Pre SDSR Perspectives

A GUEST POST FROM MONTY

Although it is not yet in the public domain, the ink is now dry on the 2015 SDSR. As its looms, the rumour mill is in full chat. I thought it might be interesting to provide a summary of the component key issues trending on this topic.

sdsr2015

By way of introduction, I think it is important to note that the over-riding political strategy of the Government remains to address the deficit. The justification for cuts imposed by the 2010 SDSR was that Britain’s finances were in such a parlous state that defence had to take a back seat. If the 2015 tries to follow the same line of reasoning to impose further reductions in our military capabilities, the Government’s credibility as well as its popularity will be sorely tested.

Few people in government would dispute that the world has become more unstable and volatile since 2010. If that is the case, then we need to carefully analyse the nature, likelihood and potential impact of existential threats and configure our armed forces accordingly. The political reality is that, in the interests of being re-elected and despite careful budget planning across all areas, the Government will be forced to spend an unexpected extra £2 or £3 billion here and there to plug gaps and placate its critics. While there seems to be an apparent commitment to spending 2% of GDP on Defence, this may only be 2% at today’s level of GDP. When defence spending falls below 2% in two years time, the Government will feign surprise that the “Economy grew faster than expected”. In any event, growth predictions will be deliberately understated so that additional cash above established budget levels can be invested where needed. This makes it possible that the defence budget will again be plundered to create that contingency fund.

One thing that truly misrepresented the extent of the cuts imposed by the 2010 Defence Review was taking the Trident replacement out of the Treasury budget and placing it in the Defence Budget. This is what has so negatively impacted the size, equipment and capabilities of our conventional forces over the last 5 years. So, the overwhelming pre-2015 SDSR impression is more of the same, then penny-pinching at every level is a given. The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nick Carter riding around in a Skoda with a diesel engine, rather than a Jaguar or a Range-Rover probably tells you everything you need to know about the UK’s future procurement strategy.

The RAF’s plans for the F-35 appear to remain largely unchanged, although there is bound to be slippage in total numbers due to unexpected cost increases. Tornado is starting to show its age and while it might be reasonable to suggest that we supplement our F-35Bs with a few squadron’s worth of F-35As, our existing air defence Typhoon Eurofighters will have an additional strike role attached to them. It might make much more sense to partner with the USA in its Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) programme to replace the ageing B-52 and B1B fleets, but at an estimated cost of $500 million per aircraft, the chances of the UK acquiring such an exquisite asset seem remote. Maybe we will revisit this aircraft type after 2020, assuming Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t become Prime Minister. Much has already been discussed on the MPA requirement, which represents a loss of capability that simply wasn’t addressed by the last SDSR. The new MPA was previously thought to be a straight fight between the Boeing P8 Poseidon and Kawasaki P1. Now a host of other Skoda analogues are being considered. Overall, however, the RAF will emerge from the SDSR relatively unscathed.

The Navy is also going at full speed ahead as newer vessels such as the Astute Class of Hunter / Killer submarines and Type 45 Destroyers show their mettle. The aircraft carriers are on track and the Type 26 Global Combat Ship plans seem to offer a useful set of upgrades over existing our flotilla of frigates. Could we do with a few more River Class OPVs? Undoubtedly, but again there simply isn’t sufficient cash available to purchase them.

The two most significant defence equipment programmes are obviously F-35 and CVF. The problem with both is that they suck-up such a large percentage of total available resources, that there is little left for anything else. Other less obvious, but expensive capability upgrades, such as improved missiles and electronic systems, also tend to hoover up cash, but are nevertheless essential.

Inevitably, the force most likely to suffer the effects of continuing austerity measures is the Army. It is unlikely that manpower levels will be cut further (as if there was any leeway to do so anyway!), but new vehicle programmes seem likely to fall victim to further cuts. As things stand, the Army’s combat vehicle strategy is in poor shape as key programmes are delayed or reduced in scope.

There is no escaping from the fact that Challenger 2 is starting to show its age. The Life Extension Programme (LEP) has been curtailed to such a degree that it offers no fundamental improvements to lethality, survivability or mobility. Given that the scenarios in which they are likely to be deployed are fewer and further between than before, there must be considerable pressure to cancel the LEP altogether or turn it into an obsolescence management programme that maintains the CR2 fleet until we can afford to replace it. At least we don’t have Liam Fox suggesting that we retire all of our tanks immediately.

Despite rumours of the death of the MBT being exaggerated, tanks with large guns firing kinetic penetrators remain one of the most certain and reliable means of neutralising enemy AFVs. Putin’s recent exploits in the Ukraine have re-focused attention on heavy armour since he has so much of it. For this reason, our tank regiments with MBTs mounting 120 mm guns remain the pinnacle of our heavy armoured capability. We must maintain it. Sooner or later, however, we will need to bite the bullet and replace Challenger 2. The merger of Nexter and Krauss-Maffei and the intention to develop a new European battle tank to replace Leopard 2 and Leclerc provides an ideal opportunity to acquire a new and highly effective MBT within a 10-15 year timetable.

Warrior is also old and obsolete. While the proposed Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) will deliver worthwhile increases in firepower and protection, we simply don’t have enough hulls to fulfil the total ABSV requirement beyond the current 445 vehicles. If we need to manufacture new hulls, the cost of doing so may make a new IFV a more attractive long-term prospect.

The Scout SV family (now named Ajax, Athena Apollo, Ares and Argos) represents a significant step-up in capability versus the legacy fleet of CVR(T) reconnaissance vehicles. The evolution of the basic ASCOD 2 platform into Scout has been impressive. However, Ajax has grown substantially in both size and weight versus Scimitar making deployment by air problematic, even in an A400M.

An alternative to the Warrior CSP might be to maintain Warrior in service unchanged until its original out-of-service date of 2025 and then to replace it with a new IFV based on the Scout SV / ASCOD 2 platform. This shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive since the donor ASCOD 2 platform started life as an IFV.  Production would simply continue once all Scout SV vehicles had been delivered. We would have a universal platform across armoured reconnaissance and armoured infantry regiments which would reduce total through-life costs for the fleet.

A question mark still hangs over Ajax and Warrior CSP in terms of the vehicles’ armament. Both are destined to have the 40 mm CTAS cannon firing case telescoped ammunition. While barrel life, ammunition feed and turret configuration issues still need to be resolved, ammunition affordability is a major worry. The APFSDS round is reported to cost as much as 10x more than an equivalent round for the 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon.

The Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected (MRV-P) or armoured Land-Rover replacement programme also seems to be under threat. The PQQ was meant to be issued a few weeks ago, but seems to have been delayed, a sure sign that the programme is under review.

The saga of FFLAV, MRAV and FRES UV has been well documented by Think Defence so needs no further amplification here. The latest incarnation of a much needed 8×8 Wheeled Medium Weight Capability is called Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV). No official details have been released on this yet, but CGS referred to it at the 2015 DSEi as a key enabler of his Army 2020 vision, so the programme is expected to be re-animated during 2016.

The US Army, Canadian Army, Australian Army, Armée de La Terre, Bundeswehr and other European armies have all discovered that the utility of modern 8×8 vehicles allows them to substitute traditional tracked APC platforms across many roles. Indeed, the French Army, which used the VBCI to great effect in Mali in 2013, will use this wheeled platform to replace all of its tracked IFVs. Similarly, the US Army Stryker Brigade concept has fundamentally changed the structure and composition of its ground combat units. In all cases, the ability for wheeled units to self-deploy by road over longer distances is a much-prized capability.

The other essential characteristic of 8×8 APCs versus tracked ones is that the acquisition and through-life maintenance costs are significantly less than equivalent tracked vehicles. If the UK decided to prioritise the acquisition of a fleet of MIVs, initially to replace Mastiff (which has no cross-country capability) and then the 60-year old FV430 family, it would do much to modernise the fighting ability of the Army. it would also reduce the pressure to replace CR2 and Warrior in the short-term.

It will be interesting to see whether the Army’s proposed £2 billion upgrade of its Apache attack helicopter fleet remains untouched. Even if it is left alone, it could still do with more helicopters. (The US Marine Corps has more helicopters than all of the UK’s services put together.) The Puma Mk 2 upgrade is another prime example of penny pinching. A good helicopter in its day, the Puma has been in service since 1971 and is well overdue for replacement.

Other Army equipment plans on the horizon are the need to replace both the 105 mm light gun and the AS90 155 mm SPG. The increased range and precision of 120 mm breech-loaded mortars, which can fire in both direct and indirect modes make them worthy of consideration. Mounting a 155 mm M777 gun on an 8×8 high mobility platform similar to Archer or Cesar could also be interesting. New artillery is unlikely to be on the agenda before 2020.

When we get to SDSR 2020, it’ll be fascinating to see how the world has evolved and whether our plans developed this year were prescient or unfit for purpose.  As the cost of weapons and equipments continues to rise above inflation, many of the UK’s European allies are adopting a new tactic of buying second-hand kit. Finland’s acquisition of the Dutch Army’s almost new Leopard 2A6 fleet at about €1 million per vehicle seems to have been a very wise purchase. We might soon be forced to go down the same road.

