Grey Havoc

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Hood

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Feels like whinging at this stage, they are competitive design contracts, its not like the final design has been selected. Of course the MoD is looking wider for options and each of those teams has a UK partner.
 

shin_getter

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The two greatest problems afflicting Ajax are noise and vibration. Ajax has long been recognised as a noisy vehicle. However, tests on the sound produced by the vehicle demonstrated that it was within useable limits. Subsequent investigation following loss of hearing by crews trialling the platforms has concluded that the issue arises from the integration of the Bowman headsets for the crew radios, which were picking up engine noise, amplifying it as the vehicle accelerated, and putting the sound directly into the crews’ ears. This raises serious questions about how tests on British Army vehicles are carried out, but is also fundamentally resolvable through the procurement of new headsets.

The vibration issues are more problematic. In testing it has been reported that excessive vibration is preventing the main armament from stabilising on the move, damaging the electronic systems that make Ajax a step-change in capability and leading to a high rate of component failure, with the idler and rear road wheels sheering off with concerning regularity. Crews meanwhile have suffered from symptoms that could indicate a risk of prolonged use of the platform leading to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome. These problems must be overcome before the vehicle can be viable as a fighting platform.

....ad significant difficulties with quality control in the fabrication of the vehicle hulls. The company has so far produced 270 hulls from an overall contract to deliver 598 vehicles. Quality control is understood to be especially poor throughout the first 100 hulls manufactured in Spain, but the issue has not been entirely eliminated in subsequent batches. Problems have included sections being inconsistent lengths, the sides of the hull not being parallel, and substandard welding. Fittings and furnishings have not had their attachment points drilled using jigs, resulting in the spacing of holes being uneven. GDLUK has expended significant efforts in trying to repair hulls that have been manufactured to an unsatisfactory quality.

The significance of the shortcomings in quality control is that the vibration issues are not manifesting themselves in the vehicles in a uniform manner. Some hulls produce disproportionately poor performance. This inconsistency means that it is exceedingly difficult for those investigating the faults to determine how much of the vibration arises from a problem with the fundamental design of the platform, as opposed to failures to build the platform to specification....

The lack of a reliable diagnosis is paralysing because it obscures the data necessary to determine whether the issue is resolvable, and at what cost.

...GDLUK does not describe the resolution as the elimination of the vibration issues, but speaks instead of ‘mitigation’ by using rubber inserts and other techniques to reduce the impact on crews. GDLUK states that based on its own tests, vibration at a component level is within legal requirements. This is bolstered by the fact that the British Army does not have standardised tests to measure vibration.
 

Hood

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Will the RAF get a new fast jet trainer to replace the Hawk T.2 from 2040?
Well the answer seems to be the government hasn't thought about it yet and the RAF thinks within 20 years they can train pilots in simulators.
https://www.msn.com/en-gb/travel/ne...NBh9BUqNoXZ7zSaRJeu4rnkEiES-o4VYDHmpzmIpCBnow

Other factors probably include:
- who knows what jet advanced trainers will be available in 2040, probably only the T-7 from today's crop.
- in the world of 2040 ten years beyond fossil-fuel powered cars would a thirsty fast jet trainer be acceptable? Could an electric aircraft comparable to a Texan II or PC-21 be a reality by then?
- could the RAF break with tradition and have two classes of pilots? Those who fly real aircraft and those who 'fly' UAVs. Already the latter seem to be second-class pilots in Western air forces in terms of promotions and careers.
- should they ditch the manned fighter entirely if they are so sure the future is simulator and AI-based?
 

Fluff

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The two greatest problems afflicting Ajax are noise and vibration. Ajax has long been recognised as a noisy vehicle. However, tests on the sound produced by the vehicle demonstrated that it was within useable limits. Subsequent investigation following loss of hearing by crews trialling the platforms has concluded that the issue arises from the integration of the Bowman headsets for the crew radios, which were picking up engine noise, amplifying it as the vehicle accelerated, and putting the sound directly into the crews’ ears. This raises serious questions about how tests on British Army vehicles are carried out, but is also fundamentally resolvable through the procurement of new headsets.

