SDSR 2015

There is a pre defence review ritual that everyone with an interest indulges in. It starts with a few gentle discussions on Great Britain’s ‘place in the world’, the scale of our global ambition and obligations as a G8 regional power with a seat with our name on at the UN.

After a suitable period has elapsed the discussion then veers into areas of risk and threat but even during this phase the mood is still good natured.

Phase 3 gets heated because it is the first stage at which money is usually involved and therefore consideration of how the diminishing cake is sliced up between the services.

It is during this phase that negotiations and backroom deals kick in and the inevitable ‘test the water’ leaking to sympathetic journalists.

The final phase happens when it is all over and then as the implications of actual decisions made become clearer the bitterness sets in which can last for decades (see moving Australia and CVA01 for a good example).

If you start with the money and define a fixed budget you still get into the same argument and all that happens then is people tend to shape the first phases so that, oh look, my answer was right all along.

Start with risks and threats and the answers will always have to be tempered by the time it comes back around to budgets. Each review is rapidly made redundant by ‘events dear boy’ and the cycle starts again.

There are no easy answers and to think so is rather foolish, if there was an easy method, everyone would be doing it.

The one thing that I think does retard the process is the first phase, maybe it is something we just have to contend with but there seems to be an uncertainty around our place in the world of nations.

Yes, we used to be a world power, yes, a lot of the map used to be coloured in red and yes, we still retain a significant global influence but we are no longer the world power we once were and we still don’t seem to have fully grasped this.

With a roughly 2% of GDP defence spend the UK actually maintains a much broader set of capabilities than other comparable powers with similar spending. It is easy to be seduced by the ‘we are all doomed’ narrative but there are very few nations that can honestly say they maintain selected capabilities that are right at the cutting edge with an ability to sustain a global footprint and extended campaigns.

There is a danger of looking inward and only seeing the negatives that we should avoid.

However, I think there is still a general view that does not recognise the actual capabilities we now hold and this is at the heart of the defence review problem.

Every single defence review results in a reduction in capability closely followed by an inability to actually recognise it as such, so we get nonsensical statements like ‘no strategic shrinkage’ and ‘punching above our weight’

The ‘punching above our weight’ theme needs to be ruthlessly struck from the vocabulary because not only does it lead to illogical equipment decisions and hollowed out forces it fundamentally results in the talk loud small stick foreign policy that we seem unable to wean ourselves off.

You can only get away with this for so long until others start to realise you are bluffing and I believe this is where we are now, even our allies are starting to realise that our big talk isn’t backed up, despite having the worlds most advanced x or y, they are of little practical value if you only have a handful. Fur coat and no knickers could be an apt description of much of the UK’s defence capabilities, as painful as it may be for us all to recognise, and so I think there is a fundamental need to reassess ‘our place’.

A more honest appraisal might possibly result in a defence review that in not accompanied by howls of ‘there is no fat left to cut’

Over the next couple of months I am going to be posting a set of loosely linked articles on the general theme of SDSR 2015 looking at specific issues along the way.

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Jules
Jules
January 23, 2015 9:44 pm

TD
This will have long legs methinks…

Peter Elliott
January 23, 2015 10:02 pm

“Fur coat” sounds a bit too big and comfy for where we are now. ‘Fur pelisse and no knickers’ is more accurate. And possibly it is something that has actually been seen in cavalry messes before now ;)

Almost certainly accompanied by “long legs” :p

Mickp
Mickp
January 23, 2015 10:14 pm

@TD, I agree with you opening sentiments for what will be a lengthy debate. To me the broad options are 1) normal jogging a bit more salami slicing and more of the paper tiger, (2) cut deep to a UK defence force only and drop the global ambition, 3) increase defence spending to fill the gaps and create some strength in depth to match global ambition, 4) a radical restructure whereby UK defence is secure and we retain one or two world class global reach capabilities that would make most nations thing twice.

On these, I think we will get (1), politicians ego of any colour other than green would prevent (2), we can’t afford (3) and in my view (4) is what we should look at. It might be said that (1) works so let’s go with that. in a cost sense it does but needs to be accompanied by a pragmatic reigning in of capability. More coalition partner than leader.

oldreem
January 23, 2015 10:35 pm

Mickp’s (4): Fewer capabilities resourced properly, rather than less and less of everything. But most capabilities are interdependent – except the nuclear ‘deterrent’. If we binned that, could we keep [at least most of] the saving to do the rest better?

Closing words of FM Carver’s ‘A Policy for Peace’ (1982): “Peace will not be preserved by adherence to outworn concepts, unrelated to realities and based on emotion.”

Kent
Kent
January 23, 2015 10:41 pm

@TD – “Fur coat and no knickers…” describes one of my more adventurous paramours of long ago, but I won’t go into more detail than that. :D

As far as the UK’s nuclear capability, is it a matter of not trusting the US/France, or is it a matter of national pride? (Personally, I wouldn’t trust the US OR France, and I’m an American!)

MSR
MSR
January 23, 2015 10:44 pm

@ Mickp

Option 1 (salami sliced paper tiger) works only in the sense that it maintains the illusion of capability without the depth of resource to actually use it, or keep it deployed for longer than a day.

Option 4 (retaining one or two world class capabilities and a more modest, but well-rounded, defence structure as a whole) has more merit because that’s what we’ve been doing already. The world class capabilities in question are/where MCM and ASW, Special Forces and elite light infantry (RM/Para), once-upon-a-time MPA, SSNs, GCHQ, the pre-Voyager tanker fleet and the RFA. These are the things that set the UK apart from everyone bar the US, and are/were so useful that the US asked us along to parties on the basis that we’d bring them along.

While the UK has doggedly pursued option 1 in every review since 1918, it has over the years built up these key capabilities in response to acute need and evolving demands (often from the yanks, i.e. “So you wanna come and play. What have you got that we might want?”)

The problem we’ve had recently is that the salami slicing has already stripped the rest of defence ‘down to the bone’ and lately the slicers have had to start cutting into these key world class capabilities to find their savings. So we saw Nimrod go (mismanagement notwithstanding), the MCM fleet cut into (which is really stupid), the tanker fleet fucked up, the RFA whittled down and too few SSNs procured. The only asset that’s prospering is GCHQ, but that’s only on this list because it has ‘some’ military component. It could just as well be an entirely civilian operation and thus, beyond the scope of this discussion.

So long as we were maintaining these key capabilities, I was happy that we had something to offer our allies, something on which to base our claim to world power status and influence, and had expertise and capabilities in a broad enough spectrum of theatres to prove to a possible peer competitor that we could give them a serious fight on turf they wouldn’t control if they tried it on.

But now that is no longer the case. Most of these key capabilities are now in the same boat as the rest of defence. All show and no depth.

The Americans aspire to full spectrum dominance. The UK has quietly, without fanfare, for many years specialised in a few key areas while maintaining a general capability elsewhere. This is a wise policy and a very affordable one on 2% GDP adjusted for inflation in real terms* but only if we choose to believe we can afford it.

*that’s the killer

mickp
mickp
January 23, 2015 11:24 pm

@MSR “MCM and ASW, Special Forces and elite light infantry (RM/Para), once-upon-a-time MPA, SSNs, GCHQ, the pre-Voyager tanker fleet and the RFA”- a fair list in my view. My own initial view is that we should focus on (deterrent as a given)

– special forces
– elite light raiding / kick the door light forces – RM / Para with related sea / air delivery systems
– MCM / ASW / MPA / Intel
– SSNs
– land based long range offensive air with supporting assets

So my ‘big ticket add ons are: buy MPA, buy 3-5 extra Astute (push successor out a little with short term drop to 3 V boats to see if it works), keep 3 squadrons of Tornado to be replaced in due course by any one or more of F35C, ‘F35E’, Taranis, or new US bomber.

So some things have to go to support enhancement in those areas – amphib shipping can be downsized possibly to more raiding than beach assault, another army restructuring moving heavy division to deterrent status and relying more on reserves, a light / medium weight short term intervention division (a fighting division, 3 brigades) and the rest of the reduced army supporting UK defence (i.e. adaptable brigades go). CVF is genuinely multirole (not a big stick strike asset) – i.e. CVF plus a Bay type vessel in a task group. Cap T26 at around 8 focussing on ASW CVF escort only and have lower spec presence / patrol assets (current designs then move to MHPC) for other areas. Cap F35B at 2 squadrons for CVF (i.e. 48 ish)

In broad terms RN surface fleet (in tonnage and fighting capability if not hulls) and army to reflect shift to word beating SSNs and enhanced RAF long range strike. Two big stick capabilities supported by niche specialisms

Initial thoughts only

Overseas
Overseas
January 24, 2015 12:06 am

I thought the move of Hammond to FS paved the way for this years SDSR to be maybe the most damaging round yet. I think perhaps a big ticket is going, and it’s all down to the battle for the PM’s, and Osborne’s, ear to see which service gets the kicking.

Forces will all be made into 2-tier organisations, the top-of-the-range expeditionary stuff being offset by some basic but affordable kit for the home front (and more comfortable standing tasks) to fill in the gaps and make the spreadsheets look good.

shark bait
shark bait
January 24, 2015 1:33 am

MSR & mickp, I think the suggestions of focusing on a few areas with world class cabability are sensible. It seems coalition force will be the buzz word for the next decade at least. It makes sense for us to contribute a world class force in a few key areas. I believe that would give us a much better standing than a wide spectrum of average capability.

I also agree on the areas mentioned, particularly as they are some strong points at the moment. Extra astutes would be a nice thing to have, and the unit prics will be below £700 million for what as been regarded as a best in class boat!