In summary, the future capabilities of Britain’s armed forces look as if they will be dictated more by what we can afford than what we believe is necessary. That said, F35 JSF, CVF, Type 45, Astute Class subs, Type 26 GCS and Apache all represent “exquisite” choices that give us unmatched capabilities in their respective roles. While we have been forced to cut our cloth according to the size of our pockets, by 2020 we should have sufficient reserves to start spending a little extra in areas where our kit is deficient. That could be wishful thinking. If we are content to continue enjoying a capability holiday in so many areas, we just have to hope that we don’t get embroiled in a major conflict between now and the next SDSR.

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mr.fred
mr.fred
November 7, 2015 4:30 pm

An alternative to the Warrior CSP might be to maintain Warrior in service unchanged until its original out-of-service date of 2025 and then to replace it with a new IFV based on the Scout SV / ASCOD 2 platform. This shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive since the donor ASCOD 2 platform started life as an IFV. Production would simply continue once all Scout SV vehicles had been delivered. We would have a universal platform across armoured reconnaissance and armoured infantry regiments which would reduce total through-life costs for the fleet.

I would lay odds that it would be neither easy nor cheap to revert the ASCOD chassis to an IFV. I’ve had a look in the back of the the personnel carrier in the SV family and it’s not roomy.
Nor is it where I would recommend starting for a next generation IFV. I’d rather go common components with the MBT fleet, making that cheaper, and having a common platform across the Armoured Battlegroup.

Mark
Mark
November 7, 2015 4:58 pm

If f35 numbers are not increased at this review I doubt we’ll be ordering anymore until post 2030, ssbn replacement costs will see to that.

Number of sqns might increase number of planes per sqn may decline. What’s said about istar and the mix with uavs and info sharing will be interesting.

as
as
November 7, 2015 5:03 pm

Does anyone now when SDSR is going to be realised? Some time in the next three weeks?

TAS
TAS
November 7, 2015 5:10 pm

23 Nov. And the ink is a long, long way from being dry.

Mike W
November 7, 2015 5:24 pm

@ as

“The Telegraph” this morning had the date of publication as the 23rd November. I have written something about it in the thread “SDSR Leak Engine revving up” but no one took the point up. (disappears stage left in a flood of tears)

Topman
Topman
November 7, 2015 6:10 pm

I’d agree with TAS, I think there is more work yet before it’s all decided.

mike
mike
November 7, 2015 6:25 pm

” Skoda analogues”

I like that!

And yes, nothing is certain, even when the ink is dry, paper read and now used to mop up spillages… really this’ll just be a statement of current intent, subject to terms and conditions of events ;)

Mark
Mark
November 7, 2015 6:45 pm

It will be dry midnight 22nd Nov.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/policy/2015/11/07/ahead-latest-strategic-defense-and-security-review-uk-faces-tough-choices/75163240/

bourne-Walmsley cautions, though, that the SDSR may cover the capability issues but avoid the detail.

“I don’t think SDSR will be nearly as specific as people want,” she said.”The MoD will be wanting to keep its options open rather than be precise about announcements on kit or force numbers.

“They have virtually no new money to spend in the next two years, so why would they box themselves in with detailed procurement announcements now”” she said.

One example of that is the decision about whether or not to replace a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) capability axed in 2010’s SDSR.

Sources say the government is unlikely to go much further than state a commitment to the MPA requirement in the SDSR, rather than go with the RAF’s preference to buy the Boeing P-8 or run a competition.

It’s not just military capabilities that are likely to be on the review menu, either. Industrial capabilities will also be on the agenda.

Monty
November 7, 2015 6:55 pm
Reply to  mr.fred

It’s already been done by GD. Yes, the protected mobility version of Scout SV, Ares, is very tight. However, by moving the turret ring to its original forward position, you will easily get 6 dismounts in the back – which is the same as WCSP. That said, I like your idea of using an MBT platform for a future IFV.

mr.fred
mr.fred
November 7, 2015 7:30 pm

Monty,
While you might be right that you could get a IFV version, it wouldn’t be cheap or easy to do. You’d need a new turret and a modified hull and even then the six guys in the back would be limited in the amount of space they would have to put anything.
Regarding WCSP – I thought Warrior carried seven in the back? What happened?

stephen duckworth
November 7, 2015 8:18 pm

Monty , a great article!
On the Astute’s and T-45 now showing their mettle , true but after much teething problems due to the lack of design continiuity from the previous designs, when T-26 batch 1 is set in production a new design learning from it needs to be started with a definite need identified (not exports ,we just aren’t going to be competitive).
On a new MBT , an evolution of the AJAX seems good to me Tanknutdave’s site claims a 2.1m turret ring (over the existing 1.7m is possible or an unmanned turret in the same space? A smaller more rapid firing gun ,75mm CTA anyone in the same space? On the MPA question a competion? with what credible contenders for a fifty year life airframe which can be in service with the RAF in the next five years , P8A is the only game in town with P1 being snarled up in Japanese politics ,And won’t be in power forever will he.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 7, 2015 9:38 pm

Monty, great to see a member contribution… they have been quite few and far in-between lately.

Nice to see a mention of an 8 x 8 arty platform; the new one is from Nexter, with a Tata platform:
“a regular winner of some of the toughest off-road rallies and trials around the world, including the original Paris-Dakar cross-desert competition. This agility is much due to the Tatra’s swing-axle suspension design mated to pneumatic dampers which afford phenomenal wheel stroke and constant contact of the wheels with the ground and therefore optimal traction.

Unlike other competing 155mm howitzer-on-wheels designs, the 8×8 Caesar gun is mounted to fire forwards and retains the 6×6’s general configuration with rear-deploying stabilising spades. For direct fire, the 155/52 barrel can be lowered to the side of the cabin.”

Not shoehorned into a C-130 size (unlike the original) it has now been optimised, but will weigh between 26 and 31 t.
… we never got to hear what the RA thought about Nexter’s product after the trials they carried out

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 7, 2015 10:29 pm

If there was any spare money (there isn’t), I would want a decent SAM in the THAAD/MEADS/SAMP-T/Arrow class. Also grab that last whitetail C-17 if its still available.
Then legal reform. Protect soldiers from bogus, grasping yumanrites lawyers. Bring in a mandatory minimum five year jail term for those Brits that go off to fight for IS/Daesh.

Peter Elliott
November 7, 2015 10:40 pm

We shall see if they put a pointy rocket on T45 once the computers are configured to do both the area AAW and ABMD missions at once. It would be a quick win and very relevant to the current strategic calculus.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 7, 2015 11:42 pm

I think Monty is pretty much on the money with what he has said. One thing I feel might happen involves the number of Warriors upgraded to WCSP standard verses the number of MIVs purchased. Given the weight the CGS is putting behind the MIV and if whole life costs are looked at we could see the number of Armoured Infantry Battalions reduced to 3 and the number of MIV equipped Mechanised Battalions increased to 6, in the three planned brigades. This would reduce the number of Warrior ABSVs required as well. Specialist versions of the MIV such as mortar carrier and engineering platform could also be placed in the Warrior Battalions.

As I mentioned in a post elsewhere, I do not expect much from the 2015 SDSR except a lot of PR Spin. This Government like many before it likes to talk up defence but is not willing to fund it properly, which it could even with the need for austerity.

Peter Elliott
November 7, 2015 11:56 pm

The armoured brigades will get the vehicles they need, one way and another. The mechanised brigades will get slimmer pickings. Fewer brigades, better equipped is the only viable outcome. Cap badges can go hang.

Hokum
Hokum
November 8, 2015 12:29 am

It will be out in 3-4 weeks. Gov is keeping leaks to a minimum, little evidence of internal battles being played out in public, only thing we know for certain is Scavenger is now Protector which is a Reaper. Even I think abandoning speculation might now be a good idea for the time being.

Challenger
Challenger
November 8, 2015 12:40 am

Hartley

‘Also grab that last whitetail C-17 if its still available’

At this stage i’d spend that sort of money on a couple more A400m rather than a single C17.

Although if a few hundred million was (hoping against hope) available then i’d say more manpower for the RN, retaining the batch 2 River’s, getting those spare 8 Merlin back into service for Crowsnest or keeping some T1 Typhoon’s around to bolster fighter numbers would all take priority.

Martin
Martin
November 8, 2015 4:17 am

@ monty – a good article highlighting many of the issues. I think we all got a little high on the 2% of GDP cool aid. The issue now once again seems to be rampant Defence inflation in programs like T26 and Successor with snippets of higher costs being hinted at all the time.

I would take issue that it’s the F35 and CVF sucking up much of the Budget now though. The bulk of CVF costs are already paid and 48 F35’s are not going to cost that much. While I can see the benefits of replacing warrior with an Ajax variant the £10 million unit costs would seem to make that unlikely.

I do agree it’s the costs of the successor program that is the real issue. Every time we replace our SSBN fleet it’s a major issue and unfortunately a large part of the money spent between vanguard and successor has been squandered on wars we could not afford to fight and weapons programs that did not deliver.

Today the Scotsman is reporting a reduced buy of just 8 T26 due to the higher than expected costs of successor.

stephen duckworth
November 8, 2015 7:07 am

I meant to say Abe won’t be in power in Japan forever will he?

clinched
clinched
November 8, 2015 8:55 am
Reply to  Martin

. What is the point of overseas ports – i.e. Bahrain – if we are cutting the frigate fleet to eight.I wouldn’t invest in fitted walk-in wardrobes for my one pair of jeans.

