Trident – An Election Problem


For the past several years there has been an on and off debate about the future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent, commonly referred to as Trident. It is the subject of discussion as the submarines that carry the Trident missiles are due for replacement Because of the formidable cost of designing and building new submarines and various onshore facilities it is seen by many politicians as low hanging fruit, ripe for the plucking and redistributing to their favourite cause.

Noticeably, none of the opponents see the savings from cancelling the programme in terms of paying down the eye watering national debt that will be causing misery for all our children and grandchildren in the future, but that’s another story.

It is a subject we have discussed at length and I have written about many times.

Plagued by coalition politics and a mile wide yellow streak, the Conservative party dragged its feet in the last Parliament and so made 100% sure it would be a problem for the next but hey are committed to a 4 boat Successor programme. The Liberal Democrats at heart want to disarm so we can all get round a campfire and sing Kumbaya but they haven’t got the political sack to just come out and say so and thus, keep pushing at the ‘lower cost’ door, despite their own Alternatives Study concluding it was nonsense. The Labour Party also have a significant body of MP’s and candidates that want to get rid, especially in the new cohort this time around but officially, want a replacement. At least the Scottish National Party (SNP) have the balls to come out say they would cancel it, lock stock and barrel.

No sane person wants to have nuclear weapons, they are an abomination, but want is not the issue.

Need is.

So what are the issues?

Who Are We Kidding

We are not a leading world nation, a member of the G8, UN Security Council and NATO.

Oh, hang on, yes we are.

This means we have obligations, expectations and duties.

It also means we are a target and if we actually want to ensure that Blighty never again is invaded, attacked or blackmailed by another nuclear power then the ultimate means of doing so is with the worlds ultimate weapon, nuclear weapons.

We can discuss the means of delivery but to me at least, giving away such a significant defence advantage seems rather foolish and naive given the length of time they will be in service and the uncertain times we live in.

We Can Downgrade the Posture

We are doing that to some extent anyway, Successor will carry fewer Trident missiles and each will carry fewer warheads from a smaller pool of warheads. The problem with going to non permanently deployed deterrent cuts to the heart of deterrence theory, that deterrent has to be credible.

It has to be on a hair trigger, always lurking, always unseen, always available.

Put yourself in the shoes of a ne’er do well looking through the letter box of a house you intend to break into.

In one house you see this

Gub Cabinet

The house owner has guns, but they look like they are locked in a cabinet so if I am really interested in breaking in I think the risk might be worth it, I could get to the cabinet before the owner and put them beyond use.

My risk calculation has uncertainty, it tempts me into making a calculated risk.

This is the same as deploying a part time deterrent, one or two submarines that are deployed to a known schedule or in times of heightened tensions (despite that act actually escalating tensions)

Now consider what my risk calculation is when I pop next door, look through the letterbox and see this…


This is what continuous at sea deterrent is, a double barrel shotgun looking right back at you.

Ask yourself what the risk calculation is now.

To mangle my metaphors, do you feel lucky?

There are Cheaper Alternatives

I am ALWAYS interested in looking at cheaper ways of doing things and I don’t buy for one minute the position that says we must have the best or nothing at all.

There are cheaper ways of delivering nuclear weapons.

We could put a Trident warhead on the back of a truck, we could buy a free-fall nuclear bomb or we could buy a nuclear tipped Tomahawk.

Unfortunately, all these suffer from a distinct lack of credibility (see points about credibility above) and either don’t exist or would need to be developed. The funny thing about this whole debate is the missiles already exist, all we are doing is buying a replacement vehicle to launch them from.

No cruise missile exists that is 100% survivable against modern integrated air defence systems and which has the range to enable launch from safe patrol areas against all target possibilities.

But what about Tomahawk I hear you say, yes, a nuclear armed Tomahawk existed, once, but not any more.

In 2010 the US announced the phasing out of the nuclear TLAM that would be completed in the following couple of years

We reached a point of mutual confidence that the [Tomahawk] was a redundant system not necessary for effective, extended deterrence

Principal Deputy Defense Undersecretary James Miller

Perhaps the most sobering aspect of using the TLAM-N is the simple fact that during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 some ten (1.5%) of conventional missiles were lost, crashing into Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.

Consider that for a moment and compare it against the success rate of Trident, it doesn’t miss.

Read more about the TLAM-N if you really need convincing it is not a good idea, click here.

We might shave a small amount by going for a 3 boat solution but that increases the risk of non availability because of mishaps, bumps, slips, trips and falls.

A 3 boat solution would be cheaper by a bit, no doubt, but it would carry a greater risk and therefore lower credibility.

The cheaper way of doing things is an illusion, of course it possible, there is always a cheaper way of doing something. But in seeking to reduce costs by a relatively small amount we would actually increase costs in other areas or massively reduce effectiveness and credibility, or both at the same time as they are joined at the hip.

The actual cost estimates of a like for like replacement vary, it will be expensive but compared to what, the annual public sector budget is about £750 Billion, the £3 Billion commonly tossed about (even assuming that is what it is) is about 0.4% of the annual spend.

Interest payments on UK public sector debt is twenty times that amount and it is slightly less than spent on ‘Broadcasting’ in a year.

In short, despite the fact that it is a lot of money, for what it delivers, it is the bargain of the century and efforts to reduce the cost slightly are simply not worth it.

We Can Invest the Savings in Conventional Capabilities and Deterrence

There is an argument that says Successor will distort the defence budget for several years and so there exists an opportunity to spend it on something else instead. Conventional deterrence is seen as having greater utility against the kind f threats we face. Of course we could buy some decent shiny new baubbles with £3b a year for the next several decades but in reality, would it tip the balance decisively in our favour in any future scenario, I doubt it, would those extra conventional capabilities offer the same kind of political clout that Trident does, I doubt it?

Would an extra carrier, brigade and squadron count for much when an aggressor has nuclear weapons, not in a gazillion years.

And in any case, would that money stay within defence?

Can I sell you a bridge


The Morning After

This is one area of the debate that many seem to ignore.

Supposing the UK retires the Vanguard and Trident system next week, the week after there would pretty much be zero impact.

Defence would still be both under funded and wasteful, ISIS would still be exactly the same threat to the UK as they were yesterday (practically zero) and Freddo’s would still cost an extortionate amount of money.

But the months and years after the UK would pay a hefty political price, the world would certainly not suddenly follow the UK’s leadership on disarmament and one day, it would be us looking at someone else’s double barrel shotgun and ruing the day the steaming fetid pile of dogshit that comprises many of our political class traded the one system that guarantees our security to get a few extra votes and 5 years in power.

To Summarise

Continuous At Sea Deterrence with 4 submarines and Trident provides the ultimate protection in an uncertain world.

It does not help the Falklands or counter the threat of suicide bombers on the Tube but it is not meant to, other capabilities do that, we don’t counter the threat of tanks with submarines do we?

Cruise missiles might reduce cost but because they would have to be designed, tested and manufactured would not provide the cost savings people think. They would also be less effective, less credible and add a whole load of other problems of their own.

A reduced posture and lower availability from either a non continuous at sea model or reduction in boats from 4 to 3 would reduce costs but add risk and reduce credibility.

The whole point of this capability is to establish and maintain credibility.

The C word is not something we should trade away so easily.

So, 4 boats CASD with a smaller number of Trident missiles and warheads seems to me to be the one thing we shouldn’t compromise on, even if it means a reduced conventional capability.

At least that’s my thinking.


Do we really want to live in a world where the French have a weapon we don’t.


I mean, really.

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266 Responses

  1. Here here.

    However the conservatives didn’t drag its feet on successor, it was in the coalition agreement that they wouldn’t go ahead with their build. It was the Lib Dems that vetoed it

  2. Impossible to argue with any of that…but somebody will be along in a few minutes to try… :-(


  3. “Do we really want to live in a world where the French have a weapon we don’t”
    Like it or not there are going to get more countries with this technology.
    I would prefer to have a deterrence to the nuts of this world then not.
    I think the French agree.

  4. Man is the worst of all animal species in settling its territorial disputes despite the fact we are deemed to have more intelligence.

    United Nations were formed by the five countries who had nuclear weapons in 1948 who are now the permanent Security Council members. A further 10 members selected rotational basis from all the other hundred 92 countries are invited on a temporary to your membership after which they have to give it up. They do not have the right of veto.

    There is no legal basis in international law that gives authority to these five countries to demand that no other country must equip themselves with nuclear weapons in self defence against those countries who have them.

    In fact they even impose sanctions on countries that try India and Pakistan I ran and North Korea again with no basis for doing so. These five countries the US, Russia, China, France and the UK have formed themselves into first-class club members with nuclear weapons while the rest of the world has to make do with having none hope that they won’t be used against them. The nuclear weapon non-proliferation treaty is in agreement that countries that have nuclear weapons will not use them against those that haven’t nor will they use the threat of using nuclear weapons against those who have not got.

    However in 2002 George Bush broke these terms because he tossed his defence Ministry to prepare contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against China who have them so that would be legal but also against Iraq’s Syria part Russia and I ran. So this establishes beyond any shadow of a doubt the NPT is not worth the paper it is written.

    I am the world leading scientist in bomb disposal of all sorts including nuclear bombs I’m very confident with and I will be proposing we replace United Nations with a new world government which will bring all the countries together with equal membership to ever Every country providing their agree to terms of membership.

    This requires the members are not to have nuclear weapons or the means of producing such they will abide by tribunal of 12 judges selected from countries which have no vested interest in the dispute brought before them and every member will agree to buy by the decision of the tribunal whence considered all the evidence is from both sides.

    Will have a single set of laws and punishments reply to every member. Many of the bodies will be absorbed from the United Nations including a new world WMD Inspectorate to ensure compliance with every country that no WMD is art been stockpiled.

    We will replace the readiness with which all politicians gone past their sell by date who can’t decide their differences around a table and to readily send the younger generation to kill one another with the best weapons they can give them.

    This is appalling to treat the younger generation was content that they are just human chess pieces in a debate which should be held and had around the table.

    These so called first class club members have shown they got devoted with getting on with each other let alone all the other countries who have to suffer in silence and feel very vulnerable to those countries that on a whim could wipe their people out.

    Every leader including Tim John of North Korea has a duty and moral responsibility to protect his people from any weapons that might be used against them which includes nuclear weapons.

    The author is quite right considering the Trident replacement that other vehicles of delivery should be included and there is none better than has placed by terrorists covertly in a country without aircraft submarines or ballistic missiles.

  5. The fact that out of the parties in the running for this election, only two have made noises committing support to Britain remaining a nuclear power and only one of them has done so with any sort of gusto is terrifying.

  6. If we gave up all our weapons, UN seat, NATO membership, the whole shebang, we would still be a target. Why? Because we believe in individual liberty, freedom of (and indeed from) religion, gender equality and freedom of speech. It’s not our place in the world that paints a big bullseye on our foreheads – it’s our very way of life. Which we continue to enjoy thanks to the sacrifice and continued vigilance of others.

  7. Excellent post TD, very welcomed indeed.

    as brings up the point of other nations who will seek to develop this sort of technology too. I believe this is one of the fundamental reasons for Britain’s continuation as a nuclear power, as we have to make sure we continue to play a leading role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

    Personally, I believe it is a failing of the international community that countries like Pakistan and India are allowed to developed ever more deadly delivery systems. After all, on the Fragile States Index, Pakistan is classed ‘High Alert’, India is classed ‘High Warning’. Are these the sorts of nations we really want having nuclear weapons?

    Also, I would most certainly be distressed if the French had a weapon we did not.

  8. Outsider – I count three (just re-read them) – Tories Labour and UKIP – that say CASD is their policy. LibDems want 75% solution which they accept would not give full-time cover. Greens and Plaid Cymru want to scrap the whole lot and I think SNP might be a little anti. A score of 3.5 out of 7 then.

  9. @Mike Barker

    This so called “first class club” of nations (i.e the UNSC), are, along with Japan and Germany, the worlds leading and most influential powers on the planet. Nations are not equal, no good will come of stripping the very tools of power from the powerful, likewise, no good will come from rising lesser nations above their station and hand them “equal membership”.

    Human nature, even if it may be a bit psychopathic to some.

    The formation of the UNSC and nuclear weapons are arguably the primary reason WW3 never broke out, and the fact the West has enjoyed over 70 years of unparalleled peace and prosperity.

  10. Couldn’t it be paid for by the DFID? Ensuring Britain’s independence and survival does a lot more good for poorer, less developed nations than many of the handouts and time-wasting schemes currently employed with our £12billion a year. Without us and our allies (Ok so the US does a LOT more) who’d be there to prevent bullies taking over? IMO our continued guaranteed security and liberty does a lot more to protect the world’s impoverished than handing them food rather than teaching letting them maybe learn to provide for themselves (like the west, the only successful example of modern human development had to) or god forbid maybe control their populations to a level they’re capable of feeding and paying for themselves. :) :)

  11. Trouble is the Treasury takes its ‘capital charge’ every year out of the operational defence budget for any assets including major equipment. When it was indroduced, the budget was adjusted to allow for the ‘cost increase’ but a massive cost project like Trident replacement is way way above what its predecessor cost and the budget for the capital charge hasnt increased to the same extent

  12. The US navy is carrying out its own Ohio Replacement Submarine program. It involves a lot of the same companies as our Vanguard-class replacement program. There is a technology sharing agreement on nuclear technology. How many systems can we get to a common spec. on to bring down cost?

    Ok I posted this earlier in the open thread.

  13. …@WiseApe…also strongly related to our history since around 1600 (about which we can do nothing)…and worth noting that the first Islamist attacks on the West came before even GW1…and the horrible offence against which Al Quada originally ranged itself was the presence of US troops in The Kingdom (including women not covered in black sacks who were allowed to drive)…troops who arrived at the invitation of the Al Saud in the aftermath of a UN sanctioned and very limited War against a secular and oppressive regime who invaded their next door neighbour…

    We are where we are, and in reality it started long before 9/11…which was to a large extent unprovoked other than by our existence, the nature of our society as described by yourself…and the fact that our comparative material and cultural success is deemed to be a calculated insult for which we deserve to be punished.


  14. An example of this is the Common missile compartment (CMC).
    It is designed and built by the General Dynamics Electric Boat Corporation.
    The CMC will house SLBMs in quad packs and will used on both British and American future replacements.

  15. @GMB
    Islamic attacks on the UK go back a lot further then that.
    In Cornwall and Devon there are stories of pirates from Spain (when it was run by the Moors in the 1400s) raiding the villages.
    Taking back white slaves to North Africa.

  16. “No cruise missile exists that is 100% survivable against modern integrated air defence systems and which has the range to enable launch from safe patrol areas against all target possibilities.”

    This is wrong thinking.

    Deterrence doesn’t need be 100%; it only needs to be scary. A 50/50 chance of having one’s society destroyed is scary.
    Lots of Americans are shitting themselves at the idea of Iran getting a single crude nuke even though no even only 10% delivery system is in sight.

    Another wrong thinking is the implication that NATIONAL nuclear deterrence has to be effective. Imagine being an Italian or German for a few seconds. How effective are their national nuclear deterrence forces again?
    It’s the alliance effort that matters, and let’s not kid ourselves; no UK nuclear deterrence was ever 100% nor will it ever be. The uncertainty of political decisionmaking on the topic alone guarantees that no nuclear deterrence – even the U.S. one – will ever be a 100% solution.

  17. Germany and Italy along with Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey are covered by the NATO nuclear weapons sharing agreement so there. So there F-16s and Panavia Tornados deliver B61 nuclear bomb provided by the Americans. So in that eventuality its F-16s and Tornados vs Air defence system.

  18. That’s nonsense. There’s no German or Italian control over nukes. Us having lent the Americans a hand so they didn’t need to keep hundreds more jets in Europe was in no way comparable to having own nukes.

    I was picking at three things
    * the extremely limited national-only perspective
    * the extremism (considering only extreme ambitions acceptable)
    * the conservatism (the feeling that a change would be dangerous)

  19. @as…indeed…I was thinking of the late twentieth century re-emergence of the “long war” between Islam and the West…which as I am sure you know started when they destroyed the overwhelmingly Christian Kingdoms of North Africa and Spain in the seventh and eighth centuries, Kingdoms which were taking forward much of the best of the Roman World…and simultaneously started their offensive against the Byzantine iteration of the Roman Empire, then still dominant in the near and mid-east, Greece and the Balkans… :-(


  20. @GMB
    The insurgents still use the crusades as part of there excuse for attacking the west.

    Are history in the middle east in more recent times is complicate and filed with some unfortunate decisions.
    The Cold War and its proxy wars made us make some stupid decisions that are still effecting us.

    Providing the Iraq’s with weapons during the Iran/Iraq war was not bright for example.

  21. Seems crazy we will be spending 25B for a deterrent of 8 missiles. Surely a longer range nuclear TLAM deployed to a far larger fleet of Astutes and Daring Class would gives us a deeper nuclear and conventional power.

  22. “Noticeably, none of the opponents see the savings from cancelling the programme in terms of paying down the eye watering national debt that will be causing misery for all our children and grandchildren in the future, but that’s another story.”

    Please stick to defence and stop dragging in this stuff. Yes, we will be leaving our children and grandchildren the job of paying the interest on the debt, but we are also leaving them *the* *debt*.

    Government debt isn’t something we owe to Mars. It is something we use as the plumbing of the financial system. The Government issues debt. The debt is bought by pension, insurance and other financial institutions. The taxpayer pays interest to the financial institutions, who in turn pay our pensions and insurance claims.

    Financial institutions need default free AAA investments, and government debt is it. The reason Government debt is safe is because paying the interest depends only on the power to tax. As long as the Government system survives, the debt is safe.

    Institutions that buy Government debt are really buying a small sliver of future tax payments. Taxpayers pay taxes, a portion of taxes are paid out as debt interest, and that debt interest is ultimately paid out to the beneficiaries of the pension, insurance, and other financial institutions.

    Taxpayers who pay taxes to pay debt interest today, will eventually become the beneficiaries of that interest in their turn. Money is being re-routed through the system, not consumed.

    If you want a real economic issue to worry about, worry about the jobs lost if Trident is cancelled, the loss of technological credibility, the loss of nuclear know-how and so on.

  23. @TD

    you set out the pro-case well. I didn’t need to be convinced (although I am not 100 % about whether the UK needs Trident or indeed owning nuclear weapons is actually in the long term interests of the UK).

    The “problem” I have is that the case you set out (plus others commenting) is one that convinces the already convinced and isn’t one that will convince the unconvinced. I also don’t think that it really addresses the question of whether, like our P5 seat at the UN, we aren’t continuing to live in the shadow of our imperial past.

    Go back to 1945, we were a major world power (alone plus empire), that had fought and won the second world war (alone and in alliance), a nation which had been the sole (pretty much anyway) world power for the previous 150 years and a leading manufacturing and technology power for the future. The shame is that we were also completely financially and morally (due to imperialism) bankrupt.

    Given the circumstances how could we not be a founding P5 member and seek nuclear weapons. It was surely seen as a continuation of our destiny in 1945 (just as surely that neither Japan nor Germany could ever be leading military powers again).

    Just 20 years later, everything had changed. The empire had gone, our technological lead had largely gone, our manufacturing was going, our global military presence was severely reduced and would reduce further. And yet, our attitude remained unchanged. Did we not still think of ourselves in 1945 terms ? Much of this pretty much remains true today. Surely Dean Acheson never spoke truer. What is the UK’s role in the world today and what do we want it to actually be ? [btw the post war governance of the UK really has to be pretty much the low point in our history even if 1945 left us exhausted and bankrupt notwithstanding the highlights like the dismantling of the Empire].

    So just why does the UK need to retain nuclear weapons ? Who are we deterring with them ? Are they deterred ? Do we really believe that even in 10 years time, Russia will invade the UK or launch a first strike against us ? If we do why ?

    The analysis @TD set out above ought to apply to just about any reasonably wealthy, technologically advance nation. So why is there no German, Japanese,Italian, Spanish, Brazilian, Argentinian (et al) nuclear weapons programme ? Really what makes the UK and France different from the rest (except for 1945 and imperial hang over) ? Perhaps we don’t actually trust the US to retaliate ? I’m sure a long and more comprehensive list of question and topics could be discussed along these lines.

