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Rearming the UK: What equipment? and how much?

Hood

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JFC Fuller said:
The RN doesn't need a Juan Carlos as Albion, Bulwark and the Bays provide a floodable dock capability.
That is true but I wasn't saying a floodable dock was essential but rather that the Navy might have got more use from two multi-purpose ships.

The new carriers offer the ability to airlift troops but its not logical to expect, for example, Prince of Wales being able to deploy a couple of companies of Royal Marines and be a fully effective air defence/strike carrier at the same time. Both roles are exclusive in terms of airgroup required and where the ship operates. Having a dozen of F-35s on board for self-defence alongside the Apaches, Merlin 4s and Chinooks is probably not go to be enough for an effective CAP. While PoW can carry troops it is totally reliant on airlift, it has no landing craft (even in davits) and no capability to offload vehicles directly onto pontoons. Helicopter assault even with Merlin and Chinooks would mean being placed relatively close to shore, which means dragging the whole battle group inshore.

Does anybody know what Prince of Wales' troop capacity is? I've seen a figure as high as 900 quoted by Defence procurement minister Philip Dunne back in 2015 but no concrete figure since then. Queen Elizabeth has accommodation for a company of Royal Marines (250 soliders).
 

Hood

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Looks like most of that maritime lift capability could be lost. As part of another review the MOD (or rather the head of the Navy Admiral Sir Philip Jones) have suggested decomissioning both Albion and Bulwark as an option to reduce costs and free manpower for the carriers. Among other cuts envisaged are a reduction of 1,000 Royal Marines and early retirement of two MCV and a survey vessel. Other ideas include slowing down F-35 orders or cutting the number ("dozens") of AAC helicopters (which I assume would mean reducing Apaches and/or the new Wildcats).

If the 'senior MOD figure's' quote at the end is correct it seems the ministry's and other services patience with the Royal Navy has run out. There still doesn't seem to be any end of the turf wars and it raises questions why if the MOD really thought the Navy has been asking for too much (which I don't think it has) that they haven't put a stopper to their ambitions sooner.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41511790
 

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Hood said:
Looks like most of that maritime lift capability could be lost. As part of another review the MOD (or rather the head of the Navy Admiral Sir Philip Jones) have suggested decomissioning both Albion and Bulwark as an option to reduce costs and free manpower for the carriers. Among other cuts envisaged are a reduction of 1,000 Royal Marines and early retirement of two MCV and a survey vessel. Other ideas include slowing down F-35 orders or cutting the number ("dozens") of AAC helicopters (which I assume would mean reducing Apaches and/or the new Wildcats).

If the 'senior MOD figure's' quote at the end is correct it seems the ministry's and other services patience with the Royal Navy has run out. There still doesn't seem to be any end of the turf wars and it raises questions why if the MOD really thought the Navy has been asking for too much (which I don't think it has) that they haven't put a stopper to their ambitions sooner.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41511790
I get a sense that the UK MoD is at a loss for a mission. Other than the nuclear deterrent, what the government has decided are the priorities involves very little from a traditional military since NATO is the UK's primary defense.

From: National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015

1. Our vision is for a secure and prosperous United Kingdom, with global reach and
influence. Everything we do in the UK and around the world is driven by our determination to
protect our people and our values, and ensure that our country prospers.

==> Huh? This, in my mind of course, makes the case for the "HA/DR First" mission for MoD. From an economic standpoint I'd be pushing for a joint deal between BAE, HII and LM to build a frigate. If you can get a common hull design that three shipbuilders can build then you create economies of scale that will drive down costs, increase availability of overhaul facilities (US is sorely lacking), increase availability of labor pool and possibly create a ship that other countries would want to purchase. Also could create commonality of ship systems that would benefit both countries.

2. We will strengthen our Armed Forces and our security and intelligence agencies
so that they remain world-leading. They project our power globally, and will fight and
work alongside our close allies, including the US and France, to deter or defeat our
adversaries.

==> Same case made above. UK doesn't have the political will to carry both a large army and navy. Choose one. Since UK is an island the choice is Navy/Marine focus - back to HA/DR mission.

3. We will further enhance our position as the world’s leading soft power promoting our
values and interests globally, with our world-class Diplomatic Service, commitment
to overseas development, and institutions such as the BBC World Service and the
British Council.

==> Nothing for MoD - Unless you consider "soft power" as being a global first responder to disasters - HA/DR Mission

4. We will invest more in our current alliances including NATO, build stronger
relationships with growing powers, and work to bring past adversaries in from the
cold.

==> How about working with US on a frigate? UK needs to export build and export something. Take advantage of the size of the US requirement to make money up front (build) and on the back end (forward deployed US fleet and major overhaul facilities).