Dan
Dan
November 8, 2015 9:16 am
Reply to  clinched

Bahrain is about two things, one is centralising some temporary facilities which have already existed for many years we have a minimum of a frigate in the Gulf since initial Armilla patrol in 1980, we have had MCM deployed almost permanently since Gulf War 1 in 1990. Depending on details it may even be cost saving making it permanent rather than renting.

The other issue is the French have opened a permanent base in the UAE, partly if the Fench have one we want one two, partly the French were invited in because the Emeritis were annoyed at Cameron because he was not being agresive enough in rounding up Muslim Brotherhood in London, and in the same timescale lots of temporary deployed UK Personel with UAE forces did not have their contracts renewed.

Dan
Dan
November 8, 2015 9:27 am

I thought this was going to be a serious article until you get the fantasy fleets equivalent of why don’t we join up with the US for the B-52 replacement. Sorry we left that league sometime in the 1960’s.

This announce the is going to be coming out at the same time as the wider spending review, the only 2 areas getting any growth will be Defence linked to 2% GDP International Development at 0.7% assuming we as expected continue to see moderate growth for the next few years.

NHS Despite rise in population and rise in % of population who are sick and elderly will see approx 1% growth after 5 years of standstill, and the part of education budget which is schools gets zero despite growth in school kid numbers significantly above predictions.

Everything else gets savaged, predicted cuts 2015-20 are at the 20-25% levels.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 8, 2015 9:31 am

If Bahrain (an expansion) counts as one, Oman is then 2.

I know this is a typo, but the thought was good and the typo just added to it:
“if the Fench have one we want one two”

Steve
Steve
November 8, 2015 9:50 am

Nothing has really changed financially for the country since 2010, the budget is still pretty much a mess, which huge debt that is increasing. As such, we will see further cuts, disguised and span to sound like they aren’t.

On the flip side Cameroon used defence partially as a way to get back into office, so large scale cuts are unlikely.

My guess is we will see confirmation of the t26 but only confirmed orders for maybe 4-6 with details of further vessels to be confirmed in the following SDSR, so it doesn’t look like they are cutting numbers at this point. However, I wonder if we will hear about selling of a few t23, under the banner of being replaced shortly by the 26, so that once the next SDSR arrives they can confirm less hulls and say its a like for like replacement with what we currently have.

The Eurofighter tranche 1’s will be sold/scrapped to save money, under the guise of not being suitable for current threats, with no direct replacements brought. Probably they will spin this under drones are more effective.

Confirmation of reducing the older river class boat numbers following the replacement batch 2, on the normal basis that 1 new boat is more powerful than 4 older ones that can now be removed, so we can remove 9 older vessels and still have more power.

The army has been cut heavily, so not expecting any major changes there, maybe just the mothballing of a few more heavy items.

However, to make it look like they are taking defence seriously, they will announce something new, its this ‘surprise’ announcement that will be interesting. It has been hinted at more money for the navy, so maybe a 4th river class or the much discussed corvette idea. Which would help balance out the reduction in frigate numbers that we all suspect is going to happen. Saying that maybe the MPA decision is the surprise, even though its a pretty expected one.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 8, 2015 10:43 am

Its the economy stupid. As Clinton’s people said when they won the presidency. There is no point having shiny new kit, if there is no money to man it.
I am not anti Labour as the grandfather I am named after, was a Labour councillor in a working class industrial area. I do fear a London trendy, hard left, fashionable cause, deluded government in 2020.
Cameron & Osborne are making so many blunders, that it cannot be ruled out yet.
The tories need to re-engage with middle Britain. So cut foreign aid from 0.7% to the G8 target of 0.5%. We would still be a top ten aid giving nation. That would save approx. £3.5 billion a year.
Use £1 billion to implement Dilnot, so old folks have their care fees capped.
Use another billion to scrap the UK only, extra green taxes that are shutting our steelworks & other heavy industry.
Another billion for infrastructure such as dualling A-roads, building flood defences + part of it could become a sovereign wealth fund to take a small stake in new nuclear power stations.
It is clear the Chinese are dumping products on the UK, so hit them with an 8% penalty import duty. Before they protest, ring fence that money & use it to pay off our debt to them. They may moan, but they will get every penny of it.
Then use the last £500 million to boost defence, so the 2% target is real, not fudged.

Steve
Steve
November 8, 2015 11:03 am

Cutting foreign aid would be bad, we can’t just pretend there is not mass suffering outside our nation. However, having a proper review of that aid and making sure it is going, where it helps people is a whole different topic. I think most of the negativity is based around that far too much of the aid is not going for this purpose or is going to nations that should be able to afford to look after their own people, or at least doing a shed load more than they currently are doing.

However this is also linked to defence, as the better off people are the less interested they are in war. War and terrorism is linked to suffering and putting people into a position where they are desperate and eager to take revenge on people they feel are causing it, rightly or wrongly. Spending on foreign aid goes someway to restricting this and in turn makes us safer in the UK. So in my opinion instead of cutting it, we should be increasing the aid, we just need to have a proper strategy on how it is used, so make sure it has an impact on the people that are suffering.

malcrf
November 8, 2015 11:08 am
In summary, the future capabilities of Britain’s armed forces look as if they will be dictated more by what we can afford than what we believe is necessary.

This is always the case………………..and it’s completely unrealistic to think otherwise.

I can’t agree that the choice of the F35 and Apache are “exquisite”. We have to get away from the gold-plated options. Capability is a function of quality and quantity, and when the 85% solution is half the price you have to look at it.

The jury is still our on whether the F35’s capability will be real or not be neutralised by some asymmetric options by our enemies, and would we not be better off with an already marinized attack helicopter rather than Apache?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 8, 2015 11:13 am
Reply to  Steve

I do not think people are pretending there is not. However we cannot pretend everything is rosy in our country either. Whilst we have food banks, homeless and poverty as issues “foreign aid” will always be questioned.
As JH says cutting it to 0.5% still meets the G8 target and frees up serious money to help internally.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 8, 2015 11:17 am

Steve. It seems to me that for every £100,000 that leaves the Treasury in aid, only £100 gets to the poorest. The rest goes to the well paid middle men & women on £50K to £300K + bonus a year. That’s in the UK. Then there are the fat salaries in the EU aid department. Then corrupt dictators + corrupt third world officials. Some of our aid money is doubtless funding the terrorist groups that hate us.

Frenchie
Frenchie
November 8, 2015 11:18 am

It is very strange that the British Army is interested to Caesar 8×8, while on our side, the military would like a howitzer tracked. It is planned to replace our AMX AUF1 by Caesar 8×8 between 2020 and 2030.

Simon257
Simon257
November 8, 2015 11:19 am

@ Steve
How much of our Foreign Aid actually gets to where it’s needed, and doesn’t end up in a Swiss Bank account?

Steve
Steve
November 8, 2015 11:26 am

Harley

But this was my point, we need reform of how we spend it. Cutting it because it goes to the wrong places is not a solution, it just makes things worse, as even less reaches the people that need it, the corruption will still take its slice and probably a bigger percentage of the slice.

Here is where Cameron could win a lot of popularity and really reform the process and make sure the vast majority goes where it is needed. However no one should kid themselves that its an easy job to fix it, but doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

However only marginally defence related.

WiseApe
November 8, 2015 11:50 am

Again I don’t want to put a dampener on things but I would like to know where this rumour of extra money sloshing around has come from?

I’m expecting further cuts so would be pleasantly surprised if instead we got to retain some capability rather than lost it. I’m thinking batch 1 Rivers and at least some of our 50 odd tranche 1 Typhoons.

If, big IF, some money was available I would spend it on retaining/recruiting personnel rather than equipment.

@Challenger – I agree with JH; we can always pick up some more A400s down the line but there are only so many C-17s and I’m sure those that have them will want to hold on to them.

Chris
Editor
Chris
November 8, 2015 11:52 am

When last I tried to determine where the treasury money goes, I found two lists of money. One was Departmental Expenditure Limits (DELs) which seem to be the budget from which their works must be funded, and the other was Central Gov’t Own Expenditure, which appeared to be the costs of administering those works and presumably funded from the DEL. The figures I found were for 2003/4, and in those figures the DEL for DfID was £3.7bn and their Central Gov’t Own Expenditure was £3.56bn, leaving £140m actually departing to fund good works. These were the worst figures on the lists, but even the best departments could only scrape to 50% admin, 50% funded work.

But you have to wonder where DfID could lose so much on admin – that would need a staff of 35,000 if it was all wages (nominal £100k per man-year), and if not all wages what on earth were they buying?

