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Rearming the UK: What equipment? and how much?

uk 75

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Its back to 1961 folks with Bojo as Supermac!
East of Suez is in again. Macron replaces De Gaulle but the message from Paris is still "Non! Milord".
All we need now is someone to lie to the House of Commons and have raunchy swimming pool parties with glamorous young models. Oh and perhaps get some decent Music back.
 

uk 75

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This can either go spectacularly well or horribly wrong. Let's hope it's the former.
6 billion quid vs how much the US is spending and doing. At best it will buy us a place in the US systems contracts. At worst think Track and Trace plus BAe systems.
 

kaiserd

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Has reference to a “medium-lift” Puma replacement so doesn’t appear to be signalling a move to an all-Chinook force (I think?).
Similarly early block Typhoons gone by 2025, I had a real eye out for but not seeing any reference to F-35 numbers (maybe someone else can spot something, or more details will be briefed in aftermath).
Heavy on aspiration, a lot lighter (in detail, and potentially actual resulting reality) on actual force structure and numbers.
 

Fluff

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Has reference to a “medium-lift” Puma replacement so doesn’t appear to be signalling a move to an all-Chinook force (I think?).
Similarly early block Typhoons gone by 2025, I had a real eye out for but not seeing any reference to F-35 numbers (maybe someone else can spot something, or more details will be briefed in aftermath).
Heavy on aspiration, a lot lighter (in detail, and potentially actual resulting reality) on actual force structure and numbers.
F35 was mentioned as buying 'more' than the 48 already planned/delivered?

Confusingly the Puma replacement was mentioned as tidying up the Army fleet?? But then shown later in the RAF area....
 

Hood

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The loss of the last Tranche 1 Typhoons will be keenly felt. They are currently equipping dual QRA/Red Air aggressor unit and there were plans to form a second such unit but that seems impossible now.
With ASDOT having been suddenly dropped for no reason in 2019, there must be some kind of plan for agressor training once the last Hawk T.1s run out of life. The RAF seemed keen to use the older Typhoons as they would stil be tough foes to practice against, although admittedly pricey to run.

Command papers are always a little sketchy but the helicopter plans seem very hazy. Sounds to me like Wildcat is going too when Puma does.
 

zebedee

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The helicopter plans are definitely slightly confusing, p47 has a the Navy Wildcat in both HMA/BRH roles and p51 has a Wildcat teamed with a AH64, however further on we get this:

Investment in a new medium lift helicopter in the mid-2020s will enable a consolidation of the Army’s disparate fleet of medium lift helicopters from four platform types to one; including the replacement of Puma.


I can only assume that this means in addition to the Puma, the new medium lift helicopter will also replace the Bell 212, Gazelle and Wildcat fleets or are they including the Special Forces Dauphans as well and the wildcat gets a stay of execution...?

As an aside, the new medium lift helicopter silhouette does look very like an AW189...

Zeb
 

zen

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The concept and assessment phase for a new Type 83 destroyer will get underway to begin replacing Type 45 destroyers in the late 2030s.

Ok......first I've heard of that and an interesting change of designation to Type 80 series.
IF true......IF true and let's repeat that for the hard of comprehension IF TRUE.....
Does this indicate a shift to more multirole destroyers and away from specialist warships?
 

Hood

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So what can we take away from this?

A surprise to see railguns and high-energy weapons get a special mention in the future threats diagram but no textual enlightenment at all on what the threat is and how to counter them.

No mention of the increased nuclear stockpile other than to confirm the warheads will be a UK design, more or less says read the waffly policy paper and don't ask us any details.

The whole justification for defence spending now seems to the Indo-Pacific Region and the paper waffles at length about the region and our links there but not actually much sign that the powers there (India, Australia, Malaysia, Japan) actually wants us to poke our noses in. For example India want to be top dog in their own region, they have nuclear capabilities, probably a larger Navy and extensive armed forces of their own. The whole paper seems to be a massive stress on global commitments, its probably the most pro East of Suez command paper since 1966.
Certainly the Navy gets the lion's share of the growth and presumably the Admirals can only justfiy their building programmes by pointing east. The Army gets to base its troops in the Med/Middle East while the RAF has a few Lightnings in the game and shuttle flights with Voyagers and Globemasters.

