The 3 things that would make SDSR 2015 a winner

The coverage of SDSR 2015 to this point has largely focussed on equipment, whether there will be an MPA/MMA for example.

But if we are airing our opinions, this is mine.

These are the three things that I think, would make SDSR 2015 a winner.

The things that it should address, but won’t.

(1) PLEASE, CUT THE SPIN

The amount of spin, hyperbole, deceit and political posturing about defence is, frankly, getting ridiculous, it is starting to impact on the UK’s credibility and getting to the point where there is widespread cynicism about the whole thing. Plain English, spoken plainly, says that the person speaking it credits the recipient with enough intelligence to understand it. I did that buzzword bingo card as a joke, but we all know the document is going to be full of childish and unintelligible drivel masquerading as deep thought.

There needs to be a much more maturity on the subject.

If we have to cut defence because the wider deficit reduction strategy requires it, you know what, fair enough.

If we are not spending 2%, then just bloody well say so, don’t cook the books.

Every single piece of equipment is not a transformational game changer.

So my first wish is a simple one; simplicity, clarity and realism in the language used.

(2) PEOPLE NOT EQUIPMENT

The British Armed Forces have a solid reputation, a reputation based on one thing, it’s people.

SDSR 2015 must focus on recruitment, retention and morale, none of which are in a good place at the moment.

There are numerous examples where promises and reality are estranged from each other when it comes to things like terms and conditions of service, veterans welfare and medical provision. If there is a balance between new equipment and personnel, I think it is currently focussed far too heavily on equipment.

We need to get back to valuing our service personnel by deeds, not words.

Instead, I suspect, it will focus on headline-grabbing major equipment projects.

(3) LOGISTICS IS NOT A DIRTY WORD

This might sound like a stuck record but there is no point having the best kit in the world if you don’t have the people to operate it (see Item 2) and a support infrastructure that makes sure it is available at the right place and the right time.

Only today there was a PQ published that showed how may Typhoon’s, those £80 million Typhoon’s, are used as spare parts donors. This kind of thing is a direct result of not having a suitably scaled support infrastructure. In 2011, we were unable to support the expenditure of Brimstone missiles across two theatres because to be blunt, we nearly ran out. The most recent deployment exercise in Poland saw most of the Germany-based heavy armoured vehicles unfit for rapid deployment, the much vaunted Whole Fleet Management system failing at a critical point.

Just three examples among many where support and logistic arrangements are unfit for purpose, leading to a very real danger of much of the British military being a tad ‘all fur coat and no knickers’

If SDSR is to be a success, it must also focus on logistics and support.

sdsr2015

So that is my big 3, how about you?

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Steve
Steve
November 21, 2015 8:44 am

Your 3 seems pretty sensible to me.

However you have picked the 3 that will not happen, as none of them are ‘sexy’ vote winners.

WiseApe
November 21, 2015 8:57 am

It’s a big number two from me.

Hmm, could have phrased that better.

AndyC
November 21, 2015 9:05 am

Firstly I agree with all three of TD’s priorities but as I can be an equipment geek here are my four main wishes:

1. two more Typhoon RAF Squadrons (by keeping the Tranche 1s) and one more FAA F-35B (by increasing the order from 48 to 64)

2. a firm order for 8 MPAs (but don’t mind if it’s P-8 or P-1)

3. keep Ocean going as a replacement for Argus in the RFA and keep the 3 River class batch 1s plus

4. actually place firm orders for the equipment the Army needs, get it built and get it in service by 2025!

RoundTower
RoundTower
November 21, 2015 9:09 am

1. At least another 3 T26, so 16 minimum
2. MPA, preferably the P-1
3. We could easily squeeze another Astute in at the end of the run

Steve
Steve
November 21, 2015 9:27 am

To avoid being a global embarrassment of building 2 expensive carriers and not being able to operate both, the focus needs to be on the navy.

1. extra sailors to ensure both carriers can be run together ,along with sufficient escorts
2. extra cheaper hulls, to free up the destroyers / frigates for escort duty along with confirmation of maintaining existing frigate numbers
3. firm order on F35’s and sufficient numbers to be able to run both carriers

Mark
Mark
November 21, 2015 9:37 am

1. Better support measures
2. U.K. Border air and sea security
3. Beginning of a phased withdrawal from the Mid East

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 21, 2015 9:45 am

1. We have spin as an alternative to thought. There is no one capable of deep thought left in Politics or the Civil Service. We just have lightweights addicted to spin.
2. Yes there is a lack of people, but there is a lack of equipment too. Lets not rob Peter to pay Paul.
3. Ever since those warehouse fires, 25 yrs ago?, there has been a lack of spares. Time to sort it out.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 21, 2015 9:56 am

I only need 2 from SDSR15. No more cuts. Minor improvements here and there. And I will be relieved!
As it is, I fear the worst, yet again.

TAS
TAS
November 21, 2015 10:06 am

Agree with 2 & 3. Would like to see a truly strategic focus based on effects not capabilities. Frankly I don’t care if there are cuts or not, so long as we halt the now nearly irreversible decline in manpower.

But reading no.1. I have every expectation that no matter what SDSR looks like, it has already failed in the eyes of everyone with a vested interest.

TAS
TAS
November 21, 2015 10:11 am

My opinion already validated by the comments so far. Equipment, border security and withdrawal from the Middle East? Really? Will you have the carriers patrolling the Channel? The Paris attackers got in on passports, ffs.

barborossa
barborossa
November 21, 2015 10:12 am

1): More people (For all three services!)
2): Either; stop all this b****x about military kit being able to be maintained to the same standard as civvie kit, or; fund and support in the same way as civvies do- I’m thinking of aeroplanes in particular. I know military aircraft aren’t quite as complicated as civvie planes (trust me on this- we scared military maintainers with the amount of systems we had on our ancient 767s- let alone what is now on civvie transports) but we also have lots of qualified engineers, stores blokes & planners and engineering planners…
3. Buy more kit.
a). more equipment for the T26s (that way, you don’t have to nick the stuff off the T23s- keep the fittest of them running a bit longer), then add a couple more T26s to the order. TBH I’d like to see manufacturing of the T26 (If it proves to be a successful design) go like the US Arleigh Burkes- just keep producing two a year- with incremental improvements in every hull. Eventually replacing the T45 as well- bet the later ones would be really cheap to produce.
b). Buy the P1- with industrial offsets, and maybe a production line in the UK- 12 to start, then push for export.
c). announce a date, and tell the army they have to have whatever vehicle is available on that date- no arsing about, no ‘special requirements’. Unless they are prepared to wait for a production line to be set up in the UK.
d). Another ‘Astute’ until ‘successor’ comes to build.
e). Research funding for REL

An act guaranteeing defence spending at 2.5%, (3% if Nuclear deterrent is maintained within the defence budget) surpluses to be carried over, enabling the MOD to build up a pot, to allow for capital spending, if needed.

barborossa
barborossa
November 21, 2015 10:17 am

….Oh and:
-run on the Typhoon Tranche 1s, or persuade the germans to release some of their Tranche 3 production slots (another 30 should suffice- up spares holding for type)
-Get USAF to release three C17s, and add 6 more Atlas to order.

Mark
Mark
November 21, 2015 10:46 am

Nah tied up at Portsmouth would be fine. Glad to know border security is all about passwords.

MSR
MSR
November 21, 2015 11:31 am

Well, if we want to go play with France and ‘do our part’ in Syria then reallocating £2 billion from one part of defence to another isn’t going to cut it. We need depth of resource which, as others have said, equates to warehouses of parts and a logistics train that can move them. It also applies to people. But as already said, neither of these things are sexy or achievable in the short term, two criteria which I believe will be the focus of this review at the expense of everything else.