ChrisM
ChrisM
November 8, 2015 11:58 am

Reducing the aid budget would be politically ‘brave’. I do however think there is much mileage in stretching the boundaries of what it is allowed to pay for to the limit (much as they are doing with the NATO 2%), especially if it is paying for things bought from UK suppliers (building up a third world Coastguard with British built boats, so that they can protect their fishermen’s livelihoods is surely valid??)
First priority is to concentrate on maintaining current air and sea capability by ensuring manning and maintenance is funded
Next priority is MPA – just buy P-8 as quickly as possible, in as standard a version as we can.
Then work on maintaining land technology by updating Apache/Challenger/Warrior (in that order of importance)
Apart from MPA any increase in capabilities or numbers is just fantasy, unless it is paid for with a reduction in infantry (if we cant find allies to stump up infantry for an op then we almost certainly shouldn’t be doing said op, and that includes NATO deterrence against the Russians)

Chuck
Chuck
November 8, 2015 12:11 pm

1.6million malnourished children even after 1 in 6 parents go without food to feed them. 2.3million children living in poverty. Even in the capital; one of the richest cities on Earth 2.2million people live in poverty. 20million people nationally live below the poverty line.

Maybe a little ‘aid’ for that country?
Not to mention that while many of those numbers are worsening year on year the foreign aid budget was so large last year they struggled to give it away fast enough to avoid dropping below the 0.7%. No other department finds themselves in such a position; welfare, police, NHS, education and defense all already perilously close to breaking point and being asked to make even further huge cuts in the face of ever increasing demand.

I’m a big believer in charity but taking food out of the mouths of British children to feed foreign children is no such thing.

Charity starts at home, not out of greed or callousness, but for the same reason the airline always tells you to put your own breathing mask on first, then help your child; because if you don’t it will be worse for both of you.

ChrisM
ChrisM
November 8, 2015 12:26 pm


I don’t know how it relates to your DEL and Central Gov numbers (I don’t understand whether they are counting the same thing in different ways?) but there are these numbers which suggest that DFiD spends £112M on administration
http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/international-development/MainEstimateIDCMemoranda.pdf

I think the scandal about how much cash gets to the end user would not be in DFiD but in the organisations they fund (a lot of funding is paid to charities and NGOs, which is much more sensible than duplicating them with DFiD structures).
IMO charities/NGOs have become a bit of a closed shop industry, with a group of well off liberals paying each other very decent salaries whilst acting as though they are heroes for being in the “voluntary” sector (though I accept you don’t want muppets running billion pound aid projects).
This BBC article would suggest that it is the UN that is a shambles (7% off to head office sounds like hidden UN subsidy!!) with the least transparency and efficiency)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34636312

Martin
Martin
November 8, 2015 12:27 pm

@ Chris M – not to defend the DFID but I think you are mis understanding the figures. There are several parts of the aid Budget not included in DFID for instance EU and UN aid that the UK pays for as well as support for British overseas territories etc. Admin costs are put at around £250 million.

We could cut our aid Budget back down to 0.5% and still be in the worlds top 2 donors. No point on the UK spending so much when our competitors like Germany are not. Better to spend that money at home on infrastructure so we might better compete.

Martin
Martin
November 8, 2015 12:52 pm

Sorry I meant my previous comment to reference Chris not Chris M

mr.fred
mr.fred
November 8, 2015 1:11 pm
Reply to  ChrisM
Then work on maintaining land technology by updating Apache/Challenger/Warrior (in that order of importance)

Given that the Warrior updates is part way through already and the Apache and Challenger programmes are not yet started, I don’t see how you could push Warrior down the importance list without wasting funds.

Mark
Mark
November 8, 2015 1:14 pm

This comes up a lot about DFID and the whole thing probably needs broken up to have projects better defined and also explained much better to people.

The first part of it should be a fund for emergency disaster relief. Whenever there’s a disaster in the world in stead of the multitude of charities making broadcasts looking for money the uk contribution should come from the portion of the DFID budget in future set aside for this type of thing. It maybe possible to do something specific in the tax system to recognise this as a charitable donation.

The second part of the DFID budget should be a infastructure/economic fund that invests in education/energy and infastructure projects in targeted countries that the uk looks to cement long term trade and commerce with, where by uk expertise/equipment combined with local construction and admin can deliever change to countries. This to an extent clearly already happens as can be seen with the St Helena airport development but more and perhaps similar better defined projects could be taken fwd in the future. This could be tied into fwd engagement strategies so as to ensure there is sufficient security to allow these projects to succeed in certain places. This may be less seen as aid to a country more as a future investment that benefits both much like what the Chinese are attempting with there one belt on road initiative only there’s is on a far grander scale.

ChrisM
ChrisM
November 8, 2015 2:11 pm

Doesn’t what you ask for already exist?
There is a committee of charities that does one appeal for disasters, and then the government matches/adds to that.

Mark
Mark
November 8, 2015 2:19 pm

ChrisM

Don’t know how it works at present. But what I was suggesting was there would be no additional appeal by the charities at such times.

ChrisM
ChrisM
November 8, 2015 2:34 pm

Best to let the charities appeal and then match it. You get a better idea of how the taxpayer feels about the disaster.

Mark
Mark
November 8, 2015 2:50 pm

ChrisM

No it isn’t. That just means it’s a popularity contest.

Simon257
Simon257
November 8, 2015 3:14 pm

@ Steve

The link below is a satellite image of Africa at night. The reason so many Sub-Saharan Africans are making the perilous journey to Europe is the complete and utter lack of Energy. When Western Environmental NGO’s interfere in the Internal affairs of African countries. By pressurising the IMF, large international banks and Western Governments into blocking loans for Energy Projects throughout Africa. They have brought Africa to its knee’s. Disease and Poverty go hand in hand in Africa. This has leant to the rise of Terrorism and failed states. And it’s also allowed China to gain influence in Africa whether that is good or bad it remains to be seen.

India has banned Greenpiss from operating in India. When you continually work against a Government, sooner or later you are going to piss people off.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=africa+at+night+from+space&prmd=inmv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAWoVChMI5aKY6YiByQIVxXQPCh10ywZ4#imgrc=UQia_9ZCoaW9EM%3A

Ron5
Ron5
November 8, 2015 4:03 pm

I’d suggest the first decision is to not undo prior investment decisions. Seems to me that the fukin about with underway programs is the biggest cause of waste e.g. FRES. So leave Ajax & Warrior sustainment well alone as being done deals.

And build at least 13 type 26 and enough sailors, marines, missiles, shells, boats & helicopters so they can leave port each time with a full load. Same for the QE’s.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
November 8, 2015 5:12 pm

I can’t objectively analyse the overseas aid efficiencies, nor those of UN organisations, but having worked with (but not for) UN aid organisations in Africa, I was heartedly sickened by the lavish waste of money. I undestood that a significant sum in ‘overhead’ was absorbed by the UN central politbureau, and then regional headquarters (Nairobi in this instance); far too many staff that I encountered took business class flights, for no other justifiable reason that I could fathom, other than they were ‘important’, the Toyota Landcruiser was the vehicle of choice (round town), fitted – of course – with bells and whistles, Codan HF radio suite, wading snorkel etc. Lots of local gofers, chauffeurs and loafers, endless conferences in 4/5* hotels to explain ‘strategic’ plans and networking through numbing powerpoint festivals. I just have a strong instinct that it’s a fucking big gravy train, and that UK controlled and delivered aid, through a limited small number of specialist, audited and vetted charities/companies would be measurably more efficient. I’d ‘eat my hat’ if there wasn’t a good £1bn of bloat in that DFiD budget to be saved. Now then, what would an extra £1bn of cash a year buy you from the MoD’s budget, in terms of capability and high-tech job-supporting investment ? And to boot, there would be more effective distribution of the remaining budget, I’m sure. It’s just an inefficient racket, emotionally blackmailed by liberal elites. Discuss….

Repulse
November 8, 2015 8:05 pm

The focus has to be on keeping what is already in place and using it to maximum effect (Batch 1 Typhoons, Rivers, Albions and HMS Ocean) by increasing manning and then focus on new kit.

Peter Elliott
November 8, 2015 8:25 pm

Ocean’s surely seen her last major refit.

Steve
Steve
November 8, 2015 9:28 pm

Ocean is almost certainly gone, as it is easy to justify that her role is now taken up by the new carriers.

Same with the original River classes. Batch 1 typhoons can be got rid of on the basis that they don’t meet modern needs.

The Albion classes are an interesting one, since there is no obvious vessel that can provide the same ability. I would assume they would keep them both and continue the rotation policy, or even mothball both of them as the carriers can carry out the task that they normally currently operate.

My opinion is for the Navy the only real question is the frigates and how many they cut.

I guess there is also a chance of they will also cut the number of Astute down by a couple (should there be any savings allowed in the contract), If the frigates can carry cruise missiles, its easy political PR to state that the Astutes role is partially taken over.

Peter Elliott
November 8, 2015 9:38 pm

Steve – do you think they will allow the FJ force to fall to 5 squadrons? Tornado is on borrowed time for navigator skills and F35B just isn’t ready. Tranche 1 Typhoon is the only thing that can fill the gap. And they’re still good for the QRA role out to 2025.

Peter Elliott
November 8, 2015 9:41 pm

As for Astute and T26 I don’t expect either to be cut. Cut rivers before T26 every time.

Looking for savings it’s the skeleton light role infantry battalions in the Adaptable Force that are vulnerable: manpower heavy, no funded mobility equipment, no CS or CSS, no viable support from the Reserves. That’s where the soft savings are if we really need them.

duker
duker
November 8, 2015 10:40 pm
Reply to  Steve

The T1 Typhhons were ( expensively) qualified for most ground missions and they are multi-role aircraft. What the later versions offer is ‘swing-role’, which is supposed to mean they can line up on a bombing run, and if a sudden air threat pops up they can deal with that ‘ at the same time’ without missing the original ground target. How many times is that going to occur ?

