The United Kingdom’s future nuclear deterrent: 2014 update to Parliament

December 2014 Update to Parliament on the United Kingdom Future Nuclear Deterrent

An update to Parliament, snuck out just before Christmas!

Includes the current status of;

  • assessment phase overview and progress since last report
  • programme management
  • build, test and commissioning strategies
  • design strategy
  • international collaboration
  • submarine nuclear enterprise
  • supply chain
  • barrow infrastructure
  • long lead items
  • submarine costs
  • warhead
  • future work

Read more

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-united-kingdoms-future-nuclear-deterrent-2014-update-to-parliament”]
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shark bait
shark bait
January 2, 2015 9:53 am

Nothing too juicy in there, but I wouldn’t expect there to be. To me it sounds like a new design rather than an enlarged astute which is good.

I still think we should be collaborating with the French more on this, we may need a deterrent, but we can’t afford it, so why not share the burden with the nation most similar to ours.

I would propose something I’ve not teen discussed yet, a fleet of 5 sub’s, with

1 on permanent patrol for the brits,
1 on permanent patrol for the French,
1 for training,
1 in load out,
1 in maintenance,

That way one country doesn’t need to depend on the other to protect it.

Put the facilities in france and that will keep the Scottish public happy, the French seem more open to nuclear , its embedded allover France after all.

We could even adopt the French missile…

Sounds too late for all this but I like the idea, could save us upwards of 10 billion in construction alone, never mind operation. That money could be put to very good use elsewhere in the armed forces.

Not Gabriele
Not Gabriele
January 2, 2015 10:19 am

Fire one and end the ISIL advance.

RCT(V)
RCT(V)
January 2, 2015 10:22 am

(Think Defence (TD) sensibly “copy & pasted” the headlines direct from the website . . . )

Being pedantic, should we therefore draw a conclusion that the Government’s policy paper “The United Kingdom’s future nuclear deterrent: 2014 update to Parliament”, is to seriously concern itself with the suitability, capability, effectiveness of the “(wheel) barrow infrastructure” . . . amongst all the other plant, equipment and machinery that is involved in the United Kingdom’s future nuclear deterrent ?

Alternatively, in the “rush” to publish the Government’s policy paper, did someone simply omit to give the Barrow facility, the correct title it deserves?

Chris
Chris
January 2, 2015 10:29 am

shark bait – I know collaboration is seen as efficient (not my favourite term…) and can see some validity in joint development of new equipment – if A400M had been a sole UK programme it would probably have been a bit more expensive and a bit less polished – but shared development is different in my mind to shared use. In your example I immediately wonder what happens if (hypothetical) action against a state which has French ties & interests is deemed necessary by the UK – could we suddenly find as a lever of political pressure the bombers home base refuses the British boat access? When the time comes to swap boats for planned maintenance do we find the replacement is not ready? and so on. I see shared defence in the same light as shared currency – unless there is a cast-iron consensus at policy level its a breakdown waiting to happen. So in the same way that the long term success of a common currency forces adoption of (as a minimum) a federal government, so does a common defence force. Sharing major defence materiel is in my view a step down an undesirable path.

RCT(V)
RCT(V)
January 2, 2015 10:52 am

“shark bait”, very sensible suggestion . . .

( . . . acknowledging the operational caveats subsequently mentioned by “Chris”),

But then – as we all know – when did the Government/MoD ever allow that to influence their decisions!

shark bait
shark bait
January 2, 2015 11:12 am

Chris, I would usually agree, joint operation does sound like a nightmare, but maybe only for for conventional forces. Each country has its own separate little forces to deal with their deterrent which operates differently by nature, so I think it would be possible , difficult but possible.

One could also argue that the Americans could deny us access to there missile pool of they so choose, leaving us in a similar situation. I think we would could leverage out political powers more against the French than the Americans. plus I think we are more similar to the French than the Americans so likely to have similar military interests.

I agree its not the perfect solution , but I think its a neat one that delivers a deterrent at a lower cost whilst kind of promoting disarmament.

Mark
Mark
January 2, 2015 11:32 am

” In your example I immediately wonder what happens if (hypothetical) action against a state which has French ties & interests is deemed necessary by the UK”

Swap france for America and go back to 1956 and that’s your answer hasn’t stopped us being inextricably linked with America now with much appetite in mod to go further.

a
a
January 2, 2015 11:32 am

“In your example I immediately wonder what happens if (hypothetical) action against a state which has French ties & interests is deemed necessary by the UK – could we suddenly find as a lever of political pressure the bombers home base refuses the British boat access? When the time comes to swap boats for planned maintenance do we find the replacement is not ready? and so on.”

As shark bait points out, we’re currently in a much worse situation with regard to the Americans. If the French did decide to do something like this – and frankly I am finding it difficult to imagine a scenario in which it would happen – they would be sacrificing their own deterrent as well, because the UK would certainly do the same thing to them in return. The Americans could invalidate our deterrent at will and there’s not a thing we could do about it.

And what kind of scenario is this? The UK, realistically, isn’t going to launch except in retaliation for a nuclear attack on its own soil or forces, or as a last-ditch defence against an overwhelming conventional attack. (Depending on the PM, sometimes not even then. Read Peter Hennessey’s discussion of the last-ditch letters that each PM writes to the bomber crews.)
In the first scenario, which nuclear powers are there out there whom the French would want to protect at the cost of their own deterrent, and of their own friendship with a close and powerful neighbour and ally, after the target had actually used nuclear weapons against the UK? I don’t think France has any friends quite that good. Iraq in 1991 was friendly with France. But if Saddam had responded to Desert Storm by dropping a sunshine bucket on London, do you think the French would have prevented British retaliation? Come on. For one thing, London is a fairly large French city. IIRC there are about a hundred thousand French nationals here at any one time.
As for last-ditch defence in the second – any overwhelming conventional attack on Britain is pretty much going to have to come through France.

Chris
Chris
January 2, 2015 11:46 am

a – sorry if I wasn’t as clear as I should have been; I was talking of the UK undertaking its normal conventional actions in this hypothetical situation, not using the deterrent itself.

All – yes I understand our dependence on our cousins on the other side of the pond, not an ideal position to find ourselves but one that has run for a long time now, mostly harmoniously. Creating a second competing arrangement may cause the earlier standing arrangement to come under review.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 2, 2015 11:53 am

I honestly don’t see why NATO does not pay for a deterrent, as it is by default a nuclear alliance. Is it asking too much for other members who benefit from it’s existence to throw a little in the pot? It’s a weapon of last resort as it is, so there should be no political ambiquity to argue about.

IXION
January 2, 2015 12:15 pm

Scrap the lot and save the cash.

Observer
Observer
January 2, 2015 12:24 pm

And watch the Chinese get pushy.

Mark
Mark
January 2, 2015 12:26 pm

DN

I would agree with the premise much like the aew force perhaps a ssbn force on a similar footing.

However the political ambiguity is what is the last resort. Had Ukraine been part of nato was that last resort Kiev?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 2, 2015 12:46 pm

Mark

‘Had Ukraine been part of nato was that last resort Kiev?’

But that begs the hypothetical of, if Ukraine had been in NATO would Russia have done what it did?

The last resort I am thinking is more along the lines we and the US has now, we will not launch first and only in response to a nuclear or strike by a weapon of mass destruction. I think something along the lines of the AEW force could work as there were plenty of NATO members with alliance nukes on their territory.

Mark
Mark
January 2, 2015 12:59 pm

DN

It’s an interesting one that and perhaps to confuse things further this article highlights the art of plausible deniability

http://aviationweek.com/defense/denial-and-disinformation-will-shape-future-warfare

Yes the b61 was maybe still is available to a number of european NATO sates.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
January 2, 2015 1:04 pm

It appears things have progressed too far for Shark Bait’s idea to obtain traction.

“The Successor Assessment Phase has been constructed in such a way as to allow build
to begin against a much higher level of design maturity than was the case for the Astute
Class submarines; this should avoid significant re-work during production. ”

What boggles my brain is fees of “£250M worth of further design work by BAES in one year.” At 5 days a week 48 weeks a year that is over £1,000,000 a day every day. Seems an awful lot.

With that amount of spend I would have hoped they would avoid any, even incy-wincy tiny insignificant, re-work during production.

mike wheatley
mike wheatley
January 2, 2015 1:09 pm

@ Shark Bait,

I see merit in the concept, certainly enough to do a serious study of the idea. There may be some big hidden problem with the tech trasfer, etc. but with out own warhead designs, I would expect it to be the same as the US arrangement.

* The key is to ensure that both nations depend on the other for a complete system, such that an attack on one, or even the future lack of support by the attacked nation, would invalidate the deterrence of the other. *

* At worst, it might mean that the UK needs enough tactical air-launched nukes to hold northern France at (hypothetical) risk if France blocked / attacked the UK deterrence Boat. *

Not because we would use it, of course, but it would prevent anyone from using nuclear blackmail against France to get France to block the UK SSBN.
France already has an air-launched nuclear capability, so if Russia tells us “block the French SSBN or else we will nuke you as well”, then we can already say “but then the French will nuke us in retaliation for preventing them from nuking you, so your threat is no threat at all”.

Martin
Editor
January 2, 2015 1:36 pm

Cant see sharing the deterrent with France is a good idea. we already effectively share it with the USA and I can’t see anyway that the U.S. Would allow us to continue using their reactor designs or missiles in collaboration with the French. There is also industrial concerns to think about. if we make less SSBNs then we would have to close Barrow.