MSR
MSR
November 21, 2015 11:36 am

And I’m interested to note that no one on this site appears to have an view on this stupid ‘Dave Force One’ idea. Apparently it would be cheaper to buy a regular airliner off the production line and the only reason Dave is converting an RAF aircraft is to avoid bad Daily Wail headlines by pretending it’s cheaper to use an existing aircraft, despite the conversion costs, instead. And this at a time of austerity!

mickp
mickp
November 21, 2015 11:38 am

Backfilling strength in depth in terms of manning, support, logistics and spares to allow all the kit and formations we have to function properly and be effective

A bigger play on the fact the line between conventional forces and high end anti terrorist policing, intelligence and border security is now well and truly blurred. I’m sorry but the ‘it’s just a policing matter’ line has had its time

High end conflict will inevitably be as part of a coalition – a slightly smaller but more effective high end balanced by the re-emergence of low end presence, patrol, intel, flag waving, influencing capability. It’s not sexy, but int is important if we want to retain soft and hard influence

In terms of kit, a very small P8 buy (4-6), no more than a long term commitment to around 70 F35s – 3 squadrons plus an OCU (although in this SDSR we are looking at the first squadron only 16-20), probably no more than 8-10 T26s, reconsider the amphibious capability – more raiding / command / SF support.

Peter Elliott
November 21, 2015 11:39 am

Good luck buying an airliner for £10m…

Mark
Mark
November 21, 2015 11:51 am

Boeing airliner price list

http://www.boeing.com/company/about-bca

Airbus price list

http://www.airbus.com/presscentre/pressreleases/press-release-detail/detail/new-airbus-aircraft-list-prices-for-2015/

Take your pick which ones cheaper msr and that’s without all the fancy vvip/protection bits.

'Former Crab'
'Former Crab'
November 21, 2015 12:02 pm
Reply to  Steve

Steve,

1. According to the RN manning figures for last month the RN has 970 posts vacant and the RM has 420 men over establishment = 1,390. If the rumored increase of new 450 posts is correct then he presto, you have empty berths for 1,840 new sailors.

2. The 3 new OPVs should help with anti-piracy/drug patrols to free FF/DD for CVA escorts.

3. Hopefully.

‘Former Crab’

Repulse
November 21, 2015 1:21 pm

Agree, focus on manpower and depth and make the most of what we have already, and keep bits still in their life span, or about to get and paid for.

– Keep the Tranche 1 Tiffies longer makes sense, alongside a 2 sqd purchase of F35Bs for the FAA.
– Keep the 3 new OPVs in addition to the existing ones. Replace RFA Argus with Ocean.
– Accelerate new weapons for the Tiffies, including Maritime strike.
– Upgrade the Challengers and Apaches.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 21, 2015 1:59 pm

Here we go again, my key bugbear regarding defence, Capability vs Capacity. For decades governments have concentrated on the former as shiny new toys are easier to develop spin for. But our capacity has fallen to dangerous levels be it the amount of kit or numbers of personnel. Spares support for platforms has always been sacrificed as a way to cut spending and I have first hand experience of this. It is very simple, a department/branch is overspending then stop buying spares or repairing kit. In the past DLO often had to bail out the DPA by transferring funds to cover the latter excess spending. In the RAF this was often covered by Christmas treeing U/S airframes to keep other flying. This was fine when you had 16+ airframes on a squadron and a reserve in storage. Now we have squadrons with at most 12 airframes and far fewer in storage.

Once you stop the purchase of spares it has a long term affect. The amount of spares in storage has always been kept to a bear minimum, having once tried to reduce it to 2 month of standard usage. The lead time on even a simple bolt can be as long as 18 months from order to delivery! The system is step up to try to continually replenish the agree stock levels by regular small to medium orders as items are used. Suddenly putting a moratorium in place halting orders often caused chaos later on. Remember this is at nice standard consumption rates, now have platforms on operations and you have a two tier system with UORs being used to solve shortages whist still trying to keep the existing system on track.

So I agree one of the key issues that should be dealt with in the SDSR is to ensure we have enough personnel to operate what we have effectively and so that formation are up to strength and do not need to borrow personnel from another. To this I would add sufficient spares and consumables (e.g. ammo) to both conduct operations and training. I would rather see this happen now and the purchase of new kit put back to SDSR 2020 than the other way around.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 21, 2015 2:00 pm

Typos and spelling aside!

Geoff
Geoff
November 21, 2015 2:23 pm

Funny how the key component of this conversation ended up with a conversation about kit. Probably just the same as when the cabinet armchair warriors decide “in broad brush’ terms what can and cannot go ahead. I’ve always felt that the SDSR is a waste of time, because no one says what the desired effects are. Instead it is an assessment of threats from a few years ago, an analysis of where the system went wrong and how to bridge that gap and then a look forward as to how the forces (tailored to HM Treasury needs) could be used.

chish
chish
November 21, 2015 2:30 pm
Reply to  MSR

OK here is my view:
Given every other country in the world has a discrete aircraft for its Head of State and other VIPs it has always bugged me that we lost that ability in earlier ‘cuts’. We even scrapped Britannia … Now I have no idea what that £10 Million will buy in addition to the Afghan kit fitted to Voyagers on that run but I am assuming its important stuff. OK so its an Airbus and ‘European’ not ‘British’ but it still makes a big statement and then aircraft is doing what it was actually purchased for: Multi Role Tanker Transport. (MRTT ring a bell?)

chish
chish
November 21, 2015 2:38 pm

1) Army: Get ALL our Challengers back up and running and manned.
2) Navy: Build a third carrier now we know how to do it well and share it with France or USMC. More Type45s.
3) RAF: Stop destroying the F Typhoons, refit as QRA with Meteor and release more for GR upgrades. Contract for a Typhoon II design (Vectored thrust, F35 tails and a hook) and replace ALL Fat Alberts one for one with A400s. And if an A320 with MRA kit isn’t feasible / cost effective bite the bullet and buy 737 Poseidons (8 off)

mr.fred
mr.fred
November 21, 2015 2:42 pm
Reply to  Lord Jim

Lord Jim,
I agree with you, though I would note that it is not a problem unique to defence. With any implementation of a “just in time” system there should be enough stock on-hand to see you through to your next delivery, from the point that you make the replacement order. Both of those cause problems, since that amount of stock tends to be quite large and the re-order time can be quite long. If the batch size to large the re-order time is too infrequent for the supplier to keep the line running between orders.

Also lack of standardisation of small parts can cause problems.

Fedaykin
November 21, 2015 3:08 pm

@MSR

“And I’m interested to note that no one on this site appears to have an view on this stupid ‘Dave Force One’ idea. Apparently it would be cheaper to buy a regular airliner off the production line and the only reason Dave is converting an RAF aircraft is to avoid bad Daily Wail headlines by pretending it’s cheaper to use an existing aircraft, despite the conversion costs, instead. And this at a time of austerity!”

I am afraid my response might come over as personal which is not intended but your conclusions are utterly wrong MSR. This is nothing to do with keeping bad headlines out of the Daily Mail by converting an existing aircraft so Cameron can have his own presidential plane. Unfortunately your conclusions have been based upon the rather bad reporting in the mainstream press. The irony is if they reported the underlying reason it would be far more cause for concern.

The truth is this is a result of cuts in the RAF core fleet of fighter jets and other aircraft types and the crazy PFI deal.

The A330 Voyager tanker transport jets are not owned by the RAF (UK MOD), they are owned by a consortium called AirTanker. The aircraft are leased as part of a PFI deal that is set to run until 2035. The UK MOD have to pay as part of the PFI deal the leasing fees for the aircraft regardless of actual need. When the contract was specified in 2000 it was based upon the RAF having a larger core fleet to refuel. The problem is with whole types like Jaguar and Harrier being retired early, other fleets in significantly reduced in number like Tornado other types like Nimrod MRA4 not even entering service or Sentinel not getting its refueling probe and reduced numbers of Typhoon procured the RAF has more tanking capacity then it actually needs.

The UK MOD tried to persuade the French to lease some of our tankers but in the end they decided to buy their own. Five have had their military kit removed and sub leased to Thomas Cook. Even then we are over capacity, now if we owned the aircraft like any sensible nation we could of mothballed or sold on the surplus aircraft. Because we are locked in to the PFI deal with its guaranteed payments to the consortium with agreed availability when the aircraft are not sub leased we have a problem.