The vibration issues are more problematic. In testing it has been reported that excessive vibration is preventing the main armament from stabilising on the move, damaging the electronic systems that make Ajax a step-change in capability and leading to a high rate of component failure, with the idler and rear road wheels sheering off with concerning regularity. Crews meanwhile have suffered from symptoms that could indicate a risk of prolonged use of the platform leading to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome. These problems must be overcome before the vehicle can be viable as a fighting platform.

....ad significant difficulties with quality control in the fabrication of the vehicle hulls. The company has so far produced 270 hulls from an overall contract to deliver 598 vehicles. Quality control is understood to be especially poor throughout the first 100 hulls manufactured in Spain, but the issue has not been entirely eliminated in subsequent batches. Problems have included sections being inconsistent lengths, the sides of the hull not being parallel, and substandard welding. Fittings and furnishings have not had their attachment points drilled using jigs, resulting in the spacing of holes being uneven. GDLUK has expended significant efforts in trying to repair hulls that have been manufactured to an unsatisfactory quality.

The significance of the shortcomings in quality control is that the vibration issues are not manifesting themselves in the vehicles in a uniform manner. Some hulls produce disproportionately poor performance. This inconsistency means that it is exceedingly difficult for those investigating the faults to determine how much of the vibration arises from a problem with the fundamental design of the platform, as opposed to failures to build the platform to specification....

The lack of a reliable diagnosis is paralysing because it obscures the data necessary to determine whether the issue is resolvable, and at what cost.

...GDLUK does not describe the resolution as the elimination of the vibration issues, but speaks instead of ‘mitigation’ by using rubber inserts and other techniques to reduce the impact on crews. GDLUK states that based on its own tests, vibration at a component level is within legal requirements. This is bolstered by the fact that the British Army does not have standardised tests to measure vibration.
Great to get some detail, but the detail is shocking, clearly the rear end is under a great deal of stress and needs a re-design.

The faulty hulls need to be rejected, not shimmed by hand to kind of work. We will be running those hulls for 30 years. And really whats the price of the bare hull, versus the scrap price of steel? Send them back, and make new ones.

Surely you take a couple of the bad hulls, and try a few things to see if you can solve the vibration issue.

its really not rocket science......

As to no standard vibration test, 'unsatisfactory' should be enough, combined with the word 'rejected' on the invoice.
 

red admiral

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Will the RAF get a new fast jet trainer to replace the Hawk T.2 from 2040?

I'd be pretty sure there'll be something with high subsonic performance for the fast jet stream.

While some are making statements about wholly synthetic training, there are many practical issues that make this highly unlikely. Training flying hours don't just provide training for the pilot but the whole enterprise.

It feels pretty unlikely that electric power will be there in this timeframe to give high enough performance. T-7 / M346 or something else OTS feels most likely currently.
 

PMN1

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The two greatest problems afflicting Ajax are noise and vibration. Ajax has long been recognised as a noisy vehicle. However, tests on the sound produced by the vehicle demonstrated that it was within useable limits. Subsequent investigation following loss of hearing by crews trialling the platforms has concluded that the issue arises from the integration of the Bowman headsets for the crew radios, which were picking up engine noise, amplifying it as the vehicle accelerated, and putting the sound directly into the crews’ ears. This raises serious questions about how tests on British Army vehicles are carried out, but is also fundamentally resolvable through the procurement of new headsets.

The vibration issues are more problematic. In testing it has been reported that excessive vibration is preventing the main armament from stabilising on the move, damaging the electronic systems that make Ajax a step-change in capability and leading to a high rate of component failure, with the idler and rear road wheels sheering off with concerning regularity. Crews meanwhile have suffered from symptoms that could indicate a risk of prolonged use of the platform leading to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome. These problems must be overcome before the vehicle can be viable as a fighting platform.

....ad significant difficulties with quality control in the fabrication of the vehicle hulls. The company has so far produced 270 hulls from an overall contract to deliver 598 vehicles. Quality control is understood to be especially poor throughout the first 100 hulls manufactured in Spain, but the issue has not been entirely eliminated in subsequent batches. Problems have included sections being inconsistent lengths, the sides of the hull not being parallel, and substandard welding. Fittings and furnishings have not had their attachment points drilled using jigs, resulting in the spacing of holes being uneven. GDLUK has expended significant efforts in trying to repair hulls that have been manufactured to an unsatisfactory quality.