    Worse, has public opinion now moved on from our 1945 mindset and accepted what we are today, when our politicians and military haven’t ? What is the UK in 2015 ? We seem to have no wish to be a global policeman anymore, we certainly aren’t funding our military forces sufficiently well and our ability to participate alongside the US decreases annually.

    We are the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world, but somewhere between 24 and 27th wealthiest on a per capita basis (, although I’d argue that the small rich countries like UAE, should be ignored, which would put us higher position. Whilst we are poorer than many, we are certainly not poor as a nation and yet…

    Isn’t our political outlook more inward looking today than it has ever been ? We are in the middle of an election campaign, noted by the absence of pretty much any discussion of foreign policy, the EU and Eurozone woes, Russian aggression, growth of China (the coming Chinese hard landing). What does this say about us as a nation and our national priorities ?

    It seems to me that our failure to actually address the big picture and present a coherent argument why we should be different from Germany et al (and why Germany et al should actually change if you like) is exactly why our defence spending and capabilities are in decline. Did the Iraq/Afghanistan campaigns not show us clearly we are already living well beyond our means ?

    My concern is, if we can’t actually address questions of this sort in a national debate, then UK ownership of nuclear deterrence and expeditionary warfare capability is at risk and sooner or later will go.

  24. There are two issues one is should we have nuclear weapons and the other is if we have them is the correct posture CASD with a minimum of 4 boats.

    At the time of the Cold War we had more than just Trident we had a variety of other nuclear weapons from free fall bombs to artillery shells to depth charges.

    After the Cold War we gave up everything except Trident, so having another option now becomes much more expensive as we do not have the infrastructure to develop or deploy anything else.

    The French also reduced dramatically after the Cold War BUT they kept some options open by keeping free fall bombs and the infrastructure to develop other forms of warhead such as for the ASMP missile.

    If the threat is Russia then realistically CASD is the right response, but until recently the response would have been Russia is no longer a threat, post Crimeia that is now a different discussion.

    If the threat is a rogue state with potentially a single or handful of weapons, then a free fall bomb or missile is potentially a perfectly adequate response.

    The UN Security Council seat has become a linkage which is a nonsense, someone further in the comments suggested the 5 permanent members were chosen because they were the 5 who had nuclear weapons in 1948. That is simply nonsense the agreement on who became permanent members was as part of setting up the UN in 1944-5 and the discussions had started before even the U.S. had nuclear weapons and were concluded before anyone other than the U.S. had weapons.

    There is a long and ongoing campaign to expand the permanent members of the council, to reflect the reality of today not 1945, countries being discussed include Japan, Germany, Brazil, India, South Africa. Only India has nuclear weapons.

    Of the 5 permanent members the 3 western members stick to CASD deterrence not because of a fear of immediate attack but because of a fear of spending cuts! If we admit they could be put into storage in times of low tension the politicians would cut the budget. Russia has not operated CASD since the time of the Soviet Union, and China never has.

    Of the other nuclear powers none of them have an SLBM capability though Israel has a short range cruise missile capability, but not CASD and India is developing an SLBM.

    The reality is you last comment was the truth.
    If the French decide they are keeping it our political class would never want to admit we are in some way less than the French.

    We need to keep our “totally independent” detterant based on a bomb design that is a copy of a U.S. Design built in a bomb factory managed by a U.S. company mounted on a missile that is part of a shared pool with the USN on submarines which will share lots of development and equipment with USN successor boat.

  25. United Nations were formed by the five countries who had nuclear weapons in 1948 who are now the permanent Security Council members.
    Rubbish, Only the US was a Nuclear power before 1950*
    1st Nuclear Weapons tests UK 1952, Russia 1949, China 1964, France 1960,
    Admittedly the UK had been heavily involved in the US effort, But France didn’t even start Developing Nuclear weapons until the 50s.

    It was the 5 (Great power )winners of WW2, that formed it.

    *Russia had tested but not built its 1st bombs

  26. The trouble with the deterrent is that it is a typical British fudge. We are down to the bare minimum of subs required to protect the deterrent and a CBG and now that it is coming from the core budget for all aspects of the system then it needs to be held to the same evaluation as every other weapon system.

    Dan touched on some of the issues and so did RUSI.

    ‘The UK is the only one of the eight established nuclear-armed states with a single nuclear delivery system.

    The US and Russia both have strategic ‘triads ’of air-, land- and sea-based systems. Israel is believed to have a triad of medium range ballistic missiles, submarine launched cruise missiles and air-delivered nuclear bombs. India, Pakistan and China appear set on building such a capability. Even France, the nearest comparator to the UK, complements its force of four strategic submarines with an air-based nuclear force. The UK’s reliance on a single system means that the future of its position as a nuclear-armed state is vulnerable to a single point of failure’

    Almost every other weapon system we have has redundancy or overlap built in either by numbers, complimentary systems or layers.

    In the long term, however, technological breakthroughs by potential adversaries may pose a more serious threat to the nuclear force than technical failure at home. The rapid development of nano technology and robotics, to take just one example, could pose serious new risks to the ability of the UK’s submarines to operate covertly when on patrol. US success in deploying effective strategic ballistic-missile defences could also, as a result of inevitable technology transfer, increasingly call into question the viability of a deterrent force based on inflicting unacceptable damage with as few as eight ballistic missiles launched from a single submarine. The UK would not be helpless in the face of such risks and could develop technological countermeasures of its own. In contrast to other nuclear-armed states, however, it could not compensate for vulnerabilities in one leg of the nuclear force by shifting investment into other legs. The TAR made clear that it could take the UK twenty-four years (at some risk) to design and deliver a nuclear warhead for an alternative, cruise-missile-based nuclear system. This time scale is too extended to provide a credible back-up option were technological change to begin to erode either the invisibility of submarines or the penetrability of ballistic missiles.

    ‘President Sarkozy also declared at Cherbourg that British and French vital interests are so close that ‘there can be no situation in which the vital interests of either of our nations could be threatened without the vital interests of the other also being threatened,’ and re-stated French commitment to Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty which states that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all.90 France’s nuclear weapons should, he went on, be seen in this context as a key element available for the defence of European and not only French security’

    Is there some way we could work with the French without giving up our independence? Maybe purchase some Air-Sol Moyenne Portée-Amélioré ASMP-A from the French to compliment our Trident system, or have an arrangement with shared patrol’s.

    The way I see it, is that our deterrent will not deter any of the major nuclear powers in the future due to it’s numbers and technological advances in missile defence within those nations. So who are we really deterring? and is Trident over kill for the types of threats of rogue states and not enough for a credible deterrent for other ICBM/BM capable nations? Would the money be better spent on strategic ballistic-missile defences?

  27. Ignoring the pathetic time-to-target of about three hours for a 2500km cruise missile and the very fact that we’d need to loiter in many places on earth in order to provide a timely retaliation.

    Option 1: 4 x Vanguard/Trident + (7 Astute + TLAM) + (Extra Typhoon/Tornado + Storm Shadow)
    Option 2: 12 x Astute/Astute2 + Long-Range Bomber + silos on FF/DD + UK Cruise Missile and warheads

    Which is cheaper?
    Which is more effective?
    Which looks like warmongering and nuclear proliferation?
    Which is safer?

  28. Not that the UK has this many warheads these days, however the theoretical maximum for a single Vanguard is 16 x Trident D5 with MIRV payload delivering 14 x Warheads each for a grand horrifying total of 224 x 475kT detonations.

    The START series and other disarmament/employment policies reduced maximum warheads per D5 to 8 and also dial down the fusion boost of the reaction. I’d would be amazed if the other warhead positions in the missile payload weren’t filled with decoys and other “conventional” tricks to ensure delivery of those remaining 8 mind.

    If you’re looking at a “bare minimum” nuclear deterrent, we’re pretty much there already as highlighted above numerous times. It doesn’t get much cheaper than four boats, reduced missiles, fewer/throttled warheads, a couple of handling facilities and a restricted/known number of personnel to exercise increased care for.

  29. @ DavidNiven,

    Interesting post…

    I think that part of the reason that the smaller nuclear armed states have ended up with multiple delivery methods including cruise missiles and free-fall bombs is because their weapons are more focused on a regional threat with less sophisticated defences. You don’t need to create your own space program with the sole aim of sending a warhead to the edge of space and back just to irradiate your neighbour’s back garden.

    As for having a back-up system like France’s ASMP, well, it would be useful primarily for redundancy purposes but under what circumstances could it be actually be advantageous to possess a smaller, single warhead tactical nuke? Wiping out the core of IS in Raqqah or Dabiq? Any other potential uses?

    As for any alternative to a submarine based system? Is that even possible now? Just look at the fuss that a planning application for a wind farm or fracking causes :(

  30. I’m sure I recall reading somewhere that if we cancelled the Trident replacement programme, we either have to build a new class of attack submarines in their place or lose our ability to build them, seeing as the replacements for the Astutes won’t be needed until something like the 2040s.

    Remember the problems we had with the early parts of the Astute programme after a relatively short gap in building?

    I can’t see us wanting to give up that capability so how much will a new class of attack subs cost and what saving (if any) does that leave us against the cost of Trident, given that the bulk of the costs for Trident replacement are in the costs of the submarines…?

  31. @TOC “If you’re looking at a “bare minimum” nuclear deterrent, we’re pretty much there already as highlighted above numerous times”

    Absolutely – we’ll have 12 tubes at sea on CASD, but only 8 missiles and 40 warheads across them – an enormous reduction from cold war heights of 224 warheads at sea.

  32. On the Chinese building upto eight SSBN based on reliability of the whole system and the range of their SLBM combined with the most likely opposition being the huge USN trying to keep track of them so I doubt they will stop at eight . On this subject for a UK SSBN to retaliate against China the sub would need to move up into the high Arctic or western med. Will four Successors be enough? Or should we have two boats at sea at once covering both ends of the Asia.

  33. On the “who had nukes” at the formation of the Security Council point worth remembering that Canada, the USA and the UK were utterly complicit leading up to the conclusion of the Manhattan Project, ratified in the Quebec and Hyde Park agreements before the McMahon Act.

  34. Question – will the new tubes for the common missile compartment take say Tomahawks (quad packed?) without significant modification to the tube or sub?

  35. Probably. Although whether TLAM will still be in service by the time the boats commission is another question.

  36. @NAB, thanks – just wondering on the flexibility of the tubes.

    The savings from Successor are illusory unless we abandon N boat construction in full. If we want to keep that capability, we’d still need to build 4 new SSNs or SSGNs over the same timeframe to keep the skills and line going, surely?

    Divorce the boats from the system – we are proposing to build 4 highly capable N subs with the ultimate flexibility in payloads. For the foreseeable future we will use them to carry Trident in the form of CASD, which incidentally uses existing missiles and existing facilities. In future, they could have other payloads if we choose to abandon CASD (now is not the time though). What’s the incremental cost then of designing and building 4 Successors over building 4 more slightly improved Astutes?

  37. I grow tired of the often used ‘imperial hangover’ cliche that people use to argue against Britain’s foreign and security policy, nuclear weapons, and our ‘role in the world’.

    When we consider Britain’s role in the world today, we must acknowledge and not shy away from the fact our Imperial past affords us a certain prestige and influence in the world, especially in regions that were once part of the Empire. Its one of the reasons why some well to do nations in Asia, the Middle East and Africa are keen to maintain military links with Britain in the forms of alliances or partnerships – ditto the White Commonwealth.

    The British Empire laid the foundations of this international rules based system, including global trade and banking. In many ways we were the worlds first globalized nation. The rule of law is now championed by the United States, whose interests have remarkable similarities to those of the British Empire. So it is little surprise that Britain’s interests today so often coincide with Americas.

    Britain is also a nation that has always been on the winning side, fighting for freedom and liberty. Think Napoleonic Wars, WW1, WW2 and the Cold War. We are not a nation that has suffered the humiliation of defeat, or the disgrace of holocaust and genocide that the failed empires of Japan and Germany have- we are, in every way, a triumphant nation.

    This reality has shaped our nations attitudes towards how we engage with world. Why we may no longer be the global hegemon, we are still willing to pull our weight and do our part. As such, we do not shy away from using military force when necessary and maintain some very impressive capabilities, giving us a status of one of the worlds few military powers.

    It is no secret that the public attitudes in Japan and Germany are very different than those in Britain or France. History is, whether we like it or not, an important factor in shaping national identity. Given the history of both Japan and Germany, it would be fallacy to compare them to Britain, and as such, arguing what Britain should be doing or what they should be doing instead.

    We are the worlds 5th economic power, a major trading nation, a global financial command center, a military power, a nuclear power, a leading member and pillar of NATO, allies and partners around the world, a seat at the highest table (UNSC), a member of the G7 and G8, senior positions in the IMF and World Bank etc, one of the EU-3, the Commonwealth and so on and so forth.

    Our international profile is very impressive, few nations are as well placed as Britain in the international community. Little wonder that many academics still consider Britain to be a Great Power.

    Who are we kidding, if we think we are not the above, or we are not as important as our international profile suggests.

  38. @DavidNiven: bear in mind the 24 year estimate to regenerate an air launched nuke option is a result of utilising CFD nuclear weapon design only. If you decided to test, that timescale would drop to less than ten years.

    @thread: the other thing about Successor is that by increasing the number of nuclear subs, we probably make a continuance of SSN production possible. Seven SSN’s over 25 years is not enough I suspect.

  39. As several comments have already made, but it is worth reiterating –

    1. Deterence does not have to be 100%, it only has to be scary enough. In that light ownership of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them meets all of our objectives. That suggests a cruise missile, with a suitable warhead, carried aboard a fleet of Astutes would be more than sufficient
    2. I am not certain, but do all of the commentators here understand that the £25bn budget for 4 SSBNs + missiles + warheads comes from the rest of the defence budget – ie everything else suffers as a result
    3. For less than £25bn we could buy another 5 Astutes (for a fleet of 12) + develop a new sea launched cruise missile (which we need anyway both as a TLAM and Harpoon replacement) + the warhead to go with it + start work on an Astute replacement. We would then have 12 SSNs useable for duties other than deterance + a much needed new cruise missile – I am struggling to see the draw back here

  40. @whitest

    You have just described exactly what Imperial overhang comprises. Well done. However, UK tax payers are currently writing the tax cheques for us to pay for it.

    What happens if they don’t want to ? Perhaps they would in fact prefer some or even all of that money to be spent on healthcare, pensions, education and other things that might just improve their standard of living. You never know, some of it may actually be invested in things that generate national wealth (although to be honest, UK governments seem to be pretty poor at that these days) and actually increase our financial standard of living (GDP/capita).

    How do you convince a skeptical electorate to continue to write cheques to pay for this legacy today in preference to expensive cancer medicine for granddad, a decent pension when they retire and all the other things promised on the basis of a working lifetime’s worth of tax payments ?

  41. Nigel – as also commented before its by no means a given that any CASD elimination savings (if there are any once funding to develop the alternative ‘scary enough’ option is put aside) would be spent on Defence. SNP is the one party that has publicly stated it would use savings from scrapping Trident on schools welfare and NHS; the other parties I have few doubts would do the same if Trident went. Its all about the votes. Nothing to do with security of the nation.

  42. My main concern with CASD isn’t the why or the how but the organisation tasked with running it.

    Time to give a bootneck the job of 2SL perhaps?

    Cue APATS mad ramblings in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1………….

  43. @Richard_L

    ‘weapons are more focused on a regional threat with less sophisticated defences’

    In the case of India and China they are both developing ABM systems.

    ‘but under what circumstances could it be actually be advantageous to possess a smaller, single warhead tactical nuke? Wiping out the core of IS in Raqqah or Dabiq? Any other potential uses?’

    It would give us the ability to launch a strike from the carriers (which will be something else for any potential adversary to plan for every time a carrier is at sea) and to have an ability to escalate without going for the instant big ticket missile from the SSBN.


    The 24 years is probably the worst case scenario, which is what we should plan for and hope for something sooner if we needed to develop an alternative warhead.

    Are we not banned from testing due to treaty obligations?

  44. SSBN looks reasonable answer to the nuclear deterrent. It looks like, only its high cost is the issue.

    Then, why not think much heavily of cost cut?

    – Why not have a tube of only 8, not 12 per boat? The tube hybrid is based on 4 tubes module, to my understanding, so 8 tube (=2 module) design looks OK.

    – Why not base your boat design to the Astute class, just “add” the tube part within (this is the way George Washington class SSBN was build out of Skipjack class). This will reduce the training cost, operation cost, as well as design cost?

    – Do you really need torpedo tubes? Can you go without it? (This will reduce significant cost). If needed, can you go with only 4 torpedoes in the tube, with No reload? (This will reduce a certain cost, at least significant amount of crew number?)

    In other words, is the current Trident replacement plan really optimized?

  45. I have seen a few posts floating the Cruise missile idea as Credible/scary enough for the job of deterrence, and if you could launch them in large enough numbers I would tend to agree but that is only in the context of right now and for maybe the next 10 years at the outside. The technologies that makes cruise missiles vulnerable today are only going to improve and proliferate, so when you factor in the 30 year timescale required here for thinking about successor systems, cruise (IMHO) just doesn’t cut the mustard. Contrast with a proper SLBM and even in 30-40 years time countering multiple warheads bearing down on you, in a complex Decoy environment, at 6000m/s is still likely to be a prohibitive activity on the grounds of cost even if the technology becomes widespread, just consider how long it has taken the US to achieve even a rudimentary anti missile capability even with all the crazy Star wars money that was being thrown at the program in the 80’s and 90’s.

  46. I wonder how pro Trident UKIP or the Tories would be if the weapons in Coalport where moved to Gravesend?

    seems funny that politically the further away a party has seats from Faslane the more it’s support grows for a like for like replacement.

    It amazes me that given their is a very very high probability that Scotland will achieve independence long before the successor program is retired no one wants to move the system down south.

    I seem to remember James Bond talking about the Polaris Pens outside of London before. Maybe a time to give that a try.

  47. Sweeping generalisation there Martin. Unfounded. Sweeping.

    You’ll always find opposition and you’ll always find support in the areas. Wylfa is a great recent example.

    You may not remember the campaigns at Faslane to keep the deterrent based there?

  48. Martin – the suggestion of rampant nimbyism might have credibility were it not for the fact that the design manufacture support and disposal of the warheads is the job of AWE, nestled in the Tory heartland of Berkshire just outside the M25…

  49. @Shackvan
    ‘even in 30-40 years time countering multiple warheads bearing down on you, in a complex Decoy environment, at 6000m/s is still likely to be a prohibitive activity on the grounds of cost even if the technology becomes widespread’

    I don’t agree with that assessment especially considering the number of nations now developing systems coupled, with recent successful tests by more than one of those. After all the hardest part has been proved now it’s development which in most technologies comes at a faster rate.

    Granted to stop an attack by someone like Russia or the US it would be prohibitively expensive when you consider the number of deployed strategic warheads and number of ICBM’s available to them, but when we have no more than 40 warheads deployed at sea at any one time I think we are going to find that our deterrent is going to be the first amongst the nuclear weapon states to become redundant as a credible threat to any of our peers.

  50. @Nick,

    I think you have missed the point entirely. The ‘Imperial hangover’ cliche is used, more often that not, by those with ‘Imperial guilt’ to argue that Westminster still thinks its a superpower, or that Britain thinks it is more important than it really is. As such, it is used to argue against Britain’s foreign and security policy and possession nuclear weapons – because they want to see a Britain that retreats from the world.

    I on the other hand, understand that the world still lives to some extent in the shadows of imperialism. I understand that many of Britain’s interests, allies and partners are a direct result of our imperial past. I understand that because of this, and for many other reasons, Britain is uniquely placed in the world and is afforded a great deal of influence.

    As for the British public, a 2015 YouGov poll shows that a substantial majority support Britain sticking to the NATO target of 2% of GDP on defence. The same goes for foreign aid spending, where the overwhelming majority want to see it cut (a 2013 YouGov poll).

    We all probably remember the 2013 RUSI analysis that found 70-80% of the population think it is important that Britain is a leading voice in NATO, the EU and the UNSC and just over 50% think it is important Britain has nuclear weapons. 69% thought it important Britain had aircraft carriers and remained an expeditionary power.

    There is a clear perception amoung the British population that we have an important role to play in the world and that its important we continue to play it. So I completely refute your assertion that they would want the money spent on healthcare or welfare – polls don’t indicate it.

  51. Can Trident function without Nimrod?
    How traceable are the submarines?
    There was an article in FT (me thinks) that was suggesting that even as it is , the submarines can be traced.