Converting one into a ministerial/head of state puts an aircraft into use that is locked into the PFI deal.

£10 million pounds even in a time of austerity is peanuts when we talk about government budgets, actually I was surprised how small it is.

On a personal note I think this should of been done long ago, it is embarrasing as a first world nation on the security council to have our senior ministers, prime minister and Royal family arrive at global conferences in charter aircraft. Especially when third world African states often have this capability.

Topman
Topman
November 21, 2015 3:28 pm

Interesting that spares and supply issues should rear it’s head. It would be nice if we only bought the amount of equipment we could support (properly) but alas it’s never been the case. People get obsessed with numbers and having them on paper but forgetting/ignoring that without support you are buying expensive paper weights, nothing more. From an aircraft persepctive, there’s nothing in this, EE Lightning was always short of spares, Tonkas in the 80s were the same robbed blind to support other aircraft. Typhoon same again this time though people have a glimse into where they previously wouldn’t have with FoI, although that’s not always very good at telling people what they think it is. Raw figures are useless without understanding what they are telling you. But that’s another matter.
Constant upgrades on large fleets only make the issue of support even worse, especially the more dramtic the upgrades make each time. It hugely increases the width of equipement that needs to be held, it can and does increase the training burden across everyone involved with that particlar fleet. F35 fleet will be interesting how they will manage the slow build up in numbers and that fact many a/c will come from different blocks. I suspect things will be very tight for quite some time.

@ barborossa

‘I’m thinking of aeroplanes in particular. I know military aircraft aren’t quite as complicated as civvie planes’
I wouldn’t be too sure of that as a general statement. If you are used to say a Gazelle and then get a glimse of a 787 I’m sure the step up will be huge. However for most it will be fine, we have plenty of aircraft from the civvy world and it’s not an issue for those working on aircraft to move from mil a/c to civvy based ones, in some cases they are simplier. There are a few things that you won’t see on any civvy aircraft, weapons and their systems being the most obvious. There’s more to it than your statement suggests.

clinched
clinched
November 21, 2015 3:31 pm

Implications of this?

The Royal Navy will be given 450 more sailors in next week’s defence review, less than a quarter the number admirals had lobbied for, the Telegraph can disclose.
The Government’s six-month-long Strategic Defence and Security Review will include plans for the extra crew after the Navy said it needed hundreds more sailors to man its new aircraft carriers.
Defence chiefs and ministers are expected to continue haggling over the defence spending plans throughout the weekend, before the long-awaited review is unveiled by David Cameron on Monday afternoon.
Naval chiefs had pushed for 2,000 more personnel to fully crew the two vast new Queen Elizabeth class carriers currently under construction.
They have been told they will have to make up the extra by transferring sailors around from other ships and making cuts elsewhere.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/12009144/Navy-to-get-450-more-sailors-in-defence-review.html

Topman
Topman
November 21, 2015 3:42 pm

Implications? Pretty obvious, we’ll have (more) equipment that we can’t properly man or support.

clinched
clinched
November 21, 2015 3:55 pm
Reply to  Topman

I’m wondering whether it means we will be cutting ship numbers in the defence review.

as
as
November 21, 2015 4:01 pm

Is it cost prohibitive to keep equipment in reserve?
Shorly that depends on the equipment. A rifle in a box is very different proposition from a warship.

Fedaykin
November 21, 2015 4:08 pm

@as

AS NAB has pointed out before there is a reason why the “Newer” HMS Ark Royal was retired and scrapped earlier. Best case scenario you dry dock the vessel but even then being in mothballs is not good for a warship. Add to that the huge temptation for the vessel to be used as a ready source of spares for the active fleet exacerbates the situation. That is one of the reasons why the Upholder class were in such a state when we sold them to the Canadians. Sat in salt water with the tanks not properly drained of water and flushed out with something to prevent corrosion then raided for spares for the nuclear fleet.

as
as
November 21, 2015 4:30 pm


That is the catch 22 of reserve equipment. Ships and planes are expensive and slow to build. So they are the items you would want to keep in reserve. But they are also hard to store.
A rifle or other simple equipment is cheap and fast to make are also easy to store. So we do have thousands of these in reserve.
On a side note it shows that we keep a lack of spare parts if we are having to scavenge for them. Much like a car it is usually best to buy new, then use second hand. Most bits of mechanical equipment has a set life. So say an oil pump lasts 1000 hour before it dies. It would be better to replace it with a new one that has most of these hours left then one that only has quarter of its life left.

MSR
MSR
November 21, 2015 5:17 pm
Reply to  Fedaykin

Because we are locked in to the PFI deal with its guaranteed payments to the consortium with agreed availability when the aircraft are not sub leased we have a problem.

I was thinking of the PFI situation when I suggested that buying a small production airliner would be cheaper because no PFI rent to pay, just one-off purchase plus operating costs, which would be defrayed by using RAF personnel and facilities, anyway.

On a personal note I think this should of been done long ago, it is embarrasing

I don’t. I always thought it was a rather healthy attitude towards those with the ultimate power to ruin all our lives if they so wish, whether through self-interest or just incompentence. I don’t want elected politicians to get a red carpet. They’re not special, they’re just temporarily holding office. Third world African states (in the main, dictatorial, even when masquerading as otherwise) are not a basis for comparison, with their rich, life-time oligarchs. When Cameron elects himself President For Life then he can have his own Air Force One, but until then he remains a human being like the rest of us. It’s a philosophical stand-point on which I clearly differ from the majority, which is a shame because, like I said, I think it’s healthy. And the current reality of the attitude of privilege evidenced by so many of the political classes is not.

TAS
TAS
November 21, 2015 5:46 pm

Well if the Torygraph says we’re getting x sailors it must be true…

Well done Geoff, the only other person to say anything strategic so far.

Peter Elliott
November 21, 2015 6:19 pm

MSR it’s only cheaper if we could avoid the PFI costs, which we can’t. Why buy a plane when we have one we are already locked into paying for sitting on the tarmac doing nothing?

Fedaykin
November 21, 2015 6:25 pm

@MSR

“I was thinking of the PFI situation when I suggested that buying a small production airliner would be cheaper because no PFI rent to pay, just one-off purchase plus operating costs, which would be defrayed by using RAF personnel and facilities, anyway.”

You miss the point, the a330 is being converted because of the PFI. The UK has one surplus to requirements but because of the PFI deal it can’t be easily mothballed or sold on without penalties. This way it is put to good use and saves the public money as we cut back the charter flights.

“I don’t. I always thought it was a rather healthy attitude towards those with the ultimate power to ruin all our lives if they so wish, whether through self-interest or just incompentence. I don’t want elected politicians to get a red carpet.”

Well we are just going to have to disagree, this corrects a national embarrassment.

as
as
November 21, 2015 6:38 pm


Are we not having the same problem with the Point class ships where we have over capacity. ether one or two has been put up for sale but then they changed there minds and now it looks like we are keeping them all.

mickp
mickp
November 21, 2015 6:42 pm

@MSR – its not about privilege its about protection and continuity of government. If Corbyn or Farage were PM I’d expect the same. We live in different and dangerous times, the last thing I want is our PM to be flying on scheduled flights. If the £10m is being spent on gold plated bidets then I have sympathy with you but I trust it is being spent on secure coms and defensive aids. We have the aircraft, it is being under-utilised, it has an RAF logo on it and can still revert to tanker use. Frankly this is one of the most sensible decisions to come out on defence for years

mickp
mickp
November 21, 2015 6:43 pm

@MSR. I would agree the PFI was a fiasco but we are where we are

Fedaykin
November 21, 2015 6:46 pm

MV Beachy Head and the MV Longstone are now chartered out as I understand it.

Challenger
Challenger
November 21, 2015 7:05 pm

I agree that using an RAF Voyager for the PM is a rare example of common sense.

Got the tankers, plenty of spare capacity, why not use one. What’s £10 million these days.