An admission that soon South Korea will outstrip the UK's defence spending, a sceptic might point to the broad global role the paper highlights how we can police the entire world with a global network of bases spending less than South Korea does more to provide adequate defence from its two regional neighbours?

Navy
Type 31 looks to be earmarked specifically for overseas roles alongside (and ultimately replacing) the River-class OPvs overseas. Type 31 now makes more sense seen in this context, in essence a beefed up OPV for overseas patrols, something like the Type 81 Tribals of the 60s-80s (or you could say a 21st Century analogue of the interwar sloop classes). By extension the Type 26s will be closely wedded to the carrier strike group.

Type 32 - was it a fluffed line from the PM's Office? Haha, if you look on Page 52 there is the Type 32 typo again! "Type 32 frigates and Multi Role Support Ships in build" instead of Type 31!
Yet on Page 54, 7.26 mentions "Type 31 and Type 32 frigates" and page 55 confirms what I suspected, "Type 32 frigates, designed to protect territorial waters, provide persistent presence overseas and support our Littoral Response Groups." Sounds like a Type 31 with more land-attack capability, but the glossary simply refers to it as "A new class of surface warship."
The paper does not confirm Type 32 hull numbers, only 8 Type 26 and 5 Type 31 which we already know, and its not on the RN 2030 graphic, which tends to suggest the Type 32s will follow the current frigate orders during the 2030s.

Type 45 to be upgraded. Type 83 to replace the Type 45s from the late 2030s.

Retirement of all the minehunters in favour of UUVs, to be developed with France. Presumably a few hulls would be left as UUV control ships/ transports.

The Future Commando Force sounds snappy. Not actually any new amphibious warfare ships for it, but thankfully no cuts either.
One Bay-class to be refitted with a littoral strike capability - whatever that might be. Cost of refit £50mil.

Littoral Response Group, to be formed in 2023 and sounds like it will rotate with the Carrier Strike Group or perhaps sit alongside it when its in the Indo-Pacific region. Presumably it will be centred around the converted Bay with the Type 32 frigates.

Work to begin on Astute successor post Dreadnought programme.

"We will also develop a new Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance capability to safeguard the critical undersea national infrastructure on which our prosperity depends." Sounds like a satellite capability, but not mentioned in relation to Space Command.

RAF
Seems to imply more than 48 F-35s, though no timescale. My guess is the MoD is waiting to see if future Lot prices fall. Open to interpretation if they will be Bs or As though.

£2bn for FCAS development over next 4 years, including drones and swarming drones. Very little detail and almost no mention of Tempest and seems to heavily stress the unmanned and optionally-manned aspects.

Tranche 1 Typhoon is a sad loss (see my post above), Hawk T.1 we knew about. C-130 likewise is no surprise but money should never have been wasted reversing the 2010 SDR decision.

Hmmmm, what fills the gap between Sentry in 2021 and Wedgie in 2023?
Only 3 Wedgetails and not the original 5. Presumably the two ex-civil airframe conversions were cut?
Unsurprising to see them co-located with the Poseidons.

MLH is in the graphic but not the text. Still unsure if the Puma replacement will be RAF or whether the AAC will actually operate them, given most of the types being replaced are legacy AAC platforms and it would make no sense leaving the AAC with just Apache and Watchkeeper.

Overall the RAF seems to lose the least and gain the least, more or less status quo.

Army
New Ranger Regiment with £120M of equipment.
A new Security Force Assistance Brigade for overseas security use.
6th (UK) Division for cyber and EW.
Reduction to 72,500 troops with most of the cuts in the tail end "logistics, REME and medical).
148 Challenger III upgrades. Bye bye Warrior.

Artillery gets a boost with £250M for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System upgrade and £800m for the automated Mobile Fires Platform.
AA gets a boost too with new short-range systems (including drones) and medium-range systems.

So lots of emphasis on the pointy end.

Cyber and Space

NCF still feels like its duplicating GCHQ but its good to see there are links there. I'm not sure how the Defence Centre of Artificial Intelligence will pan out. AI feels something more likely to grow from academic and commercial imperatives than military R&D. The aims feel a little fuzzy and management-speak, almost every AI centre in world would probably cite the same aims.

