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Rearming the UK: What equipment? and how much?

Grey Havoc

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https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/fire-risk-leads-raf-to-withdraw-sentry-from-operatio-431246/
 

Grey Havoc

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You've probably seen this or similar already: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/15/royal-navy-to-lose-anti-ship-missiles-and-be-left-only-with-guns/

::)
 

Grey Havoc

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And to add to the misery, via the gCaptain blog: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/15/dilapidated-military-bases-putting-uk-armed-forces-readiness-at-risk
 

uk 75

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One thing that puzzles me about naval procurement at the moment is that all navies seem to have problems knowing what ships to
produce and then have difficulties introducing them into service. The USN has only just got its Zumwalt and the LCS programme seems
to lurch from crisis to crisis.
Most West European navies have been reduced to a mixture of high end air defence ships, usually about 4 and some corvette designs.
It was so much easier before 1989 when we had a clear enemy fleet in being!
 

Hood

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I like how the MOD spokesman says "We are also developing new class of lighter general purpose frigate so that by the 2030s we can grow the size of the fleet." As though being a 'lighter' ship is ever going save any money! It shows though that there is little hope of building more Type 26 and the Type 31 will be the main filler.

I find the Type 31 worrying because it seems so nebulous, as we've discussed before, it seemed to pop up from the politicians (probably from the spurious kind of thinking the spokesman reflects) but the MOD is still studying what it might be. It's going to be tricky to define what general purpose is if it has no air defence, surface-to-surface or anti-submarine capability. A warmed over OPV with a big gun and a couple of drones on the back probably isn't going to be of much use in most in most general purpose situations, or at least those in high threat environments.

The worst scenario that could happen is that they simply build a few more River derivatives and re-number the existing Batch 2 ships as Type 31 to meet the numbers game and save even more cash on the side.
 

marauder2048

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JFC Fuller said:
why Harpoon is going without replacement
How is the RAF planning to arm the P-8 for ASuW? Or are they?
 

TomS

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The RAF is getting P-8s unmodified from the USN standard, at least initially. That means they could hang Harpoon, but only if the RAF buys some, which seems unlikely. If they kept any of the Maverick stocks after Harrier went away, those would also work.
 

uk 75

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The problem it seems to me is that "general purpose" means a basic gun, a helicopter deck and space for a point defence system.

If you want something more like the old Type 22 you would need to have a new long range ASW weapon.

As for surface to surface missiles, have I missed something. Harpoons are still in service with the USN. If we keep the launchers, the USN could
provide us with the canister rounds in the build up to a crisis.

As for the Type 45s. They seem to spend most of their time on duties for which a "general purpose" ship would be more suitable: guard ship, drug, anti-smuggling, patrol duties.
In anything short of a war, the SAM system and its radars are just ballast. Oh sorry, forgot the b~~~~dy Falklands.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/27/forces-braced-cuts-defence-cash-squeeze/


 

Foo Fighter

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WHY does the UK need any kind of nuclear weapon systems? We cannot go up against another nation that has them because the military and political situations mean It would not be feasible.

Save the money for conventional systems and make those as good or better than available elsewhere.

Junk systems that are compromised and FFS do NOT get caught up in the rhetoric of other nations, allow the US, the E|U and anyone else who wants to, talk until TEHY are blue in the face for a change. We could do a better job but the chances are we will not. Someone in this thread was talking about the word WE when they really meant SOMEONE ELSE in terms of being willing to fight and die in conflict. Talk is cheap so if you are not on that front line and willing to die, just stop talking.
 