Steve
Steve
November 21, 2015 9:37 pm

It’s interesting the constant talk of vacancies. Maybe it’s time to spend some money on perks to keep people in the service longer.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
November 21, 2015 10:11 pm

TD – Can’t disagree with any of your three points. If I was to add anything, it would be to enhance coverage of how both soft AND hard power are expected to contribute to our security and perhaps take a longer-term view on energy and food security, as these are areas that, I believe, require far more than a 5-year timeframe to make significant changes. It may be that these issues are covered elsewhere by other departments, but they do all come under the general heading of security and as such should probably be included in the overall “Strategic” review. Maybe I’m asking for too much in a single document.

More practically, none of this “we have to spend a billion pounds in the next 30 days or we miss our target” nonsense – change the law to allow a department to average money actually spent over a 10 or 20-year period or something, if a department is ringfenced, then all under-spends should be ringfenced as well and set aside for future use.

Martin
Martin
November 22, 2015 12:47 am

The telegraph is quoting that the government will announce a purchase of 138 F35’s

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/12010048/Britain-set-to-join-air-strikes-against-Isil-in-Syria-before-Christmas.html

I’m guessing given the £12 billion price tag that it will be a mixed buy of A and B. Otherwise we are going to have are going to have a shortage of aircraft carriers :-)

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
November 22, 2015 1:05 am

Clearly, we need to increase all department budgets by ~15%, without printing money, and without increasing taxes, and reducing borrowing.

Oh, yeah, and without diluting our sovereignty by merging with other nations.

Wait, have I just described the problem, rather than a solution?

Angus McLellan
Angus McLellan
November 22, 2015 2:18 am

: The Sunday Times has the same story on F-35s: 138 for £24bn-ish. The RN will lose one destroyer & one other ship (unspecified), while T26 orders will be cut back. Scotland on Sunday has more on MPA. They’ll be based at Waddington. The Treasury don’t want to shell out for much, either converted C-130s or maybe C-295s, while the MoD (no surprise) is holding out for P-8s. Some m3 t00 stuff out there according to the Grauniad: the Met want £15 million or so a year to provide more armed police.

Martin
Martin
November 22, 2015 5:10 am

Makes little sense to get rid of a destroyer of we are going to have 138 carrier aircraft. I could see us loosing two T23 though. Would also free up two sets of harpoon for T45.

Allan
November 22, 2015 5:10 am
Reply to  Fedaykin

,

Perhaps if Ministers and the like had to use the transport network – including airports – like the rest of us, they might be more interested in transport infrastructure investment.

If Ministers really were that important to the running of a Dept., they wouldn’t be moved every year or so on a Prime Ministerial whim.

Allan
November 22, 2015 5:13 am
Reply to  MSR

@MSR,

Regarding politicians and them not being given a ‘red carpet’ – quite right! Well said.

Allan
November 22, 2015 5:20 am
Reply to  mickp

@mickp,

Respectfully disagree.

Continuity of government – hellfire – HMG potentially changes every few years or so (and the PM can be deposed and replaced by his or her own party)…..I don’t recall the country collapsing as one Blue PM was replaced by another.

A bit like MSR – I want the politicians travelling on the same infrastructure as the rest of us – travelling on the same creaking infrastructure as the rest of us – no special privileges. Then maybe they’d take upgrading UK infrastructure a bit more seriously.

Who knows, if the PM or the like has to travel with the rest of us, they may suddenly decide that more needs to be spent on security and policing and surveillance……

Martin
Martin
November 22, 2015 5:30 am

http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/fears-over-raf-bases-as-mod-reviews-plane-plans-1-3955036

@ Angus – I would not be surprised if the treasury opts for a C130 J MPA solution. If we are retaining part of the fleet for SF needs then it kind of makes some sense.

I would love to get the P8 and look at using it with AAS for a replacement for Sentinal. However an SC130 J solution would not be too bad as well if there is to be a saving of 60% plays keeping Sentinal until a UAS system can be developed to replace it.

I just hope they don’t go for C295, it would be another aircraft to support with insufficient capability to do the job and it would offer very little to the wider force.

I wonder of we could look to get helicopter AAR from our C130 J for SF. Seems like an increasingly worth while capability to have.

Steve
Steve
November 22, 2015 7:02 am

Dumping/ selling a type 45 would be insanely stupid, if we are serious about using the carriers.

OK insanely stupid and polictics, tick that off the list as a certainty then.

mickp
mickp
November 22, 2015 7:18 am
Reply to  Allan

@Allan, good plan. Let’s make him travel easy Jet for 6 hours, where he can’t do the job we pay him for and to add to that let’s spend extra money to do that just for the privilege of rubbing his nose in it. Personally I’d rather have him work for the 6 hours and save some money. As I said, if the money is going on gold plated bidets and silver service, I’m more aligned to you. If it means ‘continuity of government’ in terms of being able to carry out his job through secure comms / workspace in the air, I’m all for it.

Corporate first class train travel has moved over the years from being a silver service privilege to being a small price to pay for corporates to get extra hours out of their executives. Wifi and workspace is now more valued than cutlery and china.

Further, we the general masses travel on creaking infrastructure every day but do we take it more seriously? No, we just put up with it because collectively it ranks much lower in importance than reducing our tax bill or throwing money at the NHS. There are big infrastructure improvements going on but its not an election winner for any party. We get what we pay for.

I do also like the spin off benefit that our government can travel to summits in its own plane, with an appropriate degree of british practicality rather than opulence, but I don’t think that is a necessary part of justifying what I see as a rational decision.

We may well respectfully agree to differ

Martin
Martin
November 22, 2015 7:53 am

Using voyager for Long haul VIP transport is about the most sensible thing that’s happened in a long time. It was insane that it was not part of the original PFI.

Frankly is embarising when the leader of the second largest aviation manufacturing country in the world rolls in to Jakarta to sign an Airbus deal on a clapt out old African 747.

Not to mention the security implications of the countries leader Travelling on a civilian aircraft with no secure comms and no DASS.

Just a pitty we did not buy the freighter version of A330 as TD has shown there are numerous role on role off capabilities for accommodation and conferencing. It would probably have been easier to lease the 5 spare aircraft out as freighters than passenger planes and there would have been no need to repaint them Thompson Colours.

duker
duker
November 22, 2015 8:51 am
Reply to  Challenger

I think the original idea was for 8 to fully tanker equipped and operational and the 9th to be on the civil register but only used by MoD. This seems to be the plane now becoming ‘Dave one’ . The remainder were to a surge fleet but used on ordinary charter.
As I thought having a VVIP plane was in the plans all along, just the timing of announcing it was held back

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 22, 2015 9:46 am

It’s difficult to imagine how buying a ‘small production airliner’ specifically for use as a Prime Ministerial jet can be cheaper than making the guy hitch a lift on an aircraft already operated by the RAF.

This would presumably be a unique aircraft type for the RAF to support and yet wouldn’t get used for anything else – unlike the A330 tanker/transports.

A small airliner also wouldn’t be much use for long-haul flights, and we already have regional jets in 32 sqn; so entirely unnecessary expenditure to go out and buy a new PM’s jet, and ridiculous outrage at using an existing asset.

And if regularly chartering long-haul aircraft at short notice, how long would it be before we saw the PM travelling on the AirTanker owned, Thomas Cook operated A330 at twice the cost of flying with the RAF?

The suggestion that this is David Cameron doing something for David Cameron is also ridiculous. He’s already said he won’t be standing at the next election, and he won’t be taking this aircraft with him when he goes. The contract for MRTT was written long ago, and those aircraft and the government travel mods will serve the country longer than David Cameron. This arrangement will be there for the next Prime Minister and for the next party in government.

Ten million quid will not be a lot of money when divided by the years that this equipment will be in use. This is for practical equipment rather than VIP comfort items, and everything for aircraft fitment costs twice as much due to air safety certification.

VIP travel with the RAF is basically the same seats but positioned for extra legroom. I believe the RAF also already own some aircraft beds, which are presumably with 32 squadron.