ER
ER
November 8, 2015 11:00 pm

Foreign Aid: I know much of it doesn’t go where we’d like it to go, but it gives us some influence in the affairs of what ever country is in receipt of our money.

T26: We’ll get 13. Maybe 14 if the stars align.

River Class: They’re here to stay. The new batch 2 OPVs will probably be dedicated to OS deployment.

Ocean: Hmmmm. I think we might keep that.

Typhoon Tranche 1: We’ll keep those. They’ll probably be classified as ‘air defence’ versions.

New bomber?: Yes please. But I don’t think it’ll be the B1 replacement. Look for more investment in Taranis.

Peter Elliott
November 8, 2015 11:05 pm

ER – in your reality what will give first if savings are needed?

ER
ER
November 8, 2015 11:49 pm

Hi Peter – Behind closed doors, I believe the government is still reeling from the realities of the SDSR 2010 cuts. Lets assume the government has now accepted that they went too far – “OMG! What have we done?” Lets also assume that the government has thanked whatever political God they worship that Mr Putin and IS have reared their megalomaniacal heads and have given the government the opportunity to save face and claim; “…the world as we know it has changed since 2010”. So what I’m saying is; there’ll be no more substantive cuts in defence. The big bad SDSR 2010 did it’s job and we are now on the road to recovery and we are able to rebuild our defence forces.

Now, where did I leave my little white pills…

Martin
Martin
November 9, 2015 1:51 am

@ Steve

I don’t think we will be scrapping any astute’s as all the boats are currently under construction.

T26 will be the biggest danger for the navy. We really need 13 or even better 15 but we need prices in the £300-£400 million range for this. That should have been achievable given the limited capability and sensible program objectives however it seems as per usual BAE has been unable to deliver. When they write th RN’s obituary I am sure BAE may well be seen as the final executioner. If BAE can’t get the price right on T26 then the program should be scrapped and serious consideration given to nationalising surface ship building or bringing in a new player.

The T26 Programme also seems to be moving away from the idea of cross decking equipment from T23. The new approach seems to be to use the same but buy new. Serious consideration should be taken to consider transferring across actual equipment. While building actual vessels abroad would be unacceptable I think they may be able to look for substantial savings by building blocks for the ships in foreign yards and assembling them in the UK. Maybe not the higher speck blocks but there are bound to be simpler sections that could be built in Eastern European or South Korean yards.

If the ship can be kept cheap enough there is always a chance for export orders than might generate a net gain in UK employment.

I think it’s quite telling that our biggest Defence export customer Saudi Arabia was tendering for an entire new fleet and the U.K. was not even bidding. DCNS seems to do a much better job than BAE and will bid for almost anything.

Ron5
Ron5
November 9, 2015 2:38 am

Re-nationalizing the shipbuilders, that will fix everything – eyes roll

duker
duker
November 9, 2015 4:28 am
Reply to  Ron5

Well they did it with with Network Rail, largely because ‘there was no alternative’. Surely you dont think that a PLC knows what its doing all the time , or even in BAEs case even ‘how to do it’. Look at Shorts in NI, when sold off to Bombardier little did the Government think they would be later asked to fund a 700mill carbon fibre wing factory.

stephen duckworth
November 9, 2015 5:41 am


“When they write th RN’s obituary I am sure BAE may well be seen as the final executioner”
I wonder how much they will charge for that , how long the delay and charges for cost overruns , that and along side a botched job taken 2,3 or 4 strokes of the axe . Then we will sell them the land and port facilities for nothing and they will make a killing ,such as they did selling Kingston…… Rant over

martin
martin
November 9, 2015 6:54 am

@ Ron5

“Re-nationalizing the shipbuilders, that will fix everything – eyes roll”

Its not something I suggest lightly, however if T26 is coming in well North of 500 million, (which now seems likely) then what else can we do? BAE has been a disaster for UK ship building. We could order foreign but that would probably be the end of the RN there and then.

DCNS seems to be significantly better in gaining export orders and making a wide variety of products from SSK’s to high end frigates and destroyers and LHD’s.

At this point I am not sure what could be worse than BAE in ship building terms. T26 seemed a very sensible program that leveraged on the problems from previous builds. Everything on the program seems to make sense except the rumored price tag which seems to be in the high end destroyer region than the middle market frigate that we need.

Looking at the USA which has a similar private warship building industry you can see all the issues we have bit on steroids. Looking at government owned or partly owned yards in Europe I see relatively innovative companies able to compete in international markets.

Peter Elliott
November 9, 2015 7:23 am

Talking about ship building costs we also need to look at customer behaviour. The original optimisation called for a production rate of 1 ship per year. If it’s been slowed down to an 18 or 24 month drum beat then of course the unit cost goes up!

Steve
Steve
November 9, 2015 9:22 am

Nationalisation won’t work, I think people forget how inefficient things were when companies were publically held. Ship building prices have gone up in the UK simply due to lack of economy of scale, we had to build the new River class just to keep the production lines open for the frigates.

We have a choice as a nation, we either cut a lot of costs and get another nation to build our ships or we pay the price of keeping ship yards open that are not competitive, to maintain our defence industry.

I am not sure which is better, higher costs mean less vessels but losing the industry means we can’t build ships should we have to in the future due to a real all out war.

I think however the biggest question that really needs answering is why are we spending a fortune on equipment that will never be used to its full potential, when it was clear we seriously lacked manpower in both iraq/afgan. Ok we also lacked vehicles and helicopters but more so troops. Going for ships/planes that are 2nd tier, would stil mean they are significantly better than anything we are likely to come up against and would have saved a lot of money.

Hohum
Hohum
November 9, 2015 9:23 am

Couldn’t agree more re BAE and shipbuilding.

I also note that they must be the least diversified naval shipbuilder in Europe, every other yard I can think of has some form of other specialised shipbuilding business.

Mark
Mark
November 9, 2015 10:25 am
Reply to  duker
Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 9, 2015 11:14 am

If BAe cannot get things right with the T-26 programme, They might as well give up on the Warship business and sell their yards to their French or Italian competitors, or more correctly be forced to. Lets face it the T-26 is supposed to be a updated T-23 with room to grow. Its radar, sonar, SAM are all going to be hand-me-downs from the T-23 and theMk41 VLS and 5″ is an off the shelf designs with zero risk. The power plant should be a low risk component so the only area that should be a worry is the IT, but is in doubt couldn’t they use the same system as is being installed in the T-23 update initially and then improve it incrementally.

On paper the T-26 programme should be a classic example of how to minimise risk and keep costs down. I am hoping the MOD is going to play hard ball with BAe and drill it into them that is they do not deliver cost effective programme then they are out of the ship building business for the UK. BAe cannot look at the T-26 programme as a cash cow to keep their yards in business.

There is a large carrot in all this for BAe though. The T-26 if the programme is kept on budget and timeframe could produce quite a few overseas orders as it is a sound design, again on paper. This would be especially so if it can undercut the Franco/Italian FREMM. The US LCS and it possible Saudi big brother will probably to expensive and Spain’s yards are in all sorts of trouble, and Germany has problems with exports.

The T-26s mix of European and US systems will make it attractive. For export removing the Sea Ceptor only silos and increasing the number of Mk41 to a possible 48 would still allow Sea Ceptor to be used but would allow many other options, some of which could be introduced into UK variants.

With the T-26 we need to look at the long game. Once past Main Gate we should be ordering one a year, which would leave slip space for any overseas order. It would ensure continuity for at least 15 years from the start of the building programme and allow the design to mature along the way. More importantly it would allow extra hull to be build at the back end of the programme either to increase numbers, supplementing the existing variants or even a AAW variant to supplement the T-45s or even replace them.

To sum up the T-26 should be a poster programme, announcing to the world that British naval shipbuilding is back on the world market. If BAe do things right everybody should win, but it should also be seen as BAes last chance to get it right, so no pressure then.

Martin
Martin
November 9, 2015 11:49 am

@ Steve – I am under no delusions about issues with nationalisation but private ownership is really only effective with competition. The current set up seems to be the worst of both worlds. You either go with BAE or get nothing. It’s easy to say we don’t have the economies of scale but our scale and that of the USA is larger than anyone else’s in the western world yet we seem to be the worst on price. It’s also not like Spanish, Italians or French are knocking out Low end ships, certainly compared to T26 or LCS. Look at the prices achieved for T23 when there were a number of yards competing for a program only slightly larger than T26 and I would argue T23 was a more cutting edge design.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 9, 2015 11:54 am

Anyone wibbling about nationalisation has probably never worked in a nationalised outfit.

Let’s be quite clear here. The programme cost as revealed by Alex Burton is of the order of £11.5Bn. What that includes is not in the public domain. Does it include the missile warstocks? Long term capital spares? Shore support infrastructure? Initial CLS contract?