However I would not favour that over not fulfilling all 13 T26. I think this is one of the most important projects for the SDSR to get right. The royal navy will soon be at the most credible it has been in years and I think we need the extra 5 ships to maintain a global presence. A successful shipbuilding project is just what the MOD needs after years of procurement mishaps and failures. I think everything needs to be done to secure orders at a low price. (300m)

I saw a stat saying globally navy’s including Brazil’s and Australia’s are looking to acquire 30 frigates with the T26 as an option. If the UK government and royal navy commit strongly to the project, this confidence will be noticed by these militaries and could direct a lot of orders and cash our way. Their is a lot riding on the project.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 24, 2015 7:43 am

Something like 3 votes for this type of list already, so I will labour it around the edges:
should focus on (deterrent as a given)
– special forces
– elite light raiding / kick the door light forces – RM / Para with related sea / air delivery systems
– MCM / ASW / MPA / Intel
– SSNs
– land based long range offensive air with supporting assets
So my ‘big ticket add ons are: buy MPA, buy 3-5 extra Astute (push successor out a little with short term drop to 3 V boats to see if it works), keep 3 squadrons of Tornado to be replaced in due course

Cannot see how in this context, and with Ocean going soon-ish, the amphib fleet could be cut any further? Without ample warning, you would get a Commando with a Bay delivering the heavier assets, to sea, with some loitering capability. Without making explicit assumptions whether one or two QEs would be at hand, add a couple of heli-lifted companies and a couple more parachute delivered. About 8 Coy, secured by a Chally Sqdrn and a couple of Apaches. Add some recce assets when there is somewhere to land them.
– I would call that a cordon, not an intervention force
– or, if committed at he same time, in one area, akin to max single effort from the 5000 or so committed to Op Serval”• April 8: Operation “Gustav” north of the city of Gao commits one of the largest contingents of French soldiers since the start of the intervention. Over 1,000 soldiers are backed by drones, fighter jets and armoured vehicles.”

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 24, 2015 7:46 am

What do we mean by the term ‘Door kicking’? Just because how I understand the term, neither the RM or the Para’s are door kicking formations. If we look at the invasion of Iraq where both formations were used we still needed the heavy armour to move onto Basra.

The RM and Paras are very good raiding/ground holding formations that allow the door kickers to gain entry. Can either the RM or Paras do forcible entry without needing immediate reinforcement with heavier more mobile formations?

Coming to the party with two formations that can only seize ground before requiring another nation to immediately pick up the slack will not bring any credibility whatsoever, Belgium, Germany and Holland amongst a fair few others can provide similar formations. What set us apart in the past was that we were willing to provide sizable medium/heavy follow on forces and to sustain them in an ongoing operation.

mickp
mickp
January 24, 2015 8:21 am

– I agree sizing etc needs thinking about

@DN – door kicking is not the right phrase – raiding, e.g. evacuation under fire, securing an airport / port for follow on forces etc more what I had in mind. Very light but tooled up. Follow on could be an appropriate light / medium ‘door kicking’ battlegroup delivered by our relatively substantial strategic air assets. Top end of the ‘distance’ intervention role would be a light / medium brigade (i.e. deployable by sea / air but well armed). Any aspirations to move a heavy brigade further than Eastern Europe should be curtailed

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 24, 2015 8:49 am

Even Eastern Europe should be qualified, ref:
Bringing assets to bear in the right places in former Yugoslavia

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 24, 2015 9:23 am

@ MSR – “Option 4 (retaining one or two world class capabilities and a more modest, but well-rounded, defence structure as a whole) has more merit because that’s what we’ve been doing already. The world class capabilities in question are/where”

This has always been my preference, and a proposition I set out here days before the SDSR10 was was released:

https://jedibeeftrix.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/commissioned-the-sdsr-and-why-the-choice-of-a-maritime-or-a-land-doctrine-is-necessary/

I maintain that the principles within are as relevant today as they were four+ years ago. We are on a journey with the SDSR’s, one that begun in 2010, will continue in 2015, and will finalise in 2020. After that is a new journey.

As I said before:

“If we are not to be capable of broad-spectrum power projection in the furtherance of the British national interest then we have but two choices; to become a narrow-spectrum Great Power, or, alternatively, to concentrate on home defence and give up a leading role in international affairs. The latter option only requires the following two duties: autonomous obligations for the UK’s defence, and contributory obligations for collective defence, whereas the former adds two more. Namely the requirement to be able to effectively wage elective war of both the autonomous and the contributory kind, for, presumably, reasons of national interest. There is nothing immoral in the latter ambition as we have an interest in promoting an international rules based system where laws and norms are adhered to. Responsibility to Protect, a ‘norm’ now quite accepted in International Relations is a case in point. Britain’s position on the Security Council is in part justified by the strategic bargain with friends and allies that we will work to achieve collective security in the widest sense. Thus do we need a force structure that provides an expeditionary capability in addition to meeting the basic and local requirements of collective and national defence.”

Repulse
January 24, 2015 9:27 am

@MickP: I would add airborne and naval based ISR to your list, but agree with the general thrust.

I think that each service has to give up a “sacred” cow(s)
– Royal Navy: The LPDs with the downscaling of traditional amphibious assault capabilities. A 25% reduction in the RMs.
– RAF: The RAF regiment.
– Army: The ability to sustain anything larger than a Operation Corporate sized expeditionary operation. No ability to deploy a division without a significant call up of reserves.

The Other Chris
January 24, 2015 9:34 am

Senior Army officers to be cut?

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30962007

“The US Army has about 300 brigadiers and generals – 100 more than the UK for an army five times the size.”

Mark
Mark
January 24, 2015 10:24 am

The uk should concentrate in the Atlantic north and South. These areas should be the only UK peace time standing tasks everything else is discretionary.

In order to retain the UKs ability to contribute to international operations it needs to practise long range deployments regularly so provided assets are not committed to operations a once a year around the world ‘cruise’ for 6-8 months were navy airforce and army units exercise with allies in various parts of the world should allow fwd engagement. Essentially a global cougar with enhanced raf and army integration at various points along the way.

With the UK political elites hankering for the Mid East I accept this is not likely to happen.

rec
rec
January 24, 2015 10:33 am

No trident replacement coupled with a commitment to 2% of GDP for the next 5 years would in my opinion be the best possible outcome.

1) Trident is not useable, it’s a totally indiscriminate weapon. and the money could be spent elsewhere on the naval budget.
2) Buy spending 2% of GDP on defence we would still be a key NATO and European player.

What additional items and focus for each service would be useful?

Army: Maybe a small man power reduction of 5000 to cover manpower increases elsewhere.

1) A regiment to specialise in supporting the Police and special forces in an anti terror role.
2) All Lynx wildcat to RN and the purchase of Blackhawks from USA
3) Chinooks and Pumas from RAF to AAC

Royal Navy: Increase in manpower by 5000

1) Additional 2 Astutes, and 5SSKs
2) 17 Type 26s in total (10 ASW, 5GP, 2AAW (should encourage Australia as they require an AAW frigate)
3) ALL 48 F35 B to RN (still keep joint RAF/RN structure)to give to frontline squadrons (Leeming based), 1 OCU (Marham based)
4) Additional OPVs (Holland class x5)
5) Osprey for Air to air refuelling, AEW and heavy lift.

Royal Air Force.
1) 8 Frontline squadrons of Typhoon 5 air defence, 3 Swing role.
2) 48 F35A or C ( 2 Front line squadrons and 1 OCU again joint RAF/RN structure based Marham and Honnington)
3) MPA either P8 or P1 (joint operation with FAA) to be based at Leeming and Culdrose
4) anti ballistic missile defence system to protect London and 2 portable units in addition.
5) Axing RAF regiment

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 24, 2015 10:50 am

@ Admin – “I called this ‘Capability plus’ if you remember”

I do indeed, though i believe we differed somewhat in [where] we chose to grow capabilities out from that core.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 24, 2015 11:19 am

@rec – No Government that gave up CASD would either redirect the cash to conventional defence, or in all probability retain the 2% for NATO…the politics would be completely wrong, and such an act would most probably be the precursor to the “self-defence only” option…just take a look at the manifestos of the various parties and organisations that have advocated nuclear disarmament in the past…

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 11:23 am

What posters have singularly failed to get their head round reference CASD is that now there would be no redirection required. It is becoming part of the Defence Budget. I find it amusing that amongst the enthusiasts on here it is a line in the sand yet amongst my friends and colleagues some of whom have driven a V boat it is very much negotiable.

SeekTruthFromFacts
SeekTruthFromFacts
January 24, 2015 11:30 am

What is “moving Australia” in the OP referring to? I seem to remember that the RAF allegedly justified TSR using some dubious maps to show that island bases could reach everywhere necessary – is that the reference? If so, it’s an in-joke worthy of ARRSE; Think Defence is normally so good that I’m used to higher standards! And does anyone have a solid source for the claim?

Observer
Observer
January 24, 2015 11:44 am

Well, I do see the point APATS, it really is a weapon of last resort, which means that you’ll use it once every 200-300 years if you are unlucky, so in the normal course of things, it really is a white elephant, but the unfortunate flip side to that story is that when you really need it, it might be too late to start from scratch. Something like the story of all armed forces around the world, they are money sinks, but when you need them, you really need them, in place, yesterday.

rec
rec
January 24, 2015 11:46 am

@Gloomy northern boy, it was my best case scenario and actually it might appeal to Labour, being strong on defence on one hand but disposing of nuclear weapons on the other.
@All politicians are the same, yes I hear too that there are some ins service who would prefer more SSNs and SSKs at the expense of CASD and SSBNs

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 11:49 am

@Observer

I never said do not become a nuclear power i specifically said CASD and that served us really well in 1982 and 7/7 did it not?