As for using the same creaking transport infrastructure as the rest of us – is the PM expected to hijack the number 17 bus and drive that to east Asia? And folks that say that kind of thing probably also complain about the billions earmarked for high-speed rail, and loudly complain every time a new lane is added to an A road or motorway.

Allan
November 22, 2015 9:46 am
Reply to  mickp

@MP,

Thanks for taking the time to post a detailed reply.

I think you’re correct – we’ll have to agree to disagree! :)

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 22, 2015 9:56 am

Duker, the number taken up by the RAF is flexible, up to fourteen I think. I don’t know what timescales are used to deliver this flexibility, though I think that two aircraft are available for a rapid surge over the standard arrangement.

The civilian registered one is used for the Falklands. I believe it is one of the military registered ones that will be available for government transport, as there has been mention of the aircraft having the defensive aides fit.

Pacman27
Pacman27
November 22, 2015 10:04 am

My Top 5 are:

1. Transfer the Foreign aid budget to the MOD and FCO to rebuild lost intelligence and soft power capability. I don’t give a Nats chuff if it makes us look good with the UN I do care what spending £14b does for this country and our current strategy seems to be spend it to look good which is just wrong.

2. Create a materials plan that has a 30 year outlook that British industry can get behind – We should be spending £3b per annum on ships (inc successor), £6b on aircraft and £2b on Land systems with a further £1b on new facilities and £4b on munitions and consumables. An example for this would be that we can buy 12 fighters, 24 helicopters 12 other aircraft, 1 Astute, 1 T45 and 6 OPV/Mine sweepers and a whole shed load of tanks and huskies each and every year and still have spares. The watchword here is consistent and planned purchasing with clear fleet renewal – a side result would be to stop the life extension programmes in favour of new for all but the most expensive components. Older kit would be used for training.

3. A HR plan that recognises the value of a military career to some of the poorer parts of the country, that links to an educational framework that ensure those that enter leave with real and valued qualifications and also that a Veterans association is set up with centres all round the country (renew the Legion maybe).

4. Use standard accounting procedures (in line with HMRC recommendations) to measure spending. Brimstone is not capital expenditure as it is a consumable, a tank is. The use of the term equipment budget is misleading, as is so much of the other accounting terminology.

5. A single force structure like those adopted by the USMC and IDF – as our forces are of a similar size its about time that we start to integrate our forces more. Both of these forces are successful and cost effective, so the least we should do is look at this. If nothing else it would stop the squabbling between services as there would in effect be one.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 22, 2015 10:12 am

Osbourne stated this morning on the Andrew Marr show that there would be 24 F35’s available to fly from the carriers in the 2020’s time frame. Read into that what you want in regards to total F35 numbers.

AndyC
November 22, 2015 10:55 am

I see that we’ve still got 24 hours to go but George Osborne has already broken TD’s number 1 request!

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Defence/article1636215.ece

Even the Chancellor is struggling to make the re-hashing of an announcement originally made in 2006 sound interesting but I expect we’re going to hear lots of the new mantra over the coming years – “the UK has the second largest carrier strike force in the world!”

Even on its own terms this only makes sense from the RN’s perspective if we also have an effective MPA, more Merlin ASW helicopters, no cuts in the number of escort ships and a more widespread use of Sea Ceptor to protect the carrier force.

From the RAF perspective 138 F-35Bs is surely too many B’s! Even fully loading up both carriers with B’s plus the sustainment fleet and OCU really only requires a maximum of 102 planes. I really, really hope the final 36 are going to be As. Even with refuelling the F-35B is too short-legged for long-range missions and its internal bays are too small to carry any stand-off cruise missiles so there really needs to be a split buy.

Finally, I wouldn’t expect our skies to be full of F-35s any time soon. We do only have 18 either currently in service or on reasonably firm order to enter service by 2019. The equipment budget won’t support buying more than 12 a year so at that rate we won’t get to 138 until the end of 2029!

Nick
Nick
November 22, 2015 11:19 am

Number 2 for sure.

I recently resigned from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary after eleven years as an engineer officer. Morale is rock bottom, engineers are leaving in droves but the civil servants and senior management still have their heads stuck up their backsides. The problem has been fomenting for years and now it’s become critical – there simply aren’t enough qualified and experienced engineer officers for RFA vessels to put to sea and support the RN. It’s a retention problem at all levels, from junior officers all the way up to senior – *everybody* has had enough and are walking into better remunerated jobs elsewhere. The service however, is treating it not as a retention problem, but as a recruitment problem. They are hoovering up tonnage tax cadets from the UK nautical colleges with very little seagoing experience and zero RFA experience, and throwing them in at the deep end. The management even gave themselves a pat on the back because they’ve “solved” the manning crisis…. Unbelievable.

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 11:21 am

Given the size of the f35 buy being quoted it would indicate were going to a solely manned fighter fleet of f35 phased in over the next 20 years. F35 + a ucav of some sort. Interesting if they’ll all be b versions or not.

Cuts today for jam tomorrow? Rumours of c17 and type 45 going

Steve
Steve
November 22, 2015 11:23 am

But what do the F35A bring us that the Typhoon doesn’t?

I would rather we don’t try and spread an already tight budget across 2 airframes that do a very similar job and I can’t imagine that the F35A is any cheaper to buy or run than building more typhoons.

However, I agree that buying 138 F-35B seems excessive, other than for making a statement of intent.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 22, 2015 11:27 am

138 F-35B for the UK would be insane. 69 FAA F-35B + 69 RAF F-35E (to replace Tornado GR4) would make a lot of sense.

Hokum
Hokum
November 22, 2015 11:38 am

Seriously?

After all these years people are still asking this:

“But what do the F35A bring us that the Typhoon doesn’t?”

Stupid questions never go away do they.

The FT article looks garbled, I wouldn’t give any credence to the 138 number, the crucial figure seems to be 42 (in two-three frontline squadrons plus an OCU with a reserve badge is how I am reading that article)- which is basically a shrunken version of the 48 figure that existed after 2010.

clinched
clinched
November 22, 2015 11:52 am

Surely the papers have for it wrong with the suggestion that we will be losing one of the destroyers. They are the newest of the escorts. Wouldn’t be surprised to see T26 orders cut. I think there would be benefits to a high-low mix, as I discussed the other day. 16 top end escorts guarantees the Clyde a ship every 18 months over 24 years. It gives the shipyard security of orders. 12 River types as a trade-off – one every two years over 24 years for a UK shipyard. Replace the MCM vessels with Venator type vessels. Say, 24 River/Venator types – one every year over 24 years so the fleet is continually renewed and the shipyards have certainty, which should enable us to retain skills at lowest price possible

The Other Chris
November 22, 2015 11:55 am

Other than a piece of unofficial concept art that got a few journalists excited a few years ago, there’s no such thing as an F-35E.

Split-fleet purchases always end badly for the UK, we’ve always lost one of the fleet splits prematurely. Always.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 22, 2015 12:01 pm

@TOC, what concept art… must have passed me by (not surprising in itself)?

The only context where I have “heard” of the E is the rumoured Israeli plans for a two-seater. Difficult to see what could be juggled around to create enough space, though. I would start with a “B” diagram as there is only the lift engine and locating the fuel to play around with.

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 12:03 pm

I don’t much fancy f35b standing qra. And you don’t need 138 f35b to support a carrier.

Steve
Steve
November 22, 2015 12:06 pm

At a guess, we might place a firm order for the 42/48 and then state that we will assess the feasibility of buying up to 138 with decision being made at the next SDSR. Effectively making it sound like we are doing something but not spending the money.

Martin
Martin
November 22, 2015 12:08 pm

If we are going for 138 F35 then I would be fairly sure it would be a Long term purchase out to the 2030’s as a typhoon replacement. I am also guessing we will see tranche 1 kept until 2025 then replaced by F35B.

A n entire F35B fleet would result in massive cost saving’s and Ensure that the RAF develops the aircraft to its full potential with weapons like SPEAR 3 and storm shadow.

