub-S and $40m Flankers in their case).

It’s nuts to think that you can just order an advanced cruiser from Amazon – just look at the troubles Australia had buying the Hobarts. That’s an advanced economy that is a close ally of the USN, and it’s still taken about a decade to buy something based on an existing design.

Then look at the list of countries by GDP (there’s minor variations depending on which version of GDP you use, but it’s good enough for these purposes) – these are the trillion dollar economies :

1 United States
2 China
3 Japan
4 Germany
5 France
6 United Kingdom
7 Brazil
8 Russia
9 Italy
10 India
11 Canada
12 Australia
13 Spain
14 Mexico
15 South Korea

I don’t think there’s any countries outside that list with a ship with more than 40 VLS – the Dutch at #18 and the Noggies at #23 are the only other countries with Aegis ships that come to mind.

So Simon, where is your threat in that list, given that we’re not attacking Russia or China?

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 2:48 pm

El Sid,

I’ve been close the buying that game for a while now. It’s actually a vid from that game that went on to demonstrate how with SAM air cover for an AWACSs and long-range mobile strike missiles (ship) you’re almost impregnable.

I think the AI also tended to shoot AShM in salvos of 8 – from many ships at the same time. Generally exhausting/overwhelming SAM defences on the target and sinking ships with relative ease. Obviously rather a lot of ships and missiles were involved but it all ended up with positioning being the most important thing in order to bring to bear two or three ships (and their missiles) against an identified target (I think the target was a Burke).

I’ve just got to bring myself to part with £60 – ‘cos I’ve got to have the box too ;-)

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 3:01 pm

My personal top threats are:

1. ISIS (apart from the atrocities simply the concern of their movement SW towards Suez) and their funding.
2. Russia (new in at number two following the Ukraine/Crimea issue and the potential that they may be funding or supplying ISIS).
3. South American Alliance (especially the rise of Brazil, the links to the Spanish – Gibraltar – and the recent visit to Argentina by Mr Putin).

The latter is made more concerning due to a weakened UK following the Scottish vote.

1. Will not be naval.
2. Will involve both the Northern and Black Sea fleets.
3. Is the Royal Navy alone against an entire continent (exagerated).

Observer
Observer
August 13, 2014 3:09 pm

My top “threat” that may or may not happen is a Sino-Russian alliance. That particular power bloc has the potential to misbehave and tell the West to sod off in time, which could make things messy.

Kent
Kent
August 13, 2014 3:16 pm

@APATS – I just checked the “mothball fleets” and “inactive fleets” lists, and I couldn’t come up with 40 “4-stackers.” There are a number of FFGs/DDGs and even some CGs on the lists, but I have the feeling that the MoD or the Admiralty would sniff that they weren’t “up to our standards, old boy.” In any event, most of the available ships would need refit/overhaul in any case, delaying their availability.

I found a record of the USS DELONG, DE 684 (DE 224-class), that shows the keel was laid 10/19/1943. The ship was launched 11/23/1943 and was delivered/commissioned 12/31/1943. Wonder what would happen if the USN or RN required that sort of delivery schedule these days for so much as a rowboat?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
August 13, 2014 3:20 pm

And your point is?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 13, 2014 3:29 pm

@ Kent

In English please? I never mentioned 40 of anything? Or indeed any mothball fleets? The only US units I mentioned are the very active assets base out of Rota Spain under command of 6th fleet and the eastern seaboard SSNs.

Kent
Kent
August 13, 2014 3:40 pm

@APATS – Sorry, jocular reference to destroyers provided to the RN pre-Pearl Harbor. I must have misunderstood: “‘We wouldn’t be alone’ springs to mind and makes me wonder just how many extra destroyers the USA are willing to loan our CBG, our ARG, Italy’s task force, the Dutch task force, etc, etc, etc.” Seems to me that the USN is a bit short of active escort vessels to be loaning them to anyone. Of course, what do I know?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 13, 2014 3:57 pm

@ Kent

“Seems to me that the USN is a bit short of active escort vessels to be loaning them to anyone”

Hence why I only counted the already European based 6th fleet vessels.

The Other Chris
August 13, 2014 3:59 pm

Flight Global report on the Tornado’s sent to Iraq are carrying Litening II rather than RAPTOR:

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/more-details-emerge-on-raf-tornado-deployment-402639/

El Sid
El Sid
August 13, 2014 4:35 pm

@Kent
Rather than “loaned to” try the phrase “deployed to the same area of sea and achieving common goals by coordinating with”. Just like Burkes operating off Somalia are not “loaned” to Korea when they join CTF-151 (currently led by Korea), but nonetheless operate in coordinated fashion with the other ships of CTF-151 and Atalanta. A QEC is a force multiplier that helps the Burke achieve US policy, so it makes sense to team up.