  52. @ theard all this talk of casd is redundent the only question is 3 or 4 boats the long lead items for boat 1 has been ordered and contracted for

    For all we are are in the midest of a election all sort of things are said and theratend i trust none of it what will happen after will depend on how well the libdems do if they get wiped out there will be no collaltion if aganist all odds they keep most of there seats then we mite get a labour libdem or con libdem again i don’t think at all any of the 2 main partys will go into collaition with snp because the english electriote won’t forgive them

  53. I think abandoning CASD (particularly pushed for by the LibDems) to replace it with a ‘Normally-CASD’ or ‘CASD-Capable’ force sets a very dangerous precedent.

    In this scenario where a UK SSBN is not deployed as part of a permanent deterrent cycle, due to increased tensions with say, Russia, we decide to deploy one of our “uber-SSGN-with-nuclear-cruise-missiles” – this will be seen as an ‘unacceptable escalation’ by someone like Putin, which the world press would love to circulate and could trigger a major incident.

    Remember Able Archer 83 anyone?

    While this may not seem like a very realistic scenario at this moment in time, abandoning CASD could make nuclear war more, not less likely.

    Every time this argument comes up, the answer in terms of necessity, utility, safety, effectiveness and cost always comes to 4 SSBNs and CASD.

    The fact that there’s any “debate” about this at all is ridiculous and is nothing but scaremongering and petty political point scoring by parties who care more about their careers than the safety of the country and a public too uneducated and easily brainwashed to know any better.

  54. Question:

    If a UK citizen or citizens die in a WMD attack on British soil by a state actor, will/should the UK government use “Trident” against that state?

    If a far away British Overseas Territory (I’m not naming, there are still several) received the fall out from a WMD attack, will/should the government fire a nuclear warhead against that state?

    If an allied (NATO, non-NATO, just great friend of the UK) suffers a WMD attack or a massive invasion with massive casualties, will/should the government retaliate on behalf of that nation if a conventional strike is ineffective/not capable of ending the solution (evne if British citizens cant be safely evacuated?)

    Bottom line: Exactly when should the “fire back” or usage occur?

    I know most of your are rational people so I would like to see rational arguments.

  55. Whitest – while the Great British Public might understand the importance of sound responsible defence, the politicians and the media lackeys in attendance have been blinded by their obsession of Political Correctness which demands that they only talk about, create policies for and plan to implement nice universal socially justifiable caring projects for which they can gain bragging rights against their equally PC opponents. Defence is not Politically Correct because it might harm someone which is of course really horrid. All well & good until hostile elements start hurting UK citizens, at which point the pacifist ideals will be shown to have caused far more hurt than the Defence they should have funded.

  56. @ForcesReviewUK

    Unblock our accounts from commenting on what you write on Twitter and some of us would consider answering you.

    We’re allowed to disagree with you.

  57. If you look at the costs then there’s very little point in going for 3 x SSBN. If anything you have to drop to 2 to save a meaningful amount, even this only saves around two thirds of the total cost.

    I think it was £16b for four, £14b for three, and £10b for two.

    …which, given the US Ohio costing estimates is interesting to say the least.

  58. @ the theard

    The british public have qutie clearly have stated that the issues that the want answers to have not been answered and as such that is why no one party will have a majority some on this thread think the british public are stupied they are not and as such will force the politic class to sit up and raise the game not for this term but for the next one

  59. @DavidNiven

    Agreed that there have been some successful tests of limited systems but nobody has made a missile yet that can shoot down an ICBM warhead and, to my knowledge, nobody is even considering a missile that can. Available systems i know of are:
    THAAD- was built as a scud killer essentially with some limited performance against terminal phase IRBM’s
    SM-3 – hasn’t got the speed or the range to hit an ICBM midcourse as they fly too high and too fast
    GMD – Same as SM-3 above
    Partiot PAC-3 – Same problems as THAAD to a greater degree
    S-400/500 – Likely to lie in-between Patriot and THAAD in terms of ABM ability
    ASTER 30 Block II – Limited anti theatre ballistic missile ability
    Not sure about Indian or Israeli products but I have no reason to believe performance is greater than what is available elsewhere.

    Couple that to the fact that even if you have a missile that can reliably hit an ICBM the kill chain for doing so would be huge, complex, expensive and vulnerable and therefore likely to be out of reach of all but America and maybe China in the future. Consider that the only reliable method of detecting and targeting incoming warheads is very long range high power radar systems, which as the Americans discovered in there last set of high altitude nuclear tests, can be completely blinded by a single high altitude detonation (even if the EMP doesn’t fry your radars the residual radiation creates a temporary “brick wall” that your radars cant see through). Once the remaining warheads cross that threshold they are largely protected by the laws of physics due to the fact they are just moving so quickly and the window of time for a defender to react would be so small.

    So if you want an effective counter to an ICBM in a nuclear scenario you not only need a quantum leap in interceptor technology, and cost, but also an effective long range replacement to Radar targeting or some kind of assault on the laws of physics to allow them to see through dense clouds of charged particles. Which I would suspect if a greater than 50 year problem.

    To caveat I am by no means an expert and throw in my 2 penith only as a semi-informed layman. I would invite any evidence to contradict my understanding as above!

  60. @ Martin

    Plaid Cymru are dead against anything Nuclear. But as Wylfa PS is vital to Anglesey. The local Plaid MP will tell you a very different story!

    Because of the uncertainty on the future of power generation at Wylfa. Anglesey Aluminium closed it operations on the Island. Because it could not be guaranteed a long term contract.

  61. Time to get real…

    4 boats has to be a minimum for a CASD but there are variations on a theme perhaps we should also consider:

    1) Share ‘boat’ development with the Ohio replacement (lowest cost surely)
    2) Consider an equivalent 3 boat CASD warhead count but using a 6/8 boat class – therby having the opportunity for a 2 boat at sea minimum with a mixed inventory (D5/6 and VLS/MAC) – increasing the detection problem
    3) Augment with conventional warheads on the MIRV as the Chinese have now made the conventionally armed ballistic missile an accepted reality
    4) The real cost is in the handling/security of the nuclear warheads and not running the boats necessarily

    The overall aim should be for a more effective weapons system/deterent at the lowest cost

  62. This may be an unpopular view, but it is mine:: Far from dropping or de-scoping the Strategic Deterrent, we should be expanding our nuclear capability to sub-strategic level as our ability to provide meaningful conventional forces is in seemingly irrecoverable decline. We need something which is not just straight to 11 – We should be seeking improvements to nuclear capabilities and delivery platforms.

    I say this as I think it is possible we could be on our own again at some time in the not too distant future, the NATO alliance appears close to having run it’s course.

  63. The Successor is pretty much designed in terms of the kit it will have. The reactor for the first boat , the PWR3 , is already started at Rolls Royce , the rest of the power plant is on order , the 12 Common Missile Compartments for the first boat are being made by General Dynamics in the US ,the new construction shed at Barrow is underway . Its not say that if by some miracle the Greens , the SNP and a few others form a coalition and decide to scrap the Successor programme eating whatever penalties are no doubt written into the contract , it could happen :-) If it came to an open vote in parliament , with no party whip IMHO Successor would be voted through and even if Labour had agreed to cancel it to get a coalition partnership going enough Labour MP’s would still vote for it anyway ,party whip or not.

  64. @whitest

    Not sure I disagree with you, but I’m afraid the great British public hasn’t been faced with the real hard choice that we just can’t afford to do everything that they’d like or our politicians promise. For example, whenever a new cancer drug arrives which NICE decide isn’t cost effective, there are always major campaigns to over turn the decision (which is why Cameron invented the additional special fund – now fully spent – to pay for these drugs outside the NHS budget). Just what does the public really think ? Let’s talk election turkey.

    Where does the extra 8 billion pa (in 2020) NHS spending commitment come from ? There are two choices at the end of the day:

    1. Growth above the governments forecast or
    2. From within the current governments 5 year forecast.

    If the former it can’t be assured that it will actually happen (in fact the OBR and IMF already thinks growth will be lower than the government expects). If its the latter there must be an offsetting cut from non-protected spending departments (Defence etc).

    In any case, the whole amount is predicated on the assumption NHS can find a cumulative 22 billion pa saving by 2020 (which may well be wishful thinking in any case and certainly isn’t identified in any absolute way).

    The truth is that you can’t cut the government spending in the way the Tories want to, fund additional NHS spending increases and tax reductions out of thin air. Given the 5 year plan is “fixed” and has major spending reductions (c 5% of GDP) then finding anything on top must mean you need bigger cuts than already planned (but not announced) or a longer period to cut the government current account deficit to zero (ie Labour/Libdem/SNP policy). Once you take Health, Pensions, Education, Overseas aid (which are all going to increase anyway) and allow Tax cuts on top; it follows that the axe falls heavily elsewhere.

  65. @Shackvan

    ‘nobody is even considering a missile that can.’

    Prithvi Defence Vehicle test: ‘Enemy’ ballistic missile to be downed in space next month

    ‘Meanwhile, DRDO is working on Phase-II of the anti-ballistic missile defence programme, capable of downing enemy inter-continental ballistic missiles fired from up to 5,000 km away. DRDO says the Phase-II shield would be deployed by 2016.’

    I don’t think that they are even remotely close to meeting the 2016 target especially as the last test failed to hit the target but they are working on it. they also claim to have a viable radar for the system but it is the Indian defence industry and they do tend to exaggerate.

  66. @WhitestElephant – “Britain is also a nation that has always been on the winning side, fighting for freedom and liberty.” – The Hundred Years War? The American War of Independence?

  67. CASD is certainly the best option but it doesn’t require Trident. Having 4 SSBNs is like having all of your eggs in one basket. If an enemy finds a way to disable the sole at sea SSBN it could launch an attack. Not only could an SSN stumble across it, it could be disabled by sabotage or even a STUXNET type electronic exploit.

    Cruise missiles are a very effective deterrent, just look at how worried about them the USSR was. You could have multiple platforms at sea at all times and those platforms would be useful in a conventional conflict, which is much more likely than a nuclear one anyway.

    I haven’t really seen an argument against cruise missiles, other than the claim that a Trident would be 100% successful and a cruise missile wouldn’t be based on comparing actual combat performance of Tomahawk against controlled test performance of Trident.

    A three hour flight time is meaningless. No one is going to decide to launch an attack because they would have an extra 2 1/3 hours before retaliation arrives. The fact that the nuclear armed version of Tomahawk is out of production is meaningless because you wouldn’t want an obsolete version from the 80’s anyway. You would want a missile based on a modern stealthy version of Tomahawk. Or Scalp. Or a new purpose designed missile.

    The idea that a modern cruise missile will be easy to intercept is nonsense. Air defenses don’t have a good record against older versions and newer versions have improved stealth charismatics.

    A nuclear cruise missile could also be launched from surface ships and carrier or land based aircraft. Eliminating the entire deterrence capability at a stroke would be impossible.

    More to the point, a major power like Russia isn’t going to risk nuclear devastation of even one of it’s major cities or military installations to take out the smallest nuclear power in NATO. The fact that a cruise missile can’t hit some of a the targets that Trident can is irrelevant for the same reason.

    If you think about a madman scenario where some Iranian Ayatollah orders an attack without fear of retaliation then Trident wouldn’t work as a deterrent any better than a cruise missile would. You would be much better off spending the money on a ABM capability, and maybe a screening capability so that he can’t simply send a warhead in an IMO container.

    The only thing a SSBN would be good for would be pride, and it drains money from conventional forces where it is needed. It isn’t even a superior deterrent.

  68. @WiseApe,

    Okay, I concede, not always. But with the examples I gave, its obvious what I was getting at.

  69. thanks to the wide, informative views held on this forum I am very much better placed to challenge those who argue against CASD…but I am curious to know one thing …

    While I understand the very persuasive reason that you dont want your common or garden Astute /SSNs carrying SLBMs as your opponents wont know whether its a bucket of sunshine or just a cruise missle about to give you a very bad headache…does it work the other way round… that is, could the SSBN not carry a few cruise missiles [quad packed in the vacant silos if possible/necessary] and contribute to/increase our conventional response.

    Its not as if we are offering the baddies advanced warning of/ and provenance of incoming conventional TLAMs [“I say chaps we are about to bomb you with a few cruise missiles, just to let you know they’re not coming from our Astutes, but our new Successor, hope you don’t mind, cheers…”]

  70. @Vinny

    1) Cruise missiles are a first strike weapon system, that is why the Russians were so worried about them in the cold war. The UK has a 2nd strike capability and that is all we want.

    2) The UK already owns a pool of UGM-133A Trident II D5 ballistic missiles, they have a projected OSD of 2042.

    3) There is no cruise missile system available off the shelf so we would have the cost of developing it and then buying it in huge numbers to saturate any target.

    4) Point 3 is a pointless and costly exercise when you consider point 2.

    There are your reasons.

  71. @WhitestElephant:

    England created a colonial empire by oppressing hundreds of millions of people over hundreds of years.

    “Britain is also a nation that has always been on the winning side, fighting for freedom and liberty.”
    is a very, very and obviously delusional quote.

    England’s history of being oppressor and evil is easily in the top 10 of history.

  72. @Vinny

    cruise missiles lack range and contary to your assumption are vulnerable to a modern integrated air defence network. The Fact that you write of the flight time as irrelevant astounds me. Especially in an Intel driven first strike scenario vs some of the potential rogue states using liquid fuelled missiles.
    Then you come to the practical problems.
    1. If you do not announce the nuke carrying boats you open up all sorts of water space management issuea for your entire Ssn fleet, if you do then you are no better in fact you are worse off.
    2. Every time you launch a cruise missile the question becomes whether it is nuclear or conventional. The risk of you firing a conventional cruise missile and triggering a chemical or biological if not nuclear response goes through the roof. the Us had enormous difficulty sitting on the Israelis in 91 when Scuds were landing in Tel Aviv. If one had been chemical they would have made Baghdad glow in the daRk.

    Numerous problems in real life I am afraid, an ICBM will always be a supwrior Deterent.

  73. Apats, there are no first strike scenarios for nuclear arms uses, period.

    Besides, you made the mistake of writing “ICBM” instead of “SLBM”.


    your nonsense was so extreme it deserved more repudiation than his harmless one.

  74. @S O
    “England’s history of being oppressor and evil is easily in the top 10 of history.”
    Quite possibly true but we have fought and destroyed much worse , The German Second and Third Reich from dominating Europe with their allies the Hapsburg Empire, the Japanese Empire from dominating the whole of Asia , the French Empire from dominating all of Europe, the Italian Empire from dominating the Balkans , Greece and North and East Africa, the Ottoman Empire from dominating the middle east , Egypt and the Balkans , various Kings , Moguls, Princes of the Indian sub-continent from their incessant wars with each other to name a few.

  75. @So

    If you really believe there are no first strike scenarios you are incredibly naive.

  76. @S O,

    You know full well what I meant. Perhaps ‘always’ was a poor choice of word – and it was. But you, I, and everyone else knew what I meant and what I was trying to get at. That is what is important here.

  77. @ S O

    evil? oppressor?

    Isn’t that rather over the top -might you care to list the top 10?

    are you part of the commentariat who would have me wake up everyday and apologise to the world for the acts of those who went before me?

    Are you also insisting that the Germans and the Japanese {my great uncle captured in Singapore, enough said] do the same… perhaps the Spanish [how many indigenous tribes did they wipe out in south America], the French are hardly unblemished, by any measure Belgium in the Conga was appalling, but do they have the same chattering class insisting we say sorry for everything … I could go on but then Europe in general is so “evil” and filled with “oppressors” that I can’t think why now, in the 21st Century, so many are risking their lives to come here…

    and before you accuse me of being a zenophobic white fascist et al… I am the son of an immigrant whose father came from one of the oppresed countries of empire and fought, like hundreds of thousands did, against, hmmm, the greater “evil”….

    I’m sorry [hahaha] if this reply offends anyone, but I am tired of hearing such drivel espoused… empire happened, it had its down side, many of those countries are quite happily making their people’s lives a misery, thank you very much, all on their own … get over it.

  78. Vinny,

    We are going to be fielding Sea Ceptor, a relatively cheap missile system that is almost completely designed to intercept and destroy exactly the kind of threat you are suggesting (subsonic, sea skimming, cruise missiles). A sub £500m frigate will be armed with 48 of them.

    Intercepting a mach 24 reentry vehicle isn’t going to be as easy.

    You simply can’t compare a 300 m/s, 2500 km range cruise missile (02:20 to target) and a 8000 m/s, 8000 km range Trident D5 (~5 minutes to the same target).

    The latter doesn’t even give you time to finish on the loo ;-)

  79. @S O

    If we are playing the game of pedants then it is worth pointing out that an “SLBM” can be a type of “ICBM”. An SLBM can also be a “SRBM”, “MRBM” or “IRBM”. “ICBM” is purely the acronym for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and does not preclude different launch platforms be it Submarine, Silo, Truck or Train based.

    If you are going to go about correcting people at least get your facts straight.

  80. @ S O

    evil? oppressor?
    Context is the thing you need to research.
    History is nothing without context.
    You can not judge a countries actions in the 17 and 18 century by modern standard.

    By all accounts the British empire was more based on business agreement’s then it was on evil acts and oppression.
    Yes we did some terrible things but we also did things that we can be prowled off as well.

  81. If we’re going to have a go at APATS then perhaps we should pick up on Elmer Fudd’s “…supwrior Deterent” :-)

    Sneak into my theater will you, you wasically wabbit?

  82. Let’s talk about credibility since that seems to be the main theme of the article. The stated purpose of the nuclear deterrent is to deter against invasion, attack, or blackmail by another nuclear power as the author explains:

    Invasion: realistically you are not going to irradiate a place that you intend to invade. Not only would your own invading army die but you’d also have destroyed or seriously impaired the natural resources and assets that made the place worth capturing in the first place. So that’s out.

    Attack: are we talking conventional attack or nuclear attack? If conventional, retaliation with nuclear weapons would be counter to the proportionality principle of jus ad bellum, so we would be able to do this in any way legally. If we did then international powers would be quite justified in levelling us. What about nuclear attack? Nobody can legally attack us either with nuclear weapons, they themselves would face extreme international reprisals, so threats to do so could be ignored as nobody is that mad. If they were actually that mad, then the threat of retaliation would be useless as they’d be perfectly happy to sacrifice a few of their own cities to prove their insane point. Deterrence theory is all based on your opponent not actually being mad. So this one isn’t credible either.

    Lastly, blackmail. This depends on the threat of an actual attack which as we just worked out is not credible.

    So in fact none of the conditions which the deterrent seeks to deter are in fact credible threats.

  83. There are three types of nuclear weapon use.
    The first is limited nuclear war that would be the use of nuclear weapons in a tactical sense.
    Then there is full-scale nuclear war based between two countries attacking each other in the attempt to destroy each other.
    Then there is the largest option which is the MAD based total annihilation of the entire world.

  84. Tiny Toy,

    You’re seriously missing the point in the word “deterrent”.

    Having the ability to effectively level an enemy simply means that it makes them think twice before they attack or hold us to ransom.

    What “international powers” do you mean when we’ve saved our country from invasion? The ones with nuclear weapons? They are the only ones we’d have to listen to. In itself demonstrating why we are such an “international power” as we stand. We hold the biggest stick (well, one of them) for prosecution of the evil.

  85. God help us if this happens.

    Somehow, some ISIS nutter gets hold of a nuclear bomb. Even a primitive one. Or even a few barrels of nuclear waste.

    Then he puts it in a rusty old boat and motors up the Thames. Bang.

    What then?

  86. @Martin – location of nukes:

    If your concern is terrorism, Faslane holds a small quantity of nuclear material under tight security for a short time after it gets back from it’s cruise, and before it sets off on it…there are much better, bigger and more vulnerable targets.

    If it is targeting, then Glasgow is clearly on the list…as is London, Birmingham, Merseyside, Manchester, West Yorkshire and Tyneside…along in all probability with big military bases all over the shop.

    If it is convoys, they spend far longer in England than Scotland…and this might be a useful time to remind younger readers that when the Soviet Union shut up shop and the KGB Memoirs started to emerge it became clear that CND, along with much of the Left, fully intended to commit treason by disrupting them on the run up to war…a service bought and paid for by Moscow Gold.