Space Command, still not sure what these folks are meant to be doing? Skynet 6 is hardly going to need a special Command all to itself. Presumably they might oversee the OneWeb GPS system? It mentions coordination of commerical space activity but I thought that was currently a Department of Business job to decide strategy with the UK Space Agency increasingly sidelined for criticising the OneWeb deal.
Still not clear how we intend to track space objects unless we are getting access to US data (Fylingdales?).
50,000 jobs seems chickenfeed compared to the 200,000+ sustained by F-35 contracts in the UK.
 

Grey Havoc

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There seems to be a general feeling in Westminster that this review is pretty much dead on arrival though.
 

aonestudio

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The Defence and Security Industrial Strategy sets out a new strategic approach to the UK’s defence and security industrial sectors.

From : Ministry of Defence Published : 23 March 2021


 

Hood

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The Defence and Security Industrial Strategy gives a little more detail on the shipbuilding programme, essentially seen as 30-year rolling programme.
As well as T26 and T31 and the Astutes and Dreadnoughts, it will include;
1 Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance Ship
5 Type 32 frigates; "designed to protect territorial waters, provide persistent presence overseas and support Littoral Response Groups"
6 Multi-Role Support Ships (MRSS); "to provide the platforms to deliver Littoral Strike, including Maritime Special Operations, in the early 2030s"
A new class Type 83 destroyer to replace Type 45 in the late 2030s

So by 2035 that gives us with an RN frigate force of 18 (8 T26, 5 T31, 5 T32). So a force similar to today's numbers, I suspect the Type 83 will be a hull-for-hull replacement.

On Puma replacement it clarifies the situation;
"To maintain this capability cost-effectively we aim to consolidate our fleet, initially through procuring a new Medium Helicopter by the middle of the decade to replace the Puma and in due course three other helicopter types. We anticipate that our other main helicopter platforms (Merlin, Wildcat, Chinook and latest Apache) will remain in-service until next generation technologies and unmanned systems start to augment or replace these more conventional systems."
 

Hood

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I think that's a pretty accurate summary.

The infamous 1957 Command Paper wasn't exactly wordy but it was pithy and to the point.
This paper is nebulous and glossy (oooh pics of HMS QE in a Loch) but no real details at all. Its hard to make out where all that £6bn of R&D cash is going (FCAS getting a third of it over 4 years). In some respects the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy actually gives more detail (though to be honest the latter document is so heavy in management speak and committees, task forces, groups and sub-groups, , sub-committees etc. that its amazing anyone can keep track of military procurement).

You get the feeling that in 2025 there will be a new government and a new Review and everything will change again.
It wasn't that long ago that a defence secretary was promising us armed ferries and swarm drones by the bucketful - though it feels like the armed Bay-class ship and the mention of swarm drones as part of FCAS are legacies of that.
 

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It's too long for any use, and too vague to give any bit of detail. For instance, no hard number was given for the F-35 procurement, reports have stated that between 60 and 80 may be procured, but the lack of a hard number leaves other sources claiming that only the original tranche of 48 will be bought.

To sum up, it's ludicrously worded and ludicrously laid out!
 

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In other news:
At the risk of being shouted down for applying a little ‘logic’ to the Political world.
Instead of buying ‘new’ and giving them a fancy paint job, why not re-purpose the BAe 146’s from the (old) Queens flight instead of junking them?
 

Grey Havoc

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Ah, but Johnson wants his own 'Air Force One' type aircraft. Shades of the infamous 'Blair Force One' fiasco.
 

Wyvern

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In other news:
At the risk of being shouted down for applying a little ‘logic’ to the Political world.
Instead of buying ‘new’ and giving them a fancy paint job, why not re-purpose the BAe 146’s from the (old) Queens flight instead of junking them?
From what I understand, the 146s are old and tired machines, ones which unfortunately needed replacing. Whether the condition of the aircraft used in the Queen's Flight is any better, I do not know, however, it would make more sense to use a small fleet of one type of aircraft.

Whether this picture that has been painted in my mind is a completely accurate one, I do not know.
 

zen

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I'm rather swayed by the concept of VL Brimstone at the moment. The latest improvements in rocket motor deliver quite an increase in range.
Conceptually something like Boxer could carry a fair number of such VL missiles.
Missiles which are increasing in the spectrum of possible targets they can be employed against.
 

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