@rec Nope, maybe a few SSns but not SSKs, very little appetite for their reintroduction. maybe proper air wings for the 2 carriers and some extra squadrons for the RAF though.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
January 24, 2015 12:03 pm

Lets assume that sometime in the next 5 hearts there is a Paris or Mumbai style terrorist attack in London. What does the government do, with respect to defence, afterwards?

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
January 24, 2015 12:07 pm

Lets assume that sometime in the next 5 years there is a Paris or Mumbai style terrorist attack in London. What does the government do, with respect to defence, afterwards?

*correct spelling*

Repulse
January 24, 2015 12:16 pm

To repeat a comment on another thread, I think that removing our need for an independent nuclear deterrent and tying our CASD to the US is a fudge that would be both easy to sell politically and also makes sense. Buy two SSBNs from the US and base them there. Thereafter keep equipment plans inline with US plans. This would save costs not only for building and design, but also the docking / support / storage costs.

In return the US could buy some SSNs from Barrow, and the RN could afford to buy a few more also.

Mickp
Mickp
January 24, 2015 12:20 pm

I think CASD has served us well since introduced in dealing successfully with one particular threat. I am open to debate about whether our nuclear deterrent ( that I strongly believe should be maintained) can be delivered in another way.

John Clark
John Clark
January 24, 2015 12:22 pm

I greatly look forward to your articles, with the SDSR rapidly approaching, I would hope the current equipment shortfalls will be rectified, the lack of MPA capability inparticular, needs to be addressed urgently.

An Island nation that depends on global sea trade without a capable long range MPA asset is both stupid and dangerous in my opinion, its politicians high stakes gambling with our nations security.

My ideal, would be a force mix of P8 and Triton, both available in meaningful and sustainable numbers.

I would also like to see the 53 surviving tranche 1 Typhoons re-built to the latest standard, rather than stored (and then scrapped when public attention as waned), the fact that they will probably be withdrawn after only 10 years of service is an outrageous waste of tax payers money!

Among many other things….but I guess it will be yet another cost and capability cutting exercise….

Stewart Hitchen
Stewart Hitchen
January 24, 2015 12:27 pm

The S.S.B.Ns were never in the defence budget because the distortion they caused to the core budget But like all slight of hand by Government and Treasury it was a clever move. The policy of managed decline making the replacement costs distort the budget that much that it then causes the replacement unthinkable .Putting it in the core budget makes its replacement harder to justify. and its demise easy to arrange. The savings reclaimed by the Treasury. I cannot see any Government putting defence budget at 2 % of G.D.P. so cut for the Navy and Air force will be on made to keep C.A.D.S who ever wins the election.

Mark
Mark
January 24, 2015 12:55 pm

There is no reason I see why nuclear weapons should be separate from the defence budget IMO.

I would have to say I would agree with Apas. The strategic failing of sdsr10 was that with the budget defence was given and that likely for the next decade at least was that both carrier strike and casd were not viable it was one or the other. You could off taken a direction that both carriers go to arrestor cables with f35c (4 operational f35 sqns) and that a tactical nuclear capability could have been on that jet with either a nuclear q at marham ( which it used to have on tornado) or on the ships at sea or both, and that could have become available from 2025 to coincide with trident starting to leave service. While less capable in the nuclear role more effect for UK likely needs.

With the budget we have each service can only have 1 main priority the rafs qra, navy casd and the army was afghan, everything else was made up of what left in the budget.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 24, 2015 1:10 pm

@rec – I’ve spent much of my working life amongst Labour Politicians, some pretty senior…yet to meet any who didn’t see Defence as an embarrassment they’d like to dump but couldn’t…of these most recent generations Blair was an obvious exception…as evidenced by how quickly practically his whole party turned on him, and on what subject…and in or out of the main MoD Budget, CASD is a big national strategic decision above the pay grade of anyone in uniform. Which is why it should be a national strategic budget line, as it was until very recently…

GNB

Topman
Topman
January 24, 2015 1:21 pm

@GNB

‘ CASD is a big national strategic decision above the pay grade of anyone in uniform. Which is why it should be a national strategic budget line, as it was until very recently…’

There all sorts of pieces of kit that outside the control of those uniform but they aren’t in a seperate budget. Although I don’t see the fuss about the issue, move it wherever the cost to the country is the same.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 2:00 pm

@Get

Above the pay grade of those that actually understand it’s caps and lims, that is so sensible not.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 24, 2015 2:10 pm

@apats – CASD is in the final analysis a big statement about Foreign and Defence Policy and how that defines a Countries place in the world…I’m rather glad I live in a place where decisions on that scale are made by democratically elected politicians rather than by men in uniform; and as you are one of the men in uniform, I’d rather hope you would feel the same…

After all, as I think we can agree, this weapon is not just another weapon…it is much more destructive, and has much wider significance than choosing a CVF over an Armoured Brigade, or a Fast Jet Squadron over an SSN, surely?

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 2:17 pm

@GNB

Yet it is made by people in power for the short term only interested in staying in power most of whom have zero understanding of the threat or future threats never mind the limitations on use already imposed.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 24, 2015 2:43 pm

At risk of sounding all Dr Strangelove, I fear the UK nuclear deterrent has been so whittled down, that if we were eyeball to eyeball with a nuclear armed dictator, we might be horrified to discover that our deterrent was no longer deterring. A 100kt warhead is too large to be tactical, but too small to be strategic.

monkey
monkey
January 24, 2015 2:55 pm

The political stance and commitments of the UK determine the spending level and dispersion as determined by the politicians based on the information and advice of the various ministries, Treasury , Foreign Office , MoD , etc. The information and advice is what they will base their decision on skewed by their own political beliefs m. If the information and advice is flawed, misunderstood, biased that is for the politicians to unravel and proceed with. War is politics by another means limited only by will and money in it level of power to influence outcomes.

Topman
Topman
January 24, 2015 2:58 pm

@ JH

‘A 100kt warhead is … too small to be strategic.’

Really ? It’s still an enormous explosion contained in one warhead.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 3:43 pm

@JH

“a 100kt warhead is too small to be strategic”

quite a few assumptions there, disregards MIRV and makes an assumption on max yield available.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 24, 2015 3:47 pm

Up to a point Lord @ apats. In reality after the post-war Labour Government decided to join the Nuclear Powers a cross-party consensus formed around that decision, ensuring that discussions over the next forty years were cross-party, long-term and strategic. That consensus was broken by the Labour Party in their Manifesto of 1983, when they tried to enlist the CND (probably then at it’s zenith) in a futile attempt to win office for a Socialist Government that would have nationalised everything in sight, disarmed, and quit NATO. Worth reflecting that even then people alleged that CND were taking Moscow Gold, and that charge was greatly substantiated by a wide variety of KGB Memoirs once the West had won the Cold War, brought down the Wall and freed much of Mitteleuropa from Soviet Tyranny. I’d love to see the BBC name the guilty men on that one, but clearly never will… :-)

Curiously, it’s another equally desperate Labour Party Leader who is now proposing to negotiate away CASD to secure a Confidence and Supply Agreement from a party that wants to actually destroy the UK…presumably in the hope of propping up a lame duck government that would be lucky to last two years…you might want to take up your concerns about “people in power for the short term only interested in staying in power” with that nice Mr Milliband…

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 3:54 pm

‘GNB

A typical historians slanted view of what they believe has happened with zero relevance to current and future events or capabilities and limitations of the weapon system being discussed.
CASD worked in 82, no it did not, it worked on 7/7 ogh sorry did not work there either. it is now in the central defence budget and will be taking money away from kit that could save lives in actual ops we have and will conduct. I could be writing the letters or be the subject of one, you never will.
That is why those that serve and I include friends who have driven the deterrent put it up for negotiation.

Observer
Observer
January 24, 2015 4:10 pm

The thing about nukes is that while people focus on the strategic city destroying capabilities, they also have a less focused on strategic anti-deployment function. In the face of a nuclear threat, you can’t mass up armies, in case a single hit wipes them all out, so it also forces the “enemy” into strategic dispersal.

Now why this is important is because
1) Someone can threaten to roast one of your cities if you don’t, for example, stay out of Ukraine, or keep your hands off while they roll through Germany and France.
2) Even if they did roast one of your cities, you can’t retaliate conventionally because massing up would just invite another round onto your marshaling areas.

Some weapons give such an advantage that the only counter would be to ask “And which city/cities do you want to lose in return?”. Nukes are one of them.

As for CASD, what alternative is there?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 4:12 pm

@ Observer

i would refer you to NATO article 5 and your scenario is way off even the Tom clancy scale. You fail to even acknowledge the presence of French nukes. crazy.

Now I am an evil bugger but I would simply replace CASD and MAD with the most evil wipe out the human race bug I could build. You threaten to invade me I infect your population.

Topman
Topman
January 24, 2015 4:13 pm

@ APATS

‘ I include friends who have driven the deterrent put it up for negotiation.’

That’s interesting, but it’s not the first time I’ve read that. 10 or even 5 years ago I would have thought it unthinkable that we wouldn’t renew it, now I think it’s a possibility, a slim one but still a possibility.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 24, 2015 4:28 pm

Is it a bit left field to think of nuking the next SNP leadership meeting, hopefully actually in Glasgow? I think we may possibly be a better country after that event….