WW
WW
January 2, 2015 1:41 pm

@ Mark

“Yes the b61 was maybe still is available to a number of european NATO states”

Indeed, 5 Eurpean Nato nation still “host” the B61 tactical nuclear wepons: Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy and Turkey. They also provide the aircraft to deliver the B61’s: F16’s in Belgium, Holland and Turkey and Tornado’s in Germany and Italy.

Let it be clear that “available” is only storage and delivery. The US controls the weapons and their usage. The five nation’s contributions falls under the heading “solidarity” and “burden sharing”.

Interesting to see what will happen in the future when the F35 will be the only aircraft capable of carrying the B61 bomb. Holland, Italy and Turkey already decided to go for the F35. Belgium is evaluating and plans to make a decision before 2018. Choosing something else than F35 (e.g. Gripen or Rafale) means dropping the nuclear role. What will Germany do when they have to phase out their Tornado’s in the twenties?

Jeremy M H
January 2, 2015 2:51 pm

From the other side of the pond I often wonder what has been done that has offended many in the UK regarding cooperation. From where I sit the UK has gotten a huge boost from nuclear cooperation with the US and it has saved the MOD billion upon billions of pounds in developing its own systems from scratch.

The US and the UK have cooperated in many areas and from what I can see most of it has been satisfactory. They cooperate in some of the most sensitive areas of all through intel sharing and nuclear weapons. There is close operational cooperation.

In regards to SLBMs in particular the UK is armed with a weapon with around 150 test under its belt as opposed to the French system which has done 5 test IIRC with the last one being a failure. In fact as far as I can tell full 1/3rd of the launches from an actual submarine have been failures. Again, small numbers and all but the most important thing in a nuclear deterrent is its perceived reliability.

In the end it really won’t make much difference over here. But I don’t get the level of distrust there is at times. People really need to move beyond the Suez thing. Hate to say it but it was a dumb idea that the UK knew the US opposed and it was implemented at a horrible time in regards to what was going on in Europe and the Middle East in terms of the big picture. Probably time to let that one go.

IXION
January 2, 2015 3:26 pm

Observer

Really?

You think the Chinese give peeking duck about our nuclear weapons?

Please tell me a circumstance you can think of that would mean a unilateral launch by the UK against the Chinese.

Observer
Observer
January 2, 2015 4:45 pm

You’re looking at it the wrong way round. What’s keeping the Chinese from doing a unilateral launch (which would be easy as they don’t have anyone else to answer to) against you? Not just cities, but against isolated military assets? While many see nuclear weapons as strategic and purely city killing assets, they can and have tactical and diplomatic uses. If they went “Stand aside while we take over Taiwan/take revenge on Japan/claim the Spratleys or we’ll make you lose a city/your carrier.” what do you have that can dissuade them from playing nuclear weapons as a threat? It’s like North Korea with different demands, an item to blackmail you if you are unable to counterbalance it. In all honesty, most of the countries neighbouring China are riding on the coattails of the US nuclear deterrent.

Fedaykin
January 2, 2015 5:17 pm

@shark bait

I doubt your plan would be cheaper at all actually quite the reverse.

As people keep on forgetting TRIDENT IS NOT BEING REPLACED! What is being replaced is the Vanguard class submarines. We own the missiles and they are projected to stay in service with upgrades significantly paid for by the Americans up to 2040.

The Americans are also significantly paying for the common missile compartment for the Ohio and Vanguard successor classes. Our warheads are based on American design and are integrated onto Trident D5. Our missiles are maintained in a common pool with the Americans giving significant cost savings.

To go for your plan we would have to buy new French missiles to share in a common pool with France and we would have to integrate them onto their missile. That is even if the Americans allow us to considering there is considerable shared R&D in the Warhead bus. A common pool of missiles with France is going to cost far more than with America. That is going to swallow all the money that you might save pooling submarines with France.

Why throw what has been a good agreement with America under the bus and go through all the cost of adopting new missiles when the planned solution only involves replacing Vanguard and retaining what we have?!

Also what do you think is going to happen to Barrow with your plan? There is no way France is going to agree to these shared submarines being built anywhere but France!

Sorry it is a silly idea

Mark
Mark
January 2, 2015 5:54 pm

The U.S. looks after number 1 that’s not a bad thing for any county to do. The french do something similar, we in the UK should perhaps take a leaf from there books and have a touch more pride in our county. There’s still more that unites us than divids us but it’s always worth recognising that US motives are not always what’s best for the UK.

We have seen a catalog of programs/events from super sonic flight at the end of the war, thru tsr2 and the f111, skybolt, to Concorde (http://airwaysnews.com/blog/2014/01/09/jfk-furious-pan-concorde-order-declassified-phone-calls/), gripen, the usaf air tanker contract, the falklands (initially) and funding for terrorist groups in the UK to name a few.

We trust the Americans more than most other countries but a healthy dose of sceptism stops you getting burned.

Chuck
Chuck
January 2, 2015 6:50 pm

@Jeremy M H – It’s not about nuclear co-operation. It’s the larger alliance that causes distrust.

While there have been a number of fiscal benefits we’ve paid a terrible moral and political price for them and the USG has no compunction whatsoever in acting against us or our citizens.

You’re still holding a number in Guantanamo illegally where you tortured them. Even though you acknowledge they are all innocent and have for years, you refuse to release them to save your presidents poll numbers.

You kidnapped some off British streets and when it was discovered you kidnapped the wrong man, they found themselves dumped in the 3rd world without so much as a “We’re sorry for arse raping you with a pipe” or cab fair to the embassy. There are Brit’s who are guilty in all this and they should be tried for their collusion, but the British public lays the blame firmly at the feet of the USG.

You’ve tortured and killed more British citizens than ISIS by an order of magnitude. You even give AQ, the IRA and Soviets a run for their money when it comes to attacks on British civilians. Even out of those comparisons 1 was created by you to serve your own interests and the other you kept funding and arming even as they were attacking Britain. That didn’t change until you had to face the realities of terrorism yourself.

Back to the fiscal benefits they are entirely dependant on not going against the US publicly when we do even on minor issues they’re used punitively. Half the time we the US talks of co-operating with Britain it’s actually seeking obedience of a subordinate under threat of punitive action not genuine co-operation with a friend and equal.

When we do co-operate your nation’s penchant for egocentric historical revisionism ensures we are rarely credited. Supersonic flight, Manhattan project, space race, stealth and on and on.

You didn’t stand with us as an ally, no no, you ‘saved’ us.

When you do help us it’s never out of compassion or friendship, we have to pay for every bullet, bomb and boot. Just as you did back then, well I back then we were still paying until recently, it cost so much.

You’re an embarrassment too, you can’t go 6 months without dragging us into a damaging international scandal, parliament actually voted to stop using the term ‘special relationship’, because the association was actively damaging relations with the rest of the world.

You’ve never stopped trying to undermine the commonwealth.

You treat us as an ally of convenience at best, disobedient subordinate at worst. Then act completely baffled when we aren’t particularly impressed.

Imagine if the roles had been reversed and we had done these things to you? What would your opinion of the UK be? Your actions toward us? I think it would a lot stronger than distrust.

‘MURICA!

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 2, 2015 7:05 pm

Jeremy M H Your right the UK has gained considerable from cooperation with the US both in intelligence and nuclear matters. Long may it continue, but asking what bugs us over here (and every where else in the world I should imagine) is simple really. The US holier than thou attitude. As you brought it up Suez, badly handled I agree, but if their was a similar situation regarding the Panama canal I wonder what the US would have done? An invasion perhaps!! The US like every country looks after its own interest first and foremost, nothing wrong with that, but to pretend you are acting from some higher motive is what annoys. Particularly when you castigate others for doing exactly what you do yourself. This is not to say all countries are the same, you will be glad to hear I think the US is very much on the “good” side, just don’t think you are exceptional.

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 2, 2015 7:11 pm

Should have checked the posts above before I sent mine.
I think you have your answer Jeremy.

Jeremy M H
January 2, 2015 7:24 pm

@white

I would just say the holier than thou attitude often flows both ways. You are right on suez and panama. But the key difference is the US doesn’t need the help or acquiescence of other nations to do the same in Panama. The UK and France clearly needed or wanted US financial, energy and nuclear protection to pull off suez. If you need that it would be best to line it up before hand. That isn’t arrogance or anything else. Just objective reality. That is why I have always found the complaints about it silly. By then those powers couldn’t do what the US and USSR could do. To behave as if they could simply ignored the reality of the situation.

Jeremy M H
January 2, 2015 7:30 pm

@chuck

Fair enough. Don’t really see it that way and sorry you do. If it’s that bad I can’t fathom why you guys stick around at all.

The Other Chris
January 2, 2015 7:34 pm

With regards to Common Missile Compartment department, worth noting that although the US will be footing the larger bill at the culmination of the program, that the UK has contributed the majority of the funds to date ($329m up to 2011).

Probably also worth noting again here that while Successor is planned for an eight tube CMC, CMC isn’t restricted to launching ICBM’s.

Further reading and progress from the US perspective:

https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R41129.pdf

EDIT: Interesting in the report to note UK design teams have “significant presence” in Electric Boat’s Shaw’s Cove CMC facility in Connecticut.

Phil
January 2, 2015 8:05 pm

Please tell me a circumstance you can think of that would mean a unilateral launch by the UK against the Chinese.

But that’s the point. There wouldn’t ever be a unilateral launch because there can’t be a unilateral launch. The US and UK SLBM force is effectively one force by deliberate act of UK policy.

Chuck
Chuck
January 2, 2015 8:15 pm

@JMH: I don’t hate America and do value the alliance, but you asked why we distrust you. Those actions are why, and that’s hardly an exhaustive list.