Weapons integration is so eyewateringly expensive these days that a single fleet makes sense. F35B would tick more boxes than anything else and if combined with a deep persistent offensive capability UCAV we could probably meet any requirement we need.

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 12:13 pm
Reply to  Martin

It is not within the uk/RAFs gift to decided if f35 is maximised to its full potiential with uk weapons or sensors that will entirely be down to the United states and the wepaons sensor priority it has for its fleets.

The Other Chris
November 22, 2015 12:14 pm

As discussed ad nauseam, why would F-35B be standing QRA with Typhoon around?

Rhetorical.

mickp
mickp
November 22, 2015 12:18 pm

If one of the big things coming out of SDSR is the the QEs will shift to being more like ‘strike carriers’ with 2-3 squadrons on board for each deployment and a surge requirement of 2 QEs with 36 B’s on each, at once, then that gets me to a maximum of around 108 – 114 airframes assuming an OCU, 6 12 plane squadrons and a sustainment fleet, so 138 does seem to be excessive even for that. Perhaps that is an aspirational target with some Typhoons going down the line – leaving just perhaps a core QRA capability until that specific requirement is replaced by something yet to be determined

Pacman27
Pacman27
November 22, 2015 12:23 pm

The F35 will be required to work alongside typhoon (hopefully a tranche 4 eventually) in the same manner as the USAF mix the F35 with the F22 Raptor. It is clear that with the exception of the massive uplift in capability over harrier that the F35 is no competition for a Typhoon which is itself a match (evidently) for the Raptor. Therefore we need both airframe types in order to provide the capability we really require.
So the point of this post is that if we have 138 F35b’s then we will also need at least 138 Typhoons. The biggest mistake we can make is go single type, this would be a disaster.

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 12:38 pm

Paceman27 not a chance we will be moving from practically an all typhoon force to an all f35 force. If story is as reported

Martin
Martin
November 22, 2015 12:38 pm

One driver for the F35 decision may be due to fitting in with US carrier deployments. The USN is increasingly unable to meet its commitments with carriers in the Med and Gulf. Having two QE’s with three squadrons of F35 B a piece, especially if they also carry USMC squadrons could make a big difference.

This was part of the original plan and with the USN increasingly focused on the pacific make’s a fair bit of sense. I am also guessing we have been told that to keep the second biggest work share we need to make the second biggest order.

If we maintain our AAW destroyer capability we can always rely on other European nations to to up the task force with ASW assets etc.

Everyone in Europe has ASW frigates but we are the only country with 65,000t aircraft carriers and 5th Gen fighters to fly off them.

Makes Sense in many ways. wIth 16 high end escorts we can always surge our own fleet if needed.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 22, 2015 12:40 pm
will entirely be down to the United states and the wepaons sensor priority it has for its fleets

Quite right, the so called partnership(s) is BS with capital letters
– why do you think the Norgies required a symbolic investment of $20m by the Pentagon, to protect their own 1 bn into JSM, before they signed up for the JSF? (And, errm, who was it that was the first to go down, willing to walk the slack rope, with a full order, rather than just a couple for “testing & training)?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 22, 2015 12:44 pm

the point of this post is that if we have 138 F35b’s then we will also need at least 138 Typhoons

– in the long run, would the 40 T3s do it?

3 QRAs… 2 at the ready, need to be replaced with another 2 as soon as they go. 12 (a sqdrn, so another 8) to back up the four, quite enough before a Europe-wide battle for air supremacy develops?
– and leaves 4 going back to factory for refurb/ upgrades at any one time

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 22, 2015 1:04 pm

The USN is increasingly unable to meet its commitments with carriers in the Med and Gulf.

I thought they had done away with that Med commitment? Replaced by 4 ABM cruisers forward-positioned in Rota
– not that they are really part of the missile shield for Europe, but can sail to the coast of Israel at short notice, saying “don’t do anything stupid, because we have put a protective umbrella above you”.

Challenger
Challenger
November 22, 2015 1:46 pm

I hope all this stuff about 138 F35 actually means 48-70 up until 2025 to equip 2-3 squadrons (with tranche 1 Typhoon’s keeping the F-J force at 8+ squadrons until then) and a theoretical commitment to a further purchase in the more distant future.

Binning Typhoon’s perfectly good for QRA and part of an existing maintenance/training pipeline is stupid.

Investing too heavily and too quickly in an untried and immature F35 when there is no real need beyond equipping a single carrier by the early 2020’s is stupid.

Ending up with an all F35B would be very stupid. An A/B mix is perhaps desirable, but not until post 2030.

I’m worried about what cuts the RN may have to face to pay for more jets if there is any truth to this story. I can’t imagine they’d scrap a T45 that’s less than 10 years old, which means 1 or 2 T23 could be offered up to the fiscal gods and allow the total number of T26’s to drop.

It’s all well and good people saying 16 high-end frigates/destroyers is enough to generate a decent carrier-group, but what about the swath of other RN commitments? Does anyone really think, based on past experiences, that the services role will be diminished in line with it’s capabilities, or that the batch 2 River’s will be used alongside the older ones to bump up fleet numbers?

I seem to remember people saying not that long ago that 32, 25 and then 19 escorts were the ‘minimum’ needed and so long as these various bottom lines were kept to everything would be OK. What’s really changed over the last 10-15 years that allows the RN to do so much with so fewer vessels to do it with?

IF more surface ships are cut i expect it will be the same ‘business as usual’ attitude that prevails.

Pacman27
Pacman27
November 22, 2015 2:02 pm

The f35b for me is an upgrade to the harrier and tornado and is not comparable to a Typhoon. The USAF seem to have accepted this and are pairing F35’s with Raptors as it is clear to them that these assets paired are more potent than on their own. I am suggesting that we do the same albeit with Typhoon which is an excellent platform.

Jeremy M H
November 22, 2015 2:38 pm

@Pacman

Many don’t want to accept how important LO is to air to air combat. There is a go between the F-22 and Typhoon that varies from a bit to huge depending on the scenario. One may not wish to accept it but it is at least quite possible that the F-35 while it won’t supplant the F-22 is in many air to air scenarios superior to the Typhoon.

You can’t really do the pairing in the same way as the USAF is contemplating. This would be more akin to what they plan to do by using F-15’s with F-22/35.

mrmalaya
mrmalaya
November 22, 2015 3:17 pm

its rumours but the 138 F35 order strongly suggests that we will look to buy whatever comes next after the ABC variants are improved on.

we have no need for that many B variants and Sadly the longer purchase timetable can only mean that we are in danger of never building a manned replacement for the Typhoon.

once you stick the new engine in the F35 and it has all its projected weapons, it will be a very capable A2A fighter and that wont happen till the Typhoon is on its way out.

Are we really going to ditch manned fighter design/manufactur or will we find that the French have the foresight to push for a manned element to FCAS, because the F35 and FCAS are going to have a miniumum of compatibility.

Repulse
November 22, 2015 3:28 pm

The MOD site is explicitly saying that the 24 F35Bs being active 2023 has been confirmed but the 138 has not. I think some journo heard about 48 and did some dodgy multiplication by 3. 24 a/c active at one time would be less than 100 in my book.

https://modmedia.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/22/defence-in-the-media-22-november-2015/

clinched
clinched
November 22, 2015 3:43 pm
Reply to  Repulse
The Defence Secretary is quoted as promising “bigger and stronger defence for Britain” with “more ships, more planes, and more troops ready to act”

For Fallon to avoid lying, I assume the Batch 2 Rivers will be retained alongside the existing OPVs and those three will outnumber the loss of two escorts. Hence, “more ships.”

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 3:51 pm

Clinched

If the rumours of two ships being laid up are accurate there’s no guarentee there both escorts the two lpds could be laid up. First sea Lord did say the navy’s strategic direction was to maintain carrier strike and CASD.

clinched
clinched
November 22, 2015 4:20 pm
Reply to  Mark

@Mark Where would that leave the marines?