;)

(A joke….!)

mickp
mickp
January 24, 2015 4:34 pm

I am totally opposed to doing ops on a shoestring where lives are unnecessarily placed at risk by dodgy or inadequate kit or overambitious political desire not matched by true capability. We have seen that too much in recent years

Scrapping CASD, will not in my view result in a massive windfall for the rest of the services, it will be largely seen as a peace dividend and irrespective of any kit benefits to the rest of the forces our politicians will still have that awful tendency to over commit our fighting men and women based on capability

I agree though CASD as a concept should be in the mix to debate – that being distinct from the line in the sand for me of nuclear disarmament. I think we should also debate whether there needs to be a distinct successor class or whether we look on them more as a ‘Batch 2’ Astute with flexible missile silos to take a variety of current and future weapons including Trident – so build the boats anyway, nuclear subs is our game changing top table national military capability. Meanwhile we can debate what to put on them and how to use them.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 4:42 pm

@TD

“The reason CASD did not work in 1982 or 7/7 is simply because they were not designed to work against terrorists and non nuclear powers. I would have thought that would have been rather obvious. Frigates didn’t help us a great deal in 7/7 or the RAF in 1982, lets bin them off shall we”

frigates in the FI or a significant RAF presence would have deterred the 1982 invasion, 7/7 is the one that will always slip through. the point is CASD would never help us prevent either, extra money on conventional forces may have prevented at least one.
It has to be on the table.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 24, 2015 4:49 pm

Now CASD is part of the core defence budget it needs to justify it’s funding the same as any other and should be put to the same litmus test as ‘carry on normal jogging’ or can we do things differently for similar results.

mickp
mickp
January 24, 2015 5:12 pm

CASD could have worked in the FI but we chose not to use it as a threat on the table as rightly its threshold for use is set deliberately high – to deter nuclear attack. I agree it should be debated but those arguments don’t cut it with me. It needs to be debated against the risk of what it is meant to deter against – possibly still remote but on an inevitable upwards curve in my view

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 5:12 pm

@TD

“The deterrent has ALLWAYS been in the defence budget. It might not have been in the MoD’s budget but we are just talking about shifting wooden dollars between account holders.”

how naive can you actually get? its your blog but for goodness sake get real. It is now in the defence budget and competing against other kit, just wait for the first casualty and the line that CASD spending cost the helo. or armour on troops that could have prevented it.
that is the real world.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 24, 2015 5:12 pm

‘It might not have been in the MoD’s budget’

Is that not the point? It has always been a national expense but now it is seen as a defence expense with no extra money to take into account the moving of the financial responsibility.

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 24, 2015 5:17 pm

Re my 100kt being too small to be strategic. I think one of the arms control treaties says no more than 4 warheads per SLBM. A large city would lose 4 suburbs to 4 x 100kt warheads, but the city itself would survive. You need to up the warheads to the 200-475kt range if you want to keep to the 4 warhead limit. 100kt is fine if you have 8+ warheads per missile, as originally planned. We could also do with 20 or so tactical warheads with a variable 10 to 50kt yield. Mounted on a JDAM/Tomahawk/Storm Shadow/ASMP-A/Perseus type delivery system.

oldreem
January 24, 2015 5:21 pm

“CASD whatever the cost”? Including replacing Faslane and Coulport if the fishy pair eventually get their way?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 5:36 pm

@TD

Nope it is complete naivety to disregard the fact that taking into the main stream budget will see it directly complete with other systems but as i said to GNB earlier it does not matter to you because you will never have to write a letter or be the subject of a letter caused by it.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 24, 2015 5:37 pm

‘The MoD’s budget has always been x-Trident’

But isn’t reality now with it coming into core that the MoD’s budget will be X inc Trident? the change being that the money handed to the MOD before hand was their take home pay and now the MOD will find itself with the same money but needing to deduct NI and tax.

@APATS

‘it does not matter to you because you will never have to write a letter or be the subject of a letter caused by it’

Could you please refrain from the above type sound bites. No one forced anyone to join the forces and everyone has the right to have their view heard if they pay tax.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 5:43 pm

@TD

Yet totally true. it is a simple fact. I am pretty ambivalent about the CASD as are many of my colleagues but when you are looking at it you have to look at the realities.
I never meant to offend, sometimes shock but not offend. I have too much respect for what you do here to try and offend you. If i have i apologise.
Warfare in general sucks but we need to examine through the lens that choices have repercussions.

CASD costs money from a now central budget and it will be a lot of money, we have to accept that the total guarantee it brings will cost lives. if we accept that and still want it then fair enough but we cannot pretend it is not real.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 24, 2015 6:46 pm

@apats – “A typical slanted Historian’s view”…the contents of the 1983 Labour Manifesto are a matter of record not opinion, and my view of that election and indeed much of that decade is coloured by my having been very close to key people in the Labour Leadership at the time, because I happened to have a corporate policy job in a Town Hall where some of them were based and a lot of the work on it was done (although not by me obviously…my tasks were dull and municipal, not CND inspired utopianism)…the facts are there…I have proffered my interpretation, coloured somewhat by my having run across some of the actors…what is yours?

GNB

Claire Chung
Claire Chung
January 24, 2015 7:28 pm

Buy more nuclear weapons that’s it.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
January 24, 2015 8:17 pm

@GNB

1983! And selective quoting and answering of a very small part of both my point and your original post. It is 2015 not 1983. Coloured indeed.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 24, 2015 8:58 pm

@GNB,

You must be a man of saintly patience. I don’t recall any newspaper headlines from the early 80s saying such things as “Crazed sane historian batters sense into idiot lefty in Barnsley Town Hall”.

monkey
monkey
January 24, 2015 9:24 pm

In terms of CASD moving officially into the MoD budget , I was under the impression it was purely a accounting measure to ensure/try to maintain the 2% of GDP spend towards defence with regards to our NATO spending commitment. No more , no less , if this 2% commitment was truly ring fenced like the overseas aid budget is at 0.7% ,hence a last minute splurge of £1bn to stay on track, and CASD was mutated into some other form of deterrent, some cash would be released but how much? Aircraft delivery ? Land based ICBM? Land/sea based cruise ? The war heads and all their security and maintenance would still remain . Delivery system site security costs would still be enhanced over conventional weaponry. Comand and control systems would still have to be insulated from other systems to ensure security and that retaliation orders could still be given , etc . The boats themselves will cost more than an SSN but by how much , 25%, 50% ? The only big saving would be the elimination of nukes full stop but as a recent convert would argue against that. Revenge is a dish best eaten by the light of a thousand Suns.

WiseApe
January 24, 2015 10:18 pm

I read the Labour Manifesto of 1983 (sadly, required reading for junior journos as I then was) and as well as nuclear disarmament it also advocated leaving the EU. They eventually found principals which got them elected.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 24, 2015 10:37 pm

,

Clever journalist literary trick. Blair and Brown may have been the principals who got them elected, but I don’t think they ever found any principles. And the current muppet looks worse. He’s full of principles, and none of them in any way practicable.

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 24, 2015 10:52 pm

@All Politicians are the Same

“A typical historians slanted view of what they believe has happened with zero relevance to current and future events or capabilities and limitations of the weapon system being discussed.”

I really don’t understand your attitude to history.
History is extremely relevant to today, after all what happened in the past determines where we are today. What’s more, where we are today gives us the starting point for tomorrow. Look at the UK relations with other states around the world they are what they are because of history.
History is also are only guide to the future, not a perfect guide of course but a guide non the less. Its certainly better than a crystal ball. Something you seem to acknowledge by your use of history in your arguments.
” CASD worked in 82, no it did not, it worked on 7/7 ogh sorry did not work there either.”
A flawed argument of course but you did use history to try and justify it. So your hardly in a position to castigate others for using history in their arguments.
Perhaps I have it wrong and its only historians you have a problem with. Well all historian’s have their own take on past events, so its a matter of using your own judgment!!!

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 25, 2015 3:10 am

@apats – my original comments were about the politics of disposing of CASD, and I have at no time commented on it’s usefulness…in the course of that discussion I said that the CASD choice was a political one, rightly above the pay grade of anyone in uniform because in a democratic state the Defence Staff don’t decide on either foreign or defence policy, although they might advise on either. You seemed to me to suggest that such decisions should not be made by politicians thinking short term…itself a dubious proposition as in democracies all big decisions need to be made by politicians; and I responded by describing a series of observable facts – that for forty years the whole political class did make decisions about that issue on a long-term cross party basis with advice from the Chiefs of Staff – that it was the Labour Manifesto of 1983 which broke ranks on that convention to cement the support of CND, some of whose leaders are now known to have taken Moscow Gold – and that the current Leader of the Opposition is the one most obviously guilty of doing what you complain of in preparation for the forthcoming election, looking to negotiate away CASD to secure a Confidence and Supply agreement with the SNP that might put him in office at the head of an unstable government for a couple of years.

I drew no conclusions on those facts at all, simply laid them out…and as to your view of History, what Milliband is doing now is not History, it is current affairs…furthermore 1983 is not lost in the mists of antiquity…the “Young Turks” who made Labour Policy in that decade and wrote “the longest suicide note in history” are the elder statesmen, funders, think tank bosses and general movers, shakers and fixers of Labour politics now…and as it happened I knew some of them, which seems to me relevant.

Just which points did you make that I did not respond too?

@RT – Fortunately I had more sense even then either to take them seriously myself, or imagine the electorate would either…and it wasn’t Barnsley…but pretty close…

GNB

El Sid
El Sid
January 25, 2015 3:23 am

The problem is more about moving CASD into the RN budget versus an “MOD-Strategic” budget – which completely knackers any attempt by the RN to spend money in the 2020s. Bear in mind that each of the 3/4 Successors will likely each cost more than a QE aircraft carrier – and their “airgroup” costs more than F-35’s. France has the opposite problem, they’ve just replaced their SSBNs but likely can’t afford to replace/supplement their aircraft carrier whilst maintaining their submarine industrial base by building SSNs.