    That’s a BBC Documentary I’d love to see :-) but never will :-(

    @WhitestElephant/ WiseApe…be fair about the American Revolution…that Mel Gibson abomination notwithstanding, it was mostly fought by True-born Englishmen on both sides, and was in many respects the final huzzah of our own Civil Wars in the previous century. :-)

    @SO – Have you read anything about the actual history of the British Empire? Worth observing that whatever it’s flaws (which were many) it also had considerable virtues…abolishing slavery, thuggee and suttee, building railways, establishing systems of administration and government still in use today, creating the worlds largest democracy, establishing a world language, creating what might be the most successful multi-racial society in Europe (why do those Roma come here? that would be the pogroms… and have all those Gastarbeiter become German yet, is that “Deutsches Volk” thing still operative?)

    Have you established a flourishing commonwealth based on the Reichs Generalgouverment yet? Just asking… :-)



  87. RT,

    …gets hold of a nuclear bomb…

    Given how much effort nations go to to produce them I think we’re pretty safe.

    However, should an evil nation let one slip into the wrong person’s hands then prior to this happening they need to have a stiff talk with the other nuclear nations that will in no uncertain terms explain that if enriched uranium from their facilities makes it into a warhead that gets detonated in a, b or c, they will be held liable and blatted.

    A latent retaliation after analysis of the evidence is still a deterrent against back-handing some weapons grade elements.

    I admit, that it is possible that we may not be able to identify the nation’s atomic signature. However, we’ll have the remainder of eternity to find out who did it and where they got the stuff from… and then, even 20 years later, bang! Promise kept.

    It’s chemical and biological that scares me in terms of terrorism. In fact of those, it’s really only biological. Things like drinking water contamination or bio-bombs that go off sometime in the future within all air-conditioning units fitted by company X :-(

  88. @ Chris, a superficially attractive idea. I even have some Templar blood in me, and the arms were originally granted by the Duke of Lorraine before being anglicised about 300 years ago. But I’m too old and past it now to go crusading.

    I think the scenario (or chemical, bio, whatever) is too frightening but also getting realistic.

    I may break with TD tradition by being really quite happy to see the Security Service being very generously funded. Rather that than some useless Nellie, FRES or asthmatic jet for the Kevins.

  89. @RT
    I recall reading that due to cut backs the CIA had very limited contacts and on the ground people of their own prior to 911. The emphasis had shifted heavily to satellites, telecoms intercepts etc . AQ being aware of this kept themselves dispersed and used messages passed by hand thus going unnoticed mostly prior to the attacks . Obviously the funding for electronic gathering methods needs to be sustained and increased but intel from on the ground by human operatives needs boosting even if £9,999 out of £10,000 is wasted on duff Intel that quids worth so to speak could be invaluable in completing a picture.

  90. @RT “I even have some Templar blood in me”…errr…they were warrior-monks…poverty, chastity and obedience and all that…clearly the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree! :-)


  91. I think MI5, MI6 and GCHQ do a pretty good job for £2b a year.

    I wonder how reliant they are on DI funds?

  92. GNB, it’s my mother’s side. My boy rejoices in his third and fourth Christian names being Templeman Lorraine after his paternal great uncle, which he doesn’t really appreciate but will one day. He has a normal first name. He also doesn’t like the double barrel surname, but that’s Spaniards for you. He chooses to use only the first half (chiefly only now famous as James IV hanged three generations from the battlements of Edinburgh Castle at the same time, all for a poxy rebellion), but I’m not fussed as its mine. His mother gets upset however.

    Not sure what you mean about chastity and obedience. I have difficulty with the concepts. I am however forced to know about poverty (relatively).

  93. Trident has one purpose and one function it is has been and remains a weapon bought to deliver a second strike capability against Moscow it has no other purpose no other deterrent value. It’s a weapon of superpowers.

    Yes we are leading global nation on the G7, NATO and the security council so is Germany. Our permanent seat was granted as a result of our Second World War victory and was conferred prior to this country attaining it nuclear status.

    “Blighty never again is invaded, attacked or blackmailed by another nuclear power then the ultimate means of doing so is with the worlds ultimate weapon, nuclear weapons.”

    I’m afraid it won’t our territory was invaded those islands that shall not be named and we have been blackmailed by a nuclear power as America did in 1956 in years to come China maybe able to do exactly as America did then.

    “Perhaps the most sobering aspect of using the TLAM-N is the simple fact that during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 some ten (1.5%) of conventional missiles were lost, crashing into Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.Consider that for a moment and compare it against the success rate of Trident, it doesn’t miss.”

    An interesting play on statistics, have we test fired trident missiles on the same scale that we have launched air and sea based cruise missiles to make a claim that trident doesn’t miss. It’s a mechanical system I don’t think I need to tell you some will fail some will definitely miss. Considering trident has only ever been tested under prearranged test conditions it’s reliably is artificially high. Compared to the hundreds of cruise missiles fired in countless wars.

    The nuclear cruise is an interest subject. The pentagon are this year asking for funding for the next generation of air launched nuclear cruise missiles. The argument that you don’t know if it’s nuclear or conventional tipped and that it causes confusion does not hold much water in the real world. The United States has held both weapons for decades and have fired hundreds of cruise missiles during that time it obviously did not care much for that theory.

    Not only that ever time a b2, b52, b1 took off to head for there target this last half century was there target country reaching for there weapon of mass destruction to retailiate? Did saddam in 91 when we sent tornados on strike missions, we177 was in are armoury then? If you start shooting at Russia or China you need not concern yourself with the confusion issue because outside of a very limited boarder skirmish you’ll only be shooting at those countries with nuclear weapons.

    It is not trident but this

    “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

    That remains the cornerstone and foundation of our national defence. The funding of trident can be compared with whatever national government spending number you like to make it look good value but it’s meaningless the only number relevant to defence is its percentage of the equipment budget for the decade the subs will be under construction and that is close to 1/3rd of all spending in that area provided there is no further cuts. That is why ambition/capability in other areas will be affected.

    There does however remain one selling point for trident and that is never again will a generation have to give their today in a million man army/airforce/navy to fight hedgerow by hedgerow, hill by hill, across the fields of Europe to ensure we have a tomorrow free from persecution or Tyranny.
    For their sake it may be a price that needs to be paid.

  94. @Simon

    £2b official funding. FRES, MRA4, ASTOVL, TSR2…

    President Thomas Whitmore: I don’t understand, where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?
    Julius Levinson: You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?


    And I apologise to everyone who’ll be watching this for the rest of the evening, and those in the future who’ll ultimately see a take-down notice on YouTube.

  95. Small point, but as the money for the Vanguard upgrade is coming from the defence budget, surely it is a matter of how much it takes for other things rather than savings that get spent elsewhere?

  96. I’ve stated my opinion before that I would go for tactical nuclear weapons combined with BMD rather than MAD nuclear weapons any day – hence my preference for a primarily naval cruise missile based solution. I’d rather be a man with a shotgun and bullet proof vest than a reluctant suicide bomber.

    A nuclear triad refers to the nuclear weapons delivery of a strategic nuclear arsenal which consists of three components, traditionally strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The purpose of having a three-branched nuclear capability is to significantly reduce the possibility that an enemy could destroy all of a nation’s nuclear forces in a first-strike attack; this, in turn, ensures a credible threat of a second strike, and thus increases a nation’s nuclear deterrence

    We are now not a nuclear triad now but for a short time in the 50s and 60s we could have been. If we had carried on development of the V force and other bomber aircraft we would now still have useful aircraft for conventional attack as well as nuclear.
    We stopped development and use of land intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as they are more of a first strike weapon as there launch sites would be attack in the first strike.
    It does appear that submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) have the best survivability of all the systems. So if you can only have one system it is probable the best one to have.

  98. Simon,

    It doesn’t act as a deterrent for conventional attack or blackmail since we could not use the deterrent in retaliation for that – an empty threat is not a deterrent. This is what I’m talking about when I say credible threat.

    International powers are everyone, not just those with nukes. If Russia bombed Chinese cities with nukes, do you think we’d be talking to them? Trading with them? They’d be pariahs, they’d have lost all diplomatic credibility. Probably the UN would sanction every single other nation on the face of the planet to take them apart.

  99. @Tiny Toy – Russia wouldn’t drop nukes on China because they could retaliate; and if they dropped nukes on Uzbekistan we wouldn’t drop nukes on them because they could retaliate…I think that’s rather the point… :-)


  100. @ Fedaykin
    April 21, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    No, no, no, no, no. All wrong.
    A submarine is no continent, thus its missiles are no ICBMs, ever.
    SRBM, MRBM, IRBM and ICBM are separate categories and none overlap with SLBM.
    “SLBM” does not depend on range, but on launch platform – the other are ground-launched missiles defined by range.

    @ PJS
    April 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Nobody was talking about being sorry.
    He produced a fantasy version of English history in which England was the shining white knight and the reality is it was oppressing hundreds of millions of people for centuries, period.
    Besides, listing the others in the top 10 is irrelevant. Feel free to provide 10 countries who did worse if you want to cast doubts on the top 10 status. Your examples fall well short of counting up to ten. In fact, England probably fits into top five with only Russia, Spain and Germany having done worse (and Germany’s evil deeds were essentially a four years straw fire, not centuries). The Mongols and Roman Empire(s) are ancient history, not countries, and difficult to fit into such a list.

    Never having been beaten to pulp at home, England’s bloated self-image is probably the biggest hindrance to an efficient resource allocation towards defence today.

  101. Tiny Toy,

    It doesn’t act as a deterrent for conventional attack or blackmail since we could not use the deterrent in retaliation for that – an empty threat is not a deterrent. This is what I’m talking about when I say credible threat.

    We should not, but we can and probably would if we had to. It depends what is at stake.

  102. @RT
    Perhaps your Templar ancestor managed to escape the Friday the Thirteen round up by King Philip’s troops and as the Order formally ceased to exist any vows of chastity would be null and void by then or he might just have been a monk with a dirty habit :-)

  103. No Monkey, I was just trained dirty in early years by a school nurse. She was sacked when she made extra money by appearing in Penthouse (1981).

    That and a rather odd summer when I was on my own, nominally a family holiday with my French penfriend family at their villa in Annecy. But it was only ever the mother and me for days on end.

    Still remember.

  104. @S O
    Just checking some thing.
    You do realise this is a Blog/forum about British defence issues. So people on here are going to defence the British.
    Since the majority of British population are English there’s a reasonable chance quite a lot of the people on here are English so may take offence at being called evil oppressors.
    Oddly enough our history is quite important to us.

  105. @RT
    I almost certainly saw your school nurse in Penthouse as at that time my best friends dad was a subscriber and I enjoyed reviewing the articles on cars etc ;-)

  106. @as
    Grow some thicker skin.

    Better even, go to school. Your grammar and spelling are the most horrid I’ve seen in a long time. I’m still shuddering because of “prowled”.
    Your text comprehension is lacking as well. I didn’t call anybody ‘evil oppressor’.

  107. @S O
    I suggest you read the small print section in connect- about think defence section above.
    No. 4 of the posting rules:- Comments that attack a person individually will be deleted.

  108. @S O

    Oh please do carry on digging your hole. Alas you are rather comically wrong in your assertions.

    An SLBM can be an ICBM, it has nothing to do with continents. It is everything to do with range! An ICBM is a missile with a range greater than 5,500KM. The UGM-133A Trident II D5 is a Sub launched ICBM based upon the range of the missile which is over 11,000KM

    BRBM,SRBM, MRBM, IRBM and ICBM are all definitions of a missiles range and are not dependent on what the launch platform is hence why all of them can be an SLBM.

    Again if you are going to be a pedant and swing your knowledge d1ck around at least get your facts straight.

  109. @S O

    “Never having been beaten to pulp at home, England’s bloated self-image is probably the biggest hindrance to an efficient resource allocation towards defence today.”

    But you are forgetting England is the greatest place in the World period. You are clearly just envious of our awesomeness. I know you will deny it which is very humble of you but really you want to be English so you could also be as amazing as us!

  110. @S O,

    You keep deliberately banging on about what I said, yet you refuse to accept what I really meant. Furthermore, it was easily evident to everybody else on this thread what I meant, given the context in which I said it. So please do yourself a favour.

    Following on from as, you will also find that a good many of us here subscribe to right-wing views and are extremely proud of our nations history. So what did you really expect the response here would be after labeling Britain an evil oppressor? Especially since your most recent post suggests we are worse the the Japanese! Seriously?

    If we were so bloody evil, then why do Commonwealth members wish to remain so? Surely the constant reminder of how evil and oppressive we were would make them want to leave?

    I think Fedaykin hit the nail on the head. All I can add is, “Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first prize in the lottery of life.”

  111. @S O,

    “To write truth is never offensive.”

    It is, when it becomes unnecessarily petty and purposely meant to be a dig at someone.

    As Margaret Thatcher once said; “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

  112. SO

    Any Post seeking to minimise Germany’s wrongdoings, is going to be just a little bit suspect.

    3 humungus wars in 80 years directly responsible for the destruction of the European Empirial civilisations as world powers and trashing and bancrupting a whole continent.

    Oh and did someone mention 100 million dead. The creation of the cold war and the trabant.

    Having said that WEs WASAWPYK routine STILL doesnt deal with issues like just what did we get benefit wise out of gulf2 and Afghanistan? And his post colonial fantasies are almost at the level of ‘land of the great white Queen’ thinking.

    And why we need Trident but the Geramans or the Italians dont.

    We dont need casd, Who is going to nuke us without warning destroying the whole country?

  113. It’s a shame that whilst we knock about the politicians for claiming defence of the realm as the priority, and they then conduct reviews focused primarily on cost, there are are then so many posts which also attack the issue from the same cost angle. I think that for those of us that accept the need for credible nuclear weapons in the this world today, and the world we don’t yet know about in the next 30-40 years, the only question should be the selection of the most effective and potent deterrent against known and likely unknown threats we might face. I don’t see any serious evidence that there is any better system than Trident on CASD patrol, with 4 boats. Other suggestions are primarily generated from a need to be economical, and I don’t accept that as a starting point. If we are to have this capability, then there should be no compromises to potency and safety, on grounds of cost, which are negligible in the scheme of things within an economy and country of our clout.

    I’d add further points, in brief:

    1. Warhead pool – at bare minimum and I would increase slightly
    2. Remove strategic deterrent costs from the mainstream defence budget to avoid distorting the conventional forces and inflaming the nukes for conventional debates
    3. I don’t know, but might 5 boats be cheaper, given the marginal capital cost of a 5th boat, against the reduced hull wear and tear, and therefore greater life of the class/fleet ?
    4. 5 boats would greatly increase credibility, ability to ‘surge’ without provocation (with more ‘training missions’) and ultimately greater potential hitting power if push came to shove, as 8 missiles I think is at the low end of credibility in one boat
    5. Alternative delivery method. Again, if we are looking at this from a pure deterrent perspective, we should really consider an air-launched cruise missile, like the French have, if only for some diversity. Generic nuclear propulsion problem which grounds entire fleet for a year ? Couldn’t happen could it ….?
    6. I mentioned moving the bases before, and I think we have to be realistic and recognise that the Fal / Devonport option, whilst operationally inferior, provides the only security of base tenure. We have to bite the bullet.

  114. @Aubrey’s Shadow
    “1. Warhead pool – at bare minimum and I would increase slightly”
    Can we do that with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?

    Are any of the treaties we signed still valid.
    Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
    Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) 1 & 2.
    START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) .
    New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).

  115. @Thread…just a few random facts to help things along:

    SLAVERY: Practised on their own people as Serfdom by Spain, Russia and Germany until well into the nineteenth century, having been abolished by England by about 1400; chattel slavery re-introduced into European Life by the Spanish, having borrowed the idea from the Ottoman Empire (plantations, galleys and building fortifications); most European Countries (most successfully Great Britain) then took to slave trading…but the British had white as well as black slaves in the seventeenth century (the ones Judge Jeffreys didn’t hang), started to get cold feet quite quickly, made slavery illegal in GB in 1772 (see the film “Belle); made slave trading illegal in 1807; and slavery in 1833 – by which time we were spending 40% of the Navy Bill putting the trade down, and the one of the longest-lasting humanitarian charities on earth had been founded (London Anti-Slavery Society, 1823)…Gordon was in Khartoum on their behalf (amongst other things)…and in fact much of our involvement in East Africa was about putting down the Arab Slave Trade (still extant, I believe).

    Worth adding that one of the underlying reasons for the American Revolution was the unease felt by some colonies about growing anti-slavery sentiment in GB…and amongst others about Crown determination to honour treaties with the agrarian First Nations of the Eastern Seaboard, not to push them off their land, and not to commit…

    GENOCIDE: Which was brought to the Americas by Spain, who killed the Caribs because they would not work…but not practised by the British Crown…meaning both First Nation Peoples and escaped slaves sought out the “Flag of Freedom” (ours) in Canada until well into the nineteenth century…and then also not practised by us in our Indian Empire (still inhabited, one observes, by Indians) or our African Empire (ditto, Africans)…although we did certainly have a bad record on managing famines in Ireland, India and amongst the Boer in the original “Concentration Camps”. The difference being that ours “concentrated” people in one place in order to manage a guerilla war but were badly run…as opposed to those of the Third Reich which were very efficiently run in order to concentrate about six million people into soap, hair to stuff mattresses, gold teeth and jewellery and so on…a real example to the Russians, who rather less efficiently still managed twenty million Kulaks, and various Tartars, Kazakhs and others in very big numbers…which takes us to…

    RACISM: Pretty common in all European Cultures (possibly all cultures) but carefully codified by the Spanish (Creoles and such)…and I believe still the basis of Latin American social stratification – not many “Indios” in the Argentine cabinet (or indeed Patagonia)…turned into a full scale science by one Hitler, A and taken up with some enthusiasm in the Third Reich…less of an issue in Russia, in fairness…were we Racist…yes…but it didn’t stop us recruiting local Civil Servants and Soldiers…cheerfully fighting alongside them…and in the end leaving a trained cadre of Generals, Judges and Permanent Secretaries behind us as we left, mostly peacefully…or after a bumpy start establishing what might be Europe’s most inclusive multi-cultural society…the one with Black and Asian Brits in all political parties and both front benches (albeit not enough)…and for that matter lots of Roma in Gloomyville because they don’t fancy their chances in Romania, Hungary or the Czech Republic.

    Not sure what anybody else’s Dad (or Grandad, or Great Grandad) was doing on VE Night…but mine was helping his Brother Officers from the Eleventh Armoured Division to get shedded after they felt obliged to give him the scant details of Bergen-Belsen…to get him teed up for his new job in British Zone, sorting out the shambles and tracking down some of those responsible…


  116. Thank you GNB.
    History is nothing with out context.
    I think you add some international context to what was going on.
    History teachers and lecturers love the word context.

  117. Context was irrelevant here. He essentially pretended there was no list of sins and England was an always victorious force for good. He pretended there were only good deeds, so the mere existence of a long list of bad deeds was the relevant counterpoint.

    Some Americans have the same delusion of exceptionality. They too think that their country was always or usually victorious and a force for good. This influences the attitude towards war; war is more perceived as going to battle as shining white knight, doing good. In reality, it’s about messing mankind up, almost always doing more harm than good – including to the supposed ‘winners’.
    The end result of such delusions is a high tolerance for interventions that turn into a mess and for inflated military budgets to prepare for interventions (‘for capabilities’).

    It’s not nice when someone shows you the repulsive grimace of war and great power games in reality, and the defensive reactions were predictable. They merely showed that pointing at the grimace was necessary.
    A UK with a long track record of military actions improving the fate of mankind would of course deserve a lot more budget for ‘capabilities’ in the future than one which waged the First World War for no gain, committed horrendous war crimes in WW2, was used to oppress hundreds of millions of people for centuries, an messed up lots of military great power games for hardly any real benefit to 99% of the people in the UK during the last hundred years alone.
    A reality check is needed.

  118. The UK committed horrendous war crimes in WW2? Go on, that bit was missing from my education.

    There was me thinking the UK in WW2 was mostly about stopping Hitler, rightly, and resisting Japanese attempts to takeover our Asian colonies (and neither country was right there to want to retain/gain foreign resources).

  119. Then you’ve missed the terror bombing campaign against civilians, which murdered much more people than the Rwanda genocide, for example. You won’t find much non-English literature that’s as lenient as the English one on the subject. The whitewashing is almost entirely limited to English publications.