Ron5
Ron5
November 22, 2015 4:25 pm

UK got a great deal from the US on F-35: a mere 2 billion contribution to R&D to become the only level 1 partner with input to design & capability and hundreds of millions in subcontracting work. Work that would have otherwise gone to US manufacturers. More than any other country.

In return the UK said they’d buy 138. Not 48, Not 24. Not 80. 138.

Wouldn’t surprise me if Obama gently reminded Dave & George of their obligations. With a line of congressmen behind asked why they gave up their states contracts to the UK for the UK to renege.

UK bitches when France lead them on by promising big buys of jointly developed stuff only for France to renege after all the French industrial benefits have been accrued. I wonder if the shoe is on the other foot?

It’s not like George suddenly becoming a huge advocate for carrier air power isn’t mighty suspicious.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 22, 2015 4:28 pm

Given that one of the LPD is already laid up (and alternates with the in-service one), you can bet it’s not one of them.

The number I’ve heard is between 2 and 4 and is usually thought of as a prime number. The term “laid up” is also misleading. The ships in question will have a crew and a task – that task may be related to shortage of trained bodies and that means skill shortages in those ships with complex systems……..

If it’s a relatively temporary measure to address the shortages in the RN – and is accompanied by reduction in commitments over the period, then it’s a necessary evil and at least doing something about it – in contrast to the situation elsewhere, as NIck alludes to.

However, setting precedents when the Treasury is involved is always risky.

Anyway, numbers of platforms (or F35B) are less important than making sure they can be manned and supported. I doubt we’ll see any real detail of that tomorrow, but bear it in mind….

clinched
clinched
November 22, 2015 4:32 pm
Reply to  Not a Boffin

@NAB I don’t see how it will be temporary when the reports are of a cut in T26 numbers.

Peter Elliott
November 22, 2015 4:35 pm

If we lay up the second LPD in exchange for crewing the second carrier then that’s no disaster. Because:

1. Our European allies are flush with modern LHDs.

2. Our rump amphibious capability cannot project significant combat mass over the beach.

3. In 2003 we achieved significant amphious landing without LPDs using instead Helos from Ark and Ocean. Chinooks on PoW will be the new reality.

4. As TD’ s analysis showed 17P&M and the MCM capability clearing the way for RoRo and Container ships to unload is in many ways the more precious and unique UK capability.

Frenchie
Frenchie
November 22, 2015 4:35 pm

If I can make a comment, an aircraft carrier needs a aircraft carrier battle group, with an attack submarine, two anti-submarine warfare frigates, two anti-aircraft frigate, one patrol frigate distant for this which is the Charles de Gaulle, one oil tanker of course. You will need two aircraft carrier battle group, I would not understand that you lose one T-45 or a number of T-26 reduced, for having a large number of fighter aircraft, it is of short-sighted policy.

Peter Elliott
November 22, 2015 4:42 pm

As regards laying up a T45 could this be the acknowledgement that their drive train is already obsolescent and the docked ship will be stripped for spares as the only way to keep the other 5 operating…?

The alternative would be to start gutting them and replicating the T26 propulsion arrangements. But the technical and cost risks of that plan would be deeply unpalatable right now.

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 22, 2015 5:23 pm

Re F-35E. The USAF will need to replace F-15E. One US analyst says they should buy 200 LRS-B. If that happens, that could do the job. Other sites say the USAF wants to buy 72 F-15S to cover the delays with F-35. Again that would postpone the need for F-35E.
If the F-35E happens, it will not be until F-35A/B/C are happily in service. F-35E would likely have an AETD/Advent engine + F-16XL type wing & perhaps bulged weapons bays to carry more ordnance. Such an aircraft would have an F-111 combat radius.

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 5:35 pm

Ron5

And in return the US said it would cost a lot less than it is and be in service about 4 years ago!

JH

You are not changing the oml of this aircraft with new wings or bulges.

Jeremy M H
November 22, 2015 6:13 pm
Reply to  John Hartley

F-35 with new engines likely to replace F-18e and F in my view so your carrier deck looks pretty uniform.

I think the 6th generation aircraft replaces F-22 and F-15e and comes in a carrier capable variant. Presuming the F-22 and F-35 through their lives show range and carrying capacity is more important than absolute top end agility those requirements all converge and can be covered in one airframe.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
November 22, 2015 6:30 pm
Reply to  John Hartley

Funding might limited for 200 LRS-B, plus funding required for a cruise missile to replace today’s AGM-86 Air-Launched Cruise Missile, think the USAF might end up with approx. 40 going by the track record of the B1 and B2.
It will be fighting for USAF funding with the incumbent F-35, the future Hypersonic bomber now with the threat Chinese might leave the US behind with the new technology which will cause Congress to throw money at it. There is also the small matter of U.S. Air Force strategy for replacing America’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and the current odd $98 billion required for the US Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) for 12 Ballistic Missile Submarine Program.
Just some of the major programs fighting for funding in the US DoD budget.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
November 22, 2015 6:33 pm

NaB – it would seem logical (if I understand you correctly) – three T23 will have to be stripped of their complex weapons systems and sensors for cross-decking to the 3 batch 1 T26, anyway so why not retain some hulls in service during the transition as basic patrol frigates? Even stripped down to the 4.5 and a couple of 30mm, they are far more capable than the Rivers.

I suspect that, as hinted at by Osborne a while ago, that we will only get 12 T26. Hopefully we will get some more capable minor warships to compensate.

BTW – with regard to the newspaper report of a “destroyer” being axed – are we sure that the reporter in question (or his source) knows the difference between a destroyer and a frigate?

The Other Chris
November 22, 2015 7:04 pm
Reply to  Ron5
…a mere 2 billion contribution [to join F-35]…

That’s on top of the classified and not-so-classified technology transfers developed on programs since at least the late 70’s, some of which we only revealed to the US in the 90’s.

£2b and 138 x Units doesn’t really buy you into that size of program inserted at that level. There’s other items that have been brought to the table to pique the Senate’s interest.

Repulse
November 22, 2015 7:07 pm

“difference between a destroyer and a frigate?” No chance… Perhaps thecRN should call everything a Dreadnought just to make it easier. To be fair though the difference is getting increasingly blurred. Laying up a T45 would be stupid in my view, though rumour has it most have been already in Portsmouth for a while.

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 7:17 pm

And of course the ending of complex tactical aircraft assembly and commissioning in the uk meaning that all future tactical air systems will be purchased from the US

Topman
Topman
November 22, 2015 7:31 pm

Re the 138 F35 buy would be incredible. There are no end of questions of supporting a force that size, you’d end up with about 7/8 Sqns. Most obvious where would you put them all and all the people in a force that size?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 22, 2015 7:55 pm

The only things of importance tomorrow are actual force structure commitments.

Eg : The Army will be XXXXX strong with YY manoeuvre units. There will be ?? Fast Jet squadrons in Force 2025. The RN will maintain ZZ destroyers and frigates at some sort of readiness profile. There will/will not be an MPA capability. The RN manpower establishment will be XXXXX and the RAF manpower establishment will be YYYYY.

Anything else will be largely spin and numbers out of context.

The most important thing in this – full stop – is the number of operational units that will be supported/funded. Numbers of F35 vs Typhoon or C130 or DD/FF will have no importance without that context.

There will be NO frigates or destroyers rebadged as anything through equipment transfer to T26 – if we even get a MG commitment. The problem is NOT kit. The problem is trained manpower to make it usable – even for T45. Re-engining is an active possibility – but very little to do with the Great White Turbine, more to do with the comedy DGs that the GWT suggested were possible…..

If capbadges are protected, you’ll know how much was capability-driven and how much politics.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 22, 2015 8:25 pm

TOC, the UK shoved thirty-odd billion quid into Typhoon before deciding not to continue publishing the numbers publicly.

As of 31st August, the RAF has received 134 Typhoon after twelve years of deliveries.

A two billion quid lump sum for influence on the F35 design seems quite reasonable. The rumoured twelve billion for a supposed 138 Lightning, plus the two billion, would still require a fair few billions worth of technology transfer for the F35 to close the gap.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 22, 2015 8:51 pm

Worries about the final number of Type 26 must be premature, as there will likely be an initial short order of only a handful of frigates. It would be some future government that pulls the plug on production, or not.