5. We will strengthen our domestic resilience and law enforcement capabilities
against global challenges which increasingly affect our people, communities and
businesses.

==> Nothing for traditional military - intelligence, SoF, etc but no ships and tanks required.

The rest of the document is similar. Basically says "we'll participate in world order".

The problem is articulated well in the following document.

http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1135&context=lib_fsdocs

"The 2010 SDSR was complimented and criticized from many quarters.
One analysis praised it for stressing the importance of reserve forces in British
military operations. However, it was described as being seriously flawed
and dying over Libya during NATO military operations against the Qaddafi
regime due to this operation being in conflict with SDSR recommendations
favoring Britain place greater emphasis on conflict prevention; that it was
likely to fail like previous defense white papers due to mismatches between
strategic objectives and budget realities and failing to identify and anticipate
national security challenges as they evolve; and that non-British observers
must recognize that British policymakers still consider themselves an internationally
influential geopolitical and strategic player even with reduced
financial capabilities
when Whitehall formulates these documents."

===

Focusing on HA/DR (integrating the Army with the Royal Marines) will give the UK
the global reach and mission that will enable British policymakers to be "internationally
influential geopolitical and strategic players" even with the reduced financial capabilities.

HA/DR (providing for British Subjects in time of crisis) provides the political will which
enables the platforms for global reach. Nothing breeds success like success. How pathetic
that the UK couldn't assist it's subjects adequately during the last hurricane? UK MoD can
be the provider of mercy, through strength and capability. Influence comes by "being there".

HA/DR also requires forward basing and strategic airlift capabilities. UK could consider
focusing Royal Air Force with the ~100 or so F-35's but with significant tanker and
lift capacity in support of HA/DR mission. This would be a great way to recognize and
support the strategic relationship with the United States. US does not have the lift and
tanking capacity that it needs to meet it's requirements either. Partnering with the UK
is an important enabler.

What enabled UK and US power projection in the 19th and 20th centuries had more to do with
strategic lift than anything else. Being able to put more material in the battle, faster than your
opponent is the key making victory happen.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/09/30/telegraph-cartoons-october-2017/​
 

uk 75

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Reading all the above, we do seem to have ended up
back at the Nott 1981 Review which left the RN as a nuclear submarine force with the minimum number of surface ships
that NATO would let us get away with.
The era of wars of liberal intervention had its last gasp in
Libya. China will dominate the world outside US and Europe
which at least saves us from having to do anything and we
can usevthe money to pay for the NHS and Brexit.
 

Grey Havoc

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Woe upon woe, and yet more woe.

https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.ie/2017/11/we-must-prevent-minehunter-gap.html
https://thinpinstripedline.blogspot.ie/2017/11/fit-to-fight-tonight.html#!/2017/11/fit-to-fight-tonight.html

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/23/hms_diamond_withdrawn_middle_east/

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/22/uk_f35_order_cuts_parliament/

UK military chief ‘sympathetic’ to cut in F-35 fighter jet order (ft.com, registration may be required)
 

mrmalaya

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The F35 bit isn't woe in my opinion. It was daft to think we would actually buy all of those.

It actually might be the start of a move towards other projects such as UCAVs and a Typhoon replacement project, both of which were very hard to justify with a multi-decade F35 order hanging over them like a RAM covered Sword of Damocles.
 

Hood

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138 always seemed an ambitious number, especially given how far the fast jet squadrons have been cut back in recent years.
I wouldn't be surprised though to see some F-35s saved at the expense of serious cuts elsewhere. The sword will fall somewhere, be it amphibious capability, carriers, Royal Marines, jets, helicopters, or Army. Its just a matter of what gets chopped off.
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/25/defence-minister-tobias-ellwood-prepared-resign-army-cuts-imposed/

Nice to see that there are still a few people in political circles willing to put their careers on the line for the good of their country. Whether it will do any good though...
 

Grey Havoc

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/27/government-told-major-tory-rebellion-unless-money-defence/
 

Hood

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Efforts have now begun to find a replacement for the last few remaining Gazelles.
It sounds like a mixed UAV and helicopter replacement, with the UAV doing the reconnaissance and few light helicopters for the liaison/light transport role. Saying that, given the previously hinted cuts to the AAC fleet its possible there won't be any like-for-like replacement.

Also in the article is an update on the likelihood of a further Chinook order. Its seems highly unlikely that another type will be acquired other than the 'Wokka'.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/uk-begins-gazelle-helicopter-replacement-effort-445376/
 

steelpillow

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Why not use the UAVs for the liaison/light transport role too? Self-driving cars? Ptui!

