uk 75

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27 September 2006
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The usual crew of retired military and political types are warning that the UK is not able to meet its defence requirements with the present budget and kit.

Given the collective expertise on this board what advice would you give the Prime Minister who takes over in May after the election?

I find the present situation eerily similar to that in the 60s when we were having to balance our Continental NATO commitments with the various crises out of area. Then it was a no-brainer, NATO dictated what we spent money on in the 70s and 80s. Today I am not so sure.
I think the idea we have to revise the BAOR into the BAOV (V for Vistula) is a thorny one. On the one hand our contribution should properly be dwarfed by the US and Germany, and frankly the likes of Poland and Romania.
On the other hand we have to show we're all in it together and ready to fight and die with them on the frontline.

Problem is this distracts us from the real support we can and have to give. Which is essentially "we've got your back Germany" in dealing with threats external to Europe (with the likes of France) and in securing the western side of Europe. Which is mainly a naval mission.

We have to remain the bridge that binds the USA and Canada into NATO.

So in this light, while we can and should improve the Army and certainly expand it beyond it's current scale.

Above all this means the Deterrent, keeping our enemies from risking nuclear weapons use and our allies from betraying us.
Beyond that more SSN, and an increased Frigate fleet would help secure the sea (with attendant increases in helicopter forces).
We can produce a third variant of the Type 26 aimed at AAW, rather than try to build more Type 45's and fund the further development of Aster missiles with France and Italy. Both for AAW ships and I think it's time to regain that sort of SAM capability on land.

A return to maritime patrol aircraft is also needed, curious rumbles about looking at Japan's new machine.
I believe the most urgent need is to renew our maritime patrol capability; my knee jerk preference is for the Kawasaki PX.

Next we need to improve our air defences. Firstly we need more AWACS; I do not believe that six is sufficient to offer proper coverage of the UK, undertake overseas deployments and allow for maintenance and upgrades. Secondly, deploy additional fighter squadrons (achieved by not retiring the Tranche 1 Typhoons). Thirdly, by procuring a long ranged SAM system, either the Aster 30 based system or equivalent US system.

For the navy I agree that there is a need of additional AAW escorts, but I believe it makes more sense to produce additional T45's rather that waste time and money on designing a T26 variant. We should also return to a force level of 12 SSN. I also believe there is a case for acquiring a number of smaller SSK's for use in the North Sea and Channel.

For the Army, I would like to see the cuts in manpower reversed, keep the BAOR, and bring all the Chally 2's back into service. FRES and the Warrior update seem to be covering all the other tracked vehicle needs to date. I would also suggest that there is a need to improve the army's air defence capability. Although they are due to replace Rapier with CAMMS, I believe they should also have a medium range system. The system that would appear ideal to me is NASAM which could be purchased largely off the shelf (my choice for the chassis would be the one developed for Shielder.
JohnR said:
I believe the most urgent need is to renew our maritime patrol capability; my knee jerk preference is for the Kawasaki PX.

I would think the USN/RAN solution of Tritons/Poseidons would make more sense.
GTX said:
JohnR said:
I believe the most urgent need is to renew our maritime patrol capability; my knee jerk preference is for the Kawasaki PX.

I would think the USN/RAN solution of Tritons/Poseidons would make more sense.

Yeap Japan has touted the P-1, but the MOD preference is P-8/GlobalHawk mix as shown by the fact two thirds of Project Seedcorn intended to retain MPA crew skills are embedded in the USN programme. I suspect they are looking at the Australian package as a basis for a similar UK deal should the SDSR2015 and new govt sanction it.
zen: your thoughts are compelling. A stronger Army and Navy, for our Western Approaches/flank Tasks could only be fitted into a 2-3% of GDP (beyond that, those running for Office will stumble) if we rethink the big ticket items. Successor, Astute SSN, CVF, T-26, FRES, F-35. We can't do all of this. Choose, wisely, and role-share. We do this, Ally does that. We now appear to have an identity for the nominal rogue-Formed Force Threat.
I suspect that the real need is simply for more money. Money for primarily manpower and secondarily for equipment for them to use. Without the political will to spend you won't get much...

1. The simplest expansion of the Deterrent is increasing the supply of ready to use warheads. Anything else is a whole order of magnitude in terms of costs.

2. It will be difficult (expensive) now to increase the drumbeat of SSN production to include even one more Astute. So we should look at how we can extend one or more of the older SSNs lives. But we can increase the speed of Successor's arrival and reduce the gap before more SSN's are run off the line.