Grey Havoc

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bobbymike said:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britain-warships-type-45-destroyer-drones-defence-spending-a7563471.html

Britain’s Type 45 destroyers – which have been plagued by engine problems – are “as noisy as hell”, a former director of operational capability for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Rear Admiral Chris Parry told The Sunday Times
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/05/british-warships-noisy-russian-submarines-can-hear-100-miles/
 

marauder2048

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Grey Havoc said:
bobbymike said:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britain-warships-type-45-destroyer-drones-defence-spending-a7563471.html

Britain’s Type 45 destroyers – which have been plagued by engine problems – are “as noisy as hell”, a former director of operational capability for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Rear Admiral Chris Parry told The Sunday Times
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/05/british-warships-noisy-russian-submarines-can-hear-100-miles/
Surely the ESM mast on an attack sub detects the radar emissions from an AAW destroyer long before
its acoustic emissions are of any use.
 

TomS

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Depends on what the convergence zones look like. They could hear a noisy target from well beyond the ESM mast's detection horizon.
 

Hood

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Seems the papers have got bored and trotted out some defence stories this weekend. The Independent has the Type 45 and the Guardian has the F-35, the latter being an odd article that tells us nothing we don't already know, the F-35 is expensive, the UK contributes to the cost and we might pay a bit more but no-one is saying how much more. The problem is no journalist bothers to even think before they write these articles, do they think in a major war a Type 45 is just going to be sailing around on its own doing "battleshipy" things? The whole point of having the Type 23s and 26s is to hunt down those pesky Russkie subs before they get too close with their towed arrays and Merlins. If anything this should make the Type 26 even more important.

Acoustic measures cost a lot of money, as they found out with the Type 23s. I suspect some of the requirements were toned down for what is essentially an air-defence platform, lets just hope they cut the same corners in the Type 26. I'm surprised they are that noisy as I would have thought the electric generator drive would have been quieter than the traditional COGAG set-up, though I guess the WR-21 and diesel generators must be producing most of the noise. I assume the carriers using essentially the same powerplant would have the same flaw. I don't doubt Rear Admiral Parry's claim though that the Navy has taken its eye off the ball, with so many different scenarios and postulated future potential conflicts since 1991 it probably has been hard to adapt to new threats whilst retaining what was done pre-1991.
 

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There has been a lot of defence bashing this weekend, the F-35 and Ajax stuff seems nonsensical but the Type 45 criticism perhaps has a bit more substance. The comments about noise come from Rear Admiral Chris Parry, apparently a former director of operational capability at MoD. Based purely on the quotes attributed to him it seems that the ships were simply not designed with any significant noise suppression characteristics due to a perception that the submarine threat lessened to the point whereby it was no longer that relevant. This rings true because I recall the same reasoning being given for other decisions around the time T45 was being developed/procured.

The MoD response that "stealth" was not a "premium requirement" would be more effective were it not for the seemingly considerable efforts that went into reducing radar signature (yes I know underwater noise suppression and topside RCS reduction serve different purposes).

As a side note, there seems to be a philosophical debate going on in the RN at the moment about the importance of the ASW mission in Europe versus the power-projection mission.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.ie/2017/02/the-uks-military-withered-by-design.html
 

Grey Havoc

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxh6CFDgW90
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/31/royal-marines-could-jeopardy-defence-secretary-sir-michael-fallon/
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/17/british-antarctic-scientists-among-stranded-crumbling-ascension/

[Raises eyebrows]
 

Pioneer

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uk 75 said:
One thing that puzzles me about naval procurement at the moment is that all navies seem to have problems knowing what ships to
produce and then have difficulties introducing them into service. The USN has only just got its Zumwalt and the LCS programme seems
to lurch from crisis to crisis.
Most West European navies have been reduced to a mixture of high end air defence ships, usually about 4 and some corvette designs.
It was so much easier before 1989 when we had a clear enemy fleet in being!
Agree 100%
I would think with the 'hats on/hats off' rollercoaster attitude of continuous British government's, and a Royal Navy who has never excepted it no longer rules the world's seas, that it focus its destroyer and frigate designs around a true 'General Purpose' philosophy. The fact that the hard learnt naval lessons of the Falkland's have seemed so importantly forgotten, leaves me bewildered!