Rumours of ships taken out of service or laid up could easily relate to a firm date for Ocean going before QE enters service; or could relate to prior retirement of T23 ships to allow equipment to be shuffled over to in-production Type 26.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 22, 2015 9:11 pm

What; cheap as chips… reading on
“and the current odd $98 billion required for the US Navy Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) for 12 Ballistic Missile Submarine Program.”

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 22, 2015 9:14 pm

We have it, from a reliable source:
They are all surface combatants now
“are we sure that the reporter in question (or his source) knows the difference between a destroyer and a frigate?”

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 22, 2015 9:24 pm

No contradiction at all – and well you know it.

Numbers of platforms – as in 138 this, 13 that, 227 the other- are irrelevant compared to the number of operational units that can operate them. For example, a commitment to 138 F35 means nothing unless you know whether it will be operating in a 7-8 unit FJ force or a 10-12 one….

Peter Elliott
November 22, 2015 9:39 pm

“Cap Badges” has become a shorthand for the one area where the supply of trained manpower exceeds the supply of gucci equipment: the non elite light role infantry of the Adaptable Force.

To balance the armed forces overall some of this resource needs to be used to pay for the skilled sailors and airmen we need to operate the equipment we have or are buying.

But politics prevents that from happening. That is that grumbling about “cap badges” means…

John Hartley
John Hartley
November 22, 2015 9:42 pm

TON. I have been ranting on for a while that if the USAF buys 1763 F-35A, then they will have little money for anything else. If they cut to 1250 to 1400, then they free money for LRS-B, F-35E, a F-22 production restart or whatever else they want to do.
Seems some analysts in Washington have now woken up to this.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 22, 2015 10:17 pm

Peter, maybe we should have one or two green Type 26 amongst the grey ones, and give them regimental names.

I’m sure a battalion of infantry could figure out how one works. It can’t be all that difficult, I’ve met a few sailors.

cky7
cky7
November 22, 2015 10:28 pm

Cameron the weasel is just trying to hide the fact he’s cutting our forces to pieces even more. We might buy 138 F35s over the entire lifetime of the build program but I bet we’ll never have anything like that in operation at any one time.
Its just the same as when he and Osbourne out thought everyone backing the 2% campaign by pledging to do it (by cooking the books), but were really using it as an excuse to never spend more than 2% on defence EVER again. They probably loved it- just use a bit bullsh1t spin and we can rape the forces some more and if by any chance 2% looks like it might equate to an increase in funding we’ll cook the books by adding all sorts of crap to the ‘defence’ budget. Meanwhile he’ll get all chuffed about wasting ridiculous amounts of money on foreign aid whilst god knows how many UK citizens slide into poverty and can’t buy their kids christmas presents or granting asylum to Syrians and whoever else that costs us a fortune feeding and housing them whilst UK citizens get their benefits cut back to the bone.

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 10:29 pm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/12010688/David-Cameron-announces-5000-strong-strike-brigades-to-take-the-fight-to-terrorists.html

The government will announce plans to invest more than £178billion in military equipment over the next decade, including two new squadrons of Typhoon combat jets, 39 stealth fighters, nine “submarine hunting” planes and a new generation of drones.

chish
chish
November 22, 2015 10:35 pm
Reply to  Fedaykin

@ fedaykin
Can I just pick up on your critique of the A330 MRTT PFI deal. The tankers are supplied on the basis of number of hours used with a minimum of 9,000 hours contracted. By august last year 14,000 hours had been recorded. 9 are ‘core’ aircraft and 5 are ‘surge’ aircraft. The RAF has first call on ALL aircraft. The 5 surge aircraft can be leased out as Air Tanker can manage and indeed Thompson have done just that this year with the one ‘surge’ aircraft so far delivered. The ‘core’ 9 can also be used by Air Tanker privately. These aircraft could also fill the current shortfall in NATO European air tanking capacity. As I understand it some of the extra revenue comes back to the RAF therefore we are not, as you infer, paying for an underused fleet of tankers. Can I also say I will never agree that it is in any way ‘sensible’ to mothball brand new aircraft no matter what the reason. And why I think this deal needs to be seen for what it delivers and its flexibility rather than through the tainted glasses of being labelled a ‘PFI Deal’ which justifiably carries a fair bit of stench with it. (Undergrounds and Hospitals come to mind thanks to Mr Brown again). It is by far the best tanker for the RAF and FAA and the fact it can’t refuel some US Air Force aircraft is really not our concern. Should we REALLY need to add a boom we can after all the Aussies use the same aircraft but It is probably cheaper to modify the few Boom systems we have on C-17s and RW-135s (10 airframes). We CAN refuel most other Air Forces and Navies including the USMC and US Navy aircraft and it can deliver 111 Te of fuel which is better than anything other than the US KC-10 Extender (@ 160 Te) which is nearing the end of its service life.

And if you think the RAF has had a bum deal the USAF must be really hacked off being lumbered with the Boeing KC-46 ….

With apologies to our excellent hosts can I offer this as source of some information. It is a few years old but still valid.
http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/future-strategic-tanker-aircraft-inside.html

Mark
Mark
November 22, 2015 10:36 pm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/12010788/David-Cameron-We-will-defeat-terrorism-and-the-poisonous-ideology-that-fuels-it.html

Economic security and national security go hand in hand. So at the heart of our strategy is our decision to see through our long-term economic plan and use our renewed economic strength to invest further in our security. As a result, the United Kingdom will be the only major country in the world which is simultaneously going to meet the Nato target of spending 2 per cent of our GDP on defence and the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of our GNI on development, while also increasing investment in our security and intelligence agencies and in counter-terrorism.
We will use this comprehensive investment to cover the full spectrum of measures needed. This includes a real focus on tackling the causes of the threats we face – not just their consequences. So we will tackle the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism and refocus our aid budget to support fragile and broken states and regions, to prevent conflict and promote the golden thread of conditions that drive prosperity across the world: the rule of law, good governance and the growth of democracy.

Peter Elliott
November 22, 2015 10:50 pm

So the Telegraph says 9 P8A…

duker
duker
November 23, 2015 4:57 am
Reply to  Brian Black

Careful with that number of 30 odd billion.
Thats a published number of 37 billion , for ‘buying supporting and upgrading’

The actual cost of development and production up to 2010 was 18 billion pounds

and with an upper limit of spending of justover 20 bill, the total number has fallen to match with cutoff at Tranche 3A.
“Production costs have remained within the original approval of £13.5 billion, though 30% fewer aircraft are being procured.”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmpubacc/860/860.pdf
Public Accounts Committee. on management of Typhoon

Development cost ( share) was 6.7 bill. A bargain really. Some mentions of 137 bill each includes support costs and the capital cost ( ie money paid to Treasury for the privledge)

The cost of capital sneaks in all over the place when taking about costs. Its a crazy system which means the politicians claim they are spending more when they are getting cost of capital refunds back to Treasury

DirtyCrab
DirtyCrab
November 23, 2015 11:26 am

Only 8 Type 26 Frigates. *crying face*

Fedaykin
November 23, 2015 11:00 pm

@chish

Interesting points, but the news is the aircraft are under utilised hence the conversion. Also I will not accept the PFi deal being waved off as good as you have. It is an unholy waste of money and you don’t need tainted glasses to see that. I agree it is the best tanker for the UK but it should never have been done via PFI.

Also the UK regularly mothballs aircraft, it is how we run our fighter fleet to ensure we meet the aircraft’s OSD. Not ideal with a tanker but at least we wouldn’t of been trapped in the PFI deal. I made no comment about the boom so I don’t know why that was directed at me. (I think we should of got the boom by the way, I had a fascinating conversation with an RAF Sentry pilot once who wistfully told me he wish they had been asked when the decision was made not to go for the boom).

Anyhow thanks for your points. Always fun to have differing views politely stated ;-)