Just make sure you buy European avionics so they use Galileo not Russian-controllable GPS!
 

marauder2048

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Hood said:
Efforts have now begun to find a replacement for the last few remaining Gazelles.
It sounds like a mixed UAV and helicopter replacement, with the UAV doing the reconnaissance
I had naturally assumed that the UK purchased the AH-64E with MUMT-I kits for this reason.
 

Hood

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Hood

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True, but last October the MOD was trying to shrug off such claims as "pure speculation". Of course until the review is published this summer it still is speculation, but it is the most likely headline axe to save expenditure.
This 'new' review (new in that its been hived off from the National Security Capability Review) announced by the relatively new Minister, Gavin Williamson, is labelled the Defence Modernisation Programme and seems to be couched in non-cutting speak but its hard to see a way out other than some form of cuts to make ends meet.
 

Foo Fighter

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There are a lot of areas where spending is being reviewed and probably the biggest winner will be cyber warfare, the traditional aspects of conflict seem to be vulnerable. When for instance, aircraft carriers are having to wait years for a complete air wing and are restricted in ability due to overly conflicting financial interest you have a scenario where the military are already on the point of being toothless. One example among many and I do not think those carriers are the sole harbingers of defence capability being reduced too far.
 

Hood

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The armed forces are still short of manpower. The National Audit Office has identified 102 trades that do not have enough trained regulars to carry out operational tasks. Most of these were in; engineering, intelligence, logistics, pilots, communications and medical. For example, 2,400 engineers (the largest shortfall being Royal Navy weapons technicians), 700 intelligence analysts and 800 pilots.
The NAO are critical that all three armed forces have separate intelligence organisations, especially when they are also competing for analysts against other government agencies and private companies.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/18/armed-forces-facing-biggest-shortfall-in-staff-for-a-decade-report
 

Hood

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Some mixed news for UK defence spending.

Defence secretary Gavin Williamson has approved £2.5bn for the UK’s submarine programme, including a £1.6bn contract for the last Astute Class (HMS Agincourt) and other contracts worth £906m for the next phase of the Dreadnought programme covering the next 12 months.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/14/defence-secretary-gives-go-ahead-for-25bn-spend-on-submarines

On the other hand just last week the Public Accounts Committee warned that the MOD “simply does not have enough money to buy all the equipment it says it needs” and accused it of not being clear with politicians or the public about the financial risks.
The PAC inquiry's most conservative estimate of the funding gap is £4.9bn, rising to a worst-case scenario of £20.8bn more than the 10-year £179.7bn equipment budget. The PAC’s 2017 review had found a budget shortfall of £7bn.
Some of the increase is due to Dreadnought costs being brought forward but the PAC also noted that the MOD had not included the Type 31 frigate in the original spending plan, plus another £9.6bn of "additional costs", although the MOD were unable to say where they were.
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/may/11/mod-faces-21bn-budget-shortfall-warns-spending-watchdog

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to BAE Systems' Govan site last Friday called for navy shipbuilding contracts to remain in the UK and that the contract for three new RFA ships should remain in the UK. He has come under fire from the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) for making the speech in Glasgow when BAE's yards at Govan and Scotstoun are already at capacity and so isn't tendering for the ships, instead of at Rosyth where Babcock Marine is making a bid. (In any case the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had also made the same mistake and Govan is her constituency!)
https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2629915/jeremy-corbyn-glasgow-shipyards-mocked-snp/
 

Hood

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The Defence Committee inquiry into amphibious forces published their report in February 2018 and concluded that reductions to the amphibious fleet would be “militarily illiterate” and “totally at odds with strategic reality”. It emphasised that the specialist nature of amphibious capability and that cutting it would end its status as one of the UK’s leading strategic assets. The Committee also concluded from the evidence obtained that that amphibious operations require specially configured warships manned by amphibious specialists and that not doing so would expose the vessels and the personnel to an unreasonable level of operational risk.
At the moment however, the government is sticking firmly to the line that the carriers can take on the role.

https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/queen-elizabeth-class-aircraft-carriers-cannot-take-the-place-of-specialised-amphibious-vessels-say-defence-committe/
 

Foo Fighter

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Posit thus, the Japanese go for the F-22 with F-35 systems and sensors and the UK buys in to that, I know far fetched but, how many VTOL F-35's would we need if the RAF get the F-22/F-35 half breed for conventional roles?
 