Simply taking a figure for which you don’t know the context/content and dividing it by varying numbers of ships to get a notional UPC does not constitute an argument for nationalisation. There appears to be a view that BAE are extracting huge sums in profit from MoD, which I don’t believe to be the case. They will almost certainly be reflecting the actual costs of the enterprise as a whole, as opposed to hiding it in another bucket of money somewhere. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s BAES fault (although they’re by no means blameless). It means that the enterprise as a whole may (because we don’t know the what the actual costs are) be inefficient. Nationalising that enterprise may help in that commercial boundaries are reduced, but does not address the fundamental problem which is lack of volume of work. You still have to maintain a build facility and people to man it and in general, nationalised organisations are terrible at this – particularly when you have crucial “trade” skills that don’t fit into civil service pay scales.

There are also some misunderstanding on shipbuilding here. There’s no such thing as a production line in a shipyard – at least not in the sense of mass-production as seen in cars/trucks/aircraft. When people talk about “jigs” they actually mean things like pin tables (for structures with complex curvature) or build cradles for units (which are essentially just steel frames). What is important is the design and production information and the format in which it is held. Once upon a time it was all in hard copy drawings, then it went into basic numerical tapes that served specific machines, now its software products like FORAN etc. There are also work package details and the associated drawings/process instructions/parts lists – all of which if not maintained (and updated as components change over time) require revalidation. But most important of all, it’s retaining the people who have executed the earlier builds, because in those people lies the knowledge of how to build the product in the most efficient manner. That’s why the B2 Rivers are being built, because otherwise, the structural / steel DO staff and the production staff would have had nothing to do and would either have been laid off or left – and once you lose those people form a shipyard, experience says they don’t come back.

Simpler ships don’t help this either. Nor are there any sections of the ship that are somehow “lower spec” than the rest. It’s all high density outfit to various consistent standards and rules. Even if you’re just building steel subassemblies…..

Martin
Martin
November 9, 2015 12:19 pm

@ NAB – as you point out we are all jumping around without a lot of information to go on. But I am getting very worried from what has come out of the T26 department and what has not come out over the past 12 months. I don’t think any of us would really be that shocked to see a £1 billion valuation for each T26 especially after our £150 million OPV’s.

In my mind this program is a litmus test for BAE and UK warship building. There were justifications for what happened with T45 and its remains a high end almost revolutionary ship. But T26 is far from that and if we can’t make them for a reasonable price then we need to look at major restructuring of the current set up.

The ginge`
The ginge`
November 9, 2015 12:29 pm

Having just read the piece and comments which is quite funny watching so many people dance on a pin head. The fact is there is NO MONEY.

If you support George Osborne’s view that spending needs to be cut to 1930’s levels as a percentage of GDP (as per his Parties Manifesto) then just look at what the “state” provided for back in 1935. Minimal defence spending, no NHS, no Foreign Aid Budget, No Social Security, Minimum Starvation Pensions. So we can talk all we want about wanting to prioritise this budget or that or that ship or aircraft, the reality is that without a fundamental change in the way you tackle the deficit something has to give.

Now this is where it gets a little weird, because I would support Corbyn on some economic areas, even though nearly on everything else he’s a loon. For example certain Multinational Book sellers, coffee venders and banks pay no Corporation Tax at all in the UK even when the rate at 18% is the lowest in the G7, even America tax’s at 30% on average. It is estimated that there is approximately £200bn of avoided taxation in the UK economy.

Until this problem of Capital and the 1% escaping taxation then you will never have the money you need to run Defence, NHS etc that we need to operate as an effective community. To give you an example, the top 1% of the UK population in 1910’s income was 22% of the countries, by 1951 that has fallen to 10% and by the 1980’s that was 5%. Now it’s back to 15% and rising fast, and the fact is the 1 percent’s don’t pay tax. When the public gets upset that somebody earning £13,000 a MONTH is asked to pay 50% of Tax rather than 45% you know your economy is doomed as the other working part of the economy the 50%, have bought the 1%’s propaganda that the tax man will coming after you as well, when in effect Corbyn is looking at the 1%’s earning over that £13,000 a MONTH. Remember that in a month they are earning more than 25% of the working population earn in a YEAR on the minimum wage.

Secondly I would also agree that the Successor programme will kill the Conventional Forces. I agree with Michael Portillo (again two people today I never thought I would agree with) in that it is not an “independent” nuclear deterrent as we are so dependent on the USA that effectively they have a veto over its use. Next with the development of Hypersonic missiles that would get through to Moscow and the fact that the present Vanguard Boats can be stretched to an OSD of 2040 then I would seriously look at a long term development programme with MDMA/BAE etc to develop a long range hypersonic air launched nuclear weapon using an existing Trident MIRV warhead. This then eliminates the problem of being dependant on an ever more independent Scottish thinking electorate to keep Faslane. Earmarking £15bn over the next 30yrs is a better idea than crucifying your forces over the next 10.

Whilst History never repeats itself, it has a nasty habit of looking very similar. Remember the CV01 being killed to pay for Polaris, the Defence cuts of the early 1980’s to pay for Trident? The difference is that then we had “fat” to cut, today if the Armed Forces do not get key enablers that they all need out of this SDR, then at least one arm of the Armed Forces is going to fail. Something that is useless is something not worth having or paying for. Another debacle such as Libya/Afghan/Iraq and the British Public are not going to pay for defence forces that don’t work, even if the reason they don’t work in the first place is because we didn’t give them enough equipment and soldiers/airman/sailors in the first place.

It all comes down to MONEY and at the moment we have not got enough of it in central Government not enough of it going to Defence. That’s the Facts.

Frenchie
Frenchie
November 9, 2015 12:48 pm

The unit price of a FREMM is € 670M.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 9, 2015 1:04 pm

I think it’s safe to assume that a cost comparison has been done between refurbishing Warrior and replacing it with an SV IFV variant, and the best value plan is the one we’ve got. Shouldn’t be any surprises there.

I think the idea that Mastiff should or would be replaced by the 8×8 Mechanized Infantry Vehicle program is wrong.

The cross-country capability of Mastiff was mentioned, but that’s hardly relevant. Folks seem to think of the Mastiff battalions as armoured infantry lacking Warrior vehicles. The heavy protected mobility battalions are not part of the armoured brigade proper; they are an adjunct to the armoured brigade in order to create the main reaction force brigades, because not every reaction requires armoured infantry.

It would not be unusual to see a battalion group centered on a protected mobility unit deployed with an armoured component. However, I would expect that the first time you see all the units from the same reaction force brigade in the same theatre, the armoured brigade commander would be concentrating on armoured manoeuvre warfare, while the Mastiff battalion would have shifted to either divisional command or under the command of a second (infantry) brigade headquarters.

Bear in mind also that Mastiff replaced Saxon in its internal security and patrol role; it has a lower media profile than ‘tanks’ (ie, anything with a gun, tracks, or any moody looking 8×8); Mastiff has better around-town mobility than many 8×8 land barges; and better inherent visibility (aka, windows). Mastiff represents a large investment in a very capable heavy patrol vehicle. And while the nominal out-of-service date is 2024 I think, they’re not getting ragged and blown up in Syria, most will have been greased up and parked in big sheds. They’ll end up like the many vintage vehicles that the Army has kept going before it.

My guess is that MIV will go to the adaptable force. A third of that force is meant to be either deployed or available for contingent operations at any given time, so expect three battalions reroled from light infantry and placed under three separate brigade commands. There’s not enough money or army to justify more than three battalions, and a third of the AF would then consist of a light cavalry regiment, a mechanized infantry battalion, and a couple each of light and light protected mobility battalions, which seems a reasonable selection of units to pick from or to form an infantry brigade.

Stryker brigades and the French brigade in Mali were referenced. Stryker units include Humvees / JLTV and routinely work with other lighter units. The French in Mali had a composite brigade consisting of about a battalions worth of VBCI, but also about a battalions worth of VAB mounted infantry and two battalions of lighter troops. A British Army 8×8 MIV would likely also end up routinely partnering lighter infantry in a composite group.

Martin
Martin
November 9, 2015 1:09 pm

That’s true Frenchie but FREMM is a more capable platform that T26 is suppose to be.

@ The Ginge,

How much tax should the 1% pay? Especially if non resident.

A large number of UK companies actually end up paying more corporation tax that they strictly need to. I agree a number of US companies are tax dodging b**tards but how do you stop them dodging tax without leaving not just the EU but the single market.

The fact is that the average guy in the street in the UK does not pay enough tax for the benefits they want to have. Everyone is in favour of higher taxes but it always seems that they pay enough tax or don’t get enough benefits and it’s always some one else that should pay more or take less.

Not exactly socialism :-)

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 9, 2015 1:16 pm

Where did the idea that FREMM is more capable than T26 come from?

Or for that matter the idea that the T26 (as a ship) is less high-end than a T45? The major cost in T45 was all about PAAMS/Sampson/Sea Viper. The platform (with the exception of the Great White Turbine) is not that revolutionary. Far from it.

Frenchie
Frenchie
November 9, 2015 1:29 pm

I have no idea if a FREMM is better than T26, but they are of comparable size.

Martin
Martin
November 9, 2015 1:32 pm

@ NAB – certainly the R@D required for T26 is much less than T45 or FREMM as virtually every system is already developed or like 2087 will be cross decked from T23. Not to say that the ship will not be capable but I don’t think we can serious justify a unit price of anything like T45 do you?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 9, 2015 1:34 pm
Reply to  Martin

“That’s true Frenchie but FREMM is a more capable platform that T26 is suppose to be”

throwaway comments with zero analysis are us.