It’s not a matter of seeing it any particular way, your nation did those things and actions have consequences that’s all. We’re hardly perfect but we don’t torture Americans, we don’t fund terror campaigns on your soil.

This is my hometown http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996_Manchester_bombing I was 9 when it happened, I walked that street regularly, the people who did it shook buckets in Time Square and your government turned a blind eye to money and weapons being trafficked to the perpetrators, even to them coming over to train in America. Some in your government actively supported their cause, senators and congressmen pal’d around with convicted IRA members. Your own newspapers describing the US as their primary source of funding and support for decades. Murals showing support and celebrating their success still litter American cities particularly Boston and New York.

Support that has diminished but not stopped btw. Threatening to undermine the fragile peace we’ve achieved.

You shouldn’t be sorry for my attitude you should be grateful my attitudes differ so greatly from your own government’s. Whose reaction would have unequivocally been war.

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 2, 2015 8:16 pm

Jeremy
What you are saying is might is right. An attitude you castigate in others but have no compunction at all in acting on when in your interest. If you would but admit it.

as
as
January 2, 2015 8:18 pm

@Jeremy M H
A note of Suez
The military operation was a success (Operation Musketeer). So the we the British could carry that operation on there own (Ok some help off the French and Israel). We had to give it back when the Americans and Saudi’s refused all fuel exports to Britain and France. Strange how it always comes back to oil. And another side note we carried out that successful operation while being harassed by the US navies sixth fleet. I also think at this point the US was still providing Egypt with weapons. So it would be against a US supported dictator.
Nasser went over to the soviets at a later date after the US refused to stop sell Israel weapons.

as
as
January 2, 2015 8:31 pm

Another thing, even Eisenhower himself years later admitted that not supporting Anthony Eden over Suez had been his greatest foreign policy mistake.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6085264.stm
US could have stopped what has come to be 59 years of war in the middle east. The danger of one empire (yes American had an empire still does to a point) not trusting an other empire thinking that there actions are purely for there own good.

cky7
cky7
January 2, 2015 9:02 pm

JMH,
To put it as a simple analogy, I’d say its sort of like your best mate who you’ve known for years and years and have hung around with all the time. There are times that they’ll annoy you and you’ll probably even moan about them or things they’ve done a bit to other people. Its a symptom of having known them so long that things annoy you about them, but on balance you know the things you like about them outweigh the things you don’t by a good margin. Hence you’re still mates and in virtually every situation you’ll try and back them up when you can!

Jeremy M H
January 2, 2015 9:27 pm

@as & white

I don’t think its might is right at all. Just a question of practicality. Either the UK was willing to bear the cost of going through with the action or it wasn’t. As they backed down almost instantly it appears to me they miscalculated when it was very apprent at the time what the U.S. position was. Ike probably did make a mistake there as US support for Egypt didn’t pan out. But the position was sensible at the time and made known in advance to the UK. It was in retrospect a mistake as it didn’t pan out for the US in the end, the logic at the time though wasn’t terribly faulty.

As for any notion that the action in suez could have stopped 59 years of war I find that laughable. France got tossed from Algeria shortly later. Any stay in the Suez would have been expensive and short lived. Plenty of Arab states still border Israel as well so it hardly leaves that situation solved.

Suez was really a mistake by everyone involved, except possibly Israel who took a chance to get what they wanted.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 2, 2015 9:34 pm

On the other hand, the finest the Americans (individuals) can be is just astonishingly generous, gracious and unstinting. I have very many happy memories of the USA, from the Smoky Mountains to the Rockies, and from the Canadian border in upper NY state to Alberquerque. Not too sure about Macon Georgia however, some of us got a bit rowdy in a bar and the barman pulled a shotgun on us. We left quietly.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 2, 2015 9:43 pm

I was also bitten by a large mongrel dog on that exercise, not far from Macon. Patrolling up a dirt road with I think 12 of us, the bloody hound watched us from the porch of it’s owner’s house, then after a few minutes charged out, past half a dozen others and dug its’ teeth into my arse. The boys fell about laughing, the owner was nowhere to be seen, and I smacked its’ head with the butt of my SLR and had to get jabbed up with tetanus. Not bloody funny.

as
as
January 2, 2015 9:51 pm

@Jeremy M H
“As they backed down almost instantly it appears to me they miscalculated”
As I said with the US and the puppet Saudi refusing Oil exports what choice did France and the UK have.
1950s Economies do not work with out oil. Ship, planes, car and truck do not work with out it. The only thing left would be the trains and a least the power would stay on they were both still coal powered.
It all comes back to oil.

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 2, 2015 10:05 pm

@JMH
If you impose your will on others, whether using military, diplomatic or economic means is it not a case of might is right?
The US could have done nothing but as they saw it in their interest to intervene they did so. They acted out of self interest right or wrong. All nations do it, the US just seems to have to dress it up as some sort of altruistic mission.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 2, 2015 10:31 pm

Is “You can choose your friends, you are stuck with your family” a purely North Country saying, or does it have wider currency elsewhere in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland…or indeed amongst our English-speaking Cousins in the US (and Canada, Australia and New Zealand)…whatever the answer, it seems to me to sum up the situation rather neatly… :-)

Not that I’m against being friendly with the French…especially the women, obviously :-) …

…or against posing some difficult questions about Boston-Irish support for the IRA, or indeed some of the events that followed 9/11 :-( …

…but let us by all means not descend to the level of Sol’s Blog; at least not this early in the new year, and in the course of a discussion that has nothing to do with carriers..!

GNB

IXION
January 2, 2015 10:39 pm

Observer

TD writes about SDR special pleading.

China is the ‘get out of the argument free’ card, played in any discussion about defence.

“We need (insert tank, Fres, carrier, deterent, million man army) because of china”.

This is bollocks for several reasons and here are a few:-

1. We gave up our east of Suez role in the 60’s. This has been hammered home by 2 total fucking disasters when we crept back on US coattails.

2. All the countries arround China that are not best mates with China, have their own treaties and defence agreements between them and US.

3. During the carrier flame wars I was again and again assured by carrier junkies that there was no way we would send an Elephant to engage the chinese unilateraly. I agreed then and do now that sending an Elephant to get involved in a south China sea war will result in a. Repulse/Prince of Wales type bloody fiasco if the shooting starts.

4. Any big shooting war will involve the US who will make the nuclear deciaions, and as Phil points out decide if there are to be buckests of sunshine delivered. If so they have there own and can bloody well use theirs.

5. Any politico or millitary type that goes poking our bancrupt nose into big fights on the otherside of the planet is an idiot.

6. The chinese know this and could give a house of flying daggers about UK millitary power.

Tne UK “independant deterent” is massivly expensive force deforming, Willy waiving excercise like the Elephants you want to use it to protect.

Wow 2 mutualy self licking lollypops

IXION
January 2, 2015 10:45 pm

GNB

Sorry but apparantly our nuclear weapons are needed to protect our carriers………..

Wow who knew ay?

The Other Chris
January 2, 2015 10:53 pm

You can do better than stoop to appeal to ridicule, IXION.

IXION
January 2, 2015 11:04 pm

TOC

I am not.

I am just pointing out the ‘China card’ gets played all the time, by people who should know better, to justify all sorts of stuff.

I am just pointing out that was used this time to justify the nuclear deterent. It doesn’t.

GNB was saying this is not a carrier thread. According to observer it is…….

The Other Chris
January 2, 2015 11:14 pm

“This is bollocks…”, “…fucking disasters…”, “…carrier flame wars…”, “…carrier junkies…”, “…Elephant[/Elephants]…”, “…Any [one who xyz]…is an idiot.”, “…deforming, Willy waiving…”, “…you want to…”.

Complete with a non sequitur and a begging of question to boot.

Do you want anyone to reasonably debate with you?

IXION
January 2, 2015 11:27 pm

TOC

I stand by every word I just used.

The China card is bollocks.

Gulf 2 and Afghan were fucking disasters.

I and others refer to the carrier flame wars on this site a couple of years ago, as short hand for the heated debate between the carrier deniers (including but certainly not exclusivly me), and the carrier junkies, (so called by me because of their seeming wilingneess to give up everything else for their flat top fix). Indeed it might even have been TD who coined the flame war phrase.

I dont know if I coined the term (white) Elephant for the two carriers but if I did I am proud of it. They are and will fulfil the dictionary definition admirably.

As for calling politicos idiots for involving us in a south China sea war.. If they do they wil be.

By all means feel free to refute my arguments.

You may not like how I said it but do you disagree with what is said. That is then a debate…..

Bring it on.

The Other Chris
January 2, 2015 11:30 pm

Take point No.5. If I were to venture we get involved in issues in the a South China Sea, then your appeal to ridicule would immediately call me into being an idiot.

Without debate and discussion as to why.

No.

You profess to be better than this.

The Other Chris
January 2, 2015 11:31 pm

Sorry, didn’t catch your edits before adding my reply. I’m off to bed.

IXION
January 2, 2015 11:37 pm

TOC

If you can make a case for UK navy intervention in a south China sea war, then I would genuinly be glad to hear it. With reference to the circumumstances in which the loss or threatened loss of a UK carrier task force would result in the UK using its nuclear deterrent.

And I promise not to call you an idiot

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 2, 2015 11:42 pm

The nuclear deterrent is a political not a military weapon. It’s use or otherwise will be a purely political decision. Don’t think of it in military terms but political ones. They are as much about power (or the perception of power), prestige, influence, and sitting at the top table as they are about deterrence.

as
as
January 2, 2015 11:47 pm

I know it is a stupid suggestion but there is such thing as a idea of limited nuclear war.
It does not have to all be about M.A.D. but it depends on who the enemy is.