  120. @Aubrey’s Shadow @thread

    Since the financial crisis of 2007/8, with the attendant collapse of tax revenue, the creation of truly massive tax losses, the financial bail-out, asset purchase schemses, special lending schemes etc, Government expenditure has been very heavily constrained. Even now, 7 years after the crisis, we are still running a government overdraft of around 100 billion pa (c5 % of GDP), with a current government which intends to create a deficit within 5 years and an opposition which would certainly take longer than that.

    Whatever we might like to think, getting he deficit to at least 2.5 % of GDP in 5 years is going to require massive expenditure cuts (notwithstanding the forecast increase in tax revenue due to growth) in an global environment stuffed full of significant economic risks. Being realistic, government expenditure is going to be constrained for at least another 10 years (to 2025).

    Keeping to the current defence expenditure forecast is going to be very challenging as it is highly likely that expenditure in the currently protected areas of the budget will turn out to be higher than forecast (and is predicated on efficiency savings, which as we all know never tend to materialize to the extent all governments plan). Worst still new defence equipment tends to be very complex and difficult to forecast the cost of let alone deliver on time. This seems to be exacerbated by government flip flops and apparently woolly thinking from the MoD.

    It seems to me that it is entirely possible that in the 2020’s we will be facing a real tradeoff between the cost of replacing the V class boats and conventional defence purchases (F35, Type 26, Army equipment etc) even if the current expenditure forecast purports to show we can do both.

    This is the background to the current election; we face hard choices whatever we do and vote for. Unsurprisingly our politicians fail to mention this and our media seems to be going along with the pretense.

    You might think I’m being pessimistic, perhaps I am. I really hope I am.

  121. It’s all pretty much a mute point as we will get either 3 or 4 replacement subs after the general election.

    The real crux of the issue is that the budget for the replacement will be drawn from the core defence budget and procurement budget. This is going to have a very large impact on the ability to afford future equipment purchases, as I have shown before from the likes of RUSI .

    ‘If a further 10 percent real reduction in total spending were to take place, peak nuclear spending could reach as much as 14 percent of total defence spending by the mid-2020s. In both cases, nuclear spending would fall to around 5–6 per cent of total defence in the late 2030s before starting to rise again in the early 2040s, as preparations began for introducing ‘Son of Successor’ into service in the 2050s. The opportunity costs involved in the successor programme will be particularly evident during the period between2018 and 2035,when the bulk of capital spending on new submarines is due to take place. According to the latest MoD Equipment Plan, around 35 per cent of total committed MoD spending on new equipment procurement is due to be on submarine and deterrent systems by 2021/22.

    So I would not hold any breath for more than 8 at the most Type 26, Ocean replacement? any more than 3 sqns of F35 probably, Puma replacement? what is the OSD for Bulldog and Mastiff again, 2030ish? I’m starting to see why, let alone all the smaller unglamorous bits of kit that will not get any media attention that need will modernising during that time.

    As a nation can we afford the deterrent? Yes undoubtedly, but can we afford the deterrent with the current defence budget (which we all know will be cut again in real terms along with all the further cuts the public sector will need to make) and still maintain a credible conventional capability? I’d argue no.

    We are as a nation committed to building high speed rail links on the notion that it is for the national good, surely funding of the SSBN renewal should come from the national purse?

    I would have no problem with the day to day running costs of the system coming from the defence core budget (although I see no reason why Department for Business Innovation & Skill could not throw some money in the pot for the system) of the total budget which would surely be a large enough part of the budget for any single use system. When added to the acquisition costs it is going to have a detrimental effect on our conventional capability I cannot see any way in which it cannot.

    Is a ‘Think Defence’ campaign required to get the acquisition costs of the renewal out of the core defence budget? There are a lot of learned, articulate and passionate gentlemen who comment on this site, is this something that could be done?

  122. @S O
    “messed up lots of military great power games for hardly any real benefit to 99% of the people in the UK during the last hundred years alone.”
    Are you saying Great Britain should of not interfered in European politics by other means to quote Von Clausewitz? Should we of let the Second Reich and the Hapsburg Empire conquer France , Italy and Eastern Europe including Russia? The Third Reich been appeased so the could ‘purify’ Europe from the Urals to the Atlantic? Allowed Japan to conquer and enslave all of Asia? There is at least 10% of British Citizen , defended from the old Empire who wouldn’t be here today as their ancestors would be dead long before they were born. A Greater Germania eh.

  123. DN – ref moving CASD update costs away from MOD budgets – that would instantly highlight a seriously sub-2% GDP defence spend. If that were the case, I would expect our conscientious MPs to ‘rationalise’ or ‘simplify’ departmental divisions such that the likes of DfID would be MOD departments, the MOD budget would include mass contributions to NHS and similar organisations to cover care of PTSD veterans and so on. Moving the big black boats out of Defence’s Piggy Bank is not going to miraculously invent more funding for non-CASD defence aspects; the only issue for the politicians is their embarrassment of falling far short of the spend target they themselves demanded all NATO members meet.

  124. Taking the successor cost out of the core defence budget does nothing to the funds we have as a nation to afford it and our conventional forces.

    I don’t understand the 3 or 4 boat thing. The cost models suggest boat 4 will cost £2b.

    Three boats: £14b
    Four boats: £16b

    It’s two boats that is the real money saver at £10b.

    If you use the American Ohio replacement figures then boats 2-4 all cost £3.3b with the first of class costing about £8.3b. A model I think is much more realistic.

    Question for Gloomy (I accept opinion),

    Was the world safer and more stable before or after the collapse of the British Empire?

  125. Chris

    we’re heading below 2 % already (I read someone suggest that we’d by at 1.9 % now in FY 2015/16). The only real question is how much below ?

    In any case, even if replacement was funded outside the Defence budget, it would still count as Defence in any stats compiled. David’s solution is correct (imo), but omits the difficulty in finding the additional cash from somewhere else.

    I don’t see any politicians being embarrassed; Germany is pretty much the only European government capable of increasing spending from current levels.

  126. Simon

    you might say the last time the world was “stable” was in the 1860’s. Bismarck has a lot to answer for !

  127. @monkey
    “Should we of let the Second Reich and the Hapsburg Empire conquer France , Italy and Eastern Europe including Russia?”

    Your fantasy version of history isn’t relevant. The British and Americans are still ill-informed about what Germany was up to in WWI after a hundred years because they bought into British wartime propaganda and never learned afterwards. The actual war goals were less extreme, and not even adopted officially. Italy wasn’t even threatened by the Central Powers when the UK joined the war. Russia WAS “Eastern Europe”.
    This draft was showed the worst case:

  128. @ S O

    to quote you directly ‘England’s history of being oppressor and evil is easily in the top 10 of history.’ So, when you then state, ‘I didn’t call anybody ‘evil oppressor’.’ perhaps I misunderstand you and something is lost in translation?

    Further it was you, sir, that suggested England was ‘easily in the top 10 of history’ so I feel entitled to challenge you on your statement…

    Moreover, like most revisionists, why let facts get in the way of a good headline.

    Immediately you qualify any list by a caveat, ‘The Mongols and Roman Empire(s) are ancient history, not countries, and difficult to fit into such a list.’ Not unreasonable, though suggests any list you compile is not only highly subjective [isn’t all history?] but, may I ask, when does your, timeline for ‘evil, oppression’ start, then?

    Then the classic apologist argument, to quote you, ‘Germany’s evil deeds were essentially a four years straw fire’ … so your list is about the length of time that oppression existed and not the extent of the evil deeds? Help me out, please, as I dont want to go to the effort of a list and you move the goalposts…

  129. @SO

    I’m not sure I understand your point.

    I know this is simplistic and the detail was much much more complicated.. but

    Following German unification and the creation of the Imperial German Empire, after the Franco-Prussian war, the UK became increasingly focused on Europe. Whilst the UK had little interest in dominating Europe per se, as with Napoleon it wasn’t seen to be in our national interest to have Europe dominated by one power, especially a hostile one. World War 1 was surely inevitable.

  130. @S O
    “The great territorial gains proposed in the Septemberprogramm required making vassal states of Belgium and France, in Western Europe, and seizing great stretches of Russia, in Eastern Europe.”
    As I said a Greater Germania. Perhaps we should of stayed out of it let it happen , we could of still imported French wine and we had little interest for anything in the east and the EU would of formed a lot earlier , who’s version of history is fantasy?

  131. Want to know why we can’t all just lay down our arms and all get along nicely?

    Read the tone of the recent comments above.

    It doesn’t matter which country you’re from, your country (and mine) has done some fucked up shit to people in another country as well as their own.

    As a result, you may (or may not) be shocked to find out that there is some genuine, still living and breathing, utter hatred that will be exhibited towards you personally, merely because you happen to have been born and share a nationality with some dickwads who performed some fucked up shit at some point.

    So can we tone down the country bashing and personal insults please? Nobody here can cast a first stone, so get off your soapboxes and/or quit trolling*.

    * Delete as applicable.

  132. Wow, monkey. The link spells out that the “plan” was but a draft by a mere staffer who was influenced by some lobbyists and you pretend it was official policy. I showed the link because even the flimsiest bit of evidence of expansion plans was actually more modest than the propaganda people still believe in.

    When people believe that a war was fought to avert a great evil when in reality it was fought for basically no good reason whatsoever*, that influences their attitude towards war. This distortion led and leads to death, mutilation, crimes, destruction and waste of wealth.

    Just as people fall prey to other delusions.
    A single crude imaginary nuke in Iran’s hands lets freak out millions of anglophone people, but as a nuclear armament of the UK nothing short of the most expensive approach possible (SSBN/SLBM) may suffice as scary enough.
    How exactly fits this into one brain at the same time? How much insularity of thought is required for not paying attention to the very real deterrence value of for example the very, very limited nuke delivery capabilities of Pakistan?
    THEY HID USAMA BIN LADEN FOR YEARS IN AN ARMY GARRISON CITY and the Americans still played nice to Pakistan. How much evidence for the effective deterrence by nuclear warheads without super-sophisticated delivery means alone would be required to prove the point if this doesn’t suffice?

    *: Considering Belgium: The British could have offered a separate peace in exchange for a withdrawal from Belgium, feel free to find such an offer.
    Belgium was never the real reason for the London’s involvement. The government in London WANTED to participate in the war, without having any proportionate reasons for it.

  133. @PJS

    There’s a difference between individuals and a country. This may help you understand, and I won’t bother if it doesn’t.

    You didn’t challenge my top 10 assertion with anything. Feel free to falsify it by showing which ten other country would be ahead.
    The point wouldn’t change much with rank 11, 12 or even 20 – but I understand that would need to be spelled out in detail to sink in.

  134. @Nick

    Appreciate your point, but I still assert that with weapons of such titanic destructive power, and the corresponding capability to provide absolute deterrent against the high-end threats which could arise against countries that demonstrably give two shits about upholding freedoms and liberties, the job has to be done properly. And that this is something which has to be paid for, just as it was by politicians of all persuasions after WW2.

    If we are in this game, then the money has to be found, and is sitting there laughing at us from within the Overseas Aid budget, as one shining example. There will be countless more examples of waste in the welfare vote as well.

    For sure, we can debate as realists, and recognise the cuts and likely impact on conventional defence of the economic situation and the nuclear continuance, but as a matter of pure policy, I contend that we should replace the Vanguards, and stump up the money, as others do. It just has to be paid for if we want any form of nuclear arsenal. The money is there if the political will is also.

  135. @SO – no offer of a separate peace in Belgium would have been necessary if the Reich had not chosen to breach their neutrality in the first place in executing a long established war plan…and the “Not really anybody’s fault, completely avoidable” line on the Great War has now been largely discredited – by German Historians, who see clear parallels between the war aims of 1914 and those of 1939; and many of the Belgian atrocities for a long time dismissed as black propaganda are now agreed to have happened as reported at the time… :-)

    As to my list, I briefly covered our record on Genocide, Slavery and Racism…if you can point to genocides we did commit, somebody else who did more than us to put down slavery, or ways in which our record on racism was worse than others please let me know…happy to review these other unnamed “horrors” you keep referring to as well…if they actually go beyond “having a rather large and successful Empire for a long time, and therefore oppressing hundreds of millions of people by definition rather than in any specific way”…

    @Simon…I think perhaps broadly yes, but that’s a book not a comment…and the real loss to Europe in 1918 was the Hapsburg Empire…which went to war with Roman Catholic and Lutheran Chaplains, Jewish Rabbis and Muslim Imams in it’s ranks, and had run it’s Balkan possessions with more grace and less massacres than anyone either before or since.


  136. Personally I’m reasonably convinced by the case for retaining the deterrent (I don’t believe the “west” should just rely on the US). I fear that we may not be able to maintain our conventional forces and replace the Vanguard class submarines right now and perhaps for quite a while.

    Our economic growth in the 1990 to 2007 period was powered by financial services and banking (and mortgage borrowing on the back of a property bubble). As we found our in 2008, a large chunk of this wasn’t real and we have left ourselves over borrowed nationally and individually. The regulatory changes we have put in place will make the resurgence of this growth driver much harder or even unlikely. In this case, which economic sector will be the powerhouse of growth and wealth in
    UK economy over the next 20 years ?

    With this as a back ground, whilst our existing structure is optimum, I do think there may be a question as to whether we may need to delay Vanguard class replacement later than currently planned (which may mean that the Trident weapons need to land based for a period in the 2030s). We may also want to think about the practicality of a cheaper (less optimum) long term alternative.

    It’s impossible to know public attitudes going forward, but if the trend of lower defence spending and less involvement in US led interventions continues, I do wonder if it may become increasing harder to find majority support for spending on the UK deterrent.

  137. You’re not paying attention.
    The whole talk of evil deeds was about countering the notion that Britain and its military had been a victorious force for good all the time.
    That point was made, and all the nitpicking and other defensive stuff is entirely superfluous because Britain DID substantial evil for centuries.
    Quite recently, it waged a war of aggression, for example.

    I refer to
    “S O
    April 22, 2015 at 8:50 am”
    where I laid out once again what’s the problem.

    The more delusions about the past there are, the worse the future policies will be, since the decisionmaking will be under relevant influence of delusions. The same applies to other distortions of perception, such as the double standard concerning the scariness of nukes.

  138. @TD – I’d like to reply but won’t…do I get a gold star? And can we have a thread for arguing with Sven?

    My keyboard is now sealed on this subject.


  139. @S O
    We have been in two wars of aggression recently, both in my mind unwarranted ways to achieve regime change and caused great loss of civilian life leaving behind very unstable countries. Our participation in Iraq and Afghanistan was a mistake with outcomes predicted by many but we went forward because of what you said exactly. We and the USA have some form of idea that if we turn up to get rid of the ‘bad men’ ( and they were/are ) we would be welcomed by the liberated with garlands of flowers and children waving little flags such as in the WW2 scenes on news reels of the time. This was an incorrect assumption as the people involved are not the same. When the British Empire eventually drove the Ottomans back up into the Anatolian plateau and liberated the Middle East we found ourselves fighting the locals who we stupidly thought would be grateful for removing the Turks who ask any Armenian weren’t all sweetness and light at the time.

  140. Nick,

    I think the various “successor” options include pushing Vanguard out to 2040 at the absolute latest, and even then I think that’s just the fleet remnants (last 1 or 2 boats).

    This is why in order to go for the cruise missile option we still need to build two Vanguard subs as a stop-gap due to the length of time it will take to develop the missile, associated warhead and new delivery platform.

    Obviously the other option is a capability gap or (seems only in my mind) only building the two Vanguard replacements and utterly changing our posture.

  141. Is it safe to raise my head above the parapet of this thread yet?

    @ DavidNiven
    To respond to your reply to me waaaaaay back up the list:

    India’s developments noted, thank you for the link. It would seem they are developing an ability akin to the US GMD system and although they are calling a missile with a 5000km Range an ICBM i believe that is a IRBM by anybody else’s measure, especially when compared to Trident which can go out beyond 10,000km. When talking ballistic missiles (apologies if I am teaching you to suck egg’s) range= Speed and visa versa so a missile like trident is going to be coming in at you much faster, and from a higher altitude, than an IRBM and therefore presenting its own unique challenges. Taking Trident as an example if I fire one at India (for arguments sake, nothing personal) that missile separates into 8 warheads, the actual number of real ones vs Decoys dependent on the missile you fire but any Trident is likely to present 8 realistic targets regardless of what the ratio of warheads to decoys is. In addition to the warheads its extremely likely that a number of balloon decoys (inflatable Mylar Spheres) will also be dispensed as they are light and low volume so a missile can carry many with little penalty, in this scenario I will assume 10 are dispensed (a very conservative est from what i understand) this means that one missile has now presented the defender with 18 targets that must be fired upon as because of the high ICBM level speeds of the incoming targets you cannot wait until they begin to re-enter and shed the balloon decoys before you fire, procedure demands you allocate at least 2 missiles to every projectile to ensure a kill therefore a single trident has warranted 32 interceptor missiles be fired at it. for a Vanguards entire complement of 16 missiles that’s 512 interceptor missiles to make sure you avoid destruction, which would seem to me to be an impractical exchange ratio even from the UK’s limited supply of missiles. To use a Naval platform example that’s at least 4 Ticonderoga class cruisers that would all have to be in the right place at the right time carrying nothing but anti ICBM missiles.

    That’s also not taking into account India’s ability to establish the complex kill chain needed to detect and target that kind of threat, Fancy Satellites, advanced command and control facilities, huge ground/sea based radar assets and of course the ability to co-ordinate and command 512 missiles in flight. Plus of course as mentioned the attacker not taking the simple step of letting one of the warheads off early and blinding the defenders sensors to all the others following behind.

    For those reasons and more I don’t foresee a practical threat to the ICBM’s lethality inside the 50 year time frame due to the fact that to have the performance to tackle an ICBM you have to go most of the way to building one yourself to make an effective interceptor and always have them in far greater numbers than the attacker to be effective, let alone defending multiple sites.

  142. @Shackvan
    It was just this issue that prompted the Star Wars programme. The Anti Ballistic Missile treaty limited the defender to 100 ABM’s , not enough so the plan was to shoot down the missile in the stage before the MIRV bus was deployed. It was incredibly ambitious but Reagan bankrolled it or at least said he did ;-) biggest bluff in history ?

  143. Monkey

    I guess it is possible to speculate that it might just be technically feasible to design a space based Laser or Rail gun armed platform today. The big problems would be cooling and power generation. I guess you’d need to use a compact nuclear reactor ? (Thorium powered for safety ?). Laser (especially) and rail gun technology must be getting close to what you’d need for a deployable system. Targeting and control software and hardware must also be close.

    If you were prepared to spend the money you might just be able to get something workable within 25 years.

  144. @Nick
    It was a mad idea then an pretty much remains so but it got the outcome they wanted , it encourage the Soviet Union to look at itself see if it could possibly compete in an new arms race when the existing one was crippling it with its spending as it was.Combined with the recently ( at the time ) announced stealth fighter F117’s existence and its big brother the B2 along with the then new Los Angeles class SSN allegedly tracking every Soviet Boomer they threw their hat in.As for Star Wars it should stay on the drawing board and at the movies . :-)

  145. @ Monkey

    Star Wars was an incredible bluff, I don’t know if its just me but Nuclear explosion powered X-ray laser satellites seems to sound even more ludicrous now than it must have back then. Even if you ever got the laser/railgun tech to work I can’t even imagine how many satellites you would need to give yourself the 24/7 coverage to swat down missiles coming from any part of the soviet bloc or for that matter any of the worlds oceans, let alone what it would cost!

  146. “Star Wars”, eg the SDI, was an awful lot more than the “X ray laser space battle stations”. Items like THAAD and PAC3 Patriot are descended from the “homing overlay/underlay” interceptors, and the SM3 uses a modified LEAP interceptor. When all is said and done, it was a research program that produced a lot of spin offs, some successful, some not.

    I think the GPALS concept is perfectly valid and economically doable

  147. As the USN is slowly moving towards working deployable lasers & rail guns, I do not think “Star Wars” went to waste. It has just taken decades longer than thought in the 80s. There is talk of mounting a small laser on the ISS space station, to shoot down small debris (up to 10cm). The laser would cause the surface of the debris to heat & generate plasma. This would act like a small retro rocket to slow the debris so it falls out of orbit & burns up in the upper atmosphere. Could be a good way to get rid of space junk in lower orbit.