Let us actually look at the platforms. Remember FREMM comes in a variety of forms. Starting with the Italians they have only fitted 16 cells which admittedly can take Aster 15 or 30 but what good are 16 aster 30 in an air defence role? Their ASW frigate has 2 76MM guns so no land attack capability whilst the GP Frigate has the very good 127/64 giving it land attack capability. It has a big twin hangar but no mission bay. In terms of quietness and ASW ability it would be a huge surprise if it was as good as T26.
The French have fitted 16 Sylver 43 cells giving them 16 Aster 15 for air defence. They have also 16 Sylver 70 cells for Scalp cruise missiles and a single hangar again no mission bay. they have a single 76Mm gun so no land attack or NGS.
Both have multi function phased array radars but not really the AD package to fully utilise them. Both carry 8 anti ship missiles.

T26 does not have a multi function phased array radar but has a very capable set. It gets around the issue with the very clever Sea Ceptor system and 997 is actually scarily capable. It can also carry at least 48 of them as opposed to the 16 air defence missiles on a FREMM. it has a 5 inch gun so every T26 will be able to provide land attack and NGS. It has 24 strike length cells as opposed to zero for the Italians and 16 for the French. So again every T26 can conduct land attack or utilise them for extra Sea Ceptor or AShM or perhaps ASROC. it also comes with a nice big hangar and a mission bay allowing massive flex in terms of mission fit, everything from UAV/AUV/USV to SF ops, FP boats or a command space for an MCM Staff. It will be quiet and long ranged. Export customers can specify sensor and silo load out, so a multi function phased array and all Mk41 version is available.

Less capable? Not so much!

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 9, 2015 1:38 pm

What are we going to do about Shorts (& train building) if Bombardier goes bust?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 9, 2015 1:43 pm
Reply to  Martin

What was the unit price for T45? And when was that? What does that equal in current (or more precisely 2020) “£”?

Hohum
Hohum
November 9, 2015 1:54 pm

Ginge,

I appreciate the effort you put into that very long post but you fall at the first hurdle. The economy has expanded massively since 1935 thus 35% of GDP goes much further than it does now. The analogy therefore does not work.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
November 9, 2015 2:03 pm

I don’t believe that Bae is ripping off the MoD, and surely audits would prevent this. The cost of maintaining ship-building capabilities to manufacture high-end war-fighting ships, in the absence of orders will be substantial, and either the Government has to pay for it through subsidy (Rivers) or orders (awaited) or higher prices per unit.

For lower unit costs, the MoD must commit to firm production levels, on a regular drumbeat optimised to the yards’ capacity (one per year ?), over as large a production run as possible. LRIP x 3 hulls, then 5 + 5 (+ another 5, would be perfect). This would give the certainty the company needs, and would allow the manufacture and construction processes to be honed to peak efficiency. Unit costs I am sure, would then be respectable. With one hull per year slipping into the water, it would be so much easier to divert the odd one (or 5) to export customers, as happened with the Typhoons for example. It’s not complicated.

Donald_of_Tokyo
Donald_of_Tokyo
November 9, 2015 3:07 pm

If I understand correctly, NAB says T26 is pretty high-end and shall naturally be costy.

Actually I think it is. T26 provides significant “improvements” compared to T23. It is NOT only being NEW.

There are ADDITION of
– 24 cells of strike-length VLS
– space for a platoon of Marines
– fairly large mission bay
– longer range
– larger margin for future
which ALL lacked in T23s (as well as T22s).

Even compared to FREMM, it is larger, more quiet, longer legged, has mission bay, has larger number of strike cells. (SAM difference is marginal. FREMM has 16 of the most agile SAM currently available, T26 has as many as 48 CAMMS although surely “not” designed to be “very agile”. Two different way of thinking. I like the RN way of thinking.)

Then I won’t be surprised if someone says,

“A T26 is 30% more powerful than a T23 and only 10 of them is enough to replace current 13 T23s”.

In other words, I won’t be surprised if SDSR concludes with 10 frigates and addition of 3 B.2 Rivers. Please note that I am NOT happy with this. I honestly hope RN to have 13 T26s, but, YOU designed T26 to be so expensive. (Successor as well). RN love every thing to be so “hi-end”, and every equipment cost rise looks very “reasonable” for me.

From another point of view, replacing 3 frigates with 3 OPVs will just fill the gap for CVF to be manned properly.

Again, I hope my comment turned out to be wrong, and I will be blamed to be over pessimistic. Anyway, it is just 13 days left for us to see the SDSR coming ….

Ron5
Ron5
November 9, 2015 3:57 pm

Excellent post Donald.

Those that think a Type 26 “should” be priced at 300-400 million to include everything, are sorely deluded. Look around and check out export contracts. You’ll quickly find that will buy you a glorified yacht/patrol boat. Check US prices.Check Australian prices. Get real.

By the way, how much of the Type 26 by value will be supplied by Bae? Typically hull is 5% or less of total price. Propulsion is Rolls Royce/GE/David Brown/DCNS and totals maybe 15%. Missile system & silo’s are Lockheed & MBDA. Another 10%?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 9, 2015 4:03 pm

BB, quite right “in order to create the main reaction force brigades, because not every reaction requires armoured infantry.” And let’s not forget the airborne/ marine elements , each of which (or even together) would be too light against serious opposition. You can build a lot of combinations from 3 CDO, the two para and one air assault bns, the three in Mastiffs, sprinkled with some cavalry from the lighter end.

Martin
Martin
November 10, 2015 2:56 am

@ Donald

No doubt T26 is an improvement on T23 however most of the extra capabilities you highlight are just simply more bedrooms and large internal spaces and there is the old saying that steel is cheap and air is free.

T23 came in at a price of around £130 million including Merlin helicopter in the early 2000’s so it’s hard in my mind to justify a price tag of much more than £500 million for T26 just 20 years later.

@ APATS – not questioning T26 capability vs FREMM however FREMM had to cover a much larger R@D program just as T45 did.

I still don’t think BAE are the right people to take warship building forward in the UK. I don’t see them being able to diversify sufficiently into smaller warships and civilian work which I think will be needed to sustain uk based manufacture. They are too big and too US focused for the future. They have already wrecked UK land systems left us with no MPA and I don’t think they have ever delivered a warship on Budget as yet.

At what point do we stop defending them with excuses and start to look for an alternative solution.

Julian
Julian
November 10, 2015 12:56 pm

@ APATS – “T26 … Export customers can specify sensor and silo load out, so a … all Mk41 version is available.”

How much hacking about of internal space would that involve? I assume the “all Mk41 version” would involve swapping the forward 24 Sea Ceptor launchers for some number of extra MK41s in addition to the 24 already in the design but that’s going to go a lot deeper into the hull isn’t it? Is there provision in the design for that already in terms of making sure there’s nothing really critical and complex to relocate in that area?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
November 10, 2015 12:59 pm
Reply to  Julian

In a word yes.

Donald_of_Tokyo
Donald_of_Tokyo
November 10, 2015 2:52 pm


“the old saying that steel is cheap and air is free.”
I understand what it means, but I do not believe it.

First of all, every space and room is equipped with house keeping systems: fire-fightning, monitoring, communication systems, valves, power-lines and so on. It’s all in MIL spec, RN naval standard, sometimes almost hand-crafted. Larger ship requires larger number of crew to maintain it. Since T26s are lean manned, plenty of automated systems will be equipped elsewhere in the vast hull. And it is not free, and I suppose neither cheap. If it is cheap, all escorts world-wide shall have been much more lean manned already.

I admit this is only my guess. My experience as an engineer is only for a system with size of 100-200M$ or so. At least in my case, the excess spaces and weights lead us to fill it with many backup systems to enhance reliability, which was originally considered to be cheap, but at the end turned out not to be so.

If there were no space and weight, we should have agree to omit those backup systems, and would be able to make it much cheaper with expense of small degradation in reliability.

In my experience, steel and air is not cheap.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 10, 2015 3:03 pm

The RN should seriously consider an all Mk41 T-26, as we know that Sea Ceptor can be multi-packed into them. It would give more flexible load outs and possibly improve exports. It appears the design work is mostly done for this variant so using it for the GP variants at least could work. If BAe has its head screwed on the T-26s electronics should be flexible enough that alternative radars etc. should be easily installed in the design. Wasn’t the T-26 supposed to be for a global market after all?

Ron5
Ron5
November 10, 2015 3:26 pm

@Lord Jim

Lockheed Mk 41 VLS are very expensive as are the plugin ExLs modules required to fire CAMM. MBDA CAMM only VLS are relatively very cheap. So why would anyone pick the far more expensive solution to fire a relatively cheap missile?? Daft.

Ron5
Ron5
November 10, 2015 3:31 pm

How much were Typhoons 20 years ago vs today?? And with the Type 26, the Navy has vastly improved its capabilities over the Type 23. Something the Typhoon hasn’t done.

While we’re on thesubject of Typhoon, they’re about 100 million a pop so for those that think the Type 26 should be 300-400 million, do you think a high end frigate should only cost the same as 3 or 4 fast jets??