The significance of the shortcomings in quality control is that the vibration issues are not manifesting themselves in the vehicles in a uniform manner. Some hulls produce disproportionately poor performance. This inconsistency means that it is exceedingly difficult for those investigating the faults to determine how much of the vibration arises from a problem with the fundamental design of the platform, as opposed to failures to build the platform to specification....

The lack of a reliable diagnosis is paralysing because it obscures the data necessary to determine whether the issue is resolvable, and at what cost.

...GDLUK does not describe the resolution as the elimination of the vibration issues, but speaks instead of ‘mitigation’ by using rubber inserts and other techniques to reduce the impact on crews. GDLUK states that based on its own tests, vibration at a component level is within legal requirements. This is bolstered by the fact that the British Army does not have standardised tests to measure vibration.
Great to get some detail, but the detail is shocking, clearly the rear end is under a great deal of stress and needs a re-design.

The faulty hulls need to be rejected, not shimmed by hand to kind of work. We will be running those hulls for 30 years. And really whats the price of the bare hull, versus the scrap price of steel? Send them back, and make new ones.

Surely you take a couple of the bad hulls, and try a few things to see if you can solve the vibration issue.

its really not rocket science......

As to no standard vibration test, 'unsatisfactory' should be enough, combined with the word 'rejected' on the invoice.

I did see a twitter post this morning that people should go up to the GDL stand at the DSEi with a ruler.......
 

zen

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Rumour has it thst Spanish factory has had issues for a loooonnnngg time, was well known for them.

The whole business of ASCOD variants for the British Army reels of not just incompetence, but corruption.
 

Fluff

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The price per unit looks about the same as Australia is spending.

But to take a 30 ton vehicle and make it a 40 ton vehicle, and then to mess it up like this....

Shirley the first thing you do is get a mule running at that weight and see how it goes.

We seem to have carried on building chassis, while the engineers tried to fix it 'after production' at this point the first thing you do is pause production.

Reading the development, the original Ascod/Pizzaro was only slightly newer than Warrior.

I wonder if plan B starts with a Warrior chassis.

You can get an entire Siemens Desiro train with carriages for £15 million, or 2.5 Ajax.....
 

zen

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Frankly Plan B ought to be just lots of Boxer variants.
In fact a tracked heavy 'scout' Armoured Vehicle is itself open to lots of serious questions. The very basis of Ajax is questionable.
 

PMN1

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Frankly Plan B ought to be just lots of Boxer variants.
In fact a tracked heavy 'scout' Armoured Vehicle is itself open to lots of serious questions. The very basis of Ajax is questionable.

Given the UK's history with the Boxer program that is another embarrassment, though not one anywhere as big as Ajax.
 

uk 75

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The MOD and the Services must take a decision either to buy equipment off the shelf and not mess about with the specifications or go back to setting up the necessary infrastructure to develop, build and test equipment.
As usual the UK has ended up with the worst of both worlds.
In the case of land forces equipment I would argue that once the commitment to keep a large modern Armoured Corps on the Continent lapsed and the UK fielded as it tends to do in peacetime a small cadre army to be expanded in time of crisis as in the 1930s there was a good case for buying off the shelf.
 

zen

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Frankly Plan B ought to be just lots of Boxer variants.
In fact a tracked heavy 'scout' Armoured Vehicle is itself open to lots of serious questions. The very basis of Ajax is questionable.

Given the UK's history with the Boxer program that is another embarrassment, though not one anywhere as big as Ajax.
Yet we have it and it can meet needs. A fortuitous accident, rather than the result of planning.

And better embarrassed by a workable solution than prideful of a historic failure.
 

Hood

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A new National Shipbuilding Office has been formed with Ben Wallace as head (or 'tsar' as they say in Whitehall mandarin) and Rear Admiral Rex Cox as the Chief Executive. The Office will be driving "transformative change" and all the usual buzz words. The National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh will be published later this year (I suppose the strategy will be to "build ships" but perhaps I'm a cynic?).

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/...ounces-launch-of-national-shipbuilding-office

One of the first jobs for the Office has been to release £170m of contracts to begin concept work on SSN(R).
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/170m-investment-for-the-next-generation-of-royal-navy-submarines
 

zen

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Question.

Astute numbers are likely the bare minimum for both SSN production and operations for the RN.

However this number is the result of standing assumptions now broken.
1. The UK remains part of the EU
2. Russian 'threat' remains at a low 'early Putin' level.
3. US involvement contains threats
4. China remains at early 2000's level of military force.