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 12:01 am

@TOC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Power_Defence_Arrangements

That’s about it. Not a binding commitment but I can’t see any PM ignoring an outright attack on the commonwealth(especially AU and NZ) he’d probably face a vote of no confidence if he did. China’s not dumb enough to launch an outright attack though, they’ll continue with their current tactic of armed shenanigans.

On the other point; If we were willing to nuke people to prevent loss of warships I’m pretty sure Buenos Aires would still be warm to the touch.

Mark
Mark
January 3, 2015 12:01 am

Whitelancer

The use of the military is a purely political decision any part of it.

Nuclear weapons are the 21st centuary strategic bomber force (the force that many say didn’t work) though instead of sending 1000 bomber raids against city’s we send a missile with multiple warheads to wipe it out.

Nuclear weapons are a military weapon like any other, the difference being there indiscriminate nature and the total destruction they bring.

Observer
Observer
January 3, 2015 12:09 am

IXION, you know one of the reasons why we are a “US security partner” and not an “ally”? It’s because the US has a tendency to drag their allies into messes. If they did end up intervening in Asia, there is a very high probability that you will be asked to contribute something as a show of support to the overall alliance. And you don’t have to send a carrier into the South China Sea to get it targeted, that’s the annoying part about ICBMs that can go into low orbit, they can literally hit anywhere on the planet, and their use as an anti-fleet weapon has been tested before by the US, so it’s hardly a new tactic.

Once again, I say you are looking at the situation backwards. The deterrence is not about killing some other country, but a method of proofing yourself against nuclear blackmail.

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 3, 2015 12:23 am

Depends what you mean by limited. Could be limited to two countries for instance but for those countries it would be a case of MAD. Once you start throwing nukes about its difficult to see how their use can be limited. The only way I can think of limiting their use was if they were only used either at sea or confined to your own territory as air defence or ABM, not a happy prospect. The real problem is the unpredictability. Its much more sensible to assume that MAD would be the result of any nuclear use, that way hopefully no one will be tempted to use them at all.

Observer
Observer
January 3, 2015 12:30 am

white, “limited” as in you target deployed military formations instead of cities. Not much infrastructure damage, lots of military damage. The small tactical nuclear weapons were used in this way.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 3, 2015 12:30 am

…”a case for UK Intervention in a South China Sea War…” – ANZUS become involved in a confrontation that might escalate in that way; they have a particular difficulty (perhaps in connexion with intelligence gathering) which we can help them to resolve because we have an available asset in a particular place at a particular time…they approach us for help through the AUSCANNZUKUS Supervisory Board. We, mindful of the value of the Five Eyes Intelligence Agreement to us, for our own protection, here in the UK, are minded to discreetly honour our obligations under that Treaty…because it is important to us, for our protection, here in the UK, that other people honour their Treaty obligations to us…

The Chinese find out, Edward Snowden having provided useful information that is not yet in the public domain to Putin in order to secure his protection…and the Czar having decided to pass that information on to Beijing in order to increase pressure on the West in the East and distract NATO from his activities in what he sees as his “Sphere of Influence”….the Chinese in consequence set to hunting down our SSN which was by coincidence in a location useful to our Cousins in ANZUS…and swiftly finalise a Mutual Defence Agreement with the Argentine, whereby they will provide “Logistics” and “Advisors” to help their new best friends in South America to “recover” the “Malvinas” in return for fifty years worth of Lion Field Oil on extremely easy terms…

GNB

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 3, 2015 1:54 am

The use of the military is a purely political decision any part of it.
Mark
“Nuclear weapons are the 21st centuary strategic bomber force (the force that many say didn’t work) though instead of sending 1000 bomber raids against city’s we send a missile with multiple warheads to wipe it out.

Nuclear weapons are a military weapon like any other, the difference being there indiscriminate nature and the total destruction they bring.”

Couldn’t disagree with you more.
A so called tactical nuclear weapon has more destructive power than your 1000 bombers.
While the military is an instrument of politics as nuclear weapons are it doesn’t mean they are a military weapon. Just because they are operated by the military doesn’t make them military weapons.
Any Admiral, General , Air Marshal or indeed politician who thinks they can fight a nuclear war wants to be kept as far away from nuclear weapons as possible.
To try and make myself clear the military is a political tool to be used by politian’s to achieve their political aims. In the same way economic power is a political tool. So is diplomacy and so are nuclear weapons each to be used in their own way as the politicians see fit to achieve their aims.
To see nuclear weapons as military weapons like any other would imply that you could fight a war with them which is frankly crazy. They are simply not weapons of war in any conventional sense. Which to my mind makes them purely political not military weapons.
Perhaps I should replace the word weapons by means.
Nuclear weapons are a political means of achieving an objective they are not a military means.
Not sure that helps.
Oh well

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 3, 2015 2:25 am

Observer
““limited” as in you target deployed military formations instead of cities. Not much infrastructure damage, lots of military damage. The small tactical nuclear weapons were used in this way.”
The first point is tactical nuclear weapons were not used at all. What I’m sure you meant to say is that was the plan for their use.
Small is a somewhat relative term. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were I believe around the 20-25 kt range and the thousands of tactical nukes held by the Soviets and NATO(USA)10-100kt not that small in destructive terms.
Where were the military formations that were the targets of these small nukes, western and eastern Europe, not much infrastructure damage. I think that is being a bit optimistic. Not to mention the civilian deaths.
The next problem is where does it stop. Would it have been confined to Germany the radiation certainly wouldn’t have been. What about France and the UK, who knows. It very quickly doesn’t look very limited at all.

Observer
Observer
January 3, 2015 4:52 am

white, I mean things like Operation Crossroads and Operation Totem

Chris
Chris
January 3, 2015 7:58 am

I thought at one point one side or the other had loaded arty shells with pocket nuclear devices, intended to whap the opposition (and any other person & animal in range) with a massive dose of neutrinos with consequent and imminent death, while not contaminating dust, metalwork, crops etc? That was claimed to be a local area impact (5km radius?) and ‘clean’ in that once the radiation front had done its worst there was little infrastucture damage and no fallout. Not sure if it was just propaganda though. Pretty hideous, but does seem to deserve the label ‘tactical’.

Observer
Observer
January 3, 2015 8:10 am

Chris, true, along with the “nuclear bazooka”. Look up “Davy Crockett” M-28(?)

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 8:58 am

Nah no-one uses Neutron weapons like that, it’s advantages have been rather over sold by sci fi/the people selling them. There’s still a classic nuclear blast just with more ionising radiation per kt. Above 10kt the heat and blast is still the biggest killer. Everyone gave up on the idea when it became apparent that many solid buildings or AFV’s would protect against the radiation at all but the shortest ranges. The only ones still being used are in a Russian anti ballistic missile.

One centurion that was tested against such a 10kt weapon at 500yds was driven back to base afterward and went on to serve 23 more years including a couple in Vietnam. Infact most nukes aren’t massively effective against heavier conventional weapons; tanks, capital ships etc. Ever notice in those old photos of battleships getting nuked, even point blank, they tend not to sink and barely move. Blast, heat and radiation just doesn’t work very well against heavy, well armoured things. They need to be penetrated to be properly killed generally speaking. Which is why most AP is solid shot will little or no HE, as I’m sure you know. That same amour will do a decent enough job against radiation.

Short of hitting with enough force to kill with the shock wave or flip them which generally requires a large yield and a lot of accuracy(you can trade one for the other of course). Part of the reason these things all have NBC systems is you could expect a lot to survive in at least a functioning, although not the most combat effective state. Doubly so if you had enough warning to be well spread.

http://io9.com/the-atomic-tank-survived-a-nuclear-test-then-went-to-w-1542451635

The Wiki writeup on Neutron bombs is solid for uninitiated; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_bomb

Tubby
Tubby
January 3, 2015 9:23 am

I have seen this question posed on ARRSE before: what happens if to demonstrate their resolve in a proxy conflict with NATO, Russia and/or China decide to drop a single warhead nuke on a non-nuclear NATO member (or on Kiev or Taipei). Do we really think that the US would go down the MAD route or do you think it is likely to respond differently? While personally I think using a nuke would result in full scale nuclear war, others think that as long as the US could avoid getting attacked it would decide to not retaliate against China/Russia with nuclear weapons. In the latter case it’s a good idea to have our own deterrent.

Chris
Chris
January 3, 2015 9:57 am

Chuck – interesting that Centurion survived such a hit; presumably then it would have survived at Hiroshima if it was more than a mile from ground zero. That’s an impressive feat. It was of course very limited in terms of electronics – the radios would have had little or no semiconductor devices, the majority of powered stuff would have been basic electrics (power-switch-load) and not electronic, and much would have been purely mechanical. Thermionic valves (tubes in US-English) were pretty robust in high EM fields. The result is that nice old Centurion would have been pretty well EMP immune. Which is why it continued to work after the test.

Modern vehicles are stuffed to the roofplate with high density semiconductor microelectronics, and the electronics controls everything. Engine? Transmission? ECU control. Turret drives? ECU control. Sights & sensors & fire control & instrumentation? Electronic. Comms? All microelectronics. Basic vehicle electrical system? Sorry no such thing its all under software control. Unless all that stuff is EMP proofed (not hard) and nuclear hardened (much harder) it could not be guaranteed to work. Most modern AFVs default to using commercial engines and do not replace the ECU, so that for a start will be fried. If a wheeled vehicle then the transmission may also be a commercial unit with its commercial ECU. Fried. All TFT displays? Fried. In fact everywhere COTS is fitted to reduce cost, the chances are EMP or radiation will knock out the electronics. I doubt HMG will fund proper hardened Euro.X ECUs (and associated sensors) for all the engine types in service, do you? But its a comfort to know such a vulnerability is helping to protect the ozone layer. In my world, combat vehicles would still have mechanically metered injection systems; repairable and entirely immune from electromagnetic effects – I doubt the effect on the environment would be great given the typical peacetime usage. COTS would not feature, electronic control would be where necessary and not where possible, and electronic systems would be required to be hardened (either hardened components or thick shielding).