3. Japan's approach is speculative, but it does share a similar set of requirements. Prior to this, P8 was 'it' in the aftermath of Nimrod MRA4. Certainly I'm agnostic on which machine is best, but the rumble was proprietary elements of Nimrod MRA4 are considered something to retain and applicable to either machine. Though it's going to be harder leverage that onto P8, so the rumour suggested.

4. To my memory the limits of production capacity and the design preclude a 'cheap' increase in Type 45 numbers. At this stage is simpler to increase the production 'drumbeat' of GCS (Type 26)

5. The strongest case in the Army is fielding precision guidance kits on the large rocket systems. Ideally we'd gain this for ATACMs as well as MRLS.
first get Royal Navy some planes for there Aircraft carrier*

while the F-35 is get more delayed and more expensive and less capable on this demands
it better Britain canceled the F-35 contract completely

Goes into UK museum and archive to get a Bristol Siddeley BS.100/9 vectored-thrust turbofan engine. (that was for supersonic VTOL Hawker Siddeley P.1154)
build with modern materials by Rolls Royce and get BAE build fuselage mabey based on older projects like Hawker Siddeley P.1216

* in the Alternate Forum
was long running Joke about a independent Scotland with fleet of Aircraft carrier without airplanes.
in alternate timeline they buy the British WW2 carriers, but not look close into the contract small print,
UK so sell them the Carriers only...
Unlit in real 2014, Great Britain put second larges Aircraft Carrier in world to Service without Aircraft...
As I mentioned in the 'Bundeswehr' sister thread, one can not be said to be seriously rearming if you don't re-establish your land mine and cluster munition capabilities as one of the very first orders of business.

As for a MPA, the P-8, even in it's P-8I guise, may be a dead end that you don't want to waste scare resources on. But licence production of the P-1 even as a interim measure presents it's own set of procurement challenges, especially given a rapidly deteriorating operational outlook together with British aerospace & defence industries that frankly have seen much better days.

If Great Britain is really desperate, the option discussed here might be a option, but, it is literally a desperation option, IMHO.
Michel Van said:
while the F-35 is get more delayed and more expensive and less capable on this demands
it better Britain canceled the F-35 contract completely

Any facts to back this up?
Grey Havoc said:
As for a MPA, the P-8, even in it's P-8I guise, may be a dead end that you don't want to waste scare resources on.

Grey Havoc said:
if you don't re-establish your land mine and cluster munition capabilities as one of the very first orders of business.

How about you first define the threat(s)/operational needs before jumping onto one weapon system or another...
GTX said:
Michel Van said:
while the F-35 is get more delayed and more expensive and less capable on this demands
it better Britain canceled the F-35 contract completely

Any facts to back this up?

So far i know the Aircraft carrier had to be equipped in Mai 2012 with F-35
but do problems with F-35 program delay in USA and British economy measure
the Aircraft carrier completion was delay to 2014, the date for the F-35 test on HMS Queen Elisabeth is now for 2020...

Source: Wikipedia, BBC, the telegraph and this forum.
We have two 'neighbour' located threats of differing natures.

1. is the general Islamist trend that is raging along the south and eastern Med coastlines. In a military sense this can be dealt with 'expeditionary' forces as we have seen. In this europe is still reliant on the US, which could be rectified.
Should something ever be done about Syria, it is Turkey that must lead.

2. The rise of Russian Nationalism and the Putin doctrine. We see a lot of revamping military forces and the stirring up of ethnic Russians in other states.

In hardware terms, Russia's surface fleet is deteriorating and their capacity to replace it is severely hampered.
Not so their submarine forces, which are being (albeit at lower numbers) sustained with new vessels.
However in terms of their doctrine of degrees of deniability the submarine is an ideal instrument for causing trouble.

We see their airforces are being developed and they have obviously worked hard on their army after Georgia.

In essence this is less like the 1930's and more like the century before.
Concentrating on the Russian threat for the moment, the likely worse case scenario would be that under provocations real or imagined Russia abandons it's current 'salami slicing' strategy and goes all out in settling old scores & removing NATO from it's backyard. A full scale invasion of Eastern Europe in other words.

In such a scenario, the Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova would likely be abandoned immediately by the West, despite all the rhetoric to the contrary; just trying to defend NATO's Baltic members will take everything they have, the operative word here being 'try'. And don't even get me started on places like Serbia/Kosovo. That's of course assuming NATO doesn't fall apart like a rotten fruit at the first shot, with individual members attempting to make their own accommodations with the Russian Bear.

The use of tactical nukes even as a bluff seems to be out of play for the moment, given the state of NATO inventories (both weapons & delivery systems) and the current administration in the United States.

