Alternative RN from 1983

zen

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1983, rather than 1982 is a key date for decisions for the RN and UK defence as a whole, in the light of the Falklands and it's effect not just on defence thinking but on the UK populace's attitude to their country. As surely as it was to the political establishment.

But in terms of changes a lot did not 'as such' change, though I'm given to understand a number of key compromises were made.

For the RN some, but curiously not all of Nott's defence review was revisited and the RN retained it's Invincible class CVs and the bulk of the surface fleet.

However.......
This really could and should have been a wider ranging set of changes and fed forward to a different set of outcomes. Mostly I heard this was dropping ships from storage and a number of supporting elements of the surface fleet. Less tail and more teeth.

Notably, we can raise the issue of the P.1216, the supersonic Harrier and Jaguar successor.
But that rather obscures the deeper and more important shifts that could have come about, which are the product of the components of such a indigenous combat aircraft. Namely a more powerful Blue Vixen radar, and the scaled up XG40 engine to power the aircraft to name the most obvious elements.

Truth is even then, the UK is not committed to just a STOVL type, as all these components are as applicable to a CTOL aircraft, slightly smaller than the Eurofighter, though notably larger than a Grippen. Sukhoi's S-32 canard delta show's the sort of direction possible.
Such a CTOL machine, would more appropriately contest with the F16 and F15 in exports as it would more naturally succeed Dassault's Mirage 2000.

Furthermore, in funding the RR engine, a marine GT variant should also be funded. Aimed to succeed the Spey and Olympus.

The oddity of not re-examining further developments of Sea Dart is explainable by the 'draw' of the NFR90 effort, NAAWS and FAMS. But considering the way this panned out, it's arguable the RN would've better been served to not enter that morass.
Really they had two not one domestic options here.
1. Indeed develop Sea Dart and if so, go for the most capable and VL compatible.
2. developments of Sea Wolf, essentially a enlarged missile for greater range and the GWS27 with AESA succeeding the 911's.

Either of which should also be rolled out on land to replace Bloodhound.

Either system needs a new ship to use it, the main argument being between something like the ATF or the earlier Type 43.

The CV side of things.
Really the sale of the Invincibles should have been delayed, but not halted and a new focus on more capable CVs begun. Hermes showed just how useful larger numbers and a longer deck are.
Obviously a range of options would be available to pursue, but the temptation would be to work with the French. Not the worst outcome if a Franco-British CVN force is the result.

AEW is a problem, and a solution beyond the lashup used would be no simple task, and very dependant on whether the RN gain new STOVL or CTOL aircraft and carriers.

It is arguable that the Upholder saga was a avoidable mess that saved nothing.
A development of the Trafalgar SSN for shallower operations is quite plausible.

Anyone with other thoughts on this scenario?
 

uk 75

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Interesting questions.
The UK between 1983 and 1990 was having as usual to do too much with too little.
Integration with NATO allies helped to fill some gaps. The US and Royal Navies in particular knew each other" s strengths and weaknesses and organised operations accordingly.
The RAF came off worst in the period. Its elderly Jaguars and Phantoms were not upgraded enough. The Nimrod AEW fiasco wasted scarce resources. The crucial Tornado force were not equipped with state of the art weapons.
 

Hood

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I think these kinds of scenarios make the wrong conclusions because they assume that warship programme spring up fairly rapidly. In fact since the 1960s most RN classes have had very long gestation periods. The initial Oberon replacement dates back to 1971 and the Invincibles are products of what was initially the Escort Cruiser which began life in 1960. Even if you take 1983 as the starting point for a larger carrier its not likely to commission until 1990-92 at the earliest. For a CVN you're probably looking at 15-20 years to develop a home-grown product, even with French co-operation your not saving much time and to be honest Britain has never stuck to any international naval efforts for very long. So you're still stuck with Invincibles for at least a decade or 15 years.