The fact that the British government/RN decommissioned all its Invincible class carrier's, let alone its Sea Harrier's years before their replacements were completed, let alone in operational service is just insane!!

Regard
Pioneer
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/23/military-seeks-amazon-style-delivery-drones-resupply-troops/

Sigh...
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.defensenews.com/articles/uk-defense-equipment-plan-at-risk-of-becoming-unaffordable

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/could-underresourced-british-satellite-program-catch-a-break
 

Hood

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NeilChapman

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So here are some thoughts.

The UK has the 5th largest economy in the world. It's commonwealth relationships are world-wide. It's impact is nearly unprecedented in the modern era. It's important for its power projection be seen as a first responder globally to natural disasters and violent crisis areas - and that requires mobility, not a large army.

The UK has a very special relationship with the United States. Apart from political and social dynamics the UK has worked very closely with the US in military matters.
They've purchased the F-35.
They fly the C-17 and C-130 as well as the P8
They're considering the purchase of 2700+ JLTV's.
There's a very close relationship in the submarine force including cooperation on the boomer tubes as well as Electric Boat helping on the Astute issues.
The list goes on and on.

So here's my heresy.

I'd like to see the UK refocus from a large(r) army to "lighter" amphibious and special forces power projection. Out of 153k active duty personnel and a £48B budget, 83K personnel are Army. I'd like to see some part of that 80k+ army personnel number redirected to ship acquisition, O&M and the corresponding Royal Navy manning requirement. O&M can be minimized by forward basing of ships.

Perhaps the model is the Amphibious Ready Element Landing Force (ARE-LE) used by Australia or the ARG/ATF concept the US uses. Put resources into the Royal Marines, Navy and Air Force and reduce the Army to special forces and what's required to "hold" existing territory. British mobile power projection could use three Amphibious Task Forces forward based. One each in the Pacific (forward homeport in either Brunei, Sembawang, Australia, New Zealand or even Guam), Atlantic (Gibraltar Based) and one roaming between the two as required - say the Middle East or Indian Ocean (Bahrain or Diego Garcia Based).

The ATF would consist of a QE-class or light carrier, two LPD's and an dock landing ship. Destroyers and fast attack subs could be added if the mission requires their support otherwise they can be deployed separately.

The UK will likely either fight with the US against a near peer, in which case they'll fight alongside a CSG, or be used against lesser threats in which case the F-35B and destroyers provide air cover. For natural disasters the ARE-LE/ARG concept is ideal.

The UK has two new light carriers. I'd suggest three more. That would allow three forward home ported at any given time.

UK has six Type-45 destroyers. This quantity could be marginally sufficient if they're forward based.

UK has two Albion-class LPD's. They need to plan a replacement. The US has a hot production line of San-Antonio or LX(R) amphibs. Perhaps they can make a deal on exporting the design and subcontracting work or even lease them. There's plenty of room on the LX(R) for missiles. I'd suggest the Canberra-class but no hot production line.

They've got three Bay-class dock landing ships. Perhaps additional LX(R)s.

UK has three fast attack subs and four are under construction. The UK may want to forward deploy subs to the Pacific wherever possible. I suspect they'll continue to coordinate with the US quite a bit.
 

Hood

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The dream sounds good but the reality is somewhat more sobering.

I've attached here the Thirty Year Shipping Plan as currently outlined in the latest shipbuilding plan.

Amphibious plans seem quite nebulous. HMS Ocean is about to be sold to Brazil (the hurricane Irma response will be her swansong). You'll note a new LPD and LSD(A) capability to replace the Albion and Bay classes isn't scheduled until the early 2030s. To "replace" Ocean, Prince of Wales is meant to act as an LHA (I'm not sure if she has any landing craft capability added or if she is totally reliant on helicopter lift) but as she's meant to operate in rotation with Queen Elizabeth there will be periods when there are no major amphibious support vessels, though I think it has been planned to refit QE with the commando carrier changes later. The carrier fleet will share around 48 F-35Bs, probably only around 20 will be carried at any one time, again swapping from QE to PoW in rotation. Helicopter lift will continue to be the Merlin HC.4 and probably the Chinook until the early 2030s at least.