As for post radiation health hazards, by my own experience I would say they exist even if radiation itself is not present. In my youth I played with old electronics that no-one wanted. Among the fun things to play with was an early 50s TV set. Eventually it had to go, so as there was some building work being done, the builder wedged the CRT in the rubbish skip and threw half-bricks at it. Many bounced off before it cracked but when it did go it was very impressive. Then of course we had to clear up the chunks of glass & tinwork that had showered the front of the house. I kept the electron gun just for fun. (Keep up; this is relevant, honest.) Bearing in mind the electron gun is no longer powered, it is entirely inert. It has three glass insulators holding the metal parts in line. But even now, some 35 years after the destruction of the TV tube, if I pick up the gun by the glass supports there is an overpowering punch of ozone that assaults the nose. Is it that the structure of supposedly inert glass has been changed? has it either far too many or far too few electrons deep in its structure? Has it been plated by a skin of vagrant electrons? I don’t know, but in the years of exposure to high-energy electrons something has happened to the glass and despite there being no determinable radiation or electrical life, it reacts to the touch. I can quite believe that highly irradiated metalwork might equally have its atomic structures altered so that long after there is no measurable risk it might react when touched.

monkey
monkey
January 3, 2015 10:49 am


I agree with you on points 1 to 6 and that CASD is far too expensive for a nation such as ours to afford or need. On the carrier front though I am in favour of the Nellies as a form of power projection in terms of supporting our overseas commitments to the commonwealth . However the very existence of the Nellies will put is the game of supporting our Cousins in carrier operations , more specifically the USMC while the Nimitz’s are off grandstanding elsewhere. That could lead to our involvement in the Far East. Hopefully they just leave us ‘minding the shop’ whilst the 5th and 6th Fleets sail east but I cant see our politicos not putting the RN in harms way.

Nobby Stiles
Nobby Stiles
January 3, 2015 11:04 am

Chuck,

“Ever notice in those old photos of battleships getting nuked, even point blank, they tend not to sink and barely move”.

Those ships would VERY likely be mission kills. They may not have sunk immediately. DC efforts may have kept them afloat.

But weapons would likely have been rendered useless, as would radars, comms gear and anything topside that wasn’t heavily armoured.

Worse still, surface or sub-surface blasts would have stripped rudders and props, or bent them so badly as to render the vessel completely immovable.

And a nearby surface or sub-surface shock could also have incapacitated much or all of the crew through shock/blast injuries transmitted through the hull. Broken limbs for hundreds of crew, further incapacitating the vessel.

It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t sink. Most of those vessels would have been a write-off. Those that weren’t would’ve taken 12 months plus to get back into service. Any war that involved nuclear weapons would only have lasted a few days or weeks at most, so never enough time to repair them.

Nobby.

Phil
January 3, 2015 11:05 am

CSAD should be the very final thing cut. When we come to delete CSAD then it should mean there is not a single man or woman left in uniform and not a single penny left in the coffers. I don’t know how people can argue for various bits of kit and then argue to delete the one guarantee of our sovereignty, our defence against nuclear blackmail (and not just us, our NATO allies also). All this in the context of a Russia that is still slamming doors and playing loud music into the early morning. Madness and completely nonsensical and I’d wager borne from a childish desire to see cool kit purchased and shown off at the expense of a system with genuine utility and menace for our prospective enemies.

Chris
Chris
January 3, 2015 11:23 am

There’s a lot of painful history in this. If I recall correctly, Churchill passed a lot of UK’s technology lead (radar, jet engines, etc) to the US in trade for access to US nuclear developments (much also based on UK foundations but that was conveniently forgotten), being sure the deterrent would be as necessary here as on the other side of the pond. Many have asserted that keeping the technology leads and not joining in on US nuclear work would have been much more sensible and may have forged a better more profitable technological sector for the UK with a lot more export potential. But at the time the view was that the important nations of the world needed nuclear weapons. Having given up much of our potential future wealth for a seat at the top table, it galls a bit to consider we might just dispose of the nuclear stuff that cost us so much.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 3, 2015 11:28 am

– Spot on; and that’s leaving aside the fact that no Government that gave up CASD would for a single millisecond consider using the saving for “more cool conventional kit”…the politics would be wholly wrong, and the saving would be either taken or applied to the NHS/DSS Budgets. Furthermore, such an act would have unknowable consequences with respect to our UNSC Permanent Seat (which is an absolutely irreplaceable backstop in terms of diplomatic clout) or how we are perceived in key Alliances like NATO or the aforementioned Five Eyes Agreement.

Most alarmingly, the idea is for the first time in my lifetime actually on the table at the next election…removing CASD from the Clyde is the SNP price for propping up a Labour Government with no English Majority and Milliband could in my view be desperate and irresponsible enough to form a Government on that basis (Leaving aside the ranks of CND’ers within the Labour Party who are drooling at the prospect). Who here believes that he would make that bargain and then renew CASD from a different base elsewhere in the UK?

A very gloomy Gloomy…

Mark
Mark
January 3, 2015 11:51 am

No removing trident just means we join the other 186 nations of the world that don’t have them of the 8 nuclear powers that would remain only russia could,in theory present a threat and that is covered by NATO eg the Americans. Let’s not forget Reagan came very close to removing our deterrent at Reykjavik in 1986 without so much as a phone call in advance.

The unsc was formed 6 years before britain became a nuclear power.

Whitelancer they very much did think they could fight a war with nuclear weapons, nuclear torpeados, depth charges, small free fall bombs ect were all developed for that purpose.

Phil
January 3, 2015 11:56 am

Why should we voluntarily demote ourselves? Why should we give up a palpable advantage and a guarantee of security just because other countries don’t have such a capability?

IXION
January 3, 2015 12:06 pm

Phil

and GNB

Ok so If we are in a Dune type situation and these are our ‘House Atomics’….

1. Why do we need subs to deliver them land based silos would be infinity cheaper?

2. Why is no one threatening Germany with nuclear blackmail?

3. Why a hasn’t China threatened Japan or Taiwan with sunshine buckets?

4. No one has explained yet how our nuclear deterrent protects our carriers from Chinese annihilation. In circumstances when the yanks would not retaliate.

Mark
Mark
January 3, 2015 12:07 pm

It’s not a guarantee of security, nor did it guarantee sovereign territory. It remains a guarantee of annihilation the end of the world. It’s not countries with 100s of nuclear weapons that’s a worry it’s a man with one that’s the worry now against which trident has no utility at all.

IXION
January 3, 2015 12:09 pm

Phil

Yea let’s demote ourselves to German, Danish, Canadian, Australian,status.

IXION
January 3, 2015 12:13 pm

Mark

Spot on if ISIS set one off in Bradford next week. (Killing perhaps 6 native born English people and doing £50 worth of damage)….

Who do we nuke in retaliation?

Do you really think the spams would let us?

These things are paper Tigers.

Rocket Banana
January 3, 2015 12:32 pm

“Who do we nuke in retaliation?”

The nation that provided the weapons grade uranium and didn’t tell the rest of the world?

I must admit thought that the UK doesn’t really have nuclear weapons, we’re simply allowed to have them by the Americans. The only real nuclear power in Europe is France.

It’s another example of the UK simply being the 51st State of America.

However, as a balance of power thing it is very useful for more than just American interests to be protected (if you can accept that word) by a CASD. I often dream up Clancy type situations but I can see India, China, Pakistan, North Korea and Russia all possibly becoming a threat in the next 50 years.

Observer
Observer
January 3, 2015 12:32 pm

IXION, until you lose them and someone who wants something you have threatens you with them.

As for Taiwan and Japan, as I said before, they(we) are riding on the coattails of the US.

The real purpose of the CASD is to proof yourself against a specific form of blackmail, not kill everyone you don’t like.

And if you ask why subs instead of land based silos, the answer is simple. A silo is a fixed target. It lets your opponent hope that a hard enough strike will cripple you and win him all the marbles. This is the theory behind the tactics of the “polar orbit” shot and the “low trajectory” shot. Fast decapitation. Which was why the Cuban Missile Crisis was such a big thing.

monkey
monkey
January 3, 2015 12:47 pm

On the CASD thread it is just the money for something we will never use. In what circumstances would we unleash nuclear strikes be they tactical or part of MAD retaliation? Yes the Successor programme will provide cover into the 2060’s and who knows who will be our enemies in the next 50 years and what they will be armed with but it looks much more likely a fishing boat passing under Westminster bridge will go nuclear in an unannounced and un-attributed attack than rocket plumes from the steppe (you chose which end of Asia). The CASD is part of our overall defence spending which is part of our 2% NATO commitment so in ‘theory’ could not be diverted to the NHS etc. The £50,000,000,000 (or more) could be spent on conventional forces to greater global effect.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 3, 2015 12:49 pm

Simon,

I do sometimes hear or read the argument that the UK has no independent (of the US) control of our nuclear weapons, and am puzzled by it. As far as I can work out, we manufacture our own warheads, and our own submarines, the missiles are co-developed with the USA, and we have our own independent C2. Just how is that not independent? If we fell out with the USA completely, we would need to make and service our own missiles, that is all (perhaps not an inconsiderable task, but doable).