  148. @JH
    I like that idea for the laser on the ISS .Space in earth orbit I a junkyard of bits that are lethal to other spacecraft. SciFi writers have proposed using ground based lasers to launch ships upto orbit . The ship initially launches conventionally then when high enough ground based lasers fire at the rocket nozzle at which point a propellant is injected into the nozzle, flash heated to many 1000’s of deg C and up it goes .

  149. @ GAB

    @ China
    You only have to look at how China is building Africa’s future Infrastructure. Ports, Airports, Motorways and Railways. They are also buying huge amounts of Farmland in Africa. Call me a Conspiracy Theorist. But usually an Invader, Invades First then builds the Infrastructure. I suppose it’s much easier to plan and build the Infrastructure first. Then Invade!

    @ Caliphate
    My money’s on China. I don’t think they (China) would give a damn about Collateral Damage if an ISIS Caliphate was stupid enough to interfere in China’s Gameplan!

    Wrong Thread I know. but China’s definitely on a roll:

  150. @Simon 257…for me the operative model is our Empire in India…which was started by a trading company operating in a large and resource rich but very slightly ramshackle multiplicity of states, some of them not terribly well run…where the company got more and more involved in running the states where it was trading, very often at the behest of a local ruler…often because they were more efficient administrators and tax collectors and could provide reliable, disciplined and well-trained troops…whilst simultaneously securing their long-term trading position and returning a handsome profit.

    Bearing in mind the close links between the PLA and many of the largest Chinese enterprises, not much of a stretch to see an unstable African government here or there calling on the assistance of a big Chinese trading partner which happened to have a reliable and well armed security operation to save the “Big Man’s” bacon and secure him in power, and then to give advice on the future good management of the state in question…to the mutual and long-term material benefit of both parties… :-)


  151. @Simon257
    Well done China on building the huge and very difficult to build road link between far western China and far western Pakistan. At 3000km through the Hindukush and all across Pakistan for $46 bn brilliant . We want to build a less than 180km rail link through Englands green and pleasant land for $66 bn :-( Or 2 years worth of the DfiD budget to bring dramatic change to a region with a direct financial return for China .

  152. @Simon257

    China is a good wager, but it faces some very serious internal challenges.

    The demographics of Islam (also in China!) are a real force, and if the Caliphate should be restored, it would have a direct influence on the what will be the largest single block of humanity by 2050. A huge *if* – but a very serious factor nonetheless.


  153. @Chris

    Problem with the 747-bignose laser thingy was whilst it looked totally cool it was strategically useless.

    It was meant to engage ballistic missiles whilst in their early boost phase. Problem was the range of the laser was so short that you would have to basically fly very close or even into the territory of those who were firing the ballistic missile. A country that can build a ballistic missile probably has stuff that can take pot shots at something like a 747. Even escorted by fighters it was an asset at high risk of being shot down.

    If you are having to fly into enemy airspace to shoot down the ballistic missiles you might as well just try and detect the launch sites for airstrikes.

  154. @ Fedaykin

    The real issue with airborne lasers is that it is a totally flawed concept: the power requirements for energy weapons will not realistically fit on aircraft, and why in the world would you mount a weapon that requires such a high degree of accuracy on a an aircraft that is being buffeted about?

  155. What about ditching nuclear propulsion in favor of AIP? Would that save much?

    With small SSKs able to stay two weeks underwater, I’d expect a big SSB(K) could be built fairly easily with enough endurance for 60-70 day patrols. (As opposed to an SSN, an SSBN doesn’t have to sail fast, so doesn’t require much energy storage)

    The added availability of non-nuclear propulsion would also reduce the risk of going for a 3-sub solution.

  156. @Shackvan

    I believe the 5000km Range profile was used as a base from which to work up to and to help develop the core competencies the Indians will require to have a working system such as developing their own radar. At present I think they are using a modified Israeli radar. As to the subject of decoy’s I think these are all being worked on by more than one state with the use of dual mode seekers ( I seem to recall a paper written about the possible use of LIDAR in ABM defence) high frequency wave band radar and development of micro-doppler methods to assist in the real time discrimination of decoy warheads.

    The command and control of such a system is vastly complicated and expensive I agree but I think a fairly capable ABM system will be operational by a state in less time frame than 50 years, maybe 25-30. The estimation for the Indian system is about $40 billion but we are probably looking at more than that to get the system working.

    If a nation state finally acquires such a system and they believe that they can intercept say 80% of our warheads, that means we will have to restrict our targets to try and saturate areas (not a big problem for the US and Russia with their large stocks of warheads) that would cause the most damage which in turn allows the defender to increase protection at the known targets and not spread their system over vast distances. Once a small thought that they could weather the storm with acceptable losses (rightly or wrongly) has entered into their thinking the deterrent slowly looses it’s value.

    REF Star Wars

    The ‘Brilliant Pebbles’ concept was probably the one with the most chance of success, and it is also within the technological capability of the UK at the present time. But then would we be weaponising space?

  157. @H_K
    Forget about it, the British and Americans have forgotten about what conventional submarines are capable of. They subscribed to the cult of nuclear power.
    I’ve read many, many times an attitude towards SSKs that reveals that people are stuck in 1905, when submarines were still coastal assets of short endurance. The idea that there were submarines with 30,000 nm endurance, more than 60 days snorkeling endurance, up to about 4,000 tons size or three months at sea endurance back in WW2 already is lost to them. A German Type 212 submarine did set an underwater (no snorkel) endurance record of 18 days (U36, only 1,500 t) in 2013.

    The only thing nuclear power is indispensable for in submarines is fast (and loud) cruise underwater. This is useful for quick deployments to places unrelated to national or alliance defence and for close escort for a 15+ kts convoy.

    And yes, snorkels are effectively stealthy on an ocean. It’s easy to drop gazillions of super-cheap decoys with planes over the oceans.
    The diesel (or alternatively stirling) engine sound would be detectable within a modest radius only, particularly for deep-diving subs.

  158. Sven

    You are only thinking in terms of the Baltic, coastal torpedo defence and insertion with nearby shallow seas.

    When you think in terms of exceedingly long coastline, distant EEZ’s and proximity to deep ocean, you realise that speed and, more importantly endurance (different to range), start rising up the list of priorities for such a nation.

    It’s these sets of reasons and derivatives why Australia are veering away from stale European SSK thinking in particular.

  159. @TD

    Has @ForcesReviewUK lifted blocks to allow you right to reply on their blog/twitter yet, or are they still censoring everyone who has a different opinion?

    Can’t be arsed using alternate accounts to comment.

  160. The Australians are veering towards the Japanese Soryu SSK.

    Gato and Balao class submarines covered the Pacific well in WW2, without nuclear power.
    The PLAN would be hard-pressed to break out of its own region, and its maritime region has a fine size for SSKs.

    Nobody defends a “long coastline” with submarines, Australia couldn’t even “defend its coast” with air power. That’s the kind of nonsense know-nothing politicians talk.
    With Australia expecting to always have allies, its sub force cannot restrict the opposing navy’s freedom of action if its a SSN force. Its allies would have SSNs already, and restrictions don’t stack. Having a capable SSK force would impose other restrictions on the PLAN for example, since SSKs are different from SSNs tactically.
    The destructive effect depends on a lot, and is not clear-cut in favour of SSNs, particularly not in regard of cost-efficiency (assuming normal SSK costs, not costs inflated by inept Australian, US or UK project management):

    Typ 212 SSK (AIP): ~ EUR 400 million
    Typ 214 SSK (AIP): ~ EUR 350 million
    Scorpène SSK (AIP): ~ EUR 400 million
    Soryu SSK (AIP): ~ EUR 450 million

    Barracuda SSN: ~ EUR 1,300 million
    Vanguard SSN: ~ EUR 1,100 million
    Virginia SSN: ~ EUR 1,600 million

    About crew endurance and boat size:
    Typ IX D2 had 31,000 nm range (four months endurance) at size 1,600 tons surfaced

  161. @SO

    You talk about crew and endurance but completely ignore the major issue with an SSK and that is crew size. Very very few officers, you beat an SSK by going active and wearing it down. It works I have done it not read about it.
    The other issue is again on you ignore which is LFAS SSK on the bottom vs 2087, you would be shocked.

  162. The Singapore Navy have ordered two Type 218SG from the Germans , they to are AIP and are meant for option of Ocean going . Little detail is available as you would expect and are custom designed to suit the Singaporean needs. At €1bn for two including support and logistics not cheap. If you can afford it SSN is the way to go for just sheer endurance being only food ( ignoring replenishment at sea) and crew fatigue limiting it.
    Even the likes of Brazil are developing them as being a step change over the types they use presently and the new AIP ones they are building themselves.

  163. Completely agree with APATS on the SSK vs SSN on range / endurance and long distance power projection. The debate for me is around the numbers of SSNs the UK are willing to afford – 7 just isn’t enough.

  164. “Completely agree with APATS on the SSK vs SSN on range / endurance and long distance power projection. The debate for me is around the numbers of SSNs the UK are willing to afford – 7 just isn’t enough.”


    Nuclear boats support an activist foreign policy based around global power projection.

    Every penny wasted on SS(B)K’s is one taken away from our extremely marginal capacity to support [both] design [and] manufacture of nuclear boats [beyond] the completion of Astute in five (?) years time!

    They are also describing a very different intended future for British foreign policy.

  165. Need to separate roles and assets that fulfil those roles. Australian requirements are veering towards speed, endurance and ISR as primary capabilities.

    Soryu is the only existing SSK that approaches those requirements having been designed with deep ocean use in mind and it still has significant compromises to be made by Australia. However there’s still strong evidence an SSN (e.g. leased/purchased Virginia-class) would match their requirements more thoroughly.

    What’s also interesting are the uncontested studies evidencing that an SSN fleet that does not require mid-life refuelling is cheaper across it’s lifetime compared to an SSK fleet.

    Fewer boats required, less moving parts, reduced tender support and large drop in personnel overall.

  166. TOC – indeed for AIP the provision of liquid oxygen, possibly hydrogen in the case of fuel cells, takes a bit more infrastructure than a diesel depot.

  167. @Apats;
    you don’t know what I know and what I don’t know, so you cannot tell what would shock me.
    I do know that low frequency active sonar detects SSNs at even longer ranges than SSKs ceteris paribus due to the former’s greater size. It’s clearly no argument pro SSN & contra SSK.
    And it’s not feasible for SSNs to sprint out of range of LFAS. Very, very old tricks of the trade and helicopters provide counters to such a fragile tactic.

    @The Other Chris:
    The overambitious Australian ‘requirements’ are for 12 subs.
    At Virginia’s per unit price the Australians would not be able to afford more than 2 or 3. Virginia can thus meet Australian requirements at most by 25%, even if it met the qualitative requirements by 100%.

    Furthermore, life cycle cost studies depend crucially on assumptions. I’ve yet to see one that held up to reality after 20 years. Most such studies are obsolete before the platform introduction; just look at the F-35.

    More effort, yes – but not very much so. Liquid O2 can be re-liquefied once evaporated, and it would be possible to equip a normal-sized fleet support ship with a oxygen (and hydrogen) production and if need be liquefaction equipment, and plenty storage capacity. The whole thing would run on diesel, lubricants and spare parts just as any other ship. SSNs on the other hand make the user country dependant on expensive own facilities & nuclear industry or an ally who has the same.

  168. 12 is certainly the figure identified by the RAN for SSK’s with the capabilities and reliability that Collins was anticipated to fulfill to expand their capability based on experience.

    Whether 12 x SSK’s is what is offered by the competitors in the now semi-open competition for the approx. AU$40b overall budget is something we’re yet to see.

    6-8 is the equivalent fleet size postulated for the number of SSN’s that would fulfill and exceed those same requirements, with Virginia-class used as the baseline and margins built in. Leasing has been suggested. A FMS or a lease would also help the USN in accelerating their own Flight II/III construction plan. The US is by far the best option to negotiate with rather than France (interested) or the UK (wouldn’t be surprised if the thought of offering Astute even crossed anyone’s minds at the MOD!) due to Pacific/Asian basing and support alone.

    Money’s still on an evolved Collins or Soryu, however reviewing the needs Australia should really be looking at SSN’s. The only question for them is could they look at SSN’s?

  169. These discussions of SSK versus SSN get very tiring very quickly – the question of what to buy depends very much upon desired capabilities, geography (hydrography), and of course budget.

    I believe that even a nation with global commitments could benefit from having both conventional and nuclear submarines in its arsenal.

    Life cycle cost studies generally fail to look at the perspective from a campaign study: any nuclear powered vessel essentially requires that the purchaser buy the entire fuel cost of the ship up front – a major capitol loss if the submarine is destroyed 3-days into its first war patrol.

    The support issue for SSKs remains a significant negative point for Pacific operations.


  170. Money is the problem for defence in UK. The solution is to look at all areas of expenditure starting with Health where the greatest waste and unnecessary expenditure lies. UK has a national myth the NHS is the envy of the world, Pigs F****** A***, if you believe that I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Its starting problem is that there is no incentive for people to look after their health.

    If necessary I don’t believe it would be outstandingly difficult or expensive too resurrect freefall WE177 to provide an air delivery mode.

    @SO your knowledge of history is either mind boggling deficient or you are a wannabe windup merchant. You might like to muse on the fact the British Empire didn’t really exist before 1815, apart from a few islands and Canada. India didn’t come under the British Govt until 1860, and even then and until 1947 large chunks of the country were run by traditional local princes. The reason for the American Revolution was not the matter if tea but the desire of the merchant class to take a hardline against the first nations to grab their land, which the govt in London prevented.

  171. On converting a MIRV warhead to a freefall or cruise missile borne weapon I would of thought was a much easier step than the other way round . The MIRV warhead has to withstand tremendous g-forces and vibration during its use , much more than on a FJ or cruise missile. I just see that having other delivery methods would introduce extra layers of cost we can ill afford. On the other hand if the OPFOR developed some tech that could guarantee they could track any SSBN, anytime , anywhere a back up delivery system would be nice.
    . I like the vid of the US Navy UCAV refuelling itself , with its ability to take off and land on their carriers already ready proven and its Low Observably design puts the US in a very interesting position on strategic strike . With the existing US abhorrence for casualties much much more high risk missions could be undertaken with the airframe being almost ‘throwaway’ in terms of the outcome of a successful mission. Where once OPFOR air defence planners had to position sufficient assets to protect a vital asset under the assumption that once the risk level to a pilot was unacceptable the asset had sufficient protection now in spite of the expense of losing expensive airframe the UCAV could be tasked raising the threat level. Granted this is what cruise are used for but the are single point target weapons a UCAV armed with a dozen SDB II can hit a lot more on a single mission and possibly return home to do it all again tomorrow.
    Based on the lack of a pilot and the essential need to bring them him safely home in a manned aircraft just how many corners could you cut on construction techniques of a UCAV dropping the cost to make them more affordable. A comparison is space launch vehicles , at present only Russia and China have ‘man rated’ rockets but there are dozens of other rocket systems that are physically capable of puting a human in orbit. The US is pushing various private and a government sponsored system but the costs are considerable. By using cheaper construction techniques and reduced very expensive quality control methods significant savings may be made making the UCAV much more affordable per airframe. More airframes would divide the R&D and software costs ( this I suspect is the greater) over greater number reducing unit costs further. The bulk of the $2.2bn (1990) cost of a B2 is R&D and software development costs as they had to add it onto just 20 airframes not divide it over the 100 originally envisaged as an example.

  172. Obsvr

    National myths are one thing, but your peddling a different one. The British “disease” in this case is that we seem to be unwilling to pay or levy (to the corporate sector) sufficient tax to meet the cost of running the service we desire. Wanting our cake and eating it as usual (but also pretending the issue doesn’t exist at election time).

    lower taxes = less government provision = more private provision (ie out of your earnings or as a benefit paid by your employer).

  173. @Nick I agree and that means the national budget process is all really the wrong way round, ie set the revenue (tax) at ‘what the electorate will pay’ and then work out what we can afford to do rather than starting with what we need to do and working out a fair way to raise the tax to achieve that. That would encourage a true analysis of needs and zero based budgeting in all departments. I know that is a bit over-simplistic and need to do v nice to have would be tricky in many cases. Tax has unfortunately got a bad press

  174. @Nick
    “The British “disease” in this case is that we seem to be unwilling to pay or levy (to the corporate sector) sufficient tax to meet the cost of running the service we desire.”
    The corporate tax system is pitched to retain and attract private ventures in the UK thus providing jobs directly and indirectly to the supporting businesses and by an large against our European competitors ( other nations – more on that in a bit ) we charge a competitive rate. The problem is as you say they are unwilling to pay even this. Various companies G***gle, St****cks, and many many others as well as many professional individuals ( most consultants, barristers , dentists etc ) trade as limited companies and enjoy the tax regime that follows that status. A well known comedian Jimmy Carr used such a tax vehicle to legally minimise his tax to basically zero despite earning millions per annum. Illegal no , immoral yes . He has stopped and pays some tax now. Revenues could ( and are) be boosted considerably by a blanket revision of the corporate and personal tax laws. I say are as HMRC has set up a unit to try to highlight and close these ‘loop holes’ and provide advice on legislation amendments to prevent further abuse. It is estimated the amount of tax avoided is upwards of a £100 billion , would that help the NHS?
    I mentioned other nations and corporation tax , there is a strong central lobby in Europe that wants to unify the corporate tax levels at least amongst the core EU economies but as you would imagine is meeting resistance. By offering a level playing field to business other factors would become the deciding influence on where a company takes up corporate residence. As an example the company Experien used to be english registered and based in Nottingham. When Eire dropped its corporate tax rate drastically it deregistered from England and set up a small office in Dublin but 95% of it workforce and work remained in the UK .This boosted shareholders profits but f**ked over the UK population who provided the support base for this company to operate in , health provision for its workers , policing and defence etc. Illegal no immoral yes.

  175. Nick – high vs. low tax – it would be interesting to compare national tax with our neighbours’ and allies’ rates on a like-for-like basis; that would mean excluding NHS funding contribution and whatever proportion of benefits/pensions funding that would bring the provision to an equivalent level to that of our peers. I imagine that our taxes would be toward the low end, but possibly not down to US levels.

    I note yet another headline in today’s papers that NHS is poverty-struck and patients are being left in corridors for 16hrs waiting to be seen. Current expenditure on NHS is about £130bn for the UK, or about £1850 per citizen for the year assuming UK population of 70 million. The NHS has said it wants another £8bn per year to stand still (another £115 per person per year). The standard family of couple plus 2 kids if paying directly for NHS would shell out £11,790 per year for healthcare at today’s rates. If pensions provision is added to health that figure more than doubles.

    UK defence at £43bn costs each citizen £615 for the year. Or £2460 for the standard family. Bargain.

    However. Here there is a conundrum. The figures above are averages. But the stated UK average annual income (for those of working age) is between £25k and £26k. Lets assume 50% of the nation’s population falls in that age range. Just taking pension and healthcare average cost the tax bill is the average annual income for a couple. If you add in education, defence, social security, transport, police/fire services, ag & fish, environment, arts, central gov’t costs, EU subs and the whopping annual debt interest charges, the average tax required is twice the average annual income. We the people are very expensive to keep.

    I once calculated my total tax burden (salary as the starting point, then income tax, NI, average fuel duty expenditure, average volume of VAT on purchases, TV licence, road tax, tax on savings etc taken away) and found the exchequer would eventually get 50% of what I was paid. So even as a moderately well paid individual receiving no benefits I was covering just 25% of the average per capita tax required. The rest has to come from somewhere – business taxes, finance deal levies, import duties, and of course the heavier taxes paid by the very wealthy. Its worth recalling that 75% or more of your cost to the gov’t is funded by businesses and the wealthy few already, before shouting out that businesses and the wealthy need to be taxed more to pay for things you want. Or like New Labour we can just borrow more and let children & grandchildren pay later.

    The point is that there is no mythical source of free money. All the taxes spent have to be taken from earnings (or put on the never-never for descendants to fund) – every pound spent has come from someone’s pocket.