1. is broken and with it relationships with European states are more varied and complex. In turn the UK is seeking closer relationships extra-Europa and notably EoS. Including Australia, Japan, and other CPTPP States.

2. Russian power has been increasingly used, professionalised and influence expanding. Notably from the Schroeder years onwards Germany seems more accommodating to Moscow even at the cost of Eastern Europe.

3. US involvement is clearly again subject to wild political swings. The general trend to isolationism is growing. Pro-EU and Pro-China factions permeate their elites.

4 China is engaged in massive increases in forces and influence.
Culminating in it's behaviour over COVID19. Which proved our overreliance on Chinese production and false assumptions of competence with dangerous biological materials. The inate flaws of a Communist/National Socialist system compound both the threat of intended acts and the unintended.

In all of this the limited numbers of SSN available to the RN is open to question and expansion of the fleet seems a strong argument.
A standing patrol from Australia is one of the likely near term outcomes. But the sheer scale of the Pacific and South East Asian theatre imposes a need for more than one SSN.
 

Fluff

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Question.

Astute numbers are likely the bare minimum for both SSN production and operations for the RN.

However this number is the result of standing assumptions now broken.
1. The UK remains part of the EU
2. Russian 'threat' remains at a low 'early Putin' level.
3. US involvement contains threats
4. China remains at early 2000's level of military force.

1. is broken and with it relationships with European states are more varied and complex. In turn the UK is seeking closer relationships extra-Europa and notably EoS. Including Australia, Japan, and other CPTPP States.

2. Russian power has been increasingly used, professionalised and influence expanding. Notably from the Schroeder years onwards Germany seems more accommodating to Moscow even at the cost of Eastern Europe.

3. US involvement is clearly again subject to wild political swings. The general trend to isolationism is growing. Pro-EU and Pro-China factions permeate their elites.

4 China is engaged in massive increases in forces and influence.
Culminating in it's behaviour over COVID19. Which proved our overreliance on Chinese production and false assumptions of competence with dangerous biological materials. The inate flaws of a Communist/National Socialist system compound both the threat of intended acts and the unintended.

In all of this the limited numbers of SSN available to the RN is open to question and expansion of the fleet seems a strong argument.
A standing patrol from Australia is one of the likely near term outcomes. But the sheer scale of the Pacific and South East Asian theatre imposes a need for more than one SSN.
U.K. does a deal for Norway/Holland/someone, to send a good diesel boat to cover the U.K. deterrent, and the rn can then send a boat to oz. us sends one, now we have 2. Oz still deploys their Collins, it’s all just a scheduling task, bit of a squeeze but nothing impossible.
 

uk 75

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Trading capabilities between Armed Forces has become a detailed activity.
After the retirement of Nimrod MPA various countries helped UK out with their aircraft. UK C17s similarly help lift outside loads for allies.
Despite the political kindergarten antics over Brexit co-operation at working level between Armed forces has largely gone on as before.
The largest number of SSN would be desirable.. Although it has echos of John Nott if I were looking for trade offs in the RN and RFA amphibious warfare ships would be my choice.
 

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I don't honestly think these kind of geopolitical factors come into it.
Once the axe man swings, its usually to cut expenditure. The 2010 cuts for example scythed Sea Harrier, the carriers and Nimrod without any replacement at all. The SSN fleet was allowed to shrink pretty rapidly (the Switfsures and Trafalgars becoming knackered and a very slow Astute programme was accepted). I don't think there were any assumptions behind it - Astutes cost a lot of money and the old subs were fast becoming a nightmare to maintain if not simply knackered out. With nothing to replace them it was a fait accompli.
What's the betting SSN(R) won't be a like-for-like replacement if we're lucky.

Outside of SSNs we see the same all over:
There had been rumours of serious cutbacks of RFA amphibious capability and to the Royal Marines prior to the March 2021 White Paper. Crowsnest was a hand-me down and doesn't seem entirely bug free, the Merlin fleet was cut and spare airframes still languish while badly needed ASW Merlins are now serving as AEW platforms. There is no dedicated COD other than RAF Chinooks and no plans to implement any. The carriers themselves are reliant on USMC F-35 squadrons to make up a decent airwing.
The RN is getting new frigates of three classes and new destroyers to boost up the shipbuilding programme, these are badly needed but not all of them are what we consider high-end FFGs.
The RAF getting by on three Wedgetails despite wanting five and probably event that was a bare minimum number, a handful of Poseidons, no more Sentinel, Hercules resparring on and off like a yoyo.
The Army getting a load of duff kit and a warmed up Chally 2 with a new name.
Really its all a mishmash on a shoestring, what can be afforded and what can't. Strategy doesn't really come into it sadly.