Interesting watching the US(N) grapple with the same problems – although they are committed to a nuclear triad, there are very sound arguments for even them to assign Ohio Replacements to a Pentagon “strategic” budget.

El Sid
El Sid
January 25, 2015 3:51 am

Other thing is that realistically a pure UK Successor looks increasingly unlikely if you look at MoD’s likely budget in the vital 2015-20 period. So things like an “Airseeker” type deal where we share Ohio Replacements is not impossible – even though it requires all sorts of treaty renegotiations. Which then probably fail and we end up bodging the resulting Astute Batch II (which have to be ordered instead “to protect the industrial base”) back into SSBNs….

The other thing with the whole idea of an ICBM system enduring into the 2070s is the idea that ABM systems will remain static. The idea of a (hypothetical) S-700 that can shoot down ICBMs causes problems to the idea of an ICBM threat against peer nations. Germany persisted with V-1 cruise missiles even though they could be shot down by Spitfires, but one can imagine what they might have achieved with V-3’s or V-4’s.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 25, 2015 7:31 am

On the surface of it a valid argument:

“The problem is more about moving CASD into the RN budget versus an “MOD-Strategic” budget – which completely knackers any attempt by the RN to spend money in the 2020s.”

But the NAO report on EP has completely overshadowed the releasing of the latest Eq. Plan on 12 Jan. Pages 16 and 17 summaries by command and kind show that the “hit” will be taken by Combat Air, rather than any other category…now, if the deterrent is for scaring off peer oppos, what would be the next category most closely mapping to fighting a peer to peer conflict?

Mind you, this is the plan before “the” Review.

Martin
Editor
January 25, 2015 7:57 am

In terms of CASD One might argue that’s it’s as vital as ever, with Russia increasingly belligerent but lacking any kind of credible conventional forces and a USA that is increasingly frustrated with the EU. Two EU members with a credible nuclear force helps to prevent Putin using nuclear blackmail in the future.

It’s worth noting that even at the height of the Cold War Kennedy said he would not resort to using nuclear weapons unless the US mainland itself was attacked even if the Russian’s got to the channel.

The Limey
The Limey
January 25, 2015 8:14 am

– and then you get to exactly the point of a UK CASD that is indistinguishable from the US one.

The UK having identical missiles locks the US into exactly that defence of UK/Europe, because if it came right down to the wire and there were launches, the opponent would my know who they had come from.

Think of Trident as an expensive insurance policy (with the US as the insurance company). It’s actually quite similar to the way Saudi et al pay a fortune to BAE to get that protection from the UK (or did anyway).

Repulse
January 25, 2015 9:14 am

@El Sid: I think that there is a real opportunity for a joint US / UK CASD capability, with the UK being a very junior partner of course. Both the US and UK have severe cost pressures. The two countries (plus others) understand that their power is on the wane and need to pool resources with friends. And the public in general understand the need for such weapons but as low key insurance policies rather than a willy waving demonstration of national prowess.

I’d see the opportunity to share AWE / design capabilities, but the costs saved by cutting the planned fleet in half, not having to independently build and protect the support infrastructure would be enormous.

I personally would like some of the savings to go into a few more SSNs and cruise missile technology but the core argument remains the same.

Repulse
January 25, 2015 9:33 am

Further, taking the public numbers (from the 2006 white paper with help from wiki) , the Successor programme costs are estimated at £15–20 billion based on:

£0.25 billion to participate in U.S. Trident D5 missile life extension programme.
£11–14 billion for a class of four new SSBNs.
£2–3 billion for refurbishing warheads.
£2–3 billion for infrastructure.

Joining with the US could save 10bn (50%) based on halving the new class, warhead’s and removing the need for UK infrastructure – whilst paying for a proportion of US infrastructure. Also, the estimated running costs of about £1.5 billion per year (at 2006 prices) could also be reduced significantly.

Repulse
January 25, 2015 9:36 am

@Monkey, according to a 2011 MoD report the cost of an Astute SSN was @ £750mn (based on units 4 or later).

Chris
Chris
January 25, 2015 9:39 am

El Sid, Repulse – my simplistic mind sees joint defence capabilities using shared assets in much the same way as a common currency, in that both demand a single Ultimate Authority. For common currency the control of exchange rates and the need to engage a common level of fiscal responsibility ultimately demands a single Treasury, which by default means a single Government. In defence terms, to be confident there is never a time when one member state uses the shared capability against the interests of another, could a mere Treaty be adequate? And if so, would this Treaty force the invention of a governing body (let’s call it NATO for want of any other name) and would the masters in NATO have absolute command of the joint assets? Could they act autonomously? Or does a joint defence force ultimately demand a single Government Defence Department, hence yet again by default a single Government?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 25, 2015 9:45 am

Chris

Is what El Sid and Repulse advocating really any different to our arrangement now? Our deterrent is operationally independent but not nationally in the same way as the French, we already send our missiles to America for overhaul now so would this just be an addition to our current agreement but still allowing our independent launch as is the case now?

We could still build the subs here if we wanted but to a mature American design and concentrate our design efforts on SSN’s.

Chris
Chris
January 25, 2015 9:49 am

DN – I can’t comment on the ability to build US vessels here. I might offer the opinion that in land vehicle design there are fairly extensive differences of approach, starting with feet & inches and a completely different set of military standards…

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 25, 2015 9:52 am

Chris

In that case could we not just by off the shelf? Surely the precedent as been set in terms of safety and military standards of the US to ours by the purchase and use of the Rivet Joints?

Martin
Editor
January 25, 2015 10:58 am

The issue with building us designed SSBN’s is A) They are more expensive than ours and B) we don’t design enough SSN’s to keep the design team going.

@ repulse the last NAO report has Astute 4 and onwards costs at around £1.2 billion each. Not sure if this is just build cost or support as well. It did seem strange that costs kept growing for each additional boat but then it’s BAE.

monkey
monkey
January 25, 2015 11:38 am


The true cost of anything purchased by the MoD all ways seems to be bundled up differently , sometimes support included, sometimes not , sometimes training facilities , sometimes not , sometimes new/rebuilt infra structure , sometimes …. etc and a mix therein of all of the above and as they are on a case by case basis are required to operate the equipment are a related cost and should be included however it does cloud the unit cost . The Astutes have had a lot of costs ,zone R&D , infrastructure , training, IPR , bundled onto the first few with these removed for the remainder to make additional purchases show all those costs paid for and in the past as well as making additional units seem a bargain. In the end its how much did the purchasing programme cost in its entirety for the units initially bought that gives a near to true cost , but you can spin the figures in many ways to suit your need . The total Successor programs from start to delivery of the third boat was estimated at £11-14bn (2006-7 pounds) including new silos, updated missiles, re-furbed warheads, new infrastructure and training facilities. In 2020 they will decided if three or four boats are needed to maintain CASD based on the performance in reliability terms of the new tech.
For myself ,after operating Vanguards since 1993 , 22 years , we should know what makes them ‘unreliable’ and be able to produce a Vanguard batch 2 at less cost and less risk than the entirely new design of the new PWR3 driven Successors with the very different layout of machinery (outside the hull) . Yes the sales engineers will states it is way better than the Vanguards , more reliability, reduced running costs , more time before refuelling etc but they would say that wouldn’t they? The existing Vanguards plod out in to the North Atlantic region , loiter about doing nothing hopefully ,then skulk back in , what is the new Successor going to do different for all its additional cost and risk?

Repulse
January 25, 2015 11:47 am

: You are probably right on the Astute costs, depends on what you are including. The incremental cost of adding an 8th Astute was closer to my number I believe.

Repulse
January 25, 2015 11:49 am

The current US SSBN costs are higher, but their lifespans are longer and I expect cost pressures on any new designs.

I’d like to a UK fleet of 9 SSNs ultimately to ensure skills / construction rhythm.

Rocket Banana
January 25, 2015 12:13 pm

I’ve done this SDSR analysis a few times now and I certainly don’t expect anyone to agree with me, but if for a moment you can consider that our deterrent is of paramount importance then you could construct your defence around it.

What I mean by that is that by designing and building a fleet of SSBNs you get spinoffs that will cost significantly less than if you tried to produce them independently.

The spinoffs are most obviously the SSNs (hull, systems and propulsion), but if the UK were to invest in a home grown rocket and warhead then we also get something that can probably launch to LEO for a home-grown satellite launch industry, and certainly target an AWACS if launched from a ship’s VLS. We also get a “physics package” out of it along with all the scientific research that it requires.

Has any costing been done that looks at how much our next SSN fleet would cost if we ditched Trident?

Has any costing been done that looks at how much we could save on telecommunications and surveillance satellite launches should we develop our own launch system?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 25, 2015 12:14 pm

Re”probably right on the Astute costs, depends on what you are including. The incremental cost of adding an 8th Astute was closer to my number I believe.”
– the 7 decided on have absorbed the”full” prgrm cost, so now the marginal cost is out (as a carrot?)?

A new trick in the book: when you look at the EP plan, not the Major Projects, there are now two cost lines:
– subs
– and their weapons

Why? Because as long as the Astutes were the only show in town, the difference was not that much and much of it/ them were the same as what was coming out of the T-boats

Now, with the next prgrm looming, the items shave been separated
– one at the bottom, one at the top of the graph so as not to dominate the page with one colour only (ehmm, not either shade of blue nor green… Not even purple, which would be the closest).
– there is a genuine reason , too. You can decide about the top line (what a nice analogy, as it sits on top of the graph) to give space to the items below it (all other commands/ capabilities):
— how many missiles carried
— how many warheads for each
— also, by putting Tomahawks on surface platforms would save $ half a mill a shot by getting rid of the wrapper that sees it through the tube, to the surface, so that the booster can ignite and get it into flight

Talking about lines below, where is the bottom line (as in the figment of imagination, the previously unfunded £ 36bn Black Hole) then ?