  176. @Chris
    “I once calculated my total tax burden (salary as the starting point, then income tax, NI, average fuel duty expenditure, average volume of VAT on purchases, TV licence, road tax, tax on savings etc taken away) and found the exchequer would eventually get 50% of what I was paid. ”
    I did the same once and came to a similar figure but that was some time ago and have not repeated the exercise since. The tax system overall needs to be simplified drastically to eliminate the numerous methods used to avoid paying . Granted many business tax laws are in place to stimulate/discourage various business behaviors as each respective chancellor sees fit at the time but after many budgets and many chancellors the system has grown very cumbersome and complex so that opportunities arise for clever accountants to utilize to minimise or even eliminate a companies tax burden.
    A rethink is required but one in which the Big Four accounting firms are NOT used as consultants as is believe it or not current practice. PWC have recently been before parliament to discuss their practices and to receive parliaments displeasure over their behaviours from poor oversight to encouraging tax avoidance but the same company is used as a consultant on tax law!
    P.S. don’t tell my other half I posted this as she is one of those clever accountants ;-)

  177. I need to share … I wrote an email [13/2/2015]on the matter of Peter Mandelson receiving a ‘loan’ for £400 000 from a company that ‘he owns’ and solely serves as vehicle for his employment activities . Which, to me, seems tax avoidance of the most pernicious kind …

    The email was to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury – who had made a point of claiming he would review all such tax avoidance schemes – he didnt reply. My local MP [also lib dem] kindly reminded him of my email – prompting him to reply – he didnt…

    We are not in ‘it all together’ … the political class all have their snouts in the trough…

    The email …

    Peter Mandelson received a ‘loan’ for £400 000 from a company that ‘he owns’.

    I use link below as my the source.

    Well, that’s an impressive pay day loan.

    If anyone of us had been lucky enough to have received £400 000 as a salary through the PAYE system then the following tax would have been paid in 2013/14

    £400 000 gross salary – paid in one sum [lucky man]
    less £166. 051 tax
    less £7,629.08 NI employee [although I have seen calculations £11,214 40]

    an awful lot of money that could have been paid to HM Government if this clever way of ‘avoiding’ tax was not allowed.

    I wish it was available to all those humble individuals who only earnt £400 000.

    No wait, I also forgot to mention the NI employer insurance £54130.78 that would have been paid to HMG [but sadly lost as its just a ‘loan’]

    I do hope he didn’t find it too difficult to pay back at the crippling interest rate of 3.25% [a typical Wonga loan rate for £100 for 13 days. Interest rate: 292%pa (fixed)]

    oh, wait… has Lord Mandelson paid it back?

  178. @PJS
    Mandelson doesn’t Brylcream his hair he’s just a naturally slippery customer , from mortgage to passport scandals he slips on through like an eel usually onto more important positions after a sojourn of six months or so on holiday leaving any whiff of scandal or impropriety far behind him. I knew Labour had lost the plot when in this election Milliband sought LORD Mandelson nod of approval on their err “policies”.
    Nobody in their right mind should be publicly associated with the dark days of Labours last rule borrowing like it was going out of fashion , signing up to 50 year millstones in the form of PFI , launching into the stupid (IMHO) Sandbox Wars ( that’s warS ,not one but two 10 year engagements) , allowing the banking industry to go nuts by removing direct government oversight and handing it over to two drastically underfunded ( compared to the multi-trillion pound industry they monitored) organisations the BoE and FSA as well as de-fanging them…….. time for a cup of relaxing tea I think……

  179. @PJS

    The funny thing is I actually know the Chief Secretary of the Treasury Danny Alexander personally, there are even pictures out there in the public domain with us together.

    To be honest he gets that kind of email all the time, looking at it you might not of got a reply due to it being more a statement then a question. It also might of just hit the spam filter due to the web link you put in the email. Danny doesn’t personally read every email sent to his official email account, there are people who do that for him. If you bumped into him in the street at them moment and asked him about your email he probably wouldn’t have a clue what you were talking about but I do know he would listen and look into it. I have seen him do such many a time when it comes to talking to his constituents, remember behind the label “Politician” is a real human with all the frailties that we share.

    Now frankly at the moment considering Danny is fighting for his very political life against a very active SNP campaign he probably doesn’t have time for such things now. That he hasn’t got back to you is nothing about being another “snout in the trough”, there is only so much time in the day and vague ranty emails about Peter Mandelson are rather low priority in the grand scheme of things.

    The fact is if you are wealthy you are always going to find perfectly legal tax dodges, that is just a fact of life.

  180. Fedaykin – I’d modify your last statement replacing the term ‘wealthy’ with ‘dishonourable’ – all layers of society have those that work the system, from numbered Swiss bank accounts for the very wealthy all the way down to cash-in-hand jobs for the man-in-a-van. The scale may be different but in proportion to tax paid the worst offender would be hard to judge. Fortunately for us all there are a large number of citizens who choose to pay their dues, acting responsibly and honourably and helping in a very direct way to keep the country functioning.

    Oh – and you might find the ones shouting loudest about the unfair and unsustainable burden of tax are the ones quietly withholding their just contribution. The modern equivalent of shouting “Look over there!” to get away with picking pockets.

  181. @Chris

    No I wouldn’t change it to ‘dishonorable’ if it is Wealthy people using perfectly legal mechanisms within the tax system to reduce their tax burden. It just doesn’t bother me considering how small the amounts of money we are talking about vs the overall scale of the economy. Now if they use illegal methods to reduce their tax burden then I am perfectly happy to use the term ‘Criminal’ and think they should be held to account in the courts. Now personally I do think this whole getting companies you own to pay loans to yourself to reduce the tax burden is dodgy as feck and should be closed up legally but if it isn’t actually illegal then I don’t see any reason to put a different label on people.

    In the end the tiny part of the population that is the ultra wealthy can just up sticks and move somewhere else hence my opinion that it is something impossible to stop.

  182. @Chris
    My friend works on the commercial side of banking looking after SME’s . A gentleman? booked an appointment with him to discuss an urgent 25k business loan for a new company vehicle. After discussing the loan assessing the business bank (sole) account and the customers statement of the business turnover etc he said no to the loan. The customer was outrage asking didn’t his £1 m+ turnover, four existing vehicles, his dozen employees , etc count? No it didn’t as less than 25k went through the bank account ,some cheques and direct payments which cover insurance out goings , the rest of the turnover cash as it was a minicab firm , drivers paid cash , fuel paid cash , maintaining the cars paid in cash , his salary cash etc etc . Debits to the HMRC almost nothing ….he did his duty and reported him to the HMRC.
    “The fact is if you are wealthy you are always going to find perfectly legal tax dodges, that is just a fact of life.”
    That’s how my other half makes some of her living but if the law was much simpler and clearer then she would have a much harder time of it . She would then just spend all of her time guiding businesses on managing their business and related finances making them healthier to begin with than fighting off the disease [tax] which is how this part of the thread started by PJS. She could focus on helping businesses grow and flourish rather than defending what little money they had to start with .

  183. @ Fedaykin

    I accept he must be very busy, that my email is one amongst thousands and that it [the excerpt] was more of a statement [though I saved the forum the whole email]. Its the fact he didn’t even acknowledge when my local MP [also Lib Dem and in a government role] wrote to him I found impolite…

    I was a Gamesmaker at London 2012 and on two occasions Alexander was waiting at the place I was supervising and we had very interesting conversations. I had hoped referring to these occasions might have got me beyond the delete button …

    my snout reference was aimed at Mandelsohn [I cant write here what I truly think of him but Monkey does a great attempt] and Alexander was making a particular point [at the time, you will recall, it was top of the political agenda] at looking at a range of tax avoidance issues partly in his role, partly his political conscience …

    its disgraceful that someone can avoid paying tax as they are able to get a ‘loan’ [in this case £400 000] from a company with a sole purpose to act as a tax-reducing vehicle for his personal business activities…

    I thought it something Alexander would be keen to look into…[my email also offered a solution]

    @ Monkey

    I too need a tea and relax… but I am finding myself increasingly enraged …

    but thank you both for listening…

  184. @fedaykin
    P.S. Best of luck to Danny not because of he’s running against the SNP but because he seems a decent sort .

  185. @PJS

    Which was the other MP out of curiosity it might be one I know as well.

    On a side note and I don’t want to go into a long debate about it but I rather like Peter Mandelson, in the early Blair days he really had a sense for an election campaign. Not that it helped with the 2010 campaign considering how much of a lame duck Brown was.

  186. @ Fedaykin

    Lynne Featherstone – and for the record she has been a very good local MP in my humble opinion

    We will have to agree to disagree about Mandelson

    and – promise my last word on the matter – just because it is ‘legal’ doesn’t make it ethically right … I am willing to be proved wrong but a ‘loan’ suggests it is paid back … if not in my view it is income and should be treated as such and therefore liable for income tax and NI

  187. @S O,

    It is not overly ambitious for Australia to acquire 12 new SSKs, in fact it is quite necessary they do.

    The plan is to build them over a long period of time so as to have a continual drumbeat of new builds with incremental advancements. The older boats of the class will be replaced by newer boats of the class to keep the flotilla relatively young (20ish years service life) and modern.

    No more than 6- 8 will be in service at anyone time.

  188. Back on the subject of little bits of instant sunshine the SNP is threatening all kinds of mischief if they aren’t banned/cancelled/burnt at the stake etc but how much damage can they do? Will they deliberately disrupt parliament using many of the mechanisms in place all ready ( talking out bills, continuous points of order, etc) Are they willing to make complete arses of themselves for five years to disrupt Westminster and democracy ? I don’t think all individual Labour MP’s will obey the party whip on a vote on the Successor programme but if it was cancelled could it be restarted ( secretly designed to completion) for a quick Bill rushed through Parliament in five years time and the first boat ready in time for the first Trident to retire? Should we have a backup plan of a stretched Astute using the Common Missile compartments just abaft the conning tower on boat 7 so we can get a SSBN ,which will be its ONLY function, in the water.

  189. Astute needs to be stretched in more dimensions than just length to fit CMC unfortunately.

  190. @ToC
    I guess some form of hump behind the fin would be required to accommodate the missile compartments length but most early SSBN looked like some for of mutant and as its only an interim measure to steal back five years it should be possible . After the first Successor is launched and brought into service it could be withdrawn and put right or fitted with some other missile or weapon system. Just musing rather than serious but a back up plan is always useful. If Successor is initially cancelled and the OSD of the Trident cannot be pushed back safely then adapting a well proven design might be an option.

  191. @Obsvr- American Revolution…completely agree about the importance of Crown determination to honour treaties with the First Nations as being amongst the underlying causes of the unfortunate events of 1776-79, and would add the emergence of abolitionist sentiment in Great Britain…Lord Justice Mansfield ruled on the Somersett Case in 1772; but it was to a much larger extent the logical conclusion of our Civil Wars in the Seventeenth Century, and in particular the Glorious Revolution of 1689…the Bill of Rights is quoted verbatim and at length in the Declaration of Independence. And indeed I bang on about all these points whenever the issue arises, so it’s nice to find a pal in these unfriendly times… :-)

    As to Sven, no history, a wind up merchant…and a touch of the reformed smoker about the way he bangs on about our aggressive wars and historic misdeeds. You know the type…the one who used to share his eighty Park Drive a day with anyone in choking distance, but now chucks a bucket of water over you if you enjoy a modest cheroot on the terrace after dinner…and then subjects you to a slightly hysterical tirade of abuse. :-(

    @Thread – the NHS (again)…this august organisation is run by public sector bureaucrats, and speaking as somebody who was one such for thirty years I can tell you that if you tell a group of us that our budget is permanently ring-fenced…that every election will see it further increased in a slightly demented political bidding war that now seems to extend right across the political spectrum…that they are the High Priests of the State Religion…and that all the staff are Heroes, Saints and Angels…that this is most unlikely to achieve the efficient use of the taxpayers money to achieve the perfectly desirable objective of national health. It really, really isn’t… :-(

    The thing I find odd on this site is how few people see the blindingly obvious comparison with BAE Defence Systems, and their good stewardship of public money.

    …and finally, SSN…we need more…ideally one per large surface vessel, so that’s 20 +… :-)

  192. @GNB,

    Agreed, we certainly do need more SSNs. But IIRC, submarine construction is now being based on a 25 year service life with 1 submarine built every 2 years. That is an industrial requirement (not strategic requirement) of 8 SSNs and 4 SSBNs built every 25 years.

    Of course, HMG in their wisdom realised they could get away with not building the 8th Astute. To save a bit of bloody money.

    If defence was based on strategic requirements we would probably be looking at 1 submarine built every 18-20 months. That’s 10-12 SSNs and 4 SSBNs every 25 years.

    Of course the wonderful Osborne announced earlier this year that he now wants to start looking at building 1 major surface combatant every 2 years too, again every 25 years. That would indicate heading towards 12 DDGs/FFs.

    Again, this is to save money, giving the industry just barely enough work to remain viable. Not an actual strategic requirement. However, it is not certain that this will ever happen (yet).

    I think we should look towards a more healthy drumbeat of 1 major surface combatant every 18 months for 25 years. Giving a decent (not really) 18 strong DDG/FF fleet. At a minimum, every 20 months for 16.

    Ultimately though, if it does end up at 1 major surface combatant every 2 years, at least we are safe in the knowledge that 12 is the absolute minimum. Unless of course HMG once again realises they can just about get away with not ordering the 12th.

    We need more OPVs/MHPC as is. Will need them even more if the above happens.

  193. With an average lifespan of a ship typically being 30 years, then the RN should be aiming for a force of 30 significant CVFs/DDs/FFs/OPVs (excluding MCM, Survey and RFA).

    For SSNs a 30yr lifespan is easily achievable which based on a 20mth drumbeat would be 9 SSNs and 4 SSBNs or variation thereof.

  194. @Repulse,

    The Astute class are designed and built around a 25 year lifespan – due to their nuclear reactor never needing to be refueled. This is expected to result in significant savings in terms of through life costs vs the Trafalgar class. Extending their life out to 30 years would mean a costly refuel for minimal amount of years in return.

    With an ever smaller fleet, the need to refresh every 25 years is essential to maintain availability, especially given the intensity at which we work our boats (and surface ships). You will find availability falls off the cliff rapidly beyond 25 years of a thrashed boat. To rather unacceptable levels I think. But that didn’t matter as much 15 or 10 years ago when we had a larger fleet.

    Regarding surface ships, there is little to no chance of 1 complex surface warship being built every year on a 30 year cycle (OPVs don’t count). Our Chancellor is looking at a single DDG/FF every two years on a 25 year cycle – with the extras (CVF/LHDs, LPDs etc) being built when needed.

    At this stage 18 DDG/FF on an 18 month drumbeat for 25 years would be ideal.

    We will be lucky to get 16 on an 20 month drumbeat for 25 years.

    Osborne is looking at 12 on a 24 month drumbeat for 25 years.

    The Navy will be fighting for its life in SDSR 2015, and 2020 for that matter.

  195. @Whitestelephant
    “Osborne is looking at 12 on a 24 month drumbeat for 25 years”
    He might be its true but he will not be Chancellor for ever , perhaps another term then he will put a punt in for Leader and the PM spot. In the next five years I think as we step back from boots on the ground ops ( at least long term ones) the RN and RAF will be our contribution to whatever overseas op we get committed to so the need to keep up ship numbers will put pressure on the Treasury especially when the T45’s to in to be fixed ( the great white GT ) and the T23’s start to retire. Who knows what issues will start to show up with the first of class T26 which should be in the water by then. They say a week is a long time in politics , five years must be a geological eon in comparison. Lets hope they reset the SDSR clock and have a mini-update in 2 years time and then back on a five year cycle to partly disengage defence spending from general elections and all their uncertainties. Its bloody hard to get dirt on all three party leaderships at a time , its very stress full for the Joint Service Chiefs to secure a reasonable budget as it stands now and as the SNP are in the frame now that makes four . ( I’m not counting UKIP as they provide their own :-)

  196. “For SSNs a 30yr lifespan is easily achievable ”

    It’s achievable alright. Easily (or anything approaching it) is not a word I’d choose to describe what is needed to make it happen. Neither is cheaply……

  197. During ‘A’ Level economics we were taught that the long-run [as opposed to the short-run] was the period where factors of production such as capital [as opposed to labour] could be varied. I recall when I got to university that my first professor, was keen to keen to offer his own definition. “In the long run,” he said, ” we are all dead.”

    I am reminded of this when discussing any period as long as 25/30 years … I fully expect to be dead during this particular ‘long run’… but much like ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’, I am convinced that anything that any chancellor decides now will not survive as a policy in 2040/45

    The Royal Navy [ and RFA} is under manned, has too few escorts, and yet has demonstrated through the availability of HMS Echo, HMS Bulwark and RFA Argus, in recent taskings, a remarkable versatility. HM Government, however, has to be told they must address the issues now otherwise, in the long run, there will be no RN …

  198. @monkey,

    Yes, true. Osborne is unlikely to be Chancellor again, which is comforting for defence. So there is a strong possibility that you are correct and sense will prevail, being that the Navy will become increasingly more and more relevant post Afghan/Iraq.

    There will be a very strong and compelling argument for maintaining DDG/FF numbers and a sensible drumbeat of 18 months or so. 24 months is pushing it quite a bit too far really. 24 months may be fine for a nuclear submarine industry, but is beyond barely optimal for major surface combatants.

    Agreed on SDSR needing to be closer towards the middle of a parliament rather than at the start. It is placing undue pressure on defence and defence spending.

  199. @PJS – I should sue – your Professor was plagiarising unless he attributed the quote… :-(

    Random thought….I wonder if any of the morlocks of the political class lurk hereabouts at all…and if so, why they fail to defend their various positions…perfectly happy for them to use a pseudonym…

    Answers on a postcard, please :-)


  200. Can’t see any problems from Spain or a destabilised Northern Africa…

    (EDIT: Or volumes of international maritime traffic…)

  201. @ GNB, Yes, sorry should have noted that he was quoting a well known authority on economics :)

    Re the ‘morlocks’, I had this idea that TD and the forum might be able to become a pressure group for defence issues, but since we can hardly agree between us, it rather undermines that plan…

    [GNB, you might have caught my earlier exchange about some political figures – it would appear we are only 3 degrees of separation from the PM himself….]

  202. @PJS
    I suspect the various political parties between themselves argue continuously , that being the nature of the beast . Discussion by people of a similar leaning , in this case wanting the best bang for our buck , but holding often conflicting opinions , at least to start with , based on experience or lack there of , and a willingness to contribute ideas and thoughts is at least one good way to develop ideas or dismiss them as the case maybe. Establish where we are strong and where we are weak.
    In the end though a consensus of policy is put forward for PUBLIC consumption publicly supported by all , at least on the face of it. Now all we need is a gripping title , I propose The Think Defence Think Tank or TTDTT as I have no flair for these things :-)

  203. @Repulse “With an average lifespan of a ship typically being 30 years, then the RN should be aiming for a force of 30 significant CVFs/DDs/FFs/OPVs (excluding MCM, Survey and RFA).”

    If you count Albion and Bulwark, and assume the new Rivers are kept, That’s 30

    As to the chances of keeping that lot post SDSR 2015 – slim to slimmer

    Is that right – absolutely no. At least for the foreseeable, the RN and possibly the RAF are going to be pretty busy. Equally I find it hard to salami slice the army further in the sense on maintaining a credible light / medium short term intervention capability and a heavy / medium deterrent force

    Whatever way it goes the gap between actual capability and tasking / DPAs / punching above our weight / willy waving commitments need eliminating. One, the other or both have to change

  204. Can’t the British ship building industry be sustained by £230m each year? That’s what ToBA was/is supposed to be.

    So I make that around one frigate every two years or 12-13 ships over an average 25 year life.

    Basically the phrase “warship building industry”, and the words “ToBA” and “frigates” are one and the same to the political elite.

    I get the impression the (nuclear) sub industry costs about four times the amount to sustain, but would be happy to be told otherwise.

  205. That was steel skills, systems and other skills added in top, hence why the Rivers are more than TOBA.

  206. China conducted 3rd missile interception test

    Chinese state media briefly announced today that the country had successfully conducted another ground-based mid-course missile interception test on its territory on Wednesday (23rd July)

    This is the third exoatmospheric missile interception test conducted by China, following the two successful tests in January 2010 and January 2013.

  207. @Gloomy


    “that this is most unlikely to achieve the efficient use of the taxpayers money to achieve the perfectly desirable objective of national health. It really, really isn’t… :-(

    The thing I find odd on this site is how few people see the blindingly obvious comparison with BAE Defence Systems, and their good stewardship of public money.”