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More woe:
Grey Havoc said:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/07/24/navys-cut-price-frigate-contract-runs-aground-lack-competition/
 

Hood

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Grey Havoc

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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/08/27/row-brewing-boeing-wedgetail-jets/
 

kaiserd

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Grey Havoc said:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/08/27/row-brewing-boeing-wedgetail-jets/
Pity whoever wrote the article has no historic memory to challenge the apparent UK industry quotes.
Given the horrific record of previous British debacles at a next generation Nimrod and before that the AEW Nimrod, as well as the very small production run, those advocating a British solution have sort memories and/ or brass necks.
 

Hood

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I have to agree, it seems a rather odd way of looking at the MoD's decision. Given the tight budgets and the funding shortfall it makes complete since to buy off the shelf.
Given the lack of attributable sources its hard to figure who all these disgruntled industry insiders are. I'm sure BAE Systems already has kit aboard the aircraft anyway.
Australia, Turkey and Korea have all gone for local modification programmes for their E-7s, Boeing have only completed four of the E-7s built so far, so involving Marshalls and having UK-based maintenance seems a logical move in keeping with all the other E-7 operators. Surely a low-risk approach like this should satisfy the Select Committee rather than making them complain? But then I guess the MoD's track record does seed doubts regarding their abilities.
All in all it sounds a typical media storm in a teacup story.
 

Kadija_Man

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Grey Havoc said:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/08/27/row-brewing-boeing-wedgetail-jets/
I understood that Australia had paid for most of the R&D on the E-7 Wedgetail. Am I mistaken? Are we making a wedge of dosh out of this deal or not?
 

Grey Havoc

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Kadija_Man said:
Grey Havoc said:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/08/27/row-brewing-boeing-wedgetail-jets/
I understood that Australia had paid for most of the R&D on the E-7 Wedgetail. Am I mistaken? Are we making a wedge of dosh out of this deal or not?
That's a very good question.

In other news:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/21/britain-steps-cyber-offensive-new-250m-unit-take-russia-terrorists/

Hmmmm.
 

Grey Havoc

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https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/plans-to-procure-at-least-500-boxer-vehicles-move-forward/

EDIT:
On a related note, via the comments section: https://twitter.com/GrantTurnbull_/status/1042351216041381888
 

Hood

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Some good news perhaps, though perhaps showing leaving Boxer was a mistake in the first place.
The CAMM-Brimstone hybrid looks an interesting project.

Sadly some not so good news:
The shortfall in funding for infrastructure is hampering the submarine fleet, in particular the deterrent facilities and dismantling the old nuclear fleet seems likely to take an age to complete. The the funding blackhole is still £2.9bn.
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/21/uks-nuclear-deterrent-infrastructure-not-fit-for-purpose-say-mps
 

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Flyaway said:
The fact that no branch of the US military has purchased any examples of this says a lot I reckon.

UK in talks to buy Boeing E-7 Wedgetail Early Warning and Control aircraft

More on this here.

Australia wants to engage with UK on Wedgetail
Why? The fact that no US service has bought Wedgetail isn't a comment on its capability in any way, positive or negative. The USAF already has a large fleet of E-3s that it is updating, and none of the other services have a requirement for land-based fixed-wing AEW aircraft.

I'm not sure why the RAF isn't updating their Sentry fleet instead of looking for new airframes, but that's a separate question.
 

Hood

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Makes sense to have some fleet commonality with the P-8 fleet.

I wonder if there is an element of quid pro quo with the Australians as part of the Type 26 deal?
 

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Whilst commonality is supposed to be fairly limited between the Wedgetail and Poseidon, even government types have been alluding to the refreshed defence links between the UK and Australia.

It could well be that something has been agreed with Australia but regardless, the RAF are fairly clear that the E-7 fits their requirements and operational setup much more than any other potential system.
 

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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/18/sailor-shortage-means-four-navys-13-frigates-have-not-spent/
 

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Errrr...who's doing the avionics?
 

Foo Fighter

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Given everything else on the to do list, Radio shack?
 

Hood

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More developments on the Sentry replacement.

SAAB are opposing a non-competitive selection for the E-7. SAAB is planning an offer which would integrate the Erieye radar and SAAB ESM onto the current A330 Voyager fleet.
Israel Aerospace Industries is also pushing for a competition, with Elta Systems promoting a Gulfstream G550-based conformal AEW.
It seems the MoDs choice of the E-7 comes down to it being a proven platform, commonality with P-8 and its greater internal space for more operators.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/saab-voices-opposition-to-uk-wedgetail-buy-452945/

The SAAB A330 concept seems to rather neatly come back round to the 1980s BAe proposals for an Airbus-based multi-role AEW/MPA/Tanker platform. Strange how history repeats itself. I can't imagine however that the RAF would be keen to combine roles even if it is short of cash. Tanking and AEW would seem to be mutually-exclusive profiles and if the small fleet is split further between roles then it just adds to the overstretch.
 
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