There isn’t one, as for a change, the numbers have been
A. Risk adjusted
B. Reconciled between Commands (as customers), and
Therefore credit to be given when it is due… The plan is readable and internally consistent.

Now, the whole idea of the review is to mess it up, and we will get the next edition in 5 years’ time.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 25, 2015 12:33 pm

Missed a word in my typing (got distracted):
A. Risk adjusted
B. Reconciled between Commands (as customers), and ->Capabilities <-

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 25, 2015 12:40 pm

Simon, this one

“Has any costing been done that looks at how much our next SSN fleet would cost if we ditched Trident?” Is
conveniently the other side of 2040… So no one has dared, as it would cost more on top of a tiçket that is causing sticker shock

Hannay
Hannay
January 25, 2015 12:58 pm

@DavidNiven

“In that case could we not just by off the shelf? Surely the precedent as been set in terms of safety and military standards of the US to ours by the purchase and use of the Rivet Joints?”

Rivet Joint / Airseeker is a horrible example to use for overlapping standards. The aircraft did not meet UK standards and could not be assessed as adequately safe (which is a separate point to not meeting Def Stans). However we’d spent a lot of money on it and so safety was waived by the Secretary of State.

This is not a good place to be in.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 25, 2015 1:04 pm

@ monkey – “we should know what makes them ‘unreliable’ and be able to produce a Vanguard batch 2 at less cost and less risk than the entirely new design of the new PWR3 driven Successors with the very different layout of machinery (outside the hull) .”

the problem with that is that submarines are deemed a strategic industry, so we need to maintain the capability to both build [and] design nuclear cigar tubes.

we won’t maintain the sovereign capability to design them with a warmed-over Vanguard.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 25, 2015 1:14 pm

@Hannay

‘The aircraft did not meet UK standards and could not be assessed as adequately safe’

I was under the Impression that the problem with certifying the airframe was due to the age as there would be a problem gaining the relevant information. But I’ll take your point, in which case why could we not have a design team in-bedded with GD electric boat so as to certify as the build progressed, it’s not as if BAE have not worked with them before on sensitive technologies as they had to come and rescue the Astute design for BAE.

monkey
monkey
January 25, 2015 1:46 pm


By the time the Successor’s successor is designed the present team will be in nursing homes , forty years is a long time . I grant the existing team along with the new younger up and coming designers will in the meantime be designing the Astute’s replacements in about twenty years before they retire but an SSN is not an SSBN , one actively hunts other vessels the other evades them. Yes an SSN has to escape its own hunters but we seem to spend a huge amount maintaining the activity of a few to the detriment of the many.

Martin
Editor
January 25, 2015 2:52 pm

@ repulse – I agree about a 9 boat Astute fleet. I would reduce successor down to 3 and have a 12 boat program which we should be able to fit into a 30 year build schedule.

I also agree that the prime reason we have retained an SSN fleet is so we can build SSBNS. It’s not the kind of thing you can buy off the shelf.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
January 25, 2015 4:21 pm

@seekeraftertruth

Didn’t know this story, but apparently when the new Labour Government were considering cancelling the planned aircraft carrier , CVA-01, the RAF allegedly moved Australia 500 miles to prove they could achieve the same effect with land based aircraft.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/CVA-01#Cancellation

Frenchie
Frenchie
January 25, 2015 4:31 pm

It would, in my opinion, a madness to abandon nuclear deterrence.

Everything is of course a financial issue, given the cost of deterrence, we are still able to have a complete military tool? The risk is certainly not that there is no crowding in the distribution of military investment budgets in favor of deterrence and to the detriment of the modernization of conventional arms.

Today, deterrence represents 21 to 22% of the investment budgets in 2019 this share is expected to reach 27-28%. And again, this assumes that the budget assumptions of military planning law are respected, if credits were to fall, the relative share of deterrence within them would increase mechanically.

The question therefore arises whether we can reduce the appropriations for the modernization of conventional equipment without questioning the deterrent effect of all our defense system.

One option would be to revise the level of sufficiency of our deterrent. The number of weapons to deter the adversary has been halved over the last twenty years, and if France considers that the sufficiency in this respect involves hold about 300 nuclear warheads, the UK assesses that level to 140 heads only the comparison found a limit to the extent that the British deterrent tool is linked to the US and NATO plans.

There is one last option. This would slow down the nuclear fire simulation program conducted by the Military Applications Division of the Office of Atomic Energy.

The first shots of the simulation program are underway, it does not consider an offset, if not, perhaps, the one already scheduled shots, the importance of cooperation with the United Kingdom whose participation in the simulation program is a strategic detachment of the United States and could lead one day to a pooling of a share of the expenses.

Repulse
January 25, 2015 5:20 pm

@Jedi: “the problem with that is that submarines are deemed a strategic industry, so we need to maintain the capability to both build [and] design nuclear cigar tubes.” and : “I also agree that the prime reason we have retained an SSN fleet is so we can build SSBNS. It’s not the kind of thing you can buy off the shelf.”

I think whilst this was the case historically, the value of the SSN has increased over the past two decades such that it is a real strategic asset in it’s own right (IMO). Outside of keeping skills to build SSBNs, the UK SSN fleet is:
– The primary RN offensive weapon to sinking enemy vessels – with the ability to lurk underwater for months upon end.
– Has been used in all significant UK operations over the past 20 years to attack enemy infrastructure and command & control centres.
– A very useful intelligence tool.

What I do not believe in is without SSBNs there would be no need for SSNs – hence given the right level they should remain a prized UK asset. This will be the case until battery technology is advanced enough so that the nuclear reactor is not needed – many years away I’m afraid (but worth investing in).

mickp
mickp
January 25, 2015 6:13 pm

, I agree, but if Astute really is to be top drawer strategic asset, doesn’t it really need something like a VPM to allows vertical launch of TLAM and future missiles – i.e. a decent closely spaced salvo before slipping back into the deep. Isn’t support for tube launched TLAM going at some stage?

Repulse
January 25, 2015 6:23 pm

@MickP: I agree a VLS is needed at some point on a modified Astute batch 3, but it should and can be part of an evolution design.

Martin
Editor
January 26, 2015 3:39 am

@ repulse – I don’t doubt the utility of SSN’s but in the world of government spending it’s a very expensive capability to keep alive. The reason that it has been done in my opinion is primarily to preserve the industry for SSBN construction. Personally I would have a hybrid class of SSBGN with a CMC with 4 tubes able to take either 4 D5’s/E6 or 28 TLAM.

That way we could get away with perhaps two boats on CASD but if things ever got hot we could have an entire fleet of 16 armed with Trident. I would also up gun the four missiles to carry a full load of warheads. Still a pretty effective deterrent and more than enough to keep us in the game.

To get away from the friendly port issue of SSN’s I would issue a different class specification for 3 of the boats that could normally be expected to perform CASD. Wee would not have to change the design at all just issue them with a different letter of the alphabet.

Repulse
January 26, 2015 8:05 am

: Perhaps one way would be to build a batch 3 Astute (units 7 – 9) the way you describe with a single 4 tube CMC designated as SSNs and still go the 2 SSBNs / US integration. Would hedge our bets.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 26, 2015 8:48 am

Marrying the Astute design and CMC will be interesting (width?).
– no doubt the lesser number of missiles will be presented as our contribution to world peace
– missiles x warheads maintained will also go down, with the expense going down. Guessing the fixed cost of facilities is the dominating factor, though?

Martin
Editor
January 26, 2015 8:59 am

@ Repulse and ACC

No doubt it would have to be a new design to accommodate the wider CMC compartment but having the ability for future SSN’s to take the CMC would allow us a smaller fleet. Perhaps the SSBN version could simply be a stretched version with two CMC compartments and 8 Tubes.

Repulse
January 26, 2015 9:13 am

: What I’m suggesting is slightly different. Tie our CASD to the U.S., but have an extended SSN as a backup option. Also I’m not convinced that ISBM will be the optimal weapon for the next 50 yrs, but alternate technology is not mature enough.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 26, 2015 9:40 am

this is all sounding terribly familiar!
as you no doubt know I am a fan of the idea of a SS(B)N’s with a four tube CMC compartment.

not because i believe it will make a better deterrent, it won’t. and not because i imagine a fleet of hybrid uber-tubes which we could stick trident’s in en-masse at the drop of a hat, we couldn’t.

no, i’m a fan because i don’t see how the ability of preserve design and manufacture of nuclear boats as a strategic industry is possible via any other means.

it does strike me that a lot of the design work thus far is for advanced systems and sub-systems, and not detailed design…. which all sounds terribly portable vis-a-vis whatever detailed design we finally settle on. CMC, PWR3, etc.

there are no two ways round it, the deterrent as currently constituted is damaging to defence in both its overall cost and the distortionary bulge in the defence budget. we need a more stream-lined solution.

can you imagine a common fleet of SS(B)N’s that do not carry missiles as a norm, to which one is rotated through the US to arm with trident, using british warheads fitted in the US. yes, faslane continues but duties of RNAD Coulport essentially cease, much to the delight of scotland. no real revolution, simply taking the principle of independence of operation, and not of acquisition, to its logical conclusion.

i understand that what i blithely suggest is immensely challenging and fraught with technical and political difficulties, but to those who say the notion is ridiculous I would return that the solution is to decide that an active submarine based nuclear deterrent is simply too expensive, and must go.