Kent
Kent
August 13, 2014 5:10 pm

@El Sid – Thank you. Of course, “…deployed to the same area of sea and achieving common goals by coordinating with…” assumes that there has been enough lead time for said deployment to take place AND that the administration in the White House in coordination with the Congress will honor treaty commitments. I’m ready for “regime change” in Washington, D.C. (peacefully and legally, of course).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 13, 2014 5:16 pm

@ Kent

Well in the case of 6th Fleet they are already deployed on this side of the Atlantic and there is already a NATO Maritime Command Structure in place so given a NATO level deployment there will be numerous units operating under local OPCON within TGs.

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 5:37 pm

APATS,

Forgot to say that I rather like your European response (inc 6th fleet). Here’s hoping Aster and SM2 can deal with plenty of Granit and Bazalt and the relatively small number of European subs can counter the numbers that seem to be available to Russia (I have reservations about US SSNs getting here in time).

You said “…and between CDG/Cavour and Mistrals have a powerful CBG/ARG force able to operate independnetly” which I find interesting. I presume you can also bundle the Spanish JC into that group too. Just goes to show you don’t really need a 65,000 tonner ;-)

The Other Chris
August 13, 2014 6:08 pm

If you did you’d have a more powerful CBG/ARG… ;)

El Sid
El Sid
August 13, 2014 6:26 pm

@Simon
We may no longer be in the Cold War but I don’t think you have to worry about the submarines not getting where they’re needed in time :

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/09/ukraine-crisis-russia-submarine-idINL6N0QF0J420140809

@Kent
As Palmerston said, nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests; the detail of treaties is less important than the US self-interest if Russia starts rampaging across the North Sea.

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 6:38 pm

El Sid,

Not sure what that says. Either “whooppie, there are US subs available near by” or “they’re too easy to detect and expel by Russian ASW forces” ;-)

Still like the idea of Cavour being “powerful” :-)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 13, 2014 7:25 pm

@Simon

Why would you have reservations about the USN SSNs doing what they are based on the eastern seaboard to do?

As for the relatively small number of European subs, between ourselves and the French we field more SSNs than the Northern Fleet and our European Allies can field more SSKs than the Northern and Baltic Fleets combined without even using the 34 SSKs that spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey can field.

As for Cavour being powerful, what i actually said was ” between CDG/Cavour and Mistrals have a powerful CBG/ARG force able to operate independently”

So Cavour carrying 15 F35b and a mix of ASW and AEW merlin supporting CDG with 24 Rafale M, 8 Super E and 3 E2C escorted by 3 Horizon Class, 2 F100 and 5 FREMM is not powerful CBG capable of acting independently?

Rocket Banana
August 13, 2014 9:58 pm

APATS,

If the US SSN are on the eastern sea board they are going to be about four days away. I would have thought a surprise offensive from Russia would happen in a matter of hours. We’re pretty good at letting their ships and aircraft get quite close before we do anything about them.

How many SSN do Russia have in the Northern and Baltic fleets and how many does Europe have? I was under the impression it is more? I certainly didn’t realise Europe had so many SSKs though which may negate the SSN numbers (if any).

Lastly, if you’re going to put both of CdG and Cavour in the water then you can also put both CVF in the water. Trouble is it’s pretty unlikely. I therefore assumed you meant either CdG or Cavour.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
August 13, 2014 10:20 pm

@Simon

NATO watched and tracked the Kusnetsov from North of the GIUK gap, it is not as if we have a lot of Ports to watch and it would take them a long time to get here from Murmansk. The US do also maintain on patrol SSNs they have 20 odd to employ.

Russia has no SSNs in the Baltic Fleet and 9 or 10 in the Northern Fleet depending upon which source you believe. ourselves and the French have 6 each. So 12 to 9 and given the Russian issues with maintenance we could probably deploy more. then you have 3 or 4 :) US SSNs in the n Atlantic or further North at any time. If we even though that the Russians were sailing ecery available SSN this number would rise rapidly as well.

Russia has 9 SSks between Northern and Baltic Fleets, The Germans, Poles, Norgies, Dutch and Portuguese can field 17 between them.

Why does putting CDG and Cavour in the water relate to both CVFs? They belong to different navies that are set up to man them on a normal basis. They are regularly both in the water.

Do not believe all the hype about Russian military strength, they may have big aims but they are a pale pale shadow at the moment.