As to escorts, the Type31e glorified OPVs should begin arriving around 2023-27, the Type 26s IOC being almost a full decade away from today (2026-27). During the mid/late 2030s the Type 45s will be retired (sold) and replaced with new AAW destroyers. Presumably the MOD are keen to offload them onto an export buyer (probably Brazil who seem to buy up all surplus RN ships!) to recoup some hard cash rather than refitting them and using them until they wear out like the Type 42s. Interestingly,. despite the overlap between the Type 31e and the Rivers the latter don't seem to be planned for replacement before 2047.

By the mid-2030s there should be a new RFA replenishment fleet in place and new mine countermeasures vessels, which are already overdue. The current Hunt fleet will be upgraded, the Sandowns will be updated but they lack the flexibility for serious upgrading.

The only omission on the Thirty Year Plan is any mention of submarines. This suggests that either this is being kept secret from public publication or that simply the Astutes will not be replaced before 2050, although realistically planning work will probably start once Successor is well underway. The SSN fleet does go 'East of Suez' (these longer voyages started in the 2000s) and of course there will be a major harbour at Bahrain to support Gulf operations.

Manpower is the big problem across all the armed forces, there isn't enough now let alone enough to make any large-scale expansion possible.
Not to stray too much into politics the big unknown is the future economic performance of Britain which will impact on how much future governments are able, or willing, to spend. I can't see the purse strings being loosened any time soon.
Publicly the Navy is pointing to the new carriers as power projection but MOD seems to have troubling figuring out what is proportionate. A carrier with relatively weak defensive supporting forces isn't awe-inspiring unless your bullying gunboat navies, yet using a full scale carrier for disaster relief would be needlessly expensive and tie up assets that could be used elsewhere. Likewise the Type 31e is meant for "constabulary" duties that the Rivers should be performing (though I suspect the 31s are meant for Gulf operations, the Rivers to keep at home or for overseas possession use like in the Caribbean) but disaster relief implies a more flexible-role vessel than a frigate, but a mission bay and large heli deck are only 'adaptable' features and not likely to feature on the ships as completed.
 

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uk 75

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Fascinating information.
I think the Navy only has itself to blame for not getting across a clearer message of what it does with its
assets and what plans it has.
The contrast with the Italian Navy which has a flat top and a series of disaster relief ships is marked.
 

uk 75

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Got cut off before I could continue with my ramblings.

The Nuclear Deterrent is understood by most people as being necessary in a world where Messrs Putin and Kim
wave their missiles around at the drop of a hat.
The British Army is understood by the Public to be good at providing infantry but not so good at fielding kit. A smallish army
built round home based infantry with some light international roles fits the public mood.
The RAF benefits from the popular love of fast jets. Typhoons are easy to understand, especially if they are seen escorting
wayward Bears or lost charter jets.

The Navy has not had any successful publicity since 1982. It involvement in our various dirty wars since then has been overshadowed
by the RAF and the Army.

In the 70s a popular BBC TV series called WARSHIP focussed on the adventures of a Leander class frigate. These ships were seen in the Cod War
or chasing pirates/smugglers or supporting our allies in interesting places. Their modern equivalent the Type 22 was most famous for losing its sailors
to the Iranians.

The nuclear submarines have fared similarly badly. When not running aground in Scotland or having crewmen shot at base they are only shown flying a few Tomahawks
in support of multiple US strikes with the same missile.

Aircraft Carriers are associated in the public mind with Top Gun and the big US flat tops. Once the Navy told people it would only be operating helicopters on QE it lost the public interest. F35 makes Typhoon look sexy by comparison.