There is also an argument advanced by some that the USA somehow have an overriding technical control of missiles post launch, to disable them, but I very much doubt that. Why would any British PM ever have agreed to that?

(I hasten to add that all of the above is from the open source internet – I have literally no actual knowledge as to what our nuclear situation is, nor would say anything if I did)

Peter Elliott
January 3, 2015 12:58 pm

It is a fallacy to say that CASD is never used. Every day that goes past without us launching a sunshine stick the system has fulfilled it’s primary function of deterrence.

This is one of the least understood roles of our armed forces. Warships, tanks and fast jets also provide Conventional deterrence simply by being kept in readiness. It is not wasted money.

Mickp
Mickp
January 3, 2015 12:59 pm

, steady on about Bradford. I am banking on it being more at risk from Seal team 6 than ISIS

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 3, 2015 1:02 pm

As I think this discussion shows once a nuclear weapon is used, be it tactical or strategic no one has any real idea of what the consequences would be.
In the situation posed by Tubby above can anyone predict the outcome.?
Endless scenarios can be devised, speculation can go on ad-infinitum but it all comes down to predicting what the result will be. As no one can predict the future only a madman would risk using nuclear weapons if their was even the slightest chance of it turning into nuclear Armageddon.
Which is exactly what makes them such an effective deterrent.

shark bait
shark bait
January 3, 2015 1:08 pm
Reply to  monkey

Totally true, weapon’s can get a lot of bad press, “billions of pounds that are never used” I think that’s a good thing not a bad thing .

You could argue they are always used 24/7 as a huge diplomatic stick

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 1:10 pm

: Completely agree on the modern tank design points. Although I’m pretty sure we harden ours against EMP, I’m sure I remember seeing a Chally being tested for it ages ago. The Americans certainly do. Fitting NBC systems but neglecting a Faraday cage round the delicate bits seems so painfully dumb I don’t even think our government would do it.

As for your electron gun, stab in the dark; it’s your own electrical field affecting it via ESD or grounding.

@Nobby: Absolutely, was just using them to make a point. A direct hit will be almost universally fatal, but single ERW or tactical nuke shot against a large dispersed force will leave most of the force reasonably intact, they aren’t the one shot wide area wonder weapons they’re often made out to be, as destructive as they are, was my point.

To achieve the kind of effects most people associate with nukes against such targets would take incredible luck/accuracy, a bombardment with a large number of tactical warheads or strategic level weapon. For example a 10kt detonation at Westminster would probably leave tanks around Buckingham palace combat effective, although damaged, even moving to 100kt it’s only Kensington palace.

http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/ Is great for visualising these things.

Randomer
Randomer
January 3, 2015 1:19 pm

@ Ixion

Germany has the necessary nuclear industry to develop an atomic (if not thermonuclear) device within a fairly short timeframe. That it hasn’t is down to political rather than military issues. They also have an agreement with the USA to deploy B61 devices under NATO (though still controlled and targeted by the US), so do the Netherlands, Turkey and Belgium IIRC.

Taiwan is almost universally acknowledged as having an undeclared nuclear capability developed with help from the Israelis at about the same time as South Africa. Who have post minority rule declassified documents showing they were in the process of assembling around 10 weapons from a much weaker industrial base.

Finally Japan could like Germany deploy a nuclear capabilty within a couple of years if it really wanted to. Indeed, some analysts think that its choice of reactor development may have been partially influenced by this (as in they have reactors using and producing much higher levels of enrichment than really needed purely for civil nuclear power). For them it is a constitutional issue and obviously a very emotive political one.

Finally the nuclear deterrent doesn’t protect the carriers at all nor is it really designed to.

whitelancer
whitelancer
January 3, 2015 1:26 pm

Mark
Thinking and preparing for a nuclear war is one thing, fighting it is another matter entirely.
All they really did was to add nuclear warheads to all sorts of conventional weapons. So we ended up with nuclear torpedoes, artillery shells, mines, surface to air missiles, air to air missiles even mortars and suitcase bombs. Just as though they could fight a conventional war with nuclear weapons. All rather absurd.

Chris
Chris
January 3, 2015 1:29 pm

Chuck – the EMP damage of electronic units is not hard to protect against, essentially all exposed connections are antennas and need some charge sink to damp the inrush of charge and so limit the voltage spike. It gets much more difficult with interactive items such as touch-screens and TFT displays, where such protection cannot easily be added. I’d recommend components of different more robust design, but its not my choice. The direct effects of radiation hammering through electronic devices is not EMP and is not (I believe) tested, this if considered important – if we intend to continue fighting after the mushroom clouds grow – would probably be done most simply by hiding electronics in lead-lined compartments. As for not addressing this being dumb? There are a lot of dumb decisions, some made by the customer who should know better, some made by the supplier either because they are unaware of threat conditions, or even though they know better, because its not in the spec.

Ref electron gun – like I said I don’t know as its not been powered for decades, but having fingers that glow in the dark is pretty cool…

Phil
January 3, 2015 1:30 pm

It’s not a guarantee of security, nor did it guarantee sovereign territory.

It’s as close a guarantee as you’ll ever get on planet Earth. The nuclear arsenal of the west does somewhat skew the cost-benefit analysis of any would-be aggressor. I can’t see how you can realistically argue that that is not the case and has not been the case since 1945.

Yea let’s demote ourselves to German, Danish, Canadian, Australian,status.

Tell me why we should? Tell me why we, in an anarchic international system that can yield a mortal enemy in 10 years, should we give up as good a guarantee of sovereignty as you can get? The point you miss, and insist on missing with your borish soundbite argumentativeness, is that our nuclear weapons and our NATO alliance locks all member states into the strongest alliance in history – strong precisely because of its structure and precisely because that structure includes weapons that make its conquest a completely worthless endeavour.

If you bin CSAD you may as well have an education department that closes down all primary schools, a foreign office which closes down all its embassies or a home office that disbands the police. CSAD and NATO is precisely and utterly what we should be doing with defence money to the detriment of every single other capability if need be.

You can’t see the bigger picture.

wf
wf
January 3, 2015 1:56 pm

: some interesting stuff around re radiation shielding

http://radshield.com/Demron-RST.php

John Hartley
John Hartley
January 3, 2015 2:12 pm

UK/USA co-operation on nuclear matters should not just be Trident. Both countries need a tactical capability. Joint work on the B-61 JDAM upgrade may be? Shortened to fit in a F-35B weapon bay perhaps? Say 200 for the USA & 25 for the UK.
Is any work being done on the hafnium isomer warheads once briefly talked about?

Peter
Peter
January 3, 2015 2:12 pm

The entire point of nuclear weapons is wonderfully summed up by yes minister.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX_d_vMKswE

Which is that a country with nuclear weapons will never be put into a position where they might conceivably pull the trigger, and therefore their existence acts as an immensely powerful force in being that dictates events by their mere presence on the playing board of the great game, and they are worth having for that reason alone.

Also, we own the delivery systems and build our own warheads. If we decide that we want to land a warhead through the windows of the Whitehouse to complete the botched demolition attempt from 1812 then there is nothing that can be done to prevent it from happening as we don’t have PAL’s (Permissive Action Links, or more accurately, Permission from Americans Locks) installed on our subs, despite the Americans generously offering. Sure, military and diplomatic consequences would ensue from any use of our weapons, but there is no technical bar against us using our nuclear arsenal.

Thus, we do “really” have nuclear weapons. Bleating that we don’t should be firmly left to deliberate lies from CND propaganda and the Guardian.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 2:15 pm

‘If you bin CSAD you may as well have an education department that closes down all primary schools, a foreign office which closes down all its embassies or a home office that disbands the police’

Nothing but over exaggeration.

We could just do what Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Denmark do and we once did and be part of the nuclear sharing policy without the huge investment of CASD. NATO would not lose any credibility if we decided not to replace CASD.

Phil
January 3, 2015 2:23 pm

@DN

Not at all.

The ultimate purpose of an educational department is to help enable education. The ultimate purpose of the Ministry of Defence is to help enable security. A school is the most basic building block for delivering education policy. And so the nuclear deterrent is the ultimate assurance of nuclear security – in other words the basic building block for delivering security. In short, it makes no bloody sense to eliminate schools and neither should it make any sense to eliminate the deterrent.

If other countries want to exist with a proportionately lower level of security, or wish to exist within an alliance that effectively brings them under the nuclear umbrella of another nation (and have a higher but still less than assured level of security) then good luck to them.

I don’t see why the weakness of other states is something we should aspire to in an uncertain world.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 3, 2015 2:23 pm

– “you can’t see the bigger picture” – in fairness my impression is that can indeed see the bigger picture, but genuinely and passionately believes that we should morally and practically withdraw from world events to the extent that we could manage with a patrol ship navy, a couple of squadrons of fast jets and a Crown Militia with some limited regular forces to stiffen it up: and then to concentrate our efforts on becoming the world’s most open-handed and generous welfare democracy, with some modest influence as an offshore refugee camp willing to admit all comers if politely asked…

I disagree, and my belief is that you do as well …but we won’t convince him any more than he will convince us…

GNB

Phil
January 3, 2015 2:34 pm

@GNB

Indeed. But the other nations he mentions are the same ones who have been walked all over in the last hundred years and either had to band together into an alliance that locked others into pushing the button on their behalf or who maintained most of their male adult population at arms with expensive conventional forces to try and seem too much trouble to the Soviets. It’s telling that a certain nation that wanted to be neutral and porcupine in its defensive posture had closer links with NATO in the Cold War than they liked to or could admit.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 2:39 pm

‘it makes no bloody sense to eliminate schools and neither should it make any sense to eliminate the deterrent.’