The armed forces are expected to do what their told to do by their political masters with what they deign to give them and hope it all turns out alright on the night. Each new minister has a new set of whims they want implements. No different from any other aspect of government funding or policy sadly.
 

timmymagic

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Once the axe man swings, its usually to cut expenditure. The 2010 cuts for example scythed Sea Harrier, the carriers and Nimrod without any replacement at all. The SSN fleet was allowed to shrink pretty rapidly (the Switfsures and Trafalgars becoming knackered and a very slow Astute programme was accepted). I don't think there were any assumptions behind it - Astutes cost a lot of money and the old subs were fast becoming a nightmare to maintain if not simply knackered out. With nothing to replace them it was a fait accompli.
What's the betting SSN(R) won't be a like-for-like replacement if we're lucky.
What were the peak SSN numbers? I think at most there were 15-16 spread across Valiant, Churchill, Swiftsure and Trafalgar Classes. But even then that number was only hit for about a year c1990. And you have to question how truly effective and operational the older boats were then. After that the oldest 6 boats from the Valiant and Churchill Classes and Swiftsure herself were withdrawn very quickly (most by 92 with Valiant holding out till 94) as they'd reached end of life (and as the final Trafalgar Class arrived). After that we were down to 12 (the 5 remaining Swiftsure and 7 Trafalgars). We seemed to hold that number until 2004-8 (with most lost before the swinging budget cuts) when we lost 4 of the Swiftsures (so down to 8). I know we're at 6 at present, rising to 7 when Agincourt arrives c2026 (the real loss in the last 20 years being the 8th Astute lost to cost overruns at BAE).

What should we be aiming for? 16 was in the tail end of the Cold War and had taken decades to reach. Obviously a return to 8 with SSN(R) would be great (and should really be the aim) But is that sufficient?

Have to say I rather liked HI Sutton's idea of increasing the fleet size (in an ideal world) by converting the Vanguard Class (following their replacement) into a 'SSGAN' Class. Vanguard has been in dock now for 5+ years, with a new core it must have a fair bit of life left...might be the same with the others (if they were recored as well, although they've had to work harder with Vanguard's absence from the fleet).
 
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zen

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Off the bat I'd say between 9 and 12 is a practical number.
 

Hood

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What were the peak SSN numbers? I think at most there were 15-16 spread across Valiant, Churchill, Swiftsure and Trafalgar Classes. But even then that number was only hit for about a year c1990.
I think (from memory) the RN wanted 18-20 SSNs during the latter Cold War and as you point out they had nearly reached that briefly - plus they briefly had a couple a Upholders when they ventured from the pierside. I suspect had Trafalgar Batch II gone ahead then the Valiant and Churchills would have been replaced by the end of the 1990s/early 2000s and 18-20 would have been achieved. But these Cold War aims never materialised.
Eight Astutes would have been good, certainly the Trafalgars aged quicker than expected but after the hiatus in SSN construction it seems unlikely that numbers could ever have been maintained much above 8-10 submarines as the Trafalgars retired.
The 5 we have now is too few, yes France makes do with such a small number but the RN has wider commitments. I'd say 8 would be the ideal number with 6 available for sea at any particular time.

The manpower probably isn't available to have seven/eight Astutes, four Dreadnoughts and keep the four Vanguards.
 

timmymagic

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The manpower probably isn't available to have seven/eight Astutes, four Dreadnoughts and keep the four Vanguards.

In my ideal world (pure, unbridled fantasy of course) as the Dreadnought comes online we'd re-build the Vanguards to the SSGAN standard as they left service and be used for a few years with the Australian's out in the Pacific to help them with their training buildup to whichever SSN they choose, we could probably use the training opportunity of them as a mothership for UUV's as well as I suspect a lot of the features seen will be in the SSN(R) as well. Could even be dualled manned with the RAN....although they have manning issues as well...
 

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