    I absolutely agree with you. No organization (public or state) ought to be in a position where it takes the future for granted. Any major corporation wants to create nice safe monopolies (and defence and aerospace certainly seems to have many). Just look at the mess Tesco has got itself in over the last 3 years or so. Owning private jets really ? There is certainly some truth to the old adage that a nice new flashy corporate head quarters (or private jets) indicates a mgt team full of hubris that is about to run into a brick wall (Google or Facebook next anyone ?). The US/UK State learned the need to regulate to control monopolies (or oligopolies), now the state seems to prefer creating (or permitting) them instead.

  208. ToC,

    This is from

    The TOBA, signed in July 2009, provides MOD guarantees to BAE Systems of a minimum level of ship build and support activity of around £230 million/year. This level of work was independently verified as the minimum level of work possible to sustain a credible warship building industry in the UK. The TOBA has been designed to incentivise major reductions in the size of the industrial base on a managed basis to minimise the rationalisation cost for which MOD was already liable under historical Yellow Book rules.

    Appears to be copied and pasted into wiki.

    Another source defined it as…

    …the agreement provides a minimum of 15 years exclusivity to BVT for the design, build, integration and aspects of support on specified MOD shipbuilding programmes, including the Future Surface Combatant. -It provides a commitment to maintain key industrial capabilities, as outlined by the Government’s Defence Industrial Strategy

    I appear to read more into it than you ;-)

  209. Nick – amongst many other things I value old industrial architecture. For many reasons; firstly it tends to be built on a human scale (not vast soulless tin sheds) and most times built with pride as evidenced by the stout brickwork, careful design and quality fittings. Secondly there is an engineer’s delight in seeing something built the shape it is because it best served the purpose for which it was built. Thirdly because the complex of structures grew as the business grew, each building adding to the industrial capability when it could be afforded. These sites were built from the bottom up, sufficient for the purpose, sturdy and proud.* These were the physical result of industry growing in a fertile business environment; they represented optimism and confidence, local commitment and employment. Their dereliction, which I noted from the 1970s, a sign that the drive and ambition had been exhausted, that the nation’s desire & ability to take on the world and win had been flogged to death. In their place stood political constructs; British Leyland, British Telecom, British Gas, British Steel, British Aerospace, British Rail, National Coal Board, National Health Service. Puppets on the fingers of the Arrogants of Westminster. No longer run by businessmen who had slaved and laboured to build up a proud business, instead run by itinerant management shoed-in by their pals in parliament. No more led by a passion that filtered through the organisation, all that deeply held lifelong passion replaced by the passionate soundbite (count the number of issues Millibland tells us he “passionately believes in” only to move on to another issue the next day without so much as a concerned glance over his shoulder). In truth there is little in modern life that can trace a continuous line to Britain’s proud heritage; its all hype and media studies flam now, literally here today gone tomorrow who cares?

    As for flashy corporate HQ, I had the privilege to visit Pilkington’s London HQ once, next door to Buckingham Palace with a grand bow-window looking out over Green Park ( and opulence within the offices that suited wealthy landed gentry. Within two years Pilkingtons had broken apart and the parts sold to a number of disparate buyers. But while we were in their offices the all prevailing attitude was that they were rock solid; best in their line of business; unassailable.

    *Sadly most of these islands of our industrial heritage exist no more, their location now adorned by superstores or estates of executive hovels; a few have fallen to greedy developers who have stripped out all of their honesty and soul to create bland apartments for oligarchs; fewer still have become tourist attractions, pastiches of their earlier self. Oh well. Such is progress.

  210. Chris

    Their dereliction, which I noted from the 1970s, a sign that the drive and ambition had been exhausted, that the nation’s desire & ability to take on the world and win had been flogged to death

    I wonder whether our drive and ambition had perished or whether our will had succumbed under the financial pressure we faced in light of what was completely stupid communist union attitude offsetting confrontational and complacent management (I’m less quick to blame the members. In light of super-inflation of the late 60’s and 70’s I’m less quick to blame them for wanting to maintain their standard of living even if that came at the cost of their jobs ultimately).

    If Wilson hadn’t cancelled funding for Europa, might Ariane Space be UK lead today; did the cancellation of various aircraft programmes in the same period (again money driven to a large part) give our military export to the US, could a British civil aircraft industry have competed with Boeing et al from the 1950’s if we had funded it like Airbus (EADS today might have been a UK based business). Should we have helped finance Rover/Jaguar/Land Rover to create a UK owned car manufacturer in the 1980s.

    To me, it seems that, in many ways, lack of long term industrial finance and adequate venture capital finance is at the root of the British Disease. What we have instead is financial engineering, asset stripping and oligopoly creation.

  211. @Nick…having lived through the period, much inclined to agree with you…the inflation engendered by Wilson coupled with the growing militancy of the Trade Union movement both destroyed the businesses and undermined the confidence of the small to medium sized manufacturing enterprises whose German equivalents remain the heart of their manufacturing economy.

    Dreadful buildings were chucked up and long-term thinking abandoned because the people doing it felt that the Country was stuffed…


  212. @GNB

    wasn’t just Wilson though, Heath/Barber and the OPEC Oil shock all played their part.

    The UK was really bankrupt when Keynes went begging to Truman back in 1946. Just what happen to the Marshall Plan money. The UK was the biggest recipient. Did we spend this rather than invest for the future ?

  213. Nick, GNB – over the years I have come to the conclusion that the major British Disease is the view that everything bad is someone else’s problem. In the case of the demise of UK industry, first we need to recognise that by 1945 every aspect of UK’s industry was worn-out after years of war effort on top of not recovering fully from WW1’s impacts. Secondly we have to note there was no money; the UK was on its uppers. Looking at life then from the workers’ perspective, many returning to an ordinary life from the military with a glorious victory under their belts, the UK was no paradise – rationing, bombsites, shortage of housing – on top of which the work to which they returned was in run-down workshops with clapped-out equipment. Naturally expecting a welcome back to a land fit for heroes you can imagine a persisting frustration. But looking from the business owners’ side, their once prosperous business had been run to ruin by war production, I imagine the work was not highly lucrative, bomb damage would have been patched up without financial help, the coffers pretty empty. What the bosses needed was cashflow to demonstrate to investors they were on the up. The frustration of the workforce was unlikely to engage in yet another ‘one last push’ in support of the bosses, and was more minded to go through the motions for what modest pay they could get; the bosses could not pay more without better productivity needing both extra effort from the workforce and investment from outside. The lack of worker enthusiasm was blamed on bosses not treating them as they deserved; the bosses blamed the unhelpful workforce not putting in extra effort for their lack of income & investment. Neither side was willing to see the difficulties of the other. Neither side was willing to help the other get to a better position. These resentments deepened and entrenched into the hideous ‘us & them’ industrial strife of the 70s.

    From the investor’s point of view why on earth would they invest in completely worn out businesses that showed no signs of trying to improve themselves and were constantly blighted by strikes? The modern (Allied nations paid for) German industry that had almost no strikes looked far better investments. The French of course did continue to both support their industries and ensure Gov’t purchases were from French businesses. Their industrial sector suffered far less than UK’s, but then again it was less battered by & large.

    Nick – ref what happened to the money – you’d imagine a good deal went on building pre-fabs and clearing bomb damage, some on infrastructure repair, a sizable chunk on the new NHS and a bunch more on rebuilding the armed forces. Then of course there was Korea which would have been an unwelcome expense, and Aden.

  214. Chris

    The UK got over twice as much Marshall Aid (per wiki) than Germany, and I rather image the German economy and infrastructure was probably in worse shape than ours. Clearly trying to rebuild your nation after losing the war in many ways more positive than coming home to a land unfit for heroes. IS that sufficient reason for the difference we saw by the 1960s ?

    Ideological nationalization (mining steel, railways) was probably a mistake, but then it was predicated on what happened in the 1930s. The workers in these industries helped us win the war as much as those on the front line. That the UK mobilized for total war before the Germans did, might actually be one of the major reasons we won the war.

    Oh, add computer sciences to my list of world leads we didn’t manage to convert into a world leading business.

  215. @Chris: you forget all those billions on council houses. Nowt quite like using all that free money “building the Tories out” eh?

  216. @Chris:
    “The modern (Allied nations paid for) German industry”
    That’s utter nonsense.

    The Allies disassembled or shut down factories, demanded reparations, required Germany to pay the expense of its own occupation – the very little aid that went into Germany was negligible in comparison to the domestic effort and even smaller than the outgoing transfers at the time. On top of that, most aid flowing into Germany was credit, not transfer. There was no free industry rebuilding by Allied help in Germany at all.

    The #1 inhibitor of West German economic recovery was the insistence of the occupiers on planning economy (rationing etc.), and this includes the American zone. The breakthrough came in 1949 when rationing ended. This is usually misattributed to the currency reform.

    The UK of the 50’s and 60’s suffered from wartime debt. Unlike in Germany and Italy domestic debt was not wiped out by inflation, and thus the repayment of much wartime debt and payment of interest on it meant a major income redistribution was forced to exist in the UK – which no doubt slowed the development of the British middle class down, hence all the talk about “workers” as if one was talking about the UK of the 1920’s, not 1960’s.

  217. @Nick
    Where did all the money go ? After the immense efforts in Britain during the war years to maximise production , furniture factories build Mosquitoes, food output almost doubling etc the men in the ministries thought it was their careful and wise stewardship of the economy , commanding and implementing guidelines and rules for Whitehall leading the country to Victory. Well that was their delusion but without the support and skills from the factory managers to the industrial magnates it wouldn’t of happened not to say the efforts of the men and women beneath them. This attitude led them to Nationalisation of everything that could be and that had to be paid for . Stockholders had to be bought out , privately held businesses bought , that took a lot of cash and the rest is history.

  218. @Obsvr
    “@SO your knowledge of history is either mind boggling deficient or you are a wannabe windup merchant. You might like to muse on the fact the British Empire didn’t really exist before 1815”

    I wrote
    “England created a colonial empire by oppressing hundreds of millions of people over hundreds of years.”
    – so I wrote “a colonial empire”, not “the British Empire”.

    Not for the first time, you wrote something based on your fantasy, instead of on any worthwhile content.
    I grade your text comprehension and attention skill as “wannabe windup merchant” grade.

    And even if I had written “British Empire”, yours would not have been more than petty nitpicking, an attempt to draw attention away from the real message instead of dealing with that message in any substantial way:

    A country which understands its historical warfare was rather not for the good of mankind will ceteris paribus be better at judging the prospects of future “interventions” and wars than one which deludes itself enough to believe it’s a perpetually-winning force for good only.
    Even the British post-colonialism history of combat missions indicates that British interventionism is hardly worthwhile, much less annual expenditures of 1% GDP or more for the mere ability to play in such great power games.
    You two have perfectly no idea how much of a history buff I am, and I suppose you’ll never know.

  219. @SO – by all means share your reading list, especially on the British Empire…


  220. You’d be extremely naive if you think I would create a list of over a hundred books, dozens of monthly historical society journals, hundreds of websites and the content of 7 years school history education for free.

    Thus I interpret your reply as a mere display of unsubstantiated condescension.
    You might benefit a bit from some advice, though: Try reading about history in more than one language. I read about it in two languages, and occasionally in a third (French). The perspectives tend to be very different, most easily visible in wikipedia articles in different languages on the same subject.

    I’m sensing a cheap shot about even non-exclusive wikipedia use in the making, so I just ruined your unjustified fun with it by showing how predictable hostile people on the internet a.k.a. you-know-what are.

  221. @S O,

    “Try reading about history in more than one language. I read about it in two languages, and occasionally in a third (French). ”

    “and occasionally in a third (French).”!!

    I knew it! I knew there was something about you, but I should have seen it sooner. Your bloody French.

  222. Actually, back a couple hundred years there was some Huguenot in my paternal line.
    But your guess is still little better than the recent ‘Russian Putinbot’ guess. ;-)

  223. @SO – two or three writers who have shaped your views then? I’m currently re-reading Ferguson (Empire), I’ve just bought “Ring of Steel” by Alexander Watson, and I’ve got something on the go about early archaeology along the Silk Road by Peter Hopkirk; but my big early influences were the Whigs, from Macaulay to Roberts…


  224. @SO

    My country parted ways with King George II back in 1783, but I do observe that the British generally left their former colonies with significantly better legal systems and functional government bureaucracies than other European colonial powers. I am not saying that this was the British intent, nor did it ensure success after they left, but it is a fact.

    The worst offenders were generally the Spanish who left the worst legal system and criminally deficient government administration across the globe. And my ancestors were Spaniards.


    Surely you could suggest three or so texts to illustrate your main historical points without resulting to a large detailed list. I am genuinely curious.


  225. @GAB – thanks for the good thought in respect of the aged great grand parents this side of the pond…on the Spanish/English business, I think the origins of the imperial dynamic were critical…the Conquistadores came out of an essentially Monarchical/Feudal political, social and economic structure after a century of successful crusading (the Reconquista)…and I feel the echoes of the value system that they brought can still be heard more or less right across Spanish South and Central America…now overlaid with a little “Strong Man” Marxism or Fascism in at least some places. And in fairness, the excesses of the early conquest were not without their Spanish critics, especially amongst (some) Church Authorities.

    The Dutch and English settlers…even if supported by the state…came out of existing traditions of (partly) representative and law-bound government…and importantly out of mercantile economies where land ownership was more widespread, and trade as important as agriculture…and also driven by a set of social and moral norms embedded in the reformed, Protestant Churches.

    In consequence the Conquistadores followed the pattern set by the Hidalgos of old Spain, deleted the existing ruling class, reduced the population to serfdom, and established massive feudal estates…the Dutch and English worked their own land, traded for goods of value with the First Nations (mostly furs)…and in the first instance at least lived alongside the agrarian peoples of the Eastern Seaboard…although not without some pushing and shoving.

    The French, although coming from a more absolutist but still recognisably modernising state mostly followed the Dutch/English pattern.

    As you might be able to tell, I did quite a lot of work on this back in the day…at a Not Quite Ivy League University, under a Professor whose family came to Boston soon after the Pilgrims, and from much the same background… :-)

    (by the way, it was George III, but I guess that was a slip of the keyboard).


  226. @as…until that nice Nicola Sturgeon tells him he isn’t allowed to… :-(


  227. Gloomy – an interesting interview with her on the radio yesterday in which she very clearly stated that she would overrule her Westminster MPs if they tried to vote other than how she wanted, even though she will not be a Westminster MP herself and thus will not be involved in any of the parliamentary debates or committees. So without first hand interaction with the Westminster machinery she will decide on Westminster issues and if necessary force the better informed SNP MPs to do her bidding. I think its democracy, just a very odd colour of it.

  228. If it is a hung Parliament, then maybe Conservative & Labour should form a grand coalition & tell the minor parties to take a hike. Obviously such a coalition would never last five years, but if they agreed to the next general election in October 2016, they should be able to hold together for a year & a bit. It would give time for the SNP bubble to burst.

  229. …as it goes, my Constituency in Gloomyville is a Labour Marginal with a strong Green showing…a smart spot, but edge of city centre with lots of academics, hipsters and young professionals…I’m having no end of fun with Labour canvassers who assume I’m with the incumbent.

    If I express concern about the Labour stance on Trident with the right tone of Guardianista earnestness it’s astonishing how quickly how they assure me that their man is left-wing/CND and personally committed to voting against…that the majority of the party are with him…that the front bench are striking a public pose to appease evil Tory bigots, Mail readers and other loathsome types that all right (left?) thinking people despise…and that there is a well worked up plan to do what they see as the right (left?) thing when it comes to a vote.

    I know the incumbent slightly, and recognise their description of his real beliefs very readily…I find Mr Coaker’s assurances much less convincing… :-(


  230. @GNB There’s a good book published a couple of years ago about how Spanish culture influenced their style of colonialism and hence Latin America today. Some quite minor quirks in their style of mercantilism have ended up having big ramifications today. Buggered if I can remember enough of the name to Google it though. Meanwhile I do have this on my “to read” shelf :

    Suspect we’re going to have a massive SNP throwing toys out of the pram when they realise the limits of minority government. In theory we could have Prime Minister Miliband relying on SNP for supply & confidence bills, but the Tories (but not some of his own party) for Trident, in as much that the deterrent would need parliamentary votes.

    As to whether it’s 3 or 4, John Woodcock, MP for Barrow, has said he’ll step down if it’s not 4 :
    In a minority government, just one seat could matter – witness the shenanigans of the Labour minority government in the late 70s, getting people off their sickbeds to make a confidence vote etc.

    As I’ve commented in the past, each Successor costs as much as a QEC – and the “air groups” cost a similar amount in each case – and we’d certainly regard the difference between 3 and 4 carriers as a non-trivial decision. To some extent it’s moot, unless we want to get out of the SS(B)N game altogether, the government needs to be buying 4000t of submarine per year from Barrow, whether that’s a third of a Successor or half a MUFC. They just come out of different budgets, although one carries cheaper missiles.

    Going up thread quickly, aside from the fact that Spitfires were shooting down cruise missiles in WWII and they don’t have the range, the killer is that we would have to develop a new warhead for a nuclear cruise missile because we don’t have one. That adds maybe £10bn to the bill, a new submarine design is peanuts in comparison. Even the LibDems have recognised that, they were insistent on a new deterrent being cruise missile based until they got into government and saw the numbers. I think UKIP are the only ones who still want to base a deterrent on something other than Trident.

  231. El Sid – just had a read of UKIP’s manifesto and it says: “UKIP does not believe now is the time to be talking about or proposing nuclear disarmament and we support Trident renewal.” Although earlier they did state they wanted a cruise alternative. And of course Spitfires could shoot down Doodlebugs, because they were absolutely brilliant glorious wonderful and all-round terrific.

    Gloomy – stringing along poor defenceless party hacks is quite cruel you know? They’re probably on some endangered species list somewhere. But not surprised there’s a bit of dissension in the ranks – there was a Party Political broadcast earlier this evening for Ed Milibland – there was an awful lot of “I” in it; “I believe”, “I will not allow”, “My philosophy is”, “I support” etc. Not sure it was related to what a Labour gov’t might do in office.

  232. @El Sid…in an odd way, I find Labour Front Bench support for Trident one of the most compelling arguments in it’s favour…even if I’m not sure they all mean it, enough clearly do to keep the others on side…despite the fact that most back-benchers, most party members, most potential labour voters and all possible coalition partners or confidence/supply allies are dead against.

    In short, the position they take isn’t very helpful to them with floating voters…and is positively harmful to them with their friends and supporters.

    Which means that something they have seen when in Government…presumably intelligence and capability reports, military assessments, planning frameworks or whatever…has convinced them we need CASD and they need to argue to keep it, even if that results in constant flak from their own side.

    Quite different for the Tories…for whom backing the nukes is an easy choice, firmly in accordance with the customs of their tribe.

    Which means, of course, that Cameron’s bravest moment as PM was over Gay Marriage… :-)


  233. @Chris – sounds like they’ve had a swift reverse given the recent fuss about Trident, they haven’t told some of their local groups which still have the old version, eg :
    A new strategy is therefore proposed based on the use of advanced nuclear cruise missiles to be delivered by air, sea or sub-surface combat units. Deterrence will be maintained by the use of a variety of delivery units, along with stealth capability. This missile, adapted from the existing Stormshadow design, or a new design will be equipped with a British warhead to ensure full operational independence at all times.

  234. El Sid – I noted quite a lot of their manifesto contained policies on new courses. As I noted when all the manifestos were published, reading these alone ignoring speeches, interviews and previous policy ideas, the UKIP document came near the top for clarity and reasoning. My assumption is that earlier attempts were the result of party officials and activists sat round tables in smoke-filled rooms inventing stuff on the fly, where this one looks like they took a much more grown-up path and engaged with domain experts outside their party boundary. Clearly the manifesto this time round was a more balanced creation than anything they produced before. Whether the document has full buy-in from all the candidates and constituency offices is an entirely different matter. Although in defence of their Eastbourne office, as the new policies only appeared a month ago maybe they’ve been a bit too busy to tidy their website. Maybe.

    Gloomy – ref CASD policies – I imagine Uncle Sam has made a preference known to all sides in the Westminster bubble, and may have hinted at consequences of a non-CASD defence policy. Clearly as it stands the UK’s force can be seen as much an aid to US security as their’s is to UK security, so deleting the UK capability would have an effect on the US’s defence equations.

  235. For me you destroyed your credibility with that last silly question. Why does what the French have matter except to someone with a biased little-Englander mentality?

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