I've never been convinced by the P.1216 arguments, I'm not sure it would have been cost effective to develop given the technical leaps needed and some kind of international partner was probably required. Not sure supersonic VSTOL was really necessary for the RAF, still not convinced it is even today. A small fighter might have been worthwhile and could have been developed. A BAE-SAAB joint effort to Gripen might have been a good move. BAE proved it could lash up EAP from existing bits. We might have been able to go it alone using RB.199 and Blue Vixen developments but would it have been exportable?

I never really liked Type 43, too focused on double-ended design and probably too much emphasis on anti-aircraft weaponry (who really needs 2x Sea Dart and 4x Sea Wolf?) and the hangar location although mathematically sound was probable not quite as feasible in real-life operations. A couple of Excoets strapped to the stern proves this was nothing more than a super Air Defence ship but a modernised Type 42 would have been just as good.

I agree with the new RR marine turbine and some of the improved Sea Dart and Sea Wolf ideas make some sense, but we're talking about 1960s designs that probably needed a fair bit of work to remain effective beyond 1990. A fresh sheet approach probably makes sense in the long-term view.

Upholder was designed partly because of the littoral reconnaissance and insertion roles (the SSNs did some insertion work in the Falklands, it took the Oberons an age to get that far down south) but also because diesel subs were so quiet. Even Whiskey class subs had remained undetected at times and it was felt that the SSK was an ideal anti-submarine weapon. The Upholders were meant for the GIUK gap, Barents Sea, Iberian area and NW approaches. They were every bit as sophisticated as the SSNs but were cheaper, able to be built in other non nuclear yards, be quieter and offer cheaper training options and even perhaps earn a bit of export cash. Had the Cold War carried on, they may well of had longer lives though I suspect only 6 would ever have been built.
 

zen

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Firstly, my take on this scenario is not that things suddenly happen and it all get achieved in a few years. That's not the nature of things in any defence establishment save under conditions of major war. If even then.

Yes it would take various elements on this, time. Time to even emerge from any decision process and time to be committed to and funded to realisation.

You are right in that it would take us beyond 1990 to see all this realised. I thought that was obvious. Perhaps it is not?

In the end this is just speculation, a basis for debate to arrive at a possible 'probable' outcome.
Working with the French is not a given in this, but the choice for new carriers of larger size and capability than Invincible is.

It's notable people ignore the more pertinent point I make on the subject of the P.1216. Which is it's NOT about the P.1216, but rather the gamut of technologies the UK was able to develop for any new aircraft. Which the industry felt it was able to develop.
There is an entire argument over whether to focus of STVOL, or CTOL aircraft here.
A great deal of what constitutes the Eurofighter has UK technology as a basis. EJ200, Captor even the FCS are rather more rooted in UK efforts than it's 'international' flavour suggests.
Yes, going it alone is more expensive, for a given definition of expensive, and comes at a higher risk. In turn it's potential to be realised at a faster rate and in fact considering the cost implications of the innumerable delays actually less cost.
Controversial I know, and debatable, endlessly so, if one wishes.

However, my take is there is scope for a single large engine powered fighter/attack machine, that answers the criticisms of a Grippen sized machine while not being quite the size/weight of the Eurofighter. Yes more a successor to the Viggen, or a challenger to the F16, and comparable (and superior I suspect) to the J10. In fact think of the effect of switching the Eurofighter from two to one large engine, think of the weight and drag savings that would feed back into the design and on the costings.
AS a general rule, two engines are more expensive than one. With the proviso that one raises the risks off airframe loss in a engine out scenario. It's a trade off.

Rather too focused on the specifics of the 1970's Type 43 design Hood. See beyond the double ender to the VLS equipped warship with double the Speys of a Duke. No twin launchers there, just banks of VLS silo's. Hell maybe under those conditions the entire design might be significantly different from the Type 43, which would just be the starting point for the new ship.

In fact while we're at it, see the ATF instead and now try to envision it equipped with GWS.27, flat plate AESA instead of 911s and if you can squint far enough aherad, you might make out the larger AAW ship equipped with MESAR and 'Long Wolf' which has replaced Sea Dart.
I always have a soft spot for the idea of GMLRS and ATACMS on ships instead of a big gun.