If you add to this mix, the least informed generation of politicians in our history and the most dogmatic media, I don't rate the RN's chance of getting much more out of
this Zombie goverment
 

JFC Fuller

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Ocean's LPH capability is being replaced by QE and PoW, not just the latter. As the ships go through maintenance periods the LPH capability will be enhanced in both ships. Ocean has to go to man QE. QE and PoW will operate in rotation, the RN has effectively had a single flat-top rotation policy since 2010 and that isn't changing.

The five new rivers were only procured to fulfill the TOBA whilst sustaining the Clyde workforce prior to T26, in notional planning the escort uplift will be achieved by replacing at least one with a T31e sometime in the 2030s.

Submarines aren't mentioned simply because everyone knows the build schedule anyway and the National Shipbuilding Strategy is for surface ships.
 

uk 75

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JFC
Always interesting to read your info.
The combination of QE, Albion, the remaining
Bay class plus in extremis Bulwark and
P of W working closely sometimes with
the US Marines is quite a decent force.
Despite their age T23 with Merlin or Wildcat
compare well with most NATO escort
ships.
The T45 is a capability which US commanders
visibly like having in a Task Group.
T and A nuke sub's are a unique asset.
Its just a shame the Navy is not as good
as it should be on PR. Bring back WARShip!
 

Triton

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"Britain's new aircraft carriers to test Beijing in South China Sea "
by Ben Doherty

July 27, 2017

Source:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/27/britains-new-aircraft-carriers-to-test-beijing-in-south-china-sea
 

Foo Fighter

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Pity he seems not to know they have only built one of them. Poor sole.
 

TomS

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Foo Fighter said:
Pity he seems not to know they have only built one of them. Poor sole.
Or that Full Operational Capability for QE isn't scheduled until 2020 (and F-35 FOC for the RN not until a couple of years after that). These ships will not be doing FONEXs in the Pacific during Johnson's tenure as FM.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/14/royal-navy-laughing-stock-three-quarters-warships-action-struggling/
 

uk 75

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Poor old Bojo
On a Thursday afternoon I drink a few Staropramen beers with a friend after which I imagine squadrons of
TSR2s at Singapore and Akrotiri while P1154s and HS 681 stage into Kuwait and Oman. Meanwhile a CVA 01
battlegroup is moored in Hong Kong harbour and Mach 3 transports howl overheard from Brize Norton, a
few miles away. Then I fall off the bus and am back in the land of (Basil Fawlty 1970s)
 

NeilChapman

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Grey Havoc said:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/14/royal-navy-laughing-stock-three-quarters-warships-action-struggling/

The Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Recovery (HA/DR) mission for the UK requires amphib capability - period. Defending British subjects does not mean only from submarines. Either the US ARG model or that of the Australians.
 

Hood

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I think overall I would have been happier had they build two new amphibs like the Navantia Juan Carlos I/Canberra design or even (if it was unavoidable to keep BAE Systems in the game) a home-grown LHA design. Trying to get back into the flattop game probably sounded good in the late 90s when even second-tier nations like Brazil and India were furthering their ambitions with second-hand kit but I doubt anyone in the MOD really sit down and analyse how useful the Illustrious Class was compared to how much a drain the strike carrier fleet was on manpower, escorts and resources even in the 1950s and 60s.

Manpower and money are key. There's no point politicians pointing at shiny new toys when they're tied up with nobody to man them and no fuel to put in them.
Still, how many other navies are in a similar situation.

One piece of slightly better news, RAF Saxa Vord on the Shetlands will re-open to increase radar coverage to the north.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/raf-reopens-shetland-radar-site-saxa-vord-to-sweep-for-russia-threat-k032r68d3
 

JFC Fuller

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An Ocean replacement programme existed until at least 2005 and possibly later.

The RN doesn't need a Juan Carlos as Albion, Bulwark and the Bays provide a floodable dock capability.

The carrier strike (and fleet air defence) capability offered by the QE/Crowsnest/F-35B is more than worth it. A QE will only have about the same manpower drain as an Invincible anyway.
 
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