Martin
Editor
January 26, 2015 10:38 am

@ Jedi – I am not sure if it’s a less effective deterrent solution. If an enemy found out where our Vanguard is and took it out they could effectively disable the UK’s deterrent without our knowledge. A system spread out on a larger number of platforms is far more survivable. My main issue with CASD is that it’s a large investment that provides little daily utility. The specialized boat means that we need to have a larger fleet just in case we lose one and its a significant waste of money.

mike wheatley
mike wheatley
January 26, 2015 1:24 pm

“The other thing with the whole idea of an ICBM system enduring into the 2070s is the idea that ABM systems will remain static. The idea of a (hypothetical) S-700 that can shoot down ICBMs causes problems to the idea of an ICBM threat against peer nations.”

Very good point.
Even with a deterent indistinguishable from a US launch, a hypothetical effective Russian national ABM system would allow them to deal with the initial (UK) launch whilst ‘waiting and seeing’ if it was followed by a larger US launch, and the risk analysis would encourage them to do so.
Hence the US risk analysis would also change: they would no-longer be driven to launch at Russia in response to a UK launch.

So I guess I predict SSBN(X) to happen, but get converted into SSGN’s sometime before 2070.

monkey
monkey
January 26, 2015 1:24 pm

Perhaps Batch 2 Astute’s could incorporate the vertical tubes (Virginia Class Payload Tube – VPT) being installed in the Batch III Virginia class SSN. They will replace the 12 VSL mounted behind the bow sonar that house the present fit of 12 VSL Tomahawk’s. The Virginia and Astute vessels are almost identical cross sections so the tubes will not interfere with the hulls outer form which is critical to its sonar signature. The two, 87.5-inch diameter tubes will house 12 VSL Tomahawk’s as well as a variety of other missiles/payloads.
http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Newswire2009/MAY20-01.aspx
Later Batch V will also have 4 Virginia Class Payload Modules – VPM each capable of holding 7 each VSL Tomahawk’s but more importantly their increased size will allow many other payloads to be mounted which combined with access hatches from inside the sub for special forces embarkation or in transit weapons access even more scope for payloads. A version that has a bottom hatch is also being researched for deployment of sea bed sensors/mines/mission pods directly onto the sea floor. The Batch V will be able to house 40 VSL Tomahawk’s and will enter service as the existing SSGN start to leave.
http://www.public.navy.mil/subfor/underseawarfaremagazine/issues/archives/issue_47/virginia.html

monkey
monkey
January 26, 2015 1:33 pm

@mike wheatley
The US will have the ability to effectively blanket the globe with ABM , either Arleigh Burke mounted , land based or air borne (space borne ? shades of RR’s Star Wars? ) . This also has the effect that the US could effectively ‘veto’ an independent launch from a British or French SSBN (the French could also drop bombs on whoever) by using this ballistic shield to bring down our missiles if the didn’t agree with us exercising our nuclear option come some direct attack on our home Nations or the Red menace reaching the Rhine or Channel.

Paul C
Paul C
January 26, 2015 1:40 pm

I have done a fair amount of work on the budget and if Britain wishes to continue to be a “premier player” in defence then it needs to spend circa 50-70 Billion p.a. (this includes all services inc GCHQ, MI5, MI6 etc.).

The US has a 30 year boat building programme and the Navy could get a massive capability jump on a £3b p.a capital expenditure budget – Creating a fleet of circa 126 hulls with another 18-24 RFA. The T26 will eventually replace the T45 and a new mass produced Stealth Corvette (Visby, Meko etc) would provide ASM and carrier close escort. An additional 7 Astute Submarines are must perhaps with smaller ballistic missiles that mean we do not need a separate hull for Successor.

Taking the 30 year approach to the other arms It is clear the RAF requires massive investment and £6b per annum capex will see us able to order 36 fighters a year for the next 10 years to get us up to critical mass (108 required for carriers alone) We should consider a mix of Gripen, Eurofighter and F35. Helicopter expenditure would also see a massive increase to created a 750 unit helicopter fleet (288 of which are apaches or similar) by 2045.

Lastly, the army needs a minimum of 92k personnel to fulfil a 4 Division / 8 Brigade model (4 brigades of expeditionary and 4 heavy brigades) = each brigade should have 8400 soldiers as a minimum (9600 is optimal in my opinion).

Our Nuclear deterrent is circa £1b Capex p.a and is negligible in the overall 30 year plan.

What I think is interesting is that having taken a look at MOD spending – the money seems to be generally available – but poorly spent on the whole.

My recommendations are fully budgeted over 30 years at a £40-50 billion annual spend. Otherwise full spectrum is not achievable.

Lastly, I would say that it is often overlooked what opportunities the military offer to many regions of the UK that do not have the pull of London. It is essential to peoples livelihoods and offers a route out of certain situations for those without a great education, people employed in supporting the military use those wages to spend in the local economy thereby paying taxes etc. This must be better than paying benefits???

Frenchie
Frenchie
January 26, 2015 2:22 pm

I dreamed or we have a cooperation agreement on nuclear simulations with the megajoule laser based in south-west of France ?
Instead of renting nuclear missiles to the US, you make them with us.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 26, 2015 2:39 pm

Frenchie,

i thought that part (that you refer to) is the jointly funded testing facility under the ban on live such (decimating atolls somewhere in the South Pacific… Or Australian desert).

The sub-critical (no bang allowed to happen) is currently done with the US, and I presume, will continue in the same manner.

Martin
Editor
January 26, 2015 2:52 pm

@ Paul C – £50 billion is more than £15 billion above where we currently are or around 3% of GDP. Not much chance of us getting there when the government has an £84 billion a year structural deficit.

The issue is that most people in the UK don’t really care much if Britain is a “premier player”

Martin
Editor
January 26, 2015 2:57 pm

As far as I know the French have a very similar arrangement as us with the US on warhead testing and design and their is a fair degree of cooperation.

Frenchie
Frenchie
January 26, 2015 3:21 pm

ACC,

It’s right that the President Jacques Chirac has made eight nuclear tests from September 1995 to January 1996. These tests were intended to gather enough scientific data to simulate future trials. On 29 January 1996 France stop these nuclear tests.

After this last test campaign, France signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty on 24 September and dismantled its testing facilities in the Pacific. The tests are now performed by the “Simulation” program, which must ensure the continuity of scientific and technical capacity in the long term for the safety and reliability of weapons of the deterrence force.

By joining this program we could pooling our production of nuclear missiles and save a lot of money.

Sorry I don’t write quickly, the French are not strong in relation to foreign languages.

The Other Chris
January 26, 2015 3:38 pm

Being a “Premier Player”: It’s probably more accurate to say the general public want the benefits that being one grants, but aren’t aware of the details and/or efforts necessary to attain it.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 26, 2015 4:03 pm

Hi Frenchie,

I think we are well on our way with EPURE (in Valduc) and TDC (in Aldermaston) and what I make from the official language, the former is for simulation testing (as you were describing) and the latter for thru-life maintenance – jointly and together!

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 26, 2015 4:06 pm

Btw, did not those developments mean an end to Pacific hols for the Foreign Legion? They still maintain barracks on Mayotte, which in my books is not too bad, either?

Frenchie
Frenchie
January 26, 2015 4:45 pm

Hallelujah ACC,

I thought that the agreement had been canceled, fortunately no, I am happy that we do something in common, it’s so frustrating that sometimes projects are canceled for unknown reasons, often the fault of the French defence industry.

Otherwise the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Légion étrangère left Djibouti to set up in Abu Dhabi, the Légion is also based in Guyana for the safety of the space center, and you are right to Mayotte in the Indian Ocean.
Otherwise, I have soldiers of the 2nd Régiment Parachutiste of Calvi that protects the territory next to my home :)

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
January 26, 2015 6:03 pm

@ Frenchie – “I dreamed or we have a cooperation agreement on nuclear simulations with the megajoule laser based in south-west of France? Instead of renting nuclear missiles to the US, you make them with us.”

The cooperation will carry on, and a good thing two for both france and britain, but that benefit is quite separate from the question of which system britain operates.

Our continued investment in CMC shows an continued and absolute commitment to the US system, probably as much to do with the subsidy we receive as the institutional bond between the two of us.
Last time i looked it appeared that our deterrent cost us roughly half what it costs france for its.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 26, 2015 7:48 pm

“Most people don’t care if we are a Premier Player”…I suspect most people assume we are, and might well be very peevish if they discover that we are not and there has been a cost involved…which is why a wise political class would quietly collude to stay there or thereabouts without making too much fuss about it…because the electorate mostly like their assumptions to be confirmed when the shit hits the fan. (See 1982 for recent confirmation)

Our current political class, of course, are quietly colluding in being the most generous provider of overseas aid…which the electorate actively dislike…a preference I find distinctly odd. :-)

Hence Puzzled, as well as Gloomy and Northern.

Frenchie
Frenchie
January 26, 2015 7:52 pm

Yes because France has about 300 nuclear warheads, the UK has half. For France deterrence should reach 27 to 28% of the military budget in 2019, I don’t know to your side.
I know that you have strong ties with the US, but form a joint nuclear deterrent with France, with always one or two SSBNs at sea, we would save liquidity for conventional forces which are the first level of deterrence of a country. If we have nuclear missiles but our conventional forces are under-equipped with reduced troops, we weigh nothing at international level, the voice of a country is listened when this country has military means conventional which are dissuasive.

Repulse
January 26, 2015 8:01 pm

http://www.janes.com/article/48266/cbo-releases-new-triad-upgrade-estimate

I think the US will be up for suggestions currently…

Paul C
Paul C
January 26, 2015 9:28 pm

My point about the £50b is that is what a full spectrum, reasonably sized military (1/10 of USA) will cost at a minimum. We currently spend £16b per annum on capital expenditure and can actually purchase a modern set of equipment (Exc. Successor which is a separate budget anyway), the problem is in manpower and consumables and horrific management of these large projects.