It also makes no sense to keep it at the detriment of everything else, I have a sneaky suspicion that if you asked NATO members whether they would rather we kept a world class conventional capability or CASD, they would opt for the conventional forces every time.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 3, 2015 2:40 pm

Phil,

Finland? I would guess. Fascinating history in the last 75 years, trying to walk a tight rope, and often not getting it completely right, but still somehow managing.

Phil
January 3, 2015 2:43 pm

@RT

I was talking about Sweden but Finland works as well.

Phil
January 3, 2015 2:49 pm

@DN

Then that is their choice. As I say, I can see no reason to go down the road of reducing our security posture (ie, become weaker) just because of needing to spend what amounts to loose change for this government. The fundamental purpose of a legitimate political authority is to collectivise the management of risks to our security: we in the UK do that by taxing and spending the money so raised on security forces of which the CSAD is a fundamental part. CSAD is the Government discharging a very important and legitimate duty.

I am sure the other nations would change their mind if NATO was disbanded and the Russians were behaving like a frightened bear. As it was during the Cold War most of them had nuclear weapons based on their soil and knew their borders were effectively the trip wire. This way they could benefit from nuclear weapons without the economic and political difficulties they’d face if they had their own. But the cost is an increased risk, even if slight, from not having control over them yourself. They decided that this risk was small – good for them but that was also at a time of European focus.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 3:06 pm

‘I can see no reason to go down the road of reducing our security posture (ie, become weaker) just because of needing to spend what amounts to loose change for this government.’

We already are reducing our security posture by cutting conventional capability and that has more of a chance of dragging us into conflict through perceived weakness than the loss of CASD.

Phil
January 3, 2015 3:10 pm

@DN

Not really there isn’t much of a conventional threat at the moment. So why have CSAD? Because its persistence is a significant part of its utility and to re-generate it would take far too long. And whilst there are no armies around that could over-run us tomorrow, in theory there are a number of nuclear arsenals that could be fired at us tomorrow and ruin my lunch.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 3:17 pm


Iraq or Afghanistan were not conventional threats, and neither was Syria at the time we decided not to bomb them but they all required conventional capabilities to intervene. We are in NATO, if someone nukes us it does not make any difference as to which country fired the retaliatory strike as long as it was NATO nukes that were fired.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 3, 2015 3:29 pm

Re nuclear threats,

I think the focus on missiles (and hence development programmes, surveillance, satellite passes, etc) is wrong.

An ISO on a crapped out small merchant ship could be an effective delivery mechanism. I have no doubt that various security services are keeping eyes very much peeled, but it is to me a more likely source of actual threat than anything ballistic. Particularly non-state actors, if they can get their hands on an ex-military tactical nuke.

I don’t imagine AQ or ISIS would worry much about the doctrine of MAD, nor that our response would be nuclear. Even if we could prove that half of the port of Southampton getting vapourised was the responsibility of ISIS, are we really going to nuke eastern Syria?

Chris
Chris
January 3, 2015 3:44 pm

This is quite a fascinating series of arguments & counter-arguments. Its pretty clear owning and more specifically updating CASD is a huge financial burden, and its real value is unbelievably hard to determine because we judge its greatest success that it should poddle round the oceans for 25-35 years never being needed and then be scrapped. If its ever actually used it would have been proven to be worthless, not that there would be anyone left to care.

In the 80s I visited Kenya; in the shops in Nairobi, sat in the shadows by the door, you would find a quiet but evidently powerful fellow with his hands resting on the haft of a 4ft-long ebony club. He was the shop security; his role being to crack the skull of any miscreant trying to leave without paying for goods. It was clear these were athletic types who could run faster and longer than most and who could wield the club with accuracy and power. They were the deterrent; I didn’t see any of them have to take action because the miscreants knew it wasn’t worth the risk. The shops remained lawful and peaceably ordered at least in part due to their watchful menacing presence.

But it was clear these security assets would take action to restore order. When it comes to the nuclear deterrent the point at which action would be taken is cloaked in secrecy (more likely as in Peter’s clip from Yes Prime Minister its not secrecy, just unknown). It all hinges really on the miscreants’ assessment of the likelihood of retaliation if they took a punt against old Blighty or its friends. So here’s another bit of Hacker on that subject: http://www.tubechop.com/watch/4426228

Phil
January 3, 2015 3:47 pm

@RT

That’s why you wave a warning finger at countries with nuclear weapons to tell them (a) keep an eye on your stocks because like fly-tipping, the owner is liable and (b) don’t be giving any of your stock to bad people. If we didn’t act in such cases then the deterrent would cease to be credible. So the imperative would be to act. What state is going to bet the farm on the west not making a move despite the fact its security posture would overwhelmingly require it to do something very nasty? To me that’s the point – these things influence decisions and ultimately, moderate actions. It’s tragic in the extreme that it takes such ridiculous over-kill and threat of brutality to keep some decision makers broadly in line but that seems to be humanity for you.

Phil
January 3, 2015 3:51 pm

Its pretty clear owning and more specifically updating CASD is a huge financial burden, and its real value is unbelievably hard to determine because we judge its greatest success that it should poddle round the oceans for 25-35 years never being needed and then be scrapped. If its ever actually used it would have been proven to be worthless, not that there would be anyone left to care.

But that’s the ideal outcome for the fire service, the police forces and ultimately the security forces. Their existence leads to not being needed. It’s money well spent.

Now I admit that it is not an exact comparison because CSAD can do only one thing but its such an important thing, and such a massive risk it is managing b doing that one thing, that it is worth the outlay.

Rocket Banana
January 3, 2015 3:52 pm

RT,

My stance on the lack of true “independent” nuclear weapons is also from potenatially dubious open source information. It is therefore based on the fact that we do not:

– develop our own launch mechanism (it’s the American Trident II D5 missile)
– develop our own missile compartment (it’s the American Ohio compartment)
– develop our own submarine reactors (it’s the American Westinghouse design built in the UK – PWR3 is a totally American design)
– develop our own warheads (it’s the American W76 physics package assembled in the UK)

Bottom line is that without the British, the Americans would still have CASD*, but without the Americans we would have nothing that works.

*albeit noisy!

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 3:52 pm

Not sure what everyone has against the Cardiff School of Art and Design or what it has to with Constant At Sea Deterrence. :P

Couldn’t resist.

Why not RT they’re a state[sic], if they possessed WMD and used it against why treat them any differently?

Phil
January 3, 2015 3:55 pm

Oh yeah! Dyslexic typing on my part!

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 3, 2015 3:57 pm

Phil, undoubtedly, good logic and logic that I would subscribe to.

However, there always remains the risk of something going unnoticed until too long, and (to me) western states are not either tough enough or quick enough to deal with the rapid emergence of non-state actors which fall outside of the traditional nation state framework of borders, international agreements and diplomacy.

Frankly, having lived and served through the last 25 years of the Cold War with its understandings about MAD and conventional force balances (as I think you did as well, probably most of us on TD), the world to me seems more uncertain and dangerous now than it did in 1990.

Phil
January 3, 2015 4:03 pm

RT – I’d agree. There was at least a framework in 1989. There isn’t one now. I would have dismissed ISIS as ridiculous Tom Clancy two years ago yet there they are. I don’t think they’ll last long mind but it’s still extraordinary that they managed to be born into the international system. I think this is one of the reasons why the West is so against Iranian nuclear weapons. Imagine if ISIS or a successor managed to do to Iran what’s happened in Syria, and Iran had nuclear weapons.

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 4:06 pm

Not just you Phil :) it’s all through the thread, was giving me a nervous tick.

RT: Yeah one evil empire is much simpler than millions of variously armed whackjobs, but give’em a couple more years to get organised and they might well be the next evil empire.

I seem to remember the communists having a not entirely dissimilar birth. There was even a token but ultimately pointless British contribution to stopping them when they first emerged.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 4:12 pm

‘Imagine if ISIS or a successor managed to do to Iran what’s happened in Syria, and Iran had nuclear weapons’

The question then is would our CASD deter them from using them or giving them to someone else. I think this illustrates the point that nuclear weapons only deter like minded people. The deterrent value of nuclear weapons is becoming a lot more narrowly focused on a few state actors, would investment in prompt global strike and ABM technology with the US be a better investment?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 3, 2015 4:18 pm

Chuck, re us not nuking eastern Syria.

ISIS are holding the city of Mosul, having captured it four months ago. A million or more inhabitants, with reportedly most of them being unwilling participants in the new Caliphate.

Now if ISIS were to somehow obtain, smuggle and detonate a small tactical nuke in Southampton, with the god awful act planned and controlled from a suburban house in Mosul, do you imagine a British PM would sanction a nuclear strike on Mosul?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 3, 2015 4:22 pm

@DN and others – the flaw in the CASD vs Conventional Defence is not just that the saving would be most unlikely to be redirected into Defence, but that even if it was it would make no perceptible difference. The cost is in the region of 10% of the overall defence budget, which would have meant a slightly stronger Division in Iraq at the same time as a slightly stronger Brigade in Afghanistan…an increased effort that might have improved outcomes on the ground marginally, but would have increased our influence over the management of the campaign not at all…

To have made a significant difference on either of those points, we would have needed an Army Corps in Iraq, with a Division in Afghanistan…still less than the Cousins, but certainly sufficient to change both our practical utility and influence. To achieve that we would have needed conventional forces of about three times their current strength (and cost).