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 10, 2015 7:55 pm

I offered up the option of fitting the T-26 with only Mk41 VLS as the design work appear to have already been done and most of the theoretical overseas customers would probably choose this option, if only to use the ESSM they already operate. Having such a variant in RN service would, in theory, improve the chances of exports as a customer would see what he is getting. It would also add more punch to the GP variant but I do like to sometimes suggest ideas form outside the box otherwise just being a realist gets a bit depressing and boring.

Julian
Julian
November 12, 2015 11:42 am

Interesting piece from Gabriele on his blog with final pre-SDSR thoughts here: http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.co.uk/

If accurate the Navy situation is disappointing with rumours seeming to have flipped from earlier optimism that it was going to do relatively well and some of the staff shortage issues at least partially addressed. Gabriele’s latest summary is quite bleak (it’s right at the end of the piece; blink and you’ll miss it).

Also, although we all know this, I do see that the defence discussion has now made it onto the parliamentary calendar for 23rd November as shown here: http://services.parliament.uk/calendar/#!/calendar/Commons/MainChamber/2015/11/23/events.html

Chish
Chish
November 13, 2015 12:51 am
Reply to  ChrisM

I have to say I agree with the sentiment of reducing our Aid budget to 0.5%. We should alos follow the example of ‘Marshall Aid’ after WWII andmake it the rule that any cash provided has to be spent on UK provided equipment. The thought that our £ Billions in aid to India was put to one side and funded the purchase of Rafales made me wince ….

And my daft idea for the day is: Build a third QE to CATOBAR spec (in the hope the Ford Class will be using its EMALS to throw aircraft into the wind and not wheelbarrows into the James River by 2020) and share the running costs (or even build costs) with the USMC or the French. British ship and crew, foreign air wing. HMS Concorde anyone?…

Julian
Julian
November 13, 2015 10:43 am

“I have to say I agree with the sentiment of reducing our Aid budget to 0.5%”

There was an interesting comment on BBC One’s Question Time last night, I forget from whom, about the consequences of having the aid budget mandated to be a percentage of GDP in that accountants get to say “the current (worthy and well considered) projects aren’t going to add up to the required 0.7%-of-GDP spend, you’d better come up with some other stuff to spend it on quickly in order to reach your spending goals for the year”. If that dynamic is really happening then it does seem a recipe for some rather rushed and ill-considered projects towards the end of a financial year.

Do the MoD cross-charge any deployments to the aid budget, e.g. deploying military assets for disaster relief?

Chris
Editor
Chris
November 13, 2015 11:55 am

Julian – the annual budget ‘use it or lose it’ spendfest just before the end of the financial year was standard fare in most companies I worked within. The idea that a department might treat its budget as annual credit to a department account, to be spent or carried over to following years, seemed beyond the company accountants. But then, they were only interested in limiting the spend so assigning a budget as an annual spend limit but scoffing back any budget left over seems entirely in character.

Somewhat similar to the concept of charging all hours worked to the customer when the employee is salaried and expected to put in overtime for free. The fairly insulting concept of ‘being a professional’. I have worked at a company where working less than 10% extra for free was treated as disloyalty and adversely affected the chance of a rise or promotion, and working 50% overtime or more for free was just fine. One of the employees regularly booked 100% overtime although he was so tired its a wonder he managed any task well. It took gov’t legislation to impose the 48hr working time limit, but even then the employees were under pressure to sign a ‘voluntary’ opt-out. All that overtime worked but not paid for was joyful to the Finance Dep’t who saved the cost of the extra employees they obviously had work for. One very intelligent fellow who was hired was told that the post was ‘professional’ and as such he would be expected to put in whatever hours were necessary to complete the task. His second week was lightly loaded so he finished Wednesday lunchtime and went home. On the Thursday the manager called him to demand where he was and he explained he had put in precisely the number of hours necessary to complete his workload. The manager made him aware in no uncertain terms that he had to attend a minimum of 8 hours a day, to which this chap apologised – “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that when you said my job was on professional terms you actually meant it was slavery.”

Frenchie
Frenchie
November 13, 2015 12:15 pm

The MoD has done a study to find out if it would be possible to install electromagnetic catapults on the two aircraft carriers ?
You would not be forced to buy F35B. Maybe it would be more economical in the end, and your aircrafts would be compatible with the majority of aircraft carriers.

Peter Elliott
November 13, 2015 12:30 pm

It would have been more economical if they had been designed that way from the start. But lets not go there.

In terms of the technical risk I’d like to see the GRF operating at sea, at tempo, before saying that EMALS is sufficiently proven to consider fitting it to the UK Carriers. At the moment it seems it doesn’t quite do what its supposed to, and I’m rather glad we aren’t footing the bill for sorting that out.

A smaller system able to launch and recover RPAS the size of Reaper/Predator/Protector might be another matter…

Frenchie
Frenchie
November 13, 2015 12:50 pm

Thank you Peter Elliott for your explanations :)

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 13, 2015 2:30 pm

Random thoughts.
What’s this about F-35 (all flavours) unable to take off unless it gets the OK from the ALIS server of which there are only 2 in mainland USA? Sounds like a hackers dream. £100 million fighter standing useless because of a severed internet connection. Would want at least 2 more ALIS. One on a US base in UK, another in a US base in Okinawa or Diego Garcia or Ascension. Russian subs have been hanging around oceanfloor cables. Do we really want this vulnerability?
Re armed Hawk. Could it be fitted with the Selex ES Vixen 500E entry level, compact AESA radar?
I think the QE/PoW have been nobbled with too short a bow for catapults, but would be interested in fitting arrester wires. Stobar is not perfect, but it gives you more aircraft options than just Stovl.

Chish
Chish
November 13, 2015 7:23 pm
Reply to  Frenchie

‘Frenchie’ well yes we did all that in the 2010 SDSR and the wish was to have QE built for STOVL while PoW would be built for CATOBAR. Some Ministers even started openly talking about needing fewer F35C aircraft. (while still needing F35Bs for the RAF of course). Then the penny dropped. Or rather a few £ Billion… EMALS was not working, no date could be given for it TO work and no delivery date could be given. So in 2012 it was all back to F35Bs. Which in my mind was the right decision in the first place. I am probably in the minority that thinks it was right to sell our Harriers to the USMC and scrap our carriers. We saved a lot of money which was in very short supply back then and I have a feeling that decision saved the PoW from the moths …. Remember we have to operate our carriers in a very different way to the US Navy and I doubt the extra cost and long delays of EMALS would have delivered value for money in extra airborne ‘punch’…

Challenger
Challenger
November 13, 2015 8:19 pm

@Chish

I think a lot of people confuse whether the decision to scrap the Harriers/Carriers in 2010 was traumatic, disappointing, sad etc with whether it was actually the right thing to do. They are two completely separate issues.

Fundamentally SDSR 2010 needed to choose between Tornado and Harrier, and if you look back at the state of the 2 fleets up until 2010 it’s pretty clear that the Tornado force was in better shape in terms of pure numbers as well as weapons/sensor integration, whilst Joint Force Harrier had been continually picked at since 2002.

By 2010 there were just 75 Harriers in service, with only 40 available to the forward fleet and 2 squadrons left operating. They had been run into the ground on Op Herrick and lacked Brimstone, Paveway, Storm-Shadow, Raptor pods etc. It’s all very well and good to draw on past success’s, the continuing flexibility of STOVL aircraft and carrier aviation in general (of which i’m as big a fan as the next guy) but when countries broke and the defence budget is being squeezed by 8% this just isn’t enough in itself to win the argument.

Deleting a whole fleet and it’s associated supply, maintenance, training streams was the only way to make the savings being called for. With Typhoon too few and too under-equipped retaining a larger, more capable Tornado fleet was really the only sensible (if painful) option.

Only significantly greater investment 10-15 years ago would have given Harrier a chance. In it’s fragile 2010 condition it would have taken all available resources to keep 8 air-frames in Afghanistan up until 2014 instead of Tornado, so in reality putting some on Ark Royal for Libya (and arguably the whole Libya operation in general) wouldn’t have been an option anyway because they would have simply been too heavily committed elsewhere.

percontator
percontator
November 14, 2015 4:49 pm

A number of posters have commented on the projected cost of Type 26 with, as usual, Bae Systems cast in the role of pantomime villain. Some thoughts below on this topic from Defence Analysis.

A few months ago Defence Analysis did a piece on the projected cost of Type 26 as compared to the costs of other modern European frigates.
Its findings were :
1) The average cost per tonne of European frigates was –
Basic frigate £68250
Hull-mounted sonar frigate £70000
TAS frigate £77000
2) All the new generation of European frigates are substantially larger than their forebears. (A Type 23 built to modern accommodation and safety standards would displace an extra 1500 tonnes).
3) The average displacement of a modern European frigate is 6300 tonnes.
4) Type 26 is larger because of requirements such as the Mk41 VL silo, the Merlin-capable hangar and the Chinook capable flight deck
5) A 7000 tonne ASW dedicated Type 26 would cost £110 million more than a basic frigate.
6) A 7000 tonne Type 26 with “compromised” ASW capabilities would still cost around £500 million.
Defence Analysis concluded that Type 26 could well come in at 30% above its target price of £440 million.

RN requirements, not Bae Systems efficiency (or lack of it) is the driver behind Type 26 costs.