It is just what it is – if we want a military with Global reach then I believe we owe the people who will risk their lives for us the best equipment we can afford and keep it up to date. A 30 year naval plan for 6 hulls per annum (500m each) is not excessive nor is 24 fighters (100m each) and 48 helicopter per annum (40m each) The problem the UK has is we lack a balanced long term fiscal approach whereby we ring fence expenditure on key functionality and we get drawn in to white elephants too often.

Do we realistically need 2 massive Aircraft carriers when 8 mistrals could be purchased for the same price, or even 7 more astute class submarines which will sink said carriers in 48hrs flat?

Poor decision making has occurred at many levels in the past has rendered our military pretty threadbare and it is the guys that face the enemy who pay the price, which is not acceptable I am afraid.

If we do not finance the military to this level then we really are pulling back to a home defence force (nothing wrong with that) and the current plans to re-shape seem fine by me, albeit with a massive investment in the RAF and Navy to protect our shores and aerospace.

The Other Chris
January 26, 2015 9:31 pm

@Paul C

What are the personnel and support requirement increases for that plan?

x
x
January 26, 2015 9:39 pm

Is the French SLBM out ranging Polaris yet? WIll its replacement perform as well as today’s Trdient?

Even the US’s considerable conventional forces didn’t deter 9/11. And only the US can really deploy a focre outside its borders of any weight. Let’s be honest really most armies and airforces protect a country from within; no state other than the US has enough naval to act globally. Occasioannally Europeans pretend they can reach out to hit somebody if Uncle Sam lets them.

A joint deterrent with France would not work. The Deterrent is the ultimate guarantor of soveriegnty and a shared system would amout to a defacto union. You could argue that in any liklihood an existential threat to UK would be one shared by all of Western Europe. But who knows what will come in the future? We can only to look to the past for guidance and all that tells us is that for the UK Europe means trouble. I am sorry but which France is going to show up? Today’s, De Gaulle’s that took them out of the military part of NATO or didn’t want us in the EU, or Marshal Petian’s Vichy? The German amatuer hour adaventures in Ukraine prove that they money is no substitute for experience in these matters and they are only just playing over their back garden wall. At the moment if anybody is going to drag Europe into war it is Berlin so perhaps they should fund the French bomb? Or should they wait until the Heer is up to its 1990 strength? I am sure there are lots of young Fräuleins waiting to fill their new recruiting quotas.

Martin
Editor
January 27, 2015 1:22 am

@ Paul C

Successor is not a separate budget anymore it will come out of that £16 billion pot, Less than half of that money goes on buying kit. Most is required to keep equipment running.

@ GNB – I agree that a lot of people in the UK just assume we are a world power without looking into the detail. It’s part of the reason military spending receives little public support because people think we already spend a lot.

The Other Chris
January 27, 2015 9:40 am

Given that personnel and ongoing support costs take up the largest block of budget for the MOD, it would be an interesting exercise/article to take @Paul C’s theme and, rather than expand fleets to a desired amount as @Paul C has done, instead determine how much capital expenditure and what sort of planning would be required to maintain a solid drumbeat or increase the tempo of the drumbeat for replacement equipment of what we already have.

Once that’s identified, determine methods of funding. Suggestions could stem from Treasury injection into UK industry (there would be promise of a regular order book) to the Treasury retaining ownership of equipment resell amounts for foreign export to offset the investments further.

Frenchie
Frenchie
January 27, 2015 11:00 am

@X,

It is true that there is a risk to do a common deterrent, without going back to Petain and De Gaulle, there is Marine Le Pen, who is alive and wants to get out of the EU, the NATO and wants to cooperate with Russia. There is a very small possibility, but that exists, that she wins the next presidential elections.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 27, 2015 1:19 pm

@TOC, agree.

But as slepping and lepping is reported bundled with normal maint./ support, can’t be done w/o co-opting DE&S.

Clearly, those prgrms more often that not are substituting for buying anew?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 27, 2015 1:21 pm

Frenchie, have the Foreign Legion decamped totally from Djibouti to Abu Dhabi?

Frenchie
Frenchie
January 27, 2015 1:57 pm

ACC, yes, following a request of UAE, France had committed to develop a permanent military presence in the country. It has been inaugurated in May 2009.

It is part of the “arc of crisis” defined by the White Paper on Defence and National Security of 2008.

In 2011, the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion left Djibouti to set up in Abu Dhabi.

We took the opportunity to show our equipment to the oil monarchies of the corner, and we have a naval and air base near of the sensitive areas of the planet.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
January 27, 2015 2:02 pm

Frenchie,

It is good to be flexible if a request for additional slots @ Paris CdG comes up from those corners. The Canadians weren’t and soon became to experience difficulties for their Afghanistan logistics hopping off point.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 27, 2015 5:31 pm

If we are on Fantasy Budgets, I’d suggest a short Bill to the effect that the Defence Budget be established in perpetuity as being by law four times greater than the overseas aid budget :-) – and more seriously I do wonder if we ought to float a TD Petition to Parliament along those or similar lines…we should at least make the worthless buggers explain their position in public…

Maybe we do need to go into the pressure group business – a sort of bloodthirsty alternative to CND and the pacifist left.

“Barricades” Gloomy

George
George
January 27, 2015 9:47 pm

@GNB – that is not a bad idea…

BTW – was it the People’s Republic of South Yorkshire Council you worked for at the time?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 28, 2015 12:27 am

– that’s two of us then…I’ll start thinking about how to word the petition. As to the other, close, but no cigar…Gloomyville is a market town of some antiquity that became a great city somewhat more recently; and I actually did some of the work to absorb the services provided by the People’s Republic back into it’s constituent parts, back in the day…

GNB

Martin
Editor
January 28, 2015 5:48 am

Think it’s better to I’m a petition at making the UK always exceed the NATO minimum commitment level.

George
George
January 28, 2015 7:06 am

Well happy to help as much as I can. I went to Uni in the PROSY in the 80s. Think Dave Blunkett was in charge at the time.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
January 28, 2015 5:07 pm

@ Monkey

I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure ABM doesn’t work like that.
Specifically: the ABM missiles need to be located near the impact points, and the ABM radar needs to be located roughly halfway between the impact points and the ICBM launch points. So I don’t see US ABMs being able to protect any other country.

What I do see (and El Sid points out) is China and Russia building their own ABM system, too small to defeat the US, but sufficient to defeat the UK, France, etc.
…And if our expensive deterrent cannot affect Russia or China anyway, and only works on the like of North Korea, Pakistan, or hypothetical Iran, then a much cheaper system with-a-day-job-we-actually-use would be sufficient.

wf
wf
January 28, 2015 5:48 pm

@Mike Wheatley: you are a tad wrong. ABM’s fall into several categories: boost phase where the target is boosting itself out of the atmosphere and into space (Standard SM3), midcourse where the target is in the middle of it’s sub orbital hop (US GMD system, the one they were going to install in Poland, also the big booster version of the SM3) and terminal defence where the warheads have seperated and are approaching or already in the atmosphere (THAAD, Patriot PAC3, Russian SH4/8).

Boost phase missiles are best positioned near the launch points.

Jeremy M H
January 28, 2015 5:56 pm

@MW

What you describe is the formula for the lowest performance type ABM missile one could put out there. In that case you are fairly accurate in that against targets of this speed a defensive missile needs early warning to have much if any cross range capability.

You are basically looking at the following major factors.

1. Speed of the inbound, which is a fairly well known number and also one you as the defensive side can’t change. The higher the speed the less time you have.
2. Systemic speed is kind of my catchall term for how quickly you can detect and refine the track of the inbound, create a firing solution and execute the same.
3. Interceptor speed and range really determines how much time you can have to accomplish number 2. A faster interceptor allows for a later launch and/or a more distant intercept.

There are some other factors that play in, such as decoys and interceptor warhead choice (the other challenges of this get a lot simpler if you are content to lob nuclear warheads at the inbound targets). Hit to kill ratchets the difficulty of this kind of thing up a great deal but can still be done.

I agree with you that the US cannot provide blanket coverage anywhere, or even really great protection for other nations. It really depends on what the high end versions of the SM-3 and THAAD are capable of doing in that regard. Presuming (and this is a big assumption) that the terminal guidance mechanism could cope with a full on ICBM speed threat then they would have some capability against that target set. The factors at that point are the missiles ability to get to point X in time to meet warhead Y and if the system can locate the target and fire the missile in time to get to that point. Ideally you would like to have the big missile defense radar as it lets you put point X as far out as possible but you could likely get some things done without it.

Its an interesting cost balancing problem when you look at it. You can buy cheaper and less capable missiles for the same job if you have better radars and other support services to buy you more time. You can have cheaper support systems if your missile is more energetic. There are innumerable other factors that go into what makes the most sense for certain issues and what doesn’t. All in all its a very interesting issue that we have seen spawn multiple solutions even within one country (GMD, SM-3, THAAD, PAC-3).

Something like AMDR is going to help in this regard. You will never get numbers in the open but I would guess it would push the unsupported range of an SM-3 out pretty far given the big capability and resolution leaps it will take over the SPY sets. The more you can detach SM-3 capability from the big missile defense radars the more useful it will be.

Repulse
January 28, 2015 8:40 pm

Perhaps we could get onboard with the US to build a sub version of this:

http://www.janes.com/article/48385/usaf-wants-to-dodge-latest-air-defences-with-bomber-s-new-secret-weapon

East_Anglian
East_Anglian
February 1, 2015 8:42 am

Just seen the first bit of selected leaking from phase 3, of this SDSR season:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/article1513873.ece

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