Neither of which is guaranteed, as under the conditions of say VLS Sea Wolf, VLS Sea Dart II or Long Wolf, and maybe VLS Sea Eagle, then the option for more general purpose ships is stronger.
We might in fact be talking of a Type 83 instead.

Upholder was the SSK industry resurrected, and not that successfully. I'm given to understand not all of the class's problems in Canadian service are connected to the poor state they received them in.
 

Hood

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I don't disagree with you that this would take time to accomplish and I'm not attempting to suggest that your suggesting quick fixes.
I just feel that even alternate timelines like these fall foul of the same problems that the real timelines do. Circumstances change as events move on. Effectively your chopping into several 1970s projects and significantly altering them. That delays and adds cost and replicates what happened since the 1980s.

Take the Upholder Class; in 1971 there were only a handful of SSNs. The Admiralty did not want to risk one of its few precious SSNs in littoral work if a quieter diesel could do the same job safer and cheaper. By the time Upholder arrived the SSN was much bigger and SSNs had got in close to the Soviet coast. The SSK was still very useful but were not so valuable as to be maintained at the risk of losing valuable SSNs (which has happened ever since). Yes quality was poor in some aspects, more proof that really the shipbuilding industry is just not strong enough for mass expansion or several simultaneous projects.
Larger carriers and Type 43 with VLS missiles sound good, probably ideal things but they still come to fruition just as the Wall falls and the peace dividend sees things being scaled back or cancelled.

Looking at the technical side, I agree that more modern 3-D array radars could have been developed in the 1970s (as I suggested with my alt mini-Type 82) and that would have been a good start to a good Sea Dart system. Better developments could have been fielded had the money been their and the willpower to do so. I still think that Sea Dart might have been long in the tooth but I see no reason why further developments could not have been done, a 'Sea Dart 21' for the 1990s may have been a good move. My only worry with a VLS Sea Dart is that your then excluding the Type 42s from upgrading unless you want to have two types; VLS and non-VLS.

I'd back the BAe P.106 as a better starting point for a suitable design, but yes I accept that engine and electronic development was key and that Eurofighter is in essence a British product at its heart (Germany and Italy and Spain lacked the depth of expertise that BAe, RR and GEC had). Whether a go it alone approach would result in exports I'm not so sure. BAe did well at exporting the Hawk, but the Hawk 200 was a niche product, Tornado only had one export, the Eurofighter has not done well and Dassault have always had the edge on the markets since the 1960s (in terms of European products). Worth pointing out here that BAe in the 80s and early 90s failed to even shift commercial aircraft, the Jetstream 41, ATP and 146 proving mixed success and selling 146s on lease terms to fragile commuter airlines nearly took the company into bankruptcy.
A BAe P.106 or EAP derived fighter for the RAF would have been realised much sooner than Eurofighter but it would have aged quicker, it certainly would not be a export competitor in 2016 unless continual developments were kept up.
 

zen

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Not so able to type lots now, maybe longer tomorrow.

VLS available in 1990s. Would not be cut as part of peace divided. Too useful.
Refit Type 42. Expensive, but continuation with arm launchers is a waste of limited budgets.
Missile developments started in '83 would not be cancelled for peace in 1990. Rather ISD delayed possibly as would transition to all VLS fleet. Too far gone by 1990-93.
 

Hano

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Just how viable would P.1216 have been as a Harrier/Sea Harrier/Jaguar replacement? By viable, I mean was it a concept too far, or were the various technologies necessary to make it successful of sufficient maturity to ensure an in-service aircraft by, say, the mid 90s? (For the sake of argument, assume that a total RAF/RN buy would be something of the order of 250-300 aircraft, especially if CVF or similar comes on stream earlier than SDSR. With knock on effects around export orders and even JSF)
H
 

zen

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As is P.1216 was touted as a harrier jaguar successor, but Defence ministers preferred Euro fighter.

As is there was some work on PCB reheat.

Blue vixen was developed as was Zeus for Harrier II.
 

uk 75

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P1216 would have been a nightmare to procure.