Now if somebody puts it to me that we are giving up CASD but increasing defence expenditure to £100 Billion pa, giving us a six carrier RN (with 20+ astutes to keep @RT happy), an Army of 250,000 and an RAF built around 30 squadrons of fast jets, then I might get with the programme…

…if I believed them…

…which I wouldn’t.

GNB

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 4:25 pm

So long as they understand MAD applies to them too, I don’t see any reason the dynamic would change, even if a minority are willing to martyr themselves in the nuclear fire, which I’m not entirely convinced of the rest of them aren’t and will put the kybosh on it pretty quick.

If they truly don’t value their lives they do value other things oil, religious sites, the lives of every single person they love etc. All of which have exactly the same reaction to nuclear fission.

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 4:30 pm

@RT: Didn’t bother us to much when it came to Dresden, packed to the brim with refugee’s or the millions living under communist rule against their will who we were quite prepared to nuke.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
January 3, 2015 4:30 pm

@Chuck “…a token British contribution…to stop them when they first emerged”…interestingly, Churchill’s first crusade, and the first time when he called it far more accurately than practically anybody else on earth…clever chap, Churchill…

GNB

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 4:35 pm

No doubt GNB.

A final thought on ISIS and Nukes, as I understand the order for what to do in the case of Nuclear Attack is given when the PM takes office(the letter). If that order is retaliate, target grid won’t make a blind bit of difference.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
January 3, 2015 4:41 pm

Chuck,

I would not have supported our bombing of Dresden had I been alive at the time, and I’m as red blooded as I think it reasonable to be in the 21st century. Just an insane waste of life, with no military utility.

If in my scenario ISIS managed to destroy Southampton, I would not support a retaliatory nuclear strike on a city in which perhaps 900,000 of a million inhabitants were unwilling near captives of ISIS. lots of other more specific measures I would support, most deadly and all involving the utter destruction of ISIS, in a state of declared war. But not a retaliatory nuke into a city with 90% innocents.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 4:46 pm

@GNB

‘the flaw in the CASD vs Conventional Defence is not just that the saving would be most unlikely to be redirected into Defence’

It does not really matter if the savings go to defence or not it’s still a national saving regardless of the department who benefits. The trouble with the nuclear deterent is that it was borne out of a world of sane people with the understanding of all it entailed to launch such weapons. The Chinese and Russians developed nuclear weapons to counter America and we followed to counter the USSR, all following the rules of the great chess game that was the cold war. However now with the likes of the enemies who could get access and would be willing to use them the deterrent is no deterrent whatsoever they want the west to die simple.

So with that thought in mind is the CASD a worthwhile investment or do we need to concentrate our to capaabilies we can use against them or look to alternative methods for protection?

Phil
January 3, 2015 5:01 pm

Now if ISIS were to somehow obtain, smuggle and detonate a small tactical nuke in Southampton, with the god awful act planned and controlled from a suburban house in Mosul, do you imagine a British PM would sanction a nuclear strike on Mosul?

I imagine this has been thought about long and hard and I doubt we’ll ever know the answer unless it happens but I think the first question to be asked would be where did the device come from? If it came from a nation state (which it overwhelmingly likely is to have) then the question comes down to what is a proportionate response. If it is likely they might be able to do the same again, somewhere else, perhaps it would indeed be proportionate to strike a target in a city. Or strike a target elsewhere (perhaps where other devices are expected to reside). The 1998 SDR gave D5 a tactical sub-strategic role probably for just such eventualities.

Phil
January 3, 2015 5:04 pm

The trouble with the nuclear deterent is that it was borne out of a world of sane people with the understanding of all it entailed to launch such weapons.

Neither one of those actors has ceased to deploy nuclear weapons and one of them has specifically and clearly labelled us (the west) as a threat to national security in their new Military Doctrine signed off in December.

as
as
January 3, 2015 5:06 pm

I think the design of the warheads for the trident are similar but not identical. The physics kit are the same. The British warheads are modified to be safer (we have higher safety standards) and like the Polaris cousins (project Chevaline) there are modified to have increased penetration (bunker busting).
As to make it safer we use a different form of plastic explosive. PBX-9404 the Americans use has a risk of being set off buy vibration. that has been the difference in each of the US designs we have use in the past so I would assume it is the same this time.
Quite how that works when you have a common missile pool I do not know. So yes there is American design content.

Our nuclear material comes from Canada and Australia so we can thank the commonwealth for that then it is turned to weapons grade in the UK. So no American content there.

There seems to be some speculation as to the KT rating of the warhead. Some sources say a fixed 100kt others say that it is flexible any where from 10 to 100kt.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 5:06 pm

Yes they have, but they still know the rules to the game and NATO is their deterrent. What of the others?

Phil
January 3, 2015 5:15 pm

Who knows at the moment. It’s next to impossible that a non-state actor could develop a nuclear weapon on their own so there’ll be someone to point a big fat finger at, sat on his throne suddenly wide eyed and surprised that it is actually very easy for the west to work out where a bomb has come from. And as I have said, it would probably be entirely proportional to use the CASD to send some love back because to do nothing would be far too big a risk and an abdication of the states primary duty – no government could not fall after doing that.

The entire world would have a vested interest in removing from reach any nuclear weapons that a state has that might fall into the wrong hands during a civil war etc

IXION
January 3, 2015 5:20 pm

We are in the believers vs Atheists situation here.

On the one side we have the please come up with a scenario where we might use them and I might just start believing.

On the other side we have the: – precisely because we can’t they work as a deterrent side.

A principled argument on both sides.

GNB

I ain’t from the crown militia school. Nor do I believe in welcoming all and sundry to the UK. Quite the reverse. You will have to help me out here… just precisely how does our CASD help out at Calais in keeping Johnny foreigner out. The french will be really passed if we nuke it….

More the ‘can we please stop acting like the embarrassing hasbeen drunk at the family party’, school.

As to why we would relegate ourself to Germany status? Cos it costs a fortune we don’t have.

And I know it will upset him but I agree with RT.

Nuking an ISIS controlled city would be a war crime costing us just about every ally we have. I suspect even the Spams would object.

Phil
January 3, 2015 5:24 pm

Nuking cities is so 1960s…

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 5:26 pm

‘And as I have said, it would probably be entirely proportional to use the CASD to send some love back’

But as we are a member of NATO, why does it need to have a UK flag stamped on it? why can we not enter into the NATO nuclear sharing to reduce the bill? or invest in prompt global strike or missile defence?

Phil
January 3, 2015 5:32 pm

Because having the Union Jack on it gives us some degree of independence. You can’t have assured security if the tool that provides that is controlled by someone else. Also, if we were somehow to get into a scrape with the US going through some existential isolationist angst, it doesn’t matter a jot because the US would still be tied to our fate. If we fire, she has to fire. So you see we are getting the best of both worlds – we have a small deterrent for our independence of action thereby increasing our security whilst also effectively sharing the US deterrent at no cost to us. It’s basically the third way between having a French style force and being like the Netherlands and not having any but training its pilots to deliver US weapons (back in the day).

We have prompt global strike already – we can destroy any target on earth in about 30 mins with almost complete confidence. If you tried to do that with conventional weapons you’d be spending more than we do on CASD!

Chuck
Chuck
January 3, 2015 5:35 pm

@RT: Not saying I was for it, merely commenting on the national character. Which as we both know gets ice cold real fast when we feel genuinely threatened. Given that I can’t help but feel any PM who didn’t retaliate would be replaced by one who would promptly. I think this sterile debate rather glosses over the indignant fury and crippling fear such an attack would generate in the British public. They would demand the ultimate response against the aggressor.

The Mosul point is rather moot anyway as it’s not where we’d hit, we’d go for Raqqa.

I don’t agree it would be seen as a war crime by most other countries. Controversial sure but as the victim people would come to our side not run from it. Even those who couldn’t stomach the strike would join the war out of self interest, none would tolerate a nuclear ISIS.

90% of the people you kill with any nuclear strike will be innocent, no matter the scenario. If I can promise one thing about nuclear war, it’s that. Just like conventional war tbh.

The only difference between the caliph and any other dictator is that he drawing his own borders. Do we only retaliate if the attack was launched by a free democracy with massive public support?

What about when Portsmouth goes, then Hastings and Dartford. We don’t have the conventional forces to neutralise the threat in any kind of timely manner, especially not while they’re handling the massive relief and humanitarian operations, any coalition would take weeks to form, deploy and have the desired effect, even if we invoked article 5 and drove the lot through Turkey.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 5:40 pm

‘Because having the Union Jack on it gives us some degree of independence’

You either trust in the alliance or you don’t, if the argument is we have CASD to nuke the US if we wanted when the rest of our defence policy is to be able to operate with them then it’s a flawed doctrine.

Promt global strike may be just as expensive but it also has more utility and would be just as capable of destroying nuclear silo’s if we got wind of something, without the repercussions of using a nuclear warhead or waiting to be struck first which is our current policy.

Phil
January 3, 2015 5:45 pm

That’s a false dichotomy DN. Trust in the alliance but keep something in your back pocket. If I wanted to defeat NATO I would try and split it first, which could conceivably be done by engaging the US outside the NATO area in a part of the world where European interests were not perceived as particularly evident. Middle East being the perfect candidate.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
January 3, 2015 5:58 pm

But that is still no argument to keep an independent deterrent at huge cost. I would argue in that scenario an ABM system would be a better investment, as we could not match the US numbers and they would still theoretically survive our strike. Our CASD only works in conjuction with the numbers of the American systems when it comes to people like Russia, China and probably India, as I stated before our loss of CASD would not dent NATO credibility much.

So would prompt global strike be a better investment?

Chuck