With the cupboard being so empty, there won't anywhere near enough assets to mount a mobile defence based on classical moving engagements, much less anything like the old NATO style 'Flexible Response'. Therefore, resistance will likely have to be based around interlocking fixed lines of defence, with fortified strongpoints at critical locations. With regards as to interdiction of enemy forces, use of deep strikes along with the associated FOFA concept will not be an option for the immediate future given the aforementioned empty shelves, with the possible exception of a few isolated cruise missile strikes. So the so-called 'Shallow Strike' school of thinking will be in session, though somehow I doubt that even in their worse nightmares proponents of that philosophy ever imagined that there would be a situation where there is so little to work with.

On the defensive side, landmines and cluster munitions would have two primary roles in the short term; the first to block, funnel and delay advancing enemy forces long enough for NATO forces (including British elements presumably) to hopefully be able to throw together something resembling effective defence lines. The second to help maintain those same lines against extremely unfavourable odds. The problem is, that even if sanity was to suddenly size those NATO leaders who have supported the Oslo & Ottawa Treaties right this minute, rebuilding the huge stockpiles that will be needed in the short time window likely available is a nigh well impossible task, given the deliberate general neglect by NATO members of their defense industries in the last 20 yrs or so. Nonetheless, the attempt must be made IMHO, and soon.

Deterrence has been allowed to fail, all NATO can do now is prepare for the consequences whatever they may be.
Russia is unlikely to drop it's salami slicing approach. Maskirovka Ops are a feature not just of Ukraine now, but due to the political environment inside Russia, almost certainly the method of choice for any future operations.

They cannot sustain a mass armoured drive into Eastern Europe without grinding to a halt in the face of the response.

What we can and will see is a test of Article 5 of NATO possibly in one of the Baltic states, and likely being quite controversial due to their treatment of ethnic Russians.
Expect also something in Transdnistria and Moldova.

The most likely full scale military op, would be in Byelorussia, as we now see the 'dictator' there trying to manouver away from Putin enough to maintain his independence.

Thank you as usual for the excellent and informative contributions.

I would sum up the missions for the UK Armed Forces as follows:

Defence of UK sovereign territory

Contribution of forces to NATO that add advantage and do not duplicate the efforts of other member states

Implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions and limited actions in support of Coalitions of the willing outside the NATO area

The UK national deterrent should be renewed at the lowest effective level necessary to cooperate with United States ( 3 vessels with basing possibly partially in the US)

RAF Air Defence Assets should be increased to a full comp of Typhoons and supporting tankers and AWACS. Patriots should be leased if ASTER is too expensive.

Naval General Purpose Forces to be reviewed to increase levels to meet Russian threat to reinforcement of NATO area

Army forces to be organised to permit deployment of 1 Brigade to Eastern Europe (Royal Marine Commando to Baltic)

More anon
Sorry the computer booted me off in the Library

Ground Forces seem to be to be the big problem for the UK. We simply do not have a good track record postwar in putting together large units which compare favourably with big players like the US, Russia, Germany (or the Israelis).

I think the poor performance of the British command structure (at the top) in Afghanistan and Iraq must lead to an intense review (perhaps by a US senior officer) of where we want wrong and of course what we do well. The review should be no holes barred and be direct to the new PM.

A Royal Marine Commando or two exercising in the Baltic full time (like we used to do in Norway) would act as a tripwire for larger US and German formations to build up. We could also develop our special forces and counterintelligence support. The Baltic States are the new West Berlin.

Outside Europe it is difficult to see how British forces can again serve in the Islamic world given the political climate at home. Divisive and unpalatable come to mind. However, allies like Jordan deserve whatever support we can give behind the scenes. I for one would turn a blind eye to mercenaries fighting the likes of Boko Haram, Al Shabab, IS with methods that the Media and Human rights lawyers would not approve of. However, who the mecenaries would be and whether they might end up being just as dangerous (Mujahideen?).
There is nothing wrong with the UK's present military equipment. What is needed is more money and more men and women to man them.
uk 75 said:
The UK national deterrent should be renewed at the lowest effective level necessary to cooperate with United States ( 3 vessels with basing possibly partially in the US)

4 boats are generally accepted as the minimum number to meet the requirements of a practical strategic deterrent. Also, even partial basing in the CONUS would be a political nonstarter for what is still supposed to be an independent deterrent. You could though drastically reduce overall development and procurement costs on the new SSBN class by using it as the basis of a much larger in numbers SSGN class, to be built and put into service well ahead of the boomers.

While we're still on the issue of nuclear weaponry, the UK also needs to rapidly re-establish her tactical nuclear capability. She still does have the Atomic Weapons Establishment, though the government may need to renationalise it in a hurry in order to pre-empt certain issues, potential and otherwise. The first order of business after dealing with organisational & logistical matters would be to restore the AWE's production competence by producing a small initial batch of WE.177A warheads, say around 40 (the Royal Navy could certainly use some nuclear depth charges). Then move onto production of similar warheads for a new RAF free fall tactical weapon (at least between 100-200 examples).

While that is going on, the UK should purchase the plans for the ASLP missile from the French, for the basis of providing a stand off tactical nuclear & sub-strategic capability for the RAF. Perhaps also getting the plans for the S-45 (Midgetman equivalent) missile from them at the same time with a view to increasing the options for the strategic deterrent. As for the ASLP warhead, digging up the plans for the US W70-3 warhead (ERW) may be a very good idea indeed. Immediately starting work on a W91 equivalent warhead with a mind as to other new nuclear weapons for the British armed forces would also seem highly prudent.

EDIT: One warhead design I forgot to mention that the AWE could (in theory at least) manufacture large quantities of fairly rapidly is of course the W33 warhead used primarily in the old M422 8-inch artillery shell, though delivery systems for a modern version might be a bit of a problem.
Peter Hennessy has a good book about the British Nuclear Deterrent (I forget the title) which explains the ins and outs of the arguments of 3-5 boats. As you say the 4 boat option was considered the minimum necessary to deter the Soviet Union. It is also true that the savings are not that great.
My mention of the US option was based on the political reality that a majority of voters in Scotland want the submarines gone from Faslane and the military reality that alternative facilities in England will not be easy to establish. The US has more than ample facilities and we now regard the deterrent as a part of our relationship with the US. The argument that we could independently use the deterrent from the US was lost many moons ago.
Of course Mr Putin is doing an excellent job of reminding us why we need the Deterrent. Although the subtlty of the threat to NATO posed by Maskirovka and political/economic pressure on vulnerable members does outflank the deterrent somewhat.
I've read this thread with interest and thought I'd stick my oar in. I wrote a post a few days ago about who we are, and what we have but deleted it as I thought it would cause an avalanche . My opinions concern our nuclear deterrent and other major weapon systems recently procured
What's caused me to put pen to paper, is a piece I heard on the Today programme where they interviewed a member of the Greens and Bob Steward. He put the Ukraine forward as an example as to why we should continue to have nuclear weapons stating that Russia wouldn't have assisted the 'pro-Russian' rebels if the Ukraine still had nukes. Playing devils advocate would that not logically suggest we should therefore arm the Baltic States with said nukes, how about Hungary, Romania? My issue is, at what point would a country press the button?

I can not see any scenario in which the UK would launch a nuclear strike. From what I can gather(I am no expert only an ex serviceman), the two concerns put forward are a rogue state or a terrorist nuclear attack. In either case the amount of international pressure applied to not react would be truly immense, would we/could we seriously ignore such pressure? If we did strike back, what would we hit? It wouldn't be a population centre, so infrastructure? Military? One of the problems of locking ourselves into international organisations like NATO or the UN is that we would not be able act unilaterally.
If we take a case like Russia. They have shown that Maskirovka and 'salami slicing' works(Zen posted the same). Putin tested the ground in Georgia and he's stepped it up with the Ukraine. He doesn't have to go as far as a nuke attack, and seriously can you see any of the nuclear NATO countries launching? I'm sorry I can't.

My other issue is something which increasingly affects militaries across the world. In our current state, we are not, and haven't been for quite sometime a military power that can carry out sustained military intervention for any length of time due to cost. I think Iraq and Afghanistan highlighted our weaknesses. So my second contentious point is why are we buying systems that cost such prodigeous amounts but supply so few units. We have two aircraft carriers with currently no aircraft to put on them, and then we are only buying 43 F35sti kit them out. What I'm trying to get at is, weapon systems are becoming increasingly expensive, so what happens when we lose them. How would we be able to afford to replace the aircraft losses in a war situation? The same goes for ground and naval assets.

I am a believer a in strong military, but I think we need to look to the very near future. More and systems are going to become autonomous due to pressure to keep casualties down and fiscal needs. We still need boots on the ground but I do believe we are spending our money unwisely.
I know that the things I've written are a bit contentious and might cause some people to pop a gasket, I don't mean to offend just perhaps to pose one or two points to discuss.
Hot Breath said:
Grey Havoc said:
I'm surprised no-one has yet mentioned the final collapse of the CFE treaty yesterday.

Your link doesn't link to anything except the FT's front page.

Sorry Hot Breath, I should have mentioned that you might have to register to see that story. Here's another link, this time from the Associated Press:

Ifor, some reasonable points there. However, with regards as to tactical and sub-strategic nuclear weapons, I wouldn't be so sure that they won't be ultimately used if things really fall apart. Desperate times summon desperate measures, and two of the actors in this mess, Russia & France, have nuclear release policies that amount to default 'First Use' if certain conditions are met. If NATO countries still had Chemical Weapons stockpiles, the situation might be less likely to escalate that far, at least in the shorter term. Unfortunately though...

For example, if Obama ultimately stabs NATO in the back and refuses to fulfil the United State's obligations (including the 'Nuclear Umbrella') in the event of a full scale conflict, then use by France of it's sub-strategic 'tripwire' becomes all but inevitable. The question then being, where will said tripwire be triggered; the Polish/Ukrainian border? The German/Polish border? The old Inner German border? The outskirts of Brussels?

On the issue of automated defenses versus major call-up of manpower to shore up defences, I would actually say the latter will be far more prevalent in the short to medium term, in part because of the generally dire state of the defence industries in the various NATO members, but also because the most effective automated defenses are currently denied to most NATO countries because of idiotic treaties mentioned elsewhere in this thread. In the short term then, even the most casualty shy NATO countries are going to have to either accept said casualties, or else surrender off the bat by reaching an accommodation with Russia & withdrawing from NATO.

So, urgently rebuilding industrial infrastructure and scrapping restrictive (read insane) treaties would seem to be among the most immediate priorities re. shoring up NATOs defences in a hurry (read yesterday).
I am still unsure why everybody seems to want to concentrate on nuclear weapons all the time.
I'll use that as a cue to concentrate for a moment on something I mentioned in passing in my last post: Chemical Weapons.

The CWC is yet another zombie treaty that needs to be put down by the UK yesterday. Assuming that happy outcome is completed in a timely manner (not assured with the current government alas), a short term expedient as a cheap and cheerful area denial weapon might be to use the British chemical industry (such as it is these days) to manufacture large amounts of an old reliable, Lewisite. Mix it with some Prussic acid to degrade suit and vehicle NBC filters (ironically an old Soviet trick) and use it as the filler for command/signature detonated chemical mines that will be emplaced at suitable locations on potential lines of advance.

You'd have a weapon that will be able to hopefully raise the threshold for the use of chemical weapons, and if the worse comes to the worse, effectively block and slow down advancing enemy forces. Though there may be some teething problems regarding the design and manufacture of said mines in the first place, after so long a pause on practical R&D on such weapons systems in the UK.
The Chemical Weapons treaties are necessary to try and ensure we don't see the widespread (mis)use of chemical weapons. They are treaties which appear to be working, why withdraw from them? ::)
In a rational world, that theory would hold at least some water; unfortunately this is not such a world. To paraphrase an old saying: Those without swords will die on the ones of those who do. Countries with NBC weapons have a massive advantage over those ones who don't, even if the latter hadn't already allowed to wither or indeed enthusiastically scrapped practically all of their conventional capability. The arms control treaties they often used as a convenient excuse for doing this are now falling apart at a fast clip, not to mention that they were seriously flawed in the first place both in theory and execution.

In practice, the only way to reliably deter an attack against oneself with NBC weapons is to have an at least equal retaliatory capability in at least one of those weapon categories yourself.

The moral high ground isn't really an advantage anymore when you're being shelled with Sarin on it.
Slightly OT for the moment:

What are the threats? In no particular order:

1. A resurgent Russian bear --> Trident replacement. Mass-produce drones to **** them off every time they try to get some sleep or find a real target.

2. Cyber attack --> Recruit the Free and Open Source Software geeks who create and maintain the modern Internet. Offer them free beer and a chance to share last year's code with the enemy.

3. Overseas counter-terrorism and aid --> Drones for every role, transport helicopters and medium-sized assault ships with ski-jump bows (nice for the supersonic drones but see also 4.).

4. Renewed attack on the Falklands, Gibraltar, etc. --> Cheap, subsonic STOVL jets (Harrier III - but make it maintainable this time!) able to operate from the assault ships.

5. S*** rations --> 3-D printed pizzas. In fact 3-D printed everything so if your boots get hidden in that giant warehouse next door, you can darn well print your own. Just don't use the same printer for pizzas afterwards.
Looks like the GIUK gap is in dire need of plugging:

Oh for the love of...

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