We were only able to acquire the late models of Harrier because the US provided the money and
the manufacturing capacity. Noone else in NATO was at all interested in a VSTOL aircraft. The
Italians and Spanish were quite content with US Harriers.

In particular, the Germans had zero interest in vstol after their hard knocks in the 60s and viewed
it as a degrading of the performance of a fighter/bomber. They were quite content with cheap
and cheerful Alpha Jets for close support and Tornados for the serious stuff.

If we had bought it, it would have been a costlier version of Sea Harrier, with only India as a possible customer.
It is not clear, given the poor performance of the Yak 38, what its Cold War role would have been.
 

zen

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OK lets have a go here.

Upholder, not a success, limited build, limited numbers, great cost to develop and sapping of resources (including personnel) . In essence it wasted more than it achieved. However much one might like some SSKs to complement SSNs the reality is this wasted monies better spent elsewhere.
Either in building more SSNs or in some other area of defence.
IF one truly insists on SSKs other nations had kept up developments in this field. I would look say to the Dutch here for example (that rather ties in with a different alternative history scenario, one raised in Sea Dart Success of greater Anglo-Dutch cooperation).
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Sea Dart II or Sea Dart 21 or whatever you want to call it is not the only option. As I've said elsewhere if you fund GWS.27 fully then all the component parts are as applicable for a longer ranged SAM as they are to the short ranged SAM Sea Wolf.

If memory serves this would pre-date ESSM, which I seem to recall is a product of NAAWS but I maybe wrong.

As is Sea Dart II would need substantive change (virtually a new missile) anyway.

VLS
It is a good question whether to rework the existing Type 42s to use VLS or whether it is simply cheaper to sell/scrap them and replace with ships that do use such a system.
Certainly shipping the arm launcher and raising the magazine
I don't claim to have the answer. I do claim to be interested.
 

Grey Havoc

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Hood said:
I never really liked Type 43, too focused on double-ended design and probably too much emphasis on anti-aircraft weaponry (who really needs 2x Sea Dart and 4x Sea Wolf?) and the hangar location although mathematically sound was probable not quite as feasible in real-life operations. A couple of Excoets strapped to the stern proves this was nothing more than a super Air Defence ship but a modernised Type 42 would have been just as good.

Given that Type 43s in their projected roles would likely have had to face attack from both SSGNs and heavy land based Soviet Naval aviation forces, not to mention dealing with the odd VTOL or helicopter, it can be argued that such a load out was merely honouring the threat.
 

zen

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Type 43 was the product of the need for more potent AAW capability than then available from Invincible class CVs and Type 42 Destroyers matched with Type 22 Frigates and modernised Leanders.

The problem with the design was a lack of missile capacity, in simulations it survived, but in assessing those simulations it had fired off more missiles than it would actually have.

There are two ways to 'fix' this issue.
1. is to improve the missiles, Sea Dart II if funded to the highest spec would be faster, have autopilot, increased range and increased agility. Matched with a 3D radar and improved TIRs.
Ideally with ARM variants also developed.

2. in moving to VLS one could expand the available missile capacity for a given weight.

Sadly parsimony is a likely feature of government thinking on the mkII, the lowest cost option being preferred and this undermines the case for the missile as it does for new warships equipped with it.

To the matter of modernised Type 42's I read they could have gained the mkII at the cost of the 4.5" gun. VLS might have changed that outcome.

Furthermore the study Type 44 used a Type 22 Batch 2 hull and machinary. Which could be built in larger numbers. At the cost of one launcher and just two TIRs.
That said again with VLS and the full spec mkII this is not a bad option.

VLS Sea Dart II and VLS Sea Wolf GWS.26 resolve a lot of issues. The chief remaining problem being that they use such different silos.

The alternative by 1983 is to pursue GWS.27 Active Sea Wolf and AESA replacements for the 911s, matched with VLS. Scale up the missile and this could engage targets at greater range. Considering the diameter of the existing missile, a longer weapon would permit a uniform type of canister silo, with only length varying.
A unitary solution could